Monday, October 31, 2016

Jack Reacher struts macho action

Movie Title:   Jack Reacher Never Go Back

Grade:   B

Rating: PG-13, 118 minutes

In a Nutshell:  My husband really liked the first Jack Reacher movie, so he was looking forward to this sequel.  It’s definitely a “man’s movie” with lots of fighting, chase scenes, and military machismo.

Director Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise were last paired together in "The Last Samurai."

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family first.
  • Friendship, loyalty, patriotism, unconditional love.

Things I liked:
  • Tom Cruise always gives 100% in all of his movies.  He really sells his stunt work and I like his interpretation of the Jack Reacher character in Lee Child's best selling books.
  • Cobie Smulders is really great in this film too.  She looks great and keeps up with Tom’s physicality.  She has come a long way since the hit TV show "How I Met Your Mother."  It was fun watching their relationship develop as they learned to work together to solve the puzzle that was keeping them running as fugitives.
  • We get to see a softer, more personal side of Jack Reacher.
  •  Kick-butt fight scenes.  There is nothing mamby pamby about this movie.
  • Robert Knepper always does a great job as a bad guy.  I loved/hated him in "Prison Break."
  • "Intense retail therapy."    ha ha   (rich girl at the school)
Things I didn’t like:
  • Movie reviewers have been critical of how formulaic this action movie is.  Well yeah, it kind of is.
  • Some of the scenes take place in New Orleans.  Director Edward Zwick could have really featured its charm, but instead, the location comes off as a frat party.  Wait a second...that IS New Orleans.
  •  There are a lot of faceless goons that come out of nowhere that Jack Reacher has to beat up.
  • The story is a bit confusing, so don't think about it too much.
  • Danika Yarosh's character (Samantha) was super annoying.
  • It feels like a long movie.  On the one hand, you feel like you're getting your money's worth.  On the other hand, you kind of want it to end.

Tough guy lines:
  • “Who the hell are you?” – bad sheriff (Jason Douglas)
“I’m the guy you didn’t count on.” – Jack Reacher
  • “You think you’re above the law, but I’m not the law.  You better star running, because I’m going to start hunting.” – Jack Reacher
  • “Two things are going to happen in the next 90 seconds…” – Jack
  • "I don't like being followed." - Jack, Samantha
  • "Ten minutes is a very long time, as you're about to learn." - General Harkness (Robert Knepper)
  • It's time we stop running and start hunting." - Jack

Tough girl lines:
  • “Not sure you could handle me.” – Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders)
“I’m not worried.” – Jack
“Worry.  Just a little.” - Susan
*  "I don't want them as bad as you.  I want them more." - Susan

Interesting lines:
  • “Some people still wonder why you left.” – Susan
“Let’s just say one day I woke up and the uniform didn’t fit.” - Jack

Funny lines:
  • “You have a very interesting way of saying thank you.” – Jack Reacher
  •  "This is insane." - Susan
  •  "Does this mean dinner's off?" - Jack
  • "Why do I feel like you're enjoying this?" - Susan
  • "You have a weird way of saying than you." - Susan
  • "People talk to me.  It's a thing." - Samantha
  • "Never underestimate the charm of a seedy motel." - Jack

Tips for parents:   
* This movie is full of brutal hand-to-hand violence, blood, gore, explosions, guns, and perilous situations.
* There is a scene where you see Cobie Smulders in a bra.
* Lots of profanity.

Own the collection!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Inferno doesn't light the box office on fire

Movie Title:   Inferno

Grade:  B

Rating:  PG-13, 121 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I really enjoyed Dan Brown’s book a few years ago when I read it.  Yeah, I know…it’s not high-brow literature, but more of a guilty pleasure.  

It has been 10 years since the last Dan Brown movie and, unfortunately, this one is getting mediocre reviews like that last two action films in the series.

After the rolling credits, right before the words “Columbia Pictures,” it says in bold letters, “Be Moved.”  You might or might not.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Cerca trova.   Seek and find.
  • The intriguing question asked is: “If you could flip a switch, half of the population dies, or if you don’t do it, mankind will be extinct in 100 years…what would you do?”
  • “Things fall apart if you don’t look after them.” – Robert
  • “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri
  • Create your life.  Don’t let life pull you apart from the one you love, like Dante and Beatrice and two other people in the movie (NO spoiler alert.)

Things I liked:
  • Who doesn’t love Tom Hanks?  What was up with his hair in this movie though?
  • I LOVE Italy.  I was in Florence and Venice just a couple of years ago. We walked right by Dante’s actual house in Florence.  One thing I love about the Dan Brown books and movies is that you get to traipse around Europe.  While bullets fly around Tom Hanks, it’s fun to do some sightseeing. The set piece in Istanbul is stunning. 
  • Felicity Jones does all of the same stunts Tom Hanks does, but in high heels.  I’m excited to see her in the upcoming Star Wars movie “Rogue One.”  She’s always great in everything.

Things I didn’t like:
  • If you haven’t read the book, you’ll probably be confused for the first 30 minutes.  The movie starts with a mixture of reality and visions, making it difficult for even fans of the book to know what’s going on.
  • The time stamp in various scenes lends a sense of urgency, but the timing of events are pretty unrealistic.
  • One of the most compelling things about the character Robert Langdon is his ability to solve complex puzzles.  Unfortunately, he spends the majority of the movie experiencing amnesia and hallucinations, so that people have to tell him what’s happening, making the unraveling of the mystery less than satisfying.
  • It takes a really long time for Felicity Jones’ character to have a reason for her to be with Tom Hanks’ character.
  • The script writing definitely doesn’t provide the details that the book does. There were some inconsistencies and plot holes that were frustrating.

Interesting lines:
  • “Maybe pain can save us.” – Bertrand Zobrist
  • “Mankind is its own cancer.” – Bertrand
  • “There’s always a way out.” – Robert
  • “I’m not afraid to act, but doing nothing terrifies me.” – Sienna
  • “Beauty awakens the soul to act.” – Dante
  • “The most interesting things happen in doorways.” – Robert
  • “Genius doesn’t come with extra rights.” – Robert

Funny lines:
  • “Weird kid.  Did I say that out loud?” – Robert
  • “I’m sorry.  I’m not like this.” – Robert
“You kind of are.” – Sienna Brooks
  • “I studied Dante when I was younger.” – Sienna
“Probably in Kindergarten.” – Robert
  • “Young people are disappointing.” – Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan)

Tips for parents: 

  • There is a lot of blood, violence, death, beating, stabbing, and scary images.
  • 1 F-bomb and some other profanity. 

Fun books by Dan Brown that I really got a kick out of:


Read Dante's original work:


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Deepwater Horizon pays a respectable and riveting tribute to the worst oil disaster in US History

Movie Title:  Deepwater Horizon

Grade:  A-

Rating:  PG-13, 99 minutes

In a Nutshell:  If you don’t remember the real events from when this true story happened, you learn that the oil rig’s blowout lasted 87 days, making it the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.  Director Peter Berg is great at creating tension and action sequences that make it hard to look away.  This is the second time he and Mark Wahlberg have filmed a true story action flick (Lone Survivor), and they have another one hitting the big screen soon (Patriot Day).

It’s truly stunning how they filmed this movie, because it looks and feels so real.  It took over $100 million to recreate this man-made disaster that shook the country in 2010.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family is everything.
  • Hope, greed, sacrifice for others, friendship, grit and determination.

Things I liked:
  • Impressive machinery and rough working conditions will make you respect the men and women who work on oil rigs.  The film does a good job paying tribute to the people in this tough industry.
  • There is some humor in the beginning that allows you to sense the friendship and comradery among the team workers and allows you to begin to care about them.
  • John Malkovich gives a great performance with an interesting Southern drawl.
  • I’m always so impressed with people who are calm in an emergency.
  • It’s great to see Kurt Russell in movies.  The first time I saw him in a movie I was a little girl and thought he was so handsome.  It was nice to see him and Kate Hudson together in the same movie.  Don’t we all miss Goldie Hawn?
  • I love Gina Rodriguez from the hit TV show “Jane the Virgin” for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. It’s great to see she got another gig in a movie.  She learned to rap for her role in the indie film Filly Brown in 2012.
  • The touching reunion scene at the end of the movie got the audience crying all around me.
  • You get to see pictures of the real people who died in this disaster.   
  • Mark Wahlberg is the perfect actor to play this rough and tumble oil rig worker with a heart.  
  • There is a powerful scene when Kurt Russell and John Malkovich just look at each other, yet volumes are spoken.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Sometimes people talk really fast and slurred, making it hard to understand what they say.
  • It’s often difficult to see what’s going on, because there is fire, mud, oil, and debris flying everywhere.
  • If you want to see this movie, do it at the theater.  Some of the scenes are dark and will look terrible on your computer screen.
  • There is a lot of facial hair in this movie!  Why is that such a popular thing right now?  Just a little bit of scruff is sexy, but when you can hide jelly beans in your beard, you know it’s too long.
  • The audience won’t always be able to understand the technical jargon.

Interesting lines:
  • “Hope ain’t a tactic, Don.” – Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg)

Funny lines:
  • “I don’t know if it’s stupid, but it ain’t smart.” – Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien)

Tips for parents: 

  • 2 F-bombs and lots of other profanity.
  • Bloody, deep wounds, people in perilous situations, death, destruction. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Snowden movie will make you wonder how much privacy you really have

Movie Title:   Snowden            

Grade:  B

Rating:  R, 134 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a solid, thought-provoking performance in this controversial Oliver Stone biopic of an equally controversial man who affected how we view national security and personal privacy today.  Was Edward Snowden a hero or hacker?

If you don’t know much about Edward Snowden, this film will give you some background, as well as a fairly slanted view.

Uplifting theme: 
  •  “The internet is technology that has the power to help everyone in the world understand each other.” – Snowden
  • “One man can stop the motor of the world.” – Ayn Rand
  • “I’m questioning our government.  That’s what we do in this country. That is the principle we’re founded on.” – Lindsay
  • “Sometimes the more you look, the less you see.” - Hank Forrester
  • What is justifiable for the greater good?
  • Edward and Lindsay visit a Theodore Roosevelt memorial where this quote is etched, “A man’s usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals in so far as he can. It’s hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.  All daring and courage, all iron endurance of misfortune make for a finer, nobler type of manhood.” 

Things I liked:
  • It’s a fascinating look at Edward Snowden’s life as it moves from being in the military to being recruited into secretive government agencies.  Laura Poitras won an Oscar for her 2014 documentary “Citizenfour”, which has been touted as being more straightforward, while Oliver Stone’s film has a softer touch, designed to inspire.
  • It will make you think twice before you click on the terms and policy agreement of web sites and cell phones services. 
  • You’ll probably put a small piece of paper on your computer web camera.
  • You get to see video footage of the real Edward Snowden at the end, as well as some photographs of him and Lindsay.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails Edward Snowden's voice and physical characteristics.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some good actors play very small roles, such as Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant, and Zachary Quinto.
  • Oliver Stone paints a picture of an idealistic hero without any flaws.
  • It’s truly frightening what is being tracked by many of the governments in the world and the power they have over our lives.
  • Oliver Stone sets patriotic music to the moment when Snowden betrays his country and leaks classified information to the press, an interesting choice for reflecting on the First Amendment.
The real Edward Snowden said about this trailer, "For two minutes and thirty-nine seconds, everybody at NSA just stopped working."

Interesting lines:
  • “Bombs don’t stop terrorists; only brains will and we don’t have millions of them.” – Corban O’Brian
  • “Where is your sin of choice?” – Hank Forrester
  • “Ah, computers.” - Snowden
 Well then, Snowden.  You’ve come to the right little whorehouse.” – Hank Forrester
  • “No matter what justification you’re selling yourself, this is not about terrorism.  Terrorism is the excuse.  This is about economic and social control.  And the only thing you’re really protecting is the supremacy of your government.” – Snowden

Funny lines:
  • “Why do you want to join the CIA Corban O’Brian
“Ah, frankly, Sir, it sounds really cool to have top security clearance.” – Snowden
  • In the movie, Snowden is asked about influences on his life.  He answers, “I’d say Joseph Campbell, Star Wars, Thoreau, Ayn Rand.”

Tips for parents:   

  • Several F-bombs and other profanity.
  • This movie is Rated R, because of the F-bombs and scenes with a lady in her underwear, topless photos on a computer screen, and an “exotic” dancer on a pole.
  • Nudity during a pretty graphic sex scene.
  • Snowden is shown having epileptic seizures.
  • Two people shoot birds with hunting rifles.
  • Social drinking and smoking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is too scary for children

Grade:   B-

Rating:  PG-13, 127 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This is a Tim Burton movie, so you know it’s going to have some weird and creepy images, even if it’s considered a child’s movie.  The film was adapted from Ransom Rigg’s best-selling novel, which was part of a popular trilogy.  So, does that mean we’re going to see two more of these films?  Um…have you heard of money?

Uplifting theme: 
  • “It’s time to learn what you can do.” – Miss Peregrine
  • “We don’t need you to make us feel safe, because you made us feel brave, and that’s even better.” – Emma
  • Aging, family, life, love, sacrifice for others

Things I liked:
  • Good special effects.   The film cost $110 million to make.  Worldwide, it earned $65 million during its opening weekend.
  • Great production value.
  • If you like time loop movies that go back and forth in time, you’ll like this, although it doesn’t make much sense in the end, so don’t overthink it.
  • Jake explains that his grandfather talked about a lake in Puerto Rico that glows in the dark.  I’ve been there!  It’s awesome!  It’s called Bahia Fosforescente.
  • Great casting.  Eva Green is perfect for a Tim Burton film because she’s already so quirky and mysterious.  Her low voice sounded like she had smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day though…or in the case of this movie, pipes.
  • It was hilarious to hear those two young Welsh boys rap with their thick accents.
  • One of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s books is featured.  Go Ralph!  By doing a search on, I learned I’m related to that iconic American writer.
  • I’m many years away from being a grandmother, but I would hope that I could have the loving, loyal relationship with my grandchildren that Abe has with Jake.
  • The adult actors you’ll recognize are Eva Green, Allison Janney (I love her), Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Asa Butterfield does a great job convincing us he’s an awkward teen, loyal grandson, and heroic boyfriend.  Unfortunately, he spends the majority of the movie just asking questions.
  • Some of the peculiar children were downright adorable like Raffiella Chapman (Claire), Pixie Davies (Bronwyn), and Hayden Keeler-Stone (Horace).  Ella Purnell (Emma) really looked like she belonged in the 1940’s.
  • As a twin myself, I was curious about the twin peculiars (played by Joseph and Thomas Odwell.)  Why were they covered up?  What was their peculiarity?  I laughed out loud when the audience finally learns those answers towards the end of the movie.
  • It kind of feels like an X-Men mutant school for children.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Samuel L. Jackson is completely transformed into a new character by simply giving him creepy eyes.  By the way, he has openly declared that he will move out of the United States if Donald Trump wins the presidency.  He has the only funny lines in the movie, but in some scenes it feels like he’s straining to act.
  • It always bugs me in movies when the children have a huge secret and don’t tell their parents.  Personally, I always want to be a part of my children’s lives and help them with their challenges.  I’m sure there are a lot of things they don’t tell me, but at least I’m trying! Chris O’Dowd plays a father who is out of touch with his son.
  • We don’t learn any backstory about the “peculiars.”  They are all very one-dimensional characters in this narrative.  I would have liked to learn more about them.  Maybe in the next two instalments of this trilogy we’ll learn more?  (I haven’t read the books.)
  • The plot has some holes that will start to really bug you.

Interesting lines:
  • “My dad said everything had already been discovered.” – Jake
Not everything, Jake.” – Miss Peregrine

Funny lines:
  • “You’ve missed me again, Jake.  I take it accuracy is not your peculiarity!” – Barron (Samuel Jackson)
  • Super shirt!” – Horace (Kayden Keeler-Stone)
  • “Some of his dreams are prophetic.  Mostly they’re about clothes.” – Emma (Ella Purnell)
  • “Oooh, you must put me in contact with your tailor.” – Barron
  • Eventually, you’re going to run out of breath and it’ll all be over…death for your beloved Jake and Miss Peregrine, and everlasting life for me…ew… and a mint for you!” – Barron

Tips for parents:   

  • Like all Tim Burton movies, this fantasy film has a lot of scary images and concepts, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend this for young children.  If it's still in theaters during Halloween, tweens will get a kick out of it as part of their spooky weekend.
  • There are some scary monsters called ‘Hollows” that eat humans’ eyeballs.  There are a lot of scary images of dead adults and children with their eyeballs plucked out, as well as scenes of monsters eating them.
  • There are quite a few skeletons, sometimes sitting around, other times fighting.
  • Creepy doll puppets have a battle and one gets stabbed to death.
  • SPOILER ALERT: Kids will love the end when the children outwit the adults.