Justice Denied Documentary Chronicles Racist Targeting of Chinese-American Bank

 

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Film Review by Kam Williams

Justice Denied Documentary Chronicles Racist Targeting of Chinese-American Bank

Asian-Americans are often referred to as the “model minority” because of their  success in the U.S. despite the existence of discrimination which has crippled other ethnic groups. However, the label has also led many a racist to misread Asian modesty as an invitation to treat them like doormats.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Film Review, Documentary, discrimination, Asian, Dr. David Dao, United Airlines, Thomas Sung

Consider the serious rudeness done to Dr. David Dao, the Vietnamese-American physician who was beaten to a pulp by the police and dragged off an airplane for refusing to surrender a seat that he’d paid for to a United Airlines employee flying for free. Lost in the sauce was the fact he and his family were very likely selected because of the color of their skin. After all, the airline employee probably specifically targeted the Dao family never expecting members of the model minority to put up much of a fuss about getting bumped.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a jaw-dropping documentary which chronicles an equally-outrageous example of bigotry, this time against the Sungs, a clan of Chinese-American immigrants. Inspired by the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” family Patriarch  Thomas Sung founded Abacus Federal Savings Bank in 1984 in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown.

He was motivated to help his community after repeatedly witnessing how other lending institutions were willing take Chinese people’s deposits, but were very hesitant to let them borrow any money. Abacus flourished over the years, and his daughters, Jill and Heather, joined the family business as executives after becoming lawyers.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Film Review, Documentary, discrimination, Asian, Dr. David Dao, United Airlines, Thomas Sung

The world came crashing down around them all when the bank and 19 of its employees were charged with conspiracy, larceny and fraud in the wake of of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. What’s stunning is that Abacus was the only financial institution the government ever held responsible criminally for the collapse of the mortgage market. Furthermore, the case was based entirely on evidence which Abacus itself had turned over to federal regulators  upon unearthing felonious behavior on the part of a loan officer it fired on the spot.

Was the ensuing prosecution malicious or warranted? Judge for yourself. But don’t be surprised if this chilling expose leaves you convinced the Sungs were innocent victims of a thoroughly corrupt legal system doling out “justice” in color-coded fashion, even when it comes to white-collar crime.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

In English, Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles

Running time: 88 minutes

Production Studio: Kartemquin Films

Distributor: PBS

For movies opening May 26, 2017

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

by Kam Williams

For movies opening May 26, 2017

MOVIES OPENING THIS WEEK,   Kam's Kapsules,  Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun,  by Kam Williams

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Baywatch (R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and pervasive profanity) Screen adaptation of the long-running TV series (1989-2001) as an unlikely-buddies action comedy about a veteran lifeguard (Dwayne Johnson) and a rebellious recruit (Zac Efron) forced to put aside their differences to take on a drug ring ruining the area. With Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach, and featuring cameos by original cast members David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson.     

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (PG-13 for violence and suggestive content) Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow for a swashbuckling adventure which finds the Black Pearl pursued by a ghost ship with a zombie crew under the command of an old nemesis (Javier Bardem). With Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and Kaya Scodelario.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

96 Souls (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller about a research scientist who, after a lab accident, discovers he’s able to read people’s minds. With Sid Veda, Paul Statman and Toyin Moses.

Black Butterfly (R for profanity) Suspense thriller revolving around a reclusive writer (Antonio Banderas) who, against his better judgment, invites a shady drifter (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to crash in his cabin during a serial killer’s reign of terror around the mountainous region. Supporting cast includes Piper Perabo, Abel Ferrara and Nicholas Aaron. 

Buena Vista Social Club: Adios (PG for mature themes, brief suggestive material and pervasive smoking) Concert documentary and sequel to the 2000 Oscar-nominee follows the final tour of the five surviving members of the band as they reflect on their careers and their contributions to Cuba’s musical culture. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Cruel and Unusual (Unrated) Miscarriage of justice documentary chronicling the 42 years straight spent in solitary confinement by Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Black Panthers targeted and convicted of murder without a shred of evidence besides the testimony of bribed and blind witnesses.

Drone (Unrated) Revenge thriller about an American drone pilot (Sean Bean) conducting covert bombing missions from the comfort of his hometown who suddenly finds himself accused of killing the innocent family of a grieving Pakistani businessman. (Patrick Sabongui). With Mary McCormack, Joel David Moore and Sharon Taylor. 

Long Strange Trip (R for profanity, graphic nudity and pervasive drug use) Warts-and-all rockumentary affording a revealing look at the life and times of the Grateful Dead. Featuring never before seen video footage of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Robert Hunter, Bill Kreutzmann and Pigpen.

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (Unrated) Prestige profile following the prima ballerina as she prepares to perform a modern dance piece while contemplating the end of her three-decade career with the New York City Ballet. 

The Women’s Balcony (Unrated) Tale of female empowerment, set in Jerusalem, revolving around the women members of an Orthodox congregation’s attempt to derail their new rabbi’s (Avraham Aviv Alush) plan to implement traditional gender roles at the synagogue. With Oma Banai, Yafit Asulin and Sharon Elimelech. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

Top Ten DVD List for May 23, 2017

 

This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 23, 2017

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/23/2017

Get Out               

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06WW76HBM/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Shake the Dust

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XRJ27W5/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

My Life as a Zucchini

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06WRTFKRY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

All Governments Lie

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XFHKFYF/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Enless Summer: Director’s Special Edition

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B003NAQ71A/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Injecting Aluminum

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XD1LBMM/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Gauguin: Maker of Myth

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XS2DS7N/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Unlocking the Cage

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XSG3LF2/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Shaquille O’Neal All-Star Comedy Jam: Live from Sin City

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XKJL4S4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XS27C3W/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Honorable Mention

On Any Sunday: Re-Mastered Director’s Special Edition

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000S88JTS/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Future of Work and Death

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XFLZ2FB/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Welcome to the Loud House: Season 1, Volume 1

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XNTYY64/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Outsiders: Season Two

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MRBK70B/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Peel: The Peru Project

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000GY729C/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Duck Dynasty: The Final Season

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B071H7X859/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Great Wall

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06WGLLYNQ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Rock Dog

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06ZZWYL1P/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Max 2: White House Hero

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XL1GNMP/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Masterpiece: Dark Angel

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N2VODGM/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Smithsonian: Air Warriors [Season 2]

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N78S405/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

David Holt’s State of Music: Season 2

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06X976B6R/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Special Blood

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B071YTMJNB/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Outsiders: Season 2

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MRBK70B/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Peg + Cat Save the World

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N4139CY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Vin Diesel Reprises Role He Originated in Latest Episode of High-Impact, Action Series

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage,  Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams, high-octane thriller, espionage adventure, James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, Vin DieselxXx: Return of Xander Cage

Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams

Vin Diesel Reprises Role He Originated in Latest Episode of High-Impact, Action Series 

When it was released back in 2002 , xXx grossed over a quarter-billion dollars worldwide in theaters alone. The visually-captivating espionage adventure starring Vin Diesel was reminiscent of James Bond, except it featured a hunkier hero and more spectacular stunts and special effects.

The high-octane thriller so overshadowed the relatively-mundane Die Another Day that year that Pierce Brosnan would soon be replaced by Daniel Craig as 007. Ironically, Vin Diesel was also replaced by Ice Cube in xXx 2, a drismal sequel that bombed at the box office, leaving a once-promising franchise on life support.

It’s taken a decade and a half, but Vin is finally reprising the role he originated. The good news is that the picture arrives laced with the sort of death-defying feats that made the first xXx such a hit. That means a plethora of action sequences in which our superhuman protagonist proves impervious to bullets and the laws of gravity.

There are also tons of the trademark titillation, coming courtesy of both Vin’s beefcake and a bevy of adoring beauties. Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: Return of Xander Cage even tips its hat to earlier episodes via cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube.

At the point of departure, we find Xander living under the radar in self-imposed exile in Latin America. He’s still an extreme sports enthusiast, and just for fun skis across the treetops of a verdant rain forest before switching to a skateboard for an equally-breathtaking ride down a winding mountainside highway.

Next thing you know, he’s being coaxed out of retirement by a CIA chief (Toni Collette) to keep the world safe for democracy. The mission involves retrieving a devastating weapon of mass destruction code-named “Pandora’s Box” that’s fallen into the hands of a gang of daredevils led by a diabolical trio (Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and Deepika Padukone) bent on world domination.

After jettisoning a standard-issue, U.S. military support team, Xander recruits a motley crew of renegades more in his own image. Can that rag-tag posse, composed of a crack sniper (Ruby Rose), a fearless getaway driver (Rory McCann), a state-of-the-art gadget wizard (Nina Dobrev) and an affable DJ/ jack-of-all-trades (Kris Wu), rise to the occasion?

Why not? Anything is possible, with cartoon physics on your side!

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and pervasive violence`

Running time: 107 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Home Media Distribution

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns; Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast; Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location; I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts; and a gag reel.

                                                                                                                                                         

To order a copy of xXx: Return of Xander Cage on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N9SFCYF/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Good, the Bad & the Really Ugly: Summer Movies Are Upon Us

 

The Good, the Bad & the Really Ugly: Summer Movies Are Upon Us

by Amy Lignor

 

Heading into your local theatre is wonderful in the summertime. Not only do you get to sit back and cool yourself off in the dark, air-conditioned place, but you also get to smell that amazing scent of freshly popped corn. Of course, it helps if the movie is actually good. So to help you out, here are the movies that will make you happy and those that are sure to disappoint. But remember, even if the movie deserves two thumbs down at least you’ll be cool and relaxed in those amazing reclining seats.

 

What’s first, you ask? Well, the biggest movies that people were waiting all winter to see have just begun with the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” This is the second installment of this space saga that Marvel minds created, and the first was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Spiderman: Homecoming, The Mummy, Stephen King, Johnny Depp, The Emoji Movieso good that Chris Pratt returns and even Bradley Cooper stars in this new volume. It’s an incredibly fun movie and Baby Groot is sure to be the “big toy” when Christmas comes along.

Soon (May 19th to be exact) one of the really ugly blockbusters will be hitting screens in the form of “Alien: Covenant.” Let’s face it, this is one series that should have stopped when Sigourney Weaver said “so long.” Actually, it should have stopped after film one, which was extremely well-acted and produced that godawful but highly memorable scene of the thing sprouting out of the guy’s stomach, which is still among the scariest moments on film. Not scary in the least, this new chapter has already received more thumbs down and rotten “vegetables” than you can imagine from film critics. The original Alien will be holding his head in shame.

 

What is bound to be a great one arrives on May 26th with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Even if you dislike Johnny Depp, he has proven to be the perfect pirate. This time around Captain Jack Sparrow will go up against a ghost captain, played by the very cool and usually scary Javier Bardem, who loves to kill the swarthy buccaneers of the sea. This will be swashbuckling in the best of ways. Depp has surely been missed!

 

Summer cannot possibly go without a superhero, and although Spiderman will get yet another shot come July 7th in “Spiderman: Homecoming,” most critics and fans are buzzing about Wonder Woman being the big hit. After being applauded in the hideous movie “Batman v. Superman,” this incredible character finally has a movie all her own. The Amazon princess is leaving her island behind to help an American pilot. Only Wonder Woman could bring about an end to World War I and it’s already being said that millions will be sitting in those reclining seats to watch this icon kick butt.

 

What looks to be another bad flick comes from Universal on June 9th. As it is with the new “Alien” movie, “The Mummy” will also return. The first two were smash hits: the dead guy who actually had scenes with only half a face was both handsome and frightening, and Brendan Fraser did a fantastic job of taking him down. Unfortunately, some brain in Hollywood thought it would be great to resurrect this franchise, but alter it completely. Tom Cruise is at the helm now – the actor who has shown in his later years that he should put in his job application to head that Scientology clan and leave acting behind. Worse yet, the actual dead guy is now going to be a dead girl covered in tattoos. She will be awoken from her banishment (not sure what she was banished for yet, but I assume it wasn’t for sleeping with the Pharaoh’s wife), and embark on a path of vengeance with only Cruise to stop her. Something tells me what should have been stopped was the making of this movie.

 

Those gigantic robots will also once again arise, and even if you find them mediocre, they are perfect for the big screen. After all, Director Michael Bay loves to blow up things and this time out he’s bound to give fans another fiery spectacle. Real actors, such as Anthony Hopkins will star in “Transformers: The Last Knight.” And Mark Wahlberg will return to provide fans with a war between humans and this colorful robot race. Get your tickets for this one ASAP!

 

If you’re looking to be scared to death this summer, there’s one horror/supernatural film destined for greatness and one that should have been shelved. The latter is based on the past as fans are taken back to a famous haunted house in “Amityville: The Awakening.” When it comes to the “must see” of this genre, the plot comes from the best writer in the business – the master of horror, Stephen King. “The Dark Tower” hits screens August 4th and should be a massive hit for star Matthew McConaughey. Fans have been waiting for this one for a long time and should be very pleased with the result.

 

If you’re looking for something for the kids, the “Cars” series is once again coming to the screen, as well as “Despicable Me 3” that is filled with comedy both kids and parents will enjoy. And in July, those ridiculous ‘faces’ we see every day are receiving their very first chance in “The Emoji Movie.” The story follows a ‘sad’ emoji who simply doesn’t understand why he can’t make other facial expressions like the rest of his friends. It may not be an Oscar winner for Best Animated Film, but something tells me the emoji’s will be more fun than walking down the blood-soaked halls of the Amityville dwelling.

 

Whatever happens, enjoy the popcorn!

 

 

For movies opening May 19, 2017

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

by Kam Williams

For movies opening May 19, 2017

MOVIES OPENING THIS WEEK,   Kam's Kapsules,  Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun,  by Kam Williams

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Alien: Covenant (R for violence, profanity, sexuality, nudity and bloody images) Sixth installment in the sci-fi franchise revolves around a spaceship crew which finds more than it bargained for when it lands on an uncharted planet from which it received radio signals. Ensemble cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Carmen Ejogo, Billy Crudup, Jussie Smollett and Danny McBride.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (PG for rude humor) Fourth installment in the franchise inspired by Jeff Kinney’s children’s book series features a new cast and finds the Heffley family embarking on a very eventful road trip to visit grandma on her 90th birthday. Co-starring Jason Drucker, Charlie Wright, Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott.

Everything, Everything (PG-13 for mature themes and brief sensuality) An enchanting, if bittersweet, bildungsroman about the love which blossoms between a sickly girl (Amandla Stenburg) growing up in an antiseptic bubble and the chivalrous Prince Charming (Nick Robinson) who moves in next-door. With Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera and Taylor Hickson.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Unrated) Justice system expose chronicling the five-year legal battle waged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. against Abacus Federal Savings, the Asian-American community bank which was the only financial institution to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

Devil’s Domain (Unrated) Revenge horror flick about a victim (Madi Vodane) of cyber-bullying who makes a deal with the Devil to get even with her tormentors. Cast includes Michael Madsen, Linda Bella and Zack Kozlow.

Fight for Space (Unrated) Pro-NASA documentary advocating for a more ambitious U.S. space program. Featuring commentary by astronaut Jim Lovell, physicist Michio Kaku and Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

Legion of Brothers (Unrated) War on Terror documentary recounting the exploits of the Special Forces unit sent on a covert mission to Afghanistan to track down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders behind the 9-11 attacks.   

The Survivalist (Unrated) Post-apocalyptic thriller, set in the wake of the collapse of civilization due to the exhaustion of petroleum, about a nomad ()Martin McCann) whose tiny farm hidden deep in the woods is discovered by a couple of starving women (Mia Goth and Olwen Fouere). Featuring Andrew Simpson, Douglas Russell and Kieri Kennedy.   

Wakefield (R for profanity and some sexuality) Midlife crisis drama about a burnt out attorney (Bryan Cranston) who hides in the attic from his family and the rest of the world after suffering a nervous breakdown. With Jennifer Garner, Beverly D’Angelo, Victoria Bruno, Pippa Bennett-Warner and Ellery Sprayberry. 

The Woman Who Left (Unrated) “Hell hath no fury” thriller revolving around a recently-exonerated inmate (Charo Santos-Concio) who hatches a plan to exact revenge on her ex-lover (Michael De Mesa) after spending 30 years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit. Supporting cast includes Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, John Lloyd Cruz and Mae Paner. (In Filipino with subtitles)

Prince Charming Courts Sickly Next-Door Neighbor in Bittersweet Coming-of-Age Tale

 

Everything, Everything,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Amandla Stenburg, SCID, Anika Noni Rose, Nick RobinsonEverything, Everything

Film Review by Kam Williams

Prince Charming Courts Sickly Next-Door Neighbor in Bittersweet Coming-of-Age Tale

It’s Maddy Whittier’s (Amandla Stenburg) 18th birthday, but she won’t be celebrating the occasion at a party or restaurant. In fact, she won’t be leaving the house or even having friends over anytime soon.

That’s because she has SCID, a rare genetic disorder that basically makes her allergic to everything. Consequently, she’s been stuck inside a hermetically-sealed house since being diagnosed with the disease at the age of 3, shortly after her father and brother’s untimely deaths in a terrible car crash.

Lucky for Maddy, her mom, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), is a physician who could afford to raise her in a luxurious, if sterile, environment free of the germs that could compromise her immune system in an instant. Although Maddy grew up curious about the outside world, she’s gotten used to exploring it over the internet with the help of online courses and a support group for kids with her sickness.

Then, Maddy receives the best birthday gift she could ever imagine when new neighbors move in right next-door. For, one member of the family, Olly (Nick Robinson), is a  boy about her own age. And all it takes is a glance through the glass window for the handsome hunk to fall head-over-heels in love with her.

Everything, Everything,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Amandla Stenburg, SCID, Anika Noni Rose, Nick Robinson

The ardent admirer uses sign language to ask Maddy for her phone number, before typing “U R beautiful” in his very first text. Olly’s zeal only increases upon learning about her crippling affliction, and he asks if there’s any way he could be decontaminated to come over for a visit.

But that’s against doctor’s orders, especially mom’s, which forces the lovebirds to admire each other from afar. Hormones raging, Maddy is suddenly discontent with her sheltered existence in an antiseptic gilded cage. 

Will she recklessly abandon the protective bubble to rush into the arms of a perfect Prince Charming she barely knows? That is the burning question at the heart of Everything, Everything, a bittersweet, bildungsroman based on the young adult novel by Nicola Yoon. The picture was directed by Stella Meghie who successfully adapted the book into a syrupy soap opera certain to satisfy fans of the source material.

A tender enough tearjerker to dehydrate even this crabby curmudgeon!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief sensuality

Running time: 96 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

<br

Franchise’s Fourth Episode Features New Cast Up to Old Tricks

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Film Review by Kam Williams, kitchen sink comedy, disastrous road trip, Jason Drucker, Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett ScottDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Film Review by Kam Williams

Franchise’s Fourth Episode Features New Cast Up to Old Tricks

According to Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul provides cinematic support for that pessimistic principle. For, this kitchen sink comedy relies on the domino effect to exacerbate the ever-mounting misfortunes visited upon the beleaguered Heffley family over the course of one disastrous, summer road trip.

The film is the fourth in the series based on Jeff Kinney’s illustrated children’s novels. It was directed by David Bowers who also made Wimpy Kid 2 and 3.

It’s understandable that the youngsters from the original might have aged out of their roles, though it’s a bit of a surprise that the movie features an entirely new cast, starting with Jason Drucker as the title character, Wimpy Greg Heffley. Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott play his parents, Susan and Frank, while Charlie Wright and Dylan Walters assume the roles of his older and younger brothers, Rodrick and Manny, respectively.

The premise of Wimpy Kid 4 revolves around a cross-country family outing to attend grandma’s 90th birthday party. The catch is that Susan envisions the drive as an opportunity to share quality time, so she collects everybody’s cell phone devices before departing.

This frustrates her fidgety brood who prove clueless without electronic devices. So Rodrick calls her “the worst mom ever” and sticks a “kidnapped” sign in the rear window which leads to their being pulled over by the police.

Subsequent eventful stops range from an overnight stay in a motel with rats in the pool  to a visit to a country fair where Manny wins a live piglet as a prize. The humor flowing from the escalating insanity is mostly of the bodily function variety: with farts, feces, burps and barfing being real crowd-pleasers.

Every skit is designed to keep the target audience of tykes and tots in stitches, with only occasional asides for adults, such as the inspired homage to Psycho’s legendary shower scene.

Altogether, a delightfully-mindless diversion for the pre-teen demographic!

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG for rude humor

Running time: 91 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Top Ten DVD List for May 16, 2017

 

This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 16, 2017 

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/15/2017

                     

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N9SFCYF/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

WWII Diaries: Turning Points of the War

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XNWKVJZ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Africa’s Great Civilizations

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N3QF3PW/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Gospel of Mark

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XCXZXWH/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Streets of Fire: Collector’s Edition

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06W52DKSP/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

American Experience: The Great War

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MSW7IVY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Ice: Season One

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XGSG45W/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Extortion

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06VVTWT8Y/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Kung Fu Zombies: 7 Killer Movies

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XNWKW7F/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Martin Clunes’ Islands of Australia

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01NHBT1QW/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Honorable Mention

A Mermaid’s Tale

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XH37H18/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Digimon Adventure Tri.: Reunion

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06VSW8VLQ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Frontline: Out of Gitmo

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N6UBWTW/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Special Forces: The Fight against Terror

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XPG1SP4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Nova: Why Trains Crash

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N7HJNSL/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTI22S4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Soviet Spies: 4 Film Collection

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XPGJHCX/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Bubble Guppies: Super Guppies

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XNRTNFK/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Nova: Viva Puerto Rico

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06VVNF6NJ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Life’s a Beach: 10 Movie Collection

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XPFFQ3M/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Take Flight

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MRV3UEX/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Space between Us

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MTDAZNW/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tiger Family Trip

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MQJ76CY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Ridley Scott Delivers a Worthy Addition to the Sci-Fi, Horror Franchise

 

Alien: Covenant,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Ridley Scott, James Franco, Michael Fassbender,  blood-curdlingAlien: Covenant

Film Review by Kam Williams

Ridley Scott Delivers a Worthy Addition to the Sci-Fi, Horror Franchise

Alien: Covenant is the 9th episode in the enduring, sci-fi franchise launched back in 1979, provided you count the trio of Alien vs. Predator spinoffs. This installment is a sequel to Prometheus (2012) which devoted fans know was a prequel to the original. Covenant was directed by the legendary Ridley Scott who also made the first and the previous picture in the series.

As the futuristic tale unfolds, we find the spaceship Covenant hurtling through the ether on a mission  to colonize a distant star with its cargo of 2,000 cryogenic humans and 1,140 frozen embryos. The crew, under the command of Captain Jacob Branson (James Franco), is composed of seven couples plus a state-of-the-art android named Walter (Michael Fassbender).

Before they reach their destination, the vessel is damaged by a “shock wave generated by a neutrino burst from a solar flare,” whatever that pretentious, scientific jargon means. The upshot is that the accident conveniently dovetails with the arrival of mysterious radio signals that appear to be human in nature.

Curiosity gets the better of them, and they divert the crippled craft to the source of the transmissions, an uncharted planet nearby. Against their better judgment, they dispatch an expedition team to the surface to determine whether the place is habitable and might thus serve as a substitute settlement spot for their hibernating pod people.

Unfortunately, the intrepid explorers are blissfully unaware that they’re being contaminated by a monstrous, microscopic virus that can enter a body through any open orifice. After a brief gestation period, the opportunistic infection drains the hosts of their vitality while simultaneously morphing into the drooling, gelatinous, man-eating creatures long associated with the Alien adventures.

Alien: Covenant,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Ridley Scott, James Franco, Michael Fassbender,  blood-curdling

This doesn’t bode well for the Covenant, and what ensues is a high burn-rate affair in which crew members are gradually picked off one-by-one, with each succumbing to a demise a little more grisly than the last. To paraphrase, the franchise’s immortal, inaugural tagline: In space, no one can still hear you scream, or save you from a body-snatching chestburster either.

A blood-curdling sequel and worthy addition to the series certain to scare the living daylights out of you!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for violence, profanity, sexuality, nudity and bloody images

Running time: 122 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox