Ready Player One – an enjoyable, fun film from Steven Spielberg

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting much from this film. I’m not a huge gamer (not much of a little one, either. Spyro and Wizard 101 are my speed), but my son wanted to see it and any time I can spend time with my son, I’m on it. I was delightfully surprised and entertained the entire time.

Now don’t get me wrong. This is not an academy award winning film, at least not up there with Lord of the Rings, Titanic, or The Shape of Water. However, there were tons of laughs, lots of action and adventure, and the story and the way it was played out was completely magical.

To pick a favorite character would be difficult. One would like to think it would be Wade Watts a.k.a. Parzival, but I loved Art3mis (Samantha), Aech (Helen), I-R0k, Sho, Daito and the curator. The plot was engaging with other characters you love to hate, and the references to other films, video games, books, etc. were classic write-ins.  The scenes from The Shining were hysterical, probably the best in the entire film, and the characters shined (no pun intended). Seeing as how Stephen King hated Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his book, Spielberg used the love-hate relationship effectively as a clue to find the elusive ‘easter egg’ in the film.

In fact, I think Spielberg had a blast making this film. There are all kinds of references to so many films, books, video games. For instance, Aech is building a life-size version of the Iron Giant. The opening scene highlights Minecraft. Batman makes a mountain-climbing appearance. There are references everywhere to Star Trek, Friday the 13th, Speed Racer, Harley Quinn, Tron, Battlestar Galactica, Alien, Dune and the list goes on and on. There are references to The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Animal House, Robotron. I mean, Speilberg turned into a kid with this film, and it was refreshingly fun.

There was also a lesson about balancing escapism with reality, taking chances, and toward the end, I got kind of a Willy Wonka ending moment. It was glorious. Yes, the writing was clunky at times (who refers to their aunt as “my mom’s sister?), the romance was cliche’, but these are things I found fun and kid-like, and they made the movie enjoyable for me. And the Iron Giant taking on Mechagodzilla? Awesome!!

I highly recommend Ready Player One to gamers and non-gamers, adults and kids. It’s loaded with comedy, heart-wrenching backstories, bad guys, and dozens upon dozens of pop-culture references in dialogue and in-scene. I’ll need to watch it several times to pick up on all of them. I think Spielberg is on to something with this film, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more in the works.  Two thumbs up, Mr. Spielberg. This film is a rare gem and definitely one I’ll be adding to my home theater collection.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens – was it worth the wait?

I was one of the lucky ones who got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17, a day before the official release date.  Like millions of us, I’d waited patiently, and anticipation was high when I walked into the theater and made my way to my leather recliner seat with a soda in one hand and popcorn in the other.  The murmuring around me was intense. There were wookies and jedi in the audience, along with a Princess Leia and a young Anikan Skywalker. There were cloaked figures, and one man who kept telling everyone he wasn’t the droid we were looking for.  The theater personnel was nice enough to start the film after almost everyone had left the concession stands and were seated in five of the eight theaters showing the film.  My version was in 3D, which, both sad and wonderful to say, was my first 3D movie I’d ever seen.

I thought it was great that there were no previews. Not a one.  The lights dimmed, the music started playing, the film started rolling amidst wild, crazy clapping and whistling … and then it stopped. In the beginning of the text scrolling as if floating in space, the screen went black, as if snuffed out by the dark side.  Of course the boos began and someone pulled out a light saber and shouted to the dude in the ‘film box’ “You can do it! Let the force be with you!” This, of course, solicited laughter, and in a matter of seconds, the movie began again.

“In a galaxy far, far away…”

I gotta tell you folks. I got the chills.  Star Wars 6 – Return of the Jedi released in 1983.  32 years I’ve waited for the saga to continue, and no, I did not think Episodes 1, 2 and 3 counted. They were afterthoughts, fillers, and did little to quell the hunger for a real Star Wars movie.  I mean, how does one top Hans Solo?

But it’s been 32 years. Hans, Princess Leia and Luke are getting old. Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Yoda are dead (I think they’re actually in Jedi heaven, but whatev). Who could possibly step in to fill their shoes?

Well, we have the next best pilot in the galaxy, Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Issac ), and damn is he good!!  See photo here

The beautiful, scrappy, Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), who discovers she’s not only a junk collector, but also a kick-ass female Gandalf. I mean, the chick can wield a staff!  See photo here,

Finn (played by John Boyega), the best stormtrooper ever! I mean, this dude rocks his part, and the brief scene between him and Kylo Ren on the planet Jakku (which reminds me a lot of Tatooine minus an extra sun) was spine-tingling. see photo here,

and last but not least,

the amazing villain, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver).  see photo here. Ahh!  Heart be still.  Darth Vader would be proud, young Kylo.

(NOTE:  I’m not posting pics here due to copyright issues. Don’t want to get in trouble with the big guys, know what I mean?)

In my opinion, these new characters ARE the next Hans, Leia and Luke. I fell in love with them right away. The old, snarky humor of the original movies is there, and the new, young actors pull it off well.  Of course we see our favorite characters from long ago: Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), as well as Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2. We are also introduced to a great new little bot named BB8.  You will fall in love with this little rolling double-ball of circuitry, make no mistake.

I do have some issues with the film such as plotting and explanation.  There are too many unanswered questions for those of us who never read a Star Wars book ever, such as Who is Rey? Who is Poe Dameron? Where did they come from? Who are they related to, if anyone? How did Kylo Ren become who he is and who in the hell is that big, I mean massively huge alien dude in the chair who thinks he’s all that?

I thought the film was predictable, but it’s Star Wars. It wouldn’t be the story we have all come to know and love without X-wing fighters, blasters, light sabers and the force.  Still I think there should have been a bit more revelation. And I wish the ending had been different. I wanted a follow through on a decisive moment, but it never came. Everyone in the theater was yelling, “Do it! Take it!”  Let me tell you, I wasn’t the only one who let out a “You’ve got to be kidding me! No freaking way!” comment. Argh!! I still want to ‘fix it’.

Overall, I was pleased with the film. I’m glad J.J. Abrams went back to the old-style Star Wars and not regurgitate another pathetic piece like the films my kids grew up with. I hope the trend continues with the next installment in the saga.

If you’ve seen the film, I would love to hear your thoughts, but please, no spoilers. Peeps have waited a long time to see this film so please don’t ruin it for them. If you haven’t seen it, I would love to hear what you’re excited to see and what you expect. Until then…

always be kind, tell those close to you that you love them, and may the force be with you.

Bonus Video – the making of Star Wars

Jupiter Ascending – enjoyable but not an Oscar winner

(From IMDb): Beyond Earth, beyond our Sun, one family has ruled life on every habitable planet in the universe for millennia: The House of Abrasax. Now following the death of its matriarch, her three primary heirs the Abrasax siblings, Balem, Kalique and Titus are at war, and the state of their dynasty is in turmoil. But another heir has emerged whose claim may be even greater than theirs. A young woman born on Earth, unknowingly carries a genetic legacy that entitles her to power beyond her imagining and the ability to reshape the House of Abrasax and with it, the fate of her planet. With the help of an ex-military hunter who becomes her only ally, Jupiter Jones is forced to leave her ordinary existence behind and confront her true destiny.

My Review

I’m not a sci-fi reader but I love sci fi films.  Independence Day, ranks at the top of my list followed by Star Wars IV, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; E.T.; and yes, Wall-ee.  I was really hoping to add Jupiter Ascending to my list of faves because it just looked so good, but while I found it enjoyable, it wasn’t a movie I’d go see again.

The story is about a young maid, Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis from Black Swan fame), who finds out there is much more to her life than cleaning toilets for the rich.  While trying to make some extra money, she is assaulted and almost murdered by some aliens disguised as humans, that is until the hero of the hour, ex-military hunter, Caine Wise (the delicious Channing Tatum), steps in to steal the day and save the girl.  Wise takes her to his buddy’s house, Stringer Apini (played by the incomparable Sean Bean), where Jupiter makes friends with thousands of bees because she’s the —

Nope, not gonna tell you.  No spoilers from me.

Anyway, Jupiter is wanted by three heirs to the House of Abrasax for various reasons, most of them being so she doesn’t gain control of, and own, Earth.

The plot was eh, not great, not bad. There were some funny parts and some excellent acting from Eddie Redmayne who plays Balem Abrasax. Whoa, his performance is amazing. What a calm, cool, collected villain, until he goes all holler on his minions.  Now HIS performance could win an Oscar. It’s so Brando in so many ways.

The film has hints of the cult film, Brazil, The Matrix, and Promethius. A little past, a little present, something old, something new.  There is even a brilliant cameo performance by the great Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame. (the scene is brilliant and one allll of us can relate to).

While I wouldn’t go out and grab this right away when it comes out on DVD, it wasn’t bad and I didn’t feel cheated out of my $$. For those who like a lot of action and blow-em up scenes, Jupiter Ascending has got it.  The story moved fast. I never once asked myself, “When is this going to be over.”  It was fun, enjoyable, campy even.

I give it a solid 3.5-stars.  It’s  a descent film, just not Oscar-winning, but not all films have to win the golden statue to be fun and worthy in its own right. I see Jupiter Ascending becoming the next cult film.

#JupiterAscending, #Sci-Fi, #movie, #Wachowski



#TheMockingjayLives – Official Trailer of the newest Hunger Games movie

“You will rescue #Peeta at the earliest opportunity. Or you will find another #Mockingjay…”



Who else just got shivers????

Eat like the Boxtrolls!

Attendees at the San Diego Comic-Con this coming weekend will be in for a treat.

On behalf of the animated feature, The Boxtrolls, Focus Features and CinemaBlend will be hosting an “Eat Like the Boxtrolls” event at Petco Park.  Attendees are invited to stop by the Boxtrolls food truck to taste Bug Chef David George Gordon’s edible insect creations.  Yes, you read that right.  Bug treats.  For humans.

The food truck event will be held on Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26.  And, if you stop by the location on Saturday, July 26 from 2 – 3 PM, be sure to take a photo of you and your tummy-yummy insect treat, and share it via Twitter using the hashtag #EatLikeTheBoxtrolls for a chance to win tickets to the L.A. Premiere.

Read more about the event on the  CinemaBlend website.

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Maleficent ~ finally, the evil queen tells her side of the story

Not since the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films have I been more excited about a movie.  Yes, I waited eagerly for The Hunger Game trilogy, Thor and all of his friends, but Maleficent has me squirming on the edge of my seat.

This is what I hope to be a classic villain re-telling of a timeless Disney classic.  As a child, I was terrified of Maleficent, especially when she turned into the dragon at the end.  It was probably one of the most graphic deaths (next to the hanging in Tarzan) I ever saw in an animated Disney film.  Blood gushed from her heart where Prince Phillip’s sword struck. I can guarantee if Sleepy Beauty was made today, Disney would completely sanitize that scene because some parent somewhere would lose their marbles. Whatev.  Kids everywhere, even to this day, are terrified of that animated villain.  Many parents refuse to let their kids watch that scene because they don’t want their kids to have nightmares. Parents.  One word of advice.  Kids love to be scared.  Let them watch.  Second word of advice…don’t read your child the original story thinking it’s all sweet and fluffy.  Yeah. Sleeping Beauty actually goes to sleep because of a prophecy, is raped twice by the king, gives birth to two children and wakes to one suckling her finger.  Now THAT’s scary and one I’m glad Disney didn’t make.

As a writer, I like to know what the motivation is behind the bad guy’s behavior.  No one is 100% bad.  Every villain has something good about him/her.  I often wondered as an adult when I’d watch Disney’s version what caused Maleficent to turn so evil.  What was her story?  Well, I am about to find out.  Yes, in 10 long days from today, my questions will be answered (I hope).  I’ll let you know what I think of Angelina Jolie’s performance once I see the film, but right now, she’s looking oh so perfect for the role.

Check out the promotional trailers below and let me know what you think. Are you waiting to see this film as much as I am?  If so, I’ll see you in the theaters on  May 30.  I’ll be the one with the tub of popcorn, a large soda and a bedpan, you know, so I won’t miss a thing.

Star Trek at its absolute best!

What is there NOT to like about the new Star Trek movie?  There are explosions, the acting is fantastic, the traditional bantering between Bones and Spock is perfection…there’s even a tribble involved.  Come on, who doesn’t like tribbles?

Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachery Quinto’s (Heroes fame) performance as Spock are stellar.  In fact, the whole cast is on fire.  Karl Urban, who plays Bones, reminds me so much of a young DeForest Kelley who played the original Bones in the t.v. series and earlier movies.  Major kudos to the casting director.

This movie explains how Kirk comes in contact with certain people.  I won’t say who because that will give some of the plot away and I’d have to put up a spoiler alert.  I will say they are very important in Kirk’s life and answers to questions I’ve had over the years were revealed.

As to the special effect team?  Whoo Hoo!!  The graphics were stupendous.  Explosions phenomenal.  From the moment the movie begins, so does the action, and it never lets up.

There are some plot issues (I wish there had been more explanation to the opening scene of the movie), but the scenes move so fast you don’t really notice the plot stuff  until the movie is over.  That’s a good thing.  There is also nothing really ‘dark’ about this film so I’m not sure where the title fits in, but I’m willing to overlook that because it’s such an unrelenting roller coaster of the good kind.

What exactly is Star Trek, Into Darkness about?  From IMDb:

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

My final assessment:  Star Trek Into Darkness is steeped in action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals.  It will definitely please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.  It’ll also make you want to go back and watch a particular Star Trek film from the early ’80s, which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time.

Happy trekking!  Live long and prosper.  

ParaNorman – is it really for the 7 – 12 group?

I watched ParaNorman last night.  I’d heard it was a funny movie so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

For those of you who don’t know, the animated movie follows the story of Norman Babcock, a misunderstood boy who is able to speak with the dead.  Because of this strange gift, he is treated like a freak by his family and peers.  One day, he meets a boy at school, Neil, who is also bullied due to his weight. One day in a bathroom stall at school, Norman gets a message from a ghost that he must use his gift and read from a book in order to save the town from the ghost of a powerful witch.  The movie takes him on the journey of finding his true purpose, acceptance of others and forgiveness and learning his own self-worth. So why do I have reservations about younger kids seeing the film?

To start with, there is a lot of bullying.  I understand it is prevalent in our society today and it gives kids something to relate to, but I think it was overdone.

The next thing that bothered me was Norman’s dad.  His reaction to Norman’s abilities was very insensitive, and several of his words were sharp and cut deep.  I understand what the writers were going for, but for a movie aimed at the 7 – 12 year old crowd, I think the writers could have come up with another way to portray Dad’s fears without losing the integrity of the story.  The explanation Norman’s mom gives Norman is simply not enough.  On top of that, I didn’t feel Norman’s dad sufficiently apologized for being a jerk to his son.  I think it’s important to show 7 – 12 year olds that parents aren’t perfect, but they recognize their mistakes and apologize accordingly.  At least they should in the movies.

The last thing that really bothered me was Neil’s older brother.  When we are introduced to the character we see he’s a big dude, lots of muscles.  He’s also about as sharp as a bowling ball.  Of course, Norman’s teen sister gets all googley eyed over him and her antics have some laughable moments.  My problem came at the end of the film when Neil’s brother pretty much announced he was gay.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against gay people. I have gay friends.  I do have an issue with this topic being thrown into a  children’s movie.  I felt it was completely inappropriate and tasteless.  Aside from the fact that I have an issue with media outlets exposing young people to alternative lifestyles instead of the kids learning about them from their parents and immediate surroundings, the writers made this gay kid muscle-bound and dumb as an ox.  I have problems with that.

Was I offended by the film?  No.  Would I say don’t let your kids watch the film?  No.  I’m not into telling parents what to do or not to do with their kids.  I do feel parents should be armed when they sit down with their children to watch a film.  Had I had a child 7, 8 or 9 years old and I knew the film had a lot of bullying, angry mobs shooting zombies and a big, dumb lug professing that his boyfriend likes chick flicks, I don’t think I would have let my kids watch the film.   It’s not because I have a phobia.  It’s because I don’t think it’s right for media to promote hidden agendas to unsuspecting parents disguised as animated films for young people.

There are lots of good films for kids and young adults.  Be informed.  Know what your kids are watching.  And don’t be afraid to be a parent and say “No.”  They’ll thank you someday for watching out for them.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Have you ever read a book and you knew immediately it had to be a movie, too? I felt that way with The Hunger Games and I felt again with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.

These books have everything you could possibly want in a fantastic YA urban fantasy novel:  vampires, werewolves, fairies, supernatural creatures, hot guys, sweet guys, kick-butt heroines.  And Cassandra Clare has a way to deliver all of it in a way that prohibits the reader from putting the books down for a moment.   I have to say she is one of my favorite authors and I have spent lots of time evaluating her writing style so I can learn what makes it work so darn well.

I got all giddy when I found out the first book in the series, City of Bones, would be made into a film.  Like many others, I waited patiently to hear who would star, and I was surprised to find a fairly unheard of cast (Lena Headey from The Brothers Grimm; Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins); Robert Sheehan; and Jamie Campbell Bower (not how I pictured Jace at all!)).  I began to have my doubts about the casting until I saw they signed on  Jonathan Rhys Meyers to play Valentine.  I was sold.

The film is set to release August 23, 2013 in the US.  I hope it’s as good as the book.  I really don’t want to be disappointed with this one.

New Hobbit Trailer is here!


I normally don’t do two posts in one day, but have you all seen the new trailer for The Hobbit?

I have to say, Peter Jackson is a genius.  This film looks positively amazing.  I’m sure he took some poetic license with this film as he did with LOTR, but he is a brilliant man, and it’s really hard to believe, after watching the trailers, he had serious snags in the beginning with producing this film.  There is even talk of a 3-part trilogy to tell Bilbo’s tale.  What do you guys think?

here is the original trailer that came out 3 months ago.

For those unfamiliar with the story, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” follows Bilbo Baggins on his epic quest with 13 dwarves to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Do you plan on seeing The Hobbit?  After seeing the trailers, what’s your enthusiasm level, with ‘1’ 🙂 being ‘eh’ to 5 🙂 being OMGosh, When can I buy tickets?

I’m at 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂