Saturday, February 25, 2017

Movie Review

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"San Andreas" is an over-the-top "what-if" action movie about 9-plus magnitude earthquakes that hit California from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The movie, seen in the 3-D format for this review, is akin to an amusement park thrill ride. It's a nail-bitter.

There's a huge "Wow! Factor," with jaw-dropping computer-generated special effects: the collapse of Hoover Dam, falling skyscrapers (as well as the toppling of the iconic Hollywood sign) in Los Angeles, the Golden Gate Bridge shaking like a Slinky and San Francisco, the City by the Bay, becoming the city in the bay.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When you take away the fine acting, gorgeous cinematography (Charlotte Bruus Christensen), sweeping score (Craig Armstrong) and all the earmarks of a sumptuous costume (Janet Patterson) drama, you basically have a love-triangle melodrama in "Far from the Madding Crowd."

That's not an altogether bad thing.

"Far from the Madding Crowd" is an entertaining, well-crafted and satisfying potboiler by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Hunt," 2012; "It's All About Love," 2003; "The Celebration," 1998).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Pitch Perfect 2" is not quite as compelling as "Pitch Perfect," the 2012 surprise hit about a college women's competitive a cappella singing group. The original film grossed $115 million worldwide. The sequel outgrossed the original in five days.

Both films, based on the nonfiction book, "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory," by Mickey Rapkin, benefit from a cultural trend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Avengers: The Age Of Ultron" succeeds on multiple levels, despite a title that sounds like an ad slogan for a new household cleaning product.

"Avengers: Ultron" has its share of kitsch, in dialogue, characterization, editing and visuals. And yet the spoofing around isn't hit or myth. If anything, it enhances the Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's not exactly the Magic Kingdom.

However, Disneynature's "Monkey Kingdom" contains its own kind of charm.

The setting is the ruins of an ancient city in the Sri Lanka Polonnaruwa jungle. The ruins (known as Kiri Vihara, Manik Vihara and Rankoth Vihara), and in particular an outcropping called Castle Rock, has been taken over by a species of monkeys known as toque macaque.

In the excellent and personable narration by Tina Fey, the monkeys are given names and a storyline unfolds. A female monkey is named Maya. Her son is called Kip. The father is called Kumar.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"While We're Young" is a bit of a departure for writer-director Noah Baumbach.

It's is one of his more mainstream movies.

That's not to say the comedy is filling up the screening rooms at the multiplex. No, you'll still find Baumbach's latest at the art house, independent film and foreign film venues.

Still, "While We're Young" has a discernable plot and a storyline that is more accessible than in many of Baumbach's previous movies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Woman in Gold" is a compelling tale of political obstinacy, one woman's quest to regain her birthright, and the lawyer who fought for her cause.

The story is not unfamiliar: The looting of priceless family treasures and art by the Nazis during World War II.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Furious 7" is one wild ride.

If you like action films, the action is, true to the series' titles, fast and furious.

"Furious 7," generically named because it's the seventh in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, reunites the band of brothers and sisters, including Paul Walker, who died in a nonfilm-making related car crash before his scenes were completed for the seventh installment.

In scenes that weren't completed, the image of Paul Walker's head was, through the magic of computer-generated imagery, grafted onto the body of his brother.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Home" is an entertaining animated feature that should be especially entertaining for elementary-age and preschool children.

The science-fiction fantasy is about an alien named Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons), who is from a species called Boov.

The leader of the Boov is Captain Smek (Steve Martin). The Boov, led by Smek, have fled to earth to escape the Gorg, their arch enemies.

On earth, Oh meets Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (Rihanna), whose mom, Lucy (Jennifer Lopez), is one of the humans relocated by the Boov to Humansville, which is somewhere in Australia.

Friday, April 3, 2015

With "Cinderella," it's about the shoes.

That qualifies the live-action "Cinderella" as a chick's flick.

Yet, just as a pair of ruby slippers is part of Dorothy's quest along the yellow brick road in "The Wizard Of Oz" (1939), there's much more to the "Cinderella" story than a pair of glass slippers.

In the live-action "Cinderella," narration by Helena Bonham Carter (onscreen a stunning Fairy Godmother) keeps the story on track, fills in the blanks and appeals to the movie-goer's sense of being read to from a storybook.