DVD Roundup: June

Rent it or skip it? Here’s a handy review recap of movies now available for home viewing. Simply click on the film’s title to read our original reviews.

“Eddie the Eagle”

Highly Recommended

“10 Cloverfield Lane”

Worthy Rentals

“Eye in the Sky”

You Can Do Better

“13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Skip It

“Central Intelligence”

LOUISA:  2 STARS  MATT:  3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are two of the most likeable people on the planet. I struggle to think of one person who doesn’t love either one or both of these men. Their charisma is one of the only things that works in “Central Intelligence,” the latest half-baked buddy comedy / action movie that Hollywood has churned out.

Johnson plays Bob, a former fat nerd who has since “worked out 6 hours a day, every day, for the last 20 years” and is seriously buff. When Bob travels back to town for his high school reunion, he looks up Calvin the “Golden Jet” (Hart), a popular jock who was always kind back in the day.

You can probably guess where this film is going — Calvin gets tied up in Bob’s CIA troubles, there’s some double crossing, lots of confusion, good guys are bad, bad guys good, yadda yadda yadda. The simple plot is pretty weak; I really wish these two guys had a better movie to work with. The movie is predictable, dumb and the laughs are scarce, but the two leads have a strong appeal that makes it impossible to totally hate this movie.

While the film simply sails along without much going on, there are still two things to like about it (other than the two leads). First, there’s a very strong and positive anti-bullying message at the core of the story. The movie teaches that it’s always right to do the kind thing, and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. Second, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the inspired surprise acting cameos.

There’s simply not enough that works to recommend the movie, but at least it’s good natured and has a heart of gold.

MATT SAYS:

The odd couple of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart team up to solve a mystery featuring espionage, intrigue, and plenty of double- and triple-crossing. Or something. Does it really matter? You had me at “Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.”

Seriously, who doesn’t like these guys? It was no surprise to me that the movie did huge business on Father’s Day: having gone to the movies that day, we saw packed theater after packed theater of dads out with their families, all of them seeing “Central Intelligence.”

So does it live up to expectations? Sort of. Both are likeable as always, and Johnson gets to do a bit of comedy – which has always been one of his strengths – and Kevin Hart does a good job playing off of him. I had some good laughs early on, but those started to gradually taper off towards the middle, virtually disappearing by the movie’s end. As a comedy, it’s a bit of a wash. No worse than your average Hollywood big summer action-comedy, but not much better, either.

Apart from the laughs, the story is just interesting enough to hold your attention, but it’s no “Pulp Fiction,” either. When the guys start to unravel the clues to figure out who is behind the attempted frame-up of Johnson’s characters, things get increasingly ridiculous and start to try your patience. Fortunately, it’s short enough that it never becomes completely boring.

“Central Intelligence” pairs well with a HALL 2013 Cabernet Franc. Yum!

“Warcraft”

LOUISA:  3 STARS  MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I’m a bad nerd because not only have I never played the Warcraft video game on which this film is based, I don’t know much about it at all except for what was presented in this movie. I can’t tell all of you die-hard gamers whether or not “Warcraft” follows the story of the game but I can tell you that I was completely engaged in and thoroughly entertained by the movie. This is proof that you don’t need to have any background gaming experience to follow along with the plot.

I think critics who hated this movie just have a bone to pick simply because it’s based on a popular game — but I can tell you that it’s not bad and is actually quite enjoyable (all of this is coming from a person who absolutely detests fantasy films like “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Warcraft” is strikingly similar to the Tolkien world)!

The film is heavy on CGI animation as expected. Surprisingly, it’s not at all distracting. The animation is lifelike, nearly flawless, and the world that’s created looks and feels authentic. The epic scale battle scenes appear larger than life because they are edited in a way where it is easy to tell what is going on. Everything is well crafted, which makes it a cut above the usual video game film adaptations. The film is comfortable (and consistent) in its own mythology. There are orcs and elves and dwarves and wizards, all confidently co-existing in the human realm. As such, nothing ever feels silly.

The dramatic elements work just as well as the lively fantasy action sequences. Another huge plus is the personal, character-driven story. The voice actors are talented (standouts are Anna Galvin as Draka and Toby Kebbell as Durotan) and are boosted by surprisingly credible performances from Ben Foster (Medivh), Travis Fimmel (Anduin Lothar), Dominic Cooper (King Llane Wrynn), and yes, even Paula Patton (perfectly cast as the slightly dumb, clueless and annoying Garona).

There is plenty here for the casual moviegoer to delight in, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. I recommend this movie to anyone looking to escape to a fully realized fantasy environment for a couple of hours.

MATT SAYS:

“Warcraft” is an enjoyable romp through a fantasy world filled with humans, orcs, dwarves, elves, mages, and other mystical creatures. I am surprised to report that it is one of my favorite big summer movies of 2016 (so far) and is a good choice for fans of action and fantasy.

Knowing virtually nothing about the video game (other than what I learned from this classic South Park episode), I went into the movie not knowing exactly what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. Lothar (Travis Fimmel) is a human warrior charged with defending his realm of Azeroth. Durotan (Toby Kebbell) is an orc chieftan who has seen his home world destroyed, and now seeks a new home for his people. These worlds collide when the orcs use a magical portal to travel to Azeroth and seek to conquer and colonize the human land.

For a movie that relies so heavily on a mix of CGI and live action, I thought it looks great. The orcs are lifelike (although less so the giant wolves which they ride), and their interaction with human and other characters believable. This is a fully-rendered world that has a definite sense of space and spacial relation; even a newcomer to this subject is able to readily understand what is happening and where it is in relation to the other on-screen events.

The story itself is surprisingly compelling. The characters have motivations that are instantly relatable and sympathetic; I cared about them and what was happening. At a running time just over two hours, the length felt right for the subject. While it ended in the right place, I was left wanting more. I hope it does well enough at the box office that we get the sequel it’s so clearly being set up for.

 

“The Conjuring 2”

MATT:  2 STARS


MATT SAYS:

This year’s follow-up to 2013’s hugely successful (and largely entertaining) movie “The Conjuring” suffers from sequel-itis. Like most sequels, “The Conjuring 2” feels both overblown and unnecessary.

The film industry knows from experience that good horror movies can be made economically. Even for wide release movies, most budgets are miniscule when compared to typical Hollywood fare. This economy of budget has forced genre filmmakers to be more creative and innovative in their storytelling. These small, tight stories that focus on building suspense and scares, coupled with a judicious use of special effects, has resulted in some truly great and scary movies (see: “Saw,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Halloween,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and many others).

“The Conjuring” was a bit of an anomaly. With a comparatively large budget of $20M, New Line made back twice that in the opening weekend alone. Now, with “The Conjuring 2,” the studio doubled-down with the budget (reportedly at $40M) but the film itself proves that more is not always better.

Everything in “The Conjuring 2” is more. A 30-minute longer runtime. More special effects. More plot. More bumps in the night. More jump scares. But frankly, in this movie more is too much.

The film’s pacing suffers as a result of its overblown length. A whole, whole lot of screen time is devoted to the heroes of the first movie, Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson). But frankly, as characters they’re not that compelling. We go to see movies like this one to be scared, and way too much time is spent on story lines that aren’t very scary (or interesting, for that matter).

When we do get to the scares, I’m sorry to say that the movie suffers on that account, as well. This is essentially a haunted house movie that follows all of the predictable tropes (once you see the house, you basically know what is going to happen) but still delivers some effective atmospheric shots. The problem is that the film reveals way too early the nature of the spirit haunting the house, and by knowing what is doing the haunting, much of the terror is sapped from it. When we finally get to the big climactic confrontation, there is so much much gobbledygook nonsense thrown in to explain the whys and hows, and we are so worn down by the overlong and bloated plot, that it’s hard to really care about the characters anymore and whether any of them live or die.

It’s not all a waste. There are some really inventive scares here (I especially loved “The Crooked Man”). Madison Wolfe, the actress who plays the main girl (Janet Hodgson) is a talented actress that does a beautiful job (and acts the rest of them, including Wilson and Farmiga, under the table). But I can’t help thinking that if they had cut this down by about 40 minutes, it could have been so much better.


Louisa was unavailable for review.

“Independence Day: Resurgence”

LOUISA : HALF STAR  MATT: HALF STAR


LOUISA SAYS:

If there is any justice in the movie world, the incoherent “Independence Day: Resurgence” will die a quick, swift death at the box office. This movie so lousy that it doesn’t deserve to be viewed by anyone.

I’d like to tell you the plot of this disaster, but I honestly have no idea what it is. There are some cool looking aliens, decent enough special effects, and a talking (yes, talking) giant alien metal sphere. Is this some sort of elaborate studio joke? The film is packed with cacophonous mayhem, with quick cuts and probably no more than two pages of dialogue. It’s little more than a rapid-fire parade of good looking, racially diverse millennials flying fake animated sci-fi jets and delivering such pithy gems as “Get ready for a close encounter, bitch.”

All of the magic and intensity from the original film is gone. The sequel is set in present day but the world, thanks to all of that alien technology, looks like something out of the distant future. It’s confusing and weird on all levels. Hollywood had 20 years to get it right and they failed.

Sure, director Roland Emmerich throws us old timers a bone and shoves original “Independence Day” alums Jeff Goldblum (David), Bill Pullman (Whitmore), Judd Hirsch (Juius), Brent Spiner (Dr. Okun), and Vivica A. Fox (Jasmine) into pointless supporting roles, but their appearance will only cause you to long for a better movie. The only sentimentality I had was thinking how Will Smith had the good sense to opt out of this garbage.

The ‘updated’ cast is, how can I put it lightly, better suited for daytime television. Some of the new actors play the grown up kids of the original characters (Jessie T. Usher as Dylan Hiller and Maika Monroe as Patricia Whitmore). All of them, including new additions Liam Hemsworth (Jake) and Angelababy (Rain) have zero chemistry as they stumble over their clunky characters. How the filmmakers were able to woo the talented Charlotte Gainsbourg into a bit part will forever be a mystery.

Popcorn movies are supposed to be fun, but this one was trying on every level imaginable. I left the theater emotionally exhausted. Every ridiculous cliché is here: stranded kids on a school bus, a baby in danger at a hospital, and of course a cute dog that faces peril. I actually laughed out loud at every one of those moments in the movie. Silly can be fun (see “London Has Fallen“) but here, instead of going the campy route, it’s played straight and it fails miserably. There’s no emotional heft to the story or the characters and as a result, I had zero emotional response to any of them; I didn’t care if they lived or died.

Worst of all, the film’s ending actually sets it up for a sequel! Vote with your wallets, folks, and tell Hollywood that we don’t want another crapfest like this. I simply cannot stress how god-awful this film is. Yes, it’s even worse than “Mother’s Day.” You have all been warned.

MATT SAYS:

It pains me greatly to say this: “Independence Day: Resurgence” is not just bad. It’s beyond bad. It’s absolutely terrible.

Why does it pain me so? Because the original “Independence Day” is still one of my all-time favorite movies. Even now, 20 years later, the movie holds up and is still just as fun to watch as it was in 1996. Yes, it’s silly and some plot points are even ridiculous, but it’s still a good movie in the best tradition of big, loud, boisterous blockbusters.

I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll just say it: “Resurgence” effectively sh*ts on all of the goodwill you have towards its predecessor. Some of the characters you loved in the first one are back, but they exhibit absolutely none of the traits you loved about them. In their place, we have doppelgängers whose only function is to make you recall your fondness for them in the first film. They are strictly ornamental; they adorn the screen but do very little else. This grows tiresome, very quickly. With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that Will Smith was wise to stay away, far away, from this steaming pile.

To the extent there ever was or could have been an “Independence Day” franchise, “Resurgence” sucks the life out of it with some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a big studio tentpole. This script feels like it was written by an untalented and unfunny improvisational troupe who has seen lots of science fiction movies, responding to shouted suggestions from the audience. That is to say that very little thought went into actually writing this thing. The characters have no depth, and don’t seem to even inhabit the same space. Entire plotlines exist solely for the purpose of exploiting your fondness for the original. I would say more, but truthfully I mentally checked out about halfway in and stopped paying much attention to what was banging around and exploding on the screen. I would have walked out had it not been for my desire to see whether it ever would get any better. I’m disappointed to say it didn’t.

Avoid this one like the plague. Go watch the original again and just pretend this movie doesn’t even exist. Trust me, you’ll be better off for it.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass”

LOUISA:  1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

It’s the costumes, stupid. Well, that and the makeup. Everything else about “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is a less-than-enchanted mess. I didn’t want to believe it, but this movie is every bit as bad as everyone says it is.

Johnny Depp is back as the Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and Helena Bonham Carter is once again Iracebeth the Red Queen. The trio of actors are more than capable in their roles and the characters they create on film are fantastic, but none can save this mechanical movie. In fact, Depp is featured as no more than a supporting performer; he doesn’t have much screen time and when he does, it’s not in any meaty scenes.

Sacha Baron Cohen carries the movie as “Time,” but I quickly grew tired of his humorless portrayal (when I see Cohen I want to watch him doing what he does best: comedy). Anne Hathaway (Mirana) must be shooting for the 2016 Razzie award for Worst Actress; she is SO AWFUL in this movie that even my fellow audience members were laughing out loud whenever she delivered her lines or pranced about. It’s bad.

The unoriginal plot is at least simple to follow and semi-interesting; Alice travels through time to prevent disaster but learns that she cannot change the past. Alice through the looking glass? More like Alice in the time machine.

Quickly bored with the story, I found myself scrutinizing the costumes and special effects, and I cannot find any fault with either. Yes, the movie looks like a huge cartoon but it’s clear that the animation was crafted with the utmost care (unlike recent Disney and Pixar films “The Jungle Book” and “Finding Dory,” which both had surprisingly poor animation). Guess Disney misguidedly spent all of their CGI budget on this film. The extravagant costumes and sparkling makeup are colorful and wonderful and simply perfect, capturing the vivid imagination of author Lewis Carroll.

I am comfortable mildly recommending this film to anyone who is a fan of the artistry of animation, makeup and costuming. Everyone else would be advised to skip it.


Matt was unavailable for review.

“The Do-Over”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

In the latest made-for-Netflix movie “The Do-Over,” Adam Sandler and David Spade make a great onscreen buddy duo. Their brash and snarky personalities clash in a way that works. The movie is not good and is ultimately forgettable, but it’s also quite watchable, not half bad, and nowhere near as awful as people are going to lead you to believe.

Spade plays pitiful Charlie, a total loser who runs into old high school buddy Max (Sandler) at their 25th class reunion. In an attempt to escape their dull lives and reinvent themselves, the two devise a plan to assume other dead mens’ identities. Turns out those other men are involved in some seriously shady stuff and Charlie and Max now find themselves chased by a team of assassins and paired up with a widow (the reliably horrible Paula Patton).

The evil drug company plot is a little hard to follow but the twists and turns are interesting enough to keep you guessing. The storyline in this film surprised me, and I didn’t see where it was going. There’s not much gross out humor; instead it’s more subdued and some of the comedy is even — dare I say it — inspired. As with most Sandler projects, the movie ends its laughs with a big heart. It’s worth your time if you are a fan of Sandler, but others would be wise to skip it.


Matt was unavailable for review.

“Finding Dory”

LOUISA: 2 STARS  MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The main question on my mind after the final credits rolled for “Finding Dory” was ‘does Pixar even care anymore?’ It seems like the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ The studio continues its streak of mediocrity in their latest not-so-great animated feature, a sad rehash of 2003’s far better “Finding Nemo.”

This time it’s the lovable blue Dory (Ellen Degeneres) who is searching for her long lost family. Dory suffers from short term memory loss, a cute gimmick until the parameters of her condition change on a whim: she can’t remember what she was talking about five seconds earlier yet conveniently remembers important details from years ago when it’s vital to the plot. Both Marlin (the always fantastic Albert Brooks) and Nemo (now cutesy-voiced by Hayden Rolence) are back as Dory’s sidekicks, and there are multiple unnecessary, obligatory cameos from Crush (Andrew Stanton) and Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson).

As with many animated films lately, the voice talent is borderline horrible. These actors originated the roles and created the sound of the characters, but there is something not quite right about their performances here, especially from Degeneres. She managed to make Dory devoid of any empathy or likeability, both characteristics that oozed from her performance in the original “Finding Nemo.” Ditto for the absolutely dreadful vocal performances from Ed O’Neill as Hank the octopus and Ty Burrell as Bailey the beluga whale. I’m cringing as I’m writing this when I think of how simply lousy they were.

Speaking of Bailey the beluga whale, that entire character was pretty awful. Beluga whales are undeniably awesome but the idea that one was using his sonar capabilities to track fish in pipes or a truck on a major highway (being driven by an octopus) was so ridiculously stupid that it nearly single-handedly ruined the entire movie for me. Parents, use this film as an educational opportunity to teach your kids about marine life so that they don’t grow into moronic adults.

The film is also plagued by ugly, uninviting animation. The lovely short preceding the film, “Piper,” is rich and gorgeous and lush and full of vibrancy. With “Dory,” all we get is murky, dreary animation with an astonishing lack of detail. Really, why did this movie have to look so brown and gray and washed out? I don’t understand how anyone would enjoy the look and feel of this movie.

I adore animated films, I truly do. In fact, animation is of my favorite genres ever. I hate having to consistently dish out low star ratings to the Disney / Pixar mouse powerhouse but their winning formula obviously has grown old and stale. I had high hopes for this movie, but a stinker is a stinker and there’s no getting around that.

MATT SAYS:

While it’s not a timeless classic on the level of “Finding Nemo,” “Finding Dory” is an enjoyable enough piece of entertainment that’s worth watching.

Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), she of the short-term memory loss, has come to the realization that early in life, she lost her parents. As she continues to remember bits and pieces of what happened to her when she was a young fish, she goes in search of her family, aided by Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks). Her adventures take her to the place where she was born, where she meets friends both new, like Hank (Ed O’Neill) and old, like Destiny (Kaitlin Olson).

Like most of the more watchable Disney/Pixar movies, “Finding Dory” doesn’t fall into the modern-day trap of animated movies by trying too hard to please the parents by including far too many “adult” jokes while also trying to amuse kids by using too much modern vernacular. The animation is good, as one expects from a Pixar film. The voice talent is strong, where the voices mostly match the characters and doesn’t rely overly much on stunt casting (using popular A-list actors) to round out the cast.

The story is also pretty good. While some of the plot points started to verge on the ridiculous — with animals doing things that were decidedly NOT authentic to the species — I didn’t get bored, and I didn’t get annoyed. For an animated film, this is high praise from me. I cared about Dory, Hank, Marlin, Nemo, and the others, and I felt invested in their story. This also seemed to be true for the rest of the audience that was in my screening: while some younger kids got a bit restless, most of them were well-behaved enough and seemed invested enough to care about what was happening.

If you’re expecting a Pixar masterpiece like “Wall-E” or “Toy Story 2,” you’ll be disappointed in “Finding Dory.” But, on the other hand, if you are hoping for a movie that you can enjoy along with your well-behaved children that liked “Finding Nemo,” I think you’ll be pleased.

 

“A Bigger Splash”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I usually love movies like “A Bigger Splash,” a sensual, eccentric art house homage to classic Italian cinema that’s visually indulgent, filled with complex characters, and is horrifically kooky to the core. This time the film never quite achieves the greatness that it could’ve been, but it’s still a mildly entertaining ride (an undoubtedly an acquired taste). It starts and ends strong but the center simply isn’t compelling enough to hold everything together.

The movie takes place on the Italian island of Pantelleria, itself the perfect setting for the bizarre story. Rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is on holiday to rest after a vocal chord operation with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). When former boyfriend and music producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) shows up unannounced with his newly-discovered daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), things slowly turn a relaxing, peaceful respite into a jumble of emotional (and physical) wreckage.

The strong performances (along with a rich, seductive storyline of betrayal) carry this movie. Swinton kicks major ass in her role by spending most of the film acting with a whisper or simple gestures. She’s perfect for the part and handles it with an effortless aloofness that only she could pull off. Johnson gives an impressive performance as a young Lolita type with some serious issues; this role earns her some strong acting cred. Schoenaerts is so beautifully understated in his portrayal of Paul that he fades softly into the background, a supporting performance with the heft of a lead.

The complexity of the characters is stunning, but it’s Fiennes who steals the movie. He doesn’t just steal the film, he grabs it by the balls and takes off running, never giving out of steam. If there’s an actor that deserves an Oscar for a role, its Fiennes in this film.

Warning: This film contains explicit sex and graphic nudity and is not for everyone. Prudes or indie film virgins need not apply.

MATT SAYS:

“A Bigger Splash” is a languidly-paced indie movie that celebrates the timeless values of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

As the movie opens, rock superstar Marianne (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend, documentarian Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) are enjoying a vacation in a remote Italian island as Marianne heals from surgery on her vocal chords. Their life is upended when Marianne’s music producer, sometime lover, and long-time friend Harry (Ralph Fiennes) arrives for a visit with Harry’s daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) in tow. The quartet spends much time listening to music, doing drugs, and becoming entangled in a lover’s quadrangle where loyalties and friendships are tested.

Very little happens in “A Bigger Splash,” and at the same time, a great deal happens. The movie is replete with long scenes filled with dancing, music, and sexual tension that pushes boundaries and edges into taboo. The attentive and absorbed viewer is rewarded, as the acting is so strong and the scripting so realistic that the tension is palpable, weighing like a heavy fog over the film and informing every single scene.

All four of the principal actors do an excellent job. While I am not usually a fan of either Swinton or Johnson, both actors are incredibly strong in their roles. But it is Fiennes that truly shines as Harry, a force of nature that wreaks havoc in virtually every situation and commands attention wherever he goes.

While I liked and appreciated the movie, it’s hard for me to recommend it. It’s clear to me — based on the reactions of the people who saw it with me — that the audience for “A Bigger Splash” is extremely limited. Very few, if any, responded well to the film, with most people either feeling bored or bewildered. As a result, it is with a word of caution to you that I endorse it.

“Me Before You”

LOUISA: 4 STARS MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I sort of hate myself for loving “Me Before You” as much as I did. I’m not one to fall for a sappy romantic drama but this movie captured my attention (and my heart) from the get-go. The relateable characters, as likeable as they are authentic, and the film’s surprise twist (that I didn’t see coming) make this one a winner. Any film that presents itself as a run-of-the-mill love story but then manages to inspire, shock, surprise and ultimately touch my heart is a winner in my book.

This film is based on the hit book of the same name by author Jo Jo Moyes. I didn’t read the source material but still responded well to the film. The movie tells the story of the relationship between ditzy Louisa (Emilia Clarke), a quirky small town girl and wealthy Will (Sam Claflin), a paralyzed former playboy. When Louisa is hired as a caretaker for the sarcastic and reluctant Will, a different type of love story blossoms.

The characters themselves aren’t terribly complex, but it doesn’t matter. The two leads have an amazing chemistry which makes the story feel truly touching and not at all corny. Yes, this film is packed with more than a few clichés, but these multiple clichés didn’t have me sarcastically rolling my eyes — they instead had me emotionally invested every step of the way.

Is this outstanding, compelling, fine art? Nah. But it’s a satisfying, romantic and realistic exploration of what it means to truly live.

MATT SAYS:

“Me Before You” is a chick flick that is significantly better than the Nicholas Sparks fare that’s usually inflicted on film audiences (seriously, it’s almost as though movie studios have forgotten that other people write these stories, too). It works because it’s not a paint-by-the-numbers film that is completely predictable. There are a few surprises in store even for regular moviegoers that make this one worth checking out.

If you’re interested at all in the movie, you probably know the basic outline of the story: working class girl Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) is hired by the parents in a wealthy family to look after their son, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). Will is a successful thirtysomething businessman who recently suffered an accident that left him a quadriplegic and angry at the world. Over time, the two develop feelings for one another as Louisa helps Will remember what it is to live again.

The movie works because the relationship between Louisa and Will is believable and natural. Although Clarke (better known from her role as in Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones”) is not the most talented actress, she works as Louisa; from her deer-in-headlights demeanor early in the film as she’s introduced to Will to her infectious optimism as she’s trying to get through to Will, she injects a relentless likeability into this role that wins the hearts of both Will and the audience. Although Claflin isn’t going to be vying for an Oscar with this performance, he’s nevertheless enjoyable and sympathetic as Will, and he fortunately never ventures into the same stunt-casting territory where Eddie Redmayne and his overacting rules the roost.

Aside from the Clark-Traynor story, the best aspect of the movie is its treatment of Will as a quadriplegic. In stories like this one, we would typically view Will and his prognosis through the rose-colored lens of the able-bodied. In “Me Before You,” the film doesn’t try to tell Will how he should feel, or presume (in paternalistic fashion) to know what’s best for Will. Instead, the movie listens to Will and places value on his world view. I found this take refreshingly different from what we’re used to seeing in big Hollywood romance pictures like this one; one hopes that progressive stories like this one might help sway opinions and help inform the way we treat people like Will as a society.

While the movie is clearly better than its Nicholas Sparks-driven ilk, it is never quite able to cross the threshold from pretty good to greatness. It’s worth your time, but not a must-see.