Gone Girl

Director David Fincher took a huge risk by taking Gillian Flynn’s New York Times Best Seller and creating his own interpretation of ‘Gone Girl’. The risk was agreeably received as Ben Affleck plays main character, Nuck Dunne– a man who becomes the number one suspect after his wife disappears.

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In this twist-and-turns thriller, the book literally comes to life and the words jump from the paperback pages to the big screen.

Rosamund Pike is two types of talented crazy to pull off Amy Dunne so well. She was more than fit for this disturbed role. A woman scorned is a familiar scenario, in movies and reality. Man hurts woman. Woman retaliates. It’s simple. But, ‘Gone Girl’ reaches new heights that, even the book, only begins to show how vengeful a woman can be after being hurt.

The new film trend is fictitious books, specifically best sellers, serving as screenplays. ‘Gone Girl’ joins ‘If I Stay’, ‘Divergent’, and ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ as some of this year’s biggest movies and they are all based on best-selling novels. The trend does not stop there. For Valentines’ Day 2015, E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey will bring Christian Grey to life.

It is the movie’s sharp wit that ignites the audience’s enjoyment. But, there is one man who lights that same excitement—Tyler Perry.

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The Atlanta-based film tycoon dazzlingly plays Nick Dunne’s expensive defense attorney, Tanner Bolt. Tyler Perry Studios, a one-man film company, has created cinematic projects where he stars, writes, produces, and directs in at least one movie a year since 2005.

Similar to ‘Alex Cross’ and ‘Star Trek’, Perry took off his director’s hat and obeyed the commands of another creator’s guidance. Despite his brief stint in the movie, Tanner Bolt is Tyler Perry’s most compelling role. Perry, even though it is not needed, makes a statement that his acting career has relevance in spite of his already established success in the film industry.

On a TP personal note, the 45-year-old is expecting a baby boy with girlfriend and African model Gelila Bekele. Perry spilled the beans at his birthday party last month. Notably, he is calming the homosexual rumors by bringing his relationship details and unborn baby to public light.

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Recently, fans have reached out to Perry on his Facebook page to criticize him for having a baby out of wedlock despite his religious devotion. Regardless of rumor and ridicule, Movie Scene Queen wishes Tyler Perry the best as he embarks on fatherhood.

4 Stars: ‘Gone Girl’ is villainous, exceptional, and Tyler Perry’s best work thus far.

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If I Stay

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If I Stay, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley, is this summer’s ultimate love-layered narrative. Based off of a Gayle Forman novel of the same name, Mia Hall (Moretz) has an out-of-body experience after enduring a car accident that kills her entire family. It’s her cello, which she’s mastered, and her semi-turbulent relationship with punk rocker boyfriend, Adam Wilde (Blackley), that ultimately keeps her alive.

Chloë Grace Moretz, who is only 17 years old, is simply spell binding. She holds a small time beauty. It’s not just her cute-as-a-button face or petite frame, but even at a young age, it is evident that Moretz has already established a prosperous career.

The book is as gratifying and relating as the movie. Gayle Forman’s words bleed right off of the page. Rarely do you see such actual depiction when making a movie based off a book. There’s a novel sequel to “If I Stay” called “Where She Went” where narration switches from Mia to Adam. Both books are currently on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list, “If I Stay” is landing the #1 spot and the sequel comes in a close third place.

I’ve only read the first few pages of “Where She Went”, but I hope Director R.J. Cutler has the tenacity to push the rest of Mia and Adam’s story to the big screen. Cutler captures the creation of this love so effortlessly that I know making “Where She Went” ought to be a mere drop in the bucket.

“If I Stay” is “The Notebook”(2004), “The Fault in Our Stars” (2014), and “Ghost” (1990) all wrapped up into one pretty package. “If I Stay” is most similar to another novel-adapted movie, “The Fault In Our Stars”. Both movies tell the tale of young, unfortunate love with the multiple breakups, immature logic, and inevitable distance.

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Even though the plot is cut short with cancerous death, “The Fault in Our Stars” lingers in the air a little bit longer than “If I Stay”. The movie immediately becomes heartache when two young people with terminal cancers fall in love. Yet both films relay powerful messages- life sometimes pulls you away from love and every true love doesn’t have a fairy tale ending.

4.5 Stars:
I am tempted to give this movie a perfect score. While similar love stories have been told many different times, it is the sweet combination of the book and the movie that makes “If I Stay” one of the most leading romantic films of our time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were first introduced in a 1984 comic book. The animated reptiles were quickly popularized with cartoon series, movies and a gang of official TMNT merchandise.

But like most childhood fictional tv characters-the Power Rangers, Duck Tales and Teletubbies- the essence of their being slowly faded away. A mixture of corniness and maturity added to their non-existence but it is moments like this where 80s babies can recapture those faded memories.

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Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and Johnny Knoxville star in the fifth TMNT movie adaption. Nickoldeon’s version of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael were back in action as vigilantes fighting a New York City gang, the Foot Clan.

The motion capture technology, which was also used in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, provided precision and definition to the TMNT. Prepare to see the shelled superheroes like you’ve never seen them before.

It took too long to get the first glimpse of our humanly, pizza-loving turtle friends. The movie initially involved too much Megan Fox fluff and evil pretenses. In my mind, I’m thinking: “Bring on the crew!”

I was more excited to see Whooping Goldberg, who played an unflattering news director, than Megan Fox. Despite Fox’s sex appeal and cinema popularity, she is actually melodramatic as April O’Neil.

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The sweetest redemption is enjoying the movies with your children, whether they’re yours or not. Children are able to capture the same memories of their parents. Even in its evolution, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remains a timeless classic for all to enjoy.

2.5 Stars
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The movie just was not as great as I thought it would be. Megan Fox was not convincing and we should have had more Cowabunga time with our childhood buddies. Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was hilarious, especially Michelangelo.

Think Like A Man Too

The gang reunites in Las Vegas for Director Tim Story’s Think Like A Man Too. All four couples are returning from the original 2012 movie, inspired by Steve Harvey’s 2009 best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”. Headliner and Comedian Kevin Hart stars in what seems like the Black Hangover as Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence J) jeopardize their wedding plans after a night of partying.

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Think Like A Man Too’s overpopulated cast includes veterans Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, La La Anthony, Gabrielle Union, Gary Owen, Jenifer Lewis and some new faces like Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Haysbert.

Following the four couples got a little bit more difficult when you add a condensed script, shorter movie, spotty narration, and too many hands in the project’s pot. As the movie progresses, new characters pop up frequently, and it was almost unnecessary to have that many people in the movie.

Also, the storyline shifted from focusing on the couples equally to focusing on the wedding with Kevin Hart leading the way with his handsome humor. Yes, Kevin Hart is beyond hilarious but he completely took the shine from his fellow cast mates. It was the Kevin Hart Show.

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The sequel failed to mention Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”, which was the premise of the original movie series. I found it quite odd that in the first movie the woman’s guide was mentioned frequently, but is completely depleted in Think Like A Man Too. It is as if the book’s value is replaced with Kevin Hart’s sporadic story-telling and carefree comedic flare.

I have said it multiple times, but sequels are extremely difficult to successfully pull off because there’s always something to compare it to. Think Like A Man set the bar high and this newest continuation just fell short. Think Like a Man Too was not the only sequel in June to disaapoint the fans.

22 Jump Street, which was recently defeated by Think Like A Man Too in this weekend’s box office, also failed to be as great as its 2012 maker, 21 Jump Street. Kevin Hart’s Ride Along partner, Ice Cube, stars in this comedic cop sequel with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Similar to Think Like A Man Too, occasionally, I laughed at the silly antics of the movie but it just wasn’t as great as its predecessor. 22 Jump Street’s ending went from comedy to a complete joke, and that’s not a good thing. Both 22 Jump Street and Think Like A Man Too fell victim to the Sophomore Jinx.

3 STARS: Not mentioning Steve Harvey’s book in Think Like A Man Too lost major cool points with me. Despite the chaotic, rushed plot, Kevin Hart comically delivers again!

Brick Mansions

“Revenge and justice are not the same!” –Grandfather Collier (Frank Fontaine)

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The November 30th untimely death of Fast and Furious star Paul Walker is followed by his first posthumous project, Brick Mansions. Walker stars as a Detroit detective who is seeking revenge and justice for the unlawful death of his father. After being summoned for a special assignment from the Mayor’s office, Detective finally gets his opportunity to uphold vengeance on his father’s death and save the poverty-stricken city. With the help of an inmate and Brick Mansions native, Lino (David Belle), the two devised an uneducated plan to sneak in the urban redevelopment to take down drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA).

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The Wu Tang Clan member was teeter totting during the entire film. Some moments, I was like “yeah, that’s gangsta” and then, other times, the rapper just came off as corny and cheesy. RZA had a few too many cliché ad libs making the serious scenes unbelievably scripted. RZA gets mad cool points for his attempts in making his strong New York accent sound like he could actually point out Detroit on a map.

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Paul Walker was nothing short of decent. He gets behind the wheel a few times creating Fast and Furious flashbacks, which was pretty heartwarming. But Walker’s last performance could not save the straight-to-DVD feel of the movie.

In its opening weekend, Brick Mansion scraped together $9.5 million in earnings and at this rate, it would take three weeks for the movie to even reach its $28 million budget. I assumed the circumstances of Paul Walker sudden death would generate a bigger buzz for the movie. But, I was wrong. The timing for the movie’s release was bad too. There are still great movies in theatres like Captain America, Rio 2, and the biggest theatrical surprise, Heaven is For Real.

One central issue the movie raises is political and government corruption, exposing politicians with hidden agendas. In the movie, the city of Detroit’s most impoverished neighborhood is in jeopardy and secluded from the rest of the Motor City’s population. We see it here in Pittsburgh. Northview Heights has a one way in, one way out “safety” measure, completely isolating the “gated” community from the rest of the city. With no immediate plans to restore or refurbish one of the only projects left in Pittsburgh, we have to question the political motives in maintaining its existence.

As the primary elections are gaining on our heels to jump over the first hurdle in electing a new Pennsylvania governor, Brick Mansions remind us that we must take charge in the appointment of local officials too. Low-income urban areas have to become stakeholders in political gain and power. Because according to the movie, the livelihood and co-existence depends on it.

2 Stars: Because of Paul Walker’s last full performance as an actor, I hate to bash the movie but Brick Mansions’ strong parts were outweighed with the unnecessary foolishness of unseasonable fighting and overworked plugs.

Baggage Claim

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Director David E. Talbert assembles an all-star Black cast for this Fall’s romantic comedy about one woman’s frantic search for love in Baggage Claim. The cast features Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Jill Scott, Tia Mowry, Djimon Hounsou, Christina Milian, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, Lauren London, Jenifer Lewis, La La Anthony, Trey Songz, Rickey Smiley, and Terrance J.

Miss Montana Moore (Patton) is an attractive flight attendant who has 30 days and 30,000 miles to find a date to her little’s sister wedding. Stricken with the cliché “always a bridesmaid and never a bride” and with the help of her friends, she devises a plan to not only find a man, but a husband. This plan backfires when she realizes that what she’s looking for has been sitting right up under her nose the entire time.

Ladies, we’ve all been in our Montana Moore moment, where our heart is broken and nothing but a Saturday filled with Lifetime movies and ice cream will do. Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart is our anthem and tissue just won’t dry up the tears. It’s in that very moment that we must come to some sort of reality about the recent break up and use it as fuel to get back up, dust our shoulders off, and find a new love.

Move over Paula Patton because Miss Jill Scott is clearly marking her territory as a voluptuous vixen and great actress. There’s no doubt that she’s a talented musical artist but with her recent movie endeavors, such as Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married film series and the 2012 adaptation of Steel Magnolias, she’s a jack of all trades. Her Baggage Claim character, Gail Best is sexy, strong and independent. Similar to Montana, she’s a single flight attendant. Unlike Montana, she has no desires to get married and enjoys the company of many men. Never seeing Jill Scott in this light, it was energizing to see her recent weight loss has brought on some sexual spontaneity with her acting roles.

Systematically, the movie worked for me; however, there were minor glitches that I thought could have easily been avoided. For example, one scene Paula Patton’s dress was up her butt. Two scenes later, she has lip stick on her teeth. And during the entire movie, her clothes were either wrinkled or displaced as if the movie’s stylist was absent every day on set. It is the small things that distract you from actually enjoying the movie. I doubt these small errors were setting the tone for her character; it just looked like amateur movie mistakes.

3 Stars: It was a typical comedy romance. Half way through the movie, I knew exactly what was going to happen and I felt a little bamboozled when it took so long to reveal the ending. Baggage Claim is definitely a feel good movie for the single ladies providing hope for all those who haven’t found the right one yet.

Prisoners

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Warner Brothers Pictures has been on roll lately dropping great summer movies like “We’re the Millers” and “The Conjuring”. Not to mention the highly anticipated film “Gravity,” about Sandra Bullock trapped in outer space, will be released in early October.

Prisoners, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Terrence Howard, is no different. It was the best 2 hours and 33 minutes I have spent recently. It were as if I were watching an extended episode of Dick Wolf’s Law and Order: SVU, minus Olivia Benson, of course.

When two young neighbors, Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) and Anna (Erin Gerasimovich), go missing on Thanksgiving Day, it’s up to their parents to find them and justice. The small Pennsylvania town unites in a high-low search for the girls. Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal), who has solved all of his cases, gets stumped with a few leads as he considers everyone as a suspect. Keller Dover (Jackman) takes on a unique approach in a desperate deployment to recover both girls alive.

Terrence Howard and Viola Davis were traditional middle class parents. Despite the recent portrayal of Howard being an alleged woman beater, his character was very delicate and emotional. Filled with a lot of tears and yearning for their daughters return, they both were phenomenal and made for a beautiful couple.

Viola Davis is slowly creeping on the A-list actress radar. Physically, she’s no Halle Berry but she makes up with concrete believability, diversity and a beautiful spirit. I believe it all started with the Help. Since then, Davis has been an unstoppable force and each movie gets better than the one before.

A Strong 4 Stars: You’ll enjoy this movie as you play “Guess Who” trying to figure out who the real bad guy before the plot reveals itself. Prisoners is in theatres Septemebr 20th

Insidious Chapter 2

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From Film District, Insidious Chapter 2 is about one family’s continued quest to save their loved ones from evil spirits that haunt their home.

In 2011’s original release of Insidious, mother and father, Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) find their son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) trapped in a supernatural after-life world. In the sequel, the Lamberts are displaced and staying in Josh’s parent’s home as local authorities investigate a murder.

The Lamberts always assumed it was the house that was haunted, but even in grandma’s house they are still victimized from old, tormented ghosts. After a few nights at grandma’s, Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), is startled by an extra unearthly spirit in her home and she quickly enlists the help of paranormal activity investigators to figure everything out.

A lot of juicy questions are answered in Chapter 2. On the other, a lot of new questions are posed as well and the movie, of course, leaves you with a cliff hanger to introduce a possible Chapter 3. As for Chapter 2, some of the scariest moments compel you to yell at the movie screen, jump in your seat, or let out a big scream. The movie wasn’t entirely scary and some of the most serious scenes are trumped with goofy, silly quickie, leaving a safe balance of terror and laughter.

Michael Beach graces the screen with his serious, refined presence. Beach plays a local detective who is investigating the homicide at the Lambert residence. He seems to always play the same roles; sober, controlled, and quiet. Although Beach, has yet to have a huge, breakout role it does not mean he has not had some memorable ones. Last time, I saw Beach he was creeping with Faith on Soul Food.

3 STARS: The movie had some cliché horror movie moments such as the White woman accidentally falling as she’s being chased by a crazed killer or the awful, obnoxious music that plays on the really intense part. Despite the difficulty of the sequels, Insidious Chapter 2 is a great date movie!
Don’t be afraid to see Insidious Chapter 2 as it opens this Friday the 13th!

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