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When The Emoji Movie arrived in theaters this past summer, most mainstream critics weren't exactly kind to it. In fact, there was already some negative buzz swirling around it since it was first announced - and even I questioned just how, exactly, Sony Pictures was planning to execute a feature film based on the characters than live within our phones. Thing is, that's exactly what they did - with filmmaker Tony Leondis crafting a tale of a world that literally exists inside of our devices, connecting everyone. Emojis have been everywhere these past few years, and The Emoji Movie gives them purpose, because even those who openly detest the creatures who evolved from emoticons, now harbor them within their purses or pockets every single day. Thing is, this isn't a movie for grownups, but very much a tale for tech-obsessed kids, which is always something of a double-edged sword here in our house.

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In Short: After five films, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT closes the book on a decade on cinematic adventures from Michael Bay and Co., but blasts a door wide open for more Autobots & Decepticons yet to come...

It's been ten years since Michael Bay launched TRANSFORMERS into the live-action realm, his Steven Spielberg-produced 2007 epic arriving in theaters more than two decades after the animated classic, TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE hit theater screens back in 1986. As a kid who grew up on the original series and Hasbro toys that started with 1984's "Generation One," my excitement for Bay's film series was a given - and for the past decade I've been there, capping it off by attending the U.S. premiere of TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, the fifth film in the series, and what's being touted as "The Final Chapter" for Bay's run on the franchise.

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It's been two years since Disneynature's last theatrical release hit screens, the fantastic Monkey Kingdom. Attached to that film was an early teaser for what would be the next film from the studio, Born in China. Due to taking a year off from the Earth Day schedule, another teaser followed in 2016, and now comes the anticipated release of a film that my daughters have been asking for since they saw that first teaser two Aprils ago. While in San Francisco for the #Cars3Event last month, I had a chance to check out an early screening of Born in China, a film that is about to take audiences to some of the world's most beautiful and remote locales. 

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Monday, September 26 2016 08:00

Review: Disney's QUEEN OF KATWE

A compelling family drama with the game of chess at its center, Disney’s QUEEN OF KATWE is this year’s “sports film” under their ESPN Films banner, eschewing physical sports for that of a psychological variety. Based on the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi (played here by newcomer Madina Nalwanga) and her quest to become a Grandmaster with goals to rise above her poverty-level upbringings in the slums of Katwe, the strength of director Mira Nair’s film lies firmly in the cast of mostly unknown young actors that effortlessly inhabit the true-life characters that lived the story not-so-long-ago. The youngsters are backed by Academy Award-Winner Lupita Nyong’o (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, 12 YEARS A SLAVE) and Emmy nominee David Oyelowo (STAR WARS REBELS, SELMA) as grownups with adversarial views of what might be best for the children, particularly Phiona in general.

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Monday, July 18 2016 08:07

Review - GHOSTBUSTERS: ANSWER THE CALL

Note: The formal conclusion of #GhostbustersWeek here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, this review comes in late thanks to an unscheduled server switch. This review does contain SPOILERS...

On Friday night, fresh back from a quick, yet eventful trip to New York City for Blogger Bash '16, I found myself back in Illinois for a long-scheduled date night with my wife. The entertainment - Paul Feig's GHOSTBUSTERS: ANSWER THE CALL (which I'm told is actually the film's official, full title, despite simply "Ghostbusters" being just fine). We bought our tickets a good week in advance, complete with dinner delivered to our seats at the local Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime - a truly fantastic way to enjoy any film, though particularly one as special effects-heavy as this one. Like so many others, we settled in to find out for ourselves what the outcome would be of the much talked-about and debated relaunch of one of the most beloved franchises from our own youth. It's a touchy spot when you have a film that's not purely a remake, nor a sequel - but something that needs to honor the past while opening the doors wide for the future, and that's GHOSTBUSTERS.

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Friday, April 15 2016 08:00

Film Review: Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK

As I said upon leaving the World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre, Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK is an unexpectedly astonishing and beautiful film, not only in terms of visuals, but in terms of content and weight. To say it must be seen on the big screen and in 3D is an undeniable truth, a testament to the technological marvel created under the direction of filmmaker Jon Favreau (ELF, IRON MAN) - a modern digital film that pushes the boundaries of what can be done with photo-realistic CG to new heights, but also retains the feel of an organic, handmade film. Despite my unabashed appreciation for much of Favreau's back catalog, when the film was first announced a few years back, I must admit that I was apprehensive as to how, exactly, it would play out. As a fan of the 1967 original (reviewed here), and as a moviegoer that's sometimes burnt by the overuse of CG, how could it be done? Fortunately, many of these same issues had been considered and addressed early-on in the process, and the end result is wonderful. Could THE JUNGLE BOOK be every bit as good, if not better than the classic that inspired it? I say yes.

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