“Upside-Down Magic” is a “Harry Potter” wannabe aimed at an even younger demographic. This Disney Channel movie, based on the Scholastic book series, is about students who attend a school for kids with the gift of magic, but the story concentrates on the struggles of four misfits who are ostracized because their magical powers don’t conform to magical norms. The production values are fine, and the cast is likable, but the movie’s execution is so pedestrian that it will appeal only to the very young. It has cool special effects, but not much movie magic.
“Summerland” is an easy-going British import set during WWII. Gemma Arterton plays an ill-tempered, antisocial writer living alone in a small seaside village who is forced by authorities to board a young boy whose parents are tied up in the war effort. Her hard-kept secrets are slowly revealed as she reluctantly bonds with the lad. While the cast is fine, the story lacks the hard edges necessary to give the drama a real spark. Still, “Summerland” is a sweet-natured and sentimental trifle.
Ron Howard, who directed the firefighter drama “Backdraft” almost 30 years ago, turns his attention to the aftermath of a real-life fire disaster with the documentary “Rebuilding Paradise.” The film includes some truly harrowing footage of the raging blaze that decimated Paradise, California and the surrounding countryside in 2018. It then chronicles the town’s recovery efforts as it follows the lives of a handful of survivors over a period of many months. ”Rebuilding Paradise” serves as a fitting tribute to the tenacity and resilience of the human spirit.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.