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Rating History

The Host
The Host (2013)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In the newest inter-species love story from Stephanie Meyer, author of the "Twilight" saga, "THE HOST" starts out in the not-to-distant future with Earth being the perfect planet with no pollution, no wars, no crime, nothing but peace and tranquility, because the human race is no longer running the planet.

A race of souls have taken over all human bodies, replacing their consciousness with the souls' alien intelligence. Even though the human race has fallen, there are still a handful of humans fighting to survive and resist the earth's takeover by the alien species. The only way to differentiate between those who have been taken over and those have haven't is the almost glowing blue eyes of those who have been inhabited.

The film has Saoirse Ronan (pronounced Sir-shah) in the starring role as Melanie, who's possessed by the alien Wanderer, along with Max Irons as her love interest, Diane Kruger as another alien, The Seeker, and Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea. Saoirse plays almost a double role initially being Melanie in the beginning of the movie, but after she is captured and has the alien soul implanted in her, she becomes Wanderer (later shortened to Wanda) with Melanie's voice and consciousness in her head, refusing to give up and be taken over completely.

As in "Twilight", Meyers creates another love triangle of sorts when Melanie and Wanda are romantically interested in two different guys. The Seeker, played by Diane Kruger is relentlessly pursuing Wanderer in her obsessive mission to find the human resistance and crush them. Kruger is well known for her role opposite Nicholas Cage as his estranged combative wife in the popular "National Treasure" movies.

Ronan may look familiar from her role as the trouble making sister who wrongly accuses her sister's lover of a crime which he did not commit in the movie "Atonement" in 2007 for which she was subsequently nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, ranking her among the youngest persons ever to be nominated for the latter. More recently, she starred in the 2009 movie, "The Lovely Bones" as the spirit girl who was murdered and then watched in limbo as events unfolded regarding her demise. She was again nominated and awarded accolades and awards for her portrayal in that movie as well.

William Hurt plays Melanie's wise old uncle who had set up the safe haven where the few remaining humans fight for their lives. "The Host" was on my list of my most anticipated movies of 2013, and even though it is not a huge 3-D blockbuster film, it has all of the makings to begin a new popular movie franchise for Ms. Meyers now that "Twilight" has completed its run. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence, "THE HOST" opens in theaters March 29th.

Admission
Admission (2013)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, and Lily Tomlin stumble their way through this farcical romantic comedy that doesn't have much romance or comedy, except a few zingers delivered by Ms. Tomlin. The basic premise of the movie is that everyone in the Admissions Office at Princeton University cares more about maintaining their ranking as the #1 most desired University than they do about who they admit to their coveted school.

Tina Fey is Portia Nathan, one of many admissions office workers who travel their area of the country to encourage students to apply for admission at Princeton, only to be rejected when they do with an admission rate of 8%, one of the lowest in the country. As Portia is preparing to make her annual rounds of school visits, she gets a call from John Pressman (played by Paul Rudd), a former classmate from her own college days who has started a school for disadvantaged youth, inviting her to visit their campus.

When Portia arrives at the school, which isn't far from her own childhood home where her mother, played by Lily Tomlin still resides, she discovers it is more of a farm than the typical school campus she typically visits. Pressman introduces her to one particular student who he feels is Portia's son who she secretly gave up for adoption when they were in college together. Being married to her career after 16 years at Princeton as she lives with one of the professors at the school in a boring but stable psuedo-relationship, the last thing she wants intruding in her happily routine life is a child from her past.

Her mother, played by Lily Tomlin lives nearby and upon her visiting her mother, we learn they've had an estranged relationship for many years with many issues as they've each gone down their own independent path of life. What ensues after this brief character introduction and setup is neither romantic or very comedic.

With a few well timed zingers, primarily by Lily Tomlin, there are a few moments of laughter but in general the unpopped kernels of popcorn at the bottom of your bag of popcorn are more interesting than the storyline. The movie is predictable and lacks any depth of character development to get the audience invested in what happens to the characters. Maybe my expectations were too high given the usual level of comedy which we have come to expect from Ms. Fey. I enjoyed Lily Tomlin's performance, but that's about all I can say.

The Call
The Call (2013)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

It must be nerve wracking and heart wrenching to be a 911 operator and to be listening to people through the phone going through an emergency situation and you can't do anything more than dispatch the appropriate emergency services to their location and hope that they arrive in time to help!

Imagine if you couldn't even send help their way because they can't tell you where they are and the phone they are using doesn't have G.P.S. technology built into it! Imagine you are hearing that person begging and pleading for their life, and all you can do is listen. That's the situation where Halle Berry finds herself in the movie "THE CALL" with Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, and Michael Eklund.

Jordan Turner (Berry) is an experienced emergency services operator who takes a call at the beginning of the movie from a young girl, Leah Templeton as her house is being broken into by a burglar. Jordan tells her to hide upstairs in her bedroom to give the police time to get to her. When she hears him in the house coming up the stairs, Jordan instructs Leah to open her window and throw her shoes out of the window, but to hide under the bed. She does it and he takes the bait and heads back downstairs to pursue his prey, but just at that moment, the cell phone loses its signal and disconnects Leah from Jordan.

Instinctively Jordan hits the redial button to call Leah back, but the burglar hears her phone ringing upstairs and goes back upstairs to find Leah and takes her captive. Jordan knows that she is responsible for the girl being taken and when her body is found, naked and mutilated, Jordan blames herself for Leah's death.

Jumping ahead 6 months, Jordan once again is on the call when Casey Wilson, Abigail Breslin's character calls in, using a disposable phone without G.P.S. begging for help after being abducted at a shopping mall. She's been chloroformed and locked in the trunk of a car and her life is in Jordan's hands!

Michael Eklund plays psychopathic killer Michael Foster, who shows no hesitation killing anyone who attempts to stop him from accomplishing his dastardly mission with cute, blonde, young Casey. In spite of their best efforts they are unable to successfully track him down, even after he sets fire to a gas station attendant who attempts to rescue Casey after dousing him with gasoline.

At the advance screening I attended, Morris Chestnut and David Otunga surprised the audience who had packed the theater to see the movie. They apologized to the crowd that they weren't Halle Berry and that we had gotten stuck with the consolation prize by them attending instead of her. They both play L.A.P.D. officers who are friends of Jordan's having worked with her for a long time. They are intent on doing everything they can do to help Jordan avoid losing another caller like Leah Templeton! But then Jordan notices something that MAKES THIS PERSONAL and she heads out to see what she can do to help Casey.

"THE CALL" is rated "R" for the violence and dangerous situations it portrays. Halle Berry gives one of her best performances in several years and Abigail Breslin has come a long way from being "Little Miss Sunshine" just a few years ago. You're going to love the unorthodox ending that you typically don't see in a movie!

Olympus Has Fallen
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I sincerely hope that we never see the graphic images for real that are brilliantly portrayed in the action-thriller movie, "OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN"! Gerard Butler gives the best performance of his career in this non-stop action adventure that does the best job I've ever seen of delivering awesome action on the screen, but keeps it REAL, so that it is not so over-the-top that you are sitting there thinking, "That could never really happen." like most of the "Mission Impossible" movies or the "Die Hard" movies. Butler plays a secret service agent who is disgraced and demoted after a tragic accident who finds himself on desk duty in the Treasury Department, wishing he could return back to protecting the President and his son.

In a very meticulously planned and executed plot to take over the White House and capture the President along with key cabinet officials, the North Koreans successfully attack the White House just as the President is meeting with the South Korean delegation and are whisked away to an underground bunker beneath the White House where he can take command. For the safety of the Korean delegation, they are rushed along into the bunker with the President and his staff, only to discover after they are safely secured behind the locked vault doors that members of the Korean delegation are not South Korean but North Korean who quickly subdue all security and begin to execute their plan to steal the nuclear codes for our missiles across the United States.

The Koreans note to the President, "It takes your nearest military 15 minutes to respond in a crisis. We took you down in 13." The terrorists know that the President will never divulge his portion of the nuclear codes unless they can get his son, Connor to use as leverage. After seeing the carnage taking place at the White House, Mike Banning, played by Butler, springs into action with his Special Ops training kicking in and running on adrenaline overdrive he finds his way into the White House as security forces and secret service agents are dropping like flies all around him. His primary mission is to find and rescue the President's son.

When Banning informs the operations center, "Sparkplug is secure!", the theater cheered and clapped, one of many audible audience reactions throughout the movie. "OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN" is a very engaging film, particularly with our heightened awareness of the terrorism dangers we face daily in the United States since 9/11. When an attack plane clips the Washington Monument as it is crashing to the Washington Mall lawn, the images of it starting to crumble and implode upon itself was almost too reminiscent of the World Trade Center towers toppling down.

It is amazingly ironic that this movie is being released just at a time when North Korea is actually escalating their military powers and antagonizing the United States, South Korea, and all of our allies with threats of nuclear attacks and war.
Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman and the military operations center watch helplessly as one after another rescue effort is thwarted by the North Korean intruders.

Morgan Freeman plays the Speaker of the House who takes over as acting President when both the President and Vice President are taken hostage. I would hope that in a real situation such as the one portrayed in the film, that the leaders' decision making would not be swayed quite as easily as it was depicted in the movie, sacrificing the safety of the entire country just for the sake of saving one small group of people or one man, or that our military is really as inept and easily defeated in real life as they are in this film. "OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN" is rated "R" due to the violence and bloody scenes throughout the movie. With the realism of the set design and depictions of Washinton, D.C. sites, it seems like our nation's capitol must actually be in a shambles. That's how REAL this movie feels. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and even though it is violent and bloody, it's not anything worse than most kids see these days in their video games.

A Good Day To Die Hard
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Bruce Willis welcomed the audience to the red carpet event in New York City along with Jai Courtney, who plays his son in this latest addition to the DIE HARD series, which began 25 long years ago as just "something to do while 'Moonlighting' (Bruce Willis' popular TV series with Cybil Shepard) was on an 11 week hiatus waiting for Shepard to have her baby.", Willis revealed to Jimmy Fallon on his show this week.

As the fifth movie in the series and the first one since 2007, this time John McClane is off to Russia to rescue his estranged son, John "Jack" McClane, Jr. after he was arrested for his involvement in an assassination. Upon his arrival in Moscow, before he even arrives at his hotel, the action begins as he is stuck in a traffic jam on his way to see the courthouse where Jack is going to be facing his charges, unaware that the trial has already begun.

Jack has agreed to assist the state in their prosecution of Komarov, an enemy of the leader of the Russian government, in return for a lighter sentence, but in reality is using the trial as a way to protect Komarov from government assassins trying to silence him. Komarov has claimed he has a file which would be damaging to the political aspirations of Viktor Chagarin, a corrupt Russian leader and Chagarin has deployed his assassin team to make sure that file is retrieved and destroyed.

Of course, just as his dad is approaching the courthouse on foot due to the immense traffic jam, there is a wall shattering explosion intended to kill Komarov inside the courthouse, but being shielded from the blast by the prisoner witness cell, Jack and Komarov make good their escape as Jack informs Komarov he is there to protect him, not to be against him.

Making good their escape by commandeering a van, Jack comes face to face with his dad, who is trying to figure out why the son he came to Moscow to rescue is trying to escape the Russian assassins with the Russian dissident. As Jack continues his getaway being pursued by the Russians, John McClane decides that regardless of their strained relationship, he went to Moscow to help his son, so he begins to race to his assistance in probably the most outrageous car chase scene I've ever seen depicted in any movie.

When I'm watching a movie, I try to look for the slightest bit of realism unless the movie is a science fiction, futuristic fantasy, which of course opens the door wide open for anything to happen. But when you have a film taking place today, in the real world, I expect it to have some degree of believability. Watching a total stranger to Moscow commandeering vehicle after vehicle to give chase to his son and the assassins trying to kill him, driving a huge military vehicle off of an overpass down onto the traffic jam below it, and driving across cars, trucks, and vans till he finally gets down to the pavement below is beyond the scope of reality, even for John McClane. He seemingly must have innate GPS because he knows the streets and highways of Moscow like he's been driving them for years, knowing his way around like an expert. He goes driving the wrong way on a freeway, crashing into vehicle after vehicle as he shoves them aside.

Eventually the plot takes the viewer to Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear meltdown in history where the Russians go in wearing radiation haz-mat suits, but the McClanes require no such protection from the radiation. There are numerous explosions of everything from cars and vans to military trucks, helicopters and buildings with non-stop action from start to finish. To escape from an attack helicopters missile assault and gunpower, the father-son duo go diving down a construction chute, freefalling hundreds of feet into a dumpster, and get up and walk away unscathed. SERIOUSLY???

The thing that has always made the "Die Hard" series of movies so popular was how you could really see John McClane actually being able to pull off his sometimes ridiculous, but still believable heroic stunts to save the day. But this one just goes too far. Will there be a sixth "Die Hard" movie? Of course there will. The mantle has been passed to the new generation of McClanes with John Jr. played by Jai Courtney. And people will probably go, just to see what heroics the McClanes are up to. Hopefully it will take another 6 or 7 years before we are subjected to it and maybe the next one will return back to the realistic roots that made the "Die Hard" movies so enjoyable. - See more at: http://cwlangley.com/blog/my-review-a-good-day-to-die-hard/#sthash.vxWLI7Ly.dpuf