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SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Sonic poster

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday with break-neck speed from director Jeff Fowler and Paramount Pictures comes a new meaning to the word fast provided by SONIC THE HEDGEHOG.

Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) is the local law in their small town where nothing really happens. When a letter arrives offering him a job in San Francisco, wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) believes he will finally be happy with the life change. When she goes off to San Fran to look for a place to live, Tom is back on duty trying to figure out how to tell everyone.

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In the surrounding forest lives Sonic (Ben Schwartz), a blue alien who knows everything about Tom and pretty much everyone else. Trying to stay under the radar, imagine the surprise when a disturbing town power outage brings Sonic face-to-face with Tom! The rather unusual event also catches the attention of Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who isn’t about to let anything stop him from discovering the truth.

Using his uber technology, Robotnik finds himself at Tom’s doorstep and the two make it plain what their intentions are. Robotnik wants the fast-blue alien and Tom wants to protect Sonic from anyone getting their hands on hurting him. Making a run for it, it becomes clear that Sonic has to leave Earth but the only way to do that is by the pouch of rings that accidentally got sent to the top of a building in San Francisco.

It’s time for them to take a road trip and what happens along the way brings about learning for them both including a little fun. But they are always looking behind them to see how close the relentless Dr. Robotnik is because he isn’t at all about having fun – he’s about being in control.

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Tom and Sonic have a few tricks up their sleeve to give their nemesis something to think about!

Marsden as Tom is a small-town sheriff who doesn’t realize what kind of life that truly is. Meeting Sonic isn’t just about protecting an alien, their time together really gives him an opportunity to see the world in a different way – through Sonic’s eyes. Marsden is charming, sweet and patient (not sure I could be THAT patient) and doesn’t scare easily. Watching Marsden take on Robotnik is entertaining but then again, his whole character is.

Schwartz as the voice of Sonic is fast talking and fast on his feet. Most of us know the character of Sonic but don’t hear him in the video games (yes, I play video games!) so finally hearing him speak in the film is fun, silly (as my granddaughter says) and full of spunk and excitement.

Carrey as Dr. Robotnik is nothing short of stunning, hilarious and everything my family and I wanted to see. Having seen a sneak peek last year presented by Carrey himself, no one was going to tell me if the film was good, bad or indifferent – I was going to see it! This is a comic who has always made me and daughter Jenise laugh and that is saying something. From the very first we knew there was something unique about his humor and special about his ability to use facial expressions and timing. As Robotnik I laughed at his cutting (and admittedly sometimes adult humor) and now can’t imagine anybody else playing Robotnik (or Egg-man as the granddaughter prefers to call him).

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Sumpter as wife Maddie is the calm in the middle of the Sonic Storm. She supports whatever Tom wants to do but when she sees Sonic, the extra calm kicks in because she isn’t going to move from her spot until her questions are answered. Melody Niemann as JoJo is absolutely adorable and the reason behind one of Sonics iconic accessories. Shout out to Natasha Rothwell as Maddie’s sister Rachel because she is hilarious. Not exactly thrilled that her sister is married to Tom, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to throw her two cents in which is thrown back when Sonic is near!

Other cast include Tom Butler as Commander Walters, Frank Turner as Crazy Carl, Elfina Luk as Secretary of Homeland Security, Adam Pally as Billy Robb, Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone and Neal McDonough as Major Bennington.

Let me get this out of the way and move on, I am thrilled that they made the changes to Sonic as now he feels and looks more like the character as I thought he should look. He is edgy, really blue and, well, fast! Also, this is going to be a strictly liking the film or it not being on your film radar, it’s a simple as that.

Now, I taught my granddaughter to play the original Sega Sonic the Hedgehog and she picked up on it quick and learned all the characters without me saying a word! Now, she has her sonic pajamas, socks, stuffed doll and the most awesome sunglasses. It is hard to believe that my first experience with Sonic was a game played back in in 1991 taught to me by my sons. The following Christmas they got me a Sega system to play the games and – are you ready for this? – I still have it and it still works (are you reading this Sega?).

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So, to go see the film with my family was beyond fun, it was a great day at the theatre. Look, this isn’t rocket science, it is just an escape to the movies for families that want to do something fun together. The adults are going to be brought back to a pretty cool time in their then young lives and the kids are going to giggle at all the antics Sonic provides.

It is the reason we go to the movies as a family, there is something for everyone and with a run time of 99 minutes there isn’t a second of non-stop action. There are just silly laughs and a good time with the family.

In the end – when the world needs a hero…think fast!

Take to New Heights with SWIFT

Swift cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to selected theatres, AppleTV, Amazon and selected digital platforms from directors Andrea Block, Christian Haas and Shout Studios comes the story of a brave little SWIFT.

Manou (voiced by Josh Keaton) is a little bird who has lost his parents. Taken in by seagulls Blanche (Kate Winslet) and Yves (Willem Dafoe) they try to teach him what it means to be a seagull. Even brother Luc (Mike Kelly) adores Manou and can’t imagine a day without him.

The problem is that the rest of the seagulls aren’t too happy with Manou, especially when on guard duty over the eggs from the pesky rats that try to steal them. Trying to fight them off, one egg is stolen, and the rest of the gulls want Manou to leave – especially when Manou discovers he is adopted and not a gull – in fact he is a swift!

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Meeting up with other swifts, Manou learns how to fly, find food he likes and make friends. He starts to have feelings for Kalifa (Cassandra Steen), a girl swift who is ready to teach Manou about swift life! He also has Percival (David Shaughnessy) who knows a thing or two about being a different kind of feathered friend along with Kalifa’s brothers Poncho (Arif Kinchen) and Yusuf (Nolan North).

When Manou learns that he has the ability to foretell the weather, it is a storm like no other where he brings swift and seagull together and shatters a belief system that needs it!

Keating voicing Manou is so delightful. From the moment he hatches he just gets cuter and cuter and with the help of Keating, the little swift finds his voice and shares his feelings with us all. I have to say the animation for Manou couldn’t be more stunning.

Dafoe as Yves is a father who wants to try to change Manou into forgetting who he truly is. Very protective and loving in his own way, he gives in to gull pressure and makes a decision that puts his family’s feelings and feathers in jeopardy. Winslet as Blanche is an accepting and loving mother who is heartbroken when Manou goes his own way. She gives the little swift love from the moment she sees him and believes in everything that he is, not what others want him to be.

Kelly as Luc is a beautiful, loving and supportive brother who would do anything for Manou. It literally comes through the screen when the family is torn. Steen as Kalifa is full of spirit and fun yet doesn’t make fun of Manou’s ways but instead is intrigued by them!

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The comic relief also comes in the form of Shaughnessy, Kinchen and North with their antics and outlook on the world. Sometimes bird of a feather can flock together in ways that are extraordinary and full of life lessons for us non feathered folk!

Shout! Studios is the filmed entertainment production and distribution arm of Shout! Factory, specializing in all aspects of distribution, including theatrical, VOD, digital and broadcast. Reflecting Shout! Factory’s ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence, Shout! Studios champions and supports like-minded filmmakers and creators at the forefront of pop culture, driving creative expression and diversity in independent storytelling. Shout! Studios finances, produces, acquires and distributes an eclectic slate of movies, award-winning animated features, specialty films and series from rising and established talent, filmmakers and producers.

SWIFT is a delightful and though provoking film and mixed in that is comedy and stunning scenery. It made me want to be a bird of any kind to be able to live on the cliffs above a vast and beautiful ocean. The characters are so memorable in every way with their distinguishable personalities.

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I have to throw in a shout out to the Sandpipers because they had me laughing so much from the very start. I adore them but also agree that how they are portrayed in the film is pretty much how I thought they would react to water, hilarious.

The animation is so colorful and full of life that is drew me in deeper to the story. I truly loved every moment of the story with an ending that gave me even more giggles. SWIFT is a story about acceptance, love, family (no matter who you include in the gang), lessons, fighting for what’s right and, most of all, believing in yourself so you can soar!

In the end – find your place in the sky!

AD ASTRA Takes to Space Again on Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin
This week on Bluray and Digital from directors James Gray, Dan Bradley and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes a story of a man who needs to save the planet with AD ASTRA.
Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut who has the uncanny knack for keeping his emotions under control. Constantly being monitored for flight readiness, it has come at the expense of his relationship with Eve (Liv Tyler). During an accident at work, his superiors notice that he kept a level head. What Roy learns is that the accident is caused by the Lima Project that was run by his father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones).
The senior McBride left years earlier in search of other life in the universe. Hailed as a hero for his work in space, that is what Roy remembers or more so what he has been told.
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He is given the mission to go to Mars and send a transmission to his father. Mars is the only planet that hasn’t been affected by the violent pulses sent through the galaxy. Going along with McBride is Col. Pruitt (Donald Sutherland), a one-time friend to Clifford and someone to keep an eye on Roy. Stopping on the moon, Roy learns more about what is expected of him once he reaches Mars.
Once landed, Roy is met by Helen Lantos (Ruth Negga) who seems mysterious but actually has information that he has never been privy to. Reaching out to his father through transmissions, all of a sudden things change and those in charge want him back on earth. He is not about to turn back now and with the help of Helen he once again gets aboard a ship that will take him on the most solitary and long voyage he could have imagined.
He has time to make the decision about how to stop the effects of the Lima Project and come face to face with a father he thought he knew.
Pitt as Roy is a man who tries to keep focus on his emotions by keeping himself apart from everyone else. Believing that his father was dead, he is still calm when told it is a possibility that the elder McBride might still be alive. Every step he takes is calculated and once realizing his purpose is served isn’t about to stop until he has all the answers. There is something so very cool when Pitt takes a role that isn’t full of talk but instead straight forward action. Although there is a full cast here, it is Pitt’s character that commands the film.
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Sutherland as Col. Pruitt is sent by the higher ups to keep an eye on Roy but there is also a history. Pruitt knew the elder McBride and seems to be hoping to see him once again but his reasons are a bit different that Roy’s. I have always enjoyed Sutherland on any screen because he is an actor that may be large in stature but never pulls on the screen. Even when he yells it’s brief, important and then back to center with such roles in M*A*S*H, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, ORDINARY PEOPLE and even his role in THE HUNGER GAMES, I am always all in to watch him.
Tyler as Eve has a smaller role but one that is important in understanding the repercussions of Roy’s inability to let loose once in a while. She wanted more and he couldn’t provide it. Negga as Helen has her own story to tell and she is absolutely ready to tell Roy, whether he is ready to hear it or not.
Jones as Clifford McBride is a hero to everyone who knows about the Lima Project. Roy has lived in the shadow of Clifford even though he didn’t truly understand why he chose space over his family. When Jones is on screen there is a sincere insanity that exists in that he believes in what he says to the point of not being able to tell right from wrong.
On an interesting side note – Sutherland and Jones appeared in another movie together in 2000 called SPACE COWBOYS so it seems fitting they would come full circle in suits once again. In that film they were both space geniuses as well so kudos for bringing it back 19 years later!
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Other cast include Anne McDaniels as Shunga Hologram, John Ortiz as General Rivas, Kimberly Elise as Lorraine Deavers, Greg Bryk as Chip Garnes, Loren Dean as Donald Stanford, John Finn as Stroud, Kimmy Shields as Sgt. Romano, and LisaGay Hamilton as Adjutent General Amelia Vogel.
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.
The Bluray Special Features include Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by James Gray, To the Stars, A Man Named Roy, The Crew of the Cepheus, The Art of AD ASTRA, Reach for the Stars Audio Commentary by James Gray.
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.
AD ASTRA is a film about many different things – from a man who is about to discover that his emotional world is larger than the universe he is about to fly into, to learning that history doesn’t always paint a real picture. Clearly the visual are stunning but then again most space films are. In recent years there have been several and since I am a fan of space films, AD ASTRA works.
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The film does remind me of several space films such as GRAVITY. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how I see it. Throw in 2014’s INTERSTELLAR and Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper along with Sandra Bullock’s character Ryan Stone from GRAVITY and Roy McBride of AD ASTRA – all have emotional issues that they hide with their space work. When life and death kick in they all trust in what they know intellectually but also experience a sense of acceptance and letting go.
I truly did enjoy Pitt’s performance because of in depth. A role doesn’t have to have tons of talking in order for me to totally understand the plight of a character. Pitt seems to be the calm in the middle of a galactic storm as others swirl around the outer vortex of this character.
There is absolutely no doubt that the cinematography is also a character in the film. From the stunning landing on the moon to shooting off to Mars and then Jupiter and beyond, the colors are stunning, the space is cold yet inviting and it is eye candy for anyone who just adores the idea of space and space travel.
In the end – the answers we seek are just outside our reach!

We Return Once Again to DOWNTON ABBEY on Bluray

Downton cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Michael Engler, Focus Features and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment from the characters created by Julian Fellowes is the return to DOWNTON ABBEY.

The Crawley family continues normal life at Downton Abbey until Robert (Hugh Bonneville), the Earl of Grantham, receives word that the King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) are about to make a visit. Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) is thrilled but Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) goes into immediate panic especially with husband Henry (Matthew Goode) off on business. Barrows (Robert James-Collier) is now the head of the staff but Lady Mary feels as if things aren’t getting done properly.

Bringing her concerns to Lord Grantham there is only one choice, ask a retired Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to resume his duties as Downton Abbey until the visit is over and Barrows isn’t happy. Mr. Carson gets the staff in order with Andy (Michael Fox) and the return of Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle). Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) also has her hands full as every nook and cranny must be cleaned and there isn’t a lot of time. Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and Daisy (Sophie McShera) begin creating a menu fit for royalty.

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Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) doesn’t seem as nervous about the King and Queen’s visit but is concerned about seeing relative Maud Bagshaw (Imedla Staunton). The Dowager believes that Maud is trying to cut Robert out of any inheritance since being seen about with her companion Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). Isobel (Penelope Wilton) agrees to help Violet discover the true story behind Maud’s decision as husband Lord Merton (Douglas Reith) stays out of it.

Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is happy to be back at Downton Abbey and with his car business. When he learns about the King and Queen’s visit, some think that perhaps he wouldn’t be pleased out it. So much so that Mary senses something is wrong and isn’t sure what to do. Up for the festivities is Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and husband Bertie Hexham (Harry Hadden-Paton) as they make their way home.

With everything buzzing and plans being made, there is a damper on the happiness when the staff are told that they will not be handling the royal visit. Enter the very stuffy Kings manservant Mr. Wilson (David Haig), Queen’s dresser Mrs. Webb (Richenda Carey) and royal chef Monsieur Courbet (Philippe Spall). Hardly ready to relinquishing their pride in Downton Abbey, Mrs. Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) come up with a plan that is brilliant and wonderful. Barrows is also being watched by Captain Chetwode (Stephen Moore) as being upset with Mr. Carson leads him down a bad road.

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When the King and Queen finally arrive, the household is in high gear as the royal family is treated to dinner with a party to follow the next evening. That is when secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and everyone who lives and works at Downton Abbey once again remembers how they have all come together for so long and can’t imagine anything else.

Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham returns to his role as the leader of a family who go their own way no matter what he might say about it. This character has grown to understand that things change and if he doesn’t then the Downton Abbey could fall at his feet. I adore Bonneville in this role because he has the facial expressions that say everything even if he says nothing. He clearly loves his family and what’s more is he respects those who keep his household running. McGovern as Cora is the American who has embraced the world she married into. When she is stern, it comes with a smile most often and when she is giddy her face lights up. Her character is the opposite of Robert which is why these two actors make such an awesome pairing.

Dockery as Lady Mary is such an unusual character because she gives off an air of superiority but when she lets her humanity and frailty show it is a sight for the heart to see. Carmichael as Lady Edith has finally found her niche in the world along with daughter Marigold. Now she needs to find the order of it all. Staunton as Bagshaw is a relative full of secrets and some in the family are going to make sure they know every little juicy detail. Middleton as Lucy has her own secrets but a certain Irishman only sees a lovely young girl.

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Leech as Branson has become a character that was once on the outside looking in and now on the inside looking out. Finding the middle ground has always been such a difficult process for this character but now he seems to have found it. Happy with his business and equally happy at Downton Abbey, he carries himself with such grace and still finds humor in his adopted family. Goode as Henry just goes along to get along and is happy in his marriage to Lady Mary, I wish there would have been more of him but I’m thinking it will happen. Hadden-Patton as Hexam is being pulled away by a King who has taken a liking to him and Edith finds herself being meek about it once again. I kept thinking ‘come on Edith, stand your ground!’. Reith as Lord Merton has found happiness in his life and plans to keep it that way by staying out of any family drama.

Jones and James as the King and Queen are lovely and bring their own personal baggage to Downton Abbey. They prove that even royals have family issues and through it all a sense of humor as well. Moore as Chetwode protects the royal family but has a few secrets of his own. Haig as Mr. Wilson is a man I’d throw out on his ear if it wouldn’t get me put in the Tower! Carey as Mrs. Webb would be in the pig mud right night to Mr. Wilson and to complete the threesome would be Spall as the royal chef. Those three brought enough aggravation and did it extremely well – kudos!

The return of Carter as Mr. Carson brought joy to every moment he is on screen. His presence, even when he is a bit frazzled, lets you know that everything will be alright. Right by his side is Logan as Mrs. Hughes. Never let it be said that this very elegant lady doesn’t know how to take care of her position and life with Mr. Carson. Nicol as Mrs. Patmore is a character I see as the fire that is always keeping everyone warm. Food is one thing but the obvious caring she has for those around her comes through the screen. McShera as Daisy once again puts her foot in it and manages to not be concerned with how some people love traditions and pageantry.

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James-Collier as Barrows has been in Mr. Carson’s shoes for some time and isn’t all that thrilled when he returns. So instead of dealing with it, which he never does very well, he once again finds destructive ways of handling things. Nothing he does surprises me! Doyle as Mr. Molesley is over excited and willing to put his teaching position on hold just to be in the same room as the King and Queen. Of course with this excitement comes the usual missteps that had me responding with a slap to my forehead. Fox returns as Andy who is in love with Daisy and discovers he might have a bit of a jealous streak in him.

My favorite couple ever in the entire series is Froggartt as lovely Mrs. Bates and Coyle as Mr. Bates. If there was ever a couple that went through everything horribly imaginable and came out the other side the same honorable people it is the Bates’. Froggartt is beautiful, sweet, gentle yet has a sarcastic side I love. Being the dresser for Lady Mary for years, she still wants to be at Downton Abbey and in the film gets her chance to show a side that is epic. Coyle as Mr. Bates has gone through the gambit if I do say so myself. Through it all his life has changed dramatically and yet he never once looked for an excuse for anything. That being said, planning what is planned for the staff at Downton Abbey, this husband and wife duo show they will fight for what they believe in and do it as they always have done it – together.

Now let’s talk Maggie Smith as Violet – can it be said that she is the cherry on top of a very large and very ostentatious Downton Abbey cake? Well, she is on the one in my mind. Smith is sharp, witty, and doesn’t take anything lightly. One moment she is watching everything and the next jumping in the fray to mix it up. Of course she wouldn’t be able to do some of it with her partner-in-sort-of-crime Isobel. Wilton in her supporting friendship with Violet is the yin to her yang. When these two ladies get together you can be sure it will be hilarious and the repartee a feast for the mind.

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Other cast include Raquel Cassidy as Miss Baxter, Kate Phillips as Princess Mary, Max Brown as Richard Ellis, Mark Addy as Mr. Bakewell, Michael Fox as Andy Parker, Susan Lynch as Miss Lawton, James Cartwright as Tony Sellick, Fifi Hart as Sybbie, Oliver & Zac Barker as George, Alice McCarthy as Nanny Harewood, Marina Balbara as Baroness Valerenay, Andrew Havill as Henry Lascelles, Eva & Karina Samms as Marigold, Diane Halling as Countess of Harrowby, and Perry Fitzpatrick as Chris Webster.

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

The Bluray Includes the Bonus Features of Deleted Scenes, Cast Conversations – Exclusive roundtable interviews with the Upstairs and Downstairs Cast, The Royal Visit – A look at how the royal visit proved to be an ambitious event both on and behind the camera, True to the Twenties – Fans of DOWNTON ABBEY are charmed by the sheer grandeur of the aristocracy in the early 20th century. Learn how DOWNTON ABBEY maintains a reputation of being true to the time period. Welcome to Downtown Abbey – a behind-the-scenes look at the grandeur of HIGHCLERE Castle and how it serves as a cornerstone in the Downton Abbey franchise.

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Also, The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes – Writer Julian Fellowes has created a story and beloved characters that resonate with people across the world. This piece celebrates Julian’s brilliant creativity and reveals his approach to bringing Downton Abbey to the big screen. Downton Abbey Series Recap – Whether you’re new or just need a refresher, this series recap will catch you up on the story so far and Feature Commentary with Director Michael Engler.

I discovered the series DOWNTON ABBEY completely by accident as it was on KPBS the same night as my other favorite The Great British Baking Show. It didn’t take long before I became completely engrossed in the story of the families both upstairs and downstairs. I hated when the seasons ended and I broke out the tea set when the next season came around. Little did I know that the series was exploding all over the United States.

Created by writer Julian Fellowes, it aired in 2011 telling the story of Downton Abbey in the mid-1900s of a Yorkshire estate and the Crawley family but it also told the story of the servants. There was everything imaginable happening and the cast made every bit of it magical to watch for those of us who watched week after week. Downton Abbey is actually Highclere Castle in north Hampshire and although there was filming in Ealing Studios, most of it is Highclere Castle both inside and out.

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Fellowes himself has had an amazing career as an actor, to launching his own series on BBC and writing a miniseries about the Titanic. He won an Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen in 2002 for the script GOSFORD PARK and won Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review for SEPARATE LIES. His credit also include VANITY FAIR, THE TOURIST, FROM TIME TO TIME and one of my absolute favorite Emily Blunt films THE YOUNG VICTORIA.

DOWNTON ABBEY has become and I believe will continue to be an iconic series and now film for years to come. There is nothing that can hold a candle to it. In the four years since fans cried their eyes out at the television show finale, the film will not only make us forgive everything but thrill us once again. The story, the character, opulence, splendor, feistiness, heart, gumption, and so much more wrapped in a castle most of us know from a mere glance.

How does one thank Julian Fellowes for giving us just a little more of what we crave and an even bigger thank you to every original cast member that came back and made us feel like they didn’t miss a beat. DOWNTON ABBEY is such a beautiful film in every way and I love period pieces of all kinds but this film has a special place in my heart because the characters.

This is not just a reunion of characters, but a reunion of us along with the characters we embraced back in 2011. We want to know they are all fine in the world of Downton Abbey and that it is possible (please let it be possible) that there might be another film to continue their story.

In the end – they’ve been expecting us!

READY OR NOT Because it’s Back on Bluray!

Ready or Not Cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Bluray and Digital from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the usual lethal family drama in READY OR NOT.
It is the happiest day of Grace’s (Samara Weaving) life as she is marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien). Even as he uses humor to warn about the Le Domas family, Grace is just happy to finally be part of one.
After the wedding, Grace and Alex take a few moments for each other but are interrupted by the eerie Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). She announces that the family is gathering wanting Grace and Alex to join them.
Surrounding the Le Domas table are Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody), his wife Charity (Elyse Levesque), mother Becky (Andi MacDowell), father Tony (Henry Czerny), sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), and husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun).
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Tony announces that every time a new person comes into the family, they spend the first evening playing a game as a welcome. All Grace has to do is pick a card from a box which seems simple enough to her. The card ‘hide and seek’ is drawn and the entire family becomes silent and Alex gets pale.
Going along to get along Grace is given a head start and once gone the rest of the family start getting ready – by arming up. You see, the Le Domas family believes that if they don’t seek Grace, something horrible will happen to the family.
Alex sneaks away to find Grace and finally fesses up as to what is happening. Grace is about to taken on a whole family proving she can take whatever nonsense they dish out, including crazy butler Stevens (John Ralston). The in-laws are on the hunt and they aren’t about to stop!
Just another family get-together that goes crazy till dawn!
Weaving as Grace is absolutely fantastic and I loved every minute she was on screen. To go from a happy bride to Rambo-ette was very, very cool. I found myself sharing my feelings about her playing this role with lots of shouting and ‘you go girl!’ and cheering. Weaving says, “We had an amazing cast to pull this off and everything just fell into place”. She made a grand entrance in white and she made an even grander exit leaving us all wanting more so that’s exactly falling into place!
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O’Brien as Alex marries Grace knowing full well what is about to happen. I’m was not sure how I felt about him throughout the film. I mean your fiancé knows his family is crazy but waits till after the ‘I do’ to say something? Every bride’s worst fear right? Brody as brother Daniel has his own issues with the family but he’d rather go numb with alcohol than deal with any of it.
Czerny as Tony is just plain nutty but made me laugh a LOT. He wants to keep the family together and doesn’t mind doing it with a shotgun. Bruun as Fitch just goes along to get along because being married to Emilie means happy crazy life-happy crazy wife! mother Becky (Andi MacDowell),
Scrofano as Emilie is just a little to tender to do what her family thinks must be done and Levesque as Charity doesn’t have a problem with it what so ever. Guadagni as Aunt Helene is absolutely priceless and she cracked me up repeatedly even though I’m sure she was meant to scare me instead. Now Ralston as Stevens scared me more – well done sir!
MacDowell as mom Becky just stuns in this role. She is happy to have her son back home and thanks Grace for doing it. Hard to believe when she has a weapon in her hand right? Talking about the making of the film she says, “It’s scary to think how everyone was perfectly cast in the film, especially with the role I play. I had a lot of fun being cast in this type of role because I’ve played so many sweet characters and I’m not sweet”. She about sums it up perfectly!
Other cast include Liam MacDonald as Georgie, Ethan Tavares as Gabe, Hanneke Talbot as Clara, Celine Tsai as Tina and Daniela Barbosa as Dora.
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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.
The Bluray Special Features include Let the Games Begin: The Making of READY OR NOT, Gag Reel, Audio Commentary by Radio Silence and Samara Weaving and Gallery.
READY OR NOT is a fabulous film filled with terror and laughs which, if you think about it, is an odd combination. That’s what makes the film a must-see for me because of the combination of terror and laughs. I mean yes it has violence but it’s by a bunch of people who are just completely out of their minds.
I love the cinematography, costuming and the interesting choices of weapons (like Clue with Fitch-in-the-library-with-a-crossbow feel to it). The story behind the family gathering is pretty interesting as well because it is never let on whether it is true or not – until it is.
Prepare to have a good time because you might take a good look around at your own clan and not complain so much about your own family ever again.
In the end – let the game begin!

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD is from the Heart

Neighbor cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres to delight and remind us all of our potential from director Marielle Heller and Sony Pictures with A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a writer who is making a name for himself and it’s not a good one.  As no one else will work with him, Esquire editor Ellen (Christine Lahti) gives him the only assignment left which is interviewing Mr. Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). Unhappy with it, wife Andrea (Susan Watson) reminds him that Mr. Rogers is an icon and to “please don’t ruin my childhood”.
Grumpy about all of it, he meets with Mr. Rogers at the studio where he makes his children’s television show. Watching his interaction with others makes Lloyd uncomfortable but for more reasons than he is ready to grasp. When it only lasts a few moments, Lloyd packs up his wife and young newborn son and its off to sister Lorraine’s (Tammy Blanchard) wedding. Also at the wedding his Jerry Vogel (Chris Cooper), Lloyd’s estranged father.
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An outburst at the wedding leaves both Lloyd and Jerry roughed up and at the next interview with Mr. Rogers, he notices. Talking it out makes Lloyd even more uncomfortable and can’t seem to get away fast enough. That’s when Lloyd realizes that things from his past are interfering with his present life. When Jerry tries to reach out but he just can’t get past his anger.
Throwing himself into the article, Lloyd watches Mr. Rogers and how he speaks to people, the life topics he covers and his outlook on life. Trying to grasp it all, a family issue means that Lloyd might have the opportunity to see firsthand what Mr. Rogers has been trying to tell and show him about kindness and forgiveness.
Sometimes we all just need one person to believe in us!
Hanks as Mr. Rogers is completely stunning and leaves an imprint in the heart. Because I come from a generation that knew about Mr. Rogers, I cannot think of one actor besides Hanks that could have done this film. I believe so much in what Lloyd’s wife says about not ruining our childhood and that could have easily happened. Instead, Hanks reminds us so much of why we embraced Mr. Rogers and why we hold his and our memories so dear. The calmness in the midst of so much sadness in Lloyd’s life allows us to open our hearts even further to the story we see on the screen. But do we really expect anything different from Hanks? He gives us all something to think about through his performances and in being Mr. Rogers, we owe him that much.
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Rhys as Lloyd is a man who is just living life one moment at a time and it all comes from a childhood anger that he carries like a bag of bricks. Everyone seems to give him a pass with the anger he carries for his father but, as with anyone who lives for anger, the pass is about to expire. He can’t fathom how Mr. Rogers can keep his heart so open to others and feels that “Mr. Rogers” is a television persona. It’s when he puts the bag of bricks down does Lloyd have a chance to truly connect with those who continue, through it all, to love him. Of course, Mr. Rogers isn’t about to leave Lloyd to do all of it on his own.
Watson as wife Andrea accepts Lloyd for the emotional roller coaster he always seems to be on. With a new baby to tend to, she wants more for her family in the way of connection and love. It is easy to believe Watson’s performance since it is very similar to Beth from the television drama series This Is Us. Blanchard as sister Lorraine understands Lloyds anger but in her own life is trying to make different choices. She may have made her own mistakes (such as marriages) but Blanchard shows a forgiving nature in the midst of it all.
Cooper as dad Jerry is rough around the edges and not very good at showing remorse or affection. Lloyd can’t even look at him without remembering pain and Cooper plays a man who is not only dealing with issues but trying to find a way of saying ‘I’m sorry’. Cooper has the amazing ability of playing roles that have so much depth to them once you get past the gruffness as with Jerry.
Other cast include: Maryann Plunkett as Joanne Rogers, Enrico Colantoni as Bill Isler, Wendy Makkena as Dorothy, Noah Harpster as Todd, Carmen Cusack as Margy, Maddie Corman as Lady Aberlin and Daniel Krell as Mr. McFeely.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD is not exactly what I expected. Yes, it’s about Mr. Rogers and yet it isn’t. It is Lloyd Vogel’s story about Mr. Rogers and how spending time with him changes everything. Then again most of us already know that it can happen because, as with my own experiences, it has before.
Mr. Rogers embraces Lloyd, whether he likes it or not, to try and show that we need one another. Being patient isn’t something Lloyd seems to have but it is something Mr. Rogers seems to have in abundance. The two most unlikely people to come together happens slowly throughout the film – and mainly due to the persistence and belief from Mr. Rogers.
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Watching Rhy’s Lloyd go through his struggle is at times heartbreaking and Hanks as Mr. Rogers almost encourages us to feel that heartbreak. There is acceptance and forgiveness in each frame of the film and, to be honest, it also felt as if we didn’t we would let down Mr. Rogers!
It is the perfect time of year for A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD and for reasons that are plain but I’ll go ahead and mention them anyway. This is a film about listening to one another, offering help in any way that would ease pain, be there for those we love, forgive just as easily as we hold grudges and always embrace a couple of seconds longer just so the people we care about know that they are not alone.
In the end – we could all use a little kindness!

Disney Delights with FROZEN II

Frozen cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres in time to welcome us all into the holiday season from director Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Walt Disney Pictures is the return to Arendelle and FROZEN II.
Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), Sven and Queen Elsa (Indina Menzel) are enjoying life in their city. Since their adventure it is nice for them all to just enjoy each other’s company and the people. That is until Elsa starts to hear this strange call that no one else seems to hear.
Putting it out of her mind, the city prepares for a gathering but is suddenly interrupted by strange winds driving the towns people to a safe cliff outside Arendelle. Confused by what is happening, Queen Elsa feels as if the problems are caused by the voice that is calling out to her. Deciding that she must go and find answers, Anna and Kristoff make it clear she isn’t going alone.
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Loading up into the sled on wheels, Sven takes them to a place that both Anna and Elsa believed was only a tale their father told. A wall of mist blocks them from going forward but when Elsa touches it, a door is opened wide revealing people living on the other side. That’s when the girls discover that there is truth to the tale and that there are still more questions to be answered.
With each step they take, more and more of their parents life become clearer. But, there comes a moment when Elsa realizes that she can no longer put Anna’s life in danger and takes the final steps of the journey alone were all is revealed – but will it be too late for Arendelle!
Bell as Anna shows a lot more maturity in this film in that she feels even more protective over her sister Queen Elsa. Still googly eyed over love Kristoff, she is back in her happy place. When the wind changes in Arendelle and she sees that something is wrong with Elsa, Anna makes it very clear from the onset that whatever it is they will face it together. Bell brings her pipes back with song, love and a whole lot of fun.
Menzel as Queen Elsa is having a difficult time concentrating on Arendelle because of the mysterious voice. Still feeling a little out of place in life, she feels there is something in the wind that is calling to her. Fight as she may, the voice is too strong to ignore. Menzel brings her voice to belt out more than one song and it is with that voice that we are with Elsa every step of this next journey.
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Groff as Kristoff is very happy with his life in Arendelle and even happier with Anna. Now ready to try something a little different, he seems to have great difficulty making it happen. Groff once again brings his charm that oozes through his voice to a character that is strong for those around him yet still has that goofiness I enjoy about this character. Oh let us not forget Sven, he is back and just as hoppingly endearing as ever with his extended family.
Gad as Olaff is still the lovable snowman who loves everyone around him and yet still maintains that bit of innocence that makes him unforgettable. That’s what Gad brings to this character, a memorable giggle, a heart that runs over with love for Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and his good buddy Sven. He is the snowman we all wanted growing up, at least I did all those times building a snowman in Chicago. Thanks Gad for bringing my childhood character to life.
Shout out to Hinds for returning as the wise and round stone Pabbie. He gave out the first warning of what was to come for Arendelle and the royal family. Brown as Mattias has his own story to tell of what lies beyond the mist and it is a story worth hearing.
Other cast include Sterling K. Brown as Mattias, Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna, Jason Ritter as Ryder, Alan Tudyk as Northuldra, Rachel Matthews as Honeymaren, Ciaran Hinds as Pabbie and Martha Plimpton as Yelana, Alfred Molina as Agnarr and Jeremy Sisto as King Runeard.
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FROZEN II brings songs, fun, giggles, color and a re-connection with characters that have stayed with us all since 2013. The song “Let It Go” became an anthem for anyone who wanted to do just that even though my personal favorite was “In Summer” and who doesn’t love a lovable dreaming snowman?
It is such a precarious thing to make a sequel to such a highly successful animated film. It doesn’t always work and sometimes it works badly. Some of it might be because I always feel slightly cheated by sequels like the idea is a second thought thrown on a screen hoping it will stick with viewers.
This film is not that in the slightest. What FROZEN II brings is a delightful return to embraced characters that doesn’t feel like six years has even passed. It is a visually stunning feast for the eyes with rich colors which are completely dazzling. The story may have a few hiccups but seriously, let it go (and I said that).
The entire cast returns (which always is a great thing) with 8 new songs that are as powerful as the original film. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez returned to write the new songs for the film. Composer Christophe Beck  also returned to bring his magic to the score.
Am I being extremely vague in my description of the film…well, yes! I am hardly about to tell every detail of the film because it’s FROZEN II and no one, and I mean no one has the right to ruin it. This is a film about family and community, wanting to understand where we come from, learning who we are and what we are made of, protecting those we love and, of course, loving each other unconditionally.
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Disney has been on a very cool winning streak with their animated films and FROZEN II seals the 2019 deal for them. The launch of Disney+ this week means that in a few months you can FROZEN and FROZEN II all year long which I know my granddaughter intends to do.
FROZEN II is a time for families to have a wonderful holiday beginning together. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are part of our own families now and to spend 104 minutes together feels like home in many ways. In the theatre we embrace our children and grandchildren as the story unfolds because we share a connection with our friends on the screen. We understand the struggles, the love, friendship and caring and that makes FROZEN II just about everything we need in family time.
In the end – they are going into the unknown!

MIDWAY Launches for Veterans Day

Midway cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from director Roland Emmerich and Lionsgate comes the story of one of the biggest battles against Japan on MIDWAY.
On December 7, 1942, Japan surprise attacked Pearl Harbor and the one person not surprised is Lt. Commander Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) who had been trying to tell anyone who would listen of an impending attack. Lt. Dick Best (Ed Skrein) returns home to learn of the death of his friends with wife Anne (Mandy Moore) helping him to grieve.
On ship is Vice Admiral Bull Halsey (Dennis Quaid) waiting for orders to stop the Japanese. His aviation crew include Lt. Commander Wade McClusky (Luke Evans). Put in charge of a plan along with Lt. Cmdr. Layton is Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) who looks to a group of code breakers led by Commander Rochefort (Brennan Brown).
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The first strike is for Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle (Aaron Eckhart) and his men to fly to Tokyo and carpet bomb the city. The Japanese are caught by surprise not ever believing it was possible for the United States military to strike back so quickly.
Leading the Japanese fleet is Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi (Tadanobu Asano), Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo (Jun Kunimura) and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa). Pearl Harbor isn’t their only target as the plan now includes Midway. Gathering all their forces, they are confident that no one sees them coming and victory is sure.
With so much ship loss at Pearl Harbor, the ships that are left have to come together as well as planes and pilots to make the plan work. Lt. Best and Lt. Cmdr. McClusky go to their men with confidence to let them know that they must give it their all and remember their fallen friends. As the battle for Midway approaches, Nimitz and Layton trust the information given to them by the code breakers to stay ahead of the plan, Best and McClusky fly for their lives as everyone does their part.
It is the history of taking one step at a time to win.
Skrein as Best is a man who is a little dangerous in the sky but he wants to be prepared for any eventuality. With each battle, he only wants to go home to his wife and daughter. Using every bit of his flying experience and a little bit of his grit, Skrein gives his character bravery and the will to fight. Moore as wife Anne is a lady I’d call a spit-fire. She knows that what her husband does is dangerous and holds her breath with each bit of news that all the wives are allowed to know.
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Harrelson as Nimitz is brought into the fight at the time of Pearl Harbor. He has to trust those around him for the information knowing that more American soldiers will die and that’s a hard job to have. Wilson as Layton tried to warn his superiors about what Japan was capable of and they didn’t listen. When given the opportunity to show what he knows and how he knows it, Wilson gives his character strength and determination to stand by Rochefort.
Quaid as Halsey shows his character as a gritty leader who, like everyone else, wants to stop the Japanese fleet from destroying anything else or getting to the west coast of the United States. He may be gruff but he knows what is necessary to win. Evans as McClusky thinks Best is a reckless pilot but since Pearl Harbor realizes that perhaps reckless, in this case, is a brave thing that is needed in the fight.
Kunimura, Toyokawa and Asano have the difficult roles of the Admirals (Rear and Vice) who feel strong that they can win. Pearl Harbor gives these characters a feeling of invincibility and feel Midway is the next reasonable step in their plan. What they do not expect is that the United States military forces have banned together with a plan of their own and they will stop at nothing to punish the Japanese fleet.
Other cast include Alexander Ludwig as Lt. Roy Pearce, Keean Johnson as Chief Aviation Radioman James Murray, Luke Kleintank as Lt. Clarence Earle Dickinson, Brandon Sklenar as Ensign George Gay, Jake Manley as Ensign Willie West, Darren Criss as Lt. Commander Eugene Lindsey, Jake Weber as Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance, James Carpinello as Captain Brockman, Geoffrey Blake as John Ford, Greg Hovanessian as Lieutenant Arizona, David Hewlett as Admiral Kimmel, Mark Rolston as Admiral King and Nick Jonas as Aviation Machinist Mate Bruno Gaido.
MIDWAY is exactly, first of all, what you’d expect from director Roland Emmerich coming in at 127 minutes long.  A master of special effect and the big bangs, the battle scenes on the screen are epic (as I suspect they were in real life). Beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack until the final battle for Midway, the film gives the feeling of all the films Hollywood put out in the 50’s and 60’s that I watched growing up. My father was a Gunner’s Mate on many of Navy ships from aircraft carriers to destroyers like the Hornet, Boxer, Constellation and Kitty Hawk.
So I watched many, many films IN HARMS WAY (1965), THE LONGEST DAY (1962), SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949), FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), TORA! TORA! TORA! (1973) and the list is endless. I am well versed in war films so I expect a lot. Emmerich spends very little time depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor because it has been done so many times before. He gets in, makes it clear and moves on because the goal in the storytelling is what happened next and next and next.
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A few problems that I have are such things as the story about Lt. Col. Doolittle and his men. It seemed one minute they were there and the next gone. Things like this happened a few times in the film which if you are attempting to keep me in the story – then keep me there, don’t take me on little side ventures.
Here’s a touchy problem – writer Wes Tooke sort of muddled the lines between Japan and the United States. It seemed as if there was an attempt to make us feel sorry for the Admirals of the Japanese fleet and that’s a little difficult when they were the aggressors. I kept thinking, ‘pick a side and tell that story’ but then again that’s been done as well.
The actors themselves did well with what they were given. There were a few moments where I felt nostalgic with lines being delivered in such a way that I felt I was watching a 50’s/60’s war film instead of 2019. The characters were righteously angry because, let’s face it, no one who saw, was part of and survived Pearl Harbor could ever be the same again.
Skrein, Evans and the rest of the actors portraying the pilots were amazing to my way of thinking. The pilots job back then was to focus on a target and get the job done, that’s how Skrein and Evans made it look and feel which is totally successful in my eyes. Harrelson and Wilson together made a dynamic duo doing something totally different than their predecessors in the job. Harrelson gave his Nimitz portrayal an opportunity to trust when there was really nothing else left and Wilson’s portrayal of Layton jumps in as if to say ‘we can’t do it the old ways anymore’.
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Is there anything here that says epic? Not really and that’s a shame. Personally I would have loved to see this film in black and white. What the film lacks in dialogue it makes up for in Emmerich battles but just barely. I have a feeling that MIDWAY is going to have a love-hate relationship with viewers. This is a target movies for an audience that wants to see a war film but going up against an old hotel, a romantic comedy and an Irish tale, MIDWAY might not be able to hold its own.
In the end – they awoke a sleeping giant!

SAVING LENINGRAD

saving leningrad cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from writer/director Aleksey Kozlov and Universal Pictures International is the story of hope and survival when SAVING LENINGRAD.
It is war between the Russian people and German soldiers in the Soviet Union in 1941 and the people of Leningrad are being evacuated. On Lake Lodoga is an old barge, number 752, that is being loaded with soldiers and civilians. Trying to get on board is cadet Kostya Gorelov (Andrey Mironov-Udalov) and his girlfriend Nastya Tkachoyva (Maria Melniova). Also getting on board is Vadim Petruchik (Gela Meskhi), a NKVD investigator who has papers that he deems important to the war.
When Gorelov’s group is taken off the boat to head to the front, his father Col. Nikolai Gorelov (Vitaliy Kishchenko) makes a last minute decision. What Nastya doesn’t know is that after leaving her mother Nariya (Anastasiya Melnikova) behind, that her father Alexandr (Valeriy Degtyar) has been released from prison and sent to that very front.
Petruchik recognizes Nastya and can’t stop himself from bringing up her father’s past or putting thoughts in her head about Kostya. He also realizes who Kostya’s father is but has no problem threatening him as well. Trying to make the best of the frightening situation isn’t helping the couple deal with their own issues.
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On land the fighting increases as the soldiers march toward the battle. In front of them is a hill that is wiping out soldier after soldier. That doesn’t stop the men from doing what they must to hold the enemy back. When leaders of the platoons fall, new leaders emerge with a call to arms that the Germans couldn’t even imagine coming.
Believing the barge is the only chance for evacuation, it is sent out onto the lake for the crossing. What they didn’t expect was a storm that ravages the ship to the point of bring on water and have to start dumping everything on the deck. Nastya sees that Kostya is doing his part as more and more being to try and save the ship.
Thinking they might still have a chance, from the air comes more terror as the scattering begins. Those on board don’t have much to fight with and try to fight back with all they have but it might not be enough to save the barge or the people below in the holds.
This is a story of survival.
Mironov-Udalov as Kostya is clearly a young man in love but he is also a soldier. Sort of a considered a lady’s man, no one is really sure if the new girl is serious or he’s just trying to impress her. That perception changes quickly when he makes sure she is safely aboard the barge. It is his own father that makes arrangements for Kostya and it is something that troubles him not wanting problems for his father. With the decision made, Kostya doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to save the people on board.
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Melniova as Nastya is a young woman in love who will follow her man to start a new life. The problem is the old one isn’t quite finished with either of them yet. Trying to be supportive, she does manage to let Petruchik get into her head questioning Kostya’s motives. Eventually she sees what her man is made of! Melnikova as mother Nariya has tried to live her life raising daughter Nastya alone while her husband is in prison. Trying to stay clear of losing her job with the government (not a good idea to anger them), she knows her daughter is on the barge and husband is being sent to war.
Meskhi as Petruchik is a power hungry narcissist who has a penchant for striking fear into people. He causes trouble between Kostya and Nastya in different ways. Petruckik makes it perfectly clear that all he has to do is snap his fingers and life will be difficult for them both, the thing is they have more serious problems waiting for them than his snappy fingers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the character of Petruckik could be their poster child!
Degtyar as Nastya’s father Alexandr is finally released from prison but doesn’t escape his fate. Being sent to fight the war may seem crazy considering his age but he accepts it and is stronger than most of the soldiers. Kishchenko as Col. Nikolai Gorelov is definetly a military man who is facing some hard and painful decisions. He may be a soldier but he’s also Kostya’s father and when those two parts of him collide, one side wins out.
Other cast include: Aleksey Shevchenkov as Erofeev, Elena Zimina as Zoya, Sergey Zharkov as Gena Bukin, Ivan Lyrchikov as Andrey Babintsev, Maria Kepustinskaya as Sveta,Yesenia Raevskaya as Pomerantseva, Vadim Andreyev as Skyortsov, Inga Strelkova-Oboldina as Galochka, Vladimir Petrov as Sasha, Stepan Yakovlev as Seryozha, Vladimir Seleznev as Yarygin, Mikhail Morozov as Vitya, Evgenia Lyubimova as Lyusya, Pavel Grigoriev as Mikhail and Natalya Tkachenko as Liza.
SAVING LENINGRAD is a story of a young couple in love, parents and their children, soldiers, enemies and war. It is also about decisions made because of connections people have with one another. There are good guys and there are bad guys and the problem can often be that both of those are on the same side.
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I am a serious lover of period pieces and this film falls nicely into that category. The costuming and sets all take the viewer into that time period. It is in the costuming and sets that we as the viewer either go for the ride the story is telling or fall behind. I went completely for the ride. Having never heard this story I was interested in every aspect of what was happening and shared in the characters ultimate acceptance of how it all turns out.
They story is based on the actual events of barge number 752. Initially, the barge was used to transport supplies to Leningrad for the survival of the people. Their food transport had to be used for people because an evacuation was deemed an emergency and 1,000 people were loaded on. On September 17, 1941, 460 people would lose their lives on barge 752 and the tow boat Selemzha.
Although SAVING LENINGRAD is a film about the war between Germany and Russia, once the boat sails it becomes about the barge 752 and those aboard. Already considered a dangerous proposition, the fight for survival began the moment it left the dock – little did they know that survival was about to be taken to a higher level.
In the end – the fight has just begun!

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