Tag Archives: film reviews

‘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


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


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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New to Home Video: ‘Kingsman – The Secret Service,’ ‘The DUFF’ and ‘Project Almanac’

The following home video releases are available in most formats as of June 9 …

Kingsman: The Secret Service

3½ stars (out of four)
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
20th Century Fox
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong and Mark Hamill
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn (“Kick Ass,” “X-Men: First Class”)
The scoop: Story of a troubled young man (Taron Egerton) who is invited to try out for a top-secret spy organization. His mentor is a long-time agent named Harry Hart (Colin Firth). The movie is a delightful mix of comedy and action, and the cast is outstanding. The film is also extremely violent, which is to be expected since it came from the director of “Kick Ass.”


Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Nick Eversman, Bella Thorne and Bianca A. Santos
Directed by: Ari Sandel (first feature-length, fiction movie)
The scoop: A high school senior (Mae Whitman) throws her school’s social order into disarray when she fights back after learning that everybody knows her as the “designated ugly fat friend.”

Project Almanac

Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual content
Starring: Johnny Weston, Sophia Black D’Elia, Sam Lerner and Allen Evangelista
Directed by: Dean Israelite (first feature-length movie)
The scoop: Documentary-style picture about a group of friends who build a time machine only to discover that their meddling has unintended effects that puts everyone in danger.


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‘San Andreas’ snapshot review


Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Brad Peyton (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson and Ioan Gruffudd

Rated: PG-13

The story: A massive earthquake rattles the San Francisco coast, forcing a rescue chopper pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) into a desperate search for their missing daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

The scoop: Movies don’t get much stupider or more overblown than “San Andreas.” As with most disaster movies, the severity of the destruction and loss of life are belittled by the fact that only a handful of characters receive significant screen time. Nevertheless, there is something relentlessly entertaining about all this nonsense. The special effects are astonishing, and Dwayne Johnson is charming even when he’s working with an insipid script. “San Andreas” is a guilty pleasure in the guiltiest sense.

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‘Spy’ snapshot review

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and her fellow CIA operative Rick Ford (Jason Statham) pose as a “happy” couple as they go deep undercover to stop an arms dealer.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and her fellow CIA operative Rick Ford (Jason Statham) pose as a “happy” couple as they go deep undercover to stop an arms dealer.
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox


Critical rating: 3 stars out of four

Directed by: Paul Feig (“The Heat,” “Bridesmaids”)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Rose Byrne

Rated: R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity

The story: “Spy” is centered on a CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) who is promoted from her long-time desk job to an undercover assignment where she must try to stop a nuclear weapon from falling into the wrong hands.

The scoop: Writer-director Paul Feig becomes one of the industry’s most reliable comedy directors with a film that’s set to become a mainstream hit. “Spy” isn’t the most original picture to hit theaters in 2015, but it is a consistently funny Hollywood concoction that entertains while poking good-natured fun at the espionage genre. Melissa McCarthy does most of the heavy lifting, but the excellent supporting cast – particularly Jason Statham in a rare comedic role – is likable as well.

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‘Tommorowland’ snapshot review


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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