Monday, May 28, 2012

Men in Black III

Men In Black III
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Emma Thompson
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content

Agent J (Will Smith) has to go back in time to prevent the murder of his partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones in 2012; Josh Brolin in 1969) at the hands of a time travelling alien.

Men in Black pretty much made the comic action movie genre. And they haven’t beaten us to death with sequels and reboots regardless of how much the public asked for them. They had a great idea and they stuck with it, not playing with the formula too much. Men in Black was great, MiB2 was flawed, MiB3 is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.

It is good for kids? This is a true PG13 movie, in my opinion. The beginning is the most packed with 12 and under inappropriateness. There is a woman in a skimpy, tight outfit; some sexually suggestive dialogue and some really over-the-top kissing (the tongues start outside the mouths). You would avoid that if you don’t take your child in until the first five minutes are over. That sadly prevents you from the setup for the whole movie though.

The main concern for the 12 and unders is the violence. There is a lot more violence in this MiB than in the two previous. I don’t want to give anything about the bad guy but his ‘power’ yields a much more conventional style of alien and human death.

And, of course, as his goal is murdering Agent K before K has a chance to catch and imprison him there is the stressor of a beloved human character dying.

I won’t get into the moral implications of aliens dying being okay and human dying being not okay. I don’t need to for this movie. The screenwriter (Etan Cohen) manages the stunning feat of making this an exciting action movie with several morals tied in that make you think. Nothing is heavy handed and he even manages the whole time travel paradox issue nicely.

You really need to decide for yourself if this is okay for your 12 and under. It is a fine line, I think. I definitely would not recommend this movie for any child under 8 no matter how sophisticated. There are moments that would be scary for children as the bad guy is different than the previous bad guys in the MiB franchise. I guess the 14 year time span between the first movie and this latest offering has changed the scope of what moviegoers expect from their villains. Plus when you’re taking about assassinating the best MiB agent ever it needs to be worthy foe.

For movie goers aged 13 and older, I highly recommend this movie. The theater was packed at the 4:30 showing we attended. We were there 20 minutes before the show started and had to sit in the second row. Second row, people. With 20 minutes to show time. The second row shouldn’t even exist. I needed a neck rub when we were done. But that’s our fault. The one quibble that I can blame the studio for … 30 minutes of previews. That is way too many. By the time they were over we were out of popcorn and I had vowed not to go see any of the movies, I was so annoyed. All that said, this is officially my favorite Men in Black. It was funny, it was exciting, it was entertaining, the plot kept you thinking, and it was touching. Yeah, I said touching. Oh and Josh Brolin needs to win several awards for his dead on portrayal of the younger Agent K. Like a Nobel prize and the World Series. He’s THAT good.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix

Want to see movie times for Men in Black III?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Real Steel

Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action and brief language
Starring Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly and Dakota Goyo
Running time: 127 minutes

I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan, so I had high expectations for this film especially after the previous reviews on how great it was.  I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was all about, and if Hugh was flexing his muscles a lot in the movie…even better!  I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. 

Now, I really dislike giving a bad review.  I’m pretty easy to please, so I can generally find a happy spot in most books and movies.  There were some happy spots in Real Steel for me, sure.  The computer-generated robots and animatronics were quite impressive, earning a nomination in this year’s Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects.  The music was pretty darn fantastic too…if you like rock, which I do.

Our story starts out with Charlie (Hugh Jackman), a washed-up pugilist-turned-robot boxer-slash-gambler, just trying to make a living out on the boxing circuit.  The year is 2020 and these high-tech robots have replaced humans in this dangerous sport. 

His son, Max (Dakota Goyo), is dumped on his doorstep and Charlie is suddenly forced into parenthood.  It becomes obvious that he is severely lacking in parenting skills.  Heck, Charlie can barely take care of himself!  But soon, they are bonding over robots since Max is conveniently a boxing and video game enthusiast. 

Max acquires a bot named Atom that was a sparring robot, and now he’s the one who is betting big and over-confident that Atom will win, but this time you believe it.  With Charlie, you didn’t.

As I was watching the music montage scene of Max and Atom becoming acquainted, I thought what 11 year-old boy wouldn’t want a “real” life-size toy robot to play with except this toy can pick up Dumpsters. 

Evangeline Lilly plays Bailey, an ex-girlfriend who helps Charlie build his robots, and nudges him to step up and be a father to Max but it’s so obvious that Charlie has some growing up to do on his own.

Atom’s success takes them to the top with a few run-ins with some antagonists along the way, of course.  Charlie’s shining moment comes when he’s ultimately fighting in the championship because Atom malfunctions and shadows Charlie’s boxing moves. But, I didn’t feel it, the teary-feel-good glory moment that I was supposed to as we watch Charlie’s long-awaited time in the spotlight despite the inspirational music and happy crying from Bailey and Max.

There is some fine acting in this film.  The boy who plays Max is first rate, and we know Evangeline Lilly and Hugh Jackman are masters in their own realm (television and stage).  There’s violence, obviously, and one cuss word of the sh- - variety.  I think older boys (husbands, too) would enjoy this movie for its high-tech special effects, but there is a gritty undertone to it when Charlie’s on the illegal circuit and all the seedy gambling is going on.

I guess ultimately this story was about father-son love and the movie hits that happy spot satisfactorily. But if there’s a Real Steel 2 it wouldn’t hurt for Charlie to have a little more character growth, and it’d be nice if he took his shirt off too.

Reviewed by Beth Balberchak

Friday, May 18, 2012

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Sadly, this is not the best week for family-friendly films.  Here's what we've got:

Rated PG-13
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, and Liam Neeson

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals. (IMdB)

Currently, it is receiving a 6.3 out of ten rating from critics and users on IMdB. The trailer doesn't excite me. I'm not likely to see this one.  If any Flixy Mom readers see Battleship and would like to give their opinion in a review, feel free to post it here!  It's greatly appreciated.

Now, the good news is, there are some hotly anticipated films about to release in the next couple of weeks!


They are:

That's right!  Will and Tommy Lee are back in 

Men in Black 3
Rated PG-13
This one also stars Josh Brolin as a young Agent K (TL Jones)
Opens in theaters Friday, May 25th

And if that wasn't cool enough, there is also this one:

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Rated PG
Starring the usual funny zoo crew: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer
Opening in theaters on Friday, June 8th

It is often my experience that the entertainment value of sequels starts to dwindle somewhere around #2, but Madagascar 2, in my opinion, was just as good, if not better than the first, and the trailers for this third installment look promising.  Fingers crossed.

Well, that's it for the next couple of weeks anyway in terms of movies to theaters.  In the meantime, we will be reviewing some fun (or not so fun?) DVD releases for you.  Tomorrow, join us for a review of Real Steel.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Avengers

Rated PG-13
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlet Johansson Running time: 142 minutes

I had the opportunity to see this highly anticipated film over the weekend, and it was well worth the ticket price!!

This movie is two and a half hours of action. I suspect because they have so many main characters to introduce to the audience and to each other they jump right into the story without a slow build, or even really needing one. We meet the villain within the first five minutes, and an action sequence ensues. So, if you don't know anything about this movie it is the culmination of the movies Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, which began in 2008 and finished up in 2011 dropping hints that yes, there will indeed be a movie tying them all together. In this movie Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D agents Black Widow and Hawkeye are brought together when the earth is attacked by Loki, the God of Mischief, and his army of aliens(the Chitauri).

Director Joss Whedon brings the heroes together beautifully, giving equal time to each hero, and never alters the personalities the characters had in their own movies, but allows them to come together into one group that has bonded by the end of the movie. Joss generously gives us Iron Man vs. Thor, Thor vs. Hulk and Black Widow vs. Hawkeye for anyone who ever wondered just who would win if... which, admittedly I've wondered. Besides the action I actually laughed out loud several times, there are a lot of great one-liners delivered by the heroes and the villain. The end sequence was one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen in a superhero film. They show you a close up of these heroes fighting, and then off to another scene of another hero saving civilians, and then they pan back and you can see a main battle happening in the center of the city, while off to the top left is that fight you were just watching close up of your heroes fighting, and down on the ground is that hero saving the civilians. It was amazing, sweeping view of a battle. All in all the movie is good from beginning to the rewarding/satisfying ending, and be sure to stay until after the credits role for a hidden scene.

This movie is rated PG-13, and now for the big question: is this superhero movie okay for a child under 13? Well, I'd say yes. How young, that's up to you. As I mentioned at the beginning, this movie is two and a half hours of action aka violence. Most of the violence in the movie is focused on aliens, (who look like monsters), which makes it hard to feel a lot of empathy for them, and they seem pretty cartoony. The fights are quick and there's no blood in any of the alien fights. Although, there are several gun fights earlier in the film, and about four of what I'd call actual graphic scenes. These include two stabbings of actual named characters; Loki removing someone's eyeball, although they pan away from this, so the horror of it is just implied. There is one scene where someone's entrails are hanging out of their body, though it's quick and it's from the back. There is a death of a named character. There is also mild language.

So, major thumbs up for this film. It's a really fun, action-packed blockbuster that actually took some time to get to know who these superheroes are.

Reviewed by Dawn McCullough-White

Want to find a theater near you showing The Avengers? Visit

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Rated PG for mild action and mildly rude humor
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tenant, and Imelda Staunton
Running Time: 88 minutes

YAWN! I was so disappointed in this movie. The trailers made it seem so funny, but alas, me hearties, it was nothing of the sort. There were some mild chuckles here and there, but even the children weren't guffawing at the "jokes" and, frankly, I've noticed it takes very little to get the wee set to rollicking laughter.

The theater crowd was mostly 10 and under with my daughter being the oldest. One set of incredibly redue people brought a baby. Not a tiny thing in arms, sleeping so their older child could enjoy the movie, but the two of them and an 8 month who cried and yelled off and on for the first half of the show. Not that it really detracted from the enjoyment. Of which, I may have mentioned, there was very little.

It wasn't a bad movie by any stretch, just pallid. And we LOVE pirates, normally.

There was a mildly "suggestive" comment early on about scantily clad mermaids and an "action" scene toward the very end. Nothing to concern yourself with as the remark in in passing and definitely over the heads of the younger audience members.

Most concerning is the historical rewrite of Charles Darwin as a love-struck fool and Queen Victoria as an evil *bleep* (rhymes with witch). Both real life personages deserved better than to be maligned for . . . cinematic flotsam.

There was a moral, but it was too muddled and also over the head of the target audience. Teasing and hurtful comments are made to the star, The Pirate Captain, who takes them to heart and makes bad choices as a result. Despite his poor treatment of friend and crew members, all's well that ends well, and all that.

Save your money.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix