Fueled by a thrilling performance from Matt Damon and a skilled direction from Ridley Scott; The Martian brings out the best of both Damon and Scott in this sci-fi epic.
Ridley Scott rediscovers his artistic skill in this man vs. space epic. Scott has been a bit wobbly in the director’s chair ever since his Oscar winning film Gladiator (2000). We have seen the good (Black Hawk Down, American Gangster and Prometheus), the bad (A Good Year and Robin Hood) and the ugly (The Counselor) from Scott. Now, all of that has changed with The Martian, while Scott is reborn again has one of Hollywood’s most innovative directors. The Martian is based off of Andy Weir’s bestselling debut novel and will send space nerd’s on geek mode; I know that I did.
The Martian is now as thought provoking as past sci-fi epics like Interstellar or 2001: A Space Odyssey, nevertheless, it’s a thrilling life or death film. Matt Damon is lost in space and is presumed dead after being left behind from his crew due to a fierce storm on Mars. This manned mission on Mars crumbles only after 18 sols (a sol is a day) on the red planet. The NASA botanist (Damon) realizes fast that he’s pretty much screwed unless he can find a way to grow food on Mars.
Astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) only has food to last him for a month and it will take another four years for a rescue team to save him … you do the math. In Watney’s own words; he’s going to have to "science the shit out of this.” Watney realizes that he is able to grow potatoes by using his owe feces as manure to fertilize it. His crew, including Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie and Sebastian Stan and Jessica Chastain, all believe that Watney has died during the dust storm and are on their way back home from the aborted mission.
Back at home; NASA director (Jeff Daniels) and his PR specialist (Kristen Wiig) are trying to keep NASA from running into communications crisis when they learn that Watney is still alive. While, Mars expert (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his team are constantly crunching numbers to get Watney home safe and sound. The Martian is a huge propaganda boost for NASA and gives the audience a big picture at space travel. America has spent so much money rescuing Damon’s ass from films like Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar and now The Martian.
These "leave no man behind" pictures showed us that Damon was worth every penny. Damon infused the film with his heroic performance and with the occasional wise cracks to keep the film smart. This is a grand turn around for Scott as a visionary director. Kudos to the FX team and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (The Walk) for effectively bringing the red planet to life and excelling The Martian as one of the best films of the year. From the disco tracks to the occasional “f*** you Mars,” we are with Watney every step of the way. The Martian keeps you glued to your chair for the entire 142 minutes, bravo Mr. Scott.
The Martian is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.
Adam Sandler and company return to Transylvania for another mildly amusing and corny gags filled sequel.
The original Transylvania was a bright and entertaining animated film for the little ones to enjoy during the Halloween season. Now, Sandler and his crew returned to the same hotel to try and whip up another dose of Halloween fun. Some say, that the sequel is better than the original, but I say otherwise.
I felt like the original was more charming and less relentless of the constant gags. At times, Transylvania 2 was amusing and in others, it was slightly irritating. The non-stop gags wears on you after a while, but this colorful sequel is family-friendly and harmless.
The voices of Sandler Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, David Spade and Mel Brooks all provided a nice candy filled treat to the film. Sadly, Hotel Transylvania 2 is not better than the original’s spooky family filled fun. Nevertheless, it still will keep the little ones entertained for the rather short 89 minutes during this Halloween.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For some scary images, action and rude humor.
A Walk in the Woods is a watchable feel-good movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Based on the 1998 book/memoir of the same name by Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods takes its audience strolling down the Appalachian Trail. Led by the charming duo of Redford and Nolte, this feel-good film is a pleasant fall surprise. An aging Bill Bryson (Redford) finally decides hike to Appalachian Trail after living in Britain for the past two decades.
Bill is living peacefully in New Hampshire with his wife (Emma Thompson), but he wants to accomplish something more fulfilling in his aging life before he can’t. Catherine (Thompson) objects at first because of the dangers with the trail, but finally gives in. Bill wants to invite an old friend with him on the journey, unfortunately, all of them decline but one. That old pal is Stephen Katz (Nolte).
Stephen is in no shape to hike 2,000 miles, but Bill has no one else to take on the hike. The film proceeds into an adventure/comedy walk through the wilderness. The chemistry between Redford and Nolte shines and in the end, A Walk in the Woods is an easy trek.
A Walk in the Woods is rated R (Restricted). For language and some sexual references.
A man vs. nature drama, Everest boasts its dazzling cinematography and terrifying action sequences.
Based on a true story, Everest depicts the events in May 1996 where eight mountain climbers were tragically killed on an expedition to top of Mount Everest. A docudrama that gives its audience thrilling and numbing results. This adventure of man vs. nature will knock the wind out of you.
Backed by a stellar cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington and Emily Watson), Everest is riveting as it is exhausting. Gyllenhaal shines bright as the American Scott Fischer, as does Jason Clarke as the Aussie Rob Hall, both leading their own rival groups up the crowded mountain.
Tensions are high, while lives are at stake for making history and achieving one’s personal manifesto. Everest will leave you awed by its breathtaking summits and challenging moral composition. While at times, Everest failed to grasp the narrative scope; nevertheless, director Baltasar Kormákur's (2 Guns) stellar cast and thrilling situations are more than enough to boost the film forward. So sit back, watch Everest and believe.
Everest is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For intense peril and disturbing images.
Grandma is hilarious at times and cuts you deep in others, while Lily Tomlin gives us an Oscar worthy performance.
Tomlin, 75, can still make you laugh and cry all at the same time. She amplifies that gift here in Grandma, a film about Elle (Tomlin) and her pregnant granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) who are looking to scavenge up $600 for an abortion before sundown. Yes, it’s a real and raw film that kicks its audience right in the gut. Grandma asks the hard questions and lets the audience decide on their own.
Dazzled and devastated, Grandma is a poet by mouth and free at heart. Throughout the film, Elle is also struggling with the recent breakup of her girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer). Writer-director Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) rattles old skeletons and digs up dirty secrets from Elle’s past. In the end, Grandma plays to Tomlin’s strengths and will leave you broken.
Grandma is rated R (Restricted) For language and some drug use.
Streep’s outstanding guitar stringing ability helps keep The Flash sweet from its predictable premise.
It’s a hoot watching Meryl rock out on the guitar and vocals, which keeps Ricki and the Flash charming from its inconsistent tone throughout the film. Ricki Rendazzo (Streep) dumps her family to leave for the big leagues in the music industry in Cali. Unfortunately, Ricki and her band never make it big, playing at a local bar performing cover songs.
Ricki is no star, but she still performs with passion and director Jonathan Demme lets music ring through the air. Her band consists of drummer Joe Vitale, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Rick Rosas and guitarist/lover-boy Greg (Rick Springfield). Ricki's band keeps the beat moving throughout the film. Now, Ricki’s life takes a turn of events when she has to return home to help her estranged daughter Julie (Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer).
Julia is devastated because her husband cheated on her and is now divorcing her too. It’s up to Ricki to learn how to be a real mother and a rock-star at the same time. Ricki and the Flash is heartfelt and predictable, while Streep continued to shred the guitar.
Ricki and the Flash is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language.
Give it up Fox, you’ve had three attempts to make the Fantastic Four great and every time you have utterly failed. It’s time for Marvel’s turn.
This is probably the worst superhero film I have seen since Batman & Robin, yes it’s that bad. This worse than worthless reboot came at a time when Fox didn’t need any more distractions. Fox gives us yet another origin story to our band of heroes, but it takes too damn long to even get through this soggy script and when the action finally kicks in the credits roll right through it … what?
I’ve never seen such a dull and soul-crushing superhero film in my life. Unfortunately, actors Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan get sucked right into this wormhole. The film was beyond ponderous and made my eyes bleed from start to finish. Even director Josh Trank (Chronicle) has said that his film is garbage and was not the version he wanted, talk about beating a dead horse.
Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and the Thing deserve much better because they have been one of America’s classic superhero teams since the ‘60s. This version of Fantastic Four is a cheap, forgettable and infuriating piece of work. I’m done with this pile of rocks disguised as a worthy film; it receives zero stars and has my stamp of worst film of 2015.
Fantastic Four is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For sci-fi action violence, and language.
A reboot to the classic National Lampoon's Vacation misses the mark in every way; it lacks heart, comedy and is completely forgettable.
In 1983, Chevy Chase’s Vacation hit the summer sweet spot. Now, this next-generation reboot from writer-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley is a total bomb. The holiday road formally brought its audience laughter and charisma, now years later, that same road slaps them right in the face.
Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, son of Clark (Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), takes his wife (Christina Applegate) and two sons (Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins) on a familiar road trip to “Wally World.” This supposed raucous R-rated fun falls flat on its face. The gags aim for desperation, while actor Chris Hemsworth shakes his junk around. It’s been 32 years since the first trip to “Wally World” and in the end; this is not the vacation we needed.
Vacation is rated R (Restricted). For crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity.