Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly comic drama about a mother who starts a kind of personal war on the local law enforcement of a small Missouri town when they fail to catch her daughter’s killer. This is a masterfully crafted, highly unpredictable, and expertly acted film which manages its tones of grief and tragedy with black comedy very well. It is also an eye-opening depiction of rural America. I think Three Billboards is one of the best films of the year with superb characterization and a pretty good score too so I highly recommend you go see it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is surprisingly violent and in general a mature movie so I would suggest 14 and up for seeing this with kids.

Currently in Theaters.

 

 

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TV Review: Stranger Things (2016- ) [Season 2]

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The second season of the beloved sci-fi fantasy horror drama Stranger Things is just as good if not better than the first, the acting is still great especially from the kids and the music and special effects are even better this season. Stranger Things is the latest character driven show like Firefly, the kind where probably the best part of the show is the interactions between the awesomely written characters, and there is even more of that this time. This is the first time I have enjoyed the second season of a Netflix series anywhere near as much as the first and I think this season solidifies Stranger Things as my favorite currently running TV show.

There is some stuff that might scare little kids but obviously if your kids have seen season 1 they can see season 2.

Available only on Netflix.

Wind River (2017)

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Wind River is a chilling thriller about a veteran game tracker/hunter and an FBI agent working together to solve a murder on the Wind River Native American reservation. This film does an incredible job of creating a consistent cinematic atmosphere for its desolate, bleak location with the cinematography, music, and acting, all of which are fantastic. Jeremy Renner gives probably the best performance of his career and the score is hauntingly beautiful. The action scenes in Wind River are stunning, the level of tension and realism is very impressive, they are few in number but that just makes the handful of action scenes that much more poignant. Overall Wind River is an excellent and impactful neo-western thriller that I think is one of the best films of the year and I definitely recommend you watch.

I wouldn’t suggest letting your kids younger than 14 watch Wind River.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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Kong: Skull Island is the second film in Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse (after 2014’s Godzilla) and it is a very bad sign for the future of this cinematic universe. This movie is pretty easily the worst I have seen this year, the editing is atrocious, the characters are terribly uninteresting, the camera is aimed at Tom Hiddleston’s tight shirt for a ridiculous amount of the runtime, the attempts to be like a 70’s Vietnam movie got on my nerves pretty quickly, Kong himself looks cartoonish, and most of the scenes look like they were shot on a totally green set even when they weren’t. The first 30 to 50 minutes are moderately enjoyable as a popcorn flick but as soon as Tom Hiddleston grabs a katana out of midair, puts on a gas mask, runs through poison gas slicing monster-birds out of the air, and then proceeds to remove said gas mask while standing in poison gas without any consequences, Kong: Skull Island falls deep into an abyss of shockingly bad filmmaking. If you’re looking for a so-bad-it’s-good film to laugh at, this might be the one to watch, but if you were looking for a promising future for the MonsterVerse, than prepare for a huge disappointment. The fact that this is currently higher on Rotten Tomatoes than Godzilla, an exceptional film, baffles me to no end.

There is a lot of violence in Kong: Skull Island but I think kids 11 or 12 and up can probably handle it.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

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Spider-Man Homecoming is about Peter Parker’s life after his brush with The Avengers in Captain America Civil War. This film is way better than the marketing had convinced me it would be, the comedy, action, and tension are all handled excellently. The characters are great, Tom Holland does a marvelous job as Peter Parker, Micheal Keaton plays the best MCU villain in quite a while, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark does not overstay his welcome in the plot as I feared he would. A particular scene in Homecoming caught me off guard more than any film has since I saw Fight Club and created brilliantly crafted tension over the next 10-20 minutes. If you still can, I would definitely recommend seeing the highly refreshing and charming Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters.

Kids 10 and up shouldn’t have a problem with this film.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

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Valerian is a sci-fi film by Luc Besson about two special operatives trying to protect Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets, a huge metropolis housing species from a thousand planets. For a film from the director of The Fifth Element, a movie ahead of its time, Valerian is years behind its time. Similar to the 2009 film Avatar, Valerian received lots of hype, is full of CGI, has a cheesy and obvious message, and will leave no lasting impression on our culture. The casting for this film is really what killed it, Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne deliver mediocre at best performances and are just a bad fit for their characters. The score is highly disappointing because if nothing else this movie could have had good, memorable music, but instead it’s a cheap and generic imitation of the Star Wars scores. I wouldn’t recommend seeing Valerian unless all you want is eye candy, because that’s all it is.

Pretty much all kids should be able to watch Valerian.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

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War for the Planet of the Apes is the third entry in the rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy that has gotten better and better with every film. Matt Reeves has accomplished something incredible by creating such a technically impressive film with amazing motion capture technology as well as an emotional and meaningful story from start to finish where the audience cares a great deal for the characters, and he has made it even better than Dawn, which he in turn made superior to Rise. Andy Serkis as always does an amazing job of acting in motion capture and Michael Giacchino delivers one of the best scores of his career. I highly recommend watching or rewatching Rise and Dawn then going to see War for the Planet of the Apes because it is a beautiful, technically and emotionally impressive, masterpiece.

This is a fairly dark movie at times but if your kid has seen the first two films, they can probably handle the third.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.