Category Archives: DVD MOVIE REVIEWS

Movies now on DVD.

MR. CHURCH (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

I recently viewed Mr. Church on Amazon even though it was said to be released in theaters in September of 2016 — I’ve never heard of it, too bad because it is a wonderful, feel good movie from beginning to end.  This one flew way under the radar.  Mr. Church is an unusual story of how I wish people really were but no sense in pondering over what isn’t, instead I’ll relate this story to you the best I can and urge you to see it if you can.  Mr. Church will warm the cockles of your heart.  The opening titles include the phrase: “Inspired by a true friendship.” In 2011, the screenwriter, Susan McMartin, posted “The Cook Who Came to Live With Us,” which appears to be the story on which the screenplay is based.

A little girl name Charlotte “Charlie” Brooks (Natalie Coughlin) lives with her single mother Marie Brooks (Natascha McElhone) in a small, just below the poverty line, apartment. The 2 lived alone happily together until one morning, Charlie is awakened by the heavenly smells of breakfast and a strange Black man in their kitchen named Mr. Henry Joseph Church (Eddie Murphy). Upset because Mr. Church was invading their privacy, Charlie was rude and asked that her mother get rid of him.  She later learns that Mr. Church was hired by Richard, her mother’s deceased ex-lover, to take care of them for six months because Marie has breast cancer and has been given just six months to live.

Six years later, Marie is still living and Mr. Church has become a fixture in the household. An older Charlie (Britt Robertson) is a senior in high school and even though her mother is still alive, she is weakened and on heavy medication and bed rest. Charlie had grown even closer to Mr. Church because of her inability to come to terms with Marie’s impending death. Marie lives long enough to see Charlie go to prom with her dream guy Owen (Xavier Samuel), but dies soon after.  Mr. Church stays with Charlie after Marie dies and remains as much of a mystery as the day he came into their lives.

There is so much to learn about Mr. Church.  Charlie gets accepted to Boston University, which becomes an adventure in itself.  It seem like there’s nothing Mr. Church cannot do, including designing and sewing a prom dress.  Mr. Church and Charlie gives us drama, mystery, love, tears and some OMG moments.  I absolutely enjoyed the movie and was thrilled that I got to see it for free on Amazon as a Prime member.  It’s also on DVD.  I highly recommend Mr. Church for a nice change of pace.

 

THE YOUNG MESSIAH (2016) – My rating: 8/10

I haven’t seen many movies about Jesus as a child nor is their much scripture found on the early years of Christ.  I was curious to see if this film supported what little I did hear about the life of Christ as a boy.  I recognized a couple of incidents as being similar to stories I’d heard before but most were new.  I found it strange that bullying exited among the children as strongly as was depicted in The Young Messiah.  I always thought the children were more disciplined in that era and environment.  I was surprised that Jesus (Adam Greaves-Neal)  was picked on and frequently beaten up.  My understanding of Jesus as a small boy raising another boy from the dead was when he caused the boys death but in this adaptation,  Jesus had nothing to do with the boys death even though he was accused of causing his demise. The Young Messiah is a name change from the original book written by Anne Rice as Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt “This new title better conveys how our film seeks to present a realistic portrait of Jesus as a child both grounded in faith and consistent with the adult Jesus revealed in the Bible.” (Quoted by the new writers, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh and Nowrasteh).

From another source, I’d learned that Jesus fixed the size of the wood his father  carved to fit when it didn’t, in order to complete a project they were working on together.  This did not appear in the movie,  however Jesus healing Joseph’s dying brother in front of the village did.  There were other miracles performed by Jesus as a young boy depicted in this film up to Jesus disappearing for three days before being found in the Temple by his father Joseph (Vincent Walsh) and mother Mary (Sara Lazzaro).  Throughout the movie, Jesus was hunted by Severus (Sean Bean) sent by King Herod’s son (Jonathan Bailey).  Also, a Demon (Rory Keenan) appeared whispering in the ear of various persons who made every situation harder for Jesus. Mainly, at the age of 7, when Jesus returns from Egypt to his home in Nazareth with his family, he discovers the truth about his life.  He realizes he is the Son of GOD, sent by GOD, to be the savior of humanity.

I thought given the amount of information the new writers had to work with, the film not only held your attention, it gave forth some validity to Jesus’ young life while sending a profound message about the people of that time.  I can’t say The Young Messiah lends any new information to the Jesus’ life as a boy because as I mentioned, there is little to no scripture about Jesus as a child.  Other than what’s in the Bible already, movies like this only offer speculation.  The acting was brilliant and The Young Messiah was spot on and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Check it out!

 

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O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA (2016) – My rating: 9/10

ojmadeinamericaThrough interviews, new footage, and archival audio and video, O.J.: Made in America traces the life and career of O. J. Simpson, starting with his arrival at the University of Southern California as an emerging football superstar and ending with his incarceration in 2007 for robbery. Throughout the documentary, Simpson’s life – the football success, television career, relationship with Nicole Brown, the domestic abuse, Nicole and Ron Goldman’s murder, the trial – runs parallel to the larger narrative of the city of Los Angeles, which serves as host to mounting racial tensions and a volatile relationship between the city’s police department and the African American community.

TV critic James Poniewozik described the director’s technique in his New York Times review: “Ezra Edelman pulls back, way back, like a news chopper over a freeway chase. Before you hear about the trial, the documentary says, you need to hear all the stories — the stories of race, celebrity, sports, America — that it’s a part of.”

O.J.: Made in America premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2016, was released in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles in May 2016 and debuted on ABC on June 11, 2016, and aired on ESPN. The documentary has received widespread acclaim and has won numerous awards.

After seeing this documentary, I was impressed at how factual and straightforward it was.  I thought I knew everything about OJ, this gave me a new perspective and something to think about.  O.J.: Made in America is an excellent source of information into the whole picture from beginning to end, so if you care to know as much as you could about the life and times of O. J. Simpson, this is a great documentary to learn about him and all that went into shaping who he is.  O.J.: Made in America is currently streaming on Amazon, and can be gotten on Netflix.

[O.J.: Made in America WON the 89th ANNUAL OSCAR AWARD for Best Documentary Feature]

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HACKSAW RIDGE (2016) – My rating: 9/10

hacksawridgeMel Gibson may have fallen out of favor with Hollywood but his movies are awesome.  Hacksaw Ridge is another Mel Gibson master peace. Hacksaw Ridge is a biographical drama that takes place during World War II and tells the experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), grew up just outside of Lynchburg, Virginia.  As a young man he nearly killed his younger brother, Harold “Hal” Doss (Nathaniel Buzolic), during an altercation. This experience along with his Seventh-day Adventist upbringing strengthened Desmond’s belief in the commandment, Thou shalt not kill. Years later, Doss meets and falls for a nurse, Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer). when he brings a car accident victim to the hospital. At the outbreak of World War II, Doss, wanting to do his fair share, is motivated to enlist in the Army. His father, Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving), a troubled World War I veteran, is deeply upset by the decision. Because he is a conscientious objector, Doss intends to serve as a combat medic. Before leaving he asks for Dorothy’s hand in marriage and she accepts.

Doss is placed under the command of Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn). He excels physically but becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays. Howell and Captain Jack Glover (Sam Worthington), attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons but fail. Howell then torments Doss by putting him through grueling labor, intending to get Doss to leave of his own accord. Despite being beaten one night by his fellow soldiers, Doss refuses to identify his attackers and continues training. Doss was made fun of, his fellow soldiers suffered weekend passes withheld and much more was done to get Doss to quit and go home.  Still he would not leave.  Finally, upon completion of basic training and on leave, during which time Doss intended to marry Dorothy, he is arrested for insubordination for not following direct orders directing him to carry a firearm.  To see how Doss gets out of this, marries Dorothy and ends up assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and deployed to the Pacific theater during the Battle of Okinawa, you have to see the movie.

You will see the most remarkable scenes in a war movie imaginable.  I thought “Saving Private Ryan” was graphic but it really has nothing on Hacksaw Ridge, I was more than blown away.  These men were in the fight of their life is way beyond an understatement.  Doss did something so profound, he deserved more than a medal for, more than respect and more than a heroes recognition.  Mel Gibson proudly captured the fear, the intensiveness, the faithfulness, the determination and the heart that went into the task at hand and what it really is to fight a war on the battlefield.  There is nothing we, the civilians at home, shouldn’t want to do for these brave men coming home from war, broken up both mentally and physically and even whole after what they go through.  Hacksaw Ridge is a movie for all to see.  Of course if you can’t stand blood, it’s not for you.  GREAT JOB MEL AND THE CAST OF HACKSAW RIDGE, WHICH IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!

[HACKSAW RIDGE is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing]

 

 

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TROLLS (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

trollsTrolls is a fantastic story told with beautiful vivid dazzling colors and out of this world graphics. The music was especially good because it took me back to the days when I grew up listening to the kind of music I loved but don’t get to hear much any more. It was great hearing those old songs mixed with some great new ones.

Trolls are small doll like creatures (also popular in my youth) who live in an almost perpetual state of happiness, singing, dancing, and hugging all day long. That’s all they do. Life was good until they were discovered by the Bergens, who are the opposite of the Trolls. They are not very attractive, large creatures who never feel happy, but discover they can feel momentary happiness if they devour a Troll. The Bergen’s capture the Trolls and place them in a cage, then hold an annual festival in which, each Bergen gets their feeling of happiness, by eating a Troll. On the day that Prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)  was supposed to eat his first Troll, they had all escaped through underground tunnels, led by the troll King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor). Furious Bergen King Gristle Sr. (John Cleese) banishes his Chef (Christine Baranski) who was in charge of the Troll preparation. After 20 years, the Trolls were never seen or heard from again by the Bergens.

King Peppy’s daughter, an extremely happy and optimistic troll Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), decides to throw a huge party to celebrate the Trolls’ 20th year anniversary of freedom and the escape from the Bergens. Poppy ignored the fears and warnings of the grey, grumpy, glum troll who wouldn’t sing, called Branch (Justin Timberlake), that loud parties could attract the Bergens. Branch’s fears become true when the banished Bergen Chef,  sees the fireworks and captures a number of Trolls. Poppy is among the Trolls who manage to hide, but discovers that none of the other Trolls dare to venture to Bergen Town to rescue their friends. She goes by herself, but gets trapped by several spider-like creatures. She is saved by the reluctant Branch, and together they go to Bergen Town.

Poppy and Branch discover that their friends are being guarded by the Scullery Maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), and strike a deal with her: If she frees their friends, they will help her get a date with the now King Gristle Jr. Poppy and Branch learn that Creek (Russell Brand), a Zen-like Troll  is being held apart from the rest in a jewel that decorates the king’s mantle.

Of course, I won’t tell any more of the story, as not to spoil it for you–so check it out to see what happens.  Trolls is a happy film that will make you feel good.  I recommend it to all.

[TROLLS is nominated for Original Song]

 

MOANA (2016) – My rating: 8.5

moanaAnimated movies today are so graphic with such great stories, I am finally a fan. Moana was fun to watch and had a great message for all. From a baby, Moana knew she was special with a calling from the sea, which was forbidden beyond the reef. As Moana grew up, the beautiful, paradise island she and her people lived on was becoming uninhabitable.

A small pounamu stone that is the mystical heart of the island goddess Te Fiti is stolen by the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who was planning to give it to humanity as a gift. As Maui makes his escape, he is attacked by the lava demon Te Kā, causing the heart of Te Fiti as well as his power-granting magical fish hook to be lost in the ocean.

A millennium later, young Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho), daughter and heir of the chief on the small Polynesian island of Motunui, is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart, but drops it when her father, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), comes to get her. He insists the island provides everything the villagers need. Years later, fish become scarce and the island’s vegetation begins dying. Moana proposes going beyond the reef to find more fish. Tui rejects her request, as sailing past the reef is forbidden.

Moana’s grandmother, Tala (Rachel House), shows Moana a secret cave behind a waterfall, where she discovers her ancestors were voyagers, sailing and discovering new islands across the world. Tala explains that they stopped voyaging because Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, causing Te Kā and monsters to appear in the ocean. Tala then reveals that Te Kā’s darkness has been spreading from island to island, slowly killing them. Tala gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti, which she has kept safe for her granddaughter.  Tala falls ill and with her dying breaths tells Moana to set sail. Moana and her pet rooster, Heihei depart in a drua to find Maui.

Their journey becomes magical and exciting.  Moana is assisted by the ocean as she does all that she can to encourage Maui to replace the heart of Te Fiti and restore the islands to their former beauty and usefulness.  You’ll have to see the movie to see what happens.  The graphics are fantastic, the story is well written and the music will make you want to sing or at lease, turn up the volume.  I urge everyone to go and see this movie, it’s a real feel good film.

[MOANA is nominated for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song]

ZOOTOPIA (2016) – My rating: 8/10

zootopiaI’m beginning to like cartoons more and more.  Zootopia is a great animated story that sends a great message to all ages.  It has a large diverse cast that ventures into a few hairy situations from time to time.  In the world of Zootopia, mammals, predators as well as prey peacefully coexist.  An Optimistic European rabbit from rural Bunnyburrow, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) realizes her dream of becoming a police officer in urban Zootopia.  You might notice these mammals have been anthropomorphized so they are representing the same issues of discrimination as though they were human.  So, despite being the police academy valedictorian, Judy is relegated to parking duty by Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), an African buffalo, who doubts her potential because she is a rabbit. On her first day, she is hustled by Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and Finnick (Tom Lister Jr.), a con artist duo of foxes.

Day two on the job, Judy abandons her parking duty to arrest a thief named Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk) who stole plant bulbs. As Chief Bogo begins to reprimand Judy, an otter named Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) enters his office pleading for someone to find her husband Emmitt, one of fourteen predators who have gone missing. When Judy volunteers and Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate) praises the assignment, Bogo reluctantly gives her 48 hours to find Otterton on the condition that she resigns if she fails.

After determining Nick was the last one to see Otterton, Judy blackmails him into assisting her by covertly recording his confession to tax evasion. They track Otterton to a limousine owned by crime boss, Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche) who reveals that Otterton, his florist, went “savage” – reverted to a feral state – and attacked his chauffeur, Manchas (Jesse Corti). At his home, Manchas mentions that Otterton had been yelling about “night howlers.” Moments later, Manchas himself turns savage and chases the pair. Judy saves Nick by trapping Manchas and calls the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD) for help. When Bogo and other police arrive, Manchas has vanished. Bogo demands Judy’s resignation, but Nick reminds Bogo she still has 10 hours to solve the case. As they leave, Nick shares his childhood story with Judy that he was bullied as a child for being a fox. Deciding there was no use in fighting prejudiced ideas about fox behavior, he became a con artist.

From this point, the story gets better as the search intensifies.  More characters enter the picture and more lessons are learned.  This clever tale is truly worth every child’s attention.  Of course I have to stop here so I don’t spoil the rest of the story in case you intend to see it.  Zootopia is on DVD/Blu-Ray and is definitely a worthy piece of animation with a profound message — check it out!

[ZOOTOPIA WON the 89th ANNUAL OSCAR AWARD for Best Animated Film]

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