Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

Snapshot review: ‘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 …

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.

3 stars out of four
Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality
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.

3 stars out of four
Rated R for language
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.

3 stars out of four
Rated R for language, drug use and some nudity
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


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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