Sunday, July 23, 2017

Valerian is a sugar rush

Movie Title:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Grade:  B

Rating: PG-13, 137 minutes

  • In a Nutshell:  Written and directed by Luc Besson, this sci-fi adventure takes you on a colorful journey with incredible creativity and imagination. 

  •  Unfortunately, it     misses the mark as an emotionally satisfying meal, but is a fun sugar rush.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Love is more powerful than anything.” – Laureline (Cara Delevingne)
  • “Love – it’s the trust you place in someone else.” – Lauraline 

Things I liked:
  • The French comics source material is extremely creative and this film does it justice.
  • The opening sequence in the space station when the Americans were greeting visitors in space throughout the centuries was really cute.
  • There is another sequence where Valerian smashes through a bunch of sections of the space station and you quickly see an impressive variety of environments.
  • Cara Delevingne is beautiful to look at.  She wears mostly skimpy outfits that consist of a bikini with a sheer cover, but I thought the white dress she wore was really pretty.
  • I loved all of the creative creatures.  This blows that orginal Star Wars bar scene out of the water....or universe in this case.
  • Rihanna fans will love her character as “Bubble.”  Bubble puts on an amazing pole dance show and is a very sweet character.
  • Good music choices.
  • I LOVED Avatar and the people of Mul reminded me of them because of their sparkly skin and gentle spirits.  The animation was incredible.
  • Beautiful colors and textures.
  • The “Big Market” looked really interesting and kind of like a virtual 3D game.  That double barrel pistol in the market was cool.
  • Cool K-Trons.
  • China is such a HUGE movie market nowadays that I thought it was interesting that you see the Chinese flag two times in the movie.  Can you say Yuan?
  • I wish I had someone like Alex to help me with everything!  Maybe the  Amazon Echo - Black is kind of like that?
  • See in 3D if you can.
  • The plot is fairly simple, but I thought the journey was a lot of fun.
  • Ethan Hawke’s performance was a kick.

Things I didn’t like:
  • A lot of the dialogue was really dumb.  
  • Most of the lines that were supposed to add humor fell flat.
  • Wow, I guess I’m getting really old, because the two stars of the movie (Valerian and Laureline) look like teenagers to me. They don't have believable chemistry together.  The casting just seemed off.  It's pretty ridiculous to believe they're the universe's most talented agent team.
  • Laureline rolls her eyes a LOT.  In fact, both Valerian and Laureline are incredibly cocky and just not that likable.  We don’t see much character development, nor arc to show their growth.  The romance between them just wasn't convincing.
  • Dane Dehaan sounded like a goofy Keanu Reeves and seemed very young and impish.  I thought his performance in A Cure for Wellness was much more mature and with more depth.
  • There are so many creatures and side stories packed into this film that I would have loved to learn more about, but are quickly skimmed over. 

Funny lines:
  • “For better or worse?” – Laureline
“Worse?  Is that negotiable?” – Valerian
“No.” – Laureline
  • “Humans are so predictable.” – bird creatures
“Clearly, you’ve never met a woman.” - Laureline

Tips for parents: 
  • This is a fun family film.
  • No profanity.
  • Skimpy clothing on all of the women.
  • Sci-fi violence.

Want to read the graphic novel? Check it out here:
  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Official Movie Novelization


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Girls Trip gets an F for extremely foul

Movie Title: 
 Girls Trip

Grade:  F for FOUL

Rating: R, 122 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I guess I just don’t get this movie.  In fact, I hated it. Audiences are loving it, but I thought it was one of the most crude, trashy movies I had ever seen.  I’m honestly surprised that the talented cast would want to be part of such a disgusting, filthy script.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Friendship, forgiveness, loyalty

  • “Realize your own truth.” – Ryan (Regina Hall)
  • Power to rediscover your own voice
  • It’s better to be alone than with someone who disrespects you.

Things I liked:
  • The cast includes Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish.  I thought Tiffany's character was the most disgusting and disgraceful, so I guess you could say she did a great job.
  • Some music celebrity cameos.  The Essence Music Festival occurs every year in New Orleans.
  • I got a kick out of all of Queen Latifah’s hairstyles.

Things I didn’t like:
  • TONS of nasty, crude jokes, foul behavior, offensive language, and repulsive images.
  • The girls do horribly crude things and have a night of extremely bad behavior and then they kneel down to pray.  So, praying makes all of their bad character, foul language and trashy behavior OK all of a sudden? I believe in repentance, but the very next day they go out and do it all again.
  • The girlfriends scream profanities at each other and are constantly fighting. 
  •  Two of the women pee all over everyone from a zip-line above a crowd.  Disgusting.  I’m not talking about a little dribble either.  Think full-on spraying hose.  Gross.  Not funny.
  • Ryan’s husband cheats on her, yet she flirts with someone else and thinks it's OK.
  • The two token white girls were both painted as idiots.
  • Why are so many movies coming out that glorify girls behaving badly?
  • I love a good comedy, but the jokes in this movie were juvenile and disgusting.

Tips for parents: 
  • Pure garbage.  If you wanted your kids to watch this movie with a filter, it would be about a 10 minute movie.
  • Extreme profanity and offensive language.  That’s not even including the 429,871 F-bombs.
  • Drugs, alcohol, sex, fighting
  • Full-frontal nudity of an old guy.  Yuck.
  • Dina opens her shirt up at a concert to reveal pasties.
  • Very immodest clothing.



Dunkirk immerses you in war from the first scene to the last

Movie Title:  Dunkirk

Grade:  A-

Rating:   PG-13, 107 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I write marketing reports for movie theaters and have felt terrible for Dunkirk the past few months, because their trailers almost always elicited ZERO response from the audiences.  Well, audiences are speaking VERY loudly now.  They LOVE Christopher Nolan’s newest film, Dunkirk, based on the true WWII story.

If you can see it in 70mm on an IMAX, do it.  Christopher Nolan went to great lengths to make sure that his movie was as accurate as possible.  The details are impressive. With thousands of Extras on the beach, this film is epic.

The director’s goal was to create an immersive experience.  That it is.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Hope is a weapon. Survival is victory.”
  • Human resolve

Things I liked:
  • With real planes, real locations, and hundreds of Extras.  Everything looked and FELT real.
  • Technically, it is awe-inspiring.  Do I smell an Oscar?
  • Hans Zimmer's sound track is explosive and riveting, filled with intensity almost the entire time. Zimmer used Christopher Nolan's watch to get the ticking sound that fills the movie.
  • I really liked the trailer tagline: “When 400 soldiers couldn’t get home, home came for them.”
  • Teenage girls and fans of One Direction will be thrilled to watch Harry Styles as Alex.
  • I love Oscar winner Mark Rylance in everything he does.  I especially loved him in Bridge of Spies DVD and thought he was adorable in The BFG (Theatrical Version).
  • SPOILER:  I LOVED what Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) did for Cillian Murphy’s character at the end.  I would hope that my 4 sons would have that kind of character and compassion.  That small moment was extremely touching for me.
  • I know a water scene is good when it makes me hold my breath.
  • Rather than focus on big battle movements, the film takes it to a personal level and shows you how war affects the individual.

Things I didn’t like:
  • You don’t really get to know any of the characters and develop a strong connection.  The film’s action reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, yet that film carried so much more weight and emotional pull on my heart because of the character development.  It's my all-time favorite war movie. You’re not given any backstories in this film, however, and there are no quiet scenes where characters talk about their lives.
  • Because of everyone’s thick accents, you can’t understand everything that’s said. I probably missed a good 20% of the dialogue.
  • I thought it was interesting that Tom Hardy would want a role like this.  He played Farrier, a pilot whose face was completely covered almost the entire time. He only had 10 lines during the entire movie.
  • My 17 year old son, surprisingly, said he thought the movie was a little slow. The film runs almost in real time. 
  • SPOILER:  We see only a few small boats coming to the rescue, but in reality, the number was closer to 700.  Nolan used 50 boats on the water, which is actually more than used in any other film.
  • I wish I could have seen a map to better understand where everything was located.  Here’s one:
Interesting lines:
  • “He’s shell-shocked George.  He’s not himself.  He may never be himself again.” – Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance)
  • “Well done.” – old, blind British man
“All we did was survive.” – Tommy (Fionn Whitehead)
“That’s enough.” – old guy
  • “There’s no hiding from this, son.” – Mr. Dawson
  • “What do you see?” – Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy)
“Hope.” -     Commander Bolton (Oscar nominated Kenneth Branagh)

Tips for parents: 
  • This war movie is intense with MANY moments of life or death.
  • Despite the high body count, it isn’t super bloody and gory like Saving Private Ryan.
  • There was a surprising lack of profanity.  I thought I heard an F-bomb, but because the accents were so thick, I can’t honestly say that’s what the word was.
Want to learn more about this part of history in World War II?  Check out some of these:

Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture
The Miracle of Dunkirk: The True Story of Operation Dynamo


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wish Upon makes you wish it were a better movie

Movie Title:  Wish UPON

Grade:  D

Rating: PG-13, 89 minutes

In a Nutshell:   Cliched and not very good, this horror movie would be fun to watch at a sleepover with a bunch of teenage girls while they make fun of it the entire time.  There are so many moments that are just laughable.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • The most meaningful life is one that is filled with service and love for others.

Things I liked:
  • I interviewed some people who were coming out of the movie, before I saw it, and they said they thought it was really scary.  It’s not, but the audience I sat with seemed to really get a kick out of it and reacted quite vocally to jumps and scares and bad choices the actors on screen were making.
  • Joey King does a pretty good job as Clare Shannon.  This is her 4th horror movie.
  • I thought it was hilarious when Tyler (Alexander Nunez) fell asleep with his cell phone in his hand.  Such a teenager. Then, when Darcie wakes up, rotting in various parts of her body, he immediately starts taking pictures and posting them online.
  • There’s a Pokemon Go app rip-off about demons that was kind of funny.
  • I actually liked the surprise ending.
  • Ki Hong Lee is such a likable guy in all his movies.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s very similar to The Possession and seems like a total rip-off of previous books and movies you have seen.  Original it is not.  On IMDB, it says the film is loosely based on W.W. Jacobs' short story The Monkey's Paw.
  • The romantic story in the film just didn’t work or seem the least bit believable to anyone in the audience.
  • There was this really weird stock footage of a bunch of buildings in a city shot.  What the ??  Even the sound effects and musical score sounded like mostly stock music clips.
  • There’s this really weird color correction that changes during scenes.  I’m not sure if it was intentionally placed in order to show Clare’s moods or just accidentally changed during editing.  ???
  • The characters are all pretty one-dimensional.
  • SPOILER:  There is a suicide in the movie, but they don’t spend any time exploring the emotions that could have provided some depth to a character arc.
  • Some of the acting was really bad.
  • I'm not sure it was a good marketing strategy to advertise that the same people who did Annabelle did this movie, because that film wasn't very good either.
  • SPOILER: What about wishing for world peace? A cure for cancer?  End hunger?  All of Clare's wishes were extremely selfish.  Admittedly, some of my wishes would focus on myself, but I'd like to think I'd eventually start thinking of others!

Funny lines:
  • “Apparently, karma is a bigger “B” than Darcie Chapman.” – Meredith McNeil        (Sydney Park)

Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of crude language
  • Portrayal of a suicide and discussion of others
  • Someone flips the bird
  • Lots of really rude people
  • Bullying
  • Lots of brutal deaths



Monday, July 17, 2017

Love, Kennedy requires a box of tissues when viewing

Movie Title:  Love, Kennedy

Grade:  B

Rating: PG, 92 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Based on a true story, this movie requires a box of tissues when watching.  The touching film will break your heart and fill it with love at the same time.  Written and directed by T.C. Christensen, it’s perfect for LDS families whose faith will be strengthened, but also uplifting and inspiring for those not of the Mormon faith.
Uplifting theme: 
  • Love one another.
  • “God has bigger plans for your family.” - missionary 

Things I liked:
  • I love watching Jasen Wade in all of his movies. Partly, I think it’s because I think he’s handsome, but mostly because I think he does a great job evoking real emotion. His acting is believable and flows easily.
  • 5 year old Kennedy, played by Scarlett Hazen, is absolutely adorable.
  • Teenage Kennedy, played by Tatum Chiniquy, is so pretty with such a gorgeous smile, perfect teeth, and the long, beautiful hair I wish I had.  She did a great job and glows with the beauty from within, which is even better than the outside.
  • I was impressed when someone said something unkind about Kennedy and her father patiently explained her illness.  When the person apologized, Kennedy's mom simply said, “That’s OK.  You didn’t know.” Oh, that more people were kind and forgiving like that.
  • Kennedy’s little brother’s name is Beau, played by Brennin Williams.  I have a son named Bo, so I immediately liked him.
  • I loved seeing pictures and videos of the real people at the end of the movie.  Keep watching during the final rolling credits.
  • Many of the scenes were actually filmed in the Hansen family’s real home, as well as other locations where Kennedy’s experiences took place.
  • I was impressed that Jason and Heather Hansen's faith never seemed to waiver.  I'm sure that in real life, they often struggled with the unique challenges that their family faced, but they held tightly to each other and their faith, so they were able to bear it all so beautifully.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Viewers who aren’t Mormon won’t recognize LDS Primary songs or Book of Mormon stories that are referenced in the film, but they aren’t crucial to understanding the story.
  • The movie can get heavy with sad scenes, one after another.  There is an attempt to include some lighter moments, but overall it’s a really sad movie.
·    This will never be a big Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s a touching story that will make you hug those around you a little tighter.
  • It feels a little bit more like a loving eulogy than a feature film, but that doesn’t mean it won’t tug at your heart.  It lacks tension and arc that are the time-tested formula for great films; however, this sweet tribute to a remarkable young woman and her family is respectful and inspiring.

Funny lines:
  • “Maybe it’s a part of the plan.” – Heather Hansen (Heather Beers)
“I’d like to see a copy of that plan!” – Jason Hansen (Jasen Wade)
  • “She thinks she's the best cheerleader in the world.” – Jason
“She is!” – Heather

Interesting lines:
  • “Get aggressive!  That’s how we stand up to a bully!” – Jasen
“But Daddy…why not just love her?” – Kennedy
  • “Today’s going to be a great day.” – Heather
“It always is.” – Kennedy
  • “Can anyone tell me why Kennedy doesn’t have any challenges?” – coach
“Because she doesn’t see them that way.” – cheerleader
  • “When you hug her, you can feel the goodness, the beauty she has inside.” – coach          (Wow, I'd love it if people felt that way about me when I hugged them!)

Tips for parents: 
  • This movie is 98% sad, so be prepared.  Your teenage daughters will bawl their eyes out.  Your sons will make up some excuse to leave the room.
  • To learn more about Batten Disease, go to
  • If you want to cry some more, check out the book based on the true story  Kennedy's Hugs
  • No profanity or objectionable material at all.  Thank you!
  • There is, of course, a lot of discussion of death.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

War for Planet of the Apes impresses audiences with the closing film in an epic trilogy

Grade:  A-

Rating:  PG-13, 140 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This is a war movie with all of the violence, explosions, strategy, suffering, beatings, prison camp, and human drama that the best war movies has….except that it also happens to have apes.  

This final installment in the reboot trilogy of Planet Of The Apes has incredible visual effects and plenty of heart to end the journey and story in an epic way.

I watched the original series of Planet Of The Apes when I was a little girl and remember even attending a Movie Marathon at a theater that played them all back-to-back.  I think the original film team would have been proud of this new version…and extremely impressed.  “Apes together strong!”

Uplifting theme: 
  • Mercy vs. justice
  • Revenge vs. forgiveness
  • Family, friendship, loyalty
  • Fear vs. love

Things I liked:
  • If you have forgotten exactly what happened in the first two movies, the beginning of the movie gives you a clever, quick summary of RISE and DAWN to lead you into the WAR.  There’s only one other expositional scene, which makes for a very riveting movie without long scenes that have to explain to you what’s going on and why. 
  • Andy Serkis is absolutely amazing.  What an outstanding career he has had in bringing epic characters to life like Lord of the Rings’ Gollum and now Caesar. He deserves every one of the awards he has won and been nominated for.
  • The cinematography is stunning.  Visually, it's a truly beautiful movie.
  • The motion capture work is unbelievable.  There is a blending of humans dressed as apes and real apes and you can't often tell the difference. In fact, you forget you’re watching special effects when you see the apes move and talk.  They’re incredible.
  • I love the small details, like blood vessels in the ape’s unbelievably expressive eyes, fog coming out of the apes’ mouths in the winter scenes, and ice crystals on the apes’ fur.  Speaking of the eyes, even Colonel exclaims, “Look at your eyes!  Almost human!”
  • “Bad Ape” (voiced by the lovable Steve Zahn) provides most of the comic relief.  He was a scene-stealer every time. In a dark movie like this, “Bad Ape” could have been an awkward “Jar Jark Binks” figure that just didn’t work, but instead, “Bad Ape” works very well.
  • I got a kick out of carefully placed words that provided some humor like “Ape-colypse Now”, and “Bedtime for Bonzo”.
  • It’s truly rare that the third film in a series can measure up to the first or even the second, but this last edition in the franchise is excellent.
  • Critics are referring to the script writing as a masterpiece, partly because it follows the old-fashioned model of storytelling.
  • The score by Michael Giacchino was noticeably awesome.  It kept up with the meat of the story extremely well.
  • The green laser sequence was super cool.
  • Directed by Matt Reeves, this film immediately immerses you into the ape world from the beginning. 
  • Woody Harrelson was fun to watch, as always.
  • I love that this final installment in the story is so ape-centric.
  • SPOILER: If you think about it, the end of the movie is a perfect set-up for the very FIRST movie in 1968.  Interesting, right?

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s a bit slow-moving.  It’s more of a thinking movie, rather than an action movie.
  • A lot of dark, night scenes will make this hard to watch on your computer when it comes out on DVD and streaming.
  •  The Colonel makes some dumb decisions in regards to Caesar.
  • The Colonel is worried about his race dying because of the apes, but ummm....where are all the women? Doesn't the lack of female humans pretty much end the human race?  ha ha
  • It always bugs me when the lines in the movie trailers are different from what's actually in the movie.

Interesting lines:
  • “The irony is we created you and nature has been punishing us ever since.” –  The Colonel (Woody Harrelson)
  • “There are times when it is necessary to abandon our humanity in order to save our humanity.” – The Colonel 
  • "I saved myself.” – “Donkey” gorilla
“Is there anything left of you to save?” – Caesar
  • “I am like Koba.  I can’t escape my hate.” – Caesar
  • “I did not start this war…..I fight only to protect apes.” – Caesar
  • “I may not make it back.” – Caesar
“That’s why I’m coming….to make sure you do.” - Maurice (Karin Konoval)  Interesting that he's voiced by a woman, right?

Funny lines:
  • “Oh no! OK.”  - Bad Ape
  • “You’re probably not much of a reader.” – Colonel to Caesar
Tips for parents: 
  • There are bodies of dead humans and apes throughout the entire movie.
  • A lot of the monkeys use sign language, so there are a lot of subtitles kids will have to read quickly.
  • There is a lot of violence, including frequent and bloody beatings.  Some images will be disturbing for young kids.

Take another look at the first two parts of the story:

Rise Of The Planet of the Apes


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

47 Meters Down describes the fan score of this shark thriller

Movie Title:
  47 Meters Down  

Grade: C

Rating:   PG-13, 89 minutes

In a Nutshell: It’s pretty hard to beat Jaws.  While this movie’s sharp-toothed villains put on an impressive show, a lot of the lame dialogue prevents this thriller from really getting meaty. 

This film was going to go straight to video on demand, but it was finally decided that it would go to the Big Screen…if that tells you anything.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family, love
  • Persistence, tenacity, never give up, hope
  • Choices have consequences
  • Think twice before deciding to go down into the deep, dark ocean with sharks!

My real life shark story: Have you ever seen a shark up close?  Years ago, I was snorkeling in St. Thomas by myself while my husband took a nap on the beach in the cove nearby.  (Tip: always snorkel with a partner.)  It’s easy to lose track of time and distance when you’re under the water chasing tropical fish.  I decided to lift my head up out of the water to see where I was and was shocked to see I was WAY far out in the ocean past the safety of the cove, so I quickly decided I needed to head back to the beach. 

When I put my face back in the water, I saw a SHARK swimming right towards me!!!!  I was terrified and actually thought I could outswim it, kicking as fast as I could toward the shore.  I knew any minute I would feel the vicious creature chomp down on my legs to eat me.  It was the scariest thing I had ever imagined would happen to me.  I was almost shocked when, after swimming like crazy for a couple of minutes, I couldn’t see the shark anymore.  I couldn’t believe it hadn’t attacked me yet.  I knew it was still just a matter of time before it would, so I continued to swim to shore like a crazy person.

Finally, I made it to the sand and ran directly to the surf shack where I screamed, “There’s a shark in the water!”  The staff was unimpressed and calmly asked me to point to the type of shark I saw on a sun-faded poster that hung on the wall.  I quickly scanned the images of all the ferocious sharks, pointing at the one I saw.  They laughed and said it was a nurse shark, apparently harmless.  I was relieved and embarrassed, but I vowed to never go that far out in the ocean by myself again.  The End.  True Story.

OK, back to the movie review:

Things I liked:
  • When you start to notice your own breathing, you know the under-water scenes are engaging.  That DID happen a few times while I watched the movie.  I kept holding my breath under the water.Well done!
  • There is a good amount of tension.
  • You learn about scuba diving, nitrogen narcosis, and getting “the bends.”
  • The sharks look really great. 
  • I wish I were on vacation right now.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The character development was very weak and made the audience simply not care much about the sisters.  In fact, it seemed like the audience I sat with was hoping for someone to become shark bait.  It's the character development that had a lot to do with making Jaws such a successful film.
  • There’s not that much the girls can do once they’re stuck in the bottom of the sea, besides cry and be scared.
  • The acting was pretty bad.
  • Lots of cliché’d jumps and scares.
  • Super dumb dialogue.  Most of the lines include screaming and heavy breathing and sound like this: “We’re going to make it!  Just stay with me!”
  • I was chatting with a girl who is an actual Captain of a ship in Tortola and I so I asked if she had seen this movie.  She said she lasted about 15 minutes and then had to walk out.  She was furious that humans would put themselves down in a cage as shark bait and then be furious when the sharks acted like animals.  Good point.
·       Sharks keep missing the girls, as if they haven’t learned how to aim for their prey after thousands of years of biology.
  • It’s a true drama with no humor.
  • This is the kind of movie that’s going to have a hard time being scary if it’s being watched on your little computer screen at home.
  • The twist at the end was pretty lame.
  • I liked The Shallows better.  At least it's not Sharknado.

Tips for parents: 
  • There’s a lot of blood.
  • Some of the sharks look pretty scary.
  • Young kids may not want to go into the ocean after seeing this.
  • Pre-teens and teens will probably like it, especially if they haven't seen better shark movies.