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.
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Keith the Critic Reviews: 1-27-15

January 27, 2015

American Sniper
Clint Eastwood is a terrific director but this movie was one of his best. It’s based on the true life story of Chris Kyle, a legendary sniper who fought the war in terror for 4 tours. Bradley Cooper played Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller played Taya, Chris’ wife.
Chris Kyle grew up in Texas and was taught to always protect those that are your own. After graduating high school he began working the rodeo circuit with his brother. He joined the Navy at the age of 25 with hopes to become a Navy SEAL. Chris meets his soon-to-be wife at a bar and they hit it off and marry.
After 9/11, Chris gets his first deployment to Iraq, leaving behind his pregnant wife. Chris is an excellent marksman and soon finds himself having to make difficult choices as to whether Iraqi citizens are friend or foe. If he decides wrong, he will have either killed an innocent citizen or allowed the deaths of US troops.
This movie allows you to see not only what our troops go through on a daily basis while in a combat zone but also the struggles of the loved ones who are left behind. You also are given a glimpse of what the soldiers go through when they are back home and struggling with PTSD.
The chemistry between Cooper and Miller was great, making it easy to imagine them as husband and wife. Cooper was the perfect person to cast as Chris Kyle. This movie is a must-see! It does have a lot of violence so it’s not a good family movie. I gave this movie a fitting 4 out of 4 stars.

The Wedding Ringer
This hilarious movie stars Josh Gad, Kevin Hart and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. Gad plays Doug Harris who is about to get married but has no one to be his best man or groomsmen. He is about to get married to Gretchen Palmer (Cuoco-Sweeting), who comes from a well-to-do family with lots of money. Doug hears of a business, Best Mans Inc, that will find him a best man and the groomsmen. The business is run by Jimmy Callahan, played by Hart.
Doug meets with Jimmy and explains that he needs seven groomsmen in less than 2 weeks. This exploit is called “The Golden Tux.” Jimmy agrees and so the search begins.
The groomsmen are made of a motley crew of men each with a special party trick. The race is soon on to develop memories between Doug, Jimmy and the other groomsmen.
While I truly enjoyed this movie and found it very funny, I fear that it will have a sequel. This should be it. Hart as usual was tremendous as was Gad. Both had me laughing out loud throughout. Couco-Sweeting played a small part but was the perfect spoiled little rich girl. I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars.

Selma
This movie is based on the march between Selma and Montgomery, Ala. in 1965 to draw attention to the fact that African-Americans did not have the same rights to vote as did white Americans. Selma stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., who was leading the crusade.
Dr. King had been lobbying President Lyndon Johnson, played by Tom Wilkinson, to change the law forcing the states to allow equal voting rights. Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, (Tim Roth) was very prejudiced and was bound and determined that Black Americans were not equal and did not warrant equal treatment.
The movie starts out with the bombing of a church that kills four young black girls showing some of the injustice that was being shown the black community. It then shows Annie Lee Cooper, who was played by Oprah Winfrey, attempting to register to vote and being denied.
This movie does a great job of showing some of the appalling cruelty shown Black Americans in those days and their fight for equality. I thought this movie had spectacular acting. Oyelowo should have been nominated for an Oscar in this role but for some reason wasn't. The movie however was nominated for best picture. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.

The Imitation Game
This movie is the story of Alan Turing who was a mathematical genius responsible for cracking the Nazi code during World War II that helped the Allies win the war. He was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Turing is given a limited amount of time to be successful in cracking the code. He has a team of four who work together. He interviews other candidates for the team and chooses Joan Clarke who was played by Keira Knightly. Joan’s parents fear that she will miss out on the normal things a female in that time period enjoys and pressure her to leave. Turing proposes marriage to her as a means to get her to stay. He however is secretly gay and struggles with the idea.
Throughout the movie we see glimpses of Turing as a young boy still in school, as a young man working to crack the Nazi code and later on in life. I myself didn't enjoy the jumping around and so didn't really enjoy this movie. The acting was terrific and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. This is however, a nomination I cannot agree with. I gave this movie 2 out of 4 stars.

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Keith the Critic Reviews: 1-17-15

January 17, 2015

The Gambler
This movie stars Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett. He is a literature professor with a severe gambling addiction. He owes $260,000 to the proprietor of an underground gambling ring and is told he has one week to pay off the debt or he will be killed. He then borrows money from a loan shark to pay off the debt but instead gambles it away.
Jim comes from a wealthy family. His mother, Roberta (Jessica Lange), gives him the money to pay off both debts, but he again gambles it away. One of his students shows promise as a writer and he falls for her. She is soon threatened as well. He now contemplates borrowing money from another loan shark. played by John Goodman.
I enjoyed this movie but there were some scenes that I didn’t like. Some of the characters didn’t add anything to the movie. Mark Wahlberg was terrific, as were Lange and Goodman.
The performances were better than the directing. Rupert Wyatt was the director. He should have given his attention to the whole movie instead of just the beginning. I gave this movie 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death
The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death starts out in London during World War 2. London is being bombed and families are being broken apart. Eve (Phoebe Fox) is a teacher. She and the head mistress (Helen McCrory) take a bunch of children to a nearby town to get away from the bombing.
On the way there, they meet up with Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine) who is a pilot stationed nearby. Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), who is one of the children, had just lost his parents right before the group left London. Edward will no longer speak and Eve takes a liking to him.
The location chosen to house the children is very run down and unsuitable, but they have little choice but to stay there. Two boys lock Edward in a former nursery, and weird things begin to happen.
The first movie was OK. It starred Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter). This movie started out strong but went downhill quickly. I found myself checking the time on my watch hoping it would be over. Those with me thought the movie was good but I cannot agree. I gave this movie 1 ½ out of 4 stars.

Taken 3
This sequel is the third installment of the Taken series and as in the others stars Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills. The movie begins with Bryan meeting with his ex-wife Lenore, played by Famke Jansen. They discuss the fact that they still love each other. Lenore however has remarried and is trying to keep the marriage going. Lenore’s husband, Stuart, (Dougray Scott) suspects that something is going on and visits Bryan requesting that he stay away from Lenore.
While Bryan is out jogging, he gets a text from Lenore asking him to get bagels and she will meet him at his house to talk. Lenore gets a similar message, asking her to meet Bryan her near a convenience store. Bryan gets the bagels and arrives home to find that Lenore has been killed. Soon the police arrive to arrest Bryan led by inspector Franck Dotzler who was played by Forest Whitaker.
Bryan escapes and makes his way to a payphone to call his daughter, Kim, (Maggie Grace) to alert her of her mother’s death and to warn her to be careful and to trust no one. Bryan plans to find out who killed his ex-wife and set him up to take the fall.
I love almost everything that Liam Neeson stars in and this movie was no exception. He is a far better actor than most people realize and is a terrific action hero. Forest Whitaker was also fantastic in his role as was all the other actors. I loved the scenes between Neeson and Whitaker showing the respect Inspector Dotzler has for Bryan Mills.
This movie will not disappoint if you enjoyed the first two movies. I highly recommend that you see Taken 3. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.
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Blu-Rays and DVD’s
Boyhood
This movie was nominated for best movie, best director, best supporting actress, and many other awards. Once you see this movie you will not forget it. It takes you through the life of a boy over a 12 year period.
Director Richard Linklater did a tremendous job of pulling this cast together, especially Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The same cast stayed together over the entire 12 years that this movie was filmed. This includes the boy, Mason Jr, (Ellar Coltrane) and his sister, Sam, (Lorelei Linklater) as they grow up and you see the experiences that they have.
I would definitely recommend that you check out this spectacular movie. I truly enjoyed it. I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars. It will be on my top 10 year end ratings.

No Good Deed
This movie stars Idris Elba as an escaped prisoner and Taraji P. Henson as a stay at home mom whose house the escapee decides to visit.
I didn’t really care for this movie and thought it was one of the worst of the year. I know not everyone will agree but that was my opinion. I gave this movie 1 out of 4 stars.

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Keith the Critic Reviews: 1-13-14

January 13, 2015

Into the Woods:
This musical was made into a movie with multiple stars including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden and Anna Kendrick. A baker and his wife, played by James Corden and Emily Blunt, anger a witch played by Meryl Streep. The witch then curses the couple and they find themselves at a crossroads. They wish to have a family but in order to do so the curse must be lifted. Their fates are linked with those of fairy tales like Cinderella who was played by Anna Kendrick, Little Red Riding Hood who was played by Lilla Crawford, Rapunzel who was played by Mackenzie Mauzy, and Jack of Jack in the Beanstalk who was played by Daniel Huttlestone.
I went to the movie with two of my daughters. Both thought it was just OK. I, however, thought it was pretty good. I enjoyed the acting and the singing. Meryl Streep has a tremendous voice as she showed in Mama Mia. Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick are also wonderful singers. I look forward to buying the soundtrack.
Johnny Depp was solid as was the rest of the cast. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars because it was truly enjoyable and I hope you all will enjoy it as well.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb:
I thought the First Night at the Museum movie was OK, the second was horrific. So I went to see the third and final version with mixed feelings. I was pleasantly surprised as it was quite good. In fact it was the best of all three Night at the Museum movies.
The movie begins by showing some history of how the Egyptian tablet came about and how it was cursed. The tablet needed to be in moonlight every so often or it would lose its magic. Since the tablet had been inside the museum for so long without moonlight, all of the exhibits in the museum would no longer be able to come to life in the evenings.
Larry (played by Ben Stiller) decides to go on a road trip to the museum in London to find out more. He brings along several of the main exhibits who had played major parts in all 3 movies. They included Owen Wilson as Jedediah the cowboy, the late and great Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Steve Coogan as Octavius the Roman, Patrick Gallagher as Attilla the Hun, and of course Dexter the monkey. When they arrive at the London museum, they are met with Tilly, the security guard who was played by Rebel Wilson. She lets them in but has no idea of what is about to occur.
Soon the exhibits in the London museum come to life as those in New York City had done before. These include Sir Lancelot (played by Dan Stevens) and the Egyptian leader who cursed the tablet played by Ben Kingsley.
The comedy in this movie was pretty good and very family oriented. The actors really shined in their roles. Even Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney had small parts as former museum employees. The storyline was easy to follow and appropriate for all ages. At the end of this movie there was a small tribute to both Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney who had passed away earlier in the year. It was a great way to end the movie. I thought this movie was entertaining and I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

Unbroken
This movie directed by Angelina Jolie is based on the real life of Louis Zamperini, who was the son of an Italian immigrant. The story begins with Louis as a young boy who is always getting into mischief. His brother convinces him to take up running as a way to stay out of trouble and he finds he is quite good at it. He makes the Olympic team and is to compete in Tokyo. However the Olympics are halted due to the war.
Louis, who was played by Jack O’Connell, is a bombardier in the war and his plane is shot down over the ocean. After being on a life raft for 47 days, him and the only other survivor Phil, played by Domhnall Gleeson, are taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese and taken to a POW camp.
Louis becomes the whipping boy for the camp leader who was known as “The Bird.” He endures many hardships at the hands of “The Bird” but survives. His motto becomes “If I can take it, I can make it”.
I enjoyed this movie and it was heartbreaking at times. The strength of Louis is admirable and you can’t help but respect him. Angelina Jolie was terrific as a director and got the best out of all the actors. I look forward to any future movies with her as a director.
Interestingly enough, Louis was selected to be the grand marshall in this past week’s Rose Bowl parade. He however, died at the age of 97 on July 2, 2014. He lived his life in a way I would hope everyone should look up to.
This movie has been a sell-out almost every night it has played and I rated it accordingly. I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

Blu-Rays and DVD’s
The Equalizer
I really enjoyed this movie that starred Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz. The two of them together were excellent. Denzel plays the part of a tough guy who looks out for the common person taking their side when they are wronged.
The action in this movie was terrific. Denzel just turned 60 years old and I can’t believe it. He is so talented as an actor. He always plays parts that are demanding and he always comes through. The Equalizer will not disappoint. I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars. I really enjoyed it.