Northern Iowan

Pixar’s ‘Onward’ is heartwarming

NI Film Critic Hunter Friesen reviews “Onward,” the animated film from Pixar.


March 12, 2020

Set on an Earth where the magical and mythological exist together, Pixar’s newest animated film, “Onward,” tells the tale of two elven brothers. The story begins on the 16th birthday of the younger brother, Ian Lightfoot, who never was able to meet his dad as he had died before Ian was born. ...

Friesen: ‘The Invisible Man’ is one to see

NI film critic Hunter Friesen reviews “The Invisible Man,” the newest film from horror director/writer Leigh Whannell.


March 5, 2020

“The Invisible Man” opens on a secluded waterfront mansion. Inside of it, Cecilia Kass is executing her plan to run away from her abusive boyfriend, Adrian. She successfully escapes, but not without Adrian running after her in a violent fury. A few weeks after her departure, Cecilia is notified that Adr...

NBC’s ‘Zoey’ fails to find its tune

NI Copy Editor and Opinion Writer Taylor Lien reviews the new NBC musical show, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

TAYLOR LIEN, Copy Editor

February 24, 2020

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” has had an interesting life so far. The pilot aired originally on Jan. 7 as a special presentation to transition the weeks in between the holiday specials and the winter programming schedule. You may also recognize it as the 45-minute ad that NBC tried to sneak pas...

‘Sonic’ can’t outrun its problems

Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, in "Sonic the Hedgehog ." [Paramount Pictures/Sega of America]


February 20, 2020

It’s been almost a year now since we were exposed to the horror that came with the first trailer for “Sonic the Hedgehog.” The blue furball we loved as a kid was turned into a monster with human teeth, small eyes and freakishly long legs. After the overwhelmingly negative reactions, Paramount ...

Friesen: Oscars were predictable

NI film critic Hunter Friesen recaps the 92nd Academy Awards, which took place on Sunday, Feb. 9.


February 13, 2020

Well, it finally happened. After months of releases and campaigning, the 92nd Academy Awards took place this last Sunday, signaling the end of the 2019 movie season. Now that the dust has settled and the speeches have been made, it’s time to recap everything that went down. Here are just a few stor...

Academy Awards predictions

Film Critic Hunter Friesen makes his predictions for this Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Motion Picture.


February 6, 2020

Writer’s Note: There are dozens of precursor award shows leading up to the Oscars that factor heavily when making predictions for the races. Notable precursor awards are the Golden Globes, SAG, PGAs, Critics Choice and BAFTAs. This Sunday, Feb. 9, will mark the 92nd edition of the Academy Awards as it honors w...

Ritchie returns home with stylish ‘Gentlemen’

NI film critic Hunter Friesen reviews “The Gentlemen,” directed, written and produced by Guy Ritchie. The film was released in the United States on Jan. 24 and received a 72 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.


January 30, 2020

Like Wes Anderson, Tim Burton and Michael Bay, you can tell when a film is made by Guy Ritchie just by watching a few minutes of it. The British director has carried a sense of hyper stylization through each of his films, most notably in crime comedies that began with the one-two punch of “Lock, Stoc...

Friesen’s top films of 2019

NI Film Critic Hunter Friesen summarizes his top ten films of 2019, including “Uncut Gems”  and “The King.


January 23, 2020

Well, the year has passed and we can finally let out a sigh of relief. The only thing left to do now is to look ahead to fresh beginnings in the new year and decade. But before we do that, let’s take some time to appreciate all the good that happened to us this last year, specifically within the mo...

Winter break film review roundup

NI film critic Hunter Friesen reviews several films released over winter break, including


January 16, 2020

With the weather outside being so frightful and the movie theatre being so delightful, this past break was a perfect time to check out the new batch of holiday films. Of course, there was a certain space opera that was released, but there were also a few others that may have flown a bit under-the-rad...

‘Marriage Story’ hits home with laughter and tears

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star in “Marriage Story,” directed by Noah Baumbach and released on Netflix on Nov. 6. The film received a 96 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.


December 12, 2019

“Divorce is like a death without a body.” With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce in America, this quote from Noah Baumbach’s new film now rings truer than ever. Debuting on Netflix, “Marriage Story” centers on the relationship between Charlie and Nicole Barber. Charlie is an emer...

Scorsese crafts crime epic ‘Irishman’

Martin Scorsese directs “The Irishman” starring Jo Pesci (left), Robert De Niro (right) and Al Pacino (not pictured). The film was released on Nov. 1 and received a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.


December 9, 2019

Sprawling 50 years and dozens of features, director Martin Scorsese has crafted one of the finest filmographies in cinematic history. Over the decades, there appear to be two sides to the revered auteur’s style of filmmaking. One side is filled with fast-paced and violent storytelling in films such as ...

McKellen vs Mirren in ‘Good Liar’

Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen star in the Bill Condon-directed thriller


November 21, 2019

London octogenarian Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) is a career con man, swindling from those less fortunate enough to fall into one of his schemes. One day, as part of an online dating scam he occasionally pulls, he meets Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), a recent widower who turns out to be worth nearly t...

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