Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 05/24/2019
Running Time: 128
Rated: PG
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen.
Crew: Director: Guy Ritchie. Producers: Ivan Atkinson., Jonathan Elrich, Max Keene, Dan Lin, Karl McMillan and Mark Mostyn. Executive Producers: Kevin De La Noy and Mark Platt. Screenwriters: Guy Ritchie and John August. Cinematographer: Alan Stewart.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Director Guy Ritchie is best known for his hard-hitting action-packed movies “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “RocknRolla” as well as the mystery/adventure crime capers, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Sherlock Holmes.”

So, it seemed an odd choice for Ritchie to step out of his comfort zone and into the wonderful world of Disney to direct a reimagined, live action version of the 1992 beloved animated classic film “Aladdin.”

Yet, Ritchie, who co-wrote “Aladdin” with John August (“Frankenweenie”) works his crazy magic and delivers a surprisingly fresh and vibrant story. Except for a couple of songs and some updated dialogue/sequences, this “Aladdin” stays pretty faithful to the original animated film, which featured the late, great Robin Williams as the voice of Genie.

It’s a new, fantastic point of view indeed as Ritchie eschews the original film’s stereotypical depictions of Arabic culture and embraces diversity with a stellar, multi-ethnic cast. They do wonders with the snappy, musical numbers.

However, at its core, “Aladdin” is a relatable and touching, rags-to-riches love story. Canadian-Egyptian actor Mena Massoud (TV’s “Jack Ryan”) delights as the cunning, street thief, “Aladdin” who falls in love with Princess Jasmine (British/Indian star Naomi Scott, “Charlie’s Angels” remake).

Massoud and Scott are simply adorable together and light up the screen in the most pleasing, family friendly Disney way.

We find Aladdin (Massoud) and his kleptomaniac, but loyal pet capuchin monkey, Abu—another scene stealer--roaming the streets of Agrabah while attempting to stay “One Jump Ahead” of some of the people they’ve stolen from.
Aladdin may be poor, but the guy has a heart of gold. He gives some of his five finger treats to kids less fortunate than him.

He briefly meets a disguised Princess Jasmine (Scott) at the local bazaar. Her father is so controlling and doesn’t let her do much on her own.

Hoping to see the princess again, Aladdin tries to sneak into the palace, but is caught by the power-hungry and deceptive Grand Vizier of Agrabah aka, Jafar (“Murder on the Orient Express”).

The plot thickens when Jafar suckers Aladdin into retrieving a magical lamp from the Cave of Wonders The lamp could give Jafar the power to overthrow the Sultan/Ruler of Agrabah (Navid Negahban, TV’s “Legion”). A rub of the lamp could also change Aladdin’s life for the better too.

Princess Jasmine, (Scott), the Sultan’s daughter is caught in the middle of this power grab. She doesn’t want to merely be a beautiful princess married to someone she doesn’t love. She wants to be a Sultan and have a voice and be heard. Princess Jasmine’s voice comes alive too in Scott’s powerful and uplifting ballad “Speechless.” It also soars—even more than Massoud’s-- on the Academy Award winning song “A Whole New World.”

And speaking of coming alive. Will Smith appears nearly 30 minutes into the film as the big, blue, shape-shifting, wise-cracking Genie. Still, he knows how to make an entrance. Smith brings some of that “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Big Willie Style” swagger to the Genie and even sprinkles a bit of hip-hop flavor on the songs “Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali” and “Arabian Nights.” He’s silly and funny and truly makes this role his own. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone else now who could pull off playing the Genie other than Smith.

“Aladdin” succeeds on my levels, but what really makes it work, is that it’s simply pure, fun escapist entertainment that’s chockfull of dazzling, vibrant, special effects and sensational choreography.

I plan to see "Aladdin" again, this time in IMAX because bigger is always better and it’s just that good.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty...

Rated: PG
Opens: 05/17/2019
A Dog's Journey

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 05/17/2019
The Sun Is Also A Star

Rated: R
Opens: 05/17/2019
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 05/10/2019
The Hustle

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 05/10/2019

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 05/03/2019
The Intruder


<b>“The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.”</b> Title: “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.”
Year Released: 1977
Running Time: 110
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Director: John Badham
Director of Photography: Bill Butler
Screenwriter: William Brashler
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: It must have been my recent chance meeting with former Dodger legend Dusty Baker that turned my attention to the Dodgers and baseball in particular. Then again, baseball season is right around the corner, so this review was just meant to me.

The truth is, I realized I hadn’t reviewed any baseball movies in a long time. One of my favorite...

How To Train Your Dragon: THW  <b>(May 21)</b> Title: How To Train Your Dragon: THW (May 21)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 104
Production Company: Dreamworks/Universal
Director: Dean DeBlois
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


If you’ve enjoyed the journey with the young Viking, Hiccup, (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his loyal dragon Toothless, then you’ll want to add the Blu-ray DVD “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” to your collection especially since this is supposedly the “final installment” of the film trilogy.

Bursting with vibrant color and loads of action, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” from director/screenwriter Dean DeBlois is a lavish spectable which nicely ties up all the loose ends.

Hiccup is enjoying life and living with all the dragons in the Isle of Berk village thanks to Toothless who is respected among his fire-breathing friends.

But there’s trouble on the horizon and even love in the air. Toothless meets and falls for a pretty, dragon known as Light Fury. And Hiccup’s gal pal, Astrid (America Ferrera, TV’s “Superstore”) is getting all kind of cozy around him.

Love may be the answer, but it may have to wait too, since the evil Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham, TV’s “Homeland”) is up to no good and is scheming to keep humans and dragons apart.

Hiccup isn’t about to let that happen. He has plenty of support on his side like his friend Gobber (Craig Ferguson, TV’s “Still Game”), his loving Dragon Rider mother Valka (Cate Blanchett, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”) and the twins, Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig, upcoming “Wonder Woman 1984”)) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple, “Spider-Man Homecoming”).

The plot thickens when Grimmel kidnaps Ruffnut but can’t deal with her annoying voice and he lets her go. Then Hiccup and his companions discover the Hidden World,” a sanctuary for dragons. It’s the place his father used to tell him about when he was a kid.

What will it take for dragons and humans to peacefully co-exist? For Hiccup it begins with him realizing the need to let go of Toothless and find his way.

Editor’s Note: Check out all the Bonus Features on 4K Ultra HD, BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL:


“BILBY” – Directed by Liron Topaz, Pierre Perifel, and JP Sans; produced by Jeff Hermann and Kelly Cooney Cilella. Threatened daily by the deadly residents and harsh environment of Australia’s Outback, a lonesome Bilby finds himself an unwitting protector, an unexpected friend, to a helpless (and quite adorable) baby bird.

“BIRD KARMA” – Directed by William Salazar and produced by Jeff Hermann, the beautifully artistic 2D short film “Bird Karma” tells a delightfully lyrical and fully unexpected tale of a long-legged bird’s journey of blissful joy, inescapable greed and the accidental discovery of the consequences when too much is not enough.

Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois:

How to Voice Your Viking--Go behind the scenes with the cast as they record the Viking.voices of “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Creating an Epic Dragon Tale-- Discover what filmmakers learned while crafting this epic dragon trilogy.

How I Learned from Dragons-- The diverse cast of characters reveal why they think the dragon trilogy is so special.

Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome--Join Coyote Peterson, host of Brave Wilderness, as he explores what it takes to make the dragon’s characters come to life.

The Dragon Sheep Chronicles-- Protecting sheep from the dragons of Berk is no easy task but Hiccup has a plan.

A Deck of Dragons--Observe four new dragons as Fishlegs unveils his original deck of dragon trading cards.

Growing Up with Dragons--After years of being with these characters, hear the lasting effects of the dragon trilogy from the filmmaker’s perspective.

The Evolving Character Design of Dragons--Cast and crew reveal what it was like to evolve not only the characters of “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” but themselves as well.

Drawing Dragons--Get a glimpse of what goes into designing a DreamWorks dragon.

Epic Villain-- A different kind of villain, Grimmel brings great challenges to the village of Berk. Go behind the scenes as filmmakers breakdown this epic character.

Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds – Hold on tight as Astrid sums up the whole dragon trilogy in a legendary 60 seconds.

Welcome to New Berk-- With Hiccup as your guide, get a firsthand look at the updated Viking village of New Berk.

Feature Commentary: With Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto.

The Upside <b> (May 14) </b> Title: The Upside (May 14)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 126
Production Company: STX Entertainment
Director: Neil Burger
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


“The Upside” is a superb remake of the 2011 French movie, “Les Intouchables” which is based on a true story.

In “The Upside,” from director Neil Burger (“Divergent”), Kevin Hart (“The Secret Life Of Pets 2”) gets to showcase his dramatic and comedic chops.

Both are in fine form here thanks to the clever script from screenwriter Jon Hartmere. It allows Hart to do his thing, but without him overselling the comedy and dramatic aspects of the film. Hart and Cranston, pull this off and are great together.

Cranston plays Phillip an extremely wealthy, widowed writer living in a swanky, Park Avenue Penthouse in New York City. He became a quadriplegic after a hand-gliding accident. Phillip has a willing assistant to look after him named Yvonne (another nice role for Nicole Kidman, “Aquaman” and “Destroyer”). Even he knows that she can’t be around him all the time. So, they start interviewing candidates who have experience and can handle the rigors of caring for Phillip. They get some applicants that are OK, but most just don’t seem like a good fit.

Along comes Dell (Hart). He’s as far removed from any of the people who have walked through the door. Dell is an ex-con and in between jobs. He’s just there to get signatures to show his parole officer that he’s actively seeking employment. He could go back to hustling on the streets, but that won’t endear him to his ex-wife, Latrice (Aja Naomi King, TV’s “How to Get Away with Murder”) who has grown tired of him.

Dell isn’t likely to score any points either with his teen son, Anthony ((Jahi Di’Allo Winston, “Proud Mary” and TV’s “The New Edition Story”). He wishes his dad would just grow up and be more responsible.

So, when Dell starts asking applicants about the live-in aide job, he decides to barge in on Yvonne and Phillip because he has to pick up Anthony from school and doesn’t have all day to wait around.

Dell’s gruff demeanor is off-putting to Yvonne. Phillip kind of likes him though. He offers to hire Dell within minutes of talking with him, much to the surprise of Yvonne. Keep in mind that Dell has no clue what the job entails and no experience doing anything like it. But he’s hired with a large salary and tony living quarters.

Over time, Dell and Phillip develop a bond and their bromance is funny and heartwarming. Dell is exposed to fine dining, the opera and art and Phillip's sleek Ferrari.

While Dell has a tough time wrapping his head around this bold new world he’s discovering, he comes around to appreciate it and in turn sees Phillip in a different and respectful way.

Phillip is also moved by Dell. Through their interactions he learns a lot about himself and Dell too. But, it’s not all lovey-dovey. A series of events—caused in part by Dell and which involves the lovely Julianna Margulies (TV’s “Dietland” and “The Good Wife”)--occurs that makes Phillip lash out and withdraw from everyone for a while.

What makes “The Upside” work, is that the characters are so relatable. There’s not a person on screen that you’re not invested in and rooting for throughout the film.
(Highly Recommended).

What Men Want <b>(May 7)</b> Title: What Men Want (May 7)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 117
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Adam Shankman
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Taraji P. Henson shows off her comedic side in the funny comedy, “What Men Want.”

Directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray” and TV’s “Being Mary Jane”), “What Men Want” is a loose remake of the 2000 Nancy Meyers rom-com, “What Women Want” which starred Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. That movie was rated PG-13. This one is very “R” which means Henson and the rest of the cast led by Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan and singer Erykah Badu, get loose.

Henson plays a rising Atlanta based sports agent named Ali Davis. Ali understands all too well that this is a man’s world. Although she’s on top of her game, it’s a struggle climbing the corporate ladder. Her assistant Brandon (Josh Brener, TV’s “Ducktales”) is as loyal as they come and has her back.

Yet Ali’s boss Nick Ivers (a perfectly cast Brian Bosworth, “The Reliant”) and a few other co-workers, notably Eddie (Chris Witaske, TV’s “Fresh Off The Boat”) and Kevin (Max Greenfield, TV’s “The Neighborhood”), really don’t want her around and do whatever they can to prevent her from landing the big clients.

The one rising NBA star that Ali would love to snag is Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie, TV’s “Sacred Lies”). That will require a lot, especially since Jamal’s father, Joe “Dolla” Barry, (the always hilarious Tracy Morgan, TV’s “The Last O.G.), is so stubborn and overprotective of his son.

In addition, Joe believes that Ali doesn’t have the skills like the guys do to lock down all those big endorsement deals that are sure to come Jamal’s way. Plus, she’s single and he views that negatively.

Sexism is a thing.

While Ali gets much of her toughness and determination from her supportive father Skip (the legendary Richard Roundtree, upcoming “Shaft” remake (again) and TV’s “Being Mary Jane”), she’s worried, but still determined to shatter that glass ceiling.

Ali’s fate suddenly changes when she drinks some potent tea at a party that’s given to her by a batty, psychic played by the hilarious and scene-stealing Erykah Badu. Then Ali bumps her head in a freak accident there. Not only does it leave her dazed, but now she has the uncanny ability to hear men’s innermost thoughts.

Initially, Ali doesn’t see this as a blessing. She’s annoyed by all the chattering in her head. However, her friends sure do. Olivia (a hilarious Wendy McLendon-Covey, TV’s “The Goldbergs) is the born-again Christian who before she started following the Lord says she “followed 2 Live Crew on tour.” Mari (Tamala Jones, TV’s “American Nightmares”) and Ciarra (Phoebe Robinson, “Portlandia”) can’t imagine what it would be like to get inside men’s heads.

Sister, the psychic (Badu ), convinces Ali to use her newfound powers to outsmart her haughty co-workers and she runs with the advice. Once Ali has the inside track on the boy’s club at work, she makes power moves to give her the upper hand. She even uses her sexy, new boyfriend Will (a terrific Aldis Hodge, “Straight Outta Compton” and TV’s Underground”) and his adorable five-year-old son Ben (Auston Jon Moore, “The Quad”) to her advantage.

Screenwriters Tina Gordon (“Little”), Alex Gregory (TV’s “Veep”) Jas Waters (TV’s “This is Us”) and Peter Huyck (TV’s “Veep”) pile on the hilarity in “What Men Want” and Henson--who co-executive produced the film--just owns most every minute of it.

Destroyer <b> (April 23)</b> Title: Destroyer (April 23)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 123
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures
Director: Karyn Kusama
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


In the gripping, new drama, “Destroyer,” Nicole Kidman shuns her glamour girl image to portray a gritty, hard-knock veteran LAPD detective named Erin Bell.

Erin’s pain and suffering isn’t all self-inflicted. Since losing her partner Chris (Sebastian Stan, “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War”) 17 years ago during an undercover sting gone horribly wrong, she hasn’t been able to completely move on with her life.

In a series of flashbacks, we discover that Chris was killed by a guy named Silas (Toby Kebbell, “War for the Planet of the Apes”), the leader of a group of bank robbers that Erin and Chris were about to take down.

This storyline gets even more juicy because Erin and Chris were lovers and she had his baby. It’s years later now and Erin can barely take care of herself much less raise her rebellious teen daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn, TV’s “School of Rock”), whose older boyfriend Jay (Beau Knapp, “Death Wish”) is a real loser.

When police get a new lead in this cold case involving Silas and the robbers who made away with millions of dollars, Erin is eager to provide some useful information to the cops. Problem is, they see her as an old washed up alcoholic and don’t want her help.

Consequently, Erin decides to take matters in her own hands and hunts down the psycho. Along the way, Erin gets a big assist from one of Silas’ associates (Tatiana Maslany, “Stronger” “Orphan Black) who he has also ticked off.

Revenge really is a dish best served cold.

While “Destroyer” zig-zags often with an overuse of flashback scenes, screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (“Ride Along”) along with director Karyn Kusama (TV’s “Halt and Catch Fire”), still manage to keep the film from derailing thanks largely to some nifty plot twists that will keep your head swiveling.

But what really keeps you invested in “Destroyer” is the fierce performance from Kidman who transformed from a beauty to a beast.
Which Of The Following Stars of "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" Won A Tony Award As "Best Supporting Actor In A Musical?"
"Ted Ross"
"Richard Pryor"
"Billy Dee Williams'"
" James Earl Jones"
ALADDIN AT IMAX By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


“Aladdin” is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah.

“Aladdin” opens at the Esquire IMAX Theatre in 2D and 3D on May 23 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

The IMAX release of “Aladdin” will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of an IMAX 3D Experience and the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology.

The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA. For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at


IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

IMAX, IMAX 3D, IMAX DMR, Experience It In IMAX, An IMAX 3D Experience, The IMAX Experience, IMAX Is Believing and IMAX nXos are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information about the Company can be found at You may also connect with IMAX on Facebook (, Twitter ( and YouTube (

Editor’s Note: Information used in this report obtained from IMAX publicity.

LET HIM GO By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Academy Award nominee Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread and “Normal People”), Kayli Carter (“Private Life”), Jeffrey Donovan (“Fargo” and “Sicario”), and Will Brittain are set to join the cast of “Let Him Go.”

“Let Him Go” is based on the novel of the same name by Larry Watson. The The suspense thriller is led by Academy-Award winner Kevin Costner and Academy-Award nominee Diane Lane (pictured). Following the loss of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and his wife Margaret (Lane) leave their Montana ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family living off the grid in the Dakotas, headed by matriarch Blanche Weboy. When they discover the Weboys have no intention of letting the child go, George and Margaret are left with no choice but to fight for their family.

Manville will play Blanche Weboy, the matriarch of the villainous family, with Donovan and Brittain playing her sons Bill and Donnie, and Carter as Lorna, Costner and Lane’s daughter-in-law.

Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”) will direct the screenplay he wrote based on the novel by Larry Watson. Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan of The Mazur Kaplan Company will produce alongside Thomas Bezucha. Kimi Armstrong Stein, Jeffrey Lampert, Kevin Costner, and Rod Lake will executive produce. Production is underway. Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide.

For more information please visit


Mazur Kaplan is a partnership of award-winning producer Paula Mazur and nationally recognized bookseller Mitchell Kaplan. Their company produces elevated literary material for film and television. They are in post-production “On All The Bright Place” starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith, which will be released on Netflix later this year.

The company recently produced “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”starring Lily James, and “The Man Who Invented Christmas” starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer.

In development are numerous bestselling books including: “The Silent Wife” starring Nicole Kidman, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” written by Jack Thorne and “Pretend I’m Dead” starring Lola Kirke.

Editor’s Note: Information used in this article obtained from Focus Features.

NEVER RARELY... By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Production recently wrapped on “Never Really Sometimes Always,” the third feature film from acclaimed writer/director Eliza Hittman (“It Felt Like Love” and “Beach Rats”).

Focus Features will distribute worldwide with Universal Pictures International, excluding Free UK TV rights, which are retained by BBC Films.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is produced by PASTEL’s Adele Romanski and Sara Murphy, the production outfit behind Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

Written and directed by Hittman, the film is an intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania.

Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark on a brave, fraught journey across state lines to New York City.

The film’s leads are played by Sidney Flanigan (“Autumn”) and Talia Ryder (“Skylar”). Cast also includes Théodore Pellerin (“Boy Erased” and “The OA”), Ryan Eggold (“New Amsterdam” and “BlacKkKlansman”), and Sharon Van Etten (“The OA”).

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” reunites Eliza Hittman and “Beach Rats” cinematographer Hélène Louvart. The film was developed by BBC Films who also co-financed production alongside Tango Entertainment and Mutressa Movies.

Executive producers are Rose Garnett for BBC Films, Tim Headington and Lia Buman for Tango Entertainment, Elika Portnoy and Alex Orlovsky for Mutressa Movies.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski said: “Eliza is an outstanding artist who elevates intimate tales into powerfully relatable stories, and Pastel consistently make courageous films that humanize topics too often polarized in the media. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining them on the journey of bringing this timely and moving film to the world”

PASTEL said: "We have been admirers of Eliza’s filmmaking since her debut “It Felt Like Love” and we are honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with her on “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” a critical story for our time and one that we feel desperately needs to be told."

Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Films said: “Eliza is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today and in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” she sensitively explores an experience women around the world can relate to. We’re proud to help Eliza tell this story.”

For more information please visit