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Month

May 2019

ROCKETMAN Takes Off into the Stratosphere

Rocketman

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Dexter Fletcher and Paramount Pictures comes a ride lead by a ROCKETMAN.

Reginald Dwight is a young music prodigy who lives with a father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) who has no heart for the boy and mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) who only has a heart for herself. Supporting him is Grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) who sees musical potential in the boy.

From a music conservatory to playing at the local bar, Reggie (Taron Egerton) is still trying to figure out this thing called life. Then he meets Ray (Charlie Rowe) who introduces him to songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and magic happens.

Ray and music man Dick James (Stephen Graham) send the newly renamed Elton John out on the road including a show at the Troubadour in California. Bernie is thrilled with their windfall but Elton is still trying to figure it all out.

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Help comes in the presence of John Reid (Richard Madden) who sweeps Elton off his feet. Reid also ingratiated himself into the performers life and home which doesn’t sit well with everyone.

In the meantime the world has become his oyster with sold out performances that allow him to be as wild as he wants. Then, success turns sour as Elton finds himself in the world of drugs, alcohol and the past turn him inside out.

There comes a time when you either ignore the world crashing around you or change the direction of life.

Egerton as Elton John is absolutely stunning. He is in it from beginning to end and by that I mean playing the life of a legend that, for the most part, isn’t pretty. Whether by his own hand or the craziness that comes with fame, Edgerton portrays the naïve, sensitive, longing and angry side of Elton John. He is mesmerizing to watch and cements his talent as an actor as well as a singer.

Bell as Taupin is thrilled to be working with Elton and takes off along side his friend with the sparkle and thrill of a kid. It doesn’t take long for Taupin realizes that he, and the man he considers a brother, is headed for disaster. Bell gives his performance everything filled with friendship, loyalty and a bit of tough love. I truly enjoyed Bell’s performance as it was truly heartfelt and strong.

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Mackintosh as father Stanley seems to have an almost distain for his son and it is the young Reginald who feels every piece of that. Even as the young Reginald grows up, the shadow of that relationship is with him daily. Howard as Sheila is a woman who clearly isn’t happy in marriage or motherhood. When there are moments of motherly love and Reginald grabs onto it, he is almost instantly swatted away with added pain.

Madden as Reid is a piece of work for sure. He gives Elton hope that he deserves to be loved but it comes at such a high and debilitating cost. Jones as Ivy is the sole hope for young Reginald, she is strong, compassionate and keenly aware of the situation with Reginald’s parents.

Other cast include: Jason Pennycooke as Wilson, Jimmy Vee as Arthur, Rachel Muldoon as Kiki Dee, Celinde Schoenmaker as Renate Blauel and Tate Donovan as Doug Weston.

ROCKETMAN is a film that is to be experienced on so many levels. Yes, it is filled with Elton John’s music and the placement of each memorable song is perfection. The choreography is thrilling to watch and the moments in the story where his life is seen through song and dance is toe tapping and engaging.

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I also have to say that there were moments that kleenex is needed. Lets be honest, John’s life as we are shown is only moments of heartbreak that are hidden with music, flashy outfits and smiles induced by drugs and alcohol. Believing the worst in himself by the stinging comments of those who profess to love him, if your heart doesn’t feel it on the screen then might I suggest hanging out with Sheila and Stanley!

It must also be said that Egerton’s outrageous and colorful performance is everything for this film. He had the audience laughing at times, sniffling a lot, and toe tapping if not trying to sing out loud to the songs we all know so well.

This is a film that brings us everything, tells us the tale of an icon and how thoroughly lucky that he went beyond the yellow brick road to stay with us. Elton John is someone in my own life who seemed to sing the words filled with emotion that floated around in my own head. Taupin didn’t hesitate to bring the words that we have been singing for the past twenty-five plus years.

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From Sacrifice, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Your Song, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, I’m Still Standing, Candle in the Wind, Daniel, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and my favorite, I Want Love.

For those of us who love Elton John, ROCKETMAN is the film that embraces the reasons why and lets us all into a life that explains so very much.

In the end – the only way to tell his story is to live his fantasy!

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GODZILLA: King of the Monsters

Godzilla cover

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Michael Dougherty and Warner Bros. Pictures is the return of the titans with GODZILLA: King of the Monsters.

It has been five years since the destruction that led to the death of Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma Russell’s (Vera Farmiga) son. Daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) has watched her parents go their separate ways not dealing with the loss.

Emma is working with an organization called Monarch and their goal is to find the Titans to learn more about them. In their underground bunker, Emma and Madison watch Mothra come into being. Helping to keep it under control, Emma created a device called the Orca that only these Titans can understand.

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Almost immediately there is an attack on the facility and the two are kidnapped by former soldier Jonah Alan (Charles Dance). Arriving at his place of research, Mark is told by Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) about the kidnapping.

He joins them back at the center station where Dr. Ling (Ziyi Zhang) and Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) explain what is happening around the world. The military wants to take over but the scientists believe there is another way.

In the meantime, Emma releases the titan called Ghidorah as more and more monsters like Baphomet, Typhoon, Abaddon, Bunuip and Methuselah wake up. Godzilla is also on his way to Zero and the team must decide if this is the beginning of working together.

The problem is there are people that can’t be trusted, titans who have a plan of their own and so many questions as to how to stop the destruction!

Chandler as Mark doesn’t want to get involved in what ever it is that Monarch is doing but once Emma and Madison are taken he has no choice. Especially when he realizes that it is technology he helped develop that is devastating. Chandler has the ability to look sorrowful when needed and jumps into action when he can.

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Farmiga as Russell takes on the titans when she should be home with her hubby Ed Warren (The Conjuring) keeping an eye on their evil artifacts. Brown as Madison is a kid who believes what she’s told and has to choose what is right and wrong – and then get back to the STRANGER THINGS cast.

Dance as Alan proves that you can take the Hand of the King out of Westeros but you can’t stop Tywinn from still wanting to rule the world. Whitford as Dr. Stanton is the sharp tongues comic relief especially when he sees his old White House stomping grounds in sad shape.

Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa is the strength of the group who is trying to keep Godzilla alive while trying to find a way to stop the other Titans. I adore Watanabe and this is a perfect character for him as it is strong but equally quiet. Zhang as Dr. Ling is caught up in every minute of the chaos and it’s nice to see Sayuri and the Chairman (Memoirs of a Geisha) together again.

Other cast include Thomas Middleditch as Sam Coleman, Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Chief Warrant Barnes, Anthony Ramos as Sgt. Martinez, Elizabeth Ludlow as Lt. Griffin, Jonathan Howard as Asher Jonah and David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz.

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Look, I know I am making a little fun of GODZILLA: King of the Monsters but there are moments crying out for me to poke fun. The story is straight forward, the technology is cutting edge, the graphics are on point and Godzilla never looked so good.

That being said, honestly I could have seen myself sitting at home watching this on a bit 75″ screen television with a sound bar and having a great time with friends. I am a kid of the black/white Godzilla/Mothra/Rodan era and I spent many a Friday night or Saturday afternoon watching the battles.

The first film directed by Ishiro Honda in 1954 introduced everyone to Gojira aka Godzilla and the reaction was huge. Everyone knows who Godzilla is even if the youngsters of today don’t know the back story. If they see a statue of Godzilla – they know!

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The radioactive lizard looking and extremely HUGE creature slips through the ocean with ease while destroying everything below his very large feet. I sort of have the same problem so I can relate!

From the 1950s until today, Godzilla is part of film history and an icon that we love. Although the films haven’t always been successful (sorry Matthew Broderick aka 1998 version), this story works even if it is cheesy, campy and predictable.

Prepare because Godzilla vs. King Kong is going to come large and in charge in 2020.

In the end – long live the king!

CAPTAIN MARVEL Joins the Universal Fight

mailJeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from directors Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Home Entertainment is a mystery unraveled in space and on Earth with CAPTAIN MARVEL.

Vers (Brie Larson) is a warrior who is part of the Kree race and has powers she received during an accident. Plagued with dreams of people she doesn’t know, she turns to mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who is a commander of the Starforce. He tries to instill the need to keep her powers in check.

Given a mission by the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), Yon-Rogg, Vers and the crew are sent to retrieve one of their own that has information they need. Instead they are ambushed by the Skrull, a tribe of shape shifters who want what is locked up in the mind of Vers and led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).

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Escaping the Skrull, Vers finds herself on Earth which is the last known location of a scientist who can help her unravel the mystery. Yon-Rogg is relieved that Vers is still alive but they both know the Skrull are not far behind. Enter Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who question Vers.

She is open with them but they don’t believe her until a Skrull comes out of no where and the chase begins. Fury follows and now believes her story! Trying to help her discover more information about who the Skrull are looking for, Vers begins to piece together some of her own dreams that have haunted her.

She finds Marie Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and a life that included the name Carol Danvers as everything begins to fall into place. Talos discovers where Danvers is and she learns there is more to all of this than meets the inter-galatic eye!

Larson as Captain Marvel is fairly straight forward in her role. She has a bit of a temper, doesn’t mind knocking people around a bit, has a biting sense of humor and wants answers. Trying to fit in with the Kree and trying to fit in on Earth, it is what is locked in her memory that can help her bridge the two worlds.

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Jackson as a younger Nick Fury gives us a little more of his back story and the beginnings of what is to come in the Marvel universe. There is no mistaking Jackson’s humor and attitude but along with that are a few answers as to how Nick Fury became Nick Fury. I always enjoy Jackson when he is being sarcastic but he also gets a few surprises of his own along the way.

Mendelsohn as Talos is a fighter, charming in his own way, equally witty as Captain Marvel and knows a thing or two about a good fight. He has his reasons for wanting what she has locked in her brain and he isn’t going to stop until he gets it. I’ve always enjoyed Mendelsohn as an actor and I absolutely love that he branches out in unpredictable roles.

Law as Yon -Rogg prides himself on mentoring Vers and wants to make sure that the Skrull are all but wiped out. He is a strong character that believes in what he is doing and has a skilled crew to back him up.

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Lynch as Rambeau is the only person on Earth, literally, that can help bring Danvers memory into focus. Along with daughter Monica played by Akbar, they aren’t at all frightened by what is in front of them by way of the Skrull and what lies in outer space waiting for them.

Bening as the Supreme Intelligence keeps a watchful eye over Vers and has an agenda of her own. Her role isn’t a big one but its impact is important on the storyline and it’s pretty cool to see her take on the dual role.

Other cast include Mckenna Grace as young Carol Danvers, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Lee Pace as Ronan, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Rune Temte as Bron-Char, Colin Ford as Steve Danvers, and Akira Akbar as Monica Rambeau.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began distributing under its own label in 1980 and continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available to add to your own family library please visit. www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

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

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 Bluray also includes the Bonus Extras of Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Big Hero Moment, The Origin of Nick Fury, The Skrulls and the Kree, Audio Commentary and so very much more!

CAPTAIN MARVEL joins the ranks of the Marvel Universe and is given the opportunity to tell her story. She is animated, can handle her own and has a few witty remarks in her almost skin tight uniform. Of course there is more to the story and I’m sure Marvel will be telling it but there is also that little nudge of where she fits in with the Avengers.

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Super heroine fans are going to continue to be pleased watching the film again (if not for the first time) and it is a nice two hour get away from the real world.

What I did love as it hurt my heart was the opening sequence as a fantastic nod to everything Stan Lee has done for us all. His cameos always has and will continue to bring cheering and CAPTAIN MARVEL is no exception. The man who made comic books legends and iconic characters deserves nothing less and everything more.

The film comes in at around two hours and if that’s not enough don’t worry; she will be back again and sooner than you think.

In the end – discover what makes her a (her)o!

ALADDIN Brings Live Action to the Screen

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Guy Ritchie and Walt Disney Pictures is the story of a princess and a thief named ALADDIN.

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a young man who finds his way around the city of Agrabah stealing to survive along with his friend, the monkey Abu. He also sees what the people of the city endure and tries help when he can. One day he meets Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who also wants to help those in need.

Telling Aladdin that she is the hand maiden to the Princess, they outrun the guards and spend a little time together. While looking out over the city, Jasmine realizes that a new suitor has landed and makes her leave from Aladdin to get back to the palace.

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Once there she is introduced to Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) by her father the Sultan (Navid Negahban) with Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Sultan’s Vizier watching on. Jasmine isn’t impressed and along with her real hand maiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) and tiger Raja, she saunters away.

That’s when Aladdin makes his way to the palace to return a bracelet and is apprehended by Jafar. Sitting on the desert floor, Jafar explains that he doesn’t stand a chance with the princess but, if he does one thing for him, Aladdin could be paid handsomely. All he has to do is enter the Cave of Wonders and return a lamp – and just a lamp.

Things go awry and Aladdin along with Abu get caught in the cave. It is what comes out of the lamp that could save them – a Genie (Will Smith). Given three wishes, Aladdin tries to choose a life with Jasmine by becoming a Prince. Of course the one person who isn’t happy about this is Jafar. He has plans that don’t include the Sultan or Aladdin.

Jasmine finds herself thrilled with Prince Ali but plays a little hard to get. The Genie has an eye for someone as well so both are enjoying life. That is until it is all about to come crashing down as Jafar has his own little spy in a parrot named Yago.

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In Agrabah, anything and everything is possible if you believe!

I’m sure families are going to be thrilled to see ALADDIN mainly because it is always a joy to be able to see a film that is oriented for kids. Making an afternoon of colorful characters along with song and dance is always a good afternoon. That’s what Disney has been known for and attempts with this film to follow in its history.

Massoud and Scott as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine play their roles and although difficult to break the mold of the 1992 animated version, this is cartoon come to life. The same can be said of Smith attempting to fill the role that Robin Williams made so iconic.

In the case of these three characters I applaud their attempt to embrace their animated counterparts. That being said, there seems to be a sense of detachment in their portrayals that I couldn’t get past. Massoud and Scott work well together but there are hits and misses along the way. Scott’s rendition of a woman’s empowerment tune just seemed more like a cry for help.

Smith as the Genie is blue, he sings and he is charming. I like Smith, don’t get me wrong, I just have a hard time embracing this version of him or the Genie. He also had a few missteps with his songs except obviously for the raps. Pedrad as Dalia get to throw out a few clever lines and be thrilled that a man has taken interest in her.

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Kenzari as Jafar doesn’t exactly give the same frights and sense of doom as his animated counterpart but he did make me laugh. I’m not sure that was the point of his performance but he does give it a different perspective.

Other cast include Jordan A. Nash as Omar, Taliyah Blair as Lian, Aubrey Lin as Omi, Amir Boutrous as Jamal, and Numan Acar as Hakim.

ALADDIN is colorful, filled with music, dance and filled with special effects and as I said, that’s the Disney way. The problem is that there didn’t feel as if there was a need to make it a live action film. I would have been thrilled to see the original cleaned up a little and put back on the big screen for a special engagement.

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Yes, it’s fairly clear that I am not a fan of taking films that have delighted fans and families for years and feel the need to make them “live”. I know the song and dance of ‘but it’s for a new generation’ – welp, I am still here and breathing and I’d appreciate it if Hollywood would put a moratorium on remaking, retelling, reimagining or rethinking any more films for oh, say seventy-five years.

Instead, put the money where it could be better spent – on originality and new stories for the next generation to enjoy. That’s my soapbox and I’m happy standing on it.

In the meantime, enjoy ALADDIN with your family with a big tub of popcorn and sing along because you’ll know the words, that hasn’t changed.

In the end – the magic is live!

BOOKSMART Brings Teen Comedy in Time for Summer

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Olivia Wilde and Annapurna Pictures is the story of the last night of the first night of their lives after being BOOKSMART.

Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are two girls who have spent their years in libraries and studying. In those years Molly and Amy became the best of friends and know each other secrets and habits. Their idea of fun isn’t exactly like most seniors in high school.

Even Principal Brown (Jason Sudeikis) knows that about the two girls. Molly being class president and valedictorian on the class, she is making sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before saying goodbye to the halls that educated her.

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Overhearing a conversation, Molly learns that students she thought didn’t take school seriously are attending colleges just as prestigious as hers! The thought sends her into a tizzy and tells Amy that they are not going to sit home in their pj’s on their final night.

That’s when she learns that Nick (Mason Gooding) is having a final wild party and convinces Amy that going is the only way they are going to redeem themselves. It also gives Amy a chance to hang out with Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) and Molly can visit with Nick.

The problem is that with every move they make to try to get to the party, something else gets in their way and mayhem ensues. From Jared (Skyler Gisondo) leading them astray to Gigi (Billie Lourd) freaking them out every place they go, Molly is not going to let anything to her from getting to Nick’s.

When they finally arrive, everything changes – even Molly and Amy! Their friendship is riding on the party and put to the test. Then again…it’s only high school right?

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Feldstein as Molly is the spokesperson for the dynamic duo. She knows what she wants and pretty much tells Amy every bit of it. Yet there is a believeability in the way she speaks to her friend and their relationship from beginning to end. I enjoyed Feldstein so much and she reminded me a little of someone I know.

Dever as Amy is charming, sweet and in love with someone who doesn’t know she exists. It is clear she loves her friendship with Molly and although reminding me a bit of Cameron Frye from FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. She goes along to get along and even if she’s having fun, there are moments where fun makes her very nervous.

Gisondo as Jared is absolutely outrageous yet there is something sweet about him. Perhaps it’s because he understands Molly and Amy more than he is given credit for. Gooding as Nick is the guy in school who just wants to have a good time and isn’t seen as a serious student. Sudeikis as the Principal is hilarious and in a role that totally gives him the opportunity to just totally go crazy in a great way.

Okay, it must be said Lourd as Gigi is absolutely hysterical. I just love this character but mainly because of what she says and what she does. A free spirit that’s a little bit on the nutty side and no one more than Lourd deserves to just let loose.

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Other cast include Will Forte as Doug, Diana Silvers as Hope, Molly Gordon as Triple A, Eduardo Franco as Theo, Nico Hiraga as Tanner, Austin Crute as Alan, Jessica Williams as Miss Fine and Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine.

BOOKSMART is charming, funny, silly, and gives the audience a look at pieces of their own high school days. There are the usual misunderstandings, cliques, misconceptions and chances to have one last opportunity to a make a mark that could be memorable forever.

After all, isn’t that what high school is all about? The mistakes that are made, the plans that change every other day, friendships that in some cases become life long (I happen to know a few of those) and broken hearts, oh yes, the high school broken hearts most everyone has experienced. Most of all, the pure laughs about who we were and hopefully who we all turned out to be.

In the end – getting straight A’s and giving zero F’s.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Hidden World is Stunning on Bluray

How to Train Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Flying onto Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from writer/director Dean DeBlois, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation is the return to Berk and our favorite characters in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Hidden World.

Life in Berk has been busy and becoming slightly crowded as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Toothless and Astrid (America Ferrera) lead their friends on adventures to stop the capture of their winged friends. That is went Hiccup remembers his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) telling him the story of the Hidden World that is considered a safe haven for dragons.

Thinking they would search further out for it, Hiccup meets Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) who finds out that after hunting all the Night Fury’s – there is one left! He tells Hiccup to turn over his dragon or watch the destruction of everything around him.

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What the leader doesn’t know is that a beautiful white Light Fury has caught the attention of Toothless and he is smitten from moment one. Hiccup must tell his people what Grimmel is planning and they decide to leave Berk and look for the Hidden World together.

Discovering a beautiful island, they rest for a short while which gives Hiccup time to plan their next move and give Toothless time to be with the dragon of his dreams. Mom Valka (Cate Blanchett) flies back towards Berk to see how long they have before Grimmel’s attack ships get to them.

Hiccup and Astrid follow toothless and discover the Hidden World and see for themselves the beauty the dragons have built for themselves. They also see that Toothless has become their leader and when they try to protect their Alpha, Toothless is forces to save his friend.

All of this has fallen straight into the hands of Grimmel who captures Toothless and Light Fury and that doesn’t sit well with dragons or the people of Berk. Friendship and loyalty come together to fight for each other!

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Baruchel as Hiccup returns to finish the story he began telling us from the first film in 2010. He is now a young leader still trying to find his place and Toothless is his touchstone. Astrid is still strong on his life and he wants a bigger future with her but the crowding of the village takes precedent at the moment. My family has come to adore Hiccup as his frailties and flaws are right out front. He has become an important animated role model and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that (just ask my granddaughter).

Ferrera returns as Astrid who has also grown in her role as a strong woman in the middle of a little dragon madness. She supports Hiccup but doesn’t forget who she is and what she has to offer the village. Blanchett as Valka is another strong warrior presence in the village even if she has an admirer that brings us all giggles.

Abraham as Grimmel is a man who just needs a hug or something. Killing off all the other Night Fury’s, he is hostile when discovering he missed one. He plots and plans to get Toothless and is patient to make that happen.

Ferguson as Gobber is still hilarious and full of wisdom in a twisted sort of way that I enjoy. Hill returns as Snotlout and has plenty to say even though I’m not sure he realizes how silly he is. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs has totally embraced dragon motherhood. Justin Rupple as Tuffnut who tries to give Hiccup marriage advice but it’s hard to take seriously a guy who fakes his beard. Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut who is tough and mouthy yet – I like her.

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Kit Harington returns as Eret who fits into the Berk pack like he was always meant to be there. Robin Downes as Ack, Kieron Elliott as Hoark, Gideon Emery as Trapper and Julia Emelin as Griselda the Grevious.

How to Train Your Dragon is a twelve book series by author Cressida Cowell. The first book published in 2003 has been a huge success and the books can be found world wide. DreamWorks Animation has also brought the dragons to the smaller screen with an animated television series that kids just love. I mean having dragons more often is always a good thing!

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.

DreamWorks Animation brings amazing animated entertainment to films, television specials and series for the young and young at heart audiences around the world. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.dreamworksanimation.com.

The Bluray includes the Bonus Features of Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks Shorts: Bilby and Bird Karma, Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, How to Voice Your Viking, Creating an Epic Dragon Tale, How I Learned from Dragons, The Dragon Sheep Chronicles, Growing Up with Dragons and so much more and I’m telling you the Bonus Features are a must-see!

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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.

This final film in the series is beautiful and laced with everything we have come to expect from Hiccup, Toothless, Berk and the entire gang. What is even more stunning about the film is that as each of the films has gone along, so has the timeline for the characters. In this film that have each come into their own and made a memorable place in their community.

Much of the time we don’t see the progression of animated characters if there is more than one. In the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON trilogy, we have seen Hiccup grow from a young boy to a man and Toothless grow by his side (along with the rest of Berk). The series has dealt with life and death as well as everything in between when a community is as close as this one is.

Each film has made me laugh hilariously; get teary eyed a little and even now will openly admit to moments where an ‘awwwwwww’ or two escapes my lips. Now my granddaughter and I have the opportunity to watch our favorite Vikings again and again as your family can now do.

I am thrilled with the way DreamWorks closed the trilogy and as much as I know I’m going to miss visiting the characters of Berk, the storyline of the closure was epic and satisfying in a heartwarming way…now everyone can revisit Berk anytime.

In the end – their final quest and the friendship of a lifetime!

 

 

HBO Brings a Riveting Series with CHERNOBYL

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Jeri Jacquin

Currently on HBO is a five-part series created by Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck to tell the story of the 1986 disaster we all know as CHERNOBYL.

In April of 1986, an explosion rocks the Soviet Union in more ways than one. A nuclear power plant known as Chernobyl has exploded and from the moment it happened, no one realized exactly how devastating it would all become.

With a cast that stars Jared Harris as scientist Valery Legasov, it is his knowledge of what he saw once called in for his expertise by Boris Shcherbina played by Stellan Skarsgard that is riveting. Adding Emily Watson as Ulana Khomyuk, another scientist who fills in even more terrifying news that has so far rounded out those in the know about what to do next.

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Director Renck doesn’t leave a single thing out in the way of devastation both to the building and the human beings left inside trying to discover how bad it is. Once Legasov and Shcherbina comes together, they are the brain and the mouthpiece that need to convince Mikhail Gorbachev (David Dencik) that action, although late, needs to be swift.

From the moment of the explosion, reality may be in front of the eyes of the crew and firefighters with an almost instant effect, but it is those in charge who fail to accept what is truly happening.

That is another riveting aspect of CHERNOBYL, watching the average citizen slowly become aware that something is seriously wrong and knowing at the same time it is unlikely their government would tell them the truth. One woman who isn’t about to wait around for answers is Lyudmilla Ignatenko (Jessie Buckley), wife of firefighter Vasily (Adam Nagaitis).

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There is no doubt that CHERNOBYL does not have happy moments in the first few episodes because there can’t be. In fact what the first few episodes show us is nothing short of a hellish nightmare filled with not only the instant horror but the horror to come for the people living around the plant and other countries in the path of a nuclear cloud.

Harris as Legasov knows immediately what they are up against but also knows that he has a partial gag in being allowed to speak. There is a presence in Harris’ performance that is just short of him wanting to scream out the truth yet has the good sense to tread lightly. That is until its time to not treat lightly. His performance continues to astound me and I can not wait to see the final three episodes.

Skarsgard is one of my favorite actors and in this role he gets a chance to play both sides against the middle. Almost immediately believing Legasov (especially when he sees with his own eyes what has happened at the power plant), Skarsgard takes his character to a dangerous place and that is in making decisions without the direct approval of Gorbachev.

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Watson as Ulana comes in before an even larger disaster takes place. She becomes the second scientific voice of reason and both Legasov and Shcherbina trust her immediately. Watson continues to choose roles that are challenging and I enjoy everything she does and CHERNOBYL is brilliant.

The cast is filled with outstanding performances that also include Paul Ritter as Anatoly Dyatlov, Sam Troughton as Aleksandr Akimov, Robert Emms as Leonid Toptunov, Adam Lundgren as Vyacheslav Brazhnik, Karl Davies as Viktor Proskuryakov, Jay Simpson as Valery Perevozchenko, Billy Postlethwaite as Boris Stolyarchuk, and Adrian Rawlins as Nikolai Formin.

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Also starring Con O’Neill as Viktor Bryukhanov, Donald Sumpter as Zharkov, Barry Keoghan as Pavel, Ralph Ineson as Nikolai Tarakanov, Mark Jones as Vladimir Pikalov, Alex Ferns as Blukhov, Michael Colgan as Mikhail Shchadov, Alan Williams as Chairman Charkov and David Dencik as Mikhail Gorbachev.

The show is jaw dropping and even heart breaking in the story it tells. When looking for a show that is absolutely worthy of your time, might I suggest you tune in and see for yourself as CHERNOBYL can be seen on HBO.

 

Finale of GAME OF THRONES Brings Emotional Duality and a Few Worthy Memes

 

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Jeri Jacquin

Well, our time in Westeros has come to an end and that saddens me in a dual way. I came to enjoy my Sunday evenings all cured up with my yarn crocheting while watching (yes I can crochet without looking) the antics of heroes and villains I either openly cheered and jeered or even secretly cheered.

The cast of GAME OF THRONES is one fans have felt they have watched grow into their characters. From the first season even I wasn’t sure what this was all about having not read the books but was immediately curious with each episode. I’m not sure if it was because I wanted to see if Sean Bean lived (as he tended not to do with his characters) or my love of period pieces but week after week I stayed.

The journey of the Stark clan with Ned (Bean), Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), Robb (Richard Madden), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Wright) and the bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) didn’t take long to be put under the thumb of the Lannisters’.

MY GAME

Speaking of a dysfunctional family led by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), daughter Cersei Lannister-Baratheon (Lena Headey), along with sons Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) made sure fans appreciated their own families more. Of course dangling on that family tree was also the kid most likely to be strangled by the masses Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) amongst the rest of the kids.

Then there was this little blonde Targaryen girl named Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who was traded to a very tall Dothraki leader in the form of Jason Momoa. Of course there is a history of craziness in her own family that she needs to come to terms with. That little marriage brought out the Mother of Dragons who flew her way into creating an army as we all cheered her on.

Of course behind the two families were such characters as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), The Hound (Rory McCann), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and the beloved Hodor (Kristian Nairn).

There are so many characters to name that I just don’t have enough room or time to write this all out so let’s move on and know that I am giving credit to every character as they are due with our humble thanks.

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Onward, each season the story line grew bigger and bigger, so much so that I couldn’t wait to go to Comic Con and sit in on the panel AND happily receive a goodie that included an awesome bag and inside a book so that I could read what I was missing, Seeing the casts on panels, it was fun to hear them talk about their time on the show as well as trying so very hard not to give anything away.

As the story unfolded season after season there was plans, survival, death, secrets, destruction, betrayal, power struggles (with family and with distant family) and all in the name of the Iron Throne and who will end up sitting on it. We began with Robert Baratheon and his friendship with Ned Stark and ended up with Joffrey being the next king (and I use a small ‘k’ because it fits him). Joffrey was the kind of king who would burn the wings of flies with a magnifying glass while his mother Cersei stands behind egging him on.

That’s when Sansa gets put into play between the Starks and Lannisters but there is oh so much more to that story. As the houses begin to shift and loyalties become apparent, the one person who isn’t loyal to anyone is Tyrion and that’s when I started cheering for him. Yes, I understand that he has a problem with prostitutes and he likes to spout that ‘That’s what I do, I drink and I know things!’ becoming his (and our) mantra.

We watched weddings, funerals, battles, enemies from far away and enemies close up fighting for supremacy, lack of love, a few crushes, women being passed on and men being passed over, magic, dragons, friendships (both faked and deserved), honesty wrapped in lies, and oh so much more in Westeros. Our loyalties, like the characters in Westeros, were solid – until they weren’t.

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The break between season 7 and 8 was the longest break in the show and fans believed, as I did, that it was because the last season would be epic. We bit our collective tongues when it was announced that there would only be six episodes, and we bit even harder when we learned collectively that it would be almost two years before the end would happen. Okay, we are die-hards, we can take it…right….RIGHT?

And so we all did, rumors would drop here and there and speculation about what would happen in the final season kept fans going until the first trailer dropped. I think the world might have stopped spinning for a second or two when that happened. It didn’t give us much but it was something and we were raised to believe that it was better than nothing.

Then that first Sunday brought us all back, and sometimes in groups, to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Bets were placed, surveys taken, and polls done with different opinions varying with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys, Arya and Sansa being the top picks. Of course I had my pick which I will save till the end of this rant, rave or otherwise.

Each episode brought out grumbling fans who weren’t to happy with how the stories were playing out. The grumblings were a bit low until the infamous ‘coffee cup’ screw up that hit the internet like wildfire. It started out as funny until people begin writing that this isn’t the first ‘ooops’ that had been caught in this season and many began to see it as lack of caring. That translated into fans feeling slapped with a freshly caught trout across the kisser by the creators.

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Along with that petitions started wandering around the internet demanding that the entire 8th season be redone. I actually thought that myself but in a more amused way because we all know that it would never happen. With all the complaining it was only a matter of time before creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss tried to humor there way out of the complaining. I read an article about it and laughed myself thinking ‘well this is one way to thumb your nose at fans’.

As the finale drew near, I put my favorite Westeros shirt on and filled up my Tyrion “that’s what I do is drink and I know things’ cup and prepared to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Yet, there was a nagging feeling I couldn’t shake that with the way the final season had been going, I should just take a deep breath and suck it up that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.

That’s exactly what happened, I didn’t get what I wanted. Now its easy to say ‘well no one is going to always be happy with the way things end on a long running series’, tis true enough, however – that’s not what disappointed me.

What caught me was the duality of feeling regarding the final season. So here’s the pros and cons of what went on inside my head these past few weeks (insert deep breath here, a crack of the knuckles and fingers on the keys…here we go!).

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Let’s start with the downers shall we? What disappointed me is just the ‘lack-of’ I felt in the final season. The waste of time with these long drawn on scenes of longing looks or pull back camera work instead of putting the effort into talking, telling the story and really getting in there to let the characters hands get really dirty before its all over. It felt like a lack of umph that we would never have come to expect from GAME OF THRONES.

Each episode was about an hour and a half and yet there wasn’t anything there that made me feel like my subscription to HBO was worth it. I felt like, without reading the final book, that there was so much room to play out the story effectively instead of special effects. Sure, I have no idea what it takes to bring a show like GAME OF THRONES to the screen and sure I don’t have any idea how much it costs but lets be honest – that’s not my job and it’s not the viewers job to know that.

I don’t want dark battles, I don’t want long battles – I get it, there’s a dragon that they used sparingly and you can’t kill white walkers because the Night King has a wavering hands that revives them. Did I need a whole hour and a half of that? Nope. Did I need to see and hour and a half of Cersei staring at the destruction of Kings Landing? Nope. Did I need an hour and a half of a dragon burning innocent people into ash? Nope. Such a waste of time – my time – everyone’s time. THEN, the finale ends up being an hour and 20 minutes? Seriously?

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My remark on Twitter that the season was “lazy” is exactly how I feel, and even more-so with the finale. The only character I was riveted by was Tyrion because Dinklage showed me something, made me feel something even if I didn’t like his choice. The only character I thought had a pair was Sansa and her declaration that was basically, ‘screw you all, I’m doing what I want….period…so peace out!’.

We aren’t even hours after the finale when, once again, a mysterious item shows up on the screen. Behind the leg of Samwell when the leaders bring Tyrion to them at the hands of Grey Worm – a plastic water bottle. Do you see what I mean by lazy? With each mistake that is on screen the suspension of disbelief is crushed and we only went to Westeros each week to be taken OUT of reality.

On the other hand…….

What did we learn on our journey? We learned that absolute power corrupts absolutely so sometimes melting a throne is best and love doesn’t conqueror all, in fact in Westeros love could get you killed and usually did. We understood many things about the trials of some characters and we embraced others who seemed un-embraceable. Twisted life lessons but lessons all the same.

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From the very beginning we all knew this was a game, a game among men and women for a throne, something that didn’t care about any of them was easily taken away. A game of life and death and there was plenty of that to go around from all the seven kingdoms.

We also learned that loyalty exists, friendships can come from the most unlikely places, that family (even dysfunctional ones) will beat each other up but let no one else do it and that magic is in the eyes of the beholder. All of these things are what makes us love GAME OF THRONES even when we are disgruntled by it.

We will all settle in time, we will watch and re-watch until a comfortability sets in. We will wait to see if the prequels that are rumored will give us back our Sunday’s evenings of being whisked away to another time, another place and another story and restore our suspension of disbelief.

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In Westeros, after everything, they are beginning again. Perhaps not as they wished and not as we wish but we are left knowing that they do go on in some form or another. In our own imaginations let us hope that the choices made in the finale send them all on their way to a peace not known in Westeros for eight season.

So we should all take a collective deep breath and remember, there are always box sets coming of every season to enjoy whenever you feel the need to visit old friends and enemies. It should keep us busy until we see the first trailer to the prequel to GAME OF THRONES.

In the words of Tyrion and the truth is in it, even after everything that has happened in the years we’ve all invested in GAME OF THRONES, “even knowing what I know now, I’d do it again” – and we will.

Two Hours in the Dark with JOHN WICK: Chapter Three – Parabellum! 

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Chad Stahelski and Lionsgate Is the next installment on the journey of JOHN WICK: Chapter Three – Parabellum.

Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still on the run especially now since it has been declared that he is ‘excommunicado’ for killing a man at the Continental – major boo-boo. Basically it means that all the dogs are off their leashes with a W$14 million dollar bounty and no rest anytime soon for him.

Those he has relied on now tread carefully because the Table has sent The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to punish anyone who has helped Wick to this point. Her first task is to sentence Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and The Director (Angelica Huston).

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Wick knows he has only one chance, to find The Elder (Said Taghmaoul) to ask how he can make this all stop. The one person who can make the meeting happen is Sophia (Halle Berry) who isn’t actually thrilled to see him at the door. Watching his every move is Zero (Mark Dacascos), an assassin who is quick and deadly.

Making a deal with the devil, as it were, Wick returns to The Continental where an all out war is declared.

Reeves as Wick has most definitely made sure no one else could possible take his place. He is still broody, still soft spoken and can still give a killer glare that gives nothing away. Oh, and one more thing, he can still make my heart flip-flop in that funny exciting way. What he also does is bring sympathy to a character we should all probably be afraid of!

McShane returns as Winston, the manager of The Continental who has a flare for words, for the finer things in life and has an elegant way of letting who ever know that he is going no where. His affinity for Wick is obvious but there is also a sneakiness about him that makes me give him side eye constantly. Well done!

Berry as Sophia has a history with Wick that is filled with a little rage yet she has no problem wielding a gun when wrong comes her way. Reddick as Charon keeps his concierge desk refined and run like a well oiled machine. I just love his calm demeanor, even when bullets are flying past his face.

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Fishburne as the Bowery King is a rougher version of Winston running his bowery as he sees fit. He regrets nothing and is always looking at the bigger picture – that is his saving grace. Fishburne still has it and Wick should be glad he does.

Huston as The Director knows that even though there is an excommunicado order, there is one thing higher than that even if The Table doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I just love when Huston plays roles like this because she is a tough broad and I love it.

Dacascos as Zero, aka the Iron Chef Chairman, is fantastic! From the moment his character hits the screen to the very last frame he brings martial arts and twisted humor to the film. Taghmaoul as The Elder brings his own brand of justice and a plan for Wick to stop all the madness.

A serious shout out to Dillion as The Adjudicator and let me tell you why. I have NEVER heard outcries throughout a film when one character shows up on a screen. I’ll admit I was one of them yelling at the screen toward this cold hearted character who felt she was above everything and untouchable. When a room full of people react the same way to a character then listen because 1,000 people can’t be wrong!

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Thumbs up to Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog, Cecep Arif Rahman as The Assassin and Man of Tai Chi as Tiger Hu Chen for taking on the Baba Yaga with admiration and humor and, of course, sweeping martial arts moves and guts for taking on the boogeyman!

Other cast include Jerome Flynn as Berrada, Randall Duk Kim as Doctor, Margaret Daley as Operator, Tobias Segal as Earl, Obin Lord Taylor as Administrator, Susan Blommaert as Librarian, Jason Mantzoukas as Tick Tock Man, Sergio Delavicci as Ruska Roma, and Boban Marjanovic as Ernest.

Lets be honest here, anyone who loves the JOHN WICK franchise won’t need me to say anything to convince them to see the film. But let’s pretend there are those who haven’t seen any of the films or even know who John Wick is, wait, what?

Sorry, had to shake off that thought because seriously it is almost incomprehensible to the Keanu Reeves warm and fuzzy side of my brain. Moving onward!

From the first five seconds of the film until the last five seconds of the film I think blinking didn’t much happen for me. There is little downtime and since John Wick doesn’t get any, then WE don’t get any either. This is a ride we take with him and the filmmaker made damn sure we are exhausted by the end – or are we?

Audience participation in films can go between being a good or irritating thing. Let me tell you in the case of JOHN WICK: Chapter Three-Parabellum it is almost an involuntary reflex. The gasps, the shock, the wicked (pardon the semi-pun) humor, the action, the story, the cinematography that are happening on screen create the shouting at the screen from the audience.

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During this screening I heard shouting, applause, cheering, guttural reactions of groaning, hostility, actual hissing and a theatre full of people rooting for a different kind of super-hero. I can not even count how many times The Adjudicator was a target of audience wanna-be verbal assassins. People in front of me were jumping, the gentleman beside me was constantly fist pumping with a ‘yesssssssssssss’ and comments behind me ranged from ‘they don’t know who they’re dealing with’ to ‘ouch – that’s gonna leave a mark’.

We were in unison with cheering, applause and groans which makes JOHN WICK: Chapter 3 – Parabellum a group experience. This is the reason we go to the movies (at least a lot of us anyway), to be transported, entertained and walk out of the theatre alive and full of conversation that is going to last for days.

Personally, I was completely exhausted not even realizing how much this film was slowly draining me. Yes, yes, I realize it is Reeves and the cast who worked their collective asses off to bring the story to the screen so let it be known that they drained every bit of everything out of this viewer.

That being said it should also be stated that I may be personally exhausted but after spending two glorious hours in the dark with John Wick aka Keanu Reeves, I’d gladly do it again, and again….and again.

In the end – if you want peace then prepare for war!

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