MOVIES OF 2010 - 2019

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Movies of 2018

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Movies of 2017

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Movies of 2016

'Cafá Society' - Romantic comedy with Woody Allen, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll.
Plot Intro: A young man from Brooklyn goes to Hollywood to get a job from his uncle, and he falls in love with his assistant.
Review: The old story of young people who never can get together - with the Woody twists.
Rating: starstarstarno star

'Deadpool' - Superhero fantasy with Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller, Leslie Uggams.
Plot Intro: A former Special Forces veteran finds out he has cancer through his body, so he goes to a clinic where they torture him until he mutates to be able to heal himself. They intend to make him into a slave, but he escapes. He tracks down everyone who worked in the clinic's gang. Then they kidnap his girlfriend.
Review: One of the better superhero movies. The other superhero just seem to run together. Reynolds is great, and Baccarin is beautiful. However, the film is not for kids. It contains nudity and extreme violence.
Rating: starstarstarstar

'Eddie The Eagle' - Dramedy with Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tom Costello, Iris Berben, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken.
Plot Intro: A British boy becomes inspired to be an Olympic athlete. He decides to become a ski jumper, since Britain has not had an Olympic ski jumper since 1929.
Review: Somewhat humorous in parts. I was impressed by Eddie's courage and persistence, even in the face of hazing and ridicule. He's an inspiration in his own way.
Rating: starstarstarno star

'Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them' - Fantasy with Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton.
Plot Intro: A wizard named Newt Scamander brings his suitcase to New York City in 1926 where he hopes to find a 'fantastic creature' for his study, but he bumps into a Muggle - what wizards in the US call No-Mags - and trouble ensues. The No-Mag has the same kind of suitcase. Their suitcases get mixed up, and some Newt's creatures escape. Newt has to work hard to capture them again. In the meantime, there is an Obscura loose that is causing havoc.
Review: Redmayne is perfect as a befuddled, somewhat shy wizard. Fogler is great as a Muggle/No-Mag. Waterston portrays a somewhat incompetent Auror, and Sudol is very attractive as her sister - a legilimens with a gleam in her eye. I haven't watched the Harry Potter movies for a while, but my impression is that there were more special effects in 'Fantastic Beasts'. I enjoyed every minute.
Rating: starstarstarstar

'Finding Dory' - Animated feature with Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Sigourney Weaver.
Plot Intro: Dory begins to remember some things, and she realizes that she is lost - and her parents may be looking for her. She has a strong urge to reunite with her family. Nemo and his father help.
Review: Entertaining for all ages. Answers the question no one asked, 'Where are Dory's parents.'
Rating: starstarstarno star
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • 'Hail, Caesar!' - Comedy with George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill. Written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen.
    Plot Intro: Screenwriters are tired of the way they are treated, so they kidnap the lead actor in a movie at just the right time. The studio head attempts to keep everything together.
    Review: Clooney, Brolin, and Johansson are great. This is a film which requires the viewer to stick with it. It gets funnier as it goes - with a few laugh-out-loud scenes.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Jason Bourne' - Drama with Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel. Directed by Paul Greengrass.
    Plot Intro: Jason finds out why his father was killed, and he wants revenge.
    Review: Action packed. Not as much shaky camera filming as previous Bourne movies - or maybe I'm getting used to it.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • My review of Bourne Legacy (2012)
  • My review of Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  • My review of Bourne Supremacy (2004)
  • My review of Bourne Identity (2002).

    'The Legend of Tarzan' - Adventure drame with Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robson, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, James Broadbent.
    Plot Intro: Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, returns to the Belgian Congo, being invited by the King of Belgium. But there are plans within plans.
    Review: The early story of Tarzan is told in flashbacks. The main story of the movie (of Tarzan returning to the Congo) occurs after Tarzan has been recognized as Lord Greystoke in England - and has married Jane. Robson is beautiful in the film, and Skarsgård seems up the task.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Love and Friendship' - Costume Drama with Kate Beckinsale, Jemma Redgrave, Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry, Tom Bennett. Based on a Jane Austen novella 'Lady Susan'.
    Plot Intro: A widow schemes for herself and her daughter, leaving behind some hurt feelings.
    Review: Very funny film if you catch all that is being said, and that's not too hard. Very enjoyable. Bennett steals the show as Sir James Martin. There is no way that his performance could be construed if you only read the novella. Most of the women in the film were schemers, and most of the men were manipulated.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Race' - Drama with Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt.
    Plot Intro: A special athlete starts at Ohio State, trains under a coach who had been an Olympic caliber athlete 10 years before, and he goes to Berlin for the 1936 Olympics - even over the objections of the leaders of his community.
    Review: Jesse Owens was an amazing athlete for his time, but the movie never grabbed me. I always wondered which parts were made up in order to make a point with modern audiences.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' - Drama with Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton.
    Plot Intro: A desk reporter (Fey) is assigned to be a reporter in Afghanistan. Purportedly based on a true story.
    Review: Shows what it would be like to be a Western thinking woman who is sent to a Muslim country.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • Movies of 2015

    'Aloha' - Romantic comedy-drama with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel Adams, Bill Murray, John Krasinki, Alec Baldwin.
    Plot Intro: A computer expert assists on the establishment of a missile launching site in Hawaii. When he arrives he meets an up-and-coming soldier and his ex-girlfriend. Things get complicated.
    Review: This movie is confusing. The plot is hard to follow for most of the film, and much of it doesn't make sense. The movie is filled with stars, but it doesn't add up to much. The use of Emma Stone as a Hawaiian may be an issue for some. But I have mixed feelings about all the history of Hawaii. It was not pretty. The film seemed to stomp on much of that.
    Rating: starhalf starno starno star

    'Ant-Man' - Comic-book-style fantasy with Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily.
    Plot Intro: A company is developing the technology to make soldiers ant-sized. It could be the means to conquer the world.
    Review: Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors. The script tries to give some weight to the development of Ant-Man. Some Marvel heroes have more movie potential than others. Might be a good rental.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Bridge of Spies' - Drama with Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
    Plot Intro: A Soviet spy is captured and tried for espionage. In the meantime, Gary Powers is shot down in the U2 spy plane.
    Review: The movie has the title of a book called 'Bridge of Spies', but my understanding is that it is really a conflation of that book and another called 'Strangers on a Bridge'. Also, the movie makes it appear like the first U2 mission was shot down, but several spy flights were accomplished over Russia before the Soviets had developed a missile that could get high enough to shoot the U2 plane down.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Brooklyn' - Drama with Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson.
    Plot Intro: Two sisters live with their mother in Ireland. One sister arranges a job in Brooklyn for her younger sister. The younger sister meets an Italian guy and gets married, but she has to go back to Ireland when the older sister dies.
    Review: Excellent movie. Highly recommended.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Chappie' - Sci-fi with Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel.
    Plot Intro: In the future, there are two robot programs. Both are related to crime prevention. One is more successful than the other. Sabotage occurs.
    Review: The film makes an attempt to make the viewer sympathize with a robot. So many movies make a jump in logic where characters suddenly know something they shouldn't. In this case, Chappie suddenly knows how to program without any exposure to it.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Cinderella' - Romance with Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi.
    Plot Intro: A young girl's mother dies, and the father remarries. Then he dies, and the young girl is at the mercy of an evil step-mother.
    Review: Well done remake of the popular Disney cartoon in live-action format. Use of special effects makes it possible.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Dressmaker' - Dramedy with Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving.
    Plot Intro: A dressmaker returns to her Australian home town to be with her elderly mother and to get revenge on the townspeople who banished her for a crime she did not commit.
    Review: Weird and quirky at the beginning. It get going after a while and builds to a crescendo.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Ferrell Takes The Field' - Documentary with Will Ferrell.
    Plot Intro: Will Ferrell plays for eight major league baseball teams in four games on the same day, and he raises money for charity in the process.
    Review: It's fun to watch Ferrell travel by bus, van, and helicopter and then get traded or cut by each team and finally retire at the end of the day.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' - Documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book.
    Plot Intro: Testimony of former members, and archival footage of current members.
    Review: Scary and creepy. A testimony to the need for people to be careful about what they believe and invest their lives in. Members of Scientology have invested so much time and money in the organization that they cannot face the idea that they've wasted it all. Plus during their sessions they divulge personal information that can be held over their head. At least, these are the claims that seem credible.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Hitchcock/Truffaut' - Documentary.
    Plot Intro: Documentary about the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut. Truffaut wrote a book about Hitchcock's movies after many interviews. Several filmmakers discuss Truffaut's book and its influence on them.
    Review: An interesting discussion of Hitchcock's movies from the point of view of other directors.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'In the Heart of the Sea' - With Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy. Directed by Ron Howard.
    Plot Intro: 'The Exeter', a whaling ship in 1820, encounters a big white whale.
    Review: The story on which Herman Mellville based his book 'Moby Dick'. Well-done..
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Intern' - With Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo.
    Plot Intro: An internet company begins a senior intern program. They hire several interns, one of whom had been in management positions during his early career.
    Review: Entertaining at times. Slow to move the plot along at times. The movie is slightly sabotaged by its ending.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Joy' - With Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci, Donna Mills, Ken Howard.
    Plot Intro: A down-and-out single mother lives in her home with her ex-husband, mother, grandmother, father, and daughter. She is inspired to invent a new mop, but she has to somehow get a patent, protect the patent, and market it.
    Review: Kind of hard to watch at the beginning. It's so depressing. After she begins developing the prototype for the new mop, the movie picks up. The movie is stylized with a lot of flashbacks. Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress Academy Award.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Jurassic World' - Sci-fi Fantasy Adventure with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, BD Wong.
    Plot Intro: A new attraction is being developed at the amusement park called Jurassic World. But things get out of hand (which is expected or there wouldn't be a movie).
    Review: Edge of your seat - close your eyes and ears - action. Pratt and Howard are great. Howard is the 'Ginger Rogers' of the movie. She does everything in heels. Howard's character is really the central character of the movie, since she has a great change from the beginning to the end.
              The movie has the usual group of morons who make the wrong decisions at critical times. They get annoying. I'm sure people will think the movie is an attack on corporations and individuals who put money first before the safety of the public. It ended in such a way that there could be a sequel. Maybe they can name it 'Triassic World' and have the titles be educational.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • My review of "Jurassic Park" (1993)
  • My review of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997) - aka "Jurassic Park 2"
  • My review of "Jurassic Park 3" (2001)
  • 'A Man Called Ove' - Drama with Rolf Lassgård, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg. Hannes Holm (screenplay and director), Fredrik Backman (novel). AKA 'En man som heter Ove'.
    Plot Intro: An elderly man in a Scandinavian community which is governed by association rules, who lost his wife to cancer six months before, is so lonely that he wants to be reunited with his dead wife. A young couple moves into the house across the street. He's pretty sure they are 'idiots'.
    Review: I really love this film. You have to stick with it. The main character is somewhat unlikeable in the first half.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' - Drama with Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant.
    Plot Intro: The Nazi menace rises again, and a KGB and CIA agent have to work together in order to prevent catastrophe.
    Review: Some humor throughout the suspense and action. A pretty good film.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Martian' - Drama with Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara. Directed by Ridley Scott. Based on the book by Andy Weir.
    Plot Intro: A manned mission on Mars has to be aborted when a huge storm comes, but in the process of escaping they leave one of the men on the planet, since they think he was killed by the storm. Then they find out that he's still alive.
    Review: Excellent special effects and very good acting by most of the cast make this an excellent film. The chances that a rescue operation like this would work are very slim. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical. This is puzzling, since it is neither a comedy or a musical. Damon is sarcastic, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. There is music, but that is true about most movies, so I wouldn't classify the movie as a musical.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'McFarland, USA' - Drama with Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, Servio Avelar.
    Plot Intro: A failed high school sports coach accepts has run out of options, and he has to move to a poor town in California where he becomes a cross country track coach.
    Review: Based on the true story of poor Hispanic kids who have had to run long distances to get anywhere, and who become state champions.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Minions' - Animated feature with Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush, Stephen Carell.
    Plot Intro: Through the evolutionary history of the world, the Minions search for their 'boss'. They think they found the 'boss' when they found Scarlett Overkill.
    Review: The film has some very funny moments. I find the minions to be very funny. The writers and animators are very creative in some particular parts of the movie.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • My Review of Despicable Me 2 (2013).
  • My Review of Despicable Me (2010).
  • 'Mortdecai' - Comedy with Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum.
    Plot Intro: A man is in debt to the British government, and to work his debt off he is tasked to retrieve a stolen painting. His main problem is how his wife reacts to his moustache.
    Review: Bad British accents by Depp and Paltrow, but then the movie is a comedy. Some slow sections, but overall the film was better than I expected. Worth a rental.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Mr. Holmes' - Drama with Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan.
    Plot Intro: Sherlock Holmes has moved to Sussex after the ending of a heart-rending case. He tends his bees and hires a housekeeper who has a young son. But Sherlock has a form of dementia. He spends his time trying to write the correct version of the case - all the while developing a relationship with his housekeeper's son.
    Review: Excellent dramatization. McKellen is alternately spry and extremely aged. Linney attempts a British accent. And Milo Parker is very impressive as the housekeeper's son.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2' - Comedy with Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Neal McDonough, Daniella Alonso, Ana Gasteyer.
    Plot Intro: The Mall Cop gets a trip for two to Las Vegas. He takes his daughter. They stumble onto an art heist.
    Review: Kind of stupid and annoying - especially the way Blart does his voice-overs. But part of the climax is entertaining.
    Rating: starhalf starno starno star
  • My Review of Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
  • 'The Peanuts Movie' - Animated feature.
    Plot Intro: A new girl moves into the neighborhood, and Charlie (and his friends) try to adjust.
    Review: A charming film. Bryan and Craig Schultz, sons of 'Peanuts' creator Charles M Schultz, were two of the screenwriters.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Pitch Perfect 2' - With Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins.
    Plot Intro: A freshmen at a college joins a sorority and then finds that her sorority's a capella singing group is competing for a world championship.
    Review: The singing is most of the entertainment in the movie.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • Pitch Perfect (2012)
  • 'Pixels' - Comedy with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Dan Ackroyd, Michelle Monaghan, Lainie Kazan.
    Plot Intro: A tape of a video game competition is sent into space. Aliens acquired the tape and designed their offensive weapons based on the creatures in those games.
    Review: It's kind of what you expect. Sandler, James, Gad, Jinklage.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' - Romantic drama with Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel, Tina Desai, David Strathairn, Richard Gere.
    Plot Intro: The owner of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel plans to buy a second hotel and expand, but he has to also be involved in his own wedding
    Review: It is nice to see all of these actors and actresses again.
    Rating: starstarno starno star
  • Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011).

    'Suffragette' - Drama with Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep.
    Plot Intro: Women become radicalized as they experience how society and most men treat them.
    Review: Ignorance and prejudice have been with us for centuries, and this is another example.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Spectre' - Action-drama with Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Winslow, Naomie Harris, Andrew Scott, Léa Seydoux.
    Plot Intro: James Bond tracks down an assassin because of a message he receives from the old M. Because of it he finds out there is an evil organization called SPECTRE. But he is on the outs with British secret service.
    Review: Excellent. The latest Bond films with Daniel Craig just keep getting better and better.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • Bond1. My review of "Dr. No" (1962).
  • Bond2. My review of "From Russia With Love" (1963).
  • Bond3. My review of "Goldfinger" (1964).
  • Bond4. My review of "Thunderball" (1965).
  • Bond5. My review of "You Only Live Twice" (1967).
  • Bond6. My review of "Casino Royale" (1967).
  • Bond7. My review of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969).
  • Bond8. My review of "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971).
  • Bond9. My review of "Live and Let Die" (1973).
  • Bond10. My Review of "The Man With The Golden Gun" (1974).
  • Bond11. My review of "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977).
  • Bond12. My review of "Moonraker" (1979).
  • Bond13. My review of "For Your Eyes Only" (1981).
  • Bond14. My review of "Octopussy" (1983).
  • Bond15. My review of "Never Say Never Again" (1983).
  • Bond16. My review of "A View To A Kill" (1985).
  • Bond17. My review of "The Living Daylights" (1987).
  • Bond18. My review of "License to Kill" (1989).
  • Bond19. My review of "GoldenEye" (1995).
  • Bond20. My review of "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997).
  • Bond21. My review of "The World Is Not Enough" (1997).
  • Bond22. My review of "Casino Royale" (2006).
  • Bond23. My review of "Quantum of Solace" (2008).
  • Bond24. My review of "Skyfall" (2012).
  • 'Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens' - With Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Andy Serkis. AKA 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' or 'The Force Awakens'
    Plot Intro: The Empire conquers the Republic again, and Leia begins to search for Luke.
    Review: It is hard to review the film without giving away some spoilers. Suffice it to say that the basic storyline (twins, death star, empire, republic, desert and ice planets, etc) is replicated in Episode 7. Hopefully I didn't say too much.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • Star Wars Timeline
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace' (1999)
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 2 - The Attack of the Clones' (2002)
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 3 - The Revenge of the Sith' (2005)
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope' (1977)
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
  • My review of 'Star Wars: Episode 6 - The Return of the Jedi' (1983)

    'Straight Outta Compton' - Bio-pic with O'Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti.
    Plot Intro: Guys from Compton put together a gangsta rap group called N.W.A. They get a manager, and the popularity of the group takes off in spite of harrassment by authorities.
    Review: Very good bio-pic. Ice Cube's character is played by his son O'Shea Jackson Jr. The rap concert performances are excellent. Viewers should be aware that the film is filled with foul language and nudity.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Tomorrowland' - Sci-fi drama with George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw.
    Plot Intro: There is a perfect, futuristic world in another dimension. Things start to go wrong in both dimensions. It seems like the end of the world.
    Review: The special effects in the first half are excellent, but then the screenwriters have to figure out a way to bring the whole thing to a conclusion - with conflict, of course. So the last part of the film doesn't have the same wow factor. An implication of the script that gave me pause was that our ideas that the world has problems are coming from another dimension, and they may not be true.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Trumbo' - Drama with Bryan Cranston, Lewis CK, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren.
    Plot Intro: Hollywood screenwriters support a strike by stage crews, and Congress begins a witch hunt through the House Un-American Activities Committee. The studios knuckle under.
    Review: A black time in US history - one that could happen again.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'The Wedding Ringer' - Comedy with Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Ken Howard, Cloris Leachman, Jorge Garcia, Mimi Rogers, Olivia Thirlby, Nicky Whelan.
    Plot Intro: A man is getting married, but he's never had a friend who could be his best man. He hires an experienced best man and his crew to be his part of the wedding party.
    Review: Some hits and misses. The dance scene is great, and Kevin Hart and Josh Gad have some good scenes. But there are scenes where just about all of the dialog is foul language. Foul language is the easy way to get laughs, but IMO if it is over-used it loses its effect. Olivia Thirlby and Nicky Whelan are very impressive and memorable.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Wild Card' - Drama with Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Hope Davis, Dominik García-Lorido, Max Casella, Stanley Tucci, Sofia Vergara.
    Plot Intro: A bodyguard helps a call girl get revenge for what a young tough and his two bodyguards did to her. Things spin out of control.
    Review: Statham is great in the fight scenes, and that is most of the reason to watch the films.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • Movies of 2014

    'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' - Comedy with Steve Carrell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenboul, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally.
    Plot Intro: A kid has a terrible day. His birthday is the next day, but he has no hope of having a good day ever in his life again. He makes a wish blowing a candle out on a cupcake that night - that everyone in his family could have a bad day and know what he goes through every day.
    Review: Cute film. Some good young actors, and Carrell and Garner are very good.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Comic book fantasy with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, BJ Novak.
    Plot Intro: Spidey takes on his next opponent: Electro.
    Review: Good special effects. Kind of falls down when it comes to resetting an electrical grid and planes changing direction in the air at the last second. But it is entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of 'The Amazing Spider-Man' (2012).
  • 'Big Eyes' - Drama with Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp.
    Plot Intro: A woman artist flees her husband, meets another painter, marries him, and begins painting portraits of waifs with big eyes. Her husband passes them off as his.
    Review: Supposedly based on the events of the Big Eyes fad that occurred in the 1960s. The details of the story portrayed by the movie are disputed by the daughter of Walter Keane who follows the stance that Mr Keane held until he died in 2000. Mr Keane was unable to paint Big Eyes in the Hawaiian courtroom, and he never painted another painting after the court ruling. The film claims that he bought paintings from Europe and painted his name over the artist's name. Adams and Waltz are OK. Stamp and Ritter are very good in supporting roles - with Ritter standing out.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Big Hero 6' - Animated Feature with Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph.
    Plot Intro: A lab blows up, killing a boy's brother and resulting in the loss of an experiment the boy (Hero) had been working on. Using an experimental robot that his brother leaves behind, he finds out why the lab blew up, and he seeks revenge.
    Review: Interesting and entertaining. The psychology of the boy attempting to get revenge against a man who is also seeking revenge is poignant.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)' - Drama with Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton.
    Plot Intro: The former star in a series of movies about a hero named Birdman is at a low point in his career. In order to revive his career he adapts a book into a stage play, and he pays for its production himself. But his mental state is questionable.
    Review: The film won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Screenplay, Cinematography. The camera follows the actors through the narrow hallways of the theater. Except for the mental state of Keaton's character, the movie is more of a soap opera set among stage actors who are involved - to varying degrees - with getting ready for preview performances and for opening night. The film toys with the viewer by going back and forth between implying Keaton's character's fractured mental state and the possibility that he really has super powers. My conclusion is that the part of the film that implies that he has superpowers is part of his mental problems. The film would be appreciated more by those in the theatrical industry who have to deal with prima donnas and those who are really earnest about their craft. However, at a certain level, I found it to be entertaining. At the same time, I was not impressed by some of the performances.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Boyhood' - Drama with Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater. Written and directed by Richard Linklater.
    Plot Intro: A boy (and the people around him) changes as he ages from 5 to 18.
    Review: A very good script is the highlight of a movie that was filmed over the space of 12 years with the same actors. The conversations between Hawke and the kids is very well written, and Hawke is excellent in those scenes. It is fascinating to watch the progression.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' - Comic-book fantasy with Chris Evans, Samuel L Jackson, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackey.
    Plot Intro: Captain America is faced with an enemy organization called Hydra. They've infiltrated SHIELD and attempted to kill Nick Fury. He works with Black Widow and Falcon to combat this menace.
    Review: Very good comic-book action movie.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Divergent' - Futuristic fantasy with Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Kate Winslet.
    Plot Intro: There are five factions in a futuristic society. One of them is making a bid to take over the government by controlling the military. There is also a group of people are non-faction, but the people the leaders of society fears most are the 'divergent' - those who can't be classified in any of the factions.
    Review: A good movie - one of many futuristic totalitarian society movies that have been coming out lately. First of three books - four movies - by the author Veronica Roth.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Draft Day' - Drama with Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Chadwick Boseman, Frank Langella, Denis Leary, Sean Combs, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Burstyn, Sam Elliott. Directed by Ivan Reitman.
    Plot Intro: The day of the NFL Draft has a lot of drama and twists and turns.
    Review: Kind of gives the feel of what it might be like for team executives on draft day, but of course there has to be storylines of multi-level personal issues.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Equalizer' - Drama with Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas, Bill Pullman.
    Plot Intro: A retired agent settles in a suburban area where there is gang activity. One of his friends gets murdered, and he seeks revenge. Both Sides keep upping the ante.
    Review: A good attempt. Washington does OK. The ending on the beach is a little confusing.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Fault Is In Our Stars' - Romantic drama with Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe.
    Plot Intro: A cancer patient meets another cancer patient, and the form a strong bond.
    Review: Very good. Woodley and Elgort are excellent. A moving movie.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Fury' - Drama with Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jason Isaacs.
    Plot Intro: American fight the Germans, tank against tank and soldier against soldier. They are commanded to defend a road crossing, but by the time they get there, only one American tank is left.
    Review: Much of the action is very good, but the other scenes not nearly as good. One thing I noticed is that at the beginning of the film, Pitt's character had sergeant stripes, but someone called him "sir". In just about every movie I've ever seen, a sergeant will reprimand a soldier for calling him "sir".
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Gettysburg Story' - Documentary.
    Plot Intro: General Lee's forces focus on a small town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg - a cross roads that was strategically important to North and South. Three days in July, 1863.
    Review: Excellent photography. Not much new information can be provided for the three-day battle. What is new is the the digital photography from ground and air, using time-lapse, helicopters, and unmanned drones. The photography is at times beautiful. Highly recommended to those who are interested in this time period in American history.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Gone Girl' - Suspense drama with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Emily Ratajkowski, Sela Ward. Based on the book by Gillian Flynn. Screenplay by Gillian Flynn. Directed by David Fincher.
    Plot Intro: A man's wife disappears, and he is suspected of murder. The evidence seems to be stacked against him.
    Review: Excellent movie. I haven't read the book yet, but the movie was very effective. Pike is excellent, and Affleck is very good. The supporting cast is also very effective. Contains brief nudity.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Grand Budapest Hotel' - Comedy. Directed by Wes Anderson.
    Plot Intro: An old bell hop tells his story which is written into a best selling book.
    Review: Populated with a nearly innumerable cast of well-known actors, this quirky movie is humorous and entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Grim Sleeper' - Documentary.
    Plot Intro: For 20 plus years, a serial killer was loose in the Los Angeles area, preying on young women who were mostly drug addicts or prostitutes. The police kept the public in the dark about his existence. They finally arrested a man in 2010.
    Review: A disturbing exploration of the serial killings, the local culture, and the relationship between the police and the inhabitants.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Guardians of the Galaxy' - Sci-fi with Chris Pratt, Zoe Soldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, John C Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Djimon Hounsou.
    Plot Intro: After a boy's mother dies of cancer in 1988, he is kidnapped by a space ship - and he becomes an interstellar burglar. He's given the job of stealing a small globe that contains the means to destroy the world. Everyone wants the little globe.
    Review: Kind of a confusing story and confusing action. It may be a set up for a sequel.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' - Fantasy with Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage.
    Plot Intro: The dragon flies off from the Lonely Mountain, attacks Laketown, is shot down - destroying Laketown. The dwarves now know that the Lonely Mountain is theirs, but they soon realize that everyone wants something (or everything) from them. A great battle ensues.
    Review: The film is above average. It's obvious that a lot of people put a lot of effort into the film. But to anyone who loves Tolkien's writings, the movie bears little resemblance to the book. I recommend that everyone read the book.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • The Chronology of "The Lord of the Rings" (a 66 kb. Excel spreadsheet)
  • Chronology of "The Hobbit"
  • My "The Hobbit" Differences Page
  • "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013)
  • "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)
  • My review of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
  • "The Fellowship of the Ring" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Two Towers" (2002)
  • "The Two Towers" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Return of the King" (2003)
  • "The Return of the King" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • 'I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story' - documentary with Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jim Henson.
    Plot Intro: Documentary about Caroll Spinney who was one of the first muppeteers on Sesame Street and created Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
    Review: Brings back memories of watching Big Bird and Oscar. Spinney started with Sesame Street when it began and was still portraying both muppets when the documentary was released in 2014. Shows what it's like to be Big Bird and Oscar from the inside.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Imitation Game' - Drama with Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley.
    Plot Intro: The story of the British effort to break the Enigma machine during World War 2.
    Review: Excellent dramatization of the effort and of Turing's life after the war.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Jersey Boys' - Musical biopic directed by Clint Eastwood. Based on the popular play.
    Plot Intro: Four guys from New Jersey end up having a great musical career.
    Review: I'm a big fan of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, so this film was very disappointing for me. Disorganized storyline. Distracting incidents of characters talking to the screen (which worked in other films, but doesn't work here). Poor singing in the last half ('a little pitchy', a definite flatness). Poor dance sequences at the end (might be an attempt to mimic 'Slumdog Millionaire' and other movies). But it is the inconsistent singing that sinks this film. In one scene there is a girl's group whose singing nearly made me stop watching. I have never seen the play, but the quality of the movie must have been a surprise to those who did see it.
    Rating: starhalf starno starno star

    'The Judge' - Drama with Robert Duvall, Robert Downey Jr, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Vera Farmiga.
    Plot Intro: An old judge is dying of cancer. The drugs are affecting his memory. His wife dies, and his estranged son - a slick defense attorney - comes from California for the funeral. Then the judge is accused of murder.
    Review: It was a little odd to go from the normal rhythm of speaking shown by actors such as Duvall, Thornton, Shepard to the choppy style of Downey. It was hard to believe that he was from the same family or region, but it did add to the conflict - the oil and water feel - between Duvall's and Downey's character. Duvall is one of my favorite actors. Thornton, Shepard and Farmiga are very good. It took a while for me to get into the story, but by the end I decided it was worth watching.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Kingsman: The Secret Service' - Adventure Drama with Michael Keaton, Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Taron Egerton, Mark Hamill.
    Plot Intro: A media mogul plots to purge the Earth of the virus that is destroying it - that is, human beings. He kidnaps a professor, and the Secret Service has to investigate and mount a rescue.
    Review: An odd James Bond-style movie that isn't helped by Jackson's lisp. By that I don't mean to imply that the lisp is the reason I'm giving the movie two stars. I like Jackson in many of his roles. The movie was not particularly well-written or acted, etc.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'The Lego Movie' - Animated feature with Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Dave Franco.
    Plot Intro: A clueless guy finds the piece of resistance. He must save the world.
    Review: It takes a while for the humor to take effect. Somewhat clever.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Lucy' - Sci-fi with Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Julian Rhind-Tutt.
    Plot Intro: A girl parties with a guy who coerces her into taking a briefcase to a drug kingpin. She is sedated, and a "surgeon" inserts a bag of drugs into her abdomen. But the bag breaks. It's a man-made hormone that takes her brain to the next level.
    Review: An exciting movie that is sabotaged to a small degree by the ending.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Maleficent' - Fantasy Drama with Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Leslie Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple.
    Plot Intro: A fairy is drugged, and her wings are cut off - as part of a plot of a young man to become king. He marries and has a daughter. The vengeful fairy places a curse on the daughter, one that will only be broken by love's kiss.
    Review: A retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty with a major twist at the end. Above average special effects.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Million Dollar Arm' - Drama with Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton.
    Plot Intro: A struggling sports agent and his partner get the idea of having a tryout in India for baseball pitchers that could win a tryout with a major league team.
    Review: Based on a true story. Somewhat annoying at times, but inspiring at the end.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'A Million Ways To Die In The West' - Western comedy with Seth McFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Lloyd, Gilbert Gottfried, Ewan McGregor, Jamie Foxx, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart, Bill Maher.
    Plot Intro: A humble sheep farmer loses his girlfriend to a man with a mustache. He gets help from the beautiful wife of a killer. Many people die in many ways.
    Review: First, it should be said that the film is not for everyone. I've had conversations with people who saw it before me who thought it was the worst film ever. And it must be said that the film has a lot of language and situations that will be offensive to some people. There is no nudity. Part of the concept of the film is the insertion of one or more characters with a 21st century outlook into the wild and crazy times of the American West - where doctors, 'curative' potions, rattlesnakes, cattle, guns, and (what we might think is) more primitive technology (than we have now). McFarlane's machine-gun delivery when he rattles off ways people could die - and the cartoony dramatizations of people dying - are pretty funny. Again, the film is not for everyone.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'The Monuments Men' - Drama with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville.
    Plot Intro: During World War 2, a group of men are assigned the task of recovering and/or protecting artwork in war-torn Europe. A dangerous assignment.
    Review: Based on the true story of the men who tracked down the world's art while the shooting was going on in Europe. The actions of the Nazis (and Soviets) during this period were despicable. The movie tries to show the danger involved, but I kept getting the feeling that this was only a surface treatment of what really went on - almost like the actors weren't really into it.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Neighbors' - Comedy with Seth Rogen, Zac Ephron, Rose Byrne, Ike Barinholtz, Dave Franco.
    Plot Intro: A fraternity buys the house next to a young couple and proceeds to have multiple very loud parties. Something has to be done.
    Review: One of the modern comedies that takes action up to the line and maybe a little beyond. Rogen plays a normal father, Byrne is great as the obsessed mother.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb' - Fantasy with Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Rebel Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan.
    Plot Intro: The magic tablet is being destroyed due to lack of moonlight.
    Review: The opening is a little rough, but it gets going after a while. Kind of sad to see Mickey and Robin.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009)
  • My review of "A Night At The Museum" (2006)
  • 'Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words' - Documentary with Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, John Kerry, Charles Colson, Alexander Haig, et. al.
    Plot Intro: A documentary that combines tape and interview footage to give a portrayal of Richard Nixon.
    Review: Revealing. Worth watching, but at the same time it is hard to watch. The documentary reveals that Nixon was not a complicated man. What you can say about him is that he would say one thing in public, but in his meetings with his close associates he would say the opposite. For example, in his last speech to the White House staff, he said that he felt a person shouldn't return hate for hate, but the tapes reveal a man filled with hate and one who acted on that hate. He hated minorities - including women in office, or at the very least he had no respect or little regard for them. He used the powers of the president to bludgeon opponents, members of the press, and govenment employees who stepped out of line. He was a man who took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, but in private - and in practice - he overrode the rights of many Americans.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Non-Stop' - Drama with Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery.
    Plot Intro: A troubled air marshall is texted with threats to the passengers of the plane he is flying on. A passenger will die every 20 minutes unless his demands are met. The air marshall goes to extremes to save the people, but the crew and the passengers think he is hijacking the plane.
    Review: Exciting and suspenseful movie that comes to a very quick resolution at the end. Neeson and Moore are very good.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Packed In A Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson' - Documentary with Jane Anderson, Michelle Boyaner.
    Plot Intro: A woman artist is institutionalized, and her family never sees her again. In the meantime, her lawyer siphons off all her money.
    Review: Wilkinson (who lived from 1868 to 1957 was institutionalized by her lawyer in the 1920s. She was shuttled from institution to institution, some of which used strong drugs to keep patients under control. The film goes into more detail about her artistic career in Provincetown, MA where she was one of the early artists who visited Provincetown on a yearly basis. A very sad story.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Ride Along' - Comedy with Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne.
    Plot Intro: A height-challenged man wants to marry a cop's sister. He has to prove himself by going on a "ride-along".
    Review: Some funny moments get bogged down when Hart takes too long to get to the point, but the combination of Ice Cube and Hart is very funny.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Robocop' - Sci-fi with Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson.
    Plot Intro: A cop's partner is in the hospital after he took both of them into an unauthorized undercover operation. Then the cop gets blown up, and the part they could salvage is put into a machine, making him a cyborg.
    Review: A reworking of the story that was made into a film in 1987 with Peter Weller. This is a better film than the 1987 version -- partly due to Keaton, Oldman, and the special effects. Jackson's character gets annoying pretty quickly.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Sex Tape' - Comedy with Cameron Diaz, Jason Siegel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Jack Black.
    Plot Intro: A married couple makes a sex tape, but it accidentally gets distributed and then uploaded to a website. They become frantic to destroy all copies.
    Review: Sometimes funny. Warning: Partial nudity at the beginning and end.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'St. Vincent' - Dramedy with Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd, Jaeden Lieberher, Nate Corddry, Donna Mitchell. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi.
    Plot Intro: A single mother moves next door to an addicted gambler and drunkard. A relationship develops between her son and the neighbor.
    Review: Somewhat unsavory character and unsavory scenes. Not for everyone. McCarthy's first drama. Watts seems miscast.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon' - Documentary with Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Mike Myers, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Arnold, Emeril Lagasse, Anne Murray, Willie Nelson.
    Plot Intro: The amazing story of a man who trained to become a probation officer but became the agent for many musical acts, actors, and well-known chefs.
    Review: The documentary is fascinating. It shows how he made Alice Cooper famous, and it goes into some detail about may of the other people he worked with and things he did. I enjoyed watching this movie.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Tammy' - Comedy with Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Ackroyd, Gary Cole, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Ben Falcone.
    Plot Intro: A woman has a crisis when she loses her job and finds out her husband is having an affair with the neighbor. She goes on a trip with her alcoholic, diabetic grandma.
    Review: Road trip movie with an out of control granddaughter who has to deal with an out of control grandmother. Ends well, but getting there is half the torture.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Theory of Everything' - Drama with Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson.
    Plot Intro: Stephen Hawking meets Jane Wilde. They fall in love, but he is diagnosed with ALS. They get married and have three kids. All the while he is thinking and making advances in theoretical physics.
    Review: Redmayne receives an Academy Award for Best Actor. Well-deserved. The rest of the caste is excellent. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'This Is Where I Leave You' - Romantic comedy with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Spencer.
    Plot Intro: A father dies, and the mother says that his dying wish is for his family to be together for seven days in mourning. The time together is hard for the siblings.
    Review: Basically a romance movie between Bateman and Byrne. Kind of a mess from the beginning to the end.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    '22 Jump Street' - Comedy Drama with Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens, Nick Offerman.
    Plot Intro: The 21 Jump Street offices are destroyed, and it moves to 22 Jump Street. The team is sent to college to find the source of a new drug.
    Review: A silly version of a detective film. Amber Stevens makes a good impression.
    Rating: starstarno starno star My review of '21 Jump Street' (2012).

    'Unbroken' - Drama with Jack O'Connell, Miyavi. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand. Directed by Angelina Jolie.
    Plot Intro: A high school champion runner qualifies and runs in the 1936 Olympics. Then he joins the Army Air Force. His plane has to ditch in the Pacific. After surviving 47 days in a life raft - along with a second airman - he is captured by the Japanese navy. He is in POW camps for the rest of the war where he is tortured.
    Review: Very good film. Recommended - if you can make it through the torture scenes.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Wild' - Drama with Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern. Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed.
    Plot Intro: The recent loss of her mother pushes a woman over the edge into drugs and unprotected sex. She decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. She stops her walk at the Oregon-Washington border after weeks of experiences.
    Review: Told with some use of flashbacks, the film attempts to show the gradual emotional coming to grips of the loss of her mother by Cheryl.
    Rating: starstarstarno star


    Movies of 2013

    'Admission' - Romantic comedy-drama with Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin.
    Plot Intro: An admissions officer at an Ivy League university is contacted by a high school teacher who claims to have found the son who she gave up for adoption.
    Review: I like Rudd and Fey. The last third of the film seems a little forced even though it is a logical conclusion.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'American Hustle' - Drama with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis CK, Michael Pena, Robert DeNiro.
    Plot Intro: Two con-artists are caught by the FBI and coerced into helping the FBI capture corrupt politicians. The whole thing gets complicated.
    Review: Somewhat reminiscent of the Ab-Scam scandal in the 1970s. The film kind of builds until it gets to a climax near the end. All of the cast give great performances - particularly Bale, Adams, Cooper, and Lawrence.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Bad Words' - Comedy with Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, Katherine Hahn, Philip Baker Hall, Rohan Chand.
    Plot Intro: A disgruntled man in his 30s enters a spelling bee designed for pre-teen kids - after he finds a loophole in the way the rules are worded.
    Review: Rated 'R' due to language and sexually explicit scenes - though I don't remember there being any nudity.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'A Birder's Guide To Everything' - Romantic dramedy with Kodi Smit-McPhee, Katie Chang, Ben Kingsley.
    Plot Intro: A high school student lost his mother a year earlier, and he doesn't know that he's still grieving. His father is about to get married again, but when the student thinks he has seen a bird that has been thought to be extinct, he drops everything and goes with his friends to the woods of the northeastern United States to verify that the bird has been sighted.
    Review: Pretty good film. The young actors try hard, and the script is OK.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Book Thief' - Drama with Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse.
    Plot Intro: A brother and sister are being taken by train to meet their new parents in pre-World War II Germany. She has to adjust to the new family. They take in the son of a Jewish friend.
    Review: Well-made film. Rush, Watson, and Nélisse are very good.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Dallas Buyers Club' - Drama with Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn.
    Plot Intro: The early days of the AIDS crisis. A man contracts AIDS and sets up a club where he can hand out the drugs that work.
    Review: Excellent film. McConaughey and Leto deserve their Academy Awards. A moving movie that could make you angry.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Dear Mr. Watterson' - Documentary.
    Plot Intro: The moviemaker follows the career of Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic strip 'Calvin & Hobbes', and tries to explain the impact of the strip on the public and on other comic strip artists.
    Review: Fascinating study of "Calvin & Hobbes" and of the career of Watterson.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Delivery Man' - Dramedy with Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders.
    Plot Intro: A man contributed over 600 times to a fertility clinic. Later he finds out he fathered 533 kids, and 142 of them want to know who he is.
    Review: Sometimes humorous, sometimes touching. I had heard that the screenwriter took a news story of a man who fathered a lot of kids, and then he built a whole fictional story around it. While the film isn't "Gone With The Wind" quality, it is still entertaining.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Despicable Me 2' - Animated feature with Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand.
    Plot Intro: Gru is recruited to help find an evil nemesis who has stolen a laboratory that was involved in chemical research.
    Review: I'm a big fan of the minions. Can't get enough. And there weren't enough of them in this film. The film dragged a little in the middle. The ending was very funny. I think the first movie was better, but the sequel is still very entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My Review of Minions (2015).
  • My Review of Despicable Me (2010).
  • 'Ender's Game' - Sci-fi with Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin.
    Plot Intro: Fifty years after an invasion of Earth by aliens, the Earth's military is searching for the person that can lead the Earth's armed forces to annihilate the alien species and prevent future invasions.
    Review: Great special effects and set designs.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Enough Said' - Romantic comedy-drama with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette.
    Plot Intro: A massage therapist starts dating a man she meets at a party. Her daughter is getting ready to go to college. Life gets more complicated.
    Review: Intelligently written and intelligently acted. Very good. Kind of grows on you. I'm leaving some important spoilers out of the review, but it was those events which surprised me and kept me interested and entertained. The whole time I watched the movie I thought of how much of a loss it was for Gandolfini to have passed after making the film. He was very good, and he and Louis-Dreyfus looked like they had a chemistry on screen. If you just watched their conversations, you would be impressed with the acting.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Free Birds' - Animated feature with Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei.
    Plot Intro: A turkey is pardoned at Thanksgiving by the President. He has a wonderful life until he is freed by another turkey who breaks them into a government time machine program. They go back in time to try to prevent turkey from being on the Thanksgiving menu.
    Review: Some humorous moments. Somewhat entertaining. A few good lines.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    '42' - Sports drama with Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie.
    Plot Intro: Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, chooses a player from the Kansas City Monarchs - Jackie Robinson - to integrate major league baseball.
    Review: The events are based on the true events during Jackie Robinson's rookie season in 1947. The pitchers hitting him and players spiking him are all true. The hardest scene to watch is the one of the Phillies manager Ben Chapman who heckled Robinson from the Phillies dugout. I've seen articles defending Chapman by detailing his player stats (mostly with the Yankees). Nothing he did during his player career - and very little of what he did after he left baseball - makes up for his antics against blacks, Jews, Italians and other ethnic minorities. The courage and self-control and talent (on the field) make Jackie Robinson as great as any other heroic person in the Civil Rights movement Boseman is very good and looks the part (though his legs seem to go in slow motion most of the time), and Harrison Ford is great as Branch Rickey.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Frozen' - Animated Romantic Musical-Drama with Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel.
    Plot Intro: A young princess finds out that she has powers that would drive her away from her family and her people. She tries to hide the powers, but eventually she has to be crowned, and this means that she has to go through a public ceremony..
    Review: It was hard for me to get into the film. I was distracted by the nearly constant singing of mostly forgettable songs..
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Great Gatsby' - Romantic drama with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan.
    Plot Intro: A young man moves into a house next to a mansion which is occupied by a man who is trying to woo another man's wife.
    Review: Lots of glitz that evolves into the drama part. It was kind of distracting to hear DiCaprio's fake British accent.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'A Good Day To Die Hard' - Drama with Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney.
    Plot Intro: McCain goes to Russia when he hears that his estranged son is in jail for murder. One thing leads to another.
    Review: Unless they get a better script and a better performance from Willis, they should retire the "Die Hard" series.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of "Die Hard" (1988).
  • My review of "Die Hard II" (1990).
  • My review of "Die Harder: Die With a Vengeance" or "Die Hard 3" (1995).
  • My review of "Live Free or Die Hard" or "Die Hard 4" (2007).
  • 'Gravity' - Drama with George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Ed Harris.
    Plot Intro: Space debris threatens all humans in the space shuttle and space stations.
    Review: Excellent film. Great special effects. It looks like there is really a camera in space following the action. Bullock has to carry the action through most of the film.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Heat' - Comedy with Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Thomas F Wilson, Michael Tucci, Nate Corddry.
    Plot Intro: An FBI agent is forced to work with a policewoman in order to take down a drug lord.
    Review: The film was a great fit for McCarthy. The lines have the feel that they were written for McCarthy in mind. But then you never know how much ad-lib there was, and actors certainly work at making the character theirs. Whatever the dynamic was for the McCarthy and Bullock characters, they made me laugh - McCarthy in particular. The film may not be for all audiences due to the language throughout the film.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' - With Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch.
    Plot Intro: The dwarves and Bilbo make their way to the Lonely Mountain.
    Review: The second installment of The Hobbit trilogy. First, I like the dwarves, Bilbo, Gandalf, and Smaug. Smaug is animated well, and the dwarves and hobbit have great make-up and costume. At times it was hard to watch due to the blurriness of the fast action - which seemed to last a long time. And much of the action between the dwarves, elves, and goblins was shot close up - adding to the blur. The set design of Laketown and the Elfking's Hall in Mirkwood are very good.
              If you have read The Hobbit and remember the story, you will know that Jackson takes real liberties with the original story. It seems like Jackson takes a very sketchy outline of the original story and then fleshes it out with his own vision of what the story should have been or what he thinks would make an exciting movie. (In my opinion, the original story would have been exciting enough.) The number of details that are in the movie but not in the book is larger than the details in the movie that are in the book. These items come to mind: (1) The orcs who chase the dwarves to the elf stronghold and then to Laketown, (2) the romance between Fili and Tauriel, (3) the dwarves floating in open barrels and later being covered by fish, (4) four dwarves remaining in Laketown, and (5) the confrontation between the dwarves and Smaug. In the book, the last we hear of the goblins (1) before The Battle of the Five Armies is when Beorn kills a goblin and wolf. There is no romance (2) between any elf and dwarf in the book. There aren't any female characters in the book, but I can understand why Jackson added Turiel. In the book, the dwarves were totally enclosed in the barrels (3), the barrels were released by an elf (Bilbo being invisible), and there were no fish. In the book, all the dwarves go to the Lonely Mountain (4), and none are shot during their escape from the Elfking's fortress. And finally (5), the dwarves do not confront Smaug. In the book, they cower in the tunnel and send Bilbo down to the main hall to do their dirty work.
              When books are adapted into movies, the authors of the books have a wide range of reactions to the movies. Some accept the modifications, because movies are a different medium. Others are pained by the changes. I wonder what JRR Tolkien would have thought. Would he have excused the changes, saying that movies are a different medium? Or would he have been disturbed by the changes? My understanding is that it was a bedtime story that he would tell his children - which he later developed into a book. I think The Hobbit had a special place in Tolkien's heart because of the connection to his children.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • The Chronology of "The Lord of the Rings" (a 66 kb. Excel spreadsheet)
  • Chronology of "The Hobbit"
  • My "The Hobbit" Differences Page
  • "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014)
  • "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)
  • My review of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
  • "The Fellowship of the Ring" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Two Towers" (2002)
  • "The Two Towers" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Return of the King" (2003)
  • "The Return of the King" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • 'Homefront' - Drama with Jason Statham, James Franco, Wynona Ryder, Kate Bosworth.
    Plot Intro: A retired DEA agent moves to the deep south with his daughter where he encounters problems with the locals.
    Review: Another Statham action film. Lots of fighting, lots of action.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared' - Comedy with Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg. AKA 'Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann'.
    Plot Intro: A man reaches his 100th birthday, and he's not too excited about the impending party. He climbs out of the window of his nursing home, and he begins an adventure.
    Review: The film is in two parts. One part is about the man after he climbs out of the window. The other part is told in reminiscences about his life that seem to have a 'Forrest Gump'-like quality. Neither part of the film was so entertaining that I'd watch the film again.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Identity Thief' - Comedy with Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet.
    Plot Intro: A mild-mannered businessman in Colorado changes his personality when he finds out his identity has been stolen by a woman in Florida.
    Review: Sometimes a little awkward, but not as awkward as it could have been Bateman and McCarthy are very good in their parts. Kind of has the flavor of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" at times.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Internship' - Romantic comedy with Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Aasif Mandvi.
    Plot Intro: The company suddenly goes out of business, leaving two salesmen in the lurch. One of them comes across a job posting for internship at Google.
    Review: Parts of this movie are entertaining. Vaughn and Wilson are also fun to watch. But the ending of the film is formulaic. I wanted it to end up the way it did (mostly), but when it did I was disappointed by the way it was handled.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Iron Man 3' - Comic Book Drama with Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley.
    Plot Intro: A mad scientist comes up with a plan to raise humanity to the next level of evolution.
    Review: Love Iron Man. Some of the first part of the film isn't well thought out, but overall the film is very good.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • My Review of My review of "Iron Man 2" (2010).
  • My Review of My review of "Iron Man" (2008).
  • 'Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?' - Animated feature/documentary with Noam Chomsky, Michel Gondry. Written and directed by Michel Gondry.
    Plot Intro: Gondry interviews and converses with Chomsky. Then he added animation to it.
    Review: Interesting animation and interesting conversation. Not sure I agree with Chomsky on certain points.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Jack the Giant Slayer' - Fantasy romance with Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane.
    Plot Intro: Jack trades his cart horse for some magic beans. The trader says, "Don't get them wet." He does. As a result, he has to rescue a princess and stop a giant invasion.
    Review: Based on the advertising and trailers, I didn't quite know whether the film would be good or bad. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the film was. Very good. A lot of fun.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Lone Ranger' - Western comedy with Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Root, .
    Plot Intro: A man is deputized by his brother as a Texas Ranger, but everyone in the troop--except him--are killed in an ambush. He seeks revenge.
    Review: The screenwriter(s) took a few events in history -- the discovery of silver, the building of a cross-continent railroad, war with the Native Americans -- and they build a story about the Lone Ranger around them. Tonto should have been portrayed differently.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Man of Steel' - Science-Fiction/Fantasy Drama with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Kostner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, .
    Plot Intro: The impending explosion of the planet Krypton causes new parents to attempt desperate measures of sending their son to another world. He is raised by a couple in Kansas, but his special abilities are noticed, and survivors of the planet Krypton track him down.
    Review: Though some details of the story are familiar, most of the action is so different from other dramatizations of the story that it is difficult to follow.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Monsters University' - Animated feature with Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Dave Foley, Alfred Molina.
    Plot Intro: With dreams in their heads of becoming scarers, young monsters go to Monsters University for training.
    Review: The first thought that struck me when I heard that Pixar was doing a prequel to "Monsters, Inc" was that Pixar was running out of ideas. Most prequels are not nearly as good as the movie they are related to, and I thought "Monsters University" would be an animated version of "Old School" - a movie I've never enjoyed. I am a big fan of "Monsters, Inc". I think it is a perfect film. I was pleasantly surprised by "Monsters University". Many humorous moments, and Crystal and Goodman are genius at voicing the lines in the script. Still, it isn't quite as good as the original.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My Review of "Monsters, Inc." (2001)
  • 'Nebraska' - Drama with Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte, Stacy Keach. Black and white.
    Plot Intro: An elderly man is found by the highway patrol walking down the freeway. He thinks he has won one of those clearinghouse sweepstakes. But he has dementia. His son takes him on a road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska.
    Review: Dern, Forte, and Squibb are great in this film. The movie will speak to people with elderly parents or friends.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Oz the Great and Powerful' - Fantasy with James Franco, Zach Braff, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Abigail Spencer.
    Plot Intro: A struggling magician escapes from a circus, only to find himself entrapped in a fantastical land of magic. He is duped by two sisters, but he is given the true story by the third sister.
    Review: Good special effects. As the film goes on, the Disney touch is very evident (not necessarily in a good way). Definitely more of a children's film. Some scenes reminiscent of "The March of the Wooden Soldiers".
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Pacific Rim' - Science Fiction.
    Plot Intro: Aliens have been laying low, but they have begun to clone dinosaur-like monsters which attack cities around the Pacific rim and create havoc.
    Review: Silly and far-fetched. The hand-to-hand fights between the humans are hard to watch because they are so slow, and the battles with the cloned monsters are totally unbelievable. Why do a large portion of the battles with the monsters end up in a boxing or wrestling match - an MMA fight at a large level? Very little use of weapons.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Parker' - Drama with Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Michael Childris, Wendell Pierce.
    Plot Intro: Robbery at a State Fair. One of the crew is left for dead.
    Review: Statham is one of my favorite action movie star. For some reason, the pairing with Lopez seems off. Some of the robbery crew also seem out of place - actors who don't seem to fit the part. However, Statham is dead-on as usual.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' - Fantasy with Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddano, Stanley Tucci.
    Plot Intro: Percy must stop the resurrection of Chronos and the destruction of Mount Olympus.
    Review: The logic in some parts of the plot hold back this movie. At one point they pilot a ship through an opening, but there is a gushing torrent of water coming against them. The special effects for the young Cyclops isn't very good. The actors are likeable. The script needed a little more work.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of 'Percy Jackson and the Lighning Thief' (2010)
  • 'Philomena' - Drama with Judi Dench, Steve Coogan. Screenplay by Steve Coogan. Directed by Stephen Frears.
    Plot Intro: A journalist helps an elderly Irish woman find her son who had been sold to Americans by the nuns.
    Review: Based on a true story. Irish nuns sold Irish babies (even though their mothers were alive) to American parents for 1000 pounds. Even Jayne Russell bought an Irish "orphan". Coogan and Dench are excellent, and the story is fascinating. Philomena is more saintly than any of the nuns in that convent.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Planes' - Animated feature with Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Val Kilmer, Sinbad.
    Plot Intro: A crop-duster wants to win a big race.
    Review: Disney tries to catch lightning in a bottle like they did with Cars and Cars 2. It doesn't totally work this time.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'R.I.P.D.' - With Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon.
    Plot Intro: A cop is killed by his partner. After his death he finds out there is a plot to bring all of the evil dead back.
    Review: Kind of an odd film. It felt a little like "Men in Black".
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Rush' - Drama with Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde. Directed by Ron Howard.
    Plot Intro: The competition of Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the 1970s Formula 3 and Formula 1 Racing.
    Review: Tour de force. Excellent movie. Deserved whatever honors it received. The story of Niki Lauda is harrowing and courageous.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Saving Mr. Banks' - Drama with Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, BJ Novak, Jason Schwartzman.
    Plot Intro: Walt Disney made a promise to his daughters to bring the story of Mary Poppins to the screen. After 20 years of offers and negotiating, he finally has the author, PL Travers, in California to work on the script. Then the real trouble begins.
    Review: Excellent film which deals with the psychological baggage people may carry with them from their childhood.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' - Romantic comedy-adventure with Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Adam Scott. Directed by Ben Stiller. Based on the story by James Thurber
    Plot Intro: In the middle of layoff, the manager of photo negatives of LIFE magazine can't find one of the negatives sent to him by one of the magazine's most important photographers. He goes to great lengths to find the negative.
    Review: First I want to say that I really liked this film. Stiller and Wiig are very likeable, and the photography is breathtaking at times. I liked it even though there are many inconsistencies in the script. I don't consider the volcano sequence to be possible, and I'm pretty sure Mitty/Stiller was not carrying a satellite phone while he was in the Himalayas, and I'm sure that all professional photographers would use slide film. Other problems came to mind while I watched the movie, but overall I liked it enough to recommend it.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'This Is The End' - Comedy with James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Adam Pally.
    Plot Intro: It's the apocalypse, and several actors find refuge in James Franco's house.
    Review: The film contains some of today's young comedy actors, writers, and directors. It's basically a takeoff or satire of the common idea that at some point good people will be taken to heaven, and bad people will be left on Earth to be hunted down by demons. At the end is a satire on the concept of heaven. Not for everyone's taste. The film contains a lot of foul language and demon imagery and activity.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Thor: The Dark World' - Fantasy with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Zachary Levi, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings. Stellan Skarsgård.
    Plot Intro: Thor has to save the world again.
    Review: I find that movies about Thor have no interest for me, even when I'm watching them.
    Rating: starstarno starno star
  • My Review of 'Thor' (2011)
  • 'Tim's Vermeer' - A documentary with Tim Jenison, Penn Jillette, Teller, Martin Mull.
    Plot Intro: A multi-millionaire becomes obsessed with Vermeer paintings. He decides he wants to paint a Vermeer. He chose one of Vermeer's paintings. Then he learned how to make stained glass, furniture, optical lenses, etc. It took 213 days to perfectly duplicate the room in the painting. Then he had to learn how to make the paint and then how to actually paint.
    Review: Amazing and fascinating. Jenison's efforts are for the purposes of proving that Vermeer used a certain technique. Though it may raise concerns of forgery perpetrated by others. In a studio with controlled light, this technique could be used a certain number of hours a day, but Vermeer painted the skyline of a Dutch city - for which the light would change very quickly each day. Tim Jenison took months to paint a copy of a Vermeer using natural light from a northern window. How long would it take to paint a skyline? Still fascinating.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Turbo' - Animated feature with Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph.
    Plot Intro: A snail gets supercharged and is entered into the Indianapolis 500.
    Review: Might be good for kids.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'We're The Millers' - Comedy with Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms.
    Plot Intro: A drug dealer owes his supplier a lot of money after being robbed, and he has to go to Mexico to smuggle drugs back to the US in order to pay his death.
    Review: Not much is funny in this film. Aniston keeps her head.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'White House Down' - Drama with Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods.
    Plot Intro: Personal grudges and politics lead to the takeover of the White House. A guy who wanted to join the Secret Service defends the President against all action.
    Review: The plot is ridiculous most of the time, but the action is exciting. Very reminiscent of 'Die Hard'.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Wolverine' - Sci-fi with Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Famke Janssen.
    Plot Intro: The Wolverine is invited to Japan to meet with a man he saved at the end of World War 2. When he gets there the man's grand-daughter is attacked by the Yakuza, and the Wolverine defends her.
    Review: The plot stretches credibility, but that's what sci-fi is supposed to do. Right?
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    Movies of 2012

    'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
    Plot Intro: Lincoln's mother dies from a vampire attack, and he vows revenge.
    Review: Kind of ridiculous twisting of some historical events into a vampire horror film.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'The Amazing Spider-Man' - With Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field.
    Plot Intro: How Spider-Man became Spider-Man. In this version, he fights a mad scientist who changes his body.
    Review: Special effects are good. I found Garfield to be too quirky. There wasn't enough of Stone. The story seemed to be kind of choppy in parts.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' (2014)
  • 'Anna Karenina' - Drama with Keira Knightley, Jude Law.
    Plot Intro: A young mother has an affair that ruins her life.
    Review: More style than substance. Costumes, editing, photography, and set decoration dominated over acting. Not impressed.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Arthur Christmas' - Animated feature with Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Eva Longoria, Joan Cusack, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane, Laura Linney.
    Plot Intro: The younger son of Santa Claus tries to save Christmas for the one child who was missed.
    Review: Creative script. There are two living Santas and two of the next generation. Which one has the true holiday spirit.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Avengers' - Comic-book fantasy with Samuel L Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Clark Gregg.
    Plot Intro: Loki is at it again with a plan to conquer Earth with the help of an extra-terrestrial army. The Avengers must come to the rescue.
    Review: Uneven with a murky script. Fans of this kind of comic book or film may like it more. I've enjoyed some of the movies in this genre, but I had trouble with this one. It just seemed kind of pointless.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Beasts of the Southern Wild' - Drama with Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Gina Montana.
    Plot Intro: A girl and her father have to survive a major storm on the wrong side of the levee near New Orleans.
    Review: You have to get past the first 20 or so minutes. During the first third of the film I was wondering what all the great reviews were about. But by the middle of the film I could see what they were talking about. You have to ignore the story - which is kind of disjointed, and you have to concentrate on the scenes between the girl and father. By the end of the film I thought they both should have won the Oscar. Wallis displays so many emotions in just a few seconds, and it all looks natural. Very impressive. I was equally impressed by Dwight Henry. He should have received a nomination.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Bourne Legacy' - Drama with Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach, Rachel Weisz.
    Plot Intro: The CIA is trying to shut down Treadstone by killing anyone who had even the slightest link with the program. One of the last Treadstone operatives helps a scientist survive.
    Review: Murky script that takes a while to get going. One thing I can say is that the photography isn't quite as jerky as the last Bourne movie, making it easier to watch. At first the film puts together clips from previous films to show that the action is taking place near the same time as the other films. Then it branches off to deal with another Treadstrone operative. The clips from the previous films are clips from better films.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of Jason Bourne (2016)
  • My review of Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  • My review of Bourne Supremacy (2004)
  • My review of Bourne Identity (2002).
  • 'Brave' - Animated feature with Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, John Ratzenberger.
    Plot Intro: A princess is being pressured into marriage by her mother, the queen. She gets a cake from a witch which changes her mother completely.
    Review: Excellent graphics. Interesting story. Another Pixar quality film.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Campaign' - With Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dan Ackroyd, John Lithgow, Dylan McDermott.
    Plot Intro: A candidate who has growing scandals finds that a squeeky-clean opponent has appeared.
    Review: The average campaign for office on steroids. Foul language and bried nudity. Some good scenes, some offensive scenes. Best seen as a rental - or not at all.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Casa de mi Padre' - With Will Ferrell, Genesis Rodriguez, Diego Luna, Nick Offerman.
    Plot Intro: The youngest son of a Mexican rancher finds out his older brother is going into the drug trade and is marrying a beautiful woman he falls in love with.
    Review: Funny film. In Spanish with subtitles. Tongue in cheek. It is supposed to be a low cost film - with the resulting "continuity" problems - all in the Spanish language. Examples: The Rodriguez character starts walking across a room in one dress and ends on the other side of the room in another dress. A portrait of Ferrell's dead mother shows her holding a fake baby. Ferrell's character begins to pick up a live calf and ends up picking up a plastic calf. The film is filled with these kinds of things. So, while these things may make the film uneven, it is also pretty funny.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Dark Knight Rises' - Comic book drama with Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ann Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Marion Cotillard, William Devane, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
    Plot Intro: Batman must fight another super-villain.
    Review: Third in the Bale-Batman series. Based on the comic book character. I don't like Batman's motorcycle. It's not maneuverable enough for what he needs to do. Kind of irks me when I'm watching it.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of "Batman" (1989).
  • My review of "Batman Returns" (1992).
  • My review of "Batman Forever" (1995).
  • My review of "Batman & Robin" (1997).
  • My review of "Batman Begins" (2005).
  • My review of "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012).
  • 'Dark Shadows' - With Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Alice Cooper. Directed by Tim Burton.
    Plot Intro: Barnabas Collins returns after being buried for around 200 years.
    Review: Very funny. Depp gives another one of his great performances.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Five-Year Engagement' - Romantic comedy with Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, Allison Brie.
    Plot Intro: A couple meet, get engaged, and begin to plan their wedding, but events related to friends and family (and their careers) cause them to keep postponing their wedding.
    Review: I can watch any film with Emily Blunt. That said, it was kind of hard to watch a couple get squeezed into decision after decision until they end up in a place where only one is thriving (kind of). Then when they finally get to a point where they are happy, they are working together on the husband's career. The wedding was cute.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Frankenweenie' - Animated feature with Wynona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan. In black and white.
    Plot Intro: A boy's dog is hit by a car, and after being inspired by his science teacher he brings the dog back to life. Problem is that he can't keep that a secret.
    Review: Another light horror movie for kids. Somewhat entertaining. Kids might like it better than I did. Parents won't hate to see it.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Here Comes The Boom' - With Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan.
    Plot Intro: A biology teacher resorts to fighting cage matches in order to raise money for the school band and other extra-curricular activities.
    Review: Somewhat entertaining. The final move by James's character was impressive. Hayek looks great in the film - stunning. The film is entertaining.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Hitchcock' - Bio-pic with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Toni Collette, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Kurtwood Smith.
    Plot Intro: Alfred Hitchcock is searching around for his next project. He decides on a book called 'Psycho'. He just has to get everyone on board.
    Review: The legends of the legendary director are dramatized in the film. Hopkins makes a valiant attempt to portray Hitchcock, but Hitchcock was such an iconic and unique personality.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' - With Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch.
    Plot Intro: Bilbo, the Hobbit, goes on a journey with thirteen dwarves and the wizard Gandalf.
    Review: Some parts of the movie were good, and other parts were beyond ridiculous. Jackson usually gets makeup, set decoration, and costumes right, and this movie was no exception. It's the script where he fails. People will say, "Movies are a different medium." But Jackson strays way too far from the original story, adding things like goblin-warg chasers, rock giants, and falling from extreme heights without even a bruise. It makes Tolkien look ridiculous. I was thinking, "This isn't too bad" until the sides of the mountain became rock giants. Pretty ridiculous. How could anyone have survived all the tossing around? And the fall inside the mountain was ridiculous, too. They must have thought that LotR was more exciting because of a chase (black riders), so Jackson added a chase in the movie by Azog and goblins. The problem is that goblins can't stand sunlight. It makes their legs like jelly. (Only the orcs developed later by Saruman can stand the sun.) At least there wasn't dwarf tossing or extreme extended close-ups, but then again there are still two movies to come out, so Jackson still has a chance to make that mistake, too.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • The Chronology of "The Lord of the Rings" (a 66 kb. Excel spreadsheet)
  • Chronology of "The Hobbit"
  • My "The Hobbit" Differences Page
  • "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014)
  • "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013)
  • My review of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
  • "The Fellowship of the Ring" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Two Towers" (2002)
  • "The Two Towers" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • My review of "The Return of the King" (2003)
  • "The Return of the King" Differences Page - differences between the book and the movie
  • 'Hotel Transylvania' - Animated feature with Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Jon Lovitz.
    Plot Intro: Father wants to protect his daughter, since he is still grieving for the loss of his wife, the mother of their only child. But he goes a little too far.
    Review: A Halloween-related feature. Well-animated. Probably entertaining for pre-teens and young teens.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Hunger Games' - Futuristic fantasy with Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson.
    Plot Intro: In a futuristic society, a girl and boy, aged 12-18, are chosen to compete in The Hunger Games, during which all but one end up dead. A girl volunteers to take the place of her 12-year old sister.
    Review: A good movie - one of many futuristic totalitarian society movies that have been coming out lately. First of three books - four movies - by the author Suzanne Collins.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Jack Reacher' - Drama with Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Richard Denkins, Robert Duvall.
    Plot Intro: During interrogation, a mass murderer writes the words 'Get Jack Reacher' on a pad. No one knows how to get in touch with Reacher, but he suddenly appears. A former member of the military police, he begins investigating the crime. The situation is more complicated than the evidence indicates.
    Review: Above average action-mystery film. Cruise and Pike are very good. All the supporting cast are very good also. The movie was better than I expected.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Life of Pi' - With Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain. Directed by Ang Lee.
    Plot Intro: A college professor tells the story of his life - part of which included survival in a lifeboat with a tiger.
    Review: Some of the visuals in the movie are amazing. Well worth watching just for the graphics. Nominated for Best Picture Academy Award. The story may lack some logic. Personally, I think the "real" story is the one he tells at the end in the hospital room.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Lincoln' - With Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones.
    Plot Intro: Abraham Lincoln's struggle to get the 13th Amendment passed.
    Review: The best film of 2012 that I've seen. Daniel Day-Lewis seems like he's channeling Lincoln. He must have studied the photographs of Lincoln extensively, because his posture is so dead on. Field and him have some excellent scenes. I expect the film to get the Best Film Academy Award, and I expect Day-Lewis to get Best Actor. Field will get nominated and maybe Strathairn and Jones. The costumes and set design will probably get nominated as well. Watching the film is almost like stepping into 1865 (at least my concept of what it must have been like).
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'The Lorax' - Animated feature with Danny DeVito, Zach Ephron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle.
    Plot Intro: A young man wants to impress a neighbor girl by finding a tree, something that everyone assumes no longer exists. He leaves his town and finds a person who can help him - the elderly man who when he was young invented something that led to the destruction of all trees.
    Review: Another translation of a Dr. Seuss book to the big screen. A film with a message. Corporations run by committees, groups who are only concerned with profits and stock prices, groups who are coerced by circumstances to ignore whether what they are doing will cause harm to the Earth in the long run, are a danger to our survival.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Men in Black 3' - Science fiction with Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Emma Thompson, Josh Brolin, Alice Eve, Jemaine Clemente. Also known as "MIB3".
    Plot Intro: An alien escapes from his prison on the moon, and he travels back in time to kill Agent K so that he can get his arm back and enable an invasion of Earth.
    Review: Good special effects. Alice Eve looks great, as usual. I liked the ending. Totally unexpected.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Moonrise Kingdom' - Romantic comedy with Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel. Written and directed by Wes Anderson.
    Plot Intro: Two young teenagers fall in love and run away. Their parents and friends search for them.
    Review: Quirky script, photography, and acting. Typical of an Anderson film. Fun to watch.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'ParaNorman' - Animated feature with Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Abrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Tempestt Bledsoe, John Goodman.
    Plot Intro: A boy can talk to the dead, and he must save his town from a witch's curse.
    Review: Didn't do much for me. If you like animated horror, you would probably like it more than me.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Pirates! Band of Misfits' - Animated feature with Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Al Roker.
    Plot Intro: The story of one pirate's quest for the 'Pirate of the Year' award. It's the story of a pirate and his parrot - er, dodo.
    Review: Another Aardman feature. You always know you'll be entertained by Aardman. I thought it could have been better somehow.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Pitch Perfect' - With Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins.
    Plot Intro: A freshman joins a sorority and finds herself in an a capella competition at the school.
    Review: The singing is most of the entertainment in the movie.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • Review of Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
  • 'The Raven' - With John Cusack, Alice Eve.
    Plot Intro: Edgar Allen Poe's writings are being re-enacted by a madman. The police solicit Poe's help to solve the crimes.
    Review: Dark, Well acted. Poe's death is mysterious. Good records were not kept, and some conditions like alcoholism were covered up. This is one attempt to fill in the gaps with a good story.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' - Romantic drama with Steve Carell, Kiera Knightley, Connie Britton (sp?), Rob Corddry, Martin Sheen.
    Plot Intro: Scientists report that an asteroid is going to hit Earth. The final attempt to deflect it failed, and everyone on Earth knows that they have a few weeks to live. Now what?
    Review: The movie attempts to portray how different people would respond to the situation. Not sure it is totally successful..
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Skyfall' - With Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem.
    Plot Intro: An evil genius has the idea to bring down the British Secret Service through his ability to program a super computer he has hidden away.
    Review: I had always thought that the stylish Sean Connery was the best James Bond, but I don't think the style of the 1960s James Bond would fit today. Daniel Craig is the best James Bond. The others seem out of date for the types of movies that are released today. Concerning "Skyfall": Some of my friends say that it is the best of the Daniel Craig films. I can't really say that. It seemed formulaic to me. I think "Casino Royale" is better. But "Skyfall" is an excellent film.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • Bond1. My review of "Dr. No" (1962).
  • Bond2. My review of "From Russia With Love" (1963).
  • Bond3. My review of "Goldfinger" (1964).
  • Bond4. My review of "Thunderball" (1965).
  • Bond5. My review of "You Only Live Twice" (1967).
  • Bond6. My review of "Casino Royale" (1967).
  • Bond7. My review of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969).
  • Bond8. My review of "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971).
  • Bond9. My review of "Live and Let Die" (1973).
  • Bond10. My Review of "The Man With The Golden Gun" (1974).
  • Bond11. My review of "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977).
  • Bond12. My review of "Moonraker" (1979).
  • Bond13. My review of "For Your Eyes Only" (1981).
  • Bond14. My review of "Octopussy" (1983).
  • Bond15. My review of "Never Say Never Again" (1983).
  • Bond16. My review of "A View To A Kill" (1985).
  • Bond17. My review of "The Living Daylights" (1987).
  • Bond18. My review of "License to Kill" (1989).
  • Bond19. My review of "GoldenEye" (1995).
  • Bond20. My review of "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997).
  • Bond21. My review of "The World Is Not Enough" (1997).
  • Bond22. My review of "Casino Royale" (2006).
  • Bond23. My review of "Quantum of Solace" (2008).
  • Bond25. My review of "Spectre" (2015).
  • 'Snow White and the Huntsman' - Fantasy drama with Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins.
    Plot Intro: An evil woman becomes the step-mother of a young princess. She kills her husband, the princess's father, and takes over his kingdom. Then she imprisons the princess. The evil queen sends her brother to bring the princess to her, but the princess escapes into a haunted dark forest. The evil queen hires a huntsman to track the princess down.
    Review: Interesting twist on the usual version of Snow White. Some good special effects.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Three Stooges' - Comedy with Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David. Directed by the Farrelly Brothers.
    Plot Intro: The Three Stooges have to save the orphanage.
    Review: I wasn't expecting much, but at times I was laughing out loud. Having Moe on The Jersey Shore was very funny. Larry David was very funny as well. Vergara works hard, but she seems out of place here.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Total Recall' - Science Fiction with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel.
    Plot Intro: An everyday worker is having nightmares, so he decides to go to a facility to have new dreams-memories implanted in his brain. He becomes a target.
    Review: Entertaining version of the story. Farrell, Beckinsale, and Biel are very good.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Trouble With The Curve' - Drama with Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake.
    Plot Intro: An aging scout is losing his sight. His daughter is working hard to become a partner in a law firm. She takes time to go on his last scouting trip to the Carolinas.
    Review: Eastwood, Adams, and Timberlake are good together in the film. Well-written.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    '21 Jump Street' - Comedy drama with Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube, Chris Parnell, Ellie Kemperer.
    Plot Intro: Two detectives are sent to high school to investigate a drug ring.
    Review: A silly version of a detective film, but that's all many films are these days.
    Rating: starstarno starno star
  • My review of '22 Jump Street' (2014)
  • 'Wreck-It Ralph' - Animated feature with John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, Ed O'Neill.
    Plot Intro: Wreck-It Ralph is a bad guy in an arcade game who wants to be good, but his major talent is wrecking things. He nearly wrecks all of the arcade games by his efforts.
    Review: Great graphics and some clever twists make this film entertaining and fun to watch. The voices for the characters are great as well.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Zero Dark Thirty' - With Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler.
    Plot Intro: The hunt for Osama bin Laden.
    Review: A dramatization of one possible explanation of how Osama bin Laden was tracked down. I'm sure many of the high points are vouched for and documented, but details like conversations and other events are filled in. It was hard for me to watch because it seemed that half the movie was torture.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    Movies of 2011

    '50/50' - With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Angelica Huston, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall.
    Plot Intro: A young, health-conscious man is diagnosed with cancer. His friend tries to keep his spirits up. He also goes into counseling at the recommendation of his doctor.
    Review: Excellent. Humorous at times. Very moving at times. Highly recommended. Rated 'R' in the US. Mostly for language. There is a love scene, but it is very short, very dark, and there is virtually no nudity.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'The Adjustment Bureau' - With Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp.
    Plot Intro: Two people meet and fall in love, but according to the "plan" they weren't supposed to meet.
    Review: I really liked this film. It starts out political, but it's not a political film. It's a romance wrapped in a fantasy. The film is very well-written. Emily Blunt and Matt Damon are so natural. I always considered Matt Damon to be a great actor (and he is excellent in this film), but Emily Blunt really impressed me. Watching Blunt was a pleasure. It looked like she got into her character. Both Damon and Blunt are very natural and believable. Recommended.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Anonymous' - With Vanessa Redgrave, Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall, David Thewliss, Jamie Campbell Bower, Derek Jacobi.
    Plot Intro: The Earl of Oxford wrote plays and hired Shakespeare as his "front" man.
    Review: First, let me say, that I like costume dramas, and I liked the film on that basis. Second, The movie fleshes out the Edward de Vere (17th Earl of Oxford) theory of the authorship of the works of Shakespeare. Whether Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him is a thorny question. Most scholars do not doubt his authorship, and they consider the Oxfordian theory a fringe theory. So while I watched the film, I kept wondering how many viewing the film would accept the whole thing without research. Third, one of the problems I had with the movie was that it jumped around a lot, and many times there wasn't a way to know what period the story had gone to. Fourth, aside from these concerns, like I said, I liked the film to a certain extent.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Artist' - With Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Malcolm McDowell, Bill Fagerbakke. Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius. In B&W.
    Plot Intro: An actor who was very successful in silent films has to adjust when sound comes in. Before the end of the silents, he meets a young actress who becomes successful in sound pictures.
    Review: Black and white with virtually no sound made by the actors. The only sound is the soundtrack and a few scenes with various sounds. There are some clever scenes - like the one with Bejo and the coat, and the one with Dujardin and the tuxedo window display. Dujardin and Bejo are excellent. The film won the Best Film Academy Award.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Bad Teacher' - With Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins.
    Plot Intro: A teacher quits her job, and then her fiance breaks up with her, so she has to go back to teaching. Her goal is to get a rich husband, and to get a rich husband she wants breast augmentation.
    Review: More of an adult film (some nudity).
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' - Romantic comedy/drama with Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel, Tina Desai.
    Plot Intro: Responding to the advertisement of a retirement community in India, several retired people in England travel to their new home. Not everyone is happy with each other or with the living arrangements.
    Review: It's fun to see all of these great actors together.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015).

    'The Big Year' - Romantic-comedy-drama with Steve Martin, Jack Black, John Cleese, Owen Wilson, Rosamund Pike, Kevin Pollack, Joel McHale, JoBeth Williams, Dianne Wiest, Brian Dennehy, Anthony Anderson, Jim Parsons, Angelica Huston, Rashida Jones, Corbin Bernson.
    Plot Intro: "Birders" have the goal to see the most bird species of anyone in a year. For some it becomes an obsession.
    Review: Entertaining. Somewhat funny. Somewhat romantic.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Blitz' - With Jason Statham, Luke Evans, Zawe Ashton, Paddy Considine.
    Plot Intro: Police in southeast London are being killed by a psycho. Detective Sergeant Tom Brant tracks him down.
    Review: Statham is great. The movie is kind of like a British version of Dirty Harry.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Bridemaids' - With Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jill Clayburgh, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy.
    Plot Intro: Two bridesmaids compete for the affections of a bride.
    Review: Not funny. Advertised as a humorous road film for bridesmaids, but it's really a film about the downward spiral of a maid of honor.
    Rating: starhalf starno starno star

    'Captain America: The First Avenger' - With Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell.
    Plot Intro: A short scrawny guy can't get into the military in 1942 until he's taken into a special program. He's injected with an experimental drug, and he becomes Captain America.
    Review: Much like "Thor" in that it's a setup for future films. Some of the film is good, but it seems long in parts.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Cars 2' - Animated feature with Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Olivia Holt, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Brent Musburger, Joe Montegna, Peter Jacobsen, Bonnie Hunt, Darryl Waltrip, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin.
    Plot Intro: Lightning McQueen agrees to a series of races to determine a world championship, and Mater is mistaken for an Americna agent.
    Review: The story in the first one is a little better. The second film tries to out-do the first one, and just get too involved. Still fun to watch.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My Review of Cars (2006)
  • 'Cinema Verite' - Drama with Tim Robbins, Diane Lane, James Gandolfini. Made by HBO.
    Plot Intro: In the early 1970s, a film crew follows a California family around, making a documentary that becomes an early reality show.
    Review: Based somewhat on the first reality show aired about the Loud family, though how many details are true (other than the fact that a series about the Loud family was filmed). The film attempts to deal with some issues that might have come up during the creation of a new reality show - when that had never been done before.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Columbiana' - With Zoe Saldana, Lennie James, Michael Vartan.
    Plot Intro: Her parents were killed when she was nine, and she wants revenge.
    Review: Saldana is pretty good. The movie is pretty good, too.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Cowboys & Aliens' - With Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine.
    Plot Intro: Aliens come to earth in seach of gold. They like to capture and torture people. A man comes to town, and he helps the townspeople deal with the aliens.
    Review: If you like Craig and Ford (and the other actors) you may like the film. I couldn't get past the weird story. Unlike anything I've seen. But it may be worth a rental.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Crazy Stupid Love' - Romance with Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Josh Groban, Julianna Guill.
    Plot Intro: On the way home, a wife asks for a divorce. The husband is taken under the "wing" of a younger ladies' man. He learns that he had begun to take things for granted when it comes to love.
    Review: Carell plays this kind of character well. Moore, Gosling, Stone, and Tomei are great. It goes through a rough patch in the middle, but it ends OK.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Descendants' - With George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Amara Miller.
    Plot Intro: The head of a foundation finds out that his estranged wife has had an accident and is on life support. The foundation controls a large amount of untouched land on one of the Hawaiian islands. He has to deal with two out-of-control daughters. One of his daughters lets him know that his wife was having an affair. Things get kind of complicated.
    Review: Very good film. Recommended but with a warning about language. Clooney and Woodley are very good as is Forster.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Dolphin Tale' - With Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson.
    Plot Intro: A young dolphin is found on the beach wrapped up in rope from a crab trap. The tail has to be amputated. Then the challenge is to help the dolphon swim.
    Review: The first half is definitely geared for kids. It never loses the kid-oriented feel, but the second half - when they are trying to develop a prosthesis - is somewhat moving.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Eagle' - With Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell, Tahar Rahim. Based on the 1954 novel "The Eagle of the Ninth" by Rosemary Sutcliff
    Plot Intro: A young centurion is trying to live with the humiliation his father brought to his family when he marched north of Hardrian's Wall to attempt to subdue the local population, but instead he was never heard from again - and the eagle was lost. A rumor comes that one of the northern tribes uses the eagle in ceremonies. So the young centurion goes on a journey to get the eagle back.
    Review: I didn't know what to expect when I began watching "The Eagle". I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it brought this period to life. The costumes (including uniforms and weapons), the set design (including the Roman city, fortress, and villages north of Hadrians Wall), and the dialogue -- all add up to a movie that can be engrossing. The acting by the main characters is excellent.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' - With Nicholas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba.
    Plot Intro: The devil must get a new body. His son is ready, but the mother is not. The Ghost Rider attempts to stop the kidnapping of the boy.
    Review: A little more elaborate than the first one. It's a good addition to have the Ghost Rider drive/ride more than just a motorcycle. Entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of 'The Ghost Rider'
  • 'Gnomeo and Juliet' - Animated feature with James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzie Osbourne, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan.
    Plot Intro: The reds and blues are feuding, and blue Gnomeo meets red Juliet. They fall in love.
    Review: The film is entertaining. It is a good film from beginning to end. Of course, the end of the original story was changed, but that's Disney. Great for kids. Includes some good Elton John songs.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Green Hornet' - With Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz.
    Plot Intro: The Green Hornet fights crime while everyone else sees him as a master criminal.
    Review: I like Seth Rogen, but in this film he was kind of awkward in certain scenes. I did find parts of the film entertaining.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Green Lantern' - With Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett.
    Plot Intro: A group of defenders called "The Green Lanterns" are on guard against evil. Hal Jordan is chosen to be a Green Lantern, and he has to defend Earth against The Parallax, which feeds on fear. As a Green Lantern, he can create anything to defend himself and others around him.
    Review: This is an excellent movie. Great graphics. Very good script. It's probably set up for a sequel.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Hanna' - With Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana.
    Plot Intro: A young girl is trained by her father to be a spy - the best one possible. Both are being hunted down.
    Review: Kind of a mix of Jason Bourne with a little science fiction thrown in. Well done.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2' - Fantasy with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Alan Rickman (Prof. Severus Snape), Tom Fenton (Draco Malfoy), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange). Based on the book by J. K. Rowling.
    Plot Intro: Harry has his final confrontation with Tom Riddle-Voldemort.
    Review: The finale of the Harry Potter series. It's a great way to end the 8-film series. The action is nearly continuous through the film, and the main actors have continued to grow in their craft.
         Though I admire the film, there were differences between the book and the movie - and other things of note:
    - In the book, Draco is accompanied by Crabbe and Goyle into the Room of Requirement. In the movie, he is accompanied by Goyle and a black student.
    - In the book, the confrontation between Voldemort and Snape was in the Shrieking Shack. In the movie, it took place in a boat house.
    - In the book, the blind dragon created it's own exit rather than go through the lobby and then the ceiling of Gringotts.
    - In the book, the Stone had been cracked by Dumbledore when he destroyed the horcrux, and the stone was still mounted in the ring. In the movie, it was an unmounted stone which has no crack.
    - In the book, the items in the Gringotts vault that increased in number also were firey hot.
    - In the book, the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort was in the Great Hall with other wizards standing around. In the movie, there were no witnesses to Voldemort's end.
    - In the book, the diadem of Ravenclaw is destroyed by the fire in the Room of Requirement. In the movie, Harry stabs it with a basilisk fang and throws it into the Room of Requirement, which is on fire.
    - In the book, Voldemort fell back, killed by his own curse. In the movie, he disintegrated.
    - In the book, there were two giants, but one of them was Grawp, Hagrid's half-brother. The movie has two or three enemy giants.
    - In the book, during the final battle, the goblins and house elves and centaurs fought against Voldemort's supporters. This was not included in the movie.
         I'm sure there are other differences, but these are the ones I can think of now. In making this list, I'm not criticizing the movie. The eight-movie series is an amazing accomplishment. I think it is matched by few other movie series.
         My understanding was that originally it was intended that there be one film. But because of the large amount of material that needed editing -- and because of financial considerations, the material was made into two films. So it may be valid that the films should be analyzed together. However, I've seen some mixed reviews about the first and second parts of HP7 (though mostly positive). Not sure I understand the criticism. I saw one review where every criticism was about something that was taken directly from the book. First, it made me wonder if some of the reviewers haven't read the books. Secondly, I think there is a prejudice of reviewers and movie-goers against movies that are blockbusters, which may have affected reactions to movies like Avatar. Thirdly, reviewers also may fall into an intellectual prejudice (if the uneducated masses are excited about it, it can't be that good). Or, fourth, a reviewer may think that his reputation will be enhanced by giving a negative review to a movie like HP7B. The reason I believe this may be the case is that while watching one reviewer on TV, it struck me that he was giving a negative review as a ploy to look like he was not influenced by hype, that he was smarter, more educated, or intellectually independent.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" (2011)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" (2009)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001) - AKA "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"
  • The HP Lexicon - some interesting reading if you are a Harry Potter fan.
  • 'The Help' - With Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Cicely Tynan, Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney. Based on the book by Kathryn Stockett. Screenplay by Tate Taylor and Kathryn Stockett. Directed by Tate Taylor.
    Plot Intro: A recent college graduate returns home to a southern town and takes a job at the local paper. She tries to get involved in the local ladies' groups, but she gets more and more disillsioned by how the local white women treat their help - the black women from the poorer side of town. She decides to write a book about the way the black women are treated, how they deal with it, and how it affects their lives.
    Review: Excellent film about one of the darker periods of the history of the United States. Excellent acting. I would give nominations to most of the cast - in particular, Stone, Davis, Howard, Spencer, and Chastain.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Hop' - With James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Hugh Laurie, David Hasselhoff, Chelsea Handler.
    Plot Intro: E.B., the son of the Easter Bunny, doesn't want to inherit the title and take over operations on Easter Island. He wants to be a drummer, so he runs away.
    Review: Obviously a film geared to children. I don't know if they were trying to do a Easter Bunny version of Santa Clause. Probably entertaining for children and those who really like bunnies. Cute enough.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Horrible Bosses' - With Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx.
    Plot Intro: Three men have to deal with horrible bosses, and they look for solutions.
    Review: One of those films that you have to watch for a long time before anything verging on humor or watchability is arrived at. This movie is on my "will not watch again" list.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Hugo' - With Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Helen McCrory. Directed by Martin Scorsese.
    Plot Intro: A boy is trained by his father as a watchmaker, but his father dies in a fire. He has to move to a train station to live with his uncle, but his uncle disappears. He has one thing to do in order to re-connect with his father: fix an automaton his father found at the museum where he worked.
    Review: I really enjoyed this film. It was promoted as if it's a kids film, but it isn't. All ages should enjoy the film. Somewhat moving at the end.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Ironclad' - With Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Kate Mara, Derek Jacobi.
    Plot Intro: King John, son of Henry II and brother of Richard the Lionhearted, is forced to sign the Magna Carta, but then the pope declares that it is invalid, and John begins to war on his nobles again. A small group of rebels hold out to defend the historic document. They are waiting for the French invasion force.
    Review: Mostly a war picture with a little romance in the middle. Pretty violent. Some nudity. And Giamatti gets pretty loud (though it is consistent with his character). I am interested in this part of English history, but this film wasn't very enjoyable to watch.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Johnny English Reborn' - With Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike.
    Plot Intro: Johnny English must save the world from a plot to assassinate the world's leaders for money.
    Review: Atkinson reprises his role as Johnny English. If you like Atkinson or if you enjoyed the first film, you'd probably like the second film.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of 'Johnny English' (2003)
  • 'Just Go With It' - With Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Brooklyn Decker, Dave Matthews, Rachel Dratch, Minka Kelly.
    Plot Intro: A guy who has a bad experience with a fiance starts using his wedding ring to meet women. Then he meets the girl of his dreams, and one thing leads to another. He has to create a fake family and take them on a trip to Hawaii.
    Review: Kind of like a B-movie or a TV movie.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Killer Elite' - With Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro, Yvonne Strahovski, Clive Owen.
    Plot Intro: After a member of their team is kidnapped, a group of assassins begin killing the men who supposedly killed three brothers.
    Review: The action scenes are good, but for some reason I just couldn't get into it.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Larry Crowne' - With Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Rob Riggle, Rita Wilson, Cedric the Entertainer, Pam Grier, Brian Cranston, Ian Gomez, Wilmer Valderrama.
    Plot Intro: Larry is laid off. Management says it's because he has no potential for advancing into managemen, since he never took a college course He starts taking college courses, and he makes new friends.
    Review: Not the best that Hanks and Roberts have done, but overall it is watchable, pleasant film. A romantic comedy. This is the first film I've seen with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She was a pleasant surprise.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Limitless' - With Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro.
    Plot Intro: A wannabe writer is given a pill that changes his life. He wants more pills, but he finds his supplier dead. He finds the stash, but other people want the pill, too.
    Review: Wasn't sure what to expect from the film. So many films are deceptively promoted. You never know what you're going to get. I was very pleasantly surprised by "Limitless." Very good. Cooper is excellent, and DeNiro is always good. The supporting cast makes the film above average.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Lincoln Lawyer' - With Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Ryan Phillippe, Frances Fisher, Josh Lucas.
    Plot Intro: A lawyer who is constantly on the go, mostly working out of his Lincoln Town Car, takes on a new case, but he finds himself involved in a case with an unsavory client.
    Review: Did not know what to expect from this film. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Very good film, very good suspense, good writing. Recommended.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Mechanic' - With Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn.
    Plot Intro: An assassin kills a man he respects. He then takes on a partner, his murdered friend's son.
    Review: I haven't seen all of his films, but I really like the Statham films that I've seen.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Midnight in Paris' - With Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Mimi Kennedy, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, . Written and directed by Woody Allen.
    Plot Intro: A young writer from the 21st century goes to Paris with his fiance. At midnight he meets famous people from the 1920s.
    Review: I love the concept of this film. It may be my favorite Woody Allen movie of all. Very entertaining. Beautiful photography, costumes. Excellent. I loved the film so much I watched it twice, back to back.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol' - Drama with Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner.
    Plot Intro: Someone blows up the Kremlin, and the Mission Impossible crew is blamed. The government disbands them and denies they ever existed, but they go into the Ghost Protocol - working to solve a case without government support.
    Review: Some rather hard to believe stunts, but that's why they call it Mission Impossible.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Moneyball' - With Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Kerris Dorsey.
    Plot Intro: The Oakland A's lose three players to free agency. The General Manager has to come up with a new way to pay the salaries of the team he fields. He turns to a new way of looking at stats and the value of players.
    Review: I really enjoyed the film. It's the story of Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A's. The Oakland A's were the first team to use sabermetrics in a serious way. Sabermetrics was developed by Bill James, whom I had heard about in the 1980s.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'One For The Money' - With Katherine Heigl, Debbie Reynolds, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Sherri Shepherd, Jason O'Mara, Frederick Fischler.
    Plot Intro: A girl loses her job at Macy's, and out of desperation she takes a job as a bounty hunter in her cousin's bail bonds office. Her first big case is to capture a cop who failed to appear.
    Review: The film is based on the 1994 Janet Evanovich book, a book I read a couple years after it was published. I've been a big Plum fan ever since. The movie was a pleasant surprise. Heigl was very good, as was Sherri Shepherd. Fischler fits well as Vinnie. Some may think that parts of the plot of "The Bounty Hunter" (2010) are similar to "One For the Money", but Evanovich's book is (as I said) from 1994, and the 2010 film was not based on a new plot either. Both films are watchable. "One For The Money" is more gritty. "Bounty Hunter" is about a former boyfriend going after his former girlfriend who missed her court date, and the two people traveled a lot. IMO, "Bounty Hunter" is more like "Midnight Run". "One for the Money" is about a girl who goes after a copy who is FTA (failure to appear) - rather than the other way around, and the action basically stays in and around Trenton.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Our Idiot Brother' - With Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones.
    Plot Intro: A guy gets arrested for dealing drugs. When he gets out he goes to his family. He doesn't want to live with his mother, and his sisters don't want him. Things come to a head after he causes everyone trouble.
    Review: Paul Rudd is funny at times, and the movie is humorous. A little nudity.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Paul' - With Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Krisen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, Jane Lynch. Written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Directed by Greg Mottola.
    Plot Intro: The alien who crashed in "Area 51" escapes from captivity and meets up with two guys from England who are driving a Winnebago.
    Review: Rogen is excellent - voicing Paul, and Pegg, Frost, Wiig, and Bateman are very good. Tambor and Lynch have some good scenes. Steven Spielberg has a cameo. The Special Effects creation of Paul are very well done. Not necessarily a laugh-out-loud film. Just a pleasantly humorous extra-terrestrial-alien, radical-religious-nut, over-zealous-government-agent film.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  • My review of Hot Fuzz (2007)
  • 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' - With Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Keith Richards.
    Plot Intro: The Spanish are on the trail of the Fountain of Youth. The British want to get there first.
    Review: The fourth in the series -- Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man's Chest (2006), At World's End (2007). It was great to see Cruz and Depp together. An entertaining movie.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' (2003)
  • My review of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' (2006)
  • My review of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' (2007)
  • 'Puss In Boots' - Animated feature with Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro.
    Plot Intro: Puss is a wanted cat because he was accused of a crime he didn't commit. He was betrayed by a childhood friend. Now the former friend wants to work with him again to steal magic beans and get the goose that lays the golden egg.
    Review: Some funny moments. Maybe not enough of them for some people. I found it to be somewhat entertaining.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Rango' - Animated feature with Johnny Depp, Ned Beatty, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant.
    Plot Intro: A chameleon gets separated from his family after their car hits a bump. He ends up in the desert and must deal with a mystery about water in the town of Dirt.
    Review: The movie takes some themes from "Chinatown" and "Destry Rides Again" among other films. It is basically a movie that turns small desert creatures into human-like characters. The graphics are interesting to look at - trying to figure out why they made some of the choices in animals and other creatures. Also, I was distracted from the story by trying to recognize the star behind the voice. It was difficult. It was easy to be distracted, because the film is like few films, and the story was not really engrossing. The film picked up a little after Rango reached the town of Dirt, but I didn't think that it ever took off.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Real Steel' - With Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Hope Davis.
    Plot Intro: A down-and-out robot fighter finds a robot in a junkyard, and in the process he reconnects with his estranged son.
    Review: Part "The Champion", part "Rocky", and part "Robocop". Starts slow, but it builds. Very good in the last half.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' - Sci-Fi with James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton.
    Plot Intro: The beginning of the story is told of how the Earth changed from one dominated by humans to one dominated by chimps, gorillas, and orangutans.
    Review: The original movie implied that the changed occurred because of nuclear war. This film portrays it happening because of a virus involved in a potential cure for human brain problems. That kind of change is acceptable, but the film pushes the credibility of the viewer. It was hard to believe that there were hundreds of apes in captivity in the San Francisco area (where the film takes place). The computer graphics (CGI) are one of the main things that let the film down. The main chimpanzee is not well done, and there were scenes that showed the movement of groups of apes in a way that wasn't natural. Picture in your mind how chipanzees run across the ground. The CGI people used the same motion for masses of chimpanzees climbing the side of a building.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Salmon Fishing in Yemen' - Romantic drama with Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas.
    Plot Intro: A sheikh from Yemen wants to establish salmon in his country. He hires a consulting firm in London, who contacts the British government. They assign a man to the job.
    Review: Very good film. Blunt and McGregor are great together. Waked is excellent as the sheikh.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Something Borrowed' - With Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski, Colin Egglesfield, Geoff Pierson, Jill Eikenberry, Ashley Williams.
    Plot Intro: The maid of honor has always loved the future groom of her best friend, and it turns out that he has always loved her.
    Review: I was increasingly annoyed with Egglesfield's and Goodwin's character, because they just go for what they wanted. No courage. But then I realized that life is basically that way for most people.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Super 8' - With Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard.
    Plot Intro: In a small town, kids are working on a film as a zombie project. While filming at a train station they witness a train crash. That leads to some weird events in town and a military cover-up.
    Review: Parts of the film are not believable. For example, the train crash couldn't happen the way it's filmed. (No pickup would derail a train, let alone a high-security one.) Other parts were more real. For example, the relationships of the kids. In the end, it can be described as a teen film.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Thor' - With Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård.
    Plot Intro: Thor angers his father Odin, who banishes Thor to Earth. Things get out of control back home, and Thor must save his father.
    Review: The story is a little weak. When you think about the movie after you've watched it, you realize that not much actually happened.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star
  • My review of 'Thor: The Dark World' (2014)
  • 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' - With Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds. Based on the book by John LeCarre.
    Plot Intro: There is a mole in the British Secret Service - also known as The Circus. The head of The Circus, known as Control, suspects that there is a mole. He sends one of his men behind the Iron Curtain to get info to help him figure out who it is, but the agent get shot and captured, and Control is run out of the service.
    Review: Based on the popular espionage novel by John LeCarre. It's one of my favorite books. It was dramatized in a seven hour mini-series for TV with Alec Guinness playing George Smiley. This movie is about two hours, so they had to take some short-cuts to fit the story in. There were some points in the first 30 minutes where I had to explain what was going on. One of the major things to look for is when John Hurt appears in the scene. By the time George Smiley is investigating who the mole is, John Hurt's character is dead. Anyway, after the first 30 minutes, the movie was very good. The movie was nominated for the 2011 Best Picture Academy Awards.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Unknown' - With Liam Neeson, January Jones, Diane Kruger, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella.
    Plot Intro: After his taxi crashes into the river, he is rescued by the taxi driver but ends up in a coma for four days. He tries to reconnect with his wife, but she says she's never seen him before.
    Review: "Unknown" has a similar story line to "Bourne Identity". Of course, any movie that involves amnesia will be compared to Bourne Identity.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'War Horse' - With Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch.
    Plot Intro: A father sells his son's horse into the army at the early stages of World War I, and the son vows to find it.
    Review: The first half of the movie is hampered by saccharin music and obvious attempts of the filmmaker to make the viewer care for the horse. The horse is a beautiful animal, but that's not enough. The side-trip behind the German lines takes away from the momentum of the story. Well-photographed. The film does pick up somewhat at the end.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Win Win' - With Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Melanie Lynskey, Alex Shaffer.
    Plot Intro: A down-on-his-luck attorney becomes guardian to an elderly man with memory issues. Then the elderly man's grandson arrives. It turns out the grandson is a pretty good wrestler. But then his mother arrives from Ohio.
    Review: A film that kind of grows on you. Giamatti and Ryan are very good. Lynskey has some good scenes. Shaffer is very good as a somewhat numb teenager who has been through a lot.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Winnie The Pooh' - With John Cleese, Craig Ferguson, Jim Cummings, Bud Luckey, Jack Boulter, Travis Oates, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Wyatt Dean Hall, Tom Kenny, Huell Howser.
    Plot Intro: Eeyore lost his tail, so a substitute must be found. In the meantime, a monster (a Backson) is in the Hundred Acre Woods.
    Review: I have been a fan of the original animated shorts. "I'm a little black rain cloud, of course." The animation and the voices were perfect. This movie comes close. Would be entertaining for children and those who love Pooh.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Winter in Wartime' - Foreign film, subtitled. Also known as Oorlogswinter.
    Plot Intro: A teenager in occupied Holland gradually gets involved in the resistance movement to protect a downed British pilot.
    Review: Based on a true story. Suspenseful and well-done.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'X-Men First Class' - With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt.
    Plot Intro: The beginnings of the X-Men. From World War 2 to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    Review: Good special effects.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of X-Men: Last Stand (2006).
  • My review of X2 - X-Men United (2001).
  • My review of X-Men (2000).
  • Movies of 2010

    '127 Hours' - With James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Treat Williams.
    Plot Intro: A hiker hiking through part of the slot canyons of Utah gets his arm wedged by a falling boulder for 127 hours. He has to resort to desperate measures to free himself.
    Review: Based on the true story. Well acted. recommended.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Alice In Wonderland' - With Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Ann Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Mia Wasikawska, Mairi Ella Challen.
    Plot Intro: Alice has grown up, but she falls into the hole in the tree again, and she goes back to Underland. Her friends in Underland expect her to kill the Jabberwocky and overthrow the red queen.
    Review: I found the film to be enjoyable. Very interesting to watch. Johnny Depp is great.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The American' - With George Clooney. Based on the novel "A Very Private Gentleman" by Martin Booth.
    Plot Intro: A weapons maker is tracked down in Sweden, and an attempt is made on his life. He flees to Italy, but they track him down again.
    Review: The story is an interesting and suspenseful. Clooney is very good. Filmed in Sweden and Italy with European stars. There is some nudity. Not sure why they thought the change of title from the book was necessary.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Blue Valentine' - With Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams.
    Plot Intro: A young couple tries to save their marriage by going to a nearby motel, but it's a struggle.
    Review: The story is a little hard to floow, because it goes back and forth between parts of the story ten years apart. The movie has nudity, and some other graphic scenes. Tambor's character almost seemed unnecessary to the plot.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Book of Eli' - Futuristic drama with Denzel Washington, Gary Oldham, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals.
    Plot Intro: After an apocalyptic event, a man is traveling across the continent toward the west coast with a book that one man will do anything to get.
    Review: The action scenes are good, but it's always interesting how vehicles in post-apocalyptic movies seem to have plenty of fuel, and people with guns always seem to have plenty of ammunition.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Bounty Hunter' - With Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski.
    Plot Intro: A reporter misses a court date, has her bail revoked, and becomes a fugitive - all because she is working on a story, and her main witness disappears. She is tracked down by a bounty hunter who happens to be her ex-husband. He is being chased by employees of a bookie, and she is being chased by an ex-cop who is trying to cover up the story.
    Review: The movie is a chase movie with a little bit of humor mixed in. I watched "She's Out of My League" after "Bounty Hunter", and thought that "League" was more entertaining. Might be a remake of "Midnight Run" with a couple twists.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Captain Philips' - Drama with Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi.
    Plot Intro: Somali pirates take over a cargo ship, but they leave the ship in a lifeboat with the captain of the cargo ship.
    Review: Based on the true story that occurred in 2009. Very good. Abdi is excellent, and Hanks is very good. There really isn't a weak performance.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Conspirator' - With Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Alexis Bledel.
    Plot Intro: After the Lincoln assassination, people are rounded up. One of the people is the woman who ran a boarding house where some of the conspirators met. A young lawyer is assigned to defend her in a military court.
    Review: Well-done portrayal of a disturbing true story. The incident shows that the government can use patriotism to justify anything, including coercion of witnesses and judges.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Date Night' - With Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis.
    Plot Intro: Two suburban parents go to the city for a romantic dinner, and they are caught up a blackmail plot.
    Review: Tina Fey and Steve Carell are great. There are parts of the film that are pretty funny. The rest of the film is not as funny but still entertaining.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Death at a Funeral' - Comedy with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Regina Hall, Zoe Soldana, Luke Wilson, Ron Glass, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan.
    Plot Intro: Family dynamics lead to a what is probably a unique funeral.
    Review: The only good thing to watch is Soldana, and you could do that on mute. It seems like the actors had more fun than the audience.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Despicable Me' - With Steve Carrell, Julie Andrews, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Elsie Fisher.
    Plot Intro: A man named Gru thinks he is the worst villain in the world, but he finds out that there is someone else who is vying for the "title." Gru's attempt to get back on top is complicated when he adopts three little girls.
    Review: Great animated feature. It is a sweet story. Very enjoyable to watch. Love the minions. Should have been nominated for an Academy Award. I have more fun watching "Despicable Me" than any of the features that were nominated.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star
  • My Review of Minions (2015).
  • My review of Despicable Me 2 (2013).
  • 'Dinner For Schmucks' - With Paul Rudd, Stephen Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, Larry Wilmore.
    Plot Intro: An somewhat aggressive mid-level executive tries to make it to the upper echelon in his company. The requirement for getting the upper level job is to bring an idiot to dinner.
    Review: Sometimes hard to watch, sometimes funny. Gets more humorous as it goes. I enjoyed the mice dioramas. They were apparently based on a San Francisco artist named Jeannie M. without credit, though I couldn't see the direct correlation between her art and the movie - aside from the mice.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Due Date' - With Robert Downey Jr, Zach Galifianakis.
    Plot Intro: A man is trying to fly to California for his wife's operation when he runs into a guy who is only bad luck.
    Review: The film gets more intense as it goes. Some funny moments. Others not very believable.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Easy A' - With Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow.
    Plot Intro: The English teacher gives his class an assignment to read and analyze "The Scarlet Letter." A high school senior tries to help some students who are not having a great time in school. She volunteers to let her reputation be dragged through the mud, so they can look more cool. In the process, she comes to a better understanding of what the main character of "The Scarlet Letter" went through.
    Review: Very entertaining film - mostly due to the performances by Stone, Tucci, and Clarkson - and because of the excellent writing and direction, of course. Emma Stone plays the main character, and she dominates the film. Tour de force.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Edge of Darkness' - With Mel Gibson.
    Plot Intro: A Boston cop walks out of his front door with his daughter, and the daughter is killed by a shotgun blast. At first, the police assume that he was the taget, but as he investigates her death and uncovers a situation more complicated than anyone will believe.
    Review: The mystery kind of grows. At the end, it kind of reminded me of a cross between "Conspiracy Theory" and "Payback." Mel tries to have, what sounds to be, a Boston accent. There are others who have accents and don't necessarily speak very clearly - or loudly, for that matter. Any DVD of a movie where people speak with accents should have a subtitle option.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Everything Must Go' - With Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Stephen Root, Laura Dern.
    Plot Intro: After being laid off from work, Nick Halsey drives home to find that the locks are changed and all his belongongs are on the front lawn.
    Review: I kept waiting for this movie to get better, but it just never seemed to make it over the hump. Halsey is an alcoholic who just got laid off and notified that his wife wanted a divorce, so I understood why he'd be depressed and antagonistic. But I didn't see what motivated him to change at the end, and the movie left him hanging. There isn't an indication of his direction in life. Just seemed like an odd movie.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Exporting Raymond' - Documentary with Philip Rosenthal, Max Rosenthal.
    Plot Intro: The creator of "Everybody Loves Raymond" gets involved in helping to put a Russian version on Russian TV.
    Review: Documentary about Philip Rosenthal working with a Russian TV crew to translate the US hit "Everybody Loves Raymond" to Russian TV. It is an interesting look at how humor in one nation has to be explained and explained until it finally breaks through the walls of misunderstanding and culture.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Fighter' - With Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo.
    Plot Intro: A welterweight fighter has to fight in the ring, and he has to fight his dysfunctional family, before he starts putting it together.
    Review: Based on the true story of light-welterweight boxer Micky Ward, his brother, and his family. Nominated for Academy Award for Best Film of 2011. Christian Bale was awarded the Best Actor Oscar, and Melissa Leo received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. All well-deserved. And Amy Adams is great. The film contains some foul language, and the fight scenes are violent - but that's to be expected. The fight on Charlene's porch between Charlene and Micky Ward's sisters, and the subsequent flight of George in his truck, is a very funny scene.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Gulliver's Travels' - With Jack Black, Jason Siegel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connelly, Chris O'Dowd, Catharine Tate.
    Plot Intro: A mail room clerk, recently demoted and who has a 5 year crush on a co-worker, accepts an assignment from her to do a travelogue series of articles. His boat gets sucked into a vortex, and he ends up tied to the sandy beach in a land inhabited by very small people.
    Review: This is another attempt at updating the story written by Jonathan Swift in 1726. Swift's book was a work of satire about the political situation of the time. Very few attempts to translate it to the screen capture this aspect of the story. I'd like to see a film take on the how ridiculous today's political climate is. Not sure anyone would understand it. Getting back to this film: Black is OK, Blunt and Peet are always a pleasure to watch, and the rest of the cast puts forth a good effort. And there is the obligatory Jack Black song and dance at the end.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1' - Fantasy with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Alan Rickman (Prof. Severus Snape), Tom Fenton (Draco Malfoy), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange). Based on the book by J. K. Rowling.
    Plot Intro: Harry Potter and his friends must travel around to finish what Dumbledore started, but they stumble onto something called "the Deathly Hallows" which are described in a children's story.
    Review: I've read the HP books several times, but it's been a while since I've read book 7. My impression of the movie was almost all positive. I thought they stayed very close to the book. I'm not sure whether the story would make sense to someone who hasn't read the book. The twist from horcrux to hallow is very subtle, and Harry doesn't necessarily completely understand the whole Deathly Hallows thing until Voldemort attempts to kill him (again). Those who have read the books may have to explain the whole subtle turn of events. Also, the story will be a little easier to follow after the second movie comes out, and both movies can be viewed back-to-back -- though you'd have to sit there for about 5 hours. Overall, it was one of the better HP movies. I'm looking forward to the second one.
              I watched the DVD of HP7A when it first came out, and I realized that there was a missing part of the book. Voldemort got the Elder Wand at the end of the movie after Harry, Hermione, and Ron escaped from the Malfoys - while Harry is burying Dobby. In the book, they escape from the Malfoys, bury Dobby, go to Gringotts, get the cup, escape on the dragon. While the dragon flies away, Harry sees Voldemort get the Elder Wand, and then Hermione destroys the horcrux in the cup. So in the book, at the time Voldemort gets the wand, there are only three horcruxes left - the diadem, Nagini, and the one on Harry's forehead. In the movie, they didn't get the cup, so there are four left. Not sure whether they're going to leave out the cup and Gringotts - or whether they just wanted to end the first half of the story with a dramatic scene of Voldemort raising the Elder Wand.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" (2011)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" (2009)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002)
  • My review of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001) - AKA "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"
  • The HP Lexicon - some interesting reading if you are a Harry Potter fan.
  • 'How To Train Your Dragon' - Animated feature with Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerald Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Minz-Plasse, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig.
    Plot Intro: Dragons are the enemy. A young man finds out they're not as bad as everyone thinks.
    Review: A good family film. The numerous variations of dragons is impressive. Entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'I Am Number Four' - With Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron.
    Plot Intro: Refugees from a conquered planet are tracked down on Earth. Three of them have been killed, and now they are tracking down Number Four.
    Review: The last half hour somewhat make up for the slow first two-thirds of the film. It is set up for a sequel
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'The Illusionist' - Animated film based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati. AKA L'illusionniste.
    Plot Intro: A magician from France ends up in Scotland where a young girl kind of latches onto him.
    Review: Very good animated feature. The artwork is very well-done. It's kind of like a series of watercolors. The story is entertaining. Might not be as entertaining for kids. It has a more adult theme about growing older.
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Inception' - With Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Tom Berenger.
    Plot Intro: People sedate victims and then subject them to dreams in which they find out their secrets, but one of the team has uncontrolled parts of the dreams. They have to dream within dream within dreams.
    Review: Lots of visual effects. A creative story. Hard to keep track at times if the logic of the dream world makes no sense. I guess they were trying to leave it up in the air at the end.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Iron Man 2' - With Robert Downey Jr, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johannson, Samuel L Jackson, Garry Shandling, Jon Favreau. Directed by Jon Favreau. AKA "Iron Man II".
    Plot Intro: Iron Man and his father have made enemies, and the government wants his nifty suit. Now Iron Man must deal with the situation.
    Review: When I first saw "Iron Man 2" in the theater, the movie was schizophrenic for me. The build up at the beginning was very slow. Too much time with dancing and parties. Too much time in the Senate hearing. However, I've watched it a couple times recently, and the length of the scenes didn't feel wrong.
          Part of the plot didn't make sense. What could the Senate or the US government threaten him with? In the real world, Stark would have multiple houses, and his money would be in a place where it couldn't be seized. Also, the government needed Stark Industries. Who else could they go to? So if the US government had tried to seize his suits, he could easily have gone to another house and had all his resources - with no adverse affect to his company.
         The fighting scenes were good, but I liked the first movie better. At times I could feel that there was a conscious effort by the filmmakers to out-do the first film. Sometimes it's better to simplify a little and edit some more.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My Review of My review of "Iron Man" (2008).
  • My Review of My review of "Iron Man 3" (2013).
  • 'Jonah Hex' - With Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich.
    Plot Intro: Jonah Hex is a bounty hunter searching for a gang who are planning to overthrow the government. He has an advantage, because he can talk to the dead.
    Review: Based on a Western-themed comic book. Brolin is great to watch in his recent films. I've never read the comic books. The movie was different thatn what I expected, but it was fun to watch as a rental.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Karate Kid' - With Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith.
    Plot Intro: A widowed mother is transferred to Beijing, and it's a big adjustment for her son. He runs afoul of a local tough kid, especially after he befriends a pretty girl in the neighborhood.
    Review: The idea of the story occuring in Beijing is an interesting one, but I had a few problems with the script and editing. The film seems a bit long. Also, it seemed like more than half of the scenes are between Smith and the local girl. I had a hard time believing that a small boy like Smith could be trained in Kung Fu in a short time - enough to win a tournament against kids who had been training possibly for years. Admittedly, I know little about this kind of training, but the development of muscular strength should take longer, in my opinion.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'The Kids Are All Right' - With Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson.
    Plot Intro: A same sex couple who each gave birth to a child by the same sperm donor have their family lives disrupted when their children want to meet him. They face the challenge of roughing a crisis in their relationship together.
    Review: Moore, Bening, and Ruffalo have at least one scene where they can display their acting skills. Great acting which resulted in multiple Oscar nominations.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The King's Speech' - Historical drama with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce.
    Plot Intro: His father, King George V, dies, and his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicates. King George VI has a speech problem and goes through speech therapy.
    Review: Very entertaining throughout the film, and it is very moving at the end. Firth and Rush are great. Carter and the rest of the cast are top notch, excellent. Won the Best Picture Oscar, and Firth won Best Actor Oscar. Four Oscars in all (including Director and Best Original Screenplay).
    Rating: starstarstarstar

    'Knight and Day' - Action drama with Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis.
    Plot Intro: A rogue agent hides a highly desired object in the luggage of a woman walking through an airport.
    Review: I'm usually not into Cruise movies, but this movie ended up better than anticipated.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Leap Year' - With Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow, Kaitlin Olson.
    Plot Intro: After not receiving an engagement proposal from her boyfriend of four years, a young woman flies to Ireland to propose on Leap Year Day. She ends up in Dingle and has to make her way to Dublin, but she runs into one obstacle after another.
    Review: Many cliches, but the photography of the Irish countryside is beautiful.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole' - Animated feature.
    Plot Intro: Owls plot against other owls. Owlettes find out that the legends are true.
    Review: The graphics of the movie are good to very-good. The movie will appeal more to children, though you may be more interested in it if you are familiar with the book - which I'm not.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Made in Dagenham' - With Sally Hawkins, Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Lorraine Stanley, Geraldine James, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson.
    Plot Intro: Women are tired of being treated like second class citizens after receiving demeaning and condescending comments from the men who they have to deal with - teachers, managers, union reps. They go on strike and bring production at the auto plant to a halt.
    Review: I enjoyed this movie. Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson were excellent, and I enjoyed Sally Hawkins. I've seen her in other films, particularly "Persuasion" (2007), where she did great.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Megamind' - Animated feature with Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller.
    Plot Intro: An evil genius wants to be the hero.
    Review: Creative story. Well-voiced. Entertaining.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Morning Glory' - With Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum.
    Plot Intro: A young woman is hired to reinvigorate a morning show in New York City.
    Review: McAdams is very good. A good rental.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Nanny McPhee Returns' - With Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maggie Smith, Ewan McGregor. AKA "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang".
    Plot Intro: A young mother, whose husband is fighting in the war, has to deal with her three children and save the family farm. She is under pressure from her brother-in-law, and she has to add her niece and nephew to the group.
    Review: Starts out silly, but it kind of evens out. Kids might like it.
    Rating: starstarno starno star
  • My review of Nanny McPhee
  • 'The Other Guys' - With Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Damon Wayans Jr.
    Plot Intro: The two top cops in NYC die jumping off of a building. That leaves their prime spot open for competition. A top-line detective is teamed up with an accountant type, leading to total frustration.
    Review: I liked this film a lot. Parts of it made me laugh out loud. It kind of slowed in the middle, but most comedies do when they set up the end. I'll watch it again.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief' - Fantasy with Logan Lerman, Brandon T Jackson, Alexandra Deddario, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Sean Bean, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Uma Thurman.
    Plot Intro: Zeus's bolt was stolen, and he wants it back. Poseidon's son has to get it back or there will be war among the gods.
    Review: Based on the book by Rick Riordan.
    Rating: starstarno starno star
  • My review of 'The Sea of Monsters' (2013)
  • 'Salt' - With Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber.
    Plot Intro: A CIA agent is captured and then traded back. Then during the interrogation of a defector, she is implicated as a "mole". In spite of her denials, she is targeted by her fellow agents. Her main concern is the safety of her husband. Is she a "mole" or not?
    Review: "Salt" is a movie that stretches credibility. At some point, Salt would have broken a leg or lost her grip, and the whole escapade would have ended. And the final twists are easy to predict. Other than that, the film is pretty good. May be set up for a sequel.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' - With Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Jason Schwartzman.
    Plot Intro: Scott Pilgrim has to defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends of Ramona Flowers.
    Review: The film is based on a video fight game. Lots of extra graphics. Very funny; fun to watch. I like this film a lot.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Secretariat' - With Diane Lane, John Malkovich, James Cromwell, Scott Glenn.
    Plot Intro: After a coin toss, a horse breeding farm ends up with a colt that becomes a Triple Crown winner.
    Review: Good portrayal of some of the events related to the career of Secretariat leading up to the winning of the Triple Crown in 1973.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'She's Out of My League' - With Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve.
    Plot Intro: A guy who works in airport security helps out a very pretty young girl who forgot her cell phone at the security checkpoint at the Pittsburgh airport. After he gets her phone back to her, she asks him to a hockey game, and things progress from there. His only problem is that his friends and family keep telling him that she's out of his league.
    Review: Very entertaining. Alice Eve looks beautiful, and she plays her character well. Baruchel sounds a lot like Christian Slater. "League" was rated "R" in the US, but I thought it should have been "PG-13". Alice Eve does disrobe some, but she never is completely undressed.
         One thing I don't understand: Two people are about to have sex for the first time, and while they're in their underwear, they talk about their bodily defects. Does that put a person in the mood? I don't think so. I know these kinds of things happen, but those people are stupid.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'Shrek Forever After' - Animated feature with Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Kathy Griffin.
    Plot Intro: Shrek is a family ogre, and he gets no time for himself. No one understands, particularly his wife. He makes a deal for one day during which he is the old fearful ogre he used to be. Then he has to try to get his life back.
    Review: Kind of slow at the beginning, but after he finds the other ogres, the film kind of takes off.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of Shrek (2001)
  • My review of Shrek 2 (2004)
  • 'The Social Network' - With Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones.
    Plot Intro: A computer nerd creates the next big thing - the social network of Facebook.
    Review: Reported to be based on the true story of the founding of Facebook. Actually, my understanding is that it is based on court depositions in in some lawsuit cases. The only reservation I have then is how much of the depositions were accurate - and how much embellishment the filmmaker added to the story. Eisenberg, Garfield, and Timberlake are great. It is very interesting how quickly the site was programmed and how quickly it expanded.
    Rating: starstarstarno star

    'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' - With Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Monica Bellucci, Alice Krige, James A Stevens.
    Plot Intro: Merlin's apprentice has to stop Morgana's apprentice, so he chooses his own apprentice. He has to train the new apprentice to help .
    Review: Some good special effects. Jay Baruchel makes me laugh, so that helped. Some of the music and some of the scenes are based on the Mickey Mouse cartoon of the same name.
    Rating: starstarno starno star

    'Submarine' - With Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige.
    Plot Intro: A teenage boy wants to help save his parents' marriage, and he wants to be the best boyfriend he can be to his new girlfriend. He can only be in one place at a time.
    Review: Melancholy film about young love. It's also about what it's like to be young, trying to figure out what life's all about when there isn't a manual for getting through all the tough times. Craig Roberts is great. He has a sad look about him through the whole movie.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'Tangled' - Animated feature with Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel.
    Plot Intro: A princess with magic hair is kidnapped by an evil witch, and she is kept captive so that she can give the witch a long life. But a shady character comes into her life and helps her find the truth.
    Review: Some of the singing early in the film is a little too much, but the last half of the film is very good - singing and all. Excellent artwork and animation. Very good story.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'The Town' - With Ben Affleck, Pete Postlethwait, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver. Directed by Ben Affleck. Co-written by Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard.
    Plot Intro: Armored truck robbers are being hunted by the FBI. One of the gang wants to quit.
    Review: Excellent film directed by Affleck. The acting, directing, script are all very good.
    Rating: starstarstarhalf star

    'Toy Story 3' - Animated feature with Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Daulton.
    Plot Intro: Andy is going to college, and the toys are nervous about whether they'll end up in a landfill. They end up in a day care by mistake.
    Review: A good Pixar effort. It seemed like they were closing the Toy Story series. I went to see the 3D version, and most of the time I couldn't really see much 3D. The Hispanic Buzz was very funny. I didn't really care for the cartoon short that came before it. Toy Story 3 won Best Animated Feature Oscar. "Despicable Me" should have won. It's a better film, and more fun to watch.
    Rating: starstarstarno star
  • My review of "Toy Story" (1995)
  • My review of "Toy Story 2" (1999)
  • 'Tron Legacy' - With Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund.
    Plot Intro: A computer hacker, trying to discover what happened to his father, finds his father's equipment. He turns it on and triggers it - ending up digitized and transferred into the world of Tron.
    Review: Some good special effects. I've never been able to get into the Tron story. If you liked the first one, Tron (1982), you will probably like this long-awaited follow-up.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

    'True Grit' - With Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon.
    Plot Intro: A 14 year old girl's father was killed by an outlaw. She hires Rooster Cogburn to assist her in capturing him and bringing him to justice.
    Review: Excellent dramatization of Charles Portis's book. Nominated for Best Picture Academy Award - among other nominations. Great cinematography. Excellent casting. I like this version better than the John Wayne version.
    Rating: starstarstarstar
  • My Review of True Grit (1969)
  • 'You Again' - With Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, Kristin Chenoweth, Odette Annable.
    Plot Intro: After getting promoted, a young executive flies home to find out that her brother is marrying the girl who bullied her all through high school.
    Review: More like a TV movie. Somewhat humorous.
    Rating: starstarhalf starnostar

    'You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger' - Written and directed by Woody Allen. With Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Antonio Banderas, Lucy Punch.
    Plot Intro: An elderly man becomes addicted to working out. He splits up with his wife. Later, the wife becomes confinced that a "psychic" knows what she's talking about. An author whose first book was a best-seller is struggling with his next book, adding pressure to his marriage. He becomes attracted to a woman in the next building. He splits from his wife, and she splits from her fiance.
    Review: Slice of life. Watching this movie reinforces that many people are not happy with their lives. They want to be doing something else, or they want to be someone else. And if they make a change, they find out they are not happy anyway. The trick is to be content.
    Rating: starstarhalf starno star

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