Thursday, May 29, 2014

Releases May 30th, 2014
1 hr 38 mins
Rated PG
Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


Robert Stromberg

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Ella Purnell and Isobelle Molloy as Young Maleficent
Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora
Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Eleanor Worthington Cox as Young Princess Aurora
Sharlto Copley as King Stefan
Toby Regbo and Michael Higgins as Young Stefan
Sam Riley as Diaval
Brenton Thwaites as Phillip
Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass
Juno Temple as Thistlewit
Lesley Manville as Flittle
Kenneth Cranham as King Henry

Review by Stephen M.

As much as I like to have love Maleficent, I can't say I was absolutely enamored with it as I was hoping to.  Everything about the movie, from the acting, to the special effects, to the story to me was just average.  Average, normally wouldn't be so bad.  But this movie is from the house of Mickey and the lead is Angelina Jolie, so in that sense it was disappointing for me.

Maleficent takes us back before the 1959 animation Sleepy Beauty and behind the scenes as to what supposedly actually happened as told from Aurora.  This is yet another attempt to rewrite a classic story, changing the classic villain from being a bad ass to just being misunderstood.  The other being the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz wonderfully done in the Broadway show Wicked and quite interestingly in the film The Great and Powerful Oz. 

Angelina fills the role of Maleficent perfectly given her looks.  Her interactions with a baby and young Aurora are adorable.  But her speaking parts are limited by the Director leaving us often looking at her looking at something else or throwing out one liners.  We don't get to hear the thoughts and feelings of Maleficent much despite having her heart broken and betrayed.  Seeing Maleficent near the end of the final battle scene with her slender figure and tight outfit rising up reminded me of Halle Berry as Catwoman.  Thankfully, that's the only thing it shares with the 2004 flop.  With regards to the other cast members, Sam Riley as Maleficent's raven companion Diaval lacks personality with a constraint performance.  Elle Fanning as Aurora gives us a version that is more childlike and naive than that in Sleepy Beauty.  Sharlto Copley who plays King Stefan always does a great performance, even if the character he portrays could use more flesh as to the motives.

With regards to the CGI, the dragon looks good but not extraordinary.  The "magic" that is abundant in Sleeping Beauty shows up in Maleficent as a cheap light and smoke show.  The classic "pink/blue" fight scene is sadly absent.  The three fairies that take in Aurora as a baby looks... odd.  The only impressive creatures in Maleficent's magical kingdom are the wood creatures that fight with her.  Diaval moves more like an animatronic at a Disney Park than fluid like an actual bird.  The roles of Maleficent's minions aka the Goons are changed.  What probably bugs me the most though is the lack of singing despite it being a Disney film.  I don't expect it to be a musical with singing throughout, but a few songs in the right place would have felt right.

Overall, I would still recommend the film, but watch it as a matinee.  It's interesting to see Maleficent's origins.  From there much of the story is pretty much the same as Sleeping Beauty albeit from a different perspective with a twist.  The curse, and awakening from true love's kiss is there.  But everything else is not quite what you saw in the classic animation and that's not necessarily a good thing if you love the original.  I don't mind seeing Maleficent as a kind fairy, it's just not very original at this point and quite out of place with what we're accustomed to knowing.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Axel: The Biggest Little Hero

Releases on DVD June 3, 2014
1 hr 23 mins
Rated PG
Animation, Adventure, Comedy



Leo Lee


Yuri Lowenthal as Axel
Colleen O'Shaughnessey as Jono
Kate Higgins as Gaga
Tim Curry as Papa Qi
Matthew Lillard as Lizard King
George Takei as Elder
Ed Asner as Bonta/Narrator
Marc Thompson as First Guardian
Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld as Second Guardian
Tom Wayland as Third Guardian
Marc Thompson as Fourth Guardian
Ed Paul as Fifth Guardian
Jeff Hylton as Sixth Guardian
Marc Thompson as Pootron

Review by Stephen M.

It never crossed my mind to have an animation of a cube shaped head with two hands and one foot as something that would be appealing.  But something about Axel and his friends that really start to grow on you as you watch the animation Axel: The Biggest Little Hero.  It's a coming of age story for the little hero not of our world.   

Axel (Yuri Lowenthal) and his friend Jono (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) are kids with a penchant for trouble as well as dreaming big.  Axel imagines himself as a hero and believes that he hears the voice of his people's last great hero telling him to save his people by looking for the lost Boonta Grove.  Boonta is a type of cactus which contains the life sustaining liquid of Axel's people.  In his journey, they most crossed a perilous desert ruled over by the evil Lizard King (Matthew Lillard) and meet new friends along the way.  It's truly a life changing experience for the brash, egocentric Axel, as he learns to respect and work with Jono and others.

Once you get over the initial shock of how the characters look, they're quite cute.  From a marketing standpoint the film reaches several markets from the young kids to teenagers.  The designs for the villains are robotic reminding me of Michael Bay's Transformers.  The animation is a smash up of styles that overall is simplistic and not overwhelming.  This is fine for a child watching this with no expectations.  Disney and DreamWorks animations are light years ahead in animation compared to this studio.

Overall, I would recommend this film for those with a young child.  The brash playful Axel along with his sidekick Jono was well made for the younger market.  Case in point, my seven year old daughter loved the film.  I asked her how many stars she would give out of five, and she said five.  Now I'm a little more stringent than her regarding pretty much everything in life.  The story tends to wander a bit and the animation could have been better.  The voice acting is a mix bag with my favorite being Axel (Yuri) and least being Papa Qi (Tim Curry).  The film seems to be a set up for a franchise for Axel and friends as we never get to see the Boonta grove.  But there's enough appeal there still to warrant watching Axel's journey further.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saving Grace B. Jones
Released March 28, 2009; DVD Releases May 27, 2014
1 hr 56 mins
Rated R
Drama, Suspense/Thriller


Connie Stevens

Penelope Ann Miller as Bea Bretthorse
Michael Biehn as Landy Bretthorse
Tatum O'Neal as Grace B. Jones
Evie Louise Thompson as Lucy Bretthorse
Piper Laurie as Marta
Joel Gretsch as Dan Jones
Scott Wilson as Reverend Potter
Tricia Leigh Fisher as Ella Jean Jones
Rylee Fansler as Carrie
Logan Alexander Moore as Sean Ryan
Charles Taylor (actor) as Davey Lund
Vincent Onofrio Monachino as Lem Bryerton
Karen Errington as Lynette Bryerton

Review by Stephen M.

Saving Grace B. Jones is a heart wrenching look at mental illness in the 1950s.  A woman returns to her brother and his family in a small town after being in an asylum for the last 20 years.  We see how ill-prepared the family and society is to handle her amid also a flood crisis that threatens the town.  

The movie starts off with several scenes that changes quickly which threw me off, not understanding who the characters were.  It's not until Landy (Michael Biehn) the baker along with his daughter Lucy (Evie Louise) and her friend Carrie (Rylee Fansler) journeys to the asylum to retrieve Landy's sister Grace (Tatum O'Neal) does the story start making sense.  There's a reason I would like to think,  for the side story of Carrie early on, and that is to show the contrast between her and Grace.  But the film often changes focus between the two that may seem trivial.  For example Lucy and friends wanting to join a "gospel" Baptist church.

When Grace returns home to her family her adjustments are difficult as she sees her once former fiancé now married and expecting a child.  Even so, things doesn't get worst until the unfortunate accident during a fishing trip.  All the while, rain continues to pound the small town as Landry and his neighbors try to shore up the riverbanks, shops and home.  This unfortunately leaves Grace often to herself when she shouldn't be.  Tatum O'Neal is just phenomenal as Grace.  She leads a very solid cast that has you endearing to the characters hoping for a happy outcome for everyone.  The set pieces especially in the beginning brings you back to a simpler time aided by the carefully researched references made.

Overall, I would recommend the film if you are into dramas and suspense/thrillers.  The ending is quite interesting and controversial at least taken into perspective of this day and age.  Aside from the Director's wandering side plots, the story of Grace itself is quite riveting and a must watch to see how things were handled in yesteryear compared to now. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

Opens May 23, 2014
1 hr 57 mins
Rated PG-13
Comedy, Romance



Frank Coraci


Adam Sandler as Jim Friedman
Drew Barrymore as Lauren Reynolds
Bella Thorne as Hillary (Larry) Friedman
Emma Fuhrmann as Espn Friedman
Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lou Friedman
Shaquille O'Neal as Doug
Terry Crews as Nickens
Joel McHale as Mark
Wendi McLendon-Covey
Dan Patrick as Dick

Review by Stephen M.

Blended marks the return of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler as an onscreen couple.  The first two times being The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates.  I am a sap for these type of movies, and enjoyed 50 First Dates more than The Wedding Singer.  Blended has the two leads, Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) going on a blind date with each other.  The night goes horribly as the setting is a Hooters restaurant, the food and decor and Jim's behavior is not to Lauren's liking.  And Jim finds Lauren a bit stiff to his preference.

We learn that both are currently single parents due to different circumstances.  You can feel a Brady moment will eventually happen as they share a common bond as Lauren has two boys and Jim has three girls.  Their paths continue to cross despite their disgust for each other as they wound up on an African safari vacation together through an unbelievable premise.  I enjoyed Drew's performance in the film, but Adam is still very one dimensional in his delivery of lines which is often flat.  Bella Thorne who plays Jim's teenage flat chested tom boy daughter really shines in the film with some of the best scenes in the movie.

My biggest gripe with the film would have to be poor execution of jokes at times and beating a dead horse again and again.  Case in point,  Terry Crews as Nickens and his band of singers appearing in the most inopportune of times over and over again.  Funny the first two times, and then we get the point.  Also with Lauren's character carrying her child to bed and repeatedly banging his head into a wall.  No competent mother would let that happen twice let alone four, five times.  I won't even get into Shaquille O'Neal's performance.  Why Adam felt they needed a retired NBA player with limited acting ability in his film I don't know.

Overall, I would recommend this film especially if you're a fan of their first two movies together.  Their onscreen chemistry together is great, and I love the interaction between Jim and his youngest daughter which reminds me of my own daughter.  However, as I mentioned, a lot of the jokes are repetitive and just not as funny as you would like.  There's a lot of racial undertones too  which some people may find offensive.  But that's to be expected from Adam Sandler whose known for crude jokes.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Prizes and post sponsored by TWIX Brand

Winner receives:
One (1) TWIX Bites Movie Prize Pack containing 3 Twix Bites Bags and 1 $15 Fandango Gift Card

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Contest ends June 2nd, 2014, midnight ET.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lila, Lila
Released December 17, 2009 (Germany), May 23, 2014 (US, Limited)
1 hr 44 mins
Not Rated



Alain Gsponer


Daniel Brühl as David
Hannah Herzsprung as Marie
Henry Hübchen as Jacky
Kirsten Block as Karin Kohler
Alexander Khuon as Ralph
Godehard Giese as Tobi
Stefan Ruppe as Rolli
Henriette Müller as Sabrina
Simon Eckert as Roger

Review by Stephen M.

Lila, Lila a romantic comedy from Germany has all the makings of a classic film of its genre.  With lovable characters, and an interesting plot, the movie will grab your attention as you laugh and cry at and with David Kern.  Just who is David Kern?  Even he might have a problem giving you an answer as he struggles with lies after lies about himself.  David Kern played by Daniel Brühl, is as he would describe himself an invisible waiter.  That all changes when he meets Marie (Hannah Herzsprung) a literary aficionado.  He tries to impress her with a manuscript that he finds in a flea market and passes it as his own work.

Marie is so impressed with the manuscript that she sends it to a publisher without David's approval and receives positive feedback back.  David wishing to keep the girl of his dreams plays along as things spiral out of control as his manuscript is published.  He goes back to the flea market to find the origin of the manuscript and is told the owner is dead.  Somewhat relieved he attempts to take on this role of a rising star in the literature world while constantly looking over his shoulder.  His paranoia you see later in the film is justified as someone at his book signing asks David to make the book out to "Alfred Duster" the actual author of the manuscript he found.

Daniel Brühl is great as David Kern with his down to Earth looks and demeanor perfect for the unassuming role.  His expressions and delivery of lines are great in its simplicity and natural naivety of his character.  As well Henry Hübchen as Jacky, whose role reminds me of Bob (Bill Murray) of the classic 1991 film, What About Bob?, has a certain charm even if it's in an annoying way.  Another notable in the film is Kirsten Block as Karin Kohler, the publishing company's gopher for David.  She oozes a sense of style and sophistication while trying to deal with cut throats from other publishing companies as well the ever present Jacky.  Marie is wonderfully played by Hannah Herzsprung, but to me lacks the warmth and loyalty you would hope from a female lead character.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and would highly recommend watching it.  It is set to be released in New York at the Quad Cinema beginning May 23rd for a limited release.  One might gripe that the movie may not seem all too original.  But Director Alain Gsponer does such a great job in putting together the film based on the story by Martin Suter that you can't help but feel and love the characters and enjoy the film anyway.  The ending is perfectly done, not too sappy but yet warming to the heart. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Releases May 23rd, 2014
2 hr 11 mins
Rated PG-13



Bryan Singer


Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine
James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier / Professor X
Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique:
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe / Storm
Anna Paquin as Marie / Rogue
Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat:
Nicholas Hoult and Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy / Beast
Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake / Iceman
Omar Sy as Bishop
Daniel Cudmore as Peter Rasputin / Colossus
Evan Peters as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver
Fan Bingbing as Clarice Ferguson / Blink
Adan Canto as Roberto da Costa / Sunspot
Booboo Stewart as James Proudstar / Warpath
Josh Helman as William Stryker
Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok
Evan Jonigkeit as Toad
Mark Camacho as Richard Nixon

Review by Stephen M.

X-Men: Days of Future Past which is adapted from the storyline of the same name in Uncanny X-Men #141 & 142 published back in 1981 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.  It takes our favorite mutants time traveling of sorts.  But instead of Kitty (Ellen Page) in the comic books, we get Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) going back to prevent a fairly horrific future for both mutants and mankind.

The mutants from the future dystopia concludes that the turning point in their lives is when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) kills Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in 1973.  Boliver Trask is the man who created the Sentinels, the mutant killing machines.  Wolverine must convince a younger Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together to convince Mystique not to kill Bolivar.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Seeing a lot of the mutants not previously featured at least in the way this movie does had me excited for the X-Men franchise again.  Quicksilver (Evan Peters) long a "running" joke within the Marvel comic books was made cool again.  Blink, long a favorite character of mines was very cool to see in action despite the limited scenes.  And the scenes near the end where Magneto just tears up RFK Stadium and the White House shows us just how badass he was in the comic books from the 1960s through the 1980s.  The concept that they came up with the future sentinels and Mystique is quite clever as well.

What I didn't like was the confusing nature with the time travel especially as to how Kitty had the power to send back people's minds in time.  The character which they listed as Sunspot in the movie actually featured the powers of the mutant Magma in the comic book.  They introduced several mutants including Havok (Lucas Till) but never utilize them in the plot.  But the Kitty thing really gets to me.  Other things I didn't like included the part after the Paris conference dragging a bit as well the end fight scene was not as exciting as some of the fights in the beginning of the movie.  There are still some "oh my" moments towards the end but for me the most enjoyable part of the movie for me was with Quicksilver.

Overall, I would highly recommend the film if you're a fan of the X-Men.  Seeing how ripped Hugh Jackman was, makes you think there will be many more films with him in the near future.  The ending definitely leaves open the possibility of many new stories with a lot of the popular X-Men making a comeback.  You'll have to see the movie to find out who.  Make sure to stay for after the credits for a scene leading to the next movie Apocalypse.  


Saving Grace B. Jones releases on DVD on May 27, 2014.  The cast includes Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, TV’s “24 Hour Rental”), Oscar Winner Tatum O'Neal (This is 40, Paper Moon, TV’s “Rescue Me”), Golden Globe Nominee Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist, Carlito’s Way, Along Came a Spider), Three time Oscar Nominee Piper Laurie (The Faculty, Children of a Lesser God, The Hustler) & Golden Globe nominee Scott Wilson (TV’s “The Walking Dead”, Monster, Dead Man Walking).  

You can win your very own copy by commenting below what is your favorite drama of all time.  Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you don't already.  Contest ends May 25th, 2014 Midnight ET.  There will be two winners randomly selected.  Please comment with your real name AND as well as your Facebook name if it differs from your real name.

Synopsis:  In the Heartland of America, during one of the most disastrous floods in history, the lives of one couple become chaotic when the man’s sister comes to live with them after being released from a local insane-asylum….based on a true story.

Running Time: 116 Minutes
Rated: R for some violent content and brief sexuality. 
Genre: Thriller                                                                                                                    
SRP: $20.99
Aspect Ratio: 16x9
Audio Format: DD 5.1
UPC#: 796019828284
Catalog #: 82828

Axel The Biggest Little Hero releases on DVD on June 3rd, 2014.  The cast includes Ed Asner, Tim Curry, Matthew Lillard, and George Takei.  

You can win your very own copy by commenting below what is your favorite animation of all time.  Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you don't already.  Contest ends June 1st, 2014 Midnight ET.  There will be two winners randomly selected.  Please comment with your real name AND as well as your Facebook name if it differs from your real name.

Synopsis:  AXEL’s always been a hero in his own mind.  Unfortunately, in real life he’s just another mischievous little boy who pulls pranks while his village runs out of food. One day, he has a vision of a mystical grove of cactuses that could feed his people for years. Determined to save the day, AXEL and his best friend JONO embark on the journey of a lifetime where they must fly through magnetic valleys, escape an evil robotic lizard king, and put up with a brave but headstrong young Princess.  Will AXEL find the magical plant and save his village? Can he become the real life hero he always wanted to be? Starring voice talent from Matthew Lillard, Ed Asner, George Takei, and Tim Curry.

Running Time: 83 minutes
Rated: PG - Rated PG for some scary images, perilous action sequences and mild rude humor. 
Genre: Family, Animation                                                                                                                                                     
Aspect Ratio: 16x9
Audio Format: English 5.1 Dolby Digital 
UPC#: 796019828246
Catalog #: 82824

Monday, May 19, 2014

Released October 4, 2013 (US); DVD Released January 7, 2014
1 hr 28 mins


Evan Jackson Leong

Review by Stephen M.

On Netflix currently is the documentary Linsanity.  The film covers the phenomenon of Jeremy Lin going from on the verge of being cut from his third team within two months to being a Knicks starting point guard producing at an All Star level.  What I like about the documentary is the way it covers not only that period of unbelievable awe but gives us a glimpse to Jeremy growing up and the struggles that he was facing leading up to that breakthrough.

In the documentary we get home footage of Jeremy as a youth growing up with his parents and his two brothers.  We learn that from an early age, the boys in the family were all about basketball growing up as their dad had a passion for the NBA.  We get to see Jeremy competing at the AAU tournaments as a Youth to his high school days in Palo Alto.  Besides home footage there are interviews with Jeremy and his various family members as well as agent and former coaches.

It's quite insightful to see how even before becoming a star for the New York Knicks in 2011-2012 the obstacles he faced as an Asian basketball player in a predominantly African-American sport.  We hear about how he was taunted by fans of Ivy League schools during his college days at Harvard about his ethnicity.  Of course it didn't stop there when he made it big in New York as the film discusses about how the media wasn't ready to handle his overnight catapult into the spotlight.  In the film he also talks about his faith a lot in how it helps him with his struggles.  Struggles of which he had a lot both with dealing with setbacks and the stress of his success.

Overall, I would highly recommend the film.  I would have loved to have heard more from his detractors in the film.  Especially if it could have included more interviews with his basketball peers, those both rooting for him and those that dismissed him.  Showing old game footage during that month when Lin was unstoppable is a nice trip down memory lane.  The film stops during the period that Lin becomes a free agent after his stint with the New York Knicks.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Way of the Wicked
1 hr 32 mins
Not Rated
Horror, Thriller, Suspense



Kevin Carraway


Vinnie Jones as John Elliott
Christian Slater as Henry
Emily Tennant as Heather
Jake Croker as Robbie
Aren Buchholz as Greg
Matthew Robert Kelly as Detective Fleming (as Matt Kelly)
Brittney Wilson as Cindy
Jedidiah Goodacre as Matt
Jillian Fargey as Elizabeth
Chris Shields as Teacher
Anna Galvin as Laura
Sydney Waack as Young Heather
Ryan Grantham as Young Robbie
Jason Burkart as Janitor
Bal Nagra as Boy #1
Clive Holloway as Boy #2

Review by Stephen M.

Christian Slater (Stranded, True Romance) stars with Vinnie Jones (X-Men: The Last Stand, Snatch) in this heart-stopping supernatural thriller. After a series of inexplicable murders sweeps a small, isolated community, Father Henry (Slater) goes to a local police detective (Jones) with a theory on why the murders are occurring. The two learn that a troubled teen with a dark past has recently moved to town and has set his sights on the cop’s beautiful, young daughter. Father Henry, who turns out to have secrets of his own, finds himself pitted against a demonic force more diabolically evil and twisted than any of them could have imagined.

Way of the Wicked is a pretty awesome title that sports an interesting premise.  The twist at the end really got me as I never suspected the truth.  But despite all of this, the horror/suspense film by Director Kevin Carraway fails to live up to its name and is rather quite tame in the horror/supernatural department.

With the catchphrase of "Evil never dies" on its cover, you would have expected something more diabolical.  However, rarely do you ever get a chill down your spine as the viewer is hand fed the answer as to who the evil child is, early on.  Because of this a lot of the suspense is sucked out of the film as far as the whodunit part.  As far as effects and grisly deaths, they're quite missing in this small town that reminds you something out of a CW television show with all the teenage drama.  Quite possibly the most interesting death is in the form of a farm vehicle is muted by off camera action showing just blood splashing everywhere.

Despite the film being quite tame, I actually enjoy the acting which is led by Christian Slater as Father Henry who has been tracking Robbie (Jake Croker) since he was a child.  Robbie's object of affection is his childhood friend Heather (Emily Tennant), whose father John (Vinnie Jones) is a cop.  Vinnie Jones is an odd choice given his British accent and the lack thereof from his "daughter" Emily Tennant.  Yes her character is American born and raised however even then there should be some type of accent carried down from growing up with your parents.

Overall, I would still recommend picking up this DVD or at least renting it.  Even though it could have been scarier, the twist in the end is actually quite clever given what I discussed about above.  I would have love to see more action and explanation on the part of the killer as well as Father Henry.  Also the ending doesn't really give any concrete conclusion that is satisfactory if there is no sequel.  The movie borrows themes from the Omen as well as Carrie which both would better satisfy your horror needs.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Win a pair of passes to see X-Men Days of Future Past days before its release in Manhattan.  To enter:

1) Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.
2) Comment below, which mutant you would love to see in a future X-Men movie that hasn't been featured in any X-Men movie thus far.  Please comment with your real name AND as well include your Facebook name if it differs from your real name.

Contests ends May 14th 2014 midnight, ET.  Check back here the morning of May 15th for the winner.  

Date, time and location to be reviewed to the winner only.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Opens May 9th, 2014 (Limited Release)
1 hr 55 mins
Rated R


Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper
Sofía Vergara as Inez
John Leguizamo as Martin
Scarlett Johansson as Molly
Oliver Platt as Ramsey Michel
Bobby Cannavale as Tony
Dustin Hoffman as Riva
Robert Downey, Jr. as Marvin
Amy Sedaris as Jen
EmJay Anthony as Percy

Review by Stephen M.

Plot: When Miami-born workaholic chef Carl Casper is fired from the restaurant in Los Angeles whose kitchen he manages, he returns to Miami and ends up fixing up a food truck he names El Jefe Cubanos. He plans to drive across the country to reclaim his success in L.A.

A movie about food especially the delicious dishes that Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) dishes out will leave you hungry.  Does the movie leave you satisfy though?  For the most part I enjoyed the film especially the way it shows how one can pursue their dreams by becoming their own boss.  New York City abundant with food trucks and their social media marketing has always fascinated me.  To see how the fictional "El Jeffe" catches on is informative and entertaining.

However, the real underlying bones of this movie is not about food trucks or foods despite it being an important part of the story.  Rather it is about the bonding of a father, the chef and his son Percy (EmJay Anthony).  The parents separated but still friends, with the mother, Inez played by the beautiful Sofia Vergara.  Percy lives with his mother, with Carl and Percy "hanging" out on their visits.  But frequently Carl's passion for his work cuts short their time together with Percy longing to hang out with dad at his restaurant.

The movie features several big name stars in this independent film, including Dustin Hoffman as Riva, Carl's boss at the restaurant, Scarlett Johansson as Molly, a coworker of Carl at the restaurant and Robert Downey, Jr. as Marvin, the ex-husband of Inez whom sets up Carl with a food truck.  All of the performances are outstanding with no exception.  I am a bit surprised that Scarlett's character was not utilized more though.  Robert's character is just hilarious.

Overall, I would recommend this film to any foodies.  The film drags a little in the middle but then picks up again when he gets his food truck.  The scene where Chef Carl lets the food critic have it touches me as an amateur movie critic.  But the ending between the two is quite gratifying.  With movies like these, is when I wish it was in 4D so we can actually have a bite of the delicious food from the movie!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Poseidon Rex
Released April 18th, 2014, DVD release on May 13th, 2014
1 hr 21 mins
Not Rated
Horror, Suspense/Thriller



Mark L. Lester


Brian Krause as Jackson Slate
Anne McDaniels as Sarah
Steven Helmkamp as Rod
Candice Nunes as Jane
Berne Velasquez as Henry
Gildon Roland as Tariq
Pulu Lightburn as Rafa
Remo as Raul
Phillip Coc as Captain John
Serapio Chun as First Mate
Paul Hyde as Ajay
Joe Requena as Azeem

Aaron Lauriano as Edric

Review by Stephen M.

There's something to be said about low budget disaster/monster movies and it's often not very good.  Unfortunately, Poseidon Rex doesn't break out of this mold with shoddy acting, poor story line and laughable CGI.  Aside from some eye candy for the guys in the form of model/actress Anne McDaniels, there may be no reason to see this other than the "Sharknado" mentality of watching train wrecks for a good laugh.

The story starts off with Jackson Slate (Brian Krause) searching for lost gold off the shores of beautiful Belize in the hopes of paying back some Caribbean thugs.  The charges that he sets off unearths something that he wasn't expecting.  What can be best described as a Tyrannosaurus Rex that can swim, or as Anne McDaniels's character Sarah dubs Poseidon Rex starts feeding on the local tourists and boats.  It's up to Jackson and Sarah and their friends to save the day.  Luckily they can easily outsmart the Caribbean thugs, break into old military bases that is conveniently still stock with weapons as well as the Caribbean thugs' hideout and use a rocket launcher among other things with no proper training.

Too name how many things wrong would really take all night.  From the effects of them firing the gun, to the acting of the Caribbean thugs, it's just a tragedy.  My spouse enjoyed the film as mentioned above for the comical value of it being unintentional.  There are a few bright spots to the film surprisingly.  I actually enjoyed the characters of Brian Krause and as well Berne Velasquez who plays Henry a local tour guide.  As well Poseidon Rex himself actually doesn't look half bad.  My favorite scene of the movie is when a guy jumps off a boat into the waiting mouth of Rex.

Overall, the bad just far outweighs anything good that I've mentioned.  Watch this only if you like movies like Sharknado and other low budget disaster/monster movies for a chuckle.  Otherwise just read this review and forget you ever heard the name Poseidon Rex.