December 22nd, 2014

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Book some time at the Grand Budapest Hotel this holiday season

As we wrap up 2014, mainstream critics are presenting their top films of the year, with The Grand Budapest Hotel being consistently nominated. By the end of the month, this film will be on cable. Much like his previous motion pictures Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tennenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel is another peak into the vision of Wes Anderson. With high brow cinematography and low brow comedy, this film tells the tale of M.Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge with contacts everywhere. Art theft, international intrigue and the onset of a world war … this film has something for everyone.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Homesman" is a noir/western from the perspective of Tommy Lee Jones...

The writings of Glendon Swarthout ages like a fine wine. While best known for penning John Wayne’s last movie, The Shootist, Swarthout also inspired the South Florida Spring Break cultural phenomenon with his book Where the Boys Are. His best-selling novel featured the subject of veterinarians, with a title that became a pop hit song in the early 1970s, Bless the Beasts and Children. Swarthout has been gone for 21 years, but his writing is about to enjoy a renaissance with the new movie, The Homesman.
Written and directed by, and starring, Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman tells the tale of Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), a spinster who is a wealthy land owner in the rural frontier. When three mentally unbalanced wives disrupt domestic life in this small community, a preacher (John Lithgow) approaches Miss Cuddy. The two determine that the three wives must be transported east toward civilization. After recruiting the scoundrel named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to be “the homesman,” the five disparate characters travel east to Iowa.
Along the way through the barren wilderness, the five encounter rain, snow, sleet, hail, bandits, Apaches and their own existential loneliness. As they draw closer to their goal, one strong member of this party encounters their personal heart of darkness.
With such a simple narrative and unique characters with conflicting motivations, The Homesman keeps the audience guessing until the final credits roll. This film unfolds like a John Ford epic western, but tainted by modern day sensibilities. There are many shots of wide open places and the cinematography is beautiful. There is a darkness to this film, much like No Country for Old Men, but there is no denying that Tommy Lee Jones has directed his best film yet.
While Jones’ acting is not much of a stretch from the curmudgeon characters that he usually plays, he has managed to surround himself with first rate talent. Meryl Streep is given a maternal cameo, while her daughter, Grace Gummer, portrays one of the mentally ill wives. Both are convincing and help bring some heart to the film’s climax.
The Homesman is held together by Swank’s tough performance. This actress has won two Oscars for portraying vulnerable women who exude strength under duress. Her Mary Lee Cuddy is no exception and her performance is earning critical buzz just in time for award’s season.
Like the Glen Campbell documentary I’ll Be Me, The Homesman is a good movie, but with underlying sadness.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"I'll Be Me" is Glen Campbell's swan song...

Glen Campbell is one of those artists that we often take for granted, mostly because of longevity.
I was introduced to him as John Wayne’s costar in the original True Grit. Campbell’s music recalls some great memories about my father and I driving around Long Island. Campbell’s song “Wichita Lineman” became a staple of AM Radio.
While most honored as a country singer, Campbell’s career was more prolific as a studio session musician. He performed guitar licks with The Champs, the Beach Boys, and Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Much like musician Steve Hunter, Campbell performed the soundtrack of my generation and most of us never knew it. Now stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, Campbell himself does not know the impact his music has had upon the world.
The documentary I’ll Be Me is Campbell’s swan song and it opens this weekend. Upon completion of his album with tour dates contracted, the Campbell family learns of their patriarch’s malady. The family decides to continue the tour as a farewell tour to the fans.
From Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, for 151 performances in 425 days, the tour becomes a rollercoaster ride of emotions. At first, Campbell is able to hide behind his humor, with jokes and his impression of Donald Duck. When he gets confused onstage, he relies on his banjo -picking daughter Ashley to get through the musical numbers. These are sweet and humorous moments.
Yet, as the disease progresses, one witnesses the deconstruction of a celebrity. It is hard to watch the paranoia of a 76-year-old strong man. It is even harder to watch Campbell exit a tour bus with a knife in his teeth, as he tries to extract a delusional cavity.
Yet in an operetta sense, I’ll Be Me is a life-affirming movie. As Campbell’s musicianship fails, his ticket-buying fans provide an outpouring of love. Bruce Springsteen, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow discuss how Glen Campbell inspired their vocation.
Go see I’ll Be Me on the big screen, with a full blown sound system. It is a full concert experience. You will laugh and maybe shed a tear. However, there is no denying that you will leave the theater wanting to listen to more Glen Campbell music.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Christopher Nolen's 3rd "I"

It has taken me three weeks to wrap my head around Interstellar. I attended the screening at the newly-refurbished Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX Theater (MODS) and I was overwhelmed with the visualization. Interstellar is a science fiction epic that is enhanced by the five-storey IMAX screen and clear concise aural elements.
There has been mainstream criticism about the audio problems plaguing screenings of Interstellar. Many of these problems are actually caused at the local level by projectionists who do not know to listen to movies in their own movie theaters. That was not the case
at MODS. Interstellar simulates the immediate silence one hears when travelling into outer space, like IMAX documentaries such as Space Station 3-D.
Besides directing the last Batman/Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan has created motion pictures with big themes and a tricky narrative structure: Memento, Insomnia and Inception. Interstellar is actually a simple story about family; but the narrative becomes convoluted when including Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to move the action along.
Farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a widower with two teenaged children: a teenaged boy who prefers farm life and Murph, a preteen who is interested in deeper themes about science. Like her old man, Murph has a bit of a rebellious streak.
Cooper is contacted by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who believes that the world is ending. Brand believes that there are inhabitable planets that can sustain earth’s population. With tears and regret, Cooper leaves planet earth in an effort to save the world.
Like Inception, Interstellar takes a scientific theory and attempts to simplify it. If one does not pay attention to the dialogue scenes between Mc- Conaughey, Caine and Anne Hathaway, one will be totally lost in space. Understanding Einstein’s theories about time travel will determine one’s enjoyment tolerance for Interstellar.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Rudderless" - influence from the fictional insane in the membrame

As advertised, Rudderless looks like a film along the lines of Coal Miner’s Daughter, Walk the Line and Almost Famous. With Billy Crudup’s participation, this film feels like a spiritual sequel to Almost Famous, as if we are meeting Crudup’s character 14 years later.
Crudup portrays Sam, an advertising rep who closes a big deal. He calls his college- aged son in an effort to celebrate his success, but the phone only takes messages. While watching television at a bar, Sam sees that his son’s college has become the location of work-place violence.
A few years later, Sam has become a recluse, living alone on a sailboat and estranged from his wife, Emily (Felicity Huffman), who openly grieves for the loss of their son. Negligent from domestic responsibilities, Sam will have nothing to do with cleaning out their son’s room. One day, Emily brings their son’s stuff to Sam’s garbage bin. Ignoring it at first, Sam finds his son’s guitar and music tracks for songs that he has written.
While attending an open mic contest, Sam meets Quentin (Anton Yelchin). The two form a band and start playing the dead son’s music. Things seem redemptive until the son’s girlfriend (Selena Gomez) shows up, disgusted by Sam’s playlist. Thus Rudderless becomes a film with much more depth than advertised.
Making his directorial debut, character actor William H. Macy directs with a confident ebb and flow. The drama is real, but not over the top. The comedy is laugh out loud funny with echoes from previous movies.
Despite the sunny cinematography, there is a darkness beyond the theme of grief; Sam and Emily’s son was the shooter who killed the university students. Thus, the beautiful music takes on sinister attributes.
Rudderless is a film that makes one look beyond the obvious.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

From print to the big screen, "Gone Girl" arrives...

Literary Cinema” began 10 years ago in the Broward County Main Library with a screening of Masque of the Red Death starring Jane Asher and Vincent Price.
From the written word to the moving image, “Literary Cinema” lasted for five years and presented 49 movies with an emphasis on stories from Edgar Allen Poe, Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Glendon Swarthout.
In the past five years, best-selling titles like Twilight, The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson have met audience expectations with mixed results. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has been on the best-seller’s list less than two years and has already become a box office success. Gone Girl opens with an ambiguous Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) roaming around small town, Missouri. It is his 5th wedding anniversary, but Nick seems more interested in playing board games with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon). When a nosy neighbor interrupts Nick to tell him that his cat is outside the house, Nick returns home to find that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) is gone.
If you have read the book jacket or have seen the television commercials, you know that Amy’s disappearance causes a media sensation. Yet, there is more to the story than just a routine thriller and there is a reason why reliable character actors such as Missi Pyle, Sela Ward and Tyler Perry have major supporting roles in this film.
Best known for his noir work in films like Se7en, The Game, Zodiac and The Social Network, David Fincher is the perfect director for this flick. His camera work is not showy or flashy, but he draws the audience into this uneven world of Nick and Amy. Pay attention to many visual cues that involve closing doors and the symbolic critique of privacy.
At 2 ½ hours, Gone Girl drags a bit before reaching its conclusion. While I was told that the movie is true to the book, I felt that if I read the book , I would not really need to pay and go see the movie.
Of note, Annabelle almost matched Gone Girl for last weekend’s box office crown. A spin off from last year’s sleeper hit, The Conjuring, Annabelle was produced for less than $10 million and has already turned a profit. It will be fascinating to see how this new horror movie franchise progresses with their Chrisitian/Horror themes.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" works until you reach the jarring climax

For over 30 years, Liam Neeson has been a consistent character actor in support of actors like Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, and the Batman.
In his recent film releases, such as Taken, The Grey and Non Stop, Neeson has taken on the role as the iconic leading man in American movies. With A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neeson gives a simple performance, but with nuanced moments of vulnerability and nobility.
Former New York cop turned private investigator Matthew Scudder (Neeson) is hired by a shabby character that he meets at an AA meeting.
The shabby character reveals that his brother is a drug kingpin who needs a private investigator. It turns out that the wife of the drug kingpin has been murdered and the crime lord wants revenge.
However, revenge is not easy because the motives seem convoluted. Could the killers be from a rival gang? Could this be a conspiracy grown from the incompetency of the DEA?
Scudder unravels this mystery while confronting a personal demon of his own, alcoholism.
The best part about this film is the relationship between Scudder and TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley), a homeless boy with sickle cell anemia. The relationship grows out of respect for great detective literature from Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, with life lessons about the importance of maintaining good pistol maintenance.
The biggest flaw in this film is the climatic ending. As Scudder takes matters into his own hands, we heard a narration expressing the 12 Steps of alcohol recovery. While the intention may have been noble, the juxtaposition between audio and the visual is jarring.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Dolphin Tale 2" is about emotional growth

t was with a sense of melancholia that I went to go see Dolphin Tale 2. When the box office results were announced, that sense of melancholia returned. In between bouts of melancholia, I kept thinking about what a life-affirming movie Dolphin Tale 2 is. I had to visit the website www.seewinter.com because I wanted to learn more about the main characters.
It is based on a true story set on the Florida West Coast. In terms of story and character development, this film is an improvement over the original Dolphin Tale. It is far less gimmicky. Writer/ Director Charlie Martin Smith has crafted an entertaining story with truthful emotional transitions from grief to personal triumph for dolphin, bird, sea turtle and humans seeking salvation.
It is business as usual at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Boss Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) retains the mission statement of “Rescue, Rehab, Release.” With Winter (the amputee dolphin heroine from the first movie) being utilized as a major tourist attraction, Dr. Clay employs his daughter, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) as capable research assistants.
Being a social creature, Winter suffers from grief when her “roommate” dies. Marine Biologists agree that Winter needs the social interaction to survive. When college recruiters witness Sawyer’s attention to Winter’s medical needs, they award the Marine Biologist prodigy a full scholarship. As these two dramas play themselves out, one realizes that Dolphin Tale 2 is a universal drama about an individual’s rite of passage. Parents – this is a GOOD family film. It is better than what current box office totals have revealed.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Kline, Thomas-Scott & Smith; whose "My Old Lady?"

My Old Lady opens tomorrow. With a title like that, one expects a follow-up joke from the old television sitcom Married with Children. Yet with Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith, there is a level of sophistication with nuanced humor.
Mathias Gold (Kline) returns to Paris to settle the estate of his late father. Upon arrival, Mathias learns that Mathilde (Smith) and her daughter Chloe (Thomas Scott) have retained a form of French squatter’s rights on the property. As boundary lines form between the man and the women, Mathias uncovers an inconsistent behavior pattern of his dearly departed Dad.
Based on his play, writer/ director Israel Horovitz does not landlock the camera and keeps the action moving on the big screen. When dramatically appropriate, Horovitz uses static shots to enhance the drama. With pros like Kline, Scott Thomas and Smith, My Old Lady becomes a special motion picture.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Discoverers" needs to be uncovered

With the exception of the juggernaut box office of Guardians of the Galaxy, August 2014 will be remembered as a very disappointing month for The Expendables and Sin City fans. So it is a sense of relief that we begin the new season with more gentle fare with new movies opening this weekend, The Discoverers and The Last of Robin Hood.
Written and directed by Justin Schwarz, The Discoverers is a family drama about loss and redemption with humorous moments spread throughout the film. Griffin Dunne portrays Lewis Burch, a history professor who works for a paper mill university by day and moonlights as a security guard by night. He has written a 500+ page book about the Lewis & Clark expedition and he hopes to present his book at a swanky writer’s conference in Oregon.
Professor Burch uses this opportunity to create a family trip for his son and daughter. The son is a pot smoking womanizer and the daughter, Zoe (Madeleine Martin), is having the worst birthday ever. Along the way, Burch is forced to take a detour to his parent’s house, which leads to more personal trauma.
The family trauma is real, but how the family deals with the drama is unreal. The deluded grandfather (Stuart Margolin) finds solace by recreating the 19th Century world of the American discoverers Lewis & Clark. The Burch family join Grandpa in this world minus cell phones, vegan meals and other modern conveniences. The results are painfully, but tastefully, amusing.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Aging Kline portrays and aging Flynn is "The Last of Robin Hood"

The Last of Robin Hood also deals with history; it is a film about Errol Flynn’s final years as a fading Hollywood icon. It has been said that when Flynn passed away at age 50, he had the organs of an 80-year-old man from his hard living, drinking and womanizing. It seems appropriate that the elder swashbuckler is portrayed by 67-year-old Kevin Kline, who eerily seems possessed by the ghost of Errol Flynn.
While the ghost of former glory is significant, The Last of Robin Hood is about the actor’s last love, Beverly Aaland (Dakota Fanning), and her embittered stage mom Florence (Susan Sarandon). The winter-spring romance appears genuine, but unfortunately a mother’s ambition becomes fodder for the sleazy paparazzi.
This film feels like a time capsule of the same world presented in Oscar-winning movie L.A. Confidential. Like that film, The Last of Robin Hood features authentic performances from Kline, Sarandon and Fanning. If you like movie history that is timely, go see this film.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Sin City a Dame to Kill For" makes neo noir look very old

Thirty years ago this Labor Day weekend, I began my film writing studies under Peter Stowell, an English professor with Florida State University. I was taking the class Film Genres: Film Noir and the required reading was The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir, written by Foster Hirsch, who is a regular moderator with the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.
Beyond talking about cinematic motifs, acting and themes, Foster’s book reviews the literary influences of Film Noir and how many of these stories grew out of the original pulp fiction of the early 20th Century.
Released in 2005, Sin City, considered “Neo Noir,” was a natural extension of the literature of James Cain, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, or the 1940s movies starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Barbara Stanwyck as the femme fatale. Created from the graphic novels written by Frank Miller, wunderkind director Robert Rodriquez used green screen techniques and hired an all-star cast to recreate the mean streets of Sin City. A Sin City sequel has been one of the most anticipated movies of the decade.
Alas, with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, one thinks about the time Rodriquez wasted with projects like Grindhouse, Machete Kills and the Spy Kids reboot. As fans clamored for the Sin City sequel, we mourned the loss of cast members Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute.
As the murderous henchman with impeccable manners, Dennis Haysbert does a commendable job as the younger version of Manute. His behemoth battle with Marv (Mickey Rourke) is better than what Frank Miller envisioned in his graphic novel. However, this is only one story of the four and there are stretches of dullness between each action set piece.
The movie opens with Another Saturday Night, which features Marv dealing with his amnesia and dead bodies. The film then introduces two new stories not produced as a graphic novel. In The Long Bad Night, Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a gambler with a death wish. The ghost of Bruce Willis returns in Nancy’s Last Dance, in which Jessica Alba avenges the loss of her protector. Sadly, these new stories are just not as interesting as Frank Miller’s original graphic novels.
Good Film Noir is a triumph of style over content. As Film Noir of the 1940s grew from literary giants, this “Neo Noir” has grown upon weak imitation of 1940s film noir. Sin City A Dame to Kill For does not live up to its potential.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Marvel's new box office champion for 2014 "Guardians of the Galaxy"

While listening to Pop Radio hit music from 1974, Rocket Raccoon flies a spaceship. That sentence alone determines the litmus test for anyone interested in seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Comics latest movie . While this new film fits right into the Marvel Comics Universe, it provides its own unique story that is very approachable.
The film opens with its darkest moment; young Peter Quill watches his mother die. The grieving boy steps out of hospice and is abducted by Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), a space pirate who knows secrets about Peter’s father. The film fl ash forwards approximately three decades and Peter (Chris Pratt) is a space adventurer reminiscent of an Indiana Jones in his prime.
While seeking a special stone, Peter runs afoul Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green alien with father issues. While stealing the stone from each other, both Gamora and Peter confront Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his slow sidekick Groot (Vin Diesel, who earns the easiest paycheck for his vocal work in this movie).
As the stone changes hands and paws, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) enters the scene to settle a score with Gamora. Despite deep seated anger, these five individuals form an alliance and call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Unlike the genuine respect Captain America and the Falcon develop in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, these Guardians of the Galaxy seem to enjoy picking on each other. Rocket Raccoon has a perverse sense of humor. The brutal Drax the Destroyer inadvertently makes insulting comments about his peers. It is up to the leadership skills of Peter Quill to utilize conflict resolution with his peers.
Despite the over reliance of dark scenery and an over abundance of CGI, this film is an entertaining motion picture. The soundtrack from the ‘70s has become a hit again for young people. People my age were tapping their toes during the credits and dancing along with Groot.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been the box office champ for the last two weeks, Guardians of the Galaxy is poised to take the box office crown for August. It’s a cool movie to catch for a matinee price in an air conditioned movie theater.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Expendables 3" - the GRAND FINALE, right?

The Expendables 3 opens tomorrow with a sense it’s the last hurrah for the old action stars.
Four years ago, it was a novelty to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the same scene at the same time; but the couple has made four movies together and the novelty has worn thin. The good news is that the film does hold up as an action movie with sly Hollywood humor. Bruce Willis is out; Harrison Ford replaces him with double entendres about Willis’ missing character.
The Expendables team (Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jason Statham) rescue Wesley Snipes from a runaway train and blow up a prison.
After The Expendables are tricked by the master villain (Mel Gibson), Stallone decides it’s time to retire the team and reboot with a young team of mercenaries. Taking a page out of The Dirty Dozen, Stallone uses Kelsey Grammer to recruit the young talent. The mission is a failure and Gibson gloats.
The action scenes are as overwhelming as one expects, but tongue-in-cheek humor keeps the filmed glued in reality. Of the three Expendables, Gibson is the best antagonist to match Stallone. Both are cold professionals whose staring contest is scarier than blowing up a building or flying into a helicopter blade.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

12 Years a BOYhood

Upon reviewing my 15 years of columns for The Observer, I came to the realization that my column is older than actress Bailee Madison (who I have written about)! Fifteen years was more than enough time for Director/ Writer Richard Linklater to create Boyhood, the most critically-acclaimed motion picture of 2014.
The biggest gimmick about Boyhood was the ambition. For 12 years, Linklater contracted the same cast to meet for a few days and shoot his movie project. In 2 hours and 45 minutes, we watch 6-yearold Ellar Coltrane grow up to become a college freshman. The plot is that simple, yet it is the genuine moments in between that is giving Boyhood it’s Oscar buzz.
Mason Jr. (Coltrane) and his big sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) live with their divorced mom (Patricia Arquette). Their Father (Ethan Hawke) works in Alaska. When financial times get tough in the summer of 2002, Mason’s family moves to Houston to stay with their grandmother.
As a struggling single parent, mom attends college and dates successful men. The father visits on the weekends, and shows Mason and Samantha a good time, and discusses his hatred of President George Bush and the meaning of life.
As Mason matures in the Texas environment, the cute little kid grows into a long haired teenager who is only interested in his art. At times, Mason is irresponsible, other times he is a dutiful son who is always in search of meaning.
Boyhood concludes with a-blink-and-you-miss-itmoment, but the final lines serve Richard Linklater’s philosophy found in his Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight trilogy about the importance of “carpe diem.” The sad thing about Mason is that he is under the influence of hash brownies as he comes to his big revelation.
Heavily influenced by cinema verite icons Francois Truffaut, Satyajit Ray and Vittorio De Sica, the beauty of Boyhood is that it is a film that is open to interpretation. Despite the use of profanity that is appropriate, Boyhood is a film to see with the family in the afternoon, if only for the family discussion afterward.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Hercules & Master Sang

CinemaDave Meets Master Sang GangBorn in Seoul, South Korea in 1966, Sang Koo Kang immigrated to the United States and has lived the American Dream. His family settled in Miami and Sang drew attention for kicking field goals in High School. While Hurricane Coach Jimmy Johnson took notice of this young talent, Sang impressed the legendary Bobby Bowden and became the Florida State Seminole field goal kicker for four years. With his interest in martial arts, Sang Koo Kang earned the designation “Master Sang.”
Upon graduation in 1990, Master Sang opened a small martial arts studio in Miami Beach on Collins Avenue. Sang’s Academy has grown to several schools in Miami- Dade area and expansion into Coconut Creek. As for success, Sang says, “1. Make sure you have the right attitude, you are special and different from others. 2. Everything must be consistent, you have to find something and be the best at it.”
Director Brett Ratner cast Master Sang in Rush Hour 2 and 3 and, more recently, Sang was flown to Budapest, Hungary to contribute his expertise for Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson. Sang is philosophical about his involvement with the motion picture.
“Brett Ratner is a genius, so smart with a good eye. Ratner gets his family involved and works with good action people. Going to Budapest and working with Brett Ratner helps set a good example for my children that they can do it.”
With $30 million in the box office treasure chest, Hercules is proving to be formidable summer blockbuster. Marketed as another “sword & sandals special effects extravaganza,” this film contains a good story with strong character development and clear action-packed visuals.
Based on the graphic novel The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, this Hercules debunks the “son of Zeus legend” with a story about a mortal mercenary and his team of myth-makers. The King of Thrace (John Hurt) recruits Team Hercules to train his country of farmers to become soldiers. After accomplishing this task, Thrace gains an empire.
Despite his box office success, Ratner is an under-rated filmmaker. Hercules tells an old story with a modern twist and is perfect for a matinee.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" has great visualization, passable story...

With the loss of the Star Wars franchise, 20th Century Fox has devoted much to their remaining science fiction franchises, X-Men and the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. Beyond the special effects and visual cinematography, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes succeeds for two reasons: a good story and strong character motivation.
The film takes place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis, an actor wearing a motion capture suit) has consolidated his ape regime to a park near San Francisco, while becoming a father of two. Unleashed during the closing credits of Rise, the simian flu has devastated the human population, who now live in disconnected city-states.
While on a scouting mission, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his family run afoul of Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar’s scarred right hand simian, who holds a grudge against all humans. While Caesar seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Koba’s paranoia antagonizes the situation.
With a small amount of dialogue for an action movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is based on an intelligent screenplay. The motivations are clear and concise; both humans and apes struggle for the same goals, protecting one’s family. One relates to the struggles of both Malcolm and Caesar.
Given his work as Gollum, King Kong and Caesar, Andy Serkis’ performance should be considered for an Academy Award. Despite the special digital effects, Serkis manages to invest some heart into Caesar, while revealing character maturity from the last movie. I can’t wait to see how Caesar evolves in the next Planet of the Apes movie.
This film is a visual treat. Director Matt Reeves makes use of light and shadows to support the symbolism of the relationship between man and ape. Koba is definitely the best villain of the summer. The street battle between the militia and apes on horseback is worth the price of admission.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Gabrielle & Williams Syndrome

For those seeking a quieter movie experience, the award winning Gabrielle opens this weekend at The Living Room Theater. Gabrielle (played by Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who has Williams syndrome in real life) suffers from a disability, but finds a connection singing in a choir at a recreational center. As the choir goes on a field trip, Gabrielle finds independence and a potential boyfriend.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Transformers 4 - reboot or continuation?

In the past seven years, when I have reviewed the four Transformers movies, I have always begun each film with a sense of dread; the films are made for people 40 years younger than me, the action scenes are best suited for people with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the plots will be inane. After acknowledging this prejudice, I ended up enjoying the Transformers franchise each time. Transformers: Age of Extinction is no exception.
The new flick opens with the mass extinction of a species, the dinosaur. The film flash forwards billions of years and evidence of a unique dinosaur is found in the Arctic circle. DNA is taken from dinosaur bones and is used for nefarious means by a government agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer, in a chilling performance) and corporate entrepreneur Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci, in a goofy performance).
Meet entrepreneur Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a widowed father of high school senior Tessa (Nicola Peltz) who lives on a farm facing foreclosure in Texas. Cade converts trash into working Rube Goldberg machines. After tinkering with a beaten up old truck, Cade learns that the truck is really a Transformer. In fact, the beaten down truck is the alpha male Transformer Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).
Since the last movie (Revenge of the Fallen), many heroic Transformers have become outlaws. Despite defeating the evil Decepticons, the heroic Autobots are treated with extreme prejudice for turning Chicago into a battlefield. Harold Attinger takes advantage of this situation by making a deal with the devil.
Transformers: Age of Extinction has many likeable moments and Easter Eggs for cinema academics. The Optimus Prime truck is found in an abandoned movie theater, which features posters of John Wayne classics. The Science Fiction elements acknowledge Michael Crichton, Arthur C. Clarke and H.P. Lovecraft. This film deserves its success for providing detail beyond the surface of battling giant robots on the big screen.
For those who want to continue the alternative universe experience, Irving Santiago will present UltraCon of South Florida next weekend (July 19-20) at the Broward Convention Center. Fans of Transformers, Star Wars and comic books will want to attend this fan-friendly convention.