Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Man of Steel 2013

Man of Steel     General Zod stages a coup on Krypton as the planet starts to crumble.  Jor-El and his wife Lara deliver a son instead of using the pod system normally used for children.  They prepare a spacecraft to send Kal-El to Earth in order to save his life.  General Zod vows to track him down wherever he goes.  Jonathan and Martha Kent in Kansas raise Clark as their own son.  He knows he’s different but his father tries to shield him from letting people discover how different.  As he grows, he gains more power and strength.  He determines he will try to help mankind but he needs to guard against their fear of him.
     There is plenty of action in this film.  Slightly long on the battle scenes between General Zod, female Captain Fajora-Ul and Superman.  You do wonder if Superman can match their out-of-this world strength and stamina.  3* (This movie is OK)

143 min, Action directed by Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Julia Ormond Harry J. Lennix, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Schiff.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.4 out of 10, 55% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Internship 2013

The Internship     Billy and Nick are salesmen for a watch company.  They go to meet with a client to make a sale and they learn the business is closing.  Billy pitches the idea to Nick that they can compete in a Google internship.  Not only are they the oldest two in the competition, they are very behind on their Internet skills.  Teams are formed and they are part of the unpicked misfit group.  How will they compete with the brilliant tech savvy genius college students?
     This is very predictable and you wonder the entire movie, how accurate is this presentation of Google and the internship program?  I very much disliked the fake accent assumed by Max Minghella in his role as the “elite one” of the students.  I wanted to yell, “Knock it off already!”  3* (This movie is OK)

119 min, Comedy directed by Shawn Levy with Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Max Minghella, Josh Brener, Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael, Josh Gad, Jessica Szohr, Rob Riggle.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 35% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Children of the Stones 1977

Children of the Stones     This is a min-series originally airing in England.  The story takes place in a British village called Milbury.  This village has a Stone Henge type megalithic stone circle.  Matthew Brake bought a painting depicting the stone circle and he follows his father Adam Brake to the village for scientific experiments.  Adam is an astrophysicist and he has brought his equipment to test the properties of the stones.
     Maybe one of the most ridiculous films I’ve seen!  The creepy music and singing are enough to make you want to turn it off immediately but you become fascinated by the hairstyles of 1977 and the mannerisms of the people.  3* (This movie is OK)

174 min, Drama directed by Peter Graham Scott with Iain Cuthbertson, Freddie Jones, John Woodnut, Veronica Stron, Gareth Thomas, June Barrie, Peter Denim, Darren Hatch.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  There are stone circles, standing stones, stone rows and dolemans in England but I didn't see any listed for Milbury.  There is a Milbury Heath in South Gloucestershire.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Leaving Limbo 2013

Leaving Limbo     This film is adapted from the stage play My Wonderful Coma.  The year is 1989, Monica is riding in a car with her teenage friends and they have an accident.  She is in a coma and her boyfriend Ben has both his legs crushed.  Ben was a football player and now he is doing physical therapy just to be able to walk again.  Monica remains in her coma for 19 years until she suddenly wakes up.  She has received mysterious flowers once a week for the entire time and her father has spend countless hours at the hospital with her.  She is emotionally devastated when she learns 19 years have gone by and she has missed a huge chunk of her life.  She is also distressed to find out Ben has moved on with his life. 
     This seems like a filmed for television movie.  The ideals of the characters are shoved down your throat and the acting is not very good.  I didn’t know if I could continue watching.  The dialogue, clothing and hairstyles are supposed to be funny but I didn’t think so?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

93 Min, Drama directed by Sandy Bolian with Mandy Brown, Elias Cecil, David Fruechting, Luke Barnett, Amy Mathieson, Noelle Perris.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 79% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Lovelace 2013

Lovelace     Linda Lovelace became a household name in the early 70’s.  Linda Boreman was living in the Florida suburbs when she meets Chuck Traynor.  They get married and Chuck has big plans.  He arranges for Linda to make a movie and they are off and running.  Her film becomes a moneymaker.  Six years later, Linda authors a tell-all book about what she really went through.  She becomes a crusader against domestic violence.
     This a very tough movie to watch.  It really shows there are two sides to every story.  Linda was lucky to be alive at the end of her marriage to Chuck!!  There is a lot of food for thought after viewing this film.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

93 min, Drama directed by Jeffrey Friedman, Robert Epstein with Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Wes Bently, Sharon Stone, Romeo Brown, Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 54% critic 37% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hannah Arendt 2012

Hannah Arendt     This film is a look at the life of German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt.  She was a reporter for The New Yorker during the 1961 war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.  Footage of the actual trial is used.  Arendt is the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Origins of Totalitarianism.
     So dull, I cannot begin to tell you how dull this really is.  If you are tired or susceptible to falling asleep in front of the screen, this will really put you out.  There are subtitles to read and they might make it just a little bit more difficult to drift off immediately.  Maybe I am just not a “thinker,” I cannot imagine wanting to read her books either?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

113 Min, Biography directed by Margarethe von Trotta with Barbara Sukowa, Axel Milberg, Janet McTeer, Julie Jentsch, Ulrich Noethen, Michael Degen.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 86% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Maisie Knew 2012

What Maisie Knew     This film is adapted from an 1897 novella by Henry James and updated to a contemporary New York City setting.  Susanna is a rock musician with a six-year old daughter, Maisie.  Her relationship is on the rocks with Beale, an art dealer and Maisie’s father.  Susanna is self-involved and Beale is egotistical.  Maisie spends a lot of time with her former nanny who is now married to Beale.  She also spends a lot of time with Lincoln, Susanna’s new boyfriend.  Susanna leaves on a music tour and Beale decides to relocate back to England.
     The two people who should be taking care of Maisie are the most uninvolved.  The two people who really care and take care of her are not related to her at all.  Slightly predictable, I could see where this was going a mile away but Aprile does an outstanding job in her role as Maisie.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

98 min, Drama directed by David Siegel, Scott McGehee with Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Onata Aprile, Alexander Skarsgard, Joanna Vanderham. 

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.5 out of 10, 88% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone     Burt was bullied as a kid and he didn’t have any friends until he met Anton.  Burt received a magic kit for his birthday and he started learning slights of hand with Anton.  Years later they have a very successful magic show in Las Vegas.  The only problem is they fight with each other during every performance and they don’t enjoy doing the magic anymore.  They split up and Burt isn’t able to translate their show into a one-man-show.  Steve Gray, another magician has started to draw his own crowds with his gritty street wizard show.
     A good idea and premise but fails to dazzle in a lot of scenes.  Can be somewhat predictable and repetitive in the comedy.  Carey is a nut case but not as grating as he can sometimes be.  3* (This movie is OK)

100 min, Comedy directed by Don Scardino with Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Alan Artkin, James Gandolfini, Michael Herbig, Mason Cook, Luke Vanek, Zachary Gordon.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 5.9 out of 10, 36% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Hunt 2012

The Hunt     Lucas is a 40-year-old divorced day-care worker.  He’s trying to arrange for his teenage son to start living with him instead of his mother.  A young girl, Klara, gets mad at Lucas because she tries to give him a gift and he says he cannot accept the gift.  He asks her to give the gift to her older brother instead.  She tells the manager Lucas did something bad.  Everyone in the town turns against Lucas, his son is not allowed to see him and he’s not welcome to shop in the local grocery store.  The police become involved since many of the children have come forward with the same story.
     This is tough movie to watch because of the theme but with very good acting.  Once everyone believes something about you, how do you change their minds?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

115 min, Drama directed by Thomas Vinterberg with Mads Mikkelsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lasse Fogelstrom, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 8.3 out of 10, 93% critic 94% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Before Midnight 2013

Before Midnight     This film is the sequel to Before Sunset (1995) and Before Sunrise (2004).  Jesse and Celine have twin daughters and Jesse has a teenage son from his previous marriage.  Jesse is feeling a lot of remorse because he lives in France and Hank lives in Chicago with his mother.  He thinks the geographical distance is bad for both of them.  Hank has just spent the summer with the family on a vacation in Greece and he has just left for Chicago.  The family has been staying with an author colleague of Jesse.
     The entire film is dialogue.  Talking, talking and then arguing, arguing.  I could not take anymore and I didn’t finish this film.  It’s like going to someone’s house and you never say a word but they never shut up!!  2* (I didn’t like this movie) 

109 min, Drama directed by Richard Linklater with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer and Charlotte Prior, Zenia Kalogeropoulou, Walter Lassally, Ariane Labed, Yiannis Papadopoulos.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 8.1 out of 10, 98% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Secrets of Highclere Castle 2013:

Secrets of Highclere Castle     Highclere House in Hampshire, England, United Kingdom was built by the earls of Carvarvon as their home.  When an architect of Westminster Parliament did Neo-gothic remodeling on the house, the name was changed to Castle.  The 5th Earl was an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist and he accompanied Howard Carter during the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.  He married a wealthy woman and her fortune was used to pay for the upkeep on the castle and finance his trip to Egypt. The estate is the site of the filming of Downton Abbey.  Many more visitors are coming to view the estate since the popularity of the PBS series.   The current 9th Earl has been able to finance much-needed repairs on the castle structure and other buildings located on the grounds.
     This good and provides a lot of information about the estate, the past earls and the present country life.  Since I’m a fan of Downton Abbey, it was nice to see more of the Castle and learn the history.  I was surprised about the tie-in to the discovery of Tutankhamen.  There are replicas at the Castle of some of the items found in the tomb.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

60 min, Docu directed by Vicky Matthews with Samuel West, Paul Brooke-Taylor, Fiona Herbert, Colin Edwards, Robert Hawker, George Herbert, Tom Hibberd Eddie Hughes. 

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 8.3 out of 10.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Disconnect 2012

Disconnect     This film is divided into three separate overlapping dramas.  A former marine damages his credit by gambling online.  His wife, Paula, turns to a social-networking site for comfort after the death of their young son.  A teenage boy becomes the victim of a prank staged by two other teens at school.  It doesn’t stop until he hangs himself, his sister saves him but he’s in a coma in the hospital.  An ambitious TV reporter starts investigating an online prostitution racket.  She makes promises she can’t keep and the FBI becomes involved.
     Trying to do too much waters down this film.  You don’t become involved with the characters, too many stories and too many people.  The connection in the stories involves electronic devices, laptops, ipads, cell phones.  3* (This movie is OK)

115 min, Drama directed by Henry Alex Rubin with Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Honah Bobo, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, Max Thieriot, Colin Ford.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 ½*, imdb 7.6 out of 10, 68% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Iron Man 3 2013

Iron Man 3     Tony Stark is haunted by his past experiences as Iron Man.  He’s unable to sleep and throws himself into his work.  This begins to take toll both mentally and physically.  Amid all these problems, a terrorist called the Mandarin hijacks television broadcasts with threats against America and the President.  Stark issues his own threat that leads to his home being completely destroyed.   He tracks down the Mandarin with the help of Col. Rhodes and a young boy he met along the way.
     If you want action, this is your movie.  There is so much going on every minute that it’s difficult to keep track.  There are some funny comments, “You’ve got one minute to live, fill it with talk!”  I haven’t heard that line before as a threat?  3* (This movie is OK)

130 min, Action directed by Shane Black with Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany, William Sadler.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.4 out of 10, 79% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Reluctant Fundamentalist 2012

The Reluctant Fundamentalist     Based on a best seller novel by Moshin Hamid.  Changez Khan came to American because he thought the playing field would be level in this country.  He was able to attend Princeton on scholarships and a well-known Wall Street firm hired him as a business analyst.  He’s on the fast track to fulfill his dreams.  He meets Erica and they become a couple.  She is still mourning her previous boyfriend who was killed in a car accident.  Everything changes after the World Trade Center disaster.  He doesn’t need to choose sides, they are chosen for him as he is seen as an enemy from Pakistani.
      I could tell right away this film was based on a novel.  The characters don’t seem real enough even though the events could be real.  Everything seems to remain on the novel pages and they don’t come to life on the screen.  3* (This movie is OK) 
130 min, Drama directed by Mira Nair with Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Martin Donovan, Nelsan Ellis, Haluk Bilginer.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 55% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Special Forces 2011

Special Forces     French journalist Elsa Cassanova and her partner Amen are covering the story of a woman sold to a man when she was a child.  Taliban leader Ahmed Zaief kidnaps Elsa and Amen.  He wants them to read a message to their government.  The president of France sends six men from Special Forces to rescue them, they are hidden in a fortress in Pakistan.  The men are able to release Elsa and Amen but they lose their radios.  They aren't able to reach the pickup point in time and without contact with their base, they will need to make a run for Afghanistan with the Taliban on their heels.
     In the beginning of watching this film, I thought, there is absolutely nothing new here, I've seen it all before and better.  Seemed like a video game but you don't have any of the controls.  The mission lasts eleven days and I seemed to see every day as wading through lead.  I took a break, came back and began to become involved with the characters.  The French Special Forces don't back down!!  3* (This movie is OK)

109 min, Action directed by Stephane Rybojad with Diane Druger, Djimon Hounsou, Benoit Magimel, Denis Menochet, Raphael Personnaz, Alain Figlarz.

Note:  Blockbuster 2*, imdb 6.2 out of 10. 15% critic 53 % audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  Filmed in French and dubbed in English.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Himalaya: L'Enfance D'Un Chef 1999

Himalaya: L'Enfance D'Un Chef     In a remote village in the Dolpo in the northwestern Himalayas of Nepal, Tinie is an old chief and he has just lost his eldest son.  There was an accident in the mountains on the return trip from Tibet’s salt lakes.  The villagers gather salt to trade in lower Nepal for grain.  Tinie believes his son’s friend Karma, is responsible for the death.  He refuses to allow Karma to lead a caravan of yaks for the village.  Tinie asks his second son to leave the monastery and help him with the caravan.  He gathers the elderly village people to help him.  His son’s wife and his grandson also go on the journey.  Tinie believes his grandson will be the next chief.
     The director Eric Valli has traveled in this area for many years.  He assembled a small French film crew and this film was made in nine months.  The conditions were extreme at an altitude of 17,000 feet.  The scenery shots are very good and interesting.  This film is like a National Geographic magazine come to life!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

104 min, Drama directed by Eric Valli with Thilen Lhondup, Lhakpa Tsamchoe, Gurgon Kyap, Karma Wangel, Karma Labrag Tundup, Tsering Dorjee, Rapke Gurung.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 89% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 12 Dogs of Christmas 2004

The 12 Dogs of Christmas     Emma is 12 years old and she lives with her father since her mother passed away.  It’s the Great Depression and her father sends her to live with her aunt in the small town of Doverville.  Emma is having a hard time, her aunt isn’t very welcoming, wants her to get a job to pay her way and school is not where she wants to be.  The town mayor has declared that dogs are not allowed within the limits of the town.  He appoints his brother to catch and remove any dogs seen in town.  Emma rescues a puppy but her aunt is really not happy about a puppy.  Emma starts staying with Cathy Stevens and her son Mikey.  Cathy and Mike are rescuing all the dogs they can find.
     This is good for the ages of under 13 and over 30.  It’s a fun movie and you root for Emma, Cathy and Mike.  You hope only bad things happen to the dogcatcher and his evil twin!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

101 min, Drama directed by Kieth Merrill with Danielle Churchran, Alli Simpson, Sean Patrick Flanery, Jordan-Claire Green, D.B. Sweeney, Adam Hicks.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.4 out of 10, 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Redemption 2013

Redemption     Joey Smith is a British Special Forces veteran, he's AWOL and on the run from a military court martial.  He has become an alcoholic homeless man trying to forget his past.  He huddles inside a cardboard box in a dingy London Alley with Isabel, a woman who is also homeless.  When a couple of criminals start to harass the junkies and the destitute, he makes a run for it.  He ends up in the home of a wealthy man who is away in New York for the next eight months.  Smith movies in, starts to get clean, calls himself Joey Jones and gets a job working for a local Asian gangster.  He spends a lot of his money to help fund a local soup kitchen run by Sister Cristina and also gives money to his wife and daughter.  He finds out from Cristina that Isabel has been found dead and he decides to hunt down her killer.  Cristina questions her own faith, confronts her past and counsels Smith to think about his own violent nature and past.
      I’m surprised the reviews are low for this film?  Maybe I liked it more because I didn’t like Trance and Welcome to the Punch.  This is so much better than those two films!!  I think Statham is good and I liked his Transporter films too.  You don’t know what is going to happen or what to expect next in this film  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Mystery & Suspense directed by Steve Knight with Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Vicky McClure, Benedict Wong, Siobhan Hewlett, Ian Pine, Ger Ryan, Youssef Kerkour, Victoria Bewick, Christian Brassington.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 48% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Frozen Ground 2013

The Frozen Ground    This film is inspired by a true story.  It’s 1993 and an elusive serial killer has been on the loose in Anchorage Alaska for over thirteen years.  Sgt. Jack Halcombe is transferring to another job and moving away.  He gets involved in this case during his last two weeks on duty.  Cindy Paulson claims she escaped from the killer when he tried to fly her out into the wilderness in his small plane.  Cindy wants to help the police capture the killer but she wants to get on with her life too.  Robert Hansen is the suspected killer and he has been arrested before but he’s been able to go free or serve minimal time.  Cindy doesn’t know how dangerous it is becoming for her with Bob trying to track her down.
     Not much new here but the background scenery in the winter adds an element plus the addition of truth behind the story.  I wonder how it was decided who would play the detective and who would play the killer between Cage and Cusack?  3* (This movie is OK)

105 min, Drama directed by Scott Walker with Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Radha Mitchell, 50 Cent, Dean Norris, Robert Forgit, Gia Mantegna.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 57% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Drinking Buddies 2013

Drinking Buddies     Luke and Kate work together for a Chicago craft-brewery business.  Luke works on the beer brewing and Kate works in the office.  They get together with their significant others for a weekend.  Luke has been with Jill for six years and Kate has been with  Chris for eight months.  They have a great time but Luke and Kate begin to feel an attraction to each other.  Chris and Jill also feel an attraction.  Shortly after, Chris breaks up with Kate.  He feels after dating this long, they should have more of a connection.  Jill decides to go ahead with a trip to Costa Rica even though she had planned on not going.  Luke and Kate spend a lot of time together working on her move to a smaller apartment.
     The entire time I was watching this film I kept thinking, WHY?  Not much is really happening, you watch people at work and then watch them on their time off?  Good and bad things happen, isn’t that life?  You think you know how this is going to end but there is a slight change-up and this the only thing different?   3* (This movie is OK)

90 min, Drama directed by Joe Swanberg with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston, Anna Kendrick, Ti West, Jason Sudeikis, Mike Brune, Frank V. Ross.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 82% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Croods 2013

The Croods     Grug is a caveman and the leader of his family.  His motto is to be afraid of everything and stay in the cave as much as possible.  His daughter Eep, is tired of nothing happening and staying in the cave.  She wants adventure, excitement and anything other than what she has now.  She meets Guy, he has fire and he tells Eep that their world will be destroyed.  In order to survive, they need to follow him on a new path.
     I didn’t know if I was going to be able to keep watching this film.  The colors are beautiful, the animals and the family interesting but nothing seems original in the plot or characters.  3* (This movie is OK) 

98 min, Animated directed by Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco with the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman, Ryan Reynolds

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 70% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Warm Bodies 2013

Warm Bodies     This film is based on a novel by Isaac Marion.  Many people on the earth are either zombies or bonies.  Something happened to change them but the remaining humans don’t know what caused this or how to cure them.  All it takes is a bite to change you to a zombie and then when you are really tired of being a zombie, you become a bonie.  Zombies have flesh and bonies are just bones.  Both types feed on humans and they find them by smell but bonies will also eat zombies.
     A different type of zombie movie, except for the eating of humans, the zombies are not so bad?  Of course, the bonies are bad!!  Some of the zombies still have traces of humanity inside.  This film has a smaller budget than the Twilight series but it is much more intelligent!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

98 min, Zombie directed by Jonathan Levine with Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, Cory Hardrict, Vincent Leclerc.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 81% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

The Hunger Games     This is the second film in the Hunger Games series.  One year after winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and her partner Peeta Mellark take a victory tour of the districts while President Snow plots their downfall.   Katness and Peeta want to tell the people what they feel but they are supposed to follow cards written for them by Effie Trinket.  Their first speech did not go very well when they spoke from their hearts.  The districts seem ready for a revolution and especially unhappy about the tributes they lost in the last games.  When they return to District 12, they learn that the Hunger Games for this year will be a 75-year celebration and a Quarter Quell with different rules.  All of the victors of the previous Hunger Games will meet again in a new game.  Katniss is devastated that they will need to fight again.  She makes a deal with Haymitch Abernathy that Peeta will be the one to survive. 
     The director is different on this film, the first Hunger Games was directed by Gary Ross.  I couldn’t help but think of the parallels in this film with other sources, Lost and Survivor from television, Star Wars from film.  The darkness, grime and the dreariness of the inhabitants of the districts are like many other post-apocalyptic films.  I did enjoy everything about this film and I am looking forward to seeing the next films.  4* (I really liked this movie)

146 min, Action directed by Francis Lawrence with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Clair, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Woody Harrelson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 8.2 out of 10, 89% critic 93% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  There will be two more Hunger Games installments, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2.  Part 1 started filming on 12/3/13 and will be released 11/21/14.  Part 2 will be released 11/20/15.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness     The USS Enterprise is sent deep into space to rescue an endangered indigenous species on planet Nibiru from an active volcanic eruption.  Spock is trapped in the center of the volcano and the Enterprise ignores orders not to be seen by the local people to rescue Spock.  This tactic almost gets Captain Kirk relieved from command and demoted to a cadet.  Starfleet HQ is attacked and Captain Pike is killed in the strike.  Kirk takes command and the Enterprise goes deep into the forbidden zone and the planet Klingon.  Starfleet and the Klingon army are hostile enough but they are being manipulated into a possible war.
      All the actors seem stiff as boards like they are acting and also trying to be different people based on the original characters at the same time.  The problems and dangers are more ridiculous than sinister.   Almost like a comedy and one that is not funny?  Why would you keep hitting and beating someone not bothered or injured by any of it?  3* (This movie is OK)

131 min, Sci-Fi & Fantasy directed by J.J. Abrams with Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.9 out of 10, 87% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Company You Keep 2012

     Jim Grant is a successful attorney with a young daughter.  He lost his wife in a car accident a year ago.  One thing everyone doesn’t know about Jim is that he is a former member of the Weather Underground.  He has been hiding out for years since the group staged a bank heist that resulted in the death of a guard.  A zealous newspaper reporter gets on Jim’s trail after the FBI picks up Sharon Solarz at a gas station.  She was also an Underground member and the FBI had been monitoring her by wiretap until the right time to take her into custody.  Jim is really Nick Sloan and he goes into action as soon as his cover is blown.  He has his brother pickup his daughter at their hotel room and he leaves the city by train.  His old friend Donal helps him, he gets him a car and gives him information about some of the other Underground members.
The Company You Keep     This is complex and intriguing but you don’t feel anything for the characters even with an all-star cast.  They just appear out of nowhere and you only see a small old television clip of the bank robbery.  Not much information is given about their group and their previous activities?  3* (This movie is OK)

122 min, Drama directed by Robert Redford with Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 55% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  The Weather Underground Organization was founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan in 1969.  They were originally called the Weathermen and they were faction of the SDS, Students for a Democratic Society.  SDS was a revolutionary party for the overthrow of the US government.  They were involved with Black Power and opposition to the Vietnam War.  They conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970’s and took part in the jailbreak of Timothy Leary.  The WUO grew out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) faction of SDS.  Their name came from a Bob Dylan song lyric, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”