First things first let me just say that I went into the theater to see this movie with low expectations.  While the premise looked good, it’s an Adam Sandler movie and he hasn’t exactly had the greatest track record when it comes to past films.  He has certainly tripped and stumbled the last few years when it comes to the projects that he produces (Grown Ups, Jack & Jill, The Cobbler).  However that being said, it seems this time around Sandler might have found his footing and is coming out of that funk because Pixels was a whole lot of fun!

Cast of this movie aside, being directed by Chris Columbus (the man who had his hand in such classics like The Goonies, Gremlins, and the Harry Potter series) is a promising aspect to this whole situation.  While some of the jokes may fall flat, like accepting Kevin James as the POTUS, for the most part the humor hits its mark.  Sandler plays the typical frumpy, down in the dumps character he usually plays but this time around it fits into this story making it work for him.  Throw in a cast of fantastic supporting characters like James (Here Comes the Boom), Josh Gad (Frozen, Book of Mormon), Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Peter “F’ing” Dinklage (Game of Thrones, Elf) and you’ve got a supporting cast the elevates this film to the fun level that it reaches. 

Lastly and what is most important about this movie is the nostalgia it brings to people who were children of the 80’s like myself.  From Donkey Kong to Q-Bert, Madonna to Fantasy Island, the references contained in this film are sure to bring flashbacks to anyone who remembers that great time as well as a smile to your face. 

Do what I do when I go into a movie…. Leave reality at the door and enjoy yourself for what a movie really is… entertainment.  Do that for Pixels and I can promise you will leave happy having just gone for a fantastic, fun ride and a great way to wrap up the summer movie stretch.

OFFICIAL REVIEW: 7 out of 10

Trainwreck is raunchy, it’s dirty… and I loved every minute of it.

If you are a fan of Amy Schumer and her brand of straight forward comedy, then Trainwreck is a movie you are going to love.  Staring alongside Schumer is SNL alum Bill Hader who definitely holds his own against Amy as well as adding his own comedic charm to his role.  Throw in a great supporting cast made up of Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Dave Attell, and a nice handful of other up and coming comedians and you’ve got a cast that really holds this whole film together nicely.  However, besides Amy and Bill, the surprise stand out is NBA star LeBron James who definitely holds his own in this cast of comedic chops.

Trainwreck hits on every level.  It most certainly makes you laugh, it will make you cry, and at times will even make you feel completely uncomfortable but in the most fun way.  It’s a movie that you’ll want to see twice just to see what jokes you missed the first time around from laughing through them.  Her first time as a leading lady, Amy Schumer has a sure fire hit on her hands!

OFFICIAL REVIEW = 8 out of 10

Yes it's true... great things come in small packages!

Okay now that that cliche is out of the way, let's talk Marvel's Ant-Man.  So what can I say about this film that would sum everything up?  Marvel's Ant-Man has the comedic charm of "Guardians of the Galaxy" along with the thrilling action of The Avengers, but something new that we haven't seen yet in a film out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.... pure heart!  

While there are some nods to the rest of the MCU (including an appearance from an Avenger and some cameos from other movies on top of that), Ant-Man stands alone apart from the other superheroes we've already seen and it works.  It includes a fantastic cast rounded out by lead Paul Rudd and a solid supporting cast that includes Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, and Evangeline Lily just to name a few.  Being familiar with the comic source material, Paul Rudd does a great job in portraying the lead of Scott Lang, and the story does one thing better than the latest Avenger movie in that it gives time for proper character development of all the supporting cast.

One thing I was worried about when it came to Ant-Man was the special effects considering the transition from big to tiny and the use of a lot of insects.  The CGI however completely holds up and even does a great job in making Michael Douglas seemlessly look decades younger in one part of the film.

Bottom line is that Ant-Man is just a fun, charming movie that is worth heading out this weekend to see, especially if you are a fan of anything having to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The cast is great, the story is witty, and the action keeps you on the edge of your seat.  But as I mentioned earlier, my favorite part of this movie is the emotion and the heart that it carries that we have not seen come from the MCU.  For that alone it is worth the view.  

Oh yeah and in typical Marvel style... stay all the way to the end for the mid AND after credit cut scene.

OFFICIAL REVIEW: 9 out of 10
I try not to go into movies with high expectation (with the exception of some movies like The Avengers and other Marvel properties) because that is when you end up disappointed.  However I could not help going into this one with very high hopes.  While the last two installment of the franchise (The Last World and Jurassic Park III) were not the greatest of films, I am still a big fan of the Jurassic Park franchise in general.  I mean let’s face it, the original Jurassic Park still holds up in every way to this day.  That being said, I walked into this one with those high hopes and I am happy to say that I did not leave disappointed in the least!  Then again, I am very easy to please haha.

While Jurassic World takes a little bit of time to find its proper pacing, once it does it is all hands on deck and non-stop to the very end.  This film features more dinosaurs than previous installments, after all the park is finally open after 22 years.  The cast is made up of familiar faces from Chris Pratt (Hollywood’s current golden boy), Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, and Jake Johnson as well as some other faces you may recognize from other projects and the cast doesn’t disappoint in their mix of comedic moments to moments of terror.  And let’s just say that if Pratt hasn’t already established himself as a true action star and bad ass, this movie definitely does it for him.  Move over Indiana Jones is all I’m saying.  Btw, to anyone who thought the idea of a “Raptor Wrangler” was dumb, the premise makes more sense after seeing this.

The action of all things does not disappoint in Jurassic World, whether it’s jumping from waterfalls to a massive end of movie battle involving multiple dinosaur species (not saying any more than the fact that it’s AWESOME!).   The score which was originally done by John Williams in previous films is now done by composer Michael Giacchino (Pixar’s “Up”, ABC’s “LOST”) and completely lives up to the emotion of the film.  Being the fan that I am of the franchise, I got chills the moment I heard that famous and well known Jurassic Park suite as part of the film.  Lastly, this film does one thing that its predecessors never did and that is spotlight a little bit of humanity in the dinosaurs themselves.  While it was great treating them as the monsters that they are in the first 3 films, the creatures in this film have evolved much like the franchise itself.  It truly asks the question as to if there ever could be a way for a once extinct species to co-exist with humans today.  We may never know, but I can promise you that after seeing this movie you may question it yourself.  Do yourself a favor and go enjoy what is sure to be this summer’s blockbuster hit.

Final Rating:  Solid 8 out of 10  
When a criminal plot threatens the hi-tech metropolis of San Fransokyo, brilliant young robotics whiz Hiro Hamada leaps into action with his tech-savvy friends, and his robot companion Baymax in Disney Animation's adaptation of the popular Marvel Comics series.

So this past week I had an opportunity to see an advanced screening of what is sure to be Disney's newest hit, "Big Hero 6" and I wasn't disappointed in the least.  This movie is a film that is great for all ages.  It's not what you would call a "classic Disney" film, but it is an experience that both parents and children can enjoy together.  Imagine all the heart and creativity of a Pixar film compacted into a Disney Animation film.  Covering the full spectrum of emotion from sadness and grief to excitement and happiness, you won't be disappointed in seeing this film.  I can't say much more without giving anything away except to grab the kids, grab your loved ones and make the trip to see this film.

Solid 8.5 out of 10
Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.

To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits… Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot, a tree-like humanoid (voiced by Vin Diesel), the deadly and enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista).  But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

The star-studded film cast also includes others such as Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, John C. Riley, Glenn Close, and Peter Serafinowicz.

So when this film was first announced back at San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I was unfamiliar with the Guardians as I’m sure a good majority of film goers were as well.  But the closer it came to the release of this film, the more and more all the promotion got me hyped up.  And believe me, this film lived up to every bit of hype if not exceeded it.

Marvel Studios took a big gamble on bringing on James Gunn to direct this galactic masterpiece in that his past works, while good, never measured anything of this scope or magnitude before.  However that gamble paid off BIG TIME and made this 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe a HIT!

Story-wise, this movie is never lacking on plot.  The story kicks off from the beginning and continues through every minute of the film never dropping off once.  On top of that, it makes sense which is something that quite a few movies are lacking now-a-days.  The dialogue is smart but not too smart for its own good.  A huge plus to the script is that this film is damn funny as well.  So funny in fact that it would give any comedy released this year a run for its money which is rare to see from an action blockbuster like this. 

The visuals of this movie are nothing short of stunning.  Every element, from the costumes and sets, to the space battles, all the way to the CGI used in creating both Rocket and Groot are so vibrant to the point where they just pop off of the screen.  I’m not a huge 3D person as well, but the colors and textures of this film make it one that is easily enjoyable in the 3D format. 

I’d have to say that one of my favorite things about this movie is the soundtrack.  Now I have always been one who has a deep appreciation for the music of a film (as noted by my huge collection of film scores on my iPod), but what sets this film apart from others is how the great selection of music chosen for this film not only mixes well with the movement of the film, but also becomes a part of the story being told. 

Last but not least… the characters.   The cast of this film is nothing short of phenomenal, from the main five all the way down to the minor roles.  Every character is masterfully portrayed and is great in their own way, but as I have expressed already in my time since seeing the film Rocket Raccoon steals the show.  His crass and sarcasm add huge amounts to the action and humor to this film, but in that in no way takes away from the greatness of the other characters.

In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short than an A+ film.  With no tie ins to the rest of the Marvel Universe (at least not yet), the movie is easy to go into not having to worry about where the tie in will fall or how the story will connect to the previous films.  It has quickly become not only my favorite movie of the summer, but also possibly my favorite of all of the Marvel movies to date.  In summary, MAKE SURE YOU GO OUT AND SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

Official Review: 9.5 out of 10

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next installment in the Planet of the Apes prequel films, takes place 10 years since the first film Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco and John Lithgow.  Sadly, no Franco in this film except for a few second cameo, however with the tone this film sets for the franchise, it may be better that way.  This next installment stars Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis as Caeser and in the 10 years since the last, the world as we know it has changed and progressed.  ALZ-113 developed in the first film which is what gave the apes their intelligence has wiped out a majority of the world’s human population all the while the apes have flourished on their own in seclusion.  Living in peace believing that the human race has since wiped itself out, the world will change when apes and the remaining human survivors come face to face once again.

As of this moment there is no Academy Award for Motion Capture but if this film proves anything, it’s that there should certainly be one.   Andy Serkis does a PHENOMENAL job portraying the ape Caeser as does the rest of the cast who act as the remainder of the ape colony.  A job so well done in fact that within the first 10 minutes of the film you completely forget that you are watching animals that are completely CGI.  The first 30 to 40 minutes of the film have no human characters which works well for the story.  In that time, you grow to feel for the apes as you did the first one as well as everything they have built.  Once humans enter the story, the film takes a darker turn that completely sucks you in until the very end.  Keeping this as spoiler free as possible, that’s pretty much all I can say.  There is love, loss, compassion, action and war, but all in all the story and the special effects steal the show.

My review… solid 8.5 out of 10

Very rarely does a sequel to a movie, animated or not, live up it’s predecessor.  So when I went back and gave the first of this series another watch the night before viewing the sequel, I was reminded how fantastic a movie the first one was.  The emotion and the heart that the first part carried would be very difficult to top.  So into the theater I went notebook in hand ready to watch this next installment and take notes for my review….

However after the first 5 minutes of the film, my attention never left the screen.  This sequel is nothing short of amazing.  The pacing of the film is steady delivering just where it should and it hits you with all the heart and emotion of the first film and then-some.  There were emotional highs, emotional lows, and I will warn you of this… bring tissues.  Both happy and sad tears will be shed.  All in all, this movie completely lives up to the original if not surpasses it.  The cast is magnificent and the story is excellent.  The writers and director of the the third and final installment will have a lot to live up to after how high the bar has been set with this sequel.  Well done, Dreamworks!

OFFICIAL REVIEW:   Very rare that a movie gets this from me but….. 10 out of 10.