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Universal(NEW YORK) -- The Purge movies are great business. The first two, combined, cost 12 million dollars to make and went on to gross nearly 200 million dollars globally, thanks to a delightfully sick and twisted premise.

In the not-so-distant future, a new U.S. government is formed to save a dying country, promising that one day a year, for 12 hours, nothing is illegal, most notably murder and torture. That day is called “The Purge,” and has become a way for people to release their pent-up anger and frustration -- and also, clearly, a way for the government to control the population.

The first Purge movie in 2013 was a fascinating original, if not an excuse for excessive and gratuitous violence. While there was a little too much of the latter, it wasn’t awful – unlike 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy. That movie starred the charismatic Frank Grillo, the only strength, somewhat, in a very weak film.

Grillo returns here but is given a formidable and likable scene partner in Elizabeth Mitchell. She plays Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who lost her family to a Purge.  She’s running for president, promising to end The Purge if she wins.  That makes her a threat to the New Founding Fathers, the idiots who concocted The Purge. When it becomes apparent Roan has a legitimate shot at winning, the government uses The Purge to try to get rid of her.  As head of Roan’s security detail, Grillo’s Leo Barnes has his work cut out for him.

Writer and director James DeMonaco puts forth his best effort here. From production values to story, this is a vast improvement over the first two movies, which he also wrote and directed. Obviously, creating a story centered around a presidential election in a presidential election year is only good business, but DeMonaco had to know using his stylized snuff films to take a, um, stab at serious political and social commentary would be frowned upon by most critics.

But while he uses that superficial commentary as an entry point for the violence, DeMonaco gives us better characters, funnier banter and more thoughtful choreography and composition here. The Purge: Election Year looks better and is just more entertaining than the first two.

Even so, The Purge: Election Year can’t escape its DNA – it’s a low-budget, sickening, gratuitously violent escapade with an outlandish premise. Yet despite that, it’s well-executed for what it is.

Three out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Samuel L. Jackson and Alexander Skarsgård in "The Legend of Tarzan"; Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) -- Look, Warner Brothers has given us a gift! It’s called The Legend of Tarzan, and it’s got all sorts of CGI, handsome buff shirtless men, a stunning Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson being Samuel L. Jackson-y, and Christoph Waltz as the bad guy, being all Christoph Waltz-y. And most importantly, it’s got Tarzan!

Um, yeah.  About all that.

This movie lost me after the first five minutes and didn’t try very hard to win me back. At least the opening scene employs some stunning cinematography. This is where we met Waltz’s Leon Rom, King Leopold of Belgium’s emissary to the Congo. He’s searching for Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), a tribal leader who controls vast amounts of diamonds. Mbonga agrees to give Rom the diamonds in exchange for Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård).  If you stop to think about the manner in which this deal went down, it will ruin the entire movie for you -- much like it ruined it for me.

Fortunately, we’re not subjected for too long to Tarzan’s backstory. We meet him as John Clayton, national hero and celebrity once known as Tarzan. King Leopold, who’s driven his country into a debt crisis over its investment in the Congo, invites Clayton to go there.  When Clayton declines, Civil War hero George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) convinces John it’s his moral obligation to accept.  He suspects Leopold is using slaves to develop the Congo, many of whom could be Clayton’s friends. In case you don’t get it, the invitation is a trap.

So John packs up and returns home to Africa, with Jane (Margot Robbie) in tow. Brilliant thus far in her short career, Robbie takes a misstep here, but it’s not her fault. Her Jane sounds and feels likes she’s an actress from 2016 playing a woman in the 1880s. Having seen what Robbie’s capable of, we’re going to blame director David Yates for this one.

Like Robbie, Yates has certainly done great work, particularly with the four Harry Potter movies he directed.  But here, he either gave his actors bad direction, or not enough.  Given that Waltz and Jackson are pretty much exactly as they are in other films, I think he didn’t give them enough.

Five years ago, the CGI of apes and other animals would’ve been a bit more impressive, but here it’s dwarfed by the natural beauty captured by cinematographer Henry Graham, who does great work when computer generated effects and overzealous color-grading aren’t sullying his beautifully composed shots.

As Tarzan, Skarsgård does well with what he’s given but, on a few occasions, I found myself laughing when he seemed to strike Derek Zoolander’s Blue Steel pose. Did Yates tell him to do that? I don’t know.

What I do know is The Legend of Tarzan needs to be a much better movie, considering there was virtually no one asking to see another film about a character that, popular as he once was, hasn’t been part of our cultural conversation for decades.

Two out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Stephanie March on "Law & Order: SVU"; Will Hart/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Actress Stephanie March, best known for playing Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot on Law & Order: SVU, has opened up about a dangerous reaction she experienced after undergoing breast augmentation.

March, 41, described the episode in a candid essay she wrote for Refinery29. The actress said she decided to have the surgery during a painful time in her life -- her split from her then-husband, chef Bobby Flay.

"The other thing that was happening was that my marriage of nearly 10 years (and 14 together) was falling apart. And nothing, nothing was helping me cope,” March wrote. “I decided to try one last thing. And what I did next was exactly what you are not supposed to do when it comes to plastic surgery. I decided to change my body because I couldn’t change my life.”

March wrote that just two months after the surgery she experienced complications.  Her right implant was infected and the seams of her scar on her right side had burst. Her surgeon removed the implant and sent her to an infectious disease doctor.

“I a hole in my breast for six weeks while I blasted my body with antibiotics,” March details.  “I had the implant put back in. I had another infection and rupture on Christmas Eve. I had it taken out again. I had more cultures and tests and conversations with doctors than I care to recall.”

March said she came to the conclusion that her complication was not something anyone could have prevented but that, “I am allergic to implants. Plain and simple. My body did. Not. Want. Them. I kept trying to 'fix' my body, and it kept telling me to leave it alone.”

The actress, whose divorce from Flay was finalized in July 2015, ultimately had her implants removed.

“I have accepted this episode as a part of my larger story. And I refuse to be ashamed of it. I am taking back my body, my story, and myself in a bathing suit,” March wrote. “All that I had, all that I was, from the beginning, was all I needed to be. And now, I anticipate summer of 2016 with great joy.”

March told ABC News in a statement she is “overwhelmed” and “very moved” by the “positive reaction” to her article.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News Chief women's health correspondent, said Thursday on Good Morning America that even common plastic surgery procedures like breast augmentation are "not without complications."

"You need to know about these possible complications and they do differ based on the type of implant used, the approach used, the incision and generally the skill and the expertise of the surgeon, although these can happen with the best surgical technique,” Ashton said, adding that March noted in her Refinery29 article she did not blame her own surgeon.

Ashton recommends that patients ask their doctor the following three questions before undergoing plastic surgery: Are you board-certified in plastic surgery? How many of these operations you do per year? What is your complication rate?

"If you think that having cosmetic surgery is going to change your life, it’s not," Ashton added. "And there’s no such thing as minor surgery. You get a complication, it becomes major real fast."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Evan Agostini/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ten years ago today, Vogue devotees everywhere flocked to movie theaters to see The Devil Wears Prada on opening night.

Based on a book of the same title, the film starred Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the curt, impeccably coiffed editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, and Anne Hathaway as her ambitious assistant, Andi Sachs.

With its zippy one-liners and rewind-worthy fashion montages, the film, rumored to be based on the book's author's experiences working for Vogue's Anna Wintour, charmed critics and fans alike.  Ultimately, The Devil Wears Prada grossed more than $326 million worldwide and earned Streep her fourteenth Oscar nod.

“It’s a f***ing brilliant movie,” Stanley Tucci, who played a top Runway staffer, told Variety recently. “The brilliant movies become influential, no matter what they are about.”  In fact, this movie was so influential that there's now a metal band called The Devil Wears Prada.  But that doesn't mean it's timeless.

As technology has evolved, so too has the way journalists report the news, whether it's at a monthly magazine or elsewhere.  Among the ways The Devil Wears Prada would need to be updated in 2016:

1. Smartphones changed the game: Andi's Sidekick -- the 2006 cellphone of choice of A-listers everywhere -- is now obsolete. Throughout the film, Miranda called Andi constantly, asking her to run small errands, like picking up lunch, and big ones, such as procuring an unpublished Harry Potter manuscript.  She also asks her to do the impossible, like book her a flight home in the middle of a hurricane.  These days, Andi would have an iPhone, and in addition to managing Miranda's phone calls, she'd be required to answer emails and texts from other Runway staffers. But there's an upside: at the Met Gala, when Miranda needed to be reminded of who all the guests were, Andi would have Google right at her fingertips.

2. ... And so have apps: Half of the errands that kept Andi so busy now can be accomplished in seconds by using an app. Miranda wants lunch? Fire up Seamless. Miranda needs a ride? That's why we have Uber and Lyft. Miranda's flight was canceled? Andi could look at alternative options using Kayak or JetSmarter.

3. Social media has exploded: Beginning in 2006, Facebook, previously a service for select college students, became available to anybody over the age of 12 who had an email address and wanted to join. That same year, the first tweet was sent. Since then, both social media platforms have become major reporting tools for media companies, as have Instagram and Snapchat. At least one of these platforms would have influenced Andi's job and they certainly would have changed the way Runway covers fashion.

4. The 24-hour news cycle has taken over: Vogue has long been considered the fashion Bible, but for those looking to get their daily fix of the brand, Vogue.com has it all. More recently, the fashion magazine launched its app, which was promoted by Wintour herself in a video. In fact, Wintour has become more and more of a celebrity as the brand has evolved, doing interviews on TV and even answering questions for one of Vogue's digital franchises. In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestley is equal parts feared and revered, partially because she was such a mysterious entity. Today, she'd have to do more press herself -- and Andi's job would have to be adjusted accordingly.

5. New media outlets crop up every day: In 2006, blogs and websites were gaining popularity, but many journalists still only aspired to work for traditional media brands. Not so anymore. With the rise of social media and digital journalism, there are countless ways to get published and more ways to break news. It's safe to assume that Andi, who had zero interest in fashion or beauty, would ever consider taking her Runway job in 2016, nor would it be offered to her.

6. The Met Gala is more influential than ever: The Met Gala, an annual party thrown in part by Wintour, has long been touted as one of the biggest bashes of the year for the fashion elite. However, at the time of the movie's release, it wasn't necessarily as popular as it is now. Why? Well, one reason may be that in the past, stars weren't able to share photos of their experiences at the party; another could be that before many journalism outlets had websites, there wasn't nearly as much coverage of the event. Either way, had the movie been made today, the scene featuring the Met Gala would be much bigger.

7. ... And so is Paris Fashion Week: As more and more fashion brands have cropped up, more and more fashion bloggers have become famous, so Paris Fashion Week has taken on an entirely new meaning. At the end of the film, Andi gets the opportunity to travel with Miranda to the event, attending the shows and meeting the designers. However, if the film were made today, she too would need to be sure that she was appropriately dressed and coiffed at all times because she'd be photographed almost constantly on the red carpet and off. These days, street style matters too.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


ABC/A.M.P.A.S(LOS ANGELES) -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is delivering on its promise to diversify its membership.

Wednesday the organization extended 683 membership invitations to actors, filmmakers and executives alike. Of that group, 41 percent are people of color and 46 percent are female.

According to the Academy's website, this means that the percentage of minorities has risen from 8 percent to 11 percent, and the percentage of women has grown from 25 percent to 27 percent.

The group runs the gamut age-wise too: The youngest person invited is 24, and the oldest is 91.

"This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement today. "We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."

Included in the list of potential new members are actors Idris Elba, Rita Wilson, Friedo Pinto, Gabrielle Union and Damon Wayans, Jr. O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson was invited in two categories, as was Creed director Ryan Coogler. Siblings Lana and Lilly Wachowski, who created the Matrix trilogy, also received invitations.

Back in January, Boone Isaacs announced the Academy's plan to overhaul its policies in an attempt to make its membership "significantly" more diverse. The plan, she said, was to double the number of women and minorities by 2020.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said earlier this year. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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