Movie Thoughts

I am my own Movie Critic.

Welcome to LRPSP Movie Thoughts! To start off with – let me say something about the Movie Thoughts tag line. It goes more to my feelings about the way Movie Critics come across to Movie Audiences as intellectuals whereas Movie Audiences come across more as children to the Movie Critic. Sometimes you might feel like you need an “Understanding Movie Critics for Audiences” guide and I suspect some Movie Critics might feel like they need an “Understanding Audiences for Movie Critics” guide.

The perception comes from the way the two camps approach their movies. The Movie Critic is likely to see every single movie that comes out, and thus their basis for a rating is an overall bell curve that places the vast majority of movies in the middle as just average. Some Movie Critics are also likely to practice the “art” of their trade and apply some sort of pseudo-scientific methodology (let’s be honest here … Movie ratings are not exactly Science no matter how you slice and dice it) rating the movie on a scale of Acting, Cinematography, Writing, Directing, etc. These are all fine and well, but they seldom go to the heart of whether or not I will like a movie.

Audiences on the other hand, are likely to see only those movies they have a keen interest in, or they might see a movie on a special occasion, the vast majority of audiences will see movies sporadically and generally during the peak of the block buster releases. Thus audience ratings are based upon the last great film they saw weeks, or even months ago.

And that is why I am providing a Movie Thought and not a movie review. I have no special scale to employ when I see a movie, I try to see most of the major movies released in the theater, but by no means catch them all, and I simply look for the entertainment value. So I offer my Movie Thoughts. They’ll work for some people and for others they’ll miss the target.

Here at LRPSP, I believe Movie Communities (those with like-minded movie tastes) will be a better guide to determining if you will like a movie or not. One day I’d like to build our own rating database. If the database and analytics were built properly, you would be able to develop comparisons of your ratings to others and, over time, build communities of those with similar movie tastes. Hopefully that would serve you better than any movie review out there. Only time will tell.

LRPSP Movie Thoughts - I am my own Movie Critic.

This image (to the left of this text block), obviously, is a movie ticket, but more to the point it is the last movie I saw before I started archiving my Movie Thoughts and started building this page for LRPSP.  Each of my Movie Thoughts (on this page) will contain a Movie Ticket archiving when and where I saw the movie.  You will note on this particular ticket that there is no charge.  This is because this ticket was acquired through my Regal Crown Club membership and not for any other reason.

And now for my Movie Thought – Girl Rising (IMDB: Girl Rising) is a documentary about the plight of young women the world over.  It is particularly focused on young girls and education.  I thought it was fairly well made (it is by no means the best documentary I’ve seen), but it made its point and it held my interest reasonably well.  I was particularly moved by the stories of the young girl from Haiti, and the young lady from Nepal.

The film, by its own admission, does not reveal any great new information on the plight of young women in the world today.  Most, if not all, of the statistics given could be found with proper searches on the Internet.  What it does do is introduce you to the personal stories of nine, real young women who embody a particular plight or hardship.  This personal touch, interspersed with the statistics (which I found only somewhat cleverly presented) has a heartwarming approach that I found somewhat interesting.  The film does make an appeal for donations, but I didn’t find them over the top.

This film had a special appeal to Lynn (my wife), because at one point she was one of the girls depicted in the film.  My wife is from the Philippines, and she grew up living in a bamboo hut, and faced some of the tribulations confronting some of the girls in the film (although she did attend school in the Province).

Girl Rising is rated PG13, but I thought all of the scenes were tastefully handled and I don’t think that most parents would have a problem with their younger children seeing the film.

Girl Rising – not a great documentary, but not a bad one either.  I give it a 4/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Company You Keep (IMDB: The Company You Keep) is about former Weather Underground members who have been in hiding for 30+ years when some of them begin to have a change of heart initiating actions that place all members of the group in jeopardy.

The Company You Keep is actually full of mystery and intrigue.  Starting out with actual footage of news reports from the 1960’s and 1970’s, it quickly jumps to more modern times and begins to build its story of fiction and obscurity.  The movie holds your attention rather well, but does have one small slow spot in it near the end of the film.

What I liked about the movie is it is a good mystery, and who doesn’t like a good mystery?  The movie tells a sordid tale of criminals on the run, impacts of the choices one makes on the lives of those around them, and a hint of the clandestine as things are not always what they appear to be.

What I did not like about the movie (very small spoiler alert here) is the investigative reporter in the film seemed just a little too super human to me.  He unraveled the story line with too much ease.  He should have had to work much harder than he did to get to the truth and neither should he of unraveled things given the information he had.  There was also one part at the end that was drawn out just a little too long such that it gave enough clues to be able to figure out the action that was about to be taken.

But what I did like about the film more than made up for the small annoyance of what I didn’t like.  The movie was a fun and interesting story that was well told, very well spaced out, ran at just the right pace for the length of film, and touches one on an emotional and intellectual level.

The Company You Keep – rated R but I didn’t see anything beyond PG13 in it.  Sure, there were some mature themes involving anti-government movements, chases involving government agencies (FBI), and some old film footage of anti-war protests, but there were no adult themes or serious violence.  The language was somewhat harsh in places, but even that did not trip my tolerance level (which is still quite low for that sort of thing).

The Company You Keep – a rather enjoyable evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Star Trek Into Darkness (IMDB: Star Trek Into Darkness) is the latest in the Star Trek series.  It is the continuing story of the Star Ship Enterprise, and in this case, her young (pre-television series) crew.

I am a huge Star Trek fan.  I grew up with it and am old enough to at least remember the original television series run.  I have also enjoyed the movies as they have come out over the years.  The turns that the story line has taken with the last couple of movies has been interesting and has shown a lot of promise for the continuation of the series.

Allow me an aside here to explain a core philosophy of my particular take on movies that are “series” based.  I view most “series” based movies as a book.  And you need to read the entire book to know whether or not you enjoy the book or not.  Sure, you may like a particular chapter more than others, but typically I want to know the story as a whole in order to determine whether or not it is interesting.  I hear comments like Star Wars I was better than Star Wars II, and in my mind I think that one laid the foundation for the other, and yet the latter completes the former.  I look at them as a whole, and then decide whether or not the story line is interesting.

While I understand that any particular “chapter” in the story line may destroy the story as a whole, all of them help complete the story and contribute to my overall like or dislike of the story.  It is difficult to clear ones mind of prior knowledge and you tend to judge based upon past experience.

That being said, what I liked about Star Trek Into Darkness is that it is good solid Star Trek.  That is, it is true to the story line and the characters are familiar, and the adventure is real.  And it is, after all, the grand father of space going science fiction.  Sure, there were a few others prior to Star Trek coming onto the scene, but Star Trek entered our homes and our lives in a way few others before ever had.

So naturally, I am pre-disposed to liking anything related to Star Trek as long as it at least somewhat resembles what I have come to know and love as Star Trek.

In this regard, Star Trek Into Darkness does not disappoint.  All of the familiar elements are there, the story line is somewhat unique and holds your interest, and the action is certainly fulfilling.

What I didn’t like about Star Trek Into Darkness though is what I feel is the overuse of past plot lines.  Without providing too much of a spoiler, let me say that within the story line there is very heavy use of the series past with slight twists and turns to flip the situations slightly in favor of another character or event.  This goes far beyond the actual character traits which must obviously be maintained or developed in order to make the series coherent.

Star Trek, as a franchise has so much promise and potential associated with it.  The science fiction realm has almost unlimited possibility in developing and telling new and exciting stories.  The overuse of past plots is not only unnecessary, but it also actually robs one of experiencing something new and fresh for that particular installment.

That being said however, it is still Star Trek and any real Trekkie wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.  Even if you are not a die-hard Star Trek fan, Star Trek Into Darkness is a pretty solid science fiction, space, action movie that most would not be disappointed in.

We saw Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D, and it was pretty good, however I don’t think that most would mind seeing the film in 2D.  There are some pretty exciting space shots done in 3D, but if the extra cost is a concern, I’m sure the 2D version is just as fulfilling.

Star Trek Into Darkness – Rated PG13, but refreshingly easy on the language, not too heavy on gore (but people do die, and things do get destroyed).  Probably not a real issue for most older children.  I had a six year old sitting right next to me during the film, and for at least the portion she paid attention to, didn’t seem to be phased in the least.

Star Trek Into Darkness – a very enjoyable evening at the movies.  But I found it to be just good, solid standard fare.  Due to the overuse of past plot lines, I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Place Beyond the Pines (IMDB: The Place Beyond the Pines) is an intriguing story of a roadie (a circus side-show motorcycle rider) who fathers a child during a ”fling” while passing through town setting off a chain of events that at times seem almost surreal while all the while being perfectly plausible.

If anything, I like new ideas, things with a fresh look, things with a twist or turn you don’t quite see coming.  The Place Beyond the Pines certainly does not disappoint in that regard.  Quite truthfully it left me wondering exactly who, or what, the story was really about.  In a twist you don’t see in most mainstream films, the central figures actually change over time during the movie.

And in the end, it might actually be difficult for one to determine who the hero/heroine really is and who the villain/antagonist really are (if any).  From The Place Beyond the Pines point of view, everyone makes good, and bad choices somewhere along the way.

In a real twist of truth is stranger than fiction, The Place Beyond the Pines is ample proof that fiction still has the ability to match truth and raise it a chip or two.  And in this, either intentionally or unintentionally, it reinforces the point that we are all responsible for our own actions, that our actions carry consequences with them, and that our actions really do affect those around us.

This is one of those movies that will either draw you in, or shut you out.  And it might be difficult to determine the criteria necessary to say which is which.  From a pure entertainment point of view, I don’t think it disappoints at all.  There were no lulls in the plot (although there is one big transition that just jumps in on you) and the storyline is interesting enough to hold your attention.  But at the same time, when it was over, it was over, and I wasn’t sitting in my seat staring at the credits rolling by thinking “that’s it?  We don’t get any more?”

But is it a must drop everything and run right out and see this film right now at all costs?  I don’t think so.  Furthermore, nothing in the film would suggest there is any more value on the big screen than the home screen.  If you were to choose to wait and pick this one up on Netflix I don’t think you would experience some irretrievable loss.

The film is laced with cursing (anytime the F-bomb is used more in a film than I typically experience in everyday life – by all ages and people groups by-the-way – I begin to suspect some disconnect from the real world on the part of the film that makes it ever so slightly less credible) and there is some veiled nudity (a hand over a breast) along with some gore (slightly more than you might see on the evening news).  All of which add up to careful consideration before exposing younger children.

The Place Beyond the Pines – a pretty solid film that entertained.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Big Wedding (IMDB: The Big Wedding) is about a (surprise!) wedding.  But not just any wedding.  No this wedding has the Bride and Groom coming from the most dysfunctional, abnormal, mixed up families and relationships imaginable.  It is almost as if the writers tried to come up with every possible shocker they could and made sure it worked its way into the script.  And while not exactly South Park (for those unfamiliar with the series, suffice it to say they are equal opportunity bashers and there is no sacred ground), The Big Wedding does run the width and breadth of comedic jabs from racial slurs to relationship taboos, to substance abuse, to slapstick.

What I liked about the film is, it was funny.  Not falling down, rolling on the floor, splitting my sides, begging for mercy funny.  But the type of funny that makes you smile.  And the humor was appropriately spaced throughout the film as to make it a rather comfortable pace.  Sure, more than a few of the jokes and gags were cheesy.  And sure, a lot of it was irreverent humor taking pot shots at religion, relationships, stereotypes, racial tones, and substance abuse, but it was funny.  And sometimes you just need to put away the political correctness and learn to laugh at yourself.  And that is exactly what I think this film did.

What I did not like about the film is (and this is almost universally true for every single movie of this type) that there comes a point in the movie where they feel it necessary to slow down, stop with the foolishness, and make some grand, deep, and really important lesson about life.  Did Laurel & Hardy ever feel it necessary to teach life lessons in their comedy?  Not that I know of.  Did Charlie Chaplin ever take time out for a serious note in the middle of his comedy?  Not that I can tell.  So why is it that films today have to pause and teach me some Zen lesson (as if I were not already aware of it) right in the middle of enjoying the comedy?

Thankfully, The Big Wedding does this somewhat tastefully, and rather briefly, and then tries to end up on a lighter note without feeling it necessary to have the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset on a great white steed.  It seems to stick to its roots and rolls its comedy from beginning to end allowing you to leave with a smile and a small chuckle.

But exercise caution with this film, it will offend some and put off others.  If you have little tolerance for political incorrectness, if general slapstick humor turns you off, if you are easily offended when sacred ground is tread upon and mocked (the Church, marriage, race, relationships, etc.), then this film is probably not for you.

The film has some use of foul language (not particularly overbearing though), quite a few sexual innuendoes, and one full female nude scene from the back with her turning slightly.  It is probably not appropriate for underage audiences.

The Big Wedding – a rather humorous night out at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Fast & Furious 6 (IMDB: Fast & Furious 6) definitely falls into my “series” movie category.  And in this latest chapter our gang of would-be street thugs find themselves going up against international terrorists.  Government Agents have been stymied by this ring of criminal professionals to the point where they find themselves forced into entering into an unlikely partnership with the criminals they previously were out to take down.

What I liked about the movie is action, action, action, and more action.  For an action hero buff, this movie definitely delivers.  I don’t believe there was one slow spot in the entire movie.  From the opening credits to the ending sequences, this movie moves.  The action is fast paced and as unbelievably on the edge as you can possibly get.

What I didn’t like about the movie was the seemingly in-ability to leave anyone dead.  I don’t mind suspending disbelieve in the movie realm, but I at least expect the story line to be consistent with the parameters it sets up.  In the case of Fast & Furious 6, they have a hard time staying consistent within their own world.

The movie has its fair share of humor, and there is more than one surprise twist within the plot line.  Even the most careful movie watcher is apt to miss some of the clues presented within the film, only to find themselves pleasantly surprised by a turn of events they didn’t see coming.

The movie is a little longer than standard, but it will not leave you bored at any point in the film.  If you liked any of the previous installments in the Fast & Furious series, you are bound to love this one.  It does not disappoint in any way, shape, or form.

Normally I would deem a movie like this to be just good, solid, standard fare.  But Fast & Furious 6 has enough twists and turns as to earn it an extra point in my book.  The movie is a little heavy on the flashbacks to the previous five films.  Part of this is because of the aforementioned suspense of disbelief that they need to go back and explain.  But the story line is exciting enough to more than make up for this.

The movie also has the most blatant setup for a sequel I think I’ve ever seen in a film.  You’ll definitely want to catch all of the ending in order to solidify what is obviously coming – part 7.

Fast & Furious 6 is rated PG-13 for the action within the film.  However, the language is tolerable throughout most of the film and the action scenes are not filled with unnatural gore (as a horror film would depict).

Fast & Furious 6 – a rather exciting afternoon at the movies and a must see for any action movie lover.  I give it a 6/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Epic (IMDB: Epic) is an animated fantasy concerning the interaction of our world and the mythical world of magical forest creatures (not quite akin to Elves or Goblins, but definitely in the same venue).

I love originality in films.  I really enjoy an afternoon at the movies watching a story that is fresh and new.  And in this regard, Epic does not disappoint.  It is an exciting story of adventure with a hint of familiarity, but with fresh twists, and new material.

The film does a wonderful job of building a strange new world and drawing you into it.  It has the right balance of struggle and achievement as to create a compelling tale that holds your interest throughout the film.  The film also has romantic tension and humor thrown in as well.

The animation is extremely well done and the fantasy world has a rich feature set that will intrigue and mystify.

What I didn’t like about the film, is one of the best points of humor in the entire film was given away in the trailers.  Nonetheless, the film had several other very good humor points that lessens this disappointment.

The film is the classic struggle of good against evil with a would be prince and princess thrust into the middle of events by unforeseen circumstances.  However, don’t think that the predictable plot line means boredom or stagnation.  Quite the contrary.  The film does a very good job of weaving a unique enough story as to hold your interest from beginning to end.

Also, just because this is a “children’s” film doesn’t mean that adults cannot enjoy it as well.  There is plenty of humor and character interaction that will keep most adults engaged throughout the film.

Granted, if you are a hardcore action fan, there are other Movies currently out (see my other Movie Thoughts) that are a better pick for you.  But if you enjoy the occasional fantasy and/or animation, Epic is a great film to have on your list.

I’d also highly recommend you see this film in the theater.  You’ll notice from the ticket that we saw this film in 3D.  And it was superb.  This film excels in 3D and I would definitely suggest you spring for the extra few $$ and see it in 3D.  From the opening sequences to the ending credits, this film was made for 3D viewing.  It may very well be the best 3D feature I’ve seen this year.  It may be worthwhile on DVD or Netflix, but for a real movie buff, this film is a must see in the theater.

Epic is rated PG although it is family fare all the way.  It may be a little intense in spots for younger children, and assuredly has concepts within the plot line that small children will not grasp, but I doubt it will give very many nightmares.  It is a rather thrilling film that should be fun for the whole family.

Epic, a refreshingly different and new story line, and a most enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10. Your mileage may vary.

The Internship (IMDB: The Internship) is about a couple of sales guys who lose their jobs when the company they work for shuts down and they step out of their comfort zone in order to further careers.  Either that or it is a movie about internships at Google.  However, it really doesn’t matter, because The Internship is a heartfelt story that makes for good entertainment.

The film has its slow spots, and some of its humor will be lost on the non-Geeks in the audience, but it passes all the elements to be good, standard fare.  The film is not unlike its moral: Googliness.  Q: What does that even mean?  A: The fact that you don’t know is why you will never, ever work here.  This film has a type of charm and wit that only some movie audiences will appreciate.  Others will be left with the question: What did I just see?

What I didn’t like about the film were the lulls.  It is not that the plot leaves you completely uninterested, that is not the case, but you definitely have to see the film through to the end in order to get that warm, fuzzy feeling that the good guys win and the bad guys are sent packing.  The relationships within the film could have been a little bit sharper and had the story defined the situations a little better, you might have felt a tad sorrier for the underdogs and held a little more animosity towards the bad guys.

One thing I will always try to do here is to bare my biases towards movies.  Since anyone’s biases bend their likes or dislikes of something, the more you know about them, the more you may temper their thoughts and line them up with your own.  And in the interest of openness, here at LRPSP, I am no fan of Google.  I’ll go out of my way to use another search engine if I can possibly avoid Google at any cost.  The driver behind my bias is that Google, as a company, has anti Second Amendment leanings and bends their business practices in like manner.  And I love Westerns.  And a good Western has a show down at high noon.  A couple of cow pokes squaring off against each other on main street in the center of town with a couple of six-shooters.  Six-shooters worn at their side and carried in the open, Second Amendment style.  And thus, Google, in my estimation, downplays Second Amendment rights and in doing so threatens great American Western movies.  So I am no fan of Google.

But biases and all, I am a fan of The Internship.  I had to go all the way to the end before becoming a fan, but it eventually won me over.  In the end, the whole film comes together and you are left with the satisfying feeling that sometimes underdogs do finish first, and sometimes the right things happen at the right time for the right reason.

The Internship is not exactly over flowing with action, and some of the jokes fall flat, but it certainly has its moments and it is one of those films that has enough peaks placed at the right intervals, that just when you think you are going to lose all interest, find yourself suddenly riveted again.

The Internship is rated PG-13 and has some fairly harsh language in places.  And since my foul language tolerance is already low, it made me wince in spots.  However I managed to get through it without being too uncomfortable.  There are definitely some adult themes portrayed in the film, however despite a scene in an “adult dance club”, there were no nude scenes.  The film is not really suitable for younger audiences (this despite the fact that the theater I was in was heavily populated by an audience under 13).

The Internship – not a bad afternoon at the movies.  If you don’t feel inclined to rush right out to the theater to see this one, don’t worry, it’ll do just fine as a Netflix or box rental on a stay-at-home evening.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (IMDB: Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor) is a film about a pair of childhood sweethearts who end up facing the struggles and realities of life as they grow older.  The film may contain some elements of the triumphs or defeats we all experience at some point in our lives.

What I liked about the film is that it took a set of very ordinary struggles and desires and played them out in a very unordinary way.  In doing this the film transcends the mundane of every day life and tells an interesting story that tugs at the emotions of the viewer.

What I might differ with the film on (ever so slightly) is the thought that it was temptation that led the heroine astray.  We are all tempted by something or other at various points in our lives, usually nothing as extravagant as is depicted in the film (but I admit that it is necessary in the movie world to embellish the situation, were it more down to earth, it wouldn’t be as interesting a story), but nonetheless tempted.  How we deal with the temptation however is largely developed by our world views.  In the film, while some effort was given to develop the characters world views, I found it somewhat lacking.  What came across to me is that the heroine had never established the firm foundation of a particular world view to begin with (this despite the films effort to establish a return to grace in the end).

However my nitpick is mild compared to the overall development of the film.  It told an interesting story, took everyday pieces of life and made them humorous, challenging, thoughtful, and interesting, and it told a captivating story.  And it told it in such a way as to leave out a lot of fanfare and bravado that so many films feel it necessary to include.  The film doesn”t really build, and climax, and then conclude so much as it just carries your interest from beginning to end.  And it does this by making the characters identifiable and real (even if the story line is somewhat surreal).

Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is rated PG13 which is an appropriate rating for the film.  Refreshingly, the language within the film was tempered, there were some humorous parts without being crude, and there was some mild innuendo of adult themes.  Quite frankly though, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is a story line that just will not appeal to most young children and only the most mature of young adults will have the attention span necessary to stay with the film.

I liked the film, probably slightly more than most.  I’d guess that for most people the general audience rating published is fairly accurate.  But I liked it slightly better than average.  I give it a 6/10.  Your mileage will definitely vary.

Pain & Gain (IMDB: Pain & Gain) – is a movie loosely based off the real life events of the so-called Sun Gym Gang in Miami, Florida around the 1994 – 1995 time frame.

Pain & Gain did not work for me on many levels and yet I suspect it will do reasonably well at the Box Office.

Perhaps I should explain a piece of my foundational world view in the evaluation of this type of Movie.  For the most part, the vast majority of human beings live ordinary lives.  Even among extra-ordinarily successful people such as Presidents or Kings, most of our lives are average – because that is what average is – the norm.  And “average” just does not make for a good Movie.  The rare exceptions in real life – President Abraham Lincoln, or World War I and II, are examples of exceptions that make for interesting movies, or at least good documentaries in my estimation.  Most everything else outside of the rare bounds comes across as mundane.  The biggest problem with the mundane is that you either have to embellish it to the point it stretches credibility on the big screen, or else you end up with really long frustrating slow spots.

Pain & Gain did not just come across as mundane, but incredibly outlandish.  If you examine what record there is of the factual events, you learn that the movie took great liberties with the story.  But it did not just alter the story for the sake of time, format, or artistic interpretation, rather it altered the events in such a way as to come across as a cheesy comedy.  But not a great comedy, just an average or even sub-par comedy.

There were some points where one thinks “surely these individuals could not have possibly been that idiotic” and yet the Movie would have you believe that they were, even to the point of mocking them in the end.  Reality probably did not match much of the Movie at all.  While the murders, extortion, theft, kidnapping, and other actions of the Sun Gym Gang are horrendous and despicable, they do not rise to the level of a mass murder, or the outlandish actions of figures worthy of a footnote in history.  And thus, from my perspective, made for a pretty lousy story.

That being said however, Pain & Gain is not slow nor does it lack action or the ability to hold your attention.  I found it only mildly assuming, others may find it more or less.  While there is not much mystery or intrigue in the Movie, there is wine, women, and song, with a double murder thrown in for good measure.

Pain & Gain is rated R – an appropriate rating for this Movie.  The film contains a few counts of female nudity from the waist up, a fair amount of foul language, depictions of kidnapping, torture, murder, bodily dismemberment, and body parts.  It is definitely not a film for younger children.

Pain & Gain – I give it a 3/10, once again, your mileage will definitely vary.  I gladly recognize I will fall into the minority on this one, but it just wasn’t all that interesting a story for me.

Mud (IMDB: Mud) (which would be more appropriately named Ellis) is about a couple of teenage boys growing up on the river in Arkansas who meet up with a criminal fugitive whom they willingly, if not unwittingly, find themselves helping as he tries to reunite with the woman he loves and avoid those that are trying to track him down and bring him to justice.

At least that is what trailers and reviews would paint Mud as.  Dig a little deeper than that and you might find that Mud is actually about a 14-year-old boy (Ellis) growing up in Arkansas who is somewhat of an idealistic romantic in his youthful innocence and who begins to experience the harsh realities of life as a series of events begin to unfold that draw him deeper and deeper into a tangled web of deceit, jealousy, and murder that eventually shake his foundations and belief in mankind.

What I liked about the film is that young Ellis is the perfect romantic.  Chivalrous, brave, un-daunting, willing to take on tasks much larger than he can handle, and willing to fight the largest foe around.  The film is a true David & Goliath story from the perspective that young Ellis will do anything (and fight anybody) for the honor of a lady.

What I didn’t like about the film is that it is slow.  And by slow, I mean this film really, really drags on.  It takes forever for plot development and even the action scenes themselves lack punch.  Scenes that should have had me sitting on the edge of my seat were actually just ho-hum.

Even so, the sheer determination and unrelenting romanticism of young Ellis, even in the face of every single tribulation life can throw his way, is endearing and goes a long way in making up for drawn out plot development.

Mud also has the bad guy you want to love and a seeming twist in the end that actually ends up being the typical ride off into the sunset (and presumably bliss) that actually restores young Ellis’s faith once he has had it dashed upon the rocks (at least as close as this film came to dashing one’s hopes).

Mud is rated PG13 but is extremely mild with some language and a very brief scene of violence.  It should be fine for younger audiences.

Mud – Pretty typical fare for this type of movie.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Iron Man 3 (IMDB: Iron Man 3) is part of the continuing series of comic book hero movies that bring what was once relegated to the printed page to life on the big screen.  Iron Man 3 is another installment in the life of Tony Stark and his super human feats, as well as his super human challenges.

Let me just say right off the bat here that I love comic book hero movies.  They are one of the things that make movies great.  Comic books contain just about the right mix of fantasy and real life experience to immerse you in a good story and yet keep you detached from the experiences of the hero or villain at the same time.  And Iron Man is a comic book character that has just the right balance of ability and vulnerability as to make his struggles compelling yet not underwhelming.

Iron Man 3 does not disappoint from the beginning.  Starting out with an apparent flashback, it builds its storyline with just the right amount of detail to keep you interested without boring you with more detail than you want or need.  And it holds the pace throughout the whole movie without ever losing you along the way.  This movie is definitely one of those movies where at the end of the movie you stand up not realizing you”ve just sat in a theater seat for 130 minutes.

It also contains just the right amount of subtlety so as to keep you in suspense of what is coming up next.  Don’t get me wrong here, you know the good guy (Iron Man) is going to win at the end of the day (and thus the bad guys are all going to lose), but there are enough twists in the story line as to keep you guessing as to what is coming up next.

As part of these twists, the story line is rife with humor.  So much so as a matter of fact, that the audience I was in was laughing so hard in some places that I actually missed a few lines in the movie.

With these types of movies you know what you are getting, you just don’t know if the story line is going to be compelling, or if the action is going to excite you.  In the case of Iron Man 3, you know what you are getting, and as far as I’m concerned, the story line is great and the action is very compelling.

Iron Man 3 – rated PG13 for the violence but mild on the language and adult themes and probably OK for more mature, younger teens.

Iron Man 3 – a great night out at the movies.  I give it a 7/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (IMDB: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) is the story of the beginnings of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character.  The movie chronicles the early life of the young CIA analyst, his influences, his Military career, his recruitment into the CIA, and his first real field assignment.  It is an Action Spy Thriller.

What I liked about this film is it was classic spy vs. spy with a good measure of action thrown in.  I do not believe Tom Clancy would have been too disappointed in this film although it certainly took free license with his work.  Most of the fundamentals of the Jack Ryan character were there and the film had me believe in the world it created.

What I didn’t like about this film was they accelerated the timeline of the Jack Ryan character.  There were events and influences upon his life drawn from real world events that came after the creation of the character himself.  Tom Clancy certainly was aware of the real world events as they happened, however he could not have deveined the future and the simple truth is he created the Jack Ryan character with a different set of world events and with an earlier time line.  I saw little reason to depart from that in the film, and had they kept the original set of events and time lines (as opposed to trying to make it more modern and updated) I would have found a little more credibility with the story line.  A more noteworthy criticism however is that the story was rather slow in places.  Just slow enough to deduct a point in my book.

This film will appeal to all action lovers and spy thriller lovers out there.  It might also make for a great family night at the movies.  While this film works great on the big screen, there are few scenes that make it an absolute necessity to see there.  It would definitely make for a good evening as a Netflix or box rental.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is Rated PG-13 for violence and adult situations.  The language was tolerable for me (I only remember a handful of inappropriate language uses) and there was no nudity in the film.  It should be OK for most family viewers although it is an Action thriller and there are depictions of fights, killings, and kidnappings, so use good judgment with younger viewers.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – a pretty nice evening at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Tai Chi Hero (IMDB: Tai Chi Hero) is a foreign film (Chinese) about the Chen family in the 19th century, the struggles they faced under government oppression, and the beginnings of Tai Chi – a Chinese martial arts form.

First of all, allow me a couple of asides here by way of explanation.  The first is, I will wager that many were expecting to see Star Trek in this slot, and you will, soon.  Some close friends wanted to see Star Trek with us and they could not make it today.  So we will see it later this weekend.  Secondly, Star Trek is literally the only new major film release on Oahu this weekend (we checked all theaters).  So since we have seen everything else, we knew it was time to take a side step and see a non-major release.  We will do this from time-to-time.  In this particular case, we decided to see a foreign film.

Admittedly, foreign films are a challenge.  If you do not speak Mandarin (in this particular case) there is the language barrier.  Foreign films may also introduce a cultural barrier.  And there may also be a lack of historical context if you are not well versed in the history of the people, country, or times being depicted in the film.  However they can be very rewarding and there are some pretty good ones out there if you choose carefully.

For my own particular tastes, martial arts films are usually a win-win.  And I have been looking forward to this one for a couple of months now.  And I certainly was not disappointed.

Tai Chi Hero was a tale of romance, intrigue, struggle, oppression, and perseverance.  And it was pretty easy to follow, despite being sub-titled.  The story chronicles the history of the Chen family who practiced and developed a form of martial arts so pure, it was legendary throughout the land.  But the Chen family was also under a thousand year old curse for the sins of an ancient student who had used what he had learned from the Chen family to destroy and terrorize a village.  When a stranger, who is actually a rebel freedom fighter against the government, shows up and saves the life of the oldest Chen daughter, she marries him and agrees to teach him her families martial art style.  This sets into motion a chain of events that leads many to believe that the curse has been revisited upon the family.  In addition to this, some government leaders are plotting against the Chen family because they want to build a rail road right through the middle of their village and they want them to move.

What I liked about the film was the story line was pretty straight forward and held my attention for the length of the film.  It was fascinating and told in such a way as draw me into the lives of the family, their adversaries, and their benefactors.

What I didn’t like about the film was the sub-titles.  The sub-titles were done in half intensity in some places and were hard to read.  In other places they flashed across the screen so rapidly that I struggled to read the sub-title and pay attention to the action on the screen at the same time.  There were quite a few places throughout the film where the sub-titles could have been improved greatly.  That being said though, I did follow them well enough that the movie made sense and I never felt lost during the film or felt like I had missed something.

Tai Chi Hero is rated PG13 but is pretty mild.  The fighting doesn’t have the typical blood and gore associated with these types of film and the language is fairly mild (although they don’t pull any punches with the translations in the sub-titles).  It would probably be an OK film for most older children (although I’d be willing to bet that most American teenagers today would be bored with the film).

Tai Chi Hero – an enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10 – your mileage will definitely vary.

Peeples (IMDBPeeples) is a fun little comedy about a man who has never met his girlfriend’s family (even though they have been together for over a year) and wants to meet them while his girlfriend doesn’t want him to meet them.  When he shows up unannounced at a family gathering, he learns more about his girlfriend’s family than he really wanted to know to begin with.

Peeples starts off a little slow, and it also has at least two slow spots during the film, however, it does have its moments of comedy (despite giving away some of the best gags in the trailers) and it is a somewhat heartwarming story.

What I didn’t like about the film was a couple of unnecessary sub-plots that distracted (to some extent) from the main plot line of the primary couple in the film.  The girlfriends family had some serious idiosyncrasies, to the point of almost being dysfunctional, that had to be developed for the story line to make sense; but there were some unnecessary distractions along the way.

What I did like about the film was the credits.  And I am not being facetious here.  I really do mean if you stick it out to the beginning of the credits, there is a family jam session that is really quite good and has some humor in it to boot.  Too bad most of the film couldn’t have been more like that.  In this case you really do get the best at last.

Peeples doesn’t really bring all that many new gags to the table and is highly predictable.  The story line in and of itself is fairly standard fare with no real new content (although some of the presentation may be fresh).

However, other than the start of the film, I wasn’t completely bored out of my mind, and I did find at least three gags amusing enough to laugh, and the story line (though a predictable romantic comedy) did carry me through to the end.  But I don’t think it did quite well enough to classify as an average film of this type.

Peeples – rated PG13 mostly for adult themes, however this film mainly keeps the content on the family level and shouldn’t give most parents grief.  There is no nudity in this film at all and the language is some of the mildest I’ve experienced in quite a while (which is somewhat refreshing).

Peeples – Not a terrible night at the movies, but not quite an average one either.  I give it a 4/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Hangover Part III (IMDBThe Hangover Part III) brings the wolf pack together again as Alan is off his meds and is in need of professional help.  Unless all of his family and friends come together in an “intervention”, it is feared he will not respond and reject the help he so desperately needs.  This sets a chain of events in motion that quickly spirals out of control as well as remaining outrageously funny at the same time.

From the outset, The Hangover Part III has references to The Hangover, and The Hangover Part II.  Some references are strong enough as to be confusing to those that have not seen the two previous parts.  It is not that you cannot watch this movie standalone, you could, however you will certainly have more context (and certain parts will have meaning) if you have seen the previous two parts.

What I liked about the movie is it is funny.  The jokes keep coming, and the outrageous situations the wolf pack finds themselves in are never-ending.  It is a story line and a series of comical errors each creating the next event in the chain all rolled into one.  From the very beginning of the movie you are thrust into the hardly believable, almost bizarre, yet strangely compelling events that are Alan”s life.  And just like the first two in the series, just when you think you have the plot line figured out, there is a twist or turn that catches you by surprise.

The Hangover Part III fits into my “series” movies category (perhaps even more so than most).  It is simply another chapter in the book.  And it will definitely help you to have seen the previous two chapters.

What I did not like about the movie was that it was slightly heavy on the flashbacks (relying on scenes cut from the previous two installments in the series), and a very small number of the jokes were predictable.  However, this type of humor is difficult to pull off and perhaps some of the predictability is forgivable.

The Hangover Part III is one of those movies that will either work for you or it will not.  If you saw either of the first two installments (or both) and you liked them, there is a very good chance you will like this one as well.  If you saw either of the first two parts and did not like one or both of them, then you are likely to have the same criticisms of this particular installment.  If you did not see either of the first two, then you are very likely to be lost on some of the references and flashbacks (and I would actually recommend that you see the previous two before watching Part III) and depending on your particular bent towards humor could fall on either side of the line with this film.  I do not think there will be many that will fall in the center on this film.\r\n\r\nThis series does not quite make it into the cult movies classification, however it will definitely have a following and I would predict that a large percentage of those viewers that same Parts I & II will be lined up at the box office to see this installment as well.

The Hangover Part III is Rated R for content, language, and nudity.  The language is pretty harsh but did not trip my cringe meter (which is fairly sensitive).  There is some very brief nudity both male and female.  There is female frontal nudity mainly from the waste up, and full male frontal nudity.  Most of these scenes are at the very end of the movie (and as I indicated are very, very brief).  There is some violence and people die, but the film is very mild on the blood and gore.  Finally, there are some specific shock jock scenarios that may definitely turn some people off.  This film would not be suitable for young children (who would not understand the references anyways).  If you have a dry sense of humor – this film probably isn”t for you.

The Hangover Part III – a funny night at the movies.  At least as solid as the first two and innovative in this particular installment.  Will there be a Part IV?  Be sure and wait through a couple of minutes of the ending credits for some additional laughs.  I give it a 5/10 – your mileage may vary.

The Great Gatsby (IMDBThe Great Gatsby) is a film based upon the 1925 novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald by the same name.  The literary work is generally considered an American classic and has achieved considerable acclaim.  Thus, it has had several stage and film adaptations of which this version is simply the latest.

The Great Gatsby, if nothing else, is respective of the author’s original work.  It maintains a story of intrigue, deception, romance, and decadence.  The story is set primarily in the early 1920’s Long Island, New York era and deals with the obsession of one individual for a woman whom he loved, but had married another man.  The twists and turns introduced by characters who appear to be something that they are not is what gives the story a touch of excitement and mystery.

However, whenever I see a remake (as this film most definitely is), I always ask myself, so what was it in the original version that was missing, was portrayed incorrectly, or that had been added into the storyline that should not have been there, and thus compelled an entire remake of the film to straighten things out?

In some cases there are valid reasons for remaking a film that provides an enhanced version in the remake.  Things like advances in technology or cinematic effects may lead to a remake that does not suffer from the limitations of a bygone era and thus makes a better rendition of the original.  But such is not the case here.

In this version of The Great Gatsby we are simply given the story as told by the author.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And perhaps the way it is told, with artistic impressionism, abstract interpretation, and perhaps a slightly overly dramatic flare, leaves one feeling a little deflated and wondering if they might have missed something within the story line.  The grand conclusion of the story is almost anti-climatic and masks the real intent of tale.

Add to that the length of the film, 143 minutes, and this story overruns its welcome rather quickly.  It is not that the story line ever ceases to hold your attention, it does, however it could have progressed a little more quickly and not delved into the dramatic quite as much as it did.

The Great Gatsby is a fine story and makes for an intriguing movie, however (at least for me anyway) this particular rendition did not carry the entertainment value one would expect from a production of this nature.  We also saw this movie in 3D based upon various trailers leading up to the release.  The trailers that we saw in 3D seemed to indicate some real value in the city scenes for actually seeing the film in 3D.  Such was not the case in the actual film.  For myself, there was no real value in seeing this film in 3D.

The Great Gatsby is rated PG-13 but is actually quite tame compared to other movies out right now.  Some language and mature themes are portrayed, but nothing really over the top.  Still, some caution would be prudent when introducing younger audiences.

The Great Gatsby – Just didn’t rise to the level of thrilling entertainment for a night out at the movies.  I give it a 4/10.  Your mileage may vary.

After Earth (IMDBAfter Earth) is a science fiction story set 1000 years into the future of the Earth’s history.  Mankind no longer lives on the planet, and “everything” on the planet has evolved to kill humans.  Through an unforeseen set of events, a group of human soldiers (Rangers) find themselves shipwrecked on the planet and in need of rescue.  Survival of the crew comes down to one young cadet and his father, the General and Commander of the Ranger force.

After Earth was not anywhere near as exciting as it could have been.  Given the story line and material the movie had to work with, one would have expected a much grander adventure.  The movie lost points with me from the very beginning.  Its attempt to jump into the story somewhere in the present moment, and then explain the events through a journey into the past, just did not work as smoothly as was obviously intended.  The story line did not flow, rather it was jerky, and filled in different parts at different points of the movie.

What I definitely did not like about the movie was that I found it slow.  After Earth plods along at a very steady and moderate pace and even the action sequences seem rather mundane.  The movie does not exactly bore you to tears, but it doesn’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat either.  And while the movie did not drag out in spots to the point you would be screaming in your mind “get on with it already!“, it did have a few spots that were unnecessarily, and painfully, slow.

What I liked about the movie is it had a unique story line.  Originality in films will always get a bonus point from me.  The story was different, fresh, and new.  There was real adventure, interaction between a father and a son, and somewhat of an attempt to show interpersonal relationships between the rest of the family.

However, the uninteresting and unexciting way in which the story unfolds, more than masks the originality.  And when you take into account all of the missed opportunities (we were told in explicit terms that “everything” on Earth had evolved to kill humans, and yet a total of 3 encounters with supposedly dangerous life forms [indigenous to Earth] were had.  And in two of the cases the human was spared due to “acts of nature”) the film just doesn’t add up to a must see film in the theater.

After Earth is rated PG-13 for the violence and slight gore, however it is one of the milder films currently showing in theaters.  The film has no nudity, the language is very acceptable, and the gory scenes are not likely to cause anyone excessive nightmares.  It is tame enough for most families to see together.

After Earth will not appeal to everyone, and even sci-fi fans may find themselves split on the enjoyment of the movie.  If you do not feel inclined to rush right out to the theater to see this one, I’d say no harm, no foul.  It would probably pass the time just fine on a Saturday afternoon via Netflix or a box rental.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Now You See Me (IMDBNow You See Me) is a movie about four loosely connected street magicians who find themselves selected to play out a game of intrigue, adventure, and revenge on a global scale.

Now You See Me is definitely a different take on the magician venue and it does an excellent job of pulling it off.  The story will keep you engaged throughout the film.  You may think you know what is going on, but the ending will probably prove you wrong.

What I liked about the film is the story line.  It provides just about the right amount of detail to keep you interested in the movie without providing unnecessary detail leaving you wondering why you were told that.  the story will keep you guessing throughout the film.  And it moves at a very quick pace as well.  There are a few action scenes within the movie, but most of it is just basic drama.  Almost every character is an integral part of the story and there are not any distracting sub-plots.  The story is unique, well told, and holds a few twists and turns to keep you guessing.

What I didn’t like about the film is some of the action shots.  At times when there is too much going on (on-screen) at one time, it is easy to miss one part while focusing on another.  This only occurs a couple of times though.  And each time it is brief (probably less than a minute for each sequence).  And thus it is not too much of a negative.

The film is full of humor and there are a lot of those little nuances that are hard to catch unless you pay close attention to the film.  One member of the group I saw the film with commented that this is the type of film you like to go back and watch a second time, now that you know the basic story line, just to pick up on all the hidden Easter eggs you might have missed the first time through.

Now You See Me is rated PG-13 and is a little rough on the language in spots and there is veiled (drawn/cartoon) nudity (female – waist up frontal), along with a few scenes of violence.  Overall though I found it pretty mild and it should be fine for most mature children.  Younger children probably will not follow the story line anyway.

Now You See Me – a great afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 7/10, your mileage may vary.

The Purge (IMDBThe Purge) is a futuristic thriller set in America after a time of great crime and poverty.  In this futuristic America, crime has been legalized for a 12 hour period one day a year, ostensibly for the purpose of people purging themselves of pent-up evil desires.  A family simply trying to protect themselves from the ravages of people wanting to participate in the night of debauchery with impunity, finds their circumstances thrust into the middle of the crime spree though a series of events they did not exactly intend.

Despite its reverse The Hunger Games (IMDBThe Hunger Games) wannabe type plot coupled with some horror sequences reminiscent of a B-grade slasher movie, The Purge does have its moments.  Unfortunately its moments don’t quite add up to overall good entertainment.

What I liked about the film was its somewhat unique approach to a rather different story line, even if the situations our main characters find themselves in are predictable and somewhat ordinary (if not outright mundane).  The film was not afraid to show the basic evil intent of the heart of mankind (although it was somewhat flawed in that it suggested this intent was kept in check or suppressed for all but 12 hours out of the year).  Nor was it afraid to kill off significant character roles and leave them dead.  The film does a fair job of setting up and presenting struggles that create heart retching decisions that need to be made by the main characters.  But that is about all it does.

What I did not like about the film was its execution.  It had a slow start and even in the places where the suspense picked up a bit, it was somewhat forced and lacking.  The story line informs us that any crime is legal for a 12 hour period, and yet, outside of some pretty minor vandalism the only crime anyone seems interested in committing is murder.  Most of the action in the movie didn’t seem to really fit.  The premise of the story line was presented as a factual and serious way of life in the not-too-distant-future, and yet some of the suspense scenes were reminiscent of horror movie spoofs (the Scary Movie (IMDBScary Movie) series comes to mind).  There were parts of the film where everyday reality seemed to be suspended and you were left thinking that things were just a little bit too easy.  Even the horror scenes did not have your heart skipping a beat like a good horror movie would.

I know there will be those that will want to ascribe deeper meaning to this film and allude to a higher purpose in the story line.  But even there the film disappoints rather soundly.  The relationships are not clearly established, the bounds that are broken do not leave one with any sense of loss, and there is no real resolution or outcome to the film.  The moral of the story is: We let people act like the animals we know they are for 12 hours out of the year and even though some of us take the high road and choose not to participate, we can be sorely tempted and become animals ourselves until we realize what we’ve become and stop.  Well that is rather grand, but it certainly leaves one hanging.  The question that immediately comes to mind is: What happened the next year?

The Purge is rated R for horror content, however the language is pretty tolerable, there are no nude scenes, and even though there is a lot of killing and violence, the blood and gore is kept somewhat to a minimum.  The movie is definitely not for younger audiences, and most movie goers will want to make sure this is the movie for them before attending.  The Purge had no real effect that would make it a must see in the theater and if you wanted to wait for Netflix or a box rental on this one, you would not be disappointed.

The Purge, a not too exciting afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Man Of Steel (IMDBMan Of Steel) is the story of Superman told once again.  It tells the story of his origination on his home world of Krypton, his travel to Earth, the fate of his home world, and his adoption of his new home.

Before giving my personal likes and dislikes of this movie, please allow me to reiterate some of my personal biases and pet peeves.  The primary one concerned here being the endless remakes of the exact same story.  Over and over again.  And the fact that you change certain characteristics of the story does not count as making it new and fresh.  It’s the story of Superman.  Plain and simple.  And that is just all there is too it.

What I liked about Man Of Steel is that it didn’t bore me to tears during the obligatory beginning of the story line.  During the 1978 Superman (IMDBSuperman) version of the story I thought I was going to pass out before young Kal El ever made it to earth.  And then it took forever for him to grow up and get on about the business of being Superman.

This is definitely not the case in Man Of Steel.  The preface to the story, his birth, the destruction of Krypton, his journey to Earth, and all of the other thousands of details were mercifully kept short and held my interest reasonably well.  I also was pleased that his growing up years on Earth were not belabored and I particularly enjoyed the use of flashbacks or memories to fill in the relevant parts of his childhood.

What I didn’t like about the movie is the liberties that were taken with the story.  I am not exactly sure why a Director/Writer comes along and starts changing relevant facts about a story and then believes that makes the story their own.  It doesn’t.  They did not create the story, they did not tell it first, and they did not decide the events or their order.  And yet minor modifications are supposed to make it “new” and “fresh”.  It doesn’t.  The story is still Superman despite efforts to add a modern-day, personal touch.

I was particularly miffed at some of the character trait changes that were made.

SMALL SPOILER ALERT HERE – But certainly relevant to my Movie Thoughts –

The fact that Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent) now drinks a beer while alone in the kitchen, steals clothes when he needs them, and is now a killer (even though forced to be one) is just wrong in my book.  Superman was Superman because he had certain character traits (that went along with his physical traits) that embodied Truth, Justice, and the American Way.  These subtle changes are not what the author intended and are just meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

However, as miffed as I was at Superman, a.k.a. Clark Kent, drinking a beer in the kitchen, it was still difficult to not acknowledge him as Superman when appropriate.

So all-in-all, the movie is still Superman and tells the story of Superman (with some literary license) and is full of action, holds your interest, and plays well on the big screen.  I did wonder a couple of times whether or not Superman was going to have a city left to protect and clean up crime in, but overall it was pretty good Superman action.

Man Of Steel – Rated PG13 for violence and destruction.  The language in this film is rather mild for the most part.  There was some nudity though, of a young baby boy.  And we’re talking baby here.  The violence is probably tolerable for most families (it is Superman after all), and you might consider the rating accurate.  We saw this film in 3D and it definitely works in 3D.  And while I consider it a big screen type of film, those that see it on Net Flix or the small screen are not going to suffer from the action in the film.

Man Of Steel – A most enjoyable evening at the movies.  But as enjoyable as it was, it was still just Superman.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I give it a 5/10 – your mileage will definitely vary.

This Is The End (IMDBThis Is The End) is about, well, the end of the world.  And more specifically, it is about the Biblical end, as in the end of this current world as described in the book of Revelation.  However, before Christians get too excited, it is a spoof of the end of the world based upon some extremely loose interpretations of a very narrow set of verses from the book of Revelation.  One might go as far as to say that it is more a mockery than a spoof, but for the sake of fair evaluation, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

What I liked about the movie is that it is certainly original.  And originality in Hollywood always gets an extra point from me (I believe I might have mentioned that before, but it is well worth repeating).  However the major appeal of this movie will be more from its shock value than its action, humor, or drama.  It is in the vein of South Park or other films/shows that aim to hold nothing sacred but rather to denigrate all things equally.  The story line holds your interest fairly well, the special effects are somewhat cheesy, but about what you would expect from a film of this type.

What I didn’t like about the film was its tendency to be overbearing.  To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, it tended to illustrate sensationalism with sensationalism.  Case in point, when confronted with the truth of the “end of the world”, the characters refused to believe it and chose rather to continue acting in irrational ways believing things were going to improve.\r\n\r\nThis film is definitely not a family film.  And it will probably fall into the likes of cultish films, eventually developing a particular following that will remain dedicated to it for all time.  I actually heard one patron of the showing I was at proclaim “That was the best movie I have ever seen!” while exiting the theater.  Either that was the only movie he has ever seen, or else the only other movie he has ever seen just happened to be worse.  It was definitely an interesting movie, but nowhere near the best movie I have ever seen (and I’ve seen enough movies to know the difference).

This film also has the huge potential to offend.  If you do not like mockery, spoofs, or do not take things being poked fun at well, this movie is probably not for you.  More specifically, some (I would venture most) Christians will have a very high probability of being offended or put off by this movie.  Also those that find raw, quite crude, and debasing humor offensive, will not enjoy this movie.

This Is The End – is rated R for language (which was extremely prolific), adult themes including extreme sexual innuendo, portrayed drug use, and violence.  The film is definitely not suited for young children.

This Is The End – a (somewhat) tolerable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  It would have garnered a 4 except it is unique enough that it may perhaps gain cult film status.  Your mileage will definitely vary on this one.

Monsters University (IMDBMonsters University) is a prequel to the film Monsters Inc. (IMDBMonsters Inc.), which was a great film and a totally original concept.  Monsters University is the story of how our dynamic duo monsters were trained and how they came to be together.

What I liked about the film is seeing all the favorites back together again in a fresh setting.  And the university training aspect was certainly a fresh twist.  The development of the monster world, the college pranks, and the interaction of new characters, was well done and held my interest throughout the film.

What I didn’t like about the film was it lacked punch.  Most of the gags and surprise twists were easily recognizable from the original, and the film lacked part of the excitement from the first due to key characters being missed.  The little girl, Boo, in the first film really carried the day.  Take her away, and you are missing a major interest holder of the original story line that needs to be filled.  And they didn’t quite fill Boo’s shoes.  Sure, they had new and interesting characters, but none that carried the film.

Thus, Monsters University, was simply entertaining rather than great.  There were some interesting twists with Mike and Sulley, but nothing that rose to the level of the original.

However, this film falls squarely into my series film category, and as such was simply another chapter in the book (albeit an earlier chapter) and helps complete the overall story.  The film provided me new information as to the overall character development of Mike and Sulley which was interesting and entertaining.  Simply an earlier chapter in their lives.

Monsters University is slightly more child oriented than Monsters Inc. (despite the college theme).  Meaning it simply lacked some of the subtle, adult only humor in the film (or maybe I’m just getting older and not picking it out as well as I once did).  However it is interesting enough that adults will enjoy it somewhat as well.  And hey, children will enjoy it (even if they don’t catch all the college humor), and there are a lot worse things than spending a couple of hours with your children at a movie they are having fun with.

Monsters University is rated G and is 100% family friendly.  Take the kids, take the parents, you can even take the aunts and uncles.  This is one the whole family can enjoy.  There will be a very, very small subset that will decry a “cartoon”, but the vast majority of movie goers will be able to tolerate this film for a 104 minutes.

We saw this film in 3D, and it certainly works in 3D.  But if you’re not up to the extra expense, you are not going to lose any great aspect of the film by seeing it in 2D.

Monsters University.  An enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

World War Z (IMDBWorld War Z) is about the zombie apocalypse.  That’s right.  The undead have come to rule the world and boy are they upset.  Plague is spreading faster than anyone can get ahead of it and it is up to the United Nations (U.N.) to step in and save the day.

What I liked about the movie is non-stop action.  No real lulls in this film.  It tends to hold your interest from the outset (there were a couple of minutes at the outset where it got off to a slow start – but not enough to take any points away).  I also appreciated the fact that the film was brutally honest with its plot line.  I am not a real fan of films that set up a premise and then try to undo that premise prior to the end of the movie.  World War Z does not ”undo” zombies.  Once you’re a zombie, you’re always a zombie.  You’re doomed and that is it, there is no cure.

What I didn’t like about the film was it was your pretty typical zombie movie.  Not to over simplify things, but it really is: nasty disease infects humans, disease spreads faster than anything ever known before, in a matter of days or weeks the vast majority of human population has turned into the undead whose only purpose left is to eat the flesh of live humans, the few remaining live humans are in the biggest struggle for survival in human history, some unlikely hero swoops in and miraculously saves the day.

The film was very predictable from the outset, and not from prior knowledge of the book either.  As a matter-of-fact, LRPSP Movie Thoughts contributor James Holt shared the following link with me that suggests the movie and the book have nothing but the title in common: which is probably pretty accurate.

However, predictable or not, it was filled with action and very entertaining.  Besides, who doesn’t love a good Zombie invasion every now and then to test the defenses?

We saw this film in 3D and there are a couple of parts that work really well in 3D.  But for the most part, you could skip the extra expense of 3D on this one and be just fine.

World War Z is rated PG-13 for extreme scenes of violence.  And while it is pretty tame by ”horror” movie standards, it is still not for the squeamish.  Only the most mature of youngsters should see this movie (and yes, I’m aware they get the same dose in World of Warcraft).  The film is mostly mild on the language and doesn’t really go overboard with the gore.  However, you can only go so far in a zombie invasion before something (or someone) has to die.  So use discretion.

World War Z – a pretty typical afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

White House Down (IMDBWhite House Down) is the latest in the “suddenly its cool to blow up Washington D.C. as long as the White House is ground zero for all the destruction and the President just happens to be there” movies.  Not sure how else to describe these films other than that (and this is at least the second one this year.  See: Olympus Has Fallen – IMDBOlympus Has Fallen for an earlier one).  The premise is pretty basic.  Terrorist groups, either on their own, or through the help of an insider, perform incredible feats to overcome all of the White House defenses, take control of the White House (usually leaving a path of destruction through Washington D.C. as they do so), capture the President, only to encounter an unlikely hero of the day swoop in and set everything right in the world again (but only after mass destruction and numerous killings).

Don’t get me wrong here.  Everyone loves a good action hero movie and most adventure lovers need their Die Hard (IMDBDie Hard) fix every once-in-awhile.  And the White House venue and saving the President and all is a fairly interesting twist on the venue.  But at the end of the day, we all know what happens in an action hero movie, don’t we.  And that predictability is certainly not absent here.

What I liked about the movie is the action is solid.  Not overdone (except for the exception mentioned below) and not too far into the realm of superhuman feats as to put it into a category of some cheesy B grade movie (at least within the expectations of these types of movies).  There is also some Easter eggs in these types of movies as well (does the White House have an escape tunnel or not?) however these are left as an exercise to the viewer.  The President may, or may not rise to the occasion and assist the rescuer and the hero/heroine always get a treat at the end (although they simply view their actions as patriotic duty).

What I didn’t like about the movie is the parts that stretch the imagination.  It is always just the right combination of tactical errors on the part of the folks on the ground (usually Military personnel) coupled with an extra measure of super human capability on the part of the villain(s) with a dash of luck thrown in for good measure, that allows whatever unfolding scenario there is to take place. The hero/heroine though has to face some incredible odds at overcome adversity with just the right timing in order to prevail.  Usually the faceoff at the end has some pristine villain meeting up with a bloody, beaten, and war-weary hero/heroine who summons every last ounce of strength in order to overcome.

Most movie viewers get excited about these types of films and rank them in the top 30% of movies.  I see them as just standard fare, and while one may be slightly better or worse than another, they are all pretty typical in their presentation and story lines.  While there may be slight twists in the plots that are unique to each one, they are all fairly predictable and most are pretty even in their presentation.

White House Down is rated PG13 for violence and language.  The language did not trip my already overly sensitive language sensor and the battle scenes are fairly typical for this type of movie.  It should be fine for most mature teens and is not likely to cause nightmares for the average person.

White House Down – a fairly enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Heat (IMDBThe Heat) is a movie about a FBI Agent who is forced to work with a local Boston Police Detective.  Each are females and each has a list of eccentric behavior long enough to put either one of them in therapy.  The interaction here is meant to be comedic as the characters partially bumbled their way to success with some seeming help from guardian angels at times.

What I liked about the movie is it was funny, … in places.  It had enough unique comedy bits to carry you through to the end of the movie.  The action is mostly solid and there are some twists that may catch you off guard.  But overall it was entertaining.

What I didn’t like about the movie is the sucker punches.  Movies can provide you a sucker punch when they show a particularly funny clip in a trailer and then out take that clip in the movie itself.  For regular (or above regular) movie goers that see these trailers over and over again, particular scenes become burned into your memory.  When the movie cuts that scene or replaces it with a totally different take, it can create a disorienting effect during the show as your mind becomes distracted trying to resolve what you knew should be coming and you find yourself trying to assimilate the new information.  Sometimes these may work, and sometimes they may fall flat.  In the case of The Heat, it falls flat.  They should have left the scenes in the trailers in the movie and been done with it.  Admittedly, if you do not follow the trailers, then no harm, no foul and you”ll never know the difference.  For me, it was annoying.

The Heat has some slow spots, but the story is spaced out well enough to carry it through to the end.  The comedy is good in most spots and the story line, while not all that deep, is interesting enough to keep you engaged.  Still, no real reason for the weekend movie lover to rush right out and see this one in the theaters.  It will make for a fulfilling Netflix rental on a stay-at-home night.

The Heat is rated R for language, violence, and mild adult themes.  The language is a but over the top and definitely tripped my meter, the adult situations are somewhat mild and should be tolerable for most movie goers.  Still, not a movie for younger viewers.

The Heat – a fairly standard night at the movies.  I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Despicable Me 2 (IMDBDespicable Me 2) is the sequel to Despicable Me (IMDBDespicable Me) in which we find our villain, Gru, turned good guy suddenly swept into the world of hunting down super villains and saving the world.  As with any sequel, the question here is “can the new scenarios carry the day”?  And to answer this question we have to look back to our returning cast of characters to see if they can continue to entertain given new challenges and new story lines.  This type of sequel only partially falls into my ”Movie Book” category.  While there are definitely ties between the two that create continuity in some parts, there is also a stand alone nature to the sequel that allows the uninitiated to judge it on its own merits.  However, even though it only loosely fits as a ”Movie Story Book” scenario, I am going to treat it as such for the sake of fairness in my own personal evaluation.  The original set some pretty high standards that an astute viewer would be looking to see repeated in the sequel.

What I liked about the movie is it did not disappoint.  The evil minions carried the day in the original and they return in the sequel with a vengeance picking up where they left off and soaring to new heights.  The original was funny, funny, funny all the way through, mainly due to the antics of the evil minions.  The sequel comes on the scene and they are equally as funny and once again carry the movie.  The three girls adopted by Gru in the original are also a mainstay in the sequel and they carry their parts well.  Not a dry part in the movie.  It is filled with entertainment from beginning to end.

What I did not like about the movie was the introduction of some soul-searching and serious themes.  In a comedy like this, sometimes sub-plots can be distracting, and while the dealings of Gru with a certain teenage daughter were not exactly distracting, they certainly could have been handled with a little more levity to fit into the overall movie seamlessly.  This is only a minor nitpick though, and for the most part the movie was extremely engaging from beginning to end.

Most people treat animations as “children”s movies” and this was certainly the case with the audience we were a part of.  And while it is amusing to see first and second graders running around the theater lobby shouting “vee doh … vee doh … vee doh”, I’m sure most of the more complex parts of the movie were completely lost on the children.  Still, adults that have a bent for the macabre, hard-core action, or heavy adult themes are not going to find this particular venue very enjoyable.  Those a little more open to the cleverness and humor (even off beat humor) of theses types of movies will not be disappointed.  This movie would make a fine in theater experience or a definite Netflix rental.

Despicable Me 2 is rated PG which might be a little harsh.  Most children today would not think anything about the situations presented in this film.  The language is more than tolerable and the action/violence scenes are all done in over-the-top comedic fashion.  There is nothing in the film that should keep young ones awake at night although the finer points of the story will probably be lost on them.

Despicable Me 2 – an extremely funny and entertaining night at the movies.  I give it a 6/10.  Your mileage may vary.

The Lone Ranger (IMDBThe Lone Ranger) is the story of the beginnings of the masked lawman and his faithful companion Tonto.  It is a series of tales woven together in a narrative given by Tonto when he is very old to a young boy dressed as the Lone Ranger while visiting a traveling side-show of the old West sometime around the early 1930’s.

What I liked about the film was … let’s see … what I liked about this film was … uh … what I liked about this film was … Oh!  Now I remember!  What I liked about this film was it was a movie!  That was it!  It IS a movie.  Of course, in my most humble opinion, it is not much else, but it IS a movie.

What I disliked about this film was just about everything from the opening sequence to the ending credits.  There is no way in the world I can possibly express any coherent thoughts on this movie without including a few spoilers.


This film did not work for me on just so many levels.  First of all allow me to disclose my biases (as I’ve promised I will always do) so you know where I am coming from and can temper my thoughts through that filter.  I grew up watching The Lone Ranger TV series and thus had a particular idea of the Lone Ranger going into the movie.  And that idea was one that was slightly nobler than what was presented in this film.

First of all is Tonto.  Tonto in this film is presented as a cross between a soothsayer and a simple-minded individual who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his youth.  The whole scenario was definitely anti-Tonto as the original story was first developed.  In this particular rendering Tonto also “carries” the Lone Ranger.  In the original story line, the Lone Ranger was intelligent, sharp-witted, and always had a plan.  It was always Tonto that was following his lead, and it was Tonto that admired the integrity and the ability of the Lone Ranger.  In this particular rendition Tonto carries the moment in more cases than not, and he does it either in a comedic, haphazard way (supposedly because of his brain injury) or because he has some great insight into the future based upon what the spirits have told him.  In either case, it just doesn’t work.

In the original series, the Lone Ranger is an excellent marksman, an excellent fighter, is cunning and can always plan a step or two ahead.  In this rendition the Lone Ranger is totally out of his element in the West (having spent several years back East in Law School), hasn’t fired a gun in six years, and is afraid of everything thrown his way.  Totally out of character for his part and all but makes a mockery of the original story.

And the movie just doesn’t work from an entertainment value either.  If you ignore the total destruction of the characters in the movie, you would think that you would be left with a Western.  But what you are left with is a comedy that is a Western.  And at that point you cannot really judge it as a Western (thankfully so, because it falls flat on its face as such), and are left judging it as a comedy.  And on that note it redeems itself by one point in my book.  There were just enough comic points in the movie to get me through the parts I was aghast at.  There were a few laughs scattered out here and there, but trust me, as far as comedies go, this film is no Blazing Saddles (IMDBBlazing Saddles).  Now there is a real comedy that is a Western.

There is a missed opportunity in the film however.  I’m never really sure why some films come up with missed opportunities.  Perhaps it’s because the Writer/Director missed it, perhaps it’s because of royalties and/or credits, or perhaps it’s because the Writer/Director didn’t think it would work in the film.  But whatever the reason, you’re bound to know that someone in the audience somewhere is going to think of it, and thus it is a missed opportunity.

In The Lone Ranger the missed opportunity comes when Tonto and the Lone Ranger visit a particularly seedy saloon and are offered drinks of whiskey (which Tonto readily takes, all of them, and downs them one-by-one citing some Comanche Indian custom – which later turns out to be a comedy ruse when the Lone Ranger finds himself the ”guest” of the Comanche’s).  After they leave the saloon (rather hurriedly and in peril), Tonto finds Silver (the Lone Ranger’s trusty steed) with stacked beer bottles and a case, downing them as fast as he can.  Astute movie goers are probably hearing Toby Keith and Willie Nelson in their heads at this point singing “Whiskey for my men and Beer for my horses” (YoutubeWhiskey for my Men, Beer for my Horses).  Alas, such was not the case.  Had they of played a clip of that song, even just the chorus, in the background during that scene, now that would have been hilarious.

The Lone Ranger is rated PG-13 for slight adult themes and some violence (Rangers get shot, Rangers die, Tonto buries Rangers).  There is one slightly macabre scene where the evil villain cuts the heart out of the Lone Ranger’s brother and eats it in front of his men.  Some of his men vomit at this point.  Had this been a more serious Western, or a horror, that scene might have worked.  As it is, in this film it was just ridiculous.  The film however (despite those scenes), is tame enough for most mature, older children.  There is some mild language in the film but I tolerated it.

The Lone Ranger – a rather bland and disappointing afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage shouldn’t vary, but it probably will.  It should have gotten a lower score but the moments of humor did make me laugh, so there is something for that.  No need to rush out and see this one in the theater.  Netflix or a box rental is just fine.  For Netflix though, I’d put this at the bottom of my queue.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (IMDBKevin Hart Let Me Explain) is a film containing some outtakes of Kevin Hart on tour in various situations and with various fan comments up front, and then a pretty complete sketch of him at Madison Square Gardens.

I don’t even know what to say about this film.  Kevin Hart is an OK comedian.  He is like others, some of his stuff is hilarious, rolling on the floor laughing, some of it is just funny, and some of it is bland.  He’s a comedian, and like all comedians sometimes he makes you laugh, and sometimes he doesn’t.

But this is not a story.  It is a film showing a Kevin Hart standup routine.  And quite frankly, standup routines work much better live than they do in a film.  Save your money and go to the live performance if you want, or else wait for this to come out on the Comedy Channel, but you definitely don’t need to see this one in the theater (or on Netflix or via a box rental).

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain is rated R for language and adult themes.  And it is definitely over the top on the language.  I’d suggest you keep the younger viewers away, and if you’re a sensitive adult, you will probably be offended.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain – not what I attend the movies for, but he is an OK comedian.  But while some of his stuff is funny, I go to the Comedy Club, or a live show for this type of stuff, it is not what I expect at the movies.  I give it a 3/10, your mileage may vary.

Grown Ups 2 (IMDBGrown Ups 2) is the sequel to Grown Ups (IMDBGrown Ups) the story of 5 high school buddies and their experiences now grown and with children of their own.

What I liked about the film is it was consistent and funny.  While not taking anything away from the original, it doesn’t really add any value either.  It just kind of carries own with a different set of scenarios.  And the antics are pretty funny.  There is some definite humor in this film.

What I didn’t like about the film is the story line.  The film is more of a series of comedy sketches all strung together (in a pseudo story line) to more-or-less make an overall story.  It kind of makes sense, but it is somewhat disjointed as well.  The movie just doesn’t seem to flow.  It does however, have some individual quality comedy sketches.  There are probably 8 to 10 SNL quality sketches in the film.

Even with the disjointed story line however, you could follow along with the plot line they were trying to lay out.  The film does not meet the level of the original however.  It is somewhat entertaining, but not like the original was.

If you’re an SNL fan or you like offbeat, slap stick, comedy sketches, you may enjoy this film.  If not, it will probably fall flat.  No real reason to see this one on the big screen.  It will work just fine as a filler for some weeknight Netflix or box rental.

Grown Ups 2 is rated PG-13 for some language, adult themes, and mild violence (fight scene).  There is some male nudity (rear shots) but the film is fairly mild.  It is probably fine for the majority of older teens.  There are parts of the film that are rather crude however, that may be offensive to some movie goers.  Exercise good judgment.

Grown Ups 2 – an OK afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Pacific Rim (IMDBPacific Rim) is the story about monsters (dinosaurs more-or-less) that invade the Earth from another world (or dimension – the story is not quite clear on the exact origin) at the bidding/design of some aliens who desire to erase the Earth of human habitation so that they may take it over for their own purposes.  The people of Earth, in order to combat this evil, end up creating an army of incredibly monstrous machines of their own that fight the creatures.  The story is a modern-day Godzilla (IMDBGodzilla) and many of the monsters in this film are vaguely reminiscent of the plethora of Godzilla films over the years.

What I liked about the film is nonstop, heart pounding action.  As an action/thriller this film does not disappoint.  The story line, while somewhat familiar, and somewhat in-line with a B-Grade horror film of the same venue, did have some new twists and at least an attempt at a more modern flavor.


What I didn’t like about the film is its inability to stay consistent within its own world.  For some reason the film wants me to believe that it is completely necessary to build a Rockem-Sockem-Robot (that appeared to be somewhere between 1,600 and 2,000 feet tall) to go toe-to-tow with organic, flesh and blood, overgrown dinosaurs of roughly the same size, and yet a giant steel and concrete wall of even bigger proportions was not enough to keep the beasts out.  Even more disappointing was the fact that even though the story was set in the future (from today’s year), the giant robot machines were still susceptible to an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP), and one of them (that still worked) was apparently built with discrete components rather than digital components.  Which is unbelievable since we hardly manufacture discrete components anymore.  Also, apparently the giant robots were the only things capable of carrying the ”plasma” cannons that were capable of bringing the monsters down.  I’m not sure why no one figured out how to mount those in other defensive positions around the coastline, but apparently the only place they could put them is on the giant robots.  But I nit-pick here.  Best to just suspend disbelief and go with it.  You’ll enjoy the film more.

Another difficult thing about this film is simply the sheer size of the monsters and machines they were trying to convey.  when you consider that one of the giant robots was dragging an oil tanker around to use as a weapon (essentially it was a baseball bat to swing at the monster), and oil tankers are 800 – 900 feet long, and the oil tanker barely stretched from the waist of the robot to the ground (meaning the robot was anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 feet tall), that is an incredible size to put on the screen.  Even the big screen.  The Willis Tower in Chicago, IL is only 1,450 feet tall.  Here you are looking at a machine that walks, fights, shoots, and swings its arms that is taller than that.  You can either take a very, very long shot (in order to get the whole thing into the height of the screen, or you only show a fraction of the overall scene (monster and machine).  What I will say is, this film pulled it off very well.  Perhaps better than any other movie dealing with incredible oversize objects, this film did it, and made you believe it.

We saw this film in IMAX 3D and while you might shy away from the price ($35.00 in our case), I have got to say was absolutely worth it.  The sounds were awesome, the seats literally shook when the robots walked.  Whatever they did with the subwoofers and sound was definitely working.  The extra screen size was amazing for this movie and the 3D was very effective.  While you could enjoy this film in other venues and formats equally as well, seeing in IMAX and 3D is totally awesome and quite an experience.

You could enjoy this film as a Netflix or box rental, but this film has big screen written all over it.  If you see any film currently out in the theater, this is the one to choose.

Pacific Rim is rated PG-13 for violence and language.  The language in this film is fairly tolerable, there are no heavy adult themes, but there is a lot of fighting and smashing, and blood and gore.

Pacific Rim – an awesome afternoon at the movies.  This film is not for everyone, if you don’t like a bunch of (seemingly senseless) fighting and smashing of things with very little plot line, you probably won’t like this film.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

R.I.P.D. (IMDBR.I.P.D.) is the story about a Boston police officer killed in the line of duty who finds himself in the great beyond headed for either Heaven or Hell (we are not sure which) who is suddenly whisked away and recruited by the Rest IPeace Department (R.I.P.D.), a group of afterlife policemen dedicated to bringing souls who refuse to report to their proper destination (after death) to justice.

What I liked about the film is that it was actually somewhat clever.  Oh sure, it has some remnants of GHOSTBUSTERS (IMDBGHOSTBUSTERS) (although nowhere near as funny) and perhaps some small ideas from other films, but while not totally original, it did put things together in a fairly unique way and introduced a few new concepts.  And it was somewhat funny along with being very entertaining.  The movie definitely holds your attention throughout.

What I didn’t like about the film was the overuse of some themes.  Sure, we all know that when you die and you come back and run up to your former spouse and proclaim “It’s me!”, you’re not exactly going to be successful in that attempt, but the movie didn’t have to be so stereotypical on those points.

The movie is actually pretty entertaining though.  It has some great character interaction, has interesting material to work with, and is humorous as well.  The action is fairly standard and there are few (if any) surprises in the storyline (there aren”t really meant to be any though).  It is really the story and the somewhat unique twist on the themes that make this movie.

We saw this film in 3D because of the time it was shown and our particular availability at the theater.  And while it worked in 3D, and while there were 2 or maybe 3 really good effects in 3D in the film, save your money and see it in 2D.  It is probably just as good in 2D as it is in 3D.

R.I.P.D. is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and mature subject matter.  But it is perfectly fine for most youth.  It is very mild on the language, has no nudity, and although it deals with more mature subject matter (death, corruption, some references to buying sex, etc.), it is fairly tame by todays standards.  Plus this could be a fun film for everyone in the family.

I believe most movie audiences would be entertained by this film.  Some will not appreciate the humor or the story, but those folks are probably a small set.  However, there is no real reason to see this one in the theater.  So if you don”t want to rush right out to see it, catch it on Netflix or a box rental.  It’ll make a great Friday evening or Saturday afternoon when you’re trapped indoors by bad weather.

R.I.P.D. – an entertaining afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Red 2 (IMDBRed 2) is a sequel to the movie Red (IMDBRed) about a group of retired CIA agents and their foreign country counter parts.  It is a comedy/spy thriller that doesn’t stretch the boundaries of super spy gadgets or superhuman feats.  It is also a comedy/spy thriller that doesn’t over do the slapstick humor or corny jokes.  Red 2 is a standalone movie in the sense that you don’t need the information from the previous installment in order to understand the character interaction or in order to follow the story line.  It is still a ”chapter movie” in some sense though in that we have our old heroes back together again facing some new Nation State threatening scenario that they have to rise to the challenge on as they are off to save the world.  In this sense it is more like a James Bond Series film than anything else (each of the different films stand on their own, but collectively they provide information as to overall nature of particular character development).

What I liked about the movie is the action is solid, the humor is engaging, and the story line holds your attention.  The characters just ”work together well” in this film.  There is no overbearing part that leaves the other characters as secondary supporting parts, rather the whole cast and crew comes together to make the movie one coherent package.  This film (and its predecessor) are not ”spy thriller spoofs”, they are not out to lampoon the spy movie genre, rather it really is a ”spy thriller” with heavy comedy overtones.  As such, it should appeal to a wide movie audience.  If you liked the original, you will most likely enjoy this one as well.

What I disliked about the film is very little.  I’m not a fan of the transitions in the film (done in a comic book style chapter sequence), however it is only a minor nitpick.  The transitions are only minor and are not really over done, so they are pretty easy to live with.  There is one scene that is slightly drawn out, however this too is more than bearable in the overall sequence of the movie (of note, I was distracted during this portion of the film by a small child in the seat in front of me that figured out he could reach through the seat and start banging on my leg, to the point I had to lean forward and ask him to stop, so my criticism may be slightly cloudy on this point).  But even with the unfortunate distraction, there was really very little to dislike in this movie.  It was good solid entertainment.

Hard core action fans may find themselves distracted by the comedy, and those looking for pure comedy may find themselves distracted by the action, but I would still call this one for meeting the entertainment expectations of the broader movie going audience.  This film does have some great action scenes in it, but nothing that really demands you see it on the big screen (the one scene that really could have been a spectacular big screen event was shot as if it were intended for television).  So this film could either be an entertaining afternoon out at the movies, or a great evening filler via Netflix or a box rental.  If the child (first/second grade age) in front of me is any indication of small children reactions (which I”m not quite sure he is, he seemed distracted from the start of the film and two different adults had to escort him out on two separate occasions), it probably won’t make all that great a ”family outing” (teenagers could go either way – albeit without the antics of the smaller children).  So judge accordingly and in line with your personal expectations and situation.

Red 2 is rated PG-13 and has your typical spy thriller violence and ”blow up the world” scenarios, but is refreshingly easy on the language and the adult themes are somewhat tame for the most part.  It is probably good for older teens and if the younger ones actually have their attention captured, is most likely not going to produce nightmares in the majority of them.

Red 2 – a very entertaining afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Turbo (IMDBTurbo) is the story of a snail who wants to go fast.  Very fast.  Fast enough to race in the Indy 500.  You might say this snail feels the need, the need for speed.  OK.  Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  But corny-ness aside, this snail does have an inherent, built-in, unexplained, love of the fast lane.  A love that is not shared by his snail family and companions.  Other snails try to get him to face reality.  He is a snail after all.  And snails just are not built for speed.

What I liked about this film is it was somewhat unique and refreshing.  The concept of, what is presumably meant to depict one of the slowest creatures on the planet, a snail, and giving him a desire to go fast, really fast, is somewhat different in todays venue, to say the least.  Not that the venue of turning something slow into something fast hasn’t been done before (IMDBThe Flash TV Series certainly qualifies in that category), but to take something super slow, that is believed will never go fast, and turn it into something super fast, makes for some interesting possibilities.  The movie moves along at a pretty good pace and will hold your interest, even for adults.  Also, I am a huge Indy 500 fan and follow it closely.  The inclusion of the Indy 500 as the real test of speed for Turbo was a huge win for me.

What I didn’t like about the film is that the story just wasn’t exciting and engaging as it could have been.  It was all about the snail going fast, yet everything else around him that was going fast (that he took notice of) was going fast due to mechanical assistance.  And not once did Turbo ever put two-and-two together and figure out that if he were to utilize mechanical assistance (something he demonstrated in-depth knowledge about), he would be on a level playing field with the rest of his heroes.  There were also distractions in the film.  By distractions I mean parts of the story that added little or no value to the overall plot of the film.  They were things that were just part of the story that really didn”t need to be there.

Turbo is OK, but it is no Shrek (IMDBShrek), Shark Tale (IMDBShark Tale), or Kung Fu Panda (IMDBKung Fu Panda).  Those were memorable and very entertaining films.  [NOTE:  I purposely chose titles from other DreamWorks films for comparisons so as not to introduce another Studio into the evaluation mix.  Typically, here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts, our desire is to be movie production (Studio, Writer, Director, Actor, Actress, etc.) agnostic, focusing on the sheer entertainment value – or lack thereof – of the film.  But here I illustrate films I found to be more entertaining from the same Studio in order not to introduce bias towards other productions.]  But if you can only choose one currently showing film to take the kids to see in the theater (and you want the adults in the group to be entertained as well), I’d have to recommend Despicable Me 2 (IMDBDespicable Me 2) over Turbo.

We saw Turbo in 3D because the time matched up for the showing we attended.  And while it was pretty good, I saw no real reason to just have to see this film in 3D.  If you want to see this film in the theater but need to save a couple of bucks, you could skip the 3D showing and not miss much.  But I see no real reason to want to rush right out and see this one in the theaters anyway.  It would make a great Netflix or box rental and be a fulfilling evening at home with the family.

Turbo is rated PG for reasons that are totally beyond me.  I believe I caught one inappropriate word in the entire film (I’m sitting in the theater watching the film and there was a scene that was rather quick on-screen that had a verbal dialogue that suddenly had me perk up and wonder – did I hear what I thought I just heard?  OK.  That is another corny reference to the film, but I’m still thinking there was a slip of the tongue in one of the dialogues).  Sure, there are some harrowing times for the snails, a bug gets crunched, and Turbo faces some rather hair-raising challenges during the Indy 500, but I saw Bambi’s mom get shot when I was 6 years old and it was no big deal.  I’d say you could take the whole family to this one.

Turbo – an OK afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Wolverine (IMDBThe Wolverine) is a story of particular X-Men loner Logan (aka Wolverine) and his personal and psychological struggles after the death of Jean Grey.  More aptly this film could have been titled Wolverine vs. Ninja with just a hint of Wolverine vs. His Own Personal Demons.  This film most definitely falls into the ”Movie Book” category and is just another chapter in the X-Men series.  As an aside here, the ”chapter in a book” view works even when the Writer/Creator doesn’t want it to work.  Comic Book writers are the biggest offenders (in my personal view) of this particular grievance, although Science Fiction writers are a close second.  For example, a Comic Book writer will want to develop a plot line of either singular (The Wolverine) or multiple (X-Men) characters and then at some point either put them together with other characters or break them apart into individual characters.  They will want to tell the story as if it is just another adventure in the life of the individual or group, either shared or not shared.  The problem comes when the story lines don’t fit together and then the writer wants to bring in a magic wand and fix everything in some miraculous way that leaves you with your mouth hanging open in disbelief.  This does not happen in The Wolverine, but I mention my annoyance with this phenomenon to say that this is just another chapter in the X-Men series, whether I’m supposed to take it that way or not.

What I liked about the film was it is a good story.  However, even though it was a good story, it was still very predictable.  The film was entertaining, did not break the character traits of what we have come to know and love (through other films) over the course of the story, and introduced some new challenges and twists that were interesting and engaging.

What I didn’t like about the film was it was slow in spots.  The film dragged out at particular moments, the action wasn’t as spectacular as you would expect in an X-Men movie, and the story line was less about Wolverine’s personal struggles and more about the Japanese Mafia than my particular tastes desired.  Overall, I expected a lot more out of this film going in.  And lets face it, Wolverine has been up against some world shattering challenges in the past.  Real demons set on ruling the Earth.  Demons, to be sure, that required the sum total of talent and strength of the mutant group X-Men, but ones that required every ounce of ability that he brought to the table.  After that, how hard can a few Ninja be to defeat?  Also, the particular method of flashbacks, nightmares, and pseudo-dream like sequences of dealing with Logan’s past demons did not convey the true intent of his struggles for me.  They were not nearly intense enough, and Logan’s confusion and attempts to cope with new experiences were weak and flat.

The Wolverine is likely to appeal to a set audience group and not much outside of that group.  We saw this film on opening night and the theater wasn’t packed.  It was pretty full, but it definitely wasn’t standing room only.  And even the Action/Adventure crowd is likely to have some disappointment with this film.  True die-hard Wolverine/X-Men fans will have a higher appreciation for the film, but for my particular tastes, it just didn’t deliver what I was expecting it to deliver, nor what I think it had the potential to deliver.

The Wolverine is rated PG-13 for extreme violence, but most of the fight scenes lack any real gore or depict anything very radical.  There are a couple of intense sequences but nothing that rises to the shock-jock level.  The language is refreshingly mild (I probably could have counted the number of times foul language was used on both hands) and the film is very tame on the adult themes.  There is no nudity in the film and nothing that will cause nightmares.  Even so, the film may not be suitable for younger audiences.

The Wolverine – an enjoyable late night at the movies, but not the punch I was expecting.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Way Way Back (IMDBThe Way Way Back) is the story of a young man struggling through the divorce of his parents.  His mom has linked up with a new boyfriend, also divorced with a daughter, and the four of them take a trip to the boy friends summer home on the beach where they are thrown into a mix of situations involving neighbors and the local town people.  When the young man is offered a job at a local water park, he believes he has found the one true place he can call home and his co-workers become his new family.  This lasts for a while until the events of the broken relationships around him catches up with him, his mother, her boyfriend, and his daughter.  At which point his world is once again up ended, however he supposedly is made the stronger for it.

What I liked about the movie is it had its moments.  Both of them.  The story was interesting, to a point, and there were a couple of pretty funny sequences within the film that were evenly spaced apart (about 1/3 of the way through and 2/3 of the way through).  The struggles were real but the reactions were somewhat atypical for most families.

What I didn’t like about the film is its attempt to mirror real life events.  If I wanted to watch a soap opera, I’d turn on ABC, at the movies I look for a little bit of a surreal world with some fantasy thrown in.  There has to be some extra elements of mystique or surprise thrown in to make it entertaining for my tastes.  On those points The Way Way Back lacked greatly.  The movie started off very slow, built to a crescendo, inserted an interesting and humorous exchange, and then went back to being slow again.  And it did that twice.  The ending left me wondering whether to cheer or to cry.  True, the young man gained some ground and left the beach house a different person for it, but the expense that was paid leaves one wondering.  Not much of a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of this film.

The Way Way Back is definitely not for all audiences.  It is a drama that would have done much better as a made-for-TV movie than the big screen.  Most action lovers, comedy lovers, Sci-Fi lovers, and Fantasy film lovers will probably find little entertainment value in this film.

But to be fair, it did hold my interest, was somewhat entertaining in spots, and was consistent in its presentation within the world the film built.  Just not standard fare though.  I do not believe this film will appeal to average movie audiences and thus it gets a subtracted point from me.  This film would be best seen through a Netflix or box rental, but only if your queue were empty and you were groping for something to fill it with.

The Way Way Back is rated PG-13 for serious adult content, but is pretty mild on the language and has no nudity.  There is drug use (marijuana) depicted and practically every adult in the film is depicted as being in a extra-marital relationship (at great consequence to the children).  This movie is probably not a family movie if for no other reason than the very narrow appeal it will have.  Perhaps a mother-daughter outing if the daughter is an older teenager.

The Way Way Back – an afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Fruitvale Station (IMDBFruitvale Station) is the third documentary type film provided with a Movie Thought this year.  Fruitvale Station is ostensibly the real-life events of Oscar Grant who was shot by San Francisco Bay Area BART Police on New Years Day 2009.  It covers the last day of 2008 up to the beginning of the New Year in the life of Oscar, his family, and friends.

What I liked about this film is that in light of current events (the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case) it portrayed a set of compelling events in the life of one young man who through a series of events, ended up making an impact in a community through his everyday actions and choices.  I liked the fact that the film did not seem to push any agenda.  It told the story plain and simple.  And whether embellished or not, the events were told with the good and the bad.  I have little to go one as to the historical accuracy of the events (news reports, interviews, etc.), but the film at least seemed to try to present a balanced picture.  The story ended up being intriguing and it drew you into the life of Oscar Grant and presented the tragedy in the cold, hard light of reality.

What I didn’t like about the film is it was a documentary.  And documentaries usually have to be about extra ordinary events in order to be compelling.  But in this case the story was interesting enough to draw me in, and the seemingly mundane life of one individual and his family and friends was presented in such a way as to tell the events of the tragedy and not the agenda of the day.

This film obviously is not going to be a huge box office draw.  It is not intended to be an action thriller, Sci Fi, romance, or fantasy film.  Yet I found it to be good solid entertainment.  It tells a piece of history, albeit the history of a local neighborhood, with no great impact on the Nation as a whole (meaning it is not a Nation shattering story like the Civil War would be).  However, while a simple local story, it does a very good job of portraying the human condition, the plight of a family struggling to make their way in the world, and the consequences of choices and the interactions of those around them.

The story was tragic in nature, and the film does a great job of conveying that tragedy in such a way as to have you relate to the loss and the impact it made on a family and a community.  The case was pretty much an open and shut case (although the events that led up to the shooting of Oscar Grant were typical of countless others who are in the same shoes yet do not meet with the same inexplicable results).

This film may not be for everyone, but I found it compelling and well done.  And I just plain appreciated the fact that the individual struggles and flaws were not masked in any way (visible) even though the film does want you to believe in an individual who was making at least some effort to turn their life around and to provide a productive foundation to those that they (Oscar Grant) loved and cared about.  And while I acknowledge this is the particular world view of the film maker, I am left with little evidence to the contrary and am willing to accept the premise as presented.  And even if the attempts of Oscar Grant to ”turn over a new leaf” and engage in a productive life were embellished, the tragic turn of events that ended his life were not as there were enough eyewitnesses and video of the event as to confirm what occurred that fateful night.  And from that standpoint alone it is well worth a view.

Fruitvale Station is rated R for language, adult situations, and violence.  It is not for younger viewers.  The language is harsh and the events tragic, although there is no nudity in the film.  There is nothing within the film that demands it be seen on the big screen and will do well as a Netflix or box rental.  However, I’d make sure I was in the mood for this type of film before queuing it up.

Fruitvale Station – a rather solemn, if not intriguing night at the movies.  As documentaries go, it wasn’t too bad.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Smurfs 2 (IMDBThe Smurfs 2) is just another chapter in the story of our little blue friends from Smurf Village.  Many adults (and children alike) may not be aware that Smurfs have been around since 1958.  See the Wikipedia page on Smurfs for more info.  Not quite in the realm of elves, or fairies, or leprechaun’s, Smurfs seem to exist in the magical realm, without much of the magic.  In this chapter, as in The Smurfs (IMDBThe Smurfs), the little blue folks find themselves back in the human world, this time to rescue Smurfette who has been kidnapped by Naughties and brought there at the bidding of the Evil Gargamel.  As with the original, this film is a mixture of live action and animation interacting together.

What I liked about the film is they don’t try to “dumb down” the story too much.  Sure, this is a children’s movie, but there are plenty of laughs in there for adults as well.  Obviously this film is not going to have wide appeal to adult audiences, but for those that take the time to clear their minds and actually seek out an enjoyable moment to share with their children, they just might find a laugh or two in this film.  I love a children’s film with a moral.  And The Smurfs 2 delivers with a bang.  The solemn moment of conversation between Papa Smurf and Patrick may have been a little too deep for younger children, but older ones (especially those that are a little more mature) will have an opportunity to consider an important life lesson.  The combination of live action actors/actresses interacting with animated characters is interesting as well.

What I didn’t like about the film is very little.  The story line is entertaining and engaging, the comedy was pretty good (some of the jokes were a little flat – a couple were absolutely flat), and the action was just what you would expect from this type of film.  Smurf characters don”t “develop”, they are who they are and sometimes their “smurfiness” wears a little thin.  But the children seem to love them and they can be mildly amusing from time to time.  Some of the human interaction stretched the bounds.  It was as if the scenarios were set up just to allow a certain character into the movie (and for no other reason).  It would have worked a lot better if the humans were just humans (and didn’t try to be ”Smurfs”) and the ”Smurfs” were just ”Smurfs”.

We saw the film in 3D, as usual, because it coincided with the time we wanted to be at the theater.  And while this film definitely works in 3D (we saw it in RealD-3D), I saw no real reason to rush right out and spend the extra money on a 3D ticket.  If you’re up for it, the 3D effects are pretty fair in this film though.  As to whether to see this film in the theater or wait for it to come out on BluRay – this film really works on the big screen.  Why not gather up the kids and give them a treat out at the movies?  They’ll love it, and you could enjoy it as well (they are Smurfs after all).  The ending of the film also begs the question of a sequel.  It just may be that this could be the end of this particular line of adventure in Smurf history.  But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The Smurfs 2 is rated PG – OK, Smurf violence just doesn’t quite translate, and while there are some parts that slightly older children are going to cover their mouths and go “Uhmmmmm!” on, there is absolutely nothing in this film that will cause irreparable damage to younger children.  The language is fine, the violence is cartoonish, the adult themes are veiled references and mild.  There is some ”suggested” nudity when a male character is transformed from a duck back into a human and ends up in a laundry basket in a ”toga”.  This movie is good for the whole family.  Whether or not your teenage children want to be caught dead in the theater watching this film with younger brothers and sisters is another matter all together.

The Smurfs 2 – a funny and entertaining evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

2 Guns (IMDB2 Guns) is the story of 2 Federal U.S.  employees from different departments of service who are duped into robbing a bank together by trusted co-workers.  This sets up a chain of events between members of the U.S. Government and a Mexican drug cartel trying to recover the money from them and to kill them.  The movie is an action/drama but has quite a bit of comedy throughout.  The movie is a little more unique than your standard cops & robbers fare, but not quite unique enough to earn it any extra points.

I liked the story.  It was fun, engaging, and you didn’t know quite which way it was going to go.  The action was exciting, and the comedic moments were a big hit.

However, there were some real shortcuts in this film that just keep it from rising to a cut above.  There is a tit-for-tat between the two main characters that seemed out-of-place with the comic exchange.  And at points it almost seemed somewhat childish.  Had the development between the lead characters been a little more professional along with the comedy bent, with less (or none) of Jr. High dialogue, this film would have been a lot better.

There is some real intrigue in the film and the surprise is not revealed until the appropriate moment.  This leaves you wondering about the relevance of some events somewhat during the plot development but the ”ah-ha” moment where it all comes together is well done and does not disappoint.

I was somewhat disappointed with the ability to apply whatever rules of the universe the story wanted to at any point during the plot.  I don’t mind if the story wants to develop its own rule set, as long as it is consistent in the application of those rules.  In the case of 2 Guns the rule set is presented as one of our modern world but then events are introduced that leave you thinking ”that would never happen that way”.  But these annoyances were not great distractions, and the overall flow of the film was one that held my interest from beginning to end.

2 Guns has a few great action scenes in it and is definitely not holding anything back on the stunts.  Even so, this film should do well as a Netflix or box rental.  If you’re looking for a night out at the movies, this film certainly would not be a bad choice (assuming your tastes are OK with a bent slightly toward the action/violent venue), however neither is it a ”must see” in the theater either.  It would do well to fill an evening at home in the living room.

2 Guns is rated R for language, violence, nudity (female, frontal nudity from the waist up), and adult themes.  There is one brief foray into the macabre.  This film is definitely not family fare and will not appeal to all audiences.

2 Guns – a fun evening at the movies, I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The To Do List (IMDBThe To Do List) is an attempt to put every sexual reference and innuendo known to humans into a film and yet not have it actually be a porno movie.  OK, Seriously, it is an attempt to put every sexual reference and innuendo known to humans into a film and yet not have it actually be a porno.  Wait-a-minute.  I already said that, didn’t I?  Probably because this film is an attempt to put every sexual reference … well, you get the picture.  The film is, ostensibly, a comedy.  And actually, on that note it delivers.  There is some pretty funny comedy in this film.  Unfortunately it will not go over well with a wide range of audiences as it is nearly all crude.

The film is engaging (in an odd sort of way) and the struggles of the main character, who is the daughter of a Judge, an honor roll student, and the class valedictorian, yet is also somewhat of a geek and a prude, as she seeks to erase what she believes has been identified as a hole in her life (namely her lack of sexual experience) are quite real and actually entertaining.

Unfortunately for her (yet fortunately for us) she goes about her quest in the typical geeky, studious, hard driven, fashion that got her straight-A’s in school.  However, she soon discovers that a higher education and impeccable book smarts, do not quite equate to street smarts and what it takes to survive outside of the realm of pure academics.  She also discovers that there are some things that toy with people’s emotions more than others and that when treated carelessly, people can (and do) get hurt.

The comedic nature of the events is further enhanced by her family members, her father, a Courtroom Judge and apparent Rush Limbaugh fan, is only concerned for her well-being.  Her mother, who is willing to be supportive of her husband but seems to have the underpinnings of a ”bra burner” in her, wants her daughter to be free and without limits, yet safe.  Her sister, who is her total opposite, simply wants to fight with her all the time, yet is happy when she can offer some sisterly advice.  And all the while our main character is a huge fan of Hillary Clinton (almost to the point of a creepy kind of reverence).  The mix makes for some very funny interaction.

This film is ”edge humor”.  Not quite in the realm of shock-jock territory, but certainly outside of the comfort zone of many movie goers.  If sexual innuendo, crude and lascivious humor, sexual language, and crude sexual references offend you, might I suggest you find another film to watch.  However, if you have a pretty firm constitution, are not easily offended, and are actually open to some crude humor, you might make it through this film.  No guarantees to whether or not you will actually like it though, this film has a pretty narrow ”likeability band”.

The film also has some inconsistencies within it that stuck out in my mind.  The two friends of the main character just didn’t seem to fit.  Normally birds of a feather flock together, yet these two fast-food-joint working, beer keg partying, individuals did not seem to be the type that would hang around with the class valedictorian, nor would the super brainy, goody two shoes want to hang around with them.  If you see this film at all, there is certainly no need to see it in the theater (unless your curiosity just overwhelms you and you have to rush right out and see it on the big screen – but hurry, it probably will be moving to BluRay soon), a Netflix or box rental would be more than sufficient.  One might question the value of an evening of entertainment though.

The To Do List is Rated R for extreme adult situations and language.  Oddly enough though, they did the entire film sans nudity.  There is some veiled female nudity (topless in the pool and from behind), but nothing is revealed.  However, the language is quite harsh, the crude humor is over the top (one scene is on the verge of disturbing.  Think Two Girls And A Cup if you catch that reference, if not you could Google it), and the sexual innuendo and reference knows no bounds.  Most definitely not a family film.

The To Do List – definitely an edgy film and not for all audiences, however, in its venue it delivers.  You may not agree with the content, but on the whole, it is a pretty solid romance/comedy.  And on that note, I give it a 5/10, your mileage will most assuredly vary.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (IMDBPercy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) is the latest in the Percy Jackson series and also another installment of the resurrect old Greek gods movies (although definitely on the lighter, more humorous side for the latter).  In this installment the son of Poseidon must once again lead his other half blood friends on a quest.  This time to retrieve the Golden Fleece from what we humans call the Bermuda Triangle (the Sea of Monsters).

The story is somewhat fun and lighthearted.  The struggles are more amongst the demigods themselves than anything else, although there is one great struggle against Kronos himself at the end.

What I liked about the movie was it was pretty standard fare family entertainment.  There is humor, camaraderie, and real adventure that our cast of character faces.

What I didn’t like about the movie is that it dragged in spots.  Not to the point of boring me, but certainly to the point that, in my mind, I wanted them to get on with it.  Perhaps the Writer/Director was trying to strike a balance between family fare and something that would appeal to more adventurous audiences.  If so, it was slightly off mark.

While this movie obviously will not appeal to all, it is still good family fare for quite a few.  It will probably do better with pre to mid teens and some adults while losing the hard core action adventure fans.  You need to approach this movie as somewhat of a child at heart and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor.

We saw this movie in 3D, which does work, however on the scale of 3D effects it is probably on the lower end of most of the more modern 3D movies out.  You can definitely save the money on the 3D ticket and not miss too much here.  This movie would make an excellent Netflix or box rental and be a good filler for a Friday or Saturday night at home.  For a family that just wanted a night out at the movies it might not be a winner across all demographics, however it certainly should not be a shocker leaving family members with regrets.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is rated PG for some violence.  However the language is extremely mild, the violence is not too much for a pre-teen (at least) and all around I believe make for pretty good family fare.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – a pretty standard evening at the movies and goes well in the ”whole family” category.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Elysium (IMDBElysium) is a science fiction story set sometime in the future of Earth where we find the Earth divided between those that live on an orbiting platform with all of life’s amenities and those living in squalor on Earth amongst wretched conditions that challenge even the bravest of souls.

Elysium is a futuristic portrayal of the haves and the have not’s.  In some weird and off beat sense it may actually be considered a parallel of a Robin Hood story (of sorts) set in the future.

What I liked about the movie is the unique concept, the most unlikely of hero’s, and the twist of plotting good against evil where the good was perhaps not all that good, and the evil was perhaps not all that evil.  The movie flowed well and had plenty of excitement.  It was very entertaining and held my interest throughout the film.

What I didn’t like about the movie was the story lines inability to stay consistent within its own universe and its failure to explain why certain conditions existed the way they did.  Movies are wonderful things in my book.  In fact, they are a living, picturesque, book that paints its own picture rather than leave it up to the “readers” (viewers) imagination.  They may define any universe they so desire and describe the laws of that universe to me over the course of the story.  However, they need to stay consistent within those laws.  Don’t tell me we all live on Earth and are all subject to gravity and then suddenly introduce a whole cast of characters to which gravity does not apply for some inexplicable reason.  I know Superman can fly.  Because he comes from another planet.  Don’t suddenly introduce a flying human without good explanation alongside Superman.

Elysium introduces concepts without clear definition of the ground rules, so you think you understand how something should operate, but then they take magical liberties with it leaving you wondering as to how in the world you got there.  Not only does it take liberties with technologies and Science, it does not clearly define why things exist the way they do.  At the end of the movie I suddenly find out that suffering and hardship may be wiped out at the simple push of a button, but I’m never told why those that had the power to do good and end the suffering were hoarding that capability to begin with.  I am left with nothing but their own evil and selfish intent.  Why were they so selfish?  Why was their intent of the nature of kings and kingdoms while the rest of the lowly people lived in suffering and pain?  Elysium will never tell.

Still, despite its flaws, I found it to be entertaining overall and mostly an interesting story.  Elysium will not appeal to all audiences.  Some subset of the SciFi fans will obviously find it attracting, while others will try to pick it apart and focus on all of its inconsistencies.  It may, or may not, make for family fare.  It really depends on your particular family.  And don’t think that just because your family group is a bunch of Star Trek fans that Elysium will win everyone over.  It will not.  Elysium is more of a big screen movie than Netflix or box rental, but that is not to say it wouldn’t fill a night at home in front of the TV.  Some films just work better on the big screen – Elysium is one of those.

Elysium is rated R for action and violence within the movie and is not suitable for younger audiences.  The foul language is a little over the top, but somewhat standard fare for this type of movie.  Use caution with younger viewers.

Elysium – a fairly enjoyable night at the movies, but due to its inconsistencies, not a great movie for me.  Because of that it falls back into standard fare.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Kick Ass 2 (IMDBKick Ass 2) is the continuation of the story started in Kick Ass (IMDBKick Ass).  In the original story a nerdy high school student decides to be a super hero and start his own brand of “neighbor hood watch”.  This leads to some mobster types developing super villain characters of their own.

The appeal of the original story was every day, ordinary citizens, most without any special abilities or really even physical prowess, dressing up as costumed superheroes and taking to the streets to end crime in their neighborhoods.  Yet while they operated, in some strange way, as a little over the top neighborhood watch group, the criminals continued to operate in their typical fashion of guns and knives and actually killing people.  This left somewhat of a disparity between the good guys and the bad guys and made for interesting fare.  Of particular note, the original left you with the idea of don’t bring nun chucks to a gun fight, especially if you are not particularly trained with nun chucks.  But in the end, good triumphs over evil and all is well with the world.

Kick-Ass 2 finds the continuation of our story with our nerdy high school student who started it all missing the excitement of the street and wanting to get back into action.  Taking lessons learned from his original stint (portrayed in the original story line) he seeks to become better equipped through training and practice with a partner.  Hit Girl, revising her role from the original, becomes a mentor and unlikely partner (even if she does use him for her own purposes from time to time).

What I liked about the movie was it was definitely consistent with the original plot and carried the story along nicely.  It introduced new characters and escalated the challenges beyond the original.

What I didn’t like about the movie is that it was somewhat over-the-top.  The action is good and the character development and struggles are all good, however the movie escalates way too quickly and devolves into mob war and a free-for-all.  The super villain returns with a new name and look and (at least true to the original) acts in a childish and sometimes outlandish fashion.  Some of the humor falls flat and some of the action is just there for the sake of action and no other apparent reason.

This movie will appeal to a certain cult following, while other audiences will be put off by it and find it not quite their cup-of-tea.  Still, if this is your thing, it could be a filler for a Netflix or a box rental.  Unless you were just a super fan of the original, I’d see no real reason to rush right out and see this in the theater.  If you are a big fan of the original, you will probably enjoy this installment as well.  As it was, it was just too much over-the-top for me.  And that deducts a point.  Thankfully, in my book at least, Kick-Ass 2 seems to end its story with this installment, leaving not much hope for a sequel.  Although there is definite room for a spin-off somewhere down the road.

Kick-Ass 2 is rated R for violence, language, and nudity.  The language is definitely over the top, from the character names to the language used within the film.  And while the more violent scenes are not the makings of a horror movie, a couple of them border on gore.  There is some mild nudity in the film (female, frontal, from the waste up) in a pool.  But it is brief.  This film is definitely not suitable for younger audiences and is even questionable for less mature audiences of any age.

Kick-Ass 2 – an almost enjoyable evening at the movies.  But definitely in a niche market.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage will almost assuredly vary.

The World’s End (IMDBThe World’s End) is a fun tale of five friends who return to the town of their youth some twenty years later in order to finish a pub crawl they did not quite complete on the occasion of their high school graduation.  Along the way they discover that the world is not quite everything they had believed it to be and they become the catalysts for quite a different future for mankind.

I’ll admit I’m not much of a connoisseur of alcohol.  I am not even consistent with a small amount of red wine which my doctor desires me to partake of to help regulate my diet.  I am simply not a drinker of adult beverages.  I am more satisfied with tea and coke (the former of which I drink inordinate amounts of – in that sense I guess I really am a “teetotaler”).  However, there is some intrigue to the premise of the movie, one mile, twelve pubs, twelve pints, in one night.  Even though you have to know you are going to be completely wasted by the twelfth pint, there is something of the nature of a challenge in there that the rebel in me wants to meet with “game on”.

For our movie heroes though, it is something of a different nature.  For our five high school friends, there never was the completion of the challenge.  For some in the group, there never was anything past the fourth pub or so.  And while most of the group had moved on with bigger and better things in their lives (college, families, careers, social successes), there was one who did not have much to show for his ventures past high school and who viewed the mile long pub crawl as his ultimate failure to ever complete anything or have any success.  It is that one individual that pulls the group back together and sets them out on the task of once again stepping up to the challenge and, this time, completing the task.

This premise, in and of itself, of course would make for pretty light fare for a movie, unless of course, you are the Director of My Dinner with Andre (IMDBMy Dinner with Andre), in which case watching paint dry on a wall would fascinate you.  The World’s End however mixes things up by suddenly revealing that aliens are replacing people with robots.  This sudden twist introduces new antics that creates a whole new dynamic of comedy.

The World’s End is pretty funny for most of the movie.  It captures your attention and holds it.  However it just doesn’t know when the movie ends.  And thus it tacks on an unexplained epitaph at the end that just didn’t need to be there.

There are not a whole lot of special effects in this movie.  The robots themselves are kind of cheesy in nature and most of the sets come across as low-budget.  This film is more likely to develop a cultish type following rather than mass appeal.  Still, I found it fun and rather entertaining.

The World’s End is rated R for language, violence, and adult themes.  There is no nudity in the film, but the language is somewhat harsh and there is lots of innuendo and adult situations.  Probably not a family film and there would be no real reason to rush right out and see this one in the theater.

The World’s End – a fairly funny evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (IMDBThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) is here to introduce us to the world of Shadow Hunters, half angel/half human creatures that exist to fight demons and help keep the balance of power between good and evil.  This, we are told, is a never-ending battle and one that must always take place.  Oddly enough, there seems to be less Shadow Hunter/demon fighting than there is dealing with some deep-rooted family issues on the part of the Shadow Hunters.  I will not mention what the ”City of Bones” is here, you may learn that out soon enough during the film, I will say that once you learn about the ”City of Bones”, its relevance within the context of the film becomes more of a wonderment and less of a necessity for the progression of the story line.

The film is full of intrigue and completely captures your attention, but more from the standpoint of trying to follow what in the world is going on than from the depth of the story line.  The film is certainly not lacking excitement or action, however the fast pace throws stuff at you quickly that makes it challenging to absorb.  At the end of the film there are a number of questions – Was he really their father?  OK, he probably was despite the apparent lack of father/child relationship.  Were they brother and sister?  Who in the world knows?  Confronted with the truth of their father, they most certainly had to conclude they were, and yet in “their hearts” they didn’t want to believe it.  Who in the world knows which way is up or which way is down?

What I liked about the film is the endless amount of material available to draw upon.  We find ourselves in not only the world of demons and Shadow Hunters, but we learn that “all the stories” we were told in our youth “are true”.  This seems to hold true for most things, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, and Warlocks, but not quite everything.  Seems that zombies don’t actually exist.  The world this film paints is endless and there is so much potential to work with, but in my estimation, it struggled to deliver.

What I didn’t like about the film is it was long (130 minutes) and had a complicated plotline.  Sure, I got that perhaps the good guys had issues.  Perhaps the demons were more of a sideline in the story rather than an actual nemesis.  Or perhaps not everything was as it appeared to be.  But some of the subplots were just baffling and even distracting.  Without providing too much of a spoiler, let me just say that trying to follow the more than complicated love triangle was just a plain nuisance.  There is somewhat of an implied gay interest on the part of one individual, yet the object of his affection apparently has eyes for the new girl in town (unbeknownst to him, in reality his sister), who is actually loved by her childhood friend whom she considers a brother but not a lover.  Sound complicated?  That would be because it is.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones will not appeal to everyone.  If you are put off by witchcraft, or portrayals of vampires and werewolves, I might suggest this film is not for you.  If you are a fan of the Twilight series, you probably will find little that appeals to you within this film as the love story just doesn’t quite come through.  If you are a fan of any of the Underworld movies, this film is probably closer to something you might enjoy, but be prepared to concentrate a little bit in order to follow the plot.  If you just enjoy a complicated story with a lot of different twists and turns, this movie might appeal to you greatly.  As for myself, it could have been a lot more enjoyable than what it was, and it made me work just a little too hard in order to make any sense out of the proceedings.  In my book, that loses a point.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is rated PG-13 for the content and subject matter.  The language is rather mild, there is no nudity, and the scenes of violence are fairly tame for a movie of this sort (demons simply disappear in a puff of smoke when killed).  Still, understand the subject matter of the film and use caution with younger and less mature children.  This would not exactly classify as a family film.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – a rather laborious afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage will probably vary.

Getaway (IMDB: Getaway) is a rather predictable plot of a former race car driver whose wife is kidnapped and then held as ransom in order to force him to do things he normally would not have done.  More to the point he is forced to drive a muscle car around the city evading the police and terrorizing the citizens who happen to be innocent victims in the evil plot playing out around them.

What I liked about the movie is the bad guy wins.  Sometimes in life, bad guys win.  Not so often in movies.  And the story doesn”t try to pull the wool over your eyes and make out that the bad guy is really a good guy and deserves to win.  No, the bad guy was the bad guy and he didn”t deserve to win, and yet he walks away free and clear leaving poor victims in his wake.  I won”t insert any spoilers here other than to say pay attention to the end.  The bad guy has some sanctimonious reason for picking the victim and justifies his actions on the basis of actually improving the lives of others as he carries out his evil deeds.

What I didn”t like about the movie is it was pretty basic.  Guy drives car, guy doesn’t want to drive car but is forced to drive car if he ever wants to see his wife alive again.  Don”t get me wrong, there is plenty of excitement in this film.  There are more police chases and car wrecks in this movie than Smoky and the Bandit (IMDBSmoky and the Bandit), if that is possible.  But there is little else.  And it definitely lacks the humor.  If you’re into police chases, stunt driving, and fast cars in the city, this movie may just be for you.

The movie does introduce a twist with an unwitting accomplice who ends up a passenger along for the ride.  But even with this rather benign sub-plot the movie is basically one big police car chase around the city with the evil villain orchestrating the whole thing from behind the scenes.  There are plenty of car crashes and a few shoot outs, some bad guys die, the villain accomplishes his goal and walks away unscathed.  Not much else.

This movie is hard to call because it is what it is, but there is not much depth to it.  You feel slightly empty in that there just isn”t much plot, yet the is plenty of action and it never really offers a dull moment.  Yet it is not going to appeal to a very wide audience and even those it does appeal to will probably find it missing certain elements of plot development.  And for that reason alone I subtract a point.

Getaway is rated PG-13 for language, violence, and mature subject matter, however it is relatively easy on the language the violence is not likely to produce any permanent scars, and there is no nudity.  I might not exactly call this a family film, but a family certainly could watch it together.  I wouldn’t rush right out to see this in the theaters either.  It will do just fine as a Netflix or box rental for a filler some night (no need to really put this at the top of the queue either).

Getaway – an interesting evening at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

The Grandmaster (IMDBThe Grandmaster) is a pseudo documentary (I’m sure great license was taken) about the martial arts instructor that trained Bruce Lee.  It covers the time from when he arrives on scene in Southern China, through the Japanese invasion during WW-II, and his subsequent relocation to Hong Kong.  The film is in Chinese and is sub titled.

If you are into martial arts films, this movie is a must see.  Not only is it a compelling story, it mixes the mystery and sometimes superhuman feats of contemporary martial arts films with history, and some pretty engaging real-life drama.  One might not readily believe that the martial arts teacher who trained Bruce Lee would make all that interesting a foot note in the history books (and indeed the articles that are written about him do not make him out to be an extraordinary figure of any great historical significance), but this film does a great job of making his story a little larger than life.  And it is just entertaining enough to be worth whatever embellishments it makes.

What I liked about the film is it is a fascinating and emotionally engaging story.  This film has it all.  Struggles, triumphs, loves, losses, romance, victories, and defeats.  It is an interesting story from an interesting time and place in history.  And it is very well told, even if it is embellished to some degree.  The Martial Arts in the film are slightly of the nature of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (IMDBCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), probably because it is from the same director (normally we don”t allow director”s or actors to influence our preferences here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts, however in this case the reasoning is worth a mention).  And while the depiction is somewhat surreal, the story line more than makes up for any free license taken.

What I didn’t like about the film is that part of the story is told in flash backs and split timelines with different characters.  This made some parts difficult to piece together given a sub-titled film.  I did miss some of the sub-titles in trying to keep up with the action in the film.  But this is only a very minor nitpick as the overall story is easy enough to follow.

The Grandmaster may be a niche film, but is an endearing story nonetheless, and given a chance could work well for the whole family.  I have had some studies of Chinese history and am familiar with the places and periods of this film through other history.  And I must say that there are parts of this film that simply reinforced that history.  Indeed, some of the Japanese invasion parts appeared to be actual old war footage from the period.  This film could easily have much broader appeal if given a chance.  This film would be a great night out at the movies if you wanted to see something in the theater, as well as be a great choice for a Netflix or box rental.

The Grandmaster is rated PG-13 but is very easy on the language, I only counted one piece of foul language in the sub titles, there is no nudity in the film, and the violence is veiled.  There are a couple of somewhat intense scenes, but nothing that most audiences couldn’t get through.  There is some depicted drug use (opium) but that was fairly common for the period and location.

The Grandmaster – a very enjoyable and entertaining evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Riddick (IMDBRiddick) is the continuing SciFi tale of the notorious, wanted for murder, intergalactic fugitive, Riddick, who can seemingly survive any impossible situation he finds himself in.  Riddick most definitely falls into my movie book scenario and this is just another chapter in the life of our most unlikely hero.  However, references to the past are benign, there are some flashbacks to help catch the story up, and Riddick himself narrates past events.  If you did not see any of the previous films (or just some of them) you will not have a hard time following this movie as it pretty much stands on its own.

What I liked about the film is it was Riddick.  Meaning it was exactly what has come to be expected from this series.  Good SciFi is not all that easy to come by these days, and while Riddick probably will not go down in the hall of honor for all time great SciFi, it is an interesting story line and the SciFi is fairly solid.  This installment is no exception and carries on the tradition of the chronicles in proud fashion.

What I didn’t like about the film was it was Riddick.  Meaning it was exactly what has come to be expected from this series.  It was highly predictable.  Sure, the alien creatures have changed, the planet is different, the people who die and live have changed, but it is still Riddick.  And thus you just know that some unworthy people are going to die, some seemingly worthy people are going to live, and there are going to be some really, really horrifying alien animals that everyone around is going to be deathly afraid of except for Riddick.  The start of the film was also a little slow for my tastes and I found my mind wandering.  But about a third of the way through the film the real action starts and everything is solid through the end.

If you have seen any or all of the previous films in this series and you liked them, you will probably like this installment as well.  If you didn’t like any of the previous films, you probably won’t like this one.  If you were indifferent about any of the previous films, you will most likely be indifferent about this one as well.  It really does fit the film series very well and little of the story line will surprise or shock you.

If you haven’t seen any of the previous films in this series, don’t feel obligated to rush out and get the first one (which goes back to 2000) in order to become indoctrinated to the story line.  You can jump in with this film just fine.  If you like this one, you will probably like the others as well and you may want to go back and view those.

Riddick makes for a great night out at the movies if you are looking for a SciFi connection.  However there are no compelling reasons in this film to rush right out and see it on the big screen.  It would work very well as a Netflix or a box rental.

Riddick is rated R for language, violence, and adult themes.  The language is harsh in spots, but not as frequent as other films I could point to.  Some of the sexual innuendo is pretty flagrant, and there is nudity in the film (female, full frontal, and waist up).  Some of the more violent scenes border on the macabre and could be a definite turn off to more sensitive movie goers.  Riddick is definitely not a family film.  Use caution with those that may be offended.

Riddick – a pretty solid night of SciFi at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage will probably vary.

The Butler (IMDBThe Butler) is an interesting film about the life of a man who, through life’s struggles, rises to become the head butler at the White House where he establishes a distinguished career over the terms of some eight different Presidents.  And yet, the film is perhaps more about a piece of history over those terms than it is so much about the man himself.

This film is definitely bent with a message.  A message that is not lost in the telling of the story.  However, in looking past the message of the film, at the story itself, we find some interesting struggles and triumphs that make for a rather compelling film.

What I liked about the film is the individual struggles portrayed and the various ways of approaching them by different people.  I particularly liked the portrayal of the family struggles the Butler faced with his own wife and sons.  Also embedded within the film is the personal story of triumphs of an individual who could rise from the depths of poverty and oppression to the heights of one of the most prestigious and guarded positions within the White House staff.  To be able to serve the person who is ostensibly the most powerful person in the world.

What I didn’t like about the film was the selective history crammed into a couple of hours that was portrayed as to shape a man’s life, his career, and his family.  The film is also intermingled with footage of actual historical events over the years that took the actors portraying those events and placed them into the event itself.  This film would have worked better for me if they had simply shown the historical event as it was recorded and not tried to insert modern-day actors/actresses into them in order to somehow validate the story.

This film is definitely a niche film and I would guess that most people’s enjoyment of it will depend on how they approach it.  If seen purely for entertainment value, and approached as the story it is, I would predict that your enjoyment will be much higher.  If seen as a political and/or social message, your enjoyment will be tainted by your particular world view and how your personal beliefs shape how you approach such topics.  Seen this way, the film could either be a win or a loss in your column.

Personally, I was intrigued by the different approaches to one of the core subject matters of the film, racism within the U.S. (and indeed, at one point, around the world), and how different members of the same family reacted to the events of the day and the struggles and triumphs it created in the family itself.  For me, the crux of the film came at a point when the portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a man I admire greatly) told the Butler’s son that his father was one of the greatest forces towards breaking down the barriers of race because of his honorable work ethic, his personal dedication to his job, his pride of service, and his ability to work within the system and adhere to the rule of law, even when that law was unjust or prejudiced in and of itself.  I would have liked to believe that it was that moment that turned the son’s heart as to the methods he was employing to fight great injustices in the world, although the film did not provide any clear evidence of that.

This film makes for a great family film, but only to a point.  Beware, the subject matter is of a nature as to require a little more maturity within the audience in order to fully comprehend and actually enjoy the film.  For younger children, who did not live through much of the history portrayed within the film, it may be difficult to take it all in.  Still, there are definite objects lessons to be had if a parent is astute enough to help guide younger and less mature viewers through the subject matter.

The Butler is rated PG-13 for mature subject matter but is somewhat easy on the language, contains no nudity, and the more violent parts of the story are handled in such a way as to not turn off a majority of movie goers.  This film could make for a compelling night out at the movies as long as you are not looking for lighthearted fare such as a comedy or action film.  As far as drama goes, the film delivers and there are some humorous moments as well.  It would make for a good Netflix or box rental to fill some night when you simply wanted a more thought-provoking or a more serious subject matter film.

The Butler, a rather interesting afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage will probably vary.

Jobs (IMDB: Jobs) is the story of Steve Jobs and the founding of Apple Computer from the 1970’s through about 2011.  The movie focuses primarily on the life and times of Steve Jobs and his interactions through college, early adult life, founding of Apple and up through the development of the iPod.

This movie falls into a pseudo-documentary category and, in my humble estimation, is evidence of the fact that if you are going to make a historical movie you need an extra special event to make the movie about.  And as interesting as the life and times of Steve Jobs is, he just does not rise to the level of an extra ordinary figure in human history that sets him apart enough to make for a really entertaining movie.

I should start out by saying that I lived through this period in history.  And when I say I lived through this period in history, I mean I lived it in the fullest sense of participation.  The movie depicted events that I knew and experienced.  There was the Byte Shop in the movie.  And I recall mail ordering parts from the Byte Shop as a young adult.  The development of the Apple, the Apple II, and the Apple IIe (as well as the Macintosh and Lisa) are depicted in the movie.  And the majority of those machines I either worked with or had access to as a young adult.  In addition, I attended computer conferences in my early career where members of Apple Computer gave talks that I attended.  I knew these events through experience and as a member of the community.  And that may have set expectations about the film that perhaps could not be met.

What I liked about the film was the opening riff of Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good to Me.  If that didn’t set the mood for the time period of the film, nothing did.

What I didn’t like about the film was the entire rest of the film.

OK, that might be a little harsh.  The film did have its moments.  But for the most part I spent the time just wishing this film would end.

If you see this film you might think to yourself “If I wasn’t glad that Steve Jobs is dead before, I certainly am now.”  From cheating his friends, to dumping his child (and this after he lamented the fact of what kind of parent would abandon their offspring) this film made Steve Jobs out to be an eccentric, self-driven, ruthless, and childish individual who never took responsibility for failure and never really gave credit where credit was due to successes.  And in all fairness, perhaps the aim was to paint Steve Jobs as a visionary, set apart from the rest of the world, who wore his personality on his sleeve, and was just a little too complicated for the rest of us common folks to understand, but in this effort the film certainly failed.  The impression I was left with is Steve Jobs was somewhat of a worthless individual who happened to be at the right place at the right time.

But the film did bring back some memories of the time period, and there is some view of history in the film (although from a certain bent), and there were some humorous and heartfelt moments in the film.  Just not enough to really rescue the film as good solid entertainment.  Here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts we take the good with the bad, and certainly encourage you to view the film in order to make up your own mind, but I cannot, in good conscience, recommend you rush right out to view this film.  I would only see this film if you have a definite interest in the time period and the specific subject matter, and only then if you understand that the film is not all that entertaining, paints a limited and partial history of the times and events, and may actually leave you feeling like you know less of the man who Steve Jobs was than before you viewed the film.

Jobs is rated PG-13.  Why, I’m not sure.  The subject matter is not all that difficult.  There are a few “adult” situations.  The language is very tolerable, and there is no nudity in the film.  I’d consider the film safe for most movie going audiences.  Just guard your sanity when viewing this film.

Jobs – a rather dull and laborious evening at the movies.  I give it a 2/10, your mileage may vary.

Instructions Not Included (IMDB: Instructions Not Included) is the story of a little girl who touched two different lives in two different ways.  OK, so I know right now you are thinking ”that is not what the movie trailer says” and you are correct.  But trust me, it is the little girl in the film you will be touched by, drawn too, and eventually, mesmerized by during the course of this film.  Yes, like the movie synopsis says, the film is about a man who suddenly finds himself in the custody of a baby he did not know or want, and then, some six years later, in the struggles of a custody battle for the child.  But even though the film will try to portray the life lessons of the adults, it is the little girl, Maggie, that will end up touching your heart.

A great film, for me, has to have a few basic elements.  I’ll not bore you with a lot of a lot of technical analysis of the film: How was the acting?  What was the filmography like?  Did the cast have ”chemistry”?  Those are things that Movie Critics look at.  Here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts we are a little more basic and down to earth.  But I do have a basis on which I judge the film, and it is only fair that you know my most basic, fundamental criteria.  And that is: Did the story connect with me in some way?  Was it unique, unexpected, did it have some twist or punch that I couldn’t have possibly seen coming?  Did it draw me into the story completely and convincingly?  Did it challenge my intellect or tug at my emotions?  Did it engage me in such a way that I am left with the burning memory of the story for weeks, months, or years to come?  If a film can do that, regardless of all the “technical” aspects that some Movie Critic is going to look at, then it is a winner in my book.

Instructions Not Included is such a film.  It is a romantic comedy with a twist that will leave you both sad and in wonderment all at the same time.  It is a film whose story line sneaks up on you and then surprises you in a way you didn’t see coming.  It is a film that draws you in slowly, bit by bit, until you’ve taken the bait hook, line, and sinker, and just when you realize that the film owns you, it draws everything together to complete the story to your wonder and amazement.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there is not a whole lot I can say about this film without giving away the beauty of the surprise in the story.  Indeed, savvy readers may be able to take what little information I’ve provided and ”put it all together” while watching the film.  And I don’t want to ruin the wonderment of the story for those that choose to see the film.  So let me just say the following:

Instructions Not Included is a challenging film to watch.  It is done in a mixture of English and Spanish and the Spanish parts are sub-titled.  The film starts off a little slow and doesn’t really grab your attention until about halfway through.  The film will toy with your emotions a few times building up hopes, only to seemingly snatch them away, and then apparently in a ”just kidding” moment put them back again.  It will certainly keep you guessing as to what you think comes next.  And in the end, it is a tear-jerker.  It will fulfill the story in an amazing way that will make you want to laugh, and cry, and understand all at the same time.  For myself, at this particular time, this is the surprise film of the year.

Instructions Not Included is rated PG-13 for adult content but is very mild on the language, contains no nudity, and no violence.  It does contain adult themes though and there is a fair amount of sexual innuendo.  However, despite the adult content, this film could easily fulfill a family night at the movies.  Especially for more mature children.  This film is a great film to see either in the theater or at home via Netflix or a box rental.

Instructions Not Included – an amazing night at the movies.  I give it a 7/10, your mileage may vary.

The Family (IMDB: The Family) is about a mob family turned informant that has been placed in the witness protection program and is being hunted down by remaining mob bosses (controlled by a senior mobster from his country club like jail cell) as they are moved from location to location in Europe.

The Family is an interesting concept film that is pulled off in a somewhat mediocre way.  It has some moments of humor as well as some moments of action/drama but for the most part just plods along as the former mob family tries to escape their past but finds along the way that old habits die hard.

What I liked about the film is the mixture of humor and drama in a somewhat unique scenario as the family tries to integrate into their new surroundings while trying (albeit somewhat unsuccessfully) to avoid the mobster hit men sent after them while practicing the only trade they knew, that of being a mob family.

What I didn’t like about the film is the somewhat surreal and often times just blind luck of the plot to, at first, have the family located by the mob, and then suddenly have the mobsters luck turn sour and not be able to pull off the evil deed they had been dispatched to carry out in the first place.  At some point you begin to think ”this is just plain silly”, which would be OK if it were meant to be humorous, but the comedy of some of those points just didn’t carry through.  Some of the sub-plots of the film (the love interest of the daughter for example) were just a little too overly dramatic and did not convince me of either the comedic value or the dramatic value of the story line.  Thus some parts of the film just seemed to fall flat in my estimation.  Still, the film was entertaining enough and I am willing to call it somewhat average.

The Family probably will not find its way into the hearts of a lot of movie goers.  Some will be expecting a comedy and will not find nearly enough humor in the film while others will be expecting an action/drama which just doesn’t deliver enough excitement spread out over the course of the film.  And the point that the film does have you sitting on the edge of your seat seemingly suspends belief and leaves you wondering just how one family could be so lucky as to have all the stars align in their favor in such a miraculous way as to provide a means of escape from a near impossible situation.  Whether you like the film, find it a little too ridiculous, or just not funny enough for your tastes will most likely depend upon individual expectations and personal preferences.  And because of that bit of uncertainty, coupled with some of the subject matter of the film (which will obviously only appeal to a niche group of movie goers), I’m going to have to personally subtract a point.

The Family has no serious special effects that would demand that you see it on the big screen and you will not lose much if you decide to wait and catch it on Netflix or a box rental.  Neither is there anything in the film that would appeal to a broad enough group as to make this a ”family” movie.  Once again, it is only personal preferences and tastes as to whether you decide to make this film a night at the movies or else save your cash and wait to see it at the point of home release.  This helps bolster the lukewarm way in which the film comes across.

The Family is rated R for mature subject matter, violence, language, and adult references.  The language is rather harsh within the film and particular foul language is used in order to emphasize the fact that we”re dealing with a mob family here.  The violence, while somewhat graphic is not overly done and is not of the nature of a horror film intended to just shock you.  There is no nudity in the film although there are some rather strong sexual references.  Use care with less mature audiences.  I would not consider this a family film unless all members are older and indoctrinated to the type of material portrayed.

The Family – a somewhat bland night at the movies.  I’m going to call this one a 4/10 for the LRPSP Movie Rating (LRPSPMR), your mileage could definitely vary (in some cases somewhat significantly).

Insidious: Chapter 2 (IMDB: Insidious: Chapter 2) is, obviously, the second chapter of the Insidious (IMDB: Insidious) story.  In this installment we learn the real horrors of the Lambert family and their never-ending haunting.  This movie doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is the next chapter in the story.  From the title forward you know this is just part of ”the book”.  Seeing the original helps with understanding this chapter, but it is not an absolute necessity.  You can still basically follow the plot seeing this film for the first time.

What I liked about the film is it is a ”ghost story”.  It is meant to sit you on the edge of your seat and surprise you even when you know it’s coming.  Unfortunately, it only partially fulfills in this area.  It definitely doesn’t measure up to any of the great horror films and is even kind of mediocre in its own delivery.

What I didn’t like about the film is it was highly predictable, didn’t really ”thrill” me (scare me), and while the story line ”moved” (meaning it did not drag or bore me – at least to tears), it also did not deliver what a real horror movie promises to deliver.  If your into an ”intro” type horror movie, one that will not give you night mares or heart attacks while viewing, this might be a good candidate for an entry-level.

The film jumps around a little bit, which perhaps distracted from the scary ”thrill” plot while I was trying to make sense of two different plot lines going on in parallel.  The film switched back and forth between the two plot lines resetting the timeline each time so that the alternate plot line could catch up to the current time of the plot line they just showed.  And while clues are dropped along the way, and you can eventually begin to piece things together, the format just didn’t work all that well for me.

In an almost humorous fashion the film drops classic horror classic hints as to things going on that tips you off to what is about to occur.  There were a couple of good scares in the film, even if you could see them coming, but overall, it just didn’t measure up.  Still, if you’re a fan of this venue or even this particular story, you’ll most likely enjoy the film.  If you’re not a real fan I wouldn’t rush right out to see this one in the theater.  Netflix or a box rental would suffice just fine.  If depictions of the occult world (séances, Ouija boards, talking to spirits, etc.) bothers you, stay away from this film.  You probably will be offended.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is rated PG-13 for adult content, but the language is tolerable (towards the mild side), the sexual innuendo is mild (cross dressing is depicted), and the horror is not likely to cause any nightmares.  There were some very young children (probably 3rd grade or so) in the audience we saw the movie with and they appeared un-phased after the show.  Still, not sure I’d call this a ”family” movie as it will definitely not appeal to a wide audience and will depend on individual tastes.

Insidious Chapter 2 – a not very scary afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Prisoners (IMDB: Prisoners) is the story of two young girls, each from different families yet neighbors and friends, who are abducted without a trace.  Each family member deals with the resulting loss in their own way as the Police race against the clock in an effort to recover the young girls before it’s too late.  The crux of the story is centered around one of the father’s and his drive to go to any lengths for the return of his daughter.

Prisoners intends to show the conflict of being driven by rage and grief over an incredible wrong perpetrated upon innocent victims versus self-constraint and doing what is known to be morally right.  But it doesn’t really deliver.  The story left me with a flat feeling with no clear hero and not much of a villain.  Even the would-be hero, if there really is one, was constantly acting in ways that just suspended belief.  One may possibly argue that this was intended to show the hero’s humanity, frailty, and tendency to allow emotions to overcome good judgment in times of stress.  But even if this is the case, the film fails to deliver.  The films desire to show the depravity of the human spirit through a manufactured crises comes across weak and without conviction and is distracted from by the overall tenants of the rest of the film.

What I liked about the film is very little.  At least the story line was consistent, and it kept me somewhat interested throughout the movie.  I understood the premise the storyline was trying to set up, and even though this is an extended length film (153 minutes), it did not seem to overly drag out any particular segment.  The movie concept is interesting enough, however, as is the case with all real life type scenarios, if you are going to have a really interesting story, you need to introduce an element of surprise, a super-human feat, or some element of fantasy or mystery.  Prisoners fails on all accounts and is very predictable in all cases.  There was one point in the film that an audience member actually could not contain themselves and blurted out a revealing piece of information to the screen.  Of course, I thought to myself at the time ”You know that because the film showed it to you.  But the hero doesn’t know that.  At least not yet.”.  Of course, my point here is that the audience was figuring out the story line prior to it even being unfolded.  There were no moments in the film that tugged at my emotions or challenged my intellect.  It was, for all intents and purposes, less exciting than watching the evening news.

What I didn’t like about the film, other than its failure to deliver, were the confusing and distracting undertones.  Small spoiler alert here, but I can’t really offer any explanation without speaking directly to the content.  The film was set in Pennsylvania, in a small to medium-sized town.  You are led to believe that it is away from any big city.  We’re not talking Pittsburg or Philadelphia here.  The story took place in rural Pennsylvania.  However, the story, most decidedly did not take place in Amish country or an area of undue religious or extra moral influence.  And yet the film consistently made religious, specifically Christian, references throughout.  The primary character in the film, the conflicted father, on more than a couple of occasions was found praying, and not just generic prayers either.  In a couple of cases we find him reciting the Lord’s Prayer and halting at the point “as we forgive those who trespass against us” as a means of hammering home his conflicts and struggles.  And each time we find him getting into his pick-up truck to go somewhere we are greeted with the tones of Christian radio.  Perhaps most apropos in the situation, one time he gets into his truck and turns on the radio to the strains of Carrie Underwood singing Jesus Take the Wheel which is perhaps symbolic of his cry for help.  I’m not really sure how to take these references scattered throughout the film.  Perhaps they are intended to bolster the fact that our conflicted protagonist was a moral, upright man of the community.  Perhaps they are intended to show that even the morally righteous can sink to the lowest depths of human depravity.  Whatever is being conveyed, I’m perfectly willing to concede the point, but I find the delivery mechanism poor and confusing.

Prisoners is just not a very exciting film and there are far too many other films with more appeal that are out right now.  Still, we here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts encourage you to see the film and make up your own mind.  But if you waited for this one to show up on Netflix or a box rental, or even on HBO, you probably haven’t missed all that much.  It is a very generic story and could possibly appeal to a fairly wide audience of movie goers.  The film is a human-interest story and as such probably transcends the bounds of niche movie goers.

Prisoners is rated R for subject matter and depictions of violence.  The language is rather harsh, using profanities far outside the norm of what one encounters in normal daily life.  It definitely tripped my rather sensitive language trigger.  There is no nudity in the film.  The depictions of violence are fairly graphic and realistically portrayed, however I’m not sure they would cause most people heartburn or nightmares.  The more squeamish or less mature movie watchers should exercise caution.

Prisoners – a not too exciting at the movies.  I’m going to give it a 3/10 for the LRPSP Movie Thought Rating (LRPSPMR) but will guess that if the IMDB rating is any indication, that your mileage will definitely vary.

Battle of the Year (IMDB: Battle of the Year) is a story about the Hip Hop culture and break dancing.  Specifically, the movie focuses on a dance contest held every year in France known as Battle of the Year.  Dance teams from countries all over the world show up to compete and the movie chronicles the events of the American team as they attend the competition in an effort to bring the trophy home.

Battle of the Year is an interesting film.  It is one that will expand your horizons.  Even if you previously had no interest in the subject matter, you might also find yourself intrigued by the prowess of the young athletes depicted.

What I liked about the film is a somewhat unique story line – that of the struggles of a young b-boy team looking to make their mark on the world.  Thrown together at the last possible minute and pushed outside of their comfort zone, they push pass their differences to become a world competition team.  Add in a formerly great coach who has had some life struggles of his own and you have a story that will at least hold someone’s attention.  However, I don’t think the story line in and of itself would have done it for me.  Sure it had all of life’s struggles and triumphs, ups and downs, wins and losses in there, but it was still just a story about a Break Dance team.  What captivated my attention though is two things.  One is the tidbits of Hip Hop culture and history that were sprinkled throughout the film.  I find history interesting in and of itself, and I’ll admit that Hip Hop has not exactly been high on my list to learn about, but this film did a good job of capturing my attention and making me curious about just how much I didn’t know.

What I didn’t like about the film is parts of it were slow and repetitious, parts of the story felt a little contrived to me, and some of the filming of the dance scenes moved around a little too much.  I’ll admit that I was a little tepid at the beginning of the film, but I quickly warmed up and found myself more and more interested in the story line.

If you are a Hip Hop/Break Dancing fan you will probably enjoy this film.  Even if not, if you gave it an honest try you could find yourself somewhat entertained.  Admittedly this film is not for everyone and targets a pretty select audience.  However it is a great film to expand your horizons on.  If you want to get outside of your comfort zone and experience a film that you might not otherwise want to see, this film would be a good film to pick.  We saw this film in 3D.  Mainly because that is the only choice we had at the theaters we normally frequent.  This film works in 3D, but there wasn’t really anything special in the film that would require that you see it in 3D.  This film also works really well on the big screen, especially at the end with the world dance sequences.  All in all I’d say this film would make a better theater experience than Netflix or box rental.  Neither is this a family film.  This is not exactly the film you want to drag the kids off too, unless of course, 1) you have older teens that are really into Hip Hop, and 2) they are older and mature enough for the subject matter.

Battle of the Year is rated PG-13 for some mature subject matter.  The language in the film is pretty harsh, as well as some of the mannerisms and body language used.  I suppose this could be attributed to the culture, but it is still harsh.  There is no nudity in the film, but there is sexual innuendo.  It should be OK for more mature teens.

Battle of the Year – an intriguing night at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

The Spectacular Now (IMDB: The Spectacular Now) is the story of a budding teenage alcoholic who is suddenly changed by a series of events in his life.  Given his first beer at the tender age of six by his alcoholic father while attending a sports event, our young hero finds himself carrying his very own whiskey flask by the time he is in high school.  And walking around with a buzz all the time seems to have magical effects as his lack of inhibitions literally make him the life of the party (not to mention he has learned all the really clever ways to access booze over the years).  When he meets the school nice girl through rather unfortunate circumstances, he slowly learns that he has a choice and doesn’t have to give his life over completely to destructive addictions.

What I liked about the movie is the struggle the young man went through without even realizing he was going through it.  The movie did a good job of drawing me in and making me a part of the hero’s life.  I empathized with him.  I felt his failures and enjoyed his successes.  You wanted to cheer him own and the very next minute yell at him for being so stupid.  It was a great story of overcoming and narrowly adverting a life of slavery to an addiction most never learn to live with.

What I didn’t like about the story is the heroine threw herself into the world of the hero.  Adopting his habits, furthering his causes, and being influenced by him as much as she was an influence on him.  Of course, this is probably truer to life, but as I’ve indicated before, real life has to be really, really extraordinary to work on the big screen.  It didn’t play out well here and you weren’t sure who was having more of an influence on who until the end.

The Spectacular Now is a bit of a Romantic Drama and could appeal to females more, but guys could get into this film as well.  There are parts that are somewhat slow though and even though this film will appeal to a wide movie audience, it just didn’t quite rise to the level of average for me.  But I only dinged it one point.  This film is definitely not a family film and is probably not appropriate for young children.  Teenagers, especially more mature children, will be OK with the subject matter.  It could actually be a good film to use as an opening discussion to drinking and the effects of alcohol use in one’s life with young adults.  There is nothing special in this film that demands you rush right out and see it on the big screen.  It will work just fine as a Netflix or box rental on a Friday or Saturday night.

The Spectacular Now is rated R for some very mature subject matter.  And while there is no nudity in the film, there are young adults shown in their underwear (and nothing else), and there are some fairly graphic depictions of sex scenes.  The depicted use of alcohol in this film is seen throughout.  The language in this film is quite harsh and the film is definitely geared towards more mature audiences.

The Spectacular Now – a not too bad night at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (IMDB: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2) is the sequel to Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (IMDB: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) an animated feature about a scientist who invents a machine that synthesizes food from water.  It is the second chapter of the first film (the original was based upon a children’s story and while I have not read the book, from what I’ve read the film does depart somewhat significantly from the book and I suspect the sequel does as well) and carries on with the lives of the main characters from the original.  While seeing the original will certainly provide a lot of context to the sequel, it is not absolutely necessary as there is some background provided at the beginning of the film and you can definitely pick up the story line from there.

What I liked about the film is it is an original concept.  The Wikipedia article on the original children’s story describes a plotline that differs somewhat significantly from the film version yet from what I can tell the film captures at least a part of the essence of the book.  And what an interesting concept it is.  A scientist invents a machine that literally causes it to rain food from the sky.  Which is great, until the first thunderstorm comes along burying the town in food.  The sequel carries this one step farther when we return to the town of Swallow Falls only to discover the food making device churning out sentient creatures known as foodanimals.  And that is pretty original.

What I didn’t like about the film is it lacked some of the cleverness and humor of the original.  Sure, there are a few laughs here and there, but nothing compared to chapter one.  The whole sentient food creation was pretty unique and made for an interesting story, but it lacked some of the connection part one had.  There were some parts that were put in clearly to be corny (no pun intended – although this movie could certainly make one out of a comment like that) and there were parts that while they didn’t exactly drag, they certainly lacked the intensity and punch they could have had.  The movie did hold my interest for the most part, but while the original had appeal both to adults and children, this one was definitely geared to the children all the way with only a couple of hidden Easter Eggs for the adults.

We did not see the film in 3D (although there were less 2D showings than 3D showings, we managed to make it to the theater for the last 2D show of the day), and while there definitely appeared to be parts of the film that would lend themselves to 3D, I saw nothing spectacular that would make me want to run right out and see it in 3D.  This film makes for a great family film, especially for those families that have children in the grade school age range.  The parents might find themselves a little bored, but the children will certainly love it and seeing your children laugh and act surprised at a movie is just as much fun as movies themselves.  This film has a couple of scenes that work really well on the big screen, but if you’re into saving a dollar right now, it would make a fine Netflix or box rental as well.  And viewed at home it can be shown to the children on a Saturday afternoon while mom and dad are engaged in other activities.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is rated PG because of a few somewhat scary scenes (the foodanimals attack and eat people), but this really is a light hearted children’s film that has no cursing, no inappropriate adult innuendo, and no depictions of deviant behavior (other than the Evil villain).  It should be perfect for the vast majority of grade school children.  Most Jr. High, and definitely the majority of High School aged children will probably find themselves “too cool” to see this film.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – an entertaining evening at the movies, but not quite as entertaining as the original, I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Baggage Claim (IMDB: Baggage Claim) is a romantic comedy (yes, it is the quintessential chick flick) about a not so younger lady whose mother has some pretty strong views on being married before you are 30, and whose younger sister has just announced her engagement and pending nuptials.  This sets the older sister off an impossible quest over the next 30 days to not show up at her sisters rehearsal dinner without at least a husband-to-be in tow.  And since our not quite so typical heroine is a flight attendant, it also takes us city hopping across the country and she sets out to find the right man.

What I liked about this film is pretty much everything.  Yes, it is a girl’s night out at the movies, but it is funny, funny, funny.  And not the comedy club kind of rolling-on-the-floor-laughing type of humor, but the gentle surprising type that has you sometimes chuckling to yourself and at other times just laughing out loud.  I also found it a rather heartwarming story with a moral.  And I love a movie with a moral.  And the moral of this story is “The magic isn’t in getting married, the magic is in staying married” (and that is hopefully not too far off to be a reasonable paraphrase and not too much of a spoiler at the same time).  This movie starts off with a laugh and ends with a smile and never loses your interest once at any time in between.

What I didn’t like about the movie is very little.  Some of the setup was pretty obvious.  You knew there had to be the happy ending, and you knew there had to be a twist of fate sitting right under her nose that was going to become a major play in the plot, but the film could have built the suspense slightly more than what it did.  Other than being a fairly easy read, this movie was enjoyable all the way around.\r\n\r\nOf course, like I said, it is a girls night out at the movies, and thus may not appeal to as broad an audience base, however I believe if the guys give it a chance they could both win points with their lady friends and have a good time as well.  And that is because of the humor in this film.  It really does run the gambit from just plain slapstick (which is done surprisingly well) to funny situations and set-ups with the rest of the cast.  And what may be classified as the sappy moments are kept to a minimum and are short and sweet.  A lot of films of this venue have a way of setting you up with the humor only to introduce, rather suddenly, the worst tear jerking moment imaginable.  Not so with Baggage Claim, the film doesn’t dash the laughter you were experiencing just moments before, but rather ends with a note just somber enough, and just warm enough to leave a smile on your face while still laughing on the inside at everything our heroine has just been through.

Baggage Claim works well on the big screen, but there are no special effects that would demand it must be seen there.  Quite frankly, this movie would make a great couples date movie, a husband-wife night out, or a ladies night at the movies.  But it would also make a great afternoon Netflix or box rental.  And while this film may definitely appeal more to teenage girls than teenage boys, don’t quite sell it short as a family film, there is plenty of humor in this movie to go around.

Baggage Claim is rated PG-13 for mature subject matter, however the language is refreshingly mild, there is no nudity in the film, and most of the jokes and situations are as tastefully done as is possible with the subject matter.  This film should be fine for most teenagers.

Baggage Claim – a very enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and stretch the rating a bit and give this one a 6/10.  Your mileage may, or may not vary.  But the humor in this film coupled with the way the story line worked was just enough for the extra point from me.

Unstoppable (IMDB: Unstoppable) is a movie about Faith, Hope, and Love.  It is basically an apologetics look at why there is tragedy in the world, and it seeks to answer the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

This film was not a regular studio release.  It was put out through Fathom Events and if you did not see it, the opportunity (at least in the theater) has passed.  You might watch and see if they release it on DVD or not.

The film centers around a specific event in the life of Kirk and Chelsea Cameron and the death of a young friend due to cancer.  While the death of the friend may have been the catalyst for the question, the movie attempts to answer the question through a unique examination of scripture.

If you have ever struggled with the question of “Why?” or specifically cried out to God that you don’t understand the circumstances you are going through or why things are the way they are in the world, you might find this film very inspirational.

This film may not answer all your questions or give you peace of mind, you should seek out a local Church to be a part of and tap into their resources in order to address specific issues, however this film certainly provides consideration for thought.  And it most certainly could be used in an arsenal of apologetics material in order to help build a strong biblical foundation.

Unstoppable – a rather reflective night at the movies.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

Gravity (IMDB: Gravity) is the story of astronauts stranded in space.  Actually it comes down to one astronaut stranded in space.  The events that lead up to the astronauts being stranded is one of those total catastrophic how did we get here moments.  While we never see the beginning event, we are told that the Russian’s fired a missile at one of their satellites, presumably in a test, which created an unexpected debris field which sets off a chain reaction in low earth orbit as debris keeps orbiting and taking out more and more space objects creating an ever larger debris field.  This places the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station in danger which eventually leaves our astronauts cut off from the world and marooned.

What I liked about the movie is it is an original story.  We have here a pretty unique concept, albeit a scenario that has probably crossed the minds of space scientists the world over at one point or another.  The movie starts out with action from the get-go.  Spending 99% of the movie in space, and probably 98% of that time cut off from the rest of the world, this movie has a lot of drama.  It begins with action and ends with action.  Unfortunately it doesn’t always sustain that action throughout the film.

What I didn’t like about the film is intense periods of action followed by incredible lulls.  One moment our hero and heroine are in space fighting for their lives and the next we are sitting inside a space craft literally catching our breath.  And we wait, and we wait, and we wait, while the heroine decompresses, seemingly in real-time before the next intense situation slams us again.  The lulls in the action did little for drawing me into the story and I thought they distracted from the film in the manner they were done.  This coupled with some of the liberties the story took distracted from my overall enjoyment.  Without giving too much of a spoiler let me just say there were periods in the story where the hero and heroine did not take advantage of the resources they had available to them and there were some incredible situations set up as well.  One in particular was the total loss of communications.  This was ostensibly due to loss of communications satellites, however the debris field was taking out objects in low Earth orbit, 200 – 300 miles up.  Yet we have quite a few of the worlds communications satellites in geo-synchronous orbit some 22,000 miles up that would have been working just fine.  Sure, they require a stronger signal, but I’m willing to bet some enterprising NASA engineer would have found a way to bounce a signal off one of them within the right frequency range in order to send a message or two.  But not so in the film, our astronauts are left stranded to their own devices.

Still, despite the distractions (to myself anyway) the story is unique and mostly full of action and thus held my interest for the most part.  This film is a drama of the nature of the overcoming human spirit in the face of the direst of odds and will probably appeal to a fairly wide audience base.  It would make an OK family film.  We saw this film in 3D, and while it definitely works in 3D and there are some scenes that are very good, if you wanted to save the money and see it in 2D I believe you would enjoy it as much.  This film also works well on the big screen.  The space shots and the zero gravity scenes just lent themselves to the big screen.  This is one of those movies I think you want to see on the big screen if you decide to see it.

Gravity is rated PG-13 but is mild on most accounts.  There are some brief periods of harsh language but these are rather confined, there is no nudity, there are a few graphic scenes of bodies in space, but these also are brief and contained.  This film should be OK for most older mature teens.

Gravity – an enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Don Jon (IMDB: Don Jon) is either a porno movie about a regular guy, or else it is about a regular guy addicted to porn, it might be kind of hard to tell which.  The film would probably have you believe the latter, however there is so much of the former thrown in that it muddies the waters.  Either way, the film definitely touches on the life of one man and two different relationships he has that are affected by his addiction to porn.  I suppose there will be those that will look for some deeper metaphorical meaning in these relationships, but for my money, in this story they would be rather weak.

What I liked about the film is it at least attempted to show some of the downsides of online pornography addictions.  It also attempted to show the hazards of being in the wrong relationships for the wrong reasons.  But it did so in a very crass and crude fashion.  Given the subject matter one might argue that as fair, but then one might also ague the value of the subject matter as movie entertainment.

What I disliked about the story was attempt to show an inappropriate relationship entered into for the wrong reasons being disrupted for the wrong reasons while exposing a real problem that is then repaired by another inappropriate relationship, albeit one that lacks the abusive nature of the former one.  One might contrast the story to real life situations and that may be valid, but some things are just way to mundane to make for good entertainment.

This film is definitely not for the wider movie going audience.  Many (if not most) may find the subject matter inappropriate and crudely portrayed, even if one does appreciate the finer points attempted to be made.  Movies are entertainment, if one wants to improve the moral character of ones life they should go to Church.  At least the hero in the movie understood that point well enough to at least attempt to practice it.  My point here is I don’t go to movies to be taught some deep philosophical or religious truth.  I go to movies to be entertained.  And while the story line may carry with it some relevant moral or some witty truism, I am still there for the entertainment value of the film, not to be enlightened on the moral plights of society or to be conditioned on good behavior.  So if the movie was telling me that online pornography is a problem in today’s society, I agree and I don’t need to see a movie in an entertainment venue to bring that to light.  One the other hand, if the movie was simply taking a moral depravity and making an entertaining story out of it, then it could have done a better job and not rubbed my nose in it.

If sexually explicit material is offensive to you, you might not want to see this movie.  If you want to protect your children from the plight of online pornography, you might not want to take them to see this movie.  On the other hand, if you simply believe they will pick it up in High School no matter what you do, then depending on their current exposure, this movie may or may not be a real education as to how to access the world of online porn.  If such subject matter is OK in your book, you may find the movie entertaining, but the laughs were few or non-existent and the drama is no prize winner.

Don Jon is rated R for adult sexual themes.  The movie contains copious amounts of female nudity and partial or feigned male nudity.  The language tripped my rather sensitive meter and almost the first words spoken are four letter words.  The movie also provides some links to online pornography sites that although I haven’t personally tested them, I can’t imagine them not being valid.

Don Jon – a somewhat laborious afternoon at the movies.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and give it a 4/10 because of at least the attempt to show the hero coming to understand his problem and overcome it.  Your mileage will most definitely vary (I’d guess to some great degree).

Rush (IMDB: Rush) is yet another pseudo-documentary film this year, this one about 2 Formula One race car drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt.  While the movie chronicles some of the 1970’s Formula One racing seasons, it is more about the two drivers themselves, their lives, their rivalry, and their competitive spirits than it is about Formula One racing.

Let me start out with my biases first.  I am a huge race fan.  I have been since I was a child.  Growing up as a family we never missed the Indy 500 each year.  I was also as prone to watch NASCAR on Saturdays as I was cartoons.  To this day on major race days I will call my parents and discuss the race with them, either while it is in progress or after it is over.  I have favorite drivers in the same vein that Football fans have favorite quarterbacks (alright, I have a favorite quarterback as well, but I’m a bigger race fan than I am a Football fan).  So I may have gone into this film with slightly higher expectations than normal.  As such I may have had bigger disappointments than most.

However, before I get to harsh with the story, allow me to say in my defense, that this movie does fall squarely into my criteria of ”if you are going to make a movie about everyday life, you need really exceptionally ordinary people or events to make it even somewhat interesting”.  In my football analogy consider the movie Brian’s Song (IMDB: Brian’s Song), a truly great film.  But Brian’s Song really chronicles Brian Piccolo’s battle with cancer in a heartfelt way that touches you emotionally.  Not so with Rush.

What I liked about the film is it held my interest.  It had just enough personal interaction coupled with action scenes (primarily from Formula One racing) to make it exciting all the way though.  And even though the movie was more about the rivalry of 2 drivers, that rivalry was on the race track, and who doesn’t like a good race?

What I didn’t like about the movie is it didn’t really draw me in.  I didn’t feel the pain or the struggle of Niki Lauda after his crash, nor did I feel drawn into the competitive and emotional rivalry of Niki Lauda and James Hunt either on or off the race track.  To put it bluntly, this film is no Brian’s Song.  However, that being said, it is an entertaining movie.

This movie could make for a family film and probably will appeal to a broader audience, be forewarned though, it is a little harsh around the edges (sex, drugs, alcohol) and there are one or two rather graphic scenes in the movie (one concerning a race car crash).

Rush is rated R for some adult themes and rather graphic content.  The movie contains several scenes of female nudity and has both female (frontal) and male (from the rear) nudity within the opening scenes.  The language is fairly harsh as well.  This film is definitely not for younger or less mature teens.

Rush – an enjoyable, but average, evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Captain Phillips (IMDB: Captain Phillips) is the real life story of the 2009 Somali hijacking of the M/V Maersk Alabama and the subsequent kidnapping of Captain Richard Phillips of that vessel.  The story is a pseudo-documentary and centers primarily around the events of the hijacking with a very short introduction leading up to it.  The movie centers around the real-world events of the kidnapping and does not delve into any other aspects of the story (for example the families of the victims or the dealings of the shipping company and their respective roles in the story).

What I liked about the film is it was quick and to the point.  The story line utilizes a very brief introduction to Captain Phillips at the beginning and immediately gets to the day at hand.  We are given just the rudimentary introductions to the Maersk Alabama crew and to the Somali pirates.  The film has adequate detail of the U.S. Navy rescue operations and of the hijacking effort itself.  It is a fast paced plot line and does not leave you hanging on any account.  The story captured my attention and kept me enthralled from beginning to end.

What I didn’t like about the film is very little.  This is a solid movie with a solid plot line that is pure entertainment.  I am sure much of the story was edited down to size to fit a standard full length feature film, but the highlights that are hit do a very good job of conveying the story.

Captain Phillips is an intriguing tale but it does fit into the real-life scenario.  And while the hijacking of a single ship is newsworthy of the day (especially to the flag country), it is difficult to gage its overall impact on the history of the Nation or even the world.  What makes this particular story interesting to me is the involvement of the United States Government, the U.S. Navy, and the great lengths one country was willing to go to in order to protect, and rescue, its citizens.  Another great part of the story is the every day struggles a group of men found themselves facing while simply trying to do their jobs and how they were able to overcome even when faced with extreme adversity.

Captain Phillips makes for a great family film with enough action and intrigue to satisfy most movie goers.  And while it plays well on the big screen, it would also make for a great evening at home either on Netflix or through a box rental.  The movie does deal with mature subject matter but should be fine for age appropriate audiences.  I found it to be a good solid film, it had enough action in it (as well as the particular story line being interesting enough) to get an extra point out of me.  As to whether it is one of the great all time memorable films though, I did not view it as such.  It was simply a good story, told well, that provided solid entertainment.

Captain Phillips is rated PG-13 for mature subject matter and some graphic scenes of violence.  However the language was mostly tolerable, there were no depictions of nudity, and the material was appropriately presented for the subject matter at hand.  I appreciated the fact that the movie simply told the story without trying to greatly embellish one particular part or another.  It should be fine for older teens and mature audiences.  Even for younger viewers that would have a difficult time grasping the story, there is very little in the film that would cause nightmares.  Although there are some rather graphic scenes during the U.S. Navy take down of the hijackers.

Captain Phillips – a great afternoon at the movies.  Very entertaining.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

Escape Plan (IMDB: Escape Plan) is an action thriller about a security company that willingly embeds an employee into a prison system unbeknownst to the guards or prison officials as a means of testing the security and operations of the prison from the inside.  The leading character of the story, Ray Breslin, is a certified physical security expert.  You might even say he wrote the book on the subject (literally).  However, when he is approached to test out the security of a new prison, built after studying his techniques, he may have found himself in over his head.  Or does he?

What I liked about this movie is the somewhat original concept.  There are not a lot of stories out there about people who get thrown into prison intentionally, after an arrangement with the Justice Department, and then get paid to break out of them.  And even fewer stories with the particular twist that this one introduces.  Couple the originality with some good solid action, and you have a winner in my book.  The film works all the way around.  It begins with action and ends with action.  It is an attention grabber from the beginning.

What I didn’t like about the film was some repetitive action near the middle of the film.  Once you’ve driven home your point, I get it, it is time to move on, to go back and rehash a particular scenario is a waste of valuable film time.  I realize it may be considered artistic, but it holds little value for me.  All-in-all though, this is a very minor nitpick.  For the vast majority of the film, the plot line developed well and moved at the right pace for the audience to follow along yet not get bored.

Escape Plan is an action film that may not be suitable for all audiences.  However the standard action lovers should find it enjoyable.  The plot line contains your typical struggle of the hero who finds himself up against immeasurable odds only to pull out a victory at the end of the day.  There are a couple of interesting twists though, so you want to pay attention to the full film including the sub-plots.  This film is pretty mainstream.  It would work well as an afternoon out at the movies, however there are no particular qualities that demands you see it on the big screen.  It would work very well as a Netflix or box rental.

Escape Plan is rated R for violence and adult content.  The language is fairly harsh, however the violence is somewhat typical for movies of this venue and there is no nudity in the film.  It should be fine for most mature audiences.  There are some religious overtones in the film that may offend certain movie goers.  If you find irreverent religious references offensive, you might want to skip this one.

Escape Plan – a rather enjoyable evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Carrie (IMDB: Carrie) is the story of Carrie, an only child of a single mother who one day discovers she has some amazing abilities in the realm of telekinesis and physic capabilities.  Raised by her mother in an overtly, yet oddly perverted, religious environment  Sequestered from the realities of the outside world, she finds herself somewhat of a loaner and an outcast in school.  Tormented by the other students in her class, she is finally pushed over the edge to the point she unleashes all of her new-found powers in a rather horrifying manner with disastrous results for those around her.

What I liked about the film is it was Carrie.  Meaning this version did not try to out do or alter the original in any fashion.  Let me just say right here, that I am not a huge fan of remakes.  Very seldom do they make sense to me.  In my particular world view, they are almost the equivalent of taking a written work and having some author re-write it.  I constantly long for new material out of Hollywood and remakes are generally a waste of resources (at least I personally perceive most of them to be).  There are occasions when a much older film may take advantage of advances in technology where todays capabilities may offer a better rendering, but for the most part I just am not a fan of remakes.  That being said however, kudos to this particular rendition for not messing around with the plot line.  The film was Carrie, plain and simple.

What I didn’t like about the film was that it is Carrie.  Really.  It is Carrie to a fault.  I don’t recall when I first saw the 1976 version of Carrie.  I do know it was either on television (and thus most likely edited) or possibly on VHS.  I did not see it in the theater when the 1976 rendition came out.  That being said however, I do have the DVD in my personal collection.  It has been quite some time since I’ve seen the 1976 rendition though, several years as a matter of fact.  But I do remember the highlights of the film.  And while it would be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison, I will say that I was at least left with the impression that this was pretty close to a frame-by-frame remake of the 1976 film.  And that gets down to the question of “What’s the point?”  I’ve seen the film already, even if it wasn’t in the theater.  So what value are you bringing me with this new rendition?  From my point of view, this was simply Carrie, and thus I wouldn’t treat it any differently than any other version.

This film is definitely not for all audiences.  If you are offended by poor religious references, depictions of the occult or mystical powers, squeamish about the macabre, or bothered by violence, then perhaps this film is not for you.  The film is somewhat classified as a horror film and is usually re-broadcast around Halloween time each year.  However it is somewhat tame when compared to other similar horror films of the same type.  If you enjoyed the 1976 film, you will probably enjoy this one as well.  If you did not care for the 1976 rendition, you will most likely not care for this version either.  The film works very well on the big screen, however the special effects will probably play just as well on the HD screen at home.  If you saw the 1976 version of this film, I’d say there is no real reason to run right out to the theater to see this one.  You’ve already seen it.  If a horror film around Halloween time is your typical habit, then this one is a classic.  However, this old-time favorite will play just as well via Netflix or a box rental, if you so choose.

Carrie is rated R for violence, adult themes, and some horror scenes.  It is definitely not for younger viewers and I would exercise caution.  There are some scenes that might play well in nightmares for younger, less mature children.  The language is fairly tolerable but is definitely not squeaky clean.  There is no nudity, per se, although there is a shower scene that is very mildly suggestive.  The violence is rather graphic in parts but is fairly typical for this venue of film.

Carrie – a fairly standard afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (IMDB: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa) is the story of an 86-year-old grandpa whose wife has just passed away when he suddenly finds himself in the custody of his young grandson because the child’s mother (his daughter) is headed back to prison for drug use.  Not wanting to be hampered by a young child at his age, he embarks on a journey across America’s heartland to deliver the child to his estranged father (who is less than an acceptable role model himself).  As the title suggests, this film was done by the same crew that has brought us the Jackass: The Movie (IMDB: Jackass: The Movie) series of films.

What I liked about this film is its rather unique concept and it was fairly humorous.  The film was shot as a series of Candid Camera moments.  Meaning it was a mixture of actors and unsuspecting, ordinary folks filmed in outrageous scenarios by hidden cameras and film crews.  This makes for some interesting dynamics in the film.  Typically, we here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts tend to focus on the pure entertainment value of a film.  But in this particular case the technique used to make the film was unique enough as to play a very significant role in the overall entertainment value of the film.  The different scenarios lent themselves to some unpredictable moments as ordinary, non-actor, people were confronted with various, extreme situations.  Parts of the film were quite funny.

What I didn’t like about the film was due to the various staged scenes, it was somewhat disjointed.  The film still had a very basic story line, and the plot was easy enough to follow, however a vast majority of it was one staged event after another all stung together.  This made it somewhat bland on content.  And the humor either worked, or it didn’t.  There was very little in-between.  I will say that the funny parts were very funny, and thus it wasn’t that difficult to get through.  It does get a subtracted point from me however for being more of a series of comedy sketches strung together (some of which worked, and some that did not), rather than an actual developing story line.

This film is definitely more of a cultish film than a standard and will not appeal to all audiences.  As with the original series by these writers, a lot of the humor is somewhat sophomoric and a lot of it is rather crude.  Followers of the T.V. Series or the film series will probably enjoy this movie.  For the rest of us, it will either be hit or miss.  If you are not into outlandish humor, or shock-jock type scenarios, you might be better off to just skip this one.  If you do take a chance on this film, there are several gems of humor that are pretty funny and thus you may not be totally put off.  There is no particular reason to rush right out and see this film on the big screen if you are not inclined to do so.  It would work just as well as either a Netflix or a box rental.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is rated R for adult themes, sexual innuendo, language, and nudity.  It does contain full frontal, and rear shot male nudity, as well as several depictions of feigned nudity.  The film is definitely not suitable for younger, less mature audiences and is not exactly what I would call a family film.  Use caution with younger children.  Even older children more adept at the subject matter may want to carefully consider whether or not this film is appropriate for them.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – a humorous, but rather crude evening at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage will probably vary.

Ender’s Game (IMDBs : Ender’s Game) is a Sci-Fi Thriller based upon the novel of the same name.  I did not read the book, but I can definitely say the movie is rather thrilling.  In the story, Earth has been attacked by an alien race, from which, human kind almost didn’t survive.  The war revealed one great weakness of the aliens which a united military immediately set out to exploit.  An advanced tactical fighting unit is put together that chases the aliens all the way back to their home planet.  The twist is, the human army uses children as commanders based upon their ability to play video games and to think tactically and respond quickly with faster reaction times than their adult counter parts.  Whether the children are emotionally, or spiritually ready for such a responsibility is a matter left open to interpretation.

What I liked about this movie is it was good solid Sci-Fi at its best.  And I love Sci-Fi.  Having literally grown up on Lost In Space, Star Trek, Space:1999, and other Sci-Fi classics, I developed an affinity towards Sci-Fi, and especially space based scenarios, very early on in life.  And this movie has all the classic elements.  The story line is captivating and holds your interest from beginning to end.  The twists and turns in the movie give it an element of somewhat of an emotional roller coaster ride, which is exactly what young Ender finds himself on.  This has an effect of drawing you into the film and making the fantasy world all that much more real to you.

What I didn’t like about the movie is some of the overly familiar themes.  I couldn’t help but have a few stray thoughts of Starship Troopers (IMDB: Starship Troopers) along with a few other Sci-Fi classics.  The story line isn’t as richly developed as say, a Star Wars (IMDB: Star Wars), however I’ll end any perceived comparisons at that.  It is never our intent here at LRPSP Movie Thoughts to compare films to each other, but rather to allow each to stand alone on their own merits and let the scores fall where they may.  That being said, the story line was pretty good given the scope of material it had to work with.

Ender’s Game is a movie sure to endear itself to the vast majority of Sci-Fi fans.  The film has very little fluff in it and story development is captivating and holds your interest superbly.  The movie plays very well on the big screen and is good enough that I would say most serious Sci-Fi fans will want to see this one in the theater.  If you do not have the opportunity to see it in the theater, this would be on my list of must see films for this year, so be sure and catch it on Netflix or a box rental.  This movie also has the potential to be a great date night movie or even a family outing as there is a little bit of something for everyone in this film.  It has elements of a fantasy, a deep emotional conflict among main characters, as well as a hint of a romantic element.  And there is enough action to keep most die-hard action lovers at least interested, if not downright happy.

Ender’s Game is rated PG13 for some violence and mature subject matter.  However it is quite mild.  The language is refreshingly tolerable, there is no nudity in the film, and there is very little that is going to create any nightmares in this film.  Very young views may have a problem with the aliens, but for the most part these should be mild.  All-in-all a refreshingly tolerable film that most families can enjoy together.

Ender’s Game – a fantastic afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

Last Vegas (IMDB: Last Vegas) is the story of four life-long childhood chums who have been around the block once or twice.  In other words, they are in the sunset years of life.  3 of the childhood friends have grown up, raised families of their own, retired and had grandchildren.  One of them, the more adventurous, free-spirited one, has simply become a wealthy tycoon and has lived a rather carefree life until one day he suddenly decides to marry a young girl half his age.  Since the marriage is to take place in Las Vegas, the perfect opportunity is afforded the four friends to meet for the Senior Bachelor Party of the year.  And thus the stage is set for a rather entertaining comedy.

What I liked about the movie is it contained more comedy than just what you see in the trailers.  There were several good laughs in this film as well as a fairly entertaining story line.  The film centers around an older crowd (late 60’s – early 70’s) and thus some of the humor may be lost on younger viewers, but the storyline is easy enough to follow and the plot line is not complicated.  This particular movie also keeps the story line within the realm of reality and does not delve into outrageous stunts that place the characters in outlandish situations.

What I didn’t like about the movie is it is another weekend in Vegas type story line.  One begins to wonder just how many times you can go to the well on this particular type plot.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some pretty entertaining skits in the movie, but they probably would have worked just as well in Barbados, or Atlantic City, or New Orleans, as they did in Las Vegas.  There was only one particular gag in the movie that probably worked better in Las Vegas than anywhere else.  And that one wasn’t even that funny.  So while there was some entertaining humor in this film, there wasn’t all that much that was groundbreaking that would set it apart.

Last Vegas is humorous in spots, has an element of a romantic comedy (although not quite in the typical fashion), and mostly held my attention (there are a couple of lulls in the film).  And while it makes for a fairly average night out at the movies, I didn’t find anything worth rushing right out to the theater for.  This film isn’t exactly a family type film, both from the subject matter and the fact that it most likely will not appeal to younger audiences.  Teenagers especially will most likely be bored with this movie.  For older audiences this film would probably make for an entertaining afternoon at the movies but not as a must see film.  You would do just as well to wait for this one to come out on BluRay, Netflix, or a box rental.  This film would work just as well on a Saturday afternoon on a cable movie channel as it did on the big screen.  There are no heavy uses of special effects or CGI and the stunts are very tame.  It really is meant to be just four pals meeting up in Las Vegas for a bachelor party (to ostensibly be followed up by a Vegas chapel wedding), albeit a senior bachelor party and wedding.  In other words, one shouldn’t confuse this film with any of the other recent movies with outrageous themes centered around Las Vegas.

Last Vegas is rated PG-13 for adult content, however the language is mostly mild (although the characters do have nicknames for each other that are, shall we say, less than polite).  There is no frontal nudity in the film however there is one scene of a topless female from behind (wearing panties).  There is plenty of adult situations and sexual innuendo, and of course there is gambling and alcohol use in the film.  However, while the film may not be considered an exactly wholesome influence, there is nothing in the film that is going to cause nightmares or permanent scarring.  For most mature, older teens it should be fine (although I’d predict they would be bored with this film).

Last Vegas – an entertaining evening at the movies although nothing that really thrilled me.  I did get a few good laughs out of it so I give it a 5/10.  Your mileage may vary.

Thor: The Dark World (IMDB: Thor: The Dark World) is the latest in the Marvel Comic book adventures of demigod (or alien – depending on any particular interpretation) Thor.  In this particular rendition Thor must not only save Earth, but the complete universe of the nine realms (an adaptation of Norse mythology) from the Dark Elves who wish to return the universe to a state of darkness (which, we are told, was the original state before there was light.  Yes.  Imagine that.  Before there was light we had nothing but darkness).  Fortunately (for either the storyline or us, I’m not sure which) the center of the convergence happens to be in Greenwich right here on good, ‘ol, planet Earth.  This affords Thor the opportunity to return to see his former interest of affection, Jane Foster, who has encountered some rather interesting challenges of her own during the two years since they’ve last seen each other.

What I liked about this film is it was Thor.  I’ve long held the opinion that comic books hold a rich set of material for movies to mine.  And this particular character/theme has plenty to offer.  This film is packed with adventure, action, conflict, loss, and romance.  The story line is rife with a number of sub-plots continuing in parallel that keeps you fully engaged.  The action, as you would expect, is rather intense at times.  It is just good solid entertainment.

What I didn’t like about the film is the fact that it is slightly over the top in its mythology explanations.  Thor is based in Norse Mythology, and has some strong similarities to Greek Mythology.  In mythology, Thor is a demigod.  One of a series of demigods the mythology assigns to various human, social, and physical interactions either explained or unexplained in the world around us.  The film however tries to warp itself into something more explainable to today’s audiences.  To the point that it wants to exist somewhere between mythology and Science Fiction.  While this is clearly comprehensible to the movie goer, the fact that it tries to mix these two states is somewhat awkward and it really doesn’t pull this off very well.  I found most of the explanatory groundwork in the film to be tedious.  While a lot of it provides good context for the story line and gives an explanation for where we are at in time since we last saw this character, I found it distracting from the main action of the movie.  It reminded me a little of the 1978 movie: Superman (IMDB: Superman) in which we laboriously watch baby Kal El travel to Earth from Krypton, and travel, and travel, and travel, and travel, to the point that you begin to scream ”I get it.  Get on with it already”.  Not that Thor: The Dark World is a movie of epic length, but a little less setup in some parts and some more action would have been slightly more suitable to my tastes.

Thor: The Dark World is a movie that should appeal to a wide movie audience base.  Those that are not particularly bent towards SciFi or Fantasy may not find it enjoyable, but most Action/Adventure lovers should be pleased.  And there are plenty of twists and sub plots in the movie to add some mystery, suspense, and a little tensioned romance that will be appealing to an even wider base.  It should make for a pretty good family outing, especially for those families that love an epic battle of good versus evil and struggles against overwhelming odds.  I’m not quite sure I agree with the movie billboard that states: “Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet” as I really didn’t get the impression that Thor was ever in his greatest peril (to date), but it certainly was personal, so I’ll give them 1/2 a point for that.  All-in-all the movie should make for a great family afternoon at the movies though.  We saw this movie in 3D, however (as is becoming the case with many of the 3D films out) I believe it would work just as well in 2D if you don’t want to spend the extra dollars.  It is certainly a movie to be seen on the big screen though.  This is the type of film you go to the movies for.  While you may want to wait for Netflix, a box rental, or for it to come out on BluRay, the film really comes off best in the theater on the big screen.

Thor: The Dark World is rated PG-13 for violence, however the language is refreshingly tolerable, there is no nudity in the film (the ladies may enjoy a short scene of a particularly buff Thor – but only from the waist up) and the action is set in a methodical type setting that should be OK for even the squeamish movie goer.  There is the typical amount of fighting and destruction, but nothing that nightmares are made of.  Still, discerning parents will want to heed the rating and use caution with younger, less mature children.

Thor: The Dark World – a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the movies.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

Free Birds (IMDB: Free Birds) is the story of a couple of turkeys (the fowl kind) going back in time to get turkeys off the Thanksgiving meal menu.  One of the turkeys was raised on a turkey farm while the other came from a factory in a big city.  One escaped the Thanksgiving day menu fate as a young chick while the other received the traditional Thanksgiving Presidential pardon.  One (ostensibly) has the brains, while the other has the brawn.  Together they have a mission, from the great turkey, to save all turkeys for all time.

What I liked about this film is the original concept.  Time traveling turkeys, fighting pilgrims, trying to take turkeys off the Thanksgiving Day menu, now there is something you don’t see every day.  The turkey antics and the interaction of the two main characters worked really well and the whole film comes off as a light-hearted comedy.  I also liked the fact that the story didn’t beat me over the head trying to make a point.  It told its story straight forward, and if you missed a reference, well it wasn’t about to go back and replay that part just so you would ”get it”.

What I didn’t like about the film is a distinct lack of ”adult” humor.  There are a lot of children’s films out there that have hidden tidbits of humor that really only the adult audience gets.  Things that are just a little too subtle for the younger audience or references to events that a child would have no reference point for.  I could list a myriad of those films, Free Birds wouldn’t be on the list.  I count 4 children’s films that have come out since the inception of LRPSP Movie Thoughts, Free Birds is perhaps not at the top of the list of those, but it was entertaining enough for me not to subtract any points.

Free Birds is (obviously) a children’s film and thus will not draw a wide adult audience.  However that doesn’t mean that it cannot be a family outing (especially for families with younger children) and it certainly doesn’t mean that adults will be bored.  This film offers one of those rare opportunities to enjoy a movie with your younger ones and share one of those experiences a lot of us treasure from our youth.  Without providing too many spoilers, there were a lot of things I found somewhat humorous about the film.  The President that gave the official pardon to the Thanksgiving day turkey sounded decidedly Clintonesque (either by design or not) and the young daughter of the President, while not having an overwhelming role, was pretty funny in her own way.  The fact that the pardoned turkey was taken aboard Marine One to Camp David to live a life of luxury was rather amusing and the film wasn’t totally void of adult humor (although there was certainly plenty of material for it to do better in that department).  One particular joke near the end of the film elicited a pretty good laugh from me.  This film has it all, turkey rivalries, turkey battles, turkey romance, turkeys in space, and (of course) turkey conquests.  From my point-of-view it could have provided slightly more adult humor and still not given up any of it younger child appeal, but it was pretty cute as it was and certainly not the worst children’s film I’ve seen (although I don’t think it is as good as the others out this year).

Free Birds is rated PG, I suppose for the turkey violence (although the Road Runner certainly had more cartoon violence in his antics than this film).  I would consider this film totally child friendly and good for even the youngest of viewers.  The language is totally acceptable, it is an animation, has no nudity, and while when creatures die they die, there is nothing in this film that nightmares are made of.  I would think this is the type of film mom would have taken me to see when I was in grade school (and mom was a pretty careful screener of movies when I was in grade school).  I’d say this one is safe for the whole family (although early teen girls are more likely to enjoy this one than early teen boys).

Free Birds – a nice evening at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (IMDB: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is the second in the three part Hunger Games series.  It is the continuing story of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark picking up where the first movie left off.  The story is a mix of SciFi and Adventure/Drama and is refreshingly different and new.  The story line comes from the series of books, and thus, not surprisingly, falls into my movie book category.  While it is not absolutely necessary to have seen the first movie in the series in order to see this installment, it certainly helps.  There is a lot of context and background information that is important to the plot that comes from the first film.  This film does not laboriously go into detail to ”catch up” the uninitiated viewer.  It assumes you are up to speed on the story and continues on where the first film left off.

What I liked about the film is that is fresh and new.  Hollywood has been going down the path of far too many remakes the past few years and this film is a nice departure from that.  The slightly high-tech futuristic bent, without going overboard, coupled with a compelling plot and interesting drama and fast action, make for an entertaining movie.  The interaction and character development work really well in this film and it complements the first in the series rather nicely.  I also appreciated the fact that the movie did not beat me over the head with everything that had come before.  I realize there is a fine line here for the director to walk, realizing that there will be many movie goers who will venture out to see this film who did not see the first in the series.  The director will want to ”catch those people up” by giving them a short initiation into the story line without boring those who did see the first film.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire strikes a nice balance here and doesn’t waste a lot of movie goer time rehashing a film that some of already seen, yet provides enough detail for those that may have missed the beginning while serving as a nice memory refresher for the rest of us.

What I didn’t like about the film was more of the ”same-old-same-old”.  Presumably the rules have changed.  Whereas in the first film we are led to believe that our heroine (and hero) have ”done their time” and are now free to live a life of luxury and peace, we now discover that due to the events of the day they must be dealt with rather harshly.  Which means sending them back to the games, where they will either kill or be killed.  This is all fine and good.  It works in the world built by the author and it is consistent to its own rules.  However, for the protagonist to make this happen they have to invoke some special rules that end up dragging all of the previous victors of the games into the fray with our heroine.  This is where things began to break down for me.  Even though we learn towards the end of the film that there are plots upon plots that have been hidden from us, one is still left to believe that these games are to be different.  Everyone in them has been there before and they are all seasoned veterans.  One would be led to believe that the actions should be a cut above, more adventurous, and even more extreme than we have come to know.  But they were not.  The film seemed to be a rehash of the first film with a slightly different plot running though it.  For all intents and purposes, this film could have been the original just on another day and at a slightly later time.

Still, the overall story is compelling, even if a lot of the game action seemed familiar and repetitive.  Any lover of Action/Adventure/Romance (even if it is somewhat strained and aloof) is sure to find this film enjoyable.  As with the first in the series, if you are put off by the pretense of an oppressive and aristocratic government, exploitation of people (especially young adults), people hunting people for sport, or acts of violence that seem senseless and cruel, then it might be best to say that this film is not for you.  If you saw the first film in the series and didn’t like it, you probably are not going to like this one either.  Even though you have to know that our heroine is going to overcome and that at the end of the day good will triumph over evil.  This is the type of film that works really well on the big screen and any true fan is probably not going to be disappointed seeing it in the theater.  That being said, it should also work really well at home as a Netflix or box rental and should provide and evening or afternoon of entertainment with the family.  Due to the pseudo romance of the characters involved, this film appeals more to teenage girls than most other demographics.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is rated PG-13 for graphic acts of violence and adult themes.  The language is not that harsh and there is no nudity in the film, but be forewarned, it does deal with a very mature plot line and is not all that suitable for younger viewers.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – a rather enjoyable evening at the movies.  Although I did not find this film as compelling as the first, mainly because of not enough interesting development to the story to really grab my attention, I did find it entertaining and an interesting continuation of the overall story.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Frozen (IMDB: Frozen) is the tale of a young princess and her sister, the Queen to be.  Frozen is an animation that turned out to be nothing at all like what the trailers hinted at.  It is a modern fairy tale that is slightly more classic than most other venues of the day.  From the unlikely prince charming to the rough cut woodsman to the humorous side kicks provided by a snowman and a reindeer, this film is classic Disney through and through.  It has all the elements of the familiar, yet a story line that is refreshingly unfamiliar.  And even though this film definitively has a wintery theme and was released close to Christmas time, it is a general fairy tale that works at any time of the year.

What I liked about the film is it is Disney getting back to their roots.  This film has all the markings of Disney of old and I’m sure Walt Disney himself smiled from beyond the grave.  This film has everything from the overly naïve and trusting princess sister, to the (supposedly) evil and powerful older Queen select, to the enchanted kingdom, the (undoubtedly predictable) happy ending.  This film is Disney at its best, getting back to what made Disney Disney in the first place.  And it has great lines as well.  In true Disney fashion you are left with a smile on your face and a glow in your heart seeing this film.  And the moral of the story?  Well obviously its: “We finish each others sandwiches.”  How else are you to determine if you are compatible soul mates?

What I didn’t like about the film was a couple of excessively long (and repetitious) musicals.  I grew up with Disney World (I have family members who worked there) and anyone who spent any amount of time at Disney theme parks in their younger years will undoubtedly remember at least one thing – the incessant repetition of the theme song to the “It’s a Small World” ride.  With no interlude, no break, no relief, just a constant repetitive drone.  A couple of the musical numbers in this film, while not nearly as obnoxious as being hammered with “It’s a Small World” over and over again, were slightly reminiscent and could have been shortened up considerably.  And neither one of them were central to the core story line of the movie.  They seemed to be added just to give the snowman (in one case) and the trolls (in another) an opportunity to shine.  I was also slightly disappointed in little to no adult humor.  Sorry, but this one is mainly for the kids.  Not that most adults couldn’t sit through it and walk out with their sanity, it is just that there are no hidden nuggets that clearly an adult would appreciate whereas younger children just wouldn’t have any context for.

My nitpick aside, the film just works.  It is entertaining and funny and just classic Disney.  It would make for a great family film (teenagers will probably be less enamored with this film than their younger siblings) and works well on the big screen.  We saw this film in 3D, however you will not be missing anything if you choose to save your money and see the 2D version.  There are a few flashy effects, but nothing really spectacular that would justify the extra cost.  If you miss this one in the theater, it would make for a good Netflix or box rental some evening (especially for the younger ones).

Frozen is rated PG – I suppose for some of the “violence”.  But it is classic Disney through and through and the vast majority of parents should have zero concerns about exposing their children to it.  There is no foul language, of course no nudity, and even though there are a couple of “scary” scenes (including one where the heroine presumably dies – although she is brought back to life), the animation is mild and the story line is no more horrific than any other tale of this venue.

Frozen – a most enjoyable afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (IMDB: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) is the second part to the epic tale The Hobbit.  It is the second movie in the three part series that attempts to tell the tale in the most painstakingly accurate manner possible.  This installment continues the journey of our rag tag band of Dwarfs, Hobbit, Wizards, Elves, and even some of plain ‘ol human types as the Dwarfs attempt to reclaim their home of the kingdom under the mountain from the likes of a fierce and mighty dragon.

What I liked (I should say appreciated) about this movie is the painstaking attempt to detail and accuracy.  This series of movies should worry every classical English professor on the planet.  It is better than the cliff notes, it is practically the book in film form.  In some cases you may even trace the actors lines directly to the book, word-for-word.  I also appreciated the fact that the film did not spend a lot of time rehashing the story line to date and catching me up on the first film.  If you missed the first film, and you are unfamiliar with the story, you are just out of luck with this installment.  You will be lost as there is very little given that you will be able to draw context from.  If you haven’t seen the first film or read the book, you might just wait on this one until you’ve had the chance to see them in order.  There is one particular aspect I liked about this film (and for the series to date) and that is the really spectacular effects.  This film has done more to make this work come alive off the pages than anything prior to it.  The film also starts out with a bit of a prequel as a means of setting the stage that actually includes a bit of footage that appears as if it should have gone with the first film (but to the best of my recollection) did not.  It was rather clever in the way it was pulled off.

What I didn’t like about this film is it was at least an hour too long.  There are some definite laborious parts to the story that didn’t need to be drawn out on film.  While I appreciate the attention to detail and accuracy, parts of the film did just drag on for me, to the extent of actually subtracting a point in my book.  This film would have been every bit as enjoyable (and probably more so) had it been cut down to standard feature length.

We saw this film in 3DH (HFR – or High Frame Rate), but it is most assuredly not the best example of modern 3D out there and the HFR does little to enhance the film (although HFR is incredibly sharp and smooth).  If you are looking to save a couple of bucks, go see the regular version, you won’t be missing all that much.  This film is also made for the big screen.  If you are going to see it, I’d encourage you to see it in the theater, it’ll work much better there than on your T.V. set.  If you do decide to see it through Netflix or a box rental, guard your time as it is a long film.  This film is a classic tale told in a classic manner and thus should appeal to a very large audience base.  It would make for a great family evening at the movies.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is rated PG-13 for violence and adult themes.  The language is very tolerable however and the action scenes shouldn’t leave too many nightmares in ones dreams.  There are some rather graphic scenes with battles with spiders however that may be unsettling to younger viewers or those with arachnophobia.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – a rather adventurous afternoon at the movies.  Due to the rather laborious length I give it a 5/10, your mileage will probably vary.

Anchorman 2 (IMDB: Anchorman 2) is a sequel to Anchorman (IMDB: Anchorman).  This series of films is a spoof on the whole 24 hours news channels and nightly news desks on local channels.  Designed purely as a comedy, it is rife with slapstick and shock-jock type humor.  In this particular case I feel it important to note that Actor/Writer Will Ferrell usually either wins big or else he loses big.  More often than not, for my tastes, he wins big.  As always, I’ll bare my biases here, I found the original extremely enjoyable.  It was a funny concept, a spoof on news anchors.  And I may have gone into this film with set expectations.  However, I should point out that this film does not fall into my ”movie book” category, even though it is somewhat a continuation of the same story.  And while seeing the original film does provide some context, the film is a comedy spoof and stands on its own.

What I liked about the film was classic slapstick, shock-jock humor.  It was funny and it held my interest all the way through.  This is actually a lot more challenging than it may appear on the surface.  To be able to move from one joke to the next in the story line and have it all make sense and yet keep you laughing is no easy feat.  But Anchorman 2 delivers.  The thing I appreciate about these films is there is no sacred ground.  The film doesn’t set out to offend anyone (although they invariably do), but yet neither does it attempt to protect ideologies.  It is just plain fair game all the way around.

What I didn’t like about the film was some reuse of jokes from the original and a slight lack of originality in the concept.  For the most part the jokes were refreshing and new, but there is always room for improvement in these venues.

Anchorman 2 is not for everyone.  It will appeal to a niche movie going audience and that is it.  If you liked the original, chances are you will enjoy this installment as well.  If you are put off by racial humor, off beat antics, or shock-jock type venue, you might just sit this one out.  If you are not easily offended, even if you don’t have an appreciation for the off beat, and are into this type of humor, you’ll probably enjoy this film.

Anchorman 2 is rated PG-13 for language, some violence, and adult themes.  There is no full nudity in the film and the language is fairly strong, but the sexual references are rather strong and the adult humor is certainly not for younger or less mature viewers.

Anchorman 2 – a funny evening at the movies.  I give a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Saving Mr. Banks (IMDB: Saving Mr. Banks) is the story of the making of the Disney film Marry Poppins (IMDB: Marry Poppins).  I have long known that the film Marry Poppins was never about a nanny, or children, or a family in London, or a fantasy fairy tale, but was, in truth rather, a film about a business man, George Banks, who was on a path to losing his children and his family.  I am not sure exactly when the film registered with me, certainly not the first time I saw it as a child, but somewhere along the way as I came to enjoy movies more and more, it clicked.  As a matter-of-fact, on this particular point, I have given public discourse on the topic and expounded my views to rather moderate audiences.  For me, the film comes to a crux with the children being hurried off to their father’s place of business, the bank, and passing a rather homely woman on the park bench feeding the birds.  It is at this point that the whole story comes into focus as Mr. Banks reacts rather sensibly, but not too considerately, to his children.  This is a subtle point lost on a lot of movie goers and I was overjoyed to see Disney finally come out with a pseudo-historical film that brings everything to light.

What I liked about this film was absolutely everything.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  The film offers some very unique insights into the making of the film Marry Poppins, and while there is undoubtedly some speculation or literary license taken in the film, I am also equally sure there are some unique insights into the life of P.L. Travers herself.  This film is not only an entertaining story about the making of a classic film, it is also very likely a glimpse into history never before seen.

If you are a movie lover of any sort I would highly encourage you to go see this film.  The film draws rather heavily upon Disney artifacts and records.  And while I am sure the film is done for entertainment value and to draw a movie audience, I am also sure there is a hint of truth in the story and the view into history is worthwhile (even if it is filtered through Disney eyes).  The glimpse into the passion of both the author and Walt Disney himself as they journeyed to bring this classic to life is literally awe-inspiring.  Sometimes the making of a movie can be every bit as thrilling as the movie itself.  this is certainly one such case.  This film should make for a great family movie and should appeal to a wide range of movie goers and a wide range of ages.  It would also work well as a Netflix or box rental.

Saving Mr. Banks is rated PG-13 for some adult themes (alcoholism, etc.) but is tolerable on the language, contains no nudity, and has no harsh violence (P.L. Travers father dies an alcoholic when she is a young child).  It should be fine for most families and a wide range of audiences (especially for older and more mature children).  Even for the younger children there is little to cause alarm.

Saving Mr. Banks – an enthralling afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 6/10, your mileage may vary.

47 Ronin (IMDB: 47 Ronin) is the story of a dishonored samurai warrior (who was deceived by evil forces) and is forced to take his own life in order to save face and keep the honor of his loyal followers.  This leaves his small army without a leader (or Lord) causing them to become scattered and no longer recognized as samurai, but rather known as ronin, in Japanese parlance.  This film is a remake of the original story with greatly varied twists (The 47 Ronin (IMDB: The 47 Ronin) made in 1941) and is inspired by real life events.

What I liked about this film was it appeared to be mildly entertaining and not much else.  It didn’t bore me to death, and it did hold my attention, but that was about all it did.  The story is not all that original, it was wildly embellished with fantasy, witchcraft, and SciFi type creatures, and thus sat somewhere between make-believe and the real world.  As for the real world events that inspired the film, it did not even mirror those all that accurately, however it did retain the honor, love, and loyalty of the samurai warriors it was about.

What I didn’t like about the film was the way it was told.  There are pieces of narration along with breaks in time, that are caught up with quick explanations, and the action (and there is a lot of action) is not that compelling or convincing.  This film just did not work for me.  However, I must say that there are dissenting opinions within just those that were in the same theater as I.  So it definitely appeals to some folks.

We saw this film in 3D and while it was OK, if you wanted to save some money on the tickets ($2.00/ticket in our case) you would not be missing all that much.  Also if you didn’t rush right out to see this one in the theater, I don’t think it would be all that big a loss, however there are certainly a couple of fight scenes that work really well on the big screen.  This film might not appeal to all audiences, if you have an interest in the martial arts, the mysticism of the far East, samurai, or old Japan, this film is probably a must see for you.  For others it may be hit or miss.  It does have a thread of a love story in it.

47 Ronin is rated PG-13 for fight scenes, violence, and adult themes.  There is no nudity in the film (other than shirtless men), the language is very mild, and the violence is not ”in-your-face” graphic.  However there are some fairly raw and harsh fight scenes that include human decapitation and impalement.  There is also a couple of seductive scenes in this movie that might be confusing to younger viewers.  Oddly enough, the love story may actually appeal to teenage girls while the martial arts may appeal to teenage boys, which could make this movie a win for a family night.  It wouldn’t make the top of my list however.

47 Ronin – a somewhat OK afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage will probably vary.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (IMDB: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) is an adaptation (or total rewrite) of the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (IMDB: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and loosely based on the short story by James Thurber, although neither film is much like the book.  In this current adaptation, Walter Mitty is a somewhat detached day-dreamer (although by no means clumsy – he has a particular knack towards one sport) that seems to drift through circumstances until one life event sends him off on an adventure he could never have possibly imagined.

What I liked about the film is it was cute.  Cute in the sense that it contains a quaint romantic relationship in it (that actually inspires Walter to get outside his comfort zone) that is charming.  The film also has a great ending to it.

What I didn’t like about the film is it seemed to lack originality.  There were parts that just were not all that exciting or funny.  This film lacked punch in that most of it was highly predictable (familiarity with the James Thurber story only helps a very little bit here) and while portions of it were certainly entertaining, the film as a whole just seemed flat.

That being said, the film is not a bad film, rather it is just an OK film.  The film has some comedy, a romantic interest, and there is some adventure in the film (which I wouldn’t exactly classify as action).  This film might not appeal to hard-core action fans, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make for a filler for family movie night.  The romantic interest in the film is intriguing; just in my view, it doesn’t carry the movie.  If you didn’t rush right out to see this one in the theater I don’t think there would be any great loss on your part, and it would certainly make for an OK Netflix or box rental.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is rated PG.  It contains no nudity, the language is more than acceptable, and there is no great violence (there are a couple of fight scenes).  There is no racial or off-beat humor in the film, and most movie goers should not find this film offensive.  This one should be good for the whole family.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – an OK afternoon at the movies, I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

The Wolf of Wall Street (IMBD: The Wolf of Wall Street) is purportedly based on the real life story of Jordan Belfort and his gains as a stockbroker (making him quite wealthy) to his life of crime and corruption and his eventual prosecution by Federal authorities and subsequent jail time.  Of course, if this is really what the movie was about, then we missed some significant pieces of the story.  Mainly because the central character portrayed in the movie spends way more time in sex, drugs, and recreational activities than he does actually working.

What I liked about this film was … Hmmmmmm, … What I liked about this film was, … Let’s see now, What I liked about this movie was, … was, … was, … Oh Yeah!  Now I remember, it had some absolutely drop-dead gorgeous actresses completely in the nude!  Wait-a-minute, hold on just one second, checking, checking, checking, A-Ha!  Scratch that, according to the LRPSP Movie Thoughts guide to movie enjoyment, copious nudity in a film (by any type of actor/actress) does not, in and of itself, an entertaining film make.  As an aside – I do realize here that millions of men around the globe are astounded by that last assertion, however, if I may point out to those that disagree with my rule, that the sheer distraction of all the other stuff going on in the movie, will indeed, taint the few short scenes of some gorgeous supermodel (or some buff guy for the ladies – which this movie seemed to greatly lack – sorry ladies) as they flit across the screen.  So that really didn’t count.  So I am left with, … I am left with, … Yeah, I got nothing.  I absolutely hated this film.

What I didn’t like about this film was everything else.  That would be the whole film.  The film presentation, done in a kind of first person narrative, didn’t come across very well for me.  The length of the film (180 min – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was only 161 minutes) was outrageous.  The story was greatly lacking, I know little to nothing of Jordan Belfort after the film than what I knew going in.  The depictions of endless partying, drug use, and bad decisions, could have been that of a rock star, let alone a Wall Street broker.  The whole thing was a lack of good story telling and I found very little entertainment value in the film that was redeeming.  There were a couple of good laughs, and for that I suppose I can give it an extra point.  As far as being entertaining, this film just didn’t do it for me.

This film has definitely appealed to a niche market (judging by the external ratings), but it will just as assuredly turn many movie goers off.  Personally, I would pay close attention to the ratings and use careful judgment before seeing this film as a family, or even as a date night.  The film has little to offer on the big screen, so if you decide to catch it on Netflix or as a box rental there should be no real loss.  Even so, it would be on the bottom of my queue to see.  I suppose if you have 3 hours to waste some evening at home you might want to see it, but I would exhaust all other possibilities before losing my time to this.

The Wolf of Wall Street is rated R for nudity, language, drug use, adult themes, and mild depictions of violence.  From the opening scene I noted that the very first sentence used foul language, and I don’t believe there was one complete sentence in the entire movie from that point on that didn’t use some form of cursing.  The language was definitely way over the top for my (rather sensitive) meter.  There are a plethora of full female nudity scenes.  Sorry ladies, but as I said before, the males did not quite get equal time.  There are multiple depictions of drug use of all sorts and the depiction of the lifestyle is one of complete debauchery.  This is definitely not a film for younger or less mature viewers.  More conservative viewers will definitely be offended by this film.

The Wolf of Wall Street – a very painful evening at the movies.  I give it a 3/10, your mileage may vary, but for the life of me, I wouldn’t know why.

Her (IMDB: Her) is the story of a man and his (I’ll use the terminology of the movie trailer here) Operating System who (apparently) fall in love.  The man, who has gone through a recent separation (within the last year) and who cannot bring himself to sign the divorce papers with his wife, clearly has emotional and sociological issues.  And, as we find out as the story progresses, the people around him are not all that stable either.  Supposedly the relationship with his Operating System develops, grows, and matures over time.  It even seems to follow typical patterns of normal human relationships (in a sort of weird and perverted kind of way).  And inevitably it ends up as any such relationship would, with him realizing he is human and the Operating System (seemingly) discovering it is an advanced life form of some sort.  And thus they go their separate ways, he crushed and the Operating System promising to always love him.

What I liked about this movie was that it was SciFi, a not to unique, but certainly under-explored concept, and that it was somewhat futuristic.  Quite frankly, I actually looked forward to seeing this movie after watching the trailers and I had high hopes for it.  All of which were dashed and then trampled up (and then I think they had an army of rats come and run around over the top of whatever was left).

What I did not like about this movie was the movie.  I sincerely hope this is the worst of the movie torture I’ll have to sit through this year, because if one comes along much worst than this, I might have to rearrange my worst movies of all time list.  I do not know if I should even devote the blog space to describing just how bad this movie was.  I will expose a couple of biases though.  The first would be my knowledge of the subject matter of the film.  And I am referring specifically to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) here.  The so-called “Operating System” (not exactly a fair use of the term, Wikipedia defines operating system (or OS) as: a collection of software that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs.  Which is a pretty fair definition and falls mostly inline with the concepts described in my Encyclopedia of Computer Science.  The program in the movie did a lot of things – held conversations, checked Email and voice mail, managed calendars, etc. – but never exhibited any of the characteristic traits of an operating system.  And yes, this is a petty and minor nitpick, but you would think they could come up with a better description of the AI program than just operating system.) would have been the epitome of an AI lovers dream except that it seemed to develop an exact copy of human emotions.  The AI even demonstrated getting its feelings hurt and becoming angry at points.  At one point it even appeared to sulk, and indeed came back to the deranged individual looking for emotional solace in the machine and complained that he had caused it to experience a whole new range of emotions that it had never experienced before.  Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity is Near – which, to chase a rabbit here, it is not, Mr. Kurzweil should reference Donald Knuth whose proof conclusively shows AI is not possible with today’s hardware) aside, why in the world SciFi writers seem to think that machines (intelligent ones) would develop emotions (especially emotions in the range and type of humans) is beyond me.  Emotions are elicited by biological and spiritual influences, neither of which a machine can, or will possess.  And this movie passes that concept off in a particularly poor way (you could have substituted any human relationship into the equation in place of the machine, and as long as the person held the same characteristics and traits of the AI, there would have been little difference in the movie.  And it would have been just as lame a film as well).  And my second bias would be with human relationships.  The idea that a human and a machine could (or would) develop any type of meaningful or healthy relationship is beyond preposterous.  This movie does little more than introduce a “telephone” relationship into the mix.  Imagine two individuals involved in a long distance relationship who were in constant (continual and ongoing at a moments notice) Skype contact with each other.  They might talk with each other, they might share video of their surroundings with each other, they may laugh together or cry together, but they will not share their lives together.  This movie depicts little more than a long distance Skype relationship that had less depth than my kitchen sink, less warmth than the Orchids in my front yard, and less meaning than the geckos that hang out around my front porch light looking for bugs to eat at night.

My biases aside however, this movie was just lame on so many different fronts it is hard to describe.  The dialog was slow and terribly painful, the idea that a person could go on a picnic with a machine was the worst concept ever conceived (even if there was another couple there as filler), and the introduction of a human surrogate as a stand-in for biological acts was just over the top.  This movie may appeal to some that might think it some sort of interesting and deep romance story, but it would certainly be beyond me.  The kindest thing I could say about this movie is Just say No.

Her is rated R for partial female nudity, language, and adult subject matter.  The language is simply over the top for myself, especially in a movie of this sort.  Why in the world you would have a Romance or a Romantic Comedy that is laced with foul language in every other sentence is beyond me.  The movie should be suitable for older, more mature viewers, but it is definitely not a family film.

Her – an awful afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 2/10, your mileage may differ, but why in the world you would want to waste 126 minutes and risk potentially scarring yourself for life on this movie in order to find out, is beyond me.

Lone Survivor (IMDB: Lone Survivor) is the story of Marcus Luttrell  and the 4 man Navy Seal Team he was part of that was ambushed in Afghanistan in June of 2005.  It is a pseudo documentary of real life events and is based on the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell.

What I liked about this movie is it was a good solid war movie.  It was on point and straight to the heart of the story.  The movie did not engage in a lot of unnecessary sub plots or extraneous information.  It was a good action packed movie that put you on the ground with the troops and helped you to understand their fight, their fears, and their struggles.

What I didn’t like about this movie was nothing.  I liked this film.  It told an interesting story, told it in an interesting way, and it held my attention, it captivated me, brought an intriguing and new perspective to the Military operations in Afghanistan.

This movie is a telling of American Military history, from the individuals that lived it.  It is a great action thriller and it should appeal to a fairly large audience base.  There are some rather gruesome fire fights depicted in the film and the injuries are rather graphic, however the struggles are real and intensity of the film draws you in and for a brief moment in time, allows you to connect with the lives of those who faced great adversity, and who lost, and who survived.

This film has a lot of great action shots that work really well on the big screen and I would recommend you see it there.  It should also make for a great Netflix or box rental if you miss it in the theater for some reason.  And while the film would be very intense for younger viewers, the story should be appealing enough for a family outing for older, more mature, movie goers.  Unlike the Viet Nam War, or even World War II, where embedded journalist kept a steady stream of war footage before the public on the nightly news, the war in Afghanistan (and even Iraq to some extent) has not been in the public eye and a case might be made that it has existed, to some extent, behind the scenes.  This film goes a long way towards giving us a glimpse into the very real struggles, and the very real dangers, and the very real war, U.S. troops have fought, and are fighting, there on a day-to-day basis.

Lone Survivor is rated R for language and intense violence.  The language is somewhat over the top, but I must say (from personal experience), it does reflect how a bunch of sailors might talk in those situations.  The violence is extreme and graphic (several gun shots to the head are depicted) and the war fighting is intense.  Use caution with younger, less mature, viewers.  And while I would recommend this film to all, if you’re queasy or bothered by graphic depictions of war, you might do better to sit this one out.

Lone Survivor – an intense and insightful afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

Ride Along (IMDB: Ride Along) is a comedy about a School Security Guard who wants to enter the Policy Academy and become an Officer of the Law, all the while he is dating the sister of a Police Detective.  The Brother and the boyfriend don’t exactly see eye-to-eye creating some tension between the two.  In order to gain the girlfriend’s brothers blessing, the Officer wannabe agrees to go on a ride along to show his mettle.

What I liked about the movie was that it was a pretty solid comedy without a lot of reuses of old jokes or slapstick humor.  The film was entertaining with a solid plot line.

What I didn’t like about the film were some fairly big lulls in the action.  The film did hold my interest all the way through, however I did not find some of the comedy as funny as the rest of the audience apparently did.  I felt that some of the comedy could have been pulled off a little better than it was and there could have been more of it.

This movie will appeal to a niche audience.  If you don’t like mild slapstick humor, crude jokes, or ridiculous situations (obviously setup for the humors effect), then this movie may not appeal to you.  However the movie did have some good action and the comedy (at least the comedy I found funny) was regular enough through the film as to make it mostly entertaining.  I did subtract a point based upon the lulls, which I thought made the film somewhat blander than it could (or should) have been.  This movie would be OK for a Netflix or box rental, but there would be no reason to rush right out and see this one in the theater.

Ride Along is rated PG-13 for some adult situations and mild violence.  The language was a little over the top for my tastes and there were some crude sexual references.  There was no nudity in the film.  The film should be suitable for most mature audiences and older teens should not be a problem.  Not sure I would call this one a family film, although some couples may find it enjoyable for a night out at the movies.

Ride Along – an OK afternoon at the movies.  I give it a very high 4/10.  It didn’t quite make the grade for a standard movie in my book.  Your mileage may vary.

I, Frankenstein (IMDB: I, Frankenstein) is the not so typical story of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein monster.  In this rendition of Frankenstein, the monster (if he may even be referred to in that manner in this film) is alive and well in modern-day times after living for a couple of hundred years in the wild and on the run.  Frankenstein finds himself in the middle of a war between (ostensibly) angels and demons, both of whom seem to have a vested interest in him as he is neither quite human, nor quite animal.  Hopefully without giving away too much of the plot, Frankenstein is unique in that he is a living, human like (higher thought) creature without a soul.  This interests the demons because if they can discover the secret to his animation, they can bring back thousands of corpses without souls from the grave which they may then posses in order to fight the angels protecting mankind.

What I liked about the film is the unique concept and original story line.  It takes the original concept of the story and extends it (although not seemingly logically).  It adds an element of greater fantasy and mixes in a religious spiritual world that is unknown to the humans around it.  It also brings the Frankenstein story into modern-day times in a somewhat plausible manner and introduces 1800’s concepts to modern-day times.

What I didn’t like about the story is the departure from Mary Shelley’s original concepts and depictions.  No longer is Frankenstein some hideous, evil monster.  He is still the creation of Dr. Frankenstein and is still feared by human’s (although he accepted by them a little to readily), but he does not quite appear as a creature made up of several different human parts (although he himself acknowledges that he is the summation of some 6 different corpses) and he does not act as we’ve come to expect the typical Frankenstein monster to act.  He seems to have evolved over the 200+ years and has adopted practices and mannerisms that make him more human than ever.

This film is interesting, but I am not sure it will appeal to all audiences.  It is part SciFi (in that Frankenstein is still the core subject and a creation of some driven scientist).  But it is not a horror film, at least not in the classic sense.  The introduction of the religious aspect is also somewhat askew in that the angels refer to him as Adam, a not so veiled reference to him being the first of his kind of life form, not quite human, with a soul, but neither an animal living as part of the natural world.  We saw the film in 3D, but it certainly was not one of the better 3D films that have been released recently.  If you are so inclined to save the cost of the 3D ticket, you will not be missing much.  While the film works well on the big screen with some good CGI effects, it should do just as well as a Netflix or a box rental on a weekend where you want to fill some time with a movie.

I, Frankenstein is rated PG-13 for violence and mature subject matter.  However it should be acceptable to most mature audiences.  If you found the original story interesting, you may find this film appealing, however if you are expected a typical Frankenstein horror story in a modern-day setting, you will probably be disappointed.  The language in the film is mostly acceptable, there is no nudity, and while there is a somewhat awkward (and strained) pseudo-romantic tie between Frankenstein and a young lady, it is nothing that would cause less mature audiences to blush.  While there are some battle scenes and a rather typical good vs. evil plot lines, there shouldn’t be anything that would cause nightmares.  Still, before you make this a family film, especially with younger children, you might want to carefully consider the rating.

I, Frankenstein – an interesting afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Nut Job (IMDB: The Nut Job) is an animated children’s film about a squirrel who lives in a park within a big city who acts on his own when it comes to gathering food for the winter.  While the rest of the park animal dwellers act in concert as a team, this particular squirrel opts out of the park forum and takes the route of the lone wolf going his own way.  This causes him to eventually be banned from the park by the rest of the animal forum.  His banishment is to the big city where he must learn to fend for himself amongst human threats, domesticated animals, and machinery.  When he finds a vendor shop that sells nuts, his fate changes from a bleak outlook on life to one of full promise.  That is up until the point that some of the park animal dwellers find out about his discovery and try to get in on the action.  Add in an interactive sub-plot with the humans in the shop and a rather unique adventure unfolds.

What I liked about the film is the original concept and story line.  Seldom do these types of films work from an original concept or unique story line.  This film does.  There is some intrigue in the film as all is not as it seems to be in the park animal forum.  And eventually the hero is a little less heroic and the banished squirrel is a little more of a hero.  There are some attempts at the typical side-kick relationships, and of course the all to familiar good vs. evil theme is woven throughout the film.

What I didn’t like about the film is that while the human sub-plot seemed necessary to the story, it was also overly complicated and distracting.  It also lacked the cuteness of a typical children’s story of this nature.  While it is rare that a truly outstanding children’s feature comes along (especially an animated one) that stands out as a true classic, it is also rare that one comes along that lacks clever adult hooks and a particular character that is endearing to younger children in an emotionally attaching way.  I don’t think this film will be selling a lot of stuffed animal merchandise off the WalMart shelves any time soon.  It just wasn’t that sort of film.

While this film is definitely a family film, this is one of those animated movies that is directly geared towards younger children.  Sorry, but there is little to no humor in this film that is adult driven.  And while I am sure that astute movie critics will notice some background scene and draw all kinds of inference from it, there was nothing that caught my eye that would have made for any type of clever Easter-egg or adult subtlety.  This film seems to be just a children’s film and no more.  The human sub-plot is somewhat adult driven and probably lacks context for really young viewers, but it is rather bland and not all that much of a draw for most adults.  This film would make an OK Netflix or box rental.  And unless you are just taking the young children out for an afternoon at the movies, there is no real reason to see this one in the theater.

The Nut Job is rated PG – probably for some cartoon violence and the definite adult sub-plot.  There is no foul language (although there is a children’s version of a curse word that many of the young viewers in our audience found vastly amusing), no nudity, and no adult themes (other that the adult sub-plot, which I contend is wasted on younger viewers anyway).  This film would make an OK family night out at the movies, however I would predict that it will not be all that appealing to teenagers or most adult viewers.

The Nut Job – a fair evening at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.

Vampire Academy (IMDB: Vampire Academy) is a rather unique story on the whole vampire genre.  I’ll admit that this film was nothing of what I expected it to be based upon the previews.  Within this particular rendition of the vampire story line, we learn that there are several different types of vampire creatures.  The typical vampires we’ve come to know and love that are just pure evil, running around at night looking for any blood they may suck.  And, in a new twist, a type of pseudo vampire that is not quite as adverse to sunlight, can see themselves in mirrors, and apparently do not have quite the same abilities as your typical vampire, although they are quite adept at magic.  We are also introduced to a new creature that has as its sole job the protection of the pseudo vampires against the typical vampires.

What I liked about the film is a new twist on an old story.  I like surprises and to be introduced to a unique storyline you would not typically see coming.  This film delivers on that front, and it does so in a fairly entertaining way.  Once you understand what is going on and why, the story line captures your interest and is quite intriguing.  The film also contains a bit of mystery and romance as well.  There are some twists and turns within this film that will keep even astute movie goers on their toes.

What I didn’t like about this film is the setup.  While the background information is totally necessary to follow the plot line, it is done in a fairly quick and compressed way.  It was some way into the film before it all started to make sense.  You definitely need to pay attention from the beginning in order for this film to become coherent later on.

This film will probably appeal to a niche market.  Especially teenage girls.  Although if you are put off by depictions of magic, vampires, werewolves, and typical Halloween type creatures, perhaps this film is not for you.  The film is probably not a family film either, although some teenage boys could probably score some points with some teenage girls by making this film an afternoon date at the movies.  It is definitely not a Twilight series type of vampire story, but it may not be too far of a stretch to say that there is some attempt to capitalize off the success of predecessors within this genre of film.  The film contains a fair amount of action and is interesting all the way through.  It has a nice plot twist in the end and just when you think you’ve figured out the who-done-it part, you will find out you were wrong.  While this film is great on the big screen, if you chose to skip the theater and catch it on Netflix or a box rental, you would not be missing all that much.

Vampire Academy is rated PG-13 for subject matter and some violence.  It should be fine for most mature audiences, you should heed the rating though.  The language is tolerable and there is no nudity, though there is a feigned teenage sex scene that has a couple stripping down to their underwear.  The film is not exactly a family film and adults will probably split on it.  It will definitely appeal more to teenage girls than anyone else.

Vampire Academy – an entertaining afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 5/10, your mileage may vary.

The Lego Movie (IMDB: The Lego Movie) is really, really awesome, when you’re … no wait-a-minute, that is simply the It’s A Small World After All theme song they hammer you with all throughout the movie (rather blatantly I might add) till you are at the point you can’t get it out of your head by the time the movie ends.  There were hoards of children running out of the theater screaming Everything is Awesome! as the ending credits were rolling.  No, The Lego Movie wasn’t really, really awesome, it was just sort of OK.  It was, however, totally about Legos, and Legos are kind of cool.  The movie had a point that went beyond just Lego struggles though, and for that, it was worth the ticket price.

What I liked about the movie was Legos.  Legos are actually great and people build some amazing things with them.  If you ever have a Lego show display near your hometown somewhere, you should definitely go (at least once).  They have had various objects built from scratch and displayed all over the world (including Government Buildings).   The movie centered around Legos that just wanted to be free to produce (build – out of other Legos) anything they could envision on one hand (the protagonists) and the Legos that insisted upon always following the instructions (the antagonists) on the other.  The hero’s of the story are in a race against time to keep the evil Legos from Krazy gluing everything in place.  Sure, it is a movie about Legos, but why not?  This movie harkens back to the days of Gumby (IMDB: Gumby: The Movie) or Mr. Bill (IMDB: Mr. Bill Looks Back).  These venues have produced some pretty funny stuff over the years.

What I didn’t like about the movie was a mediocre plot line.  There have been so many animated movies that have had some very well-developed and entertaining plot lines.  Toy Story (IMDB: Toy Story), Monsters, Inc. (IMDB: Monsters, Inc.), Cars (IMDB: Cars), Turbo (IMDB: Turbo), etc.  Some of these examples are sheer classics, the rest are at least well done.  Not so much with this movie.  It gets a point subtracted for failing to at least provide interesting and entertaining dialogue.  Of course that doesn’t mean that the movie doesn’t have its moments.  It does.  However, from my perspective it could have done so much better.

We saw this feature in 3D, however you may safely save the cost of the 3D ticket on this one.  You will not miss too much seeing it in 2D.  This film would also make for a good Netflix or box rental if you so desired.  However, if you have grade school age children, and you wanted to treat them to an afternoon at the movies, and you like to see the biggest smiles possible on their faces, this movie is a must-see in the theater.  You might get some grumblings from teenagers though.  Depending on their particular tastes.  So consider this a ”split” family movie, taking into consideration the age of your children and their movie going preferences.  There is a moral to the story though.  And that moral is: Sometimes it is OK to be creative and free and not follow the instructions.  Other times the instructions should be followed exactly and completely.  Knowing the difference is key.  A side moral to the movie would be, put away the Krazy glue and let children be children.

The Lego Movie is rated PG, for Lego violence I guess.  Ratings these days.  If we were to take today’s rating standards and apply them 40 years ago, Bugs Bunny (IMDB: The Bugs Bunny Show) would be rated PG.  Seriously, this movie is fine for the whole family.  There is no foul language, there is no nudity (They’re Legos!), and the ”Lego violence” (and Lego action) is much less than cartoons 40 – 50 years ago ever depicted.

The Lego Movie – an OK afternoon at the movies.  I give it a 4/10, your mileage may vary.