Thursday, September 20, 2018

New in Theaters Friday September 21, 2018 "The House with a Clock in Its Walls" and "Life Itself"

House with a Clock in Its Walls
Starring: Jack Black and Cate Blanchett
Rated PG   

A young orphan aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

Did you ever see a film that you instantly wanted to see again and again? “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is the opposite of that kind of movie. I wish I hadn't seen it to begin with.

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is one of the worst movies of the year. The film is severely under written allowing plot holes so big, you can drive semi trucks through them.

“The House with a Clock” offers no real character backgrounds, no reason why the audience would care about any of the characters in the film and simply is throwing contrived plots and subplots onto the screen, seeing if anything sticks all the while misusing Jack Black's talent for comedy and underuses Cate Blanchett so much the actress is nearly nonexistent.

But the biggest problem with the movie is it far exceeds the PG rating it received. Some of the imagery includes a summoned demon licking the blood off of one of the character's wounds, a painful transformation scene where one character becomes another and several scenes involving terrifyingly possessed pumpkins.

What is missing in “House with a Clock” is a feeling of safety that other kid's 'Halloween' films have. This is due to director Eli Roth taking the 'Kid's Scare Films' just too far. Roth is known for his adult horror films and maybe didn't understand the line that is drawn between the two genres.

In the end, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” doesn't deserve your time at all as it's too scary for young viewers and possibly too dumb for older kids.

It gets an F and is rated PG.

Life Itself
Starring: Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde
Rated R   

A young couple's life together becomes the catalyst for events that touch generations.

I will begin by saying that “Life Itself” is a manipulating, soap operatic film using every trick in the book to pull at your heartstrings and emotions. And it works.

The film offers up an interesting premise and executes it well enough for me to recommend, if you enjoy a good wet-hanky movie.

“Life Itself” intertwines relationships and family offering a fully new perspective by the final reel.

Despite the movie's obvious flaws and trickery, I think it deserves some attention.
It gets a B and is rated R.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New on Blu-ray & DVD September 18, 2018 "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Starring: Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard
Rated PG-13  

Four years after the Jurassic World theme park was closed down, Owen and Claire return to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs when they learn that a once dormant volcano on the island is active and is threatening to extinguish all life there. 

Along the way, Owen sets out to find Blue, his lead raptor, and discovers a conspiracy that could disrupt the natural order of the entire planet.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” is only a lackluster rehash of the other 'Jurassic' films.

Granted the special effects are good, but the plot is lazy and feels tacked together.

The exciting moments of the film are at the beginning when the island is being threatened by an volcano, while our team including Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are scrambling to save the dinosaurs from extinction.

But when the action moves from the island to northern California, the story disintegrates into one more plot involving corporate greed, Dino DNA and lots of speeches about the sanctity of life.

Even the dinosaur fights are repeats of previous 'Jurassic' films.

In the final reel, “Fallen Kingdom” isn't offering anything new or different and ends up being only an average summer movie.

It gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

New in Theaters September 14, 2018 "The Predator" and "A Simple Favor"

The Predator
Starring: Jacob Tremblay and Boyd Holbrook
Rated R   

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe's most lethal hunters' return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

“The Predator” takes a good running start at being a sequel to a franchise that has seen better days. The film offers up some well-delivered and witty dialogue, humor and better-than-expected action sequences.

But “The Predator” falls short of it goal by not flushing out the script. The plot is too contrived and the characters are under utilized. The film falls into the habit of confusing gore with action, and although the film does have 'shock value,' what the audience is left with is a stodgy and lackluster attempt at a reboot that never embraces the spirit of the first film.

“The Predator” is likable, but its only average fare at best.

It gets a C and is rated R.

A Simple Favor
Starring: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively
Rated R   

“A Simple Favor,” directed by Paul Feig, centers around Stephanie, a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend's sudden disappearance from their small town.

Although this film spotlights two of my favorite actresses, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, the story itself is a very unusual blend of comedy and thriller which didn't sit well with the audience, as none of the characters were particularly likable or invoked empathy from the viewer.

Both Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively turn in dutiful performances, with Kendrick playing manic to Lively's detached femme fatale. But both women are oddly out of place as neither really compliment each other's performances in this cat and mouse movie.

“A Simple Favor” ends up a frustrating mystery movie with a slightly bitter after taste.

It gets a C and is rated R.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

New in Theaters September 7, 2018 "The Nun" and "Peppermint"

The Nun
Starring: Demian Bichir and Bonnie Aarons
Rated R   

A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

If you're a fan of horror / thrillers, “The Nun” may not be your cup of hemlock. Its weak script and poorly flushed out characters are trying (maybe a little too hard) to scare you. So hard in fact, you almost feel sorry for the cast in this second-rate, don't look behind you, predictable attempt at a horror movie.

Instead of developing the story into a slow to boil thriller, “The Nun” degenerates quickly into a jump-scare, quick cut mess.

Pass it by. It gets a D and is rated R.

Starring: Jennifer Garner and John Gallagher Jr.
Rated R   

Peppermint” is a revenge story centering on a young mother who finds herself with nothing to lose, and is now going to take from her enemies the very life they stole from her.

Jennifer Garner is the film's only redeeming ingredient. Garner takes this physical role with a great deal of earnest effort. But, in spite of Garner's action sequences, “Peppermint” is just a bland and uninspired movie audiences will forget as easily as tossing an empty popcorn bucket into the trash on the way out of the theater.

Peppermint” gets a D and is rated R.

Monday, September 3, 2018

New On DVD and Blu-Ray September 4, 2018 "Adrift," "Hereditary" and "Won't You Be My Neighbor"

Starring: Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne
Rated R   

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

“Hereditary” is a terrific and well-spun horror tale replete with with meticulous acting and a solid script.

The film's biggest flaw as it goes to home video is the hype its receiving from those who saw it in its initial release. There are, understandably, die-hard fans of the film who have been singing its praises and over selling it for the last few months.

Try to forget the hype and enjoy the film for what it is, a well paced horror film worth your time to see. It gets a B and is rated R.

Starring: Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley
Rated PG-13   

A young couple's chance encounter leads them first to love and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Adrift, “ which is based on true events, could have been a wonderfully tight adventure / thriller but manages to become one of the most boring film of the year.

The film relies too heavily on a series on non-linear flashbacks to make the story move forward, while both Shaliene Woodley and Sam Claflin simply lack any kind of screen chemistry to make the love story believable.

Adrift” is aptly titled as the viewer will feel completely lost by the 20 minute mark.

It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Starring: Fred Rogers and Joanne Rogers
Rated PG-13   

The life and times of iconic children's TV host Fred Rogers is explored in this new documentary which unblinkingly reveals the complicated man we all have come to know as “Mr. Rogers.” 

“Won't You Be My Neighbor” is one of the best films of the year and a true must-see.

It gets an A and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

New in Theaters August 31, 2018 "God Bless the Broken Road," "Kin" and "Operation Finale"

God Bless the Broken Road
Starring: Lindsey Pulsipher and Andrew W. Walker
Rated PG   

In this faith-based film a grieving widow, whose husband died in Afghanistan, struggles with a loss of faith while raising her daughter in a small rural town. Her life turns around when she meets a race car driver who has come to town.

“God Bless the Broken Road” is a manipulative film that replaces spirituality with hackneyed plot devices and predictable writing. The script stumbles along and never seems to get into any kind of pace that the audience can enjoy.

Badly edited and written, the film never really comes to a point or becomes, for that matter, a film about faith. Yes, all the words are there and spiritual phrases are said with a great deal of emphasis, but the film is tasteless and bland from beginning to end.

“God Bless the Broken Road” should have been so much better, but the producers decided to do the easy thing and just hope that by calling it 'faith based' someone will watch it.

It gets a D and is rated PG.

Operation Finale
Starring: Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley
Rated PG-13   

In the film a team of undercover Mossad agents track down the Nazi officer who masterminded the Holocaust.

“Operation Finale” is a well written and solidly acted historical drama centering on the discovery and capture of Adolph Eichmann, Hitler's right hand man. Although there are some historical inaccuracies in the film, the movie is a compelling spy story from beginning to end.

Ben Kingsley portrays Eichmann in a frighteningly cold way, although he allows his character some small slices of humanity here and there.

Oscar Isaac's performance as the Nazi hunter captivates the audience as his character is motivated by the pain of his personal losses and the devastation he witnessed.

All in all “Operation Finale” is well worth your time. It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Starring: Miles Truitt, James France and Jack Reynor
Rated PG-13   

In “Kin” a young boy discovers an alien weapon of great power and is being hunted by those who lost it.

I was pleasantly surprised that “Kin” wasn't one of those 'kid saves the universe' films, which the promotional ads seem to lead you to believe.

The film offers some exciting action and solid acting, especially James Franco's relentless bad guy. And, although the film has its problems with pacing and flushing out some characters, the film ends up being a 'guys on the run' film with some thrills and spills.

“Kin” gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy August 28, 2018 "Book Club" and "Tag"

Starring: Ed Helms and Jeremy Renner
Rated R

Based on a true story, a small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.

“Tag” is a silly, summer fun film aimed at adults. The storyline is as simple as the rules of tag, but there's something wonderfully exuberant about the way Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms and the cast approach their roles.

What could have ended up being another soulless frat-house film ends up to be a likable summer distraction.

“Tag” gets a B and is rated R.   

The Book Club
Starring: Jane Fonda, Mary Steenbergen, Candice Burgen and Diane Keaton
Rated PG-13   

The members of a ladies' conservative book club decide to read E.L. James' erotic book, "50 Shades of Grey." 

And reading it might be just the thing these women need to make over their love lives, from the bedroom to getting back into dating and rekindling an old romance.

"The Book Club" is a predictable senior comedy centering around four women who have been best friends most of their lives.

The film is aimed at an older crowd, as a viewer in their 30's might not get the humor about growing older and most likely would feel uncomfortable with the subject matter.

That being said, if you're in you're in your later years, "The Book Club" will hit its mark.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.