Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales fatigues fans

Grade:  B

Rating:   PG-13, 135 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I guess this is what you call "Franchise Fatigue."  Audiences are getting a little tired and so is this series.  Disney might see a surge in the 50 year old theme park favorite, but overall, fans are wistfully remembering back to the old days when Jack Sparrow was fresh and new.

It's better than the last couple of installments, and you'll be entertained if you're not expecting much.  Will there be a #6? Probably.  What am I saying?  Of course there will be!  This is the 12th highest grossing franchise film of all time.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.” – Carina Smyth
  • Friendship, loyalty, family 

Things I liked:
  • Great special effects.  Pretty amazing visuals above and below the water.
  • While totally over-the-top, Javier Bardem plays a sufficiently scary villain named Captain Salazar. Did you know he was married to the beautiful Penelope Cruz, who starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ?
  • Brenton Thwaites is just the eye candy young female fans want.  SPOILER:  I love that Orlando Bloom makes a couple of appearances.
  • SPOILER: Great ending!  The audience cheered when they saw Keira Knightley.  At first, she said she wasn't interested in being in the movie, but audiences will all be grateful that she changed her mind.
  •  Horologist.  Ha ha
  •  CGI Jack Sparrow when he was young.  Interesting.  At first I thought they found a young actor who looked like Johnny Depp, but then I could see when the lips didn't quite match the words and could tell it was CGI.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow's father was played by a Rolling Stone (Keith Richards) and now, his uncle is played by a Beatle (Paul McCartney)!  He's seen singing "Maggie Mae", which is an old drinking song of the sea from Liverpool.
  • "A skeleton walks into a bar, orders a mop and a beer...." is the same joke told by Al Pacino to Johnny Depp's character in Donnie Brasco

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s so loud that a lot of the lines get swallowed up in other sound effects and so you can’t always hear what people are saying.
  • Kaya Scodelario just a good job as Carina Smith.  Her dress was so low cut and she was always out of breath that I got tired of seeing her heaving chest in almost every scene she was in.
  •  Slapstick comedy and goofy lines get wearisome.
  • As much as I love Johnny Depp, his character didn't bring anything new to this movie and was far less interesting than the others.  He supplies some humor, but that's about it.  He's not clever and witty, like in the first movie; he's just a drunk buffoon. 
  • A lot of jokes are recycled over and over.
  • There's no sense of urgency.  The pacing kind of lags and I started actually getting sleepy.  It feels long, even though it has the shortest running time of all the Pirates flicks.
  • They filmed some of the boat scenes in the first movie on the actual ocean, but a lot of the similar scenes in this movie look like they're on a set with a green screen.  Disappointing.

Funny lines:
  • “We’ll honeymoon in the barn.” – ugly lady who Jack Sparrow is forced to marry 

Interesting lines:
  • “Dead men tell no tales.” – Captain Salivar
  • “Who am I to you?” – Carina
“A treasure.” – Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)

Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of fighting, violence, and high body count.  Umm...pirates.   Duh.
  • Decapitated heads in a basket.
  • Lots of destruction.
  • Some inappropriate sexual innuendos.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alien Covenant answers a lot of questions

Movie Title:  
Alien: Covenant

Grade:  B

Rating:  R, 120 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This is a sequel to the movie Prometheus, and a prequel to the original blockbuster movie Alien.  

Directed by the brilliant Ridley Scott, this new addition to the Alien franchise will leave fans entertained and satisfied.   

It’s not just a fun Sci-Fi thriller, but has a lot of very deep and symbolic insights.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Love vs. duty
  • Creation, humanity
  • “The only question that matters: where do we come from?” –  Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce)   Why wasn’t he credited in the film?
  • “I think if we are kind, it will be a kind world.” - David

Things I liked:
  • The spaceship is called the “Covenant.”  Look for other symbolism associated with the word covenant and its deeper meaning.
  • The first thing you see is Michael Fassbender’s artificial blue, dreamy eye.  He does a fantastic job as two characters.  It’s helpful that he speaks in a British accent when he is David and an American accent when he’s Walter, so that you can tell who is who.  The androids’ names (David & Walter) are a tribute to producers David Giler and Walter Hill.  SPOILER:  He fights and even kisses himself.  Ha ha  Michael Fassbender was able to take time off of filming in Australia in order to attend the premiere for X-Men: Apocalypse.
  • Beautiful images.  There is a lot of CGI, but an impressive amount of shots are taken in camera.
  • David plays Das Rheingold: Entry of the Gods Into Valhalla on the piano, which is a perfect choice to illustrate the theme of creation.
  • I thought the “energy sails” were super cool looking on the space ship.
  • Katherine Waterston does a great job as Daniels.  Her short hair is perfect in this role, but I wish she had longer hair in her role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
  • You get to see a lot of aliens/xenomorphs.
  • SPOILER: If you’re hoping for the classic scene of an Alien coming out of someone’s chest, you won’t be disappointed.  Added bonus: one comes out of someone’s back side.
  • The aliens aren’t the only monsters in the movie.
  • Some questions that were left dangling in the movie Prometheus, get answered in this movie.
  • Creepy ending.
  • Look for Easter eggs from the previous films.  For example, there is a small toy bird in this and the original Alien   Some of the lines are the same, like “I got you, you son of a B…”  The music that David plays on the flute is the same score that’s played in Prometheus.
  • I love little details.  For example, the date of the mission, shown at the beginning of the film, is December 5, which is the birthday of Walt Disney.  One of the android’s names is Walter.
  • The movie was originally going to be called “Paradise Lost”, referring to John Milton’s poem where Lucifer claims it is “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
  • The movie poster has an almost old, religious gargoyle feel to it, which is appropriate considering the religious themes of covenant and creation throughout the entire movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some choppy editing.
  • There are many times when you wonder, “What the heck is going on?” because there is some bouncing back and forth in time.
  • The tone shifts and seems inconsistent.
  • If you haven’t seen Alien or Prometheus, you might be a bit confused at times.
  • Why would such an important mission send so many young girls who scream and fall apart so easily?  Oh yeah, they’re good-looking.
  • There are a lot of non-nonsensical choices made by characters that make you cringe.

Funny lines:
  • “I don’t kid about John Denver.” – Tennessee (Danny McBride)

Interesting lines:
  • “What do you believe in, David?” – Oram (Billy Crudup)
“Creation.” – David
  • “If you created me, who created you?” – David
  • “I will serve you.  You are human; I am not.  You will die; I will not.” – David
  • “Seven bells and all is well.” – Mother (computer)

Tips for parents: 
  • This is definitely a rated R reason for all of the appropriate reasons: nudity, violence, horror.
  • Most of the aliens are really scary looking.
  • There are two people in a shower naked.  You see the woman’s bare chest.
  • Katherine Waterston doesn’t wear a bra.
  • Lots of profanity and F-bombs.
  • You see a burned body up close and lots of other dead bodies in various stages of decomposition.
  • Bloody, violent, gory deaths.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This Beautiful Fantastic will make you dig in your garden again

Movie Title:  This Beautiful Fantastic

Grade:  B

Rating: PG, 1 hour 32 minutes

In a Nutshell: Garden metaphors about life and friendship grow as this quirky "modern fairy tale" develops in this limited release.  

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Today I’m going to make a difference.” – Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay)
  • Responsibility
  • Friendship
  • Everything that matters takes time.” – Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson)

Things I liked:
  • I loved the magical score throughout the film.
  • Jessica Brown Findlay does a great job as the odd protagonist who has a Keira Knightly quality about her.
  • The Nazi librarian, her signs, and her garden name (Bramble) were hilarious, played by Anna Chancellor.
  • Andrew Scott was entertaining as Vernon.
  • You’re probably going to want to go outside and work in your garden or create one.
  • Luna was lovely.
  • I loved the last scene.
  • Clever, witty dialogue.

Things I didn’t like:
  • So, the title….ummm
  • As a landlord, I wasn’t amused by Bella’s lack of interest in taking care of the property she was renting.
  • As a former employer, I also wasn’t amused by how Bella was shocked about being fired after showing up late for work every day.
  • Pretty predictable.

Funny lines:
  • “I’m not a religious man, but I believe someone sent her here to test us.” – Alfie
  • “Don’t worry, tea is on its way.” – Milly (Eileen Davies) Such a British thing to say.
  • “Slavery was abolished in 1834, just so you know.” – Vernon (Andrew Scott)
“This country has been going down the drain ever since.” – Alfie
  • “I was just trying to tidy up a bit.” – Bella
“I think that’s what Hitler said about Europe.” – Alfie
  • “I’m speechless.” – Bella
“If only that were true.” – Alfie

Interesting lines:
  • “You should doubt only a man who changes his story.  I only repeat myself in vague hope that one day somebody will actually hear me.” – Alfie
  • “Look!  These monkwoods, so beautiful and poisonous they’ll kill a man.  That’s an interesting contradiction, isn’t it?” – Alfie 

Tips for parents: 
  • Most kids will be pretty bored.
  • Clean language



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Snatched features mother/daughter comedy team for Mother's Day

Movie Title:  Snatched (DVD + DHD)

Grade:  C

Rating: R, 91 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This movie has Amy Schumer in it, so that already tells you it’s going to be super trashy and foul-mouthed.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -  Andre Gide (as quoted by James – Tom Bateman)
  • Parenting
  •  Reflection on your life and how it has meaning.
  • “Waterfalls and rainbows.”   Have an adventure. 

Things I liked:
  • It was wonderful to see award-winning Goldie Hawn return to the big screen after a 15 year break.  Amy Schumer threatened to leave the movie if the studio studio didn't cast Goldie Hawn.  It would have been awesome if Goldie and her daughter, Kate Hudson, could have done this together.  An internet hoax went viral last year, saying she died, but she is very much alive and well! 
  • Stand-up comediennes Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes offered spontaneous "pop-up" shows while they were filming in Honolulu.  The shows were announced in the mornings and sold out in only a few hours.  
  • The movie takes place in Ecuador and Colombia. My twin sister lived there for  1 ½ years, so I was so excited to go there for the first time with her a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, all of the filming actually took place in Hawaii!
  • All parents over the age of 40 can relate to needing computer help from their kids.
  • James was telling Emily about all of the cool things he has done in his life and Emily said, “Your Instagram must be insane.”  When he revealed that he didn’t even have an account or use social media, she was stunned and asked, “How can anybody see what you do?” He simply stated, “Well, they don’t, but I get to live it.”
  • Ike Barinholtz plays a disfunctional basement dweller and is really funny.  He made me laugh out loud every time he said, "mama, mama."
  • I love Joan Cusack in anything, even when she doesn't say a word.
  • The supporting characters are entertaining.
  • The story features a mother/daughter relationship with all its drama and love, timed perfectly for Mother's Day.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Amy Schumer’s character is such a crude, nasty, skank.
  • The tapeworm scene was disgusting.
  • You see Amy Schumer’s boob. No thank you.
  • Did I laugh?  A few times.  Did I groan in disgust?  Many times.
  • Some of the editing is really choppy.
  • It's extremely predictable.  The plot doesn't really go anywhere (other than Ecuador and Colombia...ha ha).

Funny lines:
  • “Feel free to drink from any puddle you see.  All water in the jungle is safe.” – Roger (Christopher Meloni)  His character was really funny.
  • “How to cheer up a depressed cat” web site.
  • “Help me put the FUN in non-refundable.” – Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer)
  • “That’s nice.  I didn’t know they had a daycare program at the hotel.” – Linda Middleton (Goldie Hawn) when she sees an older man arm in arm with a young woman.
  • “I love that you don’t care about sounding like a weirdo.” – Emily
  • “I’ve read all the Game of Thrones books.  I’ll text you spoilers.” – Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz)
  • “Kill him Mom.  This is a mom thing.” – Emily
  • “Mama!” Jeffrey 

Interesting lines:
  • “You were mine and now you’re not.  And I miss you.” – Goldie   (I can definitely relate to that feeling as a mother whose kids are flying out of the nest.  It’s hard! I miss them!)

Tips for parents: 
  • TONS of profanity and F-bombs.  Some of the music had profanity and F-bombs too.
  • TONS of inappropriate and crude humor.
  • Jeffrey has Agoraphobia, which your kids may not know about, but will easily be able to tell that there’s something off (and funny) about Jeffrey.
  • A man in the State Department flips the bird.
  • A couple of men die in gruesome ways.  But they're bad guys...



Monday, May 15, 2017

Saturday's Warrior makes a comeback

Movie Title:  Saturday's Warrior

Grade:  B-

Rating:   PG, 119 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I first saw this stage musical when I was a little girl.  I LOVED it and immediately began memorizing all of the songs day in and day out.  It was turned into a schmaltzy movie in 1989, so I was excited to see this new remake, directed by Michael Buster. 

I’ve been a huge fan of the talented Lex de Azevedo for many, many years.  He added 3 new songs to this version, which are great, but also removed some from the original fan favorites.   If you're unfamiliar with this story, know going in that it's super cheesy and melodramatic.  If you're a fan of this Mormon legend, feel free to sing along.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Life on earth is going to be difficult.” – Heavenly guide   (Alex Boye)
  • “Truth is truth.” – Mack (Carlton Bluford)
  • “Freedom is knowing who you are.” – Pam
  • “Nothing is impossible.” – Tod (Mason Davis)
  • There is more to this life than what you see. 

Things I liked:
  • I got a kick out of the “There” and “Here” clocks in heaven.  
  • The “Captain Uchtdorf” announcement at the airport made me laugh out loud.  That was awesome and hilarious.  You gotta be LDS to appreciate that one.
  • They did a great job with 70’s costume design and home d├ęcor.
  • A new song was added when Jimmy’s band, “Warrior”, played for Capitol Records. 
  • I liked the new song “There’s Got to be More”.  What a fun addition to include the Piano Guys.  I love those guys.
  • I thought Pam (Anna Daines) was lovely and I'd like to see more of her in other movies.  I felt the same way about the actress/singer who performed in the original stage play and soundtrack.
  • Julie (Monica Moore Smith) has a really beautiful voice, although she over-acted like she was on a big stage.  
  • The ending actually had true emotion, unlike most of the other scenes that felt over-acted.
  • Keep watching as the credits roll to see Jimmy sing his version of “There’s Got to be More” with sweet Emily watching from the side.
  • Mason Davis, who plays Todd, is also an artist, like his character.  All of the artwork you see Todd make was really made by Mason Davis himself.  He looked like a Ken (Barbie) doll to me.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It feels like a stage play.
  • It's super corny with very low production value.
  • The technical dubbing issues were extremely distracting.   
  • You can see what looks like microphone packs on the backs of the performers quite often.
  • Non-Mormons won’t get some of the jokes or even the pre-mortal world scenes.
  • Why is Emily (Abigail Baugh) in a yellow dress in heaven, while everyone else is wearing white?  She sure is adorable.
  • Julie says, “I’m going to miss this beautiful place” while she and Jimmy are standing in a building with old, brick walls.  That line would have been more accurate if they were standing in a beautiful garden or something.
  • There is an odd, unexpected, funny “gay” moment during the family’s concert towards the beginning of the movie.
  • There are a lot of artificially white teeth.
  • What happened to the song “He’s Just A Friend”, “Dear John”, and “Daddy’s Nose”?  Why did they take those songs out of the original?
  • While everyone else looked "normal", Jimmy (Kenny Holland) always looked like he had a ton of make-up on. His boy-band nasal voice started to really grate on me.
  • I recognize I had very high expectations, but I felt a bit disappointed.

Funny lines:
  • “Stake President material for sure.” – Elder Greene (Morgan Gunter)
“Maybe one of my counselors.” – Elder Kestler (Clint Pulver)

Tips for parents: 
  • I counted 3 times that people were slapped.
  • No profanity.  Thanks Mormons!
  • There are a lot of "downer" scenes that make the movie feel pretty heavy.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

King Arthur entertains with quirky editing and humor

Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG-13,

In a Nutshell:  With epic sword fights and a delightful dose of humor, you know a movie is good when you can’t wait to see certain scenes again.  The bouncy storytelling is quirky, unique, often confusing, but definitely entertaining.  

Director Guy Ritchie’s creative editing style keeps it interesting in this new version of the famous King Arthur legendary story.

This is the first installment of what is supposed to be a six film franchise.  Does that excite or worry you?

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Why have enemies when you can have friends?” - King Arthur
  • Defending honor.
  • Friendship, family, loyalty 

Things I liked:
  • Charlie Hunnam gained a ton of weight and muscle to be in this movie, after director Guy Ritchie kept telling him how emaciated he looked after the last season of Sons of Anarchy The Complete Series.  Charlie looks strong and buff now.  Well done, Charlie!
  • Jude Law does a great job as the evil Vortigern who delights in other people's fear and his own power.
  • I loved the special effects.  Wow. I thought the smokey vapors that emanated from the legendary Excaliber sword were super epic     looking.
  • Great sound effects and fun musical soundtrack.
  • The special effects are big, wild, innovative, and wicked cool.
  • Lots of slow-motion scenes, the majority of them with lots of humor and uber-awesome shots.
  • Lots of overhead views of the cities.
  • Tons of super interesting camera angles.
  • The Darklands sequences were super entertaining.  I loved learning how the sword became sealed into the stone originally.  It added great depth to the backstory.
  • Great costume design.  Noticeably good.
  • The movie was shot in England, Scotland, and Wales with some very picturesque scenery.
  • There is a hilarious scene towards the beginning of the movie where Arthur has to explain to Jack about what happened.  It was clever, quick-witted, and set the tone for a fun movie. I loved the funny nicknames he called his friends.
  • Rebel graffiti.  Ha ha 
  • 3D actually enhances the scenes quite a bit, in case you're wondering if you should spring a few extra bucks for it.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were these cool tree ladies who we only get to see for a split second and who served no purpose other than to look cool.  I wanted to know more about them and see them again.
  • There were a lot of exposition scenes where people have to explain what’s going on.  Sadly, they’re needed.
  • There were some strange, choppy edits.
  • Some of the characters were noticeably less developed than others. 
  • There is a LOT going on in this movie....sometimes, too much.
  • OK, so wait a Astrid Berges-Frisbey the Mage/Merlin or is going to evolve into Guinevere?  Kind of confusing.

Funny lines:
  • “What is it?  A carosel? A giant wheel of cheese?” – Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen) when talking about King Arthur’s famous round table.
  • “I’m not going to hear the end of this.  It was my turn to cook.” – Mage king (Michael Hadley)
  • “I don’t like snakes!” – Arthur
“No one likes snakes!” – Mage

Interesting lines:
  • “When people fear, it is the most intoxicating sensation a man can possess.” –  Vortigern
  • “You make sense of the devil.” – Arthur
  • “You’re no longer a myth.” – Mage
  • “I look away.  We all look away.  But that is the difference between a man and a king.” – Mage

Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of fighting with a massive body count.
  • Some profanity and one F-bomb.
  • Some scary monsters in the Darkland and an evil monster that King Arthur has to fight.  (But it has a super cool looking fire cape!)
  • According to this version of the King Arthur story, he was raised in a brothel.  

 Movie Review Mom


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Max 2: White House Hero is meh

Movie Title:  Max 2: White House Hero

Grade:  C

Rating:  PG, 1 hour 25 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This family-friendly flick is DOGGONE harmless fun for the kids.  It's somewhat of a sequel to the 2015 Max (2015), produced by Warner Brothers and MGM. 

At the end of the movie, you get to see a bunch of cool pictures of U.S. presidents with their dogs.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “There is no reward without risk.” – Alex (Francesca Capaldi)
  • Keep your promises.
  • Obedience, bravery
  • Family, friendship

Things I liked:
  • I love Washington, D.C.  The images of those epic buildings strike patriotism into every American’s heart.
  • Max is a great dog.  When I was growing up, everyone had a German Shepherd.  You just don’t see them as often anymore as family pets.
  • Alex, the little Russian girl played by Francesca Capaldi, is super cute.
  • Beautiful countryside scenes during the river rafting trip.
  • I love twists, even if they’re expected.

Things I didn’t like:
  • None of the original Max cast or crew were involved in this sequel.  That’s pretty unique for a sequel…and weird, right?
  • A lot of the acting is really bad, like....most of it.
  • I have a hard time believing that a child of the president wouldn’t think it was the coolest thing ever.  The First Son does a lot of whining.  It’s pretty hard to believe he’d be sent with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on his first day of public school.  Both seem extremely unlikely.
  • Max only does a few heroic acts; otherwise, he rolls around and gets pet a lot.
  • As is typical for kids’ movies, the children are smarter than all of the adults.
  • Unimaginative dialogue.
  • Older kids and parents might get bored.
  • The script is pretty dumb.

Funny lines:
  • “I hope she looks good in orange.” – TJ Bennett  (Zane Austin)   Parents might need to explain the prison uniform reference to their kids.

Tips for parents: 
  • No profanity whatsoever.  Yay!
  • You might need to explain American-Russian political relations.  The Russian president in the movie is a version of the manly Vladimir Putin.
  • People fall out of a river raft and are caught in peril.
  • The children are disobedient.