Friday, July 3, 2015

Love and Mercy

This movie tells the story of Brian Wilson, one of the main members of the Beach Boys musical group.  The movie goes back and forth between Brian’s life in the 1960’s and Brian’s life in the 1980’s.  Brian in the 1960’s is played by Paul Dano and Brian in the 1980’s was played by John Cusack.  

After a lot of musical success in the 1960’s, Brian suffers a panic attack and convinces the band to let him stay behind on their tour and while he continues to write music.    He begins hearing voices in his head and starts to lose touch with reality.  

Brian is diagnosed with schizophrenia and becomes under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) who pretty much keeps Brian drugged up.  Brian visits a Cadillac dealer with the intent to buy a car and meets Melinda Ledbetter who is played by Elizabeth Banks.  Brian immediately falls for her and asks her out.    

When Melinda realizes that Brian is never allowed to be alone and she sees the treatment Brian receives from Dr. Landy, she decides to take matters into her own hands.  
The acting in this movie was the best I have seen all year.  I even read that Brian Wilson himself thought the actors were cast perfectly.  Brian when on to say that he found himself actually afraid for a while after seeing Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Dr. Landy.     
All three actors were worthy of a Oscar nomination even though it is still early in the season.  
Of course the movie was about a member of the Beach Boys so it goes without saying that the music was wonderful.   I look forward to the soundtrack.  It’s hard to believe that Brian is one of the last living members of one of the best rock groups of the 60’s and 70’s.   

Overall this was an awesome and unforgettable movie.  I rated it 4 out of 4 stars.  It’s a must see.

Insidious 3

Insidious 3 is based on a different family than the first two movies but does contain some of the characters.  Stefanie Scott stars as teenager Quinn Brenner whose mother recently died. Quinn’s father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney), is very dependent on Quinn without their mother and she resents it.  

Quinn has heard of a woman who can talk with the dead and decides to visit her in hopes that she can help Quinn talk with her mother.  The lady is Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) who had the same role in the previous movies.  Elise has decided to retire from speaking with the dead but warns Quinn to not call out to them since all of the dead could also hear. 

Days later Quinn sees a dark figure while auditioning for a theater academy.   That night she meets her friend Maggie.  While they are crossing the street, Quinn again sees the dark figure and pauses to look.  She is hit by a car and badly injured.  She has broken both of her legs and is wheel-chair bound while her legs are in casts.  
Her father takes her home and gives her a bell to use when she needs something.   
Soon after, bad things begin to happen to Quinn.I enjoyed the acting by Lin Shaye.   She is a tremendous actress. Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott were also fantastic.  
The special effects in this movie were outstanding.  The story at large was pretty good.  If you like horror movies, I would highly recommend Insidious 3.  It’s far better than the second movie and just as good as the first.  I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.  

San Andreas

This movie is based off the notion of the horrors that would occur if the San Andreas Fault ever ruptured.  Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson stars as Ray Gaines who is a Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue pilot.  Ray and his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) are to take a trip to San Francisco.

Seismologists Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) and Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) are at the Hoover Dam to test a theory when a 7.1 earthquake hits destroying the dam and killing many people including Dr. Park.   Ray is called in to help so Blake is to instead go on her trip with her mother, Emma (Carla Gugino), and her mother’s wealthy boyfriend, Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).

 Daniel is working on a new high rise that is being built to withstand earthquakes.  While in the high rise, Blake meets Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt).  Ben is an architect from England applying for a job with Daniel’s company who is travelling with his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson).

Lawrence realizes that the San Andreas Fault is shifting.  He tries to warn people but soon all of the cities along the fault, including San Francisco, are experiencing a massive earthquake.   Ray heads back to San Francisco to save his family.

The action scenes in this movie were fantastic.  The length of the movie was perfect.  It wasn’t too long as to become boring.  Dwayne Johnson is an ok actor but does have a strong presence in this movie.  I loved the display of family first.  Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario were pretty good in their roles so it pulled it all together.  

Overall this movie was very enjoyable.  If you go in expecting it to be real life, then you shouldn’t watch this movie.  I recommend it if nothing else for the action.  I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.  

Jurassic World

Steven Spielberg continues the classic Jurassic Park movies with Jurassic World – the fourth in the series.   In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter) plays Claire Deering who is the Operation Manager for the Jurassic World Park.  In an effort to increase attendance to the park, the scientists, led by Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), are working on a new dinosaur that is to be more exciting than any previous dinosaur.  The new attraction is to be called Indominus Rex and its makeup is kept secret by Dr. Wu. 

Claire’s two nephews are visiting the park and she is responsible for their care.  However, she is so busy and focused on securing funding for the park that she assigns one of her assistants to stay with the boys.  Not enjoying being babysat, the boys quickly ditch her.

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is a trainer at the park for the Velociraptors and is brought in to evaluate the Indominus Rex.  He warns Claire that the new dinosaur is way too dangerous but his warning falls on deaf ears.  Soon after, everything goes haywire in the park. 

The 3D effects were amazing in this movie.  All of the dinosaurs seem to come to life right before your eyes.  The looks of the dinosaurs was even better than in any of the previous movies.   Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard were excellent in their roles.  Both did such a great job of acting that you actually felt their fear. 

I felt that this movie wasn’t quite as good as the first movie but it’s not far behind. This is one movie you shouldn’t miss.  

I gave it 3 ½ out of 4 stars.  

Friday, June 12, 2015


This movie stars George Clooney as inventor Frank Walker and Brit Robertson as Casey Newton, a teenaged girl who is very bright herself.  Casey’s father Eddie (Tim McGraw) is a NASA engineer who has taught Casey to appreciate science.  With NASA decommissioning the launch pad, her father will lose his job.  She sneaks in with the intent to sabotage the work being done to remove the launch pad but ends up in jail.  When her dad comes to get her, she is given a pin with her belongings. Everytime she touches the pin, she is taken to a new place known as Tomorrowland.  However, she is the only one to see it. 

After time, touching the pin does not let her see anything new.  In search of answers, she meets up with Athena (played by Raffey Cassidy) an Audio-Animatronic recruiter for Tomorrowland who had given her the pin.  Athena sends her to meet with Frank Walker who had also been recruited by Athena as a young boy. 

Frank Walker had been banned from Tomorrowland after an invention of his went wrong and now he is a crotchety loner.  Once at Frank’s residence Casey is attacked by a hologram figure of a dog but she se’s through the ruse and remains much to the chagrin of Frank.  A group of robots are searching for Casey and in order to escape Frank takes her to Tomorrowland.

George Clooney was terrific as usual as was the young up and coming actress Brit Robertson.  Tim Mcgraw was also tremendous in the small part that he played.  Hugh Laurie also did great in his small part as the governor of Tomorrowland.  Brad Bird directed and produced this movie and wrote the screen play.  Having the same person do all worked out fabulously.

I thought that this movie was fantastic and I enjoyed every moment.  George Clooney who is a political person, made a statement in this movie and the point was well taken.  We should not take for granted what we have today.  

I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.  

Mad Max: Fury Road

This version in the Mad Max saga stars Tom Hardy as “Mad” Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Furiosa.  Max is a loner with bad memories from his past.  He is captured by war boys and taken to the citadel to be used as a blood donor for War Boy Nux who is sick. 

The citadel is a kind of cult led by the Immortan Joe.  Joe has five women who have been chosen as wives to be breeders for him.  Furiosa hides the women in her war rig and takes them with her to search for gas.  Furiosa goes off course infuriating Joe once he realizes his wives are gone.  He and his army go after her taking Max with them so he can continue supplying blood for Nux.  After a skirmish, Max and Furiosa join up and continue on while evading the armies that are in pursuit. 

In my opinion this was the worst edition of all the Mad Max movies. I don’t think Charlize Theron is a good actress and Tom Hardy performed one the worst acting jobs of his career - not at all filling in well for Mel Gibson.  There were several lesser known actors in this movie and none of them really had to act and didn’t.  The acting was terrible in every aspect of this movie.  It was a complete sleeper. 

George Miller did a great job directing in the first three Mad Max movies starring Mel Gibson opposite Tina Turner.  Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy were a nightmare.  The special effects were pretty cool to look at but that’s about the only positive. 

The story line was weak so it was doomed from the beginning.  I went into this movie hoping to be entertained but wasn’t.  I feel that George Miller could have cast the parts better as well.  

I gave this movie 1 ½ out of 4 stars.


This movie stars Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, a trained CIA analyst who has only been allowed to guide agents in the field through their various cases in times of trouble from an office chair.  She generally works with Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) and has quite a crush on him.  One day while guiding Fine, she witnesses his death at the hands of Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) who is the daughter of Fine’s latest target.  Fine had killed the target before learning the location of a nuke bomb. 

Rayna is now the new target but knows the identity of all the other agents. The leader of the CIA (Allison Janney) believes that Rayna could lead them to the bomb.  Susan volunteers to travel to Paris to spy on Rayna’s contact, De Luca.  Agent Rick Ford  (Jason Statham) is upset by allowing a “lunch lady” to get involved and quits his job.  He shows up in Paris, however, and begins to interfere with Susan’s espionage. 

Once again Melissa McCarthy is terrific in a comedy role and she was perfectly cast.  Jason Statham, Jude Law, and Rose Byrne were fantastic.  This movie was laugh-out-loud funny but definitely rated R due to nudity and a lot of profanity.  So if that’s not your kind of movie, you won’t like it.  If you liked “The Heat”, check this one out as you will definitely enjoy it. 

Paul Feig did an excellent job directing Spy and the music was great as well.    If you go see this movie, go with no expectations and you will like it as much as I did.  

I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.