0 = Worthless; 2 = Needs Work; 3 = Okay; 4 = Worthwhile; 5 = Good Movie
Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford and Adam Driver scores a “4”
This movie is a science-fiction action adventure fantasy suitable for teens* and adults
Disney bought Lucasfilm and finally rekindled the Star Wars saga with a worthwhile script that tastefully leaves room for the next segment. British actress Daisy Ridley playing Rey, has a well written role that she brilliantly brings to life. Interesting note about Daisy is that her siblings are named after flowers too: Poppy Sophia and Kika-Rose. John Boyega, another British actor, plays Finn, a character who is used to stitch the leading characters Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Issac) together. Harrison Ford, continuing his role as Han Solo, definitely fit into this story. Ford and his character’s sidekick Chewbacca (played by 71 year-old Peter Mayhew and PennState basketball alumni Joonas Suotamo) added some much needed comic relief. This movie can be a little dry with all the “let’s save the galaxy” going on. The rebirth of the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens story should satisfy fans of the trilogy and expand the fan base within the current generation. Disney did nothing new in the way of caricature with the alien creatures, so you shouldn’t have to struggle trying to figure out what you are looking at. Those looking for a romantic element will be disappointed, there is none; this movie is by all means an action-adventure with a few side stories to keep it interesting and balanced out with bitter tragedy. I did enjoy the traditional start of the movie with the ascending written outline that includes detail that’s helpful in bringing fans new and old up to speed on how this segment fits the saga. I saw the movie in 3D and missed the first 10 minutes due to the hellacious lines at the theater. Afterward I stuck around and watched what I missed in one of the theater rooms showing it in regular digital format. I wished I had saved the extra money I spent on the 3D, since I didn’t really see any remarkable differences between the two formats. Disney’s flaw with producing this movie is that the 3D graphics are not spectacular. I left the theater after I caught up on seeing the part I initially missed since it wasn't exciting enough to sit through again. And I don’t think this movie is appealing to an audience under the age of twelve plus it’s two hours and fifteen minutes long. One pre-teen boy in the theater surrendered to his disinterest and dozed off shortly after the movie began. “The Force Awakens” is not the best movie of the year nor is it the best of the Star Wars saga.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” starring Jason Lee, Josh Green and scores a “3.5”
This movie is an action comedy with animated graphics and is suitable for any age group.
You will find “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” a very funny and entertaining movie if you like slapstick humor, which I do. It is not a movie with a holiday theme, in fact the road trip takes the chipmunks through the southern states starting with Texas after leaving California and then they make a pit stop in New Orleans on the way to their destination in Florida. So don’t look for snow or holiday decorations in this movie. The major movie ratings, including the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) show no love at all for The Road Chip nevertheless our group of nine found ourselves laughing throughout the story. The chipmunks try a blend of musical genres however they come off hip-hop more than anything. This movie is worth the time if you want to enjoy some silly physical antics as long as you just don’t have an expectation for a plot or a holiday theme. It’s animated chipmunks on a road trip (or Road Chip) pursued by a disgruntled fan folks! So lighten up critics and have a laugh.
“Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Donald Sutherland scores a “4.5”
This is an action adventure drama with combat violence, graphic mayhem and depiction of horrific genocide
The last installment in the Hungers Games saga has definitely stepped up from the first part of Mockingjay, which in my opinion wasted the storyboard setting up for this segment which stands well on its own. Mockingjay Part 2 does a bit of the same with pointless back stories that get in the way of the current adventure that is harsh and plays out with almost a completely tragic ending. The character Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) was mentally program to destroy Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) adding a challenge to her covert plan to assassinate President Coriolanus Snow (played by Sutherland). The action in this movie is satisfying; it isn’t the greatness of the action in the final Twilight saga, nor has it as clever an ending. I found the most exciting part of the movie was the mutant attack. I must have missed something about the “mutts” in the other episodes and they are terrifying as hell. Strangely, President Snow shows a bizarre form of redemption in the close of this tale compelling a surprising but justified reaction from Katniss. Not everyone is shown getting the punishment that I hoped they would, mainly the character Caesar Flickerman played by Stanley Tucci. Flickerman is such a Capitol “yes man” that I can only hope he was among characters in the story slated for war crimes punishment. The movie is well balanced with heroism, light romance, humanity and politics. I consulted our proof reader (who I never give a chance to read over these movie reviews before I post, so excuse my spelling) and she said that in the book the ending of the Mockingjay was good. Now she will have to see if the movie stayed true to the book. I’m satisfied and I have closure with the Hunger Games saga which I almost abandoned after Mockingjay Part 1. Mockingjay Part 2 pulled me into the story making it one of the most interesting movie ventures out this season. Turner Network Television (TNT) is currently running previous segments of the Hunger Games saga. I could take watching Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 together back to back, which is something the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester would probably do if Part 2 wasn’t a first run movie. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is worth a look folks.
“The Good Dinosaur” with the voices of: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright and Sam Elliot
This is an animated fantasy suitable for all ages
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios didn’t deliver the Disney magic in The Good Dinosaur. The movie could have easily slid below our rating of “3” had it not been for the cowboy dinosaurs with the hearty western voice of Sam Elliot as Tyrannosaurus Butch. The movie does have a touching ending which one of my daughters said made my youngest daughter cry. The boys accompanying us endured the adventure with the help of plenty of snacks and they did not offer any contribution to this review. I mixed up the show times up with the 3D shows and we had to hang out at the Mall later than planned, so I didn’t interview everyone in our party of eight after seeing the movie since most of them had school the next day, me included. I had taken a nap before the show it was still challenging not being tired out by the drawn out story board. The movie had a roller coaster of thrills with very little humor. Perhaps a sequel with "talking" humans could help create some interesting dialogue in what was basically a one sided adventure about dinosaur life centered on a runt dinosaur with a sidekick puppy like child. I don’t know if seeing it in 3D would have helped, but I recommend waiting for the rental release and I don’t expect this movie to become a cult classic, seeing it once is enough for me.Almost forgot to warn you that the movie contains a scene about a hallucinogenic experience the main characters had after eating some unidentified food. It was a full-blown depiction of a psychedelic drug experience. I believe the scene went over the heads of the children in our viewing group. One of the adults with our group thought it was a little much and she thought that they were drunk from eating what we thought was rotten fruit. Back in the days when I drank, I never had a buzz like that or it could have been hard giving up the sauce if it provided a mental trip like the scene shown in the Good Dinosaur. I don't even think Disney has a ride that fun looking at any of their theme parks.
“Our Brand is Crisis” starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton scores a “2.5”
This is a drama focused on political campaign ambition and the nature of politics
I sort of dragged my feet on getting this warning out to our readers. "Our Brand is Crisis" would be okay for a Sunday prime time movie for those interested in witnessing the disgustingly obvious world of political campaigning and that the business of campaigning as a business, which is often disconnected with the needs of the people. Sandra Bullock as washed up political consultant Pat Candy, takes you on a journey that is supposed to mirror some real life episode of the campaign world including Billy Bob Thornton’s resemblance to campaign consultant James Carville, whose firm is depicted as a part of this scenario. I went to see this movie on a week that there was little to choose from and I should have stayed home. My apologies for not getting this warning out to anyone else that made the mistake of wasting their time seeing this at the theaters.
“Creed” starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone scores a “5”
This is a dramatic presentation with graphic depiction of professional boxing.
“Creed” has the magic of all the Rocky movies combined. One of the writers, Ryan Coogler, gets credit for the story and Sylvester Stallone story gets a writing credit for the characters. Nevertheless whoever put this masterpiece together gets credit for ingenuity. While the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat, Stallone manages to balance out the story with some comic relief. Creed is a well rounded movie, including some very touching moments. Michael B. Jordan, (no relation to the basketball legend), lives up to the Swahili meaning of his middle name Bakari, “noble promise”. Jordan’s performance is strikingly noble and could promise so future awards. Tessa Thompson, playing Bionca, has a background in television that seems to position her well as a supporting character in this story however her braided hair makes her eerily resemble Lisa Bonet from the Cosby Show, a show which Jordan ironically appeared on in the late 1990’s. Creed is a very good movie and helps Stallone redeem himself from his last cinematic wipe out in the Expendables 3. Professional boxer Tony Bellew was an excellent character matchup as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan opposing Jordan’s character Adonis Johnson–Creed. Just like previous Rocky sequels, the boxing sequences are so realistic and convincing; you may find yourself rooting for an outcome. The health issues portrayed in this movie are worthwhile awareness components. Also, featuring the street bike subculture in Philadelphia that spilled over into other major cities like Baltimore was a nice add on.I don’t know if “Creed” will allow the Rocky franchise to splinter into other sequels but its worth the trip to the theaters and now that Regal Cinemas in Hagerstown is showing pre-release movies, I’ll be getting a chance to give you all some early insight on some of the new releases.
"The Peanuts Movie" scores a “4.5”
This is a computer generated animation suitable for all ages
What kind of movie do you get with a $99 million dollar budget? You get a movie good enough for the whole family, at least for the nine people in my family that saw it including a 3-year-old, two 4-year-olds, a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old. I gazed at the school aged members of our party throughout the movie and their eyes were fixed on the screen. I interviewed our children afterwards and getting responses from them was like trying to win a stuffed animal out of the machines in the theater lobby. Nevertheless, three-year old Antoinette said her favorite part of the movie was when Snoopy fell in love with the girl dog. How in the heck she put that together left me in awe considering I teach preschool aged children. Four-year old Max liked Snoopy’s airplane battle with the Red Baron and Six-year old Jahmane recalled how Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown when Chuck tried to kick it in hopes fate would turn to fortune. Plus, soon to be Five-year old Joseph’s looks really favor Charlie Brown's. An observation I made last year when he stood along side the Peanuts decoration at the Christmas Tree Barn in Williamsport, Maryland.For those of us growing up with the Peanuts gang, you may receive a bit of solace with the outcome of Charlie Brown’s encounter with the Little Redhead Girl. I really wanted to give this movie a perfect score of “5” but I thought it was bad taste that Snoopy was projected in what looked like black face not once, but twice. It may not have been the writer’s intention and I may be the only person in the world that interpreted it that way, but if I can make this interpretation, someone else may see it that way too. I have a bit of regret sharing that observation and please don't let it discourage you about this fun family friendly adventure and I do recommend seeing the Peanuts Movie. I may even purchase a copy of this movie when its available on disk since the children in my family and other children in the theater were able to sit through about an hour and a half of this animated tale and our children left entertained.
“Agent X” starring Jeff Hephner and Sharon Stone scores a “4”
This television series is an action-adventure drama with tantalizing violence and a non-fictional persona
Viewers who enjoy the espionage and clandestine shows, you may find this new television series “Agent X”, on Turner Network Television (TNT) intriguing and entertaining. This is how IMDb describes this new show, “Hidden from the view of the public - and even from the President - there is a top secret agent who is trained and ready to serve, deployed only at the careful discretion of the Vice President”. In the show U.S. Vice President Natalie Maccabee (played by Sharon Stone) after her inauguration has revealed to her that she has a responsibility to protect the nation with the help of highly skilled secret agent John Case (portrayed by Jeff Hephner). Vice President Maccabee has an interesting backstory in which she is haunted by a tragic incident from her past. Case appears to be a very capable asset however he has a female nemesis Olga who manages to clash with him from time to time. The actor Jeff Hephner playing Agent X has some extensive television experience and a couple of major movie roles. In this inaugural episode of Agent X, the VP and her secret staff is challenged with the mission of recovering the daughter of a high ranking dignitary. This secret assignment lends VP Maccabee an entire entourage of clandestine support which contributes unique layers to the story that helps keep the plot interesting and convincing. Nevertheless, the story gives credit to the founding fathers and their Masonic creed for the establishment of the secret operation. The show is a crazy twist of Secret Agent Man meets National Treasure. This television series looks promising and may be worth following.
“Spectre” starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz scores a “2”
This is a not so thrilling action-adventure with combat violence and vehicular mayhem.
I walked out of the theater after I finished watching this movie and immediately posted a warning on Facebook that “Spectre” is dull and not entertaining. I am a fan of the James Bond 007 franchise and I know a bit of history about the actors who played Bond – from Barry Nelson was the first to play Bond in 1954 after Ian Fleming bought the rights to Casino Royale for $1,000. Most fans know of the popular faces that portrayed the 007 character over the years which includes Sean Connery, Roger Moore (no doubt the best Bond ever), Timothy Dalton, who reigned briefly with “a license to kill” and Pierce Brosnan. David Niven even acted in a spoof movie of Casino Royale. Daniel Craig may go down in history as the actor who helped make the most money for the Bond franchise and he had some exciting scripts to help him. Unfortunately the Bond movie Skyfall raised the success bar so high, Spectre doesn’t come close to it in my opinion. Spectre will probably get a good turn out the first week if unsuspecting fans are hoping for it to be as good a movie as Skyfall. I don’t know if this installment is the end of the James Bond series and if is, Spectre would not be the best movie to end on. There is about fifty boring minutes weaved into the Spectre story. The movie starts out good, then slips in and out of a coma. Spectre uses action sequences like an AED to spark the story back to life. The scarce action thrills were very good but it wasn’t enough for me to overlook a disappointing storyboard. I suggest if you do want to see this movie to wait for the video or On Demand release. Should you venture to the theaters to see Spectre and you think I’m wrong in my review, please let me know.
“Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance and Victor Verhaeghe scores a “4.5”
This is a thrilling drama based upon the real life incident.
The movie “Bridge of Spies” is very close to the real life story with a few facts omitted about attorney James B. Donavan’s career in law that could help viewers understand while he was selected to defend captured espionage agent Rudolf Abel. Donavan (portrayed by Tom Hanks) did have a legal career in the military where he served as general counsel of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the agency that dealt with sabotage, espionage and other covert matters according to the Milwaukee Journal. The outstanding thing about this movie, besides the fantastic story, is the visual authenticity of the era convincingly helps to put you there in that period of time. Looking at this movie is like watching an old colorized movie. While it becomes obvious that Rudolf Abel (played by Mark Rylance) was a spy, his loyalty is as admirable as attorney Donavan’s belief in the principles of the U.S. Constitution to afford even our enemy fair treatment. This movie can make you question if those principles exist today to protect even U.S. citizens. While Donavan’s home was never shot up in real life nor did he witness people being shot on the Berlin Wall trying to escape East Berlin; every other part of this movie pretty much happened, just not along the timeline projected in the movie. Rudolf Abel spent a couple of years in prison before the capture of U.S. military pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down over Russia. And even then, Powers was locked up for a few years by the Soviets before the negotiations and prisoner exchangers occurred. Donavan was living in obscurity before the actions that led to the exchange emerged giving him a chance to redeem his reputation for defending an enemy of the nation. The Hollywood version of this historical account does make for a sensational cinema experience. This movie is very worthwhile to see, plus it’s a must see for any cold war history enthusiast.
“The Martian” starring Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels scores a “4.5”
This is a science fiction adventure that could almost border on a comedy. Contains profanity and brief nudity.
A friend who also helps as one of our proof readers saw movie this before I did and she gave a pretty accurate review and rating for this movie with Matt Damon, playing astronaut Mark Watney. Damon almost carries the movie himself. Just to clear this up, The Martian should not to be compared to the movie Gravity, it is dramatically different in intensity and focus, plus it is not just about one person’s tenacity to survive unbeatable odds in outer space. This movie, as Tina hinted on, is uplifting because of the demonstration of worldwide compassion and the courage of comrades for the safe return of astronaut Watney. You can actually leave the theater feeling good knowing that perhaps that potential of humanity can exist. You’ll also leave the theater with the answer to the question, “who is Rich Purnell?” I was also told that the story is so captivating you will hardly be able to tell its runs over two hours and that is true. This is a well paced movie with balanced and believable action sequences. I was also informed that The Martian is a very humorous movie which is thanks to Matt Damon and Chiwetel Ejiofor (playing Vincent Cooper) taking care of the comic relief. Jessica Chastain (astronaut Commander Melissa Lewis) and a host of other good acting talents that includes Michael Pena (astronaut Rick Martinez), Jeff Daniels (NASA Director Teddy Sanders) and Sean Bean (mission commander Mitch Henderson) are all great lead and supporting cast members for the well played out Martian adventure. However, the final sequence of the rescue scene was shockingly similar to the one in the movie Red Planet (2000) starring Val Kilmer. If you can watch them both and give me your feedback on that scene, I would appreciate it. Damon went all out in adding realism to his character unless it was “smoke and mirrors” with the undernourished starved appearance he has when the story adventure neared its end. Only since the movie Cast Away (2000) with Tom Hanks have I seen an actor go through such an extreme to look like a stranded survivor. The Martian is a movie worth owning once out on disk and may be one of the best all around stories at the theaters right now.
“Sicario” starring Emily Blunt, Benecio Del Toro and Josh Brolin scores a “4.5”
This movie is a crime thriller with combat and homicidal violence; it contains disturbing graphic imagery and portray sadistic behavior.
I do not recommend this movie for faint at heart and PLEASE do not take children to see this movie. I believe this movie is based on a lot of truth due to the illegal drug crimes that had plagued Arizona. Emily Hunt playing FBI agent Kate Macer goes on a journey between the lines of legal and necessary evils. The trailers for this movie can give you a better synopsis than I would be able to write. I am struggling, like some viewers who will see this movie, as whether to condone or condemn the actions portrayed in this story to combat the heinous crimes depicted. Josh Brolin, with his Nick Nolte looking self, plays Matt Graver a character that is pretty much a jerk. (I can’t tell you what Graver does or who he is without being a story spoiler) The movie “Sicario” is so realistic that it’s scary and should be titled “Sicko” because of the sick twisted behavior portrayed throughout this movie. My high score gives credit to how well the movie does as art imitating life. You may even lose a little bit of your humanity taking in this story. Benecio Del Toro plays his part as Alejandro Gillick the hit man all too well. It was good to see that actor Jeffrey Donovan (star of Burn Notice) is getting some big screen work, he’s still playing the role of a secret government agent.For those who like crime thrillers, Sicario is the movie to see. I usually give movies a weekend before I take a chance seeing them; however the trailers for Sicario convinced me to see it when it hit the theaters Friday. No disappointments with this movie, just beware this is a reflection of a real side of life that is on the U.S. border.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” starring the voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Asher Blinkoff and Kevin James scores a “3.5”
This is an animated adventure comedy suitable for all audiences with a few slightly inappropriate references.
This is definitely an okay movie and somewhat worthwhile considering the rash of bad movies that have been released lately. Hotel Transylvania 2 has some funny moments and it is entertaining however it is by no means anywhere near the animated gold standard of the “Despicable Me” movie franchise (Universal Studios). Maybe Sony Pictures Animation studios should have spent more than $50 million to make this movie which didn’t quite get the return on their investment the first week released. It is a quick moving storyline and the all star cast of actors doing the voices includes: Sandler (Count Dracula), Gomez (Dracula’s daughter Mavis) Kevin James (Frank/Frankenstein monster), David Spade (Griffin the Invisible Man), Keegan-Michael Hay (Dennis the Mummy) and they even have comedy great Mel Brooks as the voice of Vlad (Dracula’s father). The 6 year-old I took to see this movie figured out that Dracula did a nipple twist on the Mummy and as inappropriate as it was, he found that scene quite amusing and dragged the 5 year-old with us into a cackling session that I had to hush. Plus the scene with the Mummy peeing on a bush, with four liquid streams spraying out of him, brought forth chuckles throughout the theater. A farting scene probably would have finished off the entire juvenile mentality watching the movie, but there was none. The 4 year-old, accompanying us, animatedly mimicked the action fight scene. So I would say these three boys where delighted with the story. This movie is worth a trip to the theaters if you want to give the younger ones a fun movie adventure and there is enough in the story to hold the attention of adult viewers.
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” starring Dylan O’Brien and Rosa Salazar scores a “2”
This is a science fiction action adventure with combat violence
I will start by revealing that I did not read the novel that this movie is based on nor do I care to. This movie only came into my reviews scope because there wasn’t much to choose from this week that I cared to see and other reviews hinted that the Scorch Trails had good action. I fail to see how this "made for teens" movie would even hold the attention of that age demographic since there is no romance in this part of the saga and the characters aren’t very heroic. Damn, let me say it… this is a boring movie. The drama is dull and the plot that was revealed is wasn’t surprising. The ending in this part of the saga was very good and rescued the movie enough to get a “2” rating from me and it has me interested on what they may do with the next installment. But not enough to make me want to read the novels or see another episode. Folks save some money and wait for this movie to come out on rental or spend $6 and read the book (384 pages written by James Dashner) that may put you to sleep quicker than the movie.
“The Transporter Refueled” starring Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol and Ray Stevenson scores a “2.5”
This is an action adventure movie with combat violence and vehicular mayhem
I am late getting this review posted, or should I say “warning label” posted. Seeing this movie was like watching a drawn out episode of the television series “The Transporter”. The only thing good about this movie was the action sequences, everything else was obvious. I will even go out of my way to say that the writers stole some concepts from the Indiana Jones series by casting Ray Stevenson as Frank Martin Senior and having him call the Transporter “Junior” with the same “come rescue dad from the bad guys” written into the story. Ed Skrein portraying Frank Martin the Transporter is a fair actor however his background as a musician and model has him lacking what the original Transporter, Jason Statham brought to the role with his background in Martial Arts. The entire storyboard for Refueled makes no sense including why the diabolical scheme of four vindictive females was carried out so sloppily. But who is really looking for a story in an action flick? When there was action in The Transporter Refueled, the action was good, yet it couldn’t carry the entire movie because there wasn’t enough action used to fill in the gaps. This movie should come out pretty soon since it is doing so poorly at the theaters, so rent it if you dare, until then save a trip to the theater if this review reached you in time.
“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander scores a “3”
This is an action adventure movie with mild combat violence
This movie about the clandestine organization, United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.), has a format so much like the 1960s television series that it looks like a “made for television” movie production and not a blockbuster screenplay it should be. The acting and action sequences make this a fun movie to watch and unless you have knowledge of the “cold war” most of this movie’s historical recreating could be lost on you. Henry Cavill playing secret agent Napoleon Solo should help in building a female audience for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie with his handsome Superman features and the rugged abilities of Armie Hammer playing Illya Kuryakin created an action hero for the story. Alicia Vikander’s role as Gabriella “Gaby” Teller never fully develops in this episode and perhaps more will come if a sequel follows to build this movie into a franchise. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an entertaining movie that I would strongly recommend waiting for its disk release.
“No Escape” starring Owen Wilson, LakeBell and Pierce Brosnan scores a “4.5”
This movie contains graphic violence filled with murder and mayhem, gory scenes and rape is depicted in this story.
This is the kind of movie that may convince you not to travel abroad to third world countries. Owen Wilson, playing the role as Jack Dwyer in No Escape, is not playing a comedy adventure he normally is cast into. Wilson does some good acting in this thrilling adventure that has his character trapped with his family in a violent social revolution. Lake Bell, playing Annie Dwyer (Jack’s wife), is another actress crossing over from television roles to star on the movie screen and she is bringing incredible talent that helped make this movie exciting and keeps you on edge of your seat. The movie unfolds with a scene of a man taste testing drinks for a ruling monarch and a guest. Who in their right mind would want that job? If a drink or food is poisoned that you’re checking, then so are you. The story backtracks to when the Dwyer family arrives in an unknown Southeast Asian town that borders Vietnam. The climate of the town quickly escalates into a violent revolution trapping the Dwyers, who find out the company that Jack came to work for triggered the situation. Pierce Brosnan in a supporting role as Hammond, cleverly helps weave together the back story helping to make sense of the layers of drama that unfolds in this chaotic, bizarre yet captivating movie. In one scene people are lined up to be executed yet I was compelled to watch and they where killed in such an unbelievable manner it made me wonder if this twisted incident was drawn from a real life occurrence. In the midst of this grisly mayhem is a bit of a love story and some impromptu family bonding. I can’t give much more details about the movie without being a plot spoiler. I do believe however that those venturing out to see No Escape at the movies will receive thrilling entertainment and those waiting for the disk release will find it worth the wait.
“The Gift” starring Jason Bateman, Joel Edgerton and Rebecca Hall scores at “4.5”
This movie is a mystery thriller with some strong language and disturbing situations
This near perfect thriller has such a slow start that you can show up thirty-minutes after the movie begins and still take in the best part of the plot. The Gift may not turn out to be what you expect in a thriller and the open ended conclusion was well crafted. I have to be cryptic in my review commentary or I can quite possibly "spoil" the ending for you. What is good about this thriller is that a lesson in humanity is woven in the tapestry to let you know, “What goes around comes around”. Jason Bateman, who is portraying the character Simon Callen, shows dynamics that he’s exercised before in the cult classic “Juno”. Rebecca Hall, playing Simon’s wife Robyn, keeps you on edge with subtle but disturbing behavior which is only surpassed by Joel Edgerton’s mysterious behavior acting out his role as, “Gordo the Weirdo”. Nothing is as it seems in “The Gift”, including character Gordon Mosley’s interpretation of gift giving. Keep your eyes open once the drama heats up and perhaps you can predict this thrilling outcome which is tastefully done without gore and over-the-top “Shock & Awe”. The profanity rant of character Simon Callen to me, was the unnecessary part of this movie, other than that this is a movie suitable for teens and adults. The Gift is not a scary movie, so no nightmares to worry about; it is thrilling and should hold your attention after the first 30 minutes of the movie passes. So if you come in at the start of the show, don’t walk out or you will miss out on a very worthwhile thriller.
“Straight Out of Compton” starring O’Shae Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s son), Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins scores a “2”
This movie is supposed to be a true story and it contains vulgarity, profanity and graphic nudity
What appears to be a great story about a true urban plight is a well written “smoke and mirrors” trick leaving out the whole story which is revealed in the song lyrics its based on. I grew up with Niggas With Attitudes (NWA) music and was drawn to its attractive social rebellion. I confess that I was also lured into the misogynistic philosophy of their music to justify my own narcissistic behavior at the time. The Straight Out of Compton movie only gives you a glimpse of the hardcore rap group’s “true” attitude about society and leaves out their violent treatment towards women during their rise to fame. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young was reported a few times for beating up women, including one time Pump It Up hostess Dee Barnes. O’Shae “Ice Cube” Jackson, Sr. commonly referred to woman as bitches in his songs, while Eric “Easy-E” Wright depicted sexually taking advantage of a 14-year-old in his famous song “She Swallowed It”, which contains shameful lyrics that I still remember and once sang. The movie does not include anything about Ice Cube’s once famous musical partner Yoyo. There is no mention of the group’s relationship with then 17-year-old R&B success Michel’le or no scenes reflecting how Dr. Dre beat the heck out of Tairrie B, one of the first hardcore female rappers.This movie absence of these vital facts is almost a testament that the former NWA members’ attitude and disrespect toward women has not changed. The Straight Out of Compton story gets you swept up with NWA’s plight against censorship for their reality rap, which they admit in the movie gave their music publicity and had very little to do with free speech. I have nothing against hardcore lyrics expressing what was and is a disturbing reality about the social and political brutality waged on inner city blacks. This movie went out of its way expose Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr. for the villain and sociopath he appears to have live up to while it has NWA, “trying to stay hard and look like the good guys” (quoting Dee Barnes). I can’t say that this movie is not an entertaining story and it may help you better understand the meaning of some of their songs. Straight Out of Compton could have used less storyboard displaying pornography and should have worked on including about the female artists that performed with their record labels and the other women NWA used to get to the top.
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson and Simon Pegg scores a “4.5” This is an action adventure with combat violence and vehicular mayhem
Mission Impossible - Rouge Nation is stunning, action packed and entertaining. The violence is tastefully handled and shouldn’t be disturbing to a youth audience. The story has one of the most breath taking motorcycle chase scenes that can make an avid sport bike rider envious. What makes this movie especially exciting to watch is the fact that Tom Cruise (playing agent Ethan Hunt) does his own stunts and his remarkably fit youthful appearance helps accept it is believable. Stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood works hard keeping Cruise safe doing stunts like dangling from an airplane at 5,000 feet. Eastwood said, “Tom didn’t want to have the feeling of being too safe, he said it would ruin his performance”. Cruise prepared for the underwater scene by training with a freediver learning breath holding techniques. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has commanded great reviews from the critics and I believe that is because the lead actor, Tom Cruise is putting it on the line carrying out his own stunts. “Everything is real”, said Eastwood, “Its all Tom!” And that’s not all, actor Simon Pegg, playing field agent Benji Dunn, is brilliantly funny with his geeky style of secret agent work. Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (playing Ilsa Faust) makes a great transition from television acting into a worthy action figure on the big screen. As I mentioned in an earlier review, I believe Hollywood is running out of good movie talent and the television stars are bailing them out. Jeremy Renner (playing IMF handler William Brandt) and Ving Rhames (playing retired IMF agent Luther Stikell) are sort of taking a backseat with their roles in this Mission Impossible sequel. This may be the best 2 hours and 11minutes of action adventure you will see this summer. But it doesn't seem that long a movie with all the fast moving action packed into this story.
“Pixels” starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage scores a “2.5”
This is a science fiction adventure with some bawdy humor and inappropriate themes
The movie Pixels is about as flat as its 3D graphics. My anticipation for it to have great special effect was high enough for me to break my vow to avoid 3D after the let down I experienced watching Terminator Genisys in 3D. The success of Adam Sandler screenplays seems to be see-sawing and perhaps the Kevin James element may have jinxed Pixels, considering James “Mall Cop 2” blunder. Another thing one usually counts own with an Adam Sandler movie is comedy. I don’t know what happened to the Happy Madison comedy magic, but it won’t be found in Pixels, which is not very funny. Pixels, which had all the ingredients to have been a block buster hit, joins the ranks of another cinematic disappointment. Pixels is okay if you can resign to being entertained with the clever ways they introduce the nostalgic arcade games into a contemporary "reality", however its not enough to make the movie a hit and the movie Wreck It Ralph has sort of already done the vintage arcade comeback story. I just hope Sandler has enough “Happy” juice packed into “Hotel Transylvania 2” to redeem himself. I plan to take our movie review youngsters team to see HT2.
“Ant Man” starring Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Cory Stoll scores a “4.5”
This is a science fiction action-adventure movie with non-gory combat and some profanity
Marvel Studios does what they do best, make movies worth watching. Minus the use of about four cuss words it could have received a solid “5” rating from me. The combat wasn’t bloody, however the violence displayed by Dr. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) isn’t something that you would want young people imitating as a means to deal with being upset with someone. The story does the Ant Man comic book justice and segues into other Marvel Comics stories; even the post credits short clip leaves you anticipating the sequel. Paul Rudd, playing Scott Lang/Ant Man, does his thing interweaving comic relieve at the right moments with the help of actor Michael Pena (playing Luis) and hip hop singer T.I. (who happens to be an up and coming actor), in fact most of this movie was filmed in the recording artist hometown, Atlanta Georgia. We normally give movies the weekend before we see them so I can take a look at other rating points ( I try to avoid reading other reviews though) and there is a consensus in the rating numbers that “Ant Man” is worth seeing. I may go back and see Ant Man again in the 3D format since the special effects I saw hint that three dimensional graphics may add some additional entertainment. It is a good story and they didn’t give it all away in the trailer clips promoting the movie. Evangeline Lilly’s transition from television acting to the big screen may be just what Hollywood needs; some talented movie stars. I can’t put a lot about the script in this review since the story hinges on the scene sequences, if you want a movie spoiler read Wikipedia. However, I am excited to see an Ant Man sequel so don’t let me down Stan Lee; this was a good story. Which makes me wonder if Stan Lee regrets selling Marvel Comics to Disney? Nevertheless, Disney’s deep pockets can afford to make something worth a trip to the theaters.
“Minions” with the voices of Sandra Bullock, Geoffrey Rush and Pierre Coffin scores a "0"
This is an animated adventure geared towards adult.
Besides warning you not to waste your time and money on the movie “Minions”, I can tell you that it was boring and tasteless. Why in the heck would Universal Studios allow Illumination Entertainment to chance running the Despicable Me franchise with this dull flop? You can see that the tasteless "red flag" is up just by looking at the movie poster I’m using in this review. I guess main my gripe is that other than the animation, this is not a movie for young children and people are running to see it with their children in tow. So forgive me for not posting this warning last week. Sandra Bullock, doing the voice of Scarlet Overkill, is a favorite actor of mine and she does okay considering the story is a “sleeper”. Geoffrey Rush is the voice of the Narrator, though he has nothing to say which isn’t obvious and Pierre Coffin as you may know is the voice of the “Minions”. Minions are supporting characters, not leading characters and they need to be contained and put back on a leash with the Despicable Me sequels.
“Terminator Genisys” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke scores a “2.5”
This movie is a science-fiction action adventure with combat violence and brief nudity.
The new saga in the Terminator franchise falls short of being an “okay” movie and there is no one to blame except the writers, director and whoever thought it was a good idea to produce another chapter. Being a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger I was drawn and took a chance on seeing this movie, but not enough to risk to seeing it in 3D. The lousy three dimensional graphics in Jurassic World ruined it for me seeing 3D adventures for the time being, though it may have helped my viewing of Terminator Genisys. Schwarzenegger’s acting is okay in this movie; the other stars performances are not outstanding; even with Jai Courtney’s “Divergent” movies pedigree. The story doesn’t even stretch out the talent of my acting favorite J.K. Simmons (playing Officer O’Brien). Simmons talent even brings life to the Farmers Insurance commercials. It seems like the writers for this movie were too busy leaving bread crumbs for the next possible chapter. Being of the nerdy sci-fi persuasion, I can officially say that parts of this story made some serious violations to the “space time continuum” rules. Confronting and meeting yourself in the same timeline is simply unfathomable, strictly prohibited and requires an explanation as to how it is possible should it be done. You will get no rationalization of how this space time violation was fitted into this movie’s storyboard. Genisys just speaks to the greed of milking a franchise dry; does creator James Cameron have no shame? The short clip following the closing credits strengthens my accusation. Terminator Genisys would have been better for fans if it was made straight to disk. I’d advise that if you do want to see this movie; you should wait to rent it. They should have known better releasing this movie in the midst of booming blockbusters anyway. I wanted to give this movie a “3” rating in respect of a franchise that is over 30 years old. Terminator needs a more contemporary appealing storyboard and it needs to get a different character to focus on to pick up where Arnold’s stardom has left off. Sylvester Stallone is taking such a chance with the main character in the Rocky franchise stepping aside for a story focus on the son of character Apollo Creed. The idea of everyone being destroyed by having all of our data “linked in” didn’t help make Genisys interesting; some of us have already dived into that "cloud". Now, who else is willing to dive into Terminator Genisys that should have been named Terminator Omega?
“Inside Out” with the voices of Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mandy Kaling and Kaitlyn Dias scores a “3”
This is an animated fantasy suitable for any audience.
The major critics are giving “Inside Out” the best reviews I’ve seen them give any movie this year however I found the movie a bit boring. Maybe giving up coffee this week wasn’t a good idea. The movie's writers were so caught up in demonstrating the mental emotions one can experience that the story wasn’t very fun. The concepts of thought processing and memory storage reflected in the movie were pretty cool. The visual animation is superb for the movie; Disney didn’t skimp in that area. I had along with me a 5 year-old viewer and a soon to be 6 year-old who I practically had to leverage with candy to get some feedback from them after the movie. The five-year old “liked” the character Anger, and no one can really resist the comedic presence of Lewis Black. The older child liked the ending which I can’t give his details without being a “story spoiler”. The outing wasn’t a complete bore, some of the previews for upcoming movies were entertaining. I can’t wait to see "Hotel Transylvania 2" and I don’t believe the movie “Minions” is going to be appropriate for children it's preview shows a Minion sporting a thong and another in a hot tub with a pair of yellow fire hydrants it mistakenly takes for Minions of another gender. "Inside Out" may be an outing worth taking your middle school aged children. My young movie viewers and from glancing around the theater, the other children appeared to be awake throughout the movie, though strangely quite. I heard a few senior aged movie viewers chuckle at some of the humor aimed towards adults. I give kudos to Disney for a very decent movie free from belligerence and questionable symbolism; but I’m standing by my opinion that “Inside Out” is somewhat of a sleeper.
“Jurassic World – 3D” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard scores a “3.5”
This is a science-fiction adventure with graphic mayhem and I do not recommended for children
Jurassic World is okay but in my opinion its not as spectacular as the first. I saw it in 3D and could have saved the extra money since the 3-D special effects in Jurassic World were not that impressive even though there is plenty of action. One of the most stunning moments in the movie should have been more enhanced with “3D” graphics, but it fell a short. The movie does have some entertaining content. Chris Pratt playing raptor expert and trainer Owen Grady holds up his end, even if he’s not as fun as his character Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard’s character Claire Dearing was a bit predictable and I never saw her in Spiderman 3 so I don’t what potential she has for acting. Parts of the story didn’t make since, but the movie shows plenty of dinosaurs Jurassic World barely used veteran of the Jurassic franchise B.D. Wong, who is back as Dr. Henry Wu. Wong is one of my favorite actors and he was outstanding in his role as Dr. George Huang in the television series Law & Order SVU. The character Dr. Wu’s appears to open the door for a potential sequel in the in Jurassic franchise. Watch closely to what Dr. Wu is up to and see if you make the connection. Save your time and don't wait for any post credit scenes. I stayed after the credits ended looking for more clues of another sequel and there were no short clips, none!JurassicPark fans please don’t let me rain on your picnic, I don't wish to steer you all away from going to the movies to see this long awaited sequel. I just don’t see Jurassic World standing up to its origin; I feel it lacks the drama even though it has the enthusiasm that almost deserves our worthwhile rating. Jurassic World just doesn’t have enough of a story to match its epic potential. For you others, you could wait this out for the disk release to minimize the disappointment I experienced. See it or don’t see it, just keep they younger ones away from this, it’s a bit gory and could be disturbing for little kids to witness.
“Spy” with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Justin Statham and Rose Byrne scores a “4”
This is an action-adventure comedy with profanity, combat violence and bawdy humor. Comedy star Kevin James may have flopped in Mall Cop2 but the comedic talents of Melissa McCarthy in “Spy” are blazing hot in her role as agent Susan Cooper. McCarthy isn’t alone in giving you laughs, this movie gets some unexpected comic relief from Jason Statham playing the hilarious role as rouge agent Rick Ford. So don’t look for a lot of tough guy performance from Statham because Jude Law as agent Bradley Fine is stilling that thunder. McCarthy’s character wasn’t alone cranking out the profanity; Rose Byrne’s character, international arms dealer Rayna Boyanov, has a matching raunchy mouth. McCarthy admits in character when she went too far. Nevertheless, the bawdy humor is bearable, even Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) is funny. I liked his slam on Kanye West. Don’t be fooled, this comedy does have some impressive action feats, maybe better than the remake of the movie “Get Smart” starring Steve Carell (another funny spy spoof). Kudos to the stunt people for making these movie stars look thrilling. This is the type of movie you can watch a couple of times just to laugh, just beware the plot had a few obvious twist but nicely done and hopefully they’ll tone down the foul language in any sequels.
“San Andreas” (3D) starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Alexandra Daddario, and Paul Giamatti scores a “4”
This is an action adventure movie with catastrophic disaster sequences.
“San Andreas” is a movie not well spoke of by the major critics, but don’t let that discourage you from watching it. The movie deserves the solid score of “4” from this reviewer and if you like disaster movies you may rate it higher. The special effects are outstanding and I feel that there was a nice balance between the gripping action and dialogue (cliché as it may be). I saw San Andreas in 3D and it held my attention visually. The scenes are epically displayed which should look good in any digital theater format and will probably look nice in Blu-ray once its available on disk. Dwayne Johnson fans should enjoy his role as the Emergency Response helicopter pilot Chief Raymond Gaines. Alexandra Daddario's (playing the role of Chief Gaines daughter Blake) stunning beauty is matched by her character’s wits in the non-stop challenges the story throws at her. The movie was criticized for its cliché of unlikely heroes and disasters uniting torn families. Paul Giamatti as seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes has a pretty much an obvious and predictable role. Carla Gugino may not have made it into Entourage the Movie in her role as Amanda Daniels, but she gets to depict action mom Emma Gaines in San Andreas. Good thing about this story is there are no multiple plots; this movie is all about surviving the disaster and if you want to experience a terrible earthquake from a safe perspective “San Andreas” could be your fix. With action movies, the bigger the screen the more thrilling they seem, so try to catch it why it's still at the theaters.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (3D) starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult scores a “4.5”
This is an action adventure filled with vehicular mayhem and ultra violence
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a bizarre twisted depiction of post apocalyptic Australia. Most of the footage is filmed in South Africa, which seems to be a preferred location for the making of United Kingdom movies. Followers of the 1979 Mad Max franchise will get to experience a fresh exhilarating adventure that is non-stop, bizarre, riveting, bizarre, unimaginable and did I mention “bizarre”. It was refreshing to see movie makers challenge the imagination within the framework of the original Mad Max format. Tyranny and savage vehicles still rule in a dystopian society. Max (played by Tom Hardy) is unwillingly pivoted into a hero’s role assisting the story’s herion Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron). Fury Road offers a much different storyboard from the original Mad Max series of the 70’s and 80’s. This version of Mad Max has little focus on Max, its more about the female characters. This story recruits the likes of super model Abby Lee (playing The Dag) and celebrity royalty Zoe Kravitz to help tell the tale of damsels in distress. Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Krazivtz and Lisa Bonet) has a few decent movies to her credit (Divergent and X-Men: First Class) yet they used none of that experience in her Mad Max role as Toast the Knowing. The men however do hold down the villain roles. Max and the ladies are pursued by a trio made up of the characters: Immortan Joe (leading the War Boy army), Bullet Farmer and The People Eater. Mad Max character still hold on to the tradition of corny sounding names, on the other hand the action in Mad Max: Fury Road is fierce and epic. I saw Fury Road in RealD 3D which added dimension to the clashing battles scenes in a movie which is basically a car chase using grossly morphed vehicles, making the theater the ideal place to see this movie. One of our movie reviewers saw the movie at the Cobb Theaters in Leesburg, Virginia which allowed him to have a Universal Studios theme park type interactive experience. Cobb Theaters has a theater room with the MFX D Box seats that moves mimicking the motion unraveling on the screen. This experience will cost you $21 which is about the price to get in an IMAX theater that offers Mega 3D screens. Whatever your choice, if you like action, adventure and science fiction “Mad Max: Fury Road” delivers.
“Furious Seven” starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham scores a “5”
This is an action-adventure science fiction movie with vehicular mayhem, combat violence and sexually suggestive attire
Undoubtedly the BEST movie from the Fast & Furious franchise and quite possibly one of the best action adventure movies out this year. The writers, creators and producers held nothing back including a star packed cast that uses up quite a bit of space for this review just writing the names of all main contributing actors (Kurt Russell, Michelle Rodriquez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Djimon Hounsou, Rhonda Rousey, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Chris Bridges aka Ludacris). Every “key” character rose to the occasion to give an outstanding performance in this movie that actually brought about new and fresh stunts with an interesting storyboard that should have you questioning if “privacy” in a high technology world is even possible or exist. Every element of this movie from the music, locales and characters bring about an entertaining cinema experience that will leave at least the Furious fans satisfied. Why this production wasn’t available in 3D may be the only complaint I have with this just about flawless movie. The suspense of Furious 7 is exhilarating, yet somewhat spooking due to Paul Walker’s demise. It can be hard to shake off the conspiracy theories surrounding Walker’s death, when you hear his character bidding fairway to life. I don’t want to be a story spoiler but the son of Walker’s character Brian drops a red toy sports car in the movie’s story. Paul Walker died in a red sports car. This is an eerie coincidence. It can make you wonder if we will all know in advance if the end of our time is near. Spooky or not, Furious Seven is going to be a worthy collectors edition when the disk is released. So for the curious or those looking for a good action adventure, don’t miss this movie. And be prepared if you are emotional, I heard one viewer sobbing aloud during the final scene.
“Get Hard” starring Kevin Hart and Will Farrell scores a “2”
This is an adult comedy adventure that contains vulgar profanity, culturally insensitive innuendos and brief nudity“
Get Hard” could have been funnier if it wasn’t bent on being raw and loaded with over the top stereotypes. The obvious plot tries to force you to settle for humor, which went too far with tasteless sexual references. The Hollywood cult will do anything for attention; I caught a glimpse of a subliminal placed occult symbol. Since when does a hotel nightstand lamp require rams horns? Enough with the perverted lewdness and baphomet logos; work on better scripts Tinseltown.
“Home” starring the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and Steve Martin scores a “3”
This is an animated comedy adventure suitable for children and adults
I avoided calling “Home” a futuristic animation since the idea of intelligent alien life forms is a fantasy and that is what I reminded some of the young viewers that I treated to the viewing of this movie. The story has some useful merit since it indicates that people, or in this case creatures can experience goodwill and friendship despite physical appearances and cultural differences. The story also demonstrates that assumptions are basically prejudices that can hinder peaceful coexistence. Home is an American made movie produced by DreamWorks Animation and drives “home” these points I mentioned using visually superior animation, an easy to follow storyboard and entertaining humor. I didn’t appreciate the subtle symbolism (skulls, pyramids, a devil horned alien leader and five pointed stars creatures), but maybe that’s just me being “conspiracy minded”. Rihanna’s voice performance as the little girl Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci was okay, however Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory’s character Dr. Sheldon Cooper) steals the show with his voice for the alien character named “Oh”. Steve Martin’s character Captain Smek (with his devil horns) rolls out laughter triggering buffoonery. Matt Jones doing the voice of Kyle (Oh’s fantasy friend and apparently a drag queen) makes attempts at bringing comic relief. Jennifer Lopez was the voice of Tip’s mother and had a limited role (barely in the story). This movie may have some additional entertainment value if viewed in 3D. We saw it in the regular digital format. I may have even given the movie a half a point higher score if it didn’t have the creepy symbolism.
“Chappie” starring Sharlto Copley (the voice of Chappie), Dev Patel, Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yo-Landi Visser (Anri du Toit) scores a “2.5”This is a science fiction action movie with profanity, combat violence and aggressionCClearly the movie “Chappie” has a political motive hidden within this not so “futuristic” tale. A string of movies centering on artificial intelligence is making a comeback and current technology supports the possibility that realistic robots will soon be walking among us. Don’t doubt my word, take a look at this gyrating animatronics (https://youtu.be/LsRFpi6Pdng) (https://youtu.be/JestwuC1Cik) created by Jordan Wolfson that actually has fluid body movement and the ability to track you with its eyes. Chappie sparked a discussion after the movie between a couple of nerds who were philosophizing as to whether sentient artificial intelligent creations should have rights against being terminated. For the not so nerdy, the discussion was about whether robots that appear to be “alive” should have rights against being permanently turned off. The movie Chappie is a bit slow with the plot; the story redeems itself some with humor and action sequences. Other than that, Chappie is the typical story about a failed attempt by humanity to try to replace critical human contributions with robotic solutions. I feel the previews of the movie are misleading. I thought Chappie was going to be a cross between the movie stories, “Close Circuit” and “Robocop”. Chappie’s story is actually a lot further to the left of both of those tales. I can’t blame the low performance of this movie on Hollywood since this Sony production was made abroad with only one notable American actor, Sigourney Weaver. This almost flop of a movie is the blame for trying to make movie stars out of the South African musical group Die Antwoord, who are much more convincing in their portrayal of demonic rap/rave performers. The merit of this movie is the focus on what lengths we are going through to blend our world with artificial intelligence (A.I. robots). The A.I. nightmare isn’t over folks, the movie “Ex Machina” set to be released on April 10th will make the movie “I, Robot” (with Will Smith) look like a cartoon in comparison on how far they will push the envelope on the potential of living robots
“Run All Night” Starring Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman and Common” scores a “5”
This is an action crime-drama with graphic violence and depictions of homicide
“Run All Night” is a high powered action adventure that runs non-stop with intrigue and explosive action scenes. The plot is obvious but the road to the conclusion is clenching and will keep you on edge up to the final moment. Liam Neeson’s trademark straight faced lethal recourse is not disappointing in his role as the haunted former mobster hit man Jimmy Conlon. Neeson's role is complimented by Ed Harris performance as his lifelong partner is crime, mob boss Shawn Maguire. Ironically the sons of these two mobster relics meet at a fatal crossroads which ignites a scorching chain of events. The night long ordeal has added tribulation brought on by the high tech hit man Price, who is played by the rapper Common. Common who played the wild killer “Sir Ivy” in the movie Smoking Aces, is no stranger to playing roles in gun blazing movies. Run All Night adds a nice touch to the movie with actor Vincent D’Onofrio, who is familiar portraying a New York City detective. D’Ononfrio plays Detective Harding, who joins the manhunt for characters Jimmy Conlon and his son Mike Conlon, played by Joel Kinnaman. Run All Night is the movie to see if you have a taste for good action crime adventures.
“Seventh Son” starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander scores a “2.5”
This is a fantasy action adventure suitable for teens, young adults and adults
“Seventh Son” should have been made for television where it could make a half decent television series on the Sci-Fi Channel in the genre of shows such as the Hercules: the Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess TV series. The story is about the misadventures of a medieval witch hunter and his apprentice… blah, blah, blah. The movie is very slow moving, however the graphics and action scenes makes watching it bearable. Jeff Bridges hurt the movie’s ratings by me with his lousy attempt of an Old English accent; in fact he was the only one in the movie trying to sound “medieval”. Swedish actress Alica Vikander sounded more convincing of the era than Bridges. Seventh Son is worth a peak on disk rental, or better yet, wait for it to come to television since it only lasted about two weeks at the theaters.
“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” starring Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clarke Duke and Adam Scott scores a “0”
This is an adult comedy with vulgarity, bawdy humor, brief nudity and foul language
Before any of you readers question why I would go see trash like this, here is the scoop. I arrived at the theaters and purchased a ticket to see “Focus”, however without the ticket teller asking me which show, I was sold a ticket for the next showing. I didn’t know of the error until I walked on the movie already over an hour in progress, which was my mistake for arriving at the wrong time. Hot Tub 2 was the only show starting within a reasonable time. Even though I was offered a refund, I opted to stay since there was no time left for movies on my schedule for the day. I paid a penalty for that choice. Not only is Hot Tub Time Machine 2 the worst distasteful piece of cinema out right now, it was not funny at all. The only upside of the movie is that its perversion level did not stoop as low as that in the “Hangover” movie franchise, none the less, it’s a perverted piece of trash. The other part of my penalty was to leave the theater to find someone had hit my car and left. My vintage 88 Chevy Celebrity has a broken a turn signal lens and the headlight is out of alignment. The car’s a tank and none of the metal body and metal bumper has a bit of damage. I hope my car’s tough chassis dealt some vengeance on the car of the hit-and-run motorist. The good out of this was that the theater manager gave me a free re-entry movie pass and waited with me until security showed up to be of assistance. Stay away from Hot Tub Time Machine 2 folks or you too may suffer the circumstances. But hopefully not as I had.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Sophie Boutella and Samuel L. Jackson scores a “4”
This is a spy action comedy with profanity, combat violence and one incident of brief nudity
You can’t blame the foul mouth of Samuel L. Jackson as the reason for the “R” rating this movie received. The violence in the Kingsman is very graphic partly due to the ingenuous introduction of a villain with a unique deadly characteristic which holds a viewer’s attention. This movie should have had an option to see it in 3D and even better 3D MAX making it worth our rating of “5”. The action sequences in the Kingsman are outstanding and multi-layered. The mayhem unleashed on the Kentucky hate group can make it worth a second trip to the theater to see that battle again. Not too bad for a flick derived from a comic book. The story is not uncommon. A street kid Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (played by Taron Egerton’s) is given a rare opportunity to achieve greatness. Unwin almost lives up to what his last name hints until Harry Hart aka Galahad (played by Colin Firth), influences Eggsy to serve the greater good. The secondary characters keep the story interesting too. Michael Cain’s character Chester King aka Arthur is leading this secret service and Mark Strong is the Kingsman technical wizard Merlin. Ironically Roxy (played by Sophie Cookson) becomes agent Lancelot. The agents names indicate that their secret service is a modern day King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, while their character names are a satire to their roles.The noble knights in this story are trying to saving the world, as well as England, from a demented and twisted Internet tycoon Richmond Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson) with his blade footed sidekick or better yet his home slice, Gazelle (played by Sophie Boutella). "Kingsman: The Secret Service" is a youthful James Bond type adventure that is very entertaining minus Jackson’s flow of profanity and the flashing of a “royal” hiney across the screen.
“SpongeBob Movie – A Sponge Out of Water” starring Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas and Doug Lawrence scores a “3”
This movie is an animated comedy adventure done in better taste than previous SpongeBob movies.
Younger or older, you’ll need to be a SpongeBob fan to fully appreciate the comedic antics of this cartoon icon who is a “legend in his own right”. The plus side of this movie is the fantastic graphics were satisfying in digital format and probably are a visual compliment if seen in 3D. Amazing is the story held the attention of the 3-year-old, the four-year-old and five-year-old that I cautiously treated to this almost senseless misadventure. Skeptics of the SpongeBob franchise will say that watching Spongebob cartoons can make you dumber, and I agree. However this movie’s use of the Super Hero angle actually demonstrates a purposeful theme. Actor Antonio Banderas experience doing animated adventures allows him to add the needed connection between our undersea cartoon explorers when they emerged into the real world with their CGA look. The super hero profiles for the Bikini Bottom gang are pretty flattering except Sandy the Squirrel’s super hero caricature was just flat. So I’ll give this warning for where I felt the movie pushes the “risque” factor: animating seagulls crapping; SpongeBob hangs onto Patrick’s pants until they expose “butt crack” (which sadly is one of the things two of my oldest viewers, Jah age 5 and Joseph age 4, said was their favorite part of the movies. A couple of the young viewers with me, including Max age 3, agreed they liked the toon squad as superheroes. Good or bad, SpongeBob has young followers, so if his character does something worthwhile, he deserves credit for it. "A Sponge Out of Water" is okay.
“Hidden Colors 3 – the Rules of Racism” directed by Tariq Nasheed scores a “5”
This is a documentary about the black experience in the United States. It contains images and stories containing graphic violence, homicide and very disturbing recollections
This documentary shares historical facts and opinions that may be useful in understanding the framework of black population in the United States and other regions around the globe. Hidden Colors 3 shares a unique profile of racism which cannot be ignored whether a viewer agrees with it or not. The documentary exposes a systematic process that produced a troubling pattern of problems that all of society in the U.S. are faced to deal with. The film's director, Nasheed, stated in an interview: “Hidden Colors 3 will focus on racism in America and some of the unwritten rules of racism within the dominant society. In this country, we talk about how we need to discuss race, but we never have a real dialogue about racism and race in America at all. With this film, I want it to be that dialogue." Brothers Who Care will host a showing of "Hidden Colors 3 - The Rules of Racism" if there is enough interest. This documentary is a must see for the Black population and useful for other populations supporting the survival, progress and self sufficiency of blacks in the United States. It can promote understanding as well as the chance for reconciliation and peace.
“Black or White” starring Kevin Costner, Jillian Estell and Octavia Spencer scores a “5”
This is a heart felt drama with some profanity
I let the audience I watched this movie with set its rating based on their remarks. Those exiting the theater room said, “It was a good movie”; “Kevin Costner did good”. Personally I feel that this movie is a journey which could benefit you to take. Stealing a line from the script, “Sometimes we need to get away and learn how to breathe again”. While the story is all too familiar, it keep it real as far as circumstances that are left undone can “hurt” people on either side of an issue whether it is racial, parental, substance abuse or gay rights. The movie “Black or White” touches on all these layers of social issues while sometimes using lighthearted and ridiculously funny candor which made the audience laugh at the petty foolishness. Octavia Spencer's character (grandmother Rowena Jeffers) does not miss a beat with the whit. Spencer’s character has the same unabashed appeal as her character Minny Jackson from the movie “The Help”.Having raised racially blended children, I can tell you that “cultural correctness” is not something you focus on while you are pretty much dealing with the challenges of parenting and providing for your family. This movie tugs on your emotions and your conscience. Jillian Estell’s character young Eloise Anderson (the center of a racially motivated custody battle), is the calm in the middle of this storm. Eloise's story is based on real life situations that our society is steadily witnessing an increase. Kevin Costner (playing the grandfather Elliot Anderson) personally helped finance this movie to continue the conversation on race in the United States among film viewers according to IMDb (the Internet Movie Database). By the way, the audience feedback that is quoted in this movie review came from white movie patrons.
“The Wedding Ringer” starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad scores a “4”
This is a comedy with bawdy humor, profanity and brief nudity
The Wedding Ringer only has enough of a plot to use as an excuse to keep slapping you with outrageous antics that had the theater I was in bursting with laughter. Josh Gad (playing the friendless groom Doug Harris) has a long career in television comedy and his role in this movie nicely complimented Kevin Hart playing his hired best man Bic Mitchum. Critics are slamming the Wedding Ringer because of the stale storyboard and déjà vu to movies like “Meet the Millers” (also about hiring stand-ins to help pull off a misconception). However critics are not denying the comedic delivery by this duo and the all-star cast of clowns that help them crank out plenty of comedy. Truthfully, who goes to see a comedy or an action movie for the plot? The story is not dull even though it does take you to an obvious conclusion, it holds your attention while you ride this laugh filled roller coaster. So hats off to Kevin Hart and Josh Gad for guaranteeing a funny adventure.
“Black Hat” starring Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang and Viola Davis scores a “3”
This is a movie portraying terrorist activity and combat violence
What could have possibly been a good movie is drawn out with worthless footage that delays some incredibleaction scenes. When is Hollywood going to stop insulting viewers with the dramatization of electronic movement? Black Hat is practically a mixture of the movie themes of “Swordfish” and “The Borne Identity” with a computer hacker as a superhero. The cyber terrorism portrayed in this movie takes an all too familiar twist which ushers in the need for the untraditional nerd Nick Hathaway (played by Chris Hemsworth) to take down a black hat hacker villain, played by Yorick van Wageningen. Wageningen played the scumbag social worker in the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and he portrays a scumbag in “Black Hat”, this sort of image can haunt him like Hemsworth’s “bad assed” Thor persona. The problem with this movie is characters like Captain Chen Dawai, played by Leehom Wang, are doing nothing more running around aimlessly through the plot. Wei Tang, fills in the gratuitous love affair for the movie, and has a character Chen Lien operating as a technology engineer justifying her role is the story. Had the movie editor scaled back (chopped out) about a half hour of obvious useless footage, Black Hat could be a worthwhile trip to the movies. Black Hat will be okay, to rent which can allow you to ride the fast forward button through the dim passages that plague this movie.
“Selma” starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Stephan James and Oprah Winfrey scores a “5”
This is a movie is a portrayal of historical events and real life situations. It should be a required part of American History studies in schools.
I had to wait a day before writing this review to allow my emotions to settle. Being of Black American and Native American descent, the movie Selma took me through a range of emotions while watching it portray the domestic and cultural terrorism that actually occurred in the United States against its own citizens by U.S. citizens and authorities. The writers, directors and actors flawlessly draw you into a story that has been told countless times and with this movie you are given a “visual” account into the backstory of this iconic chapter in the civil rights movement. Gripping revelations unfold in this movie that is supported by official documentation of government surveillance on individuals helping with the civil rights movement. Selma isn’t just about the struggle and pain inflicted on blacks, the movie Selma shows a dramatic change and unity of the American people when one man was brave enough to challenge a country to help end a tragedy that was isolated until brought to national attention with the help of the news media at that time. Airing the dirty laundry of violent racism, discrimination and cultural terrorism helped end an era of injustice. As much as I would like to tell about the scenes from this movie that ripped feelings in me of disgust, anger, sorrow and joy; I recommend watching “Selma” and perhaps we can be moved to put an end to the emerging civil conflict that is arising in the United States today.
“Penguins of Madagascar” with the voices of: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, and Benedict Cumberbatch scores a “3”
This is an animated action-adventure fantasy more suited for young adults and adults
The Penguins of Madagascar are still eccentric, witty, reckless and deserving of their own spotlight, which Skipper is not willing to share with their rivals in the North Wind clandestine group. The characters in the North Wind are comically similar to our Penguin posse and both are on a competitive mission to stop the mysterious disappearance of penguin-kind. This installment from the Madagascar franchise is much more pointed towards an adult audience since much of the comedic satire lends reference to “grown up” situations. The backstory in this movie about how the Penguin team came to be, segues nicely into their present day dilemma helping to make seeing this movie an okay cinematic adventure… for grown ups!
“Taken 3” starring Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace scores a “3.5”
This is an action-adventure crime drama with filled with combat violence
The first two movies in this sequel made it a hard act to follow for Taken 3. This third part of the Taken adventures came in just a little better than okay. The suspense and action scenes are fulfilling yet the story’s ending lacks luster. Neeson’s character Bryan Mills basically carries the story with a bit of help from Maggie Grace playing his daughter Kim. The lovely Famkee Janssen didn’t seem to get much face time however her characters charmed added some wished for delivery to this tale. Forest Whitaker, playing Inspector Franck Doltzler, was under utilized in the story and Whitaker is an awesome actor. But this is basically a “guy” movie and action seems to be what Taken 3 is all about. The writers do add a notable twist to the plot which I sniffed out in advance as a possible turn of events. You can take a chance to go see this at the theaters or take a chance on waiting for rental, either way you will not be “Taken”.
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