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The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
CGI is the best part of this movie
I have never read the Tarzan series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but having grown up watching Tarzan movies on Saturday morning TV with my favorite Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, I felt I had a pretty good handle on Tarzan's story. I knew his parents died when he was just an infant, and he was taken by a shrewdness of apes and raised to adulthood.
I went to the theater expecting the retelling of "Tarzan of the Apes" and how this young boy grew to become the "King of the Jungle". I was excited about the film because the use of CGI in today's movie making often delivers the most outstanding special effects. I was not disappointed - the CGI effects, especially of the animals, was great.
However, I really feel this movie is mis-titled. This wasn't the story penned by Mr. Burroughs in 1912, but it was more of a political statement about man's inhumanity. The exploitation of other human beings is really the center piece of the movie. There is also a scene of a train where several of the cars are filled with tusks showing how the human race, especially the Europeans, ravaged an entire continent.
There were flashback moments in the movie that lets the viewer know how this young British boy is taken by the apes and the bond he develops with the animals. The movie also touches on Tarzan's strained relationship with one of the tribes. However, the main story has Tarzan as the hero of the day, but it really isn't about Tarzan.
Christoph Waltz plays the evil character to Tarzan's good and Mr. Waltz is very good at playing a man with no real moral compass. A man of greed who will do anything to get what he wants.
I am not really thrilled with this rendition of Tarzan and would only recommend it for its special effects. I think you can wait to see this movie when it shows up on Netflix or another cable or streaming service.
Runners to your marks: Ready: Set: "RACE"
Maybe not as prominently remembered as he once was, Jesse Owens, was one of those men in history who was able to overcome the many barriers in his life to exemplify greatness. Not only as an athlete, but as a human being.
"RACE" is the story of Jesse Owens(Stephan James) from 1933 through 1936. James Cleveland Owens was born in Alabama and at age 9 moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Cleveland where one of his teachers, unable to understand his thick southern accent, thought he was saying his name was Jesse when in fact he had been saying JC. This mistake led to JC being known as Jesse for the rest of his life.
A prominent high school track athlete, Jesse entered The Ohio State University in 1933 and began his NCAA track career under the tutelage of legendary track coach Larry Snyder(Jason Sudeikis). Snyder recognized greatness in Jesse the first time he watched him run and let Jesse know that he would be able to compete and win in the 1936 Olympic Games.
The movie moves from Jesse's life and troubles to Nazi Germany and back again. The story of The Amateur Athletic Union(AAU) and the American Olympic Committee(AOC), struggling with the decision to attend or boycott the games, runs parallel to Jesse's trials, tribulations and his ultimate success.
When the AAU and AOC make the decision to attend the games, the NAACP asks Jesse to refuse to enter. Due to the atrocities being committed against the Jewish population in Germany and the open hatred the Nazis expressed toward other races as well, the NAACP felt Jesse's refusal to attend the games would make a strong statement. The decision to attend the games by Owens turned out to be a much more powerful statement than could ever have been imagined. As the scene unfolded and the representative of the NAACP told Jesse what a strong statement his boycott would make, I was hoping the writer's would have had Jesse respond by saying, "It will be much more meaningful for me to attend the games and come home with the Gold" or something along that line.
Jesse Owens, to me, has always been one of the larger than life individuals that only come along every so often. The film not only celebrates Jesse Owens' accomplishments, it also emphasizes the wrongs to which people of color had to endure in the United States. Even at a dinner held in Mr. Owens' honor, Jesse and his wife were asked to enter the hotel through the service entrance. The filmmaker's parallel stories of Jesse and Nazi Germany, as they prepare for the games, brings to the forefront the hypocrisy of our American Ideals and what was really happening to many of our citizens. "RACE" is a title that fits well because it not only speaks to Jesse's prominence on the track, but to the relationship between the citizens of this planet.
The story is a worthwhile one. Historical figures like Jesse Owens need to be kept in our memory. However, as great as Jesse Owens was, this was not a great film. At 134 minutes, I felt it was a tad too long. I also felt it dragged somewhat at various times. Although the parallel story of what was happening in Europe at this time in our history is important, I feel to much time was spent on that story and not enough on Mr. Owens.
I recommend seeing this film although I feel the matinée price would be the best option.
Rocky - reborn
It has been almost 40 years since "Rocky" burst onto the scene and wowed the film world with 10 academy award nominations and garnering 3 wins. Rocky went on to become one of the most successful film franchises of all time with "Rocky I - V", "Rocky Balboa", and released this year, "Creed".
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordon) is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. Apollo was killed in the ring (Rocky IV) before Adonis is born. His mother dies when he is a small child and Adonis becomes a product of Foster Care. He is a troubled youth and spends a lot of time in Juvenile detention. Apollo's wife, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), comes to Adonis' rescue and takes him out of the foster system.
Flash forward; Adonis works in an investment bank but just doesn't feel he is fulfilling his destiny. He quits his job and moves to Philadelphia where he seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). He convinces Rocky to train him as a fighter.
The film does slow down at times but overall is an enjoyable 133 minutes. You don't need to be familiar with the Rocky films, but it does help in filling in the back story of the characters. The movie, however, can stand on its own - unlike the final film of the "Hunger Games" series. This film is rated PG-13.
This is "Rocky" for a new generation. A young unknown fighter getting a shot at the big time.
If you have an afternoon or evening to spare - go see "Creed".
This film will not disappoint you
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is on the trail of a case that if left unsolved could lead to a world war. His arch enemy, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) is in the process of striking fear into the general public and creating political tensions between France and Germany to hopefully start a world war. As he puts it in the film, mankind is prone to fighting and it is inevitable that the world will come to blows...he just wants to own the bullets and the bandages.
A gypsy fortuneteller's brother has been recruited by Moriarty to assassinate a prominent government official in hopes that this assassination will be the final straw in a long drawn out plan to move France and Germany to war. Sherlock Holmes, enlisting the aid of his long time friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) and the fortuneteller, Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), set out to foil Moriarty's plot and put an end to his reign of terror.
I actually enjoyed this film more than the first "Sherlock Holmes" released in 2009. The balance of action and humor are excellent and the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law is excellent. Jared Harris is very good in his part as the evil Moriarty. The film, although 129 minutes in length, moves along at a great pace. The use of slow motion during a scene when our heroes are fleeing a most dangerous situation is excellent.
I recommend this film even if you didn't see the first one you should enjoy installment #2. I have a feeling there may be a 3rd iteration in the coming years.
If you enjoy action - this film is for you
A genius madman code name Cobalt has plans to start a nuclear war. After all million years or so some type of disaster strikes the earth killing most of the living organisms inhabiting our fair planet and yet life goes on. In his mind nuclear disaster is part of the plan and he is the instrument through which it will occur.
Enter the IMF (Impossible Missions Force). Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is framed for a bombing at the Kremlin and the US government has disavowed the entire IMF. The Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) is to escort Hunt back to Washington from Moscow however the car is attacked and Hunt along with the secretaries chief analyst, Brandt (Jeremy Renner) escape the hail of gunfire and begin to devise a plan to recover the nuclear launch device, the launch codes and put an end to Cobalt once and for all. Hunt and Brandt are joined by Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg).
The film is action packed with some dizzying stunts atop the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. As with the other installments of the Mission Impossible series most of what occurs is almost impossible. Especially the survival rate of Tom Cruise as he experiences several situations that would leave we mere mortals at the cemetery gate. However, knowing that it is pure fantasy upfront leads to a very entertaining experience.
If you are an action film fan you will definitely enjoy this one although the 133 minute run time is a little long.
The Ides of March (2011)
Would compromise your ideals?
"Beware the Ides of March" words of warning from the soothsayer to Julies Caesar. No one is assassinated in the latest George Clooney film, but the Ides of March is the day of reckoning for the democratic presidential hopefuls as the Ohio primary falls on the Ides and the winner of this hotly contested election will receive the nomination for the presidential race.
Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is an idealistic young media consultant on Mike Morris' (George Clooney) campaign for the democratic nomination for president of the United States. Although young, Steve is the best of the best and with him running the media campaign you are almost assured of a win. Steve's boss, Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is the campaign manager and is also the best. Mike Morris should be well in the lead, but there is trouble afoot with garnering the endorsement of a key senator (Jeffrey Wright). The endorsement of Senator Thompson is the key and will put Mike Morris over the top.
During the campaign Mike Morris speaks vehemently of honesty and integrity. These characteristics are what excites Steve and his idealistic view of Mike Morris drives him to produce the best product to insure Mike's nomination.
Morris' rival has an outstanding campaign manager as well, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). Tom meets with Steve to try to lure him to his campaign. Steve passes on the offer and confides in Paul he met with Duffy and what was said.
During this campaign drama, a young intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) who happens to be the daughter of the current Democratic National Committee Chairperson, comes on to Steve and they begin to have a sexual relationship. It is during one of their encounters that Steve learns some unsavory news about his candidate.
On top of this, Paul fires Steve due to his lack of loyalty as loyalty is the one and only virtue that Paul holds to the highest of standards.
This movie is well done and Ryan Gosling does a good job at playing the idealist who comes to the realization that politics and the quest for power somehow corrupt those individuals who put on such a good show. His faith in humankind is shaken and he must wage the internal battle of his right and wrong.
I recommend this movie no academy awards will be given for this one but some of our finest performers are on the screen and make the movie interesting and at times thought provoking. A good release date on this one as we are just entering the real campaign season for 2012.
Real Steel (2011)
Rocky of the mid 21st century
The Rocky of the mid 21st century, with a small tribute to Muhammad Ali, is a robot named ATOM.
Sometime after 2014 (we know this because ATOM was built around that time) boxing (by humans) is a distant memory and the latest sport craze is fighting robots. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an ex-boxer who is trying to make his way in the world of robotic fighting. His robots are tough, but not tough enough. His troubles not only include losing and his mechanical boxers being totally destroyed, he is in debt to several unsavory characters. To complicate things a little further, his ex-girlfriend passes away leaving Charlie's 11 year old son, Max (Dakota Goyo) needing someone to take care of him.
Charlie attempts to get his current girl friend, Baily Tallet (Evangeline Lilly), to keep Max while he goes on the boxing circuit, but Max insists on accompanying Charlie and the will of the 11 year old wins out. During their trip they find a complete sparing robot abandoned in an old junk yard. The robot is unique in that it is equipped with a shadow feature which is very rare among boxing robots. Max takes ATOM (the sparing robot) under his wing and prepares his programing for battle.
ATOM has some impressive wins and before long is invited to box the reigning world robot champion, ZEUS, in a spectacle filled event. Rocky is all that is need to be said.
Along their journey Charlie and Max find that father/son bond that is important for both of their lives.
I found the movie to be a little long but it had enough substance to make it enjoyable. It has a rating of PG-13 but is not so bad that younger viewers would not enjoy the film. As usual I recommend a matinée viewing to get the best ticket price.
I Don't Know How She Does It (2011)
A feel good film
Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a successful business woman living in Boston with her husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and their two children Emily (Emma Rayne Lyle) and Ben (Julius and Theodore Goldberg). Kate is an expert at juggling her marriage, motherhood and career.
Kate works at the Boston branch of an investment firm based in New York City. She has worked hard and has earned the respect of her co-workers. She submitted a proposal which the company felt had merit and Kate was tasked with working along side of Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan) to refine the proposal for presentation to the CEO of the company. A great opportunity for Kate but added strain to her already stretched thin relationship with Richard. Richard is involved in his own business and has just been offered a great opportunity himself.
The movie is peppered with insights from the various characters which explain the whys and wherefores of Kate's behavior.
Pierce Brosnan does a very good job of portraying the driven businessman who has had a personal tragedy early in life and work has become his obsession. His loneliness shows through his business exterior and even though we know he is falling for Kate, he keeps the relationship purely professional.
The film has not received very favorable reviews - 3.7 out of 10 on IMDb and only a 20% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes. I disagree with this. I found this film to be entertaining and at times touching - especially for those of us who have ever missed the school play or anything concerning our children because of work related obligations. True - the film is not Oscar worthy and is pretty much a formula movie with the moral of the story being family should come first....but it has many redeeming qualities and that proverbial happy ending.
This movie is worth an afternoon trip to the theater (Matinee Price).
Gritty and Violent
I'll give you 5 minutes. If anything happens within that five minutes, I'll stick with you no matter what. If something happens on either side of that five minutes you are on your own.
Ryan Gosling is a quiet unassuming loner in LA working days in a garage and as a stunt driver at night a high paid "wheel man".
The opening police hunt for the late model silver Impala and Gosling's expertise at avoiding capture is done very well and is very suspenseful. The film, opening on this high note, for the most part continues running on all cylinders.
Shannon (Bryan Cranston) owns the garage where Gosling works and helps out with Ryan's stunt work. His dream is to get a race car and have Ryan drive. He approaches Bernie (Albert Brooks) to invest in his dream. Bernie, who partners with Nino (Ron Perlman) are a couple of unsavory characters who would just as soon shoot you as say hello. In the mean time, Gosling meets and begins falling for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). Irene appears to be a single mother, however, she is really married. Her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is in prison. Standard get released and has a debt he must pay. Gosling agrees to help him out and between the involvement with Bernie and Nino and a botched Pawn Store heist .things begin going terribly wrong.
I liked this movie but I feel it is a movie you are either going to really like or not like at all. Not much in between the film is gritty and violent not much happiness is portrayed during its 100 minute run time. The film is rated R and is definitely not for younger viewers. I recommend this one.
The Debt (2010)
Mission a Success?
Many people live with secrets from their past. Rachel, Stephan and David, 3 Mossad agents, were assigned a top secret mission in 1965 to capture and return to Israel an infamous Nazi war criminal. Their success is a major victory for Israel against the Nazi war machine or was it? The movie begins with a book premier about the mission undertaken by Rachel (Helen Mirren/Jessica Chastain), Stephan (Tom Wilkinson/Marton Csokas) and David (Ciaran Hinds/Sam Worthington) written by Rachel's daughter. The book is going to be a huge success as these three ex-Mossad agents have been local folk heroes in Israel for the past 30+ years and this will only add to their fame and glory.
The future is still looking bright for our agents and the journalist turned novelist until some unsettling information comes to the attention of Stephan, who's current high level position in the Israeli government may be threatened if this information turns out to be true.
The movie plays out as a series of flashbacks revealing "the truth" of what happened those 30+ years ago in the safe house of East Berlin.
Overall this movie is suspenseful enough to keep you interested for the 114 minute run time although I found a few parts to be somewhat slow. It is a worthwhile view. If you can't get to the theater to see this latest film, the 2007 Israeli film of the same name is currently available on Comcast "On Demand" free movies. It too is a very worthwhile film (subtitled in English for those of you who do not speak Hebrew/German/Russian). I am not sure if I would have liked to have seen the Israeli version first or not (moot point as I viewed the Hollywood iteration first) but both films are done well.
Very Good but not Great
It has finally come to an end - the long awaited 2nd half of the final book of the Harry Potter series opened to audiences worldwide July 15th. Most critics have given it rave reviews and audiences for the most part have loved the final chapter of this film series.
The movie is full of excellent special effects and prior characters who have died in previous films make cameo appearances (as spirits of course) to aid Harry in his quest to conquer Voldemort.
You won't be disappointed with this movie and the short epilogue at the conclusion of the film puts the final end on the Harry Potter series - but - it leaves the door open for future films about Harry, Hermione and Ron's children.
If you are a Harry Potter fan - you should definitely see this final film - if you haven't been a fan I think you will still like the it - but you should familiarize yourself with the story and characters before going to the theater...it will make the movie more enjoyable.
Don't Feed The Animals
Kevin James plays Griffin Keyes, an average guy in an average job. He has a kind heart and an above average ability to relate to the animals in his care as the zookeeper of The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.
The film opens with Griffin breaking up with his long time girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). He weathers the disappointment and we fast forward 5 years where Griffin has now become the head zookeeper. At a celebration of his brother's upcoming wedding, Griffin spots Stephanie and his old feelings for her bubble to the surface. Lost and confused Griffin's animal buddies come to his rescue by 1 - letting him in on the secret that animals can communicate with humans (in English no less) and 2 - teaching him how to win the female of his species (advice that may be better left as that - advice) Some physical humor and not so funny scenes and lines fill out the movie for the long 104 minutes. Rosario Dawson plays Kate, the obvious new love interest for Griffin.
Unless you're between the ages of 8 and 12 leave this one unseen - I don't even think it is worth the matinée price. Maybe catch it some time when it has been "formatted to fit this screen" and "shortened to fit in the time allotted".
Horrible Bosses (2011)
I went to see this film with the highest of expectations. After all, Rotten Tomatoes has 73% positive from the critics and 80% positive from audiences around the country. Must be good right? I found the film to be funny enough. Jasen Bateman is very good in his role as Nick Hendricks, the loyal employee trying to kiss Dave Harken's (Kevin Spacey) butt enough to get the coveted promotion to senior VP. Kevin Spacey - who is good in most every part I have seen him play - does and excellent job as the boss you just love to hate. Charlie Day plays Dale, a dental assistant, constantly being sexually harassed by his Dentist boss, Jennifer Aniston. The trio of friends is rounded out by Jason Sudeikis who plays Kurt who loves his boss but hates his bosses son. Of course, to move the movie forward, tragedy strikes, and Kurt must now suffer at the hands of Bobby (Colin Ferrell).
The three buddies, lamenting their sorry work lives at the local bar, hatch a scheme to hire a hit-man to rid them of their "Horrible Bosses". On their quest to find such an individual, they run across Dean MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) who becomes their "murder consultant".
Many of the funniest lines and scenes are in the trailers, but there are a few surprises and it does have some solid humor throughout the film. This film is a go, but if you can get the matinée price - do that.
Larry Crowne (2011)
Larry Crowne - just right
Tom Hanks (the title character) and Julia Roberts (Ms. Tainot) team up in this romantic comedy about a middle aged big box store employee who's life is suddenly sent into a tailspin when the company he works for lays him off. The excuse he is given is because of his lack of a college education he cannot advance in the company and therefore he is being let go. Not knowing exactly what to do now, he takes the cue about his lack of education and enrolls at the local community college.
Getting a reality check at a local gas station he notices a couple of "scooter" enthusiasts fill up their "rides" for about $3.00 while his large SUV gulps up $75+ of the precious liquid. He buys a used scooter from his neighbor Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and heads off for his first day of college. He meets Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who attaches herself to Larry and is determined to turn Larry into a "cool" college student through new clothes and her outlaw scooter gang.
Larry starts out by almost missing his first speech class where Ms. Tainot is the professor - lucky for him and as it turns out for Ms. Tainot, he arrives in the "nick-of-time" so the class won't be canceled for lack of student numbers.
Rami Malek is pretty funny as Steve Dibiasi, one of Larry's classmates, and George Takei is very good as Dr. Matsutani, Larry's economics professor.
This is a formula romantic comedy which worked for me. I felt it had just the right amount of humor contrasted well with a few "real life" not tragic but sadder moments and held my interest throughout the 99 minute run time. This film will not break any box office records and if Hanks and Roberts had not been in the lead roles it may not have worked as well as it did. I recommend this film - but you should probably shoot for matinée pricing.
Super 8 (2011)
See it on the "BIG" screen
As we grow older and hopefully wiser we seem to look back to our past as "simpler" times. A time of innocence. It is during this "simpler" time, 1979, when Charles (Riley Griffiths) - a want-to-be director, enlists the aid of his junior high friends to make a "Super 8" movie. His dream is to enter his movie in an upcoming contest and of course win fame and fortune. It is during the filming of an all important scene when Joe (Joel Courtney) notices a white pick-up truck enter the path of a speeding freight train. As the kids run for cover, the camera is left running and films the entire crash. The train disaster unleashes a secret that has been kept from the American public since 1958. The arrival of the military and their very hush hush demeanor has the town deputy looking for answers.
The group of young filmmakers continue on and when the original role of super 8 film is returned from the lab (remember when you had to wait for film to be developed?), Joe and Charles get a look at why the military has occupied the peaceful burg of Lillian, Ohio.
Government conspiracy, man's inhumanity to anything different than ourselves, rivalry between friends, young love and most of all being able to let go of your past to grow and move into the future are all explored during the 112 minute run time.
This film is definitely worth a trip to the theater to see on the big screen. The special effects would loose some of their impact - even on those 55" and 60" full HD TV's.
The "secret" is kept hidden enough to keep the audience guessing and ads to some "shock" moments that may make you jump.
Overall and enjoyable film - rated PG-13 the film could be disturbing to some younger viewers - I recommend you go see this one.
The Hangover Part II (2011)
Rehash of the previous film
I have been in theater withdrawal - haven't been to a movie in a couple of weeks - so, ventured out today to see "The Hangover part 2".
I really don't have to provide a summary for this film - substitute: Bride's younger brother for groom, monkey for tiger, Bangkok for Las Vegas and you basically know the rest (if you saw "The Hangover"). There are some very funny scenes in this movie and it was worth the $5 matinée price - but I wouldn't pay full price for basically the same movie I saw in 2009. As usual with sequels - the original movie was definitely the better of the two.
I am going to guess we can expect a 3rd edition of this movie - maybe the creators of film series hope the audiences are like Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis in that we will all have total memory loss and shell out our hard earned cash to see the wolf pack in another fine mess.
I recommend you wait for on-demand or Netflix or your local video store - or like me, a matinée.
I have heard a comedic film is the most difficult to do and be successful. "Bridesmaids" is a film that meets this challenge head on and pulls it off admirably.
Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a down-on-her-luck 30 something who is barely scraping by after her bakery failed. Her lifelong best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), gets engaged and asks Annie to be her Maid of Honor. Although honored she is chosen, Annie feels as if her life is on a rapid decline and Lillian's is on the path to success.
Determined to do the very best job at planning all of the pre-wedding activities she arrives at the engagement party and is introduced to the rest of the bridesmaids. She finds a rival "Lillian best friend" in Helen (Rose Byrne) and the no holds barred competition for Lillian's approval leads to laugh-out-loud antics and situations until Lillian disappears on the morning of the actual wedding day. Annie and Helen need to bury the hatchet to find Lillian and hopefully get Lillian "to the church on time." The remaining bridesmaids, Becca (Ellie Kemper), Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey) and especially Megan (Melissa McCarthy) are all funny in their own right and without their contribution the film would not be as worthwhile. John Hamm, of "Mad Men" fame plays Ted, Annie's on again - mostly off again relationship.
The film works well and although there are some pretty silly scenes the overall experience is enjoyable and the whole audience seemed to enjoy as well.
I recommend this film.
Madea's Big Happy Family (2011)
Laughter and Tears all a part of Madea's Big Happy Family
I don't know if anyone else out there is a Tyler Perry fan, but I really enjoy his work and although at times a little schmaltzy, "Madea's Big Happy Family" is worth a trip to the theater.
As with all other Madea movies, Madea (Tyler Perry) takes on old and young. No matter who you are or think you are, if you cross Madea you are in for a good old A** chewing.
Madea's niece, Shirley (Loretta Devine) is given some bad news by her doctor. Her wish is to share the news with all the members of her family at dinner. She arranges a get together but there is a problem. Her family over time has become somewhat estranged. Although they do all eventually arrive at the house, it isn't long before the bickering and fighting begin. Shirley cannot find a moments peace when she can address the issue for which she had the gathering, and all too soon the family runs from the table and the house. Not knowing what to do next, Aunt Bam (Cassie Davis), in order to help Shirley, enlists the aid of Madea to corral all of the children, spouses and grandchildren around the dinner table so Shirley can let them know how much she loves each and everyone.
Along the way, Madea lets everyone know her philosophy of life as only she can and amidst the tragedy comes fulfillment and forgiveness. The movie runs the gamut of emotions - from grief to joy. One moment you may feel tears welling up in your eyes only to be followed by the laugh-out-loud antics of Madea.
I think there would have been nothing lost if Brown (David Mann) and his occasionally - emphasis on occasionally - funny shenanigans would have been left on the cutting room floor. I don't feel his part in the movie really added any value, but it is there and I took it for what it was.
The movie won't be nominated for any significant awards but as with all of the Madea series, there are some life lessons from which we all can learn taught by Madea in a way only she could get away with.
I recommend this film.
Water for Elephants (2011)
Tragedy, Hard Times, Redemption
The Circus is a way of life with a mystique about which we could all fantasize. At a time when the nation was struggling with "The Great Depression", ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages longed for reprieve from their everyday hardship. That traveling show of daredevils, clowns and acrobats provided such relief.
When an unexpected tragedy strikes at the heart of Jacob (Robert Pattinson), he abandons his dream of becoming a veterinarian and sets out on a journey which leads him to the to a traveling circus fronted by the sadistic ringmaster August (Christoph Waltz). Jacob faces many trials along this journey and even though many of the circus personnel do not accept him, his infatuation with Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) keeps him working toward becoming an official member of the circus family.
The look and feel of the film is excellent in the portrayal of a time in our history when men and women struggled for survival in an uncertain economy. Christoph Waltz does a very good job in portraying a controlling -sometimes out of control - boss and husband.
The movie has many superb moments and also some very lackluster scenes. Fortunately, the good moments out weigh the bad and overall is an enjoyable film. I am not so sure that teenagers would enjoy the film as much as an older audience, but all in all is a worthwhile trip to the movie theater.
Your Highness (2011)
A fantasy tale of royalty, knights, damsels in distress and all that goes along with this well worn theme.
Danny McBride who co-wrote the screenplay stars as Prince Thadeous, the vulgar brother of Prince Fabious (James Franco), who is the favorite of the King and who seems to do everything right. Fabious' love interest, Belladonna (Zooey Deschenal), recently rescued by Fabious from the clutches of the evil Leezar (Justin Theroux), is re-captured by the same. Fabious sets out on a quest to rescue Belladonna and enlists the aid of Thadeous and his squire Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker). Along the way they are betrayed by some close to them, encounter evil forest dwellers and meet Isabel (Natalie Portman) who becomes an important ally.
There are a few laughs - emphasis on a few - and many vulgar jokes that really serve no purpose to the overall story. The only saving grace to the movie was much of the scenery during their travels is very majestic and beautiful, I enjoyed the soundtrack and James Franco and Natalie Portman do, as usual, a good job in their roles.
If for some reason you want to waste the price of a ticket and don't need any dental work...go ahead and see this one.
The Conspirator (2010)
Is Mary guilty or just a pawn in a bigger game?
In this, the 150th anniversary year of the beginning of the American Civil War, comes a movie about Mary Surratt and the trial of the only woman to have been accused in the conspiracy which led to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Mary Jenkins, an educated farm girl from Maryland, married John Surratt in 1840. Together they open a tavern in what becomes known as Surrattsville and they have three children together, Isaac, Anna and John Jr.. Southerners at heart, when the American Civil War erupts, John Jr., becomes a confederate spy with strong allegiance to the confederacy. John Sr. died suddenly in August of 1862 and after two years of trying to continue the family business, Mary leases the tavern to John Lloyd - a man who will later help the prosecution at the trial - and moves to a property she owned in Washington, D.C. where she opened a boarding house.
John Jr. had become friends with the then famous actor and now infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth. Booth and the other conspirators in the assassination often met at the boarding house where it seems the plot which ended Lincoln's life was hatched.
Much like after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the nation, after the assassination of Lincoln, was in a frenzy and looking not for justice but revenge against those responsible. Mary Surratt, because she was the owner of the boarding house where the conspirators met and being the mother of John Surratt Jr., a rebel loyalist, is caught up in this "feeding frenzy".
The movie opens with the assassination and the arrest of Mary. It is well done, and although not 100% historically accurate, shows how emotion sometimes overrules even the rule of law. Was Mary truly involved in this conspiracy or was she just the innocent bystander caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? We will never really know the answer to that question. The movie also is about that emotionally driven trial and the young lawyer tasked with Mary's defense. At first he wants nothing to do with this event as he, along with most everyone, is convinced of her guilt. As the trial evolves he opens his eyes to her story and the possibility that she is a pawn in what is a monumentally unfair trial under the jurisdiction of a military tribunal instead of a civil court. Somewhat ironically, at this same time a case was pending before the supreme court questioning the the military's jurisdiction in civilian cases and in 1866, less than a year after the conclusion of Mary's trial, the court ruled that the military had no jurisdiction in civilian cases.
Somewhat slow paced at times, I think it could have been told in less than the allotted 123 minute run time, and some scenes that are too drawn out, I do recommend this movie.