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June 2016

The Band is Back Together for INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence

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Jeri Jacquin

This week from director Roland Emmerich and 20th Century Fox is an invasion that takes the Earth by storm with INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence.

The world after 1996’s invasion is considerably different. World leaders have come together and there hasn’t been a conflict since then. The technology has grown exponentially and there is colonization on the moon.

Jake (Liam Hemsworth) is a wild pilot who is the fiancé of former President Whitmore’s (Bill Pullman) daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe). Patricia works at the White House with President Lanford (Sela Ward) and is pleased when she sees friend Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher).

Preparing for an Independence Day celebration honoring those who were important to the 1996 invasion, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) was to attend. Instead, Levinson is in the African desert discovering that one of the alien craft has come to life once again.

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On the moon an unusual object is shot down by the base but Whitmore and Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) know that the aliens are coming back. General Adams (William Fichtner) calls out to everyone who can help with plans to stop a 3,000 mile wide alien craft that is tougher than they could imagine.

Goldblum as Levinson takes the lead in the film. He’s been there and done that as even the President calls on him to devise a plan that will work. I love Goldblum when he interacts with Hirsch I have to say, those two are hilarious. Once again Goldblum takes his character and reminds us that he “is as smart as we all hope you are”.

Pullman returns as former President Whitemore but in a character that kind of made me a little sad. After his mental encounter in 1996, people think he is a little off the beaten earthly path. Never count out a man who brought the world together and has no issue jumping in and fighting.

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Hemsworth as Jake has a wild side and it is based on a little bit of hostility toward creatures that killed his parents. When it comes to the alien return, that wild side is what saves when an adversary doesn’t exactly play fair.  Monroe as ex-first-kid Patricia Whitmore tries to protect her father and worries for fiancé Jake.

Usher as Hiller is living barely in the shadow of Cpt. Hiller. He has an issue with Jake that seems oddly out of place in the storyline. Smith’s Capt. Hiller was a solid presence that would have been nice but whatever. Ward as President Lanford is executive looking with her short “take them down” lines.

Spiner as Okun is still comical and smart. When he is given an orb that is also alien in nature, he knows that the key to success lies within and is excited as only Okun can be. Fichtner as General Adams is a go getter and when he is called up to take over he gets the job done with the help of everyone around him.

Shout out to Judd Hirsch back as the wise-cracking father Julius Levinson. Also, Vivica A. Fox returns as Jasmine Hiller who watches her son follow in elder Hiller’s footsteps. Patrick St. Esprit is Defense Secretary Tanner, Angelababy is uber cool pilot Rain Lao, Charlotte Gainsbourg is Catherine Marceaux resident alien mystery buster, Deobia Oparei as Dikembe Umbutu African warlord who is going to fight the aliens on their terms and Nicolas Wright as Floyd Rosenberg fidgety White House aide who isn’t happy about what’s going down.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence is going to get a huge rave from me. Why? Because I can first of all and second I am a huge fan of disaster films. Director Emmerich has made it his mission in life to try everything to test this blue marble that everything else either seems to want or to destroy. That’s what makes it so much fun to watch – no matter what his films bring people together in the midst of madness.

Come on, you know you all harbor the guilty pleasure of watching DAY AFTER TOMORROW, EYE OF THE STORM, 2012 and the original 1996 INDEPENDENCE DAY. Yes, me and mine sat in the theatre through several showings because it was a good time. The thrill, bangs, explosions, witty one-liners, and heavy patriotic speeches. Oh yea, Bill Pullman caused an entire theatre to break out in cheers and had them on their feet in 1996.

That’s the best part of a disaster film. Getting the blood flowing and becoming engrained in something bigger than ourselves, even if only for 120 minutes. INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence brings more of that back. There are wise cracks, cheesy characters, one-liners, moment of pure ‘end-of-the-world’ sentiment, action, fantastic special effects,  mind blowing destruction and a never-give-up attitude.

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Is the door open for more aliens to get a piece of Earth and humanity? Of course, you can’t exactly take out the biggest ship in the universe and not expect something to notice. In the audience there were cheers, laughter and a few ‘oh-no-they-didn’t!’ uttered loudly which actually made the film more fun. I mean when the audience feels comfortable enough to become part of the experience you have to love that!

So pack up family and friends and prepare for the next invasion as INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence is in theatres now!

In the end – they only want one thing – DESTRUCTION!

FREE STATE OF JONES

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from writer/director Gary Ross and STX Entertainment is defiance during the Civil War that leads to the FREE STATE OF JONES.

Newt Knight (Matthew McConaughey) is a soldier during the Civil War who has seen more than his fair share of death. When a young family member seeks him out for help, Knights mission is to get the boy out alive. War doesn’t respect age and he takes the young boy home to his family in Mississippi only to discover there is another war at home.

Farmers and women left to tend the home front are being stripped of what they own by the Confederacy. Those that don’t cooperate feel the wrath of soldiers. When Knight tries to help a family keep their food stuffs, he knows those in charge will be coming for him. Wife Serena (Keri Russell) is upset that husband Knight has put the family in even more danger.

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Turning to cantina owner Aunt Sally (Jill Clements), she has her man Wilson (Donald Watkins) take Knight to the last place the soldiers would go to find him – deep in the swamps. There he is met by Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who leads to a group of slaves that have run away.

Knight befriends Moses (Mahershala Ali) and eventually more men join them in the swamp including fellow soldier Jasper Collins (Christopher Berry) and Will Sumrall (Sean Bridgers). Building an army of their own, Knight becomes the leader they all look to when it’s time to take the fight to the soldiers.

There is more at stake for the future of each of these citizens who want to be free to chose their own destiny.

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McConaughey as Knight carries the film’s weight as his character is in almost every single frame. He also seems comfortable in his own skin playing Knight covering almost every emotion possible, never afraid to shed a tear in both anger and sadness. This is an extremely solid performance and one that should not be ignored.

Mbatha-Raw as Rachel is portraying a character on the other end of the spectrum. In 2013 she had the lead role in the film BELLE about a young mixed raced girl who is raised by an Uncle who is a judge in 18th Century England when slavery is an issue brought forward. Here she follows Knight and supports his fight.

Ali as Moses befriends Knight and believes in what he is doing. After their fight, Moses begins another war leading his people to vote. Berry as Jasper leaves his regiment to join Knight along with Bridgers as Sumrall who begins the fight but knows when its time to walk away.

Russell doesn’t have a large role as Knight’s wife but her presence is necessary in the storyline. Watkins as Wilson is a man who moves in silence because that is the best way to stay one step ahead of the enemy. Tangradi as Lt. Barbour spends more time being humiliated by Knight and the fighters and even years down the road after he’s allowed to remain alive, Knight has the final say.

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Other cast include Jacob Lofland as Daniel, Thomas Murphy as Elias Hood, Brian Franklin as Davis Knight, Kerry Cahill as Mary, Joe Chrest as James Eakins, and Jessica Collins as Annie.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give FREE STATE OF JONES three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. The audience seemed very interested in the story within a story of the Knight family and their part in American history. The film does have its dark and brutal moments which one would expect in a film about war.

The film follows history from the fields of the Civil War and what was going on politically in a time line. Knight and followers want to stop fighting for the rich and take out of the ground what they put into it. Raising their families without fear proves to be the biggest challenge for them all.

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The story does move around a bit and there is an under story that I will leave for everyone to see for themselves. There are characters in the film that may not have large roles but yet their presence is meaningful. It is an epic story to be sure but one I believe needed a little more thought as the second half of the film begins to meander a little. Coming in at over two hours, I believe it could use a more focus and trimming to tell the same story.

In the end – it is history based on a true story.

KUNG FU PANDA 3: Speaking with James Hong

Ping Mr Hong

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray on June 28th from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is everyone’s favorite Dragon Warrior in KUNG FU PANDA 3.

In 2008 KUNG FU PANDA introduced us all to a loveable Panda named Po who lived in the Valley of Peace. Son of Mr. Ping the noodle maker, Po’s one dream was to meet his Kung Fu heroes in the Furious Five! Little did he know that his little dream would become a life changing big dream when he is chosen as the Dragon Warrior.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 followed in 2011 with Po and the Furious Five bring down the evil peacock Shen. He also learns more about how he came to be with Mr. Ping and the noodle shop learning that love comes in many guises.

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Now, in 2016, KUNG FU PANDA 3 is coming to Bluray to again delight us as Po discovers his panda family, where they live and teach them how to protect the village from the supernatural villain Kai!

In the third installment as Po finds his Panda-Dad, you can be sure that Mr. Ping isn’t about to let his son just go off into this new world without him! Voicing this protective and loving feathered father is actor James Hong who has over 60 years of experience in Hollywood. From comedy to drama, this versatile actor has done both the big screen and small.

On the smaller screen, Hong has been a part of some of the most iconic television shows such as The Man Called X, The Millionaire, General Electric Theater, Playhouse 90, Dragnet, Peter Gunn, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Kung Fu just to name a few (and trust me there are dozens more!).

Hong also stood out on the big screen in films such as BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THE GOLDEN CHILD (my personal favorite), WAYNE’S WORLD 2, and BLADE RUNNER, BALLS OF FURY again to name just a few. Animation isn’t new to this fine actor either playing Chi-Fu in the 1998 animated film MULAN.

So imagine how pretty jazzed I was to have the opportunity to speak with one of Hollywood’s coolest to talk about being the voice and heart of Mr. Ping and what the two share in common.

Thanks for speaking with me today James!

JH: Hi Jeri, how are you?

I’m doing good thanks! I have to tell you that I’m actually a huge fan of yours.

JH: Well, that’s always a good start.

When you originally read the part of Mr. Ping, what did you think?

JH: Let me see, going back now because it’s been so many years since we did the first, it was close to me because I was practically born in a restaurant. My father put me to work washing dishes and cutting celery in a Chinese restaurant and so I watched the cooks doing their things and learned to make noodles. We made hand made noodles in those days along with my brother. We started with it all on the table with the flour and making circles, putting the water and milk kneading it by hand. We didn’t have a machine in those days. So I grew up making noodles and of course in order to make the noodles taste good in a Chinese restaurant you have got to make good soup. In that sense I learned how to make soup from the bones of pork and chicken, I was born into it all. It wasn’t hard to do Mr. Ping after all that and of course I’m a father as well. I would say Mr. Ping is a cross between a Jewish Mama and a Chinese waiter.

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<We both break out laughing which happens quite a few times during the interview and, of course, I am more a fan than before>

I can see that because the relationship between Mr. Ping and Po is so endearing and I have to say it is because of you.

JH: Thank you very much, for that you get one free wonton.

Hey, I’ll take a free wonton anytime!

JH: The Chinese waiter part I mean all you have to do is go to San Francisco, there was once this three story restaurant where there was a waiter there that would say ‘whachuwant’. It’s famous! All the Chinese waiters I have met in my life all go into the character of Mr. Ping.

You pretty much based your character on that?

JH: Yes, the impressions of them. It’s like a popular song where the melody keeps popping into your mind. As an actor, all these images play in my head and I get to the studio to say my lines and they all come out.

Where you excited to come back each time to expand on your loveable character?

JH: Yes, they were all different with different directors and direction but Mr. Ping, he stays the same. Finally in number KUNG FU PANDA 3 he gets a bigger role following Po and watching over him. It is very endearing and Mr. Ping makes sure he is safe and eating correctly. All of that is close to my heart and I pour it all into the role of Mr. Ping. It is very easy for me to do that. DreamWorks is a great bunch to work for.

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In KUNG FU PANDA 3 you were saying Mr. Ping gets more play, even though Po finds his birth father your character never gives up or changes. No matter what anyone says Ping is going to protect Po.

JH: Of course, to me as Mr. Ping, Po is part of me therefore how can you cut that out or make it any different. It is a part of your soul, your being and you treat it as it’s a part of you by protecting it. That’s the way I treat Po, he is really part of me. Forget this father thing, it doesn’t matter if he’s his real father or adopted father, Po is part of Ping.

That’s what makes the film so special, you show how it is about heart and soul. As Ping you let us know that in your own unique way. You have had such an amazing career, how did you start?

JH: Believe it or not I came here one summer as part of a comedy team called Hong & Parker and that summer we thought we would break in show business. Finally I got on Groucho Marx’s television show You Bet Your Life (1950) and somebody said, “There is this Chinese kid who does impressions and he does one of you Groucho” and he said, “Put him on!” I got the second biggest fan mail ever on his program. That opened all doors and I decided to stay in Hollywood. Movies came rather easily for me with the first with Clark Gable, the second one with John Wayne and the third one with William Holden. The roles came pouring in ten at a time. It was both television and movies. In the early days it didn’t matter I did them all from comedy to quirky films like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA to iconic films like BLADE RUNNER. I did them all. That’s the story.

Do you have a favorite genre or are you up for anything?

JH: I throw myself into all the roles so it doesn’t matter. I love them all, BLADE RUNNER was a huge role and people remember me in roles like that for some reason. That’s my award, I don’t get nominated for an Academy Award but I think my fans have nominated me in a sense.

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When you are reading the script for the next film do you have the character already planned out in your head?

JH: Yes, when I read the script I always ask myself ‘what precedes my scene and why is my scene here?’ and then I analyze what I will be doing. You have to or otherwise the story will be out of place. If you can see the character and call upon your talent to portray that then it will be good.

You make the role of Ping sound a lot easier than other roles you have played.

JH: He is part of me but I do that with every character. I think the most important thing is that you can’t let any of that go to your head. You can’t walk around thinking “I’m great”, no, you can’t do that as an actor. You are hired to be an actor and play a role and do your best. You don’t go off the deep end, you have to stay level and keep your head above water. Do that and you’ll have 60+ years and more in this business.

That’s a wonderful attitude to have towards your work. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone I’ve spoken to actually come out and say that.

JH: It’s true.

My family and I enjoy you so much and I’m really honored to talk to you. I think you’re an amazing actor and I love you as a noodle making Dad!

JH: Oh, thank you!

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A sense of humor and a sense of character-self is what I have come away with talking with James today. His talent is absolutely undeniable hitting icon status in film and now in the KUNG FU PANDA series. There is no one better suited to bring us joy, laughter, care, concern and love than James Hong as the nervous noodle making feathery father of the Dragon Warrior.

On June 28th from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is a chance to re-experience James Hong’s talent as the ever loveable Mr. Ping along with son Po as KUNG FU PANDA 3 is available on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD.

 

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KUNG FU PANDA 3 Brings Bluray Fun for the Entire Family!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and DVD June 28th from directors Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh, DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the colorful return of everyone’s favorite Panda with KUNG FU PANDA 3.

Po (Jack Black) is still the every lively Dragon Warrior at the Jade Palace. Along with Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) they keep the Valley of Peace, well, peaceful!

Having his moment of wonder, Po begins to ask questions about who he is and how to find the peace everyone talks about. While visiting his Dad Mr. Ping (James Hong), Po comes face to face with his biological father Li (Bryan Cranston). Excited beyond belief, Po also learns that there is a whole village of family waiting to meet him.

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But Mr. Ping isn’t about to let his panda baby-boy go without him! When Po, Mr. Ping and Li arrive at the village, they welcome is more than the young Panda could ever have expected. He begins to learn the ways of the panda with fun, eating and rolling; the later might take some getting use to.

While Po is visiting his family roots, the Valley of Peace comes under attack. Shifu learns that Oogway’s (Randall Duk Kim) one-time friend Kai (J.K. Simmons) wants to squeeze everything from both the spiritual and real world. The only way Kai can do that is to collect the souls of all the kung fu masters and of the Dragon Warrior.

Tigress manages to escape finding Po in the panda village. Telling him everything there is only one way to stop Kai from destroying the family he has just come to understand and love. His plan is a simple one, train every person in the village in what they do best in order to save the village and return those that Kai has taken. Even Mr. Ping and Li have a moment of realization that coming together for the good of Po’s plan is what makes them both amazing fathers.

It is now time to become more of the Dragon Warrior than anyone, including Po would ever thought possible – but that’s the power of love, loyalty and family!

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Black as Po returns to lend his unique style to the character of Po. In fact, I think it can be said without argument that no one could or should attempt to play the voice role of Po – ever. I love the comedy, the timing and just the love that comes through of Black voicing this character. Po has so many sweet qualities in that he loves being part of the Furious Five, he loves having Shifu for support, he wants to protect those that need protecting and even when he’s afraid he doesn’t let it stop him from protecting all those he has loved and the new family.

Cranston as panda-Dad Li is the carbon copy of Po in every way with a little more fun that Po embraces with such admiration and thrill. The scene inside the Jade Palace is hilarious! Never have I seen a Panda stress less than Po’s Panda Dad, wonderfully done.

Simmons as Kai is absolutely hilarious, even when he’s trying to be a tough guy I can’t help but laugh. When Kai thinks he can just take Po and become absolute in power my first thought was, “yea, he’s never met a Dragon Warrior like Po”. Yes, that pretty much makes me a fan. Simmons has such timing in his line delivery for comedy and at the same time a little scary when he yells – I mean yikes!

Jolie as Tigress stands behind Po and has come to a good place with her friendship with the Dragon Warrior and I couldn’t be happier, is that weird? I love Rogen as Mantis with his snappy lines, Chan as Monkey is fun, Cross as Crane is as steadfast as ever and Liu as Viper is still the fastest snake ever!

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I have to give a shout out to Kim as Oogway. Never have I loved turtles more than the first time I heard Oogway give his pearls of wisdom to Po. I was equally thrilled to see him again in KUNG FU PANDA 3 if only because when he talks with Po, it is such a tender relationship filled with no judgment. We should all be so blessed to find an Oogway in our lives.

Hong as duck-Dad Mr. Ping has always been so protective of Po and no birth Dad is going to change that! Afraid he is going to lose that place in Po’s heart, every emotion is in his voice to the point where I wanted to reach through the screen and give him a hug. Mr. Ping is loveable, fiercely loyal, and every bit Po’s father as the day the chubby bundle showed up in his radish box!

Other cast include: Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, Steele Gagnon as Bao, Liam Knight as Lei Lei, and Wayne Knight as Hom-Lee.

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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.

I am an absolute fan of the first two KUNG FU PANDA films and can honestly say I am thrilled about this film on Bluray. There is everything amazing starting with the animation which is color, vibrant, beautiful and magically done. There is such fluidity in the movement of the characters and not just with the fight scenes but even as the pandas roll down the hill. It is a feast for the eyes and a delight for the child at heart in us all.

The storyline gives us answers as to Po’s life before being found by Mr. Ping and the family that has long believed he would return. We get to experience seeing Po become that part of himself he didn’t understand which made him a better panda, son, friend and Dragon Warrior. Po is already quite endearing but KUNG FU PANDA 3 takes that endearment to a whole new level of awesomeness.

The Bluray, DVD and Digital HD include the Special Features Everybody Loves a Panda Party – Join Po and the entire cast of lovable pandas to sing-along and learn why everybody loves a panda party in this all-new presentation. Po’s Posters of Awesomeness – Po leads a deeper exploration of the awesome art in Mr. Ping’s hut as the posters come to life and illustrate his hilarious stories. Panda Paws – Watch the enormously talented panda ribbon dancer Mei Mei starring with Bao in an exclusive animated tale.

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Also included is Make a Panda Party Paper Pal – Learn the mystical art of paper folding and create a village of panda pals as Po hosts this fun and entertaining tutorial. Play Like a Panda – Adorable overload! Learn all about real baby pandas, their amazing lives, and their remarkable playful ways. The Origin of “Skadoosh” – For the first time ever, Po reveals the extra-super-secret origin of his world-famous catchphrase.

Finally, Faux Paws Deleted Scenes – Discover fascinating story insights with this revealing collection of deleted footage you couldn’t see in theatres. This is a Bluray has so much to offer the family!

This truly is a family film in every way filled with fun, laughter, adventure and it is all wrapped up in a big rice ball of love. Every person will be delighted and moved – isn’t that what a family film should be all about? Getting together to see a film that not only has something for everyone but is fun to experience together.

In the end – grab destiny by the rice dumpling!

 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Says I-Do to Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

Bringing back all things Greek this week from director Kirk Jones, writer Nia Vardalos and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the return of everyone’s favorite Portokalos family with MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 on Bluray.

Seventeen years has passed as Toula (Nia Vardalos) and husband Ian Miller (John Corbett) met and married. Now, their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is feeling the heat of having a Greek mother, oh and a huge Greek family. She wants to get as far away from her family as possible to attend college which is causing Toula and Ian to stress hard core. Grandpa just wants her to find a nice Greek boy and settle down.

Grandpa Gus (Michael Constantine) has other problems when he decides to make it official that he is a descendant of Alexander the Great by looking online. Filling out the paperwork he discovers that the marriage certificate to Maria (Lainie Kazan) was never signed by the priest. Oh yes, you absolutely know that this is disaster.

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To the family this is a chance to have another very big fat Greek wedding and all become involved from son Nick (Louis Mandylor) who is now married with his own children, Nikki (Gia Carides) who is running the beauty shop, Angelo (Joey Fatone), Uncle Panos (Mark Margolis) and Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin).

Toula also has it brought to her attention that her own marriage needs a little lifting. With Paris leaving the nest, she realizes it may be time to reconnect with hubby to re-discover their life and give romance a little boost again.

This is the family who isn’t going to do anything any other way – but Greek!

Vardalos as Toula re-captures the role without missing a beat. Reverting back to the insecure Toula of seventeen years ago, this character is back to looking a little haggard and becoming exactly like her mother. It is interesting to see her become more uptight and her own mother a little less but isn’t that what happens to us all when we have our own kids?

Spending more time trying to be the perfect Mom and working back at the restaurant, I pretty much hoped she would snap out of it quickly. Of course had she done it there wouldn’t have been much of a film right? Vardalos is sweet and delivers her lines with snap and personally I think she just wanted to kiss Corbin again!

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Speaking of Corbin as Ian, he is now the principal of the school where his daughter attends so he is also always a step away from her. Being understanding with Toula and her Mom issues, he finally brings it to his wife’s attention that it may be time to remember why they got together in the first place. Corbin doesn’t reinvent the character but instead embraces it and goes along with the Greek of it all.

Constantine as Grandpa is still hilarious. It is even funnier that his grandsons have taken over the tradition of finding the Greek root of words. When they are finished and say “there you go”, you hear Constantine say softly “there you go” and it is just endearing. Kazan as Marie is still in the mix with the family but when she hears that the priest forgot to sign the marriage certificate, she sees it as an opportunity to have a beautiful wedding but she’s going to make Gus work for it!

Kampouris as Paris is a teenager embarrassed by the over-love of her family. She is grouchy, snappy, a little bitchy and that’s what I would expect – I’m just not a big fan of it. Toward the end the calmer Paris comes into play and I can handle that. The story isn’t totally focused on her but what is fits the family’s reactions with the right amount of comedy.

I love Toula’s brother because he is the mixture of sweet and funny without even realizing he is. Fatone is also there to lend his comedy and cuteness. Uncle Panos just goes along with whatever the family wants and I think that’s how he manages to keep from going crazy.

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The winner, of course, is Aunt Voula! Martin as Voula is adorable, hilarious, informative in her own explanation of things, insightful, and in this film the sane one of the bunch. I wish she was my Aunt just so I could hear her speak daily about life, love and more about her own love life!

Other cast include: Ian Gomez as Mike, Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. White, Bruce Gray as Rodney Miller, Fiona Reid as Harriet Miller, Rob Riggle as Northwestern Rep, Rita Wilson as Anna and John Stamos as George.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment leads in entertainment with a premier motion picture company, significant television productions & entertainment, world-renowned theme parks and so much more. For more of what they have to offer fans please visit https://www.uphe.com.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 is as warm and crazy as the original film because there is no other family like this one. They are based on total love for one another and even though they might screw up in the funniest of ways, it is done with the idea of what is best for all. Yes, they can be over bearing; yes they are loud and yes they are strong willed but let’s face it – they are Greek!

I am equally as thrilled that the cast all came together to make this happen again, even the actors playing Ian Miller’s parents. The film wouldn’t have the same familiarity to it without each and every person bringing their character back to audiences who will feel as if time hasn’t really passes.

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The Bluray has Bonus Features such as the Gag Reel (which I highly recommend!), Making the Greekquel and My Big Fat Greek Dinner. The combo pack includes the Bluray, DVD and Digital HD with HD picture and theatre quality sound. The Digital HD with ultraviolet is a watch on television, computer, tablet or smartphone so you can Greek it up anywhere!

In the end – people may change but these Greeks don’t!

The STARZ Limited Series “The Girlfriend Experience” Comes to Bluray

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AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD ON AUGUST 2, 2016
Riley Keough astonishes” (US Weekly) in “Spring’s most compelling series” (Adam Rathe, Dujour), “The Girlfriend Experience” alongside Paul Sparks (“House of Cards,” “Boardwalk Empire,” Mud) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24: Live Another Day,” “2 Broke Girls,” Little Miss Sunshine). Having previously worked together on Magic MikeSteven Soderbergh and Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) continue their working partnership with this “sharp” (Nick Schager, The Daily Beast) and “intelligent” (US Weekly) drama “The Girlfriend Experience.” The STARZ Limited series, which was written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, is suggested by Soderbergh’s original film by the same name, and will be available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on August 2, 2016 from Anchor Bay Entertainment and on Digital HD today from Starz Digital. 

Christine Reade (Riley Keough) is a second year student at Chicago-Burnham Law School and a new intern at a prestigious firm. Working hard to establish herself at the firm, her focus quickly shifts when a classmate introduces her to the world of transactional relationships. Known as GFEs, they are women who provide “The Girlfriend Experience” — emotional and sexual relationships at a very high price. Juggling two very different lives, Christine quickly finds herself drawn into the GFE world, attracted to the rush of control and intimacy.

“The Girlfriend Experience” premiered to critical acclaim on Starz on April 10, 2016 and was co-created by Lodge Kerrigan (Claire Dolan) and Amy Seimetz (Sun Don’t Shine). Executive Produced by Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Ocean’s Eleven Franchise, Erin Brockovich)Philip FleishmanLodge KerriganAmy SeimetzJeff Cuban and Gary Marcus, “The Girlfriend Experience” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment on August 2, 2016 for the suggested retail price of $39.98 and $49.99, respectively.

To learn more about the film, please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

 

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR Fights onto Bluray

CHARLIZE THERON, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, EMILY BLUNT AND JESSICA CHASTAIN STAR IN A STUNNING ALL-NEW EXTENDED ACTION-ADVENTURE FANTASY

 

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AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD AUGUST 2, 2016

4K ULTRA HDTM, BLU-RAY, DVD AND ON DEMAND ON AUGUST 23, 2016

 

If it’s the Snow White tale you’re looking for, discover the story that came before in The Huntsman: Winter’s War, coming to Digital HD on August 2, 2016 and 4K Ultra HDTM, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on August 23, 2016, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The Huntsman: Winter’s War on Blu-ray™ and DVD includes an all-new extended edition of the epic action-adventure, plus exclusive bonus features that reveal the movie’s behind-the-scenes secrets.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War stars Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury RoadMonster) as the evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Emily Blunt: SicarioEdge of Tomorrow) with an unforgivable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. Retreating to a kingdom far to the north, Freya raises an army of Huntsmen as her protectors, with the only rule that no two of them should ever fall in love. As a war for domination escalates between the two queens, the hero standing between good and evil is Freya’s most elite Huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth: ThorStar Trek Into Darkness). Alongside fellow warrior Sara (Jessica Chastain: The MartianThe Help) — the only woman who has ever captured his heart — Eric must help Freya vanquish her sister or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity.

 

The film will also be available on 4K Ultra HD™ in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray™ and Digital HD with UltraViolet. The 4K Ultra HDTM will include all bonus features on the Blu-ray disc.

  • 4K Ultra HD™ is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HDTM features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
  • Blu-ray™ features high definition picture, theater quality surround sound and exclusive extras.
  • DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™ lets you watch movies anywhere, on any device. Users can instantly stream or download movies to watch on iPad®, iPhone®, Android™, smart TVs, connected Blu-ray™ players, game consoles and more.

 

BLU-RAYTM DISC EXCLUSIVES

  • Two Queens and Two Warriors – The true heart of The Huntsman: Winter’s War is found in its three powerful women, Ravenna, Freya, and Eric’s lost wife, Sara. Learn how the strength and complexity of the film’s female roles drew potent new star power in Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as convincing Charlize Theron to reprise her role as Ravenna.
  • Meet the Dwarfs – Nick Frost’s Nion and Rob Brydon’s Gryff brought a sense of levity and fun to the adventure — especially once they met their female counterparts. Explore the importance of all four dwarf characters in the film and on set, where the actors who portrayed them earn a reputation for keeping the fun rolling, even when the cameras stopped.
  • Magic All Around – Rooted in history, but inhabited by magic, the world of The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a true visual spectacle. Follow along and see how the magic made it to the screen. From Freya’s icy freeze to the gold-laden goblins of the forest, explore the visual effects at work with an exclusive peek behind the curtain.

 

 

BLU-RAYTM AND DVD BONUS FEATURES

  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary
  • Gag Reel
  • Dressed To Kill – Academy Award®-winning costumer Colleen Atwood returns to help reignite the splendor she brought to Snow White and The Huntsman. A visual feast, her costumes often border on the supernatural in their beauty while helping bring the characters to life.
  • Love Conquers All  From the infectious enthusiasm of director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to the sisterly bond shared by Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron, the set of The Huntsman: Winter’s War was filled with laughter and life. Actors and artists came together to help create a fairy tale about the pure power of love — and had a blast along the way.
  • Feature Commentary by director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

EYE IN THE SKY: Talking with Star Barkhad Abdi

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Jeri Jacquin

On June 28th, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release on Bluray EYE IN THE SKY starring the amazing cast of Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul and Jeremy Northam. Another cast member that brings this film into focus is Barkhad Abdi as Jama Farah.

Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Somalia but moved with his family to Yemen and finally Minneapolis, Minnesota by age of 14 escaping the civil war. In that comes a deep understanding of his character in the film.

The character of Farah is an agent working with the Kenyan government. In the film he is assigned to help Britain find the terrorist cell but Farah also has a role in what a moment of humanity tries to do in the middle of a difficult situation.

I had the opportunity to speak with Barkhad Abdi and hear of the role of Farah, his rise as an actor and a trip back home to Somalia.

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Hello Barkhad, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

Hello Jeri, thank you too.

It’s nice to get the chance to talk to you.

Thank you for having me.

I finished watching EYE IN THE SKY.

How did you like it?

I think it was amazing. I loved your character so much. Tell me about him.

The character is Jama Farah and he is working on the ground floor with the Kenyan government.

Your character got to show a real humanity in the middle of a pretty intense military situation.

He wasn’t that big of a character in the film but he is important. The humanity part is because I can relate to the character. I was in a similar situation growing up I was in a war so I relate to the young girl on the street. It’s really different, the drone warfare is the modern warfare and it’s something that I personally didn’t know anything about until the movie. This movie shows a lot of details about modern warfare.

How did it affect you reading the script?

I liked the script a lot and it was one of those scripts that had a great director, Gavin Hood and he is the one that gave me the part. Also, Alan Rickman being a part of the film was very special.

Your acting career is like a Hollywood Cinderella story, this wasn’t what you had planned initially was it?

It wasn’t but I love film making and when parts came out I had to do it. When I read this part I got a chance to become an agent, when I watched movies and saw parts like that it made me excited to be doing it myself.

Of course you were amazing in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

Thank you.

In EYE IN THE SKY you are on the other side of the script – helping people.

Yes, to me if I can understand the role and I can understand the person, the character and the mindset of why he is doing what he is doing then I can do the part. Jama is an agent trying to do his job, those people; they exist in real life and put their lives in front to save other people. I’m really proud to highlight those people who do that, risking their lives for other people.

Your character makes warfare very personal.

I was trying to my best and I have to thank the director, Gavin Hood, for showing me the direction and what I needed to do.

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Did you not realize the effect your character would have on people?

I did not honestly. When I watched it I liked it a lot but no, can you tell me?

Yes, I can. Of course your character is on a very important mission but also gave off such empathy. There is that split second on your face where deciding whether to keep on the mission or remember that you are also a human being. There is that moment where you decide you can do both. When you made that decision to go, everything became more humanized.

Thank you so much! To me it was a very different movie. These are real things that are happening in Kenya and Somalia. There are people who actually save people from horrible situations, people that aren’t talked about. They use their own lives to save others. When I think about those situations and thank goodness my work came out well.

I see you keep busy working on other things.

Yes, I have a part in The Brothers Grimsby playing Tabansi Nyagura and I have another film called EXTORTION playing Miguel Kaba that just did a screening at Cannes. I also just finished a film in South Africa called WHERE THE WHITE MAN RUNS AWAY with Al Pacino and Evan Peters.

I am excited to see that one.

It’s really good. We thought it was very funny.

Have you had a chance in between acting to return home to Somalia? 

I did actually. I went there last year with ADESO, a human rights organization and visited parts of Somalia where they are doing good work. We also went to were fishing use to happen and there is still no fishing and a lot of fisherman have turned to farming. It was very exciting to go there.

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Did it look at all the same as you remembered?

I left there when I was seven years old but over all there is still hope and progress happening. There is hope and life and people trying to live.

It’s great that you got to return home and help, that’s important.

Yes, it is. Hopefully I will be able to do more but this is a start.

People who are going to see EYE IN THE SKY, what would you like them to take away from the film?

EYE IN THE SKY is very deep and war is never good. There needs to be an understanding about drones by who ever is in power. The election is here and it is important to know who is going to be controlling the drones and the idea of modern warfare. People need to understand how it all works.

Who is controlling them and why?

Yes.

Thank you for taking the time for talking with me today. I think you have done fantastic things and I can’t wait to see what you will do in the future.

Thank you very much Jeri.

 

Barkhad Abdi’s voice gives off such a humbleness when speaking about being an actor and hoping to do more with ADESO that it makes me appreciate him even more. EYE IN THE SKY is a film that will have people discussing the characters and the story that is a debate we all will be having as modern warfare continues to exist. But in the middle of that is the glimmer of humanity that decides to jump in and make an impact, and that is what Barkhad’s role is all about.

He gives this role a very personal piece of himself and that, my friends, is what damn fine acting is all about!

EYE IN THE SKY is on Bluray this week from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment – watch and let the discussions begin.

 

Mirren and Farah

FINDING DORY Swims Easy to Win Us All

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres tomorrow from directors Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane and Disney Pixar comes the highly anticipated reason to keep on swimming with FINDING DORY.

Back on the reef, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has made a life with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlon (Albert Brooks). Her memory hasn’t improved very much but everyone on the reef knows the little Tang’s story.

While out with the reef with Mr. Ray and the class, Dory has a memory that sets her on fire. She remembered her parents Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) and more remarkably where she last saw them. Dory knows that she must go to them right away and turns to Marlon and Nemo for support.

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Of course Marlon isn’t to keen on another big sea adventure but realizes that this is something Dory needs to do. Calling on Crush and the shelled gang, they hitch a ride to Monterey Bay in California following Dory’s memories.

Arriving at the Marine Life Institute, Dory, Marlon and Nemo become separated when she is scooped up by scientist and taken in the building. Dory is tagged and that’s when she meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus with one goal in life – to get tagged. After talking to Dory, Hank realizes this is his chance!

The two set out on an inside adventure as Dory remembers more and more bringing her closer to the last place she saw her Mom and Dad. Outside, Marlon and Nemo are discovering that sometimes you need special help from unlikely friends to get inside the Institute. Marlon’s fears for his son almost get the better of him until Nemo tells him to think like Dory which is a game changer.

Dory also finds her childhood friend Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a whale shark that has a problem with her eyesight. That doesn’t stop her from being excited to see Dory again. In the next tank is Bailey (Ty Burrell), a neurotic white beluga whale who thinks his biological sonar doesn’t work.

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When Dory comes within fins reach of her childhood home, she learns that the search isn’t over. That’s when old friends and new friends who believe in the little blue tang won’t let her give up – because what do you do when you feel that way?

That’s right…

DeGeneres is and always will be Dory. I absolutely adore this character because of her ability to be so accepting of almost everything around her. Granted she doesn’t remember much of what’s around her but there is a grace and purity to the fact that she doesn’t remember. In that are no preconceived notions, no judgments, and no history of bad feelings and in its place is a free floating swimmers joy, love, understanding and acceptance with an added warm wrapping of friendship and family. Thanks Ellen for reminding us all that it is possible to be all those things. Thirteen years later I am proud to introduce my granddaughter to the love and hilarity that is Dory!

Brooks as Marlon is once again on the fright train but not nearly as bad as before. Once again son Nemo reminds him that fear does nothing but keep them from every bit of life – even the bird-carrying-bucket kind! Rolence as Nemo comes in strong and a little more grown up from his crazy adventure. Still adorable and still cute as a clown fish can be!

O’Neill as Hank is absolutely hilarious and as grumpy as he wanted to be, Dory managed to untangle his heart. I have a sneaking suspicion I know which character is going to be a show stealer of this film and I have no problem with that at all (she says heading to the Disney store to get the Hank stuffed animal immediately!).

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Keaton and Levy as Jenny and Charlie are so cute that I couldn’t absolutely stand it. Flashbacks of Dory as a baby tang (be prepared to awwwwww yourself like crazy!), Keaton and Levy are loving and supportive of their baby girl and it carried them one shell at a time back to her.

Olson as Destiny is hilarious and thrilled to find Dory once again. She just has such a light personality that is strong but mushy at the same time. Burrell as Bailey is adorable and neurotic all wrapped up in the white beluga whale package. Just watching him panic made me laugh because that’s probably what I look like minus the ability to have sonar.

The film includes Sloane Murray as young Dory, Eugene Levy as Charlie, Idris Elba as Fluke, Dominic West as Rudder.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give FINDING DORY four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. DeGeneres should be extremely happy with the end result of her little tang’s story. Seeing Dory on screen again is heartwarming, very funny, and challenging but all wrapped up in love, determination and believing in herself.

Dory is such an inspiration to everyone, not just children, and FINDING DORY is an opportunity for us all to come together and experience her return. At the screening I can tell you there were more adults attending than children. That’s because FINDING NEMO appeared in 2003 and we’ve all been waiting with Ellen for her return and nothing is going to stop Dory’s followers from sharing her journey.

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It has been a wait but one that is totally worth it. The animation is absolutely stunning with such rich colors and a flow that is a feast for the eyes. The story is one that needed to be told and with the addition of the new characters I can guarantee an enjoyable family time at the movies.

In the end – it’s an unforgettable journey that she probably won’t remember but that’s okay, she has family!

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