At the Movies

April tends to be a slow month in the cinema world, but this year seems to be an exception. With great family offerings in The Jungle Book and Zootopia, it’s a perfect time to take the family out to the movies.

A newer offering to older kids and adults is Universal’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War.  The fantasy adventure stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, In the Heart of the Sea), Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Monster) and Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty). I actually walked into the theater dreading the next 114 minutes but left pleasantly surprised.

Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyen returns from making Snow White and the Huntsman to revisit this interesting fantasy world. Two magical sisters (Theron and Emily Blunt) experience a tragedy, which causes Emily Blunt’s character Queen Freya to retreat to the north and create an ice kingdom devoid of love. Her pain from a love lost fuels her desire to raise an army of kidnapped children in a kingdom where the only law is that one can not love.

Two of the children Freya captures grow to be her finest “Huntsman.” Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain) predictably fall in love and must face the consequences of their forbidden relationship.

The adventure that ensues was surprisingly entertaining and at times quite funny.  Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Rob Brydon (Cinderella-2015) provide a bit of comedic relief as dwarves who find themselves fighting alongside the legendary Huntsman. I was reminded at times of The Princess Bride. Huntsman never tries to be an epic like The Lord of the Rings, but instead wades comfortably in mild adventure.  It is a classic 1980s fantasy film told with 2016 technology.

The film is far from perfect. The script is simple and wanders into some confusing and murky plot points toward the end of the second act. But, all in all, I left the theater with a smile on my face. I wouldn’t take children under 13 as there is some violence, sensuality, and language. But for fantasy and adventure fans, it’s certainly a good popcorn flick that would be worth catching as a matinee or in the dollar-theater.

At Home

A recent release on home video and some streaming services is the Best Picture nominated Room. Brie Larson won Best Actress for her performance as “Ma” trapped in a small room, raising her 5 year-old son Jack (played brilliantly by young Jacob Tremblay). Why are they in this tiny space and how will they get out? The story is haunting and very emotional. It is a powerful film about the bonds between mother and son and overcoming immense tragedy and abuse.

Room is one of my 3-4 favorite movies of 2015 and is certainly worth a rental if you have a chance.

Another fun offering on Netflix is the AMC series Turn. With the release of season 3, the story of George Washington’s spies delves deeper into the relationships between Abe and Anna, George Washington and his soldiers, as well as the two drastically different British officers John Andre and John Simcoe. If you haven’t seen the series yet, now would be a great time to start. The first three seasons are very fun, intense, and at times romantic. While far from perfect, Turn certainly is binge-worthy and entertaining for adults and older teens.

To share thoughts, suggestions and other feedback, contact @KerosLowder on Twitter.

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