The force was definitely with this one. A couple hundred people gathered at CityPlace in West Palm Beach Saturday night to witness 7-year-old Brady defeat Darth Vader.
To become a Jedi Knight — to save everyone from evil — that’s been Brady’s wish for years. And who can blame him? He’s spent much of his life fighting tumors that have attacked his body.
The battle was intense, but the crowd had Brady’s back as he pushed his hand out toward Vader, using The Force to weaken the dark master who fell from the amphitheater stairs and fled the scene with his storm troopers.
Brady’s advice to all the other kids in the city who want Darth Vader to go down? “I would tell them to be brave,” he said.
Armed with his own light saber, Brady, a resident of West Palm, arrived in a SWAT vehicle ready to kick some butt. And he did. After a few minutes of jumping, swinging and kicking, the boy who’s no stranger to fighting, saved West Palm Beach (and possibly all of South Florida) from the dark forces.
The Jedi master received advanced Jedi training by the local SWAT team in order to face Darth Vader and his troops. Brady was later honored with a key to the city by West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Police Chief Bryan Kummerlen.
To learn more about Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, which grants a wish every 16 hours, at an average cost of $5,000 each, for children in 13 Florida counties and the U.S. Virgin Islands, click here.
Don’t let Hurricane Matthew ruin the fun this week. If you and your friends don’t have plans yet, why not stay together and go throwback to elementary school with a sleepover? Not really kidding, but there’s more.
Here are my top picks to keep calm and have an awesome get-together slash hurricane party (if that’s how you and your fam get down).
1. Make all kinds of Pizza! #MamaMia
I’m talking meat lovers, veggie and even dessert. This is an activity that takes some time, is creative and interactive.
Pillsbury Pizza Crust. Pop it, place it in oven, enjoy a fresh crust. (Or spice up your pizza life by using garlic naan instead!)
Sauces: Tomato sauce, Alfredo and Pesto.
Veggies: Tomatoes, Mushrooms and green peppers.
Meats: Pepperoni, sausage and ham.
Dessert Pizzas: Nutella, Reese’s creamy peanut butter and Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (my favorite). Bananas, Strawberries and whip cream.
2. Do it Yourself!
Just this past weekend, my friend and I were able to transform a crappy thrift shop coffee table into a stylish piece of art (or so we think). Take a look around your home, see what chandeliers, tables, stools or lamps you don’t like.
If you need some inspiration, then see your way to Pinterest. Just key in what items you’ve got and watch your phone screen fill up with awesome DIY magic.
Film lovers are mourning today the death of Curtis Hanson, the Oscar-winning director who made such movies as “L.A. Confidential,” “Eight Mile,” “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” and “Wonder Boys.”
An underrated gem on his resume is “In Her Shoes,” a 2005 mother-daughter comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine that brought Hanson to Palm Beach County. He filmed scenes for the movie in Briny Breezes and around Delray Beach.
Band leader Billy Duke took part in the filming, and told the Palm Beach Post in 2004 that Hanson surprised him: “I thought the director would be yelling and screaming, but he was really quiet.”
Here are pictures we shot of star Shirley MacLaine during the filming in Briny Breezes:
ORLANDO — When the leaves turn brown and begin to fall, when the weather starts getting a tad nippier at night, when the NFL season is in full swing, that only means one thing….it’s time to get the living heck scared out of you at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.
Yes, the 26th annual frightfest returns Friday, running on select nights through Oct. 31 with nine haunted houses, including those featuring Leatherface, the chainsaw-loving homicidal maniac from “The Texas ChainsawMassacre;” Michael Myers, the knife-wielding, slow-walking killer from, oh, 68 “Halloween” films; the bloodthirsty zombies from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and, the one I’m looking forward to most, the pea soup-spewing, head-spinning demonic little girl from “The Exorcist” – still the scariest movie ever made.
If that’s not enough, look for more chills and thrills inside “American Horror Story,” FX’s wildly popular anthology, but ridiculously violent, series and “Krampus,” a horned creature who punishes children at Christmastime. Gives new meaning to the “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” lyrics, “You better watch out/You better not cry/You better not pout/I’m telling you why,” doesn’t it?
Also look for five scare zones and two live shows.
Anyone who really knows me, knows Halloween Horror Nights is one of my favorite events of the year. I moved to Florida from New York in 1996 with my family and I’ve been to every HHN since.
This year, I’m psyched about “The Exorcist,” a movie that haunted my dreams for months after seeing it as an 11-year-old kid when the film premiered in 1973. I wasn’t alone. Moviegoers were reported fainting in theaters. I wasn’t that bad. I just covered my eyes a lot. If I had another set of hands, I would’ve covered my ears while little girl Regan (Linda Blair) was speaking in tongues. I still haven’t forgiven my mom for taking me.
Anyway, I’m 54 now. Way past the childhood trauma of watching a little girl’s head spin 360 degrees while she’s saying the kind of naughty things no little girl has any business saying.
At least, I hope I’m past that trauma. I’ve seen the film several times since 1973 and usually rent it around Halloween as part of my own personal “Horrorfest” movie marathon I host at home. But watching a film and seeing a possessed little girl whose voice is deeper than mine in person are two different things.
Look for an upcoming blog on my reaction to little girl Regan’s evil antics in the coming weeks.
For more ghoulish information on HHN, click here….if you dare! (Cue sinister laugh)
What is it about: The film is set in the summer of 1989 in Chicago and tells the story (with some cinematic liberties) of the first date between future President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Parker Sawyers plays the President with Tika Sumpter taking on the role of Michelle.
Why we should be excited: While the concept of the Obamas first date seems like a stretch, it has to be better than the last time they made a movie about a President while he was in office (looking at you Oliver Stone’s “W”). The trailer sells the romance pretty well with both leads really leaning into the roles without doing impressions of these very identifiable personalities. Also, they sit and discuss Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” which should be ticket price worthy enough.
“Southside with You” opens on August 26.
2) Hands of Stone
What is it about: The film tells the story of boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and his rise to the top alongside the legendary trainer, Ray Arcel (Robert DeNiro), including a fight between him and Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond).
Why we should be excited: It is always kind of cool to see DeNiro return to the ring and do a boxing movie even when he isn’t putting on the gloves. It seems like he is pretty hit-or-miss with most roles these days and this seems like one shepherded to pulling out a classic and great performance from the legendary actor. Ramirez has silently been rising up the ranks lately and this could be his big Oscar-caliber role even if it doesn’t seem to have the punch that “Creed” had last year.
“Hands of Stone” opens on August 26.
3) The Light Between Oceans
What is it about: Based on the novel by M.L. Stedman, the story follows a lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander), who are living off the coast of Western Australia when they find a baby that washes ashore. They decide to raise it, but the situation becomes more complicated when a woman (Rachel Weisz) comes to town and may be the birth mother.
Why we should be excited: Not only does this star two immensely talented actors, but it also stars two beautiful people who are (might be) dating! Vikander just took home an Oscar for Best Actress in “The Danish Girl” while Fassbender has consistently been one of the better actors in the industry over the past few years. The trailers are promising a tear-jerker so get ready to ball your eyes out.
“The Light Between Oceans” opens on September 2.
What is it about: From director Clint Eastwood, the film stars Tom Hanks as Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who became a hero when he glided his plane along the Hudson River in 2009, which saved the 155 crew members and passengers. The movie also stars Aaron Eckhart, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney, and Jerry Ferrara.
Why we should be excited: Eastwood has been hit-or-miss lately (as one of the people not completely in love with “American Sniper”), but he is still a name to take notice of whenever a new project is coming out. It is hard to believe that this is his first time working with Hanks and this seems like a role tailor made for the actor as he plays an American hero dealing with the pitfalls of fame and scrutiny.
“Sully” opens on September 9.
5) Bridget Jones’ Baby
What is it about: The film picks up where the last one in the series, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” left off in 2004 with Bridget (Renee Zellweger) still single and barely making it through life until she runs into the complication of having a baby with two possible dads, played by Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey.
Why we should be excited: I guess if you like the previous two movies, it will be nice to return to the world of neurotic British people having problems. Zellweger hasn’t been in too many projects lately so she is a welcome presence back on screen and this is Firth’s first time returning to the role as an Oscar winner. Also, I don’t think Patrick Dempsey ages and that is frustrating.
“Bridget Jones’ Baby” opens on September 16.
6) Blair Witch
What is it about: Coming out of nowhere after a surprise announcement at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, the film is a sequel to the out-of-nowhere hit from 1999, “The Blair Witch Project.” In this version, the brother of one of the main characters from the first movie discovers video showing what he believes to be recordings of his sister in the woods of the Blair Witch so naturally, he sets out with some friends to find his lost sibling. The film is directed by horror aficionado, Adam Wingard, who also helmed “You’re Next” and “The Guest.”
Why we should be excited: I don’t find “The Blair Witch Project” to be a good movie in any respects with the only impressive thing about it being how well they marketed that film. This one has caught my attention due to Wingard being attached to it with his film, “The Guest,” being an exercise is chilling horror and stylish action directing. Much like the original, this is a cast of unknowns, but it will surely keep you frightened.
“Blair Witch” opens on September 16.
What is it about: Director Oliver Stone takes us into the story of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and how the former NSA employee leaked thousands of classified documents to the press in 2013. The movie also features Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, and Nicolas Cage.
Why we should be excited: Stone has been in a rut lately and the trailer for this film doesn’t inspire much confidence that this was a temporary thing. For those who have seen “Citizen Four” on HBO, there really isn’t much incentive to seek out this version when the documentary, which won an Oscar, is as chilling and informative as anything Stone could come up with. Also, what accent is Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing? Stop, please.
“Snowden” opens on September 16.
8) The Magnificent Seven
What is it about: This remake of a remake is directed by “Training Day” and “White House Down” director Antoine Fuqua and stars both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke from that first movie with other members of the cast including Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Matt Bomer. The film follows seven gunmen in the Old West, who have to come together and help a poor village, which is being pillaged by thieves.
Why we should be excited: The cast should earn your ticket dollars alone because what better experience at the movies will you be getting this year than Denzel, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke gun-slinging and taking down bad guys in the West. Fuqua knows action well and the trailers have been selling this movie as a fun blockbuster with a talented cast.
“The Magnificent Seven” opens on September 23.
9) Deepwater Horizon
What is it about: Peter Berg of “Lone Survivor” fame directs this movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, and John Malkovich. The movie follows the story of a team on an offshore drilling rig, which exploded in April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Why we should be excited: Berg and Wahlberg struck gold with “Lone Survivor” and this seems to be carrying that patriotic, heroism vibe to it. The trailers promise massive explosions and lots of yelling and reaching from Wahlberg with the cast giving us what should be a very engaging and thrilling blockbuster drama.
“Deepwater Horizon” opens on September 30.
10) The Girl on the Train
What is it about: Based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, the story follows Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) as she takes the train to work each day in London and passes by her old house. One day, as they’re passing the house, she sees something shocking and wakes up the next day with the sneaking suspicion that something bad has happened. The film is directed by Tate Taylor, who is known for “The Help” and “Get On Up,” with a cast that also includes Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Haley Bennett, Laura Prepon, and Rebecca Ferguson.
Why we should be excited: This book has been heralded the sequel to “Gone Girl” in terms of tone and the movie is definitely trying to sell us on that. The first trailer has threads of the David Fincher-directed thriller mixed with the sexuality of “Fifty Shades of Grey” with Blunt’s character being in the middle of it. She is a talented actress and it seems like she is being given a big stage to work on, but I’m not sold on Taylor being the right director to sell the intrigue like Fincher could.
“The Girl on the Train” opens on October 7.
11) The Birth of a Nation
What is it about: The film is written and directed by the first-time director Nate Parker, who took home the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for his work on this project. The movie follows Nat Turner (Parker), as he rises from child to adult and uses his knowledge of the Bible to be a preacher to the other slaves. As he works, he notices the scope of slavery and decides to become a different leader for them. The rest of the cast includes Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Gabrielle Union.
Why we should be excited: People were raving about the film after Sundance and how well Parker was at directing it, and the first trailer seemed to verify that. It plays so evocatively and at times, in a very visceral way. Parker seems to try to sway it from previous stories of slavery such as “12 Years a Slave” and tell a different story in a different light and this instantly looks to be a major Oscar contender both for him and his cast.
“The Birth of a Nation” opens on October 7.
12) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
What is it about: The sequel to the 2012 action film, “Jack Reacher,” finds Tom Cruise once again in the title role and on the run. Not much is known about the plot, but it seems to center around Reacher teaming up with military specialist Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) to take down a plot from the inside. The movie is directed by Cruise’s director from “The Last Samurai,” Edward Zwick, and also stars Aldis Hodge, Robert Knepper, and Danika Yarosh.
Why should we be excited: Watching Tom Cruise beat people up is just fun. That’s really the only reason. The first “Jack Reacher” movie was solid and while these don’t have the world-travelling fun that ensues in “Mission: Impossible,” there is something nice about the small-level action and more hand-to-hand moments that this series offers. Smulders is also a very lively actress to fans of the Marvel movies and her role as Maria Hill.
“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” opens on October 21. 13) A Monster Calls
What is it about: From director J.A. Bayona, who will be taking over the “Jurassic Park” franchise soon, the film follows a boy seeks help from a tree monster as he tries to cope with his mother’s terminal illness. Felicity Jones stars as the mother with newcomer Lewis MacDouglass playing the boy and Liam Neeson voicing the tree monster. Toby Kebbell, Sigourney Weaver, and Geraldine Chaplin also star.
Why we should be excited: The trailer made it seem like a more exotic version of Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG” from earlier this year with stunning visuals and a much more dramatic plot. Bayona earned enough credit for this movie and “The Impossible” to be picked to take over for Colin Trevorrow with “Jurassic World 2” so it may be worth seeing this one to see if he can pull it off. Judging from the trailer, he may be perfect.
“A Monster Calls” opens on October 21.
What is it about: Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon in the third movie in the “Da Vinci Code” series by director Ron Howard. This time, Langdon wakes up in Italy with amnesia and has to team-up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to uncover what he is forgetting and foil a global plot of destruction. The film also stars Ben Foster, Omar Sy, and Irrfan Khan.
Why we should be excited: The movies in this series have been popular even if the last one, “Angels and Demons,” was not as critically well-received. It seems odd to take 10 years to return to this franchise, but it seems like Howard and Hanks have a story they want to tell and the biblical history has always been a fascinating point.
“Inferno” opens on October 28.
15) Doctor Strange
What is it about: The latest entry from Marvel stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Steven Strange, a surgeon who is forced to re-examine his life after his career is destroyed and a sorcerer (Tilda Swinton) takes him under her wing and trains him to hone his magical gifts to rid the world of evil. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson with a cast that also includes Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Benjamin Bratt.
Why we should be excited: This looks like it may be Marvel’s most different and weird movie yet and I say that will the utmost excitement. They have teased a movie that will include mind-bending visuals and the trailers for this movie seem to promise that with moments that could put “Inception” to shame. Cumberbatch has been waiting for the blockbuster property to work on and he selected this one with the hopes it will churn out Marvel gold like the other entries. The biggest hurdle will be whether or not audiences will buy the eccentricities of this new hero.
“Doctor Strange” opens on November 4.
16) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
What is it about: Leaving the more modern setting of “Harry Potter,” this spin-off takes us to the 1920s in New York City where recent Hogwarts castout, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), is interacting with the wizarding world of the United States and collecting information for his study in the magical creatures of the area. The film is directed by previous “Potter” director David Yates from a script by J.K. Rowling with Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, and Jon Voight rounding out the cast.
Why we should be excited: I doubt this needs to be hyped up anymore, but any new “Harry Potter” adventures are always exciting. Redmayne is one of the hot ticket actors right now and is hoping to make this “his series.” The biggest question facing this proposed trilogy is how it will separate itself from the “Potter” movies. Having some similarities is fine, but completely retreading what they did before will get redundant and boring very quickly.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” opens on November 18
What is it about: The latest Disney Animation movie follows a young woman named Moana (voiced by Auli’l Cravalho), who uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled land and is joined by the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The movie is directed by “Great Mouse Detective” and “Lilo & Stitch” directors Ron Clements and John Musker with songs by “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda and a cast that also includes Alan Tudyk and Jemaine Clement.
Why we should be excited: The trailers for this already look utterly charming and the fact that names such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Taika Waititi (who wrote the script), and Dwayne Johnson are involved should get people stoked. Disney has been doing great work in the animation department lately and already have a bonafide hit this year with “Zootopia.” I assume they’ll have another with this one.
“Moana” opens on November 23.
18) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
What is it about: The first “Star Wars” spin-off or anthology movie will be taking place before the events of the original trilogy with a band of rebels being sent on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. “Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards helms the film with a cast that includes Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelson, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, and James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Darth Vader.
Why we should be excited: It’s “Star Wars.” I don’t need to pump you up anymore for this. The most exciting quality is the concept, which sounds like it will explore new avenues in the “Star Wars” universe while also playing with some of the lore we recognize from the previous movies. This looks like a lot of fun and the cast is absolutely stellar.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens on December 16.
What is it about: This science fiction movie comes from “The Imitation Game” director Morten Tyldum and stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as passengers on a spacecraft that is taking thousands of sleeping people to a planet to colonize. Lawrence and Pratt’s characters wake up 60 years too early and are stuck on this ship together for that span of time.
Why we should be excited: Other than the fact that Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are together? The concept sounds very similar to something like “Moon” or “Gravity,” but with a more romantic angle. Plus you have two of the most charismatic actors working today stuck on a spaceship together. What could go wrong?
“Passengers” opens on December 21.
20) Assassin’s Creed
What is it about: Based on the popular video game series, “Assassin’s Creed” stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, who is taken to a secret facility and put into a machine known as the Animus, which allows him to travel back in time and re-enact the life of his ancestor, Aguilar, who lived during the Spanish Inquisition. The movie is directed by Fassbender’s “Macbeth” director, Justin Kurzel, and features a cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Ariane Labed.
Why we should be excited: The game’s concept has always begged to be put on the big screen and the first trailer for this seems to live up to that scope. While video game movies have tended to be flops, this one is hoping to buck the trend and possibly re-invent the genre. Will it succeed? Who knows. Will we get to stare at a shirtless Michael Fassbender? Absolutely.
“Assassin’s Creed” opens on December 21.
Time for you to weigh in! Which movie do you want to see?
Don’t go in the water because a 7-foot, fifty-ton prehistoric Great White Shark could be roaming below. It may not be our problem now, but it will be the problem of “Transporter” and “Spy” star Jason Statham, who will face the creature in an adaptation of local author Steve Alten’s book series, “MEG.”
Warner Bros. announced this week that Alten’s series would be optioned into a movie starring Statham and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” star Fan Bingbing with “National Treasure” director Jon Turtletaub helming the project. The movie, also called “MEG,” will be distributed by Warner Bros. domestically and internationally with Gravity taking over in China.
Alten’s first book was re-released under the new title, “MEG: Origins.” “I had written Origins a few years ago but it was only 80 pages, too short to print. Knowing the movie announcement was coming, I decided to release a new version of MEG with the prequel. But when I combined the two novels, the writing didn’t mesh, the prequel having been written by a far more seasoned writer,” he said in a release.
“So instead of simply adding the prequel, I ended up spending four months doing something I had been wanting to do for a long time – rewriting the entire novel, adding new scenes and developing the characters. I also added artwork commissioned over the last twenty years, along with an eye-popping surfer cover taken straight out of pages of the book. The result is an entirely different reading experience.”
The film is set to begin production soon in New Zealand. For more information on the series, visit Alten’s website.
That would be 1997 alum Oscar Isaac, who plays the villain in the new “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which opens Friday.
Isaac is becoming one of Hollywood’s big names. He played Poe Dameron in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (and he’s signed up for the sequels, too), as well as showing off his acting chops in films such as the Coen Bros. “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Alex Garland’s sci-fi tale, “Ex Machina.”
In the article, he doesn’t talk much about how he came to attend the school in suburban Lantana. He lived in Miami until his parents divorced and Hurricane Andrew destroyed their house, forcing him to move up here for his senior year.
But he does give one clue to what he was doing during his high school days:
Playing in a ska band, or as Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt puts it, “a promising, if already deeply out-of-fashion, Florida ska-punk band.” That musical background helped him play the ’60s folk singer in the Coen Bros. movie.
Other tidbits about his Florida upbringing from the article:
*He was “straight-edge” in high school, staying away from drugs and alcohol.
*His role as the bad, blue mutant Apocalypse was not a stretch: In his Florida school days, he was a collector of ‘X-Men’ comics and with a friend took part in a Marvel role-playing game.
*Isaac, whose real last name is Hernandez, is Guatemalan-born, with a Cuban father. But he didn’t want to be defined by his ethnicity, he told the magazine: “They define you — ‘Latino actor, we’ll just bring him in for Spanish commercials.’ I’m interested in telling stories about the human experience that are not necessarily just about my personal circumstances.”
The film follows an aging insult comedian (played by De Niro) and also stars Danny DeVito, Cloris Leachman, and Hannibal Buress. Mann joined the cast after Jennifer Aniston backed out of the movie in January.
Christy Andreoni, production director with the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission, said that “The Comedian” filmed at the Seagate Manor Condominium in Delray Beach and did some flashback interiors at the WXEL Studio in Boynton Beach. They also filmed a driving sequence where they drove in a yellow convertible from Delray to Palm Beach along A1A with a police escort.
According to Andreoni, De Niro stayed in Delray and “loved” the area, where he also did some shopping along Atlantic Avenue. She added that Hackford was glad to come back to Palm Beach County because he was a fan of the crews in the area.
In 1989, pop culture seemed to reign from the shores of Daytona Beach. College students flooded the coastal town and MTV took notice, bringing a previously unseen form of debauchery and excitement to the television screens of millions of Americans at home.
Most people growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s remember what Spring Break meant from what MTV was sending to their television screens — the bikinis, the drinking, the balcony jumping — but it was unclear through the telecasts what impact this was having on the city of Daytona Beach.