Thursday, January 18, 2018

Forever My Girl

Cute guy, pretty girl, wedding scene, hit single, first mistake, concert tour, funeral scene, shunned bad boy,  precocious little girl, bonding time, celebrity treatment, near tragic incident, second mistake, the big realization, talent show/concert, the end. It's predictable love lost & love found romantic chick flick escapism written & directed by women for women. It feels & looks like a Nicholas Sparks film, but it's not. The 7-year-old girl Billy is more of a gimmick just being totally adorable & uttering memorable lines than representing a realistic kid, but who cares. Set in Louisiana, it's a Southern accent twang with a country music soundtrack. It screams girls night out and/or date night flick. There are no real surprises here as this love story unwinds to answer big question of why that was set up at the beginning.

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


In 1892, Capt. Blocker (Christian Bale) reluctantly accepts the assignment to escort a dying Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) & his family from New Mexico to their tribal lands in Montana. Their long journey seems to have danger lurking around every bend as they are joined by a distraught woman (Rosamund Pike) & a prisoner (Ben Foster) and have encounters with a Comanche war party, some fur trappers, & some demanding land owners. This is not your typical cowboys & indians western. The film is very slow paced with bursts of extreme violence as this troop of troubled soul deal their situation. The film very well crafted & the scenery is breath taking but the story is very grim & sad. Unless you understand Cheyenne, you'll have to read some subtitles. This is a quality film except it may not very entertaining for some.

Alien gives it 2½ "Valley of the Bears" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

12 Strong

Based on declassified government records, this is the amazing unknown story of America's first mission in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban in response to the 9/11 attacks.  An elite special forces team of twelve is sent behind enemy lines to assist the Northern Alliance fight against al-Qaida. Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, & Michael Peña star in this "strangers in a strange land" story who have to adapt to the local fighting style which includes riding into combat on horseback. This being a Jerry Bruckheimer production, one can expect plenty of big loud explosions. Out numbered & out gunned, this film is a tribute to those courageous warriors willing to sacrifice all to defend their country. At the end of the movie, there is a photo of the real heroes portrayed & some follow up information.

Alien gives it 3½ "horse soldiers" stars out of 4.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Den of Thieves

It's cops & robbers playing cat & mouse with each other trying to gain the upper hand in this action thriller heist film. Gerard Butler heads an elite team of L.A. County Sheriff deputies who are after a crack gang of successful bank robbers (Pablo Schreiber, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, & O'Shea Jackson Jr). Who will live? Who will die? Will the big bank heist succeed or will the loot be recovered? These Alpha dogs are fighting for the bone & only one can be the top dog. It's a fun time to be had trying to see through the deception even though the deck is stacked against you.

Alien gives it 3 "shoot 'em up" stars out of 4.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Post

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

Director Steven Spielberg has created a powerful riveting film about the Washington Post's involvement in the release of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration. Publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) & editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) struggle with the decision whether to publish or not the details of a classified government report. Streep & Hanks are outstanding in this true story about freedom of the the press versus national security. This fascinating story involving the newspaper business & its people seems even more relevant today considering the current presidential administration's relationship with the news media & the claims of "fake news".  This is a terrific behind-the-scenes history lesson that led to a landmark Supreme Court decision. At the film's conclusion is the beginnings of a historical event highlighted in another famous movie.

Alien gives it 3½ "a rough draft of history" stars out of 4.

Proud Mary

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

Move over Pam Grier, Taraji P. Henson has come to town as Mary, a mob hitman with a guilty conscience & a mother's protective instincts. It's "The Professional"  meets "The Godfather" with a nod to the 70's blaxploitation films as an assassin's mistake leads to a crime family war. Danny Glover plays Mary's boss. This is a cheesy fun guilty pleasure escapism film using a catchy John Fogarty-Tina Turner song as its gimmicky title to drive its climatic finish.

Alien gives it 3 "finding each other" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Commuter

It's "Taken" on a train meets "Runaway" with almost as many suspects as on the famed Orient Express but with more dead bodies & with a tribute to Kirk Douglas when a mystery woman (Vera Farmiga) poses a "hypothetical" question to ex-cop/just-fired insurance agent/daily commuter (Liam Neeson). Also costarring Patrick Wilson, this intense action thriller will keep audiences guessing to where this story is going & when are we getting to the end of the line. For those too clever for their own good, a certain plot point will appear obvious from the get-go. Our hero here may not have all the "special skills" as Bryan Mills but he is still desperately fighting to save his family & pushes forward with lots of luck & contrivances. It's the fun time you'd expect in an escapism film.

Alien gives it 3 "doing the right thing" stars out of 4.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Paddington 2

It's "To Catch a Thief" meets "Prison Break" when Paddington, the world's most famous marmalade sandwich eating bear, gets arrested for a crime he didn't commit & the Brown family must set out to clear his good name. Hugh Grant stars as the dastardly villain in this hunt for hidden treasure adventure. The whole family can enjoy the hilarious antics of this cuddly bear. This sequel is simply charming & delightful. Look for a funny musical number in the middle of the credits.

Alien gives it 3½ "pop-up book" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Insidious: The Last Key

Parapsychologist/demonologist Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) & her comic relief ghost busting sidekicks Specs & Tucker (Leigh Whannell & Angus Sampson) are back for more Insidious fun. Where do you go for the 4th film in the series (original, sequel, prequel, ?) when you killed off the best character in the first film? Insidious series writer & costar Whannell has cleverly devised a prequel featuring Elise Rainer. Flash back to Five Keys, New Mexico & a young child with the "Sixth Sense". See how Elise deals with her gift/curse & her demons, whether they are real or supernatural. It's a bit of the family reunion in this trip back home & back to the Further. Fans of this series will get some closure. This one wasn't that scary, but only time & box office numbers will tell if Whannell will get to pen a chapter 5.

Alien gives it 3 "silver whistle" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Molly's Game

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

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) was a US Olympic ski contender when a freak incident threw her off course from her athletic & career goals. See how she became known as the "poker princess" hosting elite high-rollers underground gambling games in L.A. & New York City for celebrities & the rich until the FBI makes a Russian mafia connection & shuts her down. Chastain turns in another outstanding performance, this time, as a smart fascinating character trying to do the right thing while balancing her life on the edge of danger. Idris Elba plays her attorney & Kevin Costner plays her hard driving father raising a family of over-achievers. Director/writer Aaron Sorkin has turned a true story into a compelling human interest biopic involving addiction. 

Alien gives it 3½ "poker jargon" stars out of 4.

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