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Monday, October 23, 2017

April Sokol's Reviews of Only the Brave & Geostorm

***Note from Daniel – “Here’s a quick introduction to our newest reviewer joining Cindy Prascik and yours truly”***

Hello fellow movie lovers. My name is April. I am a wife and mother of 3 boys. I have loved everything about the movie going experience ever since my parents took me to see ET. I find that I'm pretty easily entertained so my reviews will always reflect that.

My favorite movie ever made is 1995's Heat. I am highly opinionated on all things, but especially when it comes to movies. I'm thankful for a place to share my thoughts with others. I hope you enjoy the ramblings of my over caffeinated, sleep deprived mind.

Only the Brave is the true story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. The first municipal hot shot team ever assembled.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring Josh Brolin, Miles Davis, Jennifer Connelly and Jeff Bridges

My review:

Only the Brave is a straightforward, unflinching look at some of the bravest among us: firefighters. But these aren't your average community volunteer firemen. This is the Navy Seals of fire fighting. These men are dropped into the biggest, nastiest fires with only an axe and shovel.

There is quite a lot to love about this movie. I feel compelled to mention that I am not a fan of Brolin or Connelly and have at the very most a love/hate relationship with the work of Teller. So I was incredibly surprised by how deeply I fell in love with this story.

The first act sets the stage. Teller's Brendan McDonough is a young out of control guy freshly out of jail. He's got a million reasons to finally get his act together if only someone will give him a chance. McDonough is given that chance by the grizzled, wise Eric Marsh (Brolin). There is plenty of heart and humor to be found in his new community. Now we're off to the races. The entire second act of the movie is one beautiful shot after another. The cast does an amazing job of portraying men and women who come together as family in the harshest of situations. Nothing is prettied up. The strain put on the spouses, the distance with their children. It's all there to draw you into this world that so very few people actually live and experience.

You can feel that this will end with a big fire. So when it finally comes it's not a surprise. But still hugely effective. For those of us who were not familiar with this true story, it was a nail biting bit of cinema.

Overall I am more than willing and able to overlook the small issues I had with the tropes that were included in the script. Only the Brave has a run time of 143 minutes and it rated PG 13 for thematic content and brief sexual references. I enjoyed almost every minute. 

A very solid 4 out of 5 stars is my rating. Only the Brave is the best thing currently playing at my local cinemaplex by leaps and bounds.

Geostorm is this year's natural disaster spectacle of a movie. The system put into place to protect Earth from natural disasters has malfunctioned and it's a race to fix the problem before all of Earth is destroyed.

Directed by Dean Devlin

Starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess and Abbie Cornish

Before I begin I feel like I should make a confession. Armageddon is one of my all time favorite movies. Yes. I said it. I love the cheesy dialogue and completely unrealistic plot because it's FUN. Geostorm brought Armageddon to mind more than once during my viewing.

The plot is straightforward. Gerard Butler plays Jake Lawson, the hot head developer of the Dutch Boy Program. A system of satellites that are designed to neutralize any and all natural disasters before they happen. It's not a stretch to see Lawson struggling to maintain his vision's integrity when faced with politicians who want to control Dutch Boy. None of this is groundbreaking cinema. The hero has a bad attitude. The government is shady and shifty. There are plenty of estranged relationships. Lots of familiar movie cliches are thrown at the viewer in quick succession.

But if you can suspend reality for the 1hr49min run time there is some good stuff in here. The special effects, both on Earth and on board the Dutch Boy itself are fun. There are huge typhoons, massive sandstorms, eruptions, tornadoes...all of the good stuff! The big reveal of the bad guy is not exactly shocking. The dialogue is silly. The science is nonsensical. But despite all of that, I found myself smiling through the whole thing. Special points given for Cornish's portrayal of a Secret Service agent who is pretty badass.

Geostorm is rated PG 13 for destruction, action and violence. My viewing had plenty of smaller children who all seemed to be having just as much fun as I was. There is absolutely nothing award worthy to be found here. But if you're looking for a few hours of popcorn eating entertainment, this is what you're looking for. I give Geostorm a rating of 2 ½ out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Foreigner & Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a double-bill of The Foreigner and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First on the docket: Jackie Chan seeks revenge in The Foreigner.

A grieving father goes after the individuals responsible for a terrorist bombing that claimed the life of his young daughter.

The Foreigner is one of those movies that feels like it should be much more entertaining than it is. A solid if oft-told story, the picture boasts a well-loved lead and a suspenseful plot, with fierce action sequences that will set you on the edge of your seat. Sadly, all of the above is weighed down by a plodding tempo that makes the movie seem much longer than it is. Jackie Chan is solid in the lead, but the film gives you at least its first half to ponder how this humble restaurant owner got such...erm...Jackie Chan-like skills, with no real payout for your wait; the answer is exactly what you'll know it was going to be if you've ever watched an action/revenge movie before. When everything hits the fan, Pierce Brosnan is perfect as the blustering minister who WON'T HAVE IT!!...but where was he going with that accent? The convoluted plot would feel almost comical at times if not for Chan wearing his very best Emmett Kelly face for the duration; in fact, I think I really might have hated this one but for how much sympathy he earned for his character.

The Foreigner runs 114 minutes and is rated R for "violence, language, and some sexual material."

The Foreigner earns a half-Weasley bonus for (briefly) featuring Harry Potter's Cho Chang, Katie Leung, but gets a full demerit for getting Hot Blooded into my head.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Foreigner gets four and a half.

Next up: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

The relationships among a psychologist, his wife, and a student give birth to our most beloved female superhero.

Well, dear reader(s), it feels like quite the privilege to be a girl writing in a time when I get to ask which is the better of this year's two Wonder Woman films. I mean, the answer is unequivocally "the other one," but still...

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women has all the pieces of a great story, so--especially riding 2017's wave of Wonder Woman mania--it should have been a can't-miss. Unfortunately, it goes foul by sensationalizing the sexual aspects of the story, resulting in an uncomfortable and unsatisfying finished product.

Wonder Women's chief positives are in its leads; Luke Evans and especially Rebecca Hall are terrific. Bella Heathcote is a bit of a weak link, and prominent enough that you'll feel it at every turn, but two out of three isn't so bad, I guess. The film has some genuinely touching moments as well as some funny ones, and it's told in such a way that it keeps moving even when there's not a lot to tell.

Ultimately, though, WW is just too lurid in its presentation to be taken seriously. When a roomful of adults is overcome by the giggles at every erotic turn, that's a sure-fire sign that, as the Internet is so fond of saying: "You're doing it wrong." Wonder Women sincerely attempts to sell its titular family as "normal," but does so with so little finesse that it only comes across as tawdry, even to someone (like myself) who wouldn't normally bat an eye. Amusingly, the movie even takes a stab at explaining Wonder Woman's skimpy costume, but--just a year removed from Batman v. Superman (where you can bet it wasn't Batman or Superman who featured in a gratuitous crotch shot)--it rings pretty hollow.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women clocks in at 108 minutes and is rated R for "strong sexual content, including brief graphic images, and language."

Sadly, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a coulda-shoulda-mighta been great picture that falls well short of even memorable.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women gets four.

Fangirl points: It's always a delight to hear Benny Goodman's Sing Sing Sing in glorious surround-sound!

Until next time...


Tree Gelbman is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter. As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she's experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter's dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.

Director: Christopher B. Landon

Release Date: Oct 13, 2017
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews

Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity 

Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min. 

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Horror


Happy Death Day takes the Groundhog Day conceit and gives it a fun horror spin.  Christopher Landon directs his film with tongue placed firmly in cheek.  Those expecting some sort of a straight forward hardcore horror might be a bit let down since the film isn’t ever really scary or thrilling.  That being said, it’s still an impressively fun film that really never loses energy during its incredibly efficient runtime.  There are plenty of laughs abound as the day replays over and over again with Jessica Rothe delivering a great central performance.  Rothe has some impressive comedic timing and she puts it to great use throughout.  The central mystery isn’t all that difficult to figure out but that really doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment.  Horror fans have to trudge through a lot of garbage before something worthwhile pops up, thankfully Happy Death Day is a nice surprise.


Sunday, October 8, 2017


Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who's been missing for 30 years.
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Release Date: Oct 06, 2017

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Lennie James.

Rated PG-13 for language, Brief Suggestive Content, Sequences of Sci-Fi Action and Violence

Runtime: 2 hr. 43 min.

Genres: Suspense/Thriller, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


Making a sequel to a seminal sci-fi film is a huge task, especially 35 years after the fact.  Denis Villeneuve and his cinematographer Roger Denkins deliver a visually mesmerizing film that’s gorgeous from start to finish.  It’s an impressive accomplishment that honors the original but also expounds on it.  Ryan Gosling ably leads the film with an understated performance that’s surprisingly nuanced and layered.  Those expecting a heavy dose of Harrison Ford’s Deckard will be left disappointed since he’s only in the film for a small amount of the film’s runtime.  While it’s hard to ignore the high level of craftsmanship and artistry, you do have to wonder if Villeneuve fell a little in love with his creation.  The film’s nearly 3 hour runtime isn’t necessary since some scenes seem inconsequential to the overall plot.  That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable or engaging but I can’t help but feel like there’s a tighter more efficient film in there somewhere.     

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