The boys are back for another round of HBO bromance.
It was less of a movie and more of an extension to HBO’s 2004 series. Entourage ran for eight seasons (2004 – 2011) so was there a dying need for a film? Hardly. But the gang picks up right where they left off four years ago. Going into an Entourage film one isn’t looking for a Oscar worthy script or effects; instead it’s all about the people. The film plays as a tribute to this stellar cast consisting of Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven. Going back down memory lane and going through the finish line, Writer-director Doug Ellin (creator of Entourage) keeps his film short, sweet and to the point.
Sharing wit, charm and nonstop cameos (Nina Agdal, Jessica Alba, David Arquette, Shayna Baszler, Tom Brady, Warren Buffett, Gary Busey, Andrew Dice Clay, Linda Cohn, Tameka Cottle, Common, Mark Cuban, Baron Davis, Jessamyn Duke, Julian Edelman, David Faustino, Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Gray, Judy Greer, Rob Gronkowski, Armie Hammer, Calvin Harris, Thierry Henry, Terrence J, Cynthia Kirchner, Matt Lauer, Greg Louganis, Chad Lowe, Clay Matthews III, Maria Menounos, Alyssa Miller, Piers Morgan, Liam Neeson, Ed O'Neill, Emily Ratajkowski, Mike Richards, Stevan Ridley, Ronda Rousey, Bob Saget, Saigon, Richard Schiff, David Spade, George Takei, T.I., Steve Tisch, Mike Tyson, Mark Wahlberg, Pharrell Williams and Russell Wilson). Good grief! But then again, Entourage is for the fans. It always has been and always will be. The film is one last victory lap around the track for our cast.
Entourage is rated R (Restricted). For pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.
Love & Mercy proves to be a grand biopic about the life and struggle of Brain Wilson, sending off good vibrations to Beach Boys fanatics.
Contrasting two different eras (the ‘60s and the ‘80s) of Mr. Wilson’s life, director Bill Pohlad does the artist justice. Paul Dano plays Wilson in the ‘60s, while John Cusack plays an older version of Wilson in the ‘80s. Dano put on the extra pounds to really transform into his character and gives us one of his most potent performances to date. The Beach Boys rose to fame during the 1960s, but many people did not realize how much Wilson’s artistic influence really had on the band.
Wilson was the brains and the innovator for the band, producing us some of the greatest songs of all time (“God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations”). Sadly, his gift started too decline due to drugs and mental illness. We fast forward to the 1980s where Wilson (Cusack) is at an all time low in his life. During this time, Wilson was being mentally and verbally abused by his psychologist, Eugene Landy (a cruel Paul Giamatti), which harmed his stable health. That all changes when Melinda (a wonderful Elizabeth Banks) shows up into Wilson’s life and wants to help him from this abuse. Throughout the film Pohlad mashes both the present and the past of Wilson’s life and brings the audience to a tearful conclusion of the beloved artist.
This is not only a film, but also a journey through the mind of one of the greatest musicians of all time. We get a glimpse of what’s going on inside Wilson’s head and appreciate all of his hard work he has done to the music industry. Without Wilson, there would have been no Beach Boys and that’s a fact. Love & Mercy shows love, music and heartache all in one upbeat vibrating film. Brain Wilson’s legacy shines through the beats and musical tones of this film, giving the audience a satisfying tribute of a passionate artist. Love & Mercy will send you singing and dancing with good vibrations.
Love & Mercy is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic elements, drug content and language.
Filled with a talented cast (Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Danny McBride, John Krasinski, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin), Aloha disappointedly failed to get its feet off the ground.
Gifted filmmaker Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous) falls into hokey romcom clichés this time around. After the Sony leaks, Aloha fell into a state of limbo because the film showed dissatisfaction with the studio. Even worse, the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans accused the film of presenting a "whitewashed" version of Hawaii that excluded "the very people who live there." Yikes!
Crowe’s film shows sentiment, but is less compelling by the end of the film. Aloha sadly is a mess and mashes a handful of stories all into one typically packaged romcom. Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor back in Honolulu to reconnect with the space program. Though Brian would like to reconnect with former love interest Tracy (McAdams), but she's now a mom and is happily married to pilot Woody (Krasinski). Next there's Allison Ng (Emma Stone), Brian's Air Force handler, who irritates him with many rounds of “alohas" until he finally sees her true self.
On top of that, there’s the irritable General Dixon (Baldwin) and the eager Carson Welch (Murray). Plus, there are about five other sub-plots that I won’t waste my breath on. McAdams and Cooper hit a sweet spot every now-and-then, but not enough to save this island film. In the end, Crowe’s talented cast is washed away with sloppy writing and muddled down with familiar clichés. We’ve seen this all before just with better execution.
Aloha is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some language including suggestive comments.
With sheer homage and pure cheesefest thrills, Jurassic World propels its audience to experience some more dino-popcorn fun.
First things first, no Jurassic World does not by any means compare to the 1993 original; nevertheless it easily beats out the latest two sequels (The Lost World and Jurassic Park III). Substituting Steven Spielberg out of his director’s chair this time around is director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed). Spielberg takes the back seat as an executive producer and by his blessing Trevorrow his handed the golden spoon. Trevorrow and scriptwriter Derek Connolly (also writer for Safety Not Guaranteed) may lack the inventiveness from the original Jurassic Park, but that doesn’t stop them from throwing a few punches at the audience.
Their soft $750,000 budget for Safety Not Guaranteed got raised to the max this time around for Jurassic World at a hefty $150 million. Jurassic World has a since of retro style, witty characters and even pays tribute to the film that made dinosaurs popular again in the 90s’. To catch up: the big attraction that John Hammond (the late Richard Attenborough) envisioned in 1993's Jurassic Park never opened and was never dreamed of being re-opened. Set that all aside because in the third sequel to the Jurassic series the park finally came true and has now been open for 22 years. But as years have gone by so has the excitement. Dinos have been domesticated, kiddie rides are strolled by triceratops and great white sharks are gulped up by the Mosasaurus, who only splashes its audience. Can someone say … boring?
Attendance has been jaded for the last few years and park experts need to make something with a little more bite, cue plot-line. For Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager, this means building a bigger and scarier dinosaur, the Indominus rex. Things get crazy when the Indominus rex escapes and is out for blood. Enter our hero, Owen (the fantastic Chris Pratt also know as Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy), an animal-behavior expert who tames velociraptors. This is his lifestyle and a relationship between him and the raptors.
Buffed out by his muscles and sweaty white t-shirts, can Owen and his raptors take down this massive creature? Or will a bully racketeer (Vincent D'Onofrio) rain his terror upon Owen and Claire first? Also, added to the film's sub-plots are Owen and Claire’s dino-romance and Claire’s semi-annoying nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), who can’t seem to catch a break by running into one dinosaur after another. Trevorrow even releases pterosaurs onto the visitors of the park. Panic and thrills break out; you may even be able to spot a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant in the background. One of the best sequences in the film is when Owen and his raptors finally go hunting for the Indominus rex. There’s a since of awe and suspense throughout this entire scene.
Additional performances are Jake Johnson as Lowery; Omar Sky as Barry and B.D. Wong reprises his role from the first film as Henry Wu. Lowery is an employee in the park’s control room and hits all of the right laughs throughout the film. Johnson (known as Nick Miller from New Girl) grows a stache and sports an original Jurassic Park t-shirt that he got from eBay. Trevorrow chomps in the summer fun with dazzling visuals and cheesefest thrills. Pratt’s performance gives the film a since of humanity, while you’re rooting for him to win the whole time. As far as summer epics goes, Jurassic World comes and mostly conquers thanks to Owen and his raptors and one last hidden gem, which I won’t dare spoil.
Jurassic World is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Pitch Perfect 2 may not be as fresh as its predecessor; nevertheless, these Barden Bellas can still harmonize their tap-dancing tunes.
The 2012 a cappella comedy hit all of the right notes and shot forward to a zangy sequel. This surprise smash of 2012 gave the audience a film where they can laugh and sing along. Pitch Perfect 2 is a spirited sequel that may not have the same sass and attitude as its predecessor, but have no fear because the fabulous cast (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, and Shelley Regner) is here to up lift the film.
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas decide to redeem themselves by entering an international competition. Winning this contest will propel the Barden Bellas to regain their status as musical performers. Beca (Kendrick), fat Amy (Wilson) and the gang, now seniors, are also dealing with career issues. This glee-style comedy hits and misses certain jokes, but the Barden Bellas keep the film going. However, the real MVP’s in this sequel goes to both Steinfeld and director Elizabeth Banks. Steinfeld’s performance is vibrant and pure gold, while Banks shows off her directorial debut. So sit back and sing along to some good summer a cappella fun.
Pitch Perfect 2 is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For innuendo and language.
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