No Escape (2015) R
Starring: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Writers: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
A Lethal Game of Hide and Seek
An inventor of a valve that "almost made it", Jack Driver (Owen Wilson), abandons his dreams of making it on his own in exchange for a more secure position with an international water company in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the natives do not take kindly to the loss of local jobs to this U.S. firm and go on a rampage killing everyone in sight. Owen confesses, "I thought we were helping them." His mission, by default, becomes saving his family at all costs, which means at times throwing his young girls to an adjoining roof, hopefully into the arms of his waiting wife (Lake Bell), physically stopping a looter from identifying where they are, and being willing to sacrifice himself for his family.
This movie grabs you by the throat and does not let up as this "average" family must face mortal challenges in the midst of a bloodthirsty mob determined to kill them. Pierce Brosnan as "Hammond" and his sidekick, "Kenny Rogers" (Sahajak Boonthanakit) provide some comic relief and firepower at the right time, but then their safe haven proves only temporary.
Not for the faint in heart. On the negative side, there are several scenes of random, heartless executions, a couple of f-bombs, and a main character who shamelessly says he visits prostitutes. There is also an attempted rape scene (shot from far away so you get the idea, but no close-ups). So, if you are looking for a well-executed story of an ordinary man caught in terrifying circumstances and don't mind the above elements, you will like it. You would think, however, during such a crisis someone would cry out to God, but no one does. The theme of doing all you can to save your family is a noble one. Yet, a humble man in a similar situation would quickly see his own limitations and simply cry out to His loving Creator.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1).
Starring: Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, Spiderman 3), Irrtan khan
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Distributor: Universal Pictures
An Animal Rights Frantic Dinosaur Munchfest
The island amusement park featuring genetically-engineered dinosaurs is in trouble, says Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), an executive for Jurassic World, to a group of potential sponsors, but not for long. Tourists are no longer satisfied with docile and well-known dinos. They want something bigger and more dangerous. Therefore, their scientists have created a spectacular creature to meet that demand, which makes investment a great opportunity.
Enter raptor whisperer, Owen (Chris Pratt), with a short romantic history with Claire, who claims to be the Alpha male in a pack of raptors he’s training. Against Claire’s wishes, the head honcho of Jurassic World, Simon Masrani (Irrtan Kan), requests that Owen examine the containment center for the new monster to make sure it is well-secured. Owen chastises Claire for her exploitation of the “animals” and warns her of the certain disaster that will take place, should her highly-intelligent predator ever escape, or be released.
Meanwhile, Claire’s two nephews show up for vacation. Her sister, Karen (Judy Greer) is sending them out alone hoping Claire will finally take the opportunity to get to know her sons, especially since she hasn’t seen them in seven years. Of course, the monster escapes and brings mayhem and death to this fun-filled, prehistoric paradise, with the boys and everyone else scrambling for their lives (Claire runs away in the woods with high-heel shoes).
This recent variation of Michael Crichton’s original, Jurassic Park, subtly advocates animal rights (Chris frequently spouts his love and respect for the animals, and Claire sheds tears when she sees a dying dinosaur, but hardly bats an eyelash when her co-workers are gobbled up like bacon bits) lacks witty exchanges, relies on constant chase-and-flight scenarios, and has multiple scenes showing dinosaurs opening their big toothy mouths, roaring, and chewing on people.
Chapter 41 of Job in the Old Testament describes what is called a “leviathan,” but, who knows, could be a dinosaur. Here are a few verses starting with verse 14: “Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted…Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing….Its undersides are jagged potherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge…Nothing on earth is its equal–a creature without fear.”
This is the chapter where God is responding to Job and challenging him to consider how little he really knows about Him, and His power. In other words, God is saying, “You see this awesome creature? Guess what? I made him.” Verse 10 states: “No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me?”
*Not for small children.
Eye In the Sky
Eye in the Sky (2016) R
Starring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: Guy Hibbert
Distributor: Bleecker Street Media
This movie will open your eyes to the amazing technology currently being used by the U.S. and its allies to hunt terrorists around the world as well as to the ethical questions surrounding drone warfare and collateral damage. The plot is simple. Several top terrorists are tracked to a house in Kenya. A drone, high in the sky, is armed with missiles, which are piloted by two soldiers in Nevada. A van with two Africans, a male and female, working with the Kenyan military on the ground nearby, has sophisticated spy equipment. One piece of espionage looks like a beetle, complete with beating wings, and is directed by a small, hand-held gaming-type device, which is actually a tiny camera that can fly through a window in the house and land on a rafter beam. It can lock onto a face, which is then used by military in Hawaii to positively identify the person from previous photos.
Helen Mirren plays British Colonel Katherine Powell who has been tracking a British citizen in the Kenyan house for six years. She is thrilled that there are also several other top-tier terrorists in attendance, as well as two young fanatics. What makes the strike all the more urgent is the fact these young jihadists are getting fitted for suicide vests. Powell pleads with her team in England, made up of an international legal counsel, a British Lieutenant General (a terrific Alan Rickman), a political leader (Jeremy Northram), and another high-ranking civilian woman permission to go ahead with the mission. Unfortunately, her plans get complicated when a young Kenyan girl arrives inside the target zone to sell bread for her family. The lawyer, politician, and the woman are against the strike arguing that a certain death of an innocent girl cannot be granted on moral grounds, not to mention the negative, international propaganda fall-out, which will certainly follow.
The tension of the movie is kept taunt throughout as different viewpoints are shared. The African spy gives money to a small boy to buy all the girl's bread in hopes that she will leave before the missile hits. Meanwhile, the suicide bombers are getting ready and no one knows how long all of these terrorists will stay in the house. The Colonel is pressing for a decision. Everyone seems to want to pass the buck. She tells a military technician to calculate where the projectile must land in order to reduce the girl's odds of surviving to at least 45 percent.
I would have given this film a PG-13 rating. There are few offensive words, no sexual content, and only one violent scene. The acting is well done, the story is well-paced, and the treatment of the subject is both relevant and thought-provoking.
"Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance" (Proverbs 20:18).
Kong: Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island (2017) PG-13
Starring: Kong (as himself), Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Distributor: Warners Bros.
If you're looking for dialogue with sparkling wit, romance, and fine acting...this is not your film. My big interest in the movie was to see the actor, Tom Hiddleston (who got my attention as Loki in the Avengers ) in another role. Unfortunately, except for a very brief display of mercenary skills in a bar scene and a few seconds of slicing up flying carnivores, Hiddleston's thespian skills are largely wasted. But, I understand. How can anyone compete with a mountain-sized ape who kills giant, slimy, snake-like creatures with his bare hands and then slurps them down like Raman noodles for an afternoon snack?
The real question no one asks is: How does such a mammoth of a mammal fall for a female of another species who is smaller than his big toe? I mean, he can hardly see her. Talk about being desperate!
Ah...poor guy...he's lonely and an ant farm is not an option.
Despite the lame script, I found Kong "hugely" entertaining to see with my 21-year-old son. The special effects were over the top and Kong is better than ever as a great protector of the unsmiling, island people with a soft spot for photo-journalists. He takes on every ugly thing that gets in his way with a roar that will make your hair stand on end and he makes a great shadow picture with a red sun in the background.
Great movie to watch with your older teens and young adults. Not for small children, of course. There are deaths aplenty through various means of dismemberment and impalement by some nasty creatures. Be aware that there is some strong language, though not excessive. Don't look for anything deep or spiritual. Buy a big bag of popcorn and let Kong entertain you. Bet you won't make it through the movie without smiling or saying under your breath: "Wow. That was cool."