Tubs of Popcorn Rating!!
Film Reviews

      RAVE & RAGE
Jamie Foxx & Channing Tatum
Shane Acker "9"
Minor Childers & Leland Orser
Craig Robinson & Clark Duke
Kelsey Mann - Pixar
Channing Tatum
Andy Dickler
Marmaduke
Richard Hatch
Sam Bass
Peter Lord
Nicholas Sparks
Stan Lee
Jarrod Hess
Morgan Spurlock
Peter Briggs
Kevin Sorbo
Carrot Top
Scott Waugh
Jonny Weston
Martin McDonagh
Anna Hutchison
Ming-Na Wen
Paige O'Hara
Robert Carlyle
Martin Papazian
Martin Blunder
David Koechner
Spongebob!
Gabriel Iglesias
Scott Mantz
Ben Lyons
Gil Bellows
Kevin Pollack
David MacKenzie & 
Gil Birmingham
TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight

Jeri Jacquin

Landing in theatres once again tomorrow from needing-to-be-stopped director Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures is the next loud landing of TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight.

Well, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is still floating about somewhere in space while Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is rescuing Transformers where he finds them. While roaming about he comes across an ancient Transformer who entrusts him with a medallion. It comes alive and won’t let go of Yeager.

It is a relic from the time of King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and Merlin (Stanley Tucci). The Autobots were part of the round table helping the humans as they were needed. The medallion needs to seek out a knight that will help find the staff of immense power keeping it out of the hands of evil.

While trying to save the Transformer he meets Izabella (Isabela Moner), a young girl without a family who has a knack for fixing Autobots. They all end up back at Yeager’s home station where Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael), Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Hound (John Goodman) and Daytrader (Steve Buscemi) hide from the government agency TRF.

When they are discovered, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) sends his ‘butler’ Cogman (Jim Carter) to take Yeager to England. Along with Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), Burton explains the history of the medallion Yeager has and how Vivian is the only one that can handle the staff of power.

Which is more important now that a nasty wench named Quintessa (Gemma Chan) wants to return Cybertron to its former glory – but not in a good way. When Optimus Prime arrives to discover things are chaotic, he becomes part of Quintessa and Megatron’s (Frank Welker) plan to retrieve the staff and take over Earth. Yeager, Burton, Wembley, Cogman and Col. Lennox (Josh Duhmel) push themselves to save the planet once again.

Because the Decepticons aren’t going to get it without a fight!

Wahlberg as Yeager is once again running around without a story. His relationship with Bumblebee is an awesome one and there are humorous moments with the other Autobots. The thing is I don’t really care about this character because it’s the same metal clanging… different day but not really. There are quipps back and forth with Hopkins, Cogman and Vivian that are chuckle worthy but not enough to sustain the story.

Hopkins as Burton is a curious character and I do love me some Anthony Hopkins but really? Your giving one of our greatest actors a story to tell that involves King Arthur and the Autobots? I think I laughed more at that garbage because it was only a few weeks ago that I sat in the same theatre watching Guy Richie’s version of KING ARTHUR. 

Duhamel as Lennox is a character that is all muddled from beginning to end. I wasn’t sure what side he was on but then again does it really matter? He shows up guns blazing hoping it all works out for the best. Moner as Izabella is, and I’m going to get crap for saying this but a totally unnecessary character. Really? Your going to throw this kid into a war zone and she gets out without a scratch? Suspension of disbelief…poof…gone.

Haddock as Wembley is clearly a Megan Fox look alike and that’s sad because it isn’t that her role is bad, just whatever. Cool to be related to a historic figure but I didn’t buy it for a second which means, yep, don’t care about her character in the slightest.

Carter as Cogman is hilarious and his recognizable “yes my lord” brings back the heady days of Downton Abbey Sundays and good television over crappy film. His language was a little testy but I don’t think its going to stop parents from bringing their kids. 

The recognizable voices of Goodman, Buscemi and Watanabe are funny, especially since they argue and wrestle around like metal-brothers-from-another-Autobot. Bumblebee still wins hands down and the storyline brings in some weird ‘he once was a soldier for England’ story which just falls flat. Not your fault B!

Other cast includes Santiago Cabrera as Santos, Martin McCreadie as Lancelot, Rob Witcomb as Percival, Marcus Fraser as Gawain, John Hollingworth as Tristan with Stanley Tucci as a drunken Merlin and John Turturro as Agent Simmons.

TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight is a two and a half hour metal clanging story that gives Bay a reason to waste $217 million dollars. That’s right folks, enough to save a small town or education thousands of kids is vying for your dollars. Of course if it doesn’t do well here there is always the overseas market waiting to gobble this up. 

Look, I’m tired…tired of a story that lasts into five films that tells the same story beginning and ending with Optimus Prime boring monologue about how the Autobots are there to save the human race. Didn’t Wonder Woman just do that? Or Batman, Superman, the Justice League, Thor, or any of those others?

It was easy to entertain myself with thoughts like ‘doesn’t that robot look like Darth Vader’s fighter?’ and ‘Wow! They used pieces off the alien ship from THE ABYSS for decoration’ and ‘They stole an Imperial Walker – I wonder if Grand Tarkin knows?’ and ‘Is Robocop going to show up?’ and ‘Stonehenge? Oh the Queen isn’t going to like this’.

I swear if I listen to Optimus go into his schpeel I’m going to strain my eyes from the constant rolling and the hand gestures of ‘blah! blah! BLAH!’ Honestly I lost interest once Shia decides to exit stage right although the film does touch on the Witwicky family tree. He brought comedy of a different kind that broke the monotony of the metal banging. 

Seriously, I miss the cool rantings of Mom and Dad…and I miss Mojo the dog! Oh well, I can always not wait for Transformers 6, trust me, someone will give Bay the money to do it.

In the end – they have been here forever…and ever…and ever…(yawn)…and ever!

CARS 3 Revs Up Their Engines for the Weekend!

Jeri Jacquin

Racing into theatres this weekend from writer/director Brian Fee, Pixar Animated Studios and Disney is everyone’s favorite racers with CARS 3.

Lightening McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) has been a winner on the track race after race. That is until one day a big race that he felt was a win suddenly changes when a new generation car speeds past to take the win. Shocked, McQueen meets Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a new race car that is all teched out and he isn’t sure how to deal with it.

When an event on the track happens, McQueen goes back to his little town to basically hide. That is until his friends Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Luigi (Tony Shalhoub) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) convince him that he needs to reach out Rust-eze, the sponsor who is now owned by Sterling (Nathan Fillion).

Sterling gives McQueen trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who makes her duty to get him up to speed, literally, before the next big race in Florida. Wanting to go back to training the old-school way, McQueen and Cruz begin to understand one another.

But there is still one more thing McQueen needs to do and that’s return to where his mentor Doc (Paul Newman) lived and discover what motivated him! He meets Smokey (Chris Cooper) who introduced him to old-school racers who push McQueen.

When they arrive in Florida, McQueen begins to realize that the racing world is changing and it might be time for him to change too!

Wilson as McQueen once again brings humor and fun to his vocal role. This is a character that just continues to grow, even if he doesn’t understand why he has to. Wanting to be the best for as long as he can isn’t a new concept in life and McQueen eventually shows us all that being the best only changes when we realize change can be oh so good!

Alonzo as Cruz is a young lady car that absolutely needs to know her worth. As McQueen begins to understand her drive, he realizes that he can either help his new friend or be part of the problem. I love Cruz’s get up and go but also her dreams.

Cooper as Smokey brings in the old school gang to straighten out McQueen letting him know that Doc has always been with him. Those scenes are extremely touching. Hammer as Storm is a car that plays to the cameras but his wit even though it is stingingly aimed at McQueen. The addition of Fillion as Sterling is an owner that seems committed to McQueen but, of course he’s only in it for what he can get out of it and not the love of racing. 

Larry the Cable Guy as Mater is till the sweetest and sometimes smartest car of them all. He wants what is best for his friends, believes in them and will drop everything to help them. He helps McQueen in ways that even Mater doesn’t realize. Larry will always be Mater! 

Other cast includes Ray Magliozzi as Dusty, Kerry Washington as Natalie Certain, Bob Costas as Bob Cutlass, Margo Martindale as Louise Nash, Darrell Waltrip as Darrell Cartrip and Isiah Whitlock Jr. as River Scott. 

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give CARS 3 four tubs of popcorn out of five. It is fantastic that Pixar and Disney have returned to the original formula that made the original CARS so much fun. Having come full circle with the inclusion of Paul Newman’s character just brought a tear.

The story gives each character an added depth of loyalty, belief in one another, can-do attitude and even when feeling defeated the uplifting of friends. It is thrilling that the original cast came together bringing all the comedy and laughs I felt missing in the second film.

Everyone in the audience truly had a great time and with school ending it is a great beginning to the summer family movie going experience. Lightening McQueen and the gang have brought their story full circle and it is nothing short of well done and fun. 

Grab the family and head to the theatre this weekend for an amazing story from beloved friends who just happen to be CARS. 

In the end – It’s not over until lightning strikes!

THE HERO is an Absolute Winner

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from writer/director Brett Haley and The Orchard is a performance that brings us THE HERO.

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is an out of work actor who is about to discover his mortality. Given medical news that requires almost immediate action, Lee isn't sure what he wants to do.

Sitting with fellow out of work actor Jeremy (Nick Offerman), Lee has an opportunity to share the news with someone. Instead he tells Jeremy that he is getting ready to make another movie. He also meets Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a younger free spirited woman who happens to be a stand up comic. They take a liking to one another but Lee is distracted dealing with life.

Visiting his ex-wife Valarie (Katharine Ross), he tries to tell her as well but ends up asking about their daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter) who seems to be avoiding him. Lee tries to invite Lucy to be his date to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award but receives a cold response. So he takes Charlotte who introduces Lee to a night of induced fun.

Charlotte invites Lee to see her stand up comedy stylings. He is devastated by what he hears and a tail spin ensues as Lee being to feel every moment of his life on his shoulders. You can run or swim in any kind of bottle through life and Lee learns that the hard way.

To his surprise there is a great potential for forgiveness, friendship, love and a chance to make his life a good one.

It is never too late to see the love!

Elliott as Lee is everything audiences have come to love about this actor and more. His magnificent slow cowboy drawl and full on mustache has always been recognizable. From his debut in the 1969 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID to THE SACKETTS in 1979 his cowboy persona wins. His side-eye and mischievous grin has become iconic and even more so in the 1989 film ROAD HOUSE.  

Elliott was quoted as saying, “I think I might have been a more interesting actor, had more of a career earlier on, if I had more formal preparation”. Not taking away how you feel there Sam but audiences continue to be thrilled by past performances and are going to be stunned with THE HERO. 

Prepon as Charlotte is an interesting woman who sees past Lee’s age. To her there is a mystery too be unraveled about Lee but at the same time embraces her free spirit. That being said, he ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude is also a bit of a façade.

Offerman as Jeremy is the relaxingly baked comic relief yet a gentle spirit for Lee. Enjoying Lee’s company since he was a young actor seems to be enough for him. Their scenes together are both funny and touching.

Ritter as Lucy has a years worth of bones to pick with her father and she gets her chance. The problem is, as in life, wanting to call someone out on their flaws doesn’t always feel as good as you think it will and Lucy learns that. Ross as Valarie is still stunning and I personally was thrilled to see her back on the screen across her husband.

Other cast include Doug Cox as the Doctor, Max Gail as Gary Babcock, Jackie Joyner as Betsy, Patrika Darbo as Diane and Frank Collison as the Man in Dreams. 

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE HERO five tubs of popcorn out of five. Elliott gives a powerful, intense, funny, charming and heartfelt performance without special effects, cgi or sappy music pulling the audience into the story. Instead, we go willingly into Lee’s life because the journey is one we all have faced.

Owning up to past mistakes, Elliott gives the character every bit of the complexities we understand and care about. We also get treated to knowing that no matter what age, we all can still do crazy stuff and be surprised by life.

The one moving piece of THE HERO is that redemption maybe painful but it is a fleeting pain in comparison to the compassion and love that can follow. THE HERO is beautifully filmed, stunningly cast and had the screening audience thrilled to have experienced every moment.

THE HERO was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and nominated Best American Independent Feature Film by the Cleveland International Film Festival for Brett Haley. The film won Honors for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking for actor Sam Elliott at the Newport Beach Film Festival. 

Take a moment to experience a film that will bring out every human emotion we share in this journey through life.

In the end – this is where the past and his mortality collide!

47 METERS DOWN Brings Teeth with Little Bite

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from writer/director Johannes Roberts and Dimension Films comes blood in the water when you are 47 METERS DOWN.

Lisa (Mandy Moore) is dealing with a broken heart while on a trip to Mexico bring along sister Kate (Claire Holt). Deciding that Lisa needs more excitement in her life, Kate shows her sister the fun side of a night out. Meeting Louis (Yani Gellman) and Benjamin (Santiago Segura), the two men talk the girls into shark diving.

Knowing Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine) and for one hundred bucks the girls have the opportunity to go in a case surrounded by sharks. Lisa isn’t sure about doing any of this but is swayed by Kate to do something exciting in her life.

Taking an outboard to a larger ship, the girls watch as Javier (Chris Johnson) chums the water and Louis and Benjamin get into the cage lowered into the water. Lisa and Kate watch in excited nervousness as 20 foot sharks swim around the boat.

When it’s the girls turn, Lisa still isn’t convinced and once again has to be convinced by Kate. Once in the water however, Lisa loosens up to see the beauty becoming excited by it all. It is all fun and games until a cable comes loose and the girls are sent screaming 47 meters down. 

Immediately they realize that they will soon be out of air, Kate knows that the weak signal in their headsets means she has to get out of the cage. Reaching Taylor at the boat, he tells them help is on the way and to stay in the cage.

The sharks have other ideas as the girls deal with air, depth of water, potential bends, and fear of what is swimming in the deep.

Moore as Lisa is a young woman who is dealing with the breakup of a man she thought was her life. Swayed into letting her hear down a bit, she goes one step to far into the waters. Holt as Kate is the fun loving sister and Lisa makes a point of saying so. Both of their performances brought the audience into a blood frenzy of their own (which I will explain later). 

Modine as Taylor has a small role as the rusty boat captain and it was because of him that I chose to see the film. Call it supporting a fellow one-time IB’er as my motivation to see his performance. Hey, no matter how big or small, bad or good, there is something to be said for small town supporters! Gellman, Segura and Johnson are the supporting shark-bait potentials. 

I’m not going to put a rating on 47 METERS DOWN because there is a duality here that I need to write about. First of all, this is the best-worst-best shark film I’ve seen in a long time. The dialogue is horrible and the story line totally unbelievable. From the moment the cage goes down it’s an epic underwater sh*tshow. Everything is wrong with it and sitting in the theatre I have to say biting my tongue became impossible. Come to find out I wasn’t the only one having that problem.

Here is where it gets good-bad; the audience began to participate in the film verbally! There were hollers from the upper seats, popcorn being thrown at the screen coming from every direction, really loud head smacking, serious belly laughs, loud groans of frustration and the phrase, “oh hell no!” every 2 minutes. 

There is one scene where Kate picks up an underwater flashlight and turns it on to which my friend Vince sitting next to me says out loud, ‘Turn the light off! Jeeeez!’ and sent the crowd cheering. During another scene I became so frustrated with the character Lisa I said, not as loudly, ‘you deserve to get eaten!’ and the lady behind me spit her soda laughing.

So, what happened is that 47 METERS DOWN turned into an audience participation film that was absolutely fantastic! We all became film-friends with total strangers and said out loud what each was thinking which brought even more cheers and fun to the event. I couldn’t believe what was happening around me since the last time I experienced something similar was in 1975 with THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

Look, 47 METERS DOWN, like all shark films have a difficult goal because of the 1975 film JAWS. That film is epic and although challengers to the throne come and go, it has yet to be de-toothed as the king of shark films. This film doesn’t have a hope in hades of being anything more than an under water court jester.

Now, for the cool news – there is about 10 minutes of the film that are frakken awesome. So much so that people were jumping in their seats, screaming out, hollering and yelling in such a way that you couldn’t even hear the film sound. Nicely done underwater work with sharks that I never want to see again – okay I’m going to see it again. Once again audience participation took over. Nope, that’s all you get from me on that!

Walking out of the theatre it was agreed by mostly everyone leaving that the film was an audience event that made the poor story weirdly forgivable. People were laughing and yet talking about the film in a way that is normally reserved for, dare I say, a good film. That is the duality of this film that will continue to be talked about as I see 47 METERS DOWN becoming a cult classic and fodder for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys (and please invite me to be part of that when you do guys!)

Mandy – congratulations on This is Us and I can’t wait for season two! Claire – I’ve always loved you in The Originals and glad to see you back! Matt – what can I say dude, IB’ers in this town are kinda diggin’ you no matter what so kudos!

In the end – no help above and no hope below!

MEGAN LEAVEY Speaks on Loyalty, Friendship and PTSD

Jeri Jacquin

In theaters this Friday from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Bleeker Street Media is a compelling story that needs to be seen because of MEGAN LEAVEY.

Megan (Kate Mara) is a young woman staggering through life. Unhappy with her job and unhappy living at home with mom Jackie (Edie Falco) and her boyfriend Jim (Will Patton), it seems the days just blur.

That is until she makes the decision to hop a bus and join the U.S. Marine Corps. It didn’t take long until Megan was in trouble within the Corps as well that has her cleaning the kennels of the K9 unit. 

There she meets Rex, a four legged anti-social dog who gives trainers a difficult time. Megan continues to ask Gunny Martin (Common) to become part of the K9 unit. When a situation presents itself, Megan and Rex are paired together and so begins a training of each other to become a strong unit through patience and friendship.

Sent to Camp Ramadi in Iraq, Megan and Rex are sent on missions to sniff out IED’s clearing the way for soldiers and the Iraqi people. She also meets Matt Morales (Ramon Rodriguez) who is also part of the K9 unit and starts to become comfortable being part of a team. 

Then a mission puts both of their lives in danger changing the path for them both. Megan knows that she can not continue on her path without Rex and with dad Bob’s (Bradley Whitford) push, she is will get Rex back at her side and will do anything to make that happen.

In that is the true meaning of friendship!

Mara as Megan portrays a young woman who clearly has problems dealing with home and family. Making a swift move to join the military, Mara’s character puts up serious walls until she creates an unbreakable bond with Rex. What is amazing is that feeling this connection and watching the story unfold between Megan and Rex; it is not surprising that they would work together so brilliantly. Mara and Rex are lovely in this film and the audience fell in love with them both. 

Common as Gunny Martin is a man who clearly doesn’t take any guff from anyone – including a pint size Megan Leavey. Testing her potential and patiently watching to see if her dedication to the K9 unit is solid, he gives us both the tough Gunny as well as a man who understands the hurt of battle.

Rodriguez as Morales is a wise cracking but dedicated part of the K9 unit in Iraq. He manages to bring down some of Megan’s emotional walls but it can take the snap of fingers to bring them back up. Patton as Jim is not someone Megan is thrilled to have around and this is a small role.

Whitford as Megan’s father Bob is a man who realizes that choices he made in his life have affected his daughter. Wanting to reach out and help her, he just isn’t sure how to do it or if it would make a difference. This is a different role for Whitford and he delivers with a lovely scene when Megan returns from Iraq.

Falco as Jackie is – well – Falco. She is an over dramatic and wildly awesome to watch as Megan’s mother. Big or small, Falco brings her best to every role she does and always manages to surprise me.

Other cast include Geraldine James as Dr. Turbeville, Shannon Tarbet as Barb, Miguel Gomez as Gomez, Jonathan Howard as Peter Walters, George Webster as Finn, Corey Johnson as Master Sergeant and Tom Felton as Andrew Dean.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MEGAN LEAVEY four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. It is be very easy to call this a feel good film but that would be an injustice to the story being told. There are so many issues that are handled in this story with straight forwardness, no sugar-coating and boldly done. 

It is the story of a young woman dealing with the situation her life is in and knowing at some point something had to give. Joining the Marine Corps gives Megan the opportunity to become part of something bigger than herself and not just fighting in a war but becoming responsible for Rex and the lives of everyone around her. Mara takes this role and lets us all experience the journey of this young woman until the end where we come to understand more than we ever could. 

Director Cowperthwaite says of her film, “There are so many important story threads, what about the political commentary about the war one could make or about a ton of things regarding women Marines and dealing with their situations…and to focus on this world from Megan’s perspective. You have to hone in on that relationship and how that bond gets built because that is really what the story is – loyalty and friendship.”

In regards to PTSD and returning troops she says, “Dealing with PTSD when our military come home and how we can maybe look at it different, pay attention and be better listeners I think that would be a great thing.”

MEGAN LEAVEY is a story that is well done dealing with issues that might be uncomfortable for some to see but necessary to experience. This film speaks on love, understanding, patience and a friendship that saved not only the lives of others – but of one another as well. 

In the end – a true story of a marine and her best friend!

MY COUSIN RACHEL Brings Twists and Questions

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Roger Michell and Fox Searchlight Pictures is a story of love and mystery surrounding MY COUSIN RACHEL.

Philip (Sam Claflin) loses his parents at a very young age but it blessed when Cousin Ambrose raises him. When Philip becomes a young man, Ambrose travels and becomes involved with a woman named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). As strange letters begin to arrive, Philip has no choice but to find his Uncle.

Seeking wise advice from family friend Kendall (Iain Glen) who regards Philip highly and daughter Louise (Holliday Grainger), a plan is made to find Ambrose. When the young man arrives it is to sad news that Ambrose has died. His anger wells up against his new cousin Rachel believing she is responsible.

Returning home, he receives word that Rachel is coming for a visit and Louise helps Philip prepare. What Philip is not prepared for is a mysterious cousin who tells a story of sickness and anguish. Feeling emotions he had never felt before, Philip is faced with the duality of love and suspicion.

Coming closer and closer is either a life filled with love or the brink of insanity!

Weisz as Rachel has the uncanny and fantastic ability to add so many dimensions to a character and playing Cousin Rachel is no exception. She is endearing, kind, secretive, altruistic with a history of pain yet it is up to the viewer to understand if any of it is real. I have always enjoyed this actress’s performance but especially those where she gives a turned eye as if she knows something we all don’t. 

Claflin as Philip is a young man possessed by every emotion that swings his way. Fueled by anger at first he learns that one can be fueled by the craziness of love with equal fervor. Wanting to experience life, he looks to his cousin to make that happen and isn’t quite sure how to deal with suspicion. Claflin also brings every range of emotion to his Philip.

Glen as Kendall is clearly a man who Philip as respected but even he can not talk to the young man. Being a Game of Thrones watcher, it is truly awesome to see Glen take on a role that once again is filled with sincere feelings. Grainger as Louise is a young woman with her own heart that is aching but goodness is she good at getting things done. Whether finding out the truth or make a house a home, her agenda is patience.

Other cast include Andrew Knott as Joshua, Andrew Havill as Parson Pascoe, Tristam Davies as Wellington, Louis Suc as 12-year-old Philip, Poppy Lee Friar as Mary Pascoe and Katherine Pearce as Belinda Pascoe.

MY COUSIN RACHEL is based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier. In 1952 Olivia de Havilland and a very young Richard Burton starred in the first telling of the novel in theatres. Geraldine Chaplin and Christopher Guard reprise the story with a BBC television mini-series in 1983. 

Now director Michell brings his version of the novel My Cousin Rachel adding his own sense of the complications of life. The cast brings these characters from stage to screen along with amazing costuming, locations and an atmosphere ripe for a thriller that still leaves us all asking the question – did she or didn’t she?

It’s not secret that I am an avid fan of period pieces with all the pomp, pageantry, darkness and intrigue that are not hidden behind cgi and the like. Instead, this film breaks everything (and everyone) down to its rawest form leaving the viewer to decide for themselves. That is an amazing part of storytelling and MY COUSIN RACHEL will have people still asking questions long after the film has ended.

In the end – love and madness sometimes go hand in hand.

WONDER WOMAN Gets Opposing Views

Jeri Jacquin and Vince Munn

In theatres this Friday is the highly anticipated film directed by Patty Jenkins with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures bringing WONDER WOMAN.

Jeri Jacquin: First of all, it is no secret that I’m not the most ardent fan of super hero films, mainly because you can’t swing a tattered comic book without hitting one in theatres. I don’t need 15 super hero characters mushing up my screen time doing the same thing they always do – mainly tearing up the world that other people have to live in after. 

I’ve been told in whispers I am suppose to slobber all over WONDER WOMAN because we share the same body parts (minus the wrist cuffs and svelty figure) because the film is suppose to “empower women”. Robin Wright looked amazing in her Amazonian get up, do I get points for that? So knowing you are not going to get it out of me my irk list is extensive. 

Instead, from the get-go dear Diana is lied to by the people she is suppose to trust the most – her family, then she is lied to by a man (why should she be any different) and then ends up helping humanity save itself basically showing her altruistism. I spent more time rolling my eyes than cheering.

Yes, I’m just horrible for not feeling empowered by WONDER WOMEN which is why I am letting someone who loves all things DC do his thing and give his views on the film. Ladies and gentlemen – I give you Vince Munn, take it away!

Vince Munn: Diana (Gal Gidot), princess of the Amazons is a trained lethal warrior, blessed by the gods and raised on an island of women. When American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on their island of Themyscira, he tells of a great conflict in the outside world. Diana she seeks to travel with him into the heart of the conflict convinced she can end the threat. 

Through her journey Diana will see the dark side of man while discovering her full power and destiny. Warner Brothers and DC comics have found the bright light in their dark cinematic universe. Wonder Woman is a film with heart, humor, and forgive the pun, wonder. 

Gal Gadot reprises her role of Diana, first introduced in Batman v Superman, a highlight of that film. Carrying the film she imbues it with charm, beauty, and heroism. Were I a young girl, this would absolutely be my heroine. The core of the character is there as her motives for what she does. 

Chris Pine is solid in his role of Steve Trevor. While he is the male lead, he never steals the spotlight and supports his lead in the best way. Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, and Robin Wright round out the main cast, each filling their role with full talent and commitment - sometimes a little beyond what is necessary. 

While the villains are there, much like most Marvel antagonists, they lack the bite you want. The spectacle of the film is there as well. This is a comic book film and feels like one, but at no time does it ever wink at its audience. 

Coming out at this time in history, amidst all the politic and unrest, Wonder Woman will stand out as a beacon to women. This is a strong character and is not pandered to. A personal stand out moment is the crossing of No Man’s Land. You’ll know it when you see it. Absolutely beautiful. “I will fight, for those who cannot fight for themselves.” 

Fully enjoyable, while at times feeling its length, the only real issue is that you could shave a close 15 minutes and probably have a tighter, better film. That being said, this is a lot of fun, a lot of eye candy, and worth a second viewing.

Jeri: Thank you Vince! Although there are moments in the film that I agree with Vince it really doesn’t matter because WONDER WOMAN will earn its stop spot, at least for a week. With big films showing up week after week, each one will take its place on the top stop unless WONDER WOMAN has other super powers that can keep her there longer.

In the end – the future of justice begins with her…apparently.

CHURCHILL: The Untold Story of D-Day is an Epic Telling 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Jonathan Teplitzky and Cohen Media Group is an incredible telling about the man everyone knows as CHURCHILL: The Untold Story of D-Day.

It is ninety-six hours before D-Day in 1944 and Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) arrive for the final meeting with Dwight Eisenhower (John Slattery), Field Marshal Montgomery (Julian Wadham), Admiral Ramsay (George Anton) and King George VI (James Purefoy) to discuss the landing in Normandy, France.

Much to the surprise of the battle leaders, Churchill makes it clear that he does not agree with the plans made and has ideas of his own. Eisenhower does not understand why he is trying to change plans that have taken so long to prepare. Standing his ground, the leaders of the Allied Forces are shocked.

Churchill’s wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) tells her husband that those in charge of the landing are perfectly capable. What she doesn’t know is that the internal fear is of a man who has seen thousands of young men dead on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915. 

Even friend Jan Smuts (Richard Dursen) tries repeatedly to reach Churchill explaining that he should support the Allied Forces. Secretary Helen (Ella Purnell) begins to experience parts of his personality as the hours tick by and Churchill wants the invasion to stop.

Turned down at every avenue, Churchill turns to the Almighty begging him to stop the invasion. Becoming emotionally reclusive as the hour draws near, it takes one timid voice to remind him of who he is and what his voice means to the people who need to hear its strength.

As the invasion commences, Churchill embraces what is to come and once again lifts up all within the sound of his voice.

Cox as Churchill once again brings a stellar performance that I could not stop watching. Capturing the wave of emotions from military failures to political turmoil’s, Churchill’s countrymen were not privy to his personal struggles and all seemed to plague him. Cox has captures all of it magnificently with a flawless performance. This is a performance that should be recognized for its depth – period. 

Richardson as wife Clementine is equally brilliant. She is clearly a woman who knows her husband is a difficult and complex man yet isn’t afraid to have her opinion. Richardson embraces the strength of this woman and still allows her moments of tenderness that are endearing. I absolutely love when she calls Churchill out through his bellowing to make it clear that enough is enough.

Durden as Smuts is a man who understands Churchill as a military man and tries to keep him focused. When others begin to turn away, Smuts reminds them of what Churchill means to their country and respects it. Purnell as Helen is a young woman who wants to do something important for the war effort. I don’t think putting up with Churchill’s antics was in the job description but I love her spunk.

Slattery as Eisenhower is a military man who sees the cloth Churchill is cut from but is not about to veer from a plan everyone agrees on. Never once does Slattery’s character back down and this actor does it with military understanding but only so far. Purefoy as King George VI has a brief part in the film and the most outstanding scene is explaining to Churchill that they both have a part to play to help win the war.

Other cast include Angela Costello as Kay Summersby, Danny Webb as Alan Brooke, Jonathan Aris as Mallory, Steven Cree as Captain Stagg, Peter Ormond as Briggs, and Kevin Findlay as Fanshawe.

CHURCHILL: The Untold Story of D-Day is an absolutely stellar film with performances that are rich and riveting. Cox performance of Churchill is one of a complex man filled with the demons of war and the insecurities that a man in his position isn’t allowed to show. 

Instead of this film showing the ravages of war that pretty much everyone has seen on film, it instead focuses on one of history’s leaders and gives Churchill a human side. I don’t mind learning that this man had fears and weaknesses as I would never trust a leader who didn’t, but it is how to overcome those fears that earns my respect.

In the end – it is one man’s journey through war.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Jeri Jacquin

Jack is back this week in theatres as directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg along with Walt Disney Pictures is PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is a young man who wants one thing – to see his father Will Turner permanently returned to dry land. What he needs is Poseidon’s Trident and the map that will lead him there to break the curse holding his father deep in the ocean. 

Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is a young woman who holds a map to the where the trident is and only she can read it. Basically it’s because she can read the stars where as most pirates can’t, well, read. 

Someone who can help them is Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) but he’s not having the best lucky with a crew lately. As if that’s not enough, Henry tells Jack that a ghost named Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pretty much wants his head on a platter.

Unphased by the prospect of losing his head, Jack is more focused on what he’s always focused on – getting his hands on the Pearl! When Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) comes upon the hair flowing Captain Salazar, a deal is struck to find Jack together.

Jack, Henry and Carina try to stay one step ahead of Barbossa and Barbossa tries to stay two steps ahead of Salazar. As they all get closer to the prize, there are still scores to settle and a few surprises for them all.

This is the life of a pirate!

Depp as Jack Sparrow puts a period at the end of his time as a pirate. His usual throwing caution to the wind and not being upset by much, Depp throws out lines and facial reactions that will make the audience laugh. Jack Sparrow is endearing and even to the very end he seems to be able to come out with what he truly wants.

Thwaites as Henry Turner is a young actor that is able to pull off the role of a kid who just wants his Dad back. Becoming somewhat of an expert on the legends of the sea, Thwaites is charming, caring and daring all rolled into one. Scodelario as Carina is a smart young woman who is misunderstood by, well, pirates. Looking for the trident is her mission to finding her own family.

Rush as Barbossa is his usual peg-legged self who wants to keep the money rolling in and going up against Jack is just topping on the cake. Bardem as Salazar is kind of creepy but then again he is a tad upset at Jack so we have to let him get out his frustration.

Other cast include Kevin McNally as Gibbs, David Wenham as Scarfield, Stephen Graham as Scrum, Adam Brown as Cremble, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann. There is also a cameo appearance that had the audience cheering so look out for that!

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fantastical journey’s we have all enjoyed with Captain Jack Sparrow. Although the film isn’t really a stretch in terms of a storyline (meaning kind of predictable or else I’m just getting really good at this) but the special effects are cool. Of course they would be in a Disney film right?

It has been an adventure from 2003 until now with characters that are memorable and have become iconic. Disney has done a good job in wrapping up this series of films (I hope it’s a wrap!) in such a way that I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

Everyone jumps on board for another adventure and a few surprises as well. This is fun for the family for the holiday weekend with laughs, adventure, action and characters that once again having us cheer for our favorite pirate.

In the end – it is the final tale of a pirate’s life!

DRONE Brings About a Debating Story

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from director Jason Bourque and Screen Media Films is a story that will bring about debate when it comes to a DRONE.

Neil Wistin (Sean Bean) works secrets as a drone contractor who flies missions that target terrorists. His wife Ellen (Mary McCormack) and teenage son Shane (Maxwell Haynes) believe he is in the IT business. Keeping his work life and home life separate is difficult on everyone.

When Neil’s father dies there is definitely a tension at home as Shane finds it difficult to deal with his grandfather being gone. In their driveway sits a constant reminder in the form of a large sailing boat with a for sale sign plastered across its bow.

While working at home Neil sees a man standing in the driveway. He introduces himself as Imir Shaw (Patrick Sabongui) and shows interest in buying the boat. Happy about it, Neil invites Imir in so they can discuss the price and paperwork.

After some talk Neil invites Imir to dinner with Mary and Shane. Casual conversation about work and culture are pleasant enough until an uncomfortable tension comes between them all.

What happens next will have everyone talking!

Bean as Neil is a man who is pressured by the work he does, the death of his father and a family that doesn’t talk to one another. When the stranger shows up it is inevitable that feelings will rise to the surface and secrets slip out under pressure. Watching Beans’ character juggle everything through a bottle of wine was a train wreck waiting to happen.

McCormack as Ellen is clearly unhappy with family life but tries to reach her husband and son. Hayes as Shane is a young man who wants to send off his grandfather in his own way. Keeping to himself, Shane’s parents are not quite sure how to help him.

Sabongui as Shaw is a man with his own demons. Wanting people to understand everything he’s been through and his sadness becomes difficult when it’s done through fear. Sabongui uses everything from his delivery of words to the expression on his face to bring the audience in.

Other cast include Joel Moore as Gary, Viv Leacock as Agent Barker, Sharon Taylor as Agent Jenkins, Bradley Stryker as Ted Little and Kirby Morrow as Dave Wistin.

Screen Media Films is a global independent motion picture company releasing titles that include TEN THOUSAND SAINTS starring Ethan Hawke, Hailee Steinfeld and Emile Hirsch; COLONIA starring Emma Watson and Daniel Bruhl, SHELTER starring Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie and SHARK LAKE starring Dolph Lundgren. For more on what Screen Media Films has to offer please visit www.screenmediafilms.net. 

DRONE brings about the question of who is behind the controls and how it affects us all. This is a story that not only deals with the home life of a man who is not being truthful with his family but another man who feels justified in his actions.

Yes, that seems cryptic to say but this is a film that must be experienced so that the conversation about drones has a starting point. We live in a world of bad guys who imbed themselves around innocent people. We also live in a world were decisions aren’t always so cut and dry and in this film it all comes to a head for both.

The cast is what keeps the story on its feet with Bean, McCormack and Sabongui meshing it all together with emotional shock and awe and knowing our secrets can be used as a weapon.

In the end – choose your target!

Dear Ridley Scott - ALIEN: Covenant

Jeri Jacquin

Dear Ridley Scott – I wish I didn’t have to say that this is one of the hardest reviews I have had to write in a very long time. Normally I would just go about my life not even bother speaking on this but I am sincerely disappointed.

ALIEN: Covenant has been a film I’ve waited for since going crazy for PROMETHEUS. I am a huge fan of the Alien films and can honestly say that if I am channel surfing and one of the films is on – I stop what I’m doing to watching it for the umpteenth million time.

In 1979 ALIEN rocked the planet and everybody in it with a story that was epic in scope, eye candy for sci-fi lovers and film goers everywhere. I love the character of Ripley and everything she embodied. She was strong, smart, and powerful in her own right, feminine, nurturing, tough as hell and not afraid to show fear. Hey, being chased across the galaxy by a freaky-stomach-splatting-acid-spitting creature that just seems to have it out for you would drive anyone to momentary lapses of fear.

Ripley took us through every gut-wrenching range of emotion and her victory was our victory! Every time the aliens came after her, Ripley put her big girl britches on and gave them a galactic supreme thrashing. 

That’s what brought us back into the theatres in 1986 with ALIENS because vengeance is best served in the cold vacuum of space and we wanted Ripley to show the gun-slingers how it’s was really done. With the introduction of Knute, Ripley became even more real to us all because her maternal side kicked in with “get away from her you bitch!” I was in the theatre when people got to their feet cheering on there heroine!

ALIEN 3 in 1992 had us knowing it was inevitable that Ripley would be found floating in space slumbering away only to be awaken by a prison full of guys who thought they were badasses – hardly. When it came down to it a woman solved their problem and then, quite literally, took one for the human team. We still cheered Ripley with her hands gripped around that slithery biter of mayhem showing us all what sacrifice truly looked like.

Then came ALIEN RESCURRECTION in 1997 and I was thrilled to see the reincarnation of Ripley. A scary version of her original, this Ripley had a mean sense of humor and no problem showing off her set of skills. Although I enjoyed the film I knew that it was time to say goodbye to Ripley letting her ride off into the sunset of Earth.

Imagine the surprise of mostly everyone when in 2012 PROMETHEUS came along. I knew Ripley wasn’t going to make an appearance since this was a prequel (and Mr. Scott I can’t even begin to tell you how I feel about prequels). That being said I’m a Michael Fassbender fan, I think the world would be a hideous place without Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace with always be THE GIRL IN THE DRAGON TATTOO so I mentally and willingly signed on for that ride. 

Different and twisted as the film began to divulge the universal secret of where in the hell these creepy double-jawed aliens came from. I have watched PROMETHEUS time and time again because of the story and the cast. I wanted to know where this was going, I wanted Elizabeth Shaw to get the answers and I wanted David to be a cool synthetic. The reviews were mixed and it was either a totally loved the film or totally hated it.

So here we are in 2017 and another ship is floating around in space with ALIEN: Covenant. I was already sitting in the theatre seat with my dander up because Shaw wasn’t going to be part of this adventure. To be honest the only thing that kept me in that uncomfortable seat was knowing Fassbender was going to be playing dual roles and I had to see that for myself.

Now, here I sit, still, weeks later thinking how could this have gone so wrong? Well, for me it began the moment new-guy-behind-the-ships-wheel Captain Oram orders the ship to land. Basically you lost me immediately – totally because no one is that stupid (or so I thought). Screening the film with my two daughters who are also ALIEN aficionados from their teenage years, we spent ten minutes rolling our eyes at one another because believability flew out the window like Ripley’s creature-baby in ALIEN RESURRECTION. 

That is only the beginning of my list of bitches and complaints but that’s what happens when I feel cheated. To be honest Mr. Scott the story just rankled me to the point of no return. All I kept thinking was really? REALLY? Even Michael Fassbender taking on dual roles had my head shaking and not in a good way which kills me, seriously kills me. 

If I had one question to ask you I suppose it would be did you believe ALIEN: Covenant was the best you could do for fans? No surprises but instead a revelation that I found to be more placating than cool. Gawd I am so p.o.’d and what’s worse is I know there has to be another film coming down the space-pike and I feel like I’ve already seen it in my theatre’s mind. 

Of course I’m not going into detail about the film because even if I’m cranky, I don’t want to ruin the film for those crazy enough to slap down their $15 dollars because perhaps they will find something I’m just not seeing. My only solace is the fact that I have all the other ALIEN films on bluray and can use it as a marathon-mind washing over the weekend. 

Something tells me that you aren’t going to be to upset over what this lil’ old broad film critic has to say in the grand scheme of things. If you need someone to look over your next ALIEN script however I’d be glad to use my handy red pencil to ward off any ridiculousness before you yell ‘roll ‘em!’.

If I can offer some salve for the scratches I think Taboo is a frakken ridiculously awesome television show and THE MARTIAN is absolutely brilliant so theirs that. Always look for the bright side of the universe right?

My apologies if I have offended you with my opinion Mr. Scott because I really did want to go gaga for ALIEN: Covenant – truly I did.

Jeri Jacquin
Crabby Movie Maven

LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD is the Untold Story of Gertrude Bell and Iraq

Jeri Jacquin

In selected theatres this June from documentary filmmakers Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum along with Between the Rivers Productions are the LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD.

Narrated by Tilda Swinton, this piece tells the story of Gertrude Bell, a woman who lived an extraordinary life. Born in 1868 in England, she was born into a wealthy family. Losing her mother at the age of three, Gertrude remained close to her father Sir Hugh Bell who remarried playwright and children’s author Florence Olliffe.

Gertrude was educated at Queen’s College in London and Oxford University graduating at age 17. Her life after school became a journey through Persia in 1892. Writing about it in the book Persian Pictures, she spent over 10 years travelling around the world discovering her love for archaeology.

Travelling through Damascus, Jerusalem, Beirut, Antioch and Alexandretta, Gertrude would write about her travels in a book Syria: The Desert and the Sown. In 1907 she worked with archaeologist Sir William Ramsay with excavations across Syria. 

When World War I came around, Bell volunteered with the Red Cross in France but would later be asked by British Intelligence on how to get soldiers across the deserts. In 1915 she went to Cairo assigned to Army Intelligence. She meets up with T.E. Lawrence where they both share their expertise.

A year later she would receive an official position to organize and process the information of the Arab tribes. Then Gertrude is sent to Basra to advise Percy Cox, a Political Officer and draw maps that would help British soldiers reach safety. 

In the Middle East she would see massacres and genocide where, “Turks sold Armenian women openly in the public market”. In 1919, Gertrude spends ten months in Mesopotamia writing on what needed to be done to keep the country’s peace. After which she returns to Baghdad to become Oriental Secretary and a liaison with the Arab Government.

At the Cairo Conference in 1921, Gertrude gave input on Iraq recommending Faisal bin Hussein to lead the country as King of Iraq. The new king kept Gertrude to advise him and help with the government positions selection.

Returning to what she loved, Gertrude began the Baghdad Archaeological Museum wanting to preserve the clearly stunning relics of Mesopotamia and keep them in country. Supervising the excavations, she created large collections.

In 1925, Gertrude returned home to Britain and soon after she died much to the dismay of all those who knew her accomplishments. D.G. Hogarth said, “No woman in recent time has combined her qualities, her taste for arduous and dangerous adventure with her scientific interest and knowledge – all tempered by feminine charm and a most romantic spirit”.

The Iraqi Museum today that she helped create with such attention to detail was ransacked in 2003 during the war.

The documentary LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD is an intensely personal look into the life of this extraordinary woman. During an era where a woman was definitely not to be found in war, let alone positions of importance, Bell proved she could handle anything given her. 

Never married, although close, and no children, Bell took life by the wind storm and followed her passion and heart. Doing good by helping seemed to be her initial goal but it blossomed into something even more spectacular.

Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum have taken the life of this stellar woman and shared it with us all. I personally had never heard of Gertrude Bell before this documentary but you can be sure that her name and fire will never be forgotten in my mind. 

This is a documentary of passion, hope, family, friends, adventure, danger and love for it all. We should all be so blessed to know a fraction of this in our lives – Gertrude Bell made it all every fiber of her life and being.

As Swinton reads Gertrude’s letters, it is in her voice that Bell comes alive! Swinton not only narrates the film but is an executive producer along with Thelma Schoomaker and Reudi Gerber.

LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD is the winner of the Audience Award by the Beirut International Film Festival and the Official Selection of the IDFA, DocNYC, BFI London Film Festival and HAIFA Film Festival.

In the end – her story is no longer untold!

KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword Strikes in Theatres

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from writer/director Guy Ritchie and Warner Bros. Pictures comes a different telling of KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword.

Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is a young man raised in a brothel in the middle of Londinium with his friends Back Lack (Neil Maskell) & Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adir). Taking care of business and saving his riches, it is a life he’s known. 

Vortigern (Jude Law) is a vicious ruler who will stop at nothing to keep his crown, including the murder of his brother King Uther (Eric Bana). When the waters begin to recede around the castle, it exposes the sword Excalibur that is embedded in the stone. The evil king discovers that his brother’s son is alive and could stop him with the mere pulling of the sword out of the stone.

Calling for young men to try and receive a mark of testing, Arthur finds himself in the line after the brothel is raided. To the surprise of prisoners and guards a like, the sword glides out of the stone with ease sending Arthur into a state.

Rescued by Bill (Aidan Gillen), Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and helped by the young Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). Told the story of his parents and how Vortigern came to power, Arthur isn’t sure he wants to help. Changing his mind is Vortigern himself when he comes after everyone he has come to respect.

The only way to stop the evil is by taking down the tower where Vortigern’s evil geminates and Arthur has learned the power of Excalibur and wields it as only a king could.

That’s what happens when you are raised in the brothel but born to be King!

Hunnam as Arthur gives it his all in biting line delivery and knock down drag out fight scenes. I actually enjoyed his performance but then again so did about every other gal in the theatre. There is a pull between wanting to be the regular guy running a brother Arthur and knowing that there is something more to his life. 

Law as Vortigern takes evil to another level in that he does it with such calm. Sometimes that’s much scarier than crazy shouting evil characters. Of course if I had a crazy creature living in my basement I might feel good about ruling my world. I just love the fact that Law is so versatile and makes being a bad king kind of fun to watch.

Berges-Frisbey as the Mage is quiet but careful in everything she does. Knowing that ever move it to rid their kingdom of Vortigern, she also knows that only Arthur can make that happen. Maskell as Back Lack believes in Arthur and is actually one of my favorite characters because he does stand by his friend so steadfastly.

Gillen as Bill is a determined arrow shooting man who isn’t about to let evil take over anything which is quite a change for this actor given his Game of Thrones character. Hounsou as Bedivere is a strong leader and wants Arthur to accept his heritage and the power of the sword. 

Other cast includes Freddie Fox as Rubio, Craig McGinlay as Percival, Tom Wu as George, Geoff Bell as Mischief John, Annabelle Wallis as Maggie, Zac and Oliver Barker as Young Arthur.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword three tubs of popcorn out of five. Here’s the problem, from the moments of the opening scene I felt as if I’d been in this scene before. A tower with a red glow? Fighting elephants? Did someone break into the Weta Workshop and revive Sauron? Apparently not as my plus one revealed to me that it was his second cousin once removed Ted.

And then there is the humor that is fantastic and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. The scene where Arthur is explaining his wear-a-bouts to a town official is nothing short of well done. The exchange between Arthur and his friends is equally funny. 

So in lies the dilemma – I’m not actually sure how I feel about the film. I honestly didn’t go in expecting much so in that sense I wasn’t disappointed. Perhaps I wanted more, perhaps I wanted not so much predictability or perhaps I am asking too much since the films coming out of Hollywood lately keep me out of theatres and into Netflix.

Hunnam and Law fans will be happy to see the two go head to head but whether that is enough I will leave up to the audience. It isn’t going to be an easy opening because Arthur and the gang are still up against some heavy hitters that aren’t going to go down quietly.

In the end – from the stone to the throne!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 Protects in Theatres

Jeri Jacquin

Finally arriving in a theatre near you are our favorite heroes as writer/director James Gunn, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures bring GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2!

Zipping through the galaxy once again being heroes, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) are helping Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) keep their power source from being stolen.

After an epic saving, their reward is the one thing Gamora has been wanting – her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). On their way out the door, Rocket can’t help but grab a few power capsules thinking no one will miss them.

Not even out of range, Ayesha and her people attack Quill’s ship and they may not get a chance to jump through space. That is until an unusual craft assists them right before they manage to escape only to crash land tearing up the ship. Moments later, the same craft lands as Ego (Kurt Russell) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) introduce themselves.

Shocking Quill a tad is the announcement that Ego is his father. Trying to explain everything, Ego convinces Quill to come with him where all will be revealed. Taking Drax and Gamora, Rocket stays behind to repair the ship and babysit Nebula.

Also looking for the guardians is Yondu (Michael Rooker) as Ayesha makes it known she wants them all. Even that goes into chaos when Yondu and Rocket come together to put a traitorous band in its place.

Landing on Ego’s planet, it is a beautiful place and the story of what happened between Ego and Peter’s mother Meredith is explained. Peter also learns that he is the son of a god with powers he can call upon. Gamora knows there is something not right about it all, especially with Mantis seemly secretive. 

As the story begins show its true meaning, Peter is joined by Gamora, Rocket, Yondu and Nebula along with Baby Groot to set things right again but not without great cost. 

That’s not about to stop the Guardians!

Pratt as Quill has this role down to perfection. He covers everything from a hero to a kid needing to know who his father is and everything in between. With his Guardian family he knows they accept him for all his idiosyncrasies and the penchant for his mixed tapes (which we all are!). I just love watching Pratt go for it every moment he is on screen and listening to everyone cheer for their favorite Star-Lord.

Saldana as Gamora is keeping her emotions in check with Quill and even more so with a sister who is driving her crazy. Trusting her instincts about everything she gang is going through, it becomes clear that the history with Nebula is something that has always needed to be talked about. Oh sisters – they can hate each other but one good brawl always sets things right.

Cooper voicing Rocket is arrogant, guarded, hilarious and yet has a soft spot for all his guardian buddies. He may be a Guardian but he still has his old habits that need to be kicked. Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot, I mean really, what can else can be said here about the awesomeness that is Groot. “I am Groot” – we’re done!

Bautista as Drax has a chance to really show serious comedy here although what he laughs at isn’t as funny until he laughs about it. He is the powerhouse the group needs and he doesn’t hesitate to stand up for his buddies. I love the scenes between Drax and Mantis. Klementieff as Mantis is endearing, sweet and giggly funny.

Debicki as Ayesha is clearly a woman who has anger and power issues. Gillan as Nebula tries to work on her anger issues but when you’ve been angry as long as she has, it’s difficult. 

Rooker as Yondu brings his blue-ness back to irritate Quill and the gang. It is the scenes with Yondu and Rocket that are pretty amazing. This is a role that looks so easy for Rooker to play because he has a swagger that is distinctive and an attitude that would give anyone pause.

Russell as Ego is always a thrill to see. Nothing seems to be slowing this actor down and being the god/father to Quill finally gets to tell the whole story – and I mean the whole story. Russell gives us the charm and flashy smile to bring us into his world and I don’t mind visiting at all. 

Other cast include Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Tommy Flanagan as Tullk, Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill, Chris Sullivan as Taserface and Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 five tubs of popcorn out of five. I mean seriously, would you expect anything less? I am not always on board to all things in the Marvel Universe but the Guardians franchise is definitely worth every second on screen. 

This ensemble has brought a uniqueness that I enjoy with characters that are relatable with their flaws, awesome in their survival/fighting skills, care for one another, humor and how each one protects Baby Groot. Come on, you know that’s cute! The special effects are just amazing and add to the story instead of being used to just dazzle.

I am purposely being vague about the film because I had such a fun time that I want everyone who sees it to have a great time as well. This is an event, truly, and groups of people should see the film together. Grab everyone and make it a movie night to remember. 

It must be said that the soundtrack for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 is just as frakken awesome as the first film. There is no way, absolutely no way to not tap a foot or even sing along because each song fits the scene perfectly. Everyone in the audience during the screening was so into the music which made it all even more fantastic of a time.

I don’t know what you are doing this weekend but if it’s not seeing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 then you must be in traction! This film is funny, action packed, endearing, hilarious, and yes Baby Groot steals every scene he is in – I mean is that shocking? Hardly. 

In the end – you only get one chance to save the galaxy twice!


ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table is a Delicious Documentary

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Netflix on May 1st from filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and Iwerks & Co. with theatrical release in May comes the intriguing story of ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table.

Ella Brennan has made more than a name for herself as a legendary restaurateur but is a pioneer of what is now considered a food movement. After high school in New Orleans, her brother Owen wanted to open a business that would take care of her parents. In 1933, Owen hires piano player Fats Pichon plays in their club and it is a success! 

At the age of 20, Ella along with sister Adelaide take on opening a restaurant. Trying to find their niche among famous places on Bourbon Street, Ella teaches herself the business. Creating Breakfast at Brennan’s comes from her European learning trip and brother Owen wants an original dessert on their menu as well. The creation of Bananas Foster became a hit then and is still a hit today!

Brennan’s becomes a rising restaurant and Ella a rising star that is noticed by editors and food critics. the Brennan’s opened a restaurant on Bourbon Street. Food Editor Helen McCully would take Ella to New York where she meets Julia Childs, Jacques Peppin and James Beard (yes, that James Beard).

The passing of Owen and the lease on Bourbon Street property is up but Brennan’s begins again at a new location. The patrons followed eagerly with a party that Ella says, “lasted a month easily”. Never an empty table, Brennan’s continues to be successful on Royal Street in New Orleans.

The restaurant keeps her busy but Ella meets Paul, they marry and start a family with son Alex and then daughter Ti. Keeping life surrounded by family, members recall having get together’s that always included delicious food. Their marriage unfortunately leads to divorce because of Paul’s problem with drinking.

After a shocking family takeover, Ella walks away from Brennan’s Restaurant and buys a place called Commander’s Palace Restaurant and once again starts from scratch. Beginning with an idea from brother Dick, she creates a Garden District Jazz Brunch. It was instantly a smashing success!

Wanting her patrons to have an experience, Ella creates just that with crowds taking over on Saturdays and Sundays. Surrounded by celebrities of all types there were write ups constantly. Moving in with sister Adelaide, they both continued fancy and dressy party’s at their home.

Paul Prudhomme became an Executive Chef at Commander’s Palace creating menu’s with Ella that include Cajun Crusine and flavors New Orleans hadn’t brought before. A line of amazing chefs came through Ella’s kitchen from Jeremiah Tower, Danny Meyer, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon just to name a few. Each chef that came through continued to pave the way for amazing cuisine and continued success for Commander’s Palace.

When Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans, Ella once again is faced with picking up the pieces by gutting Commander’s Palace. Committed to rebuilding, Ella says, “it breaks your heart to know what people went through in this city. This was no longer survival of yourself but survival of the city we all live in”. 

Not only did she rebuild Commander’s Palace, she helped local owner Dooky Chase rebuild her restaurant as well. Reopening thirteen months after Hurricane Katrina, they were back!

This is a family business as Ella and Dottie move into the home right next to the restaurant to be close to it all. The dedication of this woman named Ella and the Brennan family has continued to bringing the dining experience to generation after generation and I personally have Commander’s Palace on my bucket list!

Director Leslie Iwerks is an Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker who has brought Oscar and Tony nominated actress Patricia Clarkson on board to narrate this amazing story. Choosing Ella Brennan, family and their love of the restaurant business as a subject for her documentary is wonderful perfection.

ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table has been the Official Selection for the 2017 Dallas International Film Festival, Audience Award at the New Orleans Film Festival, Official Selection of the: 34 Miami Film Festival, Houston Cinema Arts Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Tiburon International Film Festival, Annapolis Film Festival, Vermont International Film Festival, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival and the Boulder International Film Festival.

The story is told from Ella herself along with family, friends, critics and the chefs that were a part of her kitchen which bring such a personal aspect that I was enthralled watching every moment. 

A admitted “foodie”, I am fascinated by the creative process of chefs, food and restaurants décor and how they are run. Ella Brennan was a name I had heard before so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this documentary. I had no idea that I was in for a delicious treat with not only the food but the history of this amazing woman who created something spectacular.

ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table is a must-see for everyone, whether you are a foodie or not. This documentary is a history of a family who understood and continues to understand their city and patrons. Constantly reinventing itself, Commander’s Palace has a woman at its helm who believes in what she does – and it shows. Brava Ella Brennan!

In the end – she brought grace, elegance and good taste to the nation’s culinary map!

UNFORGETTABLE Brings Love and Terror to the Screen

Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from first time director Denise Di Novi and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the twisted meshing of families that will be absolutely UNFORGETTABLE.

Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is packing her home in San Francisco to move to Southern California to be with boyfriend David Connover (Geoff Stults). Happy about her decision, Julia knows that there will be an adjustment with young daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) and ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

Eager to start their life together, Julia notices almost right away the tension with Tessa. Trying to make things easier for David, she does her best to show Lily that everything is just fine. What Tessa doesn’t know is that Julia and David are planning to be married.

Getting his brewery business off the ground, David thinks its better to wait until everyone has settled to break the news. Tessa decides to take matters into her own hands and look at Julia’s past to discover that she has something that she hasn’t disclosed to David.

Putting discomfort between Julia and David, Tessa is clearly aware of every move she makes. Julia can’t seem to convince David of what is happening to their family until someone shows up at their door igniting a chain of events and there’s no turning back!

Dawson as Julia clearly wants to begin a new life with David. Trying her best to have a integrated family with Lily, Tessa is making sure that they don’t get to close. Dawson’s character eventually holds her own with Heigl’s character and it is a stand off that shocks.

Heigl as Tessa is walking perfection! From her stunning hair, impeccable clothing and steely eyed stare, I can’t recall the last time I saw a character like this and thought, ;I definitely don’t want to meet her anywhere day or night!’ This is a scary lady for the ages for sure but the apple doesn’t fall far from the three.

Stults as David is a man trying to have a new relationship while having an understanding with ex-wife Tessa. Clearly a doting Dad of daughter Lily, starting a new business means he doesn’t have time for two women who need to work it out. Trying to be understanding of Tessa’s feelings, he is caught between three females!

Rice as Lily is adorable and put in the middle of the adults nonsense. There is one scene with Heigl that totally broke my heart for her and that means she handled her character beautifully. Well done young lady! 

Other cast include Simon Kassianides as Michael Vargas, Jayson Blair as Jason Michaels, Alex Quijano as Miguel and Cheryl Ladd as Tessa’s mother.

UNFORGETTABLE is a film that is up front about every aspect of what is going on. So why does this work so well? Because it’s like being a fly on the wall watching everything unfold or like a train wreck that you can’t help but watch. I’m keeping the details to myself because this film needs to be seen first hand and remember to keep your jaw off the floor.

The audience absolutely loved the film and there are several times where people were yelling at the screen or hiding their eyes. That’s always a good sign when the audience doesn’t realize its participating!

At this years CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Heigl says of the film, “They say the things that you are most afraid of might actually happen. But what happens when one person can’t deal with it and jealousy turns to madness”.

Dawson continues by saying, “UNFORGETTABLE is a suspense thriller that harkens back to some of my favorite films but with a modern and contemporary edge. We think this film will give audiences what they want, an experience where they are on the edge of their seat!”

In the end – love makes some do dangerous things!

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS Revs Up Their Engines Once Again!

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director F. Gary Gray and Universal Pictures come the next installment when it comes to knowing THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Not there long before Dom has to put his foot to the pedal for the respect of family. Returning to the hotel, he is stopped by a woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) who isn’t pulling any punches by letting Dom know that he will soon be working for her.

Hobbs goes from coaching his daughter’s soccer team to a job that gets him a nice stint in the slammer but Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) offers him a deal to stay out of jail. Backed up by Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) on the deal, Hobbs refuses. Waiting in a cell across from Hobbs is his least favorite person Deckard (Jason Statham) as the two immediately begin to verbally spar. 

It takes no time at all before Mr. Nobody gets Hobbs, Deckard, Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) in a room to tell them that Dom has gone rogue! The get the intel of Cipher but they have no idea what they are up against as the game of cat and mouse begins. Letty doesn’t believe it but the mission is to stop him.

Dom knows he is hurting his new bride and friends by working with Cipher but there is something they do not know and he can’t tell them. Every time the gang gets close, Dom has back up from Cipher and her muscle Rhodes (Kristofer Hivju) to elude them once again. That is until they all end up on the Barents Sea in the arctic for a showdown like nothing the gang has experienced before.

All of it to stop an anarchist and discover what made their leader go rogue!

Diesel as Dom returns to the hard and tough role that fans have loved about this franchise. Knowing that taking care of family, whether blood or otherwise, means taking each step carefully. His performance is totally spot on and the scenes with Theron are filled with tension that is amazing to watch from them both. 

Diesel recently announced at CinemaCon that there will be a 9th and 10th installment of the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise. He told the audience, “We are proud of how we defied expectations with this series of films.” Of course the topic of Paul Walker came up and he said, “It was a hard decision to make the film without Paul but his legacy is in every frame we shoot. He was the concept of brotherhood! When I thought of going into the 8th chapter, it was Paul that said ‘8 is guaranteed!’

Johnson as Hobbs is bigger and bulkier than ever bringing a softer side to his character as a soccer coach. That also brings a big of comedy to his character and it really is quite funny. That being said, when the comedy stops – Hobbs gets to business and as much as he doesn’t want to go after Dom, he will and he will without hesitation.

Statham as Deckard is a mixture of hilarious, bad ass, softy and perfection with his interaction with Johnson’s character. This actor keeps getting better and better in the sense that he can be a tough in some roles that are scary and then amazing comedy as in the film SPY (which still cracks me up every time I see it) and now a mixture of both for THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS.

Rodriguez as Letty is dedicated to her man and there isn’t anyone that’s going to convince her otherwise. Although she helps Hobbs and the gang, she sees it more as saving Dom from something she doesn’t understand and not take him down. Emmanuel as Ramsey is the high tech gal who is working overtime to stay ahead of Cipher. 

Gibson as Roman is back looking for the fastest and baddest looking car in the bunch. Ludacris as Tej works well with Emmanuel trying to discover how Cipher manages to do the unthinkable with the technology she has.

Russell as Mr. Nobody is smart and witty and I’d expect nothing less form him. I’m still amazed with the diversity of his characters and the fantastic way he portrays them. Eastwood as Little Nobody doesn’t yet understand how the gang works and soon learns that they have a way of doing things and it’s not always by the book.

I’m giving a shout out to Hivju as Rhodes. He is such a cool bad guy with the ability to give anyone crazy-eye. Then again this shouldn’t be a shock for anyone who is a Game of Thrones fan of his character Tormund Giantsbane.

Theron as Cipher is frakken brilliant as this character. She is smart, doesn’t take any guff and isn’t afraid of anyone – including Dom’s gang. In fact, this character seems to find great joy in staying many steps ahead of anyone trying to stop her from getting what she wants. Using Dom is her insurance policy and he is definitely a policy worth having. I love Theron every moment she is on the screen!

Other cast include: Luke Evans as Owen, Elsa Pataky as Elena, Patrick St. Esprit as DS Allan and Janmarco Santiago as Fernando.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS is definitely a high octane ride from start to finish. Fans of the franchise aren’t going to be disappointed with the action, car chases and even an ice breaking submarine. It is fun, humorous, and even cute in a few places which just adds more fun to the film.

This is a large cast which keeps the intensity flowing and there isn’t much time to sit back and relax. Trust me when I say I’m leaving tons of details out because this is a film that doesn’t need everything put out there. Instead, it’s a film where everyone gets together and goes to have a good time so let’s not over think it.

This weekend, do just that! Grab friends, get a huge tub of popcorn and get ready for the ride that one THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS can provide.

In the end – the ride isn’t over!

TOMMY’S HONOUR Brings Just That to the Game of Golf!

Jeri Jacquin

In selected theatres this week from director Jason Connery and Roadside Attractions is a family history with the swing of a club and TOMMY’S HONOUR.

Golf is in the blood of the Morris family as Old Tom (Peter Mullan) is the head greens keeper at St. Andrews Club teaching his son Young Tommy (Jack Lowden) the game. Both of their skill is well known being supported by the wealthy men of the club like Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill). 

Tommy is consistently being told he will never be a gentleman, but he makes it clear to his father that he doesn’t want to be a caddy but a golfer. After three years of being the Open Champion at St. Andrews, he is asked to go to England to play there. Tom is not happy and believes Tommy’s place is at home with his family.

Then Tommy meets Meg (Ophelia Lovibond) who works as a server. Immediately smitten with her and lavishes attention to her surprise. Now earning a good living playing in tournaments, Tommy is finding happiness and takes on the Captain changing the financial relationship. The Captain is furious but agrees to the new arrangement because even he knows how good Tommy is.

In the meantime Tommy’s mother Nancy (Therese Bradley) isn’t happy with her sons choice of companionship and seeks out a secret about Meg she believes will change things. When confronted, Tommy doesn’t care at all and instead marries his love without either parent attending the ceremony. 

Tom accepts his son’s choice and with the rest of the family attends dinner at the home Tommy recently purchased for his bride. When mother Nancy doesn’t attend, Meg confronts her with the story behind the secret and the pain it still causes her.

Again Tommy decides to expand and become more independent from those who back him, especially since he and Meg are expecting. While the golfing Morris’ are at a tournament, Tom receives word about Meg and withholds it from Tommy.

The results are devastating and as Tommy begins to follow a heartbreaking path, Tom stands by his son with a legacy that lasts to this very day!

Lowden as Tommy is a young man who believed that his destiny wasn’t to teach golf but to play the game. Constantly working on his game and with the help of his father creating new and inventive clubs, Lowden gives the younger Tommy a bit of grit and sass that one would expect. As he realizes what he wants for his life, he begins to stand up when others want him pushed down. I enjoyed Lowden’s portrayal very much.

Mullan as Tom is a man who is set in the way of how it’s always been. He sees Tommy’s path as fool-hearty and believes that each person should know his station in life. He is also a man who handles things quietly and tries to do what is best for his family. It is hard to read Tom and Mullan keeps it that way until the last frame of the film. What an amazing performance.

Lovibond as Meg is a young woman who has a secret but one that should never define her. When Tommy gives her attention it is easy to see that she believes she doesn’t deserve it, but after they are married she stands tall against anyone, including his mother! 

Neill as Boothby has an attitude problem as I’m sure was common during this era. Boothby had no problem making money off of Tommy because he thought him inferior. When he is called out for it, Neill’s character takes a step back. I have to say I have enjoyed Neill’s ability to portray so many different characters and loved every one of them – good character or not-so-good.

Other cast include Peter Ferdinando as Major Molesworth, Max Deacon as David Strath, Kylie Hart as Lizzie Morris, Benjamin Wainswright as George Atwood, Willie Park as Ian Pirie, James Smillie as SKH Boyd, Paul Reid as George Atwood Snr. and Christopher Craig as Durie.

TOMMY’S HONOUR is a beautiful film that is about the legacy of golf to be sure but also about those who gave the game heart and soul. The director has put together a piece that gives a brief history of this family because I’m sure there was so much more to tell.

The scenery and cinematography is absolutely amazing and the costumes added believability to the story that is told. I personally know a little about golf but had no idea the history of the Morris family and their contribution.

What makes TOMMY’S HONOUR even more compelling is the beauty of the Morris family. Even with their trials and the clash of the two golfers who each believe that what they do is right. It’s not that either are wrong, just the changes that occur between generations. 

In the end – it’s the pride of a father, love of a wife and soul of a rebel that brings the heart of a champion!

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Returns as a Live Action Telling

Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from director Bill Condon and Disney is the return of a tale as old as time with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Belle (Emma Watson) is a young girl living in a small village where everyone knows everyone. So much so that Belle is known as an unusual girl who would read than find a husband. Living with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), he is also seen as unusual.

Also in the town is Gaston (Luke Evans), a tad self centered man who sees Belle as his prize and wants to marry her. Along with side kick LeFou (Josh Gad), it is a constant struggle to understand why she is not falling at his feet!

During a trip to the neighboring town, Maurice unexpectedly loses his way and ends up in a tattered castle. He quickly discovers that the inhabitants are a little more magical and terrifying. A Beast (Dan Stevens) roars down and puts Maurice in a tower cell.

When their horse returns to Belle, she immediately knows her father is in trouble and rides off to find him. Finding her father in a cell and meeting the Beast, Belle offers a trade to stay in exchange for releasing her father.

Maurice returns to the town and tries to convince everyone that Belle is being held prisoner by a Beast. In the meantime Belle is getting to know her surroundings and the magic that holds the castle captive. Taking care of her is the candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), the elegant clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), the motherly teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and her teacup son Chip (Nathan Mack), the chiffarobe Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and the ivory keys of Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci).

Getting to know the Beast, Belle begins to see a different side of the creature. This thrills the residence of the castle since there is a curse with a glass encased rose and when the last petal falls they all will become unchangeable forever.

The Beast begins to feel so much more than he could have imagined and when Belle needs to be with her father, his heart gives in. But that isn’t all changing as Gaston convinces the town that the Beast must be destroyed. The two sides collide but one thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same.

It begins with heart!

Watson is charming as Belle and she certainly has made her way out of another iconic character. She twirls and sings her way though and looks to be enjoying her performance. 
Stevens voicing the Beast is gruff and unmoving at first but, of course, finds his heart and is changed.

Evans as Gaston is very funny and manages to capture the arrogance and narcissism of the marriage minded self-absorbed hunter. Gad as LeFou is clever and also funny. Kline as Maurice gets a chance to portray Belle’s father in a less absent minded way but still well done.

McGregor as Lumiere is charming, but then again he is supposed to be. McKellen as Cogsworth has that voice that clearly defines who he is. Thompson as Mrs. Potts is sweet and caring along with the adorable Mack as Chip. McDonald as Madame Garderobe needs lessons in fashion and Tucci as Cadenza plays the ivories beautifully.

The original in 1991 with Robbie Benson voicing Beast and Paige O’Hara voicing Belle continues to be a brilliant and colorful animated film that will be first in my heart. I am not a fan of changing my opinion on that anytime soon.

I prefer the 1991 animated version and it’s because of the memories the animated film brings back. I have seen my children and now grandchildren embrace it lovingly and iconically still watch it on Bluray to this day. There is a liveliness, silliness and fun in animated films that can not be captured in live-action.  

The film is obviously beautiful and live-action fans will have a good time singing along to song they already know and one or two new ditties. The costuming is stunning (except for the ending scene where everyone changes and the makeup is pretty disturbing) and the cgi is clever. The cast is fun and that is all that will matter to those sitting in the theatre seats.

In the end – be our guest!

Welcome to the Reception and TABLE 19

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Jeffrey Blitz, the comedy writing of Jay and Mark Duplass and Fox Searchlight Pictures is the best group at TABLE 19.

Preparing for a weekend getaway wedding, Eloise (Anna Kendrick) isn’t as happy as one would think. Also invited is Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant), the Kepp’s Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry (Craig Robinson), Rezno Eckberg (Tony Revolori) and former nanny Jo Flanagan (June Squibb).

Showing up in their wedding finery, they head to the reception discovering they are all being seated at table 19 in the back of the hall. Spending a few moments making introductions, Eloise shows up and proceeds to lay it on thick.

She informs them all that she was once the maid-of-honor but broke up with boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell) who happens to be the brother of the bride. Stunning her table-mates with her forwardness, Eloise gets a bit brutal informing them of why they are at Table 19.

Bina and Jerry spend time snipping at one another, Walter can’t seem to answer direct questions put to him; Rezno has a mother who pushes him to find a girl at the reception and Nanny Jo has tales to tell of the bride and her brother. 

Eloise tries to forget that she’s in the same room with Teddy and it is everyone at table 19 who stands by her – and each other. The most unlikely table becomes the most likely to find the true meaning of friendship.

Kendrick as Eloise is endearing and has a biting wit that gets her into a bit of trouble. Losing brides maid status is the least of Eloise’s’ problems yet sitting at table 19 offers her more than she could have ever expected. Kendrick has the awesome knack of bringing relatability to a character and even when she’s being a tad wretched, she easily receives forgiveness.

Kudrow as Bina is a woman clearly unhappy with the way her life is turning out. Feeling alienated from the young married life she remembers is causing a rift now. Kudrow gives us her funny side mixed in with a motherly attitude towards the group. Robinson as Jerry seems to have become fixed in his life as a diner owner and book reader but that’s only on the surface.

Russell as Teddy has a magazine rack full of issues and wishes Eloise would just go away so he won’t have to deal with any of them. Merchant as Thimple is absolutely hilarious as his story unfolds. He starts as the odd man out who isn’t as odd as people may think. Revolori as Rezno is a young man clearly trying to find his way through life and at table 19 he’s doing it wearing a furry tie. He is a straight forward character who clearly needs to break free!

Squibb as Nanny Jo is the jewel in this film, the icing on the wedding cake and the stuff that older lady’s are made of. I loved every moment of her performance and no one could have ever done it better. She is amazing and all I could think is how cool it would be to hang out with a Nanny Jo. 

Other cast include Margo Martindale as Rezno’s mother Freda, Thomas Cocquerel as Huck, Andrew Daly as Luke Pfaffler, and Maria Thayer as Kate Milner.

TABLE 19 is a quirky, twisted, hilarious, heartfelt, jaw drop of a story filled with moments that are so relatable for anyone who has ever attended a reception. None of this surprises me as the Duplass brothers have once again brought every range of emotion in one afternoon. If anything else, the next time anyone attends a reception after seeing the film will wonder why they are at their assigned table.

Of course I’m leaving out a lot of detail because I had such a good time watching this film that I want everyone to enjoy it as well. This cast is just magical bringing out the best and worst of their characters only to discover that we are all broken in some way or another.

Quick to judge, quick to anger, quick to run and quick to realize that we all need one another to get through the craziness of life. These characters just remind us to have a sense of humor while it all plays out the way it’s supposed to. So, get some cake and be a part of TABLE 19.

In the end – you are invited to the wedding of the season.

JOHN WICK: Chapter 2 Raises the Body Count!

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Chad Stahelski and Lionsgate is the return of the quiet man on a mission known as JOHN WICK: Chapter 2.

Still on the hunt for his beloved car, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) brings those events to a close and heads home. Not home 24-hours, there is a knock at the door and standing on the other side is Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). Reminding that there is a debt owed, Wick turns him away with consequences.

Arriving at the Continental, manager Winston (Ian McShane) reminds Wick of the hard and fast rules to their line of work. Agreeing to fulfill his obligation to D’Antonio, Wick knows it’s the only way to get free of the life he no longer wants.

Going to Rome to handle D’Antonio’s request, he runs into colleague Cassian (Common) and that sets off a chase back to New York. Also following Wick is bodyguard and assassin Ares (Ruby Rose), who must report back to D’Antonio that she missed taking him out.

This causes a contract to be put out on Wick and everyone is being fearless trying to cash in. Wick turns to the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) trying to stop what could turn into a war on the streets of New York.

Every move he makes has a price that Wick is willing to pay!

Reeves as Wick is nothing short of frakken awesome! This is a character that clearly doesn’t need to say a lot because everyone knows what he is capable of. Nothing wrong with a man knowing what he will and will not accept from anybody. Reeves has the very cool ability to wrap a dark well-dressed bad guy and make him look like the good guy. Continuing to play the role of Wick solidifies Reeves as a huge action star and yes, the ladies still love him.

Scamarcio as D’Antonio is a man who thinks he knows what it takes to grab the world – at least in his mind. Feeling untouchable was his first mistake and thinking Wick would go away quietly makes him an idiot. Rose as Ares is equally as quiet as Wick but in a different way. She is smooth and seems to have no fear taking on the legend.

Fishburne as the Bowery King gets to enjoy mixing it up once again with his old pal Neo. His suave memory of the encounter with Wick puts these two on a level playing field. Common as Cassian is out to take down Wick as a matter of professional courtesy. 

McShane as Winston is as smooth as you can get for the manager of a hotel that caters to a unique clientele. A stickler for the rules, he makes it very clear that he is the only one that can bend them. Trying to talk sense to Wick, he never raises his voice or hand – he has other people to do that.

There are some fantastic characters in this film including Peter Serafinowicz as the Sommelier, Luca Mosca as the Italian Tailor, Elli Meyer as the Pawnbroker, Chukwidi Iwuji as Akoni, Peter Stormare as Abram, and Franco Nero as Julius.

Other cast include Claudia Gerini as Gianna, Tobias Segal as Earl, Bridget Moynahan asHelen, Thomas Sadoski as Jimmy, John Leguizamo as Aurelio and Lance Reddick as Charon.

JOHN WICK: Chapter 2 is a film that doesn’t need my tubs of popcorn ratings. Reeves captured pretty much everybody becoming the character of JOHN WICK in 2014 and we’ve been waiting for his return.

At the screening the guys were pumped up and ready while the gals didn’t waste a second whistling when Reeves characters comes into the light in his nice black suit. It’s a nice mixture for a film that doesn’t need a second of introduction. 

From the moment the film begins until the last frame, everyone was cheering, gasping, shouting ‘whoa!’ and cringing in their seats only to break out again cheering. It’s a physical and emotional workout of the best kind all wrapped up in car and people chases, fire fights, martial arts, twists, and turns all directed by the one man Wick army. 

JOHN WICK: Chapter 2 just took us all away for one hundred and twenty-two minutes and there isn’t anything wrong with that in the slightest. It’s nice to be at the movies with a tub of popcorn and a room full of like minded excited people who just want to have an awesome time. Wick doesn’t want nor seek our approval which takes a load off making it easy to give it the big thumbs up – I mean it’s not like we’d cross him or anything right? RIGHT?

In the end – never stab the devil in the back!


THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is Fun and Full of Surprises!

Jeri Jacquin

Batman is back from director Chris McKay, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures is a block look into snap-life of THE LEGO BATMAN.

Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) is a man living in the cowl of Batman. Living an isolated life, even Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can’t get him to understand it’s time to engage in the world. Constantly saving Gotham from villains, one particular bad guy is working Batman’s last lego. 

The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) has teamed up with Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate) to once again try and capture Gotham! When Batman lets the Joker know that there is no connection between them, the green haired bad boy needs to find another way to get Batman’s attention.

Also, a young Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) wants nothing more than to be part of Bruce Wayne’s orphans club. At Commissioner Gordon retirement party, daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) taking the job, she makes it clear that Batman needs to take a step back. All too quickly the party is interrupted by the Joker who makes an astonishing announcement.

Batman knows that the Joker is pulling something and decides to send him someplace not only far away, but in another dimension. Taking Dick, now Robin, on a mission of sorts, Batman seeks out the one thorn in his side – Superman (Channing Tatum). The plan is to get the weapon that will put Joker in the Phantom Zone.

What he didn’t expect is that the Joker had a bigger plan and now Batman needs to come to the realization that he can’t do this solo. To take back Gotham, the caped crusader turns to the most unlikely gang to save the city.

Arnett as Bruce Wayne/Batman is nothing but absolutely spectacular. Lets be serious here, this is a Lego character with very little facial expressions to speak of so the win is all in the voice of Arnett. From the moment the theatre lights dimmed, Arnett takes us into the Lego-psyche of the man in black. I knew from the 2014 THE LEGO MOVIE that Batman needed to have a film of his own, here it is and it’s awesome!

Galifianakis as The Joker is funny, emotional and down right stubborn. Wanting more from the Batman to validate him as a villain, he takes another tact that keeps Batman and Barbara uber suspicious. Galifianakis always makes his character vulnerable with an evil grin, as this particular Joker he is perfect.

Dawson as Barbara Gordon finally says out loud what most people think about Batman which makes him nuts. She’s tough, strong and has no problem kickin’ Lego and taking names.

Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth is a butler/friend/father-figure to Bruce Wayne with the soft and supportive voice of Fiennes. Don’t let the soft voice fool you! Cera as Grayson/Robin is just looking for a family again. Of course being part of Bruce Wayne’s family is one thing but being part of Batman’s team is a whole other reason to put on a sparkly cape and goggles. 

More of the amazing vocal cast include Jonah Hill, Jermaine Clement, Zoe Kravitz, Ellie Kemper, Kate Micucci, Adam Devine, Seth Green, Mariah Carey, Billy Dee Williams, Jason Mantzoukas, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Doug Benson and Siri!

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE five Lego’s out of five! From the moment the movie starts, the laughs begin and continue on past the credits. There is nothing better than forgetting you are watching an animated film because the laughter comes first.

There are plenty of fantastic lines beginning with the DC logo appearing and Batman announcing “DC - the house that Batman built”. Did you think this particular Batman wasn’t going to take the opportunities to say his piece? It doesn’t stop there as the film tackles prior Batman’s going back to the 1960’s, personal conflict with Superman, family issues and every imaginable thing in-between.

This is a truly great opportunity for families to get together. There are so many characters in the film its going to be fun to point them out to each other. Equally, there are so many cool references and one-liners I can guarantee that the laughs will never stop. I am refraining from mentioning too much because this is one of those times where it’s more important that everyone have fun with all the surprises coming.

So pack up the family and head out to the theatre because this is the best way to start out 2017 in animation with THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE!

In the end – always be yourself…unless you can be Batman!


THE SPACE BETWEEN US Brings Mars Home

Jeri Jacquin

This week brings wonder from director Peter Chelsom and STX Entertainment with a look at the world when there is THE SPACE BETWEEN US.

As a space shuttle takes flight on its first mission to colonize Mars, one of the astronauts is carrying something unexpected. The Earth team led by Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) must decide whether to turn the mission around or continue. That is how Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) came to be the first human being born on Mars.

This is no ordinary young man, besides being born on Mars he is a very intelligent young man who accepts his life. That is until he uses the technology to reach farther and becomes acquainted with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), a young girl living an extraordinary life of her own. 

Their online friendship holds many secrets from each of them and Gardner wants answers that his fellow Martian Kendra (Carla Gugino) can’t give him. Making the expected journey back to Earth, it quickly becomes apparent that Gardner’s heart can not handle our gravity. 

Gardner isn’t about to go anywhere without doing a few important things including learning about his mother, finding out who is father is and meeting Tulsa face to face. Not an expert on the social graces, he is a little unnerved at the behavior of his fellow humans, including that of a surprised Tulsa.

Yet these two still manage an adventure like no other and although Shepherd and Kendra are hot on their trail, it isn’t stopping Gardner and Tulsa from experiencing life through each others eyes.

Together they are seeing the world before time runs out.

Butterfield as Gardner is perfect for this role because he has the soft spoken demeanor and the inquisitive expression needed to make us believe he is from Mars. Yet he also has the teenage curiosity to a ridiculous degree – I mean, come on, he’s on another planet entirely. Teenagers on Earth rebel in a totally different way than Gardner and Butterfield portrays him beautifully.

Robertson as Tulsa is a young girl with problems of her own wanting to get away from a life holding her down. Upset with Butterfield’s character for a bit, she recovers quickly when she finally knows his secrets and wants to help him find answers. Robertson takes her character and gives it spunk and the right amount of adventure seeking to be the yang to Gardner’s yin.

Gugino as Kendra has known Gardner all of his life and is probably the closest thing to a mother figure he has ever known. Wanting to make things easier for him includes letting the adventure he is on go as far as it can before having to step in. Gugino has the ability to make us care through her characters and she does so again quite well.

Oldman as Shepherd is a man who thinks only of the Mars project. Obsessed with getting it off the ground, he then retreats away closing off letting others take the reigns. When Gardner comes to Earth, he has answers but doesn’t seem eager to share them with the young teen yet he is the first to go chasing when Gardner takes off. There is a scene where Oldman walks down a road with his hair floating in the wind and I swear every woman in the audience sighed so loud, that’s the kind of effect this actor still has on us!

Other cast include BD Wong as Genesis Director Chen, Peter Chelsom as the voice of Centaur, Jenny Gabrielle as Susanne, Lauren Meyers as Alice, Scot Takeda as Dr. Loh, Danny Winn as Dr. Cox and Adande Thorne as Scott Hubbard.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE SPACE BETWEEN US three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This film is very sweet and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this wouldn’t be a bad hand-holding-sharing-popcorn-and-a-tissue warm up.

The film is beautifully done with the shots of space and Mars which should entice those who love anything outside Earth’s atmosphere. The story is filled with all the innocence and wonder of young teenage love but for reasons not all too common. There are twists and turns to the story that are pretty cool. 

If THE SPACE BETWEEN US teaches us anything it is that whether you are born on Mars or on Earth, it is what moves us that makes life worth everything. Also, this film takes the phrase long-distance-relationship a tad farther than most of us would dare to dream of. The two young actors really do let their characters lead them and I certainly didn’t mind the ride.

In the end – what is your favorite thing about Earth?


PATRIOTS DAY is a Fantastic Beginning to 2017!

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from writer/director Peter Berg and CBS Films is an intense look a time that once again changed America in 2013 with PATRIOTS DAY.

Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is an officer with the Boston Police Department who tends to irritate his superiors. On this day, Saunders is sent to secure the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Calling wife Carol (Michelle Monaghan) for some extra knee support, he knows its going to be a long day.

But in an instant the United States held its breath as a bomb explodes at the finish line. No one is really sure exactly what happened until a second bomb explodes soon after. Immediately the police and civilians began to help the injured.

Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Special Agent Richard LesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and Governor Deval Patrick (Michael Beach) create a large taskforce in a warehouse to piece together who is responsible for the terrorist act. Saunders makes sure that he is a part of helping sharing his knowledge with the taskforce.

The city cameras capture Tamerian (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) as responsible for the terrorist act. On the run they are headed for New York and change vehicles driven by unsuspecting Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang). Taken hostage, Dun must find a way to get away from the brothers.

All the law enforcement involved are not about to let these men get away and drop a net on the city. When they are finally cornered it is the City of Boston that closes ranks to stop any more acts of terror.

Nothing will stop the search!

Wahlberg as Saunders once again proves why director Peter Berg turns to this actor when he wants not only a solid performance but a riveting one. Wahlberg gives a portrayal that audiences relate to filled with frailties and a strength mixed with knowing what is right and what is needed. I have always enjoyed that with Wahlberg’s performances in films like this, especially true stories of the human spirit. DEEPWATER HORIZON, released only a few months ago in 2016, had these same wonderful qualities. 

Bacon as Special Agent LesLauriers keeps a straight face and his mind on the task at hand. He doesn’t tolerate anything less than getting the job done and I like Bacon’s portrayal. Goodman as Commissioner Davis is where he needs to be and calls in all resources to find the terrorist responsible for hurting American citizens.

Yang as Dun Meng gives an amazing performance as the young man who comes face to face with the terrorists. Keeping his cool in a situation where I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to is nothing short of amazing. 

Melikidze and Wolff as the Tsarnaev brothers is a difficult role to play yet these two actors did not hesitate to do it. Giving the audience insight to their behavior is crucial to this film and Melikidze and Wolff made it possible.

Other cast include Rhet Kidd as Harrold, Christopher O’Shea as Patrick Downes, Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky, Jake Picking as Sean Collier, Lana Condor as Li, Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell, and J.K. Simmons as Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.

Also Adam Trese as John Bradshaw, Hampton Fluker as James Williams, Cara O’Connell as Kara, Dustin Tucker as Steve Woolfenden, Lucas Thor Kelly as Leo Woolfenden, Paige MacLean as Lisa Murphy and Brandon Wahlberg as Officer Dixon.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PATRIOTS DAY four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Obviously I am a fan of writer/director Peter Berg but let me tell you that twice in six months he has told the story of horrendous events with people of extreme valor. That is why both films made it to number 5 on my Top Ten list of 2016. 

PATRIOTS DAY is a striking insight to an event that today still brings a heavy heart to Americans. What this film does is explain how it happened, how a city and law enforcement came together and the strength of every individual part of that day in 2013. This is an extremely large cast and I truly wish I could give a shout out to every person who was part of portraying the event.

I encourage everyone to put this film on their ‘must-see’ list for the weekend. Gather up family and friends, everyone in law enforcement, doctors, nurses, and runner – yes everyone and see PATRIOTS DAY. 

In the end – this is the story of the world’s greatest manhunt with true heroes and true strength!

A MONSTER CALLS is a Story that Moves

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director J.A. Bayona and Focus Features is a story of a boy who finds an unlikely ally when A MONSTER CALLS.

Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is a young boy living a life filled with heartache. As his ill Mum (Felicity Jones) becomes bedridden, he struggles daily to deal with being himself. Dealing with the other school kids either pushing him around or feeling sorry for his situation, Conor just takes it all in.

That is until he is pushed to the very limits and a tree Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) crashes into his life. The Monster demands that Conor tell him stories in an effort to help the young boy come to terms with everything that keeps him from living.

Grandma (Sigourney Weaver) takes Conor into her home when Mum goes into the hospital. The two must become acquainted which is hard to do as they both carry the same anger. Even a visit from Conor’s Dad (Toby Kebbell) isn’t enough to help the bottled up emotions he is carrying. 

It is what happens between Conor and the Monster that might give the young boy the ability to accept life and all its uncertainty.

MacDougall as Conor is an amazing find in this role. His ability to portray every emotion by not showing emotion just gave me the chills. This character brings out the childhood memories we all have of love, loss, not knowing who is friend or foe and relatives that should be a source of comfort but are not. MacDougall is absolutely and simply superb!

Weaver as Grandma is very cold toward Conor and the young boy feels it. Even her home is perfection putting Conor even more out of his comfort zone. The two characters have more in common than they realize. Jones as the young boy’s Mum is loving and has made sure to cement memories for Conor. That doesn’t mean being ill isn’t also a memory for him.

Neeson as the voice of the Monster is also brilliant. Of course he has done this before as the voice of Aslan in the film NARNIA but as the Monster he is cold, straight forward and emotionally brutal but in an honest way. I have to say there are moments where this CGI created character could be quite frightening but the reasons become clear and smart. Of course Neeson could read a phone book and most of us would be pretty happy with that.

Other cast include Ben Moor as Mr. Clark, James Melville as Harry, Oliver Steer as Sully, Dominic Boyle as Anton, and Jennifer Lim as Miss Kwan.

TUBS OF POPCORN: Welcome to 2017 as A MONSTER CALLS is my first five tubs of popcorn out of five. This is an emotionally charged film with brilliant performances, a story that reaches into hearts and memories along with fantastic CGI (and when was the last time you heard me say that!). Every moment of this story on screen is amazing due to the work of Patrick Ness.

I should have realized that this would be an emotional journey since director J.A. Bayona is also responsible for the 2012 film THE IMPOSSIBLE which was on my Top Ten list of 2012 and a serious box of Kleenex film as well. Bayona has now reached down deep twice into an audience and made us be honest with ourselves and the emotions we don’t want to either talk about or deal with.

The accolades for A MONSTER CALLS are just beginning from the Critics Choice Awards to the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association voting a win for Best Voice Performance for Liam Neeson.  

In the end – stories are wild creatures!


PASSENGERS Takes on the Universe!

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this holiday week from director Morten Tyldum and Columbia Pictures is a journey gone wrong, especially when you are only a PASSENGER.

Heading toward the new planet of Homestead II is a ship called the Avalon making a 120 year journey. Aboard this ship in hibernation are 300 crew and 5,000 passengers who are embarking on a new life on this distant planet. The Avalon is on auto-pilot of sorts with the mission objective of waking up the crew a few months before arriving at their new home. After an incident in space, one kryotube is disrupted and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is suddenly awakened ninety years too soon.

After realizing that he is the only one, Jim goes about learning all he can about the ship but is stumped at how to restart his kryotube or how to get into the ships computer. He does, however, have a bit of company in Arthur (Michael Sheen), a bartender who offers Jim a few friendly words of advice now and then. Trying to decide what to do next, Jim comes across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) asleep in her kryotube and has nothing but time to learn about her. In the next moment, Aurora is awake and finds herself in the same thought processes as Jim!

The two fall in love but let’s face it; this is space where nothing is predictable. They are surprised when Gus Mancuso (Lawrence Fishburne) announces that he is also awake and a member of the ships crew. This couldn't come at a more perfect time since the Avalon needs someone who knows the ship. Now all three must work together to make sure the Avalon reaches its destination before it’s too late!

Pratt as Jim is a joy to watch, especially as he wanders around the ship learning how to make the best use of his time alone. His creativity only goes so far, as it would for anyone, but is mentally saved when Aurora joins him. Pratt is a triple threat in that he has a great sense of the comedic but can flip the switch and become very vulnerable and jump into selfless super hero mode all in a two hour film. Not that I wasn't a fan before but Pratt really showed his stuff in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY taking the lead and having his moment to shine. He does well in PASSENGERS and absolutely won't disappoint.

Lawrence as Aurora is smart, funny, beautiful and every bit a realist when it comes to her journey through space. She doesn't let the character of Aurora outshine but instead is on a totally level playing field with Pratt. That is what I appreciated about her role here because her character had moments but pulled it together when she needed to the most. I have to give Lawrence credit also for just playing this role so super cool and subtly sexy.

Sheen as Arthur is hilarious as well as impeccably dressed and has all the smooth lines one would expect from a bartender. There is something about Sheen that just draws me in and of course I'm sure the awesome accent has something to do with it or perhaps the soulful eyes, what ever it is, when he is on screen I dang well pay attention. With the recent news that he is taking a break from acting to focus on politics gives my heart pause and a serious frowny face. Yes, it's like that! Fishburne as Mancuso has a small role but it speaks volumes because, as Fishburne has a tendency to do. 

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PASSENGERS four tubs of popcorn out of five. This space adventure has remnants of other space films that I actually happen to like so I embraced this adventure/romance/jaunt into a world that once you are in it there is no control no matter how spiffy the ship's accommodations are. The special effects are well done, especially when it comes to gravity or lack thereof. I certainly wouldn't mind taking a swim in a pool in space - the view is fantastic.

That being said there is the dealing with solitude, decisions made on fear, love, betrayal and survival all rolled into the film. If I was to bring in one thing that bothered me a bit was there is a bit of predictability here that I wish wasn't there. It didn't pull me off the film it just made me wish for something a little different in a few places. 

Pratt also came to San Diego for an exclusive screening for the military and their families recently at the Marie Corps Airbase. He met with the service men and women making them feel special and as a way of thanking them for their service. 

PASSENGERS is one of many choices for the Christmas weekend and if you are looking for a beautiful walk in space with Pratt and Lawrence then this is the film to be buying a ticket for. The space scenes are literally out of this world and stunning and the chemistry between these two actors is worthy of admission.

In the end – every moment counts!


David Guggenheim
THE POWER RANGERS
Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin
The Real Heroes of Bengazhi 
Mark "Oz" Geist, Kris "Tanto Paronto, John "Tig" Tiegen