‘The Gentlemen’ Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Matthew McConughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Tom Wu, Eddie Marsan and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Writer/director Guy Ritchie made a splash on the film scene with his gangster comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels and Snatch. He’s recently taken a crack at a TV spy adaptation in The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which is criminally underrated), a different take on King Arthur with King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword and recently, the successful, Disney live-action film Aladdin. One thing that was clear in all of them, Ritchie has a style that he’s mastered, and it’s damn enjoyable when he finds his groove. Enter, The Gentlemen.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born, marijuana kingpin in London is looking to get out of the game. He’s lucky enough to find a buyer in Jeremy Strong’s Matthew, but when Dry Eye (Henry Golding) tries to make a move on Mickey’s empire, things get a little too complicated. On top of that, Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) has to deal with an ambitious, and somewhat sleazy cunning private eye in Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is under employment from Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to write a big story.

I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to The Gentlemen since I heard about, and it really did not disappoint. The movie is truly a Guy Ritchie film, but with some grown maturity from the filmmaker. The film throws you right into the action of everything with the movie mainly being told through the framing device of Fletcher telling Ray what he’s found out. Because of that, the first act of the movie is pretty exposition heavy, but Ritchie’s setting the stage for everything that’s about to come.

The movie doesn’t really slow down too much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing. Honestly, the only thing that I would count against the movie is sometimes the plot can get convoluted, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, doesn’t have too much to do expect one pretty out there scene that surprisingly works.

If the plot doesn’t draw you in then maybe the cast will. McConaughey plays it pretty straight despite him playing a weed kingpin, but it’s the confidence that he drips makes the character. Hunnam’s Ray is a loyal soldier to Mickey and besides dealing with Fletcher, he deals with another subplot in the movie. Henry Golding’s Dry Eye isn’t the most interesting “villain” in the movie, and you can clearly see his ambition gets the better of him. Jeremy Strong’s Matthew still a character you like to hate, which the handful of scenes he has.

Easily, the two show-stealing performances belong to Colin Farrell’s Coach, a boxing coach to the local young kids, and is a much more important character than you think. Then there’s Hugh Grant, who is having a BALL playing Fletcher, as he chews up the scenery every time he’s on. He’s a bit scummy, but it’s hard to hate him.

All in all, The Gentlemen is an entertaining gangster comedy from beginning to end, with a great cast and catchy dialogue. It’s a fine return to form by Guy Ritchie to the genre, and something I hope we see more of him in the future.

The Gentlemen

Rating: Stamp of Approval

 

Monthly Rewind – January Movie Releases 2010-2018

Hello, everybody!

I’m starting a new feature here on Movies with Chris called Monthly Rewind! Given that the decade just ended, I figured I do something a little different than a “Best of” or “Favorite of” the Decade list. Instead of naming all of my noteworthy movies, I thought I would look at the movies I’ve seen in the last ten years in those given months and give my thoughts on them all these years later, or just how they have held up.

It’s something new, and potentially, a lot of fun. So join me won’t you? Let’s get started and take a look at January’s past. The only year we won’t do is 2019, given that we just went through all of it. Again, these are movies that I have seen.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Daybreakers

The Book of Eli

Legion

Edge of Darkness

Thoughts: It’s rather weird bunch of movies here. The four of these don’t have a lot of staying power with me, and presumably with audiences. Daybreakers, a world where almost everyone is a vampire, still has its fans and it is still an underrated vampire movie starring Ethan Hawke.

The Book of Eli probably still holds some weight because of the twist at the end, plus some of the visuals by directors The Hugh Brothers. And of course seeing Denzel Washington kick some ass.

Legion I think has been forgotten about, even though it got a short-lived sequel TV series on SyFy. At least some of the visuals still work and stick around like Doug Jones’ Ice Cream Man.

Finally, Edge of Darkness, one of the last movies Mel Gibson led, before his public meltdown (also, his first since Signs in 2002), which I don’t think anyone really remembers. I know I barely remember it.

 

2011

The Green Hornet

A Somewhat Gentle Man

Ong-bak 3

The Housemaid

The Mechanic

Ip Man 2

Thoughts: This month actually had two movies I had seen at the Chicago International Film Festival – A Somewhat Gentle Man and The Housemaid. The problem is I can’t remember if it was the year before, or if they played during the festival this year (both got limited releases in theaters this month). As for the other movies;

The Green Hornet was a really bad misfire, even by today’s standards. Of course, the only big highlight anyone remembers about this is Jay Chou’s Kato, and Kato Vision. Since honestly, it probably the only thing people should remember.

Ong-bak 3 is still, to this day, a mess. Tony Jaa had made the biggest name for himself with the first Ong-Bak, and later Tom yum Goong aka The Protector, but it was when Jaa took it upon himself to try and direct and completely different story under the Ong-bak name, and it just didn’t work. It also didn’t help that the movie suffered because Jaa basically suffered a panic attack trying to direct this and part 2, which were suppose to be one movie.

The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 film, this was at the time when Jason Statham was in those small, independent feel action movies that were mostly forgettable. The Mechanic stills fits that mold, but I think the more surprising thing is that the movie got a sequel, that we’ll talk about later.

Ip Man 2, I mean come on. The Ip Man movies are all known for the impressive fight sequences with Donnie Yen playing the titular character so well.

 

 

2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Contraband

Underworld: Awakening

Haywire

The Artist

The Grey

Thoughts: This was a weird January, for me. I remember thinking back then, that this a good January in a while. First, we had two highly divisive films in the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Artist. One was a very slow-burn spy film that many said was too dragged out, while the other went back to the old ways of Hollywood with a black-and-white, silent film, that has sadly been thrown to the wayside.

Contraband was a remake of the Icelandic film, which ironically, its lead star Baltasar Kormakur directed this. It’s probably one of more forgettable Mark Wahlberg-led movies, but also because he had Giovanni Ribisi playing the lead villain as a tough guy gangster. No disrespect to Ribisi, but come on.

Underworld: Awakening, the forth movie in the series, I’m sure it was meant as a way to bring back the franchise after its last film – which was technically a prequel to the first movie – but instead we got, probably, the most forgettable Underworld movie which didn’t do anything new for the series, other than give Kate Beckinsale’s Selene a daughter, who doesn’t even factor into the next movie (and they even recast), and introduce Theo James’ David, who is the most boring character in the series.

Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire was, to me, the start of Hollywood’s more brutal, gritty realistic take on fight scenes. It helped that Soderbergh cast MMA star Gina Carano as the lead, which got her more mainstream attention. The movie itself, slugs on a tad, with an ending that I remember kind of just happens.

Finally, Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, arguably, one of the only real movies that came out in January to have really a true amount of staying power. Anytime someone brings up The Grey it one of two things. One, how great it is or two, we never see Liam Neeson actually fight the Alpha wolf.

 

 

2013

Gangster Squad

Zero Dark Thirty

The Last Stand

Mama

Broken City

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Parker

Movie 43

John Dies at the End

Thoughts: I didn’t remember all these movies dropping in January, but here we are. I did manage to see Zero Dark Thirty in its limited release in December, but the wide release was this month.

Oh Gangster Squad, so much potential, and yet, such a disappointment at the end. Tragedy for the release date shift and reshoots aside, it’s hard to see how they wasted such a great cast and story, even to this day. Plus, the movie takes the Hollywood action route instead of the true takedown of Mickey Cohen.

John Dies at the End was one of those genre film festival favorites, which admittedly I watched much later, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. But I can see why it was, and still has, a midnight movie fan base.

Parker, for me, is the most forgettable Jason Statham one-word title films, which had him playing a thief that gets double-crossed and left for dead, only to take a new identity and work with Jennifer Lopez’ character – a real estate agent who wants more of life – who happens to have a connection to Statham’s old crew.

Broken City starred Mark Wahlberg as an ex-cop trying to take down the mayor of his city played by Russell Crowe. I honestly don’t remember anything about this movie. I had to look up what the movie was about to even write that short synopsis.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was my guilty pleasure of 2013, and it still kind of is. It knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be something different. Plus, you get to stare at Gemma Arterton for an hour-and-a-half.

Mama, the film that brought up It and It Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti, and based off his own creepy short film. I think Mama gets some undeserved bashing – it’s not perfect or even all that great – but it’s definitely worthwhile, even though it does have a couple cheap pop scares.

The Last Stand, which I saw again recently, was highly more enjoyable than I remembered. It has the right amount of seriousness, humor, and quirkiness to Arnold Schwarzenegger getting older.

Then there’s Movie 43….ugh

 

 

2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Ride Along

I, Frankenstein

Thoughts: Her, Lone Survivor and Inside Llewyn Davis are the wide releases, and I’d say that Her probably has the most staying power over the other two mainly because of relevant it is still till this day. Inside Llewyn Davis does have a loyal fanbase, but I think it’s one of those movies that you don’t pop in regularly.

Ride Along was, arguably, the start of Kevin Hart’s film career stardom. Starring with Ice Cube as future brother-in-laws with Cube playing the hardened, no-nonsense cop, and Hart, a security guard, trying to prove himself. It was funny for the time and the chemistry between Hart and Cube worked, and still works.

I, Frankenstein was one of those movies I was weirdly looking forward to, even though I knew it was going to be bad. Then I watched it, and yeah. It’s not very good. Aaron Eckhart playing Frankenstein’s monster – named Adam – stuck in a war between Gargoyle angels and demons is a bit sloppy and overall things we’ve seen before.

Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starring Chris Pine was an okay movie then, and an okay movie now. Pine does fine with what he’s given against Branagh’s thick fake Russian accent.

Finally, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, the only real spinoff of the horror franchise (there was a foreign spinoff that isn’t “canon”), it’s also considered a “cousin” film as it follows a Hispanic group of friends dealing with a demonic entity that does end up being connected to the main series. It’s not best Paranormal Activity movie, but definitely one of the better, and underappreciated, movies.

 

 

2015

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

[REC] 4: Apocalypse

Taken 3

Predestination

Inherent Vice

Paddington

Blackhat

Foxcatcher

American Sniper

Red Army

A Most Violent Year

Thoughts: Some more wide releases of limited releases a couple weeks prior in Inherent Vice, American Sniper and A Most Violent Year. American Sniper, still to this day, gets flake, mostly deserved, and that fake baby man. Come on, Eastwood! Inherent Vice is still the weird movie where people don’t really know what’s going on and A Most Violent Year is mostly forgotten, even though it has some great performances by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Maybe it will get some more eyes on it as something is in the works to bring it back.

I believe Foxcatcher, was also a limited release gone wide this month. It was the first time we saw Steve Carell in a different light after The Office, and it was the first time I saw Channing Tatum as a real actor. Red Army was a documentary of the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army hockey team, which was very good, even if you aren’t a hockey fan.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, is probably one of the forgettable movies this month, which is reasonable in my mind considering I really don’t remember anything about the movie. The same can be said for the thriller Blackhat, directed by Michael Mann, which starred Chris Hemsworth as a hacker who gets entangled in a dangerous, potentially worldwide threat. The only thing I truly remember about the movie – besides being a very diverse cast – is the sound going out in my theaters for what was probably the most exciting part of the movie, only for it to come back once the scene ended.

Taken 3 was a weird sequel, and honestly I can’t remember too much about this one either, other than the weird “twist” the movie does out of the blue. [REC] 4: Apocalypse, the final [REC] film, had a great set-up of bringing back original star Manuela Velasco as Angela, and trapping the action in a boat in the middle of the ocean, but the execution was kind of lacking, which is a huge bummer considering how great the series started.

Predestination, based on the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein, not only brought us the great Sarah Snook, but a weird, twisty sci-fi mystery drama about a multitude of different themes that is definitely worth the rewatch or first-time viewing.

Finally, Paddington, I mean what’s left to say about the loveable Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw – originally voiced by Colin Firth, but him and director Paul King agreed they needed to go a different route – and his crazy adventures.

 

 

2016

The Forest

The Revenant

Ride Along 2

13 Hours

Carol

The 5th Wave

The Boy

Ip Man 3

Room

Kung Fu Panda 3

Jane Got a Gun

Thoughts: Weirdly, only three wide release here in The Revenant, which is still the bear basically rag dolls Leonardo DiCaprio that got him an Oscar. Carol, which I don’t hear too much about anymore, but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are fantastic in it, if you haven’t watched it yet, and then there’s Room, which gave us Jacob Tremblay and a fantastic performance by Brie Larson, which fans have turned on because…reasons?

This year might be the “worst” January in the decade to be honest. The Forest and The Boy were the horror films released this month and neither of them really did the job they set out to do. The Forest had the concept of basing it in Japan’s Suicide Forest with Natalie Dormer, while The Boy had Lauren Cohen in what was teased as a “is the doll supernatural or not?” Of course, only one of these is getting a sequel.

The 5th Wave, which was based off a pretty descent YA book, was a complete disappointment for me, personally. Even with the pretty much reliable Chloe Grace Moretz and pre-mega star Maika Monroe, the premise was perfect set-up for them to only make the most bland and boring “action” movie that year.

Speaking of disappointing, the Natalie Portman-led western Jane Got a Gun was most likely a product of behind-the-scenes troubles with original director Lynne Ramsay dropping out literally the first day of filming, and actors swapping in-and-out of lead roles and supporting roles.

Ride Along 2, a couple years after the first movie, brings back Kevin Hart and Ice Cube together moving the action to another city and bringing in Olivia Munn and Benjamin Bratt as the villain. I honestly can’t remember anything about this movie, which seeing how cheap these movies are to make, I’m surprised they didn’t make another one.

Ip Man 3’s main marketing push was having a fight scene between Donnie Yen’s Ip Man versus Mike Tyson’s Frank, and if you saw the movie, you know that the fight only happens once and it isn’t even the end of the movie. The movie itself is a fine action movie, and also introduces Jin Zhang’s Cheung Tin-chi, who got a spinoff movie.

The third and final Kung Fu Panda film came out this month, and brought an end to the movies in a perfect way. Not only did Po find his family and his people, he finally reached the end of his arc of becoming a great fighter.

Finally, 13 Hours, the Michael Bay-directed movie about the U.S. compound in Libya that got attacked, and the security team there defended it. It’s basically the “ill-timed” movie about the attacks in Benghazi. Bay isn’t really that kind of director so the movie was all about the action, and for that, I was thoroughly surprised. The cast is also pretty great with John Krasinski beefing up for the role.

 

 

2017

Hidden Figures

A Monster Calls

Patriots Day

The Founder

Underworld: Blood Wars

Monster Trucks

The Bye Bye Man

Sleepless

Live by Night

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Split

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Thoughts: Four limited releases turned wide this month in Hidden Figures, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day and The FounderA Monster Calls is the one that sticks with me the most because I didn’t expect the movie to hit me as hard as it did. The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc who turned the family owned burger restaurant into what we know now, saw Michael Keaton be a ruthless, ambitious former salesman that made us loathe him. Hidden Figures and Patriots Day, both based on true stories, with Hidden Figures probably being the one of the two that sticks out to more people.

Ben Affleck-directed Live by Night was considered a huge disappointment by all accounts, and lead to some personal problems for Affleck. Speaking of disappointing, especially one that essentially killed a franchise, Underworld: Blood Wars made Selene into, basically, superhero with no real purpose other than “trying” to do something different, but it was a big heap of NOPE.

On that front, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did end the long running franchise that was more of the same from what we’ve seen, with a twist I’m sure they thought was smart, but really came off as dumb. Monster Trucks was a weird take on the brand, but you know what, if I was a kid, I would have dug the hell out of this. As an adult, it was still an okay family movie.

Sleepless was actually a remake of a VERY good French film Nuit Blanche, which followed the same basic premise of a cop who goes to a nighclub where his son is being kept after a deal gone wrong. The remake was kind of lifeless despite its descent cast of Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Scoot McNairy, Dermot Mulroney and David Harbour.

The Bye Bye Man…*sigh*

Honestly, the only thing that got me in for xXx: Return of Xander Cage was that it starred Donnie Yen…that’s it. I mean, yes the movie was as ridiculous as you would think it would be.

Finally, Split came out this month, in what was one of the best surprises of the month and best surprise twist sequels that I can remember. Even before that though, we got an amazing performance by James McAvoy, and it made Anya Taylor-Joy a household name.

 

 

2018

Molly’s Game

The Post

Phantom Thread

I, Tonya

Insidious: The Last Key

Paddington 2

The Commuter

Proud Mary

12 Strong

Den of Thieves

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Hostiles

Thoughts: Four limited releases this month in Molly’s Game, I Tonya, The Post and Phantom Thread; five if you count Hostiles – which kind of came and went without much fanfare despite a solid performance by Christian Bale. The Post and Molly’s Game have pretty much, at least it feels like, been forgotten. Phantom Thread was Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis’ last team-up as this was Day-Lewis’ last film, and what a way to go out. As for I, Tonya, this arguably made Margot Robbie the true household name that she is now, with her portray as Tonya Harding. Plus it gave us Paul Walter Hauser.

This month also gave us Proud Mary, which I thought was a nice homage to 70s action movies, but it failed to really leave an impression. Insidious: The Last Key was the last Insidious movie we got, which acted as an origin story for Lin Shaye’s Elise and a prequel to the very first movie. It’s not the best entry in the series, but at least Shaye got one more ride of the character.

We also got the ending of the Maze Runner movies with the third entry The Death Cure which admittedly was a little too long for its own good, and lacked a certain punch for me. The same could be said about 12 Strong – the certain punch – the based on a true story war film that starred Chris Hemsworth leading a small group of soldiers to stop an attack from the Taliban after 9/11. The movie was more of a character movie than an action film like it was marketed, but seeing Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena and Michael Shannon play off each other was a nice please.

Now for two movies that were surprisingly good in their own way, The Commuter and Den of Thieves. The Commuter could have easily been another Liam Neeson action thriller that most people forgot about – and maybe this one is too – I happen to watch it again recently and thoroughly enjoyed it again. When it comes to Den of  Thieves, this could have easily been a forgettable action crime thriller with everyone chewing up the scenery. And in some part, it really is, but there was something about the wannabe-Heat to it all that I really liked.

Finally, Paddington 2…again, how can you NOT love these movies!

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was a lot. So I’ll probably tone down the lists going forward, especially since this is going up at the end of January. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in January were?

First Podcast of the Year – Movies of 2019, Birds of Prey & New Mutants Trailers, Doctor Strange 2 Loses Director & More

The first Movie Pit Podcast of the year is out!

I run down the Movies of 2019, which if you’re a regular reading here, you’ve probably already seen the list, BUT, in case you didn’t, now you can hear me say what I thought about the Movies of 2019. That list includes; Favorites, Honorable Mentions, Disappointments/Least-Liked, Surprises, Frustrating and Undecided Movies of the Year.

 

So click on the linktree link and take a listen on your preferred platform from Youtube, Apple Podcast or Stitcher!

https://linktr.ee/chrisrenteria27

 

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

‘The Grudge’ Review

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Writer: Nicolas Pesce

Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, John J. Hansen, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, Lin Shaye and Jackie Weaver

Synopsis: A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The second remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge from 2002 – the first American remake came out in 2004 – this new Grudge movie comes from writer/director Nicolas Pesce, known for The Eyes of My Mother, and brings the action to America instead of keeping it in Japan. Pesce had come out before the release of the movie saying his version of the story would be “fucked up.” So, some self-professed hype is already at play here. That said, I will admit that when I found out about Pesce directing the remake, and having seen The Eyes of My Mother, I thought he’s a pretty descent choice. However, now having seen The Grudge I will say this; I was wrong.

The Grudge tells four different stories – taking place in different years – that are all connected to one home, where every person that steps in it is met with a violent and deadly outcome. Like I mentioned, the action is moved to America, and mostly follows the story of Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), who has moved to a new town with her son, Burke (John J. Hansen), after the death of her husband. She’s assigned to her new partner, Goodman (Demian Bichir), and immediately finds a body in the forest that belonged to the long missing Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver). The case makes Goodman uneasy, and that makes Muldoon curious about the case.

The connected stories belong to Peter and Nina Spencer (John Cho and Betty Gilpin), real-estate agents who are dealing with pregnancy problems, and are trying to sell the, unbeknownst to them, cursed house. There is also Faith and William Matheson (Lin Shaye and Frankie Faison), who are other occupants of the house, when William asks for help from Lorna Moody. Then there is a short story between Goodman and his old partner Wilson (William Sadler), and finally the, short, story of what kick starts everything of Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) who worked in Japan – in the original cursed house – and brought the curse back with her.

While the non-linear narrative is nothing new for this brand, this Grudge makes things too muddy for its own good. While it doesn’t bounce around too much, the stories are a bit blah. It also doesn’t help that we know The Matheson’s, Sanders’ and Moody are dead so the tension of seeing their story play out is dampened a bit, but even when they’re playing out they really don’t do much to suck you in.

The only real story that draws you in is that of John Cho and Betty Gilpin, mainly because of how serious they play it. I’d argue that they should have been the focus and then have Riseborough and Bichir’s characters play into their story. The real shame here is the waste of the cast, even though everyone looks like they are trying to the best with what they have, the majority of the characters are underwritten or just not given anything to really do. This is true for Bichir’s Goodman, who doesn’t really do anything other than tell Muldoon to let the case go, and he always thought there was something wrong with the house.

Then comes the scares, probably the main reason everyone will try to watch this. On that front, The Grudge disappoints as well. The scares are pretty basic and nothing we haven’t seen before. Even the classic imaginary that we are familiar with – the hand in the hair, bathtub filled with dirty water – isn’t worthwhile. There are nice references to the past films, but it’s there to mainly show that Pesce was a fan of the series before he got the job. Which is a shame because I do think that Pesce has a good eye for imagery, but it’s almost like Pesce was afraid of letting the movie loose, and being “fucked up” like he promised.

All in all, The Grudge is less superior to its 2004 remake, and is way too messy for its own good. The characters are underdeveloped or underwritten, and it lacks the punch the movie tries to promise. Plus, it is a tad boring at times, which is something you don’t want from horror movie. If I had to pick something that I liked about it, it would probably be some of the score from The Newton Brothers.

The Grudge

Rating: Pass

 

New Movie Ratings for the Year

Hello, everybody!

Another year is here, and that means new movies, which means new reviews! I know I’ve been lacking on the review department, but that’s something I’m going to change in 2020. So much so in fact, that I already have a review in the waiting, which is why I’m writing this. I’m changing my rating system!

This is something I’ve been wanting to do since last year, but just didn’t for some reason, so here it is. Gone are the number rating from zero to five, and in come some more understandable ratings.

 

Stamp of Approval – pretty self-explanatory right? The Stamp of Approval is basically replacing the 4.5 or 5 star rating. When a movie gets this rating, it’s me saying I LOVED it and highly recommend it to you, and you should get to the theater right away.

Recommend – This is replacing the 4 out of 5 rating. Recommend is for the movies that I, clearly, recommend you guys watching. They may not be my necessary favorites, but movies that most likely would potentially end up on my Honorable Mentions of the year.

Rental – This is basically the average rating of 3 and 3.5. These are movies that if you missed in theaters it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And with that said, you can easily watch them at home and be okay with it.

Pass – Self-explanatory, again. These are the movies that I can’t personally recommend to anyone.

Run – So yeah, no one should watch these movies. Like, ever.

 

So here are the new ratings for the page. Let’s see how these go over.

My Favorite, and Surprise, Movies of 2019

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

Them That Follow

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Luce

Hustlers

Honey Boy

Marriage Story

The Report

The King

The Two Popes

Uncut Gems

1917

Portrait of the Lady on Fire

 

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Bodied

Cold War

Doctor Sleep

It Chapter Two

Klaus

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The Wandering Earth

Triple Threat

Yesterday

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Aladdin

Look, Disney live-action remakes are happening, and will continue, let’s get over it. Okay, now let’s talk a little about Aladdin. I don’t have an immediate connection to Aladdin like many others do, so the movie was already very lukewarm for me. That said, the movie wasn’t that bad. Will Smith as the new Genie wasn’t too bad, and Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine had some pretty great chemistry together. Aladdin was a pretty much a great family movie, and you can’t go wrong with that.

 

Blinded by the Light

I didn’t think I was going to watch Blinded by the Light, mainly because I didn’t think I’d connect to it because I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. The great thing is, you didn’t need to be. That to me, made me a fan.

 

Crawl

I was admittedly not on board with Crawl when I first read about it and saw the trailer. I gave it chance, and I’m glad I did, because instead of a pretty much a forgettable, cheesy movie; we got a damn solid thriller with Kaya Scodelario easily putting the movie on her shoulders.

 

El Chicano

El Chicano is mostly likely going to be one of the handful of movies that people didn’t even know came out in 2019. Produced by Joe Carnahan, the movie followed L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez, who is assigned a career-making case that he finds out has connections to his brother’s supposed suicide, and a turf war between two rival gangs that promises city-wide chaos. He then dons the masked street legend El Chicano to take the streets back. It’s a pretty solid indie action movie that touches on family, “superheroes” and culture.

 

6 Underground

This is the closest thing I think we’ll ever get to knowing how the mind of Michael Bay really works, without the worry of a PG-13 rating, and worrying about damaging a franchise name (Transformers). 6 Underground is a bit of a mess, but damn is it an entertaining mess.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Alita: Battle Angel

A lot, and I mean A LOT, of people had things to say about Alita: Battle Angel even before it came out and the reaction after the film came out was even more. It was a rather ambitious approach and take on the manga adaptation, that may not have totally worked for producer James Cameron – this being a passion project of his – and director Robert Rodriguez. While the movie loses some steam by the end, it was rather entertaining throughout.

 

Apollo 11

Documentaries rarely make it to my end of the year list, and some of that is mainly because I don’t really watch too many, I forget I watched them, or don’t watch any at all. That said, Apollo 11 stuck with me. The Apollo missions are historic in every way, but seeing this on the big screen, was one of my favorite experiences in a theater this year.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba together on screen in the Fast & Furious universe? Dumb fun action sequences? What more did you want!?

 

Fighting with My Family

Based on the life of former WWE superstar Paige, Fighting with My Family followed Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) who dreams of being in the WWE with her brother Zak (Jack Lowden), but when they only accept her, it sets a rift between them and pushes Saraya to her limit. The film itself was also based on the documentary of the same name, which followed the Knight family, who run a wrestling promotion in the native England. Pugh totally carries the film on her shoulders, with great supporting performances by Lowden, Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan and Nick Frost and Lena Headey as Saraya’s parents. The only thing that irked me a bit was knowing they didn’t really touch on a lot of stuff that Saraya actually went through in her time in WWE, but whatever.

 

Ford v Ferrari

One of the great things about Ford v Ferrari is that you didn’t need to be a gear-head to love/like the film. Mainly because the movie was much more about the friendly relationship between Carol Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) trying to beat the odds of beating Ferrari at Le Mans, a 24-hour race. Damon and Bale were fantastic together, that its hard to believe it took this long in their careers to work together.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Parabellum continued the world building of this hitman world, and even did some globe-trotting. Giving us more characters, more obstacles and more headshots than we can count; and I’m not losing any interest whatsoever.

 

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire followed Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy in the Hitler Youth, who finds out his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home; all while he talks to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself). Waititi’s humor may not be for everyone, but his humor here with the seriousness – and it does get serious – of the real setting of WWII, Jojo Rabbit was definitely an experience.

 

Little Women

I’m going to admit something I probably shouldn’t; I’ve never read Little Women. I knew what the book was about, but just never got around to reading it. That said, I was looking forward to the movie, mainly because of the cast and that Greta Gerwig was writing/directing. Thankfully, it didn’t really matter if I had read the book, because the casts’ chemistry and Gerwig’s direction was great to watch.

 

Queen & Slim

I really didn’t know what to expect from Queen & Slim, and that was probably the best thing to feel going into the movie. A simple date night gone wrong, with the added racial themes and tone, and you have really one of the best films of the year.

 

Richard Jewell

As a director, Clint Eastwood is pretty hit-or-miss. Recently he’s been on a miss or misstep category, but Richard Jewell has put him back in the hit category. Based on the true story of Richard Jewell, the hero that saved lives during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was labeled a villain by the FBI and the media. Honestly, the driving force behind the film is the terrific performance by Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell.

 

Shazam!

I was not onboard the Shazam! train whatsoever, but damn did I have a great time watching it. It was perfect, and some things were a little mishandled, but the cast is what really kept this movie together.

 

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Drama after the film came out aside, Far from Home was a nice follow-up to Homecoming. While the ramifications of Avenges: Endgame were there, admittedly used as almost a crutch, Far from Home continued the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Plus, the Mysterio illusion scene is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

A nice coming of age tale that follows Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a professional wrestler  come true. Along his adventure he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is running away from his own troubles and later convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak’s social worker, to join them. It’s a also a nice “road trip” moving with everyone putting on great performances, especially Gottsagen (who really has Down Syndrome), who honestly steals the show.

 

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

This is one I didn’t really know anything about until it came out. It follows an ex-cop turned militia man (the underrated, James Badge Dale), who is placed in charge to investigate the shooting at a cop’s funeral that leads to someone in his own militia. The film is extremely tense from start to finish, with everyone in the cast giving it their all, but make no mistake this is Dale’s show, with the only other person I want to point out is Happy Anderson, who plays Morris, in a long, drawn-out scene between the two early in the film. Definitely try to check this out.

 

Toy Story 4

Cash-grab or not, Toy Story 4 still tugged on the heartstrings the only way Disney and Pixar know how to do nowadays.

 

Other Notable Movies: Notre Dame, Happy Death Day 2U, Brittany Runs a Marathon, La Llorona, Pain & Glory, Little Monsters, One Take of the Dead

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Avengers: Endgame

Look, I’ve been invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like many others, since it started. Endgame was the culmination of everything since the very first Iron Man. If you didn’t like it, that’s fine too. But as a nerd, seeing the final battle on the big screen, with all those characters, MY GOD!

 

Booksmart

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde followed two top academic students and best friends (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who, on the eve of graduating high school, realize that being top of their class didn’t really mean too much as the people that partied also got into good schools. So, for one wild night, they go on the search for the big party of the night. There is a lot more to the basic premise of the movie, a lot of which you should go in without knowing. That said, Booksmart is hands down one of the best movies of the year.

 

Detective Pikachu

If you’re my age, or around my age, you grew up with Pokemon, and you may or may not have loved it. I loved it. I was hesitant about a CGI/Live-Action movie because of how the CG Pokemon would look, but they were damn impressive, a little more furry than I thought, but impressive nonetheless. Plus, I want a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu following me around now.

 

Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy is back! Playing real-life comic Rudy Ray Moore in what it took to make Moore’s iconic and classic Blaxploitation film. The whole cast is fantastic and Murphy is back to fine form towing the line from funny to dramatic.

 

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out was probably, for me, one of the most entertaining films and film-watching experiences, of the year. Down from the cast to Johnson’s directing and taking his own twist on the genre.

 

Midsommar

The second feature by Hereditary director Ari Aster, Midsommar is an even bigger and longer slow-burn of a movie that is both disturbing, and beautiful to look at it. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple on the ropes, who go to Sweden with two others to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival, where things go very, very wrong. The less you know the better, but again, it’s a slow-burn movie that goes somewhere I didn’t see it going.

 

Parasite

Bong Hive! That’s it. That’s my description of why it’s here.

 

Ready or Not

I really loved Ready or Not. There wasn’t too much I can even say that I disliked, so yeah it was going to be put in this section. The movie followed Grace (Samara Weaving), who just married into the Le Domas family, but before she can really become family she must survive the night of a deadly game of Hide and Seek. The movie was treated like a horror comedy, and it felt just like that but without getting into the campy side of things. The cast is fantastic in the roles they play, to the point you can almost tell they were given the okay to just let loose as much as possible.

 

The Farewell

Based on an actual lie that writer/director Lulu Wang is apparently still upholding, a Chinese family discovers that their grandmother has a short time to live, so they fake a wedding to gather before she dies. The movie is absurd in a good way, and when it’s not being darkly funny, its borderline tugging on your heartstrings. It also, probably, changed a lot of opinions on Awkwafina – like myself – who only saw her as a comedy act.

 

Us

Jordan Peele’s second directorial feature was every bit as great as his first, Get Out. While Us goes more into the horror genre, it still plays with social commentary that had everyone talking. Plus, we got to see everyone in the cast play two very different versions of themselves, so yeah.

 

That’s it folks. It was definitely an interesting year for movies, films and everything in-between. What were your favorite, enjoyable, liked and best movies/films of the year? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Undecided? Nevertheless, here’s to another great and awesome year of movies and films.

January Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in late December, so there is also that to look forward to.

 

3rd

The Grudge – Screen Gems, Ghost House Pictures, Stage 6 Films

A remake of the Japanese horror film, Ju-on, and the American remake from 2004, a house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death. Directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother), The Grudge stars John Cho, Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, Betty Gilpin, William Sadler, Jackie Weaver and Lin Shaye.

 

10th

Expansion Release: 1917 & Just Mercy

 

The Informer – Aviron Pictures, Thunder Road Pictures, Imagination Park Entertainment

An ex-convict (Joel Kinnaman) working undercover intentionally gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the mob at a maximum security plan. The Informer co-stars Rosemund Pike, Common, Ana de Armas and Clive Owen.

 

Like a Boss – Paramount Pictures, Artists First

Two friends (Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish) with very different ideals decide to start a beauty company together One is more practical, while the other wants to earn her fortune and live a lavish lifestyle. Like a Boss co-stars Salma Hayek, Bill Porter and Jennifer Coolidge.

 

Underwater – 20th Century Fox, TSG Entertainment, Chernin Entertainment

A crew of aquatic researchers work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. But the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear. Underwater stars Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller and Vincent Cassel.

 

17th

Limited Release – The Wave

Frank (Justin Long), an opportunistic insurance lawyer, thinks he’s in for the time in his life when he goes out on the town to celebrate an upcoming promotion. But their night takes a turn for the bizarre when Frank is dosed with a hallucinogen that completely alters his perception of the world. The Wave co-stars Donald Faison, Katia Winter, Bill Sage and Tommy Flanagan.

 

Dolittle – Universal Pictures, Perfect World Pictures

Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship comes from an array of exotic animals that he speaks to on a daily basis. But when young Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) becomes gravely ill, the eccentric doctor and his furry friends embark on an epic adventure to a mythical island to find the cure. The voice cast includes Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Selena Gomez, Kumail Nanjiani, John Cena, Ralph Fiennes, Octavia Spencer, Marion Cotillard and Emma Thompson. The rest of the human cast is filled by Michael Sheen and Antonio Banderas.

Thoughts: Dolittle is already coming in with some troubles. The film was reportedly plagued with production troubles, and post-production issues as well, resulting in some reshoots that also involved bringing in different directors.

 

Bad Boys for Life – Columbia Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Overbrook Entertainment

Marcus and Mike have to confront new personal issues, as they join the newly created elite team, named AMMO, of the Miami police department to take down the ruthless Armando Armas, the vicious leader of a Miami drug cartel. Bad Boys for Life stars Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, Kate del Castillo and Joe Pantoliano.

Thoughts: Say what you will about long-gestating sequels, seeing Will Smith and Martin Lawrence together, going back-and-forth is going to get my money.

 

24th

The Last Full Measure – Roadside Attractions

Thirty-four years after his death, Airman William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine) is awarded the nation’s highest military honor, for his actions on the battlefield. The Last Full Measure co-stars Sebastian Stan, Ser’Darius Blain, Alison Sudol, Diane Ladd, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Bradley Whitford, Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Plummer.

 

Run – Lionsgate

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty (Searching), a home schooled teenager (Kiera Allen) begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her. Run co-stars Sarah Paulson.

*No Trailer Available Yet*

 

The Turning – Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment

A modern take on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw,” a young governess (Mackenzie Davis) is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece (Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince) after the deaths of their parents.

 

The Gentlemen – Miramax, STX Films

Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires. The Gentlemen stars Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, and Hugh Grant.

Thoughts: Guy Ritchie seems to be back. Let’s hope so!

 

31st

Limited Release – The Traitor

The real life of Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), the so called “Boss of the Two Worlds,” the first mafia informant in Sicily in the 1980s.

 

Gretel & Hansel – Orion Pictures, BRON Studios, Automatik

A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl (Sophia Lillis) leads her little brother (Samuel Leakey) into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil. Gretel & Hansel co-stars Jessica De Gouw and Alice Krige.

 

The Rhythm Section – Paramount Pictures, IM Global, Eon Productions

Based on the novel by Mark Burnell (who also wrote the script), a woman (Blake Lively) seeks revenge against those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her family. The Rhythm Section co-stars Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Favorites of 2019 – Fight/Action Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Trailers & More

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Avengers: Endgame – Captain America, Iron Man and Thor vs. Thanos & Finale

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Huang and his Men (Knife Fight)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick Escapes on Motorcycle

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy – Cheung Tin-chi vs. Tso Ngan Kwan, Cheung Tin-chi vs. Sadi the Warrior & Cheung Tin-chi vs. Owen Davidson

Terminator: Dark Fate – Dani, Diego and Grace Escape the Rev-9

Triple Threat – Payu and Jaka vs. Collins & Payu vs. Collins (Final)

 

 

Honorable Mention

Alita: Battle Angel – Motorball Game

Dark Phoenix – X-Men, Magneto, Ariki and Selene vs. Aliens

Hellboy – Hellboy vs. The Three Giants

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie Escape Brixton (London)

Triple Threat – Jaka vs. Long Fei (Fight Club)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Shinobi 1 and Shinobi 2 & John Wick vs. Zero

 

 

Other Notable Action/Fight Sequences

Anna – Restaurant Brawl

Gemini Man – Henry and Junior Motorcycle Chase

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Monarch vs. Rodan

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Shaw vs. Brixton’s Men (Hattie’s Apartment)

Polar – Vincent vs. Hall Guards

Jumanji: The Next Level – The Bridge Escape

Stuber – Vic vs. Tedjo (Hotel Room)

Zombieland: Double Tap – Tallahassee and Columbus vs. Albuquerque and Flagstaff

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Alan Silvestri – Avengers: Endgame

Matt Morton – Apollo 11

Michael Abels – Us

The Haxan Cloak – Midsommar

 

Honorable Mentions

Hildur Guonadottir – Joker

Marius De Vries – Teen Spirit

Rob Simonsen – Captive State

 

 

MISC

CGI Pokemon – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Hoyte Van Hoytema – Ad Astra (Cinematography)

Pawel Pogorzelski – Midsommar (Cinematography)

Mysterio Illusion – Spider-Man: Far from Home

 

Honorable Mentions

Autumn Durald – Teen Spirit (Cinematography)

Henrik Svensson – Midsommar (Production Company)

Laurie Rose – Pet Sematary (Cinematography)

Lucian Johnston – Midsommar (Film Editing)

Lukasz Zal – Cold War (Cinematography/Photography)

Mike Gloulakis – Us (Cinematography)

Visual Effects Department – Alita: Battle Angel

 

Other Notable MISC.

Alex Disenhof – Captive State (Cinematography)

Dan Laustsen – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parrabellum (Cinematography)

Lawrence Sher – Joker (Cinematography)

Nicolas Wong – La Llorona (Cinematography)

 

 

 

Trailers

Avengers: Endgame #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

Black Widow – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxAtuMu_ph4&t=4s

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU8-7BX9uxs

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Teaser) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFmhKpZKlE

Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt9L1jCKGnE

No Time to Die – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1arJ05kcQ8

Wonder Woman 1984 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfM7_JLk-84

 

 

Honorable Mentions

1917 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcmZN0Mbl04

Anna – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYeBlgQdFg

Bad Boys for Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKCj3XuPG8M

Hobbs & Shaw – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SA7FaKxZVI

Hobbs & Shaw Trailer 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ7PAyCDwEg

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7XM597XO94

Jojo Rabbit – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL4McUzXfFI

Zombieland 2: Double Tap – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlW9yhUKlkQ

 

 

Other Notable Trailers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLEPhfEN2M

Antlers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEM5HW7q5dY

Little Monsters (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d1KP-OhBP4

The Gentlemen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B0RpUGss2c