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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Shallows

Just in time for the summer & when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, it's "Soul Surfer" meets "Jaws" meets "Castaway" meets "127 Hours" when a med student's (Blake Lively) visit to a secret paradise beach turns into a deadly thriller that could be titled "Finding Nancy" & her nickname would be "Shark Bait". Threatened by a menacing great white shark, Nancy Adams is caught between a rock and blubbery place. Like Tom Hanks' character, she has her Wilson (Stephen Seagull) for company, but with the changing tides, she must seek help from a buoy. It's high tension & suspense as the situation keeps escalating from bad to worse to you got to be kidding me. It's a desperate fight for survival in essentially a one woman show with the safety of the shoreline just 200 yards away, so close yet so far away. At the start, the surfing scenes above & below the water are absolutely spectacular and make Lively appear to be competitive on the surfboard. If you are squeamish about blood, you might want to rethink this movie choice. However, some of the blood seen on film is really Lively's. The movie may not be realistically accurate but it is an entertaining suspense thriller.

Alien gives it 3 "just 32 seconds" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Warcraft

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

Based on an immensely popular subscription video game, it feels like a poor man's "Lord of the Rings" with a touch of the "300", but what the heck, the source material is only a role playing game so don't get your hopes too far up. The humans of Azeroth must battle invading Orcs, rescue their captured people, & close the magic portal before the next Horde wave can come through. Faithful gamers should quickly grasp the nuances of the plot while newbies may trail a bit but should pick up on the gist of the situation in this struggle between good & evil. Expect bigger-than-life battle scenes employing epic special effects honed over years of on-line computer development. When you hire the gorgeous Paul Patton to play an Orc, you don't mess with her beauty with CGI effects so the end result seems like the runt of the litter with a more human body type. Note that this reviewer is a non-gamer but still found this film entertaining escapism. The conclusion doesn't heavily hint to a sequel but the door is certainly left open.

Alien gives it 3 "honor your traditions" stars out of 4.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Neon Demon

It's "America's Next Top Model" on "Cutthroat Island" when the beautiful & sweet but naive 16-year-old Jessie (Elle Fanning) seems to be on the fast track to modeling stardom. From the ominous opening photo shoot scene, the audience feels that this poor newcomer or fresh meat is in certain trouble. We just don't know whether it will come from the new boy she just met or from the suspicious makeup girl (Jenna Malone) or from the other jealous models or from the sleazy motel owner (Keanu Reeves) or maybe from all of the above. In order to find out though, you must endure a extremely slow-paced, annoyingly & awkwardly artistic, seemingly pointless plot. Not sure whether this film should be classified as a thriller, a horror flick, or soft porn. If you dare watch this movie, brace yourself for at least two surprising shockers. At times, the movie seems so bad that it is funny. After viewing this film, you'll never look at fashion models the same again. The title makes as much sense as the movie. Art for art's sake does not make a film. 

Alien gives it 1 "dangerous girl in a kinky world" star out of 4.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The BFG (3D)

It's the fantasmical tale of 10-year-old Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) & her encounter with the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) in the Land of Giants & Dream Country. Based on the marvelous Roald Dahl children's book, director Steven Spielberg has created a visually mind-bending world built on size distortion. The special effects are amazingly stunning. Barnhill & Rylance are outstanding. The BFG's colorful misspeak of words is very clever & amusing. Look for a nice balance of humor & drama for kids of all ages. With human-eating giants & capturing dreams in a bottle, it's a child's fantasy adventure come true. It is a whimsical kid's dream brought to life on the big screen by Disney movie magic.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "the witching hour" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Central Intelligence

It's "Rush Hour" meets "Ride Along" meets Jason Bourne meets "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" when a little (Kevin) Hart & a big (Dwayne) Johnson team up for a hilarious buddy cop caper. CIA agent Bob Stone (Johnson) turns to his former classmate Calvin Joyner (Hart) for help to complete a dangerous mission. Hart is his usual funny self. See Johnson as you have never seen him before demonstrating he is willing to poke fun at himself. Together, they will have you rolling in the aisles. Throw in some explosions, gun battles, fist fights, & naked dancing. Don't surprised by a cameo or two. If you are looking for some laughs & a fun time, maybe you should check out this super silly spy spoof. Don't miss the blooper reel rolling during the credits.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "The Golden Jet & The Black Badger" stars out of 4.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Finding Dory (3D)

Some of your favorite fishy faces of the deep sea are back for another search & rescue mission. That lovable short-term memory challenged dingy Dory has childhood flashbacks that sets her on a journey across the ocean to find her parents with Marlin & Nemo in tow. Along the way, you'll meet some wonderful new creatures including the hilarious Hank the octopus, bizarre Becky the birdbrain feathered friend, near-sighted Destiny the whale shark, & echo-sounding Bailey the beluga whale. Adventure & amazing aquatic antics will entertain the young & the old while proving anything is possible no matter what handicaps you may have and the importance of family & friends. This fun sequel is terrific & makes one wonder who is getting lost next. Stay in your seats during the credits for more beautiful seascape visions, a game of Where's Waldo with Hank, and surprise appearances by some "Finding Nemo" drifters at the end. A wonderful pre-show short titled "Piper" about a baby sandpiper discovering his new environment is an adorable & charming film.

Alien gives it 4 "what would Dory do" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Puerto Ricans in Paris

Luis Guzman & Edgar Garcia star in this light hearted comedy buddy cop film that sends to two NYPD detectives to Paris to find a missing prototype handbag/key to next year's high end fashion line. These partners also happen to be brothers-in-law. Rosie Perez & Rosario Dawson are bigger name draws but unfortunately have rather minor roles. The film is just mildly funny, Guzman's character is annoyingly crass, & the plot is rather predictable but Paris is always beautiful. Look for the blooper reel to run during the credits.

Alien gives it 2 "macarons" stars out of 4.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Conjuring 2

1976-77: It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Ed & Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) are back to investigate paranormal events in this tale of two cities, Amityville, New York & Enfield, England. Is it hoax or paranormal activity when an 11-year-old girl appears to be possessed by a demonic spirit & terrorizing her household? Director James Wan skillfully uses every horror technique to build suspense & to make the audience jump. It moves a bit slow for most of the film but picks up speed once the big revelation is made. Toss in some Elvis & a little romance into the mix. Base on true story, there's levitation, teleportation, & premonition which felt far fetched & manufactured for the film but real life photos shown during the credits make it creepier & will make you want to google for more information.

Alien gives it 3 "the crooked man & the demonic nun" stars out of 4.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Now You See Me 2

Your favorite characters (Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine) from the 2013's deception & thievery film are back for more fun & games. The absent Isla Fisher has been replaced by Lizzy Caplan; Daniel Radcliffe has been added as the Horsemen's new nemesis; and Harrelson gets a dual role. If you liked the original, you'll probably enjoy the new masters of illusion antics as the team shifts from New York City to Macao to London. Seeing the original isn't absolutely necessary but helpful as more secrets from the past are unlocked. The challenge here is seeing whether you can figure out how they do it before the big reveal. Too bad movie magic & deception sometimes overshadows the real tricks of illusions but it is still fun to watch. 

Alien gives it 3 "slight of hand & misdirection" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (3D)

It's the Battle of New York meets the Death Star when our brothers in green must step out of the shadows with the aid from some brothers in blue to spoil Shredder & Krang's scheme for world domination. This latest sequel to the TMNT franchise manages to capture the spirit & fun of the unforgettable cartoon series while upscaling it's action thrills whether it's inspired by "Fast & Furious" vehicle chases or "Deliverance" rapids river bobbing or "Die Another Day" plane hijacking. These CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feel real & believable because they are infused with individual personalities and speak like real teenagers & brothers. April O'Neil (Megan Fox) snoops, Casey Jones skates with a hockey stick, Bebop & Rocksteady are cartoony idiots, and Tyler Perry plays a mad scientist as if he was Urkel grownup. For nostalgic childhood fun, check out these heroes in a half shell. Cowabunga dude! Turtle Power!

Alien gives it 3 "tuck & roll" stars out of 4.

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