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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Silence

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

"Silence" also could have been called Finding Father Ferreira or The Japanese Inquisition or The Last Priest in Japan. Two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield & Adam Driver) go to Japan to seek their missing mentor (Liam Nielsen) & spread the word of Christianity when foreign religion has been outlawed & its followers executed. At nearly 3 hours long, this film about testing man's faith is also about testing the audience's patience to endure witnessing some cruel & unusual punishment. However, the acting is tremendous by Garfield as well as by the actors who play the guide & the Inquisitor. Producer/director/writer Martin Scorsese has crafted a beautiful but uncomfortable film about disturbing times in 17th century feudal Japan. It is steeped in Japanese culture. This film may not be everyone's cup of tea but you may want to give it a try if you have an interest in history, different cultures, and eternal faith.

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

It's the "Mission Impossible" assignment meets the "Fast & Furious" crew if they were into extreme sports instead of cars. A CIA official (Toni Collette) seeks out Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) because someone is dropping satellites out of the sky. As expected, you'll witness some outrageous stunts and highly stylized & choreographed fight & chase scenes in this game of betrayal & deceit. Besides Donnie Yen & Tony Jaa, look for some cameos & surprises in this slick action flick. Samuel L. Jackson also returns as recruiter Gibbons to explain to the Triple X Program to those xXx movie novices who missed the first two films. It's just a guilty pleasure over-the-top extreme stunt show to cheer for the bad boys who don't necessarily play by the rules but their hearts are in the right place. The film is a fun blast to watch with witty one-liners to make us smile. It's formula but who cares.

Alien gives it 3 "Dial 9 for help" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Dog's Purpose

They say a cat has nine lives, but what about dogs? Are you a dog lover? Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you ever wonder what man's best friend is thinking? Well, this cute & wholesome family film allows people to see the world through a dog's eyes. It's a dog's life, or rather, a dog's lives, as we follow Bailey's spirit as he is reborn as other dog breeds with different owners & new missions. It's comedic canine commentary as we listen to the dog's inner thoughts, frequently quite different from how humans perceive them. All the joys, frustrations, & heartaches of owning a dog are explored. Who can resist those cute little puppies? See the bond between a boy & his dog. Britt Robertson, Peggy Lipton, & Dennis Quaid are among the more recognizable names in the cast with Josh Gad as the dog's voice. You may want to bring along some tissues for the more emotional moments.

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sleepless

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

It's "Sleepless" in Sin City when an undercover cop Vincent Downs (Jaime Foxx) gets mixed up in drug deal heist gone bad that leads to his son being kidnapped. Then things just go from bad to worse when Internal Affairs (Michelle Monaghan) mucks up the mess. Yes, it's predictable, contrived, & unrealistic but it's fun to watch if you are just into outrageous action. Downs quinces, can barely catch his breathe in the hallways & stairways, & should have rightfully bled out, but he can still stand toe to toe in hand to hand combat with multiple foes; it must be the adrenalin. Surprisingly, Foxx manages to have 4 wardrobe changes in this wild night at the casino. This absentee husband/dad finally gets to spend some valuable father/son time with his boy & it also becomes sort of a family reunion when nurse/wife (Gabrielle Union) shows up at the underground casino parking garage. Tip "T.I." Harris & Dermot Mulroney are in the supporting cast. Does "whatever happens is Vegas, stays in Vegas" count when this film was actually filmed in Atlanta? This poor man's Jason Bourne film is more of a mindless guilty pleasure than a legit cop action drama.

Alien gives it 2½ "dirty cops" stars out of 4.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Bye Bye Man

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

It's the "Boogeyman" meets "Final Destination" when students stumble upon the name of the Bye-Bye Man & become doomed by the curse. The catch phrase "Don't say it, don't think it" leads them to making sacrifices in order stop this mysterious figure from appearing. If you are easily scared & love to be scared, this horror film may be suited for you. A seance, shadowy figure, a big hound, hallucinations, & paranoia drive this simple plot. The feeds on fear story is entertaining enough & keeps you guessing who will become the next victim(s).

Alien gives it 2½ "silver coins" stars out of 4.

Underworld: Blood Wars

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

Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back for the fifth installment of the Vampire vs Lycans series. Now she is an outlaw hated by both sides but vows to end this centuries old war even if she has to make the ultimate sacrifice. For those unfamiliar with the other 4 installments, an introductional summary attempts to bring you up to speed. Convenient blood memory recalls are used to fill in the other gaps along the way. It is a bloody tale of revenge & betrayal as individuals struggle for power. Underworld fans will get what they are looking for. Will this evolutionary step lead to a sixth installment with or with Selene? Only time will tell.

Alien gives it 3 "Nordic Coven" stars out of 4.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Split

It's "Sybil" meets "The Room" when a disturbed man (James McAvoy) kidnaps 3 teenage girls for some unknown purpose. Suspense arises as the terrified teens try to escape after meeting some of his many identities. Betty Buckley plays the doctor trying to treat & help resolve these 23, or maybe 24, disassociated personalities. Director & writer M Night Shyamalan strips down layers to make the captives more vulnerable & ramps ups the craziness to make the captor creepier. It's an eerie look at the dark psychological effects created by childhood abuse. Of course this a M Night Shyamalan film, so expect the unexpected twist & stay to the end for a surprise cameo & reference.

Alien gives it 3 "release the beast" stars out of 4.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Patriots Day

Mark Wahlberg & director Peter Berg have teamed up again to recount the events & the people surrounding the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Berg has crafted a powerful film honoring Boston, Boston's Finest, & the bombing survivors. Meet the key players hours before the two explosions that rocked the world, follow the intense manhunt for the bombers, & witness explosive confrontation in Watertown. John Goodman, JK Simmons, Kevin Bacon, & Michelle Monaghan are among the wonderful supporting cast. This is a terrific behind the scenes look at the emotions felt on that terrible week. It's still a gripping story even when you already know the outcome because this film tells the human side of the story about the lives effected by this event. At the end, meet some of the real people portrayed in the film through photos & videos.

Alien gives it 3½ "Boston Strong" stars out of 4.





























































Patriots Day

Mark Wahlberg & director Peter Berg have teamed up again to recount the events & the people surrounding the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Berg has crafted a powerful film honoring Boston, Boston's Finest, & the bombing survivors. Meet the key players hours before the two explosions that rocked the world, follow the intense manhunt for the bombers, & witness explosive confrontation in Watertown. John Goodman, JK Simmons, Kevin Bacon, & Michelle Monaghan are among the wonderful supporting cast. This is a terrific behind the scenes look at the emotions felt on that terrible week. It's still a gripping story even when you already know the outcome because this film tells the human side of the story about the lives effected by this event. At the end, meet some of the real people portrayed in the film through photos & videos.

Alien gives it 3 1/2 "Boston Strong" stars out of 4.





































































































Live by Night

It's the making of a mobster when Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck), son of a Boston police superintendent/WWI veteran/two-bit robber, rises to power through bootlegging & rum running during the Prohibition Era. Joe is a man driven by the love of the women in his life. Seemingly always caught between a rock & a hard place, but don't worry about Joe because he is smart. Don't underestimate him. Affleck produces, directs, screen writes, & stars in this beautiful looking, sometimes slow moving film with bursts of violence & a big time blood bath. Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, & Chris Cooper are among the outstanding supporting cast. The film magically transports you back to Boston & Tampa during the 1920s-30s where the Italian mob & the Irish mob are muscling in on each other's territories with the Ku Klux Klan tossed into the mix. 

Alien gives it 2½ "Riders of the Eastern Ridge" stars out of 4.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Monster Trucks

It's Creech, the Inner-Terrestrial meets Fast & Furious Monster Truck Rally when an oil drilling company accidentally releases some subterranean creatures into our surface world. Of course, the greedy oil company tries to cover up their mishap while two teens (Lucas Till and Jane Levy in their mid-twenties but trying to pass for high schoolers) are trying to rescue these intelligent bio-luminescent octopoids. Rob Lowe, Thomas Lennon, Danny Glover, & Amy Ryan have small parts in the supporting cast. It is a predictable but cute family film especially if you like crazy car chases and monster trucks crushing other vehicles or anything else in their path. Parents, buckle up your kids for a fun & wild thrill ride on big tires & jacked up suspensions. It's a better than I would have expected for a kiddie show.

Alien gives it 3 "Terravex Energy" stars out of 4.

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