Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Based on a famous short story by James Thurber, this updated movie version features Ben Stiller (producer, director, star) as the day dreamer with the over-active imagination. Walter Mitty is the mundane, boring Negative Asset Manager for Life Magazine. However, he winds up on a wild adventure chasing a photographer (Sean Penn) around the world trying to locate a most important lost negative. Kristen Wiig plays as the coworker he'd like to know better. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. This creative film is more about the journey than the destination.
Alien gives it 3 "frame #25" stars out of 4.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale gets the full Disney princess treatment when sisters become estranged by a childhood mishap and a tragic event, but are reunited by their love for each other. A super power, boulder trolls, a magical snowman, a prince, love at first sight, a coronation, a snow queen, an ice palace, a snow beast, an ice block cutter, and a moose provide some fabulous family entertainment destined to become another Disney classic. This terrific 3D animated film features some wonderful songs. If you arrive late, you may miss a very creative Disney short merging the old and the new cartoon styles as flat 2D black & white Mickey and friends convert to eye popping 3D color versions and revert back over & over again to delight the audience. If you leave to soon, you may miss one last gag at the end of the credits.
Alien gives it 3 ½ "conceal and control how you feel" stars out of 4.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
An eviction notice sets the wheels in motion for a young teen to spend the Christmas holidays with his estranged grandparents, which only raises questions about his mother & father. The all-star cast of actors & singers include Forrest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Tyrese Gibson, & Jacob Latimore. This inspirational movie about faith, family, and forgiveness climaxes at a Harlem church performance of the Black Nativity. For a heartwarming story and some great singing, check this holiday film.
Alien gives it 3 "Christmas miracle" stars out of 4.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
After his wife's death, ex-DEA agent (Jason Statham) moves to a small Louisiana backwater town seeking a safer & quieter lifestyle for himself and his young daughter. However, trouble seems to find him anyway. This very predictable plot (screenplay by Sylvester Stallone) is full of over-the-top stereotypical characters and so many uncanny coincidences. Statham's thick accent sets him out of place in this film, but who cares because everyone just comes to see him kick butt. Alien can understand casting James Franco as the local druglord sociopath, but I never would have expected Kate Bosworth as the foul-mouthed trailer trash druggie mom nor Winona Ryder as the meth dealing partner/bartender. This is a silly fun guilty pleasure action film where you hiss at the villains and cheer for the hero. It's rated "R" for language, violence, and just a bit of sexual content & drug use.
Alien gives it 2 ½ "can take them with his hands tied behind his back" stars out of 4.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Welcome to the 75th Hunger Games where it's "Gladiator" on reality TV with a "The Empire Strikes Back" vibe and your favorite tributes return for "Survivor" Panem All-Stars. When signs of trouble stir on the Victory Tour, President Snow is quick to extinguish any hint of rebellious threats as this second installment turns darker and deadlier. Spectacular special effects dominate and dazzle this two and a half hour thrill ride leading to that inevitable cliff hanger tease.
Alien gives it 3 ½ "3rd Quarter Quell" stars out of 4.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
In 1985, life changes dramatically for a man diagnosed with the HIV virus and he is expected to have just 30 days left to live. Desperately, he researches for solutions for this little understood illness at the time, resorts to smuggling unapproved FDA drugs, and establishes the Dallas Buyers Club to circumvent the law. This enlightening film focuses on those early HIV/AZT/AIDS issues and how unlikely partners came together for a common cause. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto give outstanding performances and demonstrate amazing commitment to their roles; a hard drinking, cocaine snorting, homophobic, wild partying, redneck cowboy and a drug addicted, transgendered woman. Based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, it is a raw and gritty look at one man's battle against a disease and the government.
Alien gives it 3 ½ "$400 dues for free drugs & therapy" stars out of 4.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The gang of best friends is back in a sequel to "The Best Man" (1999) and each member is carrying their own baggage to this Christmas time reunion. A primarily all black cast with a token white plays it for lots of fun and games until the story line takes a tragic turn, but don't fret too long because this holiday themed film focuses on family and friends. Although prior viewing of the original isn't absolutely necessary, it would have clued you in quicker to some of the past relationships and personalities. This talented cast (including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, and Nia Long) can handle comedy and drama. However, the holiday treat is not family friendly due to the "R" rating for language, sexual content, and some brief drug use. The ending hints to a possible jumping off point for a third successor.
Alien give it 3 "cat fighting & mama drama" stars out of 4.
Monday, November 11, 2013
This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.
In 1841, an educated free black man from upstate New York is abducted, sold into slavery, and spends the next 12 years trying to return home to his family. This brutally graphic depiction of inhumanity may be hard to watch at times. The acting all around is outstanding. The beauty and the ugliness of the South is contrasted. Witness the desperation and the fear experienced by these slaves just trying to survive while their spirits are being broken. This powerful film is about a dark part of American history and sadly reflects the sentiments of those times. It is based on a true story written by Solomon Northup, the man who survived this horrendous ordeal.
Alien gives it 3 ½ "Roll Jordan Roll" stars out of 4.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
An unreliable meat delivery guy (Vince Vaughn) tries to change his ways when his girlfriend (Colbie Smulders) becomes pregnant and he learns he has fathered 533 children through a sperm donation program. When some of his offspring petition to discover his identity, things get complicated as he becomes involved anonymously in their lives. This warm hearted comedy about doing the right thing is cute but predictable. The movie is about family and the paternal instinct to care for and protect our children.
Alien gives it 2 ½ "guardian angel" stars out of 4.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) paints a colorful road trip story on black & white film. Quirky characters and rich dialog are the keys to this funny and poignant film about a stubborn, confused, and alcoholic father who adamantly believes he has won a million dollar sweepstakes. This is a marvelous slice of Midwestern Americana as the journey begins in Billings, Montana, taking us to Lincoln, Nebraska, and back. the story explores the father/son relationship, returning to your hometown again, and the effect money can have on people. Bruce Dern and Will Forte are excellent as the father and son. The supporting cast is the perfect reflection of small town charm. This independent film may not sound that appealing to everyone, but if you give it a shot, you may be delightfully surprised.
Alien gives it 3 "truck, compressor, and prize winner hat" stars out of 4.