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Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
That tag team of horror, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, try to scare us again with this second chapter of the haunted Lambert family. Josh(Patrick Wilson)and Renai(Rose Byrne)find themselves delving deeper in the dark trying to uncover a childhood mystery that has them dangerously tethered to the spirit world. The family wants to be rid of horror that surrounds them. They must unravel a childhood secret before evil victimizes them again. Plenty of violence and enough intense sequences of terror to earn a PG-13 rating.
Other players include: Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Danielle Bisutti and the writer, Whannell.
Finding the spirit of Richard Speck.
Another "found footage" movie with a couple of scares in it. Really not all that bad; just a little irritating. But there will be a couple of scenes that get a rise out of you; meaning you'll jump or flinch. A group of amateurish paranormal seekers just for a thrill get more than they ask for. They return to the scene of Richard Speck's heinous slaying of eight young women. Trying to rouse the ghost of the killer, they taunt him by comparing his body count to that of serial killers Dahmer and Gacy. Speck or not...one angry spirit is angered and no member of the investigators is safe.
Cast includes: Hayley Derryberry, Tony Besson, Jennifer Robyn Jacobs, Clarence Harlem Jr., Mike Holley and Jackie Moore. Plus the voices of Steve Bencich and Nancy Leopardi.
Black Sea (2014)
Salvage or treasure is the question.
After a former submarine captain Robison (Jude Law) loses his job, he is recruited by a questionable backer to lead a deep-sea mission in the Black Sea in search of lost treasure. Robison gathers former out of work friends and old cronies to take on the task. But the hard-bitten crew argue over getting a rattle-trap submarine to make the dive in with little or no security of returning to the surface. Half of the crew will be Russians and the only thing temporarily holding them together is equal shares of the payday. But are they really diving for salvage or the rumored gold bricks? Things become perilous when the sub sinks to the bottom. Quarrels break out and the mission is in dire straits.
Moody and tense. Law is really good in this role. A lot of the characters are not worth caring for their survival. If you have a thing for submarine flicks, BLACK SEA (not really filmed there) is worthy of a watch.
Also in the cast: Karl Davies, Daniel Ryan, Konstantin Khabenskly, Tobias Menzles, Michael Smiley and Scoot McNairy.
Don't just leave a guy hanging'.
Tom Cruise is back again for the fifth time as undercover agent Ethan Hunt of the Impossible Mission Force. Intense and full of action as Hunt pushes himself to his mental and physical capabilities. This, I think, is the best of the franchise. The CIA, led by an animate chief Hunley (Alec Baldwin), is wanting the IMF to be permanently shutdown. Ethan believes with all his worth that he can bring down the mysterious Syndicate raging to seize global control. Hunt will go rogue in his self-assigned ridiculously dangerous mission to prove the IMF is still needed. Hunt enlists teammates Benji(Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and special agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner) in a world-trotting undercover chore...that doesn't actually stays undercover. One of the best parts of the film is when Hunt gets the aid of a fetching British double-agent Ilsa Faust(Rebecca Ferguson).
Rounding out the cast: Jens Hulten, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney and Tom Hollander.
The Equalizer (2014)
Can't a man find a little peace?
This action-thriller is actually based on an old 1980's TV series; but remember this is the big screen...do it big or don't try it at all. Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a former intelligence operative looking forward to retirement. He does return to working, but it is mundane and fits his newly scheduled lifestyle. He has tea and reads a book every morning in a local dinner about 2:30. He notices an attractive young girl, Teri(Chloe Grace Moretz); and is a bit concerned about her obvious life choice of "hooking". When she is brutalized, the natural thing is to come to her rescue. Doing so McCall ends up going against a Russian Mafia's prostitution business and major crime ring. Fury is unleashed.
Other player's: David Harbour,Vladamir Kulch, Melissa Leo, Haley Bennett, David Meunier, Bill Pullman and Johnny Skourts.
The Gift (2015)
Who is this stranger? Oh, yea...I remember.
First time director Joel Edgerton, co-writes and also co-stars in this thriller of a mystery. Ask yourself; is your past done and over with? And just how well do you think you know the one you love? Simon(Jason Bateman)and Robyn(Rebecca Hall)are a young couple trying to revitalize their marriage and buy a beautiful new home and then a stranger appears at the door. Then an accidental encounter with Simon has him trying to jog his memory. The mystery man keeps showing up at the house with Simon at work and introduces himself to Robyn as Gordo(Edgerton). Oh yes, he is someone from Simon's high school and he keeps bringing gifts to the house. Simon says this generosity needs to stop and to be exact...Gordo is told he is not welcome anymore. But,there seems to be a 20-year-old grudge that is going to unravel the couple's bliss.
I actually like this movie and the only thing wrong with it is...why did Bateman take this role?! He just doesn't belong in this part. Miss Hall at times really shows some emotion; but I guess the movie belongs to Edgerton. At times you find yourself at bit aggravated, right before you really get mad.
Also appearing are: Busy Phillips, Adam Lazarre-White, Beau Knapp, Tim Griffin and Mirrah Foulkes.
Do You Believe? (2015)
Do you believe in the power of the cross?
Fast paced with solid acting. DO YOU BELIEVE? is directed by Jonathan M. Gunn and is a Christian based film with a multiple-narrative that intersects the lives of a handful of very different people, who will be introduced to a life changing challenge of faith. A Detroit minister named Matthew(Ted McGinley)is reminded by a street corner preacher dragging a cross, that true belief is sustained with action. His barren wife(Tracy Melchior) takes in a pregnant runaway(Madison Pettis). A homeless mother(Mira Sorvino) with a charming little daughter(Makenie Moss)are given the shelter of a church janitor's(Brian Bosworth)humble apartment. An EMT(Liam Matthews)is about to lose his job for talking about Jesus to a dying man. And an aging couple played by Cybil Shepard and Lee Majors soon begin living life again after the loss of a daughter. A young man(Joseph Julian Soria)suffering PTSD, home from the military along with a petty criminal(Shwayze)join others that find hope and faith believing in the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ. The finale tries to bring closure to each person's scenario with a massive traffic accident.
To me the best acting comes from Bosworth and Miss Moss. Others featured: Sean Astin, Logan White, Alexia PenaVega and Valarie Dominguez.
Finally...the Force awakens!
Acclaimed J.J. Abrams directs and co-writes this STAR WARS installment. I remember watching the original with my best friend in 1977 and agreed this is a spectacle. What a hallowed franchise it has become. Although not being a faithful follower, my perspective of THE FORCE AWAKENS probably will leave a lot to be desired.
Three decades have passed since the last episode had Luke Skywalker(Mark Hamill)decide to hideout on a small mountainous island. Harrison Ford returns as a matured, and yet still charming, Hans Solo. Time as not served Leia(Carrie Fisher)well, although now the princess is a general who leads the Resistance. Chewbacca(Peter Mayhew)is still one of the most likable sidekicks ever. C3PO and R2D2 still look the same.
Two likable characters will more than earn their entry into the franchise; John Boyega(Finn)is an AWOL stormtrooper, who meets a beautiful scavenger named Rey(Daisy Ridley), who has crafty skills equal to the best of any fighter. Poe Dameron(Oscar Issac)is a devoted pilot of the Resistance working for Leia. And a new malevolence, the First Order, spawns from the ruins of the Empire.
FX are definitely special in the grand fashion one would expect. So much frantic action it is hard to find a place to sneak away for popcorn or soft drink refills. The detractors of this movie will be, of course, way out numbered by the serious Star Wars fanatics. The story line not exactly simple; but sustains the free thinkers with wide open imagination.
Others in this cast of hundreds(maybe thousands): Max von Sydow, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyongo, Nick Walters, Dante Briggins, Dombhnall Gleeson and even Daniel Craig plays a stormtrooper.
This movie proves to be one not to be missed. You don't even have to be a Star Wars fan. And definitely worth watching more than once.
Alvin and his brothers don't want to lose Dave.
Here we are with the fourth installment of the franchise; THE ROAD CHIP seems no better or worse than the previous three. The house party beginning is annoying and no where close to being funny. But, I'm sure parents and grandparents will bring the toddler and pubescent members of the family to the theater, because its the Chipmunks. Ca-ching! Popcorn, candy and watered down soft drinks above and beyond cost of tickets.
The story line has Alvin(Justin Long), Simon(Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore(Jesse McCartney)in a tizzy thinking that Dave(Jason Lee)is going to propose to his new girlfriend, Samantha(Kimerly Williams-Paisley). Thus the Chipmunks fear being caste aside. But, the pretty doctor lady has a son, Miles(Josh Green), that is nothing but a strain on good relations. Although he does agree they need to get along just long enough to put a stop to them all becoming a family.
The villain this time is an air marshal(Tony Hale)that already hates the chipmunks for interfering and busting up his possible engagement. He of course over-acts and doesn't provide a serious threat. Beyond the silliness and awful diologue, there is a tender moment that will probably insure another movie to follow.
Kaley Cuoco joins Christina Applegate and Anna Faris as voices of the Chippettes.
The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Charlie Brown, you are a winner...this time!
If for any reason this movie was made; it must be recruiting a multitude of younger and new fans to the Peanuts gang. Of course Charlie Brown and Snoopy are really who people care about and both have their share of the story line.
Snoopy and his co-editor Woodstock(both voiced by Bill Melendez)are writing a story about hero Snoopy in his flying dog house fighting the Red Baron and rescuing a new romance in his life, Fifi(Kristin Chenoweth).
Lucy(Hadley Belle Miller) is still brow-beating Charlie and selling psychological advise for five cents. Schroeder(Noah Johnston)is still knocking out the only classics he knows.
Nervous and often pitiful Charlie Brown(Noah Schnapp)gets the chance to get away from his past and recreate himself as a new kid moves into the neighborhood. There she stands her first day at school, so pretty with that long, red hair. Charlie Brown is smitten with the Little-Red-Haired-Girl(Francesca Capaldi). Charlie will chock, squirm and sweat before getting her to notice him, as he takes great pride in keeping her lost pink chewed on pencil safe.
Color and animation on par. Although I'm afraid the story begins to grow monotonous.
Other characters voiced by: Rebecca Bloom, Alexander Garfin, Mariel Sheets, Anastasia Bredkhina and Venus Schultheis.