Views on pop culture through my eyes

So what movies, DVDs and CDs have I been enjoying during the spring and early summer, read on:

Movies

Cinderella
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Cate Blanchett as the evil step-mother and Lily James as Cinderella, this is the latest Disney live-action fairy tale reimagining. While I enjoyed it overall, I couldn’t help thinking how dated this story is in 2015. The costumes, sets and fantasy sequences are all top notch. And Richard Madden makes a good love interest as the prince. But unlike “Malificent”, which was a new twist on an old story this one was more straight-forward and stuck to the same story as the animated movie. “Frozen Fever” was a cute new short before the movie… about Elsa planning a birthday party for Anna, and sneezing out little snow men cause she was sick. Includes one new song. Grade: B-

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
This is the sequel to 2011’s surprise hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Again, directed by John Madden, and starring Dev Patel as the hotel owner, and Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith (among other returning stars from the first film). The story concerns Sonny’s attempt to open a 2nd hotel, while he is planning his upcoming wedding. The fun of these movies is the cast. With overlapping and intertwined storylines for all the retirees who are living at the hotel for the “eldery and beautiful.” Richard Gere plays a mysterious newcomer who may be a hotel spy checking in on things before Sonny gets funding for the new location. Grade: B+

Home
The latest movie from DreamWorks Animation is a story of about an cuddly alien named Oh (Jim Parsons) and his friendship with a teen girl named Tip (Rihanna). Oh is one of the alien species — Boovs —who have taken over earth, and displaced all the humans to Australia (except for Tip and her pet cat). There are cute cultural clash scenarios on both sides as Oh helps Tip get back to her mother. It’s basically a mismatched buddy comedy, but it works. Grade: B

Furious Seven
The seventh movie in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. And the last one for Paul Walker who died during filming. The story is sort of beside the point in these movies. You get the outrageous stunts, and yes, they are ridiculous. Jason Statham plays the bad guy. But I enjoyed it for it’s over the topness. I had a good time and we’ve come to know the characters as our own family. Grade: B+

Ex Machina
This modern-day sci-fi movie tackles the challenges with artificial intelligence. Oscar Isaac plays an eccentric Internet billionaire who invites one of his programmers (Domhnall Gleeson) to his house for a week. The guy thinks he won some sort of company contest. In reality, he is there to meet Isaac’s new invention — Ava. She’s a lifelike robot with exposed wires and a sensitive, inquisitive nature. Grade: A-

The Water Diviner
Russell Crowe stars in and makes his directorial debut in this film based on real-life events. It the story of a father looking for his 3 sons who died at the battle of Gallipoli during World War I. Turns out that one son may be alive still. It was an interesting story, the only part I didn’t buy was the love story between Crowe and a Turkish woman. Grade: B-

The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel’s latest super hero extravaganza brings back Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk and Captain America for another adventure. James Spader provides the voice and motion capture for Ultron, a Stark artificial intelligence who wants to exterminate humans. The movie was likable, but forgettable. And the sense of fun that the first one had was missing. Grade: C+

Pitch Perfect 2
You favorite a capella group, the Barden Bellas is back for more fun. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson lead the cast in a movie directed by Elizabeth Banks. This time the group has to rebound from an unfortunate incident involving Fat Amy during one of their performances. So they decide to compete at the World Acapella Championships to reclaim their glory. They have to compete against some very competitive Germans. Just as much fun as the first one, but lacks the hit song that “Cups” was. Grade: B

Mad Max Fury Road
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron star in this ‘revisiting’ from original Mad Max director George Miller. I enjoyed the crazy stunts and action sequences, but found the story a bit lacking. Were they fighting over oil, milk, water, women — or all of the above? Grade: B

San Andreas
Dwayne Johnson stars in a 21st century version of “Earthquake.” The whole west coast, including LA and San Francisco are destroyed during a series of earthquakes. The Rock plays a LA Fire Department rescue team member, who is able to save his soon-to-be ex-wife (in LA) and daughter (in SF) via a series of vehicles: helicopter, plane, and boat. This was a fun popcorn movie, you will laugh and have a good time. Also, includes a cameo by Kylie Minogue. (Yes, I recognized her!). Grade: B+

Let me know your thoughts on my reviews. I would love to hear from you. Part 2 will cover DVDs and CDs. Til next time…

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

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