Friday, August 21, 2015

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton
This movie is the story of the hip hop group N.W.A. and is named after one of their albums.   The original N.W.A. was made up of a group of young black men from Compton, California in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  This was a time when racial tension was high and black men were often assaulted and disrespected by the police for no apparent reason.  The young men were Dr. Dre, Easy E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, and MC Ren. 
Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., fittingly plays him in the movie.  Dr. Dre is played by Corey Hawkins; Easy E is played by Jason Mitchell; DJ Yella is played by Neil Brown; and MC Ren is played by Aldis Hodge.  Paul Giamatti stars as N.W.A.’s manager, Jerry Heller.    The movie tells the story of how the group was formed and their struggles with the police, the world they lived in, and each other. 
Straight Outta Compton is rated R for good reason.  The language is not for young ears and there is nudity.  The acting in this movie was fantastic by all the young men and Paul Giamatti. I especially enjoyed O’Shea Jackson Jr.   Fans of this music genre will enjoy the songs. 
This movie comes out at a time when racism is again at the forefront in our news today.  Hopefully when you watch this movie it will strike a cord and make you realize that racism in any form is bad.   The movie will get mixed reviews from some but does a good job of representing the world as it appeared through the eyes of the African American people during that time. 

I loved everything about this movie and the storyline was strong.  Adults should go and watch this movie.  I gave it 3 ½ out of 4 stars.  

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four
This movie is based off of Marvel Comic’s team of four superheroes known as the Fantastic Four.  Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is Mr. Fantastic who has the ability to stretch his body in any way imaginable.  Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) is The Human Torch who can put himself on fire and shoot fireballs.  Susan Storm (Kate Mara) is The Invisible Woman who as you would guess can make herself invisible.  Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) is The Thing who has a stone body and super-human strength.  The four together are the Fantastic Four.
Reed has always been fascinated with science and inventions, particularly teleportation. He and his friend Ben have been working on teleporting since childhood.   Reed is recruited to attend the Baxter Foundation which is a research institution sponsored by the government.  There he meets up with Johnny and Susan who are brother and sister and whose father Franklin (Reg E. Cathey) is the director.  Franklin brings in Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) who had previously worked with Susan. 
The four find success and secretly teleport themselves to another dimension.  But something goes wrong and Victor is left behind while the others gain their individual super powers.

The Fantastic Four didn’t make a whole lot of sense if you follow the comic books.  The movie spent too much time on how they came to be and not enough time on the superhero part.  The director (Josh Trank) took this movie the wrong way and I was completely disappointed as a fan of the comics.  I grew up reading Marvel Comics and I don’t understand why this movie flopped.  The original Fantastic Four was a terrific movie but this version was not.  The special effects were outstanding but that’s the only plus.  Stan Lee who was one of the writers of the comic book version usually makes an appearance, but he didn’t do so in this movie.  This only adds to the fact that this version of the Fantastic Four was not worth watching.  I gave this movie 2 out of 4 stars.  

Ricky and the Flash

Ricky and the Flash
Ricky Rendazzo is the lead female singer for her band the Flash with lead guitarist Greg.  Ricky is played by Meryl Streep and Greg is played by Rick Springfield. 
In Ricky’s younger years, she was Linda and married to Pete (Kevin Kline).  Ricky and Pete had two sons and one daughter.   But Linda had dreams of being in a band.  She left her family behind to pursue her dreams. 
Now years later, Ricky’s dream really didn’t go far and she and the band play at a club.  Ricky also works as a checker in a food store.  One day she receives a call from Pete.  It seems that their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer and Streep’s real life daughter) was in a deep depression and Pete was hoping that Linda/Ricky could help.  Julie’s husband had left her for another woman.
Ricky immediately flies out but her kids are all less than happy to see her.  While she realizes she must accept their feelings she works to bring Julie out of her funk.  Greg is in love with Ricky and convinces her of the importance of her family.  As Greg said “It’s not their job to love her, it’s her job to love them”.
This movie was very, very enjoyable and entertaining.  Meryl Streep actually learned to play the guitar for this part and the band was quite good.  She should be nominated for an Oscar in this role.  Rick Springfield couldn’t have been a better cast in his role as Ricky’s lead guitarist and boyfriend.  Jonathan Demme who directed this movie, did a fantastic job.  It was written by Diablo Cody and very well done.   (Cody is also known for writing the movie Juno which was also very successful.) 

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s and a Rick Springfield fan, I loved the music.  I can’t wait for the soundtrack.  I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.  It’s terrific from beginning to end.  

The Gift

The Gift
This movie stars Jason Bateman as Simon Callen who with his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) move to suburban Los Angeles from Chicago for Simon’s new job.  Robyn had been expecting a child earlier in Chicago but she lost the baby and it was their hope that a change in scenery would help them to have another child. 
While on a shopping trip, they run into Gordon “Gordo" Moseley (Joel Edgerton) who had been a high school classmate with Simon.  One day Gordon shows up at Simon and Robyn’s home while Simon is at work.  Robyn shows him around and invites him to stay for dinner. 
Gifts begin to appear from Gordon and it becomes apparent that Gordon thinks there is a friendship where none exists.   Simon tells Gordon that he should not show up any more and to leave them alone.  After this, weird and troubling things begin to happen that Robyn and Simon contribute to Gordon.  It also becomes apparent to Robyn that Simon is hiding something from his past. 
Parts of this movie were really good and some were humdrum.  Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall were well cast and were quite good.  It was interesting to see Jason cast in the part of somewhat of a bad guy.  The real star of this movie was Joel Edgerton.  Not only did he play a lead role as Gordon but he also directed and produced this film.  We really had not seen much of him since The Gladiator. 

I enjoyed this movie but it was good not great.  About ¾ of the movie was satisfactory but the rest, I couldn’t get into.  However, I still give this movie 3 out of 4 stars. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Amy Schumer plays Amy Townsend who as a girl was taught by her father that “monogamy is bad”.  As an adult, Amy is a heavy partier who sleeps around.  She does have one steady guy, Steven, played by John Cena, but she sees other men as well.  
Amy works for S’nuff, a men’s magazine.  She is assigned by her boss to write a story on sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader).  Amy knows nothing about sports which quickly becomes apparent to Aaron.  Aaron invites her out and they end up sleeping together.  When Amy tries to leave, Aaron convinces her to spend the night.  The next day, much to Amy’s surprise, Aaron calls her. 
A romance soon blossoms but Amy and Aaron are from different worlds.  Aaron’s world is very professional and includes famous athletes like Tony Romo, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Lebron James.  Amy on the other hand is brash and bold and carefree.
This movie was written by Amy Schumer and really displays her talents in the comedy world.  She is a wonderful comedienne and a pretty solid actress.  Her and Bill Hader (from Saturday Night Live) were both outstanding and were convincing as a couple.  Then there is Lebron James.  He’s not known for his acting, but he pulled it off quite well.  Lebron had more than a bit part, and has a future in the acting world.  In one scene, Lebron holds an intervention for Aaron that includes Chris Evert, Marv Albert, and Matthew Broderick.   Lebron was great. 

Judd Apatow directed this movie and did a fantastic job with all of the talent that he had to work with.  Even John Cena was good and you see a lot more of John than you would expect to – enjoy ladies.  This movie is rated R and it definitely needs to be so don’t bring your small children.  I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.  


Ant-Man is another movie based on a character from Marvel Comics.  Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is an entomologist who discovered a way to transform a person into a tiny ant with superhuman (ant-like) strength.  Hank fears that his discovery is dangerous and keeps it secret.  Hank’s protégé, Corey (Darren Cross) and Hank’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), attempt to replicate the technology to Hank’s dismay. 
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a petty criminal whom Hank has been watching.  After Scott is released from prison, Hank recruits him to become Ant-Man and convinces Hope to help.  Hope teaches Scott to use the power to the full degree. 
At the same time, Corey is creating Yellowjackets and invites Hank for a demonstration.  Hank is aware of the situation and brings along Scott to defeat the Yellowjackets and destroy all that Corey has created.  And so this version of Marvel’s superheroes must save the day.
Ant-Man is not as well-known of a character in the Marvel universe but for those of us who love anything to do with Marvel, we know him.  Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas were excellent in their parts.  Paul Rudd added some comedy to the role that only heightened the success of the movie.  The special effects were outstanding.  At one point Ant-Man was up against toy trains which was quite fun to watch.  The directing by Peyton Reed was well done as well. 

This is one movie where you should stay past the credits as there are more scenes that you will enjoy.  I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.  


In 1982 a time capsule is launched into space carrying several popular items from the era.  In Pixels, some of those items return to earth in order to attack it.  The attackers are the characters from arcade games that include Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Space Invaders. 
Kevin James plays the President of the United States, Will Cooper.  After the attacks, it’s decided that the only way to be rid of the characters is to beat them at their own game.  World champions of the games are called in to help. 
Adam Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a software installer who is also a Pac Man champion and one of the President’s best friends.  He is brought in as well as Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) another game enthusiast who Sam and Will had met as children, and Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) a Donkey Kong expert. 
As a teenager in the 80’s myself, I played all of these games.  So I thought the concept of this movie was pretty good.  If you are too young to understand Pac Man and Donkey Kong, the idea may be stupid to you.  

Adam Sandler and Kevin James are always great together and did not disappoint.  This movie also did not receive good reviews but I disagree.  If you want to appreciate Pixels, you really do have to leave your mind at the door and just enjoy.    I just let the spirit of the movie entertain me and I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.