Sunday, April 23, 2017

Born in China

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

DisneyNature takes us to remote areas of China in this documentary on the giant panda, the chiru antelope, the golden snub-nose monkey, & the snow leopard. See some beautiful cinematography & rare film footage of how these creature live & behave in their environment. It's terrific storytelling as filmmakers capture images & skillfully edit them into a humanized tale of families growing up & surviving through the seasons. This is a wonderful educational family film; cute & cuddly like these animals' young. During the credits, meet some of these dedicated filmmakers & see how they got some of their shots.

Alien gives it 3 "animal family life" stars out of 4.

Free Fire 

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

Set in 1978 Boston, an illegal arms sale goes way wrong when a previous encounter between minor henchmen from each side causes a spontaneous eruption of gunfire. This black comedy is a wild "shootout at the O.K. Corral" with bullets blazing with Stormtrooper blaster accuracy & ricocheting within the confines of an abandoned warehouse where you use anything for cover. Brie Larson & Armie Hammer are weapons brokers representing each side, the IRA & the gun dealer (Sharlto Copley). It's nearly 90 minutes of bullets, bickering, & betrayal in this deadly game of survival. There are only flesh wounds in the beginning but the body count slowly rises as the wounded crawl & limp their way to stop their opponent. You may like this quirky action flick if you like your humor dark as you try to guess if any will be leaving the warehouse alive.

Alien gives it 3 "messy madcap Mexican standoff" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It's "Fatal Attraction" meets "Obsessed" when ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl) plots to take back her daughter & her former husband from the new girlfriend Julia (Rosario Dawson). The film is fairly predictable for the genre with an unsuspecting vulnerable prey, a clueless boyfriend/ex-husband, an innocent child, & an obsessive controlling conniving crazy lady. It takes a while set up all the pieces of this carefully contrived house of cards before the inevitable clamatic big cat fight scene where the evil plan falls apart. Heigel's devilish performance makes it fun to watch as you feel her internal rage boil over & push her to cross the line into insanity. Tessa's mother (Cheryl Ladd) gives some insights to her daughter's disturbing behavior. One last visitor at the doorbell playfully hints at a possible haunting sequel, but it's hardly likely. Almost laughable is a totally unnecessary sequence contrasting a couple's impromptu sexual encounter & a self masturbation scene.

Alien gives it 3 "crazy psychotic bitch" stars out of 4. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Promise

A medical student (Oscar Isaac), a nanny (Charlotte Le Bon), & a journalist (Christian Bale) are caught in a love triangle during the last days of the Ottoman Turkish Empire & the beginning of World War I. Before Hitler, Nazis, & the persecution of Jews, there was the Turks attempted genocide of the Armenians, which they still try to deny to this day. This is a moving love story, terrific period piece, & excellent film with emotional performances & a tragic story based on historical events. This important history lesson is an emotional roller coaster about love, loss, atrocities, tragedy, & hope. Some vintage photos run during the credits. Let us not forget.

Alien gives it 3 "a man of his word" stars out of 4.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Everything, Everything 

It's "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" meets "The Space Between Us" when a young girl living an extremely sheltered life discovers a new family has moved in next door. Diagnosed with a rare immunity disease, she has spent nearly her entire life confined to her sealed sanitized home with her only human contacts being her doctor mother, a nurse, & the nurse's daughter. From the moment Madeline "Maddy" meets Oliver "Olly", her life begins to change & she begins to re-evaluates her existence. This cute & charming young love story with bittersweet kicker will be irresistible for all of those incurable romantics. "The Little Prince" - "Love is worth everything. Everything."

Alien gives it 3 "Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Fate of the Furious

Dom & crew are back for more outrageous fun & games "Fast & Furious" style. It's formulaic over-the-top action with family at the core, but then, why change what the fans have grown to love. If you have seen any of the film's trailers, you've had a glimpse of all the key action sequences. It's fairly predictable with a few twists & surprises. From street racing in Havana to car cabling in New York City to mayhem madness on ice in Russia, Dom goes rogue with his crew hot on his trail. Charlize Theron stars as the evil criminal mastermind Cipher, the bitch be crazy. Kurt Russell & Scott Eastwood represent the law enforcement in charge but along just for the ride. The always marvelous Helen Mirren has only a bit part but she milks it fabulously as does the little baby who steals practically all of his scenes. The usual funny one liners pepper the dialog as the team rags on each other. The film doesn't let you forget Paul Walker's character Brian O'Connor either. Fans of this series, should love this #8 of the franchise. Familiarity with some of the previous films may be helpful in connect some of the dots. Guaranteed to rev your motor with a NOx boost as Dom, Hobbs, Shaw, Letty, & company light it up against the baddies.

Alien gives it 3½ "never give up on Dom" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Going in Style

It's "Grumpy Old Men" meets "Ocean's Eleven" when 3 senior citizens facing financial difficulties decide to rob their bank in order to recover their denied pension funds. Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), & Al (Alan Arkin) are long time buddies in this hilarious remake of a 1979 comedy/drama. These veteran actors are perfectly casted as the bumbling geriatric amateurs with nothing to lose. The terrific supporting cast includes Christopher Lloyd as a re-incarnated Reverend Jim & a very funny Ann-Margaret. There are enough twists, turns, & surprises to keep the audiences guessing on which way the plot will unfold. This is a cute & charming heist film about don't discount older people & the importance of family.

Alien gives it 3½ "respect your elders" stars out of 4.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife

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

It's 1939 Warsaw & the German occupation of Poland is beginning. Jan & Antoinina's (Jessica Chastain) zoo becomes devastated as the war rages on but they try to survive doing whatever they must. Witnesses to the atrocities committed by the Germans, they can't just do nothing so they begin hiding Jews at their zoo until they can find safe houses to move them to. Chastain is outstanding as the zookeeper's wife struggling to hide her secret from her German liaison (Daniel Buël). With danger lurking around every corner, it's a heartbreaking true story about building walls to isolate people because of their religion & the brave people determined to resist such injustice. Enlightening summaries run at the end of this inspirational film. Though this may not be everyone's type of movie, it is an important piece of history with a message not to be forgotten.

Alien gives it 3½ "secret human zoo" stars out of 4.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Smurfs: The Lost Village

Those cute little blueberry elves are back with the evil wizard Gargamel hot on their trail in this third Smurfy film, but this time it's all animated & no live action. Like Snow & her 7 dwarfs, all of these boy Smurfs have names that match their personalities. But not Smurfette who is in search of her special defining trait. Along the way, she stumbles upon some mystery creatures from a lost village in the Forbidden Forrest & thus her adventure begins with Hefty, Brainy, & Clumsy in tow. This one is Smurfy fun for the 3 to 6 year olds, but parents beware because there is a sad tragic element to this struggle for power between good & evil. Looks like some lesser known contributors in this film making process decided to take matters into their own hands to get some special attention during the rolling credits.

Alien gives it 3 "a lump of clay with some magic" stars out of 4.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man of modest means trying to give his math prodigy niece Mary (McKenna Grace) a normal childhood. However, his prim & proper, rich, well-to-do mother fights him for custody because she believes the child's abilities need special nurturing. Little McKenna Grace is absolutely adorable in this heartbreaking & heartwarming story about wanting to do what's best for a gifted child. Octavia Spenser  is among the supporting cast. This predictable story is heavy handedly stacked with which characters who you are going to love & the ones you want to boo & hiss at. Follow the struggle in this a delightful & agonizing feel good film where you know from the beginning that all will be well in the end. This one definitely plays to your heart strings.

Alien gives it 3 "one-eyed Fred" stars out of 4.

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