Nick’s Picks – September 9, 2015

THE TRANSPORTER: REFUELED

Transporter Refueled

It’s been seven long years since we saw Jason Statham as The Transporter, Frank Martin in a franchise that propelled him to the upper elite status of action hero. In 2002 there was the original Transporter movie; three years later in 2005 there was Transporter 2; and 3 years after that in 2008 we had Transporter 3. Here it is seven years later and writer/creator of the Transporter movies Luc Besson decides to reinvent the wheel and bring back the franchise with a new leading man as Frank Martin (replacing Statham) who is best known for a brief stint on Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis one of the Second Sons who killed his pals to pledge his allegiance to the Mother of Dragons. On GOT, Ed Skrein was a sexy, dangerous hunk with steel blue eyes and long blonde hair. In Transporter: Refueled, as Frank Martin he’s a brooding, monosyllabic driver that looks like an ordinary guy, certainly not threatening, even with his shaved head. With Statham, even though he was short (under 6 ft.), his presence commanded the challenging situations he faced as the Transporter.

Luc Besson is best known for some of the best action movies and is one of the more creative filmmakers around (The Fifth Element, Leon The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and more recently Lucy, Colombiana and Taken among others). But this reincarnation of the Transporter franchise misses the bullseye and leaves us begging for Statham’s return.

Skrein does his best and valiantly tries to make the role his own. Some of the action scenes are entertaining and fun with the car chases giving you an adrenaline rush as the fight scenes cause you to suspend all belief, the story is the weakest link in this chain. Casting unrecognizable actors may have been a recipe for disaster or the recipe for a delicious dish had the film been better. Frank is hired to drive the packages which are three femme fatales who used to be former child sex slaves and prostitutes for a Russian pimp who want revenge and plans to steal all of his money, and ultimately kill him. The leader of the femme gang is Anna (Loan Chabanol) who was bought from her mother for $500 at the age of 12 by the Russian pimp Arkady (Radivoje Bukvic). There’s a lot of wig wearing disguises and bank robbing and driving just so Anna can get to Arkady and make him pay for what he did to her and some of the other girls.

The bright light in this movie is the jovial and fun father of Frank, Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson) who pretended to be a career water salesman traveling all over the world and who just retired, wanting to spend some quality time with his son. But we all suspect he used to be a spy. Their relationship and his father’s charisma is what saves the film. Action sequences notwithstanding.

For a few thrills and some titillating car chase scenes, The Transporter: Refueled is a delight, not a homerun… more of a bunt. At the closing credits you may secretly wish that Jason Statham pops up and says “Gotcha!” and with rumors of a Transporter 5 and/or 6 on the horizon, with this film, possibly the joke was on us.

Starring: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Radivoje Bukvic,
Director: Camille Delamarre
Company: Relativity Europacorp Distribution
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (violence, sexual content, language and action sequences)
Grade: C

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A WALK IN THE WOODS

Walk in Woods

Based on the book of the same name by travel writer Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods is the “old man” version of last year’s “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon but set on the opposite coast.

It’s always good to see Robert Redford (remember “All Is Lost” and in the Captain America Winter Soldier film) and sometimes it’s good to see the time ravaged Nick Nolte, but this movie is just a reminder that growing old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be unless you have a great comedy writer that puts you on the Appalachian Trail, which isn’t the case in this movie.

Directed by Ken Kwapis (best known for He’s Just Not That Into You and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, plus lots of television shows) Kwapis attempts to tell the story of travel writer Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) who returns to the United States after being away for 20 years in Europe who decides to walk the Appalachian Trail as a way to reconnect with his old friend, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) and with his homeland.

This movie doesn’t succeed because it’s mostly made up of tired gags and jokes, foul language with markedly sexist and over the top humor that just isn’t funny coming from a barely audible, gravelly voiced Nolte. The supporting female characters seem to be arm dressing to help propel the gags along. The humor feels forced and choreographed as if waiting for the applause sign and laugh track to kick in cueing the audience that something is funny.

“Wild” dealt with inner demons and the elements which led to a remarkable self-discovery and was a tale of survival. AWITW is a disjointed road trip on feet that keeps you repeatedly asking “are we there yet?”

It’s always nice to see Redford on screen, but even his presence can’t save this film. The above 60 crowd may enjoy this movie and have a few guffaws along the way even though it’s a watered version of Last Vegas with less glitz and glamour but more scenic beauty. Go for the backdrop of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a wonderous sight. Or, better yet, read the book to get a first-hand account of what it was really like for Bryson to take a walk in the woods. I wonder what it would have been like to make this movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman, Butch and Cassidy hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal
Director: Ken Kwapis
Company: Broad Green Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (language and sexual content)
Grade: C

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

XAdaline XBlueBloods XLeap Frog

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Blue Bloods Season 5, The Age of Adaline or Leap Frog Letter Factory: The Great Shape Mystery, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing.
Best of luck!

BLUE BLOODS: Season 5 – CBS Paramount

The Regan family continues to serve and protect the streets of New York in the fifth tumultuous season of Blue Bloods. Oldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) works to convict a national felon as well as resolve a dangerous hostage situation. Erin (Bridget Moynahan) faces numerous challenges as she navigates the judicial system enduring the retrial of a woman she’s already convicted, as well as enlisting the testimony of a protected mob informant. Meanwhile, Jamie’s (Will Estes) desire to help lands him in a few troubling situations. No matter what difficulties they face, this is a squad that sticks together, protecting family before all else.

THE AGE OF ADALINE – Lionsgate

After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.

LEAP FROG LETTER FACTORY: The Great Shape Mystery

Join the LeapFrog friends as they discover that fun, learning-filled adventure comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s a new machine at the Letter Factory…but no one knows what it’s supposed to do! With only a map and a few clues, Leap, Lily, and Tad set out to unlock the machine’s secret, embarking on an amazing journey that will teach them about shapes, fractions, and measurements–and give them the tools they need to solve the Great Shape Mystery!

THE HEE HAW COLLECTION – Time Life

A timeless classic for sure, the citizens of Kornfield Kounty first aired on television in 1969 and haven’t looked back since! Each week, co-hosts Buck Owens and Roy Clark and their delightful cast mates of comedians and musicians would welcome the biggest stars in country music to perform their songs and participate in skits. Included are magnificent interviews with Roy Clark, George Lindsey, Lulu Roman and a cast of many others! Pick up your copy today!

FAMILIES OF PUERTO RICO – Arden Media

Families of Puerto Rico introduces two children from two different families, one urban and the other rural. View the unique lives of two children and their families from breakfast to bedtime and all the fun-filled activities in between. It shows young viewers the amazing similarities between their own lives and those of children the same age living thousands of miles away: similar chores, school and extra-curricular activities and family interactions. It is part of the highly acclaimed Families of the World series which broadcast on PBS.

SUPERNATURAL: Season 10 – Warner

The thrilling and terrifying journey of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) continues as Supernatural enters its tenth season. In the show’s ninth season, their supernatural hunting expedition led them directly into two brand-new power struggles: the first involving the King of Hell and a Demon Knight after his throne; the second centering on an unbalanced angel who’s taken over Heaven and exiled legions of volatile angels down to Earth. With the help of their protectors – the fallen angel Castiel (Misha Collins) and “devil-you-know” Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) – Sam and Dean’s lifelong quest to set the world right will take everything they’ve got … and a bit more. And now, when the unthinkable happens to Dean, the Winchesters must find a way to make things right before it’s too late.

GOTHAM: Season 1 – Warner

When rookie Gotham City detective James Gordon, dedicated to restoring his crime-ridden metropolis back to its decent and illustrious past, catches the case of a murdered socialite couple, he promises their shattered, surviving son Bruce Wayne he’ll find their killer. It is an obligation and an obsession that will cost him dearly – and set the stage for the gritty and exciting world of Gotham. Inspired by DC Comics characters beloved by generations, this gripping hit series from the talents behind The Mentalist, CSI, Nikita and Gossip Girl reaches deep into Batman lore to uncover the sinister layers of corruption that secretly rule Gotham City, spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains. Delve into the circumstances created the bizarre personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker in an entirely new chapter that’s never been told.

HAVEN: Season 5 – Entertainment One

In Season Five our heroes struggle to keep the towns secrets under wraps becomes even more difficult when Haven is visited by a whip smart CDC doctor, who comes to believe that there may be an underlying genetic marker to the troubles, and possibly a cure. But there may be more to her agenda in Haven than first meets the eye. Wonderful performance this season by Emily Rose and Adam Copeland.

THOMAS AND FRIENDS: Sodors Legend of the Lost Treasure – Universal

Shiver me timbers! Surprises await Thomas and his friends as they dig up their most daring adventure yet. Unearthing an old pirate ship, Thomas is on the hunt for Sodor’s lost treasure. When Thomas rocks the boat with some new friends, trouble soon rushes in. Will Thomas track down the treasure in time or will Sailor John set sail with it? Join Thomas & Friends in this explosive movie adventure.

BARBIE IN ROCK ‘N ROYALS – Universal

Get ready to rock! In this upbeat musical, Barbie stars as Princess Courtney, a modern princess whose world is turned upside down when she switches places with Erika, a famous rockstar. Two very different worlds collide when a mix-up sends Princess Courtney to Camp Pop and Erika, to Camp Royalty. While the leaders of the rival camps try to correct the mix-up, both Courtney and Erika learn to adjust to the different worlds and have fun while making new, unexpected friends. When the girls learn both camps are at risk of shutting down, they must embrace their differences, find their true voices, and come together for an epic sing-off that shows anything is possible when you dare to dream big!

Synopsis used with permission

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