Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie Review: The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours movie poster

A friend who saw The Finest Hours before I did described it to me as a poor-man's The Perfect Storm; however, I felt that it was more like Titanic. There are a few different stories going on that all converge near the end, and some of the storm scenes were very intense to watch.

Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is a member of the Coast Guard, and has started dating Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Miriam is a go-getter and asks Bernie if he would like to marry her; technically, he has to ask his commanding officer, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), first. Before he gets to do that, however, the Coast Guard receives word that there's an oil tanker in need of help off the coast of Nantucket, and because another oil tanker was having the same problem, and a team was already sent out, Webber is on deck (no pun intended) to assemble a crew to help rescue the men on this oil tanker.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Movie Night Trivia, by Robb Pearlman {ends 1/31}

Movie Night Trivia will be in stores and on Amazon on February 2nd, but you can win yourself a copy here first!

About the book:
Cider Mill Press is pleased to release Movie Night Trivia in time for the live broadcast of The Oscars awards ceremony. Movie goers and trivia buffs can prepare for the most glamorous event of the year with this fun trivia book, featuring over 400 questions, as well as full-color movie posters and shots of iconic movie moments throughout to make the evening a true cinematic experience.

From the cinematic classics to recent releases, animated and action, there is something for every member of the family or friend group. This will make the perfect addition to an Oscar Night party or binge-watching all the nominated films. Keep score or let the answers fly! Take home the golden statuette for trivia, and thank Movie Night Trivia in your acceptance speech!

Packed with hundreds of questions, fun facts, and bonus lightning rounds, this book is the first of its kind. Featuring an introduction from popular YouTuber Tina Alexander (“How It Should Have Ended”) and compiled by bestselling author Robb Pearlman, Movie Night Trivia is sure to impress film fanatics for years to come.

Head on over to my book blog to enter this giveaway!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Movie Review: Dirty Grandpa

I am a fan of raunchy movies if they are done right; by that, I mean that they're funny and well thought-out. Dirty Grandpa is decently funny for the first half, but its humor slowly starts to wane for the last half of the movie.

Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) works at his dad's law firm, and is getting married to Meredith (Julianne Hough) in only a few weeks. Jason's grandma has recently passed away, and his grandpa, Dick (Robert de Niro), is understandably sad; however, he still wants to make the annual trip to Florida, and Jason has to drive him there because Dick has a suspended license. On the way there, however, Jason and Dick meet a group of college kids, one of whom (Zoey Deutch) Jason recognizes from a photography class he took. Soon, Jason and Dick's trip takes a detour to Daytona Beach, where the college kids are going for spring break.

Movie Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave is the first in a trilogy of books written by Rick Yancey, that have now been adapted for the screen; the third book is actually not being published until May of this year. The movie adaptation of the first book was nothing new or ground-breaking, but will still manage to hold your attention for it's almost 2-hour runtime.

Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz) was a normal high school girl when the 1st wave hit: the Others, a group of aliens who want the Earth for themselves (but not its inhabitants), sent an electromagnetic pulse that took away all of the power and electricity on the planet. The 2nd wave was earthquakes and tsunamis; the 3rd, the avian bird flu; and in the 4th, some of the adult survivors were murdered by the Others who were already on the planet. The Others take the form of human beings, so it's impossible to know if someone is human or an Other, too. Cassie, her father, and her little brother leave their house and go to a survivor campsite, but soon, all of the children are taken away on buses, and Cassie and her brother get separated. Cassie must find him, and her journey to get to the army base where he was taken may be more dangerous than she originally thought.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mary Higgins Clark Bestselling Mysteries: 5 Movies Collection & Giveaway {ends 1/25}

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this product for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

One of my favorite mystery authors is Mary Higgins Clark, as well as her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. I actually have MHC's newest book to review but haven't yet (you should see my TBR piles, they are insane ...), and I've loved all her past mystery novels.

Mill Creek Entertainment is now selling a collection of five movies based on Mary Higgins Clark novels, and I can't wait to watch them.

More info:
MARY HIGGINS CLARK is one of the most critically acclaimed mystery writers of our time. 'The Queen of Suspense' has sold over 100 million copies of her novels in the U.S. alone. Known for her intriguing, clever and suspensful writing style, now you can enjoy 5 of her best-selling works adapted to feature films.

The films include:


Jill Clayburgh, Max Gail
Nancy Eldridge (Clayburgh) is a young mother faced with the nightmarish disappearance of her children. After being wrongly convicted of murdering her son and daughter from a previous marriage, Nancy’s new life is once again torn apart when her second family vanishes.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blu-ray Review and GIVEAWAY: Everest {ends 1/24}

I reviewed Everest back in September 2015 after seeing an IMAX 3D screening of it, and I gave it 3.5/5 stars and a Yes review. Everest is now out on Blu-ray/DVD/Blu-ray 3D combo pack, and one lucky reader will win a copy here.

{and if you don't want to wait to see if you're the winner: you can purchase it on Amazon here}

About the movie:
Unbridled ambition, a ferocious storm, and the limits of human endurance collide at the top of the world in the white-knuckle adventure Everest, coming to Digital HD on December 22, 2015, and 3D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on January 19, 2016, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Following a pair of expeditions to the highest point – and most dangerous place – on Earth, Everest captures the brutal majesty of the deadly peak, and the boundless courage required to conquer it, with breathtaking cinematography and spectacular storytelling. Exclusive extras make Everest a can’t-miss, must-own event, bringing viewers behind-the-scenes for a look at the making of the film, as well as astonishing insights about the real-life 1996 summit attempt that inspired it.

Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival. Critics call Everest “… exciting, thrilling, moving, and completely engaging.” – Scott Mendelson, Forbes

Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw, Brokeback Mountain), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game, Pirates of the Caribbean), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), Josh Brolin (Sicario, No Country for Old Men), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Sessions), Robin Wright (“House of Cards,” Forrest Gump), Michael Kelly (“House of Cards,” Viral), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) and Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything, Breaking the Waves) star in a thrilling and harrowing battle against the overwhelming power of nature.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

DVD Review and GIVEAWAY: Captive {ends 1/23}

*Disclosure: Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for this giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

I had briefly heard about Captive when it hit theaters, since there was a screening of it, but I had been unable to attend. Religious movies tend to be hit or miss for me, but this was actually one of the best I've seen in quite a while, and it's based on true events as well.

About the movie:
Based on a miraculous story about the power of faith, Captive is an "amazing, inspiring" drama about the spiritual collision of two lost souls, Brian Nichols (Golden Globe Nominee David Oyelowo), on the run from police and desperate to make contact with his newborn son, takes recently widowed mother Ashley Smith (Kata Mara) hostage in her own apartment. Fearing for her life and desperately hoping to see her daughter again, she turns to Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life for guidance. Ashley and her captor face a crossroads where they discover hope and light in the midst of despair in the moving film that Dick Rolfe, CEO, Dove Foundation hailed as "powerful."

About the DVD:
DVD Release Date: January 5, 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse)

There are over 30 minutes of bonus content on this DVD including Journey Through Darkness: Filming Captive and Faith and The Purpose Driven Life. Also included with this DVD is a Digital HD copy that can be instantly streamed and downloaded.

GIVEAWAY: Kung Fu Panda 1 + 2 on DVD and Digital HD {ends 1/30}

*Disclosure: Yes/No Films did not receive compensation for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Kung Fu Panda & Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD + Digital HD Movies Giveaway
Hosted by: Queen of Reviews, IMHO Views, Reviews & Giveaways, Coupons and Freebies Mom, Giveaway Lovers, Dorky's Deals, Savvy in the Kitchen & Michigan Savings & More

A few other bloggers and I have teamed up to offer and promote this giveaway. Good luck!

Sponsor: Fox Home Entertainment

Prize: Kung Fu Panda & Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD + Digital HD Movies
Dates: 1/16-1/30
Open to: US Residents 18+

Enter to win using the widget below. Good luck!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Movie Review - 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I have yet to see a bad screening in 2016 (granted it's January 15th today, and the only one I saw before this film was The Revenant) and after seeing 13 Hours, I have high hopes for the movies coming out this year. The movie is based on the real events of the embassy attacks in Benghazi, and it's an action-packed film that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Jack Silva (John Krasinski) goes to Benghazi, Libya, as part of a secret team - G.R.S. - that helps protect the covert CIA compound there. A U.S. ambassador (Matt Letscher) is coming to Benghazi for the week, and he and the team must also lend a hand to the ambassador's compound to provide security. The person in charge of the CIA compound, Bob (David Costabile), likes to do everything by the book, but when things get out of hand at the ambassador's compound, Jack and the G.R.S. team must override him in order to keep people safe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Upcoming and FLASH GIVEAWAY: Cirque du Soleil's TORUK - The First Flight {Detroit area}

Cirque du Soleil is bringing TORUK - The First Flight to the Palace of Auburn Hills next weekend! I am a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil's shows - I saw one at the Fox Theatre here in Detroit last year, and I've seen a few of their shows in Vegas as well.

More info:
TORUK – The First Flight is a live immersive multimedia spectacle that brings to the stage the breathtaking world of James Cameron’s AVATAR like you have never seen it before!

Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.

This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.

When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Sinister 2 on Blu-ray {ends 1/19}

If you're a horror movie fan, you'll be pleased with this new post: I have a Blu-ray copy of Sinister 2 for one of my lucky readers to win.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD are out today (1/12) in stores, as well.

Movie info:
Mysterious found footage reveals a series of gruesome murders in Sinister 2, the chilling sequel to the sleeper horror hit available on Digital HD on December 22, 2015, and on Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on January 12, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The latest heart-stopping tale from series co-creators and screenwriters C. Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson (who directed the first installment), producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse (Insidious, The Purge) and director CiarĂ¡n Foy (Citadel), Sinister 2 on Blu-ray™ and DVD is packed with bonus features including filmmaker commentary, a peek behind the camera and deleted scenes that raise the fear factor to unprecedented heights.

In the aftermath of the shocking events of Sinister, a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon of Wayward Pines) and her nine-year-old twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves marked for death in a rural house as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Blu-ray Review and GIVEAWAY: The Transporter Refueled {ends 1/17}

I reviewed The Transporter Refueled back in September 2015 when I saw it in the theaters at a screening - I gave it 3/5 stars but said this about it:

Maybe see this movie. I'm giving this film 3/5 stars, because it was entertaining, but by the end of it, I was already forgetting it; it wasn't very memorable. There's a few action scenes that will make your jaw drop, however, as well as beautiful views of Monaco (or whatever European city was masquerading as Monaco - France, according to IMDb), and those alone make the film an enjoyable one. The Transporter Refueled is not the best movie playing currently, but if you're looking for a "light" action movie, it's not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.

I will confess that I'm a fan of the Jason Statham Transporter movies more than this one, but I remember it was still a fun movie to watch.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

GIVEAWAY: win a $50 American Express gift card! {ends 2/8}

This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to the Holiday Hangover $50 AMEX Gift Card Giveaway Event!

Host: Southern Mom Loves

{I've partnered with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - good luck!} 

Holiday spending can leave you with a financial hangover, so I got together with some lovely bloggers to bring you the Holiday Hangover event where one lucky reader will win a $50 American Express gift card to help them recover from the holidays!

Giveaway begins on 1/9/16 at 1:00 am CST and ends on 2/8/16 at 11:59 pm CST. Must be 18 years or older, open to residents of the US ONLY. Once confirmed, the winners will be added to the Southern Mom Loves Winner's List.

Disclaimer: The participating blogs were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. All entries will be verified. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be notified by email; Please add to your whitelist. Southern Mom Loves will be responsible for prize delivery to the winner. This giveaway is in no way administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other social media platform.

Contact Holly at if you have any additional questions or comments, or would like Southern Mom Loves to organize your next giveaway.

Blu-ray Review - Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)

I was a huge fan of the first Maze Runner movie, and I recently rewatched it and still loved it; I gave it 4.5/5 stars in my review, back in September 2014. However, in trilogy books and movies, the middle one usually is the weakest, and so I am hoping that is the case with The Scorch Trials, since it wasn't as enthralling to me as the first movie in the series.

Movie Synopsis:
The Maze was just the beginning. After the harrowing adventure of escaping the maze, the Gladers find themselves right in the center of an epic mystery in MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS, available on Blu-ray™ and DVD December 15. Mysteries deepen and stakes are raised as the Gladers must survive “The Scorch” in this bigger, even more suspenseful and action-packed chapter of the Maze Runner phenomenon.

The critically acclaimed young-adult saga based on author James Dashner’s best-selling book series has taken the world by storm on the way to nearly $600M* at the global box office for the franchise, thanks to its remarkable young cast led by director Wes Ball, including Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Game of Thrones”), Ki Hong Lee (“The Unbreakable Kimmie Shmidt”) and Kaya Scodelario (“Skins”). Based on the second book in a trilogy by James Dashner, the series sold more than nine million copies in all formats.

There’s more action, more excitement and more spectacular effects in this thrilling new chapter of the epic Maze Runner saga that’s taken the world by storm! They may have escaped from the Maze, but Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers now face a greater challenge: searching for clues about the secret organization known as WCKD. Their journey leads them to the Scorch, a desolate wasteland filled with unimaginable dangers. The mystery deepens at every turn as the Gladers work together to discover their purpose and battle to survive in this must-see, electrifying adventure!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cooking Twisted Grilled Cheez with Lorraine Platman, of Sweet Lorraine's {and a gift card giveaway!}

*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of a gift card for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

One of my favorite places to eat in the metro Detroit area is Sweet Lorraine's Cafe, located in the Marriott hotel in Livonia (at Laurel Park Place). One of my high school friends introduced me to the restaurant, and we like to go there to eat when she's back in town. When Sweet Lorraine's contacted me to share a delicious recipe from Lorraine with my readers, there was no way I could refuse; her food is always fantastic.

Chef Lorraine Platman is the woman behind Sweet Lorraine's, and she now operates Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez, which you might have spotted at Great Lakes Crossing or at the Somerset Collection - it's more of a quick-serve restaurant and at Somerset, you can find it in the food court.

Lorraine recently did an interview with Fox 2 News to promote American Cheese Month, and you can find the recipe for her Twisted Grilled Cheez sandwich there, which is a staple at her Mac n' Cheez restaurants.

Movie Review: The Revenant

Will this finally be Leonardo DiCaprio's year to win an Oscar? If his performance in The Revenant is any indication, it might just be. The definition of a "revenant," in fact, is "a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead," which defines both Leo's character in this film and perhaps his Academy Award status, though he's up against a great group of actors this year for Best Actor.

Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is traveling with a group of men who is being paid to bring back pelts. Glass is not the captain of the group, but he knows the terrain best, and he's also traveling with his Pawnee son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). After Glass is mauled by a bear, and it looks like he will die, the captain (Domhnall Gleeson) decides that a few men will stay with Glass to take care of him and make his last days comfortable; these men will be paid extra for their troubles, and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter) volunteer for the job. Fitzgerald convinces Bridger to soon leave to catch up with the group, even though Glass isn't yet dead, and that's where this story essentially starts; Glass eventually gets better, and soon is on the hunt for Fitzgerald for leaving him for dead, among other reasons.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

DVD Review: He Named Me Malala

I had been wanting to see He Named Me Malala in the theaters, but missed it, so I was excited to watch it on DVD. However, the film doesn't give us much information in general, and could have been better in that aspect.

Official synopsis:
From the director of Waiting for “Superman” and the Academy Award®-Winning An Inconvenient Truth comes this highly inspiring and deeply moving documentary about courage, survival, and empowerment.  He Named Me Malala tells the remarkable true story of teenage Malala Yousafzai, who was attacked by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan for advocating girls’ education. Rather than be silenced, Malala emerged as a global voice for the education rights of all children, and in 2014, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient.  This intimate glimpse into the life of an extraordinary girl is sure to inspire your entire family!

The documentary offers an intimate look into Malala’s life both before and following the attack. The then 15-year-old (she turned 18 this past July) was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education. The shooting sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. Malala miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

HE NAMED ME MALALA features Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Khushal and Atal Yousafzai. The film was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, in association with Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Participant Media, with National Geographic Channel.  The film is produced by Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Davis Guggenheim.  Executive producers are Mohamed Al Mubarak and Michael Garin from Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Jeff Skoll from Participant Media, and Shannon Dill.  Inspired by the book I Am Malala.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

GIVEAWAY: The Green Inferno on Blu-ray, in stores January 5th {ends 1/12}

As you might know if you're a frequent reader of this blog, I'm not really a horror movie person. Not because there aren't any good horror movies out there, but because I'm the type that usually gets super scared during them :).

However, I know that horror is definitely a popular genre. For the first giveaway of 2016, you can win a Blu-ray copy of The Green Inferno - check out details below!

More info:
An international goodwill mission goes terrifyingly wrong in The Green Inferno, the highly anticipated return to classic cult horror from iconic director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel 1&2 ), available on Digital HD December 22, 2015 and Blu-ray™ and DVD as well as On Demand on January 5, 2016, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The Green Inferno is a gruesomely spectacular journey into the heart of darkness that will have audiences on the edge of their seats.

New York college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) meets student activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy) when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. Smitten, she agrees to help Alejandro undertake his next project: rescuing an Amazon village from destruction by a greedy multinational corporation. But Justine soon comes to regret her decision when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and the students realize they are not alone. No good deed goes unpunished as the well-meaning students are captured by the cannibalistic tribe they came to save.

The first feature film directed by Roth since Hostel: Part II, The Green Inferno stars Lorenza Izzo (Aftershock, “Hemlock Grove”), Ariel Levy (The Stranger, Best Worst Friends), Aaron Burns (The Stranger, Best Worst Friends) and Kirby Bliss Blanton (Project X, Candy From Strangers). The screenplay is by Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo (Knock Knock, Aftershock).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Year in Review: The Best and Worst Movies of 2015

Last year I provided a roundup of the best and worst movies of 2014 for my readers, and I'm back again this year with my 2015 list.

I can't believe that it's already January 2016, too - which means award season is upon us! The Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics Choice Awards all take place this month, and I'll be tuning in to all three of them to see who and what movies take home the honors.

(Golden Globes - Sun. 1/10)
(Critics Choice Awards - Sun. 1/17)
(SAG Awards - Sat. 1/30)

A lot of people always ask me what my favorite movie of the year is/was, and that's a hard question to answer. I didn't give ANY 5/5 star reviews this year, except for East Side Sushi, a lovely film I saw at the Cinetopia festival; however, I believe the film still doesn't have distribution. 

I did give a few 4/5 and 4.5/5 star reviews, though, including Room, which was based on a book of which I'm also a big fan. 

*all links listed are Amazon affiliate links - FYI. I sometimes make pennies off them but I do appreciate you clicking, if you see a movie here you want to buy/rent from Amazon.

(last year: 95. Guess I was busier this year!)

*this number is probably more like 70-80 total if you include ones I did not review - off the top of my head, Maze Runner: Scorch Trials; Joy; Star Wars Episode VII; Straight Outta Compton; Creed; Secret in Their Eyes; Trumbo; Spectre; Burnt; Love & Mercy; The Gunman; Still Alice; Foxcatcher; A Most Violent Year; American Sniper; Mad Max: Fury Road; Big Eyes, Minions, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Steve Jobs ... = 18, so that would bring it up to 85.