Movie Reviews

ImperiumSaturday evening, I drove from Hopewell to Richmond, all for the sake of a movie. The screening was held at the historic Byrd Theatre in the Carytown district. The theatre is one of the old time movie palaces and features a large Wurlitzer pipe organ. The Wurlitzer ascends from the orchestra pit for a brief concert before each showing.

There is not much legroom between your row of seats an the one in front of you. I guess people had shorter legs, back then. On the other hand, the popcorn is really good. I recommend getting the ‘Large’ for only $5.00.

The title to the movie was Imperium, based on the true story of Michael German. The plot concerns Nate Forester, a young and idealistic FBI agent who goes undercover to find leads on some illegally imported Caesium-137 and its relationship with active white-supremacist groups.

RadcliffeNate’s character is played by Daniel Radcliffe. (Yes, THAT Daniel Radcliffe.) Moviegoers will get to see Harry Potter as a white supremacist skinhead. Sorry, but the flying broom and wizard’s wand are not included.

The movie is an edge-of-your-seat action thriller that does not disappoint. While one reviewer lamented the usual cop-goes-undercover clichés, other reviewers would have lamented their absence. If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that reviewers always have to whine about something. (I should know. I’m a reviewer, too.)

One great thing about the movie is that it was largely filmed in my hometown of Hopewell, VA. The world premier of Imperium was held at Hopewell’s somewhat historic Beacon Theatre. This is the first – and probably last – time Hopewell has hosted a red carpet event.

The shots of Hopewell are mostly generic ones. In other words, if you know Hopewell, you’ll recognise much of the background. It was fun, though, seeing the interior of the (fabulous) K & L restaurant and the interior of the Hopewell Quick Lunch used in a movie. In fact, it was fun trying to guess just where certain scenes were filmed. Unfortunately, a certain historic Sears house on Oakwood Ave. was not chosen.

You don’t have to be from Hopewell, VA – or even Prince George – to enjoy this move. It’s a tense thriller with a somewhat unsettling and timely theme.

My Rating:



Irony Dept. – I was standing on line outside the theatre with a heavily inked couple. The Byrd was screening Willy Wonka and the discussion came to the question, “Is Gene Wilder still around. The inked male checked his smart phone & indeed, Wilder was still kicking. This afternoon, they announced the star of Young Frankenstein has left the building. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

This is not going to be a full-fledged movie review like Roger Ebert would do. It’s simply a few comments on the movie, Brave.

You may remember my recent post concerning Disney’s registration of the DunBroch tartan that was used in Brave. Well, I’m in Hopewell, VA this weekend and since Hopewell has not been a “happening place” for 45 years – some folks will say that it never was to begin with – I decided to catch the late screening of Brave over at the Regal in Colonial Heights.
I chose the 3-D version and while there was nothing really spectacular or unusual in those effects, it did add to the overall experience.

I must say that I loved Brave from the get-go and not simply because two of my favourite actresses – Kelly Macdonald & Emma Thompson – were voicing the heroine and her mother. (For the sake of full disclosure, I will confess that I wouldn’t mind listening Kelly Macdonald read the Glasgow phone directory.) The CGI work was superb and the backdrop for this tale did make me rather hame-sick. The story line itself will be familiar to most daughters & mothers – at least to my wife, anyway – and that is the age-old battle between the two when mother tries to inculcate mature, lady-like qualities in her daughter who has other ideas about what a lady should be.

While the story will, no doubt, resonate amongst the fairer sex, there is enough comedic fodder to be found in the male characters that most laddies – wee and not so wee – will enjoy it as well. I read the review on the Common Sense Media website and found that in the “Sexy stuff” category, the movie was noted for its clansmen being naked under their kilts, (Aren’t we ALL naked under our clothes???) a few bare bums and a servant with a generous helping of cleavage. All this is hardly ground-breaking and only full-blown prudes, members of the Family Research Council & the totally sheltered will find anything to be offended by. [Yes, I know I ended a sentence with a preposition but, actually, that rule applies only to Latin so get over it!!]

The film is definitely kid-friendly though 8 years should probably about the youngest age of potential viewers. There are some scary sequences that might upset your wee bairn. On the other hand, I’ve seen 6-year old’s thrive on scary stuff and beg for more. At the end of the day, parents should take in to account what their children are used to seeing or reading about before making a final go or no-go decision.

There are a few factual errors, though. For example, the queen is seen eating with a fork centuries before such implements actually came into use. Another is the allied clan chiefs bragging about their eldest sons’ valour against Romans and Vikings when the individual presence of those two groups in Scotland is separated by about 200 years. Finally, there is the notion of  kilts and clan tartans well over half a millennia before that sort of thing made its appearance in Scotland.

Nit-pickers should get over it as Brave is e-n-t-e-r-t-a-i-n-m-e-n-t   and not a   d-o-c-u-m-e-n-t-a-r-y.  Moreover, Disney Studios have a habit of playing fast and loose with the truth. Just ask them about Lemmings!

In the final analysis, Brave is a good and entertaining family movie as well as a fun way to escape from the heat. Older viewers will enjoy the humor to be found in such things as the strong dramatic resemblance between Lord Dingwall’s son – Wee Dingwall – and Terry Jones’ portrayal of Prince Herbert in Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

My Rating:

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