Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle | Keith the Critic Reviews

Every week, Keith the Critic will take a look at the latest movies, DVDs and Blu-Rays and will give you the scoop on what you should and shouldn't miss.

Movie review: The Last Witch Hunter, Crimson Peak

October 29, 2015

The Last Witch Hunter
The film begins long ago with Kaulder (Vin Diesel) trying to stop the Witch Queen who was planning to spread a black plague that would end all of humanity. Kaulder was able to kill the witch but not before she had cursed him to eternal life. He is now known as the Witch Hunter.
Kaulder works with a priest known as a “Dolan” whose job it is to record Kaulder’s work and serve as keeper and friend to him. The 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) has long been Kaulder’s trusted friend but he is retiring. The 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) is taking his place. The 36th Dolan supposedly dies in his sleep but Kaulder does not believe it. After investigation he determines that he was instead killed by a powerful witch. Kaulder seeks the help of a female witch (Rose Leslie) to track down the killer and bring back his friend, the 36th Dolan.
I’m one of the few movie critics that actually enjoyed this movie. I thought the cast was tremendous. Vin Diesel was fantastic as was Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, and Michael Caine. The action in this movie was great. The special effects were outstanding.
If you want to see this movie, you probably better go soon since the small crowds probably will end its run. However, if you enjoy special effects and action movies, go see it. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Crimson Peak
At the beginning of this movie we see Edith as a small girl who is visited by the ghost of her mother who warns her against Crimson Peak. She has no clue what this means.
Edith (Mia Wasikowska) grows up in a privileged household as her father is quite wealthy. She is an author who writes ghost stories. While meeting with her editor, she meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) when he spies one of her books. Sir Thomas is a young Englishman seeking investors for his clay mining invention along with his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain).
Her father, Carter, is approached by Sir Thomas seeking his support. Carter does not trust him nor does Edith’s childhood friend Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam). Carter denies his support much to the chagrin of Edith.
Later at a party, Edith again meets up with Sir Thomas and a romance begins. Carter seeks the help of a private detective to check on Sir Thomas and finds disturbing news concerning his former wives. He bribes Sir Thomas to end the relationship. Soon after, Sir Thomas sends word to Edith of the trickery and Carter is found dead at his club after what was determined to be an accident.
Sir Thomas marries Edith and whisks her away to his castle in England known as Allerdale Hall. The home is very run down and Edith is warned to stay out of certain areas of the castle. Edith learns that Allerdale Hall is also known as Crimson Peak because of the red clay that comes through the snow in the winter. Remembering the earlier warning, her suspicions begin to grow.
Guillermo del Toro, who directed this movie, is also known for Pan’s Labyrinth, The Frighteners, and many other great suspense/horror movies. Crimson Peak falls right in with the others. He is one of my favorite directors. The movie is very exciting and you don’t know what will happen next. The story line was good and it’s easy to follow.
This movie didn’t frighten me, but I still enjoyed it. Steven King also offered his support of this movie. The actors were fantastic and the special effects and sets were as well. The blood in the snow was very real looking. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars. Don’t miss it during this Halloween season.

Sicario
FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) are fighting the war on drugs in Arizona. After a raid turns up dozens of dead bodies hidden in a house, an IED explodes in a shed killing two other agents. Kate’s boss then recommends her to the CIA working with Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who is working undercover to bring down cartel boss Manuel Diaz who is believed to be responsible for the bodies. Kate agrees to help hoping to make a bigger difference and bring justice for her coworkers.
Matt is working with Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). They plan to cause enough issues for Diaz so that he is called back into Mexico leading them to the cartel boss.
I left out a lot of details in this synopsis because I don’t want to give it away as every little thing adds to the movie. It is one of the best movies of the year. The acting headed by Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and especially Benicio del Toro were all worthy of Oscar nominations. Benicio del Toro was so perfect for the part, totally believable. He already won one Academy award for Traffic and should definitely be nominated for his role as Alejandro.
This movie is unbelievably good and the director, Denis Villeneuve, did a fantastic job. I highly recommend you watch this movie, but leave the kids at home. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.

The Martian
The Ares III is on a 2 month mission on Mars and living in a habitat they built called the Hab. The crew consists of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is a botanist, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), who is the commander, and Rick Martinez (Michael Pena), who is the pilot among others. Not long into the mission, a gigantic storm hits and the team decides they must abandon their trip and head for home.
In the process of leaving, Mark becomes separated from the others. Commander Lewis must make a tough decision: leave and save herself and the others or continue to look for Mark. She decides to leave and Mark is left behind.
Mark, however, is alive. He must now figure out how to survive on Mars. He is unable to communicate with NASA and determines that he must keep himself alive until the next mission which is at least 3 years away.
This movie also stars Jeff Daniels as NASA’s director. The whole cast was fantastic. Each person’s performance was superb especially Matt Damon whose character had a great sense of humor. The cast really worked well together. The scenery was terrific and looked very real. I would like to think that Mars is really that beautiful.
Of course I have to mention Ridley Scott. He is one of the greatest directors alive today and keeps putting out great movies. The Martian didn’t disappoint and I gave it 4 out of 4 stars.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
In the first movie, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Aris (Jacob Lofland), and others survive the maze. This movie begins with the group discovering that there were others in a maze as well. They are led to believe that they are being kept safe from the world outside that includes WCKD, a virus known as The Flare, and the Cranks. Soon they realize that Mr. Janson (Aidan Gillen) who runs the place, is keeping secrets and all is not as it seems.
The group escapes into the Scorch while being chased down by Mr. Janson and his men. The Scorch is not a safe place either and they soon find themselves in other troubles as well. They are looking for the Right Arm, a resistance group, where they feel they will find safe haven.
I didn’t like the first Maze Runner movie thinking it had no real point. This installment caught me off guard as I enjoyed it. The ruins shown in the Scorch were spectacular. The cast was fantastic and worked great together. The directing was well done also. I was happily surprised with this movie and gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

Movie review: The Intern, The Green Inferno

October 5, 2015

The Intern

Interns are young college students, correct? Well in this movie the intern is 70 years old and has been out of college for decades. The Intern stars Robert De Niro as the Intern, Ben Whitaker. Anne Hathaway also stars as Jules Ostin who has successfully built up her company, About the Fit. Normally About the Fit brings in the “normal” intern but decides to open up the program to one “senior” intern and Ben is it. He is assigned to work with Jules much to her chagrin.
Jules is very fast paced and sure that Ben will not be able to keep up with her. She is a completely hands on CEO as well as a mother and wife. Ben is a widower who once ran a phone directory company and it just so happens it was located in the same building as About the Fit. Little by little Jules realizes that Ben has a lot to offer.
I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this movie. It was much like “A Walk in the Woods” where you can just sit back and be entertained. I thought that Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro had great chemistry. Robert De Niro played a great father figure. The supporting cast included Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Adam DeVine, Linda Lavin, and Zack Pearlman, to name a few. They all really added to this movie and were all terrific.
The movie was filmed in Brooklyn, New York City and it was the perfect location for the high paced life that Jules was living in. There wasn’t really anything I could say about this movie that wasn’t done right. Director Nancy Meyers hit the nail on the head with this one. I gave this movie 3 ½ stars.

The Green Inferno

Lorenza Izzo played the role of Justine who was the star in this movie. Justine is a college student whose father is a lawyer for the United Nations. She gets invited to join a social activism group on campus. The group is led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy).
Justine decides to get involved when the group decides to visit an Amazon rain forest in Peru in order to stop the bulldozing by the oil companies that threatens to destroy many ancient tribes’ habitat. The plan is to chain themselves to the trees and bulldozers, use their cell phones to film the crews destroying the rain forest and stream the video across the world. Justine cannot get her chain to lock in place and one of the crew holds a gun to her head. She then realizes that she is being used as a pawn because of her father’s job with the U.N.
The group are placed in an airplane to head home but before they can go far, an engine explodes and the plane crashes killing half the group. The surviving members are soon captured by an indigenous tribe of cannibals. Soon the horror begins.
This movie is definitely not for everyone. It’s very violent and brutal. There is a lot of blood and gore. The movie starts off slowly but once the group arrives in Peru, it took off and I enjoyed it a little more. Some of the supporting cast had little to offer and their acting was not very good. Lorenza Izzo was quite good in the leading role however.
I gave this movie 2 ½ stars because I did think there were some good points. If you go to see it, be prepared. This was a typical Eli Roth movie, if you have seen any of his movies before.

Movie review: Black Mass, The Perfect Guy, The Visit, A Walk in the Woods

October 1, 2015

Black Mass

This movie stars the great Johnny Depp as mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Joel Edgerton as FBI Agent John Connolly, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Senator William Bulger. The Bulger brothers and John Connolly grew up together as boys in South Boston. As so often happens in life, they went separate ways as they came to be adults.
Whitey is a small time gangster with bigger aspirations. However another group of gangsters, the Angiulo Brothers are very powerful and tied to the Mafia. John Connolly approaches Whitey with the idea of bringing down the Angiulo Brothers. Whitey is to be an informant. John convinces his boss, Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon) who leads the Boston field office, to go along with the plan. Whitey resists at first but soon changes his mind.
Whitey is married to Lindsey (Dakota Johnson) and they have one son who is the love of his life. His son suddenly becomes very ill and is hospitalized for Reye Syndrome and placed on life support. Lindsey makes the decision to pull the plug which increases the anger and violence from Whitey.
I thought that this movie was expertly directed by Scott Cooper and produced by him as well. Johnny Depp gave one of the best performances of his life and definitely the best in recent memory. He is so talented that he can play any kind of part and make it his own. I think that he should and will be nominated for an Oscar for this part. His portrayal of Whitey was utterly fantastic and as a viewer you could feel the violence and anger from his character.
Joel Edgerton and Bendedict Cumberbatch were outstanding in their supporting roles. Both could be easily be nominated for Oscars as well even though Benedict Cumberbatch had a smaller part.
This movie is not for those with weak stomachs as there is a lot of violence and blood and gore that goes with it. With that said, I thought this movie was one of the finest of the year so far. If you can deal with the violence, I would urge you to go watch this movie. I gave it 4 stars.

The Perfect Guy

Sanaa Lathan stars in this movie as Leah Vaughn, a successful and well respected lobbyist. She has been in a relationship for years with her boyfriend, David (Morris Chestnut) but he does not want to commit to marriage. Leah’s desire for a family wins out and she ends the relationship.
One night while at a bar, another guy tries to pick her up. In comes Carter to the rescue. Carter (Michael Ealy) is a charmer and oozing with sex appeal. It’s not long until Leah has fallen for him. She takes him to meet her family. Her father, played by Charles S. Dutton, is very protective but Carter wins him over as well.
On the way home, they stop for gas and Carter goes inside. Carter’s car is very nice and another guy stops to admire it while talking with Leah. Carter comes out and is enraged with jealousy. He nearly beats the guy to a pulp showing a whole different side to Leah. For Leah, that’s the end of that relationship as well, but not the end as far as Carter is concerned.
This movie was great. The cast was exceptional and the directing was solid. It’s not worthy of any Oscar’s and it won’t be talked about by everyone (except maybe some of the women). The length of the movie was just about right. It was an enjoyable film that you could just be entertained by. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

The Visit

This movie is a horror film about two kids who go to spend a week with their grandparents. Their mother Paula (Kathryn Hahn) has been estranged from her parents since she was a teenager. Her parents reach out requesting to see their grandkids and Paula agrees. Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) is the oldest and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) is the younger brother. They decide they will make their trip into a documentary and try to determine why their mother and grandparents had a falling out.
Their grandfather John (Peter McRobbie) and grandmother Doris (Deanna Dunagan) are very excited to have them visit. All goes well during the first day and Rebecca and Tyler are having a blast. They are warned against going in the basement due to mold and that bedtime is at 9:30.
Rebecca becomes hungry and decides to go get something to eat. She soon realizes that all is not right with her grandparents. That night she witnesses her grandmother getting sick. When she mentions it to her grandfather, he just says she has been ill. But that is just the beginning of the oddities.
This movie is directed by M Night Shyamalan. Many people like his movies but I do not. The cast was good but the story was not. The actors did a good job of playing their parts and I will give them credit. I gave this movie 1 ½ stars only because of that acting. I wish this would be the last movie that M Night Shyamalan directs.

A Walk in the Woods

Robert Redford stars in this movie as author Bill Bryson who has decided he wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. His wife Catherine, who is played by Emma Thompson, tries to discourage him with horrible tails of things that could happen while on the trail. She eventually relents as long as he promises to not go alone.
Bill contacts everyone he can think of but no one wants to join him. Nick Nolte plays Stephen Katz who was once a friend of Bill’s. Katz, as he is known, hears of the trip and calls Bill to volunteer. When Katz arrives, he is very out of shape and Bill has his doubts. Katz convinces Bill that he can do it. They leave for their hike but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that this hike will not be easy.
This movie is just enjoyable. It’s just the kind of movie that allows you to relax and be entertained with a smile on your face throughout. Many may find it slow, but I loved it. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte were fantastic. Both knocked it out of the park. The settings in this movie were beautiful. The views were so fantastic that I hope to see them someday.
I’ve had people ask me if I had seen this movie and then asked me my impression. They all seemed to agree with me that it was great. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.

CAPTION GOES HERE (NAME/SPLASH!)

Jurassic World, San Andreas

July 5, 2015

Jurassic World
In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter) plays Claire Dearing who is the Operation Manager for the Jurassic World Park. In an effort to increase attendance to the park, the scientists, led by Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), are working on a new dinosaur that is to be more exciting than any previous dinosaur. The new attraction is to be called Indominus Rex and its makeup is kept secret by Dr. Wu.
Claire’s two nephews are visiting the park and she is responsible for their care. However, she is so busy and focused on securing funding for the park that she assigns one of her assistants to stay with the boys. Not enjoying being babysat, the boys quickly ditch her.
Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is a trainer at the park for the Velociraptors and is brought in to evaluate the Indominus Rex. He warns Claire that the new dinosaur is way too dangerous but his warning falls on deaf ears. Soon after, everything goes haywire in the park.
The 3D effects were amazing in this movie. All of the dinosaurs seem to come to life right before your eyes. The looks of the dinosaurs was even better than in any of the previous movies. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard were excellent in their roles. Both did such a great job of acting that you actually felt their fear.
I felt that this movie wasn’t quite as good as the first movie but it’s not far behind. This is one movie you shouldn’t miss. I gave it 3 ½ out of 4 stars.

San Andreas
This movie is based off the notion of the horrors that would occur if the San Andreas Fault ever ruptured. Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson stars as Ray Gaines who is a Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue pilot. Ray and his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) are to take a trip to San Francisco.
Seismologists Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) and Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) are at the Hoover Dam to test a theory when a 7.1 earthquake hits destroying the dam and killing many people including Dr. Park. Ray is called in to help so Blake is to instead go on her trip with her mother, Emma (Carla Gugino), and her mother’s wealthy boyfriend, Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). Daniel is working on a new high rise that is being built to withstand earthquakes. While in the high rise, Blake meets Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt). Ben is an architect from England applying for a job with Daniel’s company who is travelling with his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson).
Lawrence realizes that the San Andreas Fault is shifting. He tries to warn people but soon all of the cities along the fault, including San Francisco, are experiencing a massive earthquake. Ray heads back to San Francisco to save his family.
The action scenes in this movie were fantastic. The length of the movie was perfect. It wasn’t too long as to become boring. Dwayne Johnson is an ok actor but does have a strong presence in this movie. I loved the display of family first. Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario were pretty good in their roles so it pulled it all together.
Overall this movie was very enjoyable. If you go in expecting it to be real life, then you shouldn’t watch this movie. I recommend it if nothing else for the action. I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

Insidious 3
Insidious 3 is based on a different family than the first two movies but does contain some of the characters. Stefanie Scott stars as teenager Quinn Brenner whose mother recently died. Quinn’s father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney), is very dependent on Quinn without their mother and she resents it.
Quinn has heard of a woman who can talk with the dead and decides to visit her in hopes that she can help Quinn talk with her mother. The lady is Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) who had the same role in the previous movies. Elise has decided to retire from speaking with the dead but warns Quinn to not call out to them since all of the dead could also hear.
Days later Quinn sees a dark figure while auditioning for a theater academy. That night she meets her friend Maggie. While they are crossing the street, Quinn again sees the dark figure and pauses to look. She is hit by a car and badly injured. She has broken both of her legs and is wheel-chair bound while her legs are in casts. Her father takes her home and gives her a bell to use when she needs something. Soon after, bad things begin to happen to Quinn.
I enjoyed the acting by Lin Shaye. She is a tremendous actress. Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott were also fantastic. The special effects in this movie were outstanding. The story at large was pretty good. If you like horror movies, I would highly recommend Insidious 3. It’s far better than the second movie and just as good as the first. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Love and Mercy
This movie tells the story of Brian Wilson, one of the main members of the Beach Boys musical group. The movie goes back and forth between Brian’s life in the 1960’s and Brian’s life in the 1980’s. Brian in the 1960’s is played by Paul Dano and Brian in the 1980’s was played by John Cusack.
After a lot of musical success in the 1960’s, Brian suffers a panic attack and convinces the band to let him stay behind on their tour and while he continues to write music. He begins hearing voices in his head and starts to lose touch with reality.
Brian is diagnosed with schizophrenia and becomes under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) who pretty much keeps Brian drugged up. Brian visits a Cadillac dealer with the intent to buy a car and meets Melinda Ledbetter who is played by Elizabeth Banks. Brian immediately falls for her and asks her out. When Melinda realizes that Brian is never allowed to be alone and she sees the treatment Brian receives from Dr. Landy, she decides to take matters into her own hands.
The acting in this movie was the best I have seen all year. I even read that Brian Wilson himself thought the actors were cast perfectly. Brian when on to say that he found himself actually afraid for a while after seeing Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Dr. Landy. All three actors were worthy of a Oscar nomination even though it is still early in the season.
Of course the movie was about a member of the Beach Boys so it goes without saying that the music was wonderful. I look forward to the soundtrack. It’s hard to believe that Brian is one of the last living members of one of the best rock groups of the 60’s and 70’s.
Overall this was an awesome and unforgettable movie. I rated it 4 out of 4 stars. It’s a must see.

CAPTION GOES HERE (NAME/SPLASH!)

Insurgent, Home

April 7, 2015

Insurgent
Shailene Woodley and Theo James return as Tris and Four in the second installment of the "Divergent" series.
In this version, Tris and Four are on the run evading the Erudite faction and Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who has accused them of leading the attacks by the Dauntless. They hide out with the Amity faction led by Johanna who was played by Octavia Spencer. Soon, however the Dauntless arrive, forcing Tris and Four to run again.
The Dauntless faction is ruthlessly searching for a small box thought to contain the means to put an end to the Divergents. However, only a divergent can open the box. This is the same box that Tris’s mother died to protect.
Tris and Four travel to Factionless territory where they discover that Four’s mother is the leader. Four wants nothing to do with his mother, and they soon head to Candor where they are forced to take truth serum to prove their innocence in the attacks they have been accused of. After passing the test, Jeanine plays on Tris’s heart strings by getting people to attempt suicide if Tris does not turn herself in. To avoid more death, Tris does just that and is now the next person who will attempt to open the box and avoid death in the process.
I thought this movie was better than the first one. I loved how the characters developed and the comradery between them. Shailene Woodley was again fantastic and gets better and better as an actress every time I see her. The chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Theo James was terrific. The special effects were spectacular as well.
Four and his mother were building on their relationship and I think that will be a big factor in the next movie. I enjoyed this buildup and can’t wait to see the next installment. I gave this movie four out of four stars.

Home
This animated movie stars the hilarious Jim Parsons as Oh, a Boov who is not liked by his people due to his constant mistakes. The Boov are always on the run from their enemy, the Gorgs, and are in search of a new planet. They settle on Earth and quickly banish the humans from their homes so they can take over.
Oh is excited to be in a new home and throws a party inviting all his neighbors. When no one shows up, he becomes depressed. He decides to send a mass email to all of the Boov inviting them to the party. However, the email goes to everyone in the galaxy including the Gorgs. All the Boov are searching for Oh in hopes of recalling the message. They just need Oh’s password.
One teenaged girl, named Tip (voiced by Rihanna) has managed to escape capture along with her cat, named Pig. While on the run, she meets Oh, now also on the run after realizing his mistake. Oh and Tip soon strike up a friendship and Oh promises to help Tip find her mother who was banished with the other humans.
The humor in this movie was terrific. What else would you expect from Jim Parsons, who was absolutely fantastic? Rihanna did a great job as well. The animation was really well-done. 3D doesn’t always add a lot but I felt it did here.
The movie was just a little too long, but I still loved it. I gave this movie three out of four stars.

Get Hard
This hilarious movie stars Will Ferrell as James, a hedge-fund manager, who is very rich. He is engaged to Alissa (Alison Brie), who only wants his money. Kevin Hart plays Darnell, James’ car washer. One night in a parking lot, Darnell accidentally frightens James and is given a big speech about how James got to be a success.
Alissa throws an engagement party, which is interrupted when the police storm in and arrest James for fraud and embezzlement. He is found guilty and sentenced to ten years at San Quentin and given 30 days before the sentence begins.
James again runs into Darnell in a parking lot and asks him to train him to be able to survive in prison, assuming that Darnell has been in prison himself. Darnell, however, has no idea what life in prison is like but agrees to help toughen James up.
I have to say that Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are so very funny in this movie. It’s just one riot after another. I enjoyed every second. It’s not going to win any Academy Awards. However, if you check your mind at the door and just go in ready to enjoy, you will. I gave this movie three out of four stars.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
In this version, Sonny (Dev Patel) has decided he is ready to expand. He and Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) travel to San Diego to convince a hotel chain to invest. They are told that an inspector will make an unannounced visit before a decision will be made.
Sonny is on pins and needles and becomes at odds with his fiancée, Sunaina, played by Tina Desae. It doesn’t help that one of her brother’s friends - who is very good looking - is spending a lot of time with her. When the inspector arrives, Sonny immediately recognizes his purpose. However the inspector, played by Richard Gere, says he is there to write a book.
Evelyn (Judi Dench) is offered a job as a fabric buyer and must decide if the amount of travelling that will be required is what she wants at her age. Douglas (Bill Nighy), who is in love with Evelyn, is afraid he will not have any time with her if she accepts the job.
All of the characters return and are dealing with different events in their lives including Madge (Celia Imrie) who is still hunting for a husband and Norman (Ronald Pickup) who has found his love but is afraid he’s losing her. The acting was quite good and I really enjoyed this movie. In fact, I enjoyed it as much as the first. I gave this movie three out of four stars.

Furious 7
Hold on to your hats. In this movie because it starts fast and never slows down. Vin Diesel returns as Dominic Toretto, the leader of the group. Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz, Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, Chris Bridges as Tej Parker, and Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce all return. Jason Statham plays the part of Deckard Shaw, who is out to seek revenge for his brother, Owen, who Dom’s team defeated in the previous movie.
The movie begins by showing how all of the crew are getting on with their lives. Brian is adjusting as a husband and father, while Letty is trying to regain her memories. A mysterious package is left on the porch at Dom’s home. While standing outside talking with Brian and his wife, he receives a phone call from Deckard Shaw and then the bomb goes off destroying Dom’s home.
The crew are recruited by Frank Petty (Kurt Russell) to assist him in preventing a mercenary from acquiring God’s Eye which is a computer program that can track down any person through their digital devices and also to save the program’s creator Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) at the same time. In exchange Frank will help them in getting Deckard Shaw.
This movie was a great tribute to the late great Paul Walker and was just fantastic. The action never stopped. Everyone who had a part in this movie played their roles to perfection. The whole movie blew my mind by how enjoyable it was. I encourage everyone to go watch this movie. I gave it movie four out of four stars.

CAPTION GOES HERE (NAME/SPLASH!)

Cinderella, Run All Night

March 19, 2015

Cinderella

This version of the Disney classic stars the beautiful Lily James in the lead role as Ella, Richard Madden as Kit the prince and Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, Ella’s wicked step mother. This version was superbly directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
Ella’s mother dies when she is very young. She left Ella with words to always show courage and kindness to others. She quickly becomes the apple of her father’s eye. He becomes lonely and marries the recently widowed Lady Tremaine, who has two daughters of her own. Ella’s father’s profession requires him to travel around a lot. While away on a trip, he dies, leaving her alone with her stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. All of the womenquickly assign her the duties of cooking and cleaning for them and banish her to the attic.
One day while out riding her horse, she comes upon a group of hunters and chastises one of them for hunting a defenseless animal. She did not realize that the man she spoke to was the prince, as he only told her his name was Kit.
There is to be a ball that all of the people of the land are invited to. The purpose of the ball is for the prince to choose a wife. Ella wants to attend so she might meet up again with Kit but is forbidden by her stepmother. However, she finds a way with the help from her fairy godmother.
The imagery in this movie was terrific. I really loved everything about this movie. I have seen several versions of Cinderella, but this might be the best. I encourage all families to take their kids. However, adults will enjoy this just as much. I highly recommend this movie and gave it four out of four stars.

Run All Night
Run All Night is an action movie starring Liam Neeson, as an aging hitman named Jimmy. Jimmy had worked most of his life for his best friend Shawn, played by Ed Harris. Because of his profession, Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) will have nothing to do with him. Mike is an amateur boxer, as well as a limousine driver.
Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is trying hard to follow in his father’s footsteps, but doesn’t have his experience or maturity. He tries to join with an Armenian man to venture into drug smuggling but his father refuses to agree. Danny has already taken money from the Armenians and when they come to collect, he tries to swindle them. Danny kills them all with the help of a friend.
The Armenians had hired Mike to drive them. While waiting outside, he witnesses the death of one of the men. After realizing that Mike is a witness, Danny goes after him but Mike disappears, leaving behind his wallet. Danny calls his father, who then calls Jimmy. Shawn tells Danny that he will take care of it, but Danny doesn’t listen and goes to Mike’s house anyway.
Mike asks Jimmy to leave. While outside, Jimmy notices Danny’s car. He arrives just in time to keep Mike from being shot by Danny. Jimmy kills Danny in order to save Mike. Out of respect, he calls Shawn to tell him what has happened. Shawn advises him that Mike will be killed in retribution, and next will be Jimmy. The chase is on and Jimmy and Mike are now on the run.
The acting by Liam Neeson and Ed Harris was amazing. They work really well together. Joel Kinnaman was also quite good and held his own with his performance. Nick Nolte even made a brief appearance as Eddie, Jimmy’s brother. The action in this movie was terrific and kept you entertained. Once you see this movie, you will enjoy it as much as I did. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.

Blu-Rays and DVD’s
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
I truly loved everything about this movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Donald Sutherland as President Snow. This movie in the Hunger Games saga is very good and full of action. Katniss continues her fight for independence for her people from President Snow. Peeta, however, is being held by President Snow and used as a pawn to convince Katniss to stop her resistance.
The acting, the imagery, and everything involved in this movie is spectacular. Even if you were able to catch this at the theater, I recommend you add this movie to your DVD/Blu-Ray collection. I gave it four out of four stars.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
This is the last of the three Night at the Museum movies and may have been the best. It was definitely better than the second movie. It again stars Ben Stiller as Larry Daley who is the security guard at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. When the museum closes at night, the exhibits come to life. In this version, all of the characters travel to London to visit the British Museum.
This movie is loaded with stars. Besides playing Larry Daley, Ben Stiller also plays Laaa, who is a Neanderthal. Ben Kingsley plays as a powerful pharaoh named Merenkahre. Dick Van Dyke stars as Cecil, a retired security guard for the museum. Rebel Wilson plays Tilly, the security guard at the British Museum, and Owen Wilson plays Jedediah, the cowboy. It also features the late Mickey Rooney as Gus, another retired security guard, and the great Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt. Even Hugh Jackman makes a brief appearance.
Ben Stiller was terrific as was the other cast and I really enjoyed it. I gave this movie 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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McFarland, USA, The DUFF

March 4, 2015

McFarland USA
Kevin Costner stars as Coach Jim White in this wonderful movie based on a true story. Coach White loses his cool with one of his football players and is fired. He soon finds that his options for teaching and coaching are now very limited and finds himself in McFarland, California. McFarland is a very poor town of mostly Mexican farm laborers.
Coach White soon realizes that many of the town’s boys run everywhere they go and are quite fast. He convinces the principal to start a cross-country team and coerces a group of boys to join. He must overcome many obstacles to keep the team going since the boys’ families depend on them to work in the fields to help keep food on their tables.
This movie is a very feel-good story. I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not leave with a smile on their face. Kevin Costner was, yet again, terrific in a movie about sports. All of the actors including the kids on the team and their parents gelled together. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.

The Duff
This movie stars Mae Whitman as Bianca, who, unbeknownst to her, is recognized by her classmates as the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca decides that she needs to change that image. She begins tutoring Wesley (Robbie Amell), who is a high school jock. Wesley and Bianca soon begin working together to put Madison (Bella Thorne), the queen snob of the class, in her place.
I went into this movie with high hopes, since I loved Mae Whitman in Parenthood. I wasn’t disappointed. Allison Janney, who I also love, played Bianca’s mother and their interactions were terrific. Everyone who had a part in this movie was fantastic. The director, Ari Sandel, was new to me but he did a great job. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

The Lazarus Effect
This science fiction movie is about bringing the recently deceased back to life. A team of scientists are working together on a grant, but stray from their original plan by testing their theories on dead animals.
The team is made up of Zoe (Olivia Wilde), Frank (Mark Duplass), Clay (Evan Peters), and Niko (Donald Glover). They are soon joined by Eva (Sarah Bolger), who is filming their work. They find some success in bringing a dog back from the dead and begin testing on another animal. However, an accident occurs and Zoe is electrocuted and dies. Frank and Zoe were engaged and he decides to use their findings on Zoe, bringing her back to life. The team soon realizes that all is not right with Zoe.
I had high hopes for this move but was sorely disappointed. I just couldn’t buy into it. The performances by the actors were not that good and the direction was horrific as was the writing. I can’t say anything good about "The Lazarus Effect." I gave it 1 out of 4 stars.

Blu-Rays and DVDs
Big Hero 6
This movie was named the animated picture of the year in last week’s Oscars and it deserved it. Baymax is a robot created by a young boy with the intent of being able to quickly diagnose health issues. He turns out to be capable of much more.
I loved the interaction between the characters and the animation was fantastic. Don Hall and Chris Williams were the directors and did a fine job. This is one of the best films of last year. I urge everyone to get this movie and watch it with their family. I gave it 4 out of 4 stars.

Beyond the Lights
This movie stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a successful pop singer who is being exploited by her mother who is her manager. Nate Parker also stars as a police officer who is assigned to watch over her. A romance ensues between the two after he saves her from death when she tries to jump from a balcony.
I was surprised by how much I actually liked this movie. The acting was good. Minnie Driver played the mother and she did a fine job, as well. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

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Seventh Son, 50 Shades

February 26, 2015

Seventh Son

Jeff Bridges plays the part of Master Gregory, a knight in an order known as "the Spooks." Master Gregory has imprisoned an evil witch named Mother Malkin, played by Julianne Moore. Ben Barnes plays Tom Ward, the seventh son of the seventh son and is destined to join the Spooks order. Tom often has visions of Master Gregory and a girl he has never met. Master Gregory shows up at his door and Tom realizes that he must leave with him. Before he leaves, his mother, played by Olivia Williams, gives him her necklace that he is to wear at all times to ensure his safety. Tom becomes the apprentice of Master Gregory and soon meets the unknown girl from his dreams, Alicia, played by Alice Dean. They become close but Tom does not realize that Alicia has ties to Mother Malkin. Mother Malkin has escaped and it is up to Tom and Master Gregory to save the world from her evil treachery. The scenery in this movie was terrific as it fit in well with the storyline. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore were terrific as was the other cast. The acting carried the movie because the storyline was a little weak and slow. I gave this movie 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

Fifty Shades Of Grey
This movie is based off of the first of a trilogy written by E. L. James. Anastasia (Ana) Steele, played by Dakota Johnson, is a soon-to-be college graduate majoring in Literature. Her roommate Kate (played by Eloise Mumford) has arranged an interview with millionaire Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, who is strikingly handsome. However Kate becomes ill and asks Ana to go in her place.
Ana meets Christian as arranged and finds she is attracted to him. After the interview is complete, he surprisingly shows up at the hardware store where she works. Before their romance can go far, Christian has Ana sign a non-disclosure agreement and then lets Ana in on his secrets in his world of love-making.
Christian’s world is far different than Ana’s and she finds she is unable to resist him. She soon realizes she is fighting for her independence and wants more from their relationship.
I’m told this movie follows the book pretty well. It will appeal to couples and women. The acting in this movie could have been better but it wasn’t awful. This is definitely not a movie for everyone but it is pretty good. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
This movie is an action film based off of a group of spies known as the Kingsmen. Colin Firth plays the part of Harry Hart (code name Galahad) who is a member of the Kingsmen. During a mission in the Middle East, one of the members is killed. Harry goes to visit the family of the fallen member which includes a young boy, Gary. Harry leaves his number for them to call if they are ever in need of assistance.
Years later, Gary, known as Eggsy, gets into trouble and lands in jail. Gary decides to call Harry. Harry gets him out and sees potential in him. After the death of one of their members, the leader of the Kingsmen, played by Michael Cain, asks each spy to suggest one person who they feel can replace their lost member. Harry chooses Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, and so begins his training to become a Kingsman. Eggsy is initially not chosen but is later brought back.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of Richmond Valentine, a very rich man interested in surviving global warming who is developing a plan to lessen the harm to the environment. The Kingsmen are brought into investigate Valentine after several VIP’s begin to disappear.
I really enjoyed this movie, especially Firth, Cain, Jackson and the other actors. Jackson was terrific in the part of the bad guy. I thought the writing was crisp and well-thought-out. The action scenes were amazing. The stunt guys really earned their pay in this one. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
This movie features the lovable cartoon character, Spongebob and his friends. The krabby patties are stolen by pirate Burger Beard, voiced by Antonio Banderas, and brought to land. It is up to Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Plankton and the others to bring back the krabby patties.
My daughter and I really enjoyed it, but it was a little too long. I still highly recommend it for families with small children. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Black or White
Elliot Anderson, who is played by Kevin Costner, unexpectedly becomes a widow. He and his now-departed wife had been raising their granddaughter, Eloise (played by Jillian Estell), who is mixed-race. The Andersons daughter died during Eloise’s birth. The couple, who had no idea of the pregnancy, blamed Eloise’s father for their daughter’s death.
Elliot knows nothing of what is required to raise a young girl and is soon challenged for custody by Eloise’s other grandmother, Rowena, played by Octavia Spencer. Rowena has a large family and believes her son should take a part in his Eloise’s life.
Elliot likes to drink alcohol and begins drinking more and more after his wife’s death. A court battle soon ensues.
Costner is good in all sports movies and was terrific in "Black or White" as well. In my books, he deserves an Oscar for this role. The emotion he showed in this movie was very believable. Spencer deserves a nod for supporting actress as she was terrific as well. The directing was worthy of an Oscar too. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars. The movie was spectacular.

Blu-Rays and DVDs
St. Vincent
This movie stars Bill Murray as Vincent and Melissa McCarthy as Maggie. Maggie moves in next door after she becomes divorced. She has a 12-year-old son who needs a father figure. Maggie works as a nurse and Vincent agrees to help her out with watching her son even though he is far from a good role model.
Vincent’s girlfriend is played by Naomi Watts. She is a pregnant Russian prostitute and further proof that Vincent is not the normal person to provide support to a young boy.
This was actually one of the best films in 2014. Bill Murray deserved to be nominated for an Oscar, as did the movie and the director. All were snubbed, which was too bad. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.

Birdman
I thought this movie was the best film in 2014 and deserved to win the Oscars, as should Michael Keaton who played the starring role as Riggan Thompson. Riggan had starred as Birdman earlier in his career and is now trying to get back the notoriety that he had before by writing and starring in a Broadway play.
The movie shows the stress that Riggan is under and the struggles he has not only in his career but in his personal life as well. This is truly a wonderful movie and as I said before, deserved to win the Oscar’s hands down. Go get this movie at the store since it was just released. The whole cast were fantastic. Even the set was designed perfectly as it was filmed with only one camera on both sides of the set. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.

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Oscar Picks and Contest

February 15, 2015

*My choices are listed in the order I would pick them.
Best Movie
1) Birdman – I think this is the best movie Michael Keaton has made.
2) American Sniper – This was a very close second to Birdman. It was fantastic.
3) Boyhood – The idea behind the filming of this movie over the life of a boy was unique. The fact that all the stars committed to all of the time it took to film, was amazing.

Best Leading Actor
1) Michael Keaton in Birdman – Again, I believe this was his finest movie yet. His portrayal was amazing. I liked the fact that he was a former superhero (like Batman). It was a wonderful execution of the role.
2) Bradley Cooper in American Sniper – This was a perfect performance and also worthy of the number one spot.
3) Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything – He was magnificent in a part that had to be difficult to play.

Best Leading Actress
1) Julianne Moore in Still Alice – She is terrific in any role she plays.
2) Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything – I thought her part, which was opposite of Eddie Redmayne, was outstanding.
3) Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl – I thought her performance was one of the best of the year and close to the top.

Best Supporting Actor
1) J.K. Simmons in Whiplash – He is an absolutely terrific actor - always has been and always will be.
2) Robert Duvall in The Judge – He may be getting older but can still give a great performance.
3) Ethan Hawke in Boyhood – He played the father and was fantastic.

Best Supporting Actress
1) Patricia Arquette in Boyhood – She was unbelievably terrific.
2) Emma Stone in Birdman – She played the Birdman’s daughter and nailed the part.
3) Meryl Streep in Into the Woods – Here we go again for her. She’s always at the top.

Best Animated Feature Film
1) Big Hero 6 – The animation in this movie was some of the best I have seen. The scenes seemed almost real.
2) The Boxtrolls – This movie was quite good.
3) How to Train Your Dragon 2 – This was a good family movie

Best Director
1) Alejandro G. Inarritu in Birdman – How many times can I say how much I loved this movie.
2) Richard Linklater in Boyhood – Again the idea behind this was unbelievably fantastic
3) Bennett Miller in Foxcatcher – Terrific directing.

Best Horror Films (even though this is not a category I love them)
1) Deliver Us From Evil – This had a great story line.
2) Oculus – This movie was very suspenseful.
3) Ouiji – Just enjoyable.

Best Not Nominated
1) Robert Downey Jr. should have been nominated for an Oscar for his part in The Judge.
2) Clint Eastwood should have been nominated for best director in American Sniper.
3) Ben Affleck should have been nominated for his role in Gone Girl.
4) Guardians of the Galaxy should have received nominations for Best Picture.
5) If I Stay is another movie that should have received nominations.
6) Keira Knightley should have been nominated for her role in Begin Again.
7) Mark Ruffalo should have been nominated for his role in Begin Again.

*Want to submit your Oscar picks for this year? Pick your choices for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and throw out your favorite horror movies of the year. The three people who gets the most right answers for the Oscars will win a prize. Submit your answers on Food+Flicks or Facebook.

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Keith the Critic Reviews: 2-11-15

February 11, 2015

Mortdecai
"Mortdecai" stars Johnny Depp as Lord Charlie Mortdecai, who is an art collector about to be bankrupt. Gwyneth Paltrow stars as his wife, Johanna. Ewan McGregor stars as Inspector Alistair Martland, who has eyes for Charlie’s wife. Paul Bettany stars as Charlie’s manservant Jock.
Alistair enlists Charlie to find a Goya painting that has been stolen. After agreeing on a 10% payment if Charlie and Jock find the painting, Charlie and Jock head to America from their London home.
The movie is full of the outrageous antics of Mortdecai, who has grown a handlebar mustache that repulses Johanna. He is constantly in hot water and Jock must pull him out.
For a Depp movie, this was horrible. It may end up being one of the worst movies of the year. I thought the direction was awful and the jokes just weren’t funny. The best actor in the movie was Bettany, who did a really good job as a stooge. I gave this movie 1/2 out of 4 stars.

The Boy Next Door
This movie oozes sex appeal for members of both gender. Jennifer Lopez stars as Claire Peterson who is a high school literature teacher in the midst of a divorce. Ryan Guzman plays Noah Sandborn, who is a 20-year-old man who moves in next door with his uncle. Ian Nelson plays Claire’s teenage son Kevin, whom Noah befriends. John Corbett plays Claire’s husband, Garrett.
One weekend while Garrett and Kevin are away for the weekend, Noah seduces Claire and they spend a steamy night together. The next morning, Claire is mortified of what she has done, but Noah wants the affair to continue.
Since Noah never graduated from high school, gets himself into Claire’s literature class and begins to follow her everywhere. Claire tries to convince Noah to stop, to no avail.
I have to admit that I expected nothing from this movie but was quite surprised by how good the movie really was. I especially loved the fact that Jennifer Lopez actually performed quite well. The entire cast was terrific. I gave this move 3 out of 4 stars.

Paddington
This family friendly movie brings Paddington Bear to the big screen. Paddington, who was voiced by Ben Whishaw, is the nephew of Lucy and Pastuzo. They live together in the jungles of Peru and are visited by a geographer who befriends them. He invites the bears to visit him in Britain. After an earthquake destroys their home and Pastuzo is killed, Lucy convinces Paddington to go to Britain.
Paddington arrives in London, suitcase in hand with no idea where to go next. The Brown family befriends him and agree to take him with them to their home for the night. Paddington, who has no idea how to act inside a home, soon begins to unknowingly cause trouble.
Nicole Kidman plays Millicent who is the angry, bitter daughter of the geographer whom Paddington had previously met. She tries to capture Paddington and take him to a taxidermist.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journeys of Paddington. The look of the film was terrific, as was the acting. Kidman as a villain was an added bonus. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

The Loft
This movie is about 5 married men who share a loft to hide their indiscretions. Karl Urban plays Vincent who designed the loft and the building it’s in. James Marsden plays Chris, Wentworth Miller plays Luke, Eric Stonestreet plays Marty, and Matthias Schoenaerts plays Phillip who is Chris’s half brother.
One day as Luke walks into the loft, he discovers the dead body of an unknown woman handcuffed to the bed. He calls over the other guys and they discuss the best course of action. The police are called in and each person is interrogated individually and each denies any part in the woman’s death and all claim to be deeply in love with their wives.
I thought this movie was pretty bad. I wanted more and have seen this storyline many times before, but with better direction. I so didn't like this movie that I only rate it ½ out of 4 stars.

Blue Rays and DVD’s
The Best of Me
This movie is about Dawson, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who falls for Amanda, a well-to-do girl. He kills a man defending her and must go to prison. When she tries to visit, he refuses to see her and she eventually goes on with her life. After Dawson completes his sentence, his path again crosses with Amanda.
This movie was surprisingly good. James Marsden who played the older Dawson, was terrific as was Michelle Monaghan as the older Amanda. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Ouija
This movie is based on the Ouija board many people have played with in their childhood. It can supposedly tell the future.
Ouija shows a group of high school friends who play with the board and soon bad things happen.
This is a check-your-mind-at-the-door movie. I thought it was tremendous and the Ouija board phenomena added to the suspense. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.