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THE ADVENTURES OF A.R.I. MY ROBOT FRIEND Brings Technology Adventure to DVD

TheAdventuresofARIMyRobotFriend_3DDVD-scaled

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD, Digital and On Demand from director Stephen Shimek, Grindstone and Lionsgate Home Entertainment comes a story of friendship with THE ADVENTURES OF A.R.I. MY ROBOT FRIEND.

Noah (Jude Manley) is a teen spending his time in school and with good friend Bethany (Sophia Alongi). Dad Peter (J.R. Brown) is pretty busy with his tech job but tries to very hard to have time with Noah. A movie night is interrupted with Peter has to go to the lab for an emergency and asks Noah to join him.

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Once at the lab while Dad is busy, Noah notices workers taking an odd table through the lab. Curiosity gets the best of him and he discovers a small robot that seems to be discarded. While testing is being doing throughout the lab, Noah decides to take the small robot in his backpack. Well, this is when life gets interesting.

The robot comes to life and is equally curious about Noah. What they both don’t know is that back in the lab, people are looking for their robot and want it back! Dr. Simon (Cait Brasel) along with Director Raddock (Greg Lutz) will stop at nothing to find A.R.I. and bring him back.

While A.R.I. learns from Noah, their friendship grows and as much as the scientists want their robot back, Noah and Bethany discover that there is more to this than a missing robot. Finding Professor Eggy (Bill Jenkins) is the key to saving their A.I. little friend from disaster!

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Manley as Noah is a young man who is growing up in the technology world. He understandings A.R.I. and is constantly amazed at what he can do, no more so than A.R.I. himself. Alongi as Bethany is the total teen having a social media following and uses that to help their new friend keep the bad guys away.

Lutz as Raddock is singularly focused on finding A.R.I. but if not – there is always plan B. Brasel as Dr. Simon tried to make A.R.I. work but doesn’t understand why everyone wants him so badly but does do her techno part to find him. Brown as Dad Peter gets a chance to help his son do something amazing. Jenkins as the Professor has his own story to tell about A.R.I. and is thrilled to tell it to Noah and Bethany.

Other cast includes: Kyle Henry as Titan, Jeremy Miller as Todd, Christy Tate as Rita Haley, and Craig Cole as Mr. Stanny.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.

THE ADVENTURE OF A.R.I. MY ROBOT FRIEND is a fun family film that also talks about technology and what it is capable of. It also shows the good and bad people who are involved with A.R.I. and what each of their goals really are. That’s important for families to discuss in the sense that technology can be amazing for teaching and entertaining, but kids need to understand the perils that can sometimes happen when not used properly.

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That’s where A.R.I. comes in with his friendship with Noah and Bethany. He learns about friendship and what it means to care for someone to the point of doing everything possible to protect them. In turn Noah and Bethany begin to see A.R.I. as so much more than metal and motherboards and it is delightful to see.

So gather the family together and make it a movie night to watch friendship and technology become the best of friends with THE ADVENTURE OF A.R.I. MY ROBOT FRIEND.

In the end – the extraordinary story can begin!

Disney Delights to Bring Home FROZEN 2 on Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray, DVD and Digital from director Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Walt Disney Home Entertainment is the return to Arendelle and FROZEN 2.

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 parent’s 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 Olaf 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. Thank Gad for bringing life to such an sweet, gentle and loving character.

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.

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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.

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. http://www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

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 and Bonus Extras include over an hour of bonuses including A Sing-Along Version of the Movie, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Deleted Songs, Do You Know ????, Music Videos and more! The soundtrack to FROZEN 2 have been in our car since the day of its release so now it will be fun to sing along with the film.

FROZEN 2 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? In FROZEN 2 we are asked to go “Into the Unknown” and Olaf brings his delightful “When I am Older”.

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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 2 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.

I am hardly about to tell every detail of the film because it’s FROZEN 2 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.

Disney has been on a very cool winning streak with their animated films and FROZEN 2 seals the 2019 deal for them. The launch of Disney+ this week means that you can enjoy Disney films all year long which I know my granddaughter intends to do.

FROZEN 2 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. Now, FROZEN can take a well-deserved Bluray break from the player and FROZEN 2 can step up to continue the joys of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven as well as new friends!

At home we can embrace our children and grandchildren as the story unfolds because we share a connection with our friends in the film. We understand the struggles, the love, friendship and caring and that makes FROZEN 2 just about everything we need in family time.

In the end – they are going into the unknown!

Take to New Heights with SWIFT

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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!

JUMANJI: The Next Level Brings Another Adventure

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from writer/director Jake Kasdan and Columbia Pictures is the return for another adventure with JUMANJI: The Next Level.

It’s the holidays and the gang makes plans to return to Nora’s Diner for a bit of catching up. Bethany (Madison Iseman), Martha (Morgan Turner), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Spencer (Alex Wolff). Actually, Spencer is finding any way to avoid getting together at home with Mom (Marin Hinkle) and Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) who is recovering from hip surgery.

The reason for seclusion is that Spencer and Martha have taken a break from their relationship and he’s having a hard time. So much so that he goes into the basement and finds a certain video game and does the unthinkable. Grandpa Eddie is dealing with his own grumpiness when friend Milo (Danny Glover) comes to visit but Eddie isn’t exactly having it.

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When the gang can’t reach Spencer, they head over to his house and meet Eddie and Milo and then hear a sound that stops them in their tracks. Running down to the basement, they realize that Spencer has jumped back into the game. The only thing to do is to go in after him, except this time there are a few changes they don’t see coming.

In the game the basic rules are the same but the game has changed! It is more challenging and the players are a tad different. Martha (Karen Gillan) keeps her character but Eddie (Dwayne Johnson) has a much bigger stature, Bethany (Jack Black) is back and Milo is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart). Confused yet? Well it gets better!

They begin searching for Spencer who is now Ming (Awkwafina) who is looking for a stone that will save the world but is being stopped by Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann). Getting it requires the help of Alex (Nick Jonas) who is happy to see everyone.

Now that all the players on in place, it’s time to put Jurgen in his place and return the beloved and precious stone before dinner time!

Johnson as Eddie gets a chance to be even more comedic than before. It is even more hilarious when you realize he is doing his best Danny DeVito Eddie. His flexing, jumping and stare into the abyss is full on fun and we’d pretty much expect nothing less from him. DeVito as the grumpy Eddie isn’t really into life and can’t seem to find a moment to be happy about. Becoming the player Eddie is the most fun he’s had in, well, forever.

Wolff as Spencer is having an early 20’s crisis and the only thing he can think to do is go somewhere where he felt special. This is a young man who didn’t think things through to well and when he shows up in the game as Ming, it’s a new character with new abilities. Awkwafina as Ming is hilarious as always and since her introduction to people in the film CRAZY RICH ASIANS, she has made a name for herself doing comedy but also can pull off true emotions when needed.

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Hart as Milo doesn’t understand what is happening except that he seems much more knowledgeable about language and animals. Hart doing Glover is probably the best I’ve seen and it just kept cracking me up. Glover as Milo wants to fix the friendship he has with Eddie and it’s not as if the grumpy guy is going to make it easy.

Black as Fridge isn’t happy about his less than perfect body and doesn’t understand why he can’t be the same character he was before. Black jumps into his role and I can see him playing any of them with ease. There is a scene with Martha that is pretty funny in the pool of change. Blain as Fridge is happy to see his friends but not so much when they have no choice but to return to the game to find Spencer.

Gillan as Martha is back in her shorts and a tank top making sure that she gets a chance to jump off things and flip around tree branches with ease. The comedy for her comes when trying to explain to Eddie and Milo that they are in a game and what the rules are. Iseman as Bethany is the monkey in the works and she has to turn to Alex (Colin Hanks) for help in a very brave way. Hanks as Alex has a small role but I’m always happy to see him.

Shout out to McCann as Jurgen the Brutal and I don’t want to say that it’s a bit of type casting but lets through it out there and see if it sticks. As the Hound in Game of Thrones he was loud, had no problem swinging a sword and was a tad frightening, hmmmm…sounds like Jurgen the Brutal. Who cares! It’s good to see him.

Other cast include Ashley Scott as Ashley, Rhys Darby as Nigel, Deobia Oparei as Gromm, Sarah Bennani as Andi Tow, Massi Furlan as Switchblade, Jared Hasmuk as Dagfin and Sal Longobardo as Tony.

JUMANJI: The Next Level is family fun and especially for those who love the idea of these actors in a video game. There is fun, humor, adventure and it’s all wrapped up in the story of family, friendship, loyalty, acceptance and fighting off bad guys with your best friends. Of course I am a fan of the Robin Williams version of JUMANJI and will always see that as the standard but at the same time it is easy to see why this generation is having such fun at the theatre.

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This version of the film has more characters than the 1995 JUMANJI and the comedy is sillier with Johnson and Hart at the helm. These two clearly share the same humor and their off screen friendship and Twitter ‘war’ adds to the charm of their film.

If you want to take a break from the crowds at the mall or the crowds pretty much anyway for the holidays and be taken away on a fun adventure, then JUMANI: The Next Level is the right film to see with the whole family. Make sure that bucket of popcorn is extra large!

In the end – it’s the very next level!

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!

CINDERELLA and the SECRET PRINCE Delight on DVD

Cinderella cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from directors Lynne Southerland and Paulette Victor-Lifton and SHOUT! Kids Factory comes a new twist to a fairytale we all know as CINDERELLA and the SECRET PRINCE.

Ella (Cassandra Lee Morris) is taking care of her step-mother and two step-sisters but also of the creatures that live in the home. Her three furry mice friends, Alex (Chris Niosi), Manny (R. Martin Klein) and Walt (Tony Azzolino) have started her day with a little bit of trouble in the kitchen. It doesn’t last long when it is announced that there is to be a ball at the castle where the prince is looking for a wife.

No interest in it at all, Ella is encouraged by the mice to attend and take a chance that she might be the next princess to the kingdom. Her thoughts turn to what to wear when it is suggested that they seek out the fairy godmother who lives in the woods for guidance. Once there, they can’t find the fairy but instead her apprentice named Crystal (Kirsten Day). At first she doesn’t seem interested but then realizes it’s much more fun than standing around doing nothing.

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At the ball she dances with the prince but the mice and Crystal seek out the kitchen. Instead they find that there is a Witch (Wendee Lee) practicing evil! In fact they discover that Alex isn’t really a mouse – he is the rightful prince to the kingdom. Telling Ella what is happening they decide to find the one thing that could restore Alex and reclaim the kingdom from evil.

They are going to have to act fast because the Witch isn’t about to give up quite so easily!

Morris as Ella lends her voice to this delightful character who finds herself on an adventure of a lifetime. Ella is fun, has a sense of humor but also knows when an injustice has been done and wants to help make it right. There is nothing better than a strong young girl who sees her world as an opportunity to do right by all.

Niosi as Alex is a young man who has had his life taken by the greed of another. It is meeting Ella that sets in motion all the decisions he makes and the ultimate decision that may change everything he has come to love.

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Klein and Azzolino as Manny and Walt are charming, funny, and have no problem admitting when they aren’t comfortable doing something. Of course if there are snacks involved you can get a little more out of them!

Day as Crystal doesn’t start off as the happiest of people as she is looking for her mentor with no luck. Understanding that she can be friends with Ella, Alex, Manny and Walt opens up the doors for relationships she has been lacking and becomes a trusted friend. Lee as the Witch is scary and, well, for a better term a pretty nasty person. Taking away Alex’s life for her own greed certainly qualifies as a nasty person but she goes after them all to make sure she keeps what she thinks is hers.

Other cast include Stephen Mendel as Olaf, Terrence Stone as the Eagle and Stephanie Sanditz as Step-mother.

SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty And The Beast. Also their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit www.shoutfactory.com.

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CINDERELLA and the SECRET PRINCE is heartwarming, entertaining, funny and, of course, enchanting. This is a twist on the classic story with a witch that makes Ella’s step-mother seem tame by comparison. The focus clearly is on Ella’s friendships and her meeting the mouse-prince. Their goal is to make things right in a world that has been forced into evil by someone the prince trusted.

It is a story of friendship, loyalty, adventure, doing right no matter the cost and a little bit of love as well. That is why families enjoy these story’s. We want to sit with our family and enjoy a film that is fun but also teaches lessons that everyone can embrace.

In the end – it is a tale of friendship and love wrapped in magic!

SEMPER FI Brings Loyalty and Brotherhood

Semper Fi Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres, On Demand and digital from writer/director Henry-Alex Rubin, co-writer Sean Mullin and Lionsgate is the story of brothers and brotherhood with SEMPER FI.

Callahan (Jai Courtney) is a police officer in a small town but also a reservist in the Marine Corps along with his friends and brother Oyster (Nat Wolff). Hanging out with Jaeger (Finn Wittrock), Milk (Beau Knapp), Snowball (Arturo Castro), they enjoy their time together just have a bit of fun.

Cal has been keeping an eye on his younger brother Oyster since their mother died and it is a job big brother takes seriously. Helping him stay out of trouble has also brought tension to the brothers that occasionally come to the surface.   As the gang goes out for a night of drinks, they all know that going to Iraq is very close. Cal warns Oyster to stay out of trouble but gets a snarky reply.

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Later in the evening, Cal gets a telephone call that his brother is wanted for beating up a man at the bar. Having no choice, he goes to look for his brother wanting to be the one to arrest him before anything else happens. It doesn’t go well and Oyster is sent to prison while Cal is sent to Iraq. The brother each fight to stay alive but in different ways. Cal is faced with his own decisions in war when his platoon is attacked. Oyster is fighting corruption from those that should be protecting him.

Returning home Cal visits his brother in jail and is met with disdain and hostility but it is clear that something bad is happening to Oyster. Cal reaches out to anyone that he things can help but all he is told is that there is a possibility the younger brother can be transferred. He tries to discover why Oyster is out of legal options only to find out there is something nefarious happening.

That’s when he decides the only recourse is to be a law man who is about to break that law and with help!

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Courtney as Callahan is a complex character being that he is a big brother put in a position of responsibility at a young age to be a father figure. As he gets older, he sees the path Oyster is on and will do anything to help him avoid the painful effects of bad decisions. Courtney has made a career portraying a stern faced and by the book leader roles and it’s because he makes it work beautifully. This is an intense role because of the truths behind it with war and a sense of brotherhood that has brotherhood attached to it as well.

Wolff as Oyster clearly has issues that he has not dealt with and a history that is filled with pain and fear. Instead of the brothers dealing with that history, Wolff holds anger towards his brother that is taken to the stratosphere when Cal is the one who arrests him. Wrapped up in himself, he can’t see past that anger and blames everyone else for his own bad choices. Wolff is that little brother many of us can relate to and that brings the viewer deeper into the relationships with Cal.

Knapp, Castro and Wittrock are Cal and Oyster’s military brothers who see what is happening between them and tries to keep the peace. When they all go to Iraq without Oyster, these men follow their leader Cal because that’s what brothers do, watch out for each other and trust that their leader will get them home. Once home, they all understand the pain Cal is going through when he sees Oyster in prison and will follow both brothers into another kind of battle.

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Other cast include Leighton Meester as Clara, Rachel Hendrix as Rachel, Wayne Pere as Tom Nichols, Ashton Leigh as Val, Sylvia Crim as Carrie, Rob Mello as Tony, Lance Nichols as Balfour, Jared Bankens as DJ Dwyer, Mehdi Merali as Jalal and William Harris as Dr. Stall.

SEMPER FI is a story with many layers beginning with the brothers and ending with brotherhood. It shares within the story the struggles of those returning from war to try and find their way yet never forgetting who got them home in the first place. Another layer is that of a brotherhood that happens for soldiers in the military. In this instance it is a brotherhood that supports one another and even though it is an unusual situation, it is still not farfetched.

Films like SEMPER FI are important in that they address such serious issues that soldiers face when they return from war. In the case of Cal he is fighting what happened after the attack and how to deal with it once home. Trying to be strong for his brother and ‘brothers’ is difficult and the strain becomes too much at one point. When it comes to Oyster, it is his brothers who let him know that nothing is impossible together.

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Sean Mullin is an award-winning screenwriter and film director but previous to that was a Captain in the New York Amy National Guard and a first responder after the September 11th attacks. He spent his time working as the Officer in Charge of the soldiers stationed at Ground Zero. His critically-acclaimed debut – AMIRA & SAM won at numerous film festivals and was distributed by Drafthouse Films. He is the co-writer and co-producer of SEMPER FI along with Academy Award Nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin. Also involved is Academy Award nominated producer of WHIPLASH David Lancaster.

In the end – honor your brother!

 

 

STRANGER THINGS Season 3 Brings More Frights in Friendship

 

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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!

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

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