Friday, July 24, 2015

Jurassic World sequel announced!

If you loved Jurassic World, I have great news for you...

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are set to return for a Jurassic World sequel, which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2018, Universal Studios said.  

Steven Spielberg has signed on to executive produce under his Amblin Entertainment banner. Director Colin Trevorrow will co-write the screenplay with Derek Connolly. 

Jurassic World has become the No. 3 highest-grossing film of all time, with $1.52 billion in ticket sales.

You can read my movie review of Jurassic World here.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd makes for a proper Victorian chick flick

Movie:    Far From the Madding Crowd

PG-13, 1 hour 59 minutes

Grade:   A-

In a Nutshell:   Based on the classic 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy, Victorian England presents us with a romantic setting for a proper Chick Flick where men fall all over themselves for a beautiful, self-reliant woman.

We’ll never see Twilight fans line up for Team Gabriel vs. Team William or Team Frank, but Jane Austin fans and those needing a Downton Abbey fix will give an approving nod.  Gabriel is a total stud-muffin.  Just sayin.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Bathsheba says “It is my intention to astonish you all.”  And she does.
·         Bathsheba asks Gabriel, “Tell me what to do.”  He answers “Do what is right.”

Things I liked:
·         Bathsheba Everdeen (no relation to Katniss) is played by the lovely British actress Carey Mulligan.  She has such a tiny waist!  Her close-ups showcase  just how beautiful she is.
·         The musical score was delicious.
·        The talented cast includes Michael Sheen, Matthias Schoenaerts, Juno Temple, and Frank Troy.
-    I've never read the novel, but I hear that Danish director Thomas Vinterberg stays true to the source material.
-     Beautiful cinematography that captures the magic of the English countryside.  I was just in England this month!  We saw sheep everywhere as we traveled through the Cotswolds and into Wales.
Here's one of my pictures:

Things I didn’t like:
·         It was so sad to see the sheep mindlessly follow each other jump off the cliff.  People are like that sometimes too, don’t you think?
·         It’s hard to feel sympathy for a beautiful woman who has so many suitors.
-    It's a little slow-moving, although time passes fairly quickly for the characters.

Funny lines:
·         “Mr. Oak, I don’t want a husband.  I’d hate to be some man’s property.  I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding if I could be one without getting a husband.” – Bathsheba
-     "I have some interesting pigs." - William Boldwood

Did you know?
-    The author of the original book took the title from Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" dated 1751.  It reads:
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
-    "Madding" means "frenzied"

Interesting lines:
·         “What a luxury to have a choice.” – Bathsheba’s companion
·         “I have a piano and I have my own farm and I have no need of a husband.” – Bathsheba
·         “It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language chiefly made by men to express theirs.” - Bathsheba
Tips for Parents:
·          Most children will be pretty bored.  Teenage girls, on the other hand, will probably eat it up.
-     There is a bedroom scene, but you don't see much and it occurs after the couple is married.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ant-Man crawls into Marvel fans' hearts

Movie:    Ant-Man

PG-13, 1 hour 55 minutes

Grade:   B+

In a Nutshell:    Marvel gets that we want action AND comedy.  Paul Rudd is a very charming Ant-Man , as well as a co-writer for this summer's newest Avenger flick. 

While some audiences have been getting superhero fatigue from the sheer number of them constantly hitting the big screen, the fact that this "Honey, I shrunk the Superhero" movie surprises us in a clever, refreshing way is a huge triumph.  It’s no “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but it has the same playful spirit that audiences crave.

Keep watching during the rolling credits for a fun treat.  But wait, keep watching until after ALL the credits for a sneak peek at the next Ant-Man movie.    As it says “The Ant-Man WILL return.”

Uplifting Theme:
·         “Don’t let your past determine your future.” – Howard Stark  (played by Mad Men: Season 1 John Slattery)
·         “It’s not about saving our world.  It’s about saving theirs.” - Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas)
·         “You’re her hero.  Just be the person that she already thinks you are.” – Maggie (Judy Greer whose second hit movie in theaters right now is Jurassic World.)

Things I liked:
·         Fans of Lost: The Complete Seasons 1-5 will enjoy seeing Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne. 
·         Michael Douglas' transformation from young-ish to older is impressive. 
·         I love the life/death battle scene fits inside a briefcase.  All of the action sequences are extremely creative.
·         The Thomas the Tank train battle scene was hilarious as the camera zoomed in and out to show the comical scale.
·         I’m always excited to see how each Marvel movie chooses to use legendary creator Stan Lee.  His big line in this film?  “Yeah, yeah, super fine.”  Ha ha
·         The fast-talking lip-sync scenes were hilarious and clever.
·         I got a kick out of seeing Ant-Man go to the Avengers building.  Falcon’s wings are awesome.

Things I didn’t like:
·         If you don’t like creepy crawlies, there will be moments when you feel very uncomfortable.  They try to make the ants more adorable than scary, but it doesn’t always work.  There were some definite “ick” moments for me.
·    When I lived in Georgia for 15 years, I battled fire ants on a daily basis in our yard.  Those little guys are viscous.  There was a radio commercial that advertised ant killer which claimed to torture the critters, rather than just kill them, because that’s how homeowners felt about the mean insects.  When we moved back to California, my 2 year old son screamed when he saw a harmless San Diego ant and our neighbor thought he was crazy.  Clearly, my neighbor had never experienced the traumatic horrors of fire ants in the South.
·         With a name like Hope, it's ironic how snotty her attitude was towards her dad.
·         It makes all Mexicans look like a bunch of thugs.
·       The plot is pretty simple without any fun twists.
-    Not nearly enough action.

Did you notice?
·         Luis (Michael Pena) hums “It’s a small world after all.” Appropriate choice because of the size of the superhero, and since Disney produced the film.
·         Why is it that most bad guys are bald?
·         Cross Technologies…as in double cross?
·         Luis makes waffles a lot
·         The reference to the old lady in the movie Titanic
-     Evangeline Lilly has a small bump on her lip.  Don't get me wrong, I think she's gorgeous.  The
      bump was just a little distracting on the close-ups.

·         Funny lines:
·         “One question…is it too late to change the name?” – Scott Lang
·         “My days of breaking in places and stealing shXX  are over.  What do you want me to do?” – Scott
“I want you to break into a place and steal some shXX.” – Dr. Hank Pym
·         “I think our first move should be calling the Avengers.” – Scott
·         “Are we the good guys?  Feels kind of weird, right?” – Luis 
·         “That’s a messed up looking dog.” – Gale
·         “It isn’t often that you rob a place and get invited back.” – Luis
·         “Hank went from despising you to almost like you.” –  Hope
“You really should write poetry.” – Scott
·         “It’s really important that Captain (America) not find out about this.” – Falcon
·         “It wasn’t a violent crime.  It was a cool one.” – Baskin Robbins manager who fired Scott
·         “Mommy’s so happy you’re here she choked on her drink.” – Scott’s daughter played by the
       adorable Abby Ryder Fortson.
·         “It’s my helmet, Scott.  Do not throw up.”  - Dr. Pym

Interesting lines:
·         What did you see in me?”  - bad guy
“I saw myself.” – Michael
“Then why did you push me away?” – Darren Cross (Corey Stoll)
“Because I saw too much of myself.” – Dr. Pym
·         “Gratitude can be forgiveness.” – Darren Cross
Tips for Parents:

·         Some profanity, including a made-up one that the audience laughs at.
-    Yep, the kids will be interested in all the merchandising:


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Cokeville Miracle is profoundly powerful

Movie:    The Cokeville Miracle

PG-13, 1 hour 34 minutes

Grade:    B+

In a Nutshell:   Remember Films and T.C. Christenson present an inspiring movie based on a true story about a miracle that happened in an elementary school in a small Wyoming community in 1986.  It’s a story of lost faith and found faith, the power of prayer, life after death, and that God really does watch over us.

Keep watching as the final credits roll, and you will experience something truly amazing.  The audience stays glued to their seats, watching pictures and video interviews of the children as grown-ups with their own families.  The theater is oddly silent, except for a few sniffles.  Rarely have I seen an audience react with such reverence and awe.  While not perfectly executed, this film is powerful and profound.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Just like the cross-stitched picture in the kitchen of the Hartley family says, “Life is fragile…handle with prayer.”
·         “We should recognize God’s hand when we see it.” – Claudia Hartley (played by Sarah Kent)
·         2 Kings 6:16   “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
·         When tragedy strikes, what do you see?

Things I liked:
·         True story.  That’s always a big plus for me.  Because it really happened, its impact is immense.
·         There is a surprising amount of humor during such tragedy.
·         The song the children sing at church at the end of the movie is a favorite Mormon Primary song called “A Child’s Prayer.”    There is a sweet video of it at    You can also hear it sung by BYU’s award-winning Vocal Point at
·         Although the small community in Wyoming was predominantly Mormon, faithful people from all religions will be inspired by this film.

Things I didn’t like:
·         I would have cast the wife of wacko David Young differently.   She looked too squeaky clean, like she was the director’s Sunday School teacher who just got her teeth whitened.   Maybe this is too stereotyped, but I thought she should have looked more weak and victimized.
·         The script has some awkward lines that halt the flow of natural-sounding conversation.
·         Not that I wanted any children harmed in the making of the film, but the flames in the fire looked totally fake.
·         It feels like everyone is acting.  Some of the kids actually looked bored. The best actor in the film is Jasen Wade, who also starred in the beloved Mormon pioneer movie 17 Miracles .  Nathan Stevens does a good job as the unhinged David Young.

Funny lines:
·         “This will be our mark.” – David Young
 “It smells like somebody else just made his mark.” – Penny Young
·         “I just proved how I can die and come back to life.” – David
“That’s just fantastic.  He’s been working on that for hours.” – Doris Young
·         “What is the capital of Wyoming?” – Claudia
“Easy.  It’s W.” – Claudia’s son
·         “I was just looking at your guns…pretty cool guns…I was just wondering why you didn’t get an AK-47?” – Kam Wixom  (Anson Bagley)
“An AK-47?  That would be illegal.” – David Young
·         “Your breath smells like peaches.” – Hartley boy
“Well, I haven’t been eating any.”  - David Young
“Peaches is my dog.” – Hartley boy
·         “Hey lady, is this your first time kidnapping helpless little kids?” – Kam Wixom
·         “Do you have to get the kids all riled up at bedtime?” – Claudia
      “No, I don’t have to….but I want to.” - Ron

Interesting lines:
·         “It’s just too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.”  - Ron Hartley
·         “Who else would care about us more than our own family?” –  Claudia when explaining that each of the children’s protecting angels were their very own ancestors.     To learn more about your own ancestors, check out 
·         “Hatred towards them is a dead-end journey.  It’s like drinking poison and hoping it’ll kill them.” -  Bishop John Teichert

Tips for Parents:
·         There was an audible gasp by all of the moms in the room when the mother left her child in the car and said “I’ll be right back.”   Never, EVER, leave your child in a car alone!
·         Young children may be frightened by the kidnap scenario with guns and a bomb.
-    One thing that is missing is foul language.  Thank you!

To learn more about some of the real people who experienced this remarkable event, begin here:

Other faith-building true stories:

Max honors military dogs and families

Movie:   Max

PG, 1 hour 51 minutes

Grade:  C+

In a Nutshell:   A Malinois Belgian Shepherd gives a respectable performance as a salute to all of the dogs who have served in the military.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Dogs have been used by the U.S.  military since World War 1.
·         Over 3000 dogs have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
·         26 dogs and 25 handlers have been killed in the service of their country since 2003.  The movie tells you at the end that this film was made in their memory.

Things I liked:
·         It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch Max sit next to the casket of his fallen trainer, Kyle.
·         The animal training in the film is extremely impressive.  Wow, how do they choreograph the fight scenes?
·         I’ve enjoyed watching Thomas Haden Church in anything ever since I first saw him in that old TV show WINGS - The Complete Series .
·         It’s a needed look at another aspect of war and what grieving families and pets go through.
·         There are a few heartfelt patriotic moments.    The patriotism is extremely sappy and could have
      been done better, but I’m a sucker for the red, white and blue.

Things I didn’t like:
·         I usually like Lauren Graham, but her fake Southern accent was terribly distracting.
·         The movie makes all Mexicans look like total gangsters.
-      Justin’s friend Chuy is a real jerk of a kid.  I wouldn’t want my sons playing with a kid like that.

Funny lines:
  “Yo, we’re cool, but we don’t talk about this.  Never.” – Chuy after he watches his buddy kiss a girl.
Interesting lines:
·         “A hero always tells the truth, no matter what other people think of him or what the consequences are.” – Ray Wincott
·         “You’re turning against your race!” – Chuy   (Dejon LaQuake)
-     "Mexican isn't a race, Stupid!" - Carmen
Tips for Parents:
·          Children will enjoy watching the dogs, but might be frightened by the fighting.
-      Some "mild" profanity.
-     Watching the film together as a family should create a good opportunity to talk about the costs of
       war and what things are worth fighting for.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Do we really need another Terminator movie?

Movie:    Terminator Genisys

PG-13, 1 hour 59 minutes

Grade:    B-

In a Nutshell:   Fun for The Terminator fans, but not necessary for others.   I mean, do we really need a reboot of this James Cameron franchise?  This is supposedly the first of a new trilogy.  Yikes.   Don’t get me wrong…I really like The Terminator movies.

My biggest gripe about this film is that I just don’t care anymore.  It’s hard to feel invested in a story that will probably be redone AGAIN in another sequel or prequel.  I just didn’t care if any of the characters lived or died, because I knew that a future movie might completely reverse what happened in this film anyway. 

There is a lot of time traveling that will make your brain begin to hurt if you try to figure it all out.   It’s not exactly logical, but it’s sure going to make the studio a lot of money….because, as Arnold says…”I’ll be back”.

Good for Arnold Schwarzenegger for keeping his acting career going.   We all love to watch him kick bady-guy butt.   (Forget he told us he was going to retire.)  As his character, Terminator/”Pops” says in the movie, “I’m old, not obsolete.”

Uplifting Theme:
·         “There is no fate, but that which we make for ourselves.” – John Connor (Jason Clarke)
·         “Straight line.  You just go and you don’t look back.” – Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) , Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)
·         “One thing we know for sure…the future is not set.” - Kyle

Things I liked:
·         The best moment in the movie for me was watching the young Arnold Schwarzenegger fight the old one.   Epic.
·         I loved traveling back to 1984 with punk rock hair do’s and Velcro-strapped shoes.
·         They poke fun at 2017 Americans who can’t live without their cell phones.  True.
·         The script explains away Arnold Schwarzenegger’s older look by saying that the machine has human skin over it, which ages.  Oh, ok.  That works for me.  It’s a good thing Arnold doesn’t have to do much running; The Terminator always walks slow and determined.
·         The jail scene is hilarious.  Bad boys, bad boys!
·         J.K. Simmons (Detective O’Brien) is such a likeable guy. 
·         Lots of action scenes.  Lots.

Things I didn’t like:
·         This Sarah Connor (played by Emilia Clarke) is cranky and barks at everyone during the entire movie, allowing very little time for us to like her.  She’s not vulnerable and endearing like Linda Hamilton in the original The Terminator
·         The T-1000 liquid metal, shape-shifting terminators are extremely cool, but it’s not anything we haven’t seen already before.
·         If you haven’t seen the original, you won’t appreciate the nuances of how the story has veered off in different directions.
      It's so hokey when they change the spelling of a word to make it seem cooler.  (Genesis)

Funny lines:
·         “Bite me!” – Sarah
“That is a very immature response.”  - Terminator/”Pops”
·         “We have approximately 35 seconds.” – Terminator/”Pops”
A bad guy crashes through a window and the Terminator says “One less.”
·         “Can you stop him talking like that?  Is there a switch or something?” –  Kyle  (referring not only to the Terminator’s content, but Austrian accent)  ha ha
·         “We’re not even sure he speaks English.” – random cop in the jail scene   (another funny poke at Arnold’s Austrian accent)
·         “We’re here to stop the end of the world!” – Sarah Connor
“I can work with that.” –  Detective O’Brien
·         “I read about this on” – The Terminator/”Pops”.   Hilarious.  It’s a real web site.
·         “I thought you were dead.” – Sarah
“No, just upgraded.” – The Terminator/”Pops”

Overly dramatic lines:
·         “We take it tonight or there is no tomorrow.” – John Connor
·         “Come with me if you want to live!  Now, soldier!” – Sarah Connor
·         “We’re exiles in time.” – Reese
·         “You are nothing but a relic from a deleted time line.” – John Connor

Tips for Parents:
·         Like in the other The Terminator movies, you see Arnold Schwarzenegger naked (from the rear) as he transports through the time traveling machine.  A few other people travel through it naked as well, but you don’t see too much.
·         1 F-bomb
·         “Mild” profanity, intense fighting.
       Some of the terminator skeleton robots may be too scary for young children.

Need to catch up on the films in this futuristic franchise?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sneak Peek into the new Star Wars movie

I'm sooooo excited for the new Star Wars "The Force Awakens" movie!  They just showed a special Sneak Peak at this year's Comic-Con and now you get to see it too!   Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Minions get their own fun flick

Movie:   Minions

Grade:  B+

In a Nutshell:   Adorable.  Silly. Colorful.  Like eating pure sugar. Imaginative prequel to the beloved Despicable Me movie franchise. The plot isn’t deep, but their crazy antics will still make you smile.

Warning: It may be too much sugar for some people.

Uplifting Theme:

·         Don’t mess with a minion’s teddy bear?
·         Working together, you can accomplish your goal.

Things I liked:
·         I love the minions’ cute jibberish language.  Adorable.  I noticed that they include quite a bit of Spanish bits, such as “Si”, “Gracias” and “Que paso?”  (What happened?)
·         There are a lot of fun pop icon moments, like the Campbell Soup Can art by Andy Warhol. I got to see the original one a year ago at a conference! 
·         I liked Scarlett’s husband’s play on words.  For example, he called Stuart: “Stu-ART”, “Stewperman”, and “Beef Stu”.
·         It was so fun watching Kevin, Stuart, and Bo go to London, so that I can share my vacation photos with you.  I was just there last week!  Awesome pic, right?

Even the famous Tower of London guards known as “Beefeaters” are featured for a moment. When I visited there last week, I learned that "Beefeaters" actually have many years of military experience before they can even apply for the job.  They live on site and exhibit such pride for their job.  
·         Great music from the 60’s and 70’s.
·         I loved the new Buckingham Palace guards with the yellow Minion hats.  Yep, I just saw the real changing of the guards there last week too!    I got this close to them during the ceremony...
·         There is a scene that shows the House of Commons in Parliament.  I saw that too!  The chairs really are green!  The House of Lords is so much more beautiful and fancy.  Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos on the tour.
·         Cute Abbey Road Beatles moment.  Did you catch it?
·         Funny faked landing on the moon conspiracy theory moment.  Did you see it?
·         The minions visit Westminster Cathedral too.  
 ·         After spending days on the London Tube, I got a kick out of the “Mind the Gap” voice on the train.  The location scouts for the movie did a great job of including authentic images for the London scenes.  What a great excuse to share some of my vacation moments with you!       
·         Keep watching while the credits roll at the end of the movie.
-    Terrific voice talents include the lovely Sandra Bullock, the handsome Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and a bunch of unnamed yellow blobs.
-   The movie begins with an evolution backstory of the minions.  I loved their different clothes changes as the decades passed.  Yeah, I wore jean overalls in the '60s and 70's too.
-  Did you notice that Bob has one green eye and one brown eye?

Things I didn’t like:
·         Scarlett asks “Doesn’t it feel so good to be bad?”  Um, I’m not sure I want my kids repeating that message.
·         It doesn’t have the heart of Despicable Me, although it does explain how the minions found their ultimate villain.  No tissues required.
·         It’s more fun to see in 3D.
·         Uneven pacing.
-     Despicable Me is more magical, but these cute little guys deserved their own fun flick.

Funny lines:
·         “Who are you, my knights in shining…denim?” – Scarlett
·         “Steal me the crown and all your dreams come true: respect, power, banana!” – Scarlett
·         SPOILER ALERT:   “Bob, who appears to be a bald, jaundiced child, has pulled the famed sword right from its sword and has become the new king.” – TV reporter

Tips for Parents:
·         Some characters take off their shirts and do suggestive dancing.  You also see another character’s buns.  Come on now….that’s just not necessary in a kids’ movie.
·         Parents will be amused by references to pop culture that most kids won’t catch.
-   Unlike a lot of kids' movies, this one doesn't have a ton of bodily functions, although Bob farts once.

What?  You haven't seen the Despicable movies?  Hurry and catch up!  They're AWESOME!

Let the adorable merchandising begin:

Did you know?
During opening weekend, this film’s incomprehensible yellow henchmen, took in a whopping $115.2 million at U.S. box offices this weekend—the second biggest opening of all time for an animated film. (Shrek the Third holds the record, with $121.6 million in 2007.) “They’re bigger than Spongebob. They just have that mass appeal right now and are basically a merchandiser’s dream,” a senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations told USA Today.