Thursday, November 28, 2013


Looking for the perfect Thanksgiving holiday film to get the season started?  Thinking that a film called “Homefront” will fit that ticket?  Think again.  This Jason Statham film is one of many typical Jason Statham movies. Written by Sylvester Stallone and starring Statham along with James Franco and Winona Ryder, “Homefront” is an action thriller.  Perhaps in the holiday spirit, it will get your adreline pumping in order to fight the crowds in the short 4 week Christmas shopping season just around the corner.

Phil Broker (Statham), a former DEA agent who is also functioning as a single father as he recently lost his wife, moves to a remote town in Louisiana.  As he takes on the life of an ordinary man to escape his former stressful job, his feisty daughter draws attention to them.   Coincidentally, the man Broker previously put behind bars is connected to the town’s drug lord.  I know!  What are the chances? Set in the backwoods of Louisiana, the questionable genetic pool seems to breed more than strange characters; it also breeds contempt for the law and normalcy.  The story captures bullying from the elementary schools which then spills over into the “adult” population as Broker and his daughter then stand up for themselves.  Broker’s exceptional fighting skills draw even more attention to them.  Retaliation is next on the list for these backwoods bumpkins who tote guns and cook crystal meth.  What follows is quite predictable.

As with all Jason Statham movies, no matter the writer or director, the film is an intense  thriller full of explosions, gun fights, fist fights, protecting the innocent, and righting wrong-doing.  This screenplay follows all the other Statham movie formulas.  Not only are there distinct “good guys” and “bad guys,” but there is also a damsel in distress.  This time, however, the damsel is his daughter.  

The formula is the same because it works with these types of movies.  It is predictable, but it isn’t boring.  Who doesn’t want to see a dad do anything to protect his little girl?  The fights scenes aren’t non-stop and don’t put you on overload as some films do.  There is a touch of story in it to keep you connected.  Are the fight scenes completely unbelievable?  Of course they are.  Does Statham’s character somehow fight off 5 burly men with his hands tied behind his back?  Of course he does!  Can he flip a car multiple times, dodge bullets, and evade the police without a scratch?  I think you know the answer.  

Where this Statham film is a little different is with the cast.  James Franco plays the “bad guy” and a good “bad guy” at that!  Franco is a versatile actor who can pull off whatever role is placed before him.  Winona Ryder skillfully plays the sketchy, rather sleezy role of Cheryl, Franco’s meth partner and love interest.  The two are quite the capable couple.  And Statham is Statham.  His character never waivers and his athleticism shines through.  Another difference is the filming technique which appears so jerky and unsteady at times that it’s visually irritating.  It actually made it difficult to see who was on the screen and what was happening.  

Overall, “Homefront” is the typical Jason Statham film.  It’s full of high action, lots of incredulous fight scenes, a smattering of explosions, and a damsel in distress.  This formulaic film follows the predictable path leading you to the expected end.  Somehow, it’s not boring as it gives you enough of a storyline to keep interested.  The violence might be a bit much for some, but as with all other Statham films, violence is just a part of the movie.  Don’t be fooled by the title “Homefront” and its release around Thanksgiving.  It has absolutely nothing to do with that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you go home to mom’s place.  If you’re a Jason Statham fan and in the mood for an action flick, go see it.  Otherwise, wait for the DVD.


Friday, November 22, 2013

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE reviewed by Pamela Powell

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens today nationwide to sold out audiences.    This is the second of three films based on the popular young adult books of the same name by Suzanne Collins.   Keeping the cast constant with Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, and Josh Hutcherson helps the story continue seamlessly.  If you’re wondering if you need to read the books or see the first movie, the answer is a resounding yes!  The story of Katniss Everdeen picks up exactly where it left off with the first movie, “The Hunger Games.”

As “Catching Fire” begins, the 75th Hunger Games are about to begin with “The Reaping.”  President Snow sees that Katniss Everdeen has become a symbol of hope for the other Districts.  The rules of the upcoming games have changed by President snow in order to eliminate Katniss and the possibility of hope.  She and Peeta are chosen to once again be pitted against other former winners in now the 75th Hunger Games.  But this time, only one winner is possible.    

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” emitted high energy from the opening scene.  The story stayed true to the book capturing the essence of every written word.  The costuming and make up of the over-the-top Capitol characters came to life on the screen exactly the way your mind brought it to life while reading.  Effie and Caesar are visually striking with their exaggerated speech and mannerisms for full entertainment value.  Caesar with his chicklet white teeth, high pony tail, and purple eyebrows is stunning.  And Effie’s gold hair, butterfly dresses, and perky voice are extreme and captivating.  Thankfully, Haymitch and his excessive drinking remained constant providing many laughs to lighten the weighty topic of death.  As Peeta and Katniss fight their way in the newly revised arena by Plutarch, alliances are made with a variety of characters.  The special effects  within the arena are amazingly realistic as are the CGI animated beasts.  The settings and scenery are captivating.  The gorgeous landscapes of District 12 and the almost cartoon-like city of Pan Em are delightful.  In addition, the intensity of this film is constant which makes this 2 hour and 26 minute film fly by.  

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance embodies Katniss Everdeen.  Her performance is fluid and comfortable as this new symbol of hope.  Josh Hutcherson who plays Peeta, seems to be more at ease in this film than the last as he has more personality.  And for all those young female fans of Liam Hemsworth, he too portrays more strength and naturalness as Katniss’ true love, Gale Hawthorne.  The standout performances, however, are the extreme versions of characters.  Donald Sutherland who plays President Snow, is evil personified.  He is quite convincing as the heartless leader with his cold, steely eyes and measured speech.  Stanley Tucci who is Caesar Flickerman seems absolutely maniacal as his expressions and voice vary to extreme degree at the drop of a hat.  Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, parades around in her bizarre outfits and quirky voice, but shows heart and love for these apparently doomed District 12 winners.  From evil, to sadistic, to just plain weird, these three appear to be having fun in these roles.  The core group of actors obviously interact and work well with each other giving the viewers a solid and delightful performance. 

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is a must-see film for all those loyal readers of the series.  As it stayed true to every aspect of the book, you will walk away feeling satisfied that the film version was as it should be.  The end sets it up perfectly to bring in the third and final film, “Mockingjay.”  If you haven’t read the books, be sure to see the first film prior to seeing this one.  It’s an engaging movie with great stunts and special effects, visually captivating costuming and make up, and a high intensity story-line. You’ll be just as absorbed in the film as you were in the book. 

7 1/2 Stars (if you're a fan of the book and first film...if you aren't, I'd take a pass)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

THE APPEARING by Pamela Powell

Starring: Will Wallace, Emily Brooks, Wolfgang Bodison, and Don Swayze
Written by:  Daric Gates and Matthew J. Ryan
Directed by: Daric Gates

"The Appearing," starring Will Wallace, Dean Cain, Don Swayze, and newcomer Emily Brooks, is a classic Good vs. Evil horror film.  With demonic possession or "spiritual warfare" as Daric Gates, writer and director describes it, the film will give you chills,  and make you jump and think twice about going home to that empty house at night. 

A young couple, Michael and Rachel, move to a remote and secluded town to escape an unspoken tragic past.  Inexplicable events begin to occur immediately upon their arrival to this sleepy little town.  Michael's job as a deputy sheriff starts with a bang as a young girl is reported missing.  Upon investigation, he begins to sense the town has many secrets yet to be revealed.  His wife, meanwhile, stumbles upon her own findings which turn out to be dreadfully evil.

"The Appearing" is reminiscent of "The Exorcist" with its demonic possessions and exorcisms, but with more religion and biblical background giving the film more depth.  With the creative camera angles and haunting music, tension abounds from the beginning.  This eerie and truly creepy film will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering which way the story is going to go next.  Only bits and pieces of the sinister puzzle are given to you so that you can try to fit it all together.  Thankfully, unlike most horror flicks, there is some unpredictability to it yet it still manages to entertain you with the predictable horror special effects.  Although not a gory horror film (again, thankfully), it still has a few mildly violent and bloody scenes that fit this genre.

The cast of characters is well-rounded with each role balancing the story. While Michael's non-believer attitudes are expressed, his superior, Sheriff Hendricks, expresses very different beliefs.  But you can see there's more to the story than he's telling.  The same is quite true with the local priest who should be the center of trust, but is not.   Again, there's more to it than meets the eye.  The use of quick flashbacks helps paint a more complete picture, but not enough to give everything away until the end.

Emily Brooks plays the lead role of Rachel, turning on a dime from sweet, loving, grieving wife, to hell-bound demon.  Her eye gaze, head moves, and body posturing was scarily convincing during her possessions.  Will Wallace was also quite convincing in his role of the spiritually lost husband.  His interaction with Don Swayze who plays Sheriff Hendricks, is a wonderful display of balance in personalities.  Wolfgang Bodison embodies the nervous and less than confident priest. The scene in the psych ward in the hospital is a favorite as Joe Estevez ad libbed his performance as a mental patient.

The setting is perfect ranging from a secluded house in the woods on a lake to a house from the movie "Psycho."  The original musical score by David Das adds to the ambience, but never takes it over.

"The Appearing" takes advantage of great filming techniques, a tried and true story-line, but kicks it up a few notches by adding psychology and more in-depth religion into the mix.  This is not a typical gory, bloody horror film.  It's a horror story that's interesting, full of tension and has a few twists and turns.  But keeping true to the horror genre, the special effects of possession are still all there.

Check out "The Appearing" for a solid horror film that'll entertain and keep you on the edge of your seat.

Watch the trailer here:  THE APPEARING trailer
Listen to the interview with filmmaker/writer/director Daric Gates along with 2 of the stars of the cast, Will Wallace and Emily Brooks!  The Appearing Interview

Friday, November 15, 2013

NEBRASKA by Pamela Powell


Starring:  Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk
Written by: Bob Nelson
Directed by: Alexander Payne

Bruce Dern and Will Forte star in "Nebraska" which delves deeply into the heart and soul of an elderly father and his adult son's relationship.  But it's more than that.  It's also a story about family, aging parents, and seeing that it is never too late to get to know your parents.  

Dern plays Woody Grant, an older man living in Montana who receives a sweepstakes ticket in the mail indicating that he has won a million dollars.  Giving up on finding someone willing to drive him, he sets out to walk to Lincoln, NE.  Woody’s son David, is exasperated by his father’s intentions and finally agrees to accompany him on this trip.  
Filmed  solely in black and white, this film captures the essence of the working class in the west.  It actually feels as if it could be any small town in the Midwest.  From the neighborhood streets lined with 1920 style houses to the cluttered house and well-worn clothes, the old, retired couple could be anyone's mom and pop.  Additionally, as I am sure many 40-50 somethings might also relate to the fact that this older couple  is constantly at odds with one another.  The conversation is humorously typical of many couples having been married over 50 years---at least it's humorous from the outside looking in!  As I look back at my parents' conversations when I would visit for a few days, it really wasn't so funny while I was drove me nuts!  

As Woody and David travel a road filled with detours and potholes, they both have different goals:  David to prove there is no million dollars and Woody to prove there is.   Bumps in the road consist of humorous situations that only an alcoholic with signs of dementia could find himself in.  To break up the trip, they find themselves staying with family along the road.  But when these uneducated, unmotivated family members learn of Woody's supposed winnings, the family shows its true colors all in a realistic, but funny way.  
Dern was the heart and sole of Woody.  Looking through his finger smudged glasses, you can clearly see his confusion in his world.  He reminds us that this older generation is a trusting one and can easily be duped by scam artists.  Gone are the days that Ed McMahon rings your doorbell and presents you with a gigantic sized check for $1,000,000.  (Why do I say that picturing my pinky next to the corner of my mouth?) Will Forte’s character of David has such depth.  He is the epitome of a 40-something son who struggles with his father’s inabilities and decline as well as past transgressions.  Anyone with aging parents can easily relate to his situation, even if your father hasn't attempted to walk to Lincoln, NE.  

Along with Dern's ability to completely embody this confused, aging husband and father, the writing of the script is spot-on.  Woody’s wife Kate is a spry and fiesty woman who speaks her mind and tells all---whether or not you want to hear "all."  Her matter of fact delivery is hysterical, but also bitter-sweet in parts as you know she truly loves her husband.  Ahhh, to be 80 and just tell it like it is and people think it's endearing.  I'll be a happy camper at 80!

NEBRASKA is a tender, sweet, sad, yet funny story about aging and life.  Many of us will relate to this very middle class family dealing with dementia.  Dern's performance is nothing short of stellar.  The rest of the cast perfectly portray their individual roles with humor and heart.  As we baby-boomers age, many of us deal with one or both parents exhibiting less than ideal aging conditions.  "Nebraska" reminds us that we are not alone and it could be worse:  Dad could be walking to Lincoln.

Friday, November 8, 2013

THE BOOK THIEF: An Interview by Pamela Powell

"The Book Thief" and many of the cast graced the city of Chicago for the 49th annual Chicago International Film Festival in October.  Brian Percival, the director, Karen Rosenfelt, one of the producers, and Geoffrey Rush along with Sophie Nelisse were scheduled to walk down the red carpet just outside the theater at the AMC River East.  The lobby was packed with people hoping to not only get a glimpse of the well-known actor, Mr. Rush, but even to chat with or get an autograph.  As the entourage of talent approached, the background din rose to a more feverish pitch, bringing  even more excitement to the opening of this film.  I had a chance to catch up with the producer, director, and cast as they strolled along the red carpet, eagerly answering questions about their new production of "The Book Thief."  Their passion and love for the book turned into a film is evident in their conversation with me and I'm sure their information and insight will add that much more to your enjoyment of the film.

Karen Rosenfelt, one of the producers of the film, initially timid, quickly turned that shyness into pride for her project.  She shared that she had the pleasure and opportunity to read the book in manuscript form, prior to its publication.  At that time, there was no intent to make it into a film, but she became "so enraptured by the book" that she and Ken Blancato  presented it to a representative at FOX 2000 to consider it as a film.  Immediately, Michael Petroni was brought on board to adapt the book into a screenplay.  Taking a 600 page book and condensing it into a 120 page screenplay was an arduous task.  Perfection appeared to be Ms. Rosenfelt's goal as both of the producers and FOX agreed that "we would wait for the right time with the right director and the right cast.  So it took 7 years to [get to] that time for it to be magical."  She added, "You make a film once and you have to wait till it's ready."   Now, eight years later, the movie is ready and opening nationwide.

Director, Brian Percival, in his quick paced British accent concurred with Ms. Rosenfelt that the "time has to be right to make the film."  Mr. Percival read the screenplay about 2 years ago and actually wasn't even aware of the book.  He energetically expressed that as he read the screenplay,  he was "completely bowled over" and that he just couldn't put it down.  Although he was in the midst of shooting another film at the time, he was so passionate about "The Book Thief" that he wanted nothing more than to direct it.  As he put it so succinctly, "I just had to make this film."  And just as quickly as his voice was full of excitement, he turned on a dime and meekly stated, "Thankfully, they trusted me with it."
 I asked Mr. Percival if he was at all intimidated by turning such a successful and well-known book into a film to which he jokingly, yet factually pointed out, that he had done quite a few adaptations of Shakespeare and Dickens in England.  I guess that might be a bit more intimidating!  He then graciously went on to point out that directing a film in which the book was initially so successful was like having a "580 page reference document."  Percival was always aware of what the author's intentions were at every crucial point.  The actors as well as the directors, using this guide were able to then "look far deeper into the background material to see what was actually meant."  The director then took a more serious note about his intentions with this film.  It "was always to be faithful to his (Markus Zusak's) vision because it's such a beautiful book to begin with."

Were there any difficulties that Mr. Percival encountered trying to bring this book to life?  He quickly responded that there were not.  He did, however, point out that in the book, Markus "has some incredibly vivd and beautiful descriptions of skies and things...some of that visual description I decided to leave out and go for more of the characters because for me, the heart of the story was always with the characters.  Percival wanted nothing more than to make these characters an honest representation and to bring naturalness to their performances.  He felt that if he "had created something that was visually really quite strange, it might look effected in some way and would have distracted from the truth of the narrative."  So for this director, it was about the characters and not to follow Markus' visual descriptions.
For those of have read the book, you might have wondered, like me, how they incorporated the character of Death.  As the book is told from Death's perspective, how will the film stay true to the book?  Mr. Percival reassured me that Death is still in the film, in voice alone, and the camera angles give us a "visual perspective rather than a literal one" of Death.  He then went on to comfortingly share that once you have read the book and/or seen the film, you may not be as afraid of Death as you were before.  This character of Death is "witty and rye...he's not one of those scary characters we get in movies. There's an empathy about him [and] a sympathy about his thoughts.  In many ways, even though it's Death, you're going to be in safe hands."

Mr. Geoffrey Rush then introduced himself in a very warm and unassuming way, immediately making me feel at ease with this Academy Award winning actor.  After the pleasantries, Mr. Rush discussed the book, screenplay and film.  He reiterated that the novel is over 500 pages and the screenplay is just over 100.  So "the novel is the novel and the film is the film."  He then went on to tell me what drew him to this character of Hans, Liesel's father in the film.  Mr. Rush expressed that "...what really personally attracted me to Hans is how so seemingly ordinary he is.  He's a housepainter, he's working class.  He doesn't seem to have any elaborate adjectives that you would use to describe him.  I've played quite a number of quite eccentric or slightly crazy or flamboyant roles.  I wanted to challenge myself" with playing this part.

Did Mr. Rush pull from his own experiences when playing this role?  He shared that he is also a father of a daughter soon to turn 21 and used the memories of her being 10, 11, or 12.  Much of that interaction was on a personal level.  The rest, however comes in the action of the story.  He conveyed that "you do delve into some little secret chambers in the back of your brain that you are in an imaginative world."  Mr. Rush continued to explain that the immediate bond that you see in the film between his character and Liesel was real.  "We were lucky that we worked together for a week and a half or two weeks on a 'table read' and I was very aware that she was a very talented" young actress.  The family scenes around the kitchen table were truly scenes of him getting to know Sophie and her character.   Mr. Rush appeared to be genuinely in awe of and impressed by Sophie's skills at such a young age.  He felt that the part of Liesel is a huge task no matter whether you are 12 or 62.

As Mr. Rush made his way down the red carpet, an angelic looking girl stopped to chat with me about her lead role in this film as Liesel.  With English as her second language, Sophie Nelisse embodied the poise and sophistication of someone 10 years older.  Her command of the English language and her ease in which she expressed herself was impressively elegant.  With "The Book Thief" as her third major role in as many years, Sophie articulated how she, a 12 year old from Germany, prepared for a role of this magnitude.  Not surprisingly, she "watched a lot of movies" ranging from "Schindler's List" to "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."  As this part of history apparently isn't taught in school for her, she also learned first hand from her grandfather about concentrations camps in Chili during WWII.  With the movies and the first hand accounts, Sophie shared that there was a lot of crying.  She feels that everyone her age should know about this part of history even though it's sometimes difficult to learn.  However, after completing the role of Sophie, she wanted to watch a Meryl Streep film.  Her mother suggested "Sophie's Choice."  Miss Nelisse shouted a resounding NO to that suggestion.  It was time for an uplifting, lighthearted comedy.

It's quite apparent that these actors, the director and the producer have a passionate connection with this film.  I hope that the conversation I have shared enables you to enjoy this film to its fullest.


Starring:  Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nelisse, and Emily Watson
Directed by: Brian Percival

"The Book Thief" hits the silver screen after much success in book form.  Written by Markus Zusak, the novel has been a part of thousands of book clubs across the nation.  Now Michael Petroni adapts the story into what looks to be a successful screenplay.  “The Book Thief” is a  story of survival, love, sacrifice, and risk.  With a strong cast consisting of Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nelisse, and Emily Watson, the film takes on its own life, telling a sad, yet somehow comforting story of a young girl's courage and strength as she is surrounded by death.

Taking place during the height of WWII, the film follows the book closely to set the scene.  Narrated by Death, as it is in the book,  we see  Liesel’s ability to survive and even thrive during this horrific time period.  As she witnesses the death of her brother and soon after is abandoned by her mother, she must somehow assimilate into her new family.  With a harsh, no-nonsense "mother," she finds kindness and acceptance with her new "father."  It is his tenderness and nurturing  that helps Liesel to learn to read.  Death is intrigued by her genuine love of learning to read and "stealing" books.  This intrigue pushes Death to go against his better judgement and become attached to Liesel, following her life. Death is in awe of her determination in every aspect of life which helps Liesel not just survive, but to thrive.  As she becomes attached to this family, she finds a best friend, and learns about the atrocities of not just war, but Germans and Jews during WWII.

"The Book Thief," although revolving around death and being narrated by one and the same, is a very sweet and tender story.  The story isn't all happy and loving, as you might guess.  As it takes place in Germany during WWII, the unspeakable crimes against humanity that occurred are most certainly addressed in the film, but not to the extent that is visually disturbing.  It sets the tone, gives you the information, but doesn’t bring it to the point of unwatchable.  The point is still taken and understood which makes the film more palatable than other films set during WWII.  The focus of the film is seen through the eyes of Liesel.  "The Book Thief" tells a beautifully sad story with heart and compassion.  Although the story moved slowly at times, it still captivates you, anticipating what happens to each person.  The characters are fully developed as you find yourself caring about each of them.  The sadness is overwhelming, but there is still hope and a life lesson to learn.  The movie comes full circle and captures life and its meaning for this strong young girl full of life, love, and a passion for reading.

Although this German family certainly isn't the typical family, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are perfectly cast as they seem to be lifted from the pages of the book.  Rush, an endearing older father with a twinkle in his eye, expresses a complex character who, on the surface, is just a simple painter.  Once again, Rush is outstanding in his role.  He brings life and depth to this seemingly ordinary man.  Emily Watson, the gruff, stern mother has a heart of gold.  Watson's ability to portray a woman who hasn't had an easy time of things is uncanny.  Initially, she seems offensive, but in time, Watson gives you just enough with her smile or her lingering look to let you see inside to her soul, rendering this outwardly unyielding character to become soft and real.  It's hard to believe that there could be another standout in this film given Rush and Watson's performances, but Sophie Nelisse embodied the character of Liesel with the skill of someone much older.  Nelisse carried the film skillfully, capturing sentimentality with a strong spirit.  The family became a true family before your very eyes.

If you've read "The Book Thief," you will certainly enjoy the film and comparing the two.  If you've not read the film, see it for its own merits.  Although somewhat slow at times, it is  a compelling story set in Germany during WWII about a little girl who through love, passion, perseverance, and a little luck finds the meaning of family.  The unique perspective of Death as the narrator gives THE BOOK THIEF a  distinctive twist.  With a strong cast and a dedication to keeping the script close to the book, this is an inspiring movie appropriate for all ages.  

7 1/2 REELS

Thursday, November 7, 2013


The saga of “Thor” continues with the same cast of characters in the just released “Thor: The Dark World.”  What?  You didn’t see the first “Thor?”  Not to worry because the introduction to the film explains everything you need to know---and many things you won’t remember and don’t need to know---to enjoy this film.    Under new direction and different writers, the film tries to continue the same “good vs. evil with a splash of fun” type of movie.  

Thor, his father King Odin, and all on the planet Asgard must fight to bring peace and harmony to the 9 realms.  Unfortunately, those from the Dark World want to bring death and destruction to Asgard using the new-found omnipotent Aether.  As Jane Foster’s body is the unwilling host of this Aether, Thor must fight to save not only his world, but Jane as well.

Thor and Jane’s story picks up right where it left off:  worlds apart.  With many battles being fought to bring peace back to the 9 realms, there is no lack of special effects, explosions, and 3 Dimensional stunts.  Thankfully, after bringing the audience up to speed on the plot with the narrative  and  then witnessing the righteous slaughter of evil aliens, the real story begins.  Like the first “Thor,” the interaction between characters, their dialogue, and the lighthearted humor is what makes audiences love “Thor.”  This film never takes itself seriously which is a wonderful thing.  It capitalizes on the "swoon factor" that Chris Hemsworth elicits from women as you have a completely unnecessary scene (that I am thankful for!) showing off his wonderfully flawless bare chest, sculpted arms, and exquisite back.  Sorry, I got a little carried away there!  Then the scene where a  woman "accidentally" gets knocked off balance on the subway and she MUST  hold on to Thor's chest is definitely there for the sake of fun!  The film is completely entertaining in the predictable good versus evil sort of way, but it has surprises along the way as well.  There are several instances where you just didn’t see “that” coming.  Unfortunately, the middle of the movie slows to become a bit monotonous as the space ships fight and the battles continue on and on. Just when it seems “Thor: The Dark World”  loses its momentum, that’s when the banter, humor, and ironic situations return and it reminds you why you love escaping into this comic book world.  

Chris Hemsworth is truly the perfect Thor with his chiseled physique, his charming and chivalrous  manner, along with his ability to truly act.  Hemsworth can take any role and make it real. He becomes the one and only hero to be a part of “the real world” where Jane exists and the audience willingly suspends belief.  Natalie Portman, again a talented cast member, can reel the audience into believing she is Jane Foster; the fun, smart, spunky, and completely smitten physicist.  As for the rest of the cast, Hopkins is the king.  What more can be said?  And Hiddleston, although the evil son, really saves many scenes with his timing in comedic delivery. With Kat Dennings as the intern and Jonathan Howard as the intern’s intern, silly, but fun situations arise.  That brings us to Stellan Skarsgard who lets it all loose for his small, but oh-so funny role as Erik Selvig.  Yes, some men do sit around in their underwear which helps them think.  The writing of this film is similar to the first “Thor” and the direction attempted to be the same, but this is where I think the second film is a slight let down.  The first film focused upon human (and alien) interaction and really developed each person.  It was easy to connect with the characters even though you knew they were comic book people.  The second one seems to be a bit more interested in the filming of special effects than the dialogue and connections, but does find its way back.  Still a very entertaining film, especially for a sequel, but the first one hit the nail on the head. (Pun intended)
If you loved the first “Thor,” then go see the sequel.  Go see this sequel even if you haven’t seen the first one!  “Thor: The Dark World” is completely entertaining and engaging even though it’s not quite up to its predecessor.  This sequel is funny, lighthearted, and even surprising in parts so you’ll be sure to escape reality for a couple of hours.  This is a film that will appeal to both genders and anyone over the age of 15.  Please be advised that you must stay for the credits!  First of all, they are artistically appealing, but it’s what follows the credits that you must see.  This final scene sets the stage for---you guessed it---Thor #3!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, and Lindsay Duncan
Rated R 

ABOUT TIME stars Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams along with Bill Nighy from "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and Lindsay Duncan from the wonderful upcoming film "Le Week-end."  You might look at the lead character of Tim played by Mr. Gleeson and think he looks familiar but just can't place him.  I know I did.  He played Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter."  Rachel McAdams is the familiar face playing quite a typical role for her.  "About Time" is a sweet and endearing film about a father and his son who share a special male familial gift of time traveling.  When Tim turns 21, his father (Nighy) must have "the talk" with him.  Yes, we all have to have "the talk" with our children, but this talk is a bit touchier. Tim's Dad must convince him of the impossible and then explain the nuances of time travel.  Tim, a sweetheart, but not exactly a "ladies man" wants nothing more than to fall in love.  Of course, changing the course of history and making lots of money come up with having the extraordinary ability to travel through time, but his father quickly puts a kibosh on those concepts.  Tim takes his new found skill and hones his ability to woo the woman of his dreams.  But changing one or two things can have a significant impact as Tim soon finds out.

What would you change if you could go back in time?  Is there such a  think as the "butterfly effect?"  Yes, this sounds like a rather cliche movie.  It is, but it's not.  Of course, Tim must see the pitfalls of changing the past and learn lessons in life.  As the movie is narrated with Tim's hindsight, he imparts his wisdom upon the audience.  He takes us on a journey of love.  This love isn't just of a special woman, though.  This journey of love encompasses his parents, his sister, and his friends.  His one special love of his father is the most touching and heartfelt as the two travel through not just time, but life.

Domhnall Gleeson takes on the lead role with the utmost confidence to play this rather awkward young man given the gift of time travel in an ordinary life.  His believable performance sweeps you off your feet as you become a part of his experiences moment by moment.   His enviable family relationships seem almost idyllic, but then in a heartbeat remind you that it's not.  Rachel McAdams is the perfect choice for the role of Mary.  She's sweet and seemingly down-to-earth.  Her expression of love with a twinkle in her eye can't be ignored and she too, is someone you want to be like.  Bill Nighy is the epitome of an older, wiser, yet lighthearted father.  And Lindsay Duncan is the mom that truly cherishes her husband and children; she too is the epitome of  "mom."  Now with all this perfection in family roles, the film wouldn't be complete without a few characters that are less than perfect.  Lydia Wilson is the free-spirited sister who just doesn't have it all together and Tom Hollander plays the playwright full of angst, spewing humorous sarcasm to those around him for more awkward laughs.  All in all, a wonderful cast with characters that balance the script and entertain you for the full 123 minutes.  Not once did I look at my watch for the time.  For once, the movie wasn't about the time as it completed its mission to entertain and tell a story.

ABOUT TIME is truly about time.  It touches upon the meaning of life and loving every day for what it is---the good, the bad, the funny, the ordinary and then embracing every moment.  This is no doubt a love story full of sweetness regarding romance, marriage, family, and friends.  But it's much more than that.  It is a story about the time we have and how we choose to fill it.  "About Time" is humorous in relatable ways, touching and maybe even a bit sappy in parts, but only in pleasurable ways.  This is a perfect date movie, a girls' night out movie, or just a change of pace movie.  You won't regret your time or your money spent.  It's about time there was a movie like this!