Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

Snapshot Review: ‘A Walk in the Woods’

A WALK IN THE WOODS

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star in

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star in “A Walk in the Woods.”

Photo courtesy of epk.tv

Critical rating: 3 stars out of four

Directed by: Ken Kwapis (“Big Miracle,” “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants”)

Starring: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte

Rated: R for language and some sexual references

The story: Screen adaptation of writer Bill Bryson’s bestselling, 1998 memoir, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.” The film, like the book, focuses on Bryson’s attempt to walk the 2,200-mile trail with his friend Stephen Katz.

The scoop: A comedy for mature audiences that value strong acting and subtle humor over car crashes and a barrage of crass gags. “A Walk in the Woods” is consistently funny, but it’s also a reminder that older folks needn’t act as though their best days are behind them. The movie is a likable mix of comedy and drama made better by the wonderful performances of Nolte and Redford. Like a hiker on a long journey, director Ken Kwapis takes an easygoing pace, covering a lot of territory but taking time to breathe and enjoy the scenery.

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Snapshot review: ‘American Ultra’

AMERICAN ULTRA

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in the action-comedy "American Ultra."  Photo courtesy of EPK.tv

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in the action-comedy “American Ultra.”
Photo courtesy of EPK.tv

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh (“Project X”)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo and Bill Pullman

Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content

The story: “American Ultra” is an entertaining action-comedy about a youthful slacker (Jesse Eisenberg) who easily dispatches two assassins that attempt to kill him, leading to the realization that he is really a former CIA agent who had his mind wiped. His loyal girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) is along for the ride.

The scoop: There are funny moments, and director Nima Nourizadeh mixes them with sequences of brutally graphic violence. Viewers will have a good time if they can look beyond the glaring plot problems and focus on the solid performances and Nourizadeh’s emphasis of style over substance.  Those who demand more from their filmmakers will see “American Ultra” for what it is: a lightweight Tarantino clone.

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Snapshot review: ‘Terminator Genisys’

TERMINATOR GENISYS

Critical rating: 3½ stars out of four

Directed by: Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”)

Starring: Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and J.K. Simmons

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language

The story: The fifth installment in this long-running science-fiction franchise takes viewers to the future and past with a story that relies heavily on time travel. Much of the action centers on Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who was played by Michael Biehn in the 1984 original. Viewers watch as Kyle is sent back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Presumably this would result in a replay of the first movie, but Kyle lands in a timeline that has been significantly changed. In fact, there is a point where humanity’s prophesized savior, John Connor, becomes mankind’s biggest threat.

The scoop: “Terminator Genisys” is a fitting tribute to all the films that came before and the most entertaining franchise entry since 1991’s “Judgment Day.” Like the first two movies, the film is sometimes silly, often funny and always action packed. It’s a great summer blockbuster.

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New to home video: ‘Get Hard,’ ‘The Gunman,’ ‘While We’re Young’ and ‘Danny Collins’

Sean Penn plays an assassin who is hunted for the secrets that he harbors in

Sean Penn plays an assassin who is hunted for the secrets that he harbors in “The Gunman.”

Photo courtesy of Universal

The new home video releases for June 30 include …

GET HARD
2½ stars out of four
Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug material
Warner Brothers
Starring: Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell
Written and directed by: Etan Cohen (first feature film)
The scoop: Will Ferrell plays a millionaire who is sentenced to prison after a fraud conviction. Devastated, he hires the only black man he knows, Darnell (Kevin Hart), to prepare him for lockup. The only trouble is Darnell is as squeaky clean as they come. Hart and Ferrell are charismatic actors and the premise is funny, but the execution is hit-and-miss.

THE GUNMAN
3 stars out of four
Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality
Universal
Starring: Sean Penn and Javier Bardem
Directed by: Pierre Morel (“Taken”)
The scoop: A former assassin (Sean Penn) finds himself hunted by dangerous men afraid of the dark secrets that he harbors. Moviegoers have seen similar things in the past, but the film is still engaging thanks to solid pacing and a nice performance by Penn.

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
3 stars out of four
Rated R for language
Lionsgate
Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin and Adam Horovitz
Written and directed by: Noah Baumbach (“Frances Ha,” “The Squid and the Whale”)
The scoop: The story of a middle-aged couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who try to recapture their youth by hanging out with a much-younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). The subject matter is enticing and the cast is remarkably talented.

DANNY COLLINS
3 stars out of four
Rated R for language, drug use and some nudity
Universal
Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer
Written and directed by: Dan Fogelman (first feature film)
The scoop: An aging rock musician takes stock of his career and tries to reinvent himself after receiving an undelivered letter that John Lennon wrote to him at the beginning of his career. Al Pacino isn’t completely believable as a superstar singer, but the movie’s dramatic arc is surprisingly engaging.

NOTE: Blu-rays, DVDs and screening links are provided to the reviewer at no charge. This enables us to run reviews the day titles become public, but it does not influence the opinions expressed.

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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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