Saturday, June 25, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence gives fan service after 20 years

Movie Title:     Independence Day Resurgence

Grade:  B-

Rating:  PG-13, 119 minutes

In a Nutshell:    I absolutely loved the 1996 original Independence Day, so I was really excited to see this sequel that we all waited 20 years for.  Was it worth the wait?  Well, yes and no.  It has even bigger aliens, bigger destruction, and bigger action, yet doesn’t quite have the same charm as the first. 

Director Roland Emmerich knows how to pack the screen with action for a fun summer popcorn flick.  Just don't think too hard about the plot.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Have a little faith.” – Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch)
  • If we stand as one, we can do anything.
  • “You can thank me later!” – Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth)
“I’ll thank you now!” – Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher)

Things I liked:
  • Who doesn’t adore Jeff Goldblum?  He carries the movie and seems to be having a good time being back in this story.  Wouldn’t it be fun to see him in the next Jurassic Park movie with Chris Pratt?
  • Quite a few other cast members from the original movie joined this sequel: Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Vivica Fox.
  • You get to see the aliens up close.   
  • See it in 3D if you can.  The opening universe scene is pretty cool.
  • Area 51 in Nevada gets a lot of action in this film.  I live in Las Vegas, so one of these days I’ll have to take a drive out there.  I know, I know…you don’t get very far when the officials see you getting near. 
  • There are lots of cool space ships and high tech gadgets that the humans have developed since acquiring alien technology from the last movie.
  • Deobia Oparei is massive!  And pretty funny.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It would have been fun to see Will Smith in this sequel.  He declined the offer, but they show a couple of pictures on walls to acknowledge his character’s accomplishments in the first movie as fan service.
  • Mae Whitman played President Whitmore’s little girl in the 1996 movie, so why wasn’t she cast in the sequel as the grown-up daughter?  She’s a fantastic actress and was hilarious in "The Duff."  Sure, Maika Monroe is super cute, but still…
  • There are often too many things happening on the screen at once.
  • There are too many side characters that we just don’t have time to care about.
  • What was supposed to be the big patriotic speech in this movie, fell flat and is completely unmemorable, as opposed to Bill Pullman’s awesome moment in the first movie when he said:
“We will not go quietly into the night.  We will not vanish without a fight!  We’re going to live on.  We’re going to survive.  Today we celebrate our….Independence Day!
  • Jessie Usher plays Will Smith’s character’s son from the first movie.  While Will Smith had incredible charisma and added cool energy to the film, Jessie is surprisingly bland.
  • Most females are in love with Liam Hemsworth (or his hunky brother), but he kind of plays the same character in every movie he’s in, right?
  • Overall, it's pretty messy, both the film and the destruction.

Funny lines:
  •  “Shouldn’t we be nervous?” – Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth)
“Um, yeah!” – David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)
  • “It speaks!  In English!” –  Dr. Brakis Okun (Brent Spiner)
  • “This thing is way cooler than a machete!  (He accidentally fires the alien gun.)  Sorry!  My bad! – Floyd Rosenberg (Nicolas Wright)
  • “You don’t want to fly?” – Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher)
“No, I want to shoot!” – Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth)
  • “There’s a tall, dangly man over there!” – Daisy (McKenna Grace)
“Tall, dangly man?  That’s my David!” – Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch)
  • “You’re grounded until further notice.” – Commander Jiang (Chin Han)
“Can I still watch TV?” – Jake Morrison
  • “I was wondering if you’d like to get a drink or fall in love?” – Charlie (Travis Tope)
  • “That is definitely bigger than the last one.” – David Levinson
  • “Charlie, where are you?” – Jake
“Flying through your worst nightmare.” – Charlie
  • “What goes up must come down.” – David
  • “Pee your pants?” – Jake
“Uh, yeah!” – David
“Yeah, me too.” – Jake

Interesting lines:
  •  “Why are they screaming?” – Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe)
“They’re not screaming.  They’re celebrating.” – Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner)

Inspiring lines:
  • “I had 20 years to get us ready and we didn’t have a chance.” – David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)
“We didn’t then either.” – Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman)
  • “What we do in the next 12 minutes will either define humanity or finish us.” – General Adams (William Fichtner)
  • “I’m not saving the world.  I’m saving you.” – Thomas Whitmore
  • “We have to remind them that Earth is not for the taking.” – Dylan Hiller (Jessie Usher)
  • “It’s the 4th of July.  Let’s show them some fireworks.” – Dylan Hiller

Tips for parents:   

  •  Profanity.
  • There is a massive amount of devastation on Earth, yet you don’t feel invested in any of it, except for one character.  (No spoiler.)
  • The aliens might scare young children.
  • A couple of inappropriate jokes.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Shallows features a lively Blake, shark, and seagul

Movie Title:      The Shallows

Grade:   B

Rating:   PG-13, 87 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This ain’t no Sharknado.  In fact, this shark is extremely realistic looking, gigantic, and scary.  

But who’s looking at the shark when you can watch gorgeous Blake Lively in a bikini…according to all of the men in the audience.   She actually gives an impressive performance, so even the females in the audience will enjoy this "girl vs. nature" thriller.

I know the feeling of being out in the ocean and suddenly wondering what’s underneath.  It’s pretty creepy.  I’m a terrible swimmer and would be dead so fast if I were in this movie.

Uplifting theme: 
  •  Tip:  Learn how to whistle loudly for help; screaming doesn’t always work.
  • Be a fighter to the end.  Tenacity, persistence, hope.
  • Carlos tells Nancy to stop looking down at her cell phone and instead, look up to appreciate all the beauty around her.  Great advice.

Things I liked:
  • There are some easy jumps and scares that you can see coming a mile away, yet they still get ya!
  • Steven Seagull!   He reminded me of Tom Hanks’ Wilson in “Castaway.”  I've read that he was real and that he was CGI.  Either way, the friendly bird provided some comic relief to ease the tension and give Blake someone to talk to.
  • Thank goodness for GoPro, eh?  Other merchandising spotlights were Baby G watch, Uber, and Body Glove.
  • The underwater footage is really great.
  • Do big ocean buoys have flare guns on them?  Good to know.
  • Blake Lively does most of her own surf shots, with a body double stepping in for the more dangerous moments.  A couple of local guys also do some pretty good surfing before becoming shark bait.  Speaking of awesome surfing, congratulations to Jordy Collins, my friends' son who just won the 2015/2016 Surfing America prime Series Season Crown for Boys Under 18!  
  • The cove where the movie takes place is supposed to be in Mexico, although filming actually took place in Australia.  The scenery and colors are beautiful.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I’m sure no real animals were harmed in the making of this movie, but you see a dead whale in the ocean, which becomes the shark’s feeding grounds.
  • The family story in the background doesn't quite reach the emotional depths I had hoped it would.
  • It's still not as good as JAWS.  
  • Nancy keeps asking people what the secret beach was called in the beginning of the movie.  By the end of the movie, no one mentions it again and the running theme just gets dropped.

Funny lines:
  •  “Get a life, Buddy.” – Nancy to Steven Seagull
  • “Ew” – Nancy after she eats a crab and vomits it back up
  • “You know my friend we left at the hotel who smells like Don Julio and bad choices?” – Nancy
  • “Not very many Americans here…bummer.” – Nancy
“Gracias a dios.”  (Thank God) – Carlos  (Oscar Jaenada)
  • “What’s this place called?” – Nancy
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” – surfer
“Well, that would ruin my whole day.” - Nancy

 Interesting lines:
  • “I’m NOT dying here!” – Nancy 
Tips for parents:   

  • The audience sees a LOT of Blake Lively.  She’s in a bikini the entire time.
  • You see Blake try to sew her leg that has been bitten by a shark, so it’s really bloody and gory.
  • Profanity, including 1 F-bomb.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Central Intelligence showcases funny chemistry and potty mouths

Movie Title:   Central Intelligence
Grade:   B

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 54 minutes

In a Nutshell:    “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson…”  The movie tag line is as racy as a lot of the other lines in the movie, but you can’t deny the great chemistry Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have together in this action buddy comedy.

 Uplifting theme: 
  • #Blessed
  • Overcoming bullies in your life, whatever or whoever they are.
  • Be the hero of your own story.
  • “In life, the most important thing you can be is yourself.” – Bob Stone

Things I liked:
  • It’s so fun seeing Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as high school students.  The impressive CGI makes them look young and morphs Dwayne Johnson’s face onto another body.  We saw similar effects with Tony Stark in the latest Avenger movie, “Captain America: Civil War.”
  • Funny fight scene in Calvin’s office.
  • I am a geek who makes random movie references in conversations, so I got a kick out of the shout-outs to “Sixteen Candles”, “Good Fellas”,  “Barber Shop”, “Twilight”, and “Road House.”
  • From the trailers, I had no idea that Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, The Office’s Amy Ryan, and funnyman Jason Bateman were in the film.  Another fun surprise was Mellissa McCarthy!
  • Fanny packs make so much sense, right?
  • I always enjoy funny outtakes at the end of movies.  I thought the joke about “The Rock” being a dumb name was hilarious.  Dwayne Johnson, apparently, thought so too.
  • I really enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t completely confident about who the good guys and bad guys were during most of the movie. 
  • Director Rawson Marshall Thurber had a challenge with framing to fit both lead actors in the same shot because of their height difference.  Nice job.  By the way, Thurber brought us other raunchy comedies such as "We Are The Millers" and "Dodge Ball."
  • It's refreshing to see the two lead actors switch comedic roles.  We're not used to seeing Hart as the straight man and Johnson as the funny man.
  • It's set up perfectly for a sequel.  Get your unicorn shirts ready.

Things I didn’t like:
  • LOTS of crude jokes about farts, porn, and body parts.
  • The plot isn’t exactly original, but it still worked…enough.
  • Some racist jokes.

Funny lines:
  • “You’re like a chocolate Google.” – Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson)
  • “You are Jason Bourne in shorts!” – Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart)
  • “What did you do?  One thing? Tell me!” – Calvin
“I worked out 6 hours a day for 20 years straight.” – Bob

  • “You look like a black Will Smith or something.” – Bob
“Oh, OK. I don’t know if that’s racist, but I’ll take it as a compliment.” – Calvin

  • “I got a plan.  It might get us both killed, but if it works, it’ll be a totally boss story. Cool?” – Bob
  • "No!  Not cool!" - Calvin
  • “I’m not in.” – Calvin
“But I think you are.” – Bob
“But I’m not.” – Calvin
“It might be a perception vs. reality thing happening right now.” – Bob
  • “Well, there’s no coming back from that.” – Principal Kent (Phil Reeves)
  • “Black people don’t go to therapy.  They go to barbershops to talk about their problems.  And then they watch “Barbershop.” - Calvin
  • “You’re the power couple.  I mean, you’re like Taylor Swift and whoever she’s dating right now.” – Bob
  • “Is that from the Twilight movies?” – Calvin
  • “Take my gun, Jet.  We may have to kill some people.” – Bob
  • “Are you OK?  You kind of sound like Ray Liotta at the end of Good Fellas.” – Maggie (Danielle Nicolet)
Ha ha.  That’s so funny.  That’s such a good reference.” - Calvin

Did you notice?
  • Bob Stone likes cinnamon pancakes and unicorns on his Facebook profile?  Bob said “Oh yeah, I’m big time into corns.  They’re so magical.”
  • The centaur mascot at the high school assembly?

Tips for parents:   

  • You will see the complete naked back side of a fat kid when Bob was in high school and then again as an adult…this time it’s really Dwayne Johnson’s posterior.
  • High school bullying is depicted in the first 5 minutes of the film. In the next 5 minutes there is sexual harassment depicted in the work place.
  • Kevin Hart flips the bird at someone.
  • Lots of profanity, including 1 F-bomb.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Now You See Me is mostly smoke and mirrors

Movie Title:     Now You See Me 2
Grade:   B

Rating:     PG-13, 115 minutes

In a Nutshell:    I loved the first movie, but this sequel just felt more like smoke and mirrors.   

Uplifting theme: 
  •  “Seeing is believing, but is it truth?  It depends on your point of view.” – Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman)

Things I liked:
  • Lots of twists and turns.  It’s a fun ride, because you never know what's around the corner.
  • Funny sleeping scenes.
  • I love all of the cast.  Two Woody Harrelsons?  Twice the fun.
  • It's always fun to see places around the world.  They spend some time in London, Macau, and New York.
  • SPOILER ALERT: I love it when good "bad guys" outsmart real bad guys.
  • Lots of action sequences mixed in with some quick wit.

Things I didn’t like:
  •  I should have re-watched the first movie so I could remember how everything left off.  There were a lot of comments made that referred to past events, so if you haven’t seen the first one, you’ll be a bit lost.
  • Too many villains.
  • Everyone is too cool and slick, coming off as smug characters we have a hard time feeling sorry or concern for.
  • Do't get me wrong here...I love all of the actors in the film, but they kind of play the same characters they usually do in almost all of their other movies.  Well, except Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter.  Amirite?  For example, Jesse Eisenburg always plays a fast-talking genius.  Morgan Freeman always plays someone wise and mysterious.  Dave Franco always plays a playboy loose cannon.  Lizzy Caplan always plays a snarky chick.  I'm just sayin...
  • A lot of things are just too implausible and ridiculous.  If you think really hard to figure it all out, most of it just doesn't make much sense.  
  • Most of the lines sound like scripted performance lines, rather than spontaneous conversations.

Funny lines:
  •  “Not Chinese food.  I think here it’s just called food.” - Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson)
  • “I want to be completely off the Grid and do you know why?” – (Walter Tressler)    “Yeah, because the Grid is for real humans.” – J. Daniel Atlas  (Jesse Eisenberg)
  • “Don’t do anything I would enjoy.” – Merritt McKinney
  • “Is that weird to have more hair in your ears than on your head?” – Merritt to his twin brother

Interesting lines:
  •   “The eye; it can’t lie, but don’t think for a minute it can’t be lied to.” –  Thaddeus Bradley

  • Tips for parents:   
  • Someone flips the bird at the camera.
  • Some profanity and inappropriate language.

As the characters say, “Didja get all that?”

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Great fathers in movies

Happy Father's Day!
I found a great article about fathers in movies I wanted to share in honor of Father's Day today!
Dads are sometimes manhandled in movies — depicted as absent, neglectful, or comically inept. They can be relegated to grim portrayals in films like The Great Santini (1979) or This Boy’s Life (1993), where fatherhood is all about intimidation. Life with these fathers would make for a very disturbing Rockwell painting. I think it’s patently unfair for a few movie dads to cast a poor light on men that work hard to be affectionate, considerate, and above all, always there for the family. Like me. So, as Sunday is Dad’s day, let’s show him (or his memory) some love, respect, and affection. Just once, for your father, take his advice, thank your mother, chew with your mouth closed, stop making that face, finish your chores without any sass-back, and stick to one of these father-friendly films.
 Bicycle Thieves (1948) 2014-06-13-bicyclethieves.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Faced with unemployment in economically depressed post-war Italy, Antonio Ricci (Roberto Maggiorani) does all he can to provide for his family. With his adorable son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) in tow, Ricci tirelessly works to retrieve his stolen bicycle (a necessary means of conveyance for his new job). Ricci’s quiet determination and desire to be a role model shines through here — in the end, at least he and Bruno have each other.
Father of the Bride (1950) 2014-06-13-fatherofthebride.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: A daughter getting married can be overwhelming for anyone. Ask Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy), a proud, stand-up father whose life (and wallet) get turned upside down by the impending nuptials of his beloved daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor). Despite his frustrations with the next generation, Mr. Banks just wants the best for his little girl, who now seems so grown up.
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Atticus “Dead-Eye” Finch (Gregory Peck) is the paragon of single fatherhood. He can shoot and kill a mad dog at twenty paces, and his gentlemanly southern stoicism is a living, breathing clinic in “teach-by-example” parenting. By defending a wrongly-accused black man in the racist South, he shows his young ones life’s most valuable lesson: What’s right isn’t always easy.
The Sound of Music (1965) 2014-06-13-soundofmusic.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) likes an orderly household where his kids respond to a whistle like Rin Tin Tin, but when problem-nanny Maria (Julie Andrews) brings the magic of music into the home, he changes his tune. It’s not every father that could foil the Nazis and then lead his band of seven children to win a singing contest before climbing every mountain over the Austrian Alps to freedom.
The Godfather (1972) 2014-06-13-godfather.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: If he bends the rules a bit in his business dealings — it’s all for the good of his family. Say what you will about the commercial ethics of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and his “olive oil importing company” — he loves his children. I dare any dad to stay dry-eyed when, after the murder of his boy Sonny (James Caan), Don Vito breaks down in front of the funeral director saying, “Look how they massacred my boy!” That’s some fatherly devotion (and stellar acting chops).
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979) 2014-06-13-kramer.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: After his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) leaves him flat, workaholic father Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) steps up to embrace fatherhood and learn the importance of little things — like how to make french toast in a tiny NYC apartment kitchen. When Joanna returns seeking custody, Ted fights with everything he’s got to keep his son.
Boyz in the Hood (1991) 2014-06-13-boyz.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Jason “Furious” Styles (Laurence Fishburne) is doing his best to raise his son Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the roughest part of a gang-torn L.A. neighborhood. If anyone knows about fatherhood and teaching strength of character it’s Mr. Styles — as he says: “Only a real man can raise his children.”

Life is Beautiful (1997) 2014-06-13-lifeisbeautiful.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: We all want to make the world a better place for our children, but Guido (Roberto Benigni) goes further than most to do just that. To shield his little boy Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini) from the terrors of the Holocaust, he convinces him that their extended stay in a WWII concentration camp is a just a game where the winner is awarded a thrilling grand prize: a tank! Putting a brave face on every dark element to spare his son, we are almost convinced he’s found a way to believe the story himself.

Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Everett McGill (George Clooney) is the “dang paterfamilias” who will stop at nothing to be reunited with his daughters — the darling musical Wharvey Girls. The chains of prison, a cyclops, sirens, hell or high water (quite literally in the form of a flood) may get in his way, but no suitor is going to take his place.
Finding Nemo (2003) 2014-06-13-nemo.jpg 
Why He’s a Great Movie Dad: Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is not very funny for a clown fish, but he’s a determined little bugger, racing across the ocean to rescue his lucky-finned little one, Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould). Along the way he learns something about fatherhood and friendship, as well as how old (and wise) turtles can be.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Finding Dory has the "Awwww" factor

Movie Title:        Finding Dory
Grade:   A

Rating:     PG, 100 minutes

In a Nutshell:   The feels!  The first line of the movie that you hear comes out of the sweet little mouth of Dory when she was a toddler, causing every female in the audience to gasp, “Awwwww!”  My teenage son leaned over to me and said, “This is going to be a long movie.”  Ha ha   Later, he admitted he really did like the movie, even more than he thought he would.

This heartwarming Pixar sequel is perfect for all ages. It’s risky to feature a supporting character from a previous movie (Finding Nemo), but it works great in this film.  Dory is adorable, lovable. and easily carries her own movie.  

One of the best parts of seeing this movie is watching the ADORABLE animated short before Finding Dory!  The animation is AMAZING!  Sooooo cute!  Awwwww!

Uplifting theme: 
  •  “You can do whatever you put your mind to.”  - Jenny (Dory’s mom, played by Diane Keaton!)
  • During the final credits, the screen says, “The film is dedicated to all our families – of every kind.  You keep us swimming.”    Families come in all shapes and sizes.
  • “The best things happen by chance.” – Dory
  • “There’s always a way.” – Dory
  • We often don’t know who we are and what our talents are.  Let’s help each other by sharing kind words with one another.
  • “Just keep swimming.” – Jenny (Dory’s mother)
  • While the title makes you believe someone is trying to find Dory, SHE is the one looking to find someone…her parents.  On her journey, she finds herself.
  • Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson) teaches the school children about instinct and describes it as “the song you always know.”  We all have a natural desire to go home.
  • Respect for ocean life.

Things I liked:
  • Ellen DeGeneres is wonderful as Dory.
  • Keep watching during the post credits to see Hank doing silly things.  Then, keep watching until after ALL of the credits for a fun surprise.
  • I love the last line of the movie and the song that follows.  Marlin looks out over the drop and sighs, “It really is quite a view.”  Dory agrees, “Yep.  Unforgettable.”  Then, the ridiculously talented Sia sings “Unforgettable.”  Perfect.
  • Two of the “dads” from Modern Family voice characters in this film:  Ed O’Neill (Hank) and Ty Burrell (Bailey).
  • John Ratzenberger is a Pixar icon.   
  • Some of the small roles are voiced by BIG talents such as Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Willem Dafoe, and two SNL comedians -  Kate McKinnon and Bill Hader.
  • You’ll never see sea shells in the ocean the same way again.
  • Becky!
  • It’s interesting that this film doesn’t really have a classic villain, other than the dangerous situations Dory and the characters find themselves in.  Nevertheless, it works. Very well.
  • I love it when Dory talks in her sleep.  This time she says, “Give me the ratchet wrench.  I can fix it.”  It’s another insight into her character that she always wants to fix situations, despite her disability.
  • The colors and textures are rich.  The movement under the sea is so realistic that you really feel like you’re in the ocean.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I adore Albert Brooks as Marlin and was sad he wasn’t utilized more in the movie.  Still, he has some poignant moments.
· I cried in Finding Nemo.  I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times and still cry when I watch it.  SPOILER ALERT: The reunion moment should have had me bawling, but it ended so quickly that I hardly had a chance to tear up.
·  Did you notice the Coke product placement?  Do those every bug you?

Funny lines:
  • "Nobody saw Dory?  That’s a lot of eyeballs doing nothing!” - Hank
  • “Suck it Bypeds.” – Hank
  • “Everybody does it.  Nothing to be ashamed of.” – Dory, after Hank “inks”
  • “Follow me!” – Dory
“You’re in a cup…” – Hank
  • “My life’s a rainbow!” – Bailey
  • “I don't have a problem with crazy.” – Dory
“You know, I could see that.” – Hank
  • “You lost a tentacle?  Then, you’re not an octopus; you’re a septimus. I can count.” – Dory
  • “Cuddle party! I’m in!” – Dory
  • “Hey dude, if you’re gonna hurl, could you do me a solid and head to the back of the shell and lean out and go for distance?” - Crush
  • “We see the undertow and we say…” – Charlie (Dory’s dad)
“Let’s go!” – Dory
  • “Righteous!” – Crush (Andrew Stanton, who is also one of the directors and writers of the movie!)

Tips for parents:   

  • There is an awkward/funny “when 2 fish love each other” speech Dory begins to give to young children when she thinks she’s supposed to teach “that” class.
  • Children (and parents) with any kind of disability will find comfort and inspiration as we watch Dory deal with her short-term “rememory loss.”  The topic is handled very respectfully in the movie.
  • Very young children might be frightened by the idea that it’s so easy to get lost from your parents.  Watching the movie can spark an important conversation with your little ones about how to deal with separation, as well as emergencies.
  • There is an important lesson for parents to let their children do things for themselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Eddie the Eagle jumps to DVD

                                          AVAILABLE ON DVD June 14

Movie Title:      Eddie The Eagle  

Grade:   A

Rating: PG-13, 1 hour 45 minutes

In a Nutshell:    With big heart and a sense of humor, Eddie the Eagle has now landed on DVD.  If you missed it at the theater, now is your chance to watch this feel-good, underdog sports movie that will make you cry, laugh, and soar.

Just a few days before the 2002 Winter Olympics in SLC, Utah, I went to Park City to watch the pre-Olympic trials in men's ski jumping and freestyle aerial skiing.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen (pun intended).  So, raise your glass of milk to toast to a great film and a triumphant moment of human spirit.

Uplifting theme: 
  • There is something truly special about those who have big dreams and believe in themselves.
  • Don’t ever believe anyone who says you aren’t “Olympic material” or “college material” or any kind of material.  They don't know what you can really do.
  • “A true Olympian is not just about a God-given skill set.  It’s about not ever giving up, no matter what.” – Warren Sharp
  • “Doing your best is the only option, even if it results in failure.” – Warren Sharp
  • “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not the winning, but the taking part.  The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle.” – Pierre De Coubertin, Founder of the Olympic Games, 1896

Things I liked:
  • Wow, what a lesson in tenacity and perseverance.  I give up way too easily.
  • Eddie’s mother, played by Jo Hartley,  is so sweet and supportive.  I hope I'm that kind of mother.
  • I love the glass stain on the tablecloth in the beginning of the movie in the shape of the Olympic rings. 
  • The boys who play Eddie when he was younger are adorable and brothers in real life.  (Tom Costello, Jack Costello)
  • You see a LOT of terrible and funny falls.  I truly admire anyone who is that determined.
  • I love that Eddie doesn’t drink alcohol.  It’s refreshing to see a protagonist in movies nowadays who isn’t a wise-cracking, egotistical drunk.  I was sad when he succommed to peer pressure.
  • I love Australian hunk Hugh Jackman.  He can do it all.  Did you know his character is actually fiction?  There was no Bronson Peary who coached Eddie.
  • How did they film some of those jumping scenes?!  Green screens?  If so, they did a really great job.  It's all very believable.
  • You get to see some of the old footage from the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
  • The Olympic crowds loved him and movie audiences do too.  Of course, the movie is entirely predictable, but I still weeped tears of joy.
  • I love that Eddie was able to be happy for other people’s accomplishments and not let those who beat him take joy away from his own personal triumphs.  We can all learn a lesson from his example.
  • Christopher Walken plays a small role, but is great and has a powerful moment.
  • You get to see some pictures of the real Michael "Eddie the Eagle" Edwards at the end of the movie.  Since the Olympics, he has gone on to compete and win in several celebrity British reality TV shows, still a fan favorite. Taron Egerton portrays him well in the film and even includes Eddie's famous under bite.
Things I didn’t like:
  • It's very predictable and full of cliche's, but it still tugs at all of the right strings on your heart.
  • There is a comparison between sex and ski jumping that is inappropriate for children.

Funny lines:
  •  “It’s not like I’m taking up ballet.  It’s still skiing, just higher.” – Eddie
  • “He’s going to break his neck!” – Jeanette Edwards
“Ah, I’M going to break his neck!” - Target Edwards
  • Any tips then?” – Eddie
“Don’t die.” – Bronson Peary 

Tips for parents:   

  • There is some profanity, but not much.
  • There is a scene with a bunch of naked men in a sauna.  They all have strategically-placed items so you don’t see any “naughty bits.”  It’s actually a funny scene.
  • There is a When Harry Met Sally sex scene when Hugh Jackman makes sound effects and facial expressions that are inappropriate for children.
  • Bo Derrick is mentioned quite a few times in the movie.  Kids won’t know who she is. She was a popular, sexy actress in the 80’s.  She is still beautiful today and makes occasional movie and TV appearances.
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Warcraft movie is job security for my son

Movie Title:      Warcraft

Grade:  B- (I can't bring myself to give it a C)

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Big Disclaimer….my son is actually one of the computer animation artists for Blizzard (I know, super cool, right?), so I’m completely biased and want this movie to do well at the box office. 

For what it’s worth, my son didn’t work on this movie.  Instead, he works on the actual World of Warcraft video game.  I’m so happy that he has a job he loves and gets paid to use his amazing talents!  By the way, if you’re a WOW fan, you HAVE to go to Blizz Con.  I don’t even play the game, but I went last year and had a blast!

In case you didn’t know, director Duncan Jones is the son of the late singer/songwriter David Bowie.  For the horde!

Uplifting theme: 
  • “If love is what you need, you must be willing to travel to the ends of the earth for it.” – Guardian Medivh (Ben Foster)
  • “No one can stand against the darkness alone.” – Alodi (Glenn Close)

Things I liked:
  • The fan service is substantial and impressive.        There are tons of Easter eggs in the film, I'm told. The film made $45 million at the box office in ONE DAY in China alone!
  • I thought the CGI blended well with the live actors.  The motion capture work was really great.
  • The 3D aspect enhanced the visual experience.  See it on the biggest screen you can.
  • I loved the cool wolves and the detail of Durotan’s fingers running through the fur.  In fact, the detail of all of the animation was awesome (and I’m not just saying that because my son is an animation artist).  All of their video games are like that too.  The world-building talent is truly amazing.
  • I love the vibrant, ethereal glowing blue and green colors, which is a classic Blizzard look.
  • While Paula Patton (Garona) only gave us a surface-level performance, I thought Ben Schnetzer (Khadgar) showed us some depth.
  • I loved Durotan and thought his character was the most intriguing.  Is it weird that I loved his hairy, muscular chest? When you see him take off his wolf fur cloak, his back looks almost real.  He's a striking, almost handsome creature that you fall in love with. 
  • During an awesome battle scene, Garona (Paula Patton) thrusts a sword through a “bad guy” and green blood splatters on the “camera”.  I thought that was a cool effect to make you believe it was live footage, rather than CGI.
  • Glenn Close?  How did THAT happen?
  • You feel the weight of heavy weapons, which is hard to do in animated film.  The battle scenes are pretty epic.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Despite the fact that my son works on World of Warcraft, I’ve never played the video game, so I was unfamiliar with most of the characters, the lore, and the worlds.  I wish the film somehow gave us newbies a primer on the “world” in the beginning of the movie.  Most “uninitiated” viewers will be a bit confused.  It’s kind of like watching “The Lord of the Rings” where the lands and characters have unusual names and it takes some time to figure out who the good guys are and what’s going on.  (I loved the LOTR trilogy, by the way!)  The good news is there isn’t a quiz at the end of watching this movie, but you WILL feel like a nerd for watching it.  There are hundreds of hours of game development which, you can imagine, would be hard to cram into a 90 minute movie.
  • Ben Foster’s character, the Guardian, has a really bad CGI moment and does a lot of over-the-top acting. 
  • Sometimes it’s really hard to understand what the characters are saying.
  • It’s hard to become truly invested in most of the characters, because we aren’t told very much about them and they begin fighting immediately.  There are a couple of protagonists who experience personal growth, but many of the others are paper thin.
  • The emerging romance was awkward.

Funny lines:
  • Whatever you plan to do, do it now!” – Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel)
  • “Can you hide your fat belly?” –  Durotan (Toby Kebbell from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
“Better than you can hide your fat head.” – Draka (Anna Galvin)

Interesting lines:
  • “For orcs, there is no other life but war, but with the humans, there could be.” – Durotan
  • “We fight together or we die together.” – Durotan
  • “For years, our worlds have been at peace, but something is coming.  I feel it.” – King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper)
·       “From light comes darkness and from darkness comes light.” – Alodi (Glenn Close)
*      "Broken bones heal stronger." - Garona

Tips for parents:   

  • There are a LOT of scary looking creatures.
  • There is a LOT of fantasy violence and fighting, sometimes gruesome.
  • This movie will give your child the reason to play yet one more video game…

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows better than the last one

Movie Title:       Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Grade:   C

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 37 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Cowabunga!  Well, it’s not as bad as the last one!  That’s not exactly a favorable endorsement, now is it? 

You can read my movie review of their 2014flick here. 

It’s full of things prepubescent boys and true Ninja Turtle fans will love: action, bodily function humor, a hot chick, high tech gadgets, explosions, destruction, and more action.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Teamwork, brotherhood
  • Embrace who you are and be the best THAT.

Things I liked:
  • The turtles are much less obnoxious and gangsta as they were in the last movie.  They feel and even sound more like teenagers this time around.
  • Funny slow-motion action sequences.
  • Cute transformer costume in the parade in New York City in the beginning of the movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • An “exposition” scene is one where the characters have to catch the audience up to speed by having the characters explain what’s going on to each other.  Almost every scene in this movie was like that.  Fans will feel talked down to.  Other viewers might just feel annoyed.
  • There aren’t very many true NINJA sequences.  There was a lot of action, but it felt more like par core.  Still, the action has that high octane Michael Bay feel to it.
  • There’s nothing fun after the rolling credits at the end.
  • Because the target audience is young boys, you are correct in your assumption that there are plenty of spit wads and farts.
  • Tyler Perry?  Whose idea was that?
  • For some reason, it was the first time that it struck me as ridiculous that the turtles wear masks to protect their identity.
  • Your sons are going to want to buy a drone.  Heck, I want to buy a drone.
  • It takes less than 5 minutes for Megan Fox to strip down to a short school girl skirt and tie her shirt up to her chest, revealing her awesome abs and legs.  Of course, if I were a guy, I’d be including that observation in the “Things I liked” list.
  • The turtle brothers fight and bicker a LOT.  It’s not funny, nor charming.
  • The plot isn’t very good and most of the characters don’t have developed motivations.

Funny lines:
  •  “I got one of those.  I’m kind of a big deal.” – Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett)
  • “You could live a normal life, like the rest of us.” – Rebecca Vincent (Laura Linney)
“Normal?  What fun is that?” – Raphael (Alan Ritchson)
  • “I was looking for something worse.” – Donatello (Jeremy Howard)
“Like what?” – Raphael (Alan Ritchson)
“I don’t know.  Maybe a mustache or evil goatee.” – Donatello
  • “I’m a nerd, not a geek.  Umm…It’s the difference between like “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” or TED Talks and ComicCon.” – April O’Neil (Megan Fox)
  • “It’s pizza on my Nike!” – basketball player
“Welcome to New York!” – Referee
  • “Why are you wasting time talking to a grumpy, old rat?  Go get ‘em!” – Splinter (Tony Shalhoub)
  • “You’re bringing back the Mohawk.  Good for you.” – Leonardo (Pete Ploszek)
  • “Woah!  This is awkward.” – Raphael as he stared at a real turtle

Tips for parents:   

  • Some profanity.
  • None of these characters are great role models for your kids. The ninja turtles are disrespectful to each other and police officers.  Even April O’Neil steals things and breaks the law.
  • Krang (Brad Garrett) might scare very young children with his mucousy tentacles and pointed teeth.