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MILE 22 Brings Wahlberg and Director Berg Back Together for Action

Mile 22 cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director/producer Peter Berg and STX Entertainment comes a fast paced chase to MILE 22.

James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), and Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) are part of a CIA prized group of operatives who are sent to handle special missions. In their latest take down, the team loses a man, takes down Russians up to no good and intel.

In Asia, Kerr has an informant that needs their protection and Silva isn’t thrilled about it. Li Noor (Iko Uwais) has turned himself in to the embassy claiming to have information about the whereabouts of missing chemicals. What makes this even more interesting is that the local authorities want him back and they have Axel (Sam Medina) to make that happen.

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The secret tactical command team led by Bishop (John Malkovich) works with Silva’s team being the eyes and ears getting Noor to an airstrip twenty-two miles from the embassy for extraction. Along with Bishop is King (Keith Bolden), Knight (Jenique Hendrix), Rook (Billy Smith) and Pawn (Myke Holmes) who have the technology to make it happen.

What they don’t know is that the team has eyes on them as well. In the skies above is Vera (Natasha Goubskaya) and Russian military Aleksander (Nikolai Nikolaeff) and they want something too.

The information everyone wants has a key that only Noor knows and it will not be around long. The clock is ticking as every move is being watched and sometimes you have to trust someone you don’t know to survive.

Every mile matters!

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Wahlberg as Silva is a very hyperactive, intense and fast talking individual who gives zero frakks about propriety or rank. Some might call it monologuing but he does it with such speed that it will make your mind spin while you giggle at the same time. He lays everything out on the table and yet his team means everything – even if he doesn’t act like it all the time. Wahlberg turns in his usual strong performance in a story that is fast telling and even faster in action.

Cohan as Kerr is a mother who is dealing with an ex-husband who likes to have control. Personally I would be so quick to control a woman who has no problem with speaking her mind or pointing a weapon in someone’s face! She believes in her contact Noor wants to see him safe. Anyone who has watched AMC’s The Walking Dead can see that Cohan brings it to this role as well.

Rousey as Snow is tough and pretty much took this role and ran with it. Malkovich as Bishop is suave and in control of his team. Goubskaya as Vera watches everything from the air and doesn’t bat an eye when the team comes under fire. Skeggs as MIT gets a shout out because the scene between she and Silva is epic and fast.

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Uwais as Noor is fan-frikken-tastic but then again if you have seen THE RAID in 2011 and THE RAID 2 in 2014 then you know this role is very cool for him. There is no doubt that his martial arts is on point and brutal but Uwais takes this character to another level that made my jaw drop – oh yea, he’s got this.

Other cast include Carlo Alban as William Douglas, Chae-rin Lee as Queen, Emily Skeggs as MIT, Terry Kinney as Johnny Porter, Brandon Scales as Jacob Stone, Poorna Jagannathan as Dorothy Brady, Elle Graham as India and Peter Berg as Lucas.

Berg and Wahlberg have proven that their true story telling is a calling card of the duo and they do it well. This is a bit of a turn from the last few years but there’s nothing wrong with that either. I don’t mind being taken out of the realm of reality for an hour and a half to just sit back and watch the film do its job – entertain me.

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MILE 22 is a total action film that doesn’t give the audience a moment to sit still. The speak is just as fast as any bullet flying provided by Wahlberg and Cohan making sure we understand they mean business. Each character in the film has a role to play and man does it get played intensely.

Berg doesn’t disguise the good or bad of either side but instead goes in full bore on the game of modern warfare. It’s no longer easy to recognize friend or foe when it’s all treated like a game. The cinematography is pretty cool keeping up with the pace of the story but then again if you are going to have an action film – go big or go home!

In the end – Option 1: Diplomacy, Option 2: Military…meet Option 3!

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STRIKE BACK: Season Five Hits Hard on Bluray

Strike coverJeri Jacquin

This week on Bluray/DVD and Digital from Cinemax is a new team with a new attitude with the hard hitting series STRIKE BACK: Season Five.

The men are sent in to be a part the transfer of terrorist Omair Idrisi (Don Hany) but his wife Jane Lowry (Katherine Kelly) has other plans. Putting an escape plan together, the attack on the entire convoy kills many men but Sgt. Mac McAllister (Warren Brown) survives.

Determined to re-capture Isrisi, Sgt. Brown is assigned to Section 20 and the first thing they have to do is find undercover soldier Sgt. Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson). He is also working to get information on Idrisi. The group includes Grace Novan (Alin Sumarwata) and Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee).

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But they have to deal with prince who may or may not be giving money to the terrorists. What Haptaini does tell them is who he deals with for arms and that’s Morgan Ives (Trevor Eve). Finding him turns out to be a hard mission when they find themselves in the middle of a sand storm.

Lowry seems to be on a different path as the group works on what her intentions are. Rosa Varga (Kelly Gough) and her brother Josef (Mark Strepan) and now a part of an already confusing mix. Quickly they discover Lowry’s hideout and are shocked to see photographs of missions Section 20 has been a part of.

McAllister has put himself in serious danger and set for hanging when he is taken to Zaryn’s training camp. Rosa is also wanting to change sides when Josef starts to become unhinged and she wants safety. General Lazslo (Attilla Arpa) is trying to put Section 20 down but Col. Adeena Donovan (Nina Sosanya) isn’t going to stop. Especially when she discovers who Zaryn really is Dr. Markov (Daniel Cerqueira).

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The Russians are putting their hands in everything and now having to deal without military back up, Donovan makes a serious decision. The group has also discovered who is dealing with Lowry’s money and another player is in the mix. Milos Berisovich (Peter Firth), is a mob boss who ends up with Markov. He isn’t happy about what went down and sends his own message for Section 20.

Apparently Berisovich doesn’t know who he’s dealing with as Reynolds gives him a lesson. They also learn that Markov has a lab in the Ukraine that makes the Novichok but Berisovich is one step ahead of them. Reynolds is exposed to the gas but it is Lowry and Berisovich that go head to head for revenge.

Lowry learns her husband is still alive and arrives in Germany to learn a company called Octagon is where he is. Owned by Johannes Krieger (Adrian Bouchet), she forces him to tell her that the only person who knows is Rachel Sheridan (Dervia Kirwan). Section 20 skips the trip to Germany and finds Krieger but not before another assault rains down on the team as Rachel is taken.

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Wyatt discovers what is on the black site and sees that Idrissi plans to release other terrorists. When things go horribly wrong with that plan, McAllister actually has to work with Idrissi to regain control. That partnership is short lived and it becomes clear that Corp. Jensen (Phil Dunster) has proof that Lowry and Donovan are working together.

It becomes even more harsh when someone high up has given Donovan orders that put Section 20 in jeopardy. Wyatt and MacAllister pull a meeting in Croatia between Ives, Idrissi and Lowry. That too goes awry and when Novan is close to capture, she is surprised to see two familiar faces.

The two familiar faces are after Idrissi from getting their hands on Atlas but Russian special forces are also wanting to get their hands on him. Novan grabs the server as the team once again comes under fire with another group trying to kill them but this is Section 20 – they might want to rethink that.

Brown as McAllister is a strong character who knows that every step they take could be their last yet he goes in hard. He doesn’t flinch at all when it comes down to the grit and has a stare that can freeze anyone in its way. MacPherson as Wyatt is equally as intense and knows that the mission is becoming more and more complicated as the players shift. Even with that he isn’t distracted from the goal that is plain – stop the spread of terror.

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Sumarwata as Novan is strong, fast, clever and doesn’t hesitate in the slightest. She also doesn’t hesitate and makes it clear she is an intense force of nature.  McKee as Reynolds communicates everything with such ease and I have to say that the scenes she shares with Sumarwata makes them such a powerful duo to watch. They are pretty awesome gals I have to say.

Gough as Rosa is a complicated character with a history that drives her to do things that would make me want to run in the opposite direction. I don’t do messy!  Strepan as Josef has a magazine rack full of intensely crazed issues and he isn’t about to let anyone from Section 20 get what he wants.

Sosanya as Donovan has a role that is strong and she knows when its time to break the rules to get the job done. Dunster as Jensen is a whiz with the technology that the crew needs to stay one step ahead of the shut down. Cerqueira as Markov seems to have something everyone wants and now we wait to see who gets it. Firth as Berisovich is a character that comes out of no where but isn’t going to go quietly!

Kelly as Lowry may only be the wife in all of this but trust me when I say she isn’t baking cookies or doing the laundry for her family – she’s got a plan and a twisted reason for it. Hany as Idrisi is the terrorist who started it all and may not realize that someone knows a little more than she does.

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HBO and Cinemax have an extensive array of critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programs found on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD. They have provided viewers with some of the most amazing programs with huge fan bases that include the shows BANSHEE, OUTCAST and THE KNICK. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.cinemax.com.

The Bluray includes all ten episodes of the action packed series with the Bonus Features STRIKE BACK Season 5: Declassified: Get an inside look at each episode and THE NEW TEAM: Section 20’s new team and tactics they employ to fight terrorism around the globe.

 What I love best about having the entire fifth season is grabbing season four and doing a two season binge watch! This series is filled with action and suspense always leaving you guessing who is who and why trust is tough for Section 20. This may be a new team but it certainly slides right in and doesn’t miss a beat.

The chase leads all over Europe and putting the pieces of the puzzle together isn’t about to be easy. It is warfare from start to finish and Section 20 isn’t going to go away knowing there are people out there who want to do global damage.

Good guys, bad guy, cat and mouse – it’s all here for the watching. What has made this season even more interesting is the swap around of the female characters never really knowing who is all in and who is playing the game. I loved watching it all unfold three bags of popcorn later!

In the end – it’s a new time with the same attitude!

 

 

THE MEG Brings Cool Relief from the Beach into Theatres

The Meg

Jeri Jacquin

Starting off the weekend with a bite in theatres from director Jon Turteltaub and Warner Bros. comes a reason to stay off the beach and sit in the theatre to ride the wave of THE MEG.

Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) was an expert driver but on one mission he had to choose between two of his crewmen or a whole submarine full of wounded men when something attacks their vessel. Five years later that decision had career and marital consequences but he seems to be doing fine living in Thailand.

Out in the middle of the ocean, billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) is helicoptering onto platform to see where his money is going. The Mana One research facility off the coast of China is still under construction as Zhang (Winston Chao), daughter Syuin (Bingbing Li) and crew consisting of Mac (Cliff Curtis), Jaxx (Ruby Rose), DJ (Page Kennedy), Heller (Robert Taylor) and Suyin’s eight year old daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai).

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Ready to go to the deepest part of the Marianna Trench, Suyin believes it is possible to go deeper and that a thermal layer separates our world for another ocean discovery. Sending sub driver Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka) and The Wall (Olafur Olafsson), they dive. Breaking through they are surprised by what they see and quickly become shocked when their sub comes under attack and communications are cut off. The last words they hear is from Lori saying, “Tell Jonas he was right!”

Trying to put together a rescue plan, Mac brings up Jonas Taylor saying he is really the only man who would take such a risk to rescue the three trapped in the sub. Off to Thailand Mac and Zhang go to convince Taylor that he is needed. After some fast talking, Taylor arrives on the research platform and is immediately set to diving because Suyin took it upon herself to try and rescue her friends.

Preparing to dive, Taylor meets Meiying and learns that eight year olds hear everything. Meeting up with Suyin, they too are immediately hit by something big and fast. Working together they manage to get their friends and get out and back to the platform. As they all regather their thoughts, Meiying comes face to face (thank goodness for very thick plastic) with something that wants to let it be known it is there – a Megalodon.

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Discovering how it came to the surface, the crew knows they can not let it get to a populated area. Hopping on a large ship, they take off looking for the Meg and once again Taylor does the incredibly shocking jumping into the water to tag the beast. Almost everyone believes the only thing to do is kill it but Suyin wants to study it alive.

Thinking they have stopped a disaster, there is an even bigger beast swimming in the water around them. Once it has made its point with the crew, the Meg heads towards the beaches that are littered with people like meaty human krill! Taylor and the crew are not about to stop trying to stop the biggest creature in the water who has only one goal – destruction!

Statham as Taylor proves why we continue to love this guy! Of course I can honestly say that the towel scene (oh you will know exactly what I’m talking soon) had the guys impressed and the gals drooling. Now with that out of the way, Statham has the perfect bad boy swagger to play this role. The character gives zero-frakks about what people think of him and gives stone face when someone tries to tell him what to do or not to do. He proves it by jumping into danger with a smirk on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he plays opposite an equally quick 8-year-old! That’s is what makes a good action star and THE MEG solidifies Statham’s status and truth be told we love to love the guy!

Li as Suyin is a researcher who certainly doesn’t count on finding a living Megalodon but once she does, killing it is not something she wants to do. Equally as hard headed as Taylor, she has a few quick one-liners and also doesn’t hesitate to jump into the deep end of the ocean. Cali as the magnificent 8-year-old Meiying was one of the best characters in the film. She doesn’t get in the way yet doesn’t hesitate to put in her two cents. I do wonder who would put their kid on a boat and chase a Meg but then again it isn’t like social services are on board!

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Curtis as Mac is on Taylor’s side in all things believing that he was wronged all those years ago and makes it clear that his expertise is necessary to rescue friends but then also to take out the Meg. Rose as Jaxx it smart but honestly there isn’t a lot here for her to do but look concerned and throw out a line now and then. Taylor as Heller is the idiot character that I looked forward to the Meg chomping down – a girl can dream.

Chao as Zhang just wants success for the research crew but when things start to go wrong, he is with Taylor 100 per cent. Olafsson as The Wall has reason to be afraid after his experience in the sub. Wilson as Morris is a rich guy who thought everything was cool – until it wasn’t. There was actually a moment where I thought he was smarter than everyone else but it passed quickly. His character was one of the comic reliefs of the film.

Kennedy as DJ had a line for everything and was not at all thrilled with any aspect of the rescue or anything that happened after that. Everything he said made me laugh because Kennedy was basically saying what everyone was thinking at some point in the film.

Other cast include: Jessica McNamee as Lori, Masi Oka as Toshi, Rob Kipa-Williams as D’Angelo, Tawanda Manyimo as Marks, James Gaylyn as David, Kelly the Dog as Pippin.

Okay, let’s face it, we all love shark movies – good, bad or indifferent we secretly love them all. I, like allot of my generation probably took a liking to sharks films right around the summer of June 1975. Shark films have made their way to us ever since in some form or another in films, television and documentaries. The teeth baring sea creatures have even managed to finally get a whole week on television as the Discovery Channel gets us all worked up with Shark Week. I mean they get a whole week and we don’t get enough of it.

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THE MEG is going to have its place among very cool shark movies because it all comes together in such a fantastic way. In the 113 minutes of the film there is not a frame wasted and look homage’s to shark films that have come before it. THE MEG is based on the Steve Alten book MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror. I’m sure there will be readers who will be watching every move the film makes.

Personally I was excited as the release of THE MEG drew closer. I wanted to be taken away, entertained, made to jump, laugh, hide my eyes, holler a little bit and cheer. That’s exactly what happened and it felt like a group theatre experience as everyone around me was doing the same exact thing.

THE MEG gives us a reminder of why we gather up in a group (for safety purposes of course), grab the biggest tub of popcorn and soda we can hold, get great seats and prepare to be thrilled. Sitting through this film was fun and when it’s over we get to stand up and walk away from the big bad Meg with all our pieces in tact. Might as well know now – I’m going back to see THE MEG again with friends and…I can’t wait!

In the end – before chasing seas monsters you had better check your place on the sea food chain!

See it all Happen Again as AVENGERS: Infinity War Comes to Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from directors Anthony Russo, Joe Russo and Marvel Studios is the reuniting of super heroes against a common enemy with AVENGERS: Infinity War.

Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) is on the move looking for the Infinity Stones. Already acquiring the Power Stone, along with Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary), Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) and Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw), Thanos finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and takes him.

The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is sent through space landing in New York City finding Dr. Strange to warn him of what is happening. In turn, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) as the other Avengers begin to understand what Thanos is doing. No one is safe as Midnight and Glaive attack Vision (Paul Bettany) to get the Mind Stone as Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) tries to get to them first.

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Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) are in Thanos’ line of site as well when he kidnaps Gamora much to the dismay of her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). He knows he must use her to retrieve the Soul Stone. Stark and Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are equally under pressure trying to rescue Dr. Strange but it may be for naught trying to protect the Time Stone.

Coming together with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the people of Wakanda, an epic battle begins bringing War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Okoye (Danai Gurira), M’Baku (Winston Duke) in on the fight.

Giving their all is worth every moment of the fight to stop Thanos!

This is such a huge cast that it would take pages and pages to talk about each one but let me give it a shot. Brolin as Thanos does an amazing job voicing the villain that takes the whole 149 minutes changing the landscape of the Marvel Universe. Not a bad role to have on your resume eh?

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Of course Downey, Jr. as Ironman is always going to get high praise from me because I’m a huge Ironman fan as well as a Downey, Jr. fan. Yes, it is possible for a person who reviews films to have favorites…my list is endless actually. Hemsworth as Thor puts in his hard time in the film with no as many laughs as THOR: Ragnarok although there were a few in the midst of the darkest film.

Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange is the calm in the group knowing what has to be done and understands that sacrifice might be inevitable. Ruffalo as Bruce Banner aka The Hulk is back in his less than green skin to be able to warn everyone of what is coming. Holland as Spider-Man is making a name for himself as a kid who is growing up and catching on quickly. Evans as Captain America has to put his feelings aside and make what is happening right before it gets out of hand.

Chris Pratt as Quill gets his comedic moments but at the same time he jumps in like a kid who wants to do the right thing, Saldana as Gamora had to face Thanos some time and it looks like now is as good of a time as any, Bautista as Drax is the guy you want on your side always, and Klementieff as Mantis brings her gifts to the big show as well.

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Cooper as Rocket never fails to teach me a thing or two about space raccoons and cracks me up at the same time, Diesel as Groot is doing teen time and needs a time out and Gillan as Nebula changes her spots.

Boseman as T’Challa (Chadwick) bring the people of Wakanda into the fight and they are more than ready for it. Of course Gurira as Okoye is as good with her Wakandan weaponry as she is with her sword on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Ironman can always count on Cheadle bringing War Machine to the party, Mackie takes flight as Falcon and Duke as M’Baku is in on the fight.

Oh okay, lets talk Loki! Hiddleston is now and will forever be Loki and find myself constantly forgiving him for his indiscretions towards his brother, dad and his entire home planet. Am I letting him off to easy? Nahhhhhhh.

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Other cast include Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier as Sebastian Stan, Heimdall as Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage as Eitri, Benedict Wong as Wong, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector and, of course, Stan Lee as the Bus Driver.

Marvel Studios has released sixteen films since 2008 in what is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel is built on a library of over eight thousand characters featured in a variety of media content for over seventy years. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.marvel.com.

The Multi-Screen Edition of Bluray with Digital Code using Movies Anywhere or iTunes also includes the Special Features of Bonus Extras of Intro by Directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Strange Alchemy –Explore the New Team-Ups and Analyze How These Creative Choices Will Influence the Future of the Universe, The Mad Titan – Delve into the MCU’s Biggest, Baddest Villain and the Events He’s Orchestrated Throughout the Films, Beyond the Battle: Wakanda, Beyond the Battle: Titan, Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes, Audio Commentary – By Joe and Anthony Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

Marvel Studios AVENGERS: Infinity War is an epic film that carries an epic cast which means you better take notes! There is constant action, suspense and everything fans have come to expect from the MCU.

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I must admit that this particular film had my jaw dropping a few times and I caught myself cheering a time or two. These Marvel characters are definitely putting it all out there in this film with an ending that shocked even me!

Yes, that’s all I’m going to tell you because, as with all Marvel films, it must be seen to be believed. Now on epic Bluray which means with a great sound bar and a big home screen, you can watch your favorite (or maybe not so favorite) superheroes go at it again and again because we know there is more to this story (especially if you have seen ANT MAN & THE WASP!).

In the end – it’s a fight for the entire universe once and for all!

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island Brings Animated Family Adventure to Bluray and DVD

The Boxcar Children

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray & DVD this week from directors Dan Chuba and Mark Dippe along with Legacy Classics and SHOUT! Kids Factory comes a story of family and a summer like no other for THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island.

Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny are spending the summer on a private island that belongs to their grandfather. Every day they do something special together like make cabinets for their cabin and making lunches together. They also meet young Joe who is a mystery to many people on the island.

Out wandering they take to the beach and soon run the beach looking for clams and exploring. Chasing sandpipers they soon discover a platform in the water. Violet and Benny meet Joe who shows them amazing things about the ocean. Wanting to know more, Henry decides to create a museum from their exploration.

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Joe volunteers to help them learn by getting books from the library. They begin to create an amazing collection of items from the island and continue to explore even more about the island finding an unusual cave. They tell Joe who is as excited about what is inside.

When Grandfather returns, he sees that the children not only have made the cabin a home but turned the upstairs into a wonderful museum. A man named Mr. Browning arrives looking for a friend when the kids offer him something to eat.

And quickly the kids discover that their friend Joe has a surprise for everyone but what a joyous surprise it is!

The cast is voiced by Joey King as Jessie, Talitha Bateman as Violet, Griffin Gluck as Henry, Carter Sand as Benny, Gil Birmingham as Mr. Browning, Stephen Stanton as Captain Daniel, Dane DeHaan as Joe, J.K. Simmons as Dr. Moore, and Martin Sheen as James Alden.

SHOUT! Factory brings the best to fans offering up feature films, classic television series, animation and specials. For more of what they have to offer go to www.shoutfactory.com.

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Legacy Classics is dedicated to family entertainment and educational tools based on classic and award-winning children’s literature. The Boxcar Children, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, has sold over 70 million books world-wide. Most do not know that there are over 150 books in the series that reaches over 1 million kids!

The DVD of THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island includes the Special Features of Interviews with Cast & Crew, Interview with the Composer, and Behind-The-Scenes Interview with the Sound Editing and Mixing Team. Also included is a Watch-Anywhere code that allows you to experience the film on your PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPod and a fantastic book mark showing the wonderful cover of THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island.

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island is a beautiful film with a deep connection to a simpler life and a hunger for learning. These are kids who are very close and take care of each other. The story sweeps the viewer in quickly because the relationship between the siblings is one of mutual respect and love.

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The characters in the story gave me plenty of reason to giggle, smile and remember what it was like to spend summers on the beach with my own siblings. The animation is vivid and extraordinary to tell this touching story.

This film is absolutely a must have for the home film library and a story I want my own grandchildren to watch again and again. These are important stories to be told and they are made sweeter by a studio that takes such amazing care in the way a story is presented to those of us who love the books.

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: Surprise Island has so much to teach us all about beauty, family, love and support along with believing in a few life surprises.

In the end – on a small island they find big adventure!

TO AUSCHWITZ and BACK: The Joe Engel Story

to auschwitz dvd

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on DVD from Ron Small, Anchor Media Group and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation is the amazing story TO AUSCHWITZ and BACK: The Joe Engel Story.

Joe Engel has an incredible story to tell in this documentary. He begins telling the story of his family in Zakroczym, Poland in 1927. They lived ten miles from the train station and his father used a team of horses to get anywhere. He learned early that being Jewish was a painful experience recalling when they were required to wear the yellow Star of David and others who were taken out and shot.

In the Warsaw Ghetto, the Nazi’s took all their belongings and they spent a two day train ride arriving in a demolished city. The war had taken its toll leaving them with no electricity or running water with 20-30 people to a room. Living in fear of the Gestapo, they also feared the Jewish police who were equally as cruel.

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He tells about the loading of the trains with people from the Ghetto not knowing where they were going but knowing they didn’t return. Eventually, Joe was 14 when they came for him separating the entire family. The train he rode on arrived at Birkenau to see the ironwork sign ARBEIT MACHT FREI (If you work hard enough you might survive) and after having his head shaved and tattooed with a number, he learned that Joseph Mengle was there as well.

Thousands and thousands of Jews were dispersed throughout the camps and Joe was the third person in a four bunk bed. Living in the cold the got up at 5 a.m. for roll call and for breakfast a slice of bread and they were set to work. Coming home at days end everything was done in reverse.

One day soldiers came looking for volunteers to go to Auschwitz and believing that Birkenau was the worse place on earth, Joe agreed to go. He learned to lay bricks and eat a little better but he also saw people starving and dying before his eyes. If anyone was sick, the doctor would report them to the Germans.

Joe is horrified still that one man could have such control over the German people causing them to treat fellow human beings with such atrocity. He learned himself of that cruelty when he was punished for an infraction yet he survived.

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In January of 1945, Joe was 17 and was forced on the Death March where trains were waiting to take them to Germany. The trains did not have any roofs and it was snowing so feeling he had nothing to lose, Joe escaped. Now he is learning survival of a different kind not know who to trust.

He meets a man who introduces him to the Resistance and he becomes a freedom fighter going on missions to bomb German police stations. The Liberation in 1945 by the Red Army, he ate well for the first time since he could remember. Returning home, Joe was hoping that everyone would return to their home town. In the months that followed, no one came home. He left for the American DP camps until they sent him to the United States. Finding family in the U.S., he ended up in South Carolina.

After the war, Joe discovers that his some of his family survived the Holocaust but they wanted to know how he survived! As a way to never forget, his nephew Dr. Michael Engel tattooed the number 84009 – the number Joe was given when he arrived at the concentration camp.

In Charleston, South Carolina there is a wall that is in memory of six million Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Joe believes it is very important to not forget the past but remind ourselves so that it will never happen to anyone else in the future.

The Holocaust Education Film Foundation was established in 2018 and has built an international, interactive online community one Holocaust survivor at a time. Through full-length documentaries, distributed globally through numerous platforms, the online site and educational programs, the 501c3 foundation seeks to ensure that we never forget.

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TO AUSCHWITZ AND BACK: The Joe Engel Story is a story told exactly as it happened to a very young man in 1927 Poland. Joe tells it with such memorable detail that I could not help but soak in every word he said. Even when talking about what he did in the resistance, Joe held my attention as if holding my chin with his own hands and looking into my eyes.

It is that presence that brings Joe’s story the ability to reach deep down and remind us that those who died are to be honored and those who lived should be listened to with every fiber of our being. Thank you Joe, thank you.

The desert will bloom with flowers. It will be very glad and shout with joy! (Isaiah 35:2) and in that – Joe blooms.

 

 

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Brings us all a Lesson in What is Important

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming this week to theatres from director Marc Forster and Walt Disney Studios is the return to the One Hundred Acre Woods and the boy once known as CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.

Christopher Robin was a young boy who spent all his time in the woods with his friends Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. Their days were filled with exploration and friendship until Christopher Robin is sent off to boarding school.

As the years pass, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meets and marries Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), becomes the father of Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), is a soldier fighting years of war and returns home to work at a company called Winslow that makes luggage. He is focused on work which leaves little time for family.

When he is told by Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss) that the company needs to make cuts, Robin must give up a weekend with his family to work. Evelyn and Madeline are not happy but go off for the weekend on their own.

Back in the one hundred acre woods, Pooh wakes up to discover that all his friends are gone. As he starts to search, Pooh finds his way to London and Christopher Robin knowing he is the only person that can help. Imagine the surprise when they meet and Pooh explains that the rest of their friends are lost.

All Robin can think of is how to get this talking bear back to where he belongs without anyone, including his family, seeing him. Battling Heffalumps and the need to get back for an important meeting, Robin loses track of time and races back to London. The problem is that Tigger’s good intentions are about to change everything.

Madeline, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore show Christopher Robin what it means to slow down, remember the people that mean the most and – to do absolutely nothing.

McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin has his nose the grindstone doing what he thinks he should be doing, providing for his family. Forgetting his friends in the forest, Robin feels the pressures of responsibility and is now forgetting his own family. McGregor as an actor still manages to have the ability to look child-like when the role calls for it and make it look effortless. His interactions with Pooh are filled with tension until he begins to embrace the simplicity he once knew.

Atwell as Evelyn sees the change in her husband and reminds him that who he is now is not the man she met all those years ago. She wants him to laugh, smile and be a father once again to their daughter who clearly misses him. Carmichael as Madeline would gladly accept moments, fractions of moments with her father but doesn’t know how to tell him. Feeling as if everything else means more than she does, it takes the friends in the woods to explain that her father wasn’t always this way. Carmichael is very sweet and even missing time with her father; she still wants to help him succeed!

Jim Cummings voices Winnie the Pooh (also Tigger) had me the moment he began to speak as Pooh. There is such innocence in Pooh and Cummings brings that so very clear through his voice. Brad Garrett as Eyeore has the perfect voice filled with sadness and humor at the same time. Nick Mohammed as Piglet is perfectly cute, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit is very funny, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga is the Mom who watches over everyone, Sara Sheen as Roo loves her woodland family and Toby Jones as Owl is sweet.

Other cast include Oliver Ford Davies as Old Man Winslow, Ronke Adekoluejo as Katherine Dane, Adrian Scarborough as Hal Gallsworthy, Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Ralph Butterworth, Ken Nwosu as Paul Hastings, John Dagleish as Matthew Leadbetter, Amanda Lawrence as Joan MacMillan, Katy Carmichael as Christopher’s Mother, Tristan Surrock as Christopher’s Father and Orton O’Brien as Young Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh was created by A.A. Milne with the first collection of stories finding its way to the hands of children in 1926. Basing the character named after his own son Christopher Robin Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh was a teddy bear that belonged to his son. His son named the toy bear after a black bear he saw at the London Zoo. The rest is history and what a grand and iconic history it is.

It should be no surprise that Marc Forster directed the film since he also directed the 2004 film FINDING NEVERLAND. That is another story about the creation of the iconic story of Peter Pan. The feel created by Forster is compelling, tugs at the heart and is giggly delightful.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a story about what happens once childhood fades into a place we chose to forget. In this case, Christopher Robin is sent to boarding school taking him away from his friends and then adulting through marriage, a war and a job which changes his focus on life.

What makes this film so relatable is that we are all the adult Christopher Robin’s in some shape or form. We are all so busy ‘working’ that sometimes the good childhood memories, our family and life suffers in the juggling. That is the truth of it and its right there in front of us daily wiping out all else sometimes.

This film brings the simplicity right there in front of us as well with phrases that will be repeated on the regular and all coming from a talking bear. Winnie-the-Pooh sees Christopher Robin exactly as he is – even if he is now an adult. Looking into his eyes, the lovely bear embraces the boy who has become a man, even if the man doesn’t like it.

The characters of Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Owl are reminders of friendship and the charm that they bring to ones life. These woodland creatures are loyal, supportive and want Christopher Robin to remember what is important because it is clear that they deeply love their friend.

McGregor’s portrayal of the iconic little boy who becomes a forgetful man is what I would expect and yet his performance still moved me. I will also admit that Pooh and his friends had my heart all tied up neatly in a bow and might have even brought a tear to my eye. Who wouldn’t want friends like that to lovingly remind me to embrace every moment, occasionally smile and remember to do nothing because it will become the best of something.

I absolutely love this film with it’s nostalgia that gives us a heartfelt look into an iconic boy becoming a man – leaving behind the best group of friends ANYONE could ever have. Pooh and the gang reminds us that doing nothing can turn into…like this film…something wonderful.

In the end – sooner or later the past will catch up to you!

 

 

CINEMAX Brings STRIKE BACK: The Complete Fifth Season to Bluray and a Chance to Win!

 

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Meet the new members of Section 20 when the action-packed Cinemax® hit, Strike Back: The Complete Fifth Season, comes to Blu-ray™ & DVD on August 14th. Built with the same high-intensity as past seasons with a new, fierce group of male & female soldiers, including Sergeant Thomas ‘Mac’ McAllister (Warren Brown), Sergeant Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson), Lance Corporal Gracie Novan (Alin Sumarwatta) and Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee), to help track down a notorious terrorist after a brutal prison break.

For your chance to win email hellomoviemaven@aol.com with STRIKE BACK in the subject line along with your name and address (please include this!) and good luck.

BREAKING IN Breaks in on Bluray with an Unrated Director’s Cut

Breaking In Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital in an Unrated Director’s Cut (also includes Theatrical Version) from director James McTeigue and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a fight when BREAKING IN.

Shaun (Gabrielle Union) learns her father has died and returns home to settle his affairs. Bringing along daughter Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and son Glover (Seth Carr), she is glad for the company.

Arriving at the house, Shaun sees that some things are out of the norm. Brushing it off just as quickly, what she fails to notice is that four men have quietly made their way onto the property and toward the house.

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Eddie (Billy Burke), Sam (Levi Meaden), Peter (Mark Furze) and Duncan (Richard Cabral) are there for one thing and one thing only – what ever is in the home safe. First, they have to discover where in the house it is located.

Shaun immediately tries to fight back but finds herself on the outside while Eddie holds her children hostage on the inside. It becomes a game of cat and mouse but this cat has the claws and isn’t afraid to use them.

Now the battle between Mother and criminal begins!

Union as Shaun is clearly a mother tiger when it comes to her children. She is also clever and takes a hot second to think things through. With every move she makes, the burglars keep pace but they aren’t a mother – just greedy criminals. Union gives it her all and does what she must to end the nightmare.

Burke as Eddie has proven over and over that he can play the ‘nicest guy’ characters and equally ply a despicable criminal. In this case he is a laser focused criminal who just wants to get in and get out. It is the company he keeps and Shaun slowing him down at every turn. I have to be honest – I just love Burke.

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Cabral as Duncan is also an actor that has no problem turning on the psycho full blast. In this film he is absolutely terrifying. I kept thinking he didn’t need a weapon because his looks could absolutely kill! I’m excited to see what he does as one of the MC boys in the new series MAYANS M.C. coming this fall to television.

Alexus as Jasmine could easily be Union’s daughter looking like her spitting image. She also has the same mindset in her character as a smart and determined daughter and sister. Carr as Glover tries to keep it all together but lets fact it – he’s a kid and there is a lot to be scared of.

Meaden as Sam isn’t down for what’s happening while trying not to make Eddie or Duncan any angrier than they already are! As the situation becomes more complex – the more panicked he becomes. Furze as Peter doesn’t have an easy time of it and hangs on throughout the film.

Other cast include Jason George as Justin Russell, Christa Miller as Maggie Harris and Damien Leake as Isaac.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

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The Bluray and DVD include Alternate Opening – The Gas Station with Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Eagle, One Bad Mother – Gabrielle Union shows that there is no limit to what a threatened mother will do to keep her children safe, and why a woman on a mission should never be underestimated, A Filmmaker’s Eye – The crew explores what makes Director James McTeigue’s vision and style uniquely valuable when it comes to creating the right mood for the film and A Lesson in Kicking Ass – a behind-the-scenes look at how physically demanding the role of Shaun was for Gabrielle Union, and the steps production took to ensure the most convincing execution of the stunts throughout the film.

Also, A Hero Evolved – An inspiring account of how leading roles are shifting to embrace the qualities that more diverse actors can bring to the table, Deleted and Extended Scenes as well as Feature Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle.

Movies Anywhere is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place. To find out more please visit www.moviesanywhere.com.

BREAKING IN is a story of survival and the strength of family. These stories are popular with the example of the 1974 horror classic BLACK CHRISTMAS or 2002 film PANIC ROOM. More recently is the 2016 film DON’T BREATHE and the 2017’s film KEEP WATCHING.

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This film uses the mother-tiger story because we all know a movie mom has no problem what-so-ever putting on a Super Mom cape and go full on parent. Taking chances and risks are calculating in the middle of chaos yet Union takes a moment to catch her breath then back to the action.

In its one hour and twenty-seven minutes there isn’t much down time and why would there be? The actions and re-actions are swift like watching a professional ping-pong game.

In the end – payback is a mother!

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