The Book of Henry (2017)

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The Book of Henry is a drama/thriller focused around a family made up of Henry, a genius 11 year old that takes care of everything for his family, sometimes self-doubting single mother Susan, and Peter, the younger brother that looks up to Henry. The film is about their discovery of a dangerous secret relating to Henry’s classmate that lives next door, and their plan to help. This is a very intelligently made, superbly shot, and well written (the script supposedly took 20 years to write) film that deals with some pretty dark subjects. The Book of Henry has a sudden intentionally jarring shift in tone but I believe it was executed quite well, the acting here is excellent, especially from the child actors, Michael Giacchino also delivers yet another great score for this movie. I would recommend going to see The Book of Henry if you’re looking for a well-crafted drama, but just remember it’s a tearjerker.

I wouldn’t particularly recommend bringing kids younger than 12 to this movie, most of the darker content is off-screen but I don’t think younger kids would enjoy it anyway.

Currently in Theaters

The Lost City of Z (2017)

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The Lost City of Z is a biographical drama based on the life of British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who attempted to find a supposed ancient city deep in the jungle of Amazonia. The acting is very good and I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful score that helps kept the movie afloat. This film was beautifully shot in actual parts of the Amazon jungle and it really shows, The Lost City of Z is a visually amazing movie. This a rare breed of film nowadays and I recommend you see it.

I’m pretty sure kids 12 or 13 and up could see this movie.

TV Review: Babylon 5 (1994-1998)

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Babylon 5 is a complex space opera that centers around the space station known as Babylon 5 and it’s mission to create piece between humans and aliens in the year 2258. Unlike most science fiction TV at the time this series was created, Babylon 5 is set in a “five season video novel format” which entails that the many plot lines of the series last multiple seasons and aren’t wrapped up in 40 minutes. You may dislike or even hate the pilot episode but if you stick with it you will be rewarded with great character development and a startlingly realistic tense political drama, in space. My only large complaint about Babylon 5 is that season five feels very tacked on, this is because during production of season four it was looking like the series was going to be canceled, so nearly all main plot lines were wrapped up before the final season even started. Overall I think Babylon 5 succeeded at its goal of creating a long novel-esque political space opera with very good characters, so if you can find it I recommend giving it a try, and remember it gets a lot better than the pilot.

All of the content in Babylon 5 is likely suitable for kids 10 and up, however they may not enjoy it until around 13.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

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Ghost in the Shell is a sci-fi action film that takes place in a future where technological advances have allowed humans to cyber-enhance themselves with synthetic/robotic parts. The film centers around Major, the first of her kind, a human who’s brain has been implanted into a fully synthetic body and is placed in Section 9, an intelligence department tasked with taking down dangerous criminals. The amazing CGI and great music that are seamlessly blended into the film along with the well done cinematography create an extremely well realized world, with a very unique atmosphere and style. Though I cannot compare them to the original performances in the 1995 anime having never seen it, I really enjoyed the characters who are quite unique as well. The 1st and 2nd acts did feel a little bit slow to me, but within acceptable standards so I would still recommend going to see this movie even if you’re not a fan of the original and especially if you like stylized and visually developed science-fiction.

I think kids 13 and up should be able to handle everything in this film.

Currently in Theaters.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

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UNMISSABLE

John Wick: Chapter 2 is the action/crime/thriller followup to 2014’s John Wick, I’m not going to reveal the plot because I went in knowing practically nothing and I loved it. The action is just as well if not better choreographed than in the first film and it’s all shot with very few quick cuts, shaky cam, or even stunt doubles, Keanu Reaves does 95% of his own stunts in this film, and that definitely shows. John Wick: Chapter 2 feels a lot more like part of a trilogy or the middle 3 episodes of a Netflix series than the pretty self-contained John Wick, this is definitely not a bad thing though because it makes the story feel broader and richer while setting up the third movie. This movie shows that the organization of assassins shown in John Wick is just the tip of the iceberg by expanding this new universe of impressive action films. I highly recommend seeing this if you’re a fan of the first one but if you haven’t seen it than you MUST watch it before seeing the equally if not more excellent sequel.

There is lots and lots of violence shown without cutaways unlike most action films as well as some brief nudity so I’d say 14 and up can watch John Wick: Chapter 2.

TV Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-)

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Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is an extremely unique and whimsical self-aware story about three siblings orphaned by a deadly fire uncovering dark family secrets and it is based on the book series of the same name. Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton are great, the child actors are pretty good and I really loved the soundtrack. The story is told/narrated by Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) in a way that gives a feeling of peculiarity and freshness to the show. I highly recommend trying A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix because you have without a doubt never seen anything like it, at first it will seem very strange and unusual but you will quickly get used to it’s unique atmosphere and learn to embrace it by the time you finish season 1.

Although intentionally dark and despairing, this series is actually kind of lighthearted, kids 9 and up can probably watch it without a problem.

Available on Netflix.

Arrival (2016)

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Arrival is a hard science fiction film about mysterious spaceships suddenly appearing around earth and revolves around the linguist who is selected to communicate with the alien visitors. I was a little bit underwhelmed by this film because it had been over-hyped to me but it is a great movie with really good production design. Arrival is a slow burn but it pulls it off very well, If you enjoy the hard sci-fi genre then you will no doubt like this film.

Kids 10 and up should be able to watch Arrival but some may find it boring.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.