Movie and Music Reviews

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Pawn Sacrifice

By Darla - AV   |  February 5, 2016

As a chess fan, I knew little about Bobby Fischer, other than the fact that he was a grandmaster, a rock star in the chess world. Pawn Sacrifice, starring Tobey Maguire, depicts the mental strain Fischer experienced, while striving to become the world’s greatest chess grandmaster. Fischer believed in himself, but he carried demons. This film captures the psychological damage Bobby Fischer experienced, in his rise to the 1972 championship, and how he became a political pawn. The story is interesting, Maguire is convincing as Fischer, but the ending left me hanging. My one criticism is that I would have liked to see more of Bobby’s life, post 1972, in the film. Overall Rating: B

Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay

By Amy - AV   |  January 29, 2016

Coldplay's new studio album, and presumably their last, is called, "A Head Full of Dreams," and feels like a sweet emotional journey with the goal of making the listener happy. The songs are full of hope, healing thoughts, and messages of acceptance. The album is also full of collaborations, including the likes of Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow and President Obama. No, I’m not kidding! It seems to flow between a 70's disco feel and Coldplay's millennial sound. My favorite tracks are the title tune, "A Head Full of Dreams," and "Up and Up," which seem to convey Chris Martin's feelings of excitement and optimism after 15 years as a frontman. (The band has announced a tour to promote the album, but has implied they will go their separate ways after that.) Longtime Coldplay fans will probably find this album bittersweet as it seems to be a "goodbye" as well as a prayer for the planet. If you are looking for something upbeat with meaningful lyrics and the classic "piano rock" style, you will definitely enjoy this album. Overall Rating: A

The Intern

By Allison - AV   |  January 22, 2016

The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, follows the story of Ben Whittaker (De Niro) as he takes a Senior [Citizen] Intern position at Jules Ostin's (Hathaway) online fashion company. Ostin initially shuns Whittaker, but eventually warms to his presence in her life. Throughout, the film follows two individual story lines. The first of these is Whittaker's struggle to find relevance in the fast paced world of ecommerce. The second storyline focuses on Ostin's decision of whether or not to hire an experienced CEO to run her quickly growing company. Though both of these threads focus on serious topics faced by individuals in today's high-tech world, the movie was lightened by the humor that was woven throughout. In addition, De Niro and Hathaway portrayed their characters excellently and the (eventual) comradery between them was endearing. Overall, The Intern is a heartwarming film that reminds viewers that a person is never too old (or too young) to follow their dream or make a difference. Overall Rating: A

Self/Less

By Pam - AV   |  January 15, 2016

Self/less is a science fiction thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley and Natalie Martinez. Ben Kingsley plays Damian Hale, a New York real estate mogul dying from cancer. Through the mysterious appearance of a business card, Hale learns about Dr. Albright and his process called shedding. For $250 million, Dr. Albright will transfer Hale's consciousness into a young healthy body which he tells Hale is lab generated. Ryan Reynolds portrays Edward Kitner, Hale's new body and name. Dr. Albright sets Edward/Damian up in a fancy New Orleans mansion and Edward/Damian begins to kick up his heels, reveling in his recaptured youth. Then the disturbing hallucinations begin, causing Edward/Damien to question whether his new body was really lab generated. After reading numerous reviews by professional critics, I was prepared to dislike the movie. Quite the opposite occurred. I enjoyed the movie. How one feels about the film depends upon whether or not you buy into the whole concept of shedding. I did. In addition, Self/less was action packed and offered enough twists to keep me guessing. Overall Rating: B+

Alone in the Universe by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

By Fate - AV   |  January 8, 2016

"Timeless". All genres of music have artists who fit this description. In the 70's, 80's and 90's in rock music, there were many. One of which was ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. Now, after a 15-year break, they have a new album, "Alone In the Universe". Jeff Lynne, lead singer, has such an appealing voice, and the 15-year gap between albums does not seem to have affected this appeal. The band's sound, which I categorized in the 70's as sort of having an orchestral-rock sound, is just as interesting and enjoyable. Whether you are a long time ELO/Jeff Lynne fan, or someone looking for something listenable, the 10 tracks on this album will probably fit the bill. Overall Rating: A

Fantastic Four (2015)

By Jill - AV   |  January 1, 2016

The most recent attempt to tell the story of the classic Marvel superhero team, The Fantastic Four, has a lot going for it. The long-running comic book series has a large following and the film features a very talented young cast portraying scientists Rex Reed (Miles Teller) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara), Sue's hot-headed brother, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Rex's childhood friend, Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). In this version of the story, Rex and Sue are working alongside Victor von Doom and other scientists to perfect inter-dimensional travel to a world that they call Planet Zero. In their enthusiasm, they do not take enough precautions before testing their new machine, and as a result all five main characters experience drastic physical changes after their encounter with a mysterious green goo on the new planet. After Victor is left behind on Planet Zero, the others must learn to use their new superpowers to defeat his plan to destroy the Earth in retaliation. The problem with this film lies in the storytelling. The film is dark, meaning it is not well lit and it is hard to see what is happening. The tone is similarly dark, but also inconsistent. Once the four team members start to develop their powers, it begins to feel like a horror film with terrifying examples of the changes to their bodies. Due to the slow explanations of the work the scientists are doing, the characters are confined to rooms where they stare at computer screens all day. The story suddenly jumps ahead one year and the rushed action sequences at the end seem tacked on in order to make this look like a typical "superhero" movie. The film is disjointed, boring, and devoid of humor or warmth. Overall Rating: D-

Shaun the Sheep Movie

By Angie - AV   |  December 25, 2015

Shaun the Sheep has made it to the big-screen! In this animated comedy, Shaun the Sheep and his friends at the Mossy Bottom Farm have found themselves bored with the monotony of their daily work schedule, and have decided to take a day off. Led by Shaun and his mischievous antics, they figure out a scheme to trick the farmer. When plans go awry, and the entire flock ends up in the big city, they quickly realize they are in trouble...possibly more than they can handle. They begin to miss the simplicity and safety of the farm, and the main focus of this "day off" becomes getting everyone safely back to Mossy Bottom. This endearing movie offers laughs for the entire family, while proving the life-lesson that "grass isn't always greener on the other side." I never would have thought that a flock of sheep in an animated movie which uses NO dialogue whatsoever, could portray such an important lesson of being content with what you have. The animation (claymation) is so remarkable, that at times I forgot I was watching an animated film! With only sound effects, music, and amazing facial expressions by the characters, the animators of this movie brilliantly tell a story that the whole family can appreciate! Overall Rating: A

Dope

By Melinda - AV   |  December 18, 2015

Dope stars Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a smart, geeky high school senior from a rough neighborhood in Englewood, California referred to as "The Bottoms". Malcolm (Moore) and his two close friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemens) and Jib (Tony Revolori) bond daily by their studies, playing music in their own punk band, and reminiscing over the culture and hip-hop music from the 90's. Malcolm's dream is to attend Harvard University and to get out of "The Bottoms" for good. He seems to be on the right track until he has a chance encounter with the neighborhood drug dealer Dom (played by rapper A$AP Rocky) who invites Malcolm and his friends to his birthday party one night. Well, that one night of fun turns into a violent drug raid. In Dom's fleeing moment, Dom secretly hides a large amount of Ecstasy in Malcolm's backpack without his knowledge. After this is discovered, the movie "Dope" takes a spin and takes you on a wild adventure with Malcolm, Diggy and Jib running to escape the armed neighborhood thugs who want Dom's stash of drugs, while also leading Malcolm to quite a surprise for his future life plans that he was never expecting! This movie definitely had a different twist to it. I enjoyed it, and would recommend watching it...but "beware", it has a lot of mature content in it! Overall Rating: B+

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

By Darla - AV   |  December 11, 2015

Diabolical. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is an award-winning six part documentary that systematically peels back the layers of a mysterious New York real estate heir, Robert Durst. Durst, a suspect in three murders, volunteered to be interviewed by the filmmakers of All Good Things. The exceptional sound and picture editing complement the interviews which relentlessly drive forward to a startling reveal. Due to graphic content, The Jinx is recommended for mature audiences. Overall Rating: A+

Ricki and the Flash

By Allison - AV   |  December 4, 2015

Ricki and the Flash is the story of Linda “Ricki” Brummel (Meryl Streep), a woman who walked out on her family to follow her dream of being a rock star. Shortly into the movie, Ricki receives a phone call from her ex-husband, Pete, telling her that their daughter, Julie, is going through a breakdown and needs Ricki’s comfort. The story that follows is one of anger, frustration, and ultimately love as Ricki tries to make things right with her family. The movie itself was a bit hard to get into at the beginning and, if it had featured spontaneous dance numbers, contained enough music and singing to be considered a musical. However, Streep’s portrayal of Ricki was perfect from her mannerisms to her voice to her hair. In addition, Streep’s real-life daughter (Mamie Gummer) played her on screen daughter, and Rick Springfield (famous for the #1 single “Jessie’s Girl) was the guitarist in Ricki’s band for an added touch of realism. Overall, the movie was enjoyable, but nothing I would need to watch again. Overall Rating: C

Mr. Holmes

By Jill - AV   |  November 27, 2015

Mr. Holmes portrays the famous detective (Sir Ian McKellen) as an elderly man who has retired to a country estate where he keeps bees and is watched over by a housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). Holmes’ powers of deduction are still sharp, but his memory is quickly failing. This loss and haunting memories of his final case have spurred him to try writing his own version of the case, rather than relying on the fictionalized story written many years before by Doctor Watson. Aided by the curious and clever Roger, Holmes attempts to recall the truth while simultaneously solving the mystery of his dying bees. The movie beautifully blends scenes of the present day - 1947 on the English coast - with flashbacks to London thirty years earlier. McKellen gives a brilliant performance in both timelines and the young Parker is a worthy sidekick. I particularly enjoyed a brief cameo by Nicholas Rowe who played the great detective as a teenager in The Young Sherlock Holmes. The last time McKellen starred in a film directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) both men were nominated for Oscars. It could happen again. Overall Rating: B+

Max

By Pam - AV   |  November 20, 2015

Max is a highly trained military dog whose handler Kyle Wincott was killed during a nasty firefight in Afghanistan. Max is so traumatized by the event that he won’t let anyone near him--except Justin, Kyle’s younger brother. The Wilcotts find out that if they don’t take Max in, he will be put down. There are several scenes throughout the movie that will have you reaching for some tissues. An especially emotional event at the beginning of the movie happens when two Marines and Max come to pay their respects at Kyle’s funeral. The last part of the movie is action packed. Some of the situations that the teens and Max get out of are unbelievable. The dog on dog combat scenes had me on the edge of my seat. Even though the movie was predictable at times, it was still enjoyable to watch. Overall Rating: B

Inside Out

By Amy - AV   |  November 13, 2015

Pixar’s newest animated film is Inside Out, an intelligent and moving story about a young girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her emotional journey as she deals with a traumatic move to a new city. The movie’s other characters are Riley’s emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler); Sadness (Phyllis Smith); Fear (Bill Hader); Anger (Lewis Black); and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). These emotions run “Headquarters”, the place in all of us where our feelings guide us. At first, Joy tries to keep things positive and works hard to keep the other emotions in check while Riley adjusts to her new home, but soon Sadness gets involved, and a wild adventure through the inner workings of Riley’s mind begins. Although the many psychological references may go over young children’s heads, the film is an accurate metaphor that thoughtfully explains how emotions work in a way children can understand. There are a few painful moments to watch, but those scenes really convey the message that it’s okay to express your feelings, even your sad feelings. This is a great family movie that opens up many opportunities for discussion. It is very entertaining, and I predict it will become an all-time favorite of many. Overall Rating: A+

Vacation

By Angie - AV   |  November 6, 2015

Rusty Griswold (played by Ed Helms) returns in an all new comedy about a dysfunctional vacation featuring a new generation of the Griswold family. Rusty is all grown up and has a family of his own now – wife Debbie (played by Christina Applegate) and 2 sons, James and Kevin. The family is stuck in a rut, so as they are planning an upcoming vacation, Rusty takes it upon himself to plan a new adventure for them, by recreating a vacation from his past – the infamous trip to Walley World. If you are familiar with the Griswold family, you have come to realize that nothing they attempt to do ever happens easily – wild and crazy antics seem to follow this family everywhere they go! All this being said, I was not impressed with this re-creation of the classic movie. The nostalgia behind the film made me hope for something better, but unfortunately I did not find this version nearly as entertaining or funny as the original. I also was disappointed that Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) wasn’t a more prominent character in this movie. He is the head of the beloved Griswold family after all! Unlike its predecessor which has become a classic, I don’t feel this movie is worth watching again. Overall Rating: C

San Andreas

By Melinda - AV   |  October 30, 2015

San Andreas is one of the best action-packed American Disaster movies of all time. From the opening scene to the ending scene, I was on the edge of my seat anticipating what was going to happen next! Dwayne Johnson sets off a remarkable performance portraying Ray Gaines, a LAFD search and rescue helicopter pilot that is in the midst of a divorce with Emma, his estranged wife (Carla Gugino). As Ray (Dwayne Johnson) sets out to go on a trip with his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) to San Francisco, the plans slightly change and she goes on ahead of him. He does not foresee that the largest earthquake recorded in history is on its way to cause massive destruction from Los Angeles to San Francisco! With this being said, Ray ends up using his LAFD expertise to bring his estranged wife and daughter back to him safe and sound no matter what the cost! If you love Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson like I do, and thriller, action-packed movies that keep you on the edge of your seat, well this is a great choice for you too! Overall Rating: A

The Flash - The Complete First Season

By Darla - AV   |  October 23, 2015

The Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a 21st Century, Central City, forensic scientist who witnessed his mother’s death as a child. Barry’s father was incarcerated for his wife’s death, and Barry strives to find his mother’s killer. After exposure to a blast from Dr. Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) laboratory, Barry becomes the fastest man alive. Afterwards, Barry uses his powers to fight crime as Central City becomes overrun with villainous, super-powered humans. This captivating DC Comic book film is fast-paced and includes several characters from the larger DC Universe. Overall Rating: A+

Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

By Jill - AV   |  October 16, 2015

The 2013 album Same Trailer, Different Park won two Grammy awards and introduced Musgraves to the world as a new kind of singer-songwriter who uses traditional instruments and smaller arrangements while tackling subjects not often found in country music. On this new album, Kacey Musgraves is still intent on exposing the realities of life in a southern small town, while she champions the idea that each of us has to follow our own path in order to be truly happy. Whether she is poking fun at her lack of skill as a pageant girl (“It ain’t that I don’t care about world peace, but I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage”) or writing a love song to her hometown (“You can take me out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of me”), Musgraves paints a clear picture of real life in small town America, and bucks the current trend of “bro country”. She dismisses the good old boys network of Nashville by singing “Another gear in a big machine, don’t sound like fun to me. I don’t wanna be part of the good ole boys’ club” which many see as a dig directed toward Taylor Swift’s Big Machine production company. It seems fitting that Musgraves ends the album with a duet with another unique country artist- Willie Nelson- that updates Willie’s song Are You Sure. She has a fresh voice that breathes new life into the country genre. Overall Rating: A

What We Do In The Shadows

By Allison - AV   |  October 9, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows is a fictional documentary that gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of Vlad, Viago, Deacon, Nick, and Petyr, five vampires living in the same flat in New Zealand. Despite the fact that they are creatures of the night, the quintet of vampires is surprisingly easy to relate to: They fight over chores, fret over what to wear, and enjoy visiting nightclubs. These common experiences become humorous, however, as the vampires explain how hard it is to get blood stains out of the couch cushions, to plan outfits without a reflection, and to attend parties when they can’t enter a building unless they are invited in first. The humor continues throughout the film, and I found both my husband and myself laughing out loud at various parts. Although none of the actors have many lead roles under their belts, each portrayed his assigned character wonderfully, and, I admit, I was a bit saddened when one of them met his demise. Even though it is more of a comedy than a horror flick, What We Do in the Shadows is perfect for the Halloween season. Overall Rating: A-

Cinderella (2015)

By Pam - AV   |  October 2, 2015

From lavish costumes to elaborate sets, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Cinderella is quite magical. The film begins by introducing us to a very young Ella and her loving parents. Unfortunately, her mother becomes ill unexpectedly, and on her death bed she tells Ella to “have courage and be kind.” After a few years, her father decides to marry again. Enter the wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters. Cate Blanchette gives a top-notch performance as the wicked stepmother. I found myself disliking the character more and more as the movie progressed. Lily James is marvelous as Ella as she portrays a kind young woman, without being sugary. Richard Madden is dashing as the handsome Prince, and he and Ella share a fascinating chemistry. In addition, Helena Bonham Carter is delightful as Ella’s Fairy Godmother. The special effects used during the transformation of the pumpkin to a carriage, mice into horses, and lizards into footmen were incredible. This live action Cinderella is a treasure to be enjoyed by all ages. Overall Rating: A+

Planet Ant

By Amy - AV   |  September 25, 2015

A documentary about leaf cutting ants may not sound very interesting, but the BBC’s Planet Ant turned out to be an absolutely fascinating learning experience. Two scientists, entomologist George McGavin and leaf cutter expert Professor Adam Hart, team up to transport a colony of ants from Trinidad to a man-made habitat in Glasgow, Scotland. The habitat is similar to their own very large colony, with many chambers and caverns; however, this world is made of glass and allows for unprecedented views into the daily life of this very complex society. This film offers up-close observations of these tiny creatures and, through the use of time-lapse cameras, microphones, microscopes, and radio tracking technology, allows the viewer to get a better understanding of how these societies function. It is astonishing to realize that these creatures communicate, have a caste system, are farmers, and solve complicated mathematical problems. The cinematography is incredible, but if looking at ants and other bugs bothers you, then you may want to think twice about this one! I personally got over my squeamishness early in the film and quickly became very interested. This documentary makes you realize that humans are not the only civilized society on this planet. Overall Rating: A+

Where Hope Grows

By Angie - AV   |  September 18, 2015

Where Hope Grows is an inspirational drama starring David DeSanctis as “Produce”, a young man with Down syndrome who works in the produce department at a local grocery store, and Kristoffer Polaha as Calvin Campbell, a former professional baseball player who is struggling to find his place in life. Calvin and Produce develop a friendship after meeting at the grocery store, and along the way, Calvin is reminded of the important things in life, including hope and faith. I thought this was a heartwarming, family-friendly movie with the underlying theme that hope can be found in the most unexpected places. The storyline was endearing, and for those not typically fans of the inspirational genre of movies, the religious message in this particular film is more subtle than most, with the plot focusing on overcoming hardships in your life versus trying to “preach” at the audience. This film is a pioneer in its own right by casting a young man with Down syndrome in a lead role, and raising awareness to #StopTheRWord. Overall Rating: B+

The Age of Adaline

By Melinda - AV   |  September 11, 2015

The Age of Adaline is a romantic drama about a woman named Adaline Bowman (played by Blake Lively) who amazingly remains the age of 29 years old for close to almost eight decades. Adaline Bowman has mostly had to live a lonely, mysterious life to keep her secret from everyone that she meets and gets close to due to the consequences that her timeless youth may cause. Adaline’s plan has seemed to work until she meets a handsome, charming, philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) that rekindles her love interest and passion to live again. As their romance begins to spark, they decide to take a weekend getaway together to meet Ellis’s parents and this encounter reawakens her past and leads to questions that may divulge the truth and can change Adaline’s life forever. The ending of the movie may appear somewhat predictable, but if you love romantic, nostalgic, heart-warming movies, like I do, then this movie is a great choice for you too! Overall Rating A-

The Last Ship - The Complete First Season

By Darla - AV   |  September 4, 2015

The television show, The Last Ship, based on William Brinkley’s well-received novel, kept me on the edge of my seat. Eric Dane stars as Commander Chandler who heads the Navy Destroyer, USS Nathan James, through troubled waters, after humankind experiences a deadly pandemic. Doctor Scott, portrayed by Rhona Mitra, is a virologist on board who attempts to develop an antidote, to save humankind from the devastating virus. Watch for some great moments, when alpha Captain Chandler sounds amazingly similar to John Wayne. Although, the fact that the 316 sailors at sea for four months, with modern technology, did not know about the deadly pandemic is a major flaw, the rest of the drama was so entertaining that I could move on and enjoy the compelling drama. Overall Rating: A-

The Royals - The Complete First Season

By Jill - AV   |  August 28, 2015

The Royals is the first scripted series produced by E! Television, the station that gives you the latest news about celebrity scandals and the continuing adventures of the Kardashians. It seems fitting then that this new series about a fictional British royal family is filled with characters who lie, drink, hook up with strangers, do drugs, plot murders, blackmail each other and the servants, and generally carry on like rock stars who can’t quite escape being caught on film as they misbehave. The queen (Elizabeth Hurley) and her younger children (William Moseley and Alexandra Park) are such a disappointment to the king (Vincent Regan), that he asks Parliament to dissolve the monarchy after the sudden death of his older son. King Simon is trying to save his family, but he throws their entire lives into chaos, and the queen aided by the king’s evil brother (Jake Maskall) plot to keep their royal lifestyle intact. This series combine camp and over-the-top drama for a fun roller-coaster ride of a show. Elizabeth Hurley is brilliant as the scheming queen and the casting of Joan Collins as her equally ambitious mother is the cherry on top of this royal sundae. Overall Rating: B

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

By Allison - AV   |  August 21, 2015

Before sitting down to watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, featuring Kevin James in the lead role, a friend said to me, “Hopefully, this is a good, old-fashioned, funny movie.” When the same friend leaned over later and whispered “Only 15 more minutes left!”, I realized I wasn’t the only person who felt a little let down by the film. Throughout the movie, James’ character could only be described as “over the top”. Every action and interaction was exaggerated to be funny, which actually made it less funny and more annoying. The storyline was too coincidental for my tastes (What are the chances that art thieves would be at the same casino at the same time as a Security Officers convention?) and there were enough gaps and inconsistencies to make me wonder how much the producers were really paying attention as the film came together. However, in spite of it all, the film did have underlying themes of loyalty and the importance of family, and the thoroughly PG humor would probably appeal to pre-teens. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 isn’t necessarily a movie I would recommend, but it might be a good choice for a family pizza night. Overall Rating: C-

5 Flights Up

By Pam - AV   |  August 14, 2015

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton play Alex and Ruth Carver, an elderly couple who have decided at the urging of their niece, Lily (Cynthia Nixon), a real estate agent to list their apartment and move to another location with an elevator. Through the use of flashbacks, viewers get a look at life events that have shaped Alex and Ruth’s relationship. Claire van der Boom and Korey Jackson deliver a solid performance portraying a young Ruth and Alex. The chemistry between Freeman and Keaton is superb. Cynthia Nixon’s character, Lily is annoying as are many of the people who come through their open house. Zoe, a young girl whose mother drags her to all of the open houses in the area is played by Sterling Jerins and is the one bright spot in the parade of people. I expected more from a movie starring Freeman and Keaton, and was disappointed by the slow movement of the film. Overall Rating: C

Home

By Amy - AV   |  August 7, 2015

Home, the newest animated feature from DreamWorks Entertainment, is an adventure tale about a lovable misfit alien named Oh, (Jim Parsons) and his friendship with the lonely and courageous Tip, (Rihanna). Oh finds himself on the run from his own people, the Boovs, purple aliens who have taken over the Earth, while Tip, who managed to escape the invasion, is desperately trying to find her mother, Lucy, (Jennifer Lopez). The Boovs are led by the arrogant Captain Smek, (Steve Martin), who thinks the best way to solve any problem is to run away! The Gorgs, the aliens the Boovs are hiding from, are now threatening the Earth and only Oh can save the planet from destruction. The movie includes great music and teaches important lessons about loyalty, family, and being yourself. Kids will enjoy it, but I didn’t feel it was the kind of film that would draw in adults. Jim Parsons is great as Oh, his character is a lot like his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper but sweeter, and the character of Tip is refreshing, as she is much more realistic than your average animated heroin. All in all, it’s a fun family movie, not really memorable, but worth bringing home for the kids. Overall Rating: B

'71

By Angie - AV   |  July 31, 2015

’71 stars Jack O’Connell as young British soldier Gary Hook who is accidentally abandoned by his unit during some intense, violent riots in Belfast in 1971. The movie takes place over the course of one night as you follow the soldier’s journey alone through the streets of Belfast, trying to figure out who he can trust – who is friend versus enemy, even among his so-called comrades. This action-thriller is intense at times, and depicts the real struggle between the Catholic and Protestant forces in Northern Ireland during a very troubled period in their history. (The storyline never picks a side though – it just shows the devastation caused when 2 groups are at war within the same town.) The movie can be a bit confusing at times though, as you try to keep characters straight and you yourself try to figure out who Hook’s friends and foes are. I would also recommend watching this with the subtitles turned on, as the dialogue can be difficult to understand at times. Overall Rating: B

Project Almanac

By Melinda - AV   |  July 24, 2015

This sci-fi, thriller stars Jonny Weston who plays David Raskin, a high school senior who loves science and whose dream is to attend MIT. As he awaits for his dream to un-fold, David comes across an odd instance that he can’t explain from an old video camera in his attic. While trying to make sense of all this, him and his friends discover in his basement the blueprints to a secret time machine that his late father had been constructing but did not get a chance to complete. David and his friends have this genius idea to finish what David’s father had started. As the group begins to experiment with this mysterious time machine that they believe is amazingly going to change their pasts for the better, it inadvertently ends up making them fear the future. If you enjoy sci-fi, action, suspense, and romance this is a great movie to see! Overall Rating: B

Black or White

By Darla - AV   |  July 17, 2015

In this provocative film, Kevin Costner stars as Elliot - a white, Los Angeles, maternal grandfather and recent widower - embroiled in a custody battle with a black, paternal grandmother, Rowena - played by Octavia Spencer - over his charming granddaughter that he has raised from birth. In the custody hearings, the granddaughter Eloise’s (Jillian Estell) opposing family members conspire to viciously air each other’s dirty laundry. Alcohol abuse, substance abuse, class differences, and stereotypes of people are brought to the limelight, both inside and outside the courtroom; not a soul comes out smelling like roses. Key family members face off, hours before the family court judge’s final decision. The early events in the movie were realistic; however, the ending was Hollywood.Overall Rating: B-

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