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‘Max’ snapshot review

After his brother is killed in combat, Justin Wincott (Josh Wiggins) agrees to take ownership of his dog.  Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

After his brother is killed in combat, Justin Wincott (Josh Wiggins) agrees to take ownership of his dog.
Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

MAX

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Boaz Yakin (“Safe”)

Starring: Josh Wiggins, Thomas Haden Church, Lauren Graham, Luke Kleintank, Mia Xitalia, Dejon LaQuake and Robbie Amell

Rated: PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements

The story: When a U.S. Marine dog handler is killed in combat, his dog – a Belgian Malinois – won’t work with anyone else. The dead Marine’s brother (Josh Wiggins) agrees to work with the animal rather than watch the military put it down.

The scoop: The plot is far-fetched and director Boaz Yakin relies heavily on melodrama and sentimentality. This will bother some viewers, but dog lovers should enjoy the film’s moving tribute to the loyalty of canines and the wonderful bond they develop with owners.

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‘Jurassic World’ review on Action News Now

June 12, I talked about “Jurassic World” during a short segment on Action News Now in Northern California. Click on the link to watch: http://www.actionnewsnow.com/videoplayer/?video_id=8051&categories

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‘Jurassic World’ snapshot review

JURASSIC WORLD

Critical rating: 3½ stars out of four

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”)

Produced by: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril

The story: Years after the events depicted in the original “Jurassic Park” films, businessmen have figured out a way to make a dinosaur-themed amusement park a reality. Sadly, interest in the facility is dwindling, so scientists up the ante by creating a genetically altered predator that’s as big as a T-Rex but smarter and considerably more dangerous. The creature is meant to create excitement and attract more visitors. Instead, it escapes.

The scoop: “Jurassic World” has all the requirements of a first-rate, summer blockbuster. It is action-packed, entertaining and filled with jaw-dropping special effects. Like most films in its genre, there is some silliness, but that’s no big deal thanks to an excellent cast and solid direction by director Colin Trevorrow.

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‘Tommorowland’ snapshot review

TOMORROWLAND

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Brad Bird (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” “The Incredibles,” “The Iron Giant”)

Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw and Thomas Robinson

Rated: PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements and language

The story: A scientifically curious young woman (Britt Robertson) learns of an alternate reality where humans have created inventions beyond our wildest dreams. She also learns that her reality is doomed unless she and an aging inventor (George Clooney) find a way to rid the world of its ever-increasing, human-created problems.

The scoop: Director and co-writer Brad Bird has done a masterful job creating an awe-inspiring look at an alternate reality that could represent humanity’s future. He has also crafted a story with an important and beautiful message: Human beings can build a wonderful future together, but only if they stop the self-destructive behavior that is destroying our lives and planet. Clooney and Robertson are likable in the lead roles, but the intricacies of the complex plot are difficult to decipher. This is largely due to uneven storytelling that leaves a host of important questions unanswered. In other words, “Tomorrowland” is beautiful and engaging, but it feels sloppy, particularly when judged in relation to Bird’s previous work.

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Video Verdict: Review of ‘Night at the Museum – Secret of the Tomb’

From left, Patrick Gallagher, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller and Rami Malek star in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.”  Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

From left, Patrick Gallagher, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller and Rami Malek star in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.”Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The latest entry in the “Night at the Museum” franchise is the only major theatrical release making its way to home video this week.

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Video Verdict: Reviews of ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1′ and ‘Foxcatcher’

Jennifer Lawrence again plays Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”  Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence again plays Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

This week’s home video releases are anchored by last year’s top-grossing feature film.

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Winners of the 87th Academy Awards

The movie awards season has come to a close with the 87th Academy Awards ceremony. Following is a full list of winner.

Best Picture

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Supporting Actor

J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Ida”

Best Animated Movie

“Big Hero Six”

Best Documentary Feature

“CitizenFour”

Original Screenplay 

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Best Original Song

“Glory” by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Cinematography

Emannuel Lubezki, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Achievement in Visual Effects

Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley and Paul Franklin, “Interstellar”

Achievement in Costume Design

Milena Canonero, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling 

Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Production Design

Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley, “Whiplash”

Achievement in Sound Editing

Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, “American Sniper”

Achievement in Film Editing

Tom Cross, “Whiplash”

Best Live Action Short Film

“The Phone Call”

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″

Best Animated Short

“Feast”

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