Disney’s neo-classic streak continues with Moana, a not wholly original, but still thoroughly enjoyable film for the family to enjoy during the holidays. While many of the elements of the film may seem rather familiar (one could almost call this Aladdin on the water), there’s enough originality and freshness, not to mention lush, gorgeous visuals to make up for any lack of originality.



moana-1Moana opens on the fictional island of Motunui and is the setting for the latest installment in the Disney Princess franchise.  Hey, having ventured to the frozen North, why not give us a tropical adventure!  Our heroine Moana must defy her father’s rules to discover her hidden talents and ultimately her place as ruler of her people.   Along for the ride are a memorable cast including Maui the demigod with magical tattoos and Hei Hei the dim witted chicken.  Together they will embark on a forbidden journey across a perilous sea to restore the heart of creation. moana-chicken

Drawing heavily on pacific island folklore, Moana delivers another Disney classic just in time for the holidays.  A family friendly adventure that is sure to please kids and adults alike.   While this movie delivers many of the classic elements that make Disney movies memorable, one key ingredient seemed to be lacking, the memorable songs.  I could be mistaken, but I don’t foresee countless kids singing How Far I’ll Go the same way as they did Let It Go… Music aside, the story is enjoyable and the Moana is sure to take her rightful place alongside other memorable Disney Princesses.

moana-2While my daughter loved this Disney movie as much as any other, I did not find it as appealing and loveable.  Perhaps it was the lacking villain but I did not find myself as drawn in as other Disney movies.  My small reservation aside, rest assured, Moana will be a worthwhile outing with your family this holiday. Amidst the island folklore of creation and some rebellious moments is a real gem of a scene where Maui asks forgiveness.  Modeling accountability and remorse, this scene really stands out for its blatant honesty and confession.  A great opportunity to discuss confession, accountability and grace with your children!

5 out of 7Rated PG for mild peril and a few scary sequences, Moana makes a worthwhile family outing this Holiday.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


One thing is clear, the wizarding world has far more charm across the pond than it does here stateside. Case-in-point; in the UK they call people without magic “muggles;” a fun and charming word. Here in the states people without magical abilities are called “no maj;” as in no magic, get it? Yeah, subtle and inventive; way to go Yanks. The same could be said of the latest entry into the cinematic world of Harry Potter, while Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them certainly has its own charms at times, it simply falls short of the originals and fails to completely recapture the magic of the Harry Potter world. Still, for Potter fans, it should be enough to get their fix after missing this world for the past five years.



arrival-2016-poster-11This review will be brief: go see the movie.  I am really interested in writing a review for this movie, but to do so may introduce spoilers and if anyone spoils this movie, they should be banished from reviewland.  So my main point in writing is to encourage all of you to go see this movie.  Here is what I can say, what a great trailer! Gives you a small glimpse without revealing much.  Leaving the audience to be surprised as the the plot reveals come.  This is not an Independence Day movie, this is a thinking mans movie.  It is as close to an original story as one can expect with an “alien” movie.  Prepare to pay close attention and walk out with your friends/family conversing over all the nuanced details and open questions.  There are sure to be some frustrated audience members looking for more action packed sci fi, as well I am sure some will say the plot was predictable or full of holes.  But for the most part, I expect the majority of movie goers to have a big ol’ smile plastered on their face.  One potential spoiler but something I thought worth mentioning, religion/spirituality is completely missing from this movie.  I found this somewhat refreshing in that it would be easy to play science trumps religion card, but they don’t.  Instead, it becomes a conversation piece along with many other subtle plot points which this reviewer enjoyed.  Hope I gave you enough to determine if this is your type of movie, if so, do yourself a favor and enjoy Arrival.

6.5 out of 7the movie is rated PG13 for brief language.  This movie is a rare gem of PG13 that is appropriate for younger teens.  I can imagine many a wonderful lesson and discussion with my kids when they are old enough to see this movie.

FREE PASSES!! The Space Between Us – Special Screening Invitation





In this interplanetary adventure, a space shuttle embarks on the first mission to colonize Mars, only to discover after takeoff that one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet – never revealing who the father is. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Gardner Elliot – an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who reaches the age of 16 having only met 14 people in his very unconventional upbringing. While searching for clues about his father, and the home planet he’s never known, Gardner begins an online friendship with a street smart girl in Colorado named Tulsa. When he finally gets a chance to go to Earth, he’s eager to experience all of the wonders he could only read about on Mars – from the most simple to the extraordinary. But once his explorations begin, scientists discover that Gardner’s organs can’t withstand Earth’s atmosphere.  Eager to find his father, Gardner escapes the team of scientists and joins with Tulsa on a race against time to unravel the mysteries of how he came to be, and where he belongs in the universe.


STX Entertainment in partnership with Allied marketing are screening this movie in Albuquerque 1 MONTH before the movie releases.  Here is your chance to see a LOCALLY filmed blockbuster long before your friends.


Click on the following link to grab your free passes:



For more information on the movie or to check out the trailer, check out the links below:












Dr. Strange


Strange things happen in Dr. Strange (I promise that will be the only title pun I make). At its core, Dr. Strange is a typical hero’s journey of discovery; one that adheres to the well-established and successful Marvel formula. However, since this move takes us into the mystic corner of the Marvel Universe, things get pretty trippy, which makes for one of the most visually interesting and unique Marvel films thus far. Add in a surprising amount of narrative layers and subtle subtext, and you have a rich and engaging film that does what pretty much only Guardians of the Galaxy was able to achieve so far: a Marvel movie that sticks to the plan but still manages to feel very different.

Deepwater Horizon


The tragic sequence of events at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform led to the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history. This movie could have been about that, but it wasn’t. The circumstances that led to the eventual tragedy on Deepwater Horizon was the result of many factors, including corporate greed supplanting the need for sound, safe practices; it wasn’t the only factor, but it was certainly one of them. This movie could have easily been about the evils of corporate greed and what it ultimately cost, but it wasn’t. Instead, what the Deepwater Horizon movie is about is the people who were involved with incredible event that has had such a long-lasting impact on everything from ecology to businesses to personal lives. This movie doesn’t look to assign blame or complicity; it simply reminds us of the lives that were so deeply affected by what happened on that rig. Instead of being preachy or political, Deepwater Horizon is a deeply personal and emotional movie, and all the more powerful because of that.

Deepwater Horizon


Deepwater Horizon is one of those movies that is very enjoyable to watch while at the same time being hard to enjoy.  Not trying to be oxymoronic, but walking out of the theater I couldn’t help but comment on how amazing the movie was from all aspects of film criticism and yet I felt exhausted and abused by the intense story that unfolds over almost 2 hours.  Most who see the film will be familiar with the events that occurred six years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.  But like the recent film Sully, chances are you will also learn a few new things about the disaster and the people involved.  Having recently enjoyed Sully, I can see a pattern emerge in what can appropriately be called “disaster” movies.  Where it would be easy to become political and play bad guy vs good guy and take sides, these films have stepped above the easy story to weave a more complicated tale of the people who lived the real life disasters.  And that is where Deepwater Horizon really shines, by bringing the audience alongside the drilling rig workers and BP executives as they experience the events that unfolded on April 20th 2010.



With a 155 lives at stake, including his own, and only seconds in which to make a decision that could decide all of their fates, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made the decision to land his dying Airbus 320 on the Hudson River in the middle of New York City. It was January, the water was freezing, the air was freezing, it was a tremendously dangerous and risky move to make, but Captain Sully quickly determined it was the best of their many limited options with time quickly running out. And so, on January 15th, 2009, New York City witnessed a miracle, the Miracle on the Hudson, as Captain Sully not only safely landed his plane in the river, but also was able to make sure all 155 people on board walked away alive and well. It was an extraordinary event, and now the new movie Sully lets us in on the rest of the story.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo Poster

Kubo 1In case your time is short, let me start of by saying go see this movie.  Its easily one of my favorite movies of all time.  Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of a young child who as an infant in the opening scenes is on the run with his mother and attacked by some mysterious force.  Later in life, Kubo is tending to his mother who appears to be suffering from some sort of dementia.  When Kubo is not tending to his mother’s needs, he goes to town to tell his amazing stories and use his magic to bring Origami figures to life.  Every evening, Kubo must return by Kubo 3sun down to tend to his mother who seems invigorated by the moon and yet still suffers from some mysterious illness.  When attacked again, a story of adventure and discovery is set in motion. Kubo will travel across many a mysterious land to discover his identity and in doing so, learn the greatest story of all.