On Screen & Beyond

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SPOTLIGHT MOVIE

Spotlight Movie - Here, each month, we will feature info on a movie which will be released this month. 

Below the Spotlight Movie, you can see our reviews of movies In Theaters and not yet out on DVD!

This Month's Spotlight Movie

 

Release Date in Theaters - December 18, 2015

 

STAR TREK BEYOND

Starring:    

Chris Pine, Simon Peg, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban

    Directed by

Justin Lin

Produced by

J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Bryan Burk

Written by 

Doug Jung and Simon Peg

 

 

======================

IN THEATER MOVIE REVIEWS

Movie reviews - short and to the point from "On Screen & Beyond"!  

1 slate = Don't bother       2 slates = Not bad     

3 slates = Worth seeing     4 slates - Must see 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Captain America steps up his game!
A bit of history: Like most of the Marvel characters, Captain America did not get his start in comic books. He was born in a 1944 movie serial - short films shown in movie theaters before the feature film with a cliffhanger each week to draw more people to the theater. Fast-forward to 2014 and Captain America is still attracting moviegoers to the theatres - grossing over $96.2 million last weekend in the United States. The film was made on an estimated $170,000 budget!
Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, for the third time on the big screen. This time he is struggling to adapt to modern civilization but must deal with the past, which, of course, has returned to haunt him. Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson ("Pulp Fiction") returns as Nick Fury, the World War II hero and present day super spy who heads up the S.H.I.E.L.D. Jackson is on top of his game and his presence on the screen is dominating. Four-time Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson ("Lost in Translation") once again assumes the role of the sexy Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, and Sebastian Stan ("Black Swan") returns as Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier.
A few new characters are introduced in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." First is Sam Wilson, or Falcon, played solidly by Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker," "Million Dollar Baby"). Mackie's portrayal of Falcon makes you anticipate his return in future Captain America and Avengers films. Screen legend Robert Redford is added to the cast as Alexander Price, a friend and mentor to Nick Fury - or is he? It was great to see Redford take on a supporting role; in a recent interview he stated that he accepted the role so his grandchildren could finally see him in a movie.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is not just another super hero movie with special effects that will blow your mind away. It has a solid storyline that will hold anyone's interest throughout the 2 hours and 16 minutes and is rated PG-13, for violence and language.

MR PEABODY AND SHERMAN

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is an enjoyable film for the young and the young at heart. 

Many of you will remember this television cartoon from the late 1950s and early 60s, about a genius Nobel Peaceprize-winning dog and his adopted son, Sherman. Mr. Peabody is voiced by Emmy Recipient, Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and the young, talented actor, Max Charles, voices Sherman.  You may remember Max from the 2012 movies The Three Stooges and The Amazing Spider-Man or the television series The Neighbors.  He is one to watch as his career continues to rise.

In this film version of Mr. Peabody, he has built the ultimate time travel machine – the WABAC and all is going well until the day Sherman takes the controls to impress his crush, Penny.   Things go haywire and Sherman rips a hole in the universe.   Now it’s up to Mr. Peabody to save the day!   Mr. Peabody must face his biggest challenge in life – being a parent. 

Rob Minkoff, who also directed several family films including The Lion King, Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2 and The Haunted Mansion, directs Mr. Peabody & Sherman.   The movie is rated PG with a TRT (total running time) of 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

It is great to see high-quality children’s films being released so early in the year playing in theatres; first the Lego movie and now Mr. Peabody & Sherman.  In past years, children’s movies were not released until late May, usually around Memorial Day weekend.  So take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy Mr. Peabody & Sherman with the family. 

 

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

2014 thus far looks like the year for kid’s films, Lego, which broke box office numbers, then Mr. Sherman & Peabody and now Hollywood has released Muppets Most Wanted.

 

The previous Muppets movie, The Muppets released in 2011, grossed over $86 million at the U.S. box office and was made on a $45 million dollar budget.  What does that mean?  Sequel!  Muppets Most Wanted revolves around the Muppets themselves instead of the humans as was the case in in The Muppets – Jason Segel and Amy Adams do not return in this sequel.  In Muppets Most Wanted the tone is set quickly in the opening musical number, as theypoke fun at themselves with the music line “Everyone knows that the sequel’s never quite as good” – classic Jim Henson humor.  The line probably refers to the 1999 Muppet flop, Muppets From Space.  From that musical number on, I knew I was in for an enjoyable one hour and 52 minutes.

 

The Muppets are on a world tour and get caught up in an international jewelry heist as they deal with a Kermit the Frog look-a-like, the impostor, Constantine.  The forty plusyear olds in the audience will appreciate the return of a more classic Jim Henson style dialogue and screenplay.  Some of the children will not get the humor but neitherdid we as kids, which is okay.  They will love the vibrantcolors and the loveable puppet characters they see on the BIG screen that were created over 40 years ago on PBS.

 

The human supporting roles in the film include, Ty Burrell (Modern Family), as a very funny Clouseau-like Interpol agent; Ricky Gervais (The Office (UK), Extras) as DominicBadguy, Constantine’s criminal sidekick; and Tina Fey (3rd Rock) as a Russian prison guard. Also, as with the classic Muppets shows, the movies have several cameoappearances e.g., Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Salma Hayek, and Usher just to name a few.

 

Some may say they miss the humans as the leads, but I say it’s the Muppets movie and glad the focus has returned to be on them.  Muppets Most Wanted is rated PG.  

 

2.5 Slates

 

OSAGE COUNTY

John Wells, is a six time Emmy Award winner who producedand wrote great television shows including ER, The West Wing and Southland, and is the director of August: Osage County,that garnered a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for author Tracy Letts.  Letts also wrote the screenplay, which is produced by Hollywood heavyweights, George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein.  

 

This dramedy (Drama / Comedy) revolves around Vi Weston, the pill popping, and f-word using matriarch of a dysfunctional Oklahoma plains family. She is played by the incredible seventeen times Oscar nominee and three time Oscar winner, Meryl Streep.   Streep is a true chameleon – from her roles inThe Deer Hunter to last year’s Oscar winner for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.  And once again Meryl pulls off magic and will receive her record breaking eighteenthOscar Nomination.  A family crisis reunites the Weston family and they all must deal with their deeply divided lives.  Oscar Winner Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) delivers what I believe is the best performance of her career, portraying Vi Weston’s bitter and hostile daughter, Barbara.  The amazing ensemblealso includes Oscar winner, Chris Cooper (Adaptation); Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!), Margo Martndale (Dead Man Walking), and Oscar Nominees, Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff), Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Golden Globe Nominee, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock).  The performances of the entire cast are outstanding.  

 

August: Osage County is bitterly funny in a few scenes but overall it is a dramatic piece.  It does feel stagy at times(especially inside the house) and it is Julia Roberts who pulls the scenes back into being a motion picture.  

 

August: Osage County is rated R for language, alcohol and drug use, sexual content and violence.

 

3 Slates

 

THE MONUMENTS MEN

"The Monuments Men" is the latest directing project by Oscar recipient George Clooney, and his frequent collaborator and co-writer, Oscar winner Grant Heslov ("Argo," "The Ides of March," "Good Night, and Good Luck"). They adapted the screenplay from the novel written by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter, which is based on the true story of servicemen and women assigned to locate and recover works of art stolen from museums, universities and personal collections by Adolf Hitler, Herman Göring and the Nazis during World War II.


The ensemble cast includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and soon to be Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. The entire cast delivers outstanding performances but it is Blanchett who shines on the big screen as the assistant curator from the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris and who is reluctant to cooperate. It is her character's detailed notes and logs that lead to many of the recoveries.


"The Monuments Men" is no "Schindler's List." It is an interesting movie with flaws. It lacks character development and Clooney never truly brings out the tension of what one would except from a World War II period piece. Plus the musical score sets the tone for humor that diverts the story away from the seriousness of the subject matter. I commend Clooney for bringing to light the story of these courageous individuals as an educational vehicle and addressing the question: What's the price we're willing to pay for art? The movie made me want to learn more about the Monument Men, the stolen art and the recovery. If a film can educate as well as entertain, it is worth the price of admission.

"The Monuments Men" is rated PG-13 for a few war scenes and smoking. It has a running time of 1 hour and 58 minutes.

3 SLATES

FROZEN

It is the time for holiday blockbusters and Disney Animation's release of the family animated film Frozen, which comes from Disney Animation not Pixar. The quality is not up to Pixar’s standards but over all the film is very well produced.  I believe it is Disney's best film in recent years.  

 

The filmmakers deliver a few surprises in Frozen: a strong female presence – the main leads are both girls and Jennifer Leeis a co-director. Ms. Lee wrote last year's Oscar nominated animated film, Wreck-It Ralph.  She brings a female perspective to the film especially in the form of Wreck-It Ralph humor.  Chris Buck (Surf's Up, Tarzan) is the other director.  

 

Frozen focuses on the two princess sisters: Anna, played byKristen Bell, (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Elsa the older sister, played by Broadway actress and Tony winner, Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked). The movie opens showing the closeness of the two as they play in the kingdom enjoying each other and establishing their sisterly bond. One day whileplaying a near tragedy strikes Anna.  Apparently Elsa has magical powers that produce snow and ice from her fingertips.  As the sisters are playing on the ice playground that Elsa created in the ballroom, Anna receives a head injury and is unconscious.  The only way to save her is for the king and queen to take her to the chief troll who saves Anna’s life but erases her memory of the event and her knowledge of Elsa’spowers.  

 

After the untimely death of the King and Queen, Elsa becomesQueen at the age of 18. During the coronation she tries to conceal her powers, but when Anna announces her engagement,Elsa goes into a rage, freezes the entire kingdom and runs away to create her own ice palace.  It is Anna who must save the kingdom and her sister as she sets out on her journey.  Along the way, Anna encounters new friends to assist her, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) the local ice salesman, his horse and a snowman named Olaf, voiced by Broadway star, Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon). Olaf is the much–needed comedic relief in the film.  He lights up the screen in all his scenes.  So with the help of these Wizard of Oz type characters, Anna must break the spill.

 

Frozen is rated PG, due to the death of the King and Queen and the evil gigantic snow monster that might frighten the little ones. The total running time (TRT) is 1 hour and 48 minutes.  The movie goes along at a quick pace.

 

 

3 Slates

 

THE WOLVERINE

Oscar nominee, Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) reprises his role as Logan “The Wolverine” for the sixth time in this new chapter from the X-Men movie series which is truer to its comic book origins than most superhero films.

This movie is based on the celebrated comic book arc, which takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him changed forever.  Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than he has ever been before.

The story begins as a flashback to World War II when the young Logan saves the life of one of his Japanese captors. The film then returns to today and Logan is a hermit in the back reaches of Alaska, suffering the mental damages from killing the woman he loved. Wolverine is tracked down by Yukoi (Rila Fukushima) and returned to to Japan as the dying wish of his aged archenemy, Yashida (Haruhiko “Hal” Yamanouchi). Through varying twists and turns, Wolverine has lost his ability to heal and is damaged by his adversaries during each battle.

This is an interesting film that gives viewers the best examination of Logan so far. It is much better movie than "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" that came out in 2009, also starring Jackman.  The Wolverine provides the audience with the appropriate amount of action for a comic book movie of this nature.  It is not over the top and forced.  This is a summer flick that's mostly a good deal of fun and that is all anyone can expect from a superhero summer movie.

Moviegoer tip:  As an extra bonus for all X-Men fans – wait for the Easter egg in the credits.

The Wolverine is rated PG13. TRT (Total Running Time) Two hours nine minutes

2.5 Slates

 

RED 2

Retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) must call again upon his retired operatives to pinpoint a missing transportable nuclear device.  The all-star cast includes Oscar Winners, Helen Mirren (The Queen), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) plus two-time Oscar Nominee, John Malkovich (In The Line of Fire, Places in the Heart).  Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones are new editions to the cast since the original Red from 2010.

This installment moves the script away from the "I am old, I am retired senior citizen jokes" and focuses on a broader comedy story line, which works better throughout the film.  The cast seems to have more freedom to showcase their talents.  Once again it is John Malkovich who steals the show as Marvin, the mad prankster scientist.  Sir Anthony Hopkins is a great addition as the loony professor, Bailey who holds all the information that the Red crew is searching for.  Just as the movie starts to slow in the second half it is Hopkins who carries the movie.

At times it seems like the comedy is forced, but over all Red 2 is a lighthearted comedy/action flick. Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest, Fun with Dick and Jane) directed this sequel. Red 2 is rated PG13 with a TRT (total running time) of 116 minutes. FYI, Red 3 is already in the works.

2.5 Slates

TURBO

Dreamworks’ latest animation feature Turbo is a true underdog story, or should I say undersnail, story.  Turbo, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, The Croods) is a young snail that spends all his free time watching Indy 500 VHS tapes on TV and dreaming of one day being in the winner’s circle. His elder brother, Chet (Oscar Nominee, Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man)supports Turbo’s dream until it becomes a reality when Turbo is flooded with nitrous oxide from a street racing car’s engine.  Now Turbo is super charged and ready to go.  

 

Turbo’s biggest supporter is Tito (Michael Pena, Cash), co-owner of a failing taco restaurant in the run down strip mall, the Starlight Plaza.   It is Tito who persuades the other Starlight Plaza shop owners to sponsor Turbo’s twenty thousand dollar Indy 500 entry fee.  The feisty old Chinese nail salon owner Kim Ly (Ken Jeong, Hangover) is the real scene-stealer as they all take off in the Taco truck and head to Indianapolis.  Let the race begin!  

 

Turbo is Dreamwork’s closest work to a Pixar film, with loveable characters, visually appealing backgrounds andvibraant colors.  The story will appeal to youngsters as well asadults. David Soren directs Turbo, which is his first feature filmdirecting debut.  He has several previous film credits as a storyboard artist on animated films, e.g. Chicken Run, Shrek and Over the Hedge, plus being the writer/head of Shark Tales.

 

Turbo is rated PG with a TRT (Total Running Time) of 96 minutes.



3 Slates 

THE HEAT

Let's get straight to the point.  The Heat is the funniest movie I have seen in a long long longtime.   I previously made the statement that This Is The End was the funniest since the original Hangover but neither one trumps The Heat starring Oscar Winner, Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Emmy Winner and Oscar Nominee, Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly, Bridesmaids).  Bullock plays squeaky clean, by the book, FBI agent, Ashburn who is assigned to take down a drug ring in Boston.  Ashburn has more then she can handlewhen a local Boston cop with a mouth like a drunken sailor, Mullians (McCarthy) demands to be assigned to the case because this is her ‘hood. Even Mullians boss, Captain Woods portrayed by Thomas T. Wilson, best known for playing Biff in the Back to the Future Trilogy.  It was great to see Wilson return to big screen.  He has the amazing comedic timing.   The scene his office with Asburnand Mullians will have you laughing till your side hurts.

 

The story is nothing new as the two polar opposites, Ashburn and Mullians,  most work together to crack the ring and arrest the king pin.  It is the creative dialogue that screenwriter,  KatieDippold writer of the creative Parks and Recreation, television series  penned on paper that makes this work with none stop laughs.  Bullock and McCarthy as a comedic team is solid gold and they deliver to the level of Lucy and Ethel.   Kudos needs to go out Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) for making it all come together on the big screen.  Feig may just be the comedy director of modern time. 

 

The Heat was filmed on location in Boston on a very short shooting schedule of 45 days which is unheard of for a Hollywood studio movie.  The average shooting days for a studio film is 3 to 4 months.   The hard work and dedication for the entire cast and crew truly shines on the screen.

 

The Heat is rated R for adult content, language, drug issue and sexually situations, so the youngest need to stay home.   The Heat makes to prefect date night with a total running time (TRT) of 125 minutes.  You will be laughing so often you will not realize two hours had past.  Trust me on this one!  Some will need oxygen! 

 

3 Slates

 

 

MAN OF STEEL

Zack Snyder's reboot of Superman will no doubt be the blockbuster event of the summer.  Man of Steel is a serious treatment of the classic Superman story.  Snyder directed 300 and Watchmen, but Man of Steel has less "comic book" feel than his other movies taken from graphic novels and like Snyder’s other movies, Superman is over-the-top and action-filled from beginning to end. Audiences will enjoy the ride whether or not they are long time Superman fans.

The special effects are a feast for the eyes, though I found myself getting a bit full.  Superman gets thrown through so many buildings it's amazing that there are any left standing in Metropolis by the end of the movie.

Henry Cavill (Immortals The Count of Monte Cristo) does a wonderful job playing Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman, a young man who wants to help in every way he can while still concealing his powers. There is so much back story in the movie, that sometimes it was difficult to understand the motives for his actions.

Oscar winner, Russell Crowe (Gladiator) plays Jor El, Superman's real father from Krypton.  As usual Crowe delivers a great performance, but Jor El is involved in more of the plot than I would have liked, taking the focus away from Kai-El.

Four-time Oscar Nominee, Amy Adams (The Master, The Fighter) portrays Superman’s love interest, Lois Lane.  She plays the spunky reporter well, but there isn't much chemistry between her and Cavill.

Oscar nominee, Diane Lane (Unfaithful) and Oscar Winner, Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves) are effective as Clark Kent's earthly parents and while they infuse him with morality and integrity, they also fear revealing his secrets. And yet, surprisingly, we see very little of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, even if it was a bit longer than perhaps it needed to be.

Man of Steel has a total running time of 2 hours 23 minutes and is rated PG13. 

3.5 Slates

THIS IS THE END

Prior to seeing This Is The End, I thought to myself "Another echo driven Hollywood movie forced upon us, like After Earth".  Boy, was I wrong on this one!

This Is The End is one of the funniest; laugh out loud movies since the original Hangover in 2009.  This Is The End is the directorial debut of funny guys, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.  They previously wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express, which launched their careers.

The film stars, Oscar nominees, James Franco (127 Hours) and Johan Hill (Moneyball), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express), Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up), Danny McBride (Due Date) and Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express) essentially playing fictional characters of themselves at a party in Franco's house when the apocalypse arrives.  The buddies are now trapped in the house and must try to survive.

One would think that it would be claustrophobic in basically one movie location, but it is the comedic talent of the cast that prove otherwise, with scenes that will have you laughing so hard your sides will hurt.   The ensemble cast truly pulls off comedy magic!   You will be gasping for air!  I predict This Is The End will receive a Best Ensemble Cast nomination at this year's Screen Actors Guild Awards (r).  I already know who will be getting my vote!

This Is The End is rated R with a total running time 1 hour and 57 minutes.

3 Slates!

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

One of the most famous quotes in the Star Trek legacy is “Where No Man Has Gone Before”!  This film is a huge undertaking for any director for the Star Trek franchise that has created more than 700 television shows and 12 movies.  At first glance into the galaxy, I would say man has gone everywhere, but surprisingly, director J.J. Abrams, who directed the first reboot in 2009, delivers a detailed storyline and a movie that is exhilarating to watch on the big screen.  Moviegoers will be on the edge of their seats as they experience a brilliantly shot film, while they cheer on the Enterprise crew to succeed in battle against the evil villain of mass destruction.

Once again Chris Pine (Bottle Shock, Rise of the Guardians) returns as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Margin Call, Heroes, American Horror Story) portrays Spock. As with the cult popular television series, it is the ensemble cast that makes it all work with Zoe Saldana (Avatar) as Uhura, Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings) as Bones, Simon Pegg (Ice Age) as Scotty, and John Cho (Harold & Kumar) as Sulu.  It should be noted that not one of these cast members is a scene hog like William Shatner was in the television and early film series.  The amazing crew must come together to stop a force of terror within their organization.  Starfleet agent John Harrison, portrayed by the talented British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse), leads a terrorist attack on the Starfleet Library in London. He quickly follows up the London hit with an attack on the key Starfleet officers. Kirk and the Enterprise are assigned the responsibility of hunting down Harrison on the planet Kronos populated by the rival Klingons. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is a thriller and Abrams delivers something new in a franchise that dates back to 1965.  Kudos to Abrams for that is no small feat.    The film is rated PG13 for violence and intense images.  You will feel like you are in warp speed ahead in the two hour 12 minute running time.

3 Slates

 

AFTER EARTH

After Earth has all the elements of a great summer blockbuster with director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) teaming with mega star, Will Smith (Men in Black, Independence Day) but it just does not work on any planet.  The script, co-written by Shyamalan, Smith and Whitta (The Book of Eli), just could not pull it all together. Is Shyamalan just a “one hit wonder” with “The Six Sense”?  His movies have been quickly sliding downhill with each release.  His last directorial project was “The Last Airbender” received eight Razzie Awards (worst movie awards) and won five including Worst Director, Screenplay and Picture.  Ouch!

After Earth follows Kitai Raige, a soldier in training portrayed by Jaden Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Karate Kid) and his father Cypher Raige (Will Smith), as they crash land on earth which humans abandoned 1,000 years ago.   It is Kitai who must save his father from the collision and head into battle with the CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) creatures.   It is Jaden Smith who must carry this movie (a huge feat for any actor and even more difficult for a young actor). Jaden meets the challenge in a few scenes but falls short in more.   

Do not expect a surprise ending in this M. Night Shyamalan movie – just be glad it’s over. The best part of the film is the 100 minutes running time. Most summer releases average more than 2 hours. After Earth is rated PG13.

1.5 Slates

 

THE GREAT GATSBY

When reviewing The Great Gatsby, it is hard not to compare it with the version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, but in all fairness I will do my best to focus only on this new release starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.

Visually, once again, Bas Luhrmann (Director and Screenwriter) has created a feast for the eyes. As he did with Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann has used his artistic abilities to astound and amaze with camera angles and effects that keep you stimulated and glued to the screen. Each scene is a treat with lighting and the use of color and wind and sun light dazzling and hypnotizing the audience to keep watching. I only wish the story had the same effect.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the perfect actor to play Jay Gatsby. He has the charm, the look, and the emotions in his eyes that reveal a twinkle mixed with just the right amount of sadness and fear.

The role of Daisy Buchanan (the love interest) is a very difficult role to play. She needs to come across as frivolous, spoiled, sad, and yearning while still being a likable character you can relate to and have sympathy for. A challenge for any actress. Carey Mulligan, unfortunately, was not the actress who could meet this challenge. Her portrayal was flat and her "one note" performance brought down what could have been a great movie. Too much relied on her portrayal of Daisy. In order for you to believe in the sadness and the longing that Gatsby and Daisy feel for each other, Daisy has to be played with all the many facets required. Carey Mulligan fails this requirement. This is too bad.

You really want to like this film. All the elements are there to make you like it. But when it comes down to the story, which you have to have work, it fails.

A lot of time and money went into this production. You can tell. I still say you should see it for it's visually content and stimulation alone. But if you expect to walk away from the film feeling sympathy for the characters or any emotional connection to them, you will walk away disappointed.

2.5 Slates

THE SAPPHIRES

The Sapphires is a soul music Motown style movie that will have the audience tapping their feet throughout this film that is based on a true story that premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

The Sapphires takes place in 1968 when music manager Dave Lovelace played by Irish comedian, Chris O'Dowd, (best known in the US for his role as the love struck cop in Bridesmaids), is looking for the next big music act when he comes across a sister group.  After the girls' transformation into go-go boots Motown-style, the Sapphires are ready to perform on stage.   The only problem is the quick talking, slick Dave can only find them a gig in Vietnam entertaining the US troops.

The Sapphires is Australian director Wayne Blair's directional debut and he does an admirable job with the subpar script.  The singing quartet is mainly comprised of newcomers who perform as veterans of the big screen. Chris O'Dowd shines in this film and the world will see O'Dowd's star power skyrocketing in the years to come.

The Sapphires is rated PG13 and is a very entertaining one hour and 38 minutes.

3 Slates

ADMISSION

Are you looking for a good romantic comedy that is not “over the top”? Then Admission is for you. The film is based on the novel with the same title, written by Jean Haniff Korelitz. Tina Fey (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live) stars as Portia Nathan, a straight-laced Ms. Perfect who works as an admissions officer at Princeton University. All is going well in her life until she encounters a teacher from another school, John Pressman portrayed by Paul Rudd (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Our Idiot Brother).

John persuades Portia to visit the school where she discovers that one of the students, Jeremiah (Nat Woff) might be the child she gave up for adoption years ago. Jeremiah’s goal is to get accepted into Princeton and Portia will try everything in her power to make this happen without letting him know her deep dark secret. The audience will quickly fall in love with Portia and her maternal love for Jeremiah. The relationship between Portia and John grows rapidly as John has an adopted son Nelson (Travis Spears). Nelson is a scene-stealer and has some of the funniest lines in the movie. Equally good is veteran comedic actress and Oscar nominee Lily Tomlin (Nashville), who plays Portia’s sarcastic mother.

The ensemble cast truly comes together making Admission an enjoyable date night. This is not a “chick flick” but a well-written comedy. The film moves along at an acceptable pace with a total running time (TRT) of 107 minutes. Admission is rated PG-13. Go see it. You will leave the theatre with a smile on your face.

2.5 Slates


THE CROODS

It has been a while since there has been a good children's movie. The Croods is just that and more. This animated comedy follows the Crood's, a prehistoric family, on a road trip to find a new cave. Along their journey, they meet new friends who end up teaching the family more about themselves than they had ever thought possible.

This modern day Flinstone family is led by Grug (voice of Nicholas Cage), the father, who was taught to always be afraid. His daughter Eep (voice of Emma Stone), is an adventurous young lady looking for more out of life. This father- daughter duo disagree on most everything, but along the way, they learn to work together and teach each other some important lessons.

I thought this movie was fantastic. The story line is funny, adventurous, comedic, and heartwarming. It's not too often that you find a kids movie that teaches a valuable lesson and is enjoyable for all ages. I would recommend this movie to anyone that enjoys a good family film, animated or live action.
Opening at number one at the box office, The Croods is a must see hit!
 
3 Slate 3

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN

Political thrillers are always fun to watch but in these times they can be a bit too realistic. Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerald Butler (300, The Phantom of the Opera) as Mike Banning, a fallen, dishonored Presidential security guard who failed to save the first lady, portrayed by Ashley Judd. Jump forward 18 months and the White House is under attack by a Korean terrorist organization. Mike realizes he is the only one who can save the President (Aaron Eckhart) and his son Connor, played by Finley Jacobsen, from this terrorist group lead by Kang, the very talented actor Rick Yune (Snow Falling on Cedars, The Man with the Iron Fist).  Yune delivers a great performance and moviegoers will hate him from his first scene in the movie.   The cast is amazing and also includes Oscar winner, Morgan Freeman  (Million Dollar Baby) as Speaker Trumball; Indie favorite and Oscar Winner, Melissa Leo (The Fighter) as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan; and Oscar Nominee, Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It) as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs.  

The best way to describe Olympus Has Fallen is that it is an enjoyable Hollywood blockbuster, but it should have been a lot more.  The script, co-written by newcomers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, has too many off the wall one liners for me.  What could have been an intense, suspenseful thriller quickly turned into an unsophisticated Die Hard film.  Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) should have focused on the suspense.  All in all, if you want to see an action packed film made without much thought, then Olympus Has Fallen is for you.

2.5 Slates

 

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