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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3 days more of script polishing could help 3 Days To Kill move plot

Movie Title:   3 Days to Kill
PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes

Grade:   B

In a Nutshell:   I’ve seen this movie a million times.  Of course, I haven’t seen this actual movie before, but it sure felt like it.  It’s pretty formulaic: crusty old international spy…done.  Creepy looking villain who just won’t die…done.  Obligatory car chase scene…done.  Snarky teenage daughter who has a conflicted relationship with her absentee father…done.  Sexy vixen spy who always has a cigarette in her hand and who is too cool and hardened for her young age…done.  Absentee father trying to reconcile with his family….done.  Sweet revenge…done.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you love all that stuff (I do!), you’ll be entertained.  If you’re looking for a fresh story, move on.  Writer Luc Besson can pump out action-thrillers that will help you pass a fun hour and half with a bowl of popcorn, but not deep story lines that will spark a very long dinner conversation.  If you enjoyed his recent flicks The Transporter , Lockout and The Family , then you’ll get a kick out of this one as well.

Uplifting theme:   
  • Unfortunately, many people wait until they hear the big “C” word (cancer) from their doctor to start prioritizing what’s truly important in life.  It always comes back to family.  The movie addresses the constant battle to balance work and family life. 
  • The father rescues his daughter several times and she rescues him right back.

Things I liked:
  •  I loved the daughter’s obnoxious ring tone I Love It (I Don't Care)   I hate that stupid song and thought it fit the bratty daughter’s personality perfectly.
  • Cute twin girls.  I have a twin sister!
  • The movie takes place in beautiful Paris.  You get to enjoy lots of views of the Eifel Tower.
  • The comical relationship between Ethan and Mitat, the father of the twins, who he tries to get information from…professional and parenting information.  I've always enjoyed Kevin Costner who does a great job at playing the straight man with humor.
  • Ethan’s wife is beautiful, played by the stunning Connie Nielsen.  She kind of reminds me of Diane Lane, whom I recently met in person!   Below is a terrible picture of me, but isn't she cute?

Things I didn’t like:
  •  Kevin Costner’s gravelly voice.  He reminded me of Christian Bale’s voice in Batman's I Love It (I Don't Care) .
  • There is a scene were the vixen CIA agent (Amber Heard) and Kevin Costner argue about goatees and young men right after he kills people.  It’s supposed to be witty and charming, but it’s not quite a successful effort.  3 more days on the script could have put together better playful banter for the entire movie.
  • It’s silly that an experienced assassin would be flustered by almost anything.
  • I hate it when rude teenagers call their dad by their first name in an act of defiance because they don’t think their dad has been a good father.  It’s been done a million times in movies and always bugs me.
  • “What kind of kid doesn’t know how to ride a bike?” asks Ethan.  His daughter hurls “The kind of kid who doesn’t have a father to teach her.”  I saw that line coming a million miles away.  Of course she doesn’t know how to dance either, so they share bonding moments riding a bike and learning how to dance.  Cookie-cutter scenes.
  • The names of the bad guys aren’t the most original or awe-inspiring: The Wolf and The Albino. 

Funny lines:
  •  “Ethan, don’t say anything weird.”  - Daughter says to her dad when she leaves him alone with her boyfriend to talk for a few minutes

Tips for parents:   Decapitation, shooting, torture with some blood.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Want to participate in Trina Boice's blog tour?

Trina Boice and Cedar Fort Publishing & Media are pleased to announce “Base Hits and Home Run Relationships: What Women Wish Guys Knew” blog tour, which will run from April 19-May 10, 2014.

If you’re interested in participating in this blog tour, please email us or leave a comment below.

About the book:
Love is like baseball, so hit a home run in your relationship! With Trina Boice’s advice, any man can learn how to step up to the plate. Learn tips, stats, and skills to make a powerful and lasting romance whether you’re in the “minor league” of dating or the “major league” of married life.

Hunger Games book and movie fans can now get Catching Fire on DVD

If you’re a Hunger Games fan, then you’ve probably already seen this, but if you haven’t, it’s now in stores on DVD for rental or purchase!

Grade: A

In a Nutshell:  This movie franchise has all the odds ever in its favor.  The gritty books are best-sellers and the intense films don’t disappoint.  The special effects are great and you really find yourself enveloped in the dark world of these compelling characters.  The games feel familiar from the first movie, but they take on some new twists that engage your sensibilities and heart.  As Haymitch Abernathy states “Last year was child’s play; this year you’re dealing with all experienced killers.” The fans and the smart storyline mature with this second movie in the successful trilogy.

President Snow announces “On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors.”  And then it begins.

Uplifting theme: 
  • I liked the speech Peeta gave in District 11: “Our lives aren’t measured in years, but in the lives we touch and touch us around us.”
  • “We don’t need to destroy her – just her image.  Sew fear.  It doesn’t work as long as they have hope” counsels Plutarch Heavensbee.  Hope is a very powerful thing.  When you’ve lost everything, hope is everything.  Primrose tells her sister that she notices something different about her world now.  Katniss asks “What can you see?”  Her answer:  “Hope.”  Katniss becomes the mockingjay herself, the image of a new hope to her people.
  • The grim violence is physical AND emotional, deepening the layers of imprisonment and drama. 
  • There is a weighty theme of cultural and personal revolution that could begin an interesting dinner table conversation in your home.
  • Simply surviving is not the end-game, but creating a meaningful life that blesses those around you is.  Primrose Everdeen says to her sister “You saved my life.  You gave me a chance.”  Katniss confirms “Yes, to live.” Primrose corrects “No, to do something.”

Things I liked:
  • I loved the FANTASTIC wedding dress-turned mocking jay gown visual effects!
  • The cast is terrific: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Woody Harrelson.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was a national treasure and will be missed.
  • The “lethal lovers” Katniss and Peeta twist their lives together in a new way that may become a new prison of sorts, even if they’re able to pull it off.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I thought the yucky blisters caused by the fog were pretty gross.  I definitely felt relief when they were able to wash away the pain in the water
  • The film is almost 2 ½ hours long, but ends abruptly.  Dang it!  Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long to watch the rest of the story.  The third movie installment in the trilogy is expected to release on the big screen November 21, 2014.   Like the Harry Potter franchise, the final part of the story is going to be split into two movies: Mockingjay 1 and 2.  The very last movie will hit theaters November 10, 2015.
  • Love triangles are a bit tired.

Interesting lines:
  • “That’s how the friend thing works…you have to tell each other deep stuff.”
    • President Snow: While you and Peeta are on tour, you need to smile, you need to be grateful, but above all, you need to madly end it all in love. You think you can manage that?
    • Katniss Everdeen: Yes.
    • President Snow: "Yes" what?
    • Katniss Everdeen: I'll convince them.
    • President Snow: No. Convince me.
  • “Don’t look so cute.  We’ll kill you anyways.”  - Johanna Mason
  • “Say good-bye and forget them.  I do my best, thinking of them one by one, releasing them like birds from the protective cages inside me, locking the doors against their return.”  - Katniss Everdeen
  • “No wonder I won the Games.  No decent person ever does.” – Katniss Everdeen

Things to look for:
  • You only seem them for a few seconds, but I adore Effie’s super cute gloves at the party on the last night of their tour.
  • Effie’s outfits in this movie are fantastic.  Look at the details on her butterfly outfit.
  • Katniss hangs the model of Seneca Crane in an act of defiance during the judging. 
  • Did you know a spile, the tool Katniss uses to get water out of a tree, really works?  It’s used to get sap out of sugar maple trees to produce maple syrup.
  • You can learn more about Tap My Tree Maple Spile and Hook
  • Did you know that Effie’s last name is Trinket?  So appropriate, don’t you think?  I love that her character deepens in this installment in the story.

Tips for parents:
There is some violence (mostly bloodless) and a cold-faced attitude of murder that should begin an honest discussion of humanity in your family. There is some profanity, but the Capitol itself bleeps out two F-bombs.

If you missed the first one and need to catch up, here are some links to the books and movies:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Free book of love just in time for Valentine's Day!

Just in time for Valentine's Gift of Love eBook version is FREE today through Friday!

Thank you for reading my silly blog. I hope you know how much I love you! Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Monuments Men Saved over 5 million pieces of art and literature!

Movie Title:  The Monuments Men

Grade:  B
PG-13, 1 hour 52 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This lovely movie is based on a true story and I admit that I’m curious to learn more about what really happened as the small group of art experts tried to save priceless pieces of history as the Nazi regime began to fall in WWII Europe.  I was in Italy just a few months ago, basking in all of the beautiful artwork and can’t imagine what a terrible loss it would have been to humanity if we didn’t have some of the masterpieces that exist in that country alone. 

Based on the non-fiction telling by Robert M. Edsel,Monuments Men , the subject matter and setting are fascinating.  Unfortunately, the movie falls a bit short of what could have been an outstanding journey worthy of Oscar buzz...for next year.  (It was supposed to be released at Christmas in time for this year's Oscars, but George Clooney chose to wait.)  The audience I watched the movie with consisted of mostly older people, some who looked like they could have actually fought in WWII. 

This brief tour through war-torn Europe was directed, written, and performed by George Clooney.  It’s a bit of “Geriatric Band of Brothers” meets “Saving Private Ryan”, although not nearly as realistic or good as the latter.  The audience loved the camaraderie among the men and were left wanting a little more out of the star-studded cast which includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and the exquisite Cate Blanchett.

Uplifting theme:  What a sobering reminder this film features that Hitler stole lives, art, and even history from all of us.  James Granger says “He really wanted it all.”  Frank Stokes corrects him “He wanted everything.”  Frank Stokes continually reminds his crew that their lives are worth more than a piece of art, and yet they are all willing to sacrifice everything in order to preserve it because it represents mankind’s greatest accomplishments.  

I love that the men refer to various works of art as “she” and “her”, granting true life to images that capture our very soul.  Frank Stokes narrates the journey and explains that they were fighting for culture, our history, and our very way of life.  The works of art are not simply beautiful things to look at and admire, but our history…yours….mine.   It was inspiring to learn that over 5 million pieces were recovered through The Monuments Men project.

Things I liked:
  • It was refreshing to see a loyal husband resist an invitation of infidelity, especially on a lonely night in romantic Paris.  Matt Damon’s character, James Granger, even returned the tie he was given by the hopeful woman.
  • The sets and scenery were breathtaking.
  • One of the most profound scenes was when (SPOILER ALERT) the group finds a big barrel of gold nuggets and then realizes they were from the mouths of Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The scene carried a sobering weight that other scenes lacked.  The audience gasped a few times, which I think, would have made George Clooney proud.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s a bit slow-moving and disjointed with not nearly enough humor and some missed opportunities to make the film truly wonderful. 
  • Substitute the last line of the movie with something better like “Come on, I want to show you something else!”

Funny lines:
  • “Do we get to kill anybody?” – Preston Savitz
  • “Speak English” said several people to James Granger whose French was terrible.  I’ve been to France and they really do hate it when we Americans attempt to speak their beautiful language.
  • James Granger explains “I seem to have stepped on a land mine.” Frank queries “Why would you do that?” repeated by Walter Garfield.  James says “It was a slow day.”  I thought that scene was well done as they tried to come up with a solution and were prepared for any outcome.
  • An American soldier says after the war was announced to be over “Isn’t there supposed to be a parade or something?” to which James Granger gently corrects “Probably not in Germany.”
  • While talking about setting up some dynamite, two on the team have the following exchange: “Maybe I should do this.”  “What do you know about explosives?”  “Nothing.”  “Ok.”

Inspiring lines:
  • Who will be their protectors?  Who will make sure the Mona Lisa is still smiling?” – Frank Stokes
  • “It’s not bad.”  “It’s not good” – an exchange as two of the crew look at a canvas of Hitler’s artwork from his failed run as an art student
  • “Frank explains his passion about the Monument Men project by saying “If you destroy their achievements, it’s like they never existed.”
  • “Great works of art can never belong to one individual.”  - Donald Jeffries

Things to learn more about:  George Clooney said of this film “It’s so rare to do any story that people don’t know.” I would love to learn more!

Tips for parents:  There is some profanity, but not as much as you would think there would be in a war movie.  People are killed and wounded with some blood and gore.

The Lego Movie is a whirl of wit and charm for all ages

Movie Title:  The Lego Movie

Grade:  A-

In a Nutshell:  Quick-witted fun for all ages, as well as obvious Lego lovers.  While raising 4 boys, I’ve sucked up my share of miscellaneous Lego pieces on the carpet with my vacuum cleaner over the years, as well as stepped on the sharp plastic corners in the middle of the night one too many times, but I still love Legos.  Actually, the plural of Lego is Lego, so I should change that last sentence, but I won’t because I’m as sassy as the movie.

I lived only a few blocks away from LegoLand in Carlsbad, California for 6 years and even had an annual membership.  That theme park is simply adorable and a truly fun amusement park for the whole family.  One of the things I love about LegoLand is its keen sense of humor and that it doesn’t take itself so seriously.  This movie is exactly that. 

The jokes fly fast and furiously and the story line is surprisingly thought-out with a couple of sweet twists in the end.  It feels like free-flowing play itself with the satisfaction you get after building something well.

The fun flick is filled with tremendous voice talent, including Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Chris Pratt.  Shaquille O’Neal plays himself, and Billy Dee Williams revisits his role as Lando in Star Wars.

Uplifting theme:  Like most movies with Morgan Freeman in them, his character says the bulk of the inspiring lines in the film.
  • “The only thing you need to be special is to believe that you are.”  - Vitruvius
  • “We all have something that makes us something.” – Emmet’s co-worker
  • Emmet worries “What do I do?  I don’t have my instructions!” illustrates the importance of imagination and creativity.
  • “Believe.  Then you will see everything.”  - Vitruvius
  • “You have to embrace what is special about you.”  - Vitruvius

Things I liked:
  • I can’t get that “Everything is awesome!” song out of my head
  • I love quick wit.  This movie’s jam is quick wit.
  • The water in the shower, hot tub bubbles, and ocean white caps were fantastic
  • I loved how Emmet did Jumping Jacks
  • Frequent use of plastic Lego flames.  It’s amazing how often they were able to use them.
  • I thought it was cute how they tied in the use of instructions into the theme of the movie.  Emmet begins showing each step he takes in the morning, as if he’s writing instructions for you to follow.  Later, the good guys create a step-by-step plan to defeat the bad guys, identifying the correct order for you to follow.
  • Twist ending

Things I didn’t like:
  • No need to pay extra money for 3D.  There is almost too much stimulation and the whole film is a bit manic, similar to Christmas morning when wonderful presents and wrapping paper are strewn everywhere.
  • My little kids were too smart to recognize that when everyone gets a trophy for just paying to be on a Little League baseball team, then the trophy isn’t worth anything.  They hated being told “Everyone is special” because that meant to them that nobody was special.  This movie has a bit of that philosophy in it, although it tries to point out that everyone is special for different reasons.
  • Cloud Cocoaland?  I thought they could have come up with something more clever than that.

Funny lines: The adults were laughing more than the kids.  Parents won’t have to suffer through this children’s animated movie.  A lot of the humor will go over kids’ heads, and the wit happens so fast that you’re sure to miss some of it too.
  • “Come with me if you want to not die.” – Wyldstyle/Lucy
  • “Place the thing on the other thing and save the universe.”  - Vitruvius
  • “We’ll wing it.  It’s a bat pun.”  -  Batman
  • “You don’t know me, but I’m on TV, so you can trust me.” – Wyldstyle/Lucy
  • “Let’s take extra care to follow the instructions or you’ll be put to sleep.  And don’t forget Taco Tuesday’s coming next week.”  - President Business
  • “I only work in black.  And sometimes very, very dark grey.”  - Batman
  • “Okay, I think it got it.  But just in case, say it all over again.  I wasn’t listening.”  - Emmet
  • “Do you see the quotations I’m making with my claw hands?”  - Bad cop/good cop
  • “Here are your pants.  End of series.”  - Wyldstyle/Lucy as she walks onto the set of the popular TV show “Where are my pants?”
  • “Ow!  That is going to start hurting pretty soon.” – Emmet
  • “I WILL text you.”  - Batman
  • “This has been the greatest almost 15 minutes of my life.”  - Emmet
  • “I’m dark and brooding.  Look!  A rainbow!”  - Emmet

Things to look for:  You need to pay attention, because clever gags appear and disappear quickly, along with the rapid-fire wit.  I’ll bet this film will do well with DVD sales, because everyone will want to have the power to hit the pause button on this one. There are too many details to mention.  The Legoland amusement park has a “Minland” in the center of the park that is unbelievably detailed with hidden gems everywhere.  This movie is like that.

  • I’ve never seen a surfer Lego dude with flowing, blonde hair!
  • Bubbles in the hot tub in The Old West
  • Cool Lego dust behind moving cars in the dirt
  • Lego smoke blocks from a moving train

Tips for parents:  Relax and rest easy on this one.  All of the profanity includes such lines as “Darn, darn, darny, darn” (Bad cop/good cop) and “Dangit!” (Batman & Wonder Woman).  Pretty nice, right?  Someone calls someone else a “butt”, but there is a surprisingy lack of toilet humor for a kids movie.  Nice, right?  There is a budding romance, but no Lego kissing. Merchandising for this movie is going to be huge.