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About the Critics:

Doug Solem has been in love with movies ever since he first snuck into the Anoka Theater to see Steve McQueen in Bullitt. He goes to at least one new movie every Friday.  He has also been a voice talent for TV and Radio commercials for the past 20 years and is currently represented through the Moore Talent Agency. Click Here For Doug's Voice Demo  He had his first starring role in the local independently produced movie "SEVER" Click Here for information and pictures for "Sever" - a horror film shot throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Communications.  His favorite directors include the Cohen Brothers and Steven Spielberg.  Favorite actors include Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brad Pitt, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christian Bale. 

Zala has always enjoyed going to the movies.  As a kid, the only option in the area was the Anoka Theater.  It was during a time when parents could drop you and your friends off to see a movie and get picked up later.  “My earliest movie experience was when I was 4 and my aunt and her high school friends took me to see 101 Dalmatians.  I was so engaged in the movie that during one of the chase scenes a speeding car nearly hit one of the puppies, and my first movie review was to stand up and yell, "Watch out!". The audience broke out laughing.  I have been lucky to have some friends and colleagues who are into making movies and television shows and I enjoy the discussions we have.  Before my retirement, I was the Dean of the Cinema program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.  It is a great two-year program if you would like to take some courses and develop your own movies!”


Zala's Featured Review
Blade Runner 2049
Directed by Dennis Villeneuve

For those of you have been awaiting the sequel since the original Blade Runner movie in 1982 which takes place in November of 2019, you won’t be disappointed in Blade Runner 2049. This plays out over 2 hours and 43 minutes so be prepared! Officer K maneuvers throughout a plot that twists and turns to find former Blade Runner Rick Deckard. Director Denis Villeneuve delivers a glim vision of the future generations of Blade Runners 30 years later.

The Story - The opening narrative describes the Blade Runner history since the original. We are taken to 2049 Los Angeles which has a mix of inclement weather and whose skyline has changed dramatically. LAPD Officer K is on a mission to obey his command to eliminate former replicants, android cleansing. This process reveals a secret which is explored to keep what bit of civilization exists from failing completely. The discovery leads him on a quest to discover the truth and himself while searching for Rick Deckard to get the answers. By watching the movie, you learn about Officer K’s childhood, the implanted memories of his childhood that may or may not be true. You will discover the answers at the end of the movie. There is an enlightening Vegas scenario that plays out when he finds Deckard.


The Cast - Ryan Gosling (K) is strong in this film teetering on edge of human and robot. I lost the vision of him in La La Land after a few minutes. He struggles within to find himself while living a futuristic Spartan lifestyle with a Pinocchio scenario. Reviewing actors playing robots is more challenging. The movie cast improves when Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard) enters the plot. This is time where the pieces of the story go from development to answering questions. Somalian born, Minneapolis resident Barkhad Abdi appears in the film as a trader helping K to find the origin and origin of a childhood artifact. The rest of the cast is less recognizable but are strong performers.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: B+

If you enjoy methodical movies that play a bit long this movie is for you. During the movie, I decided to give it the artsy acclaim so I would be more patient watching some of the scenes I might have forwarded with my remote at home. You need to be more patient in the theater – perhaps the big bag of popcorn and some other provisions to make it all the way through. There are some slow places to take an “intermission” if you need to. There are some nice cinematic effects used in the film and the twists and turns engage you with trying to figure the story ending. There is nudity and violence. The movie is rated “R”. One thing I don’t understand about the future is why it is always bleak and why are there are always naked women robots in them? I can understand why futurists warn us about a post nuclear or dirty bomb scenario, but I can’t understand why there are only women sexbots. It is a bit one-sided and/or unnecessary. One of the biggest questions from the original Blade Runner is whether Deckard is human or a replicant. You will have to wait until the next movie to learn that answer.


Zala's Featured Review
Kingsman:  The Golden Circle
Director Matthew Vaughn

In The Golden Circle, the Kingman organization is forced to go global when their headquarters and operatives are taken out and the world is blackmailed for an antidote for poisoned recreational drugs. We discover that a cousin organization exists in the United States, who’s resources are needed to fight the villains. Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, delivers a proper sequel. 

The Story - The opening scenes are typically packed with the introduction of a disqualified and disgruntled Kingsman member who plays for dark team now. For those of you who didn’t see the first movie, the Kingsman organization is a bit James “Bondish” fighting evil in Great Britain. The story reveals the Statesman organization in America. The evil is in the form of a recreational drug seller (Poppy) who has a global network and is frustrated that she needs to hide in the jungles of Cambodia where nobody knows what a great business person she is. She launches drugs with a poison in it and demands payment by the world for the antidote. At team of Kingsman and Statesman need to capture the antidote to save the world, when the President of the United States doesn’t want to save the world citizens who do drugs – winning the War on Drugs. 


The Cast - For a simple movie, the cast of characters is quite deep.  Main operative Taron Egerton (Eggsy) carries the brunt of the movie in his world-saving endeavor. Spoiler alert: Collin Firth returns as Harry Hart from the first film as does staffer Merlin (Mark Strong) takes on a stronger role in this film with his inventive tools to help save the mission. Julianne More (Poppy) plays the ruthless drug lord in her Cambodian hideout which resembles an American 1950s town deep in the jungle. She has taken Elton John as a prisoner to entertain her. Jeff Bridges (Champ/Champagne) leads the Statesman team consisting of Channing Tatum (Tequila) and Halle Berry (Ginger Ale).

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: B+

The movie is entertaining.  Does it get over the top at times? Of course. The use of some great music (Prince, John Denver, Elton John) during the action scenes is well done. The story follows a typical 007 formula with a bit more corn, and the 2 hours and 21 minutes moves quickly. Big screen is fine, but you could wait for this to hit the movie channels.

Click Here for past movie reviews


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