Archives for January 16, 2021

The Marksman * A Slower-Paced Action Film Starring Liam Neeson

A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who’ve pursued him into the U.S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago.  The filmstars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who’s seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere.” See his full comments below.

The Marksman

Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago.  The filmstars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who’s seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere. 

Jim’s wife has passed away, his finances gutted by the cost of her medical bills, and his decaying ranch adjoining the border to Mexico is under threat since he can’t keep up with his rent. Now all he’s got is his loyal canine companion and a few days left with his property. On a drive surveying his land, Jim finds a boy named Miguel and his mother Rosa, crossing the border. Members of a drug cartel are hot on their trail, eager to capture the mother and son. A shootout between Jim and their pursuers occurs and Rosa is mortally wounded. As she passes away, Jim makes a promise to get Miguel to their family in Chicago where he’ll be safe.

The Marksman is a conundrum as an action movie – as for action, it’s sparse, save for a few shootouts here and there where Neeson’s character gets a chance to live up to his Marksman moniker. When you hear Liam Neeson and action movie within the same breath, you picture Neeson defiantly doling out revenge to those who have wronged him and the people he cares about, which to some extent is what The Marksman becomes.  But it plods along its course, steeping you in the everyday life of Neesons’ Jim, before putting into perspective the predicament Miguel faces from the cartel members who killed his mother.

Jim’s encounters with the cartel are only mildly suspenseful. So much of The Marksman doesn’t fully develop Miguel and Jim’s dynamic, either. These characters spend so much time together, but, by the end, they only manage to get each other where they need to go, and nothing more. There’s humanity, but there’s no spark to it. I don’t fault the performances, as much as I do a script with not enough meaningful moments for the central pair’s bond to supplant itself deeply in the fabric of the movie.

I give The Marksman 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 for some mild violence and the killing of a dog. The Marksman comes out in theaters on January 15, 2020.

4 Kid-Friendly Things to Do Near Orange County Post COVID

The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 virus have made getting out and about with the kids next to impossible – and parents are beginning to feel the strain of having the younger members of the family cooped up at home. However, those restrictions will not be a reality forever. The promise of vaccines means that parents can now start planning for that long-awaited day out – and for those who call Orange County home, the opportunities for fun (and education) are almost limitless.

The wonderful weather and number of kid-friendly venues can make choosing venues for that perfect family day a challenge, however, here are some great choices for those who want to start planning ahead for a great day.

1. The LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens

With 1,000 animals representing 250 different species on show, the LA Zoo is perfect for kids. They will be fascinated and have the opportunity to learn about the natural world. For the littlest ones a visit to Muriel’s Ranch will allow them to interact with animals like goats and sheep. It’s a sure-fire winner. Asian Elephants will wow the younger members of the family – try and visit the exhibit when training is taking place. The Neil Papiano Play Park with its animal-themed climbing structures, water misters, and a great picnic area is a perfect rest stop during an exploration of the zoo.

2. The Butterfly Pavilion

The sheer beauty of the insects at this Natural History Museum attraction is sure to entrance the younger members of the family. It’s seasonal (open from mid-March to September) so it should feature in your future plans. It also provides a great opportunity for the kids to chat with the curators who will reveal why butterflies are so fascinating. The Pavillion offers the perfect opportunity to walk through a natural environment to see 30 different species of these shimmering winged beauties in action. Take a seat at one of the many rest spots (with the kids) and sit back and admire one of Mother Nature’s most wonderful creations.

3. Great Wolf Lodge

Avoid the congestion of Disneyland and head for the resort and waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge. Here the kids can splash and play on and in 14 slides and four pools (many suited for the youngest members of the family), including a variety of forts, ponds, and of course the ever-popular ‘River Canyon Run’ for a wild water experience. There are a variety of activities that offer fun on dry land as well – the kids can visit the Build-A-Bear outlet, enjoy a mini-golfing or bowling experience or MagiQuest. There are also some great dining options and shopping opportunities.

4. A Party Bus Tour

There are numerous great kid-friendly sights in or near the OC – and what better way for the younger members of the family to enjoy those than all together on a party bus rental in Orange County. This is the ideal day out on that special occasion. Tour organizers might provide drinks and snacks – and music. Some will even provide thoughtful additions like socks for dancing on the seats – and towels to deal with those inevitable spills. Destinations like Build A Bear, The OC Discovery Cube and Disneyland are popular – as are themed parties for that princess or pirate in your life.

There is so much for kids and families to enjoy in Orange County. It’s never too early to start planning for that special post-COVID day out.

*Like many things, hours and business openings are changing quite a bit so even after things begin to open up again it’s best to contact each business and make sure they’ll be open.

Here’s some provider info:

Party Bus Group
7044 Garden Grove Blvd

Garden Grove, CA 92841

(855) 500-7001

Great Wolf Lodge
12681 Harbor Boulevard

Garden Grove CA 92840