Creed (2015)

CreedDVDCreed

Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone

Review by Stephanie Bragg

Everyone’s favorite Philadelphian boxer is back! Sylvester Stallone (Academy Award nominated) as Rocky Balboa returns but this time to train a new fighter, and not just any fighter, the son of his opponent and friend Apollo Creed.  Adonis “Donnie” Johnson wants to be a fighter but does not want to trade in on his father’s name.  Making his way up from boxing in Tijuana, Donnie is given a shot at a fight with undefeated champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, but only if he fights under the Creed name. Rocky decides to train Donnie for the biggest fight of his life. Continue reading

Clue

Clue the MovieClue: The Movie (1985)

Review by Kate Boyle

 

“Let’s make a movie based on a board game!” Yeah, cause that’s a good idea. Except it was. At least it was a good idea in 1985 when Paramount Pictures released this gem. Of course, that being said, Clue didn’t do terribly well when it was released, scrapping the production company’s plans for a series of board game movies. Alas, we’ll never know what a . . . delight? Monopoly would have been. Aside: Hollywood seemed to have figured that since Clue became such a cult classic that they would try again. Battleship did so poorly in 2013, Hasbro’s toy sales declined (possibly due to economic recession . . . or that movie). Continue reading

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6Big Hero 6 (2014)

Review by Rachel Shuman

The story overall is a classic hero’s journey: orphan boy is told he can be more than he already is, gains a mentor, loses mentor to a villain, and sets out to avenge his mentor’s death. Disney loves this formula, and Big Hero 6 is no exception. The movie follows Hiro Hamata, a fourteen-year-old genius who is languishing in the world of bot-fighting after graduating high school the year before. Hiro’s apathy regarding his intellect and future have driven his brother, Tadashi, and their Aunt Cass to distraction. One night, Tadashi brings his little brother to his “nerd lab”: the robotics laboratory he shares with other graduate students. It’s there that we meet Tadashi’s project, Baymax, and some of Tadashi’s fellows. Continue reading

Orphan Black

Orphan Black Season 1 Cover  Orphan Black 

Review by Stephanie Bragg

You’re just a regular person, you have your issues, but so does everyone. Waiting to take the train one night you are confronted by someone who looks just like you. No, not just like you, exactly like you.  Before you can even try think about why, that person steps right in front of a moving train. Wait, what?! In the BBC America original series Orphan Black this is exactly what happens to Sarah.  Unsure what to do, Sarah hightails it out of the train station but not without taking the other woman’s wallet with her. She steps briefly into the dead woman’s life.  This chance meeting draws Sarah into a world she had never imagined. A world where human cloning exists and she is one of them. Continue reading

The House Without A Christmas Tree

The House Without a Christmas Tree dvd coverThe House Without a Christmas Tree DVD

Review by Michele Bolay

In honor of the holiday season, I went back and looked at my list of favorite children’s holiday books, and this was right at the top: The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock, one in a short series of novels about the incomparable 10-year-old Addie Mills. Unfortunately, the series is out of print, but several libraries in the system still have copies, and this particular title was filmed as a must-see made-for-TV movie in the 1970s that is still available on DVD.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesReview by Kate Boyle

This book was originally marketed for teens, but it is now wildly popular among adults and adult reading groups. It is a fast-paced and imaginative view of a dystopian society. America is now a country called Panem, derived of a capital city and 12 (once 13) districts. After district 13 attempted an uprising against the powerful capital, the rebels were wiped out and the capital instilled “The Hunger Games” to remind the districts of the devastation that resulted from the unsuccessful campaign. For 70 + years now, each district must enter their children, ages 12-18 into a lottery. Two are chosen, one male and one female, to enter into the Hunger Games, a televised to-the-death battle which changes yearly. Twenty four tributes enter the games, not knowing what challenges or terrain they will face, but only one can survive to be crowned the winner. This first book in the Hunger Games trilogy introduces readers to Katniss Everdeen’s epic journey of self-discovery.

This book is extraordinarily written, with deep characters that become very real to the reader. We are caught up in the struggle to understand the Hunger Games, as well as the children who are sent there to be warriors. Publishers Weekly hit the nail on the head: “It’s a credit to Collins’s skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable.” In contrast to Katniss, we also get to know her District 12 counterpart, Peeta, whose sweetness of temper and own personal agenda make him a dangerous competitor.

The Hunger Games is rich with political intrigue, a touch of romance, and a bird’s eye view at what horrors people can inflict on one another for “entertainment.” I personally read the trilogy so quickly that I felt I must have missed things and had to reread sections until I was satisfied. Collins successfully hooks the reader and we struggle along with Katniss to grasp the multifaceted strategies of the games. This book is fascinating and honestly, a little scary due to the fact that it’s not terribly difficult to believe that the human race can sink to this level. A must-read, whether or not you’ve seen the films. Try The Hunger Games, surely you’ll be wanting to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay too.

The films are strong adaptations, giving us a look at the machinations behind the scenes of the dreaded games and well worth the watch!  Casting is very strong, Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss, Josh Hutcherson is very moving as “the boy with the bread” Peeta, and Woody Harrelson is spot-on as former games winner, Haymitch Abernathy.  Special shout out to Elizabeth Banks as the incorrigible Effie and Lenny Kravitz (you read that right) as Katniss’ understated ally Cinna.

Check availability on The Hunger Games  •  Check availability on The Hunger Games DVD

Check availability on Catching Fire  •  Check availability on Catching Fire DVD

Check availability on Mockingjay  •  Check availability on Mockingjay: Part One DVD

About the Reviewer: Kate Boyle has been a librarian at Tredyffrin Public Library and Paoli Library since 2011. She read The Hunger Games for the third time this year and loved it just as much this time around.  She is on Team Peeta.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Girl with the Dragon TattooDragon Tattoo DVDBook by Steig Larsson, Movie directed by David Fincher

Review by Stephanie Bragg

Family drama, isolation, and murder.  Many years ago a young member of the Vanger family disappeared from the family estate on Hedeby Island, presumed murdered, but the body has never been located and the killer never found.  The aging Henrik Vanger wants answers and justice for Harriet.  He hires a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, and a unique computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, to dig around the family and weasel out the murderer. Continue reading

The Newsroom Season One

The NewsroomReview by Abby Shelton

“A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what’s important; the death of [b—ness]; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we all come together.” [edited by reviewer]

So is the News Night program as described by its new executive producer McKenzie McHale, played by Emily Mortimer, in the first episode of Aaron Sorkin’s newest series The Newsroom. The first season of this politically savvy show follows news anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, and his team at the fictional Atlantis Cable News Service as they deal with some of the biggest news items of 2010-2011, including the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the rise of the Tea Party, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Against the backdrop of dramatic news stories and the quick-witted dialogue that Sorkin is known for, the interpersonal drama of the news team endears you to the characters as you watch them struggle and succeed in their relationships. Continue reading

Blue Valentine

Blue_Valentine_filmReview by Amelia Falcone

Blue Valentine follows Dean and Cindy, a couple five years into their marriage who decide to take a night away from their daughter in order to rekindle their relationship. Integrating clips from their romantic past, this film details the difficulties that come when transitioning from being a young couple into married parents. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give stellar performances as they show you what it takes to truly be someone’s “valentine.”

Beginning this movie, I had thought I was walking into the typical, happy, romantic film. However, Blue Valentine provides realistic insight into the struggles that accompany a long-term relationship. The film seamlessly combines themes of joy and love with the depression that too often worms its way into a relationship. Continue reading