Category Archives: DVD MOVIE REVIEWS

Movies now on DVD.

THE BOOK OF HENRY (2017) – My rating: 8/10

The Book of Henry is drama directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Gregg Hurwitz. The Book of Henry is about an 11 year old genius who has taken on the role of an adult including concocting a plan to save a young girl living next door from abuse.  This film is not what the title implies but instead a beautiful story with multiply messages that says a whole lot about our society, our youth and gives us insight into some real soul searching.

The Book of Henry takes place in a small suburban town called Hudson Valley, where an 11-year-old boy genius named Henry Carpenter (Jaeden Lieberher) and his younger brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay), are being raised by their single mother, Susan, (Naomi Watts) a waitress who is also working on writing children’s picture books. Henry uses his intellect to invest in the stock market and has built up a very substantial portfolio for his family. Henry is also very close to his brother, protecting him from the school bully as well as building Rube Goldberg machines in their tree house. Henry doesn’t have a whole lot of friends but is fond of his next-door neighbor, who is also his classmate, Christina Sickleman, (Maddie Ziegler) who he noticed has recently become withdrawn.  One day, while looking through his bedroom window, Henry discovers the reason for Christina’s mood change.  She is being abused by her stepfather, Glenn Sickleman, (Dean Norris) who is also the local police commissioner. Henry reports the abuse to social services and the school principal, Mrs. Wilder (Tonya Pinkins)  but Glenn has connections throughout the local government, and Principal Wilder is reluctant to challenge the commissioner without “conclusive evidence”. Henry is unable to get the authorities to launch a serious investigation that would protect Christina but keeps a red notebook in which he documents his thoughts, somewhat like a diary.

From this point on, The book of Henry takes on a whole different approach with a turn of events you’ll never see coming.  This film flew way under the radar and  most likely, in real life, never would have happened the way it’s portrayed in this movie. The message is so profound I think it’s worth seeing by any means. More than how it all comes together, it shows us how we, as a people, react in a situation when we should step up or get involved but let our fears hold us back.  This film is thought provoking, informative, inspirational, inspiring and emotional.  Most of all, The Book of Henry had a somewhat satisfying ending that made it all worth seeing.  You can get this film on DVD and Blu-Ray — Check it Out!  You won’t be sorry.

 

 

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GIRLS TRIP (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Girls Trip is a Black, raunchy girl bonding “Hangover” knockoff (sort of) farce, only this time they got it right.  With an all-star cast and a rock solid story involving each character’s personal ups and downs, Girls Trip is a hit.  An American comedy directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, who based the script on their own experiences involving four female college friends who meet up for the first time in five years to go to New Orleans to attend the Essence Music Festival in order to reconnect and rekindle their sisterhood and wild sides.  There are several nights of partying, hook-ups and bad decisions, as well as raw and vulnerable moments that strengthen their bond.

Below are character definitions rather than a synopsis of the film because it would be too hard not to spoil the very funny scenes and setups. For the most part, I enjoyed the movie and think you should check it out as well.  Not for anyone under 18.

Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is foul-mouthed, funny wild and an abrasive woman with an unmanageable temper that gets her into lots of trouble.  In real life she’s a standup comic known for her raunchy comedy routines (like the one in Girls Trip about farting during doggie style sex).

Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) is a successful career-obsessed, self-help author who is married to a not so loyal, successful man, who she can’t seem to break away from.  Ryan, otherwise seems level headed and in control of her life and business.  She has no children but would love to have some.

Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah) is a gossip magazine blogger who gave up her real dream of being an accomplished editor/reporter as a trade-off for fast money, which she needed, since she didn’t have the financial means to do otherwise.

Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) became a housewife and overly prudish, single mother devoted to her two boys with no life for herself.  Edged on by her sisterhood, Lisa displayed her wild side during Girls Trip, stealing some of the funniest scenes of the movie.

Elizabeth Davelli (Kate Walsh) is the only white member of the crew and is Ryan’s oversexed manager / agent who made many bad decisions that lead to lots of laughs.

Stewart Pierce (Mike Colter) as the philandering husband in business with his wife, Ryan.

Malik (Kofi Siriboe) is a dark, handsome love interest for Lisa who had some of the funniest scenes in the film.

Julian Stevens (Larenz Tate) is a band member and former class mate of Ryan’s from college as well as a potential future love interest for Ryan.

Expect to see appearances by Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo, Faith Evans, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Dennis, MC Lyte, New Edition, Common, Estelle and Beyoncé as themselves.

 

KIDNAP (2017) – My rating: 7.5/10

Kidnap is a thriller directed by Luis Prieto and written by Knate Lee about a mother who follows her son’s kidnappers to get him back, at any cost.  Although Kidnap seems unlikely to ever happen, it will cause you to cheer this mother on til the very end of the movie. This is not a new concept, as it’s been done before, just not quite like this.  The making of Kidnap began in 2009 and was finally released in 2017.

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is a divorced waitress living a pretty decent life as a single mom with her six-year-old son, Frankie (Sage Correa).  Karla works hard and devotes most of her time to her son who she obviously loves with all her heart.  Her x-husband is currently remarried and is pursuing custody rights of their son, despite Karla’s great parenting skills.  One day, after her shift at the diner, Karla takes Frankie to the local carnival where he is kidnapped. She observes Frankie being shoved into a green third generation Ford Mustang by a women and begins to run after them.  While running, she drops her already lowly charged cell phone, grabs hold of the rack on top of the car and continues running while the car is moving. Eventually Karla had to let go but was able to jump into her own vehicle and peruse chasing them as they hit the highway.

Without her phone, Karla is unable to call 911 so she tries to signal nearby motorists, but her attempt is stopped by the kidnapper when she threatens to throw Frankie out of the moving car by opening the car door and displaying half his body.   Karla hears the abductor’s voice over her son’s toy voice recorder, revealing her name as Margo (Chris McGinn), and telling the listener that Karla is looking for her son, despite all attempts to discourage her.  Soon after, she sees a police motorcycle several feet behind her. Hoping to engage the officer’s help in stopping the abductor’s car, Karla sways her car to attract attention, but the abductor  slams the police motorcycle into Karla’s car, knocking the police officer unconscious.

From this point, the story changes dramatically.  I’m sure you can begin to see how suspenseful Kidnap is becoming.  As usual, I have to stop here as not to spoil any more of the story.  I can only say you will be sitting on the edge of your seat right up to the end.  Halle Berry is in every scene and while I think her acting skills are better suited for roles like Storm in X-men and 007 divas she did a pretty good job in Kidnap.  I recommend waiting for Blu-Ray or DVD.  However, if you see Kidnap on the big screen, you won’t be disappointed.  I was thoroughly entertained.

 

THE DARK TOWER (2017) – My rating: 8/10

The Dark Tower is a science-fiction/fantasy/western adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name.  I usually don’t fancy Stephen King novels but I love Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, as well as a love for fantasy and science-fiction movies. I didn’t hear good things about The Dark Tower, so my expectations of the film were pretty low, yet I was pleasantly surprised. This is why I critique movies from the perspective of the standard viewer rather than the critic’s point-of-view. I ask myself basic questions as part of my analysis that falls into three separate areas: 1) Was I entertained?  (Did the movie make me laugh, cry, shout in anger or make me want my money back?)  2) Did the movie send a message or did I learn anything? (Did the movie teach me something about myself or the world at-large or do I now know something profound about history that makes a difference to me?)  3)  Was the story brilliant or was the plot dull, offensive or ambiguous?  (could the plot be life changing for someone, including myself, does the way they faced adversity have a logical conclusion or was this just a big waste of time?)  While all three of these situations may not necessarily apply to every movie I see, at least two out of three do. My mission is not to analyze films for their literary content or even ones acting abilities. Yet, entertainment value and relevancy has to exist for me to label a movie as a good film.

Based on my formula, The Dark Tower falls under two of my three areas for analysis.The Dark Tower is about a mythical structure/tower that supports all realities.  Walter Padick / The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and his nemesis, Roland Deschain / The Last Gunslinger (Idris Elba) are on opposing sides of the tower. An 11-year old boy, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has visions of a man in black who seeks to destroy a tower that protects many worlds, including Earth.  He also dreams of a gunslinger who opposes the man in black. Jake’s mother Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick), stepfather and psychiatrist Dr. Hotchkiss (José Zúñiga) dismiss Jake’s dreams as trauma, resulting from the death of his father (Karl Thaning) the previous year.

Given Jake’s strange behavior, his school suggested that he be temporarily admitted into a psychiatric facility where he would be rehabilitated. At his home in New York City, a group of workers from the facility appear to take Jake away but he recognizes them from his visions as monsters disguised as human, and flees. Jake tracks down an abandoned house that he recognizes from one of his visions and discovers a high-tech portal, which allows him to travel to a post-apocalyptic world called Mid-World.  Once in Mid-World, Jake encounters the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain from his visions. Roland is pursuing Walter Padick, the Man in Black who had also appeared in his dreams across a desert, seeking to kill him in revenge for the murder of his father, Steven (Dennis Haysbert). He explains that Walter has been abducting psychic children, and is attempting to use their powers to destroy The Dark Tower, a fabled structure located at the center of the universe; this will allow monsters from outside of the universe to invade and destroy the worlds that the tower protects. Roland takes Jake to a village to have his visions interpreted by a seer. Learning of Jake’s escape and journey to Mid-World, Walter investigates, and realizes that Jake has enough psychic potential to destroy the Tower without any help from other children.

Since The Dark Tower is derived from a comic book series, which I’ve never heard of, this is my first encounter with this story and its characters.  I mention this because many fans are disappointed that this adaptation does not follow the comic book series closely.  My critique is strictly from a new viewer’s perspective, with no prior knowledge of The Dark Tower.  As usual, I am stopping here because I do not want to give away any more of the story, which has a lot more twist and turns.  I really enjoyed the film, “what you see is what you get”.  It was suspenseful and entertaining and had a good message.  I think it’s worth checking out and the acting was excellent!  I understand there are 2 sequels in the works.

 

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ROUGH NIGHT (2017) – My rating: 6.5/10

Rough Night was a rough movie.  While some of it was funny most of it was a play on male bonding comedies done many times before.  I found Rough Night down right silly yet tolerable.  There were quite a few “not so bad moments” along with too many annoying moments, as well.

The movie starts in 2006 with 4 friends Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) in their first year of college.  During this period of friendship and bonding, they are doing what first year students do, attending silly parties and performing senseless acts, like spitting a ball across the room to break a rubber boob.  Oh my, what a party that was.  Guys dressed in thongs, women dressed in ridiculous outfits that served no purpose and everyone just drank and did stupid things.  Nothing that really resembles a real party like dancing and meaningful conversation.  The film then takes us 10 years in the future where Jess is running for office and is engaged to be married to Peter (Paul W. Downs).  She seems to be out of touch with her old friends from college except for her upcoming bachelorette party. Alice, who always considered herself Jess’s best friend, decides that the four friends should spend the weekend in Miami partying. They are also joined by Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess’s friend from a semester she attended in Australia. The friends get high and party at a club and then decide to hire a male stripper (Ryan Cooper).  When the stripper arrives, the adventure really gets going.

The series of events is the meat of Rough Night so I can’t list what follows.  There’s a death, misunderstandings, an unexpected trip, unexpected sex, oversexed neighbors (Ty Burrell and Demi Moore), robbers, wild emotions, make ups, break ups, bodies, handcuffs, drugs, burner phones, diamonds, boats, a cop (Colton Haynes), hellos and good-byes.  Rough Night is a roller coaster of crazy.  It starts off crazy and ends crazy with crazy in the middle.  Good acting — but doesn’t measure up to any of the guy bonding movies like The Hangover Trilogies.  I would wait for the DVD.

 

THE PROMISE (2017) – My rating 9/10

Based on a true story the Turks still deny, The Promise flew way under the radar.  This is another history lesson that everyone should know and see.   Everywhere, The Promise was featured/advertised as a love triangle involving a medical student, an American journalist and an Armenian women raised in France.  However, more than a love triangle, it’s a story of Genocide against the Armenians in the 1900’s just as World War I was getting started. 
NOTE:  The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $8 million against its $90 million budget.  According to the studio, The Promise was made to bring attention to the events of the Genocide as oppose to making money.

Mikael, (Oscar Isaac) an apothecary is an Armenian whose life dream is to be a medical doctor.  Living in the small village of Sirun with not enough money to afford medical school, he promised his hand in marriage to the daughter, Marta (Shohreh Aghdashloo), of an affluent neighbor, in exchange for 400 gold coins as her dowry, which would more than pay for his education.  Mikael was sincere in his proposal and was determined to fall in love with Marta upon his return from Constantinople’s Medical Academy as a doctor.  Upon arrival in Constantinople, Mikael was to contact a wealthy uncle and family friend, Mesrob (Yigal Naor) for his boarding, food and any other help he may need.  While there, Mikael meets and falls in love with Ana, (Charlotte Le Bon) who is already romantically involved with Chris Myers, (Christian Bale) an American reporter for the Associated Press, as well as befriends Emre Ogan, (Marwan Kenzari) who is also in training to be a doctor and is the son of a high level Turkish official but is only doing so for his father, as he has no interest in the medical profession.

World War I as started and Mikael temporarily manages to avoid conscription in the Ottoman army through a medical student exemption with the help of Emre.  But when he tries to save his uncle from imprisonment during the roundups of April 24, 1915, he is detained and sent to a prison labor camp himself.  There he is put to hard labor where many Armenians were brutalized and died of exhaustion and starvation.

The events of The promise are graphic and sad.  An estimated 1.5 million people were murdered, including innocent women and children, for no reason.  The love story was insignificant but felt necessary to keep relations between the nations at a tolerable acceptance.  I for one, feel horrible that anyone should get away with such atrocities but it has happened many times in many places with no repercussions.  At any rate, this movie was well put together and was very informative.  It’s due to be released on July 18th to DVD.  Check it out if just for the history lesson!

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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017) – My rating: 10/10

In my humble opinion, War for the Planet of the Apes is by far the best Planet Apes movie I’ve seen and I’ve seen them all.  Incredible makeup, incredible acting, incredible story and incredible directing (Matt Reeves).  The cinematography is outstanding and the message was loud and clear.  This movie couldn’t have come at a better time in our lives.  At one point I just weld up and as tears streamed down my face, couldn’t help but wonder why man makes an already difficult world so much more difficult by adding their egos and evil ways to the mix because one thing is certain, WE ALL WILL DIE SOMEDAY!  Having said that, I had to give War for the Planet of the Apes a whooping 10.

Now hiding in the woods after being attacked by the US military group, Alpha-Omega, Caesar, who is the current leader of the Apes, offers the humans peace if the Apes are left alone to live in peace.  Unfortunately Koba, the former rebellious leader of the Apes, who is now dead, still has many followers that are against Caesar and his clan of intelligent Apes and have joined the US military against Caesar.  After a recent attack, Caesar and his clan decides it’s best to go further into hiding by relocating to a new home across the desert where they won’t be found by Alpha-Omega and their mysterious Colonel.

The night before Caesar and his clan are to journey to their new home, they suffer another attack in the night and many Apes are killed, including Caesar’s family, causing him to go after the mysterious Colonel of the Alpha-Omega and the gorilla called Red.  Caesar’s youngest son Cornelius is now the only family he has left alive.  From this point, the emotions and intensity of the journey is overwhelming.  As the pieces fall into place, War for the planet of the Apes is anything but predictable.  We find out the fears and secrets that drive both sides (Man and Ape).  While the other Apes headed for the desert, Caesar along with Maurice, Luca and Rocket are forced to perform many ill gotten deeds like asphyxiating another Ape, which causes Caesar to worry if he is becoming just like Koba.

Not only is War for the Planet of the Apes the best of the entire franchise, it’s also one of the most entertaining movies of the summer.  Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!  Below are the cast of characters (apes and humans, alike) with  synopsis of each, courtesy of Wikipedia).

CAST OF Apes

  • Caesar (Andy Serkis) – an intelligent common chimpanzee who is leader to a tribe of genetically enhanced apes.
  • Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) – a common chimpanzee who lived in a zoo before the Simian Flu outbreak and was a hermit before joining Caesar’s group.
  • Maurice (Karin Konoval) – a wise and benevolent Bornean orangutan who is Caesar’s adviser.
  • Rocket (Terry Notary) – a common chimpanzee who is Caesar’s brother-figure.
  • Red (Ty Olsson) – a Western lowland gorilla who was once a follower of Koba, now serving the Colonel to defeat Caesar. Olsson previously played Chief Hamill in Rise.
  • Cornelia (Judy Greer) – Caesar’s wife.
  • Lake (Sara Canning) – a common chimpanzee in Caesar’s tribe, Blue Eyes’s mate and later Cornelius’s caretaker.
  • Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) – Caesar and Cornelia’s oldest son.
  • Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) – Caesar and Cornelia’s youngest son and Blue Eyes’ younger brother. Dalton previously played Cornelia in Rise.
  • Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) – a Western lowland gorilla in Caesar’s tribe.
  • Winter (Aleks Paunovic) – an albino Western lowland gorilla in Caesar’s tribe who defected to the Colonel’s side.
  • Koba (Toby Kebbell) – reprises his role as  from Dawn, appearing in Caesar’s hallucinations.

CAST OF Humans

  • The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) – an iron-fisted soldier and the leader of the paramilitary organization Alpha-Omega who is obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe to preserve his people’s role as the dominant species.
  • Nova (Amiah Miller) – a bold and kind mute orphan whom Maurice adopts as his daughter.
  • Preacher (Gabriel Chavarria) – a human soldier working under the Colonel in Alpha-Omega