Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (3D)

Spacial-temporal agents Major Valerian (Dane Dehaan) & Sargent Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are sent on a mission to protect Alpha, the city of a thousand planets, from an unknown dark force. Based on characters from a 1967 French comic book series, director Luc Besson has recreated an eye popping hipster styling sci-fi action adventure. Audiences will be mesmerized by strange alien creatures, elaborate foreign settings, & unusual weaponry. The images created of these futuristic cultures are fascinating & visually stunning. It has kind of an "Avatar" feel to it but the leads are only adequate when compared to the film's scope. It's not the actors but how their characters are written & how they relate to each other. Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, & Rihanna are in the supporting cast. One has a key role & the other two have rather bit parts. It's a fun, mind blowing, thrill ride.

Alien gives it 3 "a pearl & the converter" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Girls Trip

Four life long friends (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, & Tiffany Haddish) have gone their separate ways since attending school together but reunite for a girls trip to the Essence Festival in New Orleans. It's girls gone wild in the Big Easy as liquor loosen up these lovely ladies who become involved in a zip-line incident, a sexual escapade, & a barroom fight. When a scandal threatens to break up their friendship, the girls realize what must be done. It's R-rated for F-bombs, some nudity, & sexual content which includes a graphic demonstration of a technique that many may not have heard of before. These girls all bring it, but Haddish steals her scenes.  For fun & hilarity, go check it out.

Alien gives it 3 "grapefruit & a banana " stars out of 4. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


Director Christopher Nolan chronicles a historical day in May of 1940 where Allied forces are surrounded & trapped at Northern France's Dunkirk beach. It's 2 hours of anguish & agony watching these poor soldiers & rescuers being sitting ducks on the beach & in the waters targeted by German gunfire, air bombing attacks, & U-boat torpedoes. This is also the story of the nameless soldiers who jumped from the frying pan into the fire just trying to escape & survive as well as the unsung heroes who made their sacrifices count for something. As their darkest hour approaches, a sea of civilian boats arrive to aid in the rescue of more than 300,000.  This is an intense, powerful, & emotional movie filmed on an epic scale. It is a masterful tribute those whose fought, died, & survive at Dunkirk. Nolan puts you there in the middle of mass confusion & desperation.

Alien gives it 3 "sacrifice & never give up" stars out of 4.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Big Sick 

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

It''s humor in the midst of tragedy as a young Pakistani man (Kumail Nanjiai) struggles with living in America as part of Muslim family. Cultural differences & relationships are explored as this want-to-be standup comedian meets & falls for a girl named Emily (Zoe Kazan) with whom his family would not approve. Things get awkwardly tense & funny when she must be put under a medically induced coma because of an unknown infection. Ray Romano & Holly Hunter play Emily's parents.  It's a very funny romantic comedy & a hard-to-believe true story, but it was written by Nanjiani & his real life wife Emily Gordon. Kazan gives a standout performance balancing Nanjiani's low-keyed delivery.

Alien gives it 3 "whooped interjection" stars out of 4.

War for the Planet of the Apes (3D)

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

After Rise & Dawn, War completes this mutating virus trilogy reboot version of the 1968 classic. Leader Caesar & his group of apes attempt to live peacefully in the woods but the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) view them as a threat to mankind & relentlessly hunts them down. The motion captured special effects are amazing as this film that explores concepts of revenge, family & humanity. Told from the nonhuman perspective, you will believe these CGI simian creatures are real on screen. Those familiar with the older series of films can look for the hidden Easter eggs. 

Alien gives it 3½"the great ape escape" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wish Upon

It's "Mean Girls" meets "Aladdin" meets "Final Destination" when little Ramona Quimby grows up to be a bullied teenager Clare Shannon (Joey King) struggling to get through high school. Loosely based on a short story called "The Monkey's Paw", Clare's life takes a horrific turn when her dumpster diving dad (Ryan Phillippe) gives her an old Chinese music box which magically grants her 7 wishes, but at what price. Looking for revenge, fortune, & popularity, she gets more than what she bargained for. When the music plays, it's time to pay the piper. Audience can pretty much predict each key event outcome because the setup so blatantly telegraphs its intent that it becomes almost laughable. Nevertheless, the film uses this to build tension & that dread factor just before you cringe a bit. This is basically a drug abuse metaphor with the user so addicted to the self gratifying highs that they can't see how they are hurting those loved ones closest to them. Look for a mid-credit clip that is totally expected in this genre.

Alien gives it 2½ "Yao Guai" stars out of 4.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The House

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

When Scott (Will Ferrell) & Kate (Amy Poehler) Johansen realize they can't afford the college tuition for their daughter Alex, in desperation, they scheme to open an underground casino with the help of a soon-to-be divorced neighbor. With the team of Ferrell & Poehler, you should know to expect wacky comedy. As the film progresses, their illegal operation turns more Vegas-like. It's sight gags galore with even Jeremy Renner making an appearance in this insanity. It's R-rated for it's F-bombs & some bloody over-the-top violence. 

Alien gives it 2 "the Butcher & the Burner" stars out of 4.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baby Driver

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

No one puts Baby in the corner... because he belongs in the driver's seat.

It's "The Transporter" meets "Ocean's 11" meets "Bonnie & Clyde" meets "The Getaway" when a hearing impaired young man named Baby (Ansel Elgort) is coerced into being the getaway driver for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) & his gang of thieves. Jaime Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, & Lily James are well cast in the major supporting roles. Director/writer Edgar Wright has married a fabulous sound track to a slick action thrill ride. Key music selections flow through the film driving the action & pacing the rhythm of some elaborate choreography. It's a feast for the ears & eyes. Colorful & intense characters light up the screen. Spacey, Foxx, Hamm, & Gonzalez play very scary bad guys that you wouldn't want to hang around. James is the sweet waitress that captures Baby's heart. The stunts are absolutely amazing & done without any CGI aid. Just when you think you are breaking for the finish line, another twist keeps the wheels spinning. With a hum in the drum & the beat on the street, you'll hear the squeal of the wheel so just buckle up, hang on, & enjoy the ride.

Alien gives it 3½ "talented wheelman" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man was first introduced in "Captain America: Civil War" & now stars in this second reboot of the Spidey franchise. As Tony Stark's pet project, Parker is fresh off the Berlin mission where he mixed it up with the Avengers. But now he's back in Queens, New York, as ordinary high schooler Peter & trying to fight local crime with hopes of impressing Stark & getting a shot at becoming an Avenger. Of course, he's quite green at the superhero business & needs a lot of seasoning before taking off the training wheels. Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture, a man out for revenge & who would do anything to protect his family. It's a fun action adventure show as we watch this awkward adolescent/budding superhero struggle to find himself & his role in life. Look for some surprise twists & some familiar faces turning up. Stan Lee has a funny line, but Aunt May has the funniest last line. There is a mid-credit clip hinting at a future villain & a PSA at the end of credits poking fun at the audience. 

Alien gives it 3½ "just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Despicable Me 3

It's "The Pink Panther" meets "The Parent Trap" meets "Mission Impossible" meets "The Great Escape" meets "Pacific Rim" when Gru, Lucy, & those adorable little girls return for more fun & wild adventures. A has-been child star turned evil villain, Balthazar Bratt, is out for revenge while Gru & Lucy struggle to be good responsible parents, the minions mutiny, and Gru discovers he has a twin. On the surface, it's a entertaining kids film but deep down to its core, it's really a hilariously smart movie for adults as it pokes fun at parenting, sibling rivalries, & espionage films. Those fan favorite minions are also back for more wacky verbally unintelligible nonsense. It's laugh out loud, fast & furious, sight gags galore, a whimsical search for unicorns, and a nostalgic trip back to the 80s. 

Alien gives it 3½ "family tradition" stars out of 4.

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