Tuesday, July 22, 2014


It's "Lost in Translation" meets "Traffic" meets "Limitless" meets "She" meets "The Matrix" when Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) becomes an unwilling Asian mob drug mule. The accidental drug packet leakage into her system amps her brain power ten-fold. She becomes superhuman proof of a professor's (Morgan Freeman) brain usage theory. Director/writer Luc Besson provides a French connection (Taiwan to Paris mainly) to this sci-fi action fantasy fluff with little actual substance. The talented Johansson becomes an emotional-less soul-less drug addicted killer leaving a trail of dead bodies and reeking havoc & destruction in the wake of senseless violence. The lunacy of the mass mayhem is laughable at times. The action thrills seems to occur just for action sake and not necessarily a plot point.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "CPH4" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sex Tape

How can Cameron Diaz in a comedy titled "Sex Tape" not pique your interest. You'll get to see her naked butt bounce across the screen as well as Jason Segel's, but no one cares about his. Exhausted by their busy jobs and married 10 years with 2 kids, the flame in Jay's & Annie's love life needs a spark so they decide to make a sex tape based on all of the positions illustrated in the "Joy of Sex" book, This part of the film is the foreplay. When their video inadvertently gets uploaded up into the cloud, they spend a crazy "The Adventures in Babysitting" type night trying to undo the mistake. Rob Lowe is hilarious & look for a surprise cameo. Just when you think it is all over, the film climaxes with an outrageous glimpse of their video. This is a great date night film for married-with-kids couples who may be missing a little fun and laughter in their lives. Definitely "R" rated for sexual content, nudity, and language.

Alien gives it 3 "iPad gifts" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy

On March 22, 2023, it's the night of the 6th Annual Purge, a 12-hour period of U.S. government sanctioned murder & mayhem under the guise of lowering the crime rate. In this sequel to the disappointing 2013 original, the action takes to the streets as a mysterious good samaritan (Frank Grillo) rescues a mother & daughter as well as a couple with car trouble. They are all caught in the crossfire of masked men, government soldiers, anti-government rebels, and celebrating purgers with a few surprises along the way. If you like the thrill of danger possibly lurking around every corner and don't mind the gunfire and blood spillage, you may enjoy this twisted dystopia in the same vein as "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent". Do you have the urge to cleanse with a purge? Maybe this film will satisfy your desire.

Alien gives it 3 "Stay Safe" stars out of 4.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue (3D)

It's "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" when Disney blends "CHiPs" and "Emergency!" themes into their "Planes" sequel. Former crop duster turned air racer Dusty Crophopper develops a mechanical problem which forces him to consider a career change to become a fire fighter. It's comedy and high drama for the young and old (but targeting 8 to 10 year olds) as this 3D film honors all fire fighters. There's lots of aerial action as smokejumpers along with their air support struggle to put out fires in the beautiful national park. Look for one last clip in the middle of the credits.

Alien gives it 3 "second chances" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (3D)

It's San Francisco/Muir Woods 10 years after the "Rise of the Planet of the Apes". In this simian "Animal Farm", the viral drug ALZ-113 that made apes smarter has devastated the human population. Fear and mistrust plague both human and ape communities as they delicately balance on the fine line of peaceful coexistence. However, man and apes are not that much different as the search for power triggers that inevitable war between species.  The special effects motion-capture performances are amazingly convincing where these CGI renderings feel as real as their human counterparts. These powerful apes are intiminating and the battle scenes are intense. Look for a digital cameo late in the show. By the end of 2 hours 10 minutes, fans will be wondering what will be the next step in simian evolution and society and will be hoping for at least a trilogy to answer their question.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "war paint, fire, & primitive tools" stars out of 4.

Monday, July 07, 2014

And So It Goes

An obnoxious realtor (Michael Douglas) is forced to care for his newly discovered granddaughter, but fortunately gets some help from is next door neighbor (Diane Keaton). If you like Rob Reiner films, Douglas, and Keaton, you'll probably like this romantic comedy for the geriatric set. This is the humorous and heartwarming story about one man's metamorphosis as he learns to let go of the past, forgive his loved one, and pursue some new loves. It's predictable, but in a good way. Look for Reiner to direct himself, Keaton to sing, and a small cameo near the end of the film.

Alien gives it 3 "Little Shangri-La"  stars out of 4.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Melissa McCarthy stars as Tammy, a woman having a bad day when she loses her car, job, and husband. Needing to escape her situation, she ends up on a road trip with her grandma (Susan Sarandon). For this film, McCarthy teams up with her husband, Ben Falcone, for producing and writing credits. Falcone also directs and has a bit part. If you've seen McCarthy in "Identity Theft" and "Heat", you'll get more or less the same character type. Alien found the antics of these two road trip buddies more obnoxious than funny. The well-known cast of Allison Janey, Toni Collette, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Gary Cole, and Dan Akroyd is under used in minor roles. Look for a final scene and a gag reel clip during the credits.

Alien gives it 2 "Niagara Falls" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (3D)

Those robots in disguise are back after the Battle of Chicago and are being hunted down by CIA sanctioned consultants. A whole new human cast has been brought in to re-energize the franchise but not much has really changed. It still has a lot of car chases, explosions, and mind numbing action sequences. This is another classic Michael Bay special effects production and a Chevrolet showcase for it's latest line of car models. Does anyone remember or care about what happened in any of the previous movies? Does what happened previously make any difference? Almost two thirds of this nearly 3 hour extravaganza passes when Alien starts wondering where are those Dinobots I was expecting. If you loved those other Transformers films, you'll love this one too; else it's the same old, same old. No real transformation here.

Alien gives it 3 "Transformium" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Begin Again

A heartbroken songwriter (Keira Knightley), a fame chasing boyfriend (Adam Levine of Maroon 5), and a disgraced music executive (Mark Ruffalo) with an ex (Catherine Keener) & an estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) struggle to find their dreams in a masterpiece marriage of movie and music. Def Mos and Ceelo Green round out the talented cast. Writer/director John Carney has stepped up his game since his terrific "Once" film. This is a magnificent blend of wonderful actors, a great script, and beautiful music working in perfect harmony. Carney brings a delightful sense of humor to this how-to-create-a-music-album-on -the-cheap while taking audiences on a New York City tour. Don't get up too soon as the credits start to roll or you may miss the kicker the the story's end.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "making street music" stars out of 4.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Obvious Child

Vaginas, Burps, and Farts... Oh my!

Stand up comedienne Jenny Slate portrays a Jewish wanna be stand-up comedienne whose schtick borders on the vulgar and crass. Her profession & personal life goes into a tailspin starting when her boyfriend dumps her. This is awkward humor centering around a delicate subject when she becomes pregnant and seeks an abortion. This is a romantic comedy that doesn't quite follow the formula. Although it was not Alien's sense of humor, there is an important message here. This one probably has more film critic appeal than general public appeal. Alien was puzzled by the film's title and finally found a connection during the credits with the song "Obvious Child" written and sung by Paul Simon.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "one-night stand" stars out of 4.

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