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It is the 40th Anniversary of Our Worst Space Fears with ALIEN

 

Aliens cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray and Digital from director Ridley Scott is the 1979 alien horror film that put everyone in fright mode with the 40th Anniversary of ALIEN.

Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), along with crew Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), Ash (Ian Holm) and Kane (John Hurt) are on the commercial space ship Nostromo. Awaken from hyper-sleep by Mother, they are told that a transmission of unknown origin needs to be investigated.

On LV-426 Dallas, Lambert and Kane land and discovers odd surroundings that make no sense. Kane is lowered down to a place he believes is some kind of hatchery and what happens next scares the crew beyond belief. Returning to the ship, Dallas explains to Ripley that something has attached itself to Kane’s helmet and she refuses to let them aboard citing possible contamination.

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Ash overrides Ripley opening the door allowing Kane in who is brought to the infirmary. The process then begins to remove what ever it is on Kane’s face causing what could only be considered as acid to break through the metal of the ship. Surprising everyone, the organism falls off Kane’s face and he seems fine. That is until a creature emerges from Kane that hides in the ship.

Now the survivors must go inch by inch through the ship to find the creature. Realizing it can hide in the smallest of spaces they must find a way to track and keep it from taking the entire crew.

Sometimes the scariest things come from inside!

Weaver as Ripley took 1979 by storm as a woman who is smart, inventive and questions everything around her. She took this role and made it iconic in showing another characteristic, that of true fear. Weaver made an impact that has reverberated for years (at least 40 of them with this film) and with her return in ALIENS in 1986, ALIENS 3 in 1992 and ALIEN: Resurrection in 1997, it has become clear she is Ellen Ripley and we will accept no other.

Skerritt as Dallas is a Captain who does what he is told by the computer Mother. Once he realizes that what was brought on board is nothing short of a holy terror, he is always the first one in much to his detriment. Cartwright as Lambert knows that what is now aboard is coming for them all and she has to do her part. Trust when I say that Cartwright’s characters fear is palatable and frightening.

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Stanton as Brett is a man with a plan and that plan is to make sure he gets more money for all the work he thinks he’s done. Joining him in that chorus is Kotto as Parker because he too believes he is worth more than the company thinks he is. These two together bring a few chuckles but when things start to turn, so do their survival instincts.

Hurt as Kane has the most impactful performance because it is that moment on the table during dinner that let us all know our film world would never be the same. Hurt has spent years being a part of the ALIEN franchise because of that scene. I’ve even seen a comedy skit that he did which shows he not only took his role in stride but had a great sense of humor about it.

Holm as Ash would also be a character that would continue on through the franchise in ways we could never have imagined. Ash is a cold (and not just because he lacked blood) individual who only sees how magnificent the alien is holding no animosity for what it is capable of doing.

Of course we can not forget to give credit where terror credit is due and that is the alien itself. Acid for blood, a long narrow head, a whipping tale and a double set of jaws that show no mercy. If it wasn’t for any of those things being put together in a terrifying package, the ALIEN franchise wouldn’t have worked. To our pure enjoyment – it did and to this day still does.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

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MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Special Features of the 4K Ultra HD and Bluray include The 1979 Theatrical Version and the 2003 Director’s Cut of ALIEN, Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Cast and Crew, Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott (Theatrical Version Only), Introduction by Ridley Scott (Directors Cut Only and Bluray Only), Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith, Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith and Deleted and Extended Scenes.

ALIEN: The 40th Anniversary is just as magnificent today as it was in 1979. There isn’t anything about this film that needs to be critiqued nor should anyone really try except to say that this film is a work of art. It has done what films that excel were meant to do – not withstand the test of time but not be affected by time.

Experiencing ALIEN now, every aspect of space, the ship, the surroundings, the technology feel as if it could have been film today. Each of the films does that actually and I am a huge fan of ALIEN binge watching several times a year. Only good filmmaking can bring that about for me.

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Ridley Scott opens the film speaking about the 1979 film version saying he is really proud of it and now with DVD there have been adjustment and changes he felt were needed. He is reintroducing footage in the 2003 version making “minor adjustments because after 25 years you see little things you like to adjust. I hope you agree with me and enjoy it”.

What 4K Ultra HD/Bluray and Digital copy of ALIEN brings is the original 1979 theatrical version of the film and the 2003 Director’s Cut. The 4K Ultra is absolutely clear and stunning in its color and presentation, just thought I’d through that personal observation in again. Having them both known as the best of both outer worlds!

In the end – in space no one can hear you scream.

 

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They Don’t See MISS BALA Coming on Bluray!

Miss Bala cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Catherine Hardwicke and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment comes a thriller that starts with MISS BALA.

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) is preparing to drive to Tijuana, Mexico to watch her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodio) compete in the Miss Baja beauty pageant. Before the festivities begin, Gloria and Suzu take a night out to dance and have a few drinks. That idea is short lived when out of nowhere gunmen break into the nightclub and try to grab Gloria but she escapes.

The next morning she can’t find Suzu and begins making telephone calls. Going to the police turns into a detour when she discovers that her friend was taken by the Las Estrellas gang. Let by Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova), he agrees to help her get Suzu back if, and only if, Gloria agrees to work for them.

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That entails driving explosives that blow up a building, driving drugs and guns across the boarder and leading the DEA to Las Estrellas. In the meantime, Lino takes a liking to Gloria and shows her how to defend herself should the need arise again. No one around her, especially Poyo (Ricardo Abarca) seems to trust her but Lino and meeting Isabella (Aislinn Derbez), Gloria sees what happens to women they take.

The plans are about to get even more dangerous when Lino tells Gloria that he wants her to enter the Miss Baja pageant because it will lead him to the real target – the Mexican Chief of Police Saucedo (Damian Alcazar). Agreeing to let Gloria see Suzu, it is all a set up for the shootout that is going to change who is taking who.

Never point a weapon unless you intent to use it!

Rodriguez as Gloria puts in a stellar performance of a woman trapped in a web not of her own making. She takes her character into a place where it is safer to pay attention to even the smallest of details because they will come in handy later. Each step she takes brings her closer to even more danger but she can’t exactly step back either. When Rodriguez finally gets to let her character loose, she still keeps it together and stays one step ahead of who ever is trying to stop her. I like that about this character and Rodriguez’s portrayal.

Cordova as Lino is a smooth talking gangster who uses fear as a way to control Gloria. Even with the charm he is as ruthless as anyone can imagine. His character doesn’t get loud, doesn’t get physical but instead lets his weapon do the talking for him. There is no hesitation in distrusting anyone but there is a chink in his armor when it comes to Gloria.

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Abarca as Poyo is a character you just can’t stand from minute one. As one of Lino’s “trusted” men, he keeps an eye on Gloria and tries to get Lino to turn on her every chance he gets. He definitely plays a bad guy you like to dislike immensely. Rodio as Suzu is used just as one would expect of a kidnapped woman and Gloria is determined to find her. Derbez as Isabella is also a kept woman who lives in as much fear as Gloria and manages to keep it under control doing what she is told when she is told, that’s survival.

Other cast include: Erick Urbina as Tucan, Mikhail Plata as Chivo, Jorge Mardueno as Ortiz, Lilian Robles as Dona Rosita, Oscar Estrada as Owl Man and Matt Lauria as DEA Agent Brian Reich.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment encompasses motion picture production for television, digital content and theater releases. The studios include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films and Sony Picture Classics. To see what is coming to theaters and to home entertainment please visit www.sonypictures.com.

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bonus Materials Include: Eight Deleted Scenes & Extended Scenes, Three Features including – Gina: The Unstoppable Strength of a Woman, The Bigger the Bang: Action on the Set and Making of MISS BALA, A Look into the Stunts and Costumes with Catherine Hardwicke and Feature Commentary with Director Catherine Hardwick, Executive Producer Jamie Marshall and Associate Producer Shayda Frost.

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MISS BALA is a thriller that works its way into the final scenes. It allows the viewer to experience Gloria’s journey step by step and what she must do to survive. Rodriguez also has the opportunity to share her views about her role playing a strong Latina woman and having a cast and crew that is 93% Latino led.

The story weaves its way through Gloria’s smarts and Rodriguez truly does make the tale complete. I enjoyed every aspect of the film and can see how it could be possible to make more of them with the help of Jimmy played by Anthony Mackie. We shall see!

Anyone who lives in the San Diego area will recognize quite readily the scenes both in Mexico and across the United States border. I have to say that’s almost a bonus for me as I know exactly where most of those locations are – it’s a fun bonus.

In the end – who would you become to save your family?

 

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is Crowned on Bluray

kid cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from writer/director Joe Cornish and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes a story of honor for THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING.

Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a young boy living in England being raised by single mother Mrs. Elliott (Denise Gough). At school he isn’t having a much better time except for his friendship with Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) who can’t help with the bullying from Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris).

After a run in with the two and detentions handed out, Lance and Kaye are after Alex once again but he hides in a construction site. There he finds a sword and takes it out of the rocks. Taking it home, Alex shows it to Bedders and they do some internet searching and discover that the markings are that of Exaclibur, the sword of King Arthur.

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What the two don’t know is that Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), a sorceress is also looking for the sword and weird creatures are sent to find it. Shaken by what’s happening, things get even weirder when the next day at school, Merlin (Angus Imrie)  shows up as a boy of 16 and has to prove to Alex that he is actually the wizard Merlin by changing to an older version of himself (Patrick Stewart).

Merlin explains that in a few days things are going to become horrible for everyone in the town Alex lives in and all because of Morgana. Needing a few more knights, he shows Tom and Kaye what is going on and now they are, along with Bedders, Alexs’ knights of the round kitchen table.

Alex also believes that his father might be the key to knowing how to find and defeat Morgana going to a place call Tintagel where Arthur was born. On the way, Merlin trains the four in ways that will help their quest. The problem is Morgana knows where they are and Merlin has to save them but not before Alex and Tom have a fight that breaks Exalibur and they all meet the Lady of the Lake.

Discovering the family truth, Alex feels defeated but it is Merlin that explains that the story may not be what he knew but it changes nothing. Morgana is still on a path of destruction so Alex must call upon the most unlikely people to create an army.

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Morgana has no idea who she is dealing with!

Serkis as Alex is a young man who is perfect for this role. He looks like any other little boy and is very smart except for one thing – he is a king. Of course that might comes a quite a shock to the royal family but Serkis gives his character a good heart and an adventuresome spirit. Once he understands what must be done, his heart is as big as Excalibur.

Chaumoo as Bedder is such a sweetheart and very supportive friend to Alex. He is excited about the quest they are on and wants to be a part of it in every way. Even when things seem down, it is Bedders that lifts his friend up to move forward.

Taylor as Lance is a bully who just can’t get enough of Alex. The problem is once the detention hits, he is even more ready to cause the young boy problems. That is until he sees that Alex isn’t joking about what is going on and it does take him time but it seems being a knight suits him. Dorris as Kaye follows the same path as Taylor but finds a bit of power in her new role as a knight. She begins to see what is happening and wants to help but in the same way as the boys.

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Imrie as Merlin is smart, funny and jumps through two worlds with a simple flick of his hands. He also knows what he needs to do to help Alex. Imrie gives his Merlin a sense of humor and a wicked way of getting his point across. He made me laugh – A LOT. Stewart as the older Merlin brings his usual wit and charisma to this iconic character.

Ferguson as Morgana is pretty upset at Merlin and being the half-sister of Arthur. Getting ahold of the sword is all she is interested in, oh and probably finding a way to get back at Merlin, Arthur and anyone else that gets in her way.

Other cast includes: Norma Dumezweni as Mrs. Lee, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Mr. Kepler, Mark Bonnar as Mr. Jeffreys, Alexandra Roach as Ms. Foster, Nick Mohammed as Mr. Hyde and Genevieve O’Reilly as Aunt Sophie.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

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The Bluray and DVD includes over an hour of Quest Features including: Deleted Scenes, Origins of a King, Young Knights, Knight School, The Two Merlins and so much more.

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is a fun adventure not only for kids but for the kids at heart. This is actually a great family film to watch together (or even with grandkids if you have them!). It’s a story of the struggles each of us face when we aren’t understood by others, how to deal with those who want to cause harm, what can happen when everyone works together and the power of belief and friendship.

I enjoyed the story and the bringing together of four people who probably wouldn’t have been friends if it hadn’t been for fate and a sword called Excalibur. The film is filled with everything one would want from King Arthur and the round table mixed in with a young boy telling the story of his part in history.

Gather the family, break out the armor and pop the royal corn because it’s time for a weekend adventure.

In the end – An army to fight, a demon to slay, a world to save…no pressure!

STOCKHOLM is Filled with Twists on a Bank Heist

Stockholm cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Robert Budreau and Smith Global Media is the story of a bank heist that would lead to a phrase we all know beginning with STOCKHOLM.

It is 1973 and Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) along with partner Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong) have decided that they are going to rob a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Taking hostages including Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), they work with officials to get what they want.

What they want is money and an escape car and make it very clear to Chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl). Feeling they aren’t taking them seriously, Lars looses it a little giving officials till morning to meet their demands. In the meantime Bianca is trying to keep it together.

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Then the telephone calls from reporters begin and Bianca seems to side with Lars and Gunnar. When the Prime Minister catches wind of the interview he tries to convince the hostages that they are in danger. That’s when Lars gets the idea to make sure that everyone watching believes they are dangerous and Bianca goes along with it.

Now the officials are taking them serious and Bianca, Christopher and Klara are all for helping their kidnappers. It is the beginning of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’

Hawke as Nystrom just wanted a simple bank robbery and when it doesn’t turn out to be simple, he starts showing a human side to his captives. They begin to connect and this puts Chief Mattsson in a mode of trying to break up what is happening inside the bank. But who is crazier – the robbers or the law?

Hawke as Nystrom seems to have all the bad guy moves in place to rob a bank but when it all goes awry; he is the first to sort of panic it out. Never quite sure about his partner or what the crazy Chief of Police will do, it just adds enough frustration to bring out moments of brilliance. Back in action Hawke gives a complex performance that isn’t going to end well.

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Strong as Sorensson is like a brother to Nystrom and with that comes brotherly agitation and a few well thrown punches. I love everything Strong does and this is a bit of a strange character that never lets the viewer truly know what is deal is. I’m okay with that!

Rapace as Bianca is a woman who had no idea her day would include wondering if her husband can make dinner while she’s busy being a hostage. Not feeling much in the way of fear, it is more like curiosity about the two men who have the authorities guessing from one minute to the next.

Heyerdahl as Chief Mattsson is, in my opinion, crazier than the crazy bank robbers. With every moment that goes by, he isn’t exactly sure what is going to happen. Trying to keep Nystrom and Sorensson calm, his frustration begins to show and it isn’t pretty.

Other cast include Thorbjorn Harr as Christopher Lind, Bea Santos as Klara Mardh, Mark Rendall as Elov Eriksson, John Ralston as Detective Jackobsson, Shanti Roney as Olof Palme, Ian Matthews as Detective Vinter, Vladimir Jon Culbrt as Davin and Christopher Wagelin as Vincent.

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It is easy to see where the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ comes from watching this film. It is Nystrom that shows Bianca a human side with all the frailties and insecurities that come with him. Klara and Christopher follow suit when they realize that the police don’t seem to care if they survive the whole thing. Their tactics pretty much are in line to take everybody out.

It is Hawke and Rapace that keep the story going as they get to know one another and basically what makes them want to survive. Strong is the silent partner who has every reason in the world to be exactly that – silent!

The story is based on the 1973 bank robbery that was written about by Daniel Lang in an article called “The Bank Drama” for the New Yorker in 1974.

In the end – based on an absurd but true story!

CINEMACON 2019 Delivers the Best in what is To Come for This Year

Cinemacon

 

Jeri Jacquin

Every year I look forward to a trip with my favorite traveling companion Jenise aka Film Brat to Las Vegas, Nevada for CinemaCon that began Monday, April 1st! We always start the very early drive 5+ hours and make sure to take time to stop at our favorite places along the way, have great conversations, crank up the music and enjoy our little working vacation.

We make our usual pit-stops along the way for gas and snack breaks but this time the stops were to see the majestic snow covered mountains that surrounded us. From San Bernardino to Victorville, I can not remember the last time I saw so much snow. We also stopped to see the masses of butterflies everywhere and the fields that are coated with flowers of every kind and color.

Our usual stop at the World’s Largest Thermometer in Baker, California also coincided with our stop at the place where humans meet aliens. Alien Fresh Jerky surprised us this year as we discovered serious renovations to the general store and the beginnings of what is to be a new alien hotel. I already asked if it was possible to make reservations for next year but alas – no lift off.

Then the long stretch of road that is good for having the window down for fresh air before coming over the slight hill that shows the ever expanding city of Las Vegas in Nevada. Of course it isn’t a surprise to find as the roadside is covered with billboards warning of impending fun times no matter what you might be into.

Our favorite place to check into is The Linq which is right across the street from Cesar’s Palace. That works out ducky since Cesar’s is where we spent our entire week with CinemaCon 2019. Checking into our rooms and a quick freshening up, we head off to the first day of the four days of a mixture of work and fun.

After a few conferences, we are welcomed to a pre-reception welcoming us to CinemaCon 2019 and to get us in the mood for what is to come, NEON premiers a screening of the film WILD ROSE. Afterwards we finally have a chance to say hello to other attendees who we have come to know over the years. It’s a great time to catch up, show off kid and grandkid pictures, and talk about what’s new in theatres and our schedules.

Tuesday morning we hit up a little breakfast time before seating to see what STX Films has to share with us. Jon M. Chu walks on stage to talk about the three movies that brought him to be a part of filmmaking and they are E.T., BATMAN and THE JOY LUCK CLUB. We were thrilled with his choices because, as for me, those three are on my top 20 list without question. His next project is IN THE HEIGHTS working with Lin-Manuel Miranda and will be in theatres in 2020.

Charles Rivkin, Chairman & CEO of the MPAA says, “As technology grows, it always speaks of doom for theaters. Yet, as Edna Mode says, ‘here we are!’ Cinema continues to grow, become more diverse and tell stories people want to see and hear. The audiences take magic seriously.”

Adam Fogelson, Chairman of the MPG introduces what is to come for STX and there are a few things we are personally waiting for. Beginning with a look at BEST OF ENEMIES which is the story of Ann Atwater starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell and POMS starring Diane Keaton (who takes the stage of charm us all), Jackie Weaver and Pam Grier is the story of women of a certain age who start their own cheerleading group.

Chadwick Boseman arrives on stage to talk about his upcoming city thriller 21 BRIDGES as New York shuts down the bridges to apprehend criminals. The film also stars JK Simmons and Taylor Kitch who gets a chance to try on his bad boy chops.  Dave Bautista arrives to talk about his comedy MY SPY with Ken Jeong, Chloe Coleman and Kristen Schaal.

If horror is more your style, BRAMS: The Boy II is back and this time Katie Holmes comes along to talk about the next chapter. Holmes says she saw the universal connection of a mother and child. Working with the young actor Christopher Convery was very exciting as well. As for the supernatural aspect, Holmes says, “There were a couple of times during shooting that things happened that gave me moments of a scare”.

THE GENTLEMEN is next on the slate and it starts one of our favorites Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey. Golding who starred in the hit CRAZY RICH ASIANS says he would do anything they asked to be in the film, “My character is unpredictable, young and hungry and not a character anyone would expect me to play”.

Hunnam says, “I play a guy named Ramundo who is the right hand man to Matthew, who is the biggest weed dealer in the U.K. Most of the time I play the guy who is quite bookish and does the logistics but once in the while I pull out the bone saw.” That being said, please put us down for two tickets immediately!

Colin Firth returns to the screen with his upcoming film THE SECRET GARDEN, Jennifer Lopez also has another film in the hopper with HUSTLERS, the film COUNTDOWN, HORIZON LINE, WORK IT, CRIME AFTER CRIME are waiting to jump into theatres. Gerard Butler returns with GREEN LAND, Vin Diesel is MUSCLE and the Moms’ Moms are back with BAD MOM’S MOMS.

Finally, the one we have personally been waiting for. A few years ago at CinemaCon, STX teased us with the story for a film called UGLY DOLLS. After their presentation, we were handed two of the strangest looking dolls but there was something surprisingly cute about them. Well, after two minutes of looking at it, my then two-year-old granddaughter took the pink ‘Dreamy Bat’ into her arms and they have been friends ever since. Now, the animated film is finally complete and will be in theaters in a few short weeks. It looks to be fun, full of moments and songs we will remember for a very long time.

WARNER BROS. STUDIOS brought their studio presentation hosted by Aisha Tyler, who is the voice of Lana in the animated hit series ARCHER, and she brought the laughs and a few special guests. Starting with animation, Toby Emmerich announces the coming DC PETS, TOM & JERRY, SCOOBY-DOO and SPACE JAM II.

DC brings its offerings of SUICIDE SQUAD II, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN 84 and the highly anticipated Joaquin Phoenix as the JOKER. Director Todd Phillips says of the film, “What people hear about the film isn’t accurate. If anything, my description of the film would be that it is sad”.

Samuel L. Jackson brings the character of SHAFT back to the big screen, BIRDS OF PREY, and THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is also in the works. THE GOOD LIAR starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan is directed by Bill Condon. SUPER INTELLIGENCE brings one of our favorite funny lady’s Melissa McCarthy to the screen and is directed by husband Ben Falcone.

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU brings Justice Smith together with the yellow and furry animated Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu together for some fun. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a film that believes that trying to find the best of yourself is universal. Ansel Elgort and Aaron Finn star in THE GOLDFINCH DIRECTED BY John Crowley. Elgort says of the book to film, “I hope what ever drew people to the book draws them to the movie.”

DOCTOR SLEEP directed by Mike Flanigan is a sequel to 1980 film THE SHINING. Ewan McGregor stars as the very grown up Danny Torrance who meets a young girl with powers like his own. GODZILLA: King of the Monsters brings Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah back to tear up the planet.

It is 1950s New York as Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann and Alec Baldwin star in the film MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. Director and writer Andrea Berloff brings together Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss and Domnall Gleeson for the Vertigo graphic novel THE KITCHEN.

Finally, horror is back with a new friend and two repeat offenders as THE CURSE OF LA LLORNA wants your kids, ANNABELLE COMES HOME from writer James Wan and writer/director Gary Dauberman. Our favorite clown is back as the next installment prepares us for IT: Chapter Two with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Javier Botet and Pennywise himself Bill Skarsgard and all of it put together by director Andy Muschietti.

Now we can not be in Vegas without walking around in the evening to see the big lights and people watching that is what makes this working vacation so much fun. Watching the water fun at Treasure Island, visiting Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant of fish right outside the door of The Linq with Hell’s Kitchen right across the street. If you are looking for even more tasty treats, Guy Fieri has his steak house just waiting to grill to order, Robert Irvine Public House is next to the Tropicana, Nobu, and Searsuckers. Opening only a few days before our arrival is Vanderpump Las Vegas with her own unique style of flowers and class nestled inside Caesar’s Palace next to the Coliseum.

Onto Wednesday’s presentations, UNIVERSAL PICTURES begins their showings with my favorite creator Chris Meledandri who brings the question to animation of ‘what are our pets doing when we aren’t home?’ with SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 with Kevin Hart as Snowball and Tiffany Haddish as the new pet Daisy. Both made their way onto the stage and Hart was immediately upstaged by a rabbit that seemed to have an agenda of his own.

Dennis Quaid and director Gail Mancuso brings a look with the next chapter of a dog we have all come to love with A DOG’S JOURNEY. Quaid says of the film and the story that, “magical things happen in our own backyard.” Director Mancuso believes that the film shows how we can transcend lifetimes.

Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions says, “In film – all sizes matter!” and with that introduces Justin Hartley and Emma Thompson in THE HUNT. Then, the audience goes wild when Octavia Spencer and director Tate Taylor bring us a sneak peek at her first shot at the horror genre with the film MA.

Will Packer Productions brings Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin and director Tina Gordon with a big film about LITTLE. 127 HOURS and T2 TRAINSPOTTING director Danny Boyle brings Lily James and Himesh Patel into a little story that has something to do with the Beatles and YESTERDAY.

Seth Rogen brings his boyish cast of Jacob Tremblay, Josh Caras, Brady Noon and Chance Murstfield and Keith L. Williams to crack the audience up with a look at GOOD BOYS. DREAMWORKS brings the adorable look to ABOMINABLE, a story about Everest who is a 2,000 year old Yeti living in China and the young girl Yee who helps him when he needs it the most!

FOCUS FEATURES has brought giddy to a whole new level for me personally as the film DOWNTON ABBEY brings back the entire cast from the Masterpiece hit television series of the same name from the small screen to the big one. Now, the Crawley family is about to have a royal guest and its all staff at the ready.

Emma Thompson and Henry Golding along with Emilia Clarke get ready to celebrate the holidays in the film LAST CHRISTMAS. Thompson makes her way to the stage to entertain us and has the cutest snort-laugh I’ve ever heard. Also slated for the theaters is QUEEN + SLIM with Lena Waith and the film 1917 where time is the enemy.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham get the audience going with a sneak peek at their film Fast & Furious Presents: HOBBS & SHAW. These two are on the hunt to stop Idris Elba who plays Brixton, a genetically enhances villain who seems to be tickles by the two.

Finally, director Tom Hooper brings a Broadway sensation to the silver screen as Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Judy Dench, Ian McKellan, James Corden, Ray Winstone and Jennifer Hudson bring CATS. If that isn’t enough, Ms. Hudson enthralled the audience with her rendition of the song Memory. She was stunning and our collective breaths were being held from the first note to the last, just extraordinary.

DISNEY wasted no time in delighting the audience with the upcoming slate of Disney, Marvel, Blue Sky, Pixar, Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox, Disney Animation and Lucasfilms now that they are under one roof. The list is long with STUBER, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, BREAKTHROUGH, THE NEW MUTANTS, SPIES IN DISGUISE, FORD VS. FERRARI, TOLKIEN, CALL OF THE WILD, AD ASTRA and ARTEMIS FOWL.

Not to be forgotten is the highly anticipated sequel of Anna, Elsa and Hans with FROZEN II, the coming excitement of DARK PHOENIX and the out of this world excitement of AVENGERS: Endgame.

ALADDIN brings Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith bring live action to the 1992 animated favorite. Director Jon Favreau takes the jungle from animation to live action with THE LION KING. Finally, Angelina Jolie returns to take on new threats to Aurora and the beloved Moors with MALEFICENT: Mistress of Evil.

PIXAR is bringing back our favorite toys with Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Bo Peep, Trixie, Rex, Dolly and the newly created Forky in TOY STORY 4. After a look at what is to come, all I can say is bring your giggles, your friends, family and Kleenex.

AMAZON STUDIOS brings Emma Thompson (and we don’t mind that she’s everywhere!) and Mindy Kaling with their work with LATE NIGHT. Thompson plays a late night talk show host and Kaling is hired to be the only woman in an all male writers’ room. They work together to bring back failing ratings and we think only these two ladies can make that happen.

It’s THURSDAY and we can’t believe the final day of CinemaCon 2019. So much has happened that this write-up is only a fraction of it all. Beginning the morning with PARAMOUNT PICTURES who start the presentation off on the right note as Taron Egerton stars as Sir Elton John in the film ROCKETMAN. Egerton says, “We always felt we wanted to be reverent about the role. We wanted to tell a raw human story about a great man. Elton was hands-off really and wanted us to have fun with it.” We can say it’s going to be a good time at the movies!

Director Alexandre Aja brings a little creepy with Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario in the film CRAWL. Paramount in conjunction with Nickelodeon bring DORA & THE LOST CITY OF GOLD starring Eva Longoria and Michael Pena, LIMITED PARTNERS stars Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as two friends who want to start their own business and when they do Selma Hayek wants to take it all.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG brings live action to the screen as James Marsden and Ben Schwartz (who voices Sonic) fight off Dr. Ivo Robotnik played by Jim Carrey. Of course the audience practically lost its mind when Carrey walked across the stage with a huge tub of popcorn and an announcement that we all needed to see his Robotnik work in all its glory. Well, he wasn’t going to get any argument from anyone!

Carrey says of his role, “He is pure unbridled evil with a 300 IQ so I had to take a couple of weeks to prepare. I made sure that there were some winks, nods and edgy things that work for all age groups.”

I would hate to have been Jon Cena after Carrey’s popcorn fun with the audience as he follows to the stage with his film PALYING WITH FIRE. He gives it his best shot when saying, “This film is lit! It is the hottest film of the year! No other movie can hold a candle to it, you will not be able to extinguish it, it practically sizzles with excitement. Wait, the fire puns aren’t working. I thought you were going to love them but its not turning out like I thought. We are actually still filming but I came here today to tell you guys about it. The film has heart, comedy, great characters which make you think, laugh and cry.”

TERMINATOR: Dark Fate brings is directed by Tim Miller and stars Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Mackenzie Davis and sees the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton to reprise her role as Sarah Connor. Miller says of his cast, “I never knew that one day I would be continuing the story of these iconic characters. Even more so is that I get to do it the right way and this is a direct sequel to the movie that allowed me to bring back the original cast.”

Miller brings the cast of the film to the stage and Schwarzenegger takes the mic who says, “It’s really great to be back here and I want to thank Tim Miller and James Cameron for bringing us all back together again. I’m so excited about that. It all began in 1994 and changed my life. They cast has worked so hard and I am so proud of all the work they have put into this film. I’m so happy that Linda Hamilton is back, remember when she was in TERMINATOR 1 and 2 and doing pushups? Well, she’s back doing pushups again and I was blown away. It was like magic for James Cameron to come up with this story. I love this franchise but am bummed that I can’t do this forever so I can do this for another 20 or 30 years but that’s it, that’s all”.

Hamilton had to say, “Well it has been nearly 30 years since I last stepped into the shoes of Sarah Connor. She is a character that changed my life and I have to thank everyone for bringing me back into this world. This is an event I could not turn away from and I can’t wait to share this movie with all of you.”

 

GEMINI MAN is a film that brings Will Smith and Academy Award winner Ang Lee together to bring a story about a man who comes face to face with a younger clone of himself. Lee wanted to everyone to know that, “When you are a director and you can get Will Smith you should consider yourself lucky, in this case I get to work with two of them. Working with Smith over the last year I discovered that he is such a fine actor and this film shows that.”

At the CinemaCon 2019 Filmmakers Roundtable, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Anthony Russo and Dexter Fletcher share what it was like to see an audience watch their films. Russo says, “The only reason you make a movie is for the audience to see it. That’s been one of the great thrills for me. We have always been fed and fired by the audience reaction. You don’t know what you’ve created until you experience that.” Olivia Wilde says that it was, “One of the most terrifying experiences of my life. You never know how its going to go but the audience reaction was amazing.”

Fletcher says, “My first film was called WILD BILL that was a father and son story. They showed it to 16 year old kids and the feeling of their response was indescribable.” Banks says, “I made my first feature with PITCH PERFECT 2 and it’s very funny and very musical. When I took it to my first screening it was like a rock concert. I was throwing up in the back but the audience loved it. You always test and show it to people and make sure you are not insane before you put it in theatres. I knew the movie worked but I didn’t know it would be so well received as it was.”

To end the studio presentations before the award ceremony, LIONSGATE brings Joe Drake, Chairman of the MPG to talk about their upcoming slate of films. Beginning with LONG SHOT, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron star in this comedy of fun that comes to theaters in a few weeks. David Harbour hits the stage to push his upcoming little film called HELLBOY.

Our collective lady hearts skip a beat when JOHN WICK: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is introduced by director Chad Stahelski. On hand to talk about the film is Halle Berry who says that she wanted so much to be a part of the franchise that she didn’t need to read the script. For once we might be in total agreement on her movie choices because John Wick is definitely our man if we ever need someone dealt with!

I STILL BELIEVE caters to the spiritual and faith-based films that have become popular in recent years. This film is about Jeremy Camp who deals with the death of his wife and through it comes to write the song by the same name.

Jamie Lee Curtis takes the stage and just when I thought she couldn’t be any funnier than she was last year pushing HALLOWEEN, she proved me wrong. The film is KNIVES OUT which is about a family that caught everyone’s attention. Also staring Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer and the ever amazing Michael Shannon, the film is directed by Rian Johnson and will be out later this year.

And just when you think you might have a moment to slip a dollar in the slot machine or grab a sandwich or a Starbucks…it’s time for the 2019 BIG SCREEN ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS with host Natalie Morales from Access Hollywood. Here are a list of the winners and their categories!

Male Star of Tomorrow:     Henry Golding

Female Stars of Tomorrow: Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein

Directors of the Year: Anthony & Joe Russo

International Star of the Year: Kevin Hart

Breakthrough Director of the Year: Olivia Wilde

Action Star of the Year: David Harbour

CinemaCon Spotlight Award: Octavia Spencer

CinemaCon Ensemble Award: The cast of TERMINATOR: Dark Fate – Linda Hamilton, Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie David and Gabriel Luna.

Comedy Stars of the Year: Seth Rogen & Charlize Theron

CinemaCon Vanguard Award: Jamie Lee Curtis

 

There you have it! Four days of everything that Hollywood has to offer for this years CinemaCon 2019. Jenise aka Film Brat and I are always surprised at what we see and experience as well as who we meet and become reacquainted with. We love what we do in general but CinemaCon is our chance to dive into what we love morning, noon and night.

Now that you’ve had a look inside the slates of these remarkable studios, keep up to date with us at http://moviemaven.homestead.com for the reviews and so much more. It’s time to hope in the car and take the long drive home. We have so much to talk about that I don’t think five hours will be enough for us. Of course we are both willing to try.

Until then – see you next year from CinemaCon!

MARY MAGDALENE Tells a Story from Another Perspective

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Garth Davis, writers Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett along with IFC Films comes the story of MARY MAGDALENE.

Mary Magdalene (Rooney Mara) is a young woman living in Judea in 33 AD that is having a difficult time finding her place. Her family is constantly worried because of her emotional state and can’t understand why she doesn’t marry.

When her father tries to have her cleansed of what ails her, Mary falls into a serious state. That’s when she meets Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) who speaks to her in a way no one else has. She finds comfort in his company and to the astonishment of her family, Mary decides to follow Jesus.

Followers Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Judas (Tahar Rahim), James (Tawfeek Barhom), Philip (Uri Gavriel), and Matthew (Michael Moshonov) among others are not sure how they feel about Mary being with them. They are even more surprised that Jesus speaks freely with Mary and includes her in helping to speak with people.

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But they have ideas of their own about what Jesus should be doing and how he should be freeing his people. Mary is surprised by what they think and does not hesitate to tell them so. The problem becomes more pronounced when Peter makes it clear that he believes Mary is weakening Jesus.

That does not stop Jesus from sharing with Mary his feelings and also shares what is to come. Their next stop is to Jerusalem where Jesus is not welcome by the Roman’s or his own people. As what is to come draws close and Jesus feels the weight of the world, Mary makes it very clear that she will be with Jesus every step of the way and beyond.

It is what happens three days later when Mary tells Peter and the other apostles about Jesus that she is once again comes under scrutiny. She doesn’t let it stop her from the strength she has gained in her journey with Jesus nor do they change the path she is dedicated to faithfully continuing.

Mara as Mary puts in a performance of a struggling young woman ahead of her time. She doesn’t want to follow traditions of what her family thinks a woman should do and be. There is something more out in the world and she knows its just waiting. The dilemma is the hurt she knows her family feels, especially when she turns down a marriage proposal. Mara puts in the emotional time showing every thought this character had up on the screen mixed in with her continuing struggle against those who would try to put her back in the box.

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Phoenix as Jesus is Mary’s mirror in that he also struggles with not being a traditional man but instead going out into the world to do good works. He is in constant pull between what everyone else thinks his role is and what he knows his role is. Jesus and Mary discuss what they can together and come to understand their protection of one another. Phoenix gives his take of Jesus as a man who already knows the course his life is to take and even in his human frailty and questioning knows Mary will help him see it through.

Ejiofor as Peter is the man that stands between Jesus and Mary as I see it. He wants Jesus to be the symbol of Jewish freedom but by Peter’s standards and he wants Mary to just serve the wine at dinner and stop talking to Jesus. Ejiofor portrays Peter as another who struggles but his, it seems, comes from a sort of jealousy. Rahim as Judas decides to force Jesus to do what they all think he should and the repercussions of his decision are here with us today. Rahim definitely has the role of a character who doesn’t examine beyond the choices he makes and this actor does so exceeding well.

Other cast include Tsahi Halevi as Ephraim, Shira Haas as Heah, Ryan Corr as Joseph, Charles Babalola as Andrew, Tcheky Karyo as Elisha, Lubna Azabal as Susannah, Denis Menochet as Daniel, and Ariane Labed as Rachel.

MARY MAGDALENE is, of course, the story of a woman who has been throughout history cast as a harlot, a prostitute and a woman of questionable morals. This film examines otherwise and shows instead a strong woman who sees herself as something more than a wife and a mother. In 33 AD, being anything else meant that there was something wrong and it had to be the devil working his ways.

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When Mary does take a stand for what she wants and where she is going, Mara gives this moment a face we can all identify with. Now we see another side of a woman who not only boldly breaks with tradition but follows a belief that makes sense to her heart and soul. Phoenix Jesus treats her as an equal, speaks to her as an equal and allows her to stand as an equal.

This film is beautifully put together with a star filled cast yet each actor downplays their character in a way that is relatable. Each is also emotional, understandable and brings us into their personal struggle with who they are and the paths they take.

In the end – her story will be told!

THE CHAPERONE

 

The Chaperone

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Michael Engler, writer Julian Fellowes and based on the book by Laura Moriarty and PBS Films with THE CHAPERONE.

Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern) is a married woman and mother of grown twin sons living in 1920’s Kansas. Her life has been turned upside down and she is feeling the need to do something different. When she hears that the young 16-year-old Louise Brooke (Haley Lu Richardson) needs a chaperone while she attends dance school in New York, Norma sees an opportunity.

Husband Alan (Campbell Scott) doesn’t seem thrilled to see his wife go but she makes it clear it is something she needs to do. Norma and Louise board the train for the trip and it takes only a moment before the young girl tries her hand at breaking away. Tired of the small town life, she is going to push every envelope possible.

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Arriving in New York, both women are excited and Louise prepares to meet dance teachers Ruth St. Dennis (Miranda Otto) and Raymond (Matt McGrath) at the Denishaw School. While Louise is dancing during the day, Norma decides that she is going to visit the convent where she was an orphan. Hoping to discover anything about her parents, she is met by a nun who isn’t exactly helpful.

Both Louise and Norma are trying to find their way and with where they come from to where they are now. Louise is pushing the boundaries of propriety and the mindset that she’ll never return home. Norma is pushing her own boundaries of propriety to discover that life is full of lies, deceptions and realities that are continually tested.

Who will break away and who will break the rules?

McGovern as Norma is a woman who started off life as an orphan, raised on a farm and married off at a young age – all three of those things done to survive. Once married to Mr. Carlisle, she once again played the role as she had been told. It takes one moment and opening a door to discover that her life has been played out to please others and not herself. I loved watching McGovern take step after step to find Norma’s own truth and happiness.

Richardson as Louise is a rebellious young woman who doesn’t like playing by the rules. Instead she wants to break away from a family that doesn’t seem to care what she does, as long as she does it without rumors starting. Instantly in New York Richardson lets her character loose wanting McGovern’s Norma to join in. I think the final scene between Richardson and McGovern just shook my heart – and I believe it will shake yours too!

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Scott as Mr. Carlisle is everything a man of that era would be. He is an impeccably dressed lawyer who keeps home and hearth comfortable while keeping his reputation sterling. He also does as is expected of him by marrying and having children. Scott keeps everything level headed and even when McGovern’s Norma tries to break away, he keeps it calm so no one asks questions or wonders what is going on in their own home.

Otto as Ruth St. Dennis keeps an eye on Louise, especially since she seems to have captured the attention of her partner Raymond played by McGrath. Both of these characters are serious about their dance school and even when Louise becomes a little reckless, it is Norma who steers her back.

Other cast include Victoria Hill as Myra Brooks, Robert Fairchild as Ted Shawn, Tyler Weaks as Howard Carlisle, Kate Grimes as Ms. Burton, Andrew Burnap as Floyd, Bill Hoag as Jack, Ellen Toland as Greta, George Hampe as Earl Carlisle, Sean Hudock as Norman Ross and Blythe Danner as Mary O’Dell.

THE CHAPERONE is a look inside the life of women in the 1920’s and what was considered respectable, acceptable and expected. Marrying and having children seemed to be the only choices that Norma had but it is Louise who wants to break away. Dancing her way to New York, Norma mentally dances along to get some answers of her own.

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Even though both women see a freedom in the big city, they first must come to terms with the lies and deceptions of the past. Each has choices to make and, for me, some of those choices are groundbreaking. I will let you decide who breaks the mold and who becomes trapped by it.

I am a period piece person so THE CHAPERONE is in my wheelhouse of films. In this case not only is the casting brilliantly done but the set design and costuming just take me away deeper into the film itself. This is truly and enjoyable film!

Moriarty wrote The Chaperone in 2012 but is also the author of four other books including The Center of Everything, The Rest of Her Life, When I’m Falling and American Heart.

In the end – one trip can change everything!

GLASS is About to Shatter

 

Bluray cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes the gripping gathering of fear with GLASS.

Here we are and it has been 19 years since David Dunn (Bruce Willis) discovered he had an unusual ability and has attempted to live a low profile life. Not laying so low after two years is Hedwig (James McAvoy) and the Horde who have struck again and again. Dunn wants to find him before he can destroy more lives.

Discovering where his newest victims are held, Dunn finds them and has a showdown with The Beast. That isn’t the highlight of their meeting, the sudden surrounding of police catches them both off guard. Taken down they are both escorted to the same facility as another famous patient.

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Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is a psychiatrist who deals with patients suffering from delusions of grandeur and that includes Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). She isn’t pleased that he has been kept sedated like a zombie since his capture. Having all three, Dr. Staple has only a few days to treat, or convince, all three that they are not super heroes of any kind.

Dunn keeps his cool and doesn’t say much because it seems that the Horde is upset and confused about the confrontation and Mr. Glass is unresponsive. The goal of all three is to get out before Dr. Staple makes sure they are committed for good.

But there are secrets to be revealed coming from unexpected places and those who will do whatever it takes to make sure it is all exposed!

That’s all you are getting from me.

Willis as Dunn slides right back into a role he took on nineteen years ago and it feels like no time has passed. That’s what I have always loved about Willis, the roles he has chosen over his career and, although a few bumps here and there, it never has changed my enjoyment of his performances. Dunn was a broken man who found a connection in his life he didn’t know existed and that is how Willis embraced the character. Nineteen years later, his personality has barely changed but his abilities have sharpened.

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Jackson as Mr. Glass (yes, I said Mr.) spends a lot of time comatose but that doesn’t stop his mind from churning. Still believing in who they all are, his twitchy eye isn’t happy with the insights spouted by Dr. Staple. Speaking of her, Paulson is the monologuer of the film and she does her best to convince the gang (because the Horde does constitute a gang) that it’s all in their minds.

Stealing the entire film is McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/ The Beast, Patricia, Dennis, Hedwig, Barry, Jade, Orwell, Heinrich, Norma and a host of others. There are moments where the camera doesn’t leave his face and characters flash seamlessly like the strobe lights in his room.

Since the 2016 film SPLIT of which I’ve watched more times that I can even count, McAvoy slides right into the role of sheer madness and I’m in complete awe of his performance. Playing one or two roles is hard enough but man, oh man, does McAvoy ever show that being about twenty people including rock-hard cut Beast had me totally invested in the film.

Other cast include Luke Kirby as Pierce, Marisa Brown as Carol, Charlayne Woodard as Elijah’s Mother and Adam Thompson as Daryl. Look for Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey.

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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.

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

Bonus Features Exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray and Digital include The Collection of Main Characters – A look at all the main players and how they fit in the universe created by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan and David Dunn, Elijah Price, Kevin Wendell Crumb and the rest of the family.

Also Bringing the Team Back Together, David Dunn vs. The Beast, Glass Decoded, Breaking Glass: The Stunts, Connecting the Glass Universe, M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens, The Sound of Glass, Enhancing the Spectacle, Raven Hill Memorial and Night Vision.

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Adding the DVD Bonus Features with Alternate Opening, Deleted Scenes of David Alone at Bar, Patricia Talks to Cheerleaders, David Encounters Pierce, Casey in Art Class, Dr. Staple Explains Machine, Mrs. Price in Waiting Room and so much more!

I’m not saying anything in the way of details and I’m okay with doing that actually. Living in this social media world I will let someone else spoil it but it certainly won’t be me. Not everyone has had the chance to see it in theatres but with the release of the Bluray and DVD are going to be thrilled. The story M. Knight Shyamalan started telling nineteen years ago works for me completely in 2019.

There were a few moments where my jaw dropped and seeing it again on Bluray there was no change in my behavior.  The film is still filled with secrets that still twist, turn and spill in all aspects of these three characters. Watching it once again on Bluray there are so many little subtle nuances that just add to the story and make me think ‘why didn’t I see that before?’ Well, probably because I was into it on the big screen and equally as into it on the small.

Well done Mr. Shyamalan! You chose the right actors to bring your story out nineteen years ago and two years ago only to reunite us with them – all of them and what a thrill ride it is!

In the end – the world of Superheroes will be shattered!

 

SHAZAM! Entertains the Kid in us All

 

Shazam cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director David F. Sandberg, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros comes the story of a boy who is about to become the one and only SHAZAM!

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a young boy who has seen his chair of heart ache. Lost from his mother when he was a child, Billy has bounced around the foster care system. He finds a family with Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans) who already have a full house.

He meets Freddy (Jack Grazer), Darla (Faithe Herman), Eugene (Ian Chen), Mary (Grace Fulton) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) who embrace him immediately. Trying to keep to himself, Billy has no luck as Freddy attaches himself quickly to his new brother.

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But Billy has his own plan and has spent years trying to find the mother he lost so long ago. Carrying a list and coming to the end of it, he doesn’t know what to do next. That is until his new siblings offer a technological way to make his search easier and get to it.

While on a subway one day he is transformed into another world where the Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) tells Billy a story of how his world came to be. He also shares with the boy that all he has to do is say one word and the Wizard transfers his powers to Billy.

And now he is an adult in a superhero suit which freaks Billy (Zachary Levi) out immediately. He races home to tell Jack what has happened (who by the way is totally thrilled) and the two decide to have fun with social media.  What the new suited Billy doesn’t know is that there is someone else wants the power.

Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has had his share of bad times with family and makes it clear to them that he is about to take over, well, everything. Finding his way to the world where the Wizard lives, he still resents not being chosen the Champion and instead releases the seven deadly sins and takes them to Billy’s world.

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Billy doesn’t really want to fight Dr. Sivana but once the evilness comes for his new family, it is clear that not only does he finally feel up to the task but gets a few friends to get in on the fun!

Levi as the adult Shazam is very, very funny. This is what I love the most about Levi playing this character – he has the wonderful ability to look surprised like a kid, get upset like a kid, become giddy like a kid and ask questions like a kid all the while in the body of an adult. He made me laugh so much and when he comes to care for his new family – it is done as a kid’s heart. Levi has captured so much in the film and I had such a good time watching him develop this role.

Strong as Dr. Sivana is an actor I love to see what he will do with a character. Look at his acting resume if you want to see how he can be a gentle character, a complex character, a strong character and even a funny character. Trust when I say that when he wants to portray and evil character – he can do it and do it well. As Sivana he gets another chance to make a character his very own. Yea, I dig Mark Strong.

Angel as the young Billy is a resourceful and slightly angry young man who spends his time searching and keeping people at arms length. All that aside, Angel has a side that sneaks out to let us know that he is vulnerable no matter how hard he fights it.

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Grazer as Freddy is the absolutely perfect sidekick for both Angel and Levi’s Billy/Shazam. He uses humor for the complications of his own life and although it doesn’t always work, he doesn’t lose it. Coming face to face with the other kids at school, it is when he is bullied that Billy sees they have more in common than he wanted to think.

Chen as Eugene is smart and loves a good challenge, Fulton as Mary is getting ready for college but can’t decide if that’s what she really wants, Armand as Pedro goes along to get along with the sibling group.  It is Herman as Darla is the absolute cuteness of the group. She embraces Billy from day one and even when he gives her the cold-shoulder this young girl still radiates love.

Cooper as Victor and Milan as Rosa are happy with the home they’ve created. From the beginning they accepted Billy with all of his emotional standoffishness and believed that in time he would just blend into their already blended family.

Hounsou as the Wizard Shazam gets a chance to wear cheeky robes and wave around a walking stick that I’m sure he stole from Gandalf the Grey. He has the voice to share the scary story of why he is in the house of empty thrones and wicked statues so that’s cool.

Other cast include Ava Preston as Lillian, Meagan Good as Darla, Evan Marsh as Burke Breyer, Natalia Safran as Mrs. Sivana, Andi Osho as Ms. Glover, Carson MacCormac as Brett Bryer, Sarah Bennani as Simone, Ali Badsha as Mehmet Kotil, and David J. MacNeil as Mr. Bryer.

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FINAL WORD: This is our introduction to a new superhero with SHAZAM! I will admit that I kind of see him as a clean cut and child like Deadpool. Now understand there is nothing wrong with that at all except their comic homes are in different universes. Besides that, this is a fun film and I would absolutely recommend it for families.

Because of the kid/adult transformation, there are jokes, fun and situations that almost everyone can relate too. The audience I saw the film with didn’t hide their excitement about seeing the film and during spend their time laughing, applauding and smiling from ear to ear.

That’s what these films are all about, having a good time and doing it with family and friends. SHAZAM! is a film where it’s okay to act a little giddy and maybe even a little kid-ish and nobody will mind in the slightest.

In the end – if you want to save the world just say the magic word!

 

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