Monday, December 26, 2016


*Not a spoiler free review*

The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, and Donnie Yen

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Written by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, and Gary Whitta

  Being a big "Star Wars" fan, I wasn't sure what to expect from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Some people weren't sold on the idea of Disney doing a stand alone movie, but I say the more "Star Wars" the better. Of course there are some high standards to meet. If they’re making a movie just for the money, then fans will know and this will quickly turn into a bad idea.

 "Star Wars" has given fans so many great characters to love, but could they do it again with any of these characters? Well this story starts and ends with Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Was she the most lovable character ever... probably not. However, starting off with her from a young child, and seeing what happens to her parents definitely gets the audience on her side. Then there's Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who's a rebel that continues to battle over doing the right thing. He probably didn't win over too many fans until the end.

 One character who probably won over many fans is the robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). While C-3PO uses fear and clumsiness to humor audiences, K-2SO is a whole lot braver, and extremely blunt. Think of him as the family member who speaks their mind and always embarrasses you. Whether audiences like or disliked these characters and others, at the end of the movie it really doesn't matter. Why... because in a bold move all of the characters they want audiences to like die. That was not something I expected, but give them credit for going that route. It does make sense, and truly makes this a stand alone movie. 

 As for the action, it's pretty awesome in the typical "Star Wars" way. The last 20-30 minutes or so ends in a huge battle scene. There's plenty of action and drama on the ground and in the air. Watching an AT-AT walking across the beach is something I never thought I would see, but it was terrific. Of course, the Rebels going head to head with Tie Fighters and Star Destroyers is something I can never get enough of. Again, in shocking fashion, the day is saved just before the Death Star blows the beach up, and all of the heroes the audience spent 2 plus hours watching. 

 While he didn't get much screen time, one of the best scenes of the movie belongs to Darth Vader. He boards a Rebel ship, and makes quick work of everyone in his way. It definitely reminds audiences that he belongs with the dark side. However, when he makes his appearance earlier in the movie, there just seems like there's something different about him. I'm not sure if it's the costume, or how the scene is shot, but there's something about him that just didn't seem right. 

 Besides that, the only other true complaint is that there's a lack of Jedi. Vader's scene is the only one with a lightsaber in it, and it's weird not seeing a good lightsaber fight or two. They kind of make up for it with Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a true believer in the Force. Maybe he even has a little Jedi in him somewhere, but no lightsaber in sight. Although he does carry a stick, and has some great ninja moves for a blind man. He certainly won audiences over, and is probably one of the hardest characters to see go. 

Funny how some fans are simply happy that "Rogue One" answers that one question to why the Empire leaves such a weak spot in the Death Star. However, this movie proves more then just an answer to that question. Surprise appearances here and there of popular characters (yes chills seeing a young Princess Leia) is great, but they take some big risks here, and it pays off. Killing all of your major characters at one time is crazy for "Star Wars." Putting on a story with no Jedis seems insane, but actually it proves that there's more going on in the "Star Wars" universe then just lightsaber fights. While I look forward to the next episode, I would fully support another stand alone movie. With that, I give this “Star Wars” story 4.5 stars!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016


High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, and Woody Harrelson

Directed and written by: Kelly Fremon Craig

  For some it seems like high-school is so easy. The star quarterback gets all the girls’ attention, and boys’ eyes are always on the prom queen. For some it’s the complete opposite. They’re almost invisible with nothing to do but their schoolwork. In the end, as easy or hard high-school is, every teen faces their own struggles at some point, and that’s what “The Edge of Seventeen” reminds audiences.

 Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is the main struggling teen in this story. Actually, her difficulties might have started at an earlier age, as the audience gets a funny scene of her staging a revolt about getting out the car. Not long after another funny moment or two, things get serious as she loses her father. As she gets older, the only person she feels is truly on her side is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Like it happens to many best friends, a boy comes in-between them. In this case, that boy is Nadine’s brother, Darian (Blake Jenner).

 They do a good of making the audience really feel for what she’s going through. From the audience’s point of view, they can also see how she’s not doing her self any favors, including sending a boy she likes an embarrassing text. However, it’s not all bad for her whether she realizes it, or not. While she has her eyes on a boy way beyond her reach, Mr. Right, is sitting right next to her. There are several humorous moments between the two reminding some how awkward young love can be.

 Nadine also has some hilarious moments with her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). He kind of becomes her safety blanket, as she goes to him for advice, and sometimes just to get away from her classmates. What makes this student-teacher relationship different is how Mr. Bruner treats her in such a calm manner. He almost acts like he doesn’t care, but everyone knows he does. She feels free to speak her mind, and he says as little as possible.

 As previously hinted, while the story is about Nadine, the beauty of the story is fitting in how each of the teens featured have struggles of their own. In Nadine’s eyes her brother is the perfect one, but he struggles with having to be the man of the house after their father’s death. Krista doesn’t want to her hurt Nadine, but can’t help her new found feelings for Darian, and the new attention she gets. Even their mother proves that adults have struggles too!

This coming of age story is really a rollercoaster of emotions. They do an excellent job of getting the audience to feel for Nadine at first, and later for some of the other characters as well. There are several serious moments that probably hit home with many people. They manage to mix in the right amount of humor with Nadine’s interactions with Mr. Bruner, and her true love interest Erwin. The cast from top to bottom nails their roles. With that, I give “The Edge of Seventeen” 3 stars!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


 A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Rachel McAdams

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

Written by: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill

  Admittedly, the story of Dr. Strange isn’t as familiar to me as some of the other Marvel characters, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, these Marvel movies have been pretty good, so I had to give it a chance. “Doctor Strange” does have some strange moments, but there’s nothing strange about this ending up being another Marvel hit.

 Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Dr. Strange, doesn’t seem like the superhero type, but he actually did a pretty good job. Benedict nails the attitude of Dr. Strange both before and after he becomes the hero. Being a huge fan of the show “Hannibal,” it was a pleasure watching Mads Mikkelsen play the villain Kaecilius. It would have been nice to see a little more of how he became the villain than just hearing about it. 

 Speaking of character stories, it’s good seeing the struggle of Dr. Strange after his accident, and how he ends up meeting The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). However, his training goes on a little too long. It’s a good introduction into his soon to come abilities and the dimension world, but it goes on a little too long. Again, it would have been nice to see more of Kaecilius’ story fill some of that time.

Now to the star of the movie…the special effects. Dr. Strange goes head to head with Kaecilius in our every day world literally turned upside down. Rooms are spinning, they run on the side buildings, and use anything not bolted down against each other. It certainly will keep the audience glued to the screen. The best scene is when they are battling each other, and the destruction that just happened is going in reverse against them.

Like “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” makes a nice new addition to the Marvel Universe. It starts with good casting all around. There’s a good mix of the serious background story, and some good humor. The fighting might not be as fast and furious as some of the other Marvel movies, but there’s nothing like this head spinning experience. With that said, I give it 3.5 stars!


*As usual stay to the end for after credit scenes!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie

Directed and written by: David Ayer

  There’s a lot going on in the “Suicide Squad,” particularly in the beginning. First they have to introduce the audience to the group of bad guys that will eventually make up this squad. The audience gets to see them locked up, and how they got there. Some characters like Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) get a decent introduction to their backstories. Batman (Ben Affleck) makes appearances in both of their intros, and with Harley comes a look at the Joker (Jared Leto). While it’s nice that they didn’t do extended looks for all the characters, some aren’t introduced sufficiently and are almost afterthoughts.

In the mist of the introductions, the plot for this movie is setting up. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) makes her case to government officials that this group of villains can actually be usefully. She assigns a loyal soldier, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to be in charge of the keeping the squad in line. Part of her plan backfires, which creates an enemy that almost destroys them all. The problem here is that there’s an imbalance between the introductions, and the story set up. It’s like here are some bad guys, here’s a developing problem, now watch them magically fix it.

Speaking of magic, the true villain in this story is a witch named Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). She’s creepy looking, and very powerful especially after bringing in a close partner in crime. They create an army of weird looking creatures. Too bad they end up serving as nothing more than target practice for the squad. It’s really disappointing that they don’t do more than just prolong the squad from getting to Enchantress.

To no surprise the best action does come from this showdown with Enchantress. Through most of the movie, it’s clear that Deadshot, and Harley dominant this group. However, the Enchantress’ partner is almost unstoppable until one unexpected member of the squad steps up in a big way. The entire time the question has been whether or not the rest of the squad can put their differences aside, and make the most of their individual talents to take the witch down?

Overall, there are too many moving parts in the “Suicide Squad.” They have to get through intros while building the story at the same time. They have to create a new villain while tying in Batman, and the Joker. It almost seems like they should have gone the Avengers route, and introduced some of these characters before this movie, especially with all the Harley and Joker moments. It really needed to be a little more organized, some better action besides tearing up creatures, and even a good catch line or two would have been nice. Can’t complain about the music though so I give it 2 stars!


**Yes there is an extra scene midway through the credits

Sunday, August 7, 2016


 When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, and Kristen Bell

Directed and written by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

  “Bad Moms” is a comedy that might fly under the radar, but it’s definitely worth watching. Amy (Mila Kunis) is trying her hardest to be the best mom to her young daughter and son, even putting up with the crazy women who run her kids school PTA. She does everything for them while holding down a part time job, and gets little help from her husband. When things go wrong in her marriage, things start to go down hill, and the true ‘bad mom’ in her comes out.

 Amy quickly finds out that she isn’t the only struggling mom, as she befriends Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell). What’s great about Carla is how she’s portrayed similarly to the typical single guy who hits on any woman who crosses his path. She’s loud, speaks her mind to everyone, bullies people, and yes hits on everyone! Kiki is shy, slow at times, and is overly obedient to her husband. The funniest parts of the movie are when the three of them are together. One of best moments is when they get drunk, and decide to go grocery shopping.

 There’s another threesome in this movie who act like they are the complete opposite, but aren’t deep inside. Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate, Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Vicky (Annie Mumolo) rule the school with Gwendolyn serving as the President of the PTA. She strikes fear in all of the other moms, and even the school staff. She pushes Amy too far resulting in the two squaring off for the presidency. Lets just say it’s a lot of fun watching Amy try to win over the other moms house party style.

If your a mom, then it might be pretty easy to relate to “Bad Moms.” However, you don’t have to be a mom to like this movie. All of the women are hilarious in their own ways, and provide several memorable scenes. It’s always great to see women in ways you never imagine them to be like. Yes, there are a few emotional moments, but nothing that gets in the way of the humor. This is certainly a 3 star comedy in my book!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016


 The most dangerous former operative of the CIA is drawn out of hiding to uncover hidden truths about his past.

Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, and Alicia Vikander

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Written by: Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse

  In a summer movie season where sequels have struggled, “Jason Bourne” looks for the return of Matt Damon to revive the franchise. Jeremy Renner wasn’t bad in “The Bourne Legecy,” but this franchise really belongs to Matt. The movie starts off with Jason having no real purpose other than to torture himself over his past. Things quickly change when Nicky Parsons comes to find him, and gives him a piece of information about his past that he can’t ignore.

 This leads to an absolutely chaotic scene in the middle of a huge protest in Greece. Protesters are fighting with police all over the place, while Nicky and Jason have been spotted, and are trying to be taken down. There’s fighting, fires, and a crazy motorcycle chase that has a shocking conclusion. This chase reminds the audience why they love this franchise.

 However this love connection is short lived. From here there’s a lack of action, as Jason searches for clues about his past. At the same time, the CIA, with the help of a new agent, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), are trying to figure out how to stop Jason. They are also trying cover up another mess that CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) has gotten them in. Everything really amounts to some fast moving scenes filled with very loud, and dramatic music.

 They make up for all the missing action in the middle with another amazing car chase in the final scene. Jason chases after an armored swat truck, as it absolutely destroys everything in its path. Of course this this leads to a predictable showdown between Jason and another asset. However this fight isn’t better than fights he’s had in previous films.

“Jason Bourne” amounts to plenty of loud music and dramatics, but not enough action. It’s good that Matt Damon returns to a role he excels at, but it would’ve been nice to see him in some more fights. A good opening and closing chase scene just isn’t enough for a Bourne movie. The overall story in between is interesting enough, but the will audience expect more. With that, I give this movie 2 stars.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban

Directed by: Justin Lin

Written by: Simon Pegg, and Doug Jung

  “Star Trek Beyond” definitely goes above and beyond. There are many things to like in the next chapter of this franchise, the first being the tribute and respect for the original crew. In particular, they go out of the way to salute the one and only Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Zachary Quinto does justice in role as Commander Spock, and uses his role to share the audience’s pain over the loss of Leonard. They top it off with a classic picture of the original cast.

In another sad note, the USS Enterprise gets absolutely demolished. On the bright side, it’s a truly awesome scene. This new enemy launches a very coordinated attack on the ship ripping it apart both inside and out. The crew scrambles in defense and survival, as Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) squares off with the leader of this new found enemy, Krall (Idris Elba).

The story seems kind of standard, as the crew gets attacked, separated, and struggles to find a way to defeat the enemy. However, there are a few subtle twists that make the difference. For one, there’s more than meets the eye in regards to Krall. He’s not just another alien out to destroy the Federation for no reason. Also, there’s a couple of songs played that the audience probably would never think would be played in a Star Trek movie.

In between some of the aforementioned emotional moments is a good mix of comedy and action. Bones (Karl Urban) and Spock have their usually back and forth, while Chekov (Anton Yelchin) has his spots following Kirk around. However the best pair might be Scotty (Simon Pegg) and his new friend Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). The action is non-stop, and the pace picks up after a slow opening. As expected, it ends with a very dramatic showdown between Kirk and Krall.

It wasn’t until after the credits started rolling that the biggest surprise happened, which was Simon Pegg’s name coming up as one of the writers. It’s hard to tell exactly how much he wrote, but that might explain why movie comes off as if it’s truly written by a Star Trek fan. From the tribute to Leonard, Bones and Spock’s interactions, and a cool time lapse scene at the end, it’s all things fans want to see. Add the great action, and acting from a terrific cast, and I give “Star Trek Beyond” 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Rory J. Saper, Christian Stevens, and Samuel L. Jackson

Directed by: David Yates

Written by: Adam Cozad, and Craig Brewer

  Many of us already know about “The Legend of Tarzan.” Tarzan’s parents are killed in the jungle leaving him to be raised by gorillas. While growing up, he develops relationships with all kinds of animals as he becomes one with the jungle. Then the day comes when he meets a woman named Jane (Margot Robbie). From here, it becomes the love story of Tarzan and Jane, which is more or less where this movie picks up.

 It’s almost refreshing that they pick up Tarzan’s story after both Jane and him have settled into a home in London. However, the movie repeatedly flashes back to his time in the jungle to cover the aforementioned backstory. Yes, it’s about the legend of Tarzan, but couldn’t they just move past it. The flashbacks completely slow down the movie, and are only really useful in the few newly introduced moments of his backstory.

 Being a huge fan of the T.V. series “True Blood,” it’s exciting to see Alexander Skarsgard land the lead role as Tarzan. Maybe not the typical look for Tarzan, but definitely someone who physically looks like he could survive in the jungle. What’s unfortunate is that his “True Blood” character is so much more lively, while this Tarzan is kind of boring. Tarzan is too serious for most of movie.

 They leave most of the comedy for Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the side kick type role as George Washington Williams. He certainly does a good job adding comedy to the film, but there are moments when it may make the audience wonder why Tarzan needs a side kick. Surprisingly, it isn’t Alexander or Samuel who stand out. It’s Christoph Waltz who plays the villain Leon Roam. He plays the role so smoothly that the audience can’t wait for Tarzan to get his hands on him.

Everything leads to this face off between Tarzan and Leon in the final scene. Before the two come face to face, Tarzan leads his friends, the many animals in the jungle, in an attack on Leon’s forces in a small town. The excitement builds as the animals rapidly approach the town, but the scene fizzles out too quickly. Much like the rest of “The Legend of Tarzan,” the action isn’t big enough, and the pace is constantly slowed down. Good casting is the true driver of this movie, even tough some might not have been needed while others could have done more. In the end, I give this movie 1.5 stars.


Friday, July 8, 2016


 A terrier named Max regularly invites his friends to hang out at his place while his owner is gone, but his quiet life is upended when said owner also takes in Duke, a stray mutt whom Max instantly dislikes.

Starring: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, and Kevin Hart

Directed by: Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud

Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and Brian Lynch

  First and foremost, it’s never a bad idea to present the lovable creature in your movie as a baby. Recently Disney did it with Dory in “Finding Dory,” and “The Secret Life of Pets” begins by showing its lead dog Max as a puppy. When the audience sees this adorable puppy they are instantly going to fall in love with him, especially with all the silly things he does. They are also going to see the bond he’s built with his owner Katie.

 Their bond is tested when Katie decides to bring home a new dog, Duke. Duke looks like the dog version of Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street, and is definitely different from Max. That difference ultimately leads the pair to be separated from Katie, and on their own adventure in the city. The two make an entertaining tandem, but surprisingly aren’t the comedic stars of the film.

 That goes to the other pets particularly the bunch trying to find Max and Duke. This bunch includes a few other dogs, a cat, bird, guinea pig, and hawk. They’re lead by Gidget, who’s extremely motivated to find Max because she’s really in love with him. She starts off kind of quiet, but ends up being the feisty shining star of the movie.

 There’s another group of animals that are also pretty funny. They’re animals who happen to dislike pets, and the humans that make animals their pets. This is a pretty interesting concept for this group of creatures. They’re lead by an absolutely crazy bunny named Snowball. He  provides some great wacky moments when he crosses paths with Max and Duke.

Early in “The Secret Life of Pets” there are cuts of all kinds of dogs doing hilarious things when their owners leave, as many have seen in the trailers. This sets the stage for many more crazy things done by both pets and the animals who dislike pets. Max is a likable main character, but this movie thrives when there are more pets and animals together. Overall, audiences will like this movie, but pet lovers may love it. They also might keep a closer eye on their pets. A pet lover myself, I give it 3.5 stars.


Monday, July 4, 2016


Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind's new space defenses be enough?

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Written by: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, and James Vanderbilt

  After watching “Independence Day” a million times since its release, it always seemed inevitable that there would be a sequel. Well it only took the aliens 20 years to decide to attack Earth again in “Independence Day: Resurgence.” This time mankind is more united, and prepared with alien technology. However, that doesn’t stop the aliens from mounting another impressive attack.

Some of the same faces from the original are back to defend the planet. President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), who seems a little crazy, is back to give another patriotic speech, and put his life on the line. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is also back to give his advice on the aliens, and make a few wise cracks. Really, they did exactly what they did the first time around.

So in an attempt to add something new to the movie, there are also some new faces looking to fight the aliens. There’s Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), who is a skilled pilot that apparently isn’t afraid to break the rules. Then there’s Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), who’s another great pilot, and also the son of Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). Both these characters seem like they are created to fill the void of Will Smith’s character not returning, and neither character really stands out. Both are given moments to shine, but maybe the movie should have just picked one, and let them be the true hero.

One of the more enjoyable things this time around is that the audience gets to see a lot more of the aliens themselves. In the original, the aliens are more hidden behind their technology. This time alien fighters are actually on the ground fighting the humans. Of course, there is another battle around the alien ship much like the original, and it still doesn’t beat what audiences get in “Star Wars.” The biggest thing that stands out is the mother alien, who happens to be the biggest alien of them all. She puts on quite a fight in the ending scene.

In order for “Independence Day: Resurgence” to truly work, it needed to add something different to the story. While it tries, it ultimately is too much of the same. Some of the original characters come back, and do the same thing. The new characters can’t fill the void of Captain Hiller’s heroics in “Independence Day.” It’s nice to see the humans using more alien technology this time, but they don’t do anything special with it. There’s one small twist in the story, which turns out to be pretty interesting. It might also lead to more sequels in the future. Overall, I give it 2 stars.