Thor: Ragnarok Movie #Review

Ragnarok is the end of all things. It’s death. It’s destruction. It’s the finale. Now add Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Odin, Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Grand Master, Surtur the Fire Demon and Hela the Goddess of Death with an abundance of humor and we get “Thor Ragnarok.” Does this third film in the “Thor” franchise live up to the Marvel brand name or should we send this film off to Valhalla? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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First, Taika Waititi directing this film was a special touch for the Marvel stable of films. Being known for his dry and sometimes literal comedy we most certainly were treated to many comedic moments from start to finish. I knew walking in to the theater that we’d be getting more comedy than we’re familiar with. Considering the films that came before have all been sprinkled with comedic moments this particular story went above and beyond the status quo. The entire story is peppered with Taika’s familiar style of comedy and I couldn’t have been happier. That being said, there were a few moments where I thought the jokes could’ve been pulled and, just like in “Doctor Strange”, we could’ve let the tension crescendo instead of grow, laugh, grow again. In “Doctor Strange” we get a dramatic build up towards the end only to be ruined by the cloak of levitation wiping his face. In “Thor Ragnarok” we get Bruce Banner accepting the fact he needs to become the Hulk in order to save countless lives. Instead of Bruce having a smooth transition from human to Hulk, we get a quick slap stick style joke that we could’ve done without. Also, When Thor is explaining to Valkyrie what heroes do, he didn’t need to be struck in the head with the bouncing ball. Overall, I was mostly pleased with how the majority of jokes landed.

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The story was quick paced. This was one aspect of the film that caught me off guard, in a good way. The movie sets out to cover a lot of ground. First, where has Thor been since “Captain America Civil War” and where has Hulk been since “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? Also, what’s been happening with Loki and Odin? The amount of backstory this movie decided to cover was impressive and I’m glad they did. The story could’ve easily skipped over details but instead we get some back story and it makes sense. Thor has been out looking for infinity stones and while away realizes that something is amiss because the 9 realms are falling into chaos… which shouldn’t be happening because Odin should be keeping things in check. So we get back to Asgard to discover that Thor has defeated Surtur preventing Ragnarok and during that battle he’s made aware Loki is disguised as Odin. From there the story jumps forward and we’re off and running for this particular film. The brief moment we get to see Doctor Strange was fun however almost unnecessary. This very limited cameo did show us that the good Doctor has definitely been getting stronger and more skilled in magic but other than that, sadly, almost not necessary. The entire reason for that cameo is to tell Thor that Odin has chosen seclusion while he waits out his last few days.

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The big reveal in this film is the continuing saga of secrets that Odin has kept from those closest to him. Here we are told that Hela, the goddess of death, is actually Thor and Loki’s older sister and rightful heir to the throne of Asgard. There has been no mention of a sister up to this film so that was a pretty big reveal. Her character was also deliciously evil and determined for all the right reasons. She was not simply the goddess of death. She was the rightful heir come to take her place on the throne and exact revenge for being locked away by her father after helping him take control of the 9 realms. She had incredible motivation for her actions which made her role and motivation captivating. Cate Blanchett is in the Top 5 villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and if you disagree I wonder about your taste in story and film.

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The trilogy does end by showing that at the end of the day, brotherhood matters. In all, these films are about the relationship between Thor and Loki. That is the heart of these stories. For better or worse, these two are brothers and that makes for great story telling. Kenneth Branagh did a fantastic job in the first Thor film establishing an almost Shakespearean relationship in the house of Odin. This movie continues that theme and does well on how it builds upon it as we move towards “Avengers: Infinity War.” The short speech Odin gives his two sons in this movie is the heart of a father who sees his sons for what they are, what they can still become and what they can still achieve together. It’s this relationship that ultimately saves the day in this movie as well. We find out Odin’s plan and why he chose isolation and why he’s accepted Ragnarok as a reasonable solution. He knows that his death will unleash his daughter who, for the most part, is unstoppable. The only means of destroying her is to destroy Asgard and the only means of accomplishing that is to unleash Ragnarok. Absolutely brilliant storytelling even if it’s subtle in its delivery.

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Thor Ragnarok” is in theaters now! I thoroughly enjoyed this film and my time spent in the theater. It is not my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it’s definitely not my least favorite. This film takes you on a colorful, adrenaline fueled, science fiction adventure, full of laughs (some from adult/crude humor) with the continued theme on the importance of brotherhood. We get to see Thor accept the burden of leadership and become the ruler he was destined to become but in an unconventional way. Finally, Jeff Goldblum as “The Grandmaster” has to be experienced on the big screen in surround sound while he sings “It’s my birthday!” I hope we get to see him and Benicio Del Toro on screen together. This movie has two end credit sequences. So, you’ll want to stay for those. “Thor Ragnarok” is in your local movie theaters right now. Check this film out!

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My “Suburbicon” movie #review

George Clooney, the Coen Brothers, Julianne Moore and Matt Damon all working together had my curiosity peaked. The level of talent on all fronts had me both optimistic and cautious. From the trailer, it appears that a small town is about to get more than it bargains for. So, did “Suburbicon” deliver on a story of a small town in disarray or can we bypass this film? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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This movie did not know which story it wanted to tell. It almost felt like George Clooney and the Coen Brothers sat down one evening and watched a bunch of movies where multiple stories occur at the same time and coalesce in the third act of the story. Movies like, “Love Actually”, “Four Rooms”, “Sin City” and/or “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Then after watching films like these, they all agreed they wanted to make something similar. And truth be told, they tried. The trailers are misleading because the impression is that Matt Damon’s character is driving the narative and that’s only partially true. We get a lot from Julianne Moore, and Noah Jupe, that is not really indicted in the trailers. We also have a separate storyline dealing with the new black neighbors in the story that felt more metaphorical, than anything else. There was a lot that occurred in this movie and unfortunately because of that the overall delivery suffers.

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The acting in this film is at the level we would expect from the caliber of actors on screen. The stories, if separated into smaller films, also were well written but they were not as developed as they could have been if more attention were given to each one. The overall story of Matt Damon’s character felt almost like a Greek tragedy where most everyone dies by the end of the film. However, again, the story needed work and this was a surprise for me considering the Coen brothers are credited as the writers of the movie. By the end of the film we see that the innocent survive except they don’t. The uncle, played by Gary Basaraba, was a fairly decent guy who has an entire scene discussing right and wrong with a priest. He also comes to rescue his nephew and while in this act of heroism is killed. So, we can’t pinpoint exactly why the people are dying. Except that we can, for the most part, because bad people doing bad things are the cause of death. If you’re getting confused than my review is relaying the level of confusion I had watching the story unfold on the big screen.

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Overall, this felt like a film that wanted to explore why bad things happen to bad people. At the same time, it felt like a metaphorical social commentary on white people blaming non-whites for their problems. It also felt like the innocent will survive to see another day. It also felt like the message could be that everyone in your life can die but that’s ok as long as your neighbor is cool with playing catch once in awhile. There’s so much in this movie and I wasn’t sure what I watched when I walked out of the theater.

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Suburbicon” is in theaters now. If you enjoy dark, artsy, crime drama’s that look at life through several lenses than this film is perfect for you. If not, I recommend you save your hard earned dollars. This film is a great example of how too many stories can become a convoluted mess, even if each story is adequately written. I wasn’t disappointed in the movie but I was confused and because of that I will recommend you stay home and binge watch “Stranger Things” season 2 or go see “The Foreigner.” There’s plenty of entertaining options that will be more substantial than time spent watching this complicated and baffling story.

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Here’s my #review of “Geostorm” the movie, in theaters now.

Storms have ravaged country after country to the point that humanities very existence was at stake. The nations of the world come together to build a series of satellites to control Mother Nature and extend our time on planet Earth. So, does “Geostorm” live up to the wild weather in the trailers or is this story a wash? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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The trailers did paint an accurate portrayal of this film. What we saw was exactly what we got, plus a tiny bit more. The story is predictable and the dialogue feels like what we’d find in a made for TV movie. Also, the acting was decent and thankfully I did not suffer a single eye roll once in the theater. The movie met the expectation I had for it as I sat in my seat taking in all the special effect goodness this film had to offer.

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The one area that was a bit goofy was the main villain. In the trailer, we are told that someone is using the satellite to create storms that are destroying cities around the world. This is true. However, the reveal of the villain felt like the ending of a “Scooby Doo” cartoon. I was waiting for Ed Harris to say, “…and I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling brothers!” When the President and team catch Harris’s character we also get the infamous villain speech where he justifies his villainous actions which did make me laugh out loud in the theater. It wasn’t a humorous moment, per se, but I found that trope comical in this setting and it did get a chuckle.

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Overall, the movie delivered on exactly what I had hoped. It was a decently written, goofy, “who dun-it”, special effects adventure. This film won’t be winning any awards and I don’t believe it was intended to. I think everyone who made this film knew exactly what they were making and had a good time doing it.

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Geostorm” is in theaters now! If you want to enjoy a movie that won’t make you think but will give you lots of crazy weather special effects, I recommend a big screen viewing (before noon). Pay the matinee ticket price and save yourself some cash. This was a fun time at the movies and it didn’t require a lot from the audience. I won’t recommend you pay full price. If you and your significant other, or your bff’s, want to enjoy some coffee and cinema this will get the job done and will give you something to talk and laugh about afterwards. Check it out!

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“The Foreigner” movie #review

The trailer painted a picture of suffering, hurt, loss and revenge. We see a man hit rock bottom and then strike back at those who have the information about who killed his child. The visuals are dark and brooding. So, did the trailer provide an accurate look at the story of “The Foreigner” or is this just another action flick gone awry. Let’s take a look in this review.

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Overall, the story was not what the trailer presented. Most online film pundits (myself included) were tweeting about how, simply based on the trailer, this film appeared to carry similar qualities to the “Taken” franchise. While that is partially accurate, this film examines the political workings of an organization that was responsible for the murder of many people, the IRA. In this story, we get more background, more character involvement and more dialogue from the government officials now holding office (formerly IRA) and the local authorities who monitor the acts of terrorism the film begins with. The overall plot, I felt, was not about revenge but a look at the continuous struggle of the Irish and the English.

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The main story revolved around Pierce Brosnan’s character, his cohorts and how peace is better than war even though there is a war still brewing with new young terrorists. Then, laid on top of that story, we get Jackie Chan’s story. The structure felt similar to “Captain America: Civil War” because the Black Panther had a subplot that moved that entire film along, similar to Chan in this particular film. He’s a lead but his story sits atop the political/gangster story of Brosnan and company. We get a very detailed look at the Irish organized crime families and their higherarchy of power. We also get a glimpse into Chan’s background and what makes him so dangerous. It wasn’t evenly balanced and because of that I feel the trailer is misleading.

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The Foreigner” is in theaters now! While the trailer is not an accurate indicator for the story of this film it is still a very entertaining and worthwhile movie. The strategy game played between Brosnan and his fellow gangsters was entertaining and it kept me thinking about how each character was impacting the overall plot of the film. Jackie Chan is great in this role. He’s playing much darker character than I’m accustomed to and his portrayal of a father who is on the hunt for revenge is dark and determined. There were one or two points in the story where the momentum dragged but overall I was impressed with the movie. I definitely recommend you go out and see “The Foreigner” at your preferred local theater! Check this movie out!

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“Blade Runner 2049” #review

The year is 1982 and “Blade Runner” (a science fiction film) arrives in theaters that for the next 35 years will be considered one of the best science fiction films of all time. The year is now 2017 and the follow up film arrives in theaters and some, not all, had the highest of expectations. So, does “Blade Runner 2049” deliver on the quality of its predecessor or is this a replicant that needs to be put down? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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I was not one of the people who had a special place in their hearts reserved for this film. I didn’t see the first film until this year when I purchased “Blade Runner” on BLU-Ray at my local used book store. That story celebrates everything that was the 1980’s and science fiction. Seeing it for the first time in 2017 I couldn’t help but see the movie as a period piece stuck forever in 1982. The story by itself is well written and constructed however the movie as a whole is 1982 at its very most 1982’ish. So walking into the theater to see this sequel I didn’t have the same expectation as many who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this story.

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The movie starts by acknowledging the fact that Replicants are a thing that’s not hidden in society which caught me off guard. I was pleased they jumped right into that because it allowed the story to progress forward into new territory not really analyzed in the first movie. I will say the story does feel a bit long in that we get to see a lot of emotion and epiphanies on screen. These moments are not brief and that makes the story drag at points which was unfortunate. However, as long as the movie felt it looked incredible. The colors, the lighting and use of shadows, the make up and the action all were spectacular. I was completely mesmerized by the cinemotography and I wouldn’t not be surprised if this film gets nominated for an Acadamy Award for Cinemotography. Rumors confirmed, folks. This is one of the best looking films I’ve seen all year.

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The story deals with a philosophical examination regarding what it means to be alive and to be human. The story resolves itself like a crime noir/detective story. It’s methodical in its delivery however the pacing is slower than I felt necessary. We get multiple view points or arguments that look at what society is, what it could be, power struggles to maintain the status quo and the opposite. In all, this movie explores the question, “What does it mean to be alive?” As I just wrote, this revelation takes time to be revealed. It’s not until we find out that a replicant had a “natural” born child that the overall plot of the film is realized. It’s at this moment the opposing view points are pushed to the fore front and we are seated amidst a debate that also has some great action and science fiction visual flare. This debate, unfortunately, is not very captivating and because of that will be lost, I feel. The film rests mainly on the visual astheatic and actors performances. It falls short on an engaging story that should be both at the same time thought provoking and exciting. The potential for this film is much greater than the final product.

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Blade Runner 2049” is in theaters now. I definitely recommend you see this on the big screen. This movie looks spectacular and I truly believe it will be nominated for best Cinematography. The overall look warrants a big screen viewing but I will caution you against paying more than matinee prices for the time spent in the theater. It’s slower paced and does drag at times but it looks incredible while doing that. Check this film out!

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“Battle of the Sexes” #review

There are certain studios that find their way by making smaller budget, almost indie, films with talented, well known, actors. In this particular case, Fox Searchlight Studios decided to tell the real life story of Tennis greats Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It was a spectacle for everyone who saw it live. So, does “Battle of the Sexes” serve us a champions story or does it double fault its way in and out theaters. Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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First, we can look at the cast for this film as diverse, in that, many of the faces I don’t recall seeing on screen together. Outside of that, I wasn’t overly wowed by any of the performances because I received the caliber of talent that I expected to receive from each actor. In general, I thought the acting in this film was the high point. Plus, it was nice to see Natalie Morales in the film because I enjoyed the performance she gave in the hit TV show “Parks and Rec.” Also, Sarah Silverman plays a great older jewish woman who has a smoking addiction and enjoys managing women’s tennis players.

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The overall story I wasn’t familiar with despite its notoriety. All I knew was a dude and a lady were competing in a tennis match and the whole world was tuning in to watch. So, when I walked into the theater I was pretty open minded regarding the story that was about to be told. Curiously, the story wasn’t the story advertised. It was, in fact, only a small portion of the actual movie. The actual story revolves around Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and her determination to be a pioneer for women’s rights, her love affair with her hair dresser, the divorce of her marriage and her eventual victory over the chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell). I felt mislead once the credits started rolling because I was under the impression that I would be getting a sports movie. Instead, I was given a lesbian love affair with a strong feminist message that had sports peppered throughout until the very end of the film in which we see the famed event unfold. It felt like the final tennis match was just a metaphor for the entire pro feminist message in the film which makes the title “battle of the sexes” misleading, in my opinion. More appropriately, the title I feel should have been, “The Billie Jean King Story.” The film as a whole had more to do with her life than tennis (even though her life was tennis).

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Battle of the Sexes” is in theaters now! If you don’t mind two women making out on screen then you won’t be offended by this film. It’s a very well acted piece however you do need to keep in mind that it’s not about tennis. Tennis is the resolving plot point that, again, felt more like a metaphor than a resolution/conclusion. This is the Billie Jean King story and if you’re interested in her life, the struggles she went through and her love of tennis, I think you’ll appreciate that story. It does feel like a Hallmark or Lifetime film at points and it’s based on a true story that you might enjoy it during matinee prices.

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Kinsman: The Golden Circle #review

The news broke that Matthew Vaughn was coming back to write and direct the “Kingsman” sequel and that made movie fans everywhere happy. The first story had a fresh visual style to spy/action films with entertaining characters (both hero and villain) and it made enough money that another film only seemed logical. Did “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” live up to the magic of the first film or should we give this franchise its burn notice? Let’s dive and take a look in this review.

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The important characters in this film were limited however there was no shortage of supporting characters. In fact, the majority of this film felt like an equal distribution of screen between most all of the actors. Also, the two main heroes, Eggsy and Merlin stay who they were in the first one without much, if any, development. We knew them in the last film and that’s who they are in this one. In general, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The James Bond franchise has been giving us the same character for over 50 years. Each new actor who has played Bond has given us just a little bit more each time but theres nothing dynamic with regard to character development for Bond. He’s Bond. He drinks Martini’s, kills bad guys and has sex with the hottest women on the planet. So, to not really explore who Eggsy and Merlin are isn’t terribly tragic. That being said, killing Merlin at the end of the film while he sang a John Denver song was a decision I didn’t agree with. I would’ve understood it had Eggsy survived and everyone else, including Harry, died and Eggsy had to go at it alone creating a brand new agency for Kingsman. That I would’ve understood. However, leaving Harry and Eggsy alive felt like they just rehashed the first storyline but changed main characters at the end. Harry dies and Merlin survives in the first one and then Merlin dies but Harry survives in the sequel. This felt lazy to me and I didn’t care much for it.

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The villain, Poppy, in this film was a cartoon caricature. The idea behind her character was intriguing but not enough to keep my attention. It’s surprising how much I didn’t care for her character when I’m a fan of Julianne Moore’s acting. Her basic motivation was to create a drug empire and have it legalized by holding the world hostage until they comply. In order to achieve this, she has a chemical(s) in her drugs that quickly kill its users and only she has the cure. She felt like a villain from Saturday morning cartoons I grew up watching in the 80s in all honesty. It was over the top and unbelievable.

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The violence was just as ridiculous as the original which was definitely a highlight for me personally. I enjoy the unbelievably wild fights and style of gun play this franchise uses. It’s definitely one of the things I look forward to the most when I watch these movies. I don’t need it to look believable I just want it to be fun and both films nailed that. However, I wasn’t a fan of the blatant “Sweeney Todd” rip off, twice, in the story. Two men walk into the restaurant to meet Poppy and she has one of the men thrown into a meat grinder to be made into raw ground meat. She then proceeds to use the man meat to make a burger, cook it and then serve it to the surviving guy who just watched everything unfold. Two men are ground up in this film and I just sat in the theater scratching my head because all I could think of was the “meat pies” from “Sweeney Todd.” This, again, showed me lazy story telling and I was not impressed.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is in theaters now! I’m not gonna recommend people see this movie in theaters. It’s not great but it’s entertaining. Plus, hearing Elton John swear like a sailor is a lot of fun. If you want to see this in theaters I’d recommend a matinee showing before noon so the price of admission is more affordable. If you can wait for Redbox or Netflix that is probably your best option. Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges aren’t really in the film at all but this is the second film Tatum is in this year that highlights John Denver tunes. So if “Take Me Home Country Road” is your jam, then you’ll enjoy some of the soundtrack.

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Home Again #review

Single mothers already have a lot on their plates when it comes to raising their kids and providing financially for them. Now, add the city of Los Angeles, turning 40, an emotionally manipulative ex-husband, a supportive and loving mother and three charming young filmmakers from New York and we’ve got a story. So, was “Home Again” the feel good comedy it appeared to be or will we need to divorce ourselves away from this film? Let’s dive and take a look in this review.

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The overall movie examines life through the eyes of the main character Alice (played by Reese Witherspoon). We meet her on her 40th birthday and we get a glimpse into her life, as she perceives it. There are moments that depart from that as she is not in all the scenes and I’m happy to report the supporting cast of characters are each delightful on screen. This felt similar to films like, “Music and Lyrics,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It’s light hearted, humorous, sincere and character driven in how it tells its story.

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Some of the moments in this film felt very real however it tends to shy away from really digging into the issues they present on screen. We get a lot of surface level dialogue about relationships, family, friendship and achieving goals. Typically, we could say that’s a negative but not in this particular instance. The writing and the actors deliver genuine moments that, while they feel thin, still feel true.

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The character struggle that Alice goes through resonated with the (primarily older) female audience I was surround by. In fact, I found myself seated in the midst of women providing real time commentary on the behaviors and actions of the men in the movie as well as Alice’s reaction. This was not a quiet moviegoing experience as the theater, almost in chorus, had an opinion about the men on screen. So, because the film seemed to elicit real emotional responses from the female viewership I enjoyed the film all the more.

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Home Again” is in theaters now! I will recommend you get out and see this film on the big screen. As I mentioned, it doesn’t dig deeply into the characters but as I discovered from the audience response, it did well enough to communicate realism that would evoke true responses from my fellow movie watchers. I laughed and I also could relate to some of the characters in the film at different points in the story which is more than I thought I would get walking into the theater. It’s a heartfelt story that looks at family, friends and being human in todays modern society. Check it out!

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard #review

The idea of an action comedy is appealing. Now, add two dynamic onscreen personalities and a whole lot of ammunition and you’re promising something very special. To go one step further, add a few different locations to make this a road trip movie. What is going on?! Let’s find out more about “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” in this review…

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I was not prepared for this film at all. I walked into the theater expecting a “buddy cop” movie and got something much better. The realization of the film didn’t hit me right away. In fact, I didn’t know this was a stylized celebration of action films with comedy in it. This movie celebrates hyper violence that is so over-the-top and ridiculous it’s brilliant. There’s car chases, boat chases, motorcycle chases, people chasing each other on foot, cars exploding, rocket launchers, electrocution, helicopters crashing, massive explosions with people just walking away, fights in a hardware store, punches, kicks, a guy running around on fire and more. It’s chaotic insanity from beginning to end. Literally, beginning to end. If this movie ever let up on the action I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s because they kept going one step further and then further again that made me love my time in the theater.

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The soundtrack/score for this film is equally as enjoyable as the movie itself. There’s a funk band playing along to the scenes giving this film a feeling akin to 1970’s American cops tv shows (i.e. CHiPs). The musical selections were comedically placed to continue the absurdity that is present the whole way through. I can’t speak enough about how well done this movie was because it’s so ridiculous it’s amazing.

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Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson literally look like they’re having the time of their lives in this too. I don’t even know if they were acting or just reacting to each other naturally. The chemistry was great. Now add Salma Hayek (who is just as insane as Jackson’s character) and the ride we’re on is delightful madness. I am gonna say this movie holds the record for the most uses of the word “fuck” and “mother fucker.” They’re dropped so nonchalantly that it is almost inspiring. I couldn’t believe what I was watching on screen and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is in theaters now! If you love rude, sarcastic, action, road trip, buddy cop shows this movie is for you. I can’t wait to see it a second time. It’s over-the-top and unrelenting and because of that I walked out of the theater with a big dumb smile on my face. I couldn’t help but laugh at all the nonsense that was so well done. It’s not an oscar contender. It’s not really that great of a movie. It’s just so much fun you don’t care, at least I didn’t. I don’t expect this movie will deliver stellar numbers at the box office but I anticipate big returns once it hits BLU-Ray/DVD sales. This was a blast. Check it out!

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