My Fun Visit to LAIKA and the Amazing "The Boxtrolls!" 

Experiencing everything that Portland, Oregon has to offer for the first time was quite magical which made it even more whimsical when I visited LAIKA, the home of "Coraline," "ParaNorman," and the upcoming "The Boxtrolls!"

Nestled within the agrarian roots of Hillsboro, LAIKA is housed inside a giant warehouse populated by creative folks, craftsmen, and CEO, leader, guru, head animator, and all-around nice guy, Travis Knight. He's such a down-to-earth guy and a fun communicator that I just had to take a picture with him in front of the Cheesebridge Market Place backdrop used in "The Boxtrolls."

The whole visit was devoted to LAIKA's edgy brand and of course, "The Boxtrolls." Based on "Here Be Monsters" by Alan Snow, we saw a few clips from the film, some from Act 1 and some from Act 2. They also showed us a LAIKA featurette which I hoped will be available to us soon so I can post it here!

We toured the whole compound, talked to various department heads -- costumes, art, computers (oh my gosh, their 3D printer is phenomenal) -- and experienced the magical brand called LAIKA.

I even interviewed the sweet and funny Isaac Hempstead-Wright who voices Eggs, the lead character in "The Boxtrolls." Hempstead-Wright is also in the popular HBO show, "Game of Thrones" as Bran Stark.

I will post the video of my LAIKA visit as soon as it's made available. But for now, watch "The Boxtrolls" trailer by clicking here. I can't wait to see the animated wonder in full when it comes out in theaters on September 26!

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Avoid Cinema At All Costs -- My Movie Reviews of New Movies "Sex Tape," "The Purge: Anarchy," "Planes: Fire & Rescue" 

A raunchy comedy, thriller, and animated film, three movies to choose from this weekend! “Sex Tape,” “The Purge: Anarchy,” and “Planes: Fire and Rescue” are all battling for your movie dollars, so which one is my pick of the week? Hint: I have no pick of the week! Why? Find out in my review below:

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From Ice in the Desert to Dr. Seuss, See My Latest Coachella Valley Adventures! 

I've been a busy bee all week! First, I went to the Desert Ice Castle in Cathedral City, CA to take a look at their fundraising effort called "Hot Summer Ice Show!" It's cool to cool off in the middle of the summer in the hot, hot desert!

And then, I cooled off my singing voice to take a look at "Seussical the Musical" playing at Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs! I met Cat in the Hat and Horton! I love them both! This play is not only for the young, but for the young at heart as well!

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Go Ape! "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" Movie Review 

I enjoyed the original reboot, 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” so I was anxiously waiting for the sequel, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” How did director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “Let Me In”) do by taking the reins from original helmer Rupert Wyatt? And is the sequel better than the original? Find out in my movie review of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Official Synopsis:

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species. (c) Fox

Cast (from Wikipedia)

• Jason Clarke as Malcolm, a survivor of the ALZ-113 virus who, along with a small group of other survivors, forms a strong bond with the apes and Caesar.
• Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, the leader of the surviving humans who wants to kill all the apes and get "revenge" for the deaths of his wife and two sons from the virus.
• Keri Russell as Ellie, a former nurse with the CDC and survivor of the virus. She is Malcolm's second wife, Alexander's step-mother and knows the virus wasn't caused by the apes.
• Kodi Smit-McPhee as Alexander, Malcolm's teenage son.
• Jocko Sims as Werner, an ally of Dreyfus.
• Kirk Acevedo as Carver, a member of Malcolm's group. He has an attitude problem and a strong hatred for apes.
• Enrique Murciano as Kempt, a member of Malcolm's group.
• Kevin Rankin as McVeigh
• Keir O'Donnell as Finney

Evolved Apes
• Andy Serkis as Caesar, a common chimpanzee who is the leader of the apes, king of the ape colony, husband of Cornelia, and father of River and an infant son. He is also the honorary uncle of Rocket's son, Ash.
• Judy Greer as Cornelia, Caesar's wife, mother of River and a newborn son, and honorary aunt of Ash.
• Terry Notary as Rocket, a common chimpanzee who is Caesar's second-in-command and one of his most trusted friends. Because of this, he is Caesar's children's honorary uncle.
• Karin Konoval as Maurice, Caesar's Bornean orangutan third-in-command and member of the ape council who gets captured and held hostage by Koba.
• Toby Kebbell as Koba, Caesar's ruthless bonobo adviser who believes his leader is too affectionate towards humans.
• Doc Shaw as Ash, Rocket's teenage son, Caesar and Cornelia's honorary nephew, and River's best friend and honorary cousin.
• Nick Thurston as River, Caesar and Cornelia's teenage son, honorary nephew of Rocket, and honorary cousin and best friend of Ash.

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Angelina Jolie's New Movie Looks Oscar-Ready! 

So come Oscar time, we may hear, Angelina Jolie BEST DIRECTOR! That's right, the "Maleficent" actress made a follow-up to her "In the Land of Blood and Honey" with "Unbroken," the true story of Olympic track star Louis Zamperini who enlisted in World War II and ended up being a prisoner of war by the Japanese. This one's based on Laura Hillenbrand with musch by Alexandre Desplat.

Yup, it has Oscar written all over it complete with a script from the Coen brothers!

Jack O'Connell plays Zamperini and joining him are Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, and Domhnall Gleeson.

"Unbroken" opens on the Oscar-friendly date of...Christmas Day!

Take a look at the trailer for "Unbroken" below:

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