Wednesday, June 29, 2016




“Mena“- Doug Liman (director); Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jayma Mays, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke – Biographical criminal drama-thriller film directed by Doug Liman and written by Gary Spinelli and starring Tom Cruise, based on the life of Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who became a drug smuggler in the 1980s and who was recruited later on by the DEA to provide intelligence.

“Hidden Figures” - Theodore Melfi (director); Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Janelle Monáe, Kirsten Dunst, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali - The film recounts the true story of the African-American mathematician, Katherine Johnson, and her two colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who helped NASA catch up in the Space Race Using their calculations, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of the Earth.

“Live By Night” - Ben Affleck (director/screenplay); Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Scott Eastwood, Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Michael Hall, Chris Cooper, Max Martini -  Set in the 1920s and 1930s, the story follows Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain. After moving to Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, he becomes a bootlegger and a rum-runner and, later, a notorious gangster.

“Table 19” – Jeffrey Blitz (director); Jay Duplass, Anna Kendrick, Amanda Crew, Stephen Merchant, Lisa Kudrow, Wyatt Russell, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, June Squibb  A woman (Anna Kendrick) attending her dearest friend's wedding finds herself seated at a random table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers.

“Bastards” - Lawrence Sher (director); Justin Malen (screenplay); Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, J. K. Simmons, Ving Rhames, Terry Bradshaw - Two brothers (Ed Helms, Owen Wilson) embark on a quest to find their father after learning that he's still alive.

“A Dogs Purpose” - Lasse Hallström (director); Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid, Bradley Cooper, Peggy Lipton, Juliet Rylance - A  Golden Retriever’s reincarnate quest to discover its purpose in the world over the course of several lifetimes with multiple dog owners.

“The Lake” - Steven Quale (director); Sullivan Stapleton, J. K. Simmons, Charlie Bewley, Diarmaid Murtagh, Sylvia Hoeks, Joshua Henry, Dimitri Leonidas - A team of Navy SEALs discover an immense treasure hidden in a Bosnian lake.

"Trainspotting 2" - Danny Boyle (director); Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle - No Plot Provided.


“Same Kind of Difference” - Michael Carney (director/screenplay); Renée Zellweger, Jon Voight, Djimon Hounsou, Olivia Holt, Greg Kinnear, Stephanie Leigh Schlund- An art dealer (Greg Kinnear) develops an unlikely friendship with a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou). 

“The Dark Tower” - Nikolaj Arcel (director/screeplay); Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen, Jeff Pinkner (screenplay); Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Katheryn Winnick, Claudia Kim. – From Steven King, a gunslinger (Idris Elba) and an evil sorcerer (Matthew McConaughey) embark on a journey to reach a mystical tower that can save their decaying world.

“The Great Wall” - Zhang Yimou (director); Tony Gilroy, (screenplay); Andy Lau, Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal. Set in the Northern Song Dynasty, the story is about mysteries revolving around the Great Wall of China.

“God Particle” -   Julius Onah (director); David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and John Krasinski. - The film follows a group of astronauts working aboard an American space station and apparently screwing with the laws of nature with the help of a particle accelerator. After something inevitably goes awry, the astronauts find that planet Earth has seemingly disappeared; what’s more, they’re getting signals from a nearby space station that shouldn’t exist.


“The Shack” - Stuart Hazeldine (director); Sam Worthington, Radha Mitchell, Octavia Spencer, Graham Greene. After a personal tragedy, a man (Sam Worthington) finds an invitation from God in his mailbox and goes on a life-changing journey.

“Kong; Skull Island” - Jordan Vogt-Roberts (director); Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Tom Wilkinson, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham – King Kong reboot.

“Beauty and the Beast”(Not Animation) - Bill Condon (director); Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw - A young woman (Emma Watson) discovers the kind heart and soul of a beast (Dan Stevens) who keeps her in its castle.

“Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur” - Guy Ritchie (director); Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen, Eric Bana, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou - The young Arthur runs the back passages of London with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword’s influence he meets an enigmatic young woman named Guinevere to eventually understand the power of his word to his quest to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king.

"Ghost in the Shell" - Rupert Sanders (director); Jonathan Herman, Jamie Moss (screenplay); Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Rila Fukushima - Cyborg The Major (Scarlett Johansson) and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic's Artificial Intelligence technology. 


“Going In Style” - Zach Braff (director); Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Joey King, Matt Dillon Desperate for money, three retired men (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin) hatch a scheme to rob a bank.

“Fast 8” - F. Gray (director); Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Elsa Pataky, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Kristofer Hivju  - Guys and Girls drive cars somewhere faster and higher than physics will or should allow – Makes a lot of money, THE END.


“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” - James Gunn (director/screenplay); Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Glenn Close, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Kurt Russell - Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) tries to find his true father.

“Baywatch” - Seth Gordon (director); Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera and Jon Bass. - American action comedy film directed by Seth Gordon, based on the 1989 series of the same name.


“Bad Boys 3” - Joe Carnahan (director); Martin Lawrence, Will Smith – The plot is unknown at this time.

“The Mummy” - Alex Kurtzman (director); Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Marwan Kenzari, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe - Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

“World War Z-2” - Steven Knight, Dennis Kelly (screenplay); Brad Pitt – The World Wide Zombie apocalypse continues.

“Despicable Me 3” - Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud (director); Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Thomas Kretschmann, Ewan McGregor, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Russell Brand - Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination.

“The House” - Andrew J. Cohen (director/screenplay); Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Ryan Simpkins, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Cedric Yarbrough - A husband (Ferrell) and wife (Poehler) team up with their neighbors to start an illegal casino in his basement to earn money, after they destroy their daughter's college fund.

“Uncharted” – David O’ Russell (Director); Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Chastain – No plot details available other than Action, Adventure – Stellar casting.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Shallows Review

The Shallows

Here’s the basic plot Summary to “The Shallows”. A very attractive beautiful blonde from Texas named Nancy (Blake Lively) has trek off to a tropical destination somewhere near Tijuana Mexico for some “R & R”; recreation and relaxation (actually shot off of Wales, Australia). Why? She needs a break from things as she has had a very life altering experience and needs some “me time” to escape. So she decides no less to go SURFINGALONE on a SECLUDED BEACH THAT NO ONE WILL TELL HER THE NAME OF and THAT SHE HAS NEVER BEEN TO BEFORE. Oh, and she goes surfing alone almost WHEN IT’S FREAKING SUNSET. So you mix in some American arrogance and naivety, you simply have to ask yourself the question, WHAT CAN GO WRONG?

Well unless you somehow never saw one single promo for this film it is quite apparent she is going to be attacked by a shark. And not just any old shark per se, but the Sadam Hussein Lord Vader of the ocean in the form of a Great White Shark no less, obviously to make things ultimately dramatic.

Blake Lively is very attractive; no one has ever looked better attacked by a shark laying on a secluded rock 200 feet from a tropical shore before. But if you took all of the slow motion scenery out of this movie’s first 23 minutes it would be hard pressed in real time to be more than 1 hour long verses it’s actual 1:27 running time.

So we are then forced to watch “Nancy” try to outsmart a shark who acts less a natural predator like in “Jaws” and more like a singularly focused serial homicidal killer in the hybrid form of a fish slash Jeffery Dahmer slash Ted Bundy.  I am no Marine Biologist, but sharks should only kill for food. My dorsal gray fin monster friend here seems to kill people because he really, really likes it. I mean he really likes it.

The first 25 minutes of this film is exquisite to look at. You see an exquisite looking and tanned Blake Lively (who sounds more Southern Californian than Texan) strolling about on a tropical white beach, swimming slow motion under crystal clear blue waters and a backdrop of pristine blue skies. Oh, did I mention Lively is in a bikini the whole time. I mean why wouldn’t you want to see that. Hell I thought Blake was hot as hell in the crime thriller “The Town” and she was a blue jean wearing runny nose crack head in that role.  Men (me) are so easy.

The problem I had with “The Shallows” is it appropriately named, shallow. The shark didn’t feel genuine, the idea of swimming or surfing in waters alone seemed beyond silly and stupid and the few supporting characters in the film are set up glaringly thin as the appetizers for things yet to come, literally and figuratively.

Still, you can watch “The Shallows” pretty easily mostly because everything about it is so very easy on the eyes, so for that measure alone it works well as a decent entertaining trip to the cinema. But overall the legacy of the more iconic film “Jaws” is very much safe as the superior effort. Why? Mostly because while “The Shallows” has some decent moments of tension it is ultimately very short on the more needed smart, sophisticated, complex and penetrating tension that should have kept you seriously asking yourself – wondering if you will; WILL SHE MAKE IT?   

2 – 1/2 Stars

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence & Free State of Jones

Independence Day: Resurgence

It’s the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster “Independence Day” (minus Will Smith) this time out starring Liam Hemsworth as WS’s character persona replacement, along with some of the original cast members including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Angelababy (yes that is her name), William Fichtner and Sela Ward.

So with that you already know that the octopus looking aliens are coming back, as if the first ass kicking we gave them wasn’t enough they again travel a couple trillion light years miles back to little old earth for some plain old global human ingenuity to put them back in their place.

Here’s my question, why? If you are going to take 20 years to do a sequel and hire 5 writers to make this screenplay, then why make it sound like it was written by an 18 month old baby playing with an I-Pad. I mean it’s not the that you can’t find something enjoyable about film, but it is so lathered up with repetitious cliché lines and scenes essentially a carbon copy of the original my question is WHY? Why did it to take 20 years to write this cheesy dialogue.

Visuals of the film were impressive with some entertaining aerial swift action, so it’s not a complete snoozer. But overall it’s just inept and lacking any real life or death consequence to the Cirque du Soleil high wire array of action on display. You take Jeff Goldblum out this film and it crashes and burns on arrival.

And finally another why. Why was actor Judd Hirsh (the elderly father to Goldblum’s character) even cast in this movie? I mean all he did was stir a boat on the water and drive a yellow school bus in the desert for the 2:10 minutes running time.

The movie is mostly forgettable after you leave the theater. But if you should go, I insist for your benefit that 20th Century Fox Films change the title to this effort to “Independence Day: Regurgitated”. Somewhere WS is smiling that he took a pass on this one.

2 - Stars  

Free State of Jones

Starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is a true action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

McConaughey does a good job in elevating this material to both convey some real powerful moments and earnestness to the films core historical themes portraying human injustice verses the need to doing what is right. But in the end FSOJ is only about McConaughey’s character Knight and nothing more. The supporting characters almost seem to vanish from the screen in terms of their relevance just as soon as they stop speaking. You would be hard pressed to remember what they said just seconds after their scene was over.

There are a couple of amazing dramatic moments in the film, but not enough of them to say hey after 2:30 minute running time……………. “Hey, you got to go see this in the theater”.

Still should you go see this it is watchable, but I do recommend you focus on the historical significance of the film's subject in how back in the 1860's and today the same social and political issues are very much relevant today.  

2 – 3/4 Stars