THE MEG
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 08/10/2018
Running Time: 113
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Robert Taylor, Masi Oka, Page Kennedy and Cliff Curtis.
Crew: Director: Jon Turteltaub. Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom Hern, Kenneth Atchity, Belle Avery, Jie Chen, Ming Beaver, Kwei, Chunzi Wang, Colin Wilson and Chi-Li-Wong. Executive Producers: Randy Greenberg, Ben Erwei Ji, Wayne Wei Jiang, Gerald R. Molen, Chantal Nong and Barrie M. Osborne. Screenwriters: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Eric Hoeber and Steve Alten (Author: "The Meg"). Cinematographer: Tom Stern.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Summer just wouldn’t be complete without a monstrous shark movie. Last year brought Entertainment Studios thrilling, “47 Meters Down.”

That film pales compared to “The Meg,” a truly ridiculous, yet ridiculously entertaining deep-sea adventure from director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”).

“The Meg” is based on Steve Alten’s 1997 sci-fi novel, “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror” and stars Jason Statham. Yeah, Jason Statham. The super tough and uber cool dude known for taking down bad guys with the greatest of ease in the “Transporter” “Fast and Furious” and “The Expendables” movies.

This time around, Statham his hands full battling a 75-foot-long Megalodon that makes the shark in Jaws look like a sardine.

And if that doesn’t sound exciting enough, there’s a lovely—and I do mean lovely-- lingering shot of a dripping wet, half-naked Statham to view amongst all the mayhem. But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Statham plays Jonas Taylor, a paleontologist and rescue diver who had a promising career and life with the United States Navy.

That all falls apart after one of his excursions resulted in a major mishap and the inability to save anyone. Plus, when he told his superiors that the reason for the botched effort was due to a giant-sized underwater predator he saw, but which scientist had labeled extinct, well everyone calls him as a raving lunatic.

Turns out, Jonas wasn’t so crazy after all. Five years later, his services are needed at the underwater research facility, Mana One, which is funded by eccentric billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson, TV’s “Adventure Time”).

Morris, along with Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao, TV’s “The Negotiator”), his oceanographer daughter, Suyin (Li Bingbing, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”) and Jonas’ former colleague, Mac (a very good Cliff Curtis, TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead”) are supervising the expedition.

Jonas wants no part of their program especially after the way he was treated. All that changes however, when he learns that his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee, “Battle of the Sexes”) and two other scientists, Toshi (Masi Oka, TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”) and The Wall ( Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, “The Spy who Dumped Me”) are trapped on the ocean floor in a submersible and have lost communication with the control center.

What’s worse, something big and scary is after them.

Can you guess what it is?

Not only does Jonas get to prove to everyone that he was right—especially Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor, “Kong: Skull Island” TV’s “Longmire”)--about the megalodon, but he also gets the chance to be the ultimate hero as he attempts to kill this humongous beast.

Doing so is far from easy.

Everything you’d expect from “The Meg” is served up here in grand style. The CGI laden effects are cheesy, but still work. And Statham is the perfect action hero for the role. He is equally funny and dramatic and the movie benefits greatly from his cool swagger.

The supporting cast shines too, particularly Page Kennedy (TV’s “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.”) who brings the comic relief. However, Bingbing Li, isn’t all that convincing as Statham’s love interest, but Shuya Sophia Cai is too sweet as her young daughter and is a real plus.

I like everything that Jason Statham does. That he has stepped outside of his comfort zone and done something zany and crazy like “The Meg” works for me.

“The Meg” is a pure escapist, B-movie that by no means takes itself seriously. It’s just a ton of fun and a perfect way to wind down the summer movie season.

My only regret is that I didn’t see it initially in IMAX, but I will because bigger is always better.

Watch This Trailer For "THE MEG"...
 

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OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

Brian's Song Title: Brian's Song
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 90
Production Company: Screen Gems (Sony)
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: Gale Sayers, Al Silverman and William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: This Review Reprinted In Honor Of Movie Critic Bill Gibron--May 14, 1961--May 11, 2018. Pictured Top Left.

Now with summer behind us, the arrival of fall means weekends attending and watching plenty of football games. Whether they’re college, pro or high school, I’m all over them.

And when it comes to football movies, few move me as much as the 1971 drama...
NEW ON DVD

Life Of The Party <b> (Aug. 7) </b> Title: Life Of The Party (Aug. 7)
Year Released: 2018
Running Time: 105
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Ben Falcone
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"LIFE OF THE PARTY"

Melissa McCarthy’s latest movie, “Life of the Party” offers more comedic hits than misses and is actually pretty tame compared to her other offerings.

“It’s also the third collaboration that’s executive produced and co-written by McCarthy and her director husband Ben Falcone (“The Boss” and “Tammy”).

In “Life of the Party,” McCarthy plays Deanna Miles, a super nice and spunky mother who is so proud that her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon, TV’s “Our Cartoon President”) is about to finish her final year at Decatur University.

Deanna and her husband Dan (Matt Walsh, TV’s “Alex, Inc.” and “Veep”) are filled with emotion as they drop Maddie at the university and are set to fly off to Italy for a well-deserved vacation.

But then Dan throws a ringer in their plans when he suddenly tells Deanna he wants a divorce.

Dan has been carrying on an affair with their real estate agent Marcie (Julie Bowen, TV’s “Modern Family”) who is a much younger thing than Deanna. Get this; Marcie is also overseeing the sale of Dan and Deanna’s house which Deanna had no clue about.

And Dan being the cold SOB that he is, also informs Deanna that he has no intentions of giving her any money from the sale.

Of course, a good lawyer would beg to differ, but still. That’s a pretty cold-blooded move.

Deanna’s self-pity, doesn’t last for long. She has a plan. She’s going back to school and get that archeology degree that she put on hold for Dan’s career and when she got pregnant with Maddie.

That sounds fine, until we learn that Deanna plans to enroll at Decatur where Maddie is attending.

Shocked beyond belief, Maddie can’t imagine having her mom hanging around her and all her sorority friends.
But, Deanna is serious and takes the plunge. Surprisingly, Maddie’s friends think Deanna is super cool, hence her nick-name “Dee-Rock.” They all instantly take to her especially Helen, aka, the coma girl (Gillian Jacobs, TV’s “Love”).

Deanna finds true lust in the arms of a hunky student named Jack (Luke Benward, “Fog City”). Sure, he’s half her age, but Deanna apparently has skills that Dan didn’t appreciate, but Jack sure does.

Their red-hot romance is among the funnier bits in the movie and takes an even wilder turn when Deanna discovers who Jack’s mother is.

Less funny, however, is a tired and clichéd wedding crashers scene, an oral class reading from Deanna, and a mean girls bit from Debby Ryan (TV’s “Insatiable”) and Yani Simone (TV’s “Young & Married”).

An underused Maya Rudolph turns up as Deanna’s best friend Christine who has some interesting marital issues of her own, but loves Deanna’s new life and lives vicariously through it.

Even Christina Aguilera makes an appearance at a fund-raising frat party.

Despite its uneven parts, “Life of the Party” is still a pretty good time.
(Recommended).

The Miracle Season <b>(July 31) </b> Title: The Miracle Season (July 31)
Year Released: 2018
Running Time: 103
Production Company: Liddell Entertainment
Director: Sean McNamara
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

”THE MIRACLE SEASON”

“The Miracle Season,” from director Sean McNamara, is a superb and inspirational true story.

It’s about the Iowa City West High School girls volleyball team and how they overcame a tragedy right before their new season began, yet persevered to defend their state championship from the previous year.

While there have been a ton of football, basketball and baseball movies made, McNamara serves up something refreshingly different with “The Miracle Season” which is equal to his excellent 2011 faith based drama, “Soul Surfer.”

“The Miracle Season” is a certified two hanky weeper that builds on its heartwarming performances from its standout cast.

Caroline “Line” Found (Danika Yarosh, TV’s “Chicago P.D”) is one of the perkiest, vibrant and likeable high schoolers you could ever meet. She’s the star setter and team captain for the Iowa City West Trojans volleyball team and just being around her is a positive experience.

Much of Caroline’s charm and personality comes from her equally affable, surgeon father Ernie (a fantastic William Hurt, TV’s “Condor”) and her mother Ellyn (Jillian Fargay, TV’s “Life Sentence”) who is dying of cancer.

Caroline is also best friends with her teammate Kelley (Erin Moriarity, TV’s “Pillow Talk”) who is a solid player, but could be even better if she’d develop more confidence.

Caroline and Kelley have known each other since kindergarten and have been pretty inseparable ever since.

When Caroline is killed in a moped accident in 2011, it devastates Kelley, the team and rocks their close-knit community.

As if that weren’t heartbreaking enough, Ellyn dies shortly after and it tears Ernie (Hurt) apart.

It’s hard to imagine anyone being interested in playing volleyball under such trying circumstances. However, the girl's determined coach Kathy Bresnahan (a fine Helen Hunt, “I Love you Daddy”), gives her best motivational speech with hopes of convincing the players that Caroline would have wanted them to play and reach for another championship.

They give it a shot with Kelley starting as setter, but the results are rather disastrous.

What can bring the Iowa City West Lady Trojans to believe in themselves again and become champions against all odds?

The answer may surprise you and “The Miracle Season” will undoubtedly move you.
(Highly Recommended).

Overboard <b> (July 31) </b> Title: Overboard (July 31)
Year Released: 2018
Running Time: 112
Production Company: Lionsgate Films
Director: Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

”OVERBOARD”

“Overboard” is the remake of the 1987 same-named romantic comedy which starred Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

This new version is adapted from Leslie Dixon’s original story by writer/directors Rob Greenberg (TV’s “How I met your Mother”) and Bob Fisher (“We’re the Millers”).

It stars Anna Faris (TV’s “Mom”) and Eugenio Derbez (“Geostorm”) and they make quite a comedic duo.

In the original “Overboard” Hawn played a pampered heiress and Russell was a hired laborer. In this remake the roles are reversed and sprinkled with a dose of Latin flavor.

Derbez stars as Leonardo Montenegro, a wealthy playboy from Mexico who has never worked a day in his life. His father, Papi (Fernando Luján, “The Kids Are Back”) is old and near death, but has told everyone that Leonardo will inherit the family dynasty, much to the dismay of his hard-working daughters, Magdalena (Cecilia Suárez, TV’s “Sense8”) and Sofia (Mariana Treviño, “How to Break up with your Douchebag”).

Faris plays Kate Sullivan, a single mother with three young girls; Emily (Hannan Nordberg, (“Girlfriends Day”), Olivia (Alyvia Alyn Lind, (TV’s “9-1-1”) and Molly (Payton Lepinski, TV’s “Who Killed Jon Benet?).

It’s not easy raising them. By day, Kate tries to juggle working as a part-time pizza deliverer and house cleaner while studying at night to become a nurse.

However, Kate’s life changes dramatically when she’s sent to clean Leonardo’s yacht which is anchored off Elk Cove, Oregon, the fictional city in the original “Overboard.” After Leonardo’s wild night of partying with some buxom babes, the yacht is an absolute mess.

Leonard and Kate don’t hit it off well and he lets her know she’s there merely to serve him. A war of words ensues and Leonardo dismisses her by literally pushing her overboard.

Now, humiliated and without one of her jobs, Kate is in an even worse financial predicament than before.
But karma/fate intervenes. Well, sort of.

One night while on the yacht, Leonard gets drunk and falls overboard. He’s found washed ashore on beach, but has no memory of who he is or how he got there.

The incident is reported all over the news along with a mugshot of Leonardo. Kate recognizes him. So, she and her best friend Theresa (Eva Longoria, TV’s “Jane the Virgin”)-- whose husband Bobby (a scene stealing Mel Rodriguez, TV’s “The Last Man on Earth”), co-own a pizza parlor, concocts this crazy scheme.

Kate pretends to be Leonardo’s wife. She manages to get a fake marriage certificate and other related information and heads to the hospital.

She convinces the administrators and doctors there that she’s married to him. Leonardo swears that even with amnesia, he’d never be married to someone like Kate.

But the half-baked plan works to perfection and Kate can take Leonardo home. She uses him to clean her modest house, cook and shuttle the kids off to school. Now, she finally has time for herself.

All that house work is taking its toll on Leonardo and so is working at Bobby’s construction company. The crew teases Leonardo about his “soft lady hands.”

As time goes on, Leonardo begins to accept his new role and even embraces it until his memory starts to come back. Now, Kate and her kids must fess up about the entire charade.

What keeps “Overboard” afloat is its outstanding supporting cast that includes: Josh Segarra, (TV’s “Arrow”), John Hannah (“Genesis”), (Jesús Ochoa, “The three Sides of Ana”), (Omar Chaparro, “Superfly”) and (Adrian Uribe, TV’s “My Heart is Yours”).

In addition, “Overboard” is just flat-out funny.
(Recommended).

Ready Player One <b> (July 24)</b> Title: Ready Player One (July 24)
Year Released: 2018
Running Time: 140
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Steven Spielberg
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

“READY PLAYER ONE”

“Ready Player One,” from director and producer Steven Spielberg is a lively, sci-fi adventure which is based on the Ernest Cline and Zak Penn novel of the same name.

Set in 2045, this trippy adventure opens with 18-year-old Orphan Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan, “The Mountain”) rummaging through a trailer park in Columbus, Ohio that’s filled literally with busted up trailers literally stacked atop each other.

It’s not much, but it’s where Wade calls home. It’s no wonder he’s eager to escape from his bleak, surroundings and immerse himself in a stunning, virtual reality world known as the OASIS.

It’s a place where you can be anyone you want without being judged. If you want to climb Mount Everest with Batman by your side, you can do it. Every farfetched dream and fantasy can be attempted at the OASIS.

This mesmerizing utopia is the brainchild of deceased co-creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance, “Dunkirk”) and his partner, Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg, “Mission: Impossible - Fallout”).

While in the OASIS, Wade meets some other gamers and falls for a feisty and cute girl named Art3mis /Samantha (Olivia Cooke, “Thoroughbreds”).

They discover that before Halliday died, he left behind this special game. If the winner of it can find three lucky keys, they would become the sole owner of OASIS.

Wade and Samantha aren’t sure of their chances at winning, since no one in several years has even found one of the keys. They also encounter a sinister executive named Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, “Darkest Hour”) who also wants control of OASIS and will spare no cost to get his way.

With “Ready Player One,” Spielberg has once again captured a sense of wide-eyed, child-like wonderment with ample doses of sly humor and overall fun. For movie trivia and video junkies, it’s heaven.
(Recommended).
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
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  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
THE MEG By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

"THE MEG: THE IMAX 2D EXPERIENCE" OPENS AT THE ESQUIRE IMAX THEATRE ON AUG. 9

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham, “The Fate of the Furious”) must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible boat. “The Meg: The IMAX 2D Experience” will open on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at www.imax.com/sacramento.

The IMAX release of “The Meg” will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology.

The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA.

For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website atwww.imax.com/sacramento.

ABOUT IMAX CORPORATION: IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

Information used in this report obtained from IMAX publicity.


Zombie Comedy By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

JIM JARMUSCH BEGINS PRODUCTION ON NEW FOCUS FEATURES ZOMBIE COMEDY “THE DEAD DON’T DIE”

Jim Jarmusch’s new zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die” is underway in production with Focus Features.

This is the writer/director’s third film with Focus having previously made “Broken Flowers” (2005) and “The Limits of Control” (2009) together. Joshua Astrachan and Carter Logan will produce.

The cast is led by many past Jarmusch collaborators including: Academy-Award nominee Bill Murray (pictured, "Broken Flowers”), Adam Driver (pictured, “Paterson”), Academy-Award winner Tilda Swinton (pictured, “Only Lovers Left Alive” and “Broken Flowers”), Academy-Award nominee Chloë Sevigny (“Broken Flowers”), Steve Buscemi (“Mystery Train”), as well as Selena Gomez in her first Jarmusch feature.

Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide. The filmmakers are represented by ICM Partners and Frankfurt Kurnit.

ABOUT FOCUS FEATURES:

Focus Features acquires and produces specialty films for the global market, and holds a library of iconic movies from fearless filmmakers.

Current and upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Jason Reitman’s new comedy “Tully,” starring Charlize Theron and written by Diablo Cody; “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” director Morgan Neville’s documentary on Mister Rogers; Lenny Abrahamson’s atmospheric thriller “The Little Stranger,” Joel Edgerton’s coming-of-age and coming-out drama “Boy Erased,” about a boy’s true-life experience at a conversion therapy program, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

There’s also “Mary, Queen of Scotswith” Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I; “On the Basis of Sex,” the real-life drama of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg staring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer; Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s directorial debut “Mustang” and Spike Lee’s new film “BlacKkKlansman.”

Focus is part of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), which produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms, as well as consumer products, interactive gaming and live entertainment.

UFEG’s global division also includes Universal Pictures, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, Fandango, DreamWorks Animation Film and Television and Awesomeness.

UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.

NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

For more information please visit www.focusfeatures.com.


focus downton abbey By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

FOCUS FEATURES ANNOUNCES PRODUCTION ON THE “DOWNTON ABBEY” MOVIE

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski recently that Focus has set production with Carnival Films on the “Downton Abbey” movie.

The original principal cast from the acclaimed television series have assembled to return for the feature which will begin production later this summer.

Also returning from the series is its creator Academy-Award winner Julian Fellowes who wrote the film’s screenplay and will produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge.

Brian Percival (“The Book Thief,” “About a Girl”), who directed the series’ pilot, will direct the film. Nigel Marchant will also return to executive produce.

The television series “Downton Abbey” followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.

Over its six seasons, the series garnered three Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, a Special BAFTA award and 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys. It even earned a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.

Gareth Neame, Carnival’s Executive Chairman and the film’s producer said, “When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production.

Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen."

Focus chairman Peter Kujawski added that, “Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter. “We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The world of “Downton Abbey” can be celebrated right now in the first ever fully immersive experience: “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.” Based on the globally beloved TV phenomenon, visitors are transported on an incredible journey through the grand home of the Crawleys; from Lady Mary's bedroom and the sumptuous dining room, to Mrs. Patmore's hectic kitchen.

Thanks to the more than 55 authentic costumes as well as props and sets from the TV series, “Downton Abbey” comes vividly to life through interactive displays and visitor experiences.

Launched in November to huge visitor attendance, rapturous fan feedback and extraordinary critical acclaim, the Exhibition showcases the enduring global appeal of Downton via a stunning recreation of the house, the fashion and the history of the era.

The Exhibition is based in New York at 218 W 57th Street until Sept. 3, 2018.

Tickets are available at www.downtonexhibition.com.

Editor’s Note: (Photo Credit: Nick Briggs. Copyright @carnivalfilms).