Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mr. Holmes is a must-see for Sherlock Holmes fans

                           ON DVD November 17, 2015

Movie:     Mr. Holmes

Rating:    PG

Grade:   A

In a Nutshell:    Super Sleuth Sherlock Holmes is retired and doesn’t live on Baker Street anymore.  This is not an action-packed Sherlock Holmes like we've seen done by Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch, but rather, a thoughtful drama that showcases Ian McKellen as an aging, grumpy detective who still has one more mystery to solve and something to learn.

If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan, this is a must-see film that will add even greater depth to your love of this timeless character.  I attended a walking tour in London all about Sherlock Holmes.  So, yeah...

Uplifting Theme:
·          “Logic doesn’t solve matters of the heart.” – Holmes
      -  "The understanding of facts doesn’t mean you understand their meaning." - Sherlock
·            There are 3 examples of life and death: Holmes' bees, Ann Kelmot, and Sherlock Holmes.  Ann later explains,  “The dead are not so very far away.  They’re just on the other side of the wall.  It’s us on this side who are all alone.”  – Ann Kelmot (Hattie Morahan)
Things I liked:
·         I liked the musical score immediately.  Thank you Carter Burwell.
·         Ian McKellen does an outstanding job as Sherlock Holmes.  Who doesn't love the man who brought us Gandolf?  Did you know that he is the recipient of 6 Laurence Olivier Awards, a tony Award, a Golden Globe Ward, a Screen Actors Guild Award, 2 Academy Award nominations and 4 BAFTA nominations and 5 Emmy nominations?!  This film could easily add another nomination to his prestigious list.
·         Laura Linney’s accent is a bit off, but I have always liked her. It sounds like a mix of English, Welsh, and Scottish.  What is it?
·         Young Milo Parker plays Roger, the son of Sherlock’s housekeeper....a young star in the making.
·         Beautiful English countryside.  Look for the White Cliffs of Dover.
      You only see Watson's legs and hands.  Clever.

Things I didn’t like:
·          It’s very slow-moving.  Then again, so is the elderly Sherlock Holmes.

Funny lines:  
·          “When you are a detective and a man comes to visit you, it’s usually about his wife.” – Sherlock
·         “I told Watson if I ever write a story, it will be to correct the million misconceptions created by his imaginative license.” – Sherlock
·         “Did you find what you were looking for in Japan?  The mysterious Ashley prick?” – Doctor
“The prickly ash.” – Sherlock
·         “Fiction is worthless!” – Sherlock
Interesting lines:
·         “I think I was real once, until John made me into fiction and then after that I just had a choice: play the part as he had fashioned it or become its contradiction.” - Sherlock
·         “My study is my sanctum sanctorum…private place.” – Holmes
·         “I’ve never had much use for imagination.  I prefer facts.” – Sherlock
·         “Death, mourning, grief…they’re all commonplace.  Logic is more rare.  I dwell on that.” – Sherlock
·         “Her death made me see that human nature was a mystery that logic could not illuminate.” – Sherlock Holmes
  “Don’t say everything you think.” – Mrs. Munro

·          Tips for Parents:
·          This is not a fast-moving mystery that kids will get a kick out of, but more of a “thinking man’s movie” that might bore them.  The target audience is probably an older audience, and true Sherlock buffs.
·     Murrder, death and suicide are the prominent themes, which you may not want young children to watch..
·         Sherlock informs his simple housekeeper, “Exceptional children are often the product of unremarkable parents.”   
·         The bombing of Hiroshima is represented in a very sobering way.  Your kids may not be familiar with this aspect of history.

Sherlock Holmes movies to add to your collection:


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jem and the Holograms preaches be yourself

Movie:    Jem and the Holograms

Rating:    PG, 1 hour 58 minutes

Grade:   B-

In a Nutshell:   If you’re a 7 year old girl, you’ll like this musical fantasy movie.  This live-action girl-power flick is based on the 1980’s cartoon series about the adventures of an all-girl rock band, although it doesn’t have the humor and high adventure as the source material.

The movie poster advertises that the film is “Truly Outrageous”.  Um….no, not really.  More like “Truly Touchy-feely.”   Overall, it is sweet and has a positive message for girls.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Create your own destiny.
·         Use your gifts to inspire people.
·         Never fear the unknown.
·         “We each have music inside us.  It connects us all.” – Jem
·          Jem tells Rio (Ryan Guzman) “It seems like you’re fatally allergic to positivity.”  A running theme throughout the movie is to think positive and hope for the best.
·         “Don’t underestimate yourself.” – Rio
·         “Time with family, the ones you love most…there’s nothing more valuable.” – Jerrica’s Dad

Things I liked:
·         Fun cameos include Jimmy Fallon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chris Pratt, Alicia Keys, and Jason Kennedy.
·         Synergy is adorable…and designed to evoke girly giggles and “ahhhhhs” from the target audience. 
·         The YouTube generation will eat up all of the supposed real clips of tweens whose lives were changed by #Jem.  The only thing missing was sugary emoticons with glitter.
·         Molly Ringwald, America’s sweetheart teenager from the 1986  Pretty in Pink , is aging well.
·         Cool bird’s eye view of LA.
·         I loved the big wooden doors at the Starlight mansion.
·         Starring Aubrey Peeples as Jem, her girl band does make some pretty harmonies.  The politically correct, multi-racial girls include Stefanie Scott (Kimber), Aurora Perrineau (Shana), and Hayley Kiyoko (Aja).

Things I didn’t like:
·         It’s extremely formulaic and predictable.
·         It’s hard to feel sad for a girl who is young, beautiful, talented, rich and famous.
·         With all of his mixed martial art training, we don’t get to watch Ryan Guzman fight or dance like in his debut role in Step Up All In , but we do get to hear him sing.
·         Stupid slow-motion scene of the girls having a squirt bottle fight in bikinis.
·         Jerrica’s dad completely focuses on her and not the other daughters.  I would feel sad and neglected if I were her sister.

Funny lines:  
·          “If squirrels can waterski, we can do anything, guys!” – security guard at Starlight Studio
·         “Valet of the Damned”.   Ha ha
·         “This is a Tetanus shot waiting to happen.” – Shana  

Lines that are supposed to sound profound:
·         The best answer is the one that’s been with you all along.”  Jem   
·         “Jem is anyone who has something to express.  We’re all Jem!  This is our time!” - Jem
·         “A home is where you’re surrounded by people you love and who love you regardless.” – Kimber 
·         “Did you just quote a Beyonce song?” – Aja  
“Yeah, cuz she got it so right!” – Jem
·         “Your destiny can be as mysterious and vast as any ocean.” – Dad
·         “Where you go now is up to you.” – Dad
·         “Come on, ya gotta jump some time.” - Rio

Tips that Erica Raymond gives to the girls to become stars:
1.       Stand tall
2.       Lean back
3.       Smile, but don’t make faces
4.       Look like you’re having fun, but don’t really have fun.
5.       A bad photo lives longer than vampires.

 Tips for Parents:
·          The PG rating is for some reckless behavior by the girls that you don’t want your own daughters to emulate, kissing, a guy with nothing on but a towel, and some profanity.
·         Parents, be prepared for your daughters to paint their hair and faces lots of different colors.  Expect to see the sale of face and hair glitter to jump.

If you or your daughter can't get enough of the magic of Jem, check out these fun items:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Once I Was a Beehive will make you laugh and cry

Movie:    Once I Was A Beehive

Rating:    PG, 1 hour 59 minutes

Grade:   B+

In a Nutshell:    Teenage girls can be sooooo dramatic.  Because of that, they’re going to really get a kick out of this over-acted spoof of Mormon Girls Camp.  It’s a sweet movie that will make you laugh out loud and maybe even cry.  It’s super cheesy, but it still touched my heart.  It reminded me of some very special moments I had at Girls Camp many years ago when…once  I was a Beehive too.

The film pokes fun at Mormon culture, but Christians will be able to relate to the trials of faith, the power of prayer, and the importance of friendship.  As Christians, we need to support movies that support our values.

Written and directed by Maclain Nelson, the movie poster claims the film is based on thousands of true stories.  I believe it.  Girls Camp is always filled with epic moments, plenty of shenanigans, and growing testimonies.

While Maclain Nelson is Mormon, his co-writer and wife Clare Niederpruem is Catholic, another example of how we need to embrace each other's differences and celebrate our similarities.

Uplifting Theme:
·         “There are better days than the ones you’re standing in.”  - Opening song
·         “When you’re with the ones you love, you’re never missing out.” – Robert Speer (Adam Johnson)
·         No crisis of faith can’t be cured with a week up in God’s country. - Robert Speer
·         “Two-gether forever.”   (Sure to be a new Mormon meme.)
·         “Faith is the key to solve any problem.” – Nedra Rockwell
     -  Girl power.  Sisterhood.  Unity.  Acceptance.

Things I liked:
·         The film addresses blended families and the difficulty of adapting to a new life.  I grew up in a blended family and have seen my sister repeat the same challenges in her marriage.  I appreciated the sensitive, truthful approach the film took on this delicate family issue.
·         Is that a picture of Liberace in the red suit on Holly’s family room wall?  Hilarious.
·         Making the girls lock up their cell phones in a box at camp.  Genius.  Sadly, necessary.
·         Nedra Rockwell, the “Heck’s Angel”  is adorable.  A big "Hoorah" to Barta Heiner, a beloved stage and screen actress in Utah, for grounding the film with down-to-earth goodness and reality.
·         Fanny packs!  Yes!  While not a socially-approved accessory, they sure make a lot of sense.
·         "Imagine a Sunday School lesson taught by Indiana Jones."  Trial of Faith.  Awesome.
·         I loved that they made fun of the rock giants from the Noah movie with Russel Crowe.  I really hated that movie.  You can read my movie review of Noah here.
·         The musical narration was good.  "The Spirit of God" remix was cool.
·         Catniss Everdeen.  Ha ha      Can't wait to see the final movie in that franchise coming out in November!   Bless our dear bishops for all they do for us.
·         If you come face to face with a grizzly bear, play dead and cover your neck.  Good to know.
·         What a sweet voice Paris Warner has.  I expect to hear that song in my ward on Sunday.  I     thought she did a really great job with her character and brought some honesty to the role.
 -     Mila Smith (Phoebe) does a very good job playing a quirky character, although her crying scenes      were weak.  Paris Warner made me really believe her tears.
           Cute camp pictures during the closing credits. 
·         I hope to see Allie Jennings (Charlotte) in more films.  She's darling.
 -    One of the film's co-producers, Lisa Valentine Clark, also stars as the over-the-top Young  Women's President Carrie Carrington.  If you haven't seen her funny YouTube videos, you can check them out here.   They are "pretty darn funny."
-     I often wince at Christian movies because the production quality can be so amateur looking, but they did a really good job with this film.  
Things I didn’t like:
·         It’s always awkward to hear actual prayers in movies.
·         I don’t like seeing Mormons bicker or act snotty to each other.  They should behave better       because they know better.  I know, we had to see the growth in the girls.  Still...
·         Where is the rest of the Young Women’s presidency and leaders?
·         The night scenes are difficult to see in the dark, especially the bear scene.
-     The movie is a bit uneven, jumping from farce to real and back and forth.
·         So, technically, if Lane is 16, she would be a Mia Maid….not a Beehive…just sayin...


Funny lines:  
·          “I appreciate the hyperbole.” – Phoebe Valentine
·         “Phoebe, can you come and get some dessert, cuz we’re going to go pretty soon.” – Holly
       “I doubt I could enjoy dessert , knowing the ceiling could cave in on us at any moment.” -    
        It’s crème brulee.” – Holly
        “I’ll risk it.” – Phoebe
·         “Who goes on a cruise for that long anyway?” – Lane
       “We got a killer Groupon for it.” – step-dad Tristan  (Brett Merritt)
·         “Kerry Carrington.  You can’t tell me that’s her real name.  It sounded like the leader of the Carebears or the alter-ego of a Christian superhero.” – Lane
·         “Don’t be embarrassed if you let out a few air biscuits.  It’s natural.” – Sister Rockwell
·         “I’m going to turn the time over for Sister Carrington for some fluffy stuff.” – Sister Rockwell
·         “So, would you rather marry a man that you know is a serial killer who kills every day, but he’s still, like a good guy and you love him OR would you rather marry a man that all he ever says is  ‘Manamana’”? – Mindy  (Kaley McCormack)
·         “Well, lookie here.  A little nest of estrogen.” – Sister Rockwell
·         “Bree, why don’t you come and get some food. I think you might be a little hangry.”  - Sister
-       “Why don’t you take a look out the window.  I want you to take an eye photo.  You know how to do that, right?  You just use your eyes.  Blink, then right up there, right in front of your face, you can’t miss it.” – Robert Speer
·         “Pound it.  Let’s not do that again.” – Sister Rockwell
 “Why do they call them Beehives?  Why don’t they just call them bees?” – Lane
       “I’ve been saying that for years.” – Phoebe    (Me too, Phoebe.  Me too.)
Tips for Parents:
·          This is a sweet movie that your daughters will love.  You might even get your sons to crack a smile. 
·         The PG rating is for a brief moment of peril with a bear.

Once I Was A Beehive was produced by the same folks who brought us:

The Last Witch Hunter doesn't cast a spell on audiences

Movie:    The Last Witch Hunter

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 45 minutes

Grade:   C

In a Nutshell:    Timed perfectly for Halloween, this creepy action flick features Vin Diesel kicking evil witch butt.    Unfortunately, the film doesn’t cast a good spell on audiences and is getting horrible reviews from critics.   The plot is thin and the CGI is thick.

Uplifting Theme:
·         “There are shades of evil everywhere.” – Kaulder      (Luckily, good conquers evil.)
·         “I used to think the universe ran in circles, repeating itself, always predictable.  Now, I don’t know what happens next.” - Kaulder
“You know what we humans call that?   Living.” – Dolan 36th

Things I liked:
·         Vin Diesel.  So, yeah.  The movie isn’t great, but if you’re a Vin Diesel fan, you’ll still enjoy it.
·         Supposedly, the witch hunter character he plays in the movie is based on a Dungeons & Dragons character he played for years.   
·         It’s always good to see Michael Caine in anything, although he’s mostly dead during the majority of the movie.  He plays “Dolan 36th”, who is a type of personal assistant to a rich playboy with fighting powers…sounds like his role in Batman Begins , eh?
·         Elijah Wood has the squeaky clean look of the priest he plays, but enough odd edge to make you wonder if he really is a good priest.
·         The beautiful French actress Julie Engelbrecht plays the Queen Witch, who is ugly and scary, but not very imaginative.  Her mother is the German actress Constanze Engelbrecht, who starred with Julie in her acting debut Adieu mon ami .
·         Fans of Game of Thrones: Season 4 [Blu-ray] will be happy to see the charming Rose Leslie play a “dream walker”.  I thought she had a kind of Kristen Stewart vibe.
·         The bar for witches was pretty cool with the floaty things and shimmering wisps.  Vin Diesel has special ways of identifying witches, but it’s not very hard: they all have tattoos, dress like Goths, and look like catwalk models. 
·         The visual design of the of the movie is pretty good, albeit mostly CGI.

Things I didn’t like:
·         LOTS of CGI effects, some of them pretty hokey.
·         It ends with some teasers to set you up for a sequel.  Do we want a sequel to this?
·         The plot is pretty predictable and is full of formulaic moments like slow-motion fighting, and swords driving home a death blow after spinning around a few times for dramatic flair.  Some things that happen are nonsensical.
·         Most of the scenes are dark and murky, just like the movie poster (pictured above).  This movie will get lost on a computer monitor.
·         Well, now the mystery of where all the bees have gone is uncovered.  They were saved up and used for this film.
·         Cliché creepy old doll.  Works every time though.
·         When the witches cast spells, it sounds like someone is playing a old LP record backwards like we used to do when we were kids to make a scary ghost sound.
-      There is a small amount of humor, but more would have made the film playful.  As it is, the movie takes itself pretty seriously.

Funny lines:  
·         “You want to quit?” – Kaulder
“No, I want a raise.” – Dolan 37th
·         “Please don’t think less of me.  I’ll confess it later.” – Dolan 37th after he punches a bad guy.
·         “There’s more to life than the dulcet tones of stewardesses.” – Dolan 36th
What do you know about stewardesses? – Kaulder
“I wasn’t born a priest.” – Dolan 36th
·         “You look like a terrible band from the 80’s.” – Grosette (Michael Halsey)

Interesting lines that are meant to sound cool and profound:
·         “The world is changing.” – Dolan 37th
“Only on the surface.” – Kaulder
·         “You know, paper is the past.” – Kaulder

Words to know:
Necromancy = a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead

Tips for Parents:
·         Some of the scenes are pretty scary, especially the opening scene.  SPOILER ALERT:  Thankfully, there is only one really bad, scary witch and you don’t see her again until the end of the movie.
·         Some profanity.  Lots of fight scenes.
·         Lots of bugs crawling around.
·         Creepy skeletons floating around in the place where witches are banished.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

PAN disappoints and bewilders

Movie:    Pan

Rating:  PG, 1 hour 51 minutes

Grade:   C-

In a Nutshell:    Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve never really liked Bobby Driscoll's story of Peter Pan .  I mean, a boy who refuses to grow up?  Don’t we already have enough of those in the world today?  Jealousy among Tinkerbell, Wendy, and the mermaids?...yep, we have enough caddy women in the world too.

And did we really need ANOTHER version of this movie?  This film, however, offers a new backstory that fleshes out the story and provides greater depth to the character motivation as a type of prequel.  Is it worth the retelling?  Meh.

Uplifting Theme:
·         “Sometimes to truly understand how things end, we must understand how they begin.”  - narrator 
       Hope, friendship
Things I liked:
·         Levi Miller, who plays Peter Pan,  is absolutely adorable.  Unfortunately, his pacing makes it look like he was told to constantly hurry up!
·         Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard is awesome.  He can do it all.
·         It’s very colorful and imaginative with lots of CGI action for kids.
·         Wow, Amanda Seyfried is playing a mother’s role already?  She is always beautiful and welcome in any role.
·         There is a surprising amount of music. 
·         Cara Delevingne is a beautiful mermaid.  You’ve seen her recently in the mopey teenage angst-ridden Paper Towns , which I hated.  Read my movie review of Paper Towns here.
·         Rooney Mara is a strange casting choice for Tiger Lily, but she's already winning awards for her role in "Carol".
·         There is a decent amount of subtle humor.  More please.

Things I didn’t like:
·         There were some odd religious undertones that I didn’t like.  For example, it was so cliché to have the nuns in the orphanage be cruel, but the surprising parts were the lines that Captain Hook spoke that made him out to be an evil Savior, quoting things like “Come unto me”.
·         It kind of felt like Mad Max in the sky....lots of crazy people and stuff constantly flying around.
·         Garrett Hedlund turns Hook into a kind of Indiana Jones douche bag.  His accent is super annoying.
·         The story line is messy, all over the place, and rushed.
-     Every shot looks manufactured and artificial.
-     Everyone starts singing Nivarna's "Everyone's Got Teen Spirit" for no apparent reason.  What the?

Interesting lines:
·         Are brave, Peter?”  - Blackbeard
“Trying to be.” – Peter
“Are you scared?” – Blackbeard
“Yes.”  - Peter
·         “Have you come to kill me?” – Blackbeard
“I don’t believe in bedtime stories.” – Peter
·         “I lie sometimes.  It’s called being a grown-up.”  - Hook     (What a terrible thing to say.)

Tips for Parents:
·          Little kids won't mind all the nonsense.  Purists of the original Disney version might hate it.
-      Lots of fighting, but nothing too scary.

Want to see other versions of this story?