Minnesota Seniors Online

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 
Wonder Woman
Directed by Patty Jenkins

Wonder Woman….Wonderful

For those of you who watched the Wonder Woman television series in the 1970s or saw the movie in 2011, you may wonder why you would spend money to see Wonder Woman. This movie is all grown up and the DC Comics version is one of the best of the series of comic book character movies produced in years.

The Story - Director, Patty Jenkins, takes us to scenes of an Amazon Island created to be protected from the fall out of the Greek gods. We meet a young Diana (Gal Gadot) and watch her grow up as she begins to learn of her ancestry and become a warrior. When a German WWI plane crashes into the sea off the island we meet Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) working for British Intelligence. Diana rescues him from drowning.  The spy is being chased by a German ship whose sailors come on to the beach and a battle of Amazons and humans ensues. Diana leaves the island to join the war effort to stop the suffering of humans who she thinks is being caused by Ares, the god of War. Much is discovered about Diana’s background. This story is more about the mythology of the gods than previous versions of Wonder Woman. There are a variety of twists within the movie and there is a more athletic portrayal of Wonder Woman and her powers as a super hero.


The Cast - Most of the members of this diverse cast aren’t as recognizable to most movie viewers. This adds to the enjoyment of the movie. Chris Pine may be the only actor you recognize, but the cast is strong. Gal Gadot delivers a passionate performance as Diana. Her action scenes are solid, while she reaches deep to deliver compassion for humans as she discovers more about herself that was veiled by her queen mother and warrior aunt.  Chris Pine is good in his role of spy and Diana’s first “man” experience. At times, he seems a bit stiff, but is able to loosen up throughout the movie. Lucy Davis plays a strong British secretary to Steve Trevor. She is a character actor whom I would have enjoyed seeing more in the movie. The variety of characters provides an acting buffet that should satisfy your tastes.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: A

I will admit that I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this movie based on the previous versions of Wonder Woman.  I am glad I did. Of all the comic book, super hero character movies I have seen, I had to admit that this is one of the best, if not THE best! The action is strong. There are moments of compassion and comedy. The story is what brings this movie together. Of course, there are fantastic special effects. I saw this on an IMAX screen in 3D and at times even the seats vibrated, all adding to the experience. You don’t need IMAX, but this is a movie that plays well on a big screen and the 3D does make the movie a treat. It is worth the extra cost.


Zala's Featured Review
Pirates of the Caribbean
Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg  

ARGGG!  Dead Men Tell No Tales….

In what may be the final movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean series many of the plots from past stories come full circle in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg pull out the stops to bring this story to the screen. The sets have that “Disney” look, the action holds your attention and there is a bit of magic that brings it all together.

 The Story - The story opens with a young boy searching the sea for his father who is held in the spell with the undead crew of the Flying Dutchman. The boy learns he must find the trident of Poseidon to release the spell. The boy grows up, enlists in the British navy and after running into some trouble with superiors due to his quest, he searches for Captain Jack Sparrow whom he runs into in the brig on St. Martin. Captain Jack has diminished from his previous legend by lacking a real ship (the Pearl is still trapped in a bottle), a crew who walks out on him, and even the bounty on his head has dropped to 1 pound. In this adventure, we learn about how Jack Sparrow got his name and became a captain. With the help of an astronomer, accused of being a witch, who has an old journal with drawings of the stars which lead the way to the trident, the search begins. If you like a bit of absurdity, slapstick, and pirate tomfoolery, you will not need this movie to make total sense. The ending is reminiscent of Moses dividing the Red Sea and a “lives happily ever” after conclusion prevails as Captain Jack Sparrow sails off to new adventures. The music sets the mood during the dark and ominous portions as well as the recognizable melody during the adventure scenes.

The Cast - Most of your pirate favorites appear in this movie. Obviously, the story centers on Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow). Javier Bardem (Captain Salazar – Flying Dutchman) and Geoffrey Rush (Captain Hector Barbossa) are both strong characters in the film. Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) and Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann) return in this film to double the happily ever after ending. There is also a special appearance by Sir Paul McCartney as Uncle Jack.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: B-

If you have seen the previous movies you need to see this.  If the previous movies haven’t interested you, then you can skip this one as well. The movie is action packed and moves along well.  You can’t take any of this seriously. It isn’t outlandish, but you can see outlandish on the horizon. The movie is entertaining and a fun way to spend a couple of hours during the summer. 


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