Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass (3D)

It's "Alice in Wonderland" meets "Back to the Future" when all of your Lewis Carroll favorites return for another whimsically quirky Tim Burton adventure as the caterpillar-turned-blue-butterfly summons Alice (Mia Wasikowska) through a magical mirror instead of down the rabbit hole. In this origins story, Alice travels back in time to save her old friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), is chased by a half human/half clock works character called Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), and uncovers the truth behind the Red & White Queens' sibling rivalry (Helena Bonham Carter & Anne Hathaway). If you liked the original 2010 Disney film, you'll probably love this delightfully dark & visually stimulating sequel which includes the comedic antics of Humpty Dumpty, the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and Tweedledee & Tweedledum.

Alien gives it 3 "stolen chronosphere" stars out of 4.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Meddler

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

After the death of her beloved husband, a New York/New Jersey widow Marnie (Susan Sarandon) transplants herself to L.A. to be near her struggling screen writer daughter Lori (Rose Byrne). When Lori avoids her meddlesome mom, Marnie befriends Lori's friends, visits Lori's therapist, volunteers at a hospital, and helps an Apple support staff member because she has too much time & money on her hands. This loosely autobiographical story by writer/director Lorene Scafaria is charming, hysterically funny, & heart-warmingly satisfying as it explores human relationships while dealing with love & loss. Sarandon is magnificent, Byrne is terrific, & J.K. Simmons is delightful. Alien also enjoyed the Italian family scene & the musical selections used to enhance certain other memorable scenes. 

Alien gives it 3 ½ "blue chicken egg & peeing on a stick" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Mac & Kelly (Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne) are back, expecting a second child, & have their house in escrow, only to find out a sorority is moving into the former frat house next door. So the silly battle between the neighbors continues. Zac Efron also returns to the neighborhood to assist both sides but mainly appears shirtless as much as possible. The film has its moments but generally it feels too forced & contrived to create cheap & gross jokes for laughs. Chloe Grace Moretz & her nerdy sorority sisters can't quite pull it off in this new rivalry. These sisters don't seem to push their boundaries & be edgy enough for a real rowdy romp. Selena Gomez & Lisa Kudrow have film credits but their screen time amounts to not much more a long cameo. Still, look for at least one more cameo. The credits due thank Lena Dunham & Amy Schumer but their appearances may have been left on the editing room floor or so brief they were missed. Filmmakers try to justify some raunchy & politically incorrect behavior with lame equality/sexism excuses.  

Alien gives it 2 "Kappa Nu" stars out of 4. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Nice Guys

Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling star in this comedy/drama buddy cop/detective film that's a blast-from-the-past journey back to 1977 L.A. One is an alcoholic inept two-bit gumshoe/single dad and the other is a overweight no-nonsense sucker-punching enforcer. They team up when their separate cases involve a missing girl, Amelia. Crowe & Gosling are excellent but you have never seen them like this before. In this hilarious period piece, Gosling evens channels the late great Lou Costello at one point. Witty dialogus, spectacular stunts, the running jokes, & surprising sight gags will keep you intrigued in this slapstick/murder mystery with a political agenda & ties to the porn industry. The 13 year-old daughter (Angourie Rice) steals her scenes as a kind of a "Veronica Mars" junior type. Rated "R" for language, violence, & nudity. If you love the 70's, you'll probably love this unique film filled references to that era.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "Misty Mountains" stars out of 4.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Angry Bird Movie (3D)

It's "Anger Management" meets "V" when visitors from Piggy Island drop in on an island of happy flightless birds.  A grumpy loner bird with temper issues cries wolf but no one listens until it is too late so a band of outcasts must lead the rescue. This animated 3D film based on a popular smartphone game targets little boys who like gross bathroom humor & seeing things being smashed, destroyed, and exploded. Chaperoning adults, don't fret too much because amongst the crazy avian antics & ham hock humor, there are some jokes for you that will just sail over the little kiddies heads. The moral here is to do the right thing and to accept everyone even if they have flaws. Stay seated for one last scene in the middle of the credits.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "ham & eggs" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Money Monster

Have you ever invested in the stock market & loss big time? A desperate individual (Jack O'Connell) creates a hostage situation at a TV financial show to find out what happened to his money. George Clooney is the flashy TV host & Julia Roberts is the producer of the Money Monster TV show. Jodie Foster is the director of this intense drama with a sense of humor to break up the tension. It's also a behind the scenes look at television news broadcasting. This gripping drama has a few twists & surprises for you as the story evolves.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "Where in the World is Walt Camby?" Stars out of 4.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (3D)

It's Captain America v Iron Man aka Winter Solder the Prequel/Sequel aka Avengers 2.5 when a diabolical vengeance plot pits superheroes against each other. No one wants to see their favorite hero beat up, but everyone has pondered that hypothetical question, if so-and-so fought so-and-so, who would win? This fun action-packed film has these Marvel Comic characters lined up on opposite sides to throw punches & one liners at each other in an amazing display of their special powers & skill sets. The special effects are spectacular. This is a springboard launching pad for a new-to-the-big-screen character, a evolving recent hero, & a rebooting familiar face. Marvel fans should get really excited. Spoiler alert: Don't be surprised by the deaths of some known Marvel characters. Of course, look for Stan "The Man" Lee's expected cameo appearance and wait for 2 additional clips during & at the end of the credits. Just sit back, hang on tight, & enjoy the awesome show with possibly a romantic spark teaser.

Alien gives it 4 "united we stand, divided we fall" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


A witness to gangland slayings in a drug dealing turf war escapes to find sanctuary with 2 innocent bystanders only to be kidnapped & causing the bystanders to come to the rescue. This may sound like a normal action flick but the bystanders are portrayed by the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele and the witness is a cute & cuddly little kitten. When these 2 white-washed black nerds pretend to be tough mother f*cking gangstas, hilarity ensues as the film pokes fun at pop culture & ethnic stereotypes while providing lots of slo-mo shoot 'em up action. This outrageous premise plays out better than one might initially think. Actually, Keanu Reeves was so impressed with the trailer that he got involved in the post production voicing of the kitten, who was inexplicably named Keanu. Stay through the credits for one last scene.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "Shark Tank & Tectonic" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mother's Day

Director Garry Marshall is back with his "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts in another ensemble cast featuring another holiday (like his "New Year's Eve" & "Valentine's Day" movies). This is a very funny & touching film looking at the many complicated sides of motherhood. Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, & Jason Sudeikis have major roles but look for more familiar faces popping up. This intricate story deals with issues of jealousy, step-mothers, searching for biological mothers, gay & interracial relationships, and single parenting. It is formula but it's still entertaining. Look for a blooper reel running during the credits. If you are still searching for a gift for your mom, this may be a film for her.

Alien gives it 3 "generations coming together" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sing Street

Director/writer John Carney ("Once", "Begin Again") takes us on fun journey back in time to Dublin, 1985, where 15-year-old Connor's life is set in turmoil by financial & domestic troubles at home. While struggling to adjust to a new school environment, he is smitten by a pretty girl named Raphina who becomes his muse. His college dropout, stoner, older brother becomes his musical mentor. If you love 80's music & their music videos, check out this terrific comedy drama coming of age story with a nod to "Back to the Future". With great music & good acting, this warm & charming film about youth searching for love & a better life is a winner for the romantic at heart.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "brown shoes & drive it like you stole it" stars out of 4.

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