Un-Smurfing Believable

The Smurfs have been around for years, but have taken the leap from Saturday morning cartoons from 40 years ago to the theaters where they can rock the world of little kids. Personally, I was a bit disappointed to find many characteristics reflecting Trolls from a few months ago. But after arguing incessantly with my 10-year-old daughter about how little people are protecting their village while singing and dancing, and also the main protagonist is a misunderstood female, I gave in. No particular reason except that this film wasn’t made with me in mind as much as the little ones.

Some of the main points of the film, however, is that while many of us have our specialties and talents we’re known for, some people are considered the “Jack (or Jill) of all trades.” In some instances, being refined in numerous areas is a huge benefit for problem-solving. Although Smurfette didn’t originate as a little blue creature when Gargamel first created her, inside, that’s who she truly is and rebrands that at the beginning of the movie in case you aren’t aware.

Little kids should be taught the lesson that even though people are different from them, everyone has something useful to add to the lives of others. In this instance, the Smurfs have good reason to be grateful that Smurfette isn’t truly a blueberry skinned comrade.

And let’s not forget that while Trolls had Justine Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, The Smurfs have a few talented tricks up their tiny sleeves too. Meghan Trainor does her part to exemplify the beauty of being a strong and independent woman.

And, of course, they have other big names on their payroll, as they have every time. The question isn’t whether or not these names have a price tag attached to them as when will this movie on the sale rack? I really found that given the choice between Smurfs and Trolls, the former would win hands down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the talents of such as Julia Robers as the reincarnated “Pretty Woman,” former actor of Dwight Schrute from “The Office” as Gargamel, and Demi Lovato as Smurfette.

By and by, if you have nothing better to do with your time, it’s rainy outside and you want to spend time doing something your children will enjoy, this film has lots of colors.

On the scale of 1 – 5, Smurfs: The Lost Village gets a well-deserved THREE! I gave it an extra star because there were no lewd humorous remarks or two-level innuendos.

Logan’s Alcoholism Slows his Mentality

Let’s make this clear. The movie is anything but slow, as the action seldom with this all-star cast refuses to let the average movie-goer use the restroom, much less get a drink, without knowing ahead of time they’re making a choice of missing something grand. (Be sure and empty your bladder before you get comfy.) Hugh Jackman has made Wolverine synonymous with himself, as always, in the latest X-men film. Someday, when he’s old and gray, finding a replacement will prove next to impossible. Until then, women are as pleased as ever to see his wide and expanding chest stretched across an IMAX screen whenever possible. Seems the men are just as impressed for different reasons, but everyone agrees he’s a hell of an actor. Jackman doesn’t let anyone down here. However, alcoholic Wolverine appears to have a mental disconnect and requires Xavier to club him over the head in revealing his secret.

Patrick Stewart is his usual sardonic personality but seems a bit off in this film as he introduces Logan to a child born of Wolverine’s loins several times. Of course, shortly after, he says “adios” to the cast. But no matter how many times Xavier tells his friend, Logan just doesn’t seem to understand. Perhaps Logan feels as if the child was born from a bender and doesn’t want to face his alcoholism. I suppose this isn’t that uncommon.

When Logan realizes Laura (Dafne Keen), is his own child, he appears pleased that she’s as independent as she is — like her hairy father and plots to save her life. Although the filmmakers discovered Dafne in the UK after scouring the planet for the perfect actress, the eleven-year-old does an amazing job as a Latin speaking immigrant. The first half of the film, she manages to get her points across without uttering a single word. She’s born for film acting with her acrobat and gymnastic skills, as well as being bilingual, and having an expressive face.

Comedian and many-coat-wearing talent Stephen Merchant is another name that isn’t as big as it deserves to be — yet, anyway. His versatile and charismatic charm is finally getting the attention it deserves as he plays Caliban, a bug-eyed, pale-faced sidekick to the X-men. Though he’s suffered many times before, his character suffers greatly in this role. Let’s just say he’s far from getting the golden tan of George Hamilton.

If you’re wanting to get your money’s worth, this movie is a terrific way to escape the little ones for an adult night out. It’s rated R, so count on a lot of blood and slicing as Wolverine and his new genetic offspring kick some egotistical ass. The stunts of bodies spiraling in the air leave a bit to be desired, but the plot and other effects graciously camouflage the awkward rotations.

This show gets 4 out of 5 stars in our book of movie ratings.

 

Split may very well be the Psychological Thriller of the Year

Split is predicted as the psychological thriller of the year. For anyone who’s seen it, the answer is a resounding cheer in agreement. M. Night Shyamalan has the type of mental charisma perfect for keeping the audience on the edge of its seat, but not necessarily the guy you want to take home to meet the parents. Don’t misunderstand, he’s definitely written his share of stinkers, but this ain’t one of ‘em.

For those who like to watch twenty people get sliced and diced in as many different ways, Split isn’t going to do much for you. Watching this film is a mind screw, especially for those who truly relate to Casey, the lead actress, played by Anya Taylor-Joy as she delves into what is the true constitution of Hell.

One of Kevin’s personalities follows two friends for four days with the intention of sacrificing them to the newest addition of the Hoard. (The name the media has tagged onto the killer.) But when he makes his move, they have an extra and unintended friend, Casey, who’s sort of the outcast of the trio. The question runs through the audience’s mind as to what will happen to the unplanned guest. But I can’t tell you that!

Kevin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher played by Betty Buckley, tries desperately to convince him he’s improving and that the 24th personality doesn’t exist. After all, she’s truly come to love Kevin and the others the same way a mother loves her child. But the doctor grows increasingly concerned for him.

Not much time passes before Casey meets prim and proper “Patricia,” allowing her awareness of her captor’s mental instability and multiple personality disorder. Unlike her panicked cohorts, Casey has learned through lessons of her father, the benefits of biding her time and carefully surmising a situation before running around like a woman with her skirt on fire. She befriends Hedwig, the nine-year-old personality who speaks with an insecure lisp, (and riles the audience with laughter on occasion) before playing upon his naivety by befriending him, hoping he’ll help.

We’ll definitely be seeing more of this actress. However, the name we’ll see lighting up awards ceremonies this year will be that of the main character(s) played in an outstanding manner by Scotland-born James McAvoy. I’ve seen actors have difficulty playing one role in a film, their accent comes and goes, you know what I mean. But this guy manages to pull off playing multiple parts with more than intonation, pitch, etc. McAvoy’s entire countenance and physical mannerisms change. (Hate to be on a date with this dude, because he could really have a great time at my expense.)

While this movie doesn’t necessarily contain a lot of visible gore, let’s be frank, it’s really our own minds that scare us. And for anyone who believes that to be true, Split is a film you do not want to miss before it leaves the theater. The real question begging us is will we hate Kevin in the end? I seriously doubt it. You may even be a bit jealous of him.

For now, remember what my friend Barry says, “We are what we think we are.”

Out of 5 stars, this one will get 5, thanks to James McAvoy’s amazingly convincing acting skills. He allows the audience to know who he is before opening his mouth. Bravo, James!

Trolling for a Good Time? Don’t Miss Out

Ventured out on this beautiful day and grabbed a totally uplifting film that’s great for the family. I laughed so loud my son told me to quit embarrassing him. But if you can’t laugh aloud, what’s the point, right?

Anna Kendrick playing Poppy and Justin Timberlake as Branch are a wonderful chiming of maniacal talent in this fantastic show of never leaving friends behind and sticking to the plan no matter what. Of course, Zooey Deschanel plays Bridget, an outcast Bergen who needs a great plan to overcome her odds in winning the heart of the king, teams up with the two trolls. Together, they must find a way to overcome the chef, played by Christine Baranski, who was marvelous. Russell Brand is back in United States showbiz with the role of deceitful troll Creek. And then, of course, we have the incredible voice talents of Gwen Stefani.

With plentiful laughs and wonderful singing, I say you should leave feeling pretty happy.

Tantalizing Adventures with Moana

 

The best family movie of the year, Moana (played by gorgeous newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) represents a new bravery. A little girl struggles against her own self-doubt. No one, other than her crazy as Indian corn grandmother, believes in her. Her protective father, Chief Tui (played by Temuera Morrison), forbids her to go beyond the reef yet encourages her training to be the Chief-in-Training.

The spirits of the ocean beckon her. Moana makes a subtle attempt quickly giving up until her Gramma Tala (Rachel House), known as the island’s whack-job convinces her differently.  It isn’t until her grandmother’s final dying wish is for Moana to save the island and her people by breaking the rule, traveling the forbidden waters. Moana learns she must trust in nature and her heart following her destiny and locating Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the demi-god who stole the heart of Te Fiti, requiring his assistance to get her there. Dwayne states why he truly enjoys this role so closely linked to his own Polynesian heritage here.

There are several reasons this film is a must see. The scenery and songs (including infamous bad guy Jermaine Clement) are captivating. The famed ex-wrestler, The Rock, charms us with his singing voice, without even laying eyes on his dazzling smile. Plus, the show allows us a peek into another culture even inviting us to believe in Moana, cheering her on in breaking free for herself and her people before time runs out.

There are no love interests, no perverse humor, yet awe-inspiring story keeping us enthralled and on the edge of our seat the entire way. A rare pearl in today’s film industry that shouldn’t be missed.

Moana is rated PG because of the furious lava monster’s need for revenge, but there is no blood or raw humor, and nothing but happy tears throughout.

The Secret Life of Pets is Revealed

Universal Studio did some amazing things with this film’s animation. Some of the attitudes and activities these pets do can easily be imagined as happening in one of the homes of the writers. Hopefully not the dachshund with the mixer, but to each his own.

If your little ones love pets as much as my 9-year-old date, the plot doesn’t matter much. In this case, that’s a good thing. Momma’s stockings have a lot more to hide than the happenings of this show. That hardly seems to matter because, throughout the entire show, people were cracking up. We got to see animals wiggling their derrieres at us throughout the show and urinating. I guess nowadays that’s funny to see as if it hasn’t been happening all along, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.

Speaking of letting a little liquid loose, if you are a big laugher who drinks a lot of soda, make sure to use the facilities before entering if you’re wearing drawstring pants. The consequences can be devastating if the strings tangle into a knot. Not that this happened, but I will no longer wear pull string pants to a theater.

The kids seemed to enjoy this, as did the guffaws of a few adults. However, the little ones were so hammered with advertising they were almost finished before the actual movie started. It’s best when you have little tykes if you have reserved seating, to wait about 5 minutes after starting time to prevent the wiggles from breaking out. A few started getting restless and even crying a bit more than halfway through. Thank goodness their parents removed them politely from the theater. Also, make sure to hand around partially through the credits. One of the cutest parts of the movie is seeing the pups dressed in costumes.

The graphics were excellent, the voices were great, but the plot was thin. Again, tiny kids loved it for a little while, but seeing as how most of them can’t type, you’ll have an adult’s opinion to work with today.

On the scale rating this movie, it deserves no less than a 6.5. Then again, if you’ve seen it, leave us your feedback on what you thought of the show.

Finding Dory is Excruciatingly Enjoyable

We all remember little Nemo who barely escaped the nest as blue collar escargot, but the friends he made along the way have their own stories, too. Dory was a favorite with her happy-go-lucky attitude that caused everyone to smile. This film is a little different because viewing the story from her point of view sheds a new and saddening light on the subject. That isn’t to say the ending doesn’t do the plot just good. It certainly does.

Ellen DeGeneres breathes life into this blue tang fish without giving it mouth-to-mouth and has the audience laughing and pondering at the same time. This film is both entertaining and educational at the same time, which is great for kids to secretly learn while having fun. Filled with humor, anecdotes, and lessons about taking one step at a time, or is it swimming one swoosh at a time? Anyway, the importance of not giving up.

Of course, she meets all types of ocean life throughout her journey, but the friends she makes now help her to find her long lost friend of a lifetime, Nemo. This is a must-see for parents taking their kids for a night of family fun, or a single parent to bond with a child. And, of course, as with all Disney movies of late, your job is to seek which character joyously exclaims, “This is amazing!”

This film easily ranks up there with Finding Nemo, which is rare for a second film to do so well. Pixar and Disney have managed to deliver a powerful blow yet again with this one.

We rate this a strong 8 out of 10 stars and encourage you to at least see it if not buy it.

If you dare to take a peek, make sure and post your own review alongside this one! People deserve to hear your opinion, right?

 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The original Mission Impossible began in 1966, if you can believe the same year as Star Trek and also the year I was conceived and born. Three great things started 49 years ago that still are alive and kicking hard today!  The television series was effective enough that I remember watching it in our green shag-carpet living room with orange and green floral furniture, on the square box we called the boob-tube. Nope, not tube tops, that came much later. But here’s a taste of the montage as I knew it.

Pretty amazing, right? Even as nail-biting as watching Peter Graves, Leonard Nimoy, Greg Morris, and hottie Peter Lupus (who still lifts weights in his 70’s and was one of the first big names to do a frontal nude photo for Playgirl Magazine).

So here we are today, smarter than ever, checking out another man of the decade Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in the modernized Mission Impossible, breathing the air of life back into the film from 1996 until now with Rogue Nation. His versatility and ability to pull off any character he sets his mind to has done him justice ever since his big debut of Risky Business, the tight-bunned teen dancing a jig in his undies and socks. Nevertheless, he does Ethan Hunt good by keeping his rugged, sexy self working out regularly. This movie was incredible, and now we just need to wait for the next one. Is there going to be another one? Only if he lives to see another day. Tom does his own stunts!

On the scale of 1 – 10, this one gets a 9! Now leave me alone, I’ve got to watch it again.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The problem with serial movies is the writers become lazy and figure they’ve won the audience, and even if the sequel stinks, they’ll get their fans’ invested dollars. Sort of like, “If you build it, they will come,” because the ratings are already there. That’s why there are so many sequels to begin with when making movies and remakes. Fortunately for the fans of Avengers, this film was written with high tenaciousness. The audience will revel and cheer while sitting back and observing what happens when Joss Whedon does his magic.

In order to simplify the 2 hour and 21 minute feature by revealing the best part, let me start by saying the whole movie was fairly kick ass. In fact I didn’t even know until the credits at the end that James Spader is Ultron, and boy did he nail it! The usual suspects punch their way across the screen with characters Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Their interviews always lead the viewer inside to the personalities of the actors, which is always fascinating when revealing their characters strengths and weaknesses.

This PG-13 movie’s rating boasts high due to the astounding special effects created using CGI by their artists. With a 220 million dollar budget, this film made over $200 million it’s first weekend, but with the last movie grossing over $1.5 billion, this won’t leave any workers of this project in the bread line.

With this film performing so well at the box office, either we can anticipate an even better film from Joss Whedon with Avengers, or waiting for the next and greater work of him could be anything – perhaps a movie about a young displaced school girl making the most of an unfamiliar situation? Who knows? One thing we all know is that it’s bound to be a blockbuster.

Joss Whedon is the sails beneath artist Stan Lee's wings.

Joss Whedon is the sails beneath artist Stan Lee’s wings.

On the Ten-Star Review, this movie receives a 9!

The only reason this work doesn’t receive a 10 is we want some space for improvement on the next venture.

Vice

Starring: Thomas Jane, Bruce Willis, Ambyr Childers

Kelly (Ambyr Childers) and her friend go out for a few drinks. Her friend gets shot and killed by a drunken jerk and Kelly gets strangled. She’s programmed to die every day as the fantasy of someone else in a make-believe world where robots are made of human flesh to relive the same day over and over again for the sadistic pleasure of others. Kelly and other robots belong to this group until one day, something goes wrong and she remembers every time she was murdered.

Roy (Thomas Jane) is a cop cleaning up after things go wrong, but he vies for the past when he was a “real” cop. Throughout the movie he chews either a lit match stick or a put-out joint, it’s hard to tell which one. A sucker, like Kojak would have at least given the audience something to talk about when the movie was over.

Julian Michaels (Bruce Willis) is in charge of the fictitious world where people are allowed to enter and kill for fun without consequences. The majority of the movie he stands in the center of the room watching about fifty televisions screens that indicate his paying customers.

The days of the original Robocop are back with a bunch of wannabe actors who couldn’t act their way off a merry-go-round. Spook alleys have better actors who aren’t paid nearly as well while this movie has a cop reciting poetry, “Run rabbit, run.” They all chase a single woman with machine guns and bazookas across the city sidewalks, coming nowhere near their target. Our country is doomed if this is a reflection of our defense.

Every time someone mentions Julian Michaels, “Jillian Michaels” pops into your head. What in the hell possessed Bruce Willis to take on the name of a female muscle head? Why, Bruce, why? And why have the monotone voice of Stephen Segal throughout the movie? Is this supposed to be callous and unfeeling? It comes off as someone reciting memorized lines. The director should be sent to this make-believe world with a target-indicating bracelet.

In the end Roy saunters away with his joint/match saying, “Welcome to the real world.” The normal public would run from the chaotic scene, however these calmly about in various directions. The Julian, we suspected as dead, suddenly opens his eyes as if promising another terrible movie. But you know you’ll have a lot more promise of a plot, and better acting, from a video game.