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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wonder Woman

After a tease intro in "Superman vs Batman", DC Comics unleashes its super-heroine Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) action flick explaining her origins & her first encounter with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) & the outside world off her hidden island. This flashback story takes us back to WWI as Princess Diana's ideal life is disrupted by invading German forces; after which she is compelled to leave her island to protect the world from war naively following the stories from her childhood. It's tremendous slick special effects action as Diana demonstrates her amazing skill sets. She is Captain America meets the Hulk meets Hawkeye meets gladiator meets rodeo roper. Gadot is believable as this Amazonian warrior princess trying to fulfill her destiny. Disappointingly after 2 hours 21 minutes, there are no special added clips hinting of any future DC films.

Alien gives it 3½ "God-Killer" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Baywatch

How do you replicate a 90's popular TV show about lifeguards to make it relatable on today's big screen? You allow it to poke fun of itself & permit it to have a "R" rating. You retain a few key names but cast a couple of hunks like Duane Johnson & Zac Efron and some beautiful babes to provocatively fill out swimsuits. You make fun of television's "T's & A's" period & crime stopping drama along the sunny sandy beach. If you are familiar with the iconic TV show, you'll probably get the joke here but what will the uninitiated think? It's as predictable as any one hour formatted TV show as it tries to reconnect you to your juvenile sense of humor. This comedy played with a straight face has rookie pitted against mentor while investigating crimes of murder & drug trafficking alongside of saving potential drowning victims & preventing petty thefts. Can this nostalgic tribute make money at the box office? Look for a couple of key cameos & lots of unrealistic drama. So beware if you like your beloved TV show untainted. Outtakes play during the credits.

Alien gives it 3 "vomit comet" stars out of 4.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (3D)

It's Johnny Depp & Pirates of the Caribbean 5 so by now fans pretty much know what to expect; drunken buffoonery by Depp, mythical tales of the sea, & outrageous way-over-the-top action stunts. So how do you breath new life into the franchise? You hire 2 fresh new faces to fill in for Orlando & Keira type roles; son of Will Turner trying to save his father from a sea curse & astronomer/horologist/accused witch trying to unlock the secrets of her mysterious diary. Then you incorporate "Fast  & Furious", "Star Wars", and "The Little Mermaid" moments to kick up the script. Javier Bardem plays ghost pirate Captain Salazar who out to kill Jack Sparrow due to a past encounter. Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbarossa. Look for some surprise cameos. For this film critic, this is the best one since the original set sail in 2003. Stay to the end of the credits to see a familiar couple get a late night visitor... or did they? 

Alien gives it 3½ "Poseidon's Trident" stars out of 4.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Norman: The Modest Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

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

Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a name-dropping small-time business man who will say almost anything to gain someone's confidence in order to make contacts. He is an odd character in this equally odd film involving an Israeli political & a church about to be foreclosed. Michael Sheen & Steve Buscemi costar in this business-influencing-politics drama with Jewish ties. Gere gives great charm to an unlikable shady character who gets in over his head by making promises based on untruths. There are some interesting creative visuals but not enough to overcome the many subtitled moments. The title alone should be your warning of the plot line for this seemingly unrealistic story.

Alien gives it 2 "expensive pair of shoes" stars out of 4.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

All Saints

In Tennessee, a salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) is assigned the task of closing the tiny All Saints church due the inability to continue to make the mortgage payments. However, Spurlock has a change of heart when a group of Burmese refugees become part of his tiny congregation of a dozen or so. When he hears a message from God, he sets a farming plan in motion to save the church & help these refugees. As roadblocks begin to derail the plan, Spurlock begins having self doubts. Based on a true story, this is an amazing inspirational story about having faith, not giving up, & a community coming together. At the end of the film, there are summaries & photographs of the real people portrayed. This film is not scheduled to release in theaters until August 25.

Alien gives it 3 "planting seeds of hope" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Wall

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

It's post Iraqi War when a distress call from pipeline contractors brings 2 U.S. solders, a sniper (John Cena) & a spotter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to investigate. Ambushed, wounded, & pinned down by sniper fire, a crumbling stone wall becomes the sole source of protection. This is a grueling reminder of the possible hazards & dangers American solders may face in foreign lands fighting for peace & freedom. It's gripping tension as these soldiers struggle to survive against a clever hidden unseen enemy who holds all of the advantages & only has hate in his heart. This is a simple but powerful story told with only 3 main characters in the desert with a low wall. The talented Taylor-Johnson pretty much carries off this nearly one-man performance.

Alien gives it 3 "need medevac" stars out of 4.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

The misadventures of middle schooler Greg Heffley aka the Wimpy Kid continues as the family takes a cross-country road trip for Mee-Maw's 90th birthday celebration in this third sequel to this franchise. Interestingly enough, it has an entirely new cast but it was hardly noticeable for this reviewer. Alicia Silverstone plays the mom Susan this time around. If you have ever experienced a long family road trip with parents, 2 teenagers, & a toddler, you may appreciate the exaggerated humor exploited as personalities clash. It's old school vs high tech, parents vs teens, family time vs private time in this comedy of errors. This fun family film is targeted for 10-12 year olds with gross & bathroom humor sight gags but there is a clever Hitchcock inspired sequence that the older generation will get. If you are a fan of the books or the movies, you'll know what to expect. Look for a surprise clip in the middle of the credits.

Alien gives it 3 "viral diaper hands" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Alien: Covenant

Ten years has passed since the survivors of the Prometheus escaped from their dire situation. Now, colonists on the Covenant are on a 7-year journey to a new settlement on a promising looking planet. However, a major incident causes the emergency revival of the hibernating crew to make repairs & a decision for a off-course planet investigation has deadly results. Fans of the "Alien" series won't feel cheated as those iconic images of the pods, the face huggers, & the Xenomorphs will once again send chills down your spines & terror to your brains. "Prometheus" fans will finally get some closure. Expect a fair amount of gore to lock in that sense of fear & flee into your brain. True fans of the genre shouldn't have much trouble predicting where the story is headed but that doesn't spoil the fun. It's just part of the game being played here. Michael Fassbender returns to once again portray an unnervingly creepy synthetic. The theme here is about creation & where do things come from; whether human, alien, or synthetic. Buckle up and keep your weapons locked & loaded for another frightening thrill ride.

Alien gives it 3½ "Country Roads" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Snatched 

It's "Taken" without Bryan Mills & played for laughs with "The Odd Couple" mother/daughter team of Goldie Hawn & Amy Schumer.  When lovable loser Emily (Schumer) gets fired at work & dumped by her boyfriend all in the same day, she is forced to return home & to bring her scaredy cat, overprotective, paranoid mom Linda (Hawn) along on her nonrefundable vacation trip to Equador. It's a comedy of errors when the two get kidnapped & must rescue themselves from their dire situation. Their desperate calls for help are answered by their agoraphobic brother/son & 2 fellow tourists Ruth & Barb (Wanda Sykes & Joan Cusack) with special skill sets. This film plays out pretty much as you would expect but it's also better than I would have expected. Perfectly hilarious for the upcoming Mother's Day holiday, it predictably features that love/hate relationship bond between mothers & daughters.

Alien gives it 3 "can't live with with them; can't live without them" stars out of 4.

Monday, May 08, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (3D)

Most people are familiar with the story of King Arthur & the sword in the stone. Director Guy Ritchie puts his spin & style into this "Lion King" version. Uncle Scar (Jude Law) plots take throne by killing off Mufasa (Eric Bana) & his son Simba. But little Simba escapes & grows up with his Pumba & Timon buddies. Then the grown up Simba (Charlie Hunnam) returns to claim his rightful place in the kingdom. The enchanted sword Excaliber is Arthur's Mojir as it seems to give it's wielder super heroic powers. Stunning special effects, slo-mo 3D rotoscope action fight scenes, & the power of magic are used to enhance the film. Because young Arthur is raised in halls of a brothel & grows up in the streets of Londinium, his & his buddies' speech patterns sound more commoner & along with their British accents may take some effort to get in tune with. In the end, another chapter of the Camelot story seems to be set up as sequel potential.

Alien gives it 3½ "sword slaying magic" stars out of 4.

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