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.