Movie and Music Reviews

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Grace and Frankie. Season one

By Barb - AV   |  May 20, 2016

In the show’s premier season, Grace (played by Jane Fonda) and Frankie (played by Lily Tomlin) find themselves once again thrown together for evening meal by their spouses Saul and Robert (played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen). The women think their husbands of 40 years are going to announce their retirement, but instead receive a life changing revelation: their husbands decide to come out of the closet and openly reveal their love for one another and their plans to marry. This sets the scene for the rest of the season. Both women end up moving into the beach house the two couples shared. While Grace would rather have the house all to herself to deal with the end of her marriage, Frankie is glad to have the company. The adventures these two women have on their quest to adjust to their new lives are quite funny and touching at the same time. The show manages to balance a range of emotions from all the characters that are reflective of dealing with new beginnings and sad goodbyes to long term relationships. By the end of the season, reality has set in and the impending marriage between Robert and Saul is about to take place. Grace and Frankie are supportive of their ex-husbands decisions and are on friendly terms. I enjoyed this show and I am looking forward to Season 2. Overall Rating: A

The 5th Wave

By Allison - AV   |  May 13, 2016

The 5th Wave, based on the novel of the same name by Ricky Yancey, is one of the newest book-to-film movies out on DVD. As the film opens, the Earth has already been attacked by aliens four separate times, and mankind is preparing for the 5th wave that experts believe is coming. The previous waves (darkness, destruction, infection, and invasion) have killed the majority of Earth’s inhabitants, and the next wave is expected to lead to human extinction. Cassie Sullivan – played by Chloe Grace Mortez – has survived the first four waves and sets out to locate her little brother, Ben, who has been separated from her. The film creates enough suspense that I was on the edge of my seat several times while watching, but some of the plot points seemed cliché, and I saw a few twists in the storyline coming before they happened. One portion of the plot that I did particularly enjoy, however, was the fact that the film was set in Ohio between the Cuyahoga Valley (near Lake Erie) and Wright Patterson Air Force Base (near Dayton). Although not the most thought provoking movie I’ve seen recently, I enjoyed it throughout and would recommend it for families with teens and tweens. Overall Rating: B-

Joy

By Pam - AV   |  May 6, 2016

The movie “Joy” is loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and an eventual shopping network superstar. Joy and her children live with her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), who is reclusive and obsessed with soap operas. Tony (Edgar Ramirez), her ex-husband of two years, lives in the basement while he tries to launch a music career. Joy’s father Rudy (Robert De Niro) arrives on their doorstep with his latest girlfriend Sharon. She tells Joy she has had enough, and is giving him back. Mimi (Diane Ladd), Joy’s grandmother is the voice of reason and has always been the only one who believes in her. I must admit I had trouble getting into the film. The first 50 minutes or more are so filled with drama from her dysfunctional family, we barely get a glimpse of who Joy really is--until the invention of her mop. It is through her father’s latest girlfriend Trudy (Isabella Rosellini), a wealthy widow, that Joy gets the opportunity to create her miracle mop. Bradley Cooper portrays Neil Walker, a QVC executive who gives Joy the chance to shine by promoting her own product on QVC. Jennifer Lawrence gives an outstanding performance as Joy. Robert De Niro does an excellent job portraying Joy’s father as an insensitive jerk. Diane Ladd plays a wonderful Mimi, Joy’s grandmother and cheerleader. I am very glad that I continued to watch “Joy” until the end. It was uplifting to see how, in spite of all the obstacles Joy encountered, she persevered and became a very successful inventor and entrepreneur. Overall Rating: B+

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season One

By Fate - AV   |  April 29, 2016

Ok, well some people really liked this show as it took almost 2 weeks before I could get a copy to do a review. Kimmy Schmidt is now 27, and has spent the last 15 years of her life imprisoned in an underground bunker in Indiana by a fanatic preacher. She has been rescued and brought to New York City to be interviewed and afterwards decides not to go back to Indiana. She is naive to the modern world and immediately meets some odd and bizarre characters who become part of her life there. There are moments the show is cute and funny, but the pace is frantic. There are good people in the cast with Tina Fey in the starring role. I only watched 3 of the 13 first season episodes and did not get hooked. Perhaps with a little more patience and time I would have found how it was Emmy nominated. It's worth a try. Overall Rating: B-

Daddy's Home

By Amy - AV   |  April 22, 2016

Daddy’s Home is a new comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg playing dad and step-dad to two kids. Ferrell stars as Brad, a mild-mannered radio executive who desperately wants to bond with his new wife’s children. After a rocky start, the kids begin to warm up a bit, but then Dusty, (Wahlberg), the kids’ biological dad, shows up and does everything he can to derail Brad’s plans. Dusty is cool and rugged, and the kids see him as a rock star compared to Brad, who is nerdy and overly sentimental. The competition soon begins as each man tries to outdo the other in a series of comedic escapades. The movie does a good job of portraying some of the emotions step-parents feel, but in an overly-dramatic way, and unfortunately, some of the jokes aren’t really as funny as they are set up to be. That being said, the plot is engaging enough and there are some really funny scenes and humorous dialog. Personally, I thought the movie was predictable, but worth watching. Parents should be advised that although the film is rated PG-13, there are one or two scenes that may be inappropriate for even older kids. Overall Rating: B-

Spotlight

By Angie - AV   |  April 15, 2016

This film is based on the Boston Globe’s investigative team of reporters, known as “Spotlight,” who uncovered not only a massive scandal of sexual abuse cases within their local Catholic Archdiocese, but also the cover-up of these cases by the Catholic Church as a whole. Set in the early 2000s, the film follows the investigative work of the Spotlight team as they search to uncover the truth behind the allegations before making the story public in the media. Although the content is heavy and will be emotional to some, I found the movie itself to be phenomenal. The storyline is very well-written and taps into an array of emotions – sadness, frustration, confusion – and the acting of the amazing cast (including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams) is spot-on. I found that the movie drew me into the story, and for 2 hours took me on the emotional journey that forever changed a part of our culture. Spotlight (the movie) was just as deserving of their Academy Award for Best Picture as the original Spotlight team was of their Pulitzer Prize. Overall Rating: A+

Room

By Melinda - AV   |  April 8, 2016

The movie Room is based off the novel written by Emma Donaghue in 2010. Room tells a story about the limitless bond between a mother and her child and what it is like to travel from one world to the “real”outside world. In the movie, Brie Larson plays Joy, a mother that has been held captive for 7 years along with her 5 year old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Jack has been in “Room” his entire life and this is the only world he knows. Joy (Brie Larson) knows that she has to make a better life for Jack, so she makes an escape plan to get away from her captor, Old Nick. Surprisingly, when Joy and Jack gain freedom, emotions run high with happiness, anger, fear, and excitement and the only thing that can get them through in the outside world is love, support and the bond they have together! This movie was an emotional thriller. It had a remarkable story and is very suspenseful. If you like to keep your emotions running high, this is the movie for you! Overall Rating: A

The Image Revolution

By Darla - AV   |  April 1, 2016

The Image Revolution is an entertaining documentary delving into the history of seven comic book artists - Rob Liefold (Deadpool), Jim Lee (X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Whilce Portacio (X-Factor), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Todd Mcfarlane (Spawn) - who all left Marvel Comics in 1992 to form their own company, Image Comics. The film is appealing to both comic book fans and those not familiar with the artists, because the interviews reveal how each artist started drawing, and also what influenced their individual styles of sketching. Industry insiders and many comic artists give their spin on the rise, fall, and recovery of Image Comics. Newer artist, Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) recounts how Image comics gave him his big break in the business. The archival footage and interviews with the artists and industry insiders make this film charismatic and impressive to people with particular interests in either the comic world or film history. Overall Rating: A+

The Peanuts Movie

By Barb - AV   |  March 25, 2016

If you are a fan of the Peanuts gang, you will enjoy The Peanuts Movie. This movie brings together familiar storylines from the comics and television shows. In this heartwarming tale, an empty house on the street where Charlie Brown and his sister, Sally, live begins the conversation of who is moving in and, in the school room; the gang discovers it is the little red haired girl that captures the heart of Charlie Brown. From there the movie tells the tale of Charlie Brown finally gaining the confidence to have a conversation and a friendship with the little red haired girl. The kite eating tree, Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace battling the Red Baron, Lucy’s opening her psych practice for more friendly advice and many more favorites are all part of Charlie Brown’s quest for the little red haired girl. The cast of supporting characters - including Schroder, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and the rest of the gang- round out the story lines of this enjoyable film. For long time fans, this movie will be a fun trip down memory lane and for new viewers this is an introduction to a classic comic series that will quickly become a new favorite. Overall Rating: A

Victor Frankenstein

By Allison - AV   |  March 18, 2016

Having an English degree as part of my background, I was interested to see what James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein) and Daniel Radcliffe (Igor) could add to the classic Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley story of “Frankenstein”. Despite the film’s title, the movie’s main character is actually Igor, Frankenstein’s assistant whom he saved from a life in the circus. Igor is utterly devoted to Frankenstein for being his personal savior, so much so, that, despite his own beliefs, he fails to stand up against Victor Frankenstein’s manic obsession with the creation of artificial life until the very end of the film. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the movie: The storyline felt muddy, Igor’s transformation from hunchback to upright man seemed too easy, and I never felt a strong desire to get to the film’s end and see its outcome (although, those familiar with the story of Frankenstein’s monster already know the story’s culmination). Not what I would call a true “horror” film, “Victor Frankenstein” does its job in shedding light on how a man could become crazed enough to create a horrific version of artificial life, but I certainly don’t feel as though I need to ever watch it again. Overall Rating: C

Bridge of Spies

By Pam - AV   |  March 11, 2016

Bridge of Spies is an entertaining Cold War thriller, directed by Steven Spielburg, and starring Tom Hanks as attorney James B. Donovan, and Oscar winner Mark Rylance as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. It is a little known story of lawyer turned hostage negotiator. Attorney Donovan has been tasked with defending Rudolf Abel against the charges of spying on the United States. In spite of the fact the windows in his living room are shot out, he believes that Abel deserves a proper defense. When the Soviets capture Gary Powers, the pilot of a U-2 U. S. spy plane, Donovan is asked to go to Berlin as a private citizen to negotiate a trade of Powers for Abel. One of the strengths of the movie is the bond of mutual respect and common understanding that develops between Donovan and Able, during a time when trusting your enemy could get you killed. There are several light hearted moments when Donovan asks if Abel is worried. Stone-faced Abel replies, “Would it help?” As usual, Tom Hanks’ performance does not disappoint. He deftly plays a man who is part everyman, part genius and all around good guy. This was my first exposure to Mark Ryland’s acting ability. He is superb as Rudolf Abel – definitely an Oscar winning performance! Overall Rating: A

Grandma

By Amy - AV   |  February 26, 2016

Grandma, starring Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner, is a comedy-drama about Elle, (Tomlin) an aging poet and author who has just been broken up with by her girlfriend, and is still grieving the death of her life-partner of 38 years. Elle gets a surprise visit from her granddaughter, Sage, (Garner) who is in desperate need of $630 by sundown. The two set out on a road trip to get the money and, along the way, reunite with some interesting characters from Elle’s past. Tomlin is an incredible actor, and I was really looking forward to seeing her in her first leading role in 27 years, but I was a little let down. Many of the reviews I read about this movie called Tomlin’s character grouchy, but lovable. I agree with the grouchy part, but not the lovable part! I really wanted to like her character and, although there were a few moments where she let her guard down, even those ended quickly with a cranky and usually somewhat rough remark. That being said, the movie was very well-acted and will appeal to some, although it does touch on many very sensitive and controversial subjects. Even though it is billed as a comedy-drama, it is quite serious and has many heart-wrenching moments that are definitely suited for a mature audience. Overall Rating: B-

Straight Outta Compton

By Melinda - AV   |  February 19, 2016

Straight Outta Compton is a biographical story that follows the lives of the 1988 most notorious and controversial rap group of all time from Compton, California, otherwise known as N.W.A. The stars of this film that portrayed the members of the group were Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella and Paul Giamatti as N.W.A.'s manager Jerry Heller. As the film opens up, Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) shows the audience the dangerous life that he was living in the midst of drugs and gangsters on the streets of Compton. The scenes continue to unfold to show the brutal honest depiction of what it was like for Eazy-E (Mitchell) and the other members of N.W.A. to grow up in the streets of Southern Los Angeles and their daily struggles to become music artists despite their surroundings. These 5 members of N.W.A. were determined to transform hip hop culture with their music no matter what the cost. I was excited to watch this movie because I grew up in this era and N.W.A. was a huge part of cultural history that will never be forgotten! I loved this movie! Overall Rating: A+

The Martian

By Angie - AV   |  February 12, 2016

Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Whatney in this sci-fi, space-adventure that is action-packed from the very beginning. During a manned mission to Mars, the crew of the Hermes is hit by an intense storm that forces them to abort their mission and head back to Earth. However, during the storm, Whatney is hit by debris, separated from the rest of his crew, and left unconscious on the desolate planet. His fellow crew members safely board their rocket, and assuming that Whatney has been killed, they begin their flight back home, while mourning the loss of their dear friend and colleague. Back on Earth, NASA too believes that astronaut Whatney was killed during the storm, and holds a press conference to announce the news to the media and the nation. Meanwhile, back on Mars, Mark Whatney has indeed survived the storm (and his resulting injuries), but is far from confident that he will stay alive long enough to alert anyone that he is still there, let alone ever be rescued. The film follows his ingenious efforts to survive alone on a deserted planet, and the dedication of the NASA team to bring him home. Filled with superb effects, action that captivates you until the very end, and witty humor throughout, this film is another stunning success by director Ridley Scott. Overall Rating: A

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+

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