Eric Tiansay Articles

Kutless Is on a Military Mission

 A decade of touring the globe will give you plenty of stories to share. But for platinum-selling band Kutless,...
‘Spider-Man’ Swings With Amazing Effects And Action

‘Spider-Man’ Swings With Amazing Effects And Action

“With great power comes great responsibility” was the memorable quote from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man
in 2002, which helped propel a film franchise into the box-office
stratosphere and launched a plethora of comic book blockbusters.

Arriving only five years after Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man
doesn’t feature a similar memorable quote, but it’s probably safe to
say this about Sony’s reboot of the Marvel Comics’ superhero: “With
great special effects and action plus strong character development comes
great response at the box office.”

Independent filmmaker Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) takes over for Raimi and a Brit who’s never been in an action movie before (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network)
takes the reins from Tobey Maguire as the wisecracking, web-swinging
teenager Peter Parker. Also, blond-haired Gwen Stacy (Garfield’s
real-life girlfriend, Emma Stone, The Help) is Spidey’s love interest—not the fiery red-head Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

Webb’s
film makes deliberate departures from Raimi’s original, focusing
heavily on the hero’s high-school life as a skateboard-riding outsider
and expanding on Peter’s quest to understand why his parents disappeared
when he was young. His search puts him on a collision course with Dr.
Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner whose evil
alter-ego, the Lizard, becomes Spider-Man’s nemesis.

‘Spider-Man’ Swings With Amazing Effects And Action

‘Spider-Man’ Swings With Amazing Effects And Action

“With great power comes great responsibility” was the memorable quote from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man in 2002, which helped propel a film franchise into the box-office stratosphere and launched a plethora of comic book blockbusters.

Arriving only five years after Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t feature a similar memorable quote, but it’s probably safe to say this about Sony’s reboot of the Marvel Comics’ superhero: “With great special effects and action plus strong character development comes great response at the box office.”

Independent filmmaker Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) takes over for Raimi and a Brit who’s never been in an action movie before (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) takes the reins from Tobey Maguire as the wisecracking, web-swinging teenager Peter Parker. Also, blond-haired Gwen Stacy (Garfield’s real-life girlfriend, Emma Stone, The Help) is Spidey’s love interest—not the fiery red-head Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

Webb’s film makes deliberate departures from Raimi’s original, focusing heavily on the hero’s high-school life as a skateboard-riding outsider and expanding on Peter’s quest to understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His search puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner whose evil alter-ego, the Lizard, becomes Spider-Man’s nemesis.

‘Brave’ Misses The Mark of Pixar’s High Standards

‘Brave’ Misses The Mark of Pixar’s High Standards

by Eric Tiansay

Pixar’s 13th film, Brave features the studio’s first leading heroine—a Scottish princess named Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) who confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate. Christian parents are also confronted with something they’re not accustomed to with Pixar, but that’s for later on in this review.

Merida is a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).

Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources—including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers —to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.

‘John Carter’—Despite Mega-Budget And Mega-Flop—Offers Mega-Adventure

‘John Carter’—Despite Mega-Budget And Mega-Flop—Offers Mega-Adventure

by Alan Mowbray

Based on Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic novel A Princess of Mars, which inspired generations of filmmakers and science fiction writers, including George Lucas, James Cameron, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, John Carter—with its sweeping scope and $250-million budget—

was one of the biggest flops in Disney history when it crashed in the box office this spring. Not surprisingly, it’s already out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, best known for directing the acclaimed and popular Pixar films Finding Nemo and Wall-E, the film comes across as a cinematic epic, seeking to rival movies such as Star Wars and Avatar with its look, feel and storyline.

John Carter tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, Friday Night Lights), who is an honorable and courageous man. A veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he is broken—tired of fighting for the causes of others. His fighting spirit remains strong, but Carter has turned to self-interest, and he is done with war.

While searching for gold and subsequently getting arrested while trying to fight the 7th Cavalry, Carter is transported—in a twist of fate—to the planet of Barsoom (Mars), where he discovers that his strength and jumping ability is greatly amplified to a superhuman level. He must use these newfound powers to survive the centuries-old war between the native inhabitants, while trying to save the dying world.

‘Journey 2’ offers exhilarating thrill ride

‘Journey 2’ offers exhilarating thrill ride

by Alan Mowbray

The follow-up to the 2008 hit, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island copies the same “what if?” scenario of the original: Is it possible that Jules Verne’s books weren’t just concoctions of the author’s imagination, but a chronicle of his scientific discoveries?

In the sequel, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) discovers a coded distress signal from his grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine), which only a true Vernean—people who believe that Jules Verne was writing nonfiction—could decipher.

The message leads Sean and his new stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson, taking over for Brendan Fraser, who played Sean’s uncle in the original) to a mysterious island located where none should exist. With the help of rogue helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his mechanic daughter Khailani (Vanessa Hudgens), Sean and Hank set out to find the island and rescue Alexander before it’s too late.

If you’re looking for a movie that you and your kids can enjoy, Journey 2 fits the bill. It’s full of the gags, jokes, oddities, visual twists and other ingredients that kids love. Although it has a bit of a predictable storyline, the CGI and associated imagination that went into its creation is enough to satisfy a grown-up as well. To put it another way, Journey 2 is a fun, enjoyable movie, but you won’t be discussing its literary qualities when the credits are rolling.

The movie offers some teachable moments. Sean’s father died when he was young, and his mother has remarried. Hank is the outsider here, and it’s frustrating for him because Sean doesn’t really want to do anything with him. Admirably, Hank has a long-term, nurturing father-style; he is just waiting for the right opportunity to connect with his “new” teen son. Hank’s patience and understanding in love is evident.

‘River Monsters’ Hooks Viewers With Mysterious Creatures

‘River Monsters’ Hooks Viewers With Mysterious Creatures

by Alan Mowbray

There is just something so cool about a show that can combine danger, science/biology, fun and fishing—Animal Planet’s River Monsters easily fits the bill.

Jeremy Wade is a one-man guide to the dangers that lurk below the surface of freshwater rivers and streams around the world, including Germany, Australia, India, Brazil, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Alaska, Florida and Texas.

In the same spirit as those crazy guys at Mythbusters, Wade—biologist and extreme angler— investigates what can seem to be outlandish fishing stories, mysteries and folklore of man-eating river predators to see if they’re true or just legend.

Sometimes it’s about finding just how vicious a certain species really is. Other episodes, Wade searches for a purported “man killer,” which turns out to be a pussycat with gills—although it generally has a mouthful of ridiculously sharp teeth. But whatever the quarry, he almost always lands his catch, including piranha, goonch catfish, alligator gar, Wels catfish, bull shark and arapaima.

Since I dabble in fishing, I enjoy River Monsters because it offers a fun and informative behind-the-scenes look at finding, understanding and catching the “big one.” Even for those who are not even remotely sport fishing inclined, Wade makes each episode a riveting mystery that must be solved. In minutes, you find yourself hooked by his story—pun intended and much more easily than the creature he’s looking for.

‘The Secret World of Arrietty’—A Little Movie With A Big Heart

‘The Secret World of Arrietty’—A Little Movie With A Big Heart

by Eric Tiansay

I didn’t get to see The Secret World of Arrietty when it landed in theaters earlier this year, so my four boys—5-month old baby Blake still too small to care—were excited to catch the movie about little people.

The Secret World of Arrietty is based on British author Mary Norton’s children’s book series “The Borrowers,” which tells the story of 4-inch tall tiny people who live under floorboards and swipe what they need from the Beans (what they call humans) upstairs.

The movie was the year’s top grossing film when it was released in Japan in 2010, winning the Animation of the Year award. Translated, dubbed by an American cast and distributed stateside by Walt Disney Pictures, The Secret World of Arrietty was made by legendary Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away and Ponyo).

My wife, Tammy, had read The Borrowers to two of our older sons, Alex and Andrew, so they were obviously excited to watch the film version.

Arrietty (voiced by Disney TV star Bridgit Mendler) is a plucky 14-year-old Borrower who is eager to go on her first “borrowing” with her father, Pod (Will Arnett), on a night-time expedition into the Beans’ house to get a sugar cube and one tissue.

Despite angst from her hysterical mother, Homily (Amy Poehler), Arrietty goes with her dad, but is seen by sickly 12-year-old Shawn (David Henrie), who tries to befriend her. Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) slowly trusts Shawn. However, after they have been seen, Borrowers must leave their home and relocate to a new one. Meanwhile, the suspicious housekeeper Haru (Carol Burnett) makes it her mission to nab the Borrowers.

‘The Muppets’: These Are the Characters You Loved As A Kid

‘The Muppets’: These Are the Characters You Loved As A Kid

by Alan Mowbray

The Muppets have not seen the big screen since 1999’s Muppets from Space, so Jim Henson’s lovable creatures were long overdue to return to the cineplex.

In The Muppets, a fan named Walter (voiced by Peter Linz, It’s A Big Big World) is on a backlot tour at the old Muppet Studios while on vacation in Los Angeles with his brother, Gary (Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother), and Mary, Gary’s girlfriend (Amy Adams, Julie & Julia).

No longer in business, the Muppets have all moved on—scattering to the ends of the earth to pursue their dreams, leaving the studio to slowly rot in disrepair. After sneaking off during the tour to take a closer, unauthorized look at Kermit the Frog’s former office, Walter is almost discovered by ornery, disagreeable old Muppet characters Stadtler and Waldorf as they conduct the surreptitious presale of Muppet Studios to oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, The Bourne Supremacy) who, unbeknownst to them, has discovered oil under the property and plans to tear the studio to the ground and drill.

After Walter informs Gary and Mary of the plot, they decide to go find Kermit and tell him of the impending sale. Kermit decides that if they can put on one more show and raise $10 million, they could make enough money to save Muppet Studios. All they have to do is round up the rest of the Muppets. The Great Gonzo is the CEO of Gonzo’s Royal Flush, where they make toilets. Fozzie Bear performs in a Reno casino with a group of Muppet impersonators called the Moopets. Animal works at a celeb anger management center. On the other side of the pond, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor for Vogue Paris a la The Devil Wears Prada.

Can they pull together a show in time to save the old theater? Hilarity ensues. We’ve all grown up with The Muppet Show or its reruns. We know what to expect. This is classic Muppets, and it doesn’t disappoint. Yes, the humor is corny. Yes, there are Muppets flying through the air, crashing into things, explosions, comic fighting and general goofiness. If you’re looking for serious, you won’t find a drop of it anywhere in this tale.

‘Man vs. Wild Game’—Survival of the Funnest

‘Man vs. Wild Game’—Survival of the Funnest

by Eric Tiansay

Out of all the survival reality shows, Man vs. Wild—the Discovery Channel television series featuring Edward “Bear” Grylls—is my favorite.

I especially like Man vs. Wild because Bear, with his cool British accent, engaging personality and clever demonstrations with survival techniques when faced with nature’s extremes, is a committed Christian.

Although Bear was recently let go from Man vs. Wild, that’s a story for another time, my two older boys (10-year-old Alex and 9-year-old Andrew) and I still enjoy the show and the Man vs. Wild Game on the Wii.

The game offers in a role play-style adventure, which requires puzzle-solving tasks throughout five expeditions—stranding players in expansive areas of virtual wilderness and challenging them to make it out alive. The action begins when a player, as Bear, is dropped into extreme conditions and forced to demonstrate indigenous survival techniques such as escaping quicksand in the desert, exploring dangerous jungles, traversing ravines in the mountains and navigating some of the world’s most treacherous waters.

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’—A Powerful 9/11 Drama

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’—A Powerful 9/11 Drama

by Eric Tiansay

I was disappointed when I missed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close at the cineplex this winter, so I was eager to catch it on DVD.

Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s acclaimed 2006 best-selling novel of the same title, the movie tells the story of a 11-year-old boy Oskar (Thomas Horn) who lost his jeweler father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), during what he calls “The Worst Day”—the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, although it failed to win, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a powerful drama that extols the bond between a father and son, family and forgiveness. A year after his dad died in the World Trade Center, Oskar, who has problems socializing and had been tested for Asperger’s Syndrome, is determined to continue his vital connection to the man who playfully pushed him into confronting his wildest fears.

While looking through his father’s closet one day, Oskar finds a small envelope marked “Black,” with a key in it. Oskar decides the key must belong to someone named Black, and he starts a methodical search for the right person. “If there was a key, there was a lock,” Oskar surmises. “If there was a name, there was a person.”

His quest is an attempt to maintain his father’s memory of his father, and to participate in the sort of mysterious search that his dad sometimes sent Oskar. “If you don’t tell me what I’m looking for, then how will I ever be right?” Oskar asks his father. Thomas responds: “Well, another way of looking at it is how will you ever be wrong?”

‘War Horse’—A Wonderful, Sentimental and Thrilling Ride

‘War Horse’—A Wonderful, Sentimental and Thrilling Ride

by Alan Mowbray

As a movie buff, there are certain films that I consider traditional, yearly family must-sees—age and maturity permitting: Easter (The Passion of The Christ); Christmas (The Nativity Story,The Polar Express, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story); Memorial Day (Glory and North and South); and Veterans Day (Tora! Tora! Tora!, Saving Private Ryan and now I’m adding War Horse to the list).

Based on the Tony award-winning Broadway play and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, War Horse tells the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer, Albert (Jeremy Irvine). When they’re forced apart by war, we follow Joey’s extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets.

Some would say it’s a formula movie designed to hold your heart for two-plus hours using every sort of cliche imaginable. Yeah, maybe … fine. But it’s also an fantastic story directed by the master Steven Spielberg and paired with a terrific score by another master himself, John Williams. I say it’s a masterpiece that you get to watch with your kids.

‘Wrath of the Titans’: Predictable, Better Than Its Predecessor

‘Wrath of the Titans’: Predictable, Better Than Its Predecessor

by Alan Mowbray

The recipe for Wrath of the Titans: Fire. Stern looks of determination. Destruction.

Add some slimy underworld demons. Mix with an old, somewhat decrepit, dysfunctional family of Greek gods who still haven’t figured out their personal differences—let alone the differences of the world. Did I say destruction?

Top it off with some loud roars of anger, more stern looks of determination, and an incredibly, unbelievable amount of computer-generated stones and rocks exploded, crushed and destroyed. Add lava and stir.

This fantasy film is a sequel to the equally destructive and surprisingly successful Clash of the Titans, released in 2010. Better CGI and 3D rendering make this installment easier to watch than the last, which was rebooted from the classic Clash of the Titans, released in 1982. This isn’t a flick for those who love snappy dialogue and deep characters, but judging from the audience that loaded up the theater where I was screening, Wrath of the Titans will be a hit with the age 13-24 crowd.

‘John Carter’—An Out-of-This-World Adventure

‘John Carter’—An Out-of-This-World Adventure

by Alan Mowbray

Based on Tarzan creator Edgar
Rice Burroughs’ classic novel A Princess of Mars, which inspired
generations of filmmakers and science fiction writers, including George Lucas,
James Cameron, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, John Carter—with its
sweeping scope and $250-million budget—touches down in more than 3,500 screens
this weekend.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, best known for
directing the acclaimed and popular Pixar films Finding Nemo and Wall-E,
the film comes across as a cinematic epic, seeking to rival movies such as Star
Wars
and Avatar with its look, feel and storyline.

John Carter tells the story of war-weary,
former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, Friday Night Lights),
who is an honorable and courageous man. A veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he is
broken—tired of fighting for the causes of others. His fighting spirit remains
strong, but Carter has turned to self-interest, and he is done with war.

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