Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best of Me

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

Break out the tissues because another Nicholas Sparks novel has made it to the big screen. A guy (James Marsden) with a good heart but from the wrong side of the tracks meets the love of his life (Michelle Monaghan) but tragedy steps in and sets them on separate paths until they reunite 20 years later. It's a roller coaster ride for these star-crossed lovers with a destiny. The movie is full of classic romance novel material, enjoyably contrived at times, but with a cruel twist of fate. Don't be surprised if you become upset and develop a love/hate relationship with this film in the end. The younger versions of the two leads seemed poorly casted resemblance-wise.

Alien gives it 3 "life happens and life is messy" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fury (Century XD)

It's "Black Hawk Down" for a 5-man tank crew trying to rescue a pinned down platoon, secure the next town, and hold a key crossroads position while battling against superior Germany tanks in the middle of enemy territory. Brad Pitt (Wardaddy), Shia LaBeouf (Bible), Michael Pena (Gordo), Jon Bernthal (Coon-Ass), and Logan Lerman (Norman) give outstanding performances bringing grim realism to these heroic soldiers who followed orders while being out-numbered and out-gunned. The explosions are booming and the shells feel like they whiz right past your ears. Director/writer David Ayer puts you right in the driver's seat seeing WWII through the eyes of a new recruit (Lerman) "volunteered" straight from the clerks typing pool. Pitt plays the strong and tough leader capable of eliciting the best from his crew. Everyone knows war is ugly, but this shocking and brutally honest film paints some vivid realistic images not to be forgotten. This all guts and no glory movie is gripping, intense, and beautifully shot & told. Watch out, when these "hell of wheels" light them up on the big screen.

Alien gives it 4 "ideals are peaceful, history is violent" stars out of 4.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

St. Vincent

A mean old man (Bill Murray) with a drinking and gambling problem becomes the babysitter for a 12-year-old boy who was being bullied at his new school. Murray plays the lovable gambler/liar/cheat/grouch in his typical Bill Murray style. The boy is wiser way beyond his age. They become a dynamic dual and have a hilarious adventure cruising from the race track to the bar to the strip club, each learning to grow up along the way. Melissa McCarthy plays it serious as the divorced single mom struggling to best provide for her son. Alien was surprised to find Naomi Watts in the role of a Russian accented pregnant stripper/lady of the night. Although you know exactly where the plot is taking you, you can't help from getting emotional at that anticipated climatic moment. If you love Bill Murray and his antics, you'll enjoy this fantastic story about bringing out the best in one's self. Murray sings some Dylan during the credits. A Lexus short film titled "Barn Owl" plays as an opening trailer to this featured film.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "every day saints" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Men, Women, & Children

The effects of electronic technology and the internet on people, young and old, are explored in a film that isn't what it seems to be. The false assumption is that a movie directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno", "Up In The Air") and starring Adam Sandler & Jennifer Garner would be a typical comedy. Cast against type, Garner plays a scary overprotective mom. There are some laughs but they stem mostly from awkward sexual moments. It's kids will be kids and make dumb mistakes. Texting, gaming, online gambling, and such are just the gimmick here. The disturbing human behavior and its consequences are the real features of this movie. Alien found it depressing, awkward to watch at times, and a sad commentary on society. The film is well done, just unpleasant viewing.

Alien gives it 2 "bad choices" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dracula Untold (IMAX)

It's history meets the legendary horror myth when Vlad the Impaler transforms into Dracula. The prince of Transylvania makes a deal with the Devil in order to save the lives of his family and his fellow countrymen. He is the original batman with super powers and his own "kryptonite". The special effects are dazzling under the cover of darkness. At the IMAX, the quick cut battles scenes are dizzying and the sound effects are booming. This version is more action than horror. It is an interesting twist to the vampire genre paying homage to the allege origins of the Dracula legend.

Alien gives it 3 "let the game begin" stars out of 4.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Judge

The death of his mother brings a successful high-priced big city lawyer/estranged son (Robert Downey Jr) back to his small Indiana hometown where he must face his past relationships. Although he barely stand to be in the same room as his father, The Judge (Robert Duvall), he must help defend his cantankerous old man who is accused of murder. Downey & Duvall give Oscar-worthy performances. The supporting cast (including Vincent D'Orofrio, Vera Farmiga, and Billy Bob Thornton) is terrific as well. The trial is just the backdrop for this film about reconnecting relationships. However, the plot feels a bit contrived but it's a touching emotional ride as secrets are exposed.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "defend your honor" stars out of 4.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" meets "Mr. Mom" meets "The Internship" meets "Kangaroo Jack" when a middle child's birthday wish seems to curse his parents (Steve Carell & Jennifer Garner) and 3 siblings. This family oriented movie plays it safe by using classic comedy bits where the characters lose control of their situation and we laugh as they struggle to make things right. In the end, family is what's most important. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. It's good wholesome family fun for under 90 minutes.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "the super Coopers & the flaming pirate at Nagamaki's" stars out of 4.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Gone Girl

It's the "Amazing Amy" (Rosamund Pike) versus hubby Nick (Ben Affleck) in director David Fincher's version of "He Said, She Said". Nick's wife is missing and the evidence starts to look like he murdered her. It's a murder mystery with clues. It's a marriage that may be in trouble. It's a media circus. It may portray the scariest conniving psychopath that you have have ever encountered. Tyler Perry plays a high priced lawyer and Neil Patrick Harris plays an ex-boyfriend. This shocking psychological thriller is well acted and will have you cringing in your seat. Rated "R" for language, violence, sexual content, and nudity by all mentioned above except the lawyer.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "Come Home Amy" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


One scary gimmick from 2013's "The Conjuring" has spawned a prequel film that will undoubtedly draw the attention of horror fans. Annabelle is a creepy looking doll that for some strange reason, people desire have it. At least, until they suspect it is connected to some demonic possession and then they can't seem to get rid of it. This plot should not surprise anyone because it is pretty standard stuff for its genre. The movie is rather slow moving and is more stupid than scary as most of the potential frights are telegraphed ahead and leave little to surprise.

Alien gives it 2 "rare vintage doll collection" stars out of 4.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Beginning in the summer of 1984, two unlikely groups come together in a show of solidarity. A young gay activist in London forms the LGSM (Lesbians & Gays for Striking Miners) and collects donations to help the Miners in Wales who are on a national strike. This drama/comedy focuses on how the fears and prejudices of those times can be overcome if you just get to know others who are not like you. Based on true events, it is a touching story about fighting for equal rights for all. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine, and a number of lesser known actors give wonderful performances. This may not seem like a film that interests you, but if you overcome your prejudices and give it a try, you may find yourself enjoying this movie. Updates on the characters are captioned at the end of the film.

Alien gives it 3 "Pits & Perverts" stars out of 4.

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