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Sunday, March 26, 2017


This science fiction saga tells the story of astronauts on the International Space Station who retrieve a sample from Mars and discover it contains evidence of intelligent life. The crew is thrust into danger when the specimen shows signs of aggression, threatening the entire mission. Jake Gyllenhaal stars alongside Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson. Daniel Espinosa directed a script written by Deadpool scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. ~ Daniel Gelb, Rovi

Director: Daniel Espinosa 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare

Release Date: Mar 24, 2017

Rated R for language throughout, some sci-fi violence and terror

Runtime: 1 hr. 43 min.

Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller

Life is a surprisingly bland rethread of Alien.  Daniel Espinosa does a serviceable job of directed an impressive collections of actors.  It has the hallmarks of decent filmmaking but even with the actor’s best efforts it’s never terribly interesting. The story plays out exactly the way you expect it to go and there’s little effort to bring something new to the story.  The biggest mystery during the entire thing is the order of the characters exit.  Even the finale, which the film seems to think is mind blowing, is incredibly predictable.  You have to wonder if there is a better film in there somewhere.  That’s the only thing that could explain what could have drawn so many talented actors to such a bland and forgettable exercise.     


Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Life & Power Rangers

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas with the throngs who apparently haven't left their homes since Christmas. Ahhhh...springtime. On the docket: Life and Power Rangers.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing plot-related that you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First up: sci-fi thriller Life.

Deadpool, Donnie Darko, and the chick from the last Mission Impossible discover an alien life form. 
Humanity weeps.
As I was suffering through Life, I was prepared to declare it the worst thing I've ever seen. In hindsight, there's no way it's that (screams Ghost Ship from my DVD collection), but it IS a gruesome, derivative waste of a pretty solid cast. The dialogue ranges from trite to cringe-worthy, and the tired old story drags on like a drum solo at an 80s arena-rock show, cut-rate sci-fi that occasionally knocks you over the head with clumsy attempts at poignancy. Sadly, even the creature effects are lame. Then, after two hours of taking itself way too seriously, the end credits kick off with a perky rendition of Spirit in the Sky. Whatever the filmmakers thought they were doing with that, it was a less-fitting finish than La La Land (which is saying something). The one thing Life has going for it is a terrific score by Jon Ekstrand, but, even in tandem with my best boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal, it can't save the day.
Life clocks in at an interminable 103 minutes and is rated R for "language throughout, some sci-fi violence and terror."
Life is dead on arrival. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Life gets one.
Next up, the most recent take on Saban's Power Rangers.
Five ordinary high-schoolers are chosen to be the next Power Rangers, and are tasked with saving the world from the evil Rita Repulsa.
Well, dear reader(s), in the interest of full and fair disclosure, I'll admit that Power Rangers would have had to work very hard to earn a thumbs-down from this blog, but I'm pleased to report it's even better than I'd hoped. This new crew of Rangers is a diverse, likable, good-looking bunch that seems a solid fit, both as a group and individually. Special shoutout (with just a wee bit of personal bias) to Ludi Lin, who does a great job as Zack, the Black Ranger. RJ Cyler is also terrific, portraying Billy, the Blue Ranger, as a young man on the autism spectrum. There's plenty of well-paced action, but it doesn't drag on or overwhelm the whole. Effects are just as huge as you'd expect. Suits and Zords have been updated for a new age, looking slick and impressive. The film's humor is hardly cutting edge, but the movie's funny when it means to be, and the dialogue among the kids feels natural and not over-scripted. Elizabeth Banks gleefully chews the scenery as Rita Replusa, not my favorite take on the character, but definitely entertaining. Power Rangers have always been corny, and this outing is no exception. The movie runs a little long, and Bill Hader is supremely annoying as the voice of Alpha 5, but, overall, Power Rangers is good fun, and my theater gave it the loudest, longest ovation I've ever experienced at the movies. Stick around for a mid-credits scene. It's no great revelation, but it'll still be welcome "news" for most fans.
Power Rangers runs 124 minutes and is rated PG13 for "sequences of sci-fi action, violence, and destruction, language, and for some crude humor."
2017's Power Rangers pointedly takes aim at a new generation, but still manages to indulge old fans' nostalgia. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Power Rangers gets seven and a half.
Fangirl points: There is a Social Distortion song in this movie. I repeat: There is a Social Distortion song in this movie. This is not a drill.
Until next time... 

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) directed this live-action retelling of the Disney animated classic from 1991. As before, this fairy tale centers on a young woman named Belle (Emma Watson), who is forced to live in an enchanted castle with a prince who is cursed to look like a hideous Beast (Dan Stevens). In time, the pair fall in love as Belle learns to see the good man hiding behind the Beast's monstrous exterior. The film co-stars Luke Evans as Gaston, Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Ian McKellen as Cosgworth, Kevin Kline as Belle's father, and Josh Gad as Gaston's sidekick LeFou. ~ Jack Rodgers, Rovi

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor

Release Date: Mar 17, 2017

Rated PG for Peril, Frightening Images and Some Action Violence

Runtime: 2 hr. 9 min.

Genres: Family, Music/Performing Arts, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


The live action Beauty and The Beast hits all the right notes both figuratively and literally but it still feels like it’s missing something.  Bill Condon does a fine job of directing the film delivering lavish musical numbers and a cornucopia of visual treats.  His cast is excellent with Emma Watson sliding into the Belle role with great easy.  Her voice isn’t quiet as strong as the role needs it to be but she’s still a great choice for the role.  Dan Stevens is solid if uninspired as the Beast which is a shame considering he’s a strong actor.  It doesn’t help that the CGI on the Beast is thoroughly unconvincing.  The rest of the CGI characters are well done which makes the misstep on one of the main characters all the more puzzling.  Ewan McGregor stands our as Lumière as does Emma Thompson.  As for the rest of the live action cast, Luke Evans and Josh Gad make for a great duo which is helped by the fact that they are clearly have a great time.  All in all, the live action version of the film is strong across the board even though it could have used a bit of a trim here there.  Unfortunately, it never really finds itself and it really makes you want to revisit the original animated film.


Cindy Prascik's Review of Beauty and the Beast

Dearest Blog: Today it was off to Marquee Cinemas for the live-action remake of Disney's classic, Beauty and the Beast.
Spoiler level here will be...oh, who am I kidding? Everybody knows how this turns out.
A selfish prince is turned into a hideous beast by a curse that can only be lifted by his learning to love and be loved.
Dear Reader(s), other than Pirates of the Caribbean and that awesome old Robin Hood cartoon, I'm not really a Disney super-fan. If you want to know how the current imagining of Beauty and the Beast stacks up against the much-loved animated version (which I failed to revisit, despite my best intentions), you're going to have to look elsewhere. That out of the way...
The new Beauty and the Beast gets just about everything right. Emma Watson is a delight in the lead. She hasn't got the strongest singing voice, but she's gifted with numbers that aren't much beyond your average shower performer, getting by on her natural charm, beauty, and ever-growing acting chops. As for the Beast, well, casting a handsome devil like Dan Stevens in a role where you hardly see his face has to be a black mark on a film's permanent record, but Stevens' charisma is never hidden by his beastly facade. The cast's true gems are in its supporting players. Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and the divine Audra McDonald use their musical theater cred to steal the show, and the number "Gaston" (featuring Evans and Gad) is easily the highlight of the picture. Some interior scenes are a bit too dark (a by-product of seeing a 3D product in 2D), but the movie's glorious sets are otherwise on full, stunning display. Costumes are also top notch. Seeing Emma in that iconic yellow dress tugged at even my Grinch-sized heart. For my money, the movie's only serious flaws are bland tunes (I daresay most don't share that opinion) and the fact it could use about a 20-minute trim, but a good--if predictable--story, fun action, and solid humor more than compensate for these minor quibbles.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast runs 129 minutes and is rated PG for "some action violence, peril, and frightening images."
The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast is magic for old and new fans alike. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Beauty and the Beast gets seven and a half.
Fangirl points: The Goddess Audra! My beloved Luke Evans!
Until next time... 

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