0 = Worthless; 2 = Needs Work; 3 = Okay; 4 = Worthwhile; 5 = Good Movie
“The Jungle Book (2016)” starring Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley (voice of Bagheera the Panther), Idris Eba (voice of Shere Khan the Bengal Tiger) and Bill Murray (voice of Baloo the Bear) scores a “4.5”
This movie is an action adventure with realistic looking computer generated characters and has violent depictions.
“The Jungle Book (2016)” is is not a ‘cartoon’, yet this story appears to be close to the animated version. Neel Sethi is the only living character playing Mowgli the Man Cub. The animal characters generated in this movie look amazingly lifelike. There are some violent scenes and one shows the killing of the character Akela (voice of Giancarlo Esposito) the alpha male wolf pack leader. I was concerned that the six young people we brought along may experience some visual trauma since the animal characters looked real, especially when they fought. The children with us ranged from the ages of four-years old to 6 years of age.I did not ask the children about Akela’s death. I did ask them if they were scared while they were watching the movie and I was surprised none of the children spoke about the actions of the villainous tiger Shere Khan. Our children said they liked the movie. This version of The Jungle Book is visually attractive and interesting. Some of the actors they casted to do the voices are very fitting for their roles adding an additional element of enjoyment and even more if you figured out who contributed the voices. Ben Kingsley’s noble acting experience was worthy of the vocal role of Mowgli’s mentor Begheera. Gary Shandling providing the voice of Ikki the Porcupine is funny but not to be outdone the work of Bill Murray speaking for Baloo the Bear. When you see this movie’s King Louie the Orangutan, you can almost see actor Christopher Walken’s facial features in this computer generated beast. I feel this movie used a bit of artistic freedom for the part of the alluring snake Kaa. I don't want to take anything away from the talents of Scarlett Johansson who provided the voice of Kaa who only made one appearance in this movie limiting her role in the story. For those who love the story of The Jungle Book and the 1967 animation, you should like this movie as well. I hope you share it with an audience better behaved than the teens that ruined it for a few in our party. We were subjected to others in the theater that talked the entire time and some of them kicked the back of our seats. The theater provided free movie passes for everyone in our viewing party of eleven, so perhaps I will return to see what excitement the 3D version of this wonderful movie can offer
“Barbershop: The Next Cut starring “Ice Cube, Common, Regina Hall, Cedric the Entertainer, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Anderson, Eve, Sean Patrick Thomas, J.B. Smooth and a host of other stars scores a “5”
This is a comedy bordering on reality and is acceptable for youth and adult audiences
Barbershop – The Next Cut is loaded with an all star cast and uses celebrity cameos that help drive a point home that’s worth experiencing on screen. This story is laced with well placed delightful mockery that helps soften this gripping reminder of the urban struggle that still exist. This Barbershop tale shows that problems can be solved through unified efforts to regain public safety instead of just blaming the system and hoping for a bailout from a social program or governmental intervention. This movie portrays some useful efforts going on in urban America. There is a tragic scene played out in this story and I believe I heard someone in the theater crying in reaction to the onscreen tragedy. Nicki Minaj is undeniably seductive and played her role quite well, though I suspect she may have just acted out personal experiences. J.B. Smooth and the other comedian actors and actresses added various dimensions to this part of the Barbershop saga which helped make the entire movie quite entertaining even through some of the dramatic and political issues woven into story. Do stay in your seats for the end movie outtakes which put a good face on what people are actually doing to make the best of urban life in Chicago. My visit to my old neighborhood on Chicago’s south side last summer made me question who let it decay and become almost desolate. I don’t expect this movie to stir any social change, anymore than I’d expect anyone to ask me what it was like growing up black in Chicago. The movie Barbershop – The Next Cut is a glimpse of what anyone could experience living in inner city America
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” starring Nia Vardos, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin scores a “4.5”This is a comedy adventure suitable for most audiencesI can’t tell you much about this movie without spoiling it for you however I will dare to say this, “Greek Wedding 2 may be the best comedy movie out at the time of this review”. The cast is back with a few new faces making the adventure interesting and appealing. The movie trailers are a bit misleading as to who gets hooked up with a Big Fat Greek Wedding; nevertheless it’s an enjoyable cultural treat that should leave you satisfied. “Divergent: Allegiant” starring Shialene Woodley, Theo James and Jeff Daniels scores a “2”This is a science-fiction with combat violenceAs political science fiction series goes, so does this. Not quite the caliber of the Hunger Games Series, however the graphics and futuristic renditions are interesting. The action-adventure elements of the movie is what held my attention, other than that, the time I spent following the Divergent saga proved misplaced. Sometimes the movie pimps are just lining their coffers to cover the expense of their other projects like the Hunger Games series. This movie deserves our rating of “0” but I cannot deny the entertaining action sequences. Stay away from this movie until it is on television for “free”.“10 Cloverfield Lane” starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. scores a “4”This is a psychological thriller with violence and disturbing situationsThis movie is another example of how to tell an interesting tale with no more than a few characters. This story is thrilling and keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are shocking turns throughout the movie that should keep you mentally spinning and guided along a twisted adventure that will leave you wanting more. The ending is odd, yet fitting making you wonder… is there more?
“The Boss” starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell scores a “2”
This is a comedy with bawdy humor and cast children in very inappropriate scenarios
There is not a lot of content to this movie, mainly a lot of sarcasm, inappropriate behavior and raunchiness. There are shamefully humorous moments that helped move the story. This tale is based on stale real life occurrences and tries to weave in a “Phoenix rising” ending which doesn’t offer anything to write home about. Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone have writing credits for this mediocre script, also directed by Falcone. Young people have enough adult created challenges and really don’t need to be portrayed in the manner which they are modeled in “The Boss
“London Has Fallen” with Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart scores a “3.5”
This is an action adventure movie the combat violence and abusive language
The dual from “Olympus Has Fallen” are back and the only difference in this movie is that they get a chance to be included in car chases and major demolitions. There is no exciting dramatic tale, the story is the same - terrorist pursue and capture the President of the United States and his favorite Secret Service agent comes to his rescue. Not even an outstanding orator like Morgan Freeman, playing Vice President Trumbull, could save this weak script especially since the story is completely unbelievable. The good news is they keep killing off main supporting characters so we may not have to face the let down of another part in this sequel. The ONLY reason why this reviewer is being generous and giving this movie a rating of "3" is that I narrowed my focus to being entertained with the action sequences. Some critics have given London Has Fallen very low marks, yet it is action packed and the special effects cannot be ignored. Don’t think about running out to the theaters to see London Has Fallen, it has already stopped playing at most major movie houses. Should you want to see how far this sequel has "fallen" put it on your movie rental list and you may have a chance to watch it before summer.
“Zootopia” with the voices Ginnifer Goodwin of scores a “3.5”This is an animated 3D action-adventure with animal characters in humanlike scenarios
I went with a party of 13 people that included seven children ages 4 to 9.Zootopia story characters are cleverly cast for human life satire, especially sloths running the Department Motor Vehicles since DMV is criticized for operating “slow”. Other animal satires include weasel characters acting unsavory, shrews with polar bear bodyguards and of course the main characters: a “cute” purple eyed bunny police officer, Judy Hopps (voice Ginnifer Goodwin) and a “sly” hustling fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman). This animated dynamic duel take on some modern day issues in their own lopsided dimension using comedy that is more appealing to an adult audience rather than to the young viewers who may have gotten sold short on a storyboard outside of their understanding.Zootopia is a fun and witty story, it isn’t my best pick as a children’s movie. Zootopia in my opinion is best suited for audiences aged 12 years or older and would have been better as a made-for-television movie. I recommend waiting for it to come out on disk or On Demand. The younger children with us said they liked it and some of them had favorite parts or characters. Four-year old Max sang the opening song and cringed when a leopard character was roaring and acting berserk. Four year-old Antoinette liked when Judy Hopps escaped danger. Five year-old Kylya and Raylynn, who I believe is age 9, both said they liked the entire movie. I didn’t poll the adults in our party since I could hear most of them laughing along with me during various parts of the movie, including the weasel’s interrogation. The story is too long; 90 minutes would have been sufficient and perhaps easier on our younger viewers. Max was ready to leave the theater after he finished his 30 minute snack binge, he’s almost the smallest of his cousin’s yet I’ve seen him eat more than six-year old Jahmane. Some “A” listed actors where cast to do voices helping to balance out the supporting roles: Idris Elba was the voice of water buffalo Police Chief Bogo. My favorite actor J.K, Simmons did the voice of Mayor Lionheart. And singer Shakira played the role of animated pop singer “Gazelle”. Zootopia shouldn’t disappoint as far as entertaining, so whether you see it at the theaters or see it later its more than “okay”.
“Race” starring Stephan James and Jason Sudeikis scores a “4”
This movie is based on a historical biography and contains dramatic use of derogative expressions and language
The movie “Race” is not just about the black experience in America before civil rights improved, this movie is about the attitudes and conditions of race relations on an international scale. I normally avoid submitting reviews on politically charged movies and while the movie Race is laced with political opinions and political maneuvers, it shares how the human spirit emerges above the politics, hatred and discrimination. The writers allowed the actors in this movie to reflect the love athletes have for their games and true sportsmanship. Jesse Owens, as history shows, was one of the most outstanding track and field athletes of his time. He was "the fastest man on earth". Stephen James did quite well portraying the role of Jesse Owens who set a place in history which could not be ignored even though the White House did not acknowledge his accomplishments. Jason Sudeikis played Coach Larry Snyder, who went above and beyond to support his athlete. German actor David Kross portrays German athlete Carl “Luz” Long, who revealed that he was not ignorant to the evil of his countrymen and nevertheless Luz showed true Olympian character. I feel one of the most heroic characters in this historic account was film maker Leni Reifenstahl played by Dutch actress Carice van Holten. Leni Reifenstahl defied the agenda of the Nazi’s who hired the propagandist to film the games and she recorded parts of the competitions unpopular to the Nazis. Reifenstahl, a former actress, made a stunning award winning visual account of what occurred in the Olympic stadium during the legendary performance of the American athletes. Jesse (J.C.) Owens may not have been a perfect man yet his victory at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany was perfect!
“Dead Pool” starring Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrien, Stefan Kapicic (the voice of Colossus) and T.J. Miller scores a “4”
This is an action-adventure movie that contains graphic violence, profanity and brief nudity.
NOT recommended for children or youth.Ryan Reynolds plays a stunning role as Deadpool. Deadpool is raw, sassy and definitely a non-traditional Marvel character. Let’s face it, the character Deadpool constantly says and reminds you throughout the movie he is not a hero. In as much as Xman Colossus wishes to recruit the antihero to be one of the Xmen, the best he can get Deadpool to consider is the 5 second threshold it takes to do something heroic. The story's character Wade Wilson is a former Special Forces soldier turned Samaritan mercenary, who has a twist of fate that has him end up as the prune faced homemade mutant Deadpool, who hunts down the man responsible for his deformity, Ajax aka Francis Freeman who is cleverly played by British actor Ed Skrien. Deadpool hopes he can get Ajax to reverse the deformity so he can reunite with his escort service eye candy girlfriend Venessa Carlysle, played by Morena Baccarin.Beyond that synopsis, there is no plot or a mission to save the world. Deadpool is an oddball love story and appropriately launched on the Valentine’s Day weekend. The story is a parody Marvel Comics tale. Along with his raunchy behavior, Deadpool’s belligerent dialogue far exceeds the eyebrow raising banter of D.C. Comics alternate heroes the Watchmen. So this movie isn’t for everyone, especially children or teens. The action is amazing and if you are into ultra violence, you may even consider seeing it in the IMAX format for some eye popping epic effects. Nevertheless, the movie is entertaining and witty thanks to Ryan Reynolds and T.J. Miller (Deadpool’s lousy and rightfully named best friend Weasel), Karan Soni playing taxi driver Dopinder helps with the comic relief, along with Deadpool’s blind roommate “Blind Al”, played by Leslie Uggams. Plus you get a glimpse of a couple of Xmen talents: Colossus and the teenage warhead Negasonic, played by the 20 year-old little known actress Brianna Hildebrand. I don’t know what to make of Ajax sidekick “Angel Dust” (played by Gina Carano) other than she puts a mean butt whipping on Colossus with her super human strength. Carano’s dad was a professional quarterback in the NFL and USFL. So if you're looking for an action flick, then check out Deadpool, you may even convince a date it’s a love story.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” with the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, J.K. Simmons and Angelina Jolie scores a “4.5”
This is a computer generated American and Chinese animated action-adventure.
Nine of us ventured to the theaters to see "Kung Fu Panda 3" and found out that this movie is a hit. The youngest of our group was between the ages of three years to six years old. Not only was the movie a hit, "Kung Fu Panda 3" is ideal for the entire family and we all enjoyed the movie. My youngest daughter was really thrilled because she has been following the Kung Fu Panda series faithfully and said it seemed like they took forever to make Panda 3. It had taken about five years to add the third part to this saga. What makes this part of the Kung Fu Panda franchise of value to me is that the story really appears to put emphasis on family. On the way into the theater my daughter told me she was excited to see the segment since the last of the saga revealed Po’s father Li (done with the voice of Bryan Cranston). She said Po (done with the voice of Jack Black) was finally going to meet his peeps (people). Family is very important to my youngest, her and her sisters use our movie outings as a family activity. Characters in the movie demonstrate family values especially when Po realizes that he now has two fathers. Mr. Ping, a crane bird (done with the voice of James Hong) stood in the gap as a dad to Po while often benefiting commercially off of his adopted son’s fame, nevertheless Mr. Ping genuinely cares enough for the panda to put himself at risk to rival with his biological father. One of my favorite actors, J.K. Simmons does the voice of the movie’s villain Kai the spirit warrior. Where the movie fell short of a perfect score from Speak Up was that it sort of makes fun of the character that appears to have a mental disability, plus promoting slothful panda behavior and celebrating overeating doesn’t help. I got multiple feedback from our viewing party including the youngest boys who said their favorite part of the movie was Po and his dad's reckless behavior while visiting the temple. A couple of the boys sang the song "Kung Fu Fighting" while they performed their version of martial arts on each other in the theater lobby. The three year old girl is the romantic; she liked how the young girl panda hugged Po. She also liked when Snoopy had a girlfriend in the Charlie Brown movie. I asked my youngest daughter what she liked about the movie she said, "All of it!" I will close this review noting that Kung Fu Panda 3 overall is a very worthwhile movie to see and even worth owning once it’s on video release.
“Dirty Grandpa” starring Robert De Niro and Zac Efron scores a “3.5”
This is a comedy with quite a bit of bawdy humor bordering on vulgar, has brief nudity and definitely not a movie for children.
Ignore the one star rating that Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie and it’s not going to be a classic. This movie is not nearly as zany or hilarious as “Bad Grandpa”. I do think Dirty Grandpa will make you laugh more than “Ride Along 2”. The story starts off like another road trip comedy yet it turns into somewhat of a “covert mission”. Scantly dressed attire is the stage props for this flick done with a Florida Spring Break backdrop which sets the tone for most of the movie. A lot of bawdy humor is used to fill the gaps for the weak script giving this story plenty of laughable moments and qualifies it for more than an okay rating by me. Jason Mantzoukas playing the role of the not so covert drug dealer Tan Pam doesn’t help this stories moral lacking but his satirical antics are shamefully funny especially his artwork. There is one piece of nudity in the whole movie and you may want to close your eyes and avoid seeing it when Gramps and grandson are sharing the pullout couch. Everything is done in satire which probably disappointed the major critics so you may want to see it just for the laughs and it shouldn’t disappoint you if you’re willing to lower your moral standards a bit. I have to thank a friend for recommending this movie or I may have passed it up.
“Ride Along 2” starring Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Ken Jeong and Olivia Munn scores a “3”
This is an action comedy with mild combat violence and some inappropriate behavior“
Ride Along 2” spends more time showing swimsuit models in skimpy clothing than providing something better than a skimpy comedy. The Atlanta law enforcement odd couple Detective James Payton (actor Ice Cube) and rookie cop Ben Barber (comedian Kevin Hart) stumble into some high-end crime while hunting down a nerdy cyber crook in Miami named A.J. (comedy star Ken Jeong). Their case clashes with an ongoing Miami investigation being covered by the lovely but brash renegade Miami detective Maya Cruz (actress Olivia Munn). The four eventually go after respected Miami businessman Antonio Pope played by Benjamin Bratt. The three police misfits have to endure the spineless support of their superiors: Miami police Captain Hernandez portrayed by Carlos Gomez and Atlanta police Lt. Brooks (actor Bruce McGill, who is forever cast as a police character). AJ keeps the investigation filled with side tracking antics until the mismatched cop team has to crack down when they go rouge to bring Pope down. The exceptionally beautiful Nadine Velazquez makes an appearance and it is not with the full frontal nudity that she displayed in the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington. Velazquez is used for comic relief in this movie. Cube and Munn's characters hint on a romantic connection yet they act out no onscreen displays of affection and who can blame Cube since Munn's boyfriend is Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. The zany comedy talents of Kevin Hart are more dependable than this weak story and the overuse of “eye candy”. The story boils down to an obvious conclusion making “Ride Along 2" just an ‘okay’ movie.
“The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy scores a “4.5”
This movie is an action drama depicting disturbing scenarios, violence, rape and gore. This movie is Not recommended for everyone
Our news crew member John Williams saw this movie before I had and said, “Andy it’s a bloody movie”. John made an understatement which I will correct by describing it in three words, “Bloody and brutal”. The movie looks like an authentic and realistic depiction of the frontier days. There are quite a few inaccuracies added to a fantastic survival story of Hugh Glass, the fur trapper and guide for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. These liberties taken by Hollywood made me reserve giving The Revenant our perfect score of “5”, which Leonardo DiCaprio deserves for his performance. I researched the story of Hugh Glass and found most of the tale was twisted or just outright lies. The movie opens with an attack by Native Americans on white fur trappers, killing most of the trappers, stealing their furs and personal property. The writers should be ashamed of themselves for formulating this lie. Everyone loves a revenge story and what better setting than a man wanting to avenge the murder of his son. The real life Hugh Glass did not have a son, yet he was attacked by a bear leaving him in bad shape to only become the victim of betrayal when the two men paid to stay by his side as the rest of the fur trappers he worked for returned to a fortress 100 miles away. Nevertheless, Glass (played by actor Leonardo DiCaprio) recovered from his injuries and sought to kill the men who left him behind and stole he things. John Fitzgerald convinced young fur trapper Jim Bridger to abandon Glass and steal his belongings, knife, guns and other things needed to survive in the wilderness, plus the two was to get paid three months wages for putting themselves at risk to remain with Glass. Fitzgerald is played by actor Tom Hardy and Bridger is played by comedy star Will Pouter. It took Glass seven weeks to make it back to the Fort after he was abandoned. Along the way he joined another group of fur trappers who were attacked by the Aricaras, a Native American tribe then Glass was rescued by another group of Native Americans, the Mandan tribe. The movie also fabricates Glass using survival skills to create a very bizarre bed to hide in and survive a harsh winter night. This never happened in real life. In real life, even though Glass vowed revenge, by the time he made it back to FortKiowa and caught up to Fitzgerald, nothing happened. The movie is interesting entertainment and since real life Hugh Glass practically came back from the dead; I thank the supervisor of my day job for confirming the meaning of the word “revenant”. The movie gives a glimpse of the brutal situations that may have existed in the frontier times; just remember that The Revenant is a twisted version of the true story.
“Daddy’s Home” starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini scores a “4.5”
This comedy has some inappropriate language and dialogue for younger viewers.
The heck with what some of the major critics are saying, this movie was the funniest 96 minutes I had in a movie theater in the past couple of months and a good start for comedy in this new year. Will Ferrell (playing step-dad Brad Whitaker) will make you laugh and Mark Wahlberg (playing absentee dad Dylan Mayron) is an amusing straight man in this comedic schtick that actually has a bit of useful parenting advice, especially for blended families. The story has a nice “feel good” conclusion. I disapprove of child actors using profanity, which is this movie's flaw in my opinion, even if it was mild part-time dirty words (as the late comedian George Carlin coined them). However, if you like stupid funny, this is the flick to catch and it doesn’t have the sick bawdy humor that plagues movies like The Hangover and HallPass. And its not as bizarre as Meet the Millers, which I should be shamed to say is one of my favorite comedies. This on screen “daddy’s best” contest gets some decent balance from Linda Cardellini who portrays ex-wife of character Dylan Mayron. ThomasHadenChurch playing Leo Holt, Brad Whitaker’s boss, kicks in some ridicules humor backed up by the antics of Hannibal Buress as Griff the Homeless Handyman.Plus as a biker, I really liked seeing them respectfully use a couple of nice motorcycles in this movie. And the ending includes a fitting cameo appearance from a favorite action hero.
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