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Reviews Written by
Kona (Emerald City)
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

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Babylon Rising
Babylon Rising
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!, Sept. 22 2014
This review is from: Babylon Rising (Kindle Edition)
I was completely surprised by this book. I loved it! This is a fast-paced adventure story about an Indiana Jones-type professor/adventurer who finds ancient artifacts to prove the veracity of Bible stories. This time around, he's hunting for Moses' long-lost bronze serpent; little does he know he's being watched and hunted by a vicious killer.

I found this book very different from the, "Left Behind" books; this is pure adventure with scary scenes that really unnerved me. There is no evangelizing here, although the plot involves the Book of Daniel. I like the author's style of introducing many disparate stories that gradually merge into one.

This story would make a fun movie. I can't wait to get the next book in the series of four. Heartily recommended for those who enjoy exciting stories of danger and violence.

The Uninvited (The Criterion Collection)
The Uninvited (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Ray Milland
Price: CDN$ 21.98
15 used & new from CDN$ 18.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense!, July 10 2014
Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey star as siblings who buy a huge, old English house (sans electricity, of course) on a cliff over-looking the sea. They soon feels chills and hear ghostly sounds at night.

This is a wonderful movie, genuinely scary but completely non-violent. The Oscar-nominated, black and white photography in the creepy, dark house is outstanding and the fear of things that go bump in the night is what makes this one to watch with the lights on. Milland and Hussey are witty and urbane and Gail Russell is sweet as a neighbor girl with an interest in the house.

The lovely, "Stella by Starlight" is played several times and the entire soundtrack is excellent. This is a good old-fashioned thriller with a few laughs to break the tension.

The Book Thief [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
The Book Thief [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Geoffrey Rush
Price: CDN$ 14.96
10 used & new from CDN$ 14.96

5.0 out of 5 stars "But in the end there were no words. Only peace.", April 26 2014
As the story opens, it is 1938, and a young German girl whose mother cannot keep her, is sent to live with strangers. Little Liesel adjusts to her new life with the help of her kindly new Papa and the books she steals, which teach her to read. But life becomes frightening when the war starts and the family decides to hide a Jew in their home.

This is an exquisite movie, the best I've seen a long time. The story is unforgettable and the cast is outstanding. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are wonderful as Liesel's foster parents Canadian Sophie Nelisse is perfectly cast as Liesel, growing from age 8 to 16. We see the war through her eyes; she is unflinchingly brave and lovable.

There is a small amount of violence, mostly bombing, with just enough good people to show that life is worth living. This is a tear-jerker, but well worth watching.

Saving Mr. Banks (Bilingual)
Saving Mr. Banks (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Emma Thompson
Price: CDN$ 13.88
30 used & new from CDN$ 5.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent acting but forgettable story, April 25 2014
This review is from: Saving Mr. Banks (Bilingual) (DVD)
When the author of "Mary Poppins" comes to see Walt Disney about making her books into a movie, we learn a lot about her childhood and the inspirations for her characters. She's a rigid sourpuss, immune to the warmth and charms of Mr. Disney, however, and won't even consider the changes he wants.

The constant flashbacks to P.L. Travers' idyllic-then-tragic childhood are quite interesting (although I still don't understand the title). Tom Hanks is utterly lovable as Disney and plays well against Emma Thompson's brittle, control-freak old maid, Travers. It's fun to see the two pros act together.

There is a lot of trivia for fans of the Mary Poppins movie, but this is actually a very lightweight and inconsequential story, more suited as a "extra" on the Mary Poppins DVD, rather than a full-length film. I enjoyed it but have forgotten most of it already.

Noah
Noah
DVD ~ Russell Crowe
Price: CDN$ 13.88
14 used & new from CDN$ 8.99

19 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars After the Rock Monsters, it all goes downhill, March 29 2014
This review is from: Noah (DVD)
*I Laughed at:
Transformer-like Rock People who built the ark
Noah was a crazy killer
The animals slept on the ark for 9 months with no food or water
Noah has a buzz cut
Everyone in Noah's family has a different accent
Clothing styles include pants (skinny jeans for the ladies), denim jackets, shirts with inset sleeves, and modern boots with leather soles
Again, there are Rock Monsters and they talk!

*I Liked:
It ended, finally

The director tried to make an artistic statement, not tell the Bible story, and ended up with an irreverent, ugly, depressing, confusing, and totally ridiculous film (with no real animals!).

Non-Stop
Non-Stop
Price: CDN$ 12.94
3 used & new from CDN$ 12.94

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling airborne mystery, March 14 2014
This review is from: Non-Stop (DVD)
Liam Neeson stars as troubled air marshal Bill Marks, who is enroute to London. He starts receiving text messages saying someone onboard will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150M is sent to a secret bank account. And then people start dying.

In this movie, every character, except for Bill, is set up as a likely suspect; they all look very shifty and fully capable of murder. It's fun to watch everyone look guilty and my mind was racing to figure out the culprit (I couldn't.). Neeson is outstanding as the air marshal, running the gamut of emotions from grief to confusion to terror; he's instantly sympathetic and likable. Julianne Moore is good as Bill's seatmate and it's fun to see Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey") as a flight attendant.

From the opening moments, I felt uneasy; that quickly turned to paranoia and then fear. The story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I really enjoyed the mystery of it. Recommended for those who like whodunits.

The Impossible / L'impossible  (Bilingual)
The Impossible / L'impossible (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Price: CDN$ 16.98
12 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening true story, Jan. 24 2014
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as parents who take their three sons to Thailand on vacation where they become victims of the deadly tsunami of 2004.

Every minute of this true story is gut-wrenching, from the incredibly realistic recreation of the tsunami to the mass death and devastation afterward. Watts and McGregor are excellent as the suffering and selfless parents and Tom Holland gives a wonderful performance as their brave young son.

I saw videos of the disaster, but putting a personal, family face on the horror makes it all the more real and heartbreaking. Filmed on location in Thailand, the movie is intense and very moving. Highly recommended.

Captain Phillips [Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Copy] (Bilingual)
Captain Phillips [Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Copy] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Chris Mulkey
Price: CDN$ 14.99
14 used & new from CDN$ 8.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and unforgettable, Jan. 22 2014
Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) was taking his American cargo ship on a routine voyage off the coast of Africa, when a small band of armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. While most of the crew stayed hidden, the pirates took Captain Phillips hostage in a lifeboat.

This movie, based on a true story, is extremely intense and exciting, so frightening, I don't think I could have watched it on the big screen, but on DVD, it was riveting and even educational. There isn't any real violence until the very end, but the drama is kept at a unbearable level by the non-stop yelling of the pirates. Their leader is played by Barkhad Abdi in his first acting role. He is outstanding and deserves his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Tom Hanks delivers a powerful performance, remaining calm and providing a balance to the pirates' hysteria.

The script manages to elicit sympathy for the pirates because of their miserable lives; they live in abject poverty, forced to hijack ships by their warlords or die. The movie is excellent and highly recommended.

The Details
The Details
DVD ~ Tobey Maguire
Price: CDN$ 14.98
2 used & new from CDN$ 14.40

3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, bad ending, Dec 3 2013
This review is from: The Details (DVD)
Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) seems to have it all, a great career, beautiful family...and then it starts to fall apart: Raccoons tear up his new lawn. This drives him crazy and this is just the first of many bad things that happen, all leading up to cold-blooded murder.

This is a dark comedy with many funny and silly moments and just as many bizarre and absurd ones. Maguire is good as the Everyman character, but I thought Elizabeth Banks was way too teenage-Barbie doll-ish to play his wife. Dennis Haysbert is Jeff's loyal best friend and Laura Linney steals the show as his pathetic, loony neighbor.

There are lots of twists and turns and it was fun to watch until the end, which just stops, like the director ran out of time and told everyone to go home. The non-ending almost spoils a good movie and left me unsatisfied.

Broken Flowers / Fleurs Brisées (Bilingual)
Broken Flowers / Fleurs Brisées (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Bill Murray
Offered by biddeal
Price: CDN$ 19.48
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Murray phones it in, Dec 3 2013
A man receives an anonymous letter informing him he is the father of a 19-year old son, so he sets off on a journey to visit his old girlfriends to see which one wrote the letter.

Bill Murray stars in this movie which is, at times, funny, pathetic, and shocking but mostly just boring. His character is an unappealing, solitary man who shows no interest or emotion; Murray pretty much phones in his performance, so underplaying his role that I wondered why he bothered at all. It's an intriguing premise that goes absolutely nowhere and the ending feels like the writer just ran out of ideas and stopped writing.

For Bill Murray fans only.

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