‘San Andreas’ really shakes up the big screen

Art Parkinson, Alexandra Daddario, and Hugo Johnstone-Burt in ‘San Andreas’

Starring:  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Will Yun Lee, Archie Punjabi and Kylie Minogue.
Written by:  Carlton Cruse (screenplay) and Andre Fabrizio & Jeremy Passmore (story)
Directed by:  Brad Peyton

The disaster film genre came to major prominence in the 1970s, with Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno and Earthquake.   In fact, disaster films were around from the beginning of the 20th century, they just never reached the kind of commercial and critical success the aforementioned movies managed to achieve.  Airport garnered 10 Oscar nominations and a Best Supporting Actress Award for Helen Hayes.  The genre died out in the early 1980s and remained dormant until Titanic smashed all kinds of records in 1997.  2004’s The Day After Tomorrow brought home over one-half a billion in worldwide box office.

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‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ tries to do too much

Andrew Garfield spin another web in 'Amazing Spider-Man 2'
Andrew Garfield spin another web in ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’

[rating=3]Starring:  Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz and Marton Csokas
W
riter(s):  Alex Kurtman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner (screenplay); Kurtzman, Orci, Pinkner and James Vanderbilt (screen story), from the comic book created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Director(s):  Marc Webb

It’s tough to reboot a film franchise.  It’s even tougher to do when you’re doing it only ten years after the film that (to borrow an overused meme) “jumped the shark” comes out.  But The Amazing Spider-Man did just that in 2012 and did it very well.  The sequel, The Amazing Spiderman 2 has just opened, and with two more films (plus spinoffs) already scheduled, the expectations were high.  Especially with the key cast members all back and Marc Webb in the big chair.

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Save time for ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks'
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Saving Mr. Banks is a movie that tells two tales to its audience.  The expected story of how the fictional character created by writer P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) finally becomes a major motion picture thanks to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and the childhood of the author.  Known as Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley) in those days, this story tells the audience just how Ms Travers became the stubborn, difficult woman she was.

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Don’t wait even 12 minutes before seeing ‘12 Years A Slave’

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paul Giamatti in '12 Years A Slave'
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paul Giamatti in ’12 Years A Slave’

In 1852, the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly)” by Harriet Beecher Stowe was published for the first time.  It was like pouring gasoline over the already raging argument over slavery in the U.S.  11 years earlier, Solomon Northrup was a free man living a good life in Saratoga, NY.  He played the violin and worked at other skilled professions to earn a living.  He was married with two children.  Then he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.  He would remain there until being freed a dozen years later.  Then he wrote his own book, “12 Years A Slave” which also became a bestseller.  However, while the novel is very well known in this era, the story of Solomon Northrup was virtually unknown.   Until his book was made into an outstanding film.

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‘Rock of Ages’ is a bit off key

Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta in 'Rock of Ages'
Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta in ‘Rock of Ages’

[rating=2]Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Malin Ackerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston
Director(s): Adam Shankman
Writer(s): Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb – screeplay, Chris D’arienzo – musical book

Eighties era rock music.  An iconic Sunset Strip club that is struggling to survive.  A rock “god” who got his start there who is willing to help.  A young girl who followed the seemingly nonsensical advice of others to pursue her dream of being a singer and left small-town USA for Hollywood.  A young barback who works at this club, but is pursuing his own dreams of music stardom with his own band.  The wife of the newly elected mayor of the city who is focused on shutting that club down once and for all.

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