Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Early Man isn't Aardman Studio's best work, but it will still make you laugh

Movie Title:      Early Man

Grade:  B-

Rating: PG, 89 minutes

In a Nutshell:   If you’re a fan of the Wallace and Gromit stop-motion, cheeky, clay animated series like I am, then you’re always happy when the Aardman team creates anything new. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t their best work.  Still, it’s family entertainment that will make everyone giggle at least a few times.


Tips for parents: 
  • No profanity.
  • Some gags and jokes that some kids won’t understand.
  • It’s super silly.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Teamwork
  • You can be or do anything you set your mind to.
  • Girls can play soccer too.
Things I liked:
  • Lots of visual gags and puns.
  • The talented voice cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Timothy Spall, and Richard Ayoade.
  • I thought all of the characters’ accents were funny and ridiculous.
  • Wallace and Gromit are actually in a couple of the crowd shots.  Yay!

Things I didn’t like:
  • How sad that I was actually glad when the movie ended.  I hate to admit I was bored at times.
  • The trailer doesn’t really show what the movie is about.  As it turns out, it’s a soccer movie ala Stone Age vs. Bronze Age.
  • Americans won’t catch a lot of the British jokes.  For example, there is a zebra pelt on the ground when Dug first enters the Bronze-age village.  Apparently, it refers to the British term “zebra crossing.”
  • Some people won’t get the duck joke.  I didn’t.
  • The story is pretty thin with characters I didn’t feel very invested in.
  • Visually, it felt dark and rough.  I suppose that’s supposed to make us feel like we’re in the Stone Age, but it made me sleepy and uninterested.
  • Predictable ending.

Funny lines:
  • “Sliced bread! That’s the biggest thing since…well, ever!” – lady in the market

Fun movies from the Aardman Studio:


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Death Wish gets remade with Bruce Willis

Movie Title:      Death Wish

Grade:   B

Rating: R

In a Nutshell:   With all the debate going on about guns and the 2nd Amendment in our America right now, this movie is tricky.  Timing, eh?

It’s all about arming yourself, getting revenge, defending the helpless, and not waiting around for the police to do it.  Liberals are going to really hate this movie and yell louder for more gun control. Conservatives are going to be frightened by all the crime out there and get angry enough to want to kick some bad-guy butt.  Charles Bronson fans may be disappointed that this movie doesn't live up to his original.  Revenge movie lovers are going to get a kick out of it.

I get it.  I feel it.  Sometimes I get so tired of all the scumbag thugs in the world that I want to be a vigilante too.  Obviously, I believe in obeying the law, which includes not taking the law into your own hands.  The truth is I’m not clever enough to outsmart criminals.  I appreciated the fact that there is a healthy debate about vigilante behavior by radio talk show hosts, serving as the movie’s moral compass.  


Tips for parents: 
  • Profanity and tons of F-bombs
  • Attempted rape with clothes on
  • Dying deer gets shot.
  • Guns, shootings
  • Bloody, gory, violent deaths

Uplifting theme: 
  • Consequences
  • Family                                                

Things I liked:
  • Elisabeth Shue’s biceps looked great.  She looked great.
  • The expressions on Paul Kersey's face as he watched the YouTube video someone a witness posted of his first vigilante moment. 
  • As much as I love Liam Neeson, I’m glad he wasn’t cast in this one.  I thought Bruce Willis was great.
  • Dean Norris as a police detective.  What a stretch.  Ha ha
  • There was a surprising amount of humor.
  • Cheesy lines before Bruce Willis kills the bad guys.
  • It's not a great movie, but if you like to watch a good guy kick bad guy butt, you won't mind too much.
  • I like it when men aren't ashamed of being a man and protecting their family.  Our society has emasculated men so much lately that men feel like they have to apologize for their role.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Eli Roth usually directs horror films, so it's not surprising that his first action movie has lots of gory deaths.
  • The original book and film take place in New York, but this version is in Chicago.  I'm glad Paul Kersey ended up in New York at the end.
  • Why do people think they can take what isn’t theirs?  Why are there so many scumbags in the world?

Funny lines:
  • “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up.” – Dr. Jill Klavens (Wendy Crewson)
  •  "Who the #?!@! are you?" - Ice Cream Man (Moe JeudyLamour)                                                                             "Your last customer." - Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis)

Interesting lines:
* “People rely on the police to keep them safe.  That’s the problem.  Police only arrive after the crime has taken place.  That’s like trapping the fox as he’s coming out of the hen house.” –  Ben (Len Cariou) 
  • “Law abiding criminals don’t exist.” – Bethany at gun store

Things you can learn:
  • Don’t put your home address in your car’s navigator written as “Home.”  
  • Don't walk in dark alleys.
  • Beef up the security at your house.

Want to watch the original movie?



Monday, March 12, 2018

Hurricane Heist will surely blow into Netflix soon

Movie Title:    Hurricane Heist

Grade:   C-

Rating: PG-13, 
1 hour 43 minutes

In a Nutshell: The title pretty much sums up the entire movie.

Am I the only one who is wondering if this movie was just an excuse to play the song Hurricane Heist: Rock You Like a Hurricane 

If you love weather-based disaster movies and don't mind a lot of dumb stuff, it can be a fun ride and like a lot of director Rob Cohen's movies, a guilty pleasure.   (Think The Fast and the Furious )                          

Tips for parents: 
  • Profanity
  • Destruction, shooting, explosions
  • People in peril 
  • Crime

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family
  • Honor

Things I liked:
  • The movie starts when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.  I remember it very well, because we were living in Georgia at the time and my husband drove down to Florida with a bunch of other guys from our church to help the people down there.  He returned with photos of unbelievable destruction.  It was truly heartbreaking.
  • Good stunt work.
  • A few twists.
  • I think this was the very first time I've EVER seen characters take a minute to go to the bathroom in the midst of all the action and commotion.  ha ha
  • Maggie Grace does a great job.  It was nice to see her empowered and capable after being drugged and helpless in Taken.

Things I didn’t like:
  • None of the characters seem like real people.  Lame.
  • Some really awful Southern accents.  Sometimes it's hard to even know what people are saying.
  • Some of the special effects look really fake.
  • Cliched, stupid villains. 
  • Cliched line, "Do you trust me?"
  • There is mention of the American terrorist Timothy McVeigh and his bombing of the federal building.  Some of the characters buy fertilizer and some other items at a garden supply store, while talking about how easy it is to create a bomb.  Gee, thanks for giving more wackadoodles out there the idea.
  • Dumb dialogue.
  • The ending was super abrupt.
  • Why did they dub over the voice of the little boy who played the young Toby Kebbell's character?  If they didn't like Leonardo Dickens, why did they cast him?
  • Supposedly, they spent $40 million dollars on this film.  Really?

Funny lines:
  • “You know, I think you’re a little psychotic.” – Perkins (Ralph Ineson)
“I think you’re a little bit right.” – Casey (Maggie Grace)
  • “I’m out of bullets!” – Casey
“How’d that happen?” - Will (Toby Kebbell) 
“I shot them all.” – Casey
“I fricken love Monday, you weirdo.” – Casey to Will

Interesting lines:
  • “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absences of fear.”  Perkins, quoting Mark Twain
  • “Money is honey.” – Perkins

If you like this, here are some other disaster movies you might like:


Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time isn't smooth sailing through the universe

Movie Title:    

Grade:   C+

Rating: PG, 1 hour 49 minutes

In a Nutshell: Despite its best intentions, A Wrinkle in Time is disappointing as a film, although kids will probably still like it.

Based on the very popular book A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) by Madeleine L'Engle , it doesn't quite deliver the magic I hoped for, especially since screenwriter Jennifer Lee had done such great work with Disney's Frozen , Zootopia (DVD) Wreck-It Ralph and even Frozen Fever


Tips for Parents:
  • LOTS of moral lessons kids and parents can feel good about.
  • Kids in peril
  • Mrs. Whatsit uses the word “prodigious.”  In case your kids ask you what it means, you can tell them “remarkably or impressively great in extent, size, or degree.”  Your kids will be so impressed that you know. 
  • Bullying
  • No profanity.  Thank you!
  • Multi-racial family


Uplifting theme: 
  • The only way to defeat the darkness is to become the light.
  • Love rescues
  • “Be a warrior.” – Mrs. Which  (Oprah)
  • Center yourself.  Become one with the universe and yourself.
  • “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Mrs. Who

Things I liked:
  • Chris Pine!  I love him in anything.
  • Storm Reid is adorable and did a pretty good job, although a bit straight-faced during most of the movie.  Her best scene, by far, was with Chris Pine towards the end.
  • It's a colorful ride.  The gossiping flower scene was the best part of the film.
  • Fun hairstyles on the Mrs.'s.
  • Zach Galifinakus was pretty funny and did a lot with the very small role he was given.
  • I think frequencies and energy are so interesting. If you're fascinated by science, check out A Wrinkle in Time Book of Fun, Facts, and Science  Energy is everything.
  • Some of the scenes were shot in gorgeous New Zealand.

Things I didn’t like:
  • While director DuVernay was very enthusiastic and creative, her vision was probably overly ambitious, resulting in a choppy mess.
  • A lot of the green screens look fake with some special effects that don't really work. 
  • Some weird moments with missing details.  Sometimes I really wish directors would let me see their movies before they released them so that I could point out some of the mistakes that could be quickly fixed.
  • Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace is super cute, but sometimes it was hard to understand what he was saying.
  • I couldn’t understand a word Storm Reid was saying during the tornado scene in the woods.
  • Cliched scene where someone says, “Do you trust me?”
  • Mindy Kaling looked so awkward trying to run in her ridiculous dress.  What was her character's purpose?  She didn’t actually do anything to help.  
  • Over-the-top make-up.  The costumes were creative, but they looked like costumes.The “Mrs’s” looked more fake than magical. 
  • You don’t need to pay extra money to see this in IMAX.  It's fine on the regular screen.  Better yet, watch it when it comes out on Netflix.
  • The dialogue may sound good in the book, but it's awkward in the movie.
  • Lots of close-ups that don't really work.
  • A scene in the second trailer was completely cut out of the movie.
  • I actually looked at the clock on my cell phone.  That's never a good sign.
  • There's no real villain.  There's only a wispy, menacing "it." 
  • Kids who haven't read the book might think that Oprah's character's name is Mrs. Witch.  While Oprah really is bigger than life (I laughed when Mrs. Which was gigantic), her acting is not good.  I heard her speak to a room full  of 10,000 a number of years ago at the California Governor's Conference for Women and she was mesmerizing.
  • Surprisingly, some of the acting was not good by quite a few of the other actors too.  It felt forced and contrived.

Interesting lines:
  • “You can do this.  You’re choosing not to.” – Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis)
  • “It’s ok to fear the answers, Meg, but you have to face them.” – Happy Medium
  • “What if we are not just in the universe, but the universe is in us?” – Mr. Murry (Chris Pine)
  • “You just have to find the right frequency and have faith in who you are.” – Mrs. Which (Oprah)
  • “We can’t take credit for our talents.  It’s how we use them that counts.” - Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon)
  • “Your house is so warm.  You’ve done a good job keeping the darkness out.” – Mrs. Whatsit
  • “Love is always there, even if you don’t feel it.  It’s always there for you.” – Mr. Murry
  • “Don’t give up hope.” - Mrs. Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) 


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Red Sparrow takes spy thriller to a Rated X level

Movie Title:    
        Red Sparrow

Grade:  C-

Rating: R, 
2 hours 19 minutes

In a Nutshell:   This sex filled spy thriller features psychological manipulation and LOTS of undressing and naked bodies.  Even Jennifer Lawrence shows us full frontal nudity. Why isn’t this movie Rated X?

It feels more like a tale of prostitution than super spy.  It's like saying Fifty Shades of Grey is a romantic love story.

Tips for parents: 
  • Full frontal male and female nudity.
  • Two completely naked people having sex.
  • Bloody beatings and violent deaths
  • A woman undresses down to her underwear.  Another gets completely naked.
  • Homosexuality
  • Attempted rape
  • Crude language, profanity, F-bombs
  • Someone gets run over by a car.  Yuck.
  • Some family-friendly spy movies without all of the graphic violence and nudity that’s found in Red Sparrow are Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks.
  • If you’re intrigued by psychological manipulation, but want your teens to be able to watch something that’s not Rated R, check out the interesting social experiment in the TV show “The Push” found on Netflix right now.


Uplifting theme: 
  • Sacrifice for a higher purpose
  • Extreme patriotism

Things I liked:
  • The talented cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Irons, Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, and Mary-Louise Parker.
  • To enforce the title of the movie and the Russian setting, the color red plays a dominant role, from the movie poster, to the clothing that people wear to the bloody scenes.  
  • Jennifer Lawrence trained in ballet for 4 months, although Isabella Boylston was her lovely body double who did the more difficult choreography.       
  • Directed by Francis Lawrence, this movie is his first film since he directed The Hunger Games movies.  Clearly, Jennifer Lawrence trusts him completely. She would have to in order to strip and do the things she does in this movie.  She's in fantastic shape, by the way.
  • You don't know who is telling the truth, which makes it intriguing and suspenseful.  
  • The movie is based on the book by Jason Matthews who was a former CIA operative.  Cool. 
  • The opening sequence is a bit confusing, but mesmerizing.            

Things I didn’t like:
  • The telling is uneven.
  • Way too much graphic nudity and sex.  There are so many awkward scenes.
  • Women are used as tools in a one-dimensional portrayal.
  • It's very dark and violent, which must have rubbed off on Jennifer Lawrence who, apparently, got into a bar fight in Budapest when she was filming the movie.
  • Jennifer Lawrence has basically the same expression on her face the entire movie.  It's hard to see her character arc.
  • The movie feels long and tiring.
  • Disgusting torture.

  Interesting lines:
  • “There’s no such thing as luck.” – Scumbag guy
  • “Your body belongs to the State.  Since your birth, the State nourished it.  Now the State asks for something in return.” – Matron (Charlotte Rampling)
  • “In my experience, the proud are the first to fall.” – Matron

Funny lines:
*  "Why are all the Russian women so sexy?  All the men look like toads." - Stephanie Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker)



Winners of the 90th Academy Awards

                        Image result for 90th academy awards  

Full of glitz, glamour, talent, and entertainment, the 90th Academy Awards reminded us why we love watching movies so much.  They take us to new places and fill our hearts and minds with wonder. 

So many of the nominees were amazing, so choosing just one winner in each category was almost painful.  Here is the list of all the winners!

Best Picture:
The Shape of Water” (WINNER)
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Actress:
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Best Actor:
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” (WINNER)
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Best Director
"The Shape of Water," Guillermo Del Toro (Winner)
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Song
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (WINNER)
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Original Score:
“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat (WINNER)
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins (WINNER)
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Original Screenplay:
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele (WINNER)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

Adapted Screenplay:
“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory (WINNER)
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Live Action Short Film:
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton (WINNER)
“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr.
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Documentary Short Subject:
“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel (WINNER)
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
“Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Film Editing:
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

Visual Effects:
“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer (WINNER)
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Animated Feature:
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson (WINNER)
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Animated Short:
“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant (WINNER)
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Supporting Actress:
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” (WINNER)
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Foreign Language Film:
“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile) (WINNER)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

Production Design:
“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau (WINNER)
“Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
“Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
“Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis

Sound Mixing:
“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Sound Editing:
“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
“The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Documentary Feature:
“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan (WINNER)
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Costume Design:
“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges (WINNER)
“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

Makeup and Hairstyling:
“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick (WINNER)
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

Supporting Actor:
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”