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Saturday, June 25, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE







Roland Emmerich returns to the helm for this long-awaited sequel to the 1996 blockbuster Roland Emmerich. Fearful of another attack, the nations of Earth have teamed up against their common enemy -- the extraterrestrials who brought humanity to the brink of extinction. Using recovered alien technology to bolster their defenses, the alliance braces itself for another invasion. Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman reprise their roles from the original film, while Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, and Maika Monroe are among the new additions to the cast. ~ Daniel Gelb, Rovi
Director: Roland Emmerich 

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox

Release Date: Jun 24, 2016

Rated PG-13 for sequences of Sci-Fi Action, Destruction and Some Language

Runtime: 2 hr. 0 min.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Review:

Independence Day: Resurgence is a massive summer blockbuster that’s as dumb as it is loud.  The good thing about it is that the film never really feels like a chore and rarely bores throughout.  It’s a silly film and that will affect people’s enjoyment of it.  The spectacle is impressive but less impressive than it was 20 years ago when it seemed groundbreaking.  The comedy is about as broad as humanly possible, as if one of the six writers on the project wanted to make sure they recycled as many jokes as possible while trying not to offend.  We get a run through of returning characters and some are killed off unceremoniously while other still play vital roles.  The first act also, makes it a point to let the audience know that Will Smith’s character had died in the 20 years since the original film, explaining away Smith absence.  Sadly, the new characters aren’t terribly engaging or interesting but the film does throw in a African Warlord and a high speed school bus vs. giant alien chase because why not.  Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t going to set the world on fire like the original but it’s surprisingly light disaster film that’s eager to please.

C

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Finding Dory & Central Intelligence





























Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a promising pair of pictures: Finding Dory and Central Intelligence. 
 
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. 
 
First on the docket: Finding Dory. Everyone's favorite memory-challenged blue fish goes searching for a piece of her past. 
 
Dear reader(s): Finding Nemo is my favorite thing that Pixar has ever done. Outside of dear ol' Captain Jack, it may be my favorite thing Disney's ever done, too, so it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation I accepted the idea of a welcome, but unnecessary, sequel. I am pleased to report that, if Finding Dory doesn't quite match Finding Nemo, it does an admirable job of carrying on the franchise nonetheless. 
 
In the grand tradition of Pixar product, Finding Dory looks amazing. Outstanding art, bold colors, and lovely animation combine to create a picture that appears to live and breathe on its own. If Dory were a real, live person instead of a cartoon fish, Ellen DeGeneres undoubtedly would earn some serious awards consideration; she is brilliant. 
 
Her supporting cast is filled with familiar and capable voices, including Albert Brooks, reprising his role as the clownfish Marlon, as well as Ed O'Neill, Diane Keaton, Idris Elba, and Sigourney Weaver. 
 
The predictable-but-charming tale is backed by a lovely score by Thomas Newman. If I were to quibble over one small flaw, it's that the movie has too many false endings, which make it seem to drag on a bit, but the post-credits scene is well worth weathering the extensive end credits. Finding Dory runs 97 minutes (which includes an adorable short called Piper) and is rated PG for "mild thematic elements." Finding Dory is an almost-perfect mix of beautiful art and a sweet, family-friendly story. 
 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Finding Dory gets eight.
 
Fangirl points: Idris Elba, Dominic West, Kaitlin Olson. 
 
Next up: buddy comedy Central Intelligence. 
 
A bullied youth turned CIA agent drags his only high-school friend into the world of international espionage. If you took all of Hollywood, put it in a bag and shook it up, then dumped out any ten random actors, Dwayne Johnson would probably have more charisma than all ten combined. 
 
He's no Crowe or Denzel in the acting-chops department, but the guy is always fun to watch, and, in Central Intelligence, he has great chemistry with his hilarious co-star Kevin Hart. 
 
Central Intelligence boasts a well-plotted story with a fair few twists, and, though most of its laugh-out-loud moments were revealed in trailers, the movie is uniformly entertaining and amusing, and the action keeps it moving at a good clip. 
 
Central Intelligence clocks in at 114 minutes and is rated PG13 for "crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action/violence, and brief strong language." 
 
A serviceable buddy comedy that provides both laughs and thrills a-plenty, of a possible nine Weasleys, Central Intelligence gets seven. 
 
Until next time...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Retro-Review: Happy 30th Anniversary, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!





Dearest Blog: Yesterday, as is only fitting, I blew off work to revisit Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the big screen, on this, its 30th Anniversary.
You've had three decades to catch up with this one, dear reader(s), so this review/retrospective may be spoilerific, and I'll hear no complaints! Also, do forgive me if I ramble. This movie holds a very special place in my heart!
Chicago's coolest teen skips school and leads two friends on a series of adventures around the city.
True story: Way back in 1986, I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off at the theatre, not because I went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but because the cinema offered it as a free Saturday "sneak peek" before whatever feature we intended to see. 
We got a free poster and a free badge (both bearing the legend "Leisure Rules," and both of which I still have), and, though the intended viewing is long forgotten, Ferris Bueller's Day Off stood as my favorite movie for more than two decades, and still clings to a spot very near the top of my All-Time Favorites list.
Writer/director John Hughes refers to Ferris Bueller's Day Off as his love letter to the city of Chicago, but it is perhaps cinema's greatest love letter to the 1980s as well. Everything on the screen bursts with the vibrant colors that epitomize the decade, from the perfect blue sky to the crazy 80s fashions (anybody still have one of those fringed jackets?), to that gorgeous candy-apple-red Ferrari. The picture boasts a magnificent 80s soundtrack, featuring Big Audio Dynamite, the B52s, Yellow, Sigue-Sigue Sputnik, English Beat, Dream Academy, and General Public. The band posters that paper Ferris' bedroom walls tip the cap to some of the decade's even cooler acts: the Damned, Flesh for Lulu, Bryan Ferry, and Simple Minds.
There's no denying the some terrible, scary things happened in the 80s. The Cold War. The Challenger disaster. Nonetheless, this movie reflects the unrelenting joy and positivity that permeated much entertainment and popular culture of the time. How do you get through the bad if there's not a sunny afternoon at the ballpark, a visit to the art museum, or lunch at a nice restaurant on the other side? Sitting at Wrigley Field, Ferris tells his best friend Cameron: "If we played by the rules, right now we'd be in gym," as the camera cuts to a group of miserable-looking boys jogging around a high-school track. THAT was being young in the 80s: Sure, that other stuff is still going on, but let's have some fun!
From the guy whose name is above the title to the random student sleeping on his desk, the cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off is perfect. Matthew Broderick is the consummate "cool kid," in both appearance and demeanor. Not for a minute is it hard to believe he could parlay a senior skip day into an entire town pulling for his good health! 
The lovely Mia Sara is the ultimate cheerleader girlfriend, a beauty most of the boys at school would be afraid to ask out, let alone claim as their own. As Ferris' long-suffering sidekick, Alan Ruck does most of the movie's heavy lifting. His deadpan humor is terrific, but even better is his embodiment of a teen with a miserable home life, coming to an age when his parents will be forced to respect him as an adult. A popular movie like Ferris Bueller's Day Off always seems to be on somewhere, to the point it becomes background noise, but these are the things that really make it special and warrant your full attention, still. While the grownups are merely cogs in the wheel of Ferris' adventure, they are iconic nonetheless, and it's Jeffrey Jones and Edie McClurg who provide the picture's best laugh-out-loud moments.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off serves as a reminder of a few things too infrequently found in Hollywood these days: A movie that's no longer than it needs to be, a movie that's funny without being mean or rude, and, most importantly, a movie that's unique. The well-paced picture clocks in just shy of two hours, and boasts a consistently good-natured humor that is all but lost on today's movie landscape. It is a delightful, original bit of filmmaking that is, simply, a perfect reflection of its time.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off clocks in at 103 minutes, and is rated PG13 for "some strong language and adult situations."
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is an unmatched classic that continues to stand the test of time. 
Many thanks to Marquee Cinemas and Flashback Cinema for this opportunity to celebrate the movie's 30th Anniversary in style! 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Ferris Bueller's Day Off unquestioningly deserves all nine.
In the immortal words of Ferris himself: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." 
Until next time...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Jungle Book, The Angry Birds Movie, Now You See Me 2

 
 
 
Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for Now You See Me 2 and Warcraft...except I couldn't bring myself to face Warcraft and ended up catching up on The Jungle Book and Angry Birds instead. 
 
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. (I'm assuming everyone knows Warcraft is terrible from the trailers?) 
 
First on the docket: The Jungle Book. When the vicious tiger Shere-Khan threatens his life, Mowgli, a boy raised by a wolf pack, is forced to flee his jungle home. 
 
The Jungle Book is a gorgeous film, and a vote of confidence for CGI at a time when, let's face it, even the biggest-budget CGI is starting to look a little dodgy. The movie is probably eighty-percent jungle and jungle animals, and the only time you can tell most of it is fake is when the bear starts singing. I've never seen a real one sing. 
 
Then again, my experience with bears is somewhat limited. Outside its technical virtures, the movie's main plus is some great voice work from the likes of Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong'o, Christopher Walken, and Scarlett Johanssn. 
 
Unfortunately, it's merely a silver lining on what's ultimately a pretty boring picture. The movie tiptoes around its brutality, with most of it played out off screen. It would have served no one's purpose for a kids' film to be a total bloodbath, but the impact of losses is certainly diminished. There are chases and plenty of other action, but the movie is plain dull in its execution. 
 
The second half, in particular, seems to drag on forever. The Jungle Book clocks in at 106 minutes and is rated PG for "some sequences of scary action and peril." Worth a look for its technical prowess alone, 2016's Jungle Book sadly falls short of the animated feature on which it's based. 
 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Jungle Book gets five. Fangirl points: Giancarlo Esposito. Again! 
 
Next up: The Angry Birds Movie. An island of peaceful, (mostly) happy, flightless birds faces a threat from neighboring green pigs. 
 
Whoa. Trippiest. Synopsis. Ever. Dear Reader(s), I have not even a passing familiarity with video games. 
 
Luckily, The Angry Birds Movie is pretty cute, and I don't think I missed out on anything for not having spent hours with my nose in my phone, playing the Angry Birds game. Angry Birds is a great-looking picture, full of gorgeous animation and bright colors. The film boasts an impressive array of voice talent, including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, and Sean Penn. 
 
The plot is pretty thin, but the film keeps moving and doesn't bog down. There's some charming humor alongside some that's truly disgusting...at least for grownups...as well as a lovely score by Heitor Pereira. The Angry Birds Movie runs 97 minutes and is rated PG for "rude humor and action." It's no game-changer, but Angry Birds is a bright, colorful, quick-moving film that's fun for the whole family. 
 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Angry Birds Movie gets six. 

Fangirl points: Angry Birds was created in Finland. This movie kicks off with a Black Sabbath song. (I'm not joking.) 
 
Finally, the closer on yesterday's agenda: Now You See Me 2. After hiding out for 18 months, the Horsemen resurface to perform their greatest heist yet. 
 
When the first Now You See Me was released into a summer of prequels, sequels, and reboots, I recall lauding it as a breath of fresh air in a sea of franchise installments. Of course, then Hollywood had to go and commission a sequel because...Hollywood. 
 
The good news is, if the sequel wasn't entirely necessary, it is a great time nonetheless. NYSM2 raises the stakes from the Horsmen's first outing, meaning even more incredible stunts that require even more suspension of disbelief. 
 
I mean, faking one's death can't possibly be as easy as depicted here (more than once) or everyone who has a crazy ex or owes on a credit card would be doing it! Still, the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, so playing along isn't a problem. Some of the illusions are spectacular, in particular, the rain-manipulation trick hinted at in the trailers, and the plot has plenty of twists and turns to hold your attention. 
 
The cast is terrific from top to bottom, with Jesse Eisenberg again the standout. Lizzy Caplan's character is a somewhat brash replacement for Isla Fisher, but she's great fun and will grow on you quickly. Daniel Radcliffe continues to distance himself from his Potter past with a funny, quirky performance as the film's baddie. 
 
The movie gets a bit preachy here and there, but it's mostly a thrilling, layered ride. Now You See Me 2 clocks in at 129 minutes and is rated PG13 for "violence and some language." That rare sequel that is as good as, and perhaps even better than, the original, 
 
Now You See Me 2 is great fun and (still) something a little different for the summer blockbuster season. 
 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Now You See Me 2 gets seven. Fangirl points: DanRad in *another* movie about magic! 
 
Until next time...


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