REVIEW: “THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2” (2019) Universal/Illumination

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“THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2” is another fun filled little romp for the kids.  With a few new additions to the cast, most notably Harrison Ford as farm dog Rooster.  But the biggest of all additions, a baby is added to the family much to the disgruntlement of our lead dog Max (Patton Oswalt).  This sequel actually divides our team into three smaller stories with a somewhat vague theme tying it all together.  But it works as you never feel you lost track of what is happening in any of them.

The first plotline involves Max’s owner Katie (Ellie Kemperer) getting married and having a little boy named Liam. Max, whose dislike of children is made very clear, falls in love at first sight and becomes very protective over Liam, to the point of scratching himself out of the anxiety he feels to the point of getting a dog cone.  The relationship that forms here is fun and it’s a dog and a baby – who can dislike that?

Max, Duke and the family end up going out to the country where they meet farm dog Rooster and to say in the least, Rooster is not impressed with ‘city-dog’ Max,  nor his cowardice at the farm animals.  And while the outcome might be predictable, it’s charming and sweet to watch as Rooster helps encourage Max to face his fears and have more confidence.

While the family is at the farm our second subplot comes into play.  It’s about my favourite little pet, Gidget (Jenny Slate) as she trying to retrieve a bumblebee toy Max gave her to guard while he is away. The problem is the toy is stuck in the home of  the crazy cat lady downstairs who literally fits the persona to a tee,  as she literally has dozens of cats.  She even talks the incredible Chloe (my other favorite pet), into giving her lessons on how to be a cat. This has some really fun comedic slapstick that made for some good laughs from the entire audience.

Our final plot centers around Snowball, the Kevin Hart voiced bunny who is convinced he is actually a super-bunny because of the way his owner plays with him. He meets a new doggie named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish). Daisy is upset because she saw a baby tiger get taken by a bad man at the circus. Snowball and the team of pets must save the tiger and restore order to the city.

The characters throughout Pet’s are adorable and there are enough laughs and heart to keep the interest level during the film. The  vocal performances are all good and the message on overcoming fears is really sweet.  The ending credits are also a must-see!!  I have no doubt The Secret Life of Pets 2 will make a boat-load of money but for once it is deserved.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ is fun, fast moving and best of all, kids and adults will both be entertained. P.S.  Cats RULE!! 🙂

Grade: B

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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal/Illumination

‘THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2’ IS IN THEATERS WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2019

 

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REVIEW: “STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS” (2015) Disney Pictures

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32 years after the original Star Wars exploded on our movie screens, the saga is set to continue here in The Force Awakens. Take note that this review is strictly a point of view and won’t contain to much storyline as you should see it for yourself, and definitely no spoilers. One thing before I continue on..Chewie..YOU ARE MY HERO!!!
As the opening log comes on the screen, we are immmediately taken back in time which has to be one of the happiest moments of the film. With that I will just spit it out that first and foremost, this is a good movie, though far far from a great one (It’s no Mad Max) And yes, I just said that.. So all the Star Wars fan-boys can step up now and sue me.. 😀

I’m as big a Star Wars fan as any though after Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace couldn’t even come close to comparing. Attack of the Clones was forgettable..Revenge of the Sith – didn’t even bother to see it at a theatre and actually waited for it to be on cable. And I won’t lie..I have a few issues with this film, though not all of them are bad.
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The opening 30 minutes are less than satisfying and to be completely honest was quite ‘lulz’. Here we are introduced to some new main characters Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac – who is terribly underused here). Finn is actually a stormtrooper, but get this..a stormtrooper with feelings?? no ..stormtroopers are not allowed those. But hey they are taking a risk here by doing that right – which is okay by me. Then Poe, who is head of the resistance pilots, gets captured and Finn helps him escape for which when Poe asks why, gets the answer of “Because it’s the right thing to do” what?? that’s just weak.. sorry but it is. It doesn’t fit in a Star Wars film. So as predicted they crash and it seems only Finn survives. But you also know that there is no way Poe is dead & gone, but this goes unexplained for some time, until he magically shows up later with barely a plausable explantion.

While she is no Furiosa, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has somewhat the same inplausability factor when we meet as her as she & Finn are all about saving each other within minutes of meeting. But then again, I like the risk-taking factor of appointing a strong female lead.
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Along with that part of the main cast, we are introduced to the mostly all Britsh/Irish (I guess a galaxy ‘far far away’ is now the U.K. ha!) cast of the Dark Side, notably General Hux (Domhnall Gleason), Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie – also terribly underused) to name just a few.

As expected, the robots especially BB8 (Bill Hader/Ben Schwartz – voice consultants), along with Chewbaca (Peter Mayhew) & Hans Solo (Harrison Ford) steal and deliver the best comedic one takes. While the new characters try, they fail quite miserably at trying to deliver cutesy one-liners that aren’t funny.
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While I loved the flashbacks to the Star Wars of old, including the graveyard of old spaceships, Hans Solo getting back onboard with his old ship is nothing less than classic. And who doesn’t want to see Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Solo reunite after years of separation?!! All these scenes and storylines are simply wonderful.

Another big risk and a sad heartbreaking one at that, is saying good-bye to one of the most iconic characters ever concieved in this galaxy or any other for that matter. Did it have to be done? Maybe so because it seems J.J. Abrams had to basically make us try to forget those three intermediate bad storylines and get us back on track to what is important. Though I found Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to be one of my least favourite characters (and actors) as it just seems to simple to say Skywalker was good out of Vader’s bad, but yet Ren is bad out of Solo & Leia’s good.
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Last note: I’m not the biggest 3D fan, but this film is so enhanced by it, it’s worth it. The final scene of the movie is by far what makes it all worth-while to see this film – as it gives us something to look forward to in Episode VIII and it tells us it will be so much better.

Grade: B-
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“AGE OF ADALINE” (2015) Lionsgate

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Release date: Friday, April 24th, 2015

The Age of Adaline plays like preposterous story, booby-trapped for maximal ridiculousness, with little tasteful conviction and is far from the tearjerker suggested by the trailer. While it’s not entirely an unpleasant film, it is more than a bit dull, reining in the inherent silliness of its material and taking few risks — in other words..Sappy, Sappy and then more Sap. Throw in some absolutely terrible dialogue and some mediocre acting and you have yourself “The Age of Adaline.” While the plot might be unrealistic, at least it’s based on something a lot of us might actually wish could happen, whereas the actual dialogue is not even something the bigger stars of this film can save, and it’s hard to watch that kind of talent be forced to actually repeat this script.

As we plod through this story of “Adaline Bowman” (Blake Lively) a woman who has miraculously remained youthful 29 years old while actually being 109 years of age, they never pull us inside Adaline’s head space or make the premise, which could actually be interesting if done well, meaningful. For example, they never really delve into the fact that the character is being a woman at once old and young at the same time..Instead, they stick to a fairly bland romantic storyline, reducing Adaline’s presumably terrifying, enlightening experience to a predictable choice between following her head or her heart.
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In this little ditty of sappy movie gone bad, Adaline has remained ageless for nearly eight decades due to a freak lightening storm-car accident combination that happened to her. After years of a solitary life of never allowing anyone to get close to her lest they find out her big secret, lo and behold, on a completely ‘chance’ encounter..she meets a man, a charismatic philanthropist named “Ellis Jones” (Michiel Huisman) on a one-night stand and yep, you guessed it, he immediately falls in love with her..literally within 12hrs and wisks her away to his parents house in the country to meet them. Because yeah, that always happens. Without giving to much away, it turns out his father, “William Jones” (Harrison Ford) might already know her. Cathy Baker is “Connie Jones” Ellis’ mother and she can see something is up from moment one, but neither one of these good actors can save the really awful dialogue they are made to spout out.
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If you haven’t figured out by now or what’s going to happen next while cringing in your seat, well, then this film is perfect for you. And yes, I know there is a niche’ audience for these types of films, and I can roll with that. What I can’t roll with is bad writing and while Blake Lively has done some really good supporting turns in such films as The Town, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Savages, she cannot yet carry an entire film as not even Ellen Burstyn as her ‘daughter’ “Flemming” can save this confected cream puff of a melodrama. This film never lunges into four-hankie territory, nor does it melt into Nicholas Sparks type corny romance. It had potential, sadly they missed it.

Screening at AMC Century City 15 ~ Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Grade: D
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