Nick’s Picks – September 16, 2015

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HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2

I’ve learned that if you choose to go see an Adam Sandler movie with no expectations you may come away from it mildly entertained and somewhat amused. But if you go into an Adam Sandler film with high hopes of comedic genius or even desirous of a few laughs, you may come away feeling lackluster and disappointed. Such is the case with Hotel Transylvania 2 the sequel to his moderately clever first animated film Hotel Transylvania.

Despite all of its flaws ranging from tired old jokes rehashed for the umpteenth time and Sandler’s flair for the overdramatic line delivery, Hotel Transylvania 2, not as good as the first one in my opinion, is still a fun movie to see since Halloween is right around the corner. It’s cute fun fluff for kids and adults.

In this sequel, Dracula’s (Adam Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is married to Jonathan (Adam Samberg) who happens to be human. Hotel Transylvania, a haven for monsters must open its doors to human beings, such as Mavis’ in-laws (Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman) and welcome them as part of the family. Mavis gives birth to her son Dennis who is half human and half vampire. Should we call him bimonster or bihuman (or biracial)???

Basically this story is one of finding your true identity despite the interference of ones parents and accepting someone as they are meant to be. Your typical theme of family acceptance and identity crisis sprinkled in with a few bad jokes.

Most of the film is about Dracula’s antics in prompting Dennis along and coaching him to become a “chip off of grandpa’s old block.” The antics are in full bloom when grandpa decides to take his grandson on a road trip with a few of his monster buddies, including Frankenstein (Kevin James), Invisible Man (David Spade) and Wolfman (Steve Buscemi) to the same vampire summer camp for training that he himself went to when he was younger in order to draw out Dennis’ powers as a vampire.

There are a lot of cutesy moments in the film and a few laughs, but not enough to save the film. As creative and entertaining as the first Hotel Transylvania was, this sequel just isn’t as good or original. There has to be more jokes out there than rehashing Count Chocula jokes again and again. It was more entertaining in trying to match the animated voice to the celebrity (before seeing the credits roll) because the cast is strewn with talented actors such as Mel Brooks and Jon Lovitz.

As with most parental themes about parent’s being concerned for their child’s welfare, Mavis starts to feel that Hotel Transylvania is not a safe environment to raise Dennis. So she and her husband go to California to contemplate moving there. Again the jokes in this situation where Jonathan’s family is trying to make Mavis feel welcome just aren’t funny. Coupled with Dracula forcing Dennis to grow fangs by going to the vampire summer camp all but screams non acceptance.

We all can suspect how this movie will end; musical score and all, as we imagine the monsters are probably singing kumbaya at the end, answering the question “can’t we all just get along”? This movie is a nice romp for a Halloween film if parents want a nice family outing with their kids. But let’s hope that this doesn’t pave the way to a Hotel Transylvania 3.

Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Adam Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Company: Sony Pictures Animation
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG (humor and action, with some scary images)
Grade: C

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The Visit Poster

THE VISIT

There’s been a sense of excitement and expectancy once the word got out that M. Night Shyamalan was directing another movie that may be his comeback film after the numerous flops following his critically acclaimed films back in the day: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. It’s been a long drought since M. Night has had a success to his credit. So with much anticipation everyone is eager to see the story of two kids spending the week with their grandparents and weird things happen.

This is one film that possibly everyone can relate too. Who among us haven’t spent time with our grandparents where weird things didn’t happen? Leave it up to Shyamalan to inject some humor, creepiness and intelligence into this mildly entertaining film. All of the horror themes are sampled and nothing really surprises anyone. The technique of doing a video and using found filmed footage and actual real time video of what’s going on wears thin because we’ve seen it so many times before, but this time it works because the kids are so cute and they’re doing the video to create something magical.

Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) and Becca (Olivia DeJonge) goes to visit their grandparents Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) and Nana (Deanna Dunagan) for a week on a remote Pennsylvania farm their mother (Katherine Hahn) grew up on but ran away from at 19 when they didn’t approve of her boyfriend (their dad). So as any creative, intelligent tween aged kids these days would do, they decide to make a video of their trip with Nana and Pop Pop. The cuteness factor ranks about 6 on a scale of 1 thru 10 and the overplayed “filmmaker” theme just gets tedious and boring after a while. We’ve seen it too many times before.

Once they arrive at their grandparent’s house, things immediately start to get weird and creepy (for city folks I guess) and we wonder if it’s just because their grandparents are old. Old people are creepy to a bunch of kids and what Shyamalan thinks is creepy could just as well be explained by a case of Alzheimer’s. In true Shyamalan fashion the ending is quite a surprise as the twist is as good as the one he gave in the Sixth Sense, so here he doesn’t disappoint. Nevertheless the film is chocked full of jokes, innuendos, sibling bickering, taunts and teasers which is the norm among brothers and sisters, yet the eerie factor of the grandparents from doing somewhat typical acts from living on a farm isn’t quite as suspenseful and he would have us believe. Everything is creepy on a farm in the winter in the cold and in the dark.

The Visit isn’t the Sixth Sense. It’s more of that feeling you get when you can’t find your favorite teddy bear. M. Night does remind us of what he once was and delivers an entertaining suspense for kids that adults will also enjoy as they reminisce about the scary weekends they spent with their grandparents and wonder why they didn’t make a film about it.

Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Deanna Dunagan, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge,
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Company: Universal Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (violence, mild nudity, terror aspects, language)
Grade: B

===============DVD Reviews===============================

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

AmericanTexas

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of American Heist or Texas Rising, 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!

AMERICAN HEIST – Lionsgate

James owes his life to his older brother, Frankie after taking the rap for a crime they committed together. While Frankie served time, James worked to turn his life around, got a steady job and began courting his former girlfriend Emily. Now, Frankie is released and back on the streets with no money and no place to go. He turns to his underworld connections and convinces James to join him in hopes that one last job will be the solution to change both their lives.

TEXAS RISING – Lionsgate

Texas Rising is a 2015 History Channel 10-hour television miniseries based on the Texas Revolution against Mexico and how the Texas Rangers were created.

PARANORMAL ISLAND – Cinedigm

When 3 college kids take a summer job it s a chance of a lifetime to bartend at a bar in the middle of a lake! The bar has been around for over a hundred years and is presumed by many locals to be haunted, after the owner killed himself many years before. Unfortunately they miss the last boat off the island and are stuck trying to find a way off. As darkness falls, they quickly realize things are very different after hours as they are hunted by the paranormal caretaker.

HEROES DEL NORTE 3 – Cinedigm

In season 3, our heroes arrive to North Cuba after being shipwrecked. They are rescued by fishermen and brought back to Mexico.Upon their return, they face a number of problems, as their popularity and fame have declined. They must find a way to catch up.

THE SEVEN FIVE – IFC

During the crack cocaine explosion of the late 80s and early 90s, Michael Dowd, a New York City police officer, brazenly led a crew of crooked cops to build his own empire in East New York. Labeled The Dirtiest Cop Ever, Dowd turned the department s 75th Precinct into a den of corruption, both protecting and robbing drug dealers while lining his own pockets to the point of bursting with cash and drugs. His arrest in 1992 led to the largest police corruption scandal in New York City history.

CLOSER TO THE MOON – IFC

Based on audaciously true events, Closer to the Moon stars Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong in beguiling performances as participants in one of the most confounding crimes ever perpetrated. In 1959 Bucharest, five high-ranking Jewish members of the Communist party staged a bank heist that baffled the repressive regime and left the public in an uproar. Their motives were never known. Having been captured, arrested, and sentenced to death, the unusual gang of so-called criminals is given one last punishment before facing the execution squad: reenact the heist for the benefit of a Communist propaganda film. What follows is a darkly comic and sincerely heartfelt exploration of one of history s most unusual headlines, the effects of which still resonate to this day.

CASTLE: Season 7 – ABC

The wedding bells are ringing, but will Castle and Beckett really tie the knot? An astonishing turn of events tears television’s most lovable couple apart in a captivating new season of ABC’s beloved and inspired series. Experience every unforgettable moment with Castle: The Complete Seventh Season. On the biggest day of his life, Castle is nowhere to be found…and it’s not because he has cold feet. Now, in a season of brilliant twists and turns, Castle and Beckett take on New York City’s most fascinating cases while they try to solve the mystery of their own relationship. Join them as they hunt for an “Invisible Man,” travel to the Old West and witness the return of their deadly rival, Dr. Kelly Nieman.

CHECKMATE – Alchemy

Six people are thrown together during an elaborate bank heist where any move can alter the outcome. Is it coincidence, or are they merely pawns in a much bigger game?

THE BOLD ONES – Timeless Media Group

Investigate riveting television at its finest with The Bold Ones: The Protectors, an indelible crime drama that stars Leslie Nielsen as the deputy chief of police in a volatile California city. The cinematic feel of the series was boldly set from the pilot movie, which was directed by Lamont Johnson and featured cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond. An unusual lack of background music further heightened the sense of authenticity as The Bold Ones: The Protectors brought an edgy realism to Sunday night television. Sam Danforth (Nielsen) is a no-nonsense, conservative lawman brought in from Cleveland to try and rein in the city of San Sebastian, California, but often finds himself at odds with the city’s idealistic, liberal D.A., William Washburn (Hari Rhodes).

THE JINX: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst – HBO

From director Andrew Jarecki and producer Marc Smerling, this groundbreaking documentary series sheds new light on real-estate par iah Robert Durst, while unraveling one of the most notorious unsolved crimes in New York history.

PUPS UNITED – Lionsgate

Rob Schneider provides voice acting in this light-hearted family action film about a group of canine mascots join up to save a high-profile children’s sports event. Dogs from various different countries are forced to stop a group of villains who are planning to disrupt the Youth World Cup soccer finals. The main plot centers around the Youth World Cup soccer finals, where the American team’s four-legged mascot, Rex, happens upon a sinister plot to ruin the popular worldwide tournament. In an attempt to save the tournament, dogs from various different countries must stop the group of villains.

CARE BEARS: Mystery in Care A Lot – Lionsgate

Another magnificent edition to the Care Bears franchise! Perfect for kids of every age as the gang all come together to solve a mystery of the highest order in Care A Lot!

POWER RANGERS: Trickster Treat – Lionsgate

It’s that time of year! Come join the Power Rangers in a spooky edition of Trickster Treat as they fight crime!

FURIOUS 7 – Universal

Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7. James Wan directs this chapter of the hugely successful series that also welcomes back favorites Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black. They are joined by international action stars new to the franchise including Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Kurt Russell.

NIGHTINGALE – HBO

An official selection of the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival, this HBO Films presentation is a fascinating portrait of one man’s descent into the delusions of a fractured mind. Told with incisive imagery, energy and humor, Nightingale is a compassionate depiction of isolation in the midst of a world ruled by social media. David Oyelowo gives a spellbinding, roller-coaster ride of a performance as Peter, the sole character in the film, a war veteran who lives in a nondescript ranch home with his mother, and shares an ongoing monologue with himself, and the audience, via his laptop computer’s video recorder.

THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: The Lost Episodes – Time Life

Not seen for over 40 years, the long-lost episodes from the first five seasons of The Carol Burnett Show are coming to DVD for the first time ever! The Lost Episodes feature the best of Carol s beloved variety show including the first episode aired, the first performances of many of her famous sketches, legendary guest stars, and show-stopping musical performances. All episodes have been hand-picked by Carol herself!

LOVE & MERCY – Lionsgate

Love & Mercy presents an unconventional portrait of Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Set against the era defining catalog of Wilson’s music, the film intimately examines the personal voyage and ultimate salvation of the icon whose success came at extraordinary personal cost.

CSI: CYBER: Season 1 – CBS Paramount

CSI: Cyber stars Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Awards winner Patricia Arquette in a drama inspired by the advanced technological work of real-life Cyber Psychologist Mary Aiken. Special Agent Avery Ryan heads the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI, a unit at the forefront of solving illegal activities that start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world. While other agents search for criminals in dark homes and alleys, Ryan and her team search the ‘dark net,’ a place deep in the bowels of the Web where criminals are anonymous, money is untraceable and where everything is for sale with just a keystroke.

CSI: Final Season – CBS Paramount

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation returns to the scene of the crime for its fifteenth and final season. From a lethal chemistry classroom to a fatal medical marijuana clinic to a deadly memorabilia convention, the evidence leads to Sin City’s most twisted corners. Whatever the case, lead investigator D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) knows he can rely on the brilliance of blood-work expert Julie Finlay (Elisabeth Shue) and veteran investigators Nick Stokes (George Eads), Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) and Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda). Yet the final challenge is darkest for the elite team of experts, including Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, Elisabeth Haranois, David Berman, and Jon Wellner, when a serial killer stalks Las Vegas and his traps threaten to ensnare one of CSI’s own. The pulse-pounding suspense never lets up in the 18 gripping episodes of this 5-disc set that bring the breakthrough series to an edge-of-your-seat finale.

LEGO STAR WARS: The New Yoda Chronicles – Disney

After headstrong Luke nearly delivers the good guys into Palpatine’s clutches, Master Yoda and the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi unearth the Holocrons — last remnants of the secrets of the Jedi — to further Luke’s training. But Darth Vader also seeks the Holocrons, and he’ll stop at nothing to get to them first! Meanwhile, courageous superclone Jek-14 comes out of retirement to help bolster the Rebels. Share all the action-packed thrills of these interlocking, intergalactic comic adventures, and enjoy a whole new universe of fun!

CINDERELLA – Disney

Celebrate Disney’s Cinderella, a modern classic that shines with beauty, imagination… and magic! Despite being bulled by her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, a spirited Ella (Lily James) resolves to take charge of her fate. Add a royal ball, a Fairy Godmother (Helenal Bonham-Carter) and a glass slipper, and suddenly — magic becomes reality!

NCIS: The Best of Abby – CBS Paramount

This compilation of NCIS: The Best of Abby represents those programs that highlight the Abby character, portrayed by Pauley herself. She introduces and selected the episodes included in the set.

ARTHUR & GEORGE – PBS

In 1906, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, having lost his first wife, was overcome with grief; even Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson refused his call. It was only when his secretary, Woodie, presented him with an apparent real-life miscarriage of justice, that he could be roused to action. The case in question was that of George Edalji, a Parsee solicitor, who was imprisoned for writing obscene letters and killing livestock in Great Wyrley, Staffordshire. George needed Arthur’s help to clear his name. However, as the twists and turns of the case unfold, Arthur himself questions George’s innocence. It is only by finding the true culprit, that Arthur can finally put the case, and his grief, to rest; while simultaneously becoming influential in a major reform to the English judicial system.

COUNTING ON BIRDS – PBS

Join host Willem Lange as he explores migratory birds native to New England. From the longest-running wildlife census in the world to the incredible migratory route of the Broad-Winged Hawk, this two-disc compilation features five wonderful programs bird enthusiasts will enjoy. – Episodes include: Counting on Birds, Bird Tales, Saving Songbirds, Journey of the Broad-Winged Hawk, and Plight of the Grassland Birds.

SALAD DAYS – MVD

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90) examines the early DIY punk scene in the Nation’s Capital. It was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others released their own records and booked their own shows-without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny. Contextually, it was a cultural watershed that predated the alternative music explosion of the 1990s (and the industry’s subsequent implosion). Thirty years later, DC’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction.

NELSON MANDELA AND OTHER INSPIRING STORIES – Scholastic

You can collect the entire library of Scholastic Storybook Treasures and read along on screen with your favorite classic children’s stories, brought vividly to life on DVD. Nelson Mandela: This is the story of a young boy who grew up to become president of South Africa. Each Kindness: With a little help from her teacher, Chloe realizes how kindness can change the world. Coretta Scott: This story captures the movement for civil rights and honors its most elegant inspiration, Coretta Scott. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: Mufaro s daughters are tested to determine which one is worthy enough to marry the King.

SEVEN WONDERS OF BRAZIL – PBS

Journey into the heart of Brazil with host Robert Beckford to explore the incredible spiritual diversity of Brazil. Travel to the country s seven wonders of Brazilian Christianity, from the spectacular and iconic Christ the Redeemer to the samba beat of Carnival. The religion has existed for over 500 years and is a melting pot of African beliefs, indigenous Indian rituals, and the folk Catholicism of the southern Europeans.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Season 2 – Universal
Return to the scene of comedy so good, it’s criminal. From Dan Goor and Mike Schur come all 23 kick-ass, second season episodes of the Golden Globe Award-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) are back for more hilarious hijinks as they team up with Brooklyn’s finest to make the precinct better than ever. As they deal with overbearing superiors, a drug task force, dating crimes, the questionable motives of close family, and a long-awaited interdepartmental romance, they discover there’s nothing like laughter when you’re staring danger in the face.

 

Synopsis used with permission

Posted under: Home Entertainment