Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When The Game Stands Tall

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Laura Dern, Matthew Daddario, Clancy Brown, Stephan James and Ser'Darius Blain
Running Time: 1 Hour and 55 Minutes

This is the true story about the 2004 De La Salle High School football team. De La Salle is a private Catholic school for boys located in Concord, California. It is based on their legendary coach, Bob Ladouceur.
Coach Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel)  is notoriously famous for his 151 game winning streak.
He is a coach who has taught and led by example. He is a gentleman who has integrity and honor and has set the standard high for his young men to follow. The coach believes in unity and is trying to build camaraderie between the players. He likes to incorporate bible verses into his pep talks to help inspire and motivate his players. One of the scriptures he quotes is Matthew 23:13,  "Whosoever exalts himself shall be humbled. And whoever humbles himself shall be exalted".  Trying to teach the kids not to be selfish but to play for one another. The team endures some tough set backs when the coach suddenly suffers a life-threatening heart attack and is struggling to stay alive. He recovers and once again resumes his position as coach.
The team then suffers another devastating tragedy when one of their best teammates, T. K. Kelly (Stephan James) is suddenly shot and killed.
I have always been a sucker for a good sports movie. I enjoyed this movie but I didn't love it. I found myself getting bored and a little uninterested. It did have its high points and some exciting moments but overall, it just felt rather flat to me.
Parents be advised: The shooting scene and heart attack scene were sad and emotional. Also, one of the player's fathers was obsessed with his son breaking the record and he got abusive and violent with him which is always hard to watch!
I am giving "When The Game Stands Tall" two and a half bags of popcorn.

Friday, August 22, 2014

If I Stay

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jaime Blackley, Mirelle Enos, and Joshua Leonard
Running Time: 1 Hour and 46 Minutes

This much anticipated story is about seventeen year old Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is a prodigy on the cello. It is based on the popular teenage novel, of the same name. She is a very beautiful, dedicated and intelligent young lady whose lifelong dream is to attend Julliard.
Things become a little convoluted when she meets Adam (Jaime Blackley) a fellow student at her high school who asks her out on her first date.
He continues to pursue her and she continues to resist. She is totally devoted to her love of playing the cello. She finally caves in and accepts a date with young Adam. He is a lead singer for a small local rock band and she feels that they have nothing in common. She feels completely out of her element when she goes to watch him perform.
Her father Denny (Joshua Leonard) was a former musician who played in a rock band and her mother Kat (Mirelle Enos) is a free spirit with the attitude that anything goes. Her mother continually encourages her to date Adam.
Things take a terrible turn when the family gets into a catastrophic car wreck and some of them are fatally injured.
Mia is immediately unconscious and the movie takes place from her point of view while she is in a coma.
She is in a place between life and death and finds herself alone and unable to communicate with anyone to let them know she is still around. Faced with the mind-boggling dilemma of, should I stay or should I go?
The story is so mixed up, it jumps from before the coma to while she is in the coma.
I  found this movie to be so discombobulated and all over the place that I did not enjoy it.
 Her parents, especially her mother condoning and encouraging her to go and get romantically involved with Adam, both emotionally and physically. It was a relationship that was totally uncharacteristic for Mia's own personal behavior.
Parents be advised: I am recommending this movie for children ages 13 and over. The car wreck and the early age sexual relationship are too intense and too suggestive for young children. I feel the sexual relationship scenes are even too much for high school aged young adults. There is also some mild profanity.
I am giving "If I Stay" two bags of popcorn.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoppi Goldberg, Alan Ritchson as "Raphael", Noel Fisher as "Michelangelo", Pete Ploszek as "Leonardo" Johnny Knoxville as "the voice of Leonardo", Jeremy Howard as "Donatello", Danny Woodburn as "Splinter", Tony Shaloub as "the voice of Splinter", and Tohoru Masamune as "Shredder".
Running Time: 1 Hour and 41 Minutes

This was a really fun movie. Not knowing how they were going to revive this incredibly popular TV series, it transitioned pretty smooth and I was totally entertained. My oldest son was the biggest TMNT fan of all time, so I took him with me to the screening and he really enjoyed it too. It was a completely different look for this crime-fighting foursome.
New York City was being inundated by the evil, always diabolical and very intimidating "Shredder" (Tohoru Masamune). Shredder was directing his wicked foot clan to overthrow everyone in the City from the politicians to the police.
While out riding her bike one night, on-air reporter, Miss April O'Neil  (Megan Fox) is able to film the foot clan up to no-good on her cell phone and then the story begins.
She goes home and finds a box of keepsakes which includes a video of herself as a child in her father's laboratory and she discovers the secret of why the turtles were mutated. She had seen the turtles on her cell phone video and sets out to find if these new full-grown turtles could be the same ones.
With all of the evil that Shredder is inflicting on the city, the turtles (heroes in a half shell) come to the rescue.
There is a lot of action is this movie! There is one scene where they (April, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) and turtle Raphael)  go to the home of wealthy politician and so called friend Eric Sacks (William Fichtner).
Soon after a dramatic and intense snow covered downhill chase between, a rocket powered skateboard, a Humvee and some other vehicles takes place.
The turtles never fail to disappoint. Cowabunga, they brought the heroes in a half-shell back to the big-screen in a big way!
This is a fun and action-packed movie that will keep the young ones on the edge of their seats.
Parents be advised: I am recommending this movie for children ages 8 and up.Shredder is a violent and scary creature. I did notice one swear word and at the end of the movie, there is a very unnecessary "Victoria's Secret" billboard ad (Times Square style)  that shows the turtles crawling into the bra of the model. Completely random!
I am giving "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" two and a half bags of popcorn.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, CharlottenLe Bon and Amit Shah
Running Time: Two Hours and 35 Minutes

This was a beautiful movie. I Really enjoyed it with the sweet story, the beautiful French scenery and the great cooking. A very touching and cultural masterpiece that will stay with you.
This story is about the Kadam family from India, who after experiencing the overthrow of their government and numerous tragedies decides to migrate to London and then on to the French countryside. There they set up housing and attempt to open an Indian restaurant directly across the street from a Michelin starred elite French restaurant.
Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) the owner of the very popular and storied French restaurant is not at all happy about her new neighbors and the competition just a mere "Hundred feet" from her restaurants front door.When the new neighbors try to befriend her and inform her that they will be opening an "Indian Cuisine Restaurant", she does everything in her power to undermine and dash their dreams.
Little by little things start to change and Madame Mallory begins to soften her hard heart.
She sees great potential in Hassan (Manish Dayal) and decides to take him into her restaurant and tutor him in the art of fine French Cuisine.
He actually shows her a trick or two about what he was taught about Indian cuisine as a young boy from his beloved mother. Soon he is being heralded as a high-ranking chef and is being sought after by some of the finest restaurants in Paris.
He moves to Paris to fulfill his dream of becoming one of the worlds finest chefs. He is becoming known throughout France, but he is not feeling complete. He had met a beautiful young french woman named Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) who worked at Madame Mallory's restaurant and he longed to be reunited with her.
This is a movie that will lift your spirits and make you feel good. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was really nothing objectionable in it, thus the PG rating.
Parents be advised: I would recommend this movie for children ages eight and older just because of the more adult story, probably a little boring for children.
I am giving "The Hundred Foot Journey" three bags of popcorn.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel.

"Guardians Of The Galaxy" is the movie everyone is talking about but not too many people know what to expect. Guardians is based off of a Marvel Comics galactic ragtag superhero team, that in it's current form was only created in 2008.
The team's leader Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), or "Star-Lord" as he likes to refer to himself, is abducted as a young child and raised as a space outlaw. He comes to find himself in possession of a mysterious orb early on in the film. The "orb" is something that is highly desirous by many in the galaxy including the evil and unrelenting "Ronan The Accuser" (Lee Pace) who plays the antagonist in the film.
Star-Lord teams up with the other members of the Guardians along the way to make sure that the orb doesn't fall into the wrong hands. The team includes a green assassin named "Gamora" (Zoe Saldana), a revenge seeking brute, "Drax The Destroyer" (Dave Bautista) and a genetically enhanced genius, "Rocket Raccoon" the voice of  (Bradley Cooper and finally a walking and talking tree with a very limited vocabulary "Groot" voiced by (Vin Diesel).
This is a fast-paced, action packed, laugh out loud funny movie with some very touching and emotional moments as well. I found  Peter Quill to be very likable and an all around great character. Guardians lives up to all the hype! Marvel may have just made their best film to date with this one.
Parents be advised, there are some really quirky looking characters and some intimidating moments that might be too intense for young children. There is also a little bit of swearing. I would recommend this movie for children 10 and over.
I am giving "Guardians Of The Galaxy" four bags of popcorn.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell and Kodi Smit-McPhee
Running Time: 2 Hours and 10 Minutes

I remember the original "Planet of the Apes" back in the late 60's and 70's. I was a huge fan of the franchise until they became way too strange and overdone. I was reluctant to revisit the series in the 2011 movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes". It was a little too environmental for my taste. I did fall for the sweet ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) though and his plight for freedom for himself and his fellow apes which leads me to the here and now, the 2014 updated version "The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes".
This movie takes place a decade later after the devastating virus and its catastrophic effects leave the genetically superior apes living on their own in the Muir Woods area north of San Francisco. They have evolved to the point of being able to talk and communicate with one another. Their designated and compassionate leader is Caesar from the former movie. He is a great leader, he is both strong and gentle.
When a group of humans somehow survive the catastrophic virus attack, they leave their compound in downtown San Francisco to search for the dam. They need to access the dam to work on to help to restore power/electricity to San Francisco to help to resume some normalcy to their devastated city. While out searching for the dam they stumble upon the compound of hostile and violent apes. After one of the humans shoots and wounds an ape, all chaos ensues and a small war begins. The human Malcolm (Jason Clarke) tries to settle the apes down and bring peace, unity and trust to them. He and his comrades are both shocked and intrigued when they find out they can communicate and talk with these superior apes. They develop a relationship and try to gain their respect. As always someone has to be greedy and defiant and betray the apes trust.
I was quite impressed with this story. The movie ended up being better than I had anticipated. I really enjoyed the relationship between Caesar and Malcolm. Caesar was easy to fall for. He was so human-like and so tender and dear. His facial expressions as well as the other apes were absolutely incredible!
The Weta Digital 3-D was stunning and literally made you believe that the apes really were real. They did an outstanding job portraying these apes as human-like as possible. The story was impressive as well. It pits the bad guys against the good guys in hopes that the good guys will prevail.
Parents be advised: I would not recommend this for children under 13 because of the very realistic animation and the violence and the ferocity of some of the apes. It is very dark and dreary as a post apocalyptic world. Also, the F-bomb is needlessly dropped once.
I am giving "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" three and a half bags of popcorn.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammel and Willem Dafoe
Running Time: 2 Hours and 5 Minutes

WOW!!! What a moving story this is. A movie with reality and true grit that will send your heart into a talespin! The situation that many people unfortunately find themselves in and how they have to learn to live with cards they are dealt. This is the story of a young seventeen year old girl named
Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and her battle to stay alive. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was thirteen years old. Her cancer is fatal and she battles the symptoms and the reality of it everyday! She is an only child who is very close with her parents, mother Frannie (Laura Dern) and her father Michael (Sam Trammell). They are there by her side every step of the way. They do all that is humanly possible to assist and help her, they love her dearly, she is their whole world! They encourage her to attend the cancer support group with other teens around her same age, she is opposed and does not want to go. While attending the support group she meets a handsome young eighteen year old man named Gus (Ansel Elgort) who is also afflicted with cancer. He had to have his leg amputated but still carries on with a prosthetic leg and a super-great attitude!!! He was a basketball star in high school, athletic and looking forward to his future.
They were attracted to each other instantly, they were able to relate to each other and support each other. Hazel had been very isolated and had not had many opportunities to socialize under her circumstances where Gus was able to live a fairly normal teenage life. Hazel would read the same book over and over again, she tells Gus he has to read her book so he tells her she needs to read his favorite book too. Finally after he finishes her book he contacts her and thus their story begins.
They were able to go to Amsterdam to seek out the author of her favorite book and have quite an eye opening adventure.
This story was moving beyond words! It shows the true story of what these young people go through and the agony they have to endure. Gus has a great friend named Issac (Nat Wolff) from the support group who is battling his own cancer demons and ends up losing his eyes, he was an amazing young man who was a true friend. Laura Dern did a great job portraying her loving mother, very touching! Cancer is such a monster, it is definitely no respecter of persons! I lost my sister Sheila to cancer ten years ago. My sweet little six year old niece Gabrielle is battling her way through leukemia right now. This was a difficult movie to watch but I also think it is important too because it helps those who have fortunately not had a brush with cancer to understand and have more empathy for those who have!
Parents be advised: I am recommending that this movie is for the thirteen and over group. Not only is it highly emotional and realistic, but there is one sex scene in the movie that is very suggestive and the F-bomb is dropped once.
I am giving "The Fault in our Stars" three bags of popcorn.

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