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STRANGER THINGS Season 3 Brings More Frights in Friendship

 

Stranger Things 3

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on Netflix with its continuing story is the highly successful and long awaited STRANGER THINGS Season 3.

It is 1985 and Hawkins has fallen to shopping malls causing the shops in town to begin closing. The Starcourt Mall is now the hangout for everyone who wants to see and be seen. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) aren’t seen there much because they’ve been spending quality time together much to the dismay of El’s guardian Officer Hopper (David Harbour).

Looking for parental tips, Hopper turns to Joyce (Winona Ryder) who is coming to terms with her choice to move away from Hawkins. That doesn’t give Hopper much time to deal with his feelings about anything. The rest of the gang – Will (Noah Schnapp), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sade Sink) welcome Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) back from science camp.

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At the nearby steel mill, something wicked this way comes and Mike is feeling it on the back of his neck. The power goes out and a weird creature emerges from the darkness. Max’s brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is on his way for a rendezvous when his car is struck by an invisible force and without warning he is dragged into the Upside Down.

The tips Joyce gave to Hopper about Mike and El didn’t work out so well and Mike now fears to be around El. She doesn’t understand it but Max shows her the fun side of life with a trip to the Starcourt Mall and another way for El to use her powers. At the local paper, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) gets Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) to help her investigate a local woman who is having a weird rat problem.

Dustin is still weirding out by the hilltop transmission that sounds like Russian and convinces Steve (Joe Keery) to help figure it out. What they both don’t expect is that Robin (Maya Hawke) who works with Steve is more than happy to lend her language ear to the problem at hand.

Discovering the joys of the mall, El and Max decide to spy on the guys again with powers but Eleven only discovers that Billy may be responsible for a missing lifeguard. Billy is changing and he can’t explain why he is making dangerous choices. Hopper finally asks Joyce on a date but she loses track of time when her refrigerator magnets lose their magnetism.

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Dustin, Steve and Robin make a chilling discovery when they see Russians moving shipments of mysterious crates down into the mall. Nothing is going to stop these three from uncovering what is going on below their town and they find help from the very smart and no-nonsense Erica (Priah Ferguson).

What they don’t know is that Joyce and Hopper have gone to high school teacher Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) for answers about the magnets. It leads them back to the place they didn’t want to ever go again. That’s when they take Russian scientist Dr. Alexi (Alec Utgoff) sort of hostage to get answers as to what is happening but they are being chased mercilessly.

Nancy and Jonathan are still trying to discover what has happened to the source of their story. Once at the hospital, the two are also attacked by something, well, gooey that comes together to create an insanely large beast! Still below the mall, Steve and Robin are interrogated by Russians but Dustin and Erica save the date.

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Now above ground, they all manage to come together to put the pieces of the monster puzzle together. El discovers from Billy the exact location of the beast and now a plan is formed as the gang handles the food court, Dustin handles the communications while Joyce and Hopper take on the reason for all of this happening again.

What the Russians and the monster don’t realize is that this group isn’t afraid of taking hard knocks and they have El on their side!

Brown as Eleven is growing up so fast and under the protection of her guardian and new boyfriend. Her world is still relatively small until Max shows her what she’s been missing. Of course that doesn’t last long but Brown has made the character of Eleven her very own and I love when she embraces her powers.

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Wolfhard as Mike is smitten with Eleven and wants to spend every minute with her. Of course this doesn’t set well with his buddies, especially with Will. The other person it doesn’t make happy is Harbour as Officer Hopper. Trying to keep his ‘fatherly’ instincts in check, it is policeman instincts that take over and are a little harsher than poor Mike can take. Harbour is a little more intense this season but then again I think I would be too if the town I’m responsible for can’t catch a break.

Matarazzo as Dustin returns from science camp with a new outlook and a new love even though no one believes him. I adore Matarazzo because he is quick and hilarious all rolled into mischievous eyes and a quirky smile. Keery as Steve is thrilled to see Dustin as their friendship finds another level – that of Russians and being a hero to the town. Hawke as Robin is a breath of fresh air and don’t like the ice cream costume fool you. She’s smart as a whip and has a secret of her own.

Ryder as Joyce is still dealing with the death of Bob Newby and can’t quite catch on to Hopper’s intentions. The one thing she is sure of and that’s there is a creepy in Hawkins that she knows all too well. Ryder continues to give her character everything I remember about Moms of 1985. Schnapp as Will understands the creepy as it tends to bring goose bumps to the back of his neck. Of course he’d rather be playing D&D with his friends but they all have other plans.

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McLaughlin as Lucas keeps busy with his relationship with Max but is also surprised when Ferguson as sister Erica joins the mix and madness. Ferguson as Erica is smart, doesn’t take any garbage from anyone and has a thing for ice cream which is a good thing for Steve, Robin and Dustin! Sink as Max is a fiery redhead who has the chance to solidify her friendship with El through fashion and boy advice. Montgomery as brother Billy gets the intensity award this season! He lives through the creature and throughout the season it just gets worse and worse. What a great role for the season!

Dyer as Nancy smells a story and nothing or no one is going to get in the way of her investigating.  Heaton as Jonathan doesn’t want to follow Dryer’s character but it all starts to make horrible sense and he can’t turn away.  Gelman as teacher Murray Bauman carries all the science and language and finds himself deep into all that is happening to the town, what’s under the town and the people in it.  Utgoff as Dr. Alexi thinks he holds all the cards so get the man a cherry slurpee and get on with it!

Other cast include Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler, Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler, Andrey Ivchenko as Grigori, Cary Elwes as Mayor Kline, Peggy Miley as Mrs. Driscoll, Jake Busey as Bruce, Francesca Reale as Heather Holloway, Michael Park as Tom Holloway, Rob Morgan as Officer Powell, Arthur Darbinyan as Dr. Zharkov and Misha Kuznetsov as Ozerov.

The episodes include Chapter One: Suzie Do You Copy?, Chapter Two: The Mall Rats, Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard, Chapter Four: The Sauna Test, Chapter Five: The Flayed, Chapter Six: E. Pluribus Unum, Chapter Seven: The Bite and Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt.

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 Season 3 of STRANGER THINGS has to be the most intense yet and with that being said, watch carefully the last few moments of the last episode. That means Season 4 has it’s work cut out yet I think the writers have accepted the challenge. As these characters have grown older, I can’t wait to see what they all do next in the season and in other things. Brown already tested her chops in the summer film GODZILLA.

What I love best about STRANGER THINGS is everything about the era the story takes place in. From the outrageous clothes, shoes and hair to the music that I still embrace and listen to today. Wrapping the story around the setting of an era we still hold dear is so much fun and brings back memories for some of a time when things like bike riding, malls, friendships and big hair were more important than cell phones and texting.

All of the friendships are so endearing and even though they are growing up (both on and off camera), it hasn’t changed this group in the way they interact with each other. It is totally believable that they would have been friends in 1985, played D&D, went to the mall, and watched early zombie movies – all of it. This cast, these actors and actresses have given us a treat and when the final season comes around (because we all know its going to happen), we will be all the sadder for it.

The downside of binge watching the whole season in one day is that the waiting begins for the next season. Of course it will drag its heels making us all crazy with wonder and craving the first trailer of what is to come. It’s a pretty cool torture and I don’t mind saying so.

In the end – friends like these are amazing and necessary!

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SPIDER-MAN: Far From Home Brings Early Fireworks to the July 4th Holidays

Spiderman cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres just in time to help celebrate the 4th from director Jon Watts, Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures is our friendly neighborhood SPIDER-MAN: Far From Home.

It is after the Endgame as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is still dealing with the loss of Tony Stark and looking forward to a school trip to Europe. His hope is that he can finally tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels and enjoy some time away from his spider suit. His Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is happy for him as well.

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On the trip is best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), Betty (Angourie Rice), Brad (Remy Hii), Flash (Tony Revolori) and teachers Mr. Bell (J.B. Smoove) and Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr). They are ready to explore Italy first but there is a creature under them with other plans. When it rises to the surface, Peter must do his best to protect as many people as possible.

That is until he sees Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), fly in and lend a hand. When it’s all over, his friends give the superhero a name – Mysterio. Later Peter is visited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) because he needs Spider-Man’s help and gives him something special. Yet Peter can only think of MJ, their trip and being a kid.

Trying to explain his feelings to Fury, he goes back to his classmates only to discover that their itinerary has changed to go, oddly enough, where Fury wants Spider-Man to be. A plan is set in motion with Mysterio and Spider-Man working together to save even more people.

That is when Peter makes a decision that may cost far more than he could have imagined!

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Holland as Spider-Man has to be one of the best choices ever made for the Marvel Universe next to Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man. He is funny, insecure, fearless and fearful at the same time, has teen angst and most of all – just plain adorably charming. He has made the role of Spider-man his and fans love it.

Gyllenhaal as Mysterio is, and lets be honest here, so cool to watch. Here he works with Spider-Man and befriends him which helps Peter with the loss of his good friend. Gyllenhaal fits into his costume as if it were always destine to be his.

Jackson is back as Nick Fury who doesn’t mind guilting Spider-Man into getting a gang back together. Zendaya as MJ is still her dark self and occasionally has an eye on Peter, Batalone as Ned is there for his web weaving friend but has his eyes drawn in an unexpected way. Tomei as May is happy with her life and to have Peter in it but may have a surprise of her own.

Hii as Brad returns a little older and crushing on MJ. Revolori as Flash once again plays the tourist except he spends more time trying to get social media friends than actual friends.

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Shout out to Favreau for returning as Happy Hogan! I have come to love his character and am thrilled to see him be there for Peter Parker.

Other cast include: Toni Garrn as The Seamstress, Michael Mando as MacGargan, Numan Acar as Dimitri, Hemky Madera as Mr. Delmar, and Cobie Smulders as Marla Hill.

SPIDER-MAN: Far From Home is going to delight fans because Holland has done such an amazing job of portrayed the young webbed one. There is something for everyone in the film with action, story, twists, turns and – well, a teen love story that has been trying to break free.

Being a superhero has its price and it is a talk between Happy and Peter that helps the young man decide how to continue being a hero people can look to. I honestly believe that’s what makes this incarnation of the Spider-Man franchise more believable than it has ever been. Holland brings it all together with a tender and emotion filled performance that is so relatable.

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The film is fast paced, full of cgi eye-candy and warmth that lets us know that AVENGERS: Endgame is just a beginning for the webbed one. Of course I’m being evasive in my description of the film because, as with most fun films, the fun is absolutely seeing it with the least amount of spoilers possible. I want everyone to have just as much fun as I did!

So as you prepare for the 4th of July holiday, make sure you start it off with a visit from your friendly neighborhood (both in country and out) Spider-Man!

In the end – he is more than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, so much mor

TOY STORY 4 Reunited Our Favorite Friends

Toy Story 4 cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Josh Cooley, Pixar Animated Studios and Walt Disney Pictures brings back our friends for TOY STORY 4.

Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the gang are still living with Bonnie. As time has gone on, Woody has found himself spending more time in the closet and less time with Bonnie. Yet Buzz, Jessie (Joan Cusack), Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), Rex, (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Mrs. Potato Head (Estelle Harris) and the gang are still supportive of Woody.

But he has other things to worry about when Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) is upset about going off to kindergarten. Taking the initiative, Woody decides to make sure she has a good day! When things don’t seem to be going in that direction, he helps Bonnie create a new friend, Forky (Tony Hale) and she is delighted.

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Before the real school year starts, Mom and Dad decide it’s time to go on a little road trip. The toy-gang is thrilled as well and wait to be packed into the RV for a little adventure. When Forky escapes the RV, Woody tells he gang he will meet them at the RV park in the next town while he goes off to settle their new toy friend down a bit.

It gives time for Woody and Forky to bond as the sheriff gets time to explain the situation to him. Getting close to the RV park, Woody sees something in an antique store window. A lamp that his friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts) once called her home with the three sheep Billy, Goat and Gruff. Taking a small detour to find out if she is in the shop, he and Forky meet Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who only wants one thing from Woody!

When she doesn’t get it, Gabby Gabby takes Forky as hostage at the same time Woody finds Bo Peep. Now she needs to bring her friends to help including Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) because Bonnie and her parents are about to leave the RV park and not everyone is aboard. Buzz jumps into action to help as the gang in the RV make a little plan of their own.

It’s pretty much help your friends, help your new friends and make a decision that will change the lives of everybody all while getting back to Bonnie.

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Because that’s what friends do for one another!

Hanks as Woody will now and forever be considered a beloved icon in both movies and animation. He has brought all of us so much love and teachable lessons in the character of Sheriff Woody. From the very first TOY STORY in 1995, I knew this was going to be a ride from adults to children, little did I know now that it would include grandchildren. Woody can be found in kids rooms still because he is the friend we all wish we could have for a lifetime.

Allen as Buzz is once again the lighthearted friend who tries to keep Woody’s spirits up and when it comes time to bring him home, it is Buzz who go to find him. They are an unbeatable pair and even if he is still a little confused sometimes, he doesn’t let that stop him from hearing his own ‘inner voice’.

Potts as Bo Peep is sweet, strong and has a little fight in her swagger. She has a story to tell and it is about where she has been and how she now sees the world. McGraw as Bonnie is such a young girl learning to be outside of her bedroom and toy world into something much bigger – but she still needs her toy friends.

Cusack, Hunt, Schaal, Shawn, Ratzenberger, Benson, Clark, Rickles, Harris return as their respective and beloved characters and, of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as there wouldn’t be a TOY STORY without Woody and Buzz, there equally wouldn’t be a Woody and Buzz without Jessie, Dolly, Rex, Hamm, Barbie and the Potato Heads.

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Hendricks as Gabby Gabby can be a little bit off putting and a tad-bit like Lotso from TOY STORY 3 in that she wants to be large and in charge. It is clear that there are deeper issues and Woody needs to get to the bottom of it.

Reeves as Duke Caboom may have only been in the film briefly but man did he make me laugh! This was a fantastic chance for Reeves to show his comedic side in a way that most would see as unexpected and awesome at the same time.

Other cast include Bill Hader as Axel the Carnie, Ally Maki as Giggle McDimples, Jay Hernandez as Bonnie’s Dad, Lori Alan as Bonnie’s Mom, Emily Davis as Billy/Goat/Gruff, Carl Weathers as Combat Carls, Jeff Garlin as Buttercup, Jordan Peele as Bunny Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, Jodie Benson as Barbie, Jeff Pidgeon as Aliens, and especially Mel Brooks as Melephant Brooks, Carol Burnett as Chairol Burnett, Betty White as Bitey White and Carl Reiner as Carl. Reineroceros.

TOY STORY 4 is a chance for the toys themselves to actually have an adventure that is about – well – them! Of course there is the continuing story of Bonnie but it is also about how these toys are still caring of one another.

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They have their own attachments and feelings about the years they have spent together and TOY STORY 4 has a chance to tell that side of it all and do so in a way that brings closure we didn’t even know we needed.

In the end – on the road of life there are old friends, new friends and stories that will change you forever!

 

 

DUMBO Arrives on Bluray

Dumbo Bluray

Jeri Jacquin

Landing on Bluray from director Tim Burton and Walt Disney Home Entertainment is the beloved pachyderm we know as DUMBO.

Captain Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has returned home after being wounded in the war. His home happens to be a circus where his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) are waiting. They have had a tough time too with the loss of their own mother.

The circus is much smaller than Holt remembers only to discover that owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) has hit hard times. The only job open for Holt now is working with the elephants. The circus waits for Jumbo to have her baby and is dealing with cruel handlers. Holt steps in to find a baby with the biggest ears and in a snap a protective Jumbo is taken away!

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Milly and Joe take an interest in the baby they name Dumbo and are delighted to learn that he is special for more than just his ears. Everyone learns about Dumbo and crowds are selling every seat in the tent.

It also comes to the attention of V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) who makes a deal with Max to take the whole troop to Dreamland. Dumbo begins working with Colette Marchant (Eva Green) for a big act.

It is what Dumbo discovers at Dreamland that shakes up Vandevere’s plans but brings joy and help from his friends.

Farrell as Holt is a man feeling broken from war and detached from his children. Trying to find his place in the circus, Dumbo gives him purpose. This is the emotional Farrell that feels reminiscent of his role in SAVING MR. BANKS. He is charming and finds adventure once again with his family and the most unlikely of friends.

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DeVito as Max is trying to keep the circus afloat and the whisperings of making things better by Vandevere push him. Devito is always a joy to watch because he makes every character just that – a character.

Parker as Milly wants science over circus and her family back as it was. Dumbo becomes her emotional respite. Hobbins as Joe loves the flying elephant and will do anything to keep him safe.

Keaton as Vandevere gets to be a very charming, ruthless and kid-mean character all in one role. Of course this family is a Keaton fan so there isn’t anything we won’t enjoy from him. Green as Colette is under the thumb of her Dreamland boss but starts to understand how absolutely wonderful Dumbo is.

Other cast include Roshan Seth as Pramesh Singh, Lars Eidinger as Hans Brugelbecker, Deobia Oparei as Rongo, Miguel Segura as Ivan the Wonderful, Zenaida Alcalde as Catherine the Great, Phil Zimmerman as Rufus and Alan Arkin as J. Griffin Remington.

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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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 Bonus Extras include Deleted Scenes, Easter Eggs on Parade, Clowning Around Bloopers, Behind the Scenes Look at the Magic of Dumbo and more!

DUMBO made his first appearance in animation in 1941 as the fourth Disney film in the format. Helen Aberson-Mayer wrote the original story as Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

It is clear that this is a Tim Burton film with the grayish tones and even the reds are deep which give hints of trademark.

There are a few nods to the original film but this version has its changes. The story retains the charm of friendship, loyalty, family, extended family, life, death, caring for animals and exposing those who are cruel and malicious.

Those are definitely a staple of Disney films and reason families continue to return again and again to watch them. Some family’s even go as far as making Disney films a tradition in their household. Those of us who grew up on the original animated film appreciate the live-action.

Dumbo teaches to love almost unconditionally and push ourselves to heights we wouldn’t think imaginable – and there is certainly nothing wrong with that!

In the end – a beloved tale that will take you to new heights!

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!

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!

 

 

His Story and Life Collide in TOLKIEN

TOLKIEN

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Dome Karukoski and Fox Searchlight Pictures comes the story of stories told about the life of TOLKIEN.

The story begins with war as Private Sam Hodges (Craig Roberts) finds a very ill Tolkien and makes it his mission to help him survive. Out in the field as bombs rage and gas explodes, he once again sees how his life began and led him to the field of inhumanity.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) was a young man living with his mother and brother in a small English house in the middle of vast fields. One day Father Francis (Colm Meaney) helps the family move to the city to start again but it doesn’t last long as once again Father Francis moves Tolkien and his younger brother to the house of Mrs. Faulkner (Pam Ferris). Becoming their guardian, she starts with the boys’ education and Tolkien dives deeper into his drawings and writings.

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Eventual Mrs. Faulkner takes in Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) and Tolkien is quite taken with her. Continuing to be watched over by Father Francis, the young man is told that he can’t share his feelings about her and still go to university. He makes the sad choice to leave her and joins childhood friends Rob Gilson (Patrick Gibson), Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) and Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney), also known as the TCBS, to university.

As the group continues to meet, Tolkien is one step away from having to leave school when he discovers Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi). Sharing his story’s with the Professor, both men become thrilled at the possibilities of the story and language. Finally finding his place in school, the war breaks out and Tolkien is called up.

Before shipping out he once again sees Edith and he finds himself still smitten with the young girl. They have a chance to explain to one another the situation as it was then but their hearts never let go of one another only to be parted again by battle.

Tolkien fights to stay alive, fights to find his friends and without realizing it would soon take all the horrors of war and create one of the most iconic stories ever written.

Hoult as Tolkien takes on the monumental task of playing a character that became famous for his books and his name becomes world wide again when the films come to the screen. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure that justice could be done in the story telling of a writer who impacted my life so profoundly yet Hoult did so. The struggles of youth followed Tolkien and he could have ‘gone wrong’ as the sayings goes but instead he found a path that Hoult walks honorably.

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Collins as Edith is a young girl understanding Tolkien much more than anyone else (other than his brother). She pushes him to continue to write stories because she saw something magical about the world Tolkien creates. Collins gives her character strength, dignity and a forwardness not seen by women of Edith’s day. Meaney as Father Francis takes the role of father, protector and if that doesn’t work he uses good old fashioned guilt to ‘guide’ Tolkien’s life choices. I have to say I wasn’t happy with this character and that’s probably because I’m not much for emotional bullying which means Meaney did a fantastic job!

Gibson, Boyle and Glynn-Carney as Rob, Geoffrey and Christopher are three friends I’d love to have had growing up. Although they started out prickly, the story of each of these young men would impact Tolkien in ways they would never see coming. These four actors when on screen together are gripping and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow.

Now, as for Roberts as Private Sam Hodges, I have only one thing to say – stellar and well done young man, extremely well done. From beginning to end it was the life of Tolkien that was his mission and he took it so seriously that nothing would turn him from it. Sound like a story character you might know?

Other cast include Laura Donnelly as Mabel Tolkien, Guillermo Bedward as Hilary Tolkien, Nia Gwynne as Browen, Tony Nash as Mackintosh, Owen Teale as Headmaster Gilson, Lara Maguire as Rose, Holly Dempster as Beryl, Genevieve O’Reilly as Mrs. Smith and David Birkbeck as Porter.

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TOLKIEN is well done, beautifully put on screen and gives the viewer a deep look inside what it took for THE LORD OF THE RINGS to make it to the page. Watching the story unfold is like seeing how characters were born in his mind. I caught myself a few times pointing at things I saw on the screen with an inhale and then a smile. Okay, so being a raging Tolkien fan it was like being part of a mental treasure hunt.

The cast brings together with such intensity the moments in Tolkien’s life that he held on to for dear life. The story is raw and beautiful at the same time to the point where I didn’t want it to end. The good news is that sitting on my library shelf are the books and films which are a wonderful solace brought by a man who took what he experienced in his life and shared it in the most magnificent way with the world.

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In the end – a life of love, courage and fellowship!

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is Crowned on Bluray

kid cover

Jeri Jacquin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morgana has no idea who she is dealing with!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEPPA PIG: When I Grow Up Delights on DVD

 

peppa dvd

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the delightful young piglet along with family and friends with PEPPA PIG: When I Grow Up.

In class, Peppa Pig is hearing all about the choices her classmates are making as to what they want to be when they grow up. From being a policeman to a teacher, each also likes the choice of telling people what to do. Peppa is upset because she doesn’t know what she wants to be even if little brother George wants to be dinosaur.

Peppa and her family join the local flying vet to visit sick animals and doing it in an airplane! They soon get a call from their own home as baby ducks are stuck on their roof. The vet teaches Peppa to quack at the little babies to get them home to their parents on the pond.

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Ms. Gazelle teaches her students to appreciate music by using their imaginations to describe what they hear. Peppa decides that the music reminds her of jumping up and down in a puddle and her friends don’t hesitate to join her while they create their own song.

Danny the dog is having a pirate themed birthday party and Peppa is thrilled. Taking the ship up stream they are all looking for the golden treasure. Grandpa Pig helps with the game and catches Grand-dad Dog taking the treasure!

Mommy Pig is going to the local firehouse to meet with other Mommy’s and Daddy Pig is off with his friends for a bit of football. Peppa and George go with Mommy Pig and get to see the new fire engine! Peppa is surprised when they get a real life fire call and it is at their home.

Tittles the Turtle is found up a tree while Pedro and Peppa rescue him but not before he gets a bumped nose. The doctor quickly shows up to fix his nose but can’t fix Pedro’s glasses. After fixing glasses, there is trouble with the dentists’ car that Doctor Dog can fix. It seems there is someone in the town for every situation.

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The class is preparing for showing talent and Peppa is having difficulty picking just one to share with her friends. Pedro shows his magic, Emily Elephant plays the flute and Rebecca Bunny shares her silly noises and all of this worries Peppa.

Peppa, George and Mommy Pig prepare to take their first helicopter ride with Ms. Rabbit and they are having a blast, well maybe not so much for Mommy Pig. Daddy pig is having a fun time at the local carnival and when its time to get home, his car gets stuck in the mud and he has to call for help.

The police come to the school and teaches the students the do’s and don’ts of bicycle riding. Even teacher Ms. Gazelle learns a few lessons about properly being safe on a bicycle.

Daddy Pig got his days all mixed up thinking it is Saturday and Mommy has to work on her computer sending Peppa off to play group. At group, they decide to open a play store and help customers with what they need or think they need. When the family comes home they discover that when work is over there is plenty of time for play.

Peppa and the class learn what an ambulance does from Dr. Brown Bear and how it helps people in their community. But what happens when the doctor needs an ambulance himself? Ms. Gazelle and the entire class step in to make sure Dr. Brown Bear gets the help he needs.

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The class is making their own music with rattles, all kinds of drums, maracas, cymbals, castanets, triangles and tambourines. Ms. Gazelle must teach them the difference between a bunch of wild noise and working together to make fantastic music. The best part is playing for their parents and surprised when the parents join in.

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 DVD includes the Peppasodes of When I Grow Up, The Flying Vet, Move to Music, Danny’s Pirate Party, The Fire Engine, Doctors, Talent Day, Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter, The Police, Work and Play, The Ambulance and Shake Rattle and Bang.

 Peppa Pig and her family have made their way into my family and spend every day with us. My granddaughter loves the series and even has the toys to play knowing each characters name. That is how you know that a family program has made an impact, when a child embraces each character like family.

The series teaches such valuable lessons about life, friendship, family, loyalty, learning, respect and loads of fun! That is what drew me to the series from the beginning. The fact that Peppa and her brother George have the love of an extended family is very important for kids to see – and it doesn’t matter if they learn it from a cute little pig.

PEPPA PIG: When I Grow Up give children a chance to think about that very question without it becoming too serious. Instead they learn about the choices and ask the questions that could possibly plant the seed for their dreams to one day come true.

In the end – if there is a job puddle jumping then Peppa is your pig!

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