Secret Life of Pets


Director: Yarrow Cheney, Chris Renaud
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch (written by) & Simon Rich (additional characters created by)
Starring: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks
Release Date: July 8, 2016
Runtime: 1h, 27min
MPAA Rating: PG

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a dad, I do get to see my fair share of animated and child-related films. While I do get occasionally surprised by well-camouflaged adult fare (The Lego Movie, among others), it’s a rarer thing that I genuinely enjoy a movie aimed at children alone. This movie is 90% for kids, but that 10% hit some really good spots for me, making it a more than worthy addition to your summer movie schedule. Plus, it’s by the producers of the Despicable Me movies. Click through for my full review. Read the rest of this entry »

GoT6

Episode: 609
Airdate: June 19, 2016
Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik
Showrunners: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss (creators); George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by); David Benioff & D.B. Weiss (written for television by)

Tonight may have just seen the best single episode of television ever. High praise? Hyperbole? Perhaps – but in my current state of jangled nerves and adrenaline hangover, I am leaning toward saying that no, it isn’t hype at all. Click through to get my full review of tonight’s penultimate episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of Game of Thrones S06E09, “Battle of the Bastards” – spoilers ahead; read more at your own risk.>>
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the-walking-dead-season-6

Episode: 610
Airdate: February 21, 2016
Directed by: Kari Skogland
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Angela Kang, Corey Reed (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

The bad news: tonight’s episode does not maintain the high standard put up by last week’s episode. The good news: that bar was pretty damned high, so even falling short this was a very enjoyable episode, with some nice twists and more than a few surprises. Click through for my complete review.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss plot points of The Walking Dead S06E10, “The Next World” – read more at your own risk.>>
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the-walking-dead-season-6

Episode: 609
Airdate: February 14, 2016
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Seth Hoffman (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

After a serious downturn in episode quality over the latter half of Part A of this season, I was beginning to lose faith in Messrs. Gimple, Nicotero, and co. And then they give me tonight’s episode. From an opening that absolutely blew me away, through a second act that just ramped things up, and ending with a third act that put nearly everyone we know and love to watch in grave peril, this episode had it all. Having just finished watching the episode twice, I can’t say for certain whether this is due primarily to what I just saw, or if the poor showing of the last several episodes is having an undue effect on my opinion, but this felt like one of the best episodes I’ve seen of TWD ever. Time and further viewings may adjust this initial impression, but I suspect it won’t fall far short of that assessment. Click through for my full review.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss plot points of The Walking Dead S06E09, “No Way Out” – read more at your own risk.>>
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Alan-Rickman-alan-rickman-13116405-2560-1702

I woke up this morning to the news that one of my favorite actors, Alan Rickman, had died of cancer. This is the second high-profile acting death from cancer this week (David Bowie passing a couple of days ago), and again a case of someone being taken far too young, at 69 years old.

While most of the news outlets are saying he’s most famous for his role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, for me, Rickman will always be Hans Gruber, the master thief and arch-villain to Bruce Willis’s John “Yippee-ki-yay” McClane in Die Hard. His odd German/English accent, his goatee, his slowly boiling-over frustration – he stole the show in what is one of my favorite Christmas films.

And then I saw him in Galaxy Quest as cynical British stage actor Alexander Dane, permanently cursed with being associated with one small (to him) role in an American science-fiction series, and his place as a personal go-to became firmly entrenched. Watching him ease a gentle soul to his final rest (“You shall be avenged”), and then turning, hair flying wildly from his prosthetic head piece, yelling and charging at the alien who had shot the fatal blast and bludgeoning it to death – I knew then that this was a rare actor indeed, with a tremendous range from quietly menacing, to full-on comedic mania within his repertoire. From then on, just knowing he was in a film made me want to watch it, which is something I can say about very few actors.

Besides Die Hard and Galaxy Quest, some other films which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Rickman in are Bottle Shock, Love Actually, and the oft-forgotten Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck. Even in the truly bad films he was part of – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – he was clearly the best thing about them, stealing every scene he was in. Another that didn’t do terribly well at the box office, but which I enjoyed, is Blow Dry, which plays off as a sort of modern-day Romeo and Juliet set in a British hairdressing competition, with Rickman and Bill Nighy facing off as the fathers of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Worth a watch if only for the Rickman/Nighy factor.

And of course there are the Harry Potter films. Severus Snape could simply not have been played by any other actor. Rickman combined the ability to make you both love and hate him at the same time, with a wonderfully charming screen presence that was impossible to ignore. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull of the big twist with this character and make it both believable and sympathetic. Loved him in that role.

But again, for me, Rickman will always be Hans Gruber. To quote: “This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.” Rest in peace, Mr. Rickman.

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SW IV


Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Cushing, Sir Alec Guinness
Release Date: May 25, 1977
Runtime: 2 hrs. 1 min.
MPAA Rating: PG

 

 

 

So, there’s a certain little movie releasing later this week, and in preparation for it, I thought that showing my five-year-old son Hayden some of the classics would be a good idea. Initially intended as a machete order viewing, a lack of time between coming home from school and bed time means that I’m reducing this to a straight viewing of the three best Star Wars movies: IV, V, and VI. This will get Hayden up to speed on the most important info heading into Friday, when we go to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Where this went from a straight viewing of the films into a series of guest reviews, was when Hayden decided to draw pictures of the scenes that made the biggest impression on him, both positive and negative. Without further ado, please click through to read my first ever Guest Review here on Reviews by Steve!
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the-walking-dead-season-6

Episode: 607
Airdate: November 22, 2015
Directed by: David Boyd
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Channing Powell (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

“Everybody’s got their problems ain’t no new news here
I’m the same old trouble you’ve been havin’ for years”
– Mellencamp and Green

John Mellencamp’s lyrics from what might as well be the theme song for tonight’s episode (see the link below the break), are appropriate on a number of levels. Most obviously, we have the walkers, clearly an “old trouble” the group has been facing for years now. Then, you have the problem with idiots abounding (how have people like Spencer – or, to be honest, Enid – survived this long?). And finally, in the case of the current season of The Walking Dead, it’s the same old problem we’ve been having the last three episodes (and a bit further back for the less generous than myself): sub-par outings with lots of niggling logical flaws and red herrings leading to nowhere. Tonight’s episode was, in my opinion, clearly better than the last two outings, but it was still nowhere near as good as what this team has shown itself to be capable of. Click through for my full review.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss plot points of The Walking Dead S06E07, “Heads Up” – read more at your own risk.>>
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the-walking-dead-season-6

Episode: 606
Airdate: November 15, 2015
Directed by: Jeffrey F. January
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Heather Bellson (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

After last week’s amateur hour, I was really hoping that this week, with a return to Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha, would provide us with something a little more solid. Ultimately, that’s exactly what we got: something a little more solid, but not much more than that. Click through for my snapshot review of Episode 606.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss plot points of The Walking Dead S06E06, “Always Accountable” – read more at your own risk.>>
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the-walking-dead-season-6

Episode: 605
Airdate: November 8, 2015
Directed by: Avi Youabian
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Corey Reed (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

Same characters we know and love. Same location we’ve become familiar with. Same stakes as always. So why did tonight’s episode fall flat in so many ways? There were mishits tonight in scripting, acting, and directorial choices that created the perfect trifecta of bad. The result? For my money, the nadir of the entire show so far, in any season. I admit, this may be the rosy glasses talking a bit. Yes, I remember how much Season 2 dragged at times, how many side stories were explored and quickly abandoned with no apparent affect on the main narrative arc, how much bad acting was a part of almost every episode (and I’m not just talking Lori and Shane – Carl and Rick have improved a ton over the last couple of seasons). But when you’ve had a string of quality episodes going back the better part of two and a half seasons, where even the hiccups had at least some character development (“Slabtown”), a truly flat episode like tonight’s sticks out all the more. Click through for my complete review.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S06E05, “Now” – read more at your own risk.>>
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ASH-1024x683

Episode: 102
Airdate: November 7, 2015
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Showrunner: Craig DiGregorio
Written by: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, & Tom Spezialy (written by); Nate Crocker, Zoe Green, & James Eagan (staff writers)

After last week`s fast-paced gorefest, you might expect Raimi and co. to slow things down a little, let us get to know the characters a bit more. But no – Raimi knows exactly who his audience is, and we`re all plenty familiar with who, exactly, Ashley “Ash” J. Williams is (bet you didn`t know his last name!). And to be honest, who really needs to know Ash beyond his smarmy smile, his rock-hard chin, and his ridiculous one-liners? Click through for my take on Episode 102.

<<Spoiler Alert: This review will give a synopsis and opinions about tonight’s episode, Ash vs. Evil Dead Episode 102, “Bait” – read through at your own risk!>>
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