‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ powerful production

Rick's Reviews

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is available through HBO Max. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

(KGET) — A film that will be a major player in this year’s Oscar race tops this week’s new entertainment options.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” Grade 4 stars: Director Shaka King has created a powerful film based on true events surrounding the life of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party. It is told through the viewpoint of William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an FBI informant who infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party.

The power of this film comes from the performances by Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton and Jesse Plemons Special Agent Roy Mitchell. Each brings a memorable effort to this tale of politics and people.

Stanfield shows the fear and confusion of being a person being forced to choose between his own safety and his new loyalty while Kaluuya demonstrates that a man can be a powerful political force and very human at the same time. Plemons gives the film a character who is both friend and foe.

King’s film reflects the passion and politics of the era that goes beyond the historical significance of the story.

The film is available on the steaming service of HBO Max.

 “Greenland” Grade 3 stars: Fragments of a comet begin to pepper Earth. As larger pieces are wiping out entire cities and with the biggest chunk yet to come, one family tries to make it to the one safe place left on the planet.

Director Ric Roman Waugh sends waves of humanity crashing into equally powerful waves of inhumanity to create a film that thrives on dramatic tension without sacrificing action. The emphasis on people rather than the event makes this one of the best efforts in this very popular genre.

Because “Greenland” deals with the very human elements of an apocalyptic event, the casting of Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin was the make-or-break part of the process. They had to come across both as parents who look typical enough that viewers would easily relate to them. They also had to come across as strong enough to survive multiple ordeals.

“Freaky” Grade 3 stars: Credit Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton with making the horror/comedy film – a mix of “Freaky Friday” and “Friday the 13th – as scary as it is funny. If either had stumbled, the film would have been as dead as a teenager running through the woods from a man with an ax.

“Freaky” was written and directed by Christopher Landon who used the same smart blend of dark humor and gruesome violence to make “Happy Death Day” so much fun. He has created a story that works because it both takes the horror genre seriously and also has no problem poking fun at all of the tropes.

Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Feb. 9

The Little Prince”: A beautifully animated tale of a young girl who goes on an epic journey where she learns about the Little Prince.

“Monster Zone”: Boy genius opens a portal to another dimension.

“Jiang Ziya”: To earn his place amongst the gods, celestial army commander Jiang Ziya must vanquish a terrifying fox demon.

“Six by Sondheim”: The film is a candid look at the life and art of legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection”: The 30 episodes feature Mr. Rogers meeting his neighbors.

Available through digital platforms

“Before/During/After”: A middle-aged woman must examine her life when her marriage ends. The film can be seen through Video on Demand.

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