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Causing fear is a UFO that lands into the ocean.
Close to being an A-list Sci Fi thriller, KRONOS, is a Lawrence L. Goldman screenplay directed by Kurt Neuman. Alien invaders with a threat of global destruction; what is there not to like? A typical looking craft lands in the Pacific and emerges as a multiple-cubed shape robot that stands 10-story-tall. A research lab doc Leslie Gaskell (Jeff Morrow) believes the invader is poised to suck up all of the earth's energy. From mythology, the robot is being called Kronos and earthlings must save their machines before total mayhem starts consuming the world. Gaskell teams with a colleague and his girlfriend/x-ray tech Vera Hunter (Barbara Lawrence) must try and interrupt an attack on greater Los Angeles. Special effects and sound effects par for mid 50's Sci Fi.
Also in the cast: John Emery, George O'Hanlon, Morris Ankrum and Robert Stevenson plays the network TV newscaster.
The Finest Hours (2016)
Intense rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Craig Gillespie directs this daring maritime thriller set in snowy early 1952. Gigantic waves and blistering snow off Nantucket, MA are elements of an awful storm that has torn not one oil tankers in half, but two. Coast Guard Commander Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), new to the area, sends Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and a measly crew of three to investigate one of the distress calls. In blinding conditions, seaman Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) is trying to keep half a tanker ripped apart by the furious Atlantic waves from sinking. Gale force winds and heroic efforts lend to realism.
The courage and spirit of Coast Guardsmen is captured and cinematography is pulse rising and exciting. A bit disappointed in Affleck's lack of enthusiasm, Pine is the hero in spite of being out acted by the fetching Holliday Grainger, that plays his fiancé Miriam. Also notable in the cast: Ben Foster, Graham McTavish, Abraham Benrubi and John Ortiz.
Personal devices have been hacked!
Paranoia, suspense and even a bit of boredom as graduate student Emma (Ashley Benson) moves to New York City to give her life a new start. She becomes aware that someone has hacked into her digital devices, her cell phone, laptop and web connections. She at first thinks it might be the guy she wants to leave behind (Micheal William Freeman); or could it be one of her new friends Michael (Matt McGorry)? Watching just doesn't seem to be enough; her stalker grows bolder with strange text messages. The finale is quick and leaves you saying..."what?" RATTER does get a little creepy and definitely gives you reason to keep your eyes open.
Miss Benson is hardly recognized as her role of Hanna on TV's Pretty Little Liars. Emma, is an athletic built brunette and a perfect girl next door; and quite winsome. She makes the best of the role she's given. Also in the cast: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Alex Cranmer, Kaili Vernoff and Dylan Chalfy.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Arrogance will be matched with violence.
Try and put out of your mind the John Sturges classic of 1960 staring Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner. Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Antione Fuqua directs this two plus hour shoot 'em up. Some say a gimmicky remake, while others call it a kick-ass instant classic. A multicultural cast and a sometime bit juggled script full of emotion and exuberance.
Rose Creek is a small town that is envisioned to grow into something huge by megalomaniac Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who is buying up land and mining it for gold. He is callous and sadistic and finally the town has had enough, but only one person has the "stones" to hire some guns to go against Bogue. After watching her husband be gunned down in front of the whole town, the winsome Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) gets a reply from her ad from black bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington).
Chisolm will gather a diverse and motley crew to take up the fight against the ruthless tyrant Bogue. There is Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a Confederate sharpshooter; gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt); a Korean knife expert (Byung-hun Lee); a Texican (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo); a Comanche archer (Martin Sensmeier) and mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio). These seven will try to teach cowardly townsfolk to shoot and help defend their town against Bogue and his army of capitalistic minions.
Plenty of gunfire, precision arrows and slick knife play. Loud and enough action to keep your attention. There is some fun and life lessons to be had. Sarsgaard made for a great villain to hate. I really got a kick out of D'Onofrio and wasn't impressed as much by macho two-gun wielding Washington as I was with Miss Bennett. No doubt, this is a very good movie.
Also in the cast: Luke Grimes, Cam Gigandet, Jonathan Joss, Emil Behshti and Matt Bomer.
A billionaire wants to launch a private payload.
Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, ALOHA, is actually a romantic comedy in search of something redeemable. Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) is a somewhat disgraced military defense contractor that is trying to smooth over a sensitive situation, when he represents billionaire Carlson Welch (Bill Murray), who is eager to launch a private rocket from an Hawaiian island military base.
Things will get a bit complicated with issues concerning a Hawaiian leader (Dennis Kanahele); Gilcrest's former girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who is now married with two children; and an alluring fighter pilot Capt. Allison Ng (Emma Stone), who is assigned to be his military liaison, escort and watchdog.
Plenty of characters to develop; a thing Crowe does so well. Tracy's son (Jaeden Lieberher) is obsessed with Hawaiian mythology and outer space. Tracy's daughter (Danielle Rose Russell) is discovering her womanhood and doesn't know that Brian is her real father.
My favorite scenes are when Stone dances with Murray at a party and when Cooper and Stone finally embrace for the first time. The story line is hindered by its choppiness, but there is a real "feel good" attitude about the movie. Also starring: Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Danny McBride and Michael Chermus. Personally, Miss Stone made the movie for me.
A very full soundtrack features the likes of: Hall & Oates, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Andy Iona and His Islanders, Tears For Fears, David Crosby, George Martin, Beck and Elvis Presley.
Justice can be loud as war is hell.
This HBO cable film skirts fact and fiction; nonetheless, very interesting. Legendary Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, convinces famed movie director D.W. Griffith to enter a money making project. General Villa (Antonio Banderas) finds himself strapped for money in his war with Mexico's dictator Victorio Huerta. American arms are hard to come by due to an embargo pushed by the wealthy William Randolph Hearst. Villa makes Griffith (Colm Feore) an unheard of offer of unrestricted access to film actual combat between his forces and the Mexican Federales. Pancho seems to be an astute businessman, as he is a social freedom fighter. All he wants is 25 grand and about 20 percent of profits from the documentary.
Special effects appear too good for a TV movie and Banderas IS Pancho Villa. Mr. Banderas is a natural and fully in his element. Also in the cast: Kyle Chandler, Damian Alcazar, Eion Bailey, Michael McKean, Matt Day, Alexa Davalos, Cosme Alberto, Saul Rubinek and Alan Arkin.
A Great White takes on...what?
This is one of those that is ridiculously bad enough to be good. Not award earning caliber, but good enough for fun. More smiles than groans anyway. A monster Great White shark happens to eat a chunk of a UFO that falls in the Pacific. Immediately this giant flipper becomes a Roboshark, that by circumstance bumps into an investigative submarine. This makes for an unhappy shark that buzz saws through the Nuclear Sub with its metal teeth. Roboshark goes on the move and prepares for a battle with the US Navy at Seattle's Space Needle.
Let some decent special effects make up for the acting and poor dialogue. In the cast: Matt Rippy, Alexis Peterman, Vanessa Grasse, Nigel Barber, Kicker Robinson and Laura Dale.
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)
Is it really possible? Believe it or die!
Richie Bridgestone (Scott Seale) is spending the weekend with his divorced dad Robert (Kerwin Mathews) at his mountainside home. A casual walk in the woods turns hectic when young Richie is attacked by something. Robert jumps to his son's rescue and is bitten during the ruckus by a...werewolf. The area sheriff (Robert J. Wilke) investigates and Richie describes the creature as having long streaked colored hair and a dog-like snout; kind of fluffy and friendly, but strong and vicious. Dear old dad is too confused to be sure what his attacker looked like. A prowling werewolf howling under the full moon gives a good reason to be more than cautious.
Nathan Juran directs and Ted Stovall provides some very good scene punctuation. More schlock than scare; but a fun watch. Other players: Susan Foster, Jack Lucas, Elaine Devry, George Gaynes and Loretta Temple.
Monsters University (2013)
Animated college comedy from Pixar.
Dan Scanlon directs Pixar's sequel to MONSTERS, INC. That cuddly one-eyed monster Mike Wazowki (Billy Crystal) and his eccentric pal James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) discuss their underdog fraternity days at college. The mismatched combo started off as bitter rivals, but slowly become best buds in an inseparable friendship.
This is a high quality animated romp with top notch cinematography. Maybe fewer belly laughs than the original, but absolutely nothing objectionable, albeit the youngest of viewers might be scared by some of the images. Nonetheless, even grandparents can find enough to enjoy. How can you find time to be scared, when you're laughing!
Crystal and Goodman get help with other talented voices like: Steve Buscemi, Bobby Moynihan, Dave Foley, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Bonnie Hunt and Charlie Day.
Slow burning love affair.
CAROL is a deliberate, structured melodrama that is set in the 1950s during the buttoned-down era that found lesbian romance very taboo. A wealthy New York socialite named Carol Aird (Cate Blanchette) and a meek young department store clerk Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) enter a carefully orchestrated attachment. Carol and her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) are at perpetual odds in a relationship that is only bound by the love of a young daughter. Carol needs to get away from thoughts of impending divorce proceedings and invites her young love interest on a road trip.
The story is a slow burner and any lack of dialogue can be overlooked by the expressive eye contact and quiet body language. Blanchette and Mara are refreshing and heartfelt. There is obvious chemistry on display. Others in the cast: Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Cory Michael Smith and Carrie Brownstein.
A terrific soundtrack features: Pattie Page, Jo Stafford, The Clovers, Pee Wee King, Billie Holiday, The Four Aces, Woody Herman and Perry Como.