5/5 Movie Trip
Paul McGuire Grimes, from Paul’s Trip to the Movies, sits down with the people behind the show Citadel, and gives us his take on Are You There Margaret? It’s Me, Margaret and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
CITADEL (Prime Video)
A good spy series or movie can be the perfect mental escape after a long day. The new Prime Video series Citadel should do just the trick. It kicks off on a fast moving train in the Italian Alps. There we find Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ character Nadia on a secret mission as her boss, Bernard, is feeding her orders through her ear piece. They, along with her partner, Mason Keane, work for an organization named Citadel. Mason is also on board and you can sense some thick tension between these two. Their mission is ambushed in a plot to take down Citadel agents. The train explodes leaving Mason and Nadia stranded separately in the middle of the Alps with no memory of what happened. Eight years pass and Mason is living a new life with a wife and children and starts having flashbacks to his past that he can’t piece together. Bernard shows up unannounced as there’s a new threat at hand. Lesley Manville is the series’ core villain Dahlia Archer. She’s partnering with the Manticore organization to get their hands on a suitcase carrying nuclear codes and kill every remaining Citadel agent.
-Starring: Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Stanley Tucci, Lesley Manville
-I’ve seen three of the six episodes, and Citadel is a high-octane spy series for anyone itching to find the next James Bond or Jason Bourne series.
-It comes from executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo who are best known for the Avengers and Captain America movies. They’re no strangers to high-intensity action and the series opens with a bang using that classic spy trope of the moving train set piece.
-If you’re familiar with the spy genre, you’ll pick up on classic elements of the genre from the multiple identities, the high-tech gadgets, and plenty of nefarious characters who make you question who can be trusted. Even Jason Bourne suffered from memory issues.
-A wild ride much in part thanks to it’s cast who all seem to be having a blast. Richard Madden fits the debonaire agent well as he can withstand every action scene thrown at him. Priyanka Chopra Jonas is equally fit for the genre as she takes down Manticore agents with a breeze and creates good chemistry with Madden to build up a previous steamy affair that gets explored in the third episode. Stanley Tucci and Lesley Manville are certainly having fun chewing into their roles battling it out against each other.
-This won’t be genre-changing , but an enjoyable series to binge after a long day with each episode only lasting 40 minutes and will leave you wanting the next one to come out.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET (in theaters)
There’s an unjust trend that continues to happen with books being banned from schools. One of the most notoriously challenged books of all-time is Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret first published in 1970. Kelly Fremon Craig has written and directed the new film adaptation with Abby Ryder Fortson starring as Margaret. She’s an 11-year-old girl who moves from New York City to New Jersey with her parents, Barbara and Herb. At first, she hates the prospect of moving away from her friends and Grandma Sylvia, but she quickly bonds with Nancy, another young girl who lives down the block. Her new friends form a secret group where they gossip about the boys in class and debate who will be the first to get their period. Puberty is a challenging time for Margaret as we see her strike up a relationship with God to help her get through it.
-Starring: Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Benny Safdie
-Writer/Director Kelly Fremon Craig has done an incredible job at bringing Judy Blume’s spirit onto the big screen. It’s quite funny, as you can feel the joy and hopeful nature that she brings to Margaret and all of those awkward emotions that plague kids going through puberty.
-She easily could have set the film in 2023, but I find it admirable that she kept it the same period of the book to recall a simpler time and the innocence that comes being that age at a time long before social media made growing up much harder.
-Abby Ryder Fortson is a wonderful choice for Margaret. She brings maturity to the character and handles the emotional anguish well without getting too spunky or whiny.
-The film makes good use of her whole cast by making this a multi-generational story by diving into Barbara’s backstory too. Rachel McAdams is sublime at portraying the heartbreaking reason why she’s the best mom she can be to Margaret. Kathy Bates is perfectly cast as Grandma playing all the grandmas we all know and love, sometimes inappropriate, sometimes awkward, and always one to show off her granddaughter.
-Another unique angle of Judy Blume’s story is that of religious independence. With Barbara raised Christian and Herb being Jewish, we see Margaret deciding the role and relationship she wants with God. Writer/director Kelly Fremon Creg isn’t afraid to point out the hypocrisy and indignation some have despite calling themselves religious.
–Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret reminded me of Now & Then but for a new generation. Readers of all ages will be pleased with Judy Blume’s coming of age story. For older moviegoers, it will be a trip down memory lane fretting over boys and girls in class, playing spin the bottle, and feeling like all you wanted to do is mature and feel grown up.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 (in theaters)
James Gunn changed the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he introduced audiences to the scrappy, but funny Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s now set out to say goodbye with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The Guardians of the Galaxy have been through a lot at this point with the blip leaving a lasting impression. They’re all living on their headquarters called Knowhere with Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill treating his depression by being a drunken mess. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is now a variant off in another sector of the universe no longer the friend and partner she once was. Their world is rocked again when Adam Warlock comes soaring into Knowhere causing destruction and chaos. He’s an unstoppable force targeting the Guardians leaving Rocket clinging to life. The Guardians set out to save Rocket, which is easier said than done after learning his origin story and the connection he has to the High Evolutionary who is playing god in his attempt to create a utopia.
-Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel
-James Gunn has a distinct eye and ear as a filmmaker which is easy to spot in his Guardians films and his work with DC. That is still present even if the atmosphere is noticeably different than what he brought to Volumes 1 and 2 which were filled with so much light and humor you couldn’t stop from laughing. Times have changed for these characters, and that joy is noticeably absent in Volume 3.
-I could feel James Gunn trying to make this as big of a movie as possible to end his trilogy. It’s overstuffed with far too many characters with Gunn trying to give them all screentime.
-There are some endearing performances that shine through from Dave Bautista’s Drax to Linda Cardellini who voices an otter, and Bradley Cooper’s wisecracking, Rocket.
-I see Gunn making a film about chosen family, the ties that bind us outcasts, and has created a villain that is playing god with dangerous results while dealing with human trafficking.
-It never quite comes together solidly for a film trying to conclude a trilogy. It feels quite chaotic jumping from one storyline to the next without a clear motivation or connective tissue between them.
-I wasn’t connecting with anything or feeling the emotional tug that Gunn was aiming for until the climax, which didn’t land as strongly as it should have. It’s hard to say if this is Gunn’s true vision to end his trilogy or felt caught up fitting his characters back it into a universe that’s now 32 films in.
RATING: 2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS