Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 10/02/2015
Running Time: 141
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie.
Crew: Director: Ridley Scott. Producers: Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer and Aditya Sood. Executive Producer: Ridley Scott. Screenwriters: Drew Goddard and Andy Weir (Book: "The Martian"). Cinematographer: Dariusz Wolski.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Directly Ridley Scott’s space drama, “The Martian” doesn’t bask in high-tech pretentiousness. It’s a smart, funny and daring humanistic survival tale complete with multi-layered characters you will immediately root for, notably the film’s leading star, Matt Damon (“Interstellar” and “Elysium”).

Damon plays Astronaut Mark Watney. His crew members Rick Martinez (Michael Pena, “Ant-Man”), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara, “Fantastic Four”), Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie, “Hercules”), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan, “Ant-Man”) and their disco-music loving commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain, “Crimson Peak”) are caught in a horrific dust storm during their mission to Mars.

Mark (Damon) is badly injured when a flying antenna rips through his spacesuit and punctures his stomach. He’s presumed dead and left behind by the rest of the crew who abort the mission and head back to Earth.

The news of Mark’s death shocks the world and especially the NASA team which is headed by Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels, “Steve Jobs”), PR guru Annie Montrose (Kristen Wigg, TV’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”) and Mars expert Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor “12 Years a Slave”).

They’re even more stunned when Mark, turns up alive and makes contact with them after locating the Pathfinder communications satellite probe, which had been defunct since 1997.

Even more impressive is that Mark, a botanist, has been able to survive by creating a greenhouse and growing his own crop of potatoes.

But will it be enough food to last him four years? That’s how long it’s going to take NASA to try and rescue Mark. Even then there’s no guarantee they’ll make it.

Some of NASA’s best and brightest scientists work around the clock to find ways to bring Mark home. Their best shot at making it happen comes from an idea posed by a nerdy analyst named Rich Purnell, (Donald Glover, “Magic Mike XXL” and TV’s “Community”).

Now, it’s a race against time.

“The Martian,” from screenwriter Drew Goddard is adapted from Davis California author Andy Weir’s 2011 best-selling novel of the same name. The movie showcases Damon at his finest.

Although he has a wonderful supporting cast, Damon carries the majority of the film and gives a stark, emotional and convincing performance.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.

Check Out This Trailer For""THE MARTIAN"...

Rated: R
Opens: 10/02/2015

Rated: PG
Opens: 09/30/2015
The Walk

Rated: PG
Opens: 09/25/2015
Hotel Transylvania 2

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 09/25/2015

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 09/25/2015
The Intern

Rated: R
Opens: 09/18/2015
Black Mass


Brian's Song Title: Brian's Song
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 90
Production Company: Sony (Screen Gems)
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: Now with summer behind us, the arrival of fall means weekends attending and watching plenty of football games. Whether they’re college, pro or high school, I’m all over them. I’m looking forward to attending a few games at the San Francisco 49ers new Levi’s Stadium.

On the college front, my husband Rickey is a former UC Davis player/alum and...

Insidious: Chapter 3 <b>(Oct. 6)</b> Title: Insidious: Chapter 3 (Oct. 6)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 97
Production Company: Focus Features
Director: Leigh Whannell
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


With Halloween right around the corner, “Insidious: Chapter 3” should do quite well with its arrival on DVD. Not only did this movie creep me out, it got all up in my head which is the sign of a really good horror flick.

Writer/co-star Leigh Whannell took the director reins from James Wan, the helmer of the first two “Insidious” movies and co-produced this one.

“Insidious: Chapter 3” is a prequel set prior to the haunting of the Lambert family. This time around, it’s the Brenner’s who are haunted by a frightening, supernatural power.

Sean Brenner (Dermont Mulroney, TV’s “Shameless”) is a single parent raising his aspiring theatre arts teen daughter Quinn (Stephanie Scott, TV’s “A.N.T. Farm” and “Jessie”) and young son, Alex (Tate Berney).

Quinn can’t get over losing her deceased mother. Consequently, she seeks the help of psychic Elise Rainier (a wonderful Lin Shayne, “Ouija”).

Elise has a knack for communicating with the dearly departed. But Elise has pretty much shut that aspect of her life down ever since her husband committed suicide. When she tried to connect with him in the “Further,” Elise got spooked by an evil spirit and has shied away from it all.

There’s something special about Quinn that Elise is drawn to and she agrees to help Quinn reach her mother. Before long, Quinn is seeing a strange shadowy figure most everywhere she goes and there’s a demon of sorts nestled within the vents of her bedroom. And just where did those black, greasy footprints come from?

Quinn and everyone else should have listened to Grace (Phyllis Applegate, TV‘s “Hollywood Square“), the old black woman they thought was crazy, but really wasn’t at all.

Things start going so major crazy in their house that Sean has to call a couple of geeky, paranormal guys named Tucker (Angus Simpson,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and Specs (Leigh Whannel1, “Insidious” series) to do some serious ghost busting. These two also provide some nice comic relief.

Whannell knows just when to tease viewers and when to ramp up the terrifying moments. And believe me there are several deliciously good satisfying ones.
(Highly Recommended).

Magic Mike XXL <b>(Oct. 6)</b> Title: Magic Mike XXL (Oct. 6)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 130
Production Company: Warner Bros.
Director: Gregory Jacob
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


After the runaway success of the 2012 “Magic Mike” movie, a sequel was inevitable.

“Magic Mike XXL” was this past summer’s hot, guilty pleasure. While the movie takes a bit to build up to all the good bumping and grinding, it’s worth the wait.

The hunky and chiseled Channing Tatum (“Jupiter Ascending” and “Foxcatcher”) is back along with his fellow strip club buddies, Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello, TV’s “True Blood”), Tito (Adam Rodriguez, TV’s “The Night Shift”), Ken (Matt Bomer, TV’s “American Horror Story”) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash, “John Wick”).

The only one missing from the bunch is Xquisite strip club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). While I thought the film would be lacking without McConaughey, Michael Strahan (TV’s “Live with Kelly and Michael”) is a very good replacement.

Strahan doesn’t have a big role in “Magic Mike XXL,” but it’s arguably one of the sexiest and most erotic scenes in the movie. A couple of other new faces in the mix include: Jada Pinkett Smith in a sultry role as a club owner named Rome, a funny Donald Glover (“The Lazarus Effect”) and the talented Stephen “tWitch” Boss (“TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance”).

“Magic Mike XXL” picks up three years later with Mike (Tatum) now doing pretty good for himself as a furniture maker. Yet, he’s always wondered what his former friends, have been up to especially when he’s working in his shop and Ginuwine’s song “Pony” comes on the radio. Mike can’t resist the groove and breaks out some of his old school moves. Once a stripper always a stripper it seems.

The guys decide to reunite for a Fourth of July stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C. organized by Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect 2”). They want to see if they’ve still got it and if the throngs of women attending, still want it.

Their road trip is filled with funny stories about their lives since they broke up and more importantly how much they missed each other. Along the way, Mike drops by on an old friend (Pinkett Smith) who used to be his love interest.

Rome now owns an upscale and exotic mega home that caters to predominately well-heeled African-American women looking for a little more spark in their lives.

Pinkett Smith is terrific here. She plays the role to perfection. Rome invites Magic Mike to show her standing room only crowd why she referred to him back in the day as delicious, white chocolate. And when Mike does, well, the bills come raining down.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Agustus (Strahan) as he lays down some magical moves of his own with a woman eager to show her appreciation in return.

The guy’s next stop involves a visit to the home of Nancy Davidson, (Andie MacDowell, TV’s “Cedar Cove”), a true southern Belle, who along with her divorced, cougar girlfriends show the fellas some southern hospitality while at her mansion. Mike just can’t get over Nancy’s daughter Zoe (Amber Heard, “3 Days to Kill”).

By the time the finale strippers contest rolls around, the guys have had such a great time with all the women they’ve met, that they are ready to roll. It’s a stripper’s finale like no other. The music is on point and the choreography is tight and polished. The guys crush it.

If you’re looking for something different, try “Magic Mike XXL” on for size. It measures up to its predecessor.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl <b>(Oct. 6)</b> Title: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (Oct. 6)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 105
Production Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Awkward title aside, the young, adult drama “Me and Earl and The Dying Girl” from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (“Argo” and TV’s “American Horror Story”) is clever, quirky and heart-warming.

Screenwriter Jesse Andrews adapted “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” from his 2012 novel of the same name and the movie seamlessly blends its goofball comedic moments with sincere ones.

Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”) and Earl Johnson (newcomer RJ Cyler,) attend Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They’re best friends. In fact, they’re each other’s only friends.

Greg and Earl stand out from the rest of the students at school because, well, they’re just different. While most other students are into sports and the Glee Club, Greg and Earl spend their time honing their filmmaking skills by producing silly, mock amateur movies like “Senior Citizen Cane,” (“Citizen Kane”), “A Sockwork Orange” (“A Clockwork Orange”) and “Brew Velvet” (“Blue Velvet”) among others.

The “cool kids” in school tease and harass Greg and Earl so much that their history teacher Mr. McCarthy (Jon Bernthal, “Fury” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”) lets them hang out in his office at lunchtime so they can eat in peace.

Greg’s rather shallow life, takes a surprising turn when his mother (Connie Britton, TV’s “American Crime Story”) suggests he Greg visit one of his former classmates named Rachel (Olivia Cooke, “Ouija”) who is dying of cancer.
Greg doesn’t want to because he hardly knows Rachel and feels she would be just as uncomfortable as him. But Greg’s mom insists and he winds up going over to her house.

It doesn’t take long before Rachel and Greg are talking like old friends. Greg even convinces Rachel to let him and Earl make a movie about her life. Greg enjoys spending so much time with Rachel that he lets school and his grades slip. His chances of going to college are looking pretty slim now.

Through Greg’s interaction with Rachel, Greg discovers more about himself, his family and even Earl.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a triumphant indie movie that doesn’t simply skate by on charm alone. In addition to its affective storyline it boasts a likeable cast particularly Rachel’s mother Molly Shannon (TV’s “Mulaney”), Connie Britton, Nick Offerman (TV’s “Fargo”) as Greg’s oddball father whose penchant for exotic foods might even give CNN’s Anthony Bourdain pause. RJ Cyler nearly steals the show here with a cool breeze swagger that nicely plays off of Mann’s gawky character.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” got lost amid all the summer blockbusters, but this one should top your lists of movies to see now.

Avengers: Age of Ultron <b>(Oct. 6)</b> Title: Avengers: Age of Ultron (Oct. 6)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 141
Production Company: Walt Disney Studio
Director: Joss Whedon
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


With the exception of Idris Elba’s character Heimdall, most every other Marvel Comics Super Hero gets plenty of screen time in director Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the super-sized follow-up to his 2012 blockbuster hit, “The Avengers.”

While Elba’s limited screen presence isn’t the only reason I liked rather than loved “Age of Ultron,” it’s a reason nonetheless.

The rest of the A-list roster in “Age of Ultron” includes: Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Natasha Romanoff /Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Tony Stark/Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), The Hulk (Bruce Banner/Mark Ruffalo) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

There are a few new faces among the mix too, notably, the Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, “Godzilla”), Pietro/ Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Godzilla”) and the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader, TV’s “The Blacklist”).

With all these characters and a few others on screen, it’s no wonder “Avengers: Age of Ultron” runs nearly 2 ½ hours and feels even longer than that. However, true fanboys and fangirls probably won’t experience superhero fatigue.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is crammed with every action sequence imaginable.
Some of them are eye-popping and others just look too cheesy and are so-so.
But while the action in “Age of Ultron” may be hit and miss, the humorous dialogue between these Super Heroes is spot-on and really the saving grace of the movie.

Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) becomes a marked man when he and Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) collaborate and create a futuristic, fully functioning, peacekeeping robot named Ultron (Spader). But their creation is much smarter than they imagined. It’s not long before Ultron goes rogue and begins to assemble his own legion of like-minded robots that are bent on exterminating the planet starting with the mighty Avengers.

We know that’s not happening. And it’s not going to be an easy fight or a quick one for that matter. Adding to this already weighty storyline are those Maximoff twins, Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and her brother Pietro/Quicksilver (Johnson). They’re out to take down Iron Man because one of his bombs killed their parents.

Surprisingly, it’s when Whedon dials down some of the action and focuses on the gang’s lighter moments that "Age of Ultron is more engaging. A scene involving the Avengers trying to unsuccessfully pick up Thor’s hammer is pretty hilarious as is “Rhodey”/War Machine (Cheadle) explaining that a joke he regularly tells is a hit with everyone except for them.

Even the little romantic flirtation between Black Widow (Johansson) and The Hulk is a welcome addition to this super-powered spectacle.
mission By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate.

These highly trained operatives are hell-bent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, “Hercules”), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

“Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation: The IMAX Experience” opens July 30 at the Esquire IMAX Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

“Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation: The IMAX Experience” has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

Movie-goers can now enjoy the IMAX Experience with good food and a cold beer or glass of wine. Options include: Coors Light, Blue Moon, Racer 5, Ruhstaller, Woodbridge cabernet and chardonnay.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre also has a new expanded menu which includes: pizza, giant pretzels, soup, salad, chicken tenders and locally made Morants’ sausages with all the fixins.’

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA.

For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the work of Aardman Animations with three programs featuring the studio’s Oscar-winning and nominated Wallace and Gromit shorts on August 7, and August 9.

WALLACE AND GROMIT RESTORED: THE MARC DAVIS CELEBRATION OF ANIMATION--August 7, 7:30 p.m. Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills. As part of the Academy’s Marc Davis Celebration of Animation series, Aardman Animations co-founder David Sproxton and Wallace and Gromit cinematographer Dave Alex Riddett will discuss the making of the studio’s Oscar-winning shorts “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave,” and the Oscar-nominated shorts “A Grand Day Out” and “A Matter of Loaf and Death.” The program also will include the world premiere screening of the restorations of all four films, the result of a collaborative effort between the Academy Film Archive and Aardman Animations.

CRACKING ANIMATION: BEHIND THE SCENES AT AARDMAN--August 9, 9 a.m. Los Angeles Convention Center, Downtown Los Angeles. The Academy returns to SIGGRAPH Conference with a panel featuring Sproxton and Riddett, who will trace the arc of Aardman’s voyage over the last three decades, present clips of the studio’s work, and discuss the evolving production techniques and future prospects of stop-motion animation.

A GRAND DAY OUT: WALLACE AND GROMIT FAMILY MATINEES--August 9, 1:00–5:30 p.m. At The Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood. The Academy presents matinee screenings of all four Wallace and Gromit shorts for families, as well as an animation workshop for children ages 8 to 13. The 90-minute hands-on workshop will offer a small group of participants the opportunity to learn some of Aardman Animations’ stop-motion techniques.

For tickets and more information call (310) 247-3000.



The Academy’s Board of Governors approved Oscars rules and campaign regulations for the 88th Academy Awards during their most recent Board meeting on June 23.

In the “Best Picture” category, to qualify as a producer nominee for a nominated picture, the producer must have been determined eligible for a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for the picture, or must have appealed the PGA’s refusal of such eligibility. Final determination of the qualifying producer nominees for each nominated picture will be made by the Academy’s Producers Branch Executive Committee.

In the “Visual Effects” category, the number of eligible films that will be initially shortlisted for further consideration has increased to a maximum of 20 titles. The number of films that will be shortlisted for nominations voting remains at 10.

In the “Documentary Short Subject” category, the number of films that will be shortlisted for nominations voting has increased from 8 to 10 titles. Instead of a possible three, four or five nominees, the number is now set at five.

In the “Animated Short Film” and “Live Action Short Film” categories, a film qualifying via a theatrical release must now have a theater run in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days with at least one screening per day. The film also must appear in the theater listings along with the appropriate dates and screening times. In both categories, the number of nominees is now set at five.

Other amendments to the rules include standard date changes and other “housekeeping” adjustments. Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

Updated campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 88th Academy Awards, are also presented to the Board for approval.

The 88th Oscars will be held February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC television at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from publicity department press releases.

3D Animation By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


"Our problem is we sound too good to be true," says Maria Solomon, Head of EOS Studios in Cleveland, Ohio. EOS Studios is a woman-owned African American firm that produces large and small scale 3-D Animation. EOS specializes in the emerging field of 3-D Projection Mapping.

3-D Projection Mapping, also known as video mapping, urban projection, architectural mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a projection-based technology that merges animation, motion graphics and special effects. 3D Projection Mapping is being used by movie makers, entertainers, artists, architects, designers and event planners as well as advertisers and marketers of all types to provide memorable messages through jaw-dropping 3-D effects.

Solomon explains, "We’ve perfected a process where we can create 100 percent custom 3-D Projection Mapping for any purpose you can imagine and do it at a level which would ordinarily take at least a half dozen Animators or more, which keeps our costs very competitive in the industry." A full scale 3-D Projection Mapping project can run deep into six figure territory.

Michael Solomon, Maria’s husband, is Lead Animator and Creative Director. He says, "Our digital lighting partner is a well-established, industry leading firm--you want 3-D projections mapped across the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument? Done. You want 3-D projections mapped across a Football Stadium, Baseball Diamond, Basketball Court or Concert Venue? Done. You want 3-D projections coming out of your kids toy box at home? Done."

He continues, "In my opinion, not only is 3-D Projection Mapping the future of marketing and advertising, 3-D Projection Mapping is the future of entertainment as a whole. It’s like man’s discovery of fire all over again. Worldwide, we’ve only scratched the surface of what 3-D Projection Mapping can do as an art and a science."

For more information, visit or contact Maria Solomon at

Editor’s Note: Reprinted With Permission From BlackNews.Com. Photo: Courtesy of BlackNews.Com.

OMAR SHARIF By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


The Screen Actors Guild Foundation mourns the loss of multi-faceted and legendary actor Omar Sharif who died July 10, 2015. To honor his life and extraordinary career, the SAG Foundation has digitized and released its 50-minute career retrospective with Sharif recorded in 2003.

“Conversations with Omar Sharif” was moderated by Todd Amorde and taped before an audience of fellow union actors. In the video, Sharif discusses a lifetime of unforgettable roles and career turning points, including his Academy Award nomination for “Lawrence of Arabia,” his Golden Globe win for the classic “Doctor Zhivago” and 2003’s “Monsieur Ibrahim,” the film that would garner him a César win the following year.

A master of playing intriguing characters, Sharif reveals himself as a lively, intelligent, and wide-ranging actor who took on any challenge he was given, not only on screen, but also in his everyday life.

The entire “Conversations with Omar Sharif” can be viewed on the SAG Foundation YouTube channel:

Editor's Note: Some information used in this report obtained from The Academy publicity department.