THRS Movie Reviews

Didn’t want This is the End to end

June 17th, 2013 at 1:22 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for This Is the End.


In This is the End, Seth Rogan, James Franko, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and a host of other celebrities play themselves in this Hollywood blockbuster wanna-be film complete with a science-fiction/religious end-of-the-world plot — coupled with true comedy and absolute horror and fright!

When the world starts going to heck during a party at James Franko’s house, a handful of celebrities hole up in Franko’s spectacular Hollywood home.  But dwindling supplies and giant egos are making things quite difficult for these actors.

The entire film is filled with fantastic cameos of real actors playing themselves and poking fun at what we think they do with their lives… all while this doomsday story is playing out.

This is a fantastically fresh concept, and I loved just about everything  about it.  What didn’t I Iove?  Much of the acting is weak, and, I believe, it’s done on purpose; so no harm, no foul (even though it can be distracting).  And also… well, it is extremely Rated R and at times it is wholly inappropriate.   But, it’s always hilarious.  If you are easily offended with very bad words or talk of graphic sexual situations, this is not the film for you.  But, if you loved Pineapple Express and believed that those characters must be “just like that in real life”, you are going to be very satisfied!  Because they are!! Who knew?!?  *Wink, Wink*

Seth Rogen and his Superbad writing partner, Evan Goldberg teamed up to do this script and its directed by the duo too… A directing debut for both that looks anything but!  They manage to maintain momentum, flip off the entertainment business while entertaining us and showing that even these actors can have a heart.  Really Shocking stuff!!

You believe that the dialogue coming out of their mouths is actually leaving their brains as original thought. The conversations are brilliant — It’s simply believe-able on every level.  I laughed until my sides hurt.  I was so bummed when I looked up and realized THIS IS THE END!?!?!  I didn’t want it to end.  In fact,  I can’t wait to see it again!


Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. 

Man of Steel takes off; lands with a thud

June 17th, 2013 at 1:09 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the MAN OF STEELE trailer.

Man of Steel is now playing in 2D and 3D and iMax at various locations across Hampton Roads!

man-of-steel-poster-2Man of Steel is not a re-telling of the story of superman, it’s a whole re-imagining of the story.  Changing things up and shaking up characters is the order of the day.

We get the back story of Kal El – son of Jor El (Russell Crowe) sent from an imploding Krypton to live on Earth and carry on the Krypton DNA (and help the people of Earth).  Of course, on Earth he’s taken in by the couple who finds him – the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) where he is named Clarke (Henry Cavill is the grown version).  We see his childhood and coming of age told in fits and starts as flashbacks along Clarke’s journey to find himself. 

It’s not long before General Zod (Michael Shannon) from his home planet comes looking for him so he can get the DNA and take over earth.  Clarke now the Man of Steel will have none of that. And so begins a series of long, loud, and at times boring crash/bash/explosion scenes. 

Along the way Clarke meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams) a reporter for the Daily Planet.  I’m stopping short here because this storyline is one of my problems with the film.  As a lover of the superman stories of old – I loved the quirky secret love for Lois that Clarke had and her funny hard nose journalist sense that there was something more to this Clarke Kent guy.  That’s not in here!

Batman’s Christopher Nolan produced and helped Dark Knight writer David Goyer with the story – which I really did not enjoy.  For me – Director Zack Snyder managed to take both the humor and the heart out of Superman. 

And at 2hours 28minutes long it was too long!  If you go, skip shelling out the extra cash for 3D – noway is it worth it to me.  And if you are one of those people like me who waits through all the credits for a bonus scene (known as an Easter egg scene) — none here.  But do keep an eye out during the film… There are some Easter eggs teasing the next villain.  Watch for key logos on some buildings.  

Here’s what’s worse!  We only see Cavill shirtless once.  This film was disappointing on so many levels!  *wink*

Three out of Five cookies

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language. 

Not quite sold on The Internship

June 10th, 2013 at 12:08 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

Click here to watch the official trailer for The Internship.

The Internship is now playing at theaters across Hampton Roads.

internship Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play two 40–something best friends who suddenly find themselves out of a job that they were really good at – salesmen.  They could sell anything.

They soon set out to find new work (and prove themselves to the people who love them that they can and will get it together).

Billy (Vince Vaughn) stumbles across an internship opportunity with search engine giant Google.  Nick (Owen Wilson) is all in to try — after all if they can sell anything, why not sell themselves as interns.  So, despite the fact that neither of them has any idea how to use a computer and both still carry flip phones, the dynamic duo tries to work for Google.

Once on campus they must spend the summer proving themselves worthy of employment.  Interns are divided into teams and the team with the most points at the end of the summer will be offered jobs.  Billy and Nick find themselves on a team made up of outcasts – the interns who didn’t get picked for any other team.  

There are a series of scenes in the film that asks the audience to suspend belief.  Which typically would be fine since that’s what we do in movies anyway.  My mother’s in her 60s and she had a smart phone and uses Google all the time.  I think it’s crazy to ask the audience to believe that these young forty-something dudes have no idea where to look on a WebCam, how to pull up the computer, use a smart phone, understand what an app is, or know anything about pop culture and the apps that are talked about daily in the news, on TV, and in print media.

I am not saying that there aren’t people like this, and I am not judging or saying anything is wrong with not understanding computers. What I am saying is that I find it crazy to believe these characters in this situation.  It kind of felt like the gang from Wedding Crashers got back together and decided to try to get a job — except the thing, is they aren’t the same characters, and this is a different movie.

The Internship is a buddy comedy, and it does have a heart.  It has moments where it succeeds, and if you are a comedy fan – I would say just mild laughs here.  The story is based on the idea of salesmen trying to sell themselves as interns.  I, for one, am not sold on the idea.


Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. 


Now You See Me full of tricks

June 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Now You See Me.

Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

movies_now-you-see-meTalk about an all star cast!  I couldn’t wait to see this film for no other reason than the cast list… Here goes: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franko, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, and Morgan Freeman.  With this cast, it has to be great, right???  That’s what I was thinking.

The plot goes a little something like this:  four different magicians/illusionists are brought together by some unknown person to form “The Four Horsemen”.  They are an eclectic group whose mission, it seems, is to – like Robin Hood – steal from the rich and give to their audiences.  But they do this in extremely larger-than-life ways.

Beginning in the big room at the MGM Grand, they seemingly pull off a heist of epic proportions – robbing a bank in Paris, then showering the audience with the bills.  This sets everything in motion and brings in an FBI detective (Mark Ruffalo) to solve the crime. Two more illusions/heists baffle and bewilder the FBI (and us in the audience) before the giant finale and explanations for everything begin to unfold.

Now You See Me is filled with of twists, magic explanations and very little acting.  I don’t know the names of The Four Horsemen, and I didn’t care.  For so many good actors to be pulled into one film, you would think that the script would have developed the characters and let them actually act.  But it doesn’t.  The screenplay is smart, but maybe too smart for its own good.  It seems to be overly involved in the whodunit explanations of how the writers think they have baffled the audience. 

Instead the audience feels dragged along through a maze of facts and plot twists (maybe a couple too many) that leave us feeling unsatisfied, largely because we are never really connected to the characters.  They are easily forgettable characters given the lack of storyline they each get to play with.  The one exception is Morgan Freeman.  He plays a magic debunker who keeps explaining the tricks to us.  He gets to act.  I’m not sure we get much out of it other than one more plot twist, but at least he got to act!

Now You See Me dragged a bit in places, but the large scale production value sometimes made up for it.  A Little more than slight of hand going on here – but remember all movies are magic.  I just felt tricked. 

THREE COOKIES out of five.

Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content. 

Boldly going… where the last one went…

May 24th, 2013 at 5:54 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness.

Now playing across Hampton Roads and Northeastern North Carolina.

StarTrekIntoDarknessEnterprisePosterStar Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to the franchise reboot launched by J.J. Abrams in 2009.  The writers of Into Darkness have opted to stick with the story flow and characters of the originals, but Abrams tried to take the action up a notch.

Into Darkness finds our faithful characters quietly existing and –led by Capt Kirk — roguely bucking the intergalactic rule book much to the dismay of the rule-following Spock.

It’s not long before they have to begin battling a serious bad guy terrorist – no spoiler here!!  But, if you know the second film in the original film series –  that’s a hint.  And I’m sure if you’re a Trekkie madly awaiting this film and somehow you didn’t see it this weekend — you still already know.  (Nevertheless I won’t mention the name of the returning villain.)   Of course we have to find the bad guy in the middle of some Klingons right from the beginning!  And that leads to a massive escape scene!  (This made me question — Might this be a preview of what a new Star Wars might look like with J.J. Abrams at the helm?)

Of course the crew of the Enterprise carries out its mission as tasked to battle the villain, but along the way the story unfolds as more about the development of the characters and especially about Kirk and Spock getting to know each other than anything…which I found refreshing and interesting.  

I’ve never been a particular fan of Chris Pine as an actor, but I do find him doing an above par job as Kirk.  And Zachary Quinto as Spock continues to shine as Spock!  I love watching him; he’s always spot on, but this time he seems to have added more layers to the character.

Director J.J. Abrams manages to go bigger and relatively better in the special effects and explosions department.  I was never distracted by the CGI, and found it believable even in the middle of an unbelievable scenario.  Some of the 3D was particularly impressive.  It’s been a long time since I ducked in my seat to avoid something seemingly flying right at me… But I did.  Twice.

The 2009 writing team of Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci were joined this time around by Abrams’ pal and partner on many projects Damon Lindelof.  Not sure how they managed it as a team, but the character development seemed stronger here, and the story seemed more tightly woven than 2009. 

One interesting thing to note for me is in the casting – particularly of the bad guy (Benedict Cumberbatch), but also in the choice of Alice Eve as Carol Marcus.  I found it distracting, maybe the accents had something to do with it?  They just seemed weak choices to me.

I liked Into Darkness well enough, not as much as Star Trek 2009, but I think that’s because I was high on the newness and refreshed take on the characters then.  Now that they are settling in, you get to be a bit more nit picky.  There are things I liked better than 2009, too, namely the focus on characters.  No doubt about one thing, with Into Darkness, Abrams and crew boldly go exactly where they want it to go, and Star Trek fans are enjoying the ride. 


Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence. 

Gatsby! At last!

May 13th, 2013 at 4:12 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for The Great Gatsby!  Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

Great Gatsby PosterI have been waiting for this film to release for a year. I’ve been waiting since the first time I got wind of it April 2012.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time, and I love Baz Luhrmann and his film vision (excepting only Australia.) Moulin Rouge is on my top 10 list of favorite films of all time.  So you have to know that combining the two Baz Luhrmann directing The Great Gatsby = amazing potential!

So just in case there are a few of you that skipped reading the book in ninth grade English… The story of Jay Gatsby is historic.  Gatsby is madly in love with a girl named Daisy. Daisy loved him but needed to get out of her hometown. The only way out she could see at the time required dollar signs, and lots of them.  And Gatsby, well, he certainly had no money back then.  So she married someone else and there you have the backstory.

In the 2013 Gatsby (still taking place in the early 1920′s), we find Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) struggling with a therapist to get the story out of him.  The therapist encourages him to write it down, and so he begins… arriving in town and renting a small cottage near a mansion outside New York City.   The cottage is not far from his cousin’s house — that would be Daisy (Carey Mulligan)– who is now married to a blue blood, old money type named Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).  Even though it’s been years of Daisy  living nearby, it’s not until Nick pays a visit that she learns who’s living across the bay.

Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is known for throwing opulent, over-the-top, unbelievable parties at his Art Deco mansion.  People come from miles around to attend these parties and no one needs an invitation – everyone is welcome.   And soon everything is set in motion for Gatsby to meet with Daisy again after all these years — just now he has money.  Soon enough we learn that Tom — Daisy’s husband shows a whole new side of marriage and not with Daisy.

All of the story of Gatsby is there with Luhrmann’s amazing and opulent touch.  There’s love, affairs, mayhem, and murder — all of the highest caliber.   Some will find this take “over the top”, but Gatsby itself is over the top!  A perfect pairing!

Much has been made of the choice to have Mulligan playing Daisy but I found her to be just fine.   Dicaprio as Gatsby — while there are times of apparent overacting, more on this later — did an exceptional job as Jay Gatsby (throwing in just enough “old sport” tags at the end of nearly every sentence – a favorite part of the character doing what he thinks he should to fit in as a money man).   And Maguire as Carraway played right down the middle, really well done.

For me, though, this film will be remembered for its set design. There’s a lot of CGI, however, it is largely impressive with only a few exceptions. And the design of the entire set and production is gorgeous.  And a shout out to wardrobe department!  Some stunning pieces throughout!

Of course there are a few things I didn’t like about the film.  I saw it in 3-D, and while I understand it, and I feel it did magnify the opulence that the director was going for, it was actually distracting at some points.  (I am particularly thinking of some lip-synching and looping that did not pan out in some driving scenes.)  Also there are times that the literal words and the letters of the words that Nick Carraway is writing come alive on the screen and float at you in 3-D — a little distracting and I didn’t think it was necessary.  There is some overacting from many of the cast, but because of the grander scale and the larger-than-life ideal of the novel’s Gatsby, you have to believe Luhrmann did this on purpose.  At least I do.  He was going for something.  I’m sure of it.  :-)

Even though I’m the person who has to look at the total package, and I do see its shortcomings and drawbacks, I still have to say –also being a person who just loves Gatsby and literature and film:  This Gatsby is just great, Old Sport!


Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

Oblivion tries not to go there

April 22nd, 2013 at 5:33 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for OBLIVION!

Oblivion posterThe year is 2077 and Earth as we know it is gone.  Ravaged some time ago by an alien force we’re told.  A few of them remain as scavengers and likewise a few humans remain.

The bulk of all Humans are now living on Titan, with a few left on Earth minding the resource gathering (some would call depletion) for those humans on Titan.  They need the water to live.

Two of the humans still around on Earth are Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) — a one man clean-up crew who rides around earth in a fancy space copter taking on the scavengers and repairing our drones that do the same.  Also still around is Vica (Andrea Riseborough) who is Jack’s lover and fellow team member who never leaves their space needle home, but monitors his every move on the planet while effectively placating their boss on Titan.  Both have had their earth-bound memories erased allegedly so as not to complicate matters in case they’re captured.

As things are nearing completion and Jack and Vica are preparing to leave for good headed to Titan.  A crash of an aging NASA vessel and the people inside it sends everything into a tailspin — including the thought that Jack’s memory had been erased.  Has it?  This sets a new course and a second half of the film unlike the first.  The first – higher-paced, action driven and the second – Slower paced, character development driven.  A bit of a yawn stretch as we wait for details to unfold.

Tom Cruse does an okay if melodramatic-at-times job.  (Oh, and Yes!  Morgan Freeman is in it too — I wish I hadn’t seen him in the trailer, because it kind of blew some of the story for me waiting for him to appear!)

Oblivion is Directed by Joseph Kosinski (of TRON:Legacy fame) And written by Kosinski, along with William Monahan (The Departed, The Edge of Darkness), Karl Gajdusek (Trespass), and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story, currently writing Star Wars:Episode VII).  At times it’s too focused on story – exposing some real flaws.  At other times its like a kid in a candy store with all of the effects we see whizzing by.

With Earth Day 2013 here and our focus on saving the planet front of mind, and then thinking about the Earth of the Oblivion future, you have to wonder what we are trying to tell ourselves through art.  Ultimately in Oblivion, Earth is on the brink of total irrevocable decimation due in large part to our dependence on Technology.  (Says the writer pounding out words on her iPad with the satellite TV feed droning in the background and the automatic coffee maker beginning to stir.)

Oblivion like Wall-E before it (and seemingly less effectively) shines a light on what we are doing to the planet and gives us a glimpse of where we are headed… But also gives us hope that just maybe we won’t slip into Oblivion.


Rated PG-13… (There are some sexy scenes parents!)

Movie review: The Host skips the party altogether

April 1st, 2013 at 2:37 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

Click HERE to watch the official trailer for THE HOST.

Official movie poster for The HostThe Host comes to us from Stephenie Meyer — author of the “amazing” “Twilight” books.  It’s the story of Earth under siege by an alien species (called souls) that takes over the bodies of humans.  Even though they have lived in harmony with  most other species whose planets they’ve inhabited, the species is apparently upset that we kill each other, and needs to stop it by hosting.

This is the story of one woman (Melanie)  who refuses to be hosted.  She fights back from inside of her own head (mostly through voice over conversation), forcing the soul species to pay attention to her.  She finally convinces the host to take her to her family for help.

Her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) leads a group of humans in the desert who have managed to avoid being hosted.   He seems to know what is going on with Melanie, believes her, and tries to lead the group to change their thinking of the invaders.

Of course there’s the weirdest love story ever playing out here, it’s between Wanda (the soul species in control of the body) and her love interest Ian (Jake Abel) along with Melanie (the human species fighting to survive in the suppressed areas of her own mind) and her love interest Jared (Max Irons).  She was in love with him before hosting.  It’s very strange because Wanda and Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) are fighting each other on their urges for the other one’s love.

Of course there are the Seekers trying to find Wanda… And some alien fighting and dying, and saving of earth.

This is certainly one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.  The acting is below sub par, except from Hurt. There is an interesting concept of storyline but execution was far from effective.  It frequently felt like a Saturday Night Live kind of skit that I was struggling to find the humor in, especially in scenes where Melanie is talking to Wanda inside her own head via voice over.  It really was laughable at times.

What made it all even worse was the melodramatic music throughout the film.  It was disastrous.  There was no real passion and no intensity among the acting. If this was supposed to be the second coming of a Team Jacob – Team Edward kind of thing, it fell far short of even that.  I’m not a fan of the Twilight movies and this doesn’t even come close to the love story of that series.  The passion of the relationships wasn’t there, and there weren’t enough scenes between the stars to create any on camera chemistry.

I can honestly say that the best thing about the film for me was at the end — when Radioactive by Imagine Dragons plays under the credits.  Love that song.

One cookie out of five.  (A first for me: One.  Just one.)

Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence

Movie Review: The Croods entertain!

March 25th, 2013 at 6:27 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

Click here for a link to The Croods trailer!

The Croods posterThis prehistoric tale turned animated feature is full of family fun, minor history lessons and equal parts teenage angst and colorful imagination.

The Croods gets rolling with the caveman life of Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener) and the rest of their family are on the hunt for food.  The hunter gatherer roles we’ve learned about are blurred as the family equally participates in getting the last morsel of food in the land before retiring to their cave in fear.

Oh, yes… fear.  It’s important according to Grug — with all of the other known cave families now dead… he decides the only thing that’s kept them alive is fear.  He advises the family to fear everything.

Soon the teen daughter  Eep (Emma Stone) is on the run and discovers another human!!  Guy (Ryan Reynolds).  Guy says the end of the world is coming and after seeing this thing he has called fire…she wants to go where he is going, do what he is doing…  Lots of parental fighting and teen brooding goes by, but  Soon Grug and the family are on the run and find themselves in a land they never knew existed.

Grug’s mother in law is Granma (Cloris Leachman).  They have a bit of a stereotypical relationship which infers the problems between men and their with the mother in laws have been around since prehistoric times.  Eventually Grug has to accept that his ideas will have to change if he and his family are to survive.  But the learning process is cute and fun and entertaining along the way despite the formula of the storyline.

It’s a film by DreamWorks and the colorful-beyond-belief animation says as much.   The non-stop action is ripe with slapstick and punch lines that had kids in my theater laughing  and giggling throughout.  It’s far from an instant classic, but The Croods is the best animated movie of 2013… Even if it is only March.

Three and a half cookies out of five.

Rated PG (for some scary action).

Movie Review: Oz — the “not so great” and powerful

March 11th, 2013 at 1:36 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful.

Oz the Great and PowerfulI have been so excited and highly anticipating the moment in time where I could don my 3D glasses, lean back in my seat and fall into this film in IMAX wonder to be transported back to the magical land of Oz.  And then it happened.  Nothing is what it seems both in Oz and in my dream of what this film would be.

Oz the Great and Powerful is the Disney version of the prequel to one of the most iconic MGM (now under Warner Bros.) films of all time (important distinction I will get to later).  As the film opens Director Sam Raimi uses the original Academy ratio and the black and white/sepia treatment to tell the story of Oscar (James Franco)… A con man with a traveling circus with a penchant for the ladies (including Annie who comes along to tell him she’s going to marry a man named Gale in the hopes he will tell her not to, but he doesn’t.)

Soon on the run from the strongman, Oscar jumps aboard a tethered hot air balloon to get away despite the looming storm and twister in view.  This leads to the landing in Oz foretold in the original film.  As the Land of Oz is revealed we are treated to a Great and Powerful spectacle of color and imagination… Of course meant to mirror the iconic film’s story.

Oscar soon encounters Theodora (Mila Kunis) who tells of the prophecy of a wizard who will save the land of Oz and its people from the evil witch.  Tempted by all the gold in Oz, Oscar begins to play along… Theodora’s sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) is a little ticked off about this… And we soon learn who is wicked and who is not.

The crux of the story is that Oz must kill the witch to claim the throne.   He saves the life of a flying monkey who then dedicates his life to Oz.  The monkey (Zach Braff) soon learns what he’s in for with Oz’s lies.  Oz encounters a china doll and of course Glinda (Michelle Williams) and the munchkins along the yellow brick road.  Glinda has his number, but agrees to help him because that is what Oz needs – someone to believe in.

A royal battle of wicked proportions and man-behind-the-curtain type stuff later… And we (lovers of the original) find ourselves connecting dots and seeing where this is going.  But fear not, if you are one of the few people on earth who hasn’t see The Wizard of Oz nothing will be ruined here.

As I said I was so excited to see this film.  The only place I wasn’t let down was in the production design and the use of 3D.  Most of the land of Oz was spectacular even if overwhelming in color and scope.  But alas,  From the story itself (which had to be changed here and there for trademark reasons and only certain things alluded to), to the weak and uninspired acting (especially of Williams and Franko), to some of the weakest dialogue, and that just not good CG monkey Finley, I was utterly disappointed.

I should mention that Rachel Weisz was exceptional, but I wonder if she was merely so in comparison to the others.  I think the biggest thing missing from Oz the Great and Powerful is the magic.  It just didn’t own the sense of wonder that one would expect and fell far below expectations.  Those pesky trademark issues came into play again — even the  wicked witch’s green makeup  had to be a different shade of green due to trademarks!

I could see how some might be entertained by the smoke and mirrors, but I saw the man behind the curtain throughout.  So much of the film was shot in green screen and it was obvious.

Instead of “I laughed, I cried, I cheered”, it was more like “I yawned, I stretched, I almost nodded off”.  I was bored during much of this film.  I should have known!  Not counting The Godfather… What spectacular film has ever come out in March right after the Oscars.  In fact… According to… for more than 20 years, the months February, March and April had no nominees at all.

Please, please, please let the film version of WICKED be redeeming…


Rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.