Movies

Thursday, November 23, 2017

New in Theaters November 24, 2017 "The Man Who Invented Christmas" and "Coco"

The Man Who Invented Christmas
Starring: Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer
Rated PG 

“The Man Who Invented Christmas” focuses on Charles Dickens' journey and events that led him to write his beloved story “A Christmas Carol.”

The film, albeit a bit of a whitewash, follows the distressed and blocked writer as he begins working on a new novel about Christmas, a holiday not really observed much in 1842.

After Dickens begins to work on his novel, he brings in to play his own past memories of places and events and people he's known and incorporates them into his story.

After creating his main character, Ebeneezer Scrooge (played by Christopher Plummer), the writer begins to piece together the elements of what will be arguable his best known work.

“The Man Who Invented Christmas” is a wonderful family tale with good performances by Christopher Plummer and Dan Stevens.

Enjoy his harmless and entertaining film with a hot cup of nog and an extra lump of coal.

It gets a B and is rated PG.

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Coco
Starring the vocal talents of: Benjamin Bratt and Anthony Gonzales
Rated PG 

Despite his family's baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. 

Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful 'Land of the Dead' following a mysterious chain of events.

Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector and set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

“Coco” is all about discovering yourself and your heritage and following your passion in life.

The film is superbly animated with bright and vibrant colors and offers a wonderfully melodic soundtrack to help weave the story of a shoemaker's son who wants to share his musical gift.

“Coco” is exactly what you'd expect from Disney / Pixar and deserves an A. It's rated PG.

Monday, November 20, 2017

New on DVD & Blu-ray for November 21, 2017 "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets"

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Starring: Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne
Rated PG-13
 

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is one of those films where the special effects and the CGI are so spectacular and grand but the plot suffers from a kind of lackluster disengagement with the audience.

It's the cinematic equivalent of getting a really beautifully wrapped present only to discover, after tearing into it, its just an old pair of shoes.

Director Luc Besson, who gave us the very witty and edgy “Fifth Element” missed the mark by not allowing the script to be fully developed.

In the final reel, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is a big expensive and confusing mess that's beautiful to look at but impossible to really enjoy.

It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

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The Hitman's Bodyguard
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds
Rated R

In the film an elite bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice.

If I were to describe “The Hitman's Bodyguard” in a few words it would be that the “Jason Bourne” movies married “Deadpool” and had a baby!

The film is a non-stop reverse buddy picture with Jackson and Reynolds at each other's throats, all the while trying to just stay alive.

If your tastes run to an 'anything goes popcorn muncher, “The Hitman's Bodyguard” is it.

It's gets an B and is rated R. 




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Thursday, November 16, 2017

New in theaters November 17, 2017 "Mudbound," "Wonder" and "Justice League"

Wonder
Starring: Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson
Rated PG 

Based on the New York Times bestseller, “Wonder” tells the incredible story of August Pullman, a boy with a facial deformity who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

Although a bit saccharine in places, “Wonder” ends up being a rewarding and heartwarming film about overcoming obstacles and finding its what's inside that counts.

The film gets a B and is rated PG.




Mudbound
Starring: Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedglund
Rated R 

In “Mudbound,” two men return home to rural Mississippi after World War II where they face racism and bigotry as they readjust to civilian life.

Based on Hillary Jordan's best selling book, “Mudbound” delivers incredibly strong and deep performances from it's cast which includes Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jonathan Banks and Mary J. Blige.

Although not an easy film to watch, “Mudbound” is one of the best films of the year.

It gets an A and is rated R.


Justice League
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa
Rated PG-13  
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to recruit a team of superheros to defend Earth.

Justice League” is a fan film at it's heart.

Although it really isn't covering any new ground for a superhero movie, it is fun to watch. Gal Gadot is back and in top form as Wonder Woman, who is beginning to fit in in the modern world. Ben Affleck takes on the maturing Bruce Wayne, who now realizes he can't do it alone.


Along with solid performances, the film is well-paced and even offers a few humorous moments along with it's CGI battle scenes.

Overall “Justice League” is an entertaining action film. It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New on Blu-ray & DVD for November 14, 2017 "Wind River," "Atomic Blonde" and "Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature"

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Starring: Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl
Rated PG
Surly and his friends discover that the mayor has plans to bulldoze their home to build an amusement park.

I am not sure why the studio decided to make a sequel to such a lackluster animated film.

Nothing about “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” is memorable.

It gets a D and is rated PG.




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Atomic Blonde
Starring: Charlize Theron and James McAvoy
Rated R

A high-stakes, global action-thriller that takes place in the city of Berlin, on the eve of the Wall's collapse and the shifting of superpower alliances.

Charlize Theron portrays Lorraine Broughton, a top-level spy for MI6, who is dispatched to Berlin to take down a ruthless espionage ring that has just killed an undercover agent for reasons unknown.

“Atomic Blonde” is a slick spy thriller with so many twists you could open a wine bottle with it.

Theron is perfectly cast as the centerpiece in this classy updated noir film. She is both ruthless and sensitive at the same time. She is balanced out by James McAvoy's wildly erratic performance as an operative stationed in the streets of Berlin.

The film's strengths comes from its tightly woven intelligent script by Kurt Johnstad and pacing executed by its director, David Leitch.

“Atomic Blonde” is one hell of a ride. It gets a B and is rated R.

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Wind River
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Graham Greene
Rated R
"Wind River" focuses on an FBI agent who teams with a small town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.
Shot in Utah and starring Jeremy Renner and Graham Greene, "Wind River" is a smart and well directed police drama, intricately scripted and meticulously performed.

Simply, one of the best films of the year.

"Wind River" gets an A and it is rated R.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

New in Theaters November 10, 2017 "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Daddy's Home 2"

Daddy's Home 2
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson
Rated PG-13 
In the sequel to “Daddy's Home,” both Brad and Dusty's father's come home for Christmas.


At the center of “Daddy's Home 2” is the different ways of raising children represented by the two visiting dads, played by Mel Gibson and John Lithgow.

Gibson is the tough as nails kind of dad, who believes in letting kids make mistakes and allowing them to become self sufficient and self reliant.

Lithgow is the opposite kind of dad, who involves himself in every aspect of his kid's life.

“Daddy's Home 2” is a comedy about extremes, and actually offers up a few good laughs and some sweet moments.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Murder on the Orient Express
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley
Rated PG-13

An upscale train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery.

From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers and one man's race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

“Murder on the orient Express” is lavish filmmaking, but with some disappointing moments.

The film begins with a mostly ridiculous character introduction as our hero, detective Hercule Poirot solves a crime in Jerusalem.

From there we head to the Orient Express, where we are introduced to the cast of characters one by one.

As the train pulls out, beginning it's journey, one of the passengers is brutally murdered and Poirot is determined to solve the case.

With its wonderful array of stars and talent, “Murder on the Orient Express” is simply a letdown.
It deserves a C and is rated PG-13.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy for November 7, 2017 "Cars 3" and "The Glass Castle"

The Glass Castle
Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts
Rated PG-13

Based on a true story, a young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

“The Glass Castle” is a starkly filmed, but uncomfortable to watch, character study.

The film spills out as a bitter memoir centering on young Jeannette and her growing up in the 60's and 70's with unstable nomadic parents as they drag their family all over the country.

The cast is the best thing about “The Glass Castle,” with Woody Harrelson as “Rex,” the patriarch of the family, who pulls up stakes and journeys to the next location on nothing more than a whim. His character is almost noble in his effort to find his dream, yet that search is taking its toll on his kids who suffer at his indulgence and drinking binges.

Brie Larson is the grown-up Jeannette, now a gossip reporter living in an expensive apartment in New York City. The contrast between the absolute poverty in which she grew up in and the life she's found plays well, but the story is unbalanced and manipulative.

“The Glass Castle” gets a C and is rated PG-13.
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Cars 3
Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Nathan Fillion and Armie Hammer
Rated PG

Lightning McQueen is up against his biggest challenger to date, a new generation sports car that may mean the end of McQueen's racing career once and for all.

“Cars 3” wasn't expected to be much more than a way for the Disney franchise machine to sell more stuff. More toys and new characters to collect.

But the surprise is “Cars 3” really delivers a unique and heartfelt story which simply talks about finding the best in yourself, no matter what generation you represent.

There are so many wonderfully touching moments in the film where Lightning seems to be lost emotionally and has lost his passion for the sport. In those moments he remembers what his mentor, Doc Hudson, said to him and somehow finds the strength and courage to not only move on, but to do in in a very unexpected way.

“Cars 3” is about as good as a Disney sequel can get.


It gets an A and is rated PG.

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

New in Theaters November 3, 2017 "A Bad Mom's Christmas" and "Thor: Ragnarok"

A Bad Mom's Christmas
Starring: Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell
Rated R 
A Bad Mom's Christmas” follows our three under-appreciated and overburdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of Christmas. And as if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn't hard enough, they must do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers.

“A Bad Mom's Christmas” is not a sappy love letter to the Christmas spirit. What it is, is a tired raunchy comedy that fires the F-word like a Gatling gun and rushes from one poorly set up joke to another.

The film underperforms even when compared to it's original, “Bad Moms” which, when it was released in 2016, I gave it C for trying.


“Bad Mom's Christmas” isn't even trying. For the one or two laughs in the movie I gave it a D.

It's rated R.

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Thor: Ragnarok
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston
Rated PG-13 

Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. 

Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is about as good as a superhero movie can be.

It has everything you want in a film and more. More action, more humor and more insight. The film is beautifully balanced and offers tremendous action, with a slight wink at the audience.


Thor: Ragnarok” is a true blockbuster.

It gets an A and is rated PG-13.

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