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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Baby Boss orders you to go to the movie theater!

It’s bad enough that seven-year-old Tim has a new baby brother that completely saps his parents’ attention and energy, but Tim learns that his sibling is actually not at all who or what he appears to be. The infant, or Baby Boss as he is known, is a plant in their home with a scheme to undermine Tim’s parents’ business activities. Baby Boss sees cute pets as a threat to the appeal of kids. The parents’ employer, a pet selling enterprise, is about to introduce a little creature that is so adorable that tots will seem terrible in comparison. Tim and Baby Boss strike up a deal. Tim will help the little imposter get what he wants in exchange for the Boss wiping their parents’ memory of his ever being there and his returning to where babies come from.

Baby Boss is a thought-provoking story about sibling rivalries and how the fact that many people view their pets as their children impacts our society. However, the subject matter of Baby Boss is likely to go over the heads of the very young. But to keep them entertained, there are some bike chase scenes and toddlers engaging in toy-to-toy combat. Good films can and do entertain audiences at different levels of sophistication. Baby Boss does exactly that.

I am not sure what time period this is supposed to be, the vehicles look 20-years-old or more, and Tim records Baby Boss speaking like an adult on a cassette tape player. The film features music from many decades. There’s the classic from 1935 “Cheek to Cheek”; “What the World Needs Now " from 1965; LTD’s 1977 hit “Back in Love Again”, and from 1979, Kool and the Gang’s “Ladies Night”.

Voices for the characters include: Alec Baldwin as Baby Boss; Jimmy Kimmel speaks for Tim’s dad and Lisa Kudrow for his mom. The voices of Tim are Tobey Maguire as an adult and Miles Christopher Bakshi as a child.

Can an animated cartoon get a diversity rating? ABSOLUTELY! Baby Boss earns a “B”. There are a few babies of color in the Baby Boss’s playgroup.

Baby Boss is much more than a story about infants. You’ll enjoy it no matter what your age. Baby Boss earns a See It!

It’s rated PG for mild rude humor and is 97 minutes in length.

Ghost in the Shell is eerily bad

Set in the future, Ghost in the Shell follows a recently deceased young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who has her brain placed into the latest and most sophisticated robot. Believing that she was killed by terrorists, she targets a powerful and exceptionally deadly crime syndicate for revenge.

This is another one of those cases where a great movie concept, falls victim to inept execution. There are many creative options with a story about a human brain controlling a cutting-edge machine. But Ghost in the Shell is nothing more than a flat story. The screenwriters try to give shape to the film by using a lot of mindless violence and flashy special effects. Unfortunately, at points when this story is on the edge of being interesting, it reverts back to dullness.

The writers are also lazy in how they portray the future. For example, cars pretty much look and operate the same as they do today. However, self-driving cars are currently just a few years away. With all the advanced weaponry displayed in the film, a villain pulls out a knife to defend himself, which is reminiscent of a 1950 James Dean movie. Additionally, the dialogue offers no new words. The American vocabulary expands constantly, for example, blogs, unfriend, sexting, are all recent additions to the dictionary. Certainly, there will be terms used 20 years from now that are currently unknown.

Scarlett Johannsson does her best to carry this story. She has credibility as the mechanical crime fighter from her fit form down to her, I am going kick ass gait.

This film gets an “A” for cast diversity, featuring a wide range of human types and quite a few nonhumans as well.

Ultimately, it’s only fitting that Ghost in the Shell gets our Dead on Arrival rating. As I have said repeatedly, special effects are simply not enough. You need more than a phantom storyline.

Ghost in the Shell is PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content, and some disturbing scenes. Ghost in the Shell probably should have received an R rating for its violence. It’s just under 2 hours in length.

Movie Review: Life

The movie, Life, is Dead on Arrival 

Six astronauts find a life form on an internationally staffed expedition to Mars. They bring the specimen on board their space ship and it finds the conditions on the craft very much to its liking – and grows to be a threat to the crew.

This Life is Dead on Arrival. It simply lacks any originality. First choosing Mars as the destination shows no creativity. That planet has been the focus of film space travel for over 50 years. Then the organism looks and behaves like the ones from Alien. And it thrives on food, water, and oxygen. It must have taken the screenwriters hours, even days to come up with that theory.

Life features a star-studded cast including Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. But their characters all look and sound like any other onscreen space shuttle crew.

The special effects are routine and unexceptional.

Life does boast a solidly diverse crew with a black actor (Ariyon Bakare) and a Japanese actor (Hiroyuki Sanada). Actor Samuel L. Jackson recently complained about Hollywood hiring black British performers to play black American characters. Bakare is British; but so is the person he plays in the film.

In the end, this Life doesn’t survive film critiquing scrutiny and gets our lowest rating, Dead on Arrival.

Life is rated R, for scary scenes and language and is 103 minutes.

MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island

Only the special effects make this island worth visiting

It’s the 70s. The Cold War burns hotly. Bill Randa (John Goodman), a researcher and his assistant Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) use the, we have to do this before the Russian’s do argument to get the United States federal government to fund an expedition to a South Pacific island where strange images have been caught on camera. Not only do they receive the funding, they also get a military escort led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). To round out their team, they need a tracker and outdoors' man and James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) fits the bill. When the expedition arrives at their destination via helicopters, they are created by a massive, towering ape who swats the whirlybirds away as if they were annoying mosquitos. The team quickly realizes that they are in for more than bargained for.

Kong: Skull Island is a weak story about boring characters, but it still gets a See It! rating because this film delivers the special effects viewers who are fans of this film genre want to see.

The plots are so anemic that you’ll just want another appearance by Kong or some other creature.

The characters all speak with the same tones and vocabulary. But what is a major failure of the screenwriters Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein is the absence of the rich '70s dialogue. Language that young soldiers would have undoubtedly used. There was not a single: Right On!, Funky, Hip, Can you Dig it? or Say, What?

And if you’re a film buff, you’ll definitely see scenes reminiscent of Jurassic Park and Avatar.

Shot in six months in Hawaii, Australia's Gold Coast, and in Vietnam, Kong: Skull Island’s cinematography is a treat for the eyes.

When it comes to casting diversity, King: Skull Island, gets a solid “A”. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asian performers have both major and supporting roles.

Kong: Skull Island is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and for brief strong language. The film is 118 minutes in length. The special effects will not disappoint and that makes King: Skull Island a See It!

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