December Movie Releases

It’s December, ladies and gentlemen!

The year is almost over! How has your year been? Because it’s been a great year for films, huh? December is also a tough month to set, because this is the big Oscar month, so a lot of films end up getting limited releases, expansion releases, and then wide releases. So if anything is off, it’s because of that. I’ll do my best to get everything where it’s suppose to go, and if not I’ll come back and update the schedule.  So let’s jump right in the films that will close out the year.

Also, Happy Whatever-It-Is-You-Celebrate!

 

7th

Re-Release Anniversary: Schindler’s List

Limited Release: Vox Lux

An unusual set of circumstances bring unexpected success to a pop star (Natalie Portman). I honestly don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, you got Portman and Law, and the story itself looks interesting, but there is just something keeping me at bay with it. Hopefully, when, or if, I see it I’ll be wrong. Vox Lux co-stars Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Ehle and Willem Dafoe.

 

Limited Release: Mary Queen of Scots

Based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” by John Guy, Mary Stuart’s (Saoirse Ronan) attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. This just looks awesome. You have two great leads in Ronan and Robbie, and a great story itself, plus I’m sure we’ll be hearing about this come Award Season. Mary Queen of Scots co-stars David Tennant, Gemma Chan, Joe Alwyn, Jack Lowden and Guy Pearce.

 

12th

Once Upon a Deadpool

The “we just want more money” stunt is upon us with Once Upon a Deadpool. The movie is an edited down version of Deadpool 2 from earlier this year, expect this time we’ll have a story framing device with Deadpool telling the story to Fred Savage. The movie will play up until December 25th, so if you want to see a toned down version of Deadpool 2, I guess this is for you.

 

14th

Expansion: If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Mortal Engines

Based on the series of books, a mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) joins forces with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head, and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, to lead a rebellion against a giant predator city on wheels. Mortal Engines co-stars Stephen Lang, Caren Pistorious, Colin Salmon, Frankie Adams and Hugo Weaving.

 

The Mule

Inspired by the real story of Leo Sharp, Clint Eastwood returns in front of the camera since 2012’s Trouble with the Curve, as a 90-year-old horticulturist and WWII veteran, who is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel. The Mule co-stars Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Taissa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Dianne West and Andy Garcia.

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Jump Street movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie), and co-written by Lord, Spider-Man crosses parallel dimensions and teams up with the Spider-Men of those dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. The voice cast includes Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber.

 

19th

Mary Poppins Returns

A sequel to the classic film – decades after her original visit, the magical nanny (Emily Blunt) returns to help the Banks siblings (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives. Mary Poppins Returns co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke.

 

21st

Second Act

A big box store worker (Jennifer Lopez) reinvents her life and life-story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do. Second Act co-stars Milo Ventimiglia, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Charlyne Yi, Dave Foley, Annaleigh Ashford and Treat Williams.

 

Welcome to Marwen

A dramatization of the 2010 documentary film Marwencol, Robert Zemeckis co-writes and directs the story of a victim (Steve Carrell) of a brutal attack who finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process. Welcome to Marwen co-stars Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez, Gwendoline Christie and Diane Kruger.

 

Aquaman

The newest addition to the DCEU, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world. Look, my dislike for how Warner Bros. handled the DCEU is pretty known, but in case you don’t know, I hate it. The dilemma I have with Aquaman is I love that James Wan (The Conjuring movies) is directing, and some of the visuals look great. HOWEVER, I’m not sold on Momoa as Aquaman, sure he has the look, but can he actually carry a whole movie himself, that can also carry a good story (yes, I’ve seen the Black Panther comparisons). I do want to walk out liking this, but I’m not holding my breathe for anything. Aquaman co-stars Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren and Nicole Kidman.

 

Bumblebee

A spinoff of the Transformers franchise, on the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to this when it was first announced. The Transformers movies have been extremely underwhelming, to say the least, but then it was announced that Travis Knight, LAIKA CEO, would be making his live-action directorial debut (he made his directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings) I got onboard. Since then, with the trailers and the feel and tone, Bumblebee is actually a movie I’m looking forward to now. Let’s just hope it doesn’t disappoint. Bumblebee co-stars John Cena, John Ortiz, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Rachel Crow and Kenneth Choi. The voice cast will include Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux and Peter Cullen.

 

25th

Destroyer

A police detective (Nicole Kidman) reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace. Destroyer co-stars Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Beau Knapp and Bradley Whitford.

 

On the Basis of Sex

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones), her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. On the Basis of Sex co-stars Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root, Kathy Bates and Sam Waterston.

 

Holmes & Watson

A humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysterious featuring Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) and Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly). Holmes & Watson co-stars Rebecca Hall, Lauren Lapkus, Kelly Macdonald, Pam Ferries, Noah Jupe, Bella Ramsey, Steve Coogan, Hugh Laurie and Ralph Fiennes.

 

Vice

Directed and written by Adam McKay (The Big Short), the story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as we know it. Vice co-stars Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Tyler Perry, Jesse Plemons, Shea Whigham and Eddie Marsan.

 

28th

Stan & Ollie

Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Hardy (John C. Reilly), the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain. The film also stars Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda and Danny Huston.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

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‘Halloween’ Review

Director: David Gordon Green

Writers: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride & Jeff Fradley

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, James Jude Courtney, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardener, Dylan Arnold, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, Jibrail Nantambu, Haluk Bilginer, Nick Castle and Will Patton

Synopsis: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

 

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

 

In 1978, legendary director John Carpenter gave us one of the best horror movies in Halloween, and gave us one of the most iconic characters in film, even to this day, in The Shape aka Michael Myers. It’s a real testament to the movie and Carpenter for what it and he was able to do with Halloween, especially considering the movie wasn’t a big studio movie, but rather an independent movie. Halloween was made on the cheap, and yet, it has had a tremendous staying power over the years that can’t be explained.

Sadly, not all the movies in the franchise have been great. Carpenter never really wanted Halloween to become a franchise, but he was asked to write a sequel with Debra Hill – who also co-wrote the first movie. He ended up making it a family affair when he made Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode siblings. Halloween II was then suppose to end the Myers character, but Hollywood wanted more. We got a different Halloween story with Season of the Witch, but audiences wanted more Myers, and that’s what they got, and that’s where things got bad. Going from continuing the family affair, adding a supernatural cult, bringing back Laurie Strode as it ignored the cult storyline, to remaking them with Rob Zombie, Halloween has come a long way to get back to this point.

That’s why many were surprised and curious to see what horror production banner Blumhouse would do with the property, especially since Jason Blum was able to get John Carpenter back to the franchise. The biggest question mark was who they got to direct, David Gordon Green, and co-write, Danny McBride. However, their idea was said to be okayed by the man himself, Mr. John Carpenter. This new Halloween is a sequel to Carpenter’s first movie, and will ignore everything after it. So, is the wait worth it? Or is Halloween an over-hyped sequel?

Forty years after the events of Halloween, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has waited for the day that Michael Myers aka The Shape (played by original actor Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) would escape custody after being caught for the murder of her friends on Halloween night. The movie starts off with podcasters Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees) visiting Michael the day before he’s to be transferred to serve the rest of this time. From there they visit Laurie, who has become a recluse, who lives in the middle of nowhere, and has modified her house for a potential attack.

It’s there that we learn what Laurie has been doing since that fateful night. We learn that she’s been married twice, and had her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) taken from her at the age of twelve. The two have an estranged relationship, but it’s Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (newcomer Andi Matichak), who tries to keep some kind of relationship with her. However, almost everyone sees her as a basket case, and no one wants to hear about Michael Myers anymore. Unfortunately for them, Michael Myers does escape, and comes back to Haddonfield to continue his murderous ways.

I have a very special place in my heart for John Carpenter’s Halloween, mainly because it was the first horror movie I ever watched. Not only that, I still to this day, get chills when I hear that iconic theme music. So needless to say, I was looking forward to this and seeing what McBride and Gordon Green would bring to the table that made Carpenter come back after all these years. Turns out, it was still a family affair after all.

Halloween does a great job establishing the relationship of this broken family. Jamie Lee Curtis does a hell of a job playing Laurie again. Gone is the woman who was a victim and dragging herself away from her attacker. In her place is a strong and ready survivor who prayed everyday that Michael would break out so she could kill him. That doesn’t mean that she’s cold and heartless, no, we see the effects that night had on her, and how her actions affected the relationships around her. The relationship between her and Greer’s Karen doesn’t have too much screen time, but it has enough to make its point, and make you care for them by the time the third act rolls around. Then there’s Matichak’s Allyson, who I wished had a little more do to. Sure her character is almost a mirror image of Laurie from the first movie, but for the most part, she acts as the middle-woman between her mother and grandmother.

The rest of the supporting cast is hit-and-miss. Toby Huss plays Allyson’s father Ray, who comes off as the awkwardly funny day/comic relief, which is welcomed especially considering the rest of the movie is pretty heavy. Rees and Hall as the podcasters serve their roles well, but don’t really standout too much. Virginia Gardner, Dylan Arnold and Drew Scheid play friends of Allyson, but the only one that really stands out to me is Gardner’s Vicky, who ends up babysitting Jibrail Nantambu’s Julian in one of the better comic relief scenes in the movie.

We have the always reliable Will Patton playing Officer Hawkins, whose character was apparently there when they took Michael Myers to prison after the events of the first movie. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really do too much with that, and even when it does it feels like an afterthought or is too rushed. Finally, we have James Jude Courtney playing The Shape/Michael Myers – Castle only plays Michael in one scene – and he does a tremendous job. This Michael is everything that John Carpenter wanted him to be, pure evil. Michael Myers shows no remorse in this movie, and some of the kills some might find borderline over-the-top, but for you gore fans, there is a plenty for you to like.

Now, not everything is good. The one real misstep in the movie is an out of nowhere twist that really makes no damn sense. In a way, it meant to get Michael where he’s suppose to be to confront Laurie, but it happens so out of the blue and with no real build-up that it slows the movie down and takes you out of everything that happened. There also the subplot, or lack thereof, of Allyson and her boyfriend played by Dylan Arnold, that again, feels like it happens only to get her alone and run for the third act. Speaking of the confrontation – this isn’t a bad part of the movie – it is a long, tension-filled sequence that is brutal and well worth the wait.

All in all, Halloween is a worthwhile sequel, and the first proper sequel – besides Halloween II – to John Carpenter’s classic horror film. Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode is both powerful and vulnerable, The Shape/Michael Myers is scary again and the score in the film, done by Carpenter, his son and Daniel A. Davies is amazing and totally fits into this new movie. Of course, the movie will be probably divide some fans, but for me, I really enjoyed what they did and I can’t wait to see what they do after this.  Also, for those worried about McBride’s humor being too much for the movie, don’t worry, it’s not all entirely there.

Halloween

4 out of 5

‘Venom’ Review

venom_ver2

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Writers: Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Kelly Marcel and Will Beall

Cast:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Scott Haze, Peggy Lu, and Reid Scott

Synopsis: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There are two post-credit scenes.*

 

There’s a lot to say about Venom before even watching the movie. A solo movie has been in the works for a while, and of course we got a version of the character in the god-awful Spider-Man 3 (not all of it was bad, but a good chunk of it), we know have a solo movie with a great lead in Tom Hardy. This version, of course, was caught in a storm of “is it or isn’t it connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe?” Of course, the answer was a big ol’ nope, but apparently it is left open for the possibility of being connected – which is why the movie is PG-13 – well, at least one reason. There is also Hardy’s comments that the movie cut thirty to forty minutes, but he later backed off those comments, and the early reviews saying the movie isn’t good.

Then the theory that A Star is Born lead Lady Gaga’s fans are saying negative things about Venom to help her movie get the better of the weekend – which is honestly dumb to even think, but whatever – so all of that said, where does Venom actually land? Well, for me, it’s a very, very mixed bag.

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Venom follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a journalist who has made a name for himself by exposing the dirty stories. His next assignment leads him to Life Foundation founder, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who is secretly running experiments on people with alien parasites called symbiotes. When Eddie pushes Drake with the tough questions, Eddie loses everything; his home, job and fiancée Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Eventually, he gets the opportunity to expose Drake, with the help of Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), and while he finds evidence of Drake’s nefarious ways, Eddie gets a symbiote called Venom (which he also voices) attached to him, and everything gets much worse.

Like I mentioned, Venom is a very, very mixed bag. On paper, Venom was set up for success with the talented cast and a character that comic book fans love. Unfortunately, Venom drops the ball with pretty much everyone involved, and while the hate or dislike for Venom is very strong online, I can clearly say that Venom is not as bad as some would have you believe. Is it a great or good movie? No, not really, but Venom is somewhat entertaining when it decides to let loose.

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Of course, everyone joked about Hardy playing Eddie Brock/Venom because he has a career of voicing characters that are hard to understand or what-have-you. That said, Hardy does the role justice for what he’s given. There are some moments as Eddie that are borderline, but for the most part he’s rather controlled. It’s voicing Venom that may divide some fans as the relationship between the two is somewhat odd at first, but as the movie keeps going, it becomes pretty cool to see them play off each other, even though it is Hardy basically talking to himself.

That being said, Venom also deals with a huge tonal problem, and some of it relates to the character of Venom himself. The movie tries to interject some humor in scenes – most of it doesn’t quite land – and when it comes to Venom, there are times were he’s a cold-blooded killer, and then starts cracking some humorous jokes. I’m not against adding some humor, but the execution of it doesn’t land at all.

Going back to the cast, the supporting cast is pretty much wasted here. While it’s cool to see Riz Ahmed play a bad guy, Carlton Drake just wasn’t the villain role for him. The character comes off as a mustache twirling villain at times, and his transformation to the big bad in the last act is extremely underwhelming and rushed. Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate and Reid Scott as extremely underwritten with Williams’ Anne playing a glorified ex-flame, and while she has one standout scene, it’s not enough to make up for her nothing character. Speaking of nothing characters, Reid Scott plays Dr. Dan Lewis, Anne’s new boyfriend after breaking up with Eddie and doesn’t really serve any purpose other than being the other guy. Lastly, and unfortunately, Jenny Slate gets the worse end of it as she serves as an exposition character informing us and Eddie why Drake is using the symbiotes. Her character should have been more important, given that they give her a reason for doing what she does, but we don’t see it.

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When it comes to everything else, the special effects are just okay. Venom himself is arguably the best looking visual effect in the movie, but it’s not saying much when everything else either looks muddied or okay. The final fight between Venom and Riot is hard to watch, not because it’s bad or rushed, but because it’s hard to sometimes know who is who. The action is also not that bad, with an escape/chase sequence in the streets of San Francisco and a showdown with police being the standouts. Finally, the rating really shows. The movie is rather bloodless considering how certain characters die, and Venom biting people’s heads off on some occasions. I’m not that concerned with a movie’s rating most of the time, but it clearly shows here.

All in all, Venom is a mix bag of everything, and missed opportunity to do something great, and start Sony’s Marvel Universe strong. There are some good things, some bad and some downright awful, but watching Tom Hardy do his thing could be enough for you to sit through the whole thing and not regret it. Regardless of that, it should be interesting how Sony moves forward with this.

Venom

3 out of 5

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October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, however, unlike past years; it seems there is only one big horror film coming. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

5th

A Star is Born

A musician (Bradley Cooper) helps a singer and actress (Lady Gaga) find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Another remake of the classic film – the last starring Kris Kristofferson and Babra Streisand – the film is not only Cooper’s directorial debut, but has also gotten a lot of praise in the festival circuit. A Star Is Born co-stars Dave Chappelle, Bonnie Somerville, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Harney, Anthony Ramos and Sam Elliott.

 

Venom

When Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life. To say Venom is dividing fans would probably be an understatement, especially when there a brief time when there was a very small hope that Venom could exist in the MCU. Of course, that’s not the case and Venom will be the first movie in Sony’s Marvel Universe, which is already starting to grow with other movies lined up. All that said, Venom doesn’t look too bad to me. Will it be good? Well, let’s hope so. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Venom co-stars Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Michelle Lee, Jared Bankens, Sam Medina, Scott Haze and Woody Harrelson.

 

12th

Limited Release: The Oath

Written and directed by Ike Barinholtz – who also stars in the movie – in a politically divided America, a man struggles to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying his family. The Oath also stars Tiffany Haddish, Billy Magnussen, Carrie Brownstein, Nora Dunn and John Cho.

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Halloween comes to life in a comedy adventure based on R.L. Stine’s 400-million-selling series of books. I was pretty surprised with the first Goosebumps, and it looks like the sequel isn’t a direct sequel, but rather its own thing, but still in the same world. The trailers haven’t really shown too much, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but here’s hoping the sequel doesn’t disappoint. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween stars Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Madison Iseman, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong and Jack Black.

 

Bad Times At The El Royale

Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I read it was happening. Written and directed by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), the movie looks like a stylized thriller that will probably not go the way we think, and I’m all for it. Bad Times At The El Royale stars Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nic Offerman and Chris Hemsworth.

 

First Man

Based on the book by James R. Hansen, and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land), First Man is a look at the life of the astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). First Man will follow the legendary space mission that led to him becoming the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. First Man already has some buzz around it with the festival circuit run, but also because of the “controversy” that the movie won’t have the Flag Planting. Either way, First Man will be one of the big movies to look out for this month, and during award season. First Man co-stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham and Ciaran Hinds.

 

19th

Limited Release: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Based on the true story, and an adaptation of the memoir of the same name, by best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) and follows Israel, who falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Co-stars Richard E. Grant, Julie Ann Emery, Alice Kremelberg and Jane Curtin.

 

Limited Release: What They Had

Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home at her brother’s (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her ailing mother (Blythe Danner) and her father’s (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together. What They Had co-stars Taissa Farmiga, Aimee Garcia and Josh Lucas.

 

Limited Release: Mid90s

Written and directed by Jonah Hill, making his feature-film directorial debut, Mid90s follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop. The movie co-stars Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Alexa Demie and Katherine Waterston.

 

Serenity

Written and directed by Steven Knight, writer of films like Eastern Promises, Locke (which he also directed), TV series Taboo and Peaky Blinders and the upcoming The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Serenity follows the mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) that comes back to haunt him when his ex-wife (Anne Thaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. Ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems. I’m a fan of Knight, so I’m always eager to see what he does next, however, the trailer for Serenity does feel like it’s biting off more than it can chew, so hopefully that’s not the case, especially because the cast is stacked. Serenity co-stars Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

 

The Hate U Give

Based on the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. The Hate U Give co-stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, K.J. Apa and Anthony Mackie.

 

Halloween

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m pumped for Halloween. Sure the idea that the movie was co-written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, and directed by Green – the guys behind Pineapple Express and Eastbound & Down – is pretty out there, but with the blessing for John Carpenter, and produced by horror superhouse company Blumhouse, what’s not to like? Halloween co-stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Virginia Gardner, Miles Robbins, Toby Huss, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle and Will Patton.

 

26th

Hunter Killer

An untested American submarine captain teams with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general. No, this is not a made up movie, and no, you haven’t traveled back to the 80s. This is a real movie happen in 2018, and it looks bonkers as hell. Hunter Killer stars Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens, Zane Holtz, Common and the late Michael Nyqvist.

 

Johnny English Strikes Again

After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker. Johnny English Strikes Again co-stars Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Jake Lacy and Emma Thompson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘The Predator’ Review

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black and Fred Dekker

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski and Thomas Jane.

Synopsis: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

 

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

 

Predator is one of my favorite movies of all time, and is definitely one of my favorite action movies of all time too. The movie starts off as a action movie and then goes into sci-fi horror monster movie, and it works perfectly. Not only that, the movie introduced us to, now, one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time. Then the sequel came out and, while defenders exist, it wasn’t all that great. The franchise then branched off to the comic world and brought in the aliens, or Xenomorphs, from Alien giving us Alien vs. Predator movies – which are better not talked about, especially you Requiem.

We waited years for another movie, and then we got Predators, which I got to watch recently again, and still didn’t hate it s much as others do (although, the problems are there). Then rumors came out that Fox was working on another Predator movie, and finally Shane Black himself joined. For those who don’t remember, or just don’t know, Black was in the first movie in a supporting role. So, for me, having him come back to the franchise was actually a pretty great move since we know that he’ll treat the property with respect.

All that said, The Predator has had a rough road to its release. There was the reshoots to change up the final act, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it happens all the time. However, right before the release of the movie, it was revealed by Olivia Munn that a scene was cut with actor Steven Wilder Striegel, because she found out he was convicted of sexually pursuing a 14-year-old female relative. The move has been drawing some lines with people, but I’ll let you decide where you fall in that. Of course, the important thing here is whether or not The Predator has been worth the wait. So let’s get to it.

The Predator opens up setting the overall threat of the movie as a Predator ship is trying to get away from another, bigger Predator ship. The former manages to get away as it jumps to Earth and crashes. The crash interrupts a mission lead by sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who then has the first face-to-monster-face with the Predator as it kills his men and sends him running away with some Predator gear. A special government agency eventually catches up to him, and he’s put in the crosshairs of special agent Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), who wants something from the Predator ship. Quinn is then sent to an institution and ends up on a bus filled with ex-soldiers with their problems.

Meanwhile, Traeger sends to get Dr. Casey Bracket, a biologist who could them and their secret Project Stargazer, figure out more about The Predator. There’s also Quinn’s young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the spectrum, who ends up getting Quinn’s contraband Predator gear and activates it, accidentally bringing the new upgrade Super Predator to Earth. What follows is a balls-to-the-wall action comedy, yes, you read that right, action comedy as humans go up against not one, but two Predators.

Again, being a huge fan of the first Predator, I was really looking forward to The Predator, so I was just a tad disappointed with the final outcome. The movie is a mixed bag of these that work, things that don’t and things that could have used some more time to flesh out.

What definitely worked, at least for me, was that classic Shane Black humor. It’s not even forced humor either, when the characters are spitting out jokes or being smart asses it makes sense. Most of the humor comes from the group of ex-soldiers Quinn meets on the bus. We have “Nebraska” Williams played by Trevante Rhodes, the jokester Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane) who has tourettes, Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). The dynamic of the group is easily the best part of the film, and most of them have their moment to shine – Allen gets the shaft on that end – but anytime they’re all together it’s great.

Someone else who clearly looked like he was having fun is Sterling K. Brown. Brown’s Traeger chews up a lot of his scenes, and while sometimes I feel like he goes just a bit over the top, having him as the human “villain” was a nice touch. Olivia Munn also gets to have some fun, and has a strong showing here, but seeing her bounce off the ex-soldiers and Holbrook’s straight-man character. Trevante Rhodes, from Moonlight, is arguably the standout as Nebraska, who essentially becomes the co-leader of the soldiers, and is one of the more fleshed out characters. Rhodes is definitely a name you should try to remember because this man is going to be huge.

When it comes to the things that don’t work too well, that comes when it tries to explain some of the science behind the Predator. Sure it’s fun explore the mythology and expand on that on the big screen – the comics have done that to great success – but it comes out as clucky and comes at weird moments in the movie that it comes off as weird. Secondly, like I mentioned, Alfie Allen gets the short-end of the stick in the main group ensemble, and he’s not alone, Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Quinn’s ex-wife and Rory’s father, doesn’t really do anything in the movie. Also, Jacob Tremblay could have done a little more in the movie, considering how important he becomes in the grand scheme of things.

Third, some of the CGI is also dodgy, with the Predator dogs coming off just a tad bit rubbery and some scenes rely a bit too much on CG blood which kind of lessens the fun on the gore factor. Speaking of which, the action and gore in this are up there. There are a few scenes that will make fans happy on both fronts, however, I will say the anticipated Predator vs. Super Predator fight is very underwhelming – at least for me – but that said, it does show you how lethal and dangerous the new Super Predator is, but still, I would have loved to see more of a throw down. Finally, and very quickly, the last scene isn’t all that great and I feel was a last minute addition and it shows.

All in all, The Predator is a lot of fun, but it is a very mixed bag. The humor works, and doesn’t become annoying, which it easily could have and the action and gore are fine when it’s allowed to be practical. The Predator isn’t Predator, and if you think it will be, I’m telling you right now, lower that expectation and you’ll enjoy the movie for what it is.

The Predator

3.5 out of 5

2018 Summer Movie Season Round-Up

And just like that, the 2018 Summer Movie Season is over! It is kind of hard to believe that it’s already September, but yet, here we are. That being said, I’d like to run down some movies that stood out to me this summer. Ranging from my Worst/Least-Liked, Surprises and, of course, my Best/Favorite movies of the summer. My lists always range all over the place since I tend to watch a lot of movies. Of course, there are movies missing from the list because I couldn’t find a place to put them or I just didn’t get to watch them – I’m looking at you Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Alright, let’s get to it.

 

Worst/Least-Liked

Breaking In

Breaking In is one of those movies that you feel like you’ve seen a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the movie wasn’t really that great. The characters aren’t great or are very poorly written, the “action” isn’t all that great and it’s rather uneventfully for the majority of the movie. When it finally lends itself to be eventful, it takes the safe route.

 

Slender Man

This one has a lot of problems. One, a feature film on the big screen about the famous/popular internet meme is WAY too late. Two, the bad timing of the release with the real life stabbing of the young girl by those two disturbed girls trying to please Slender Man. Finally, the public dispute between producers and Sony Pictures on how to handle the movie which affected the movie in more ways than one. The movie moved around the release schedule before Sony pulled the movie, and then unceremoniously put the movie back against The Meg. Finally, Sony reportedly removed some “key” scenes, so the movie we saw was not a true final cut. All that said, it showed. The movie was uneven at times, and the characters weren’t all that great and – it could have been my theater – some scenes were just too dark to see anything. It’s a shame, because Slender Man could have been, at the very least, a horror movie that could have been at least somewhat good.

 

 

Surprises

Overboard

A remake of the 1987 film with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Overboard switches up the genders and has Anna Faris playing a down-on-her-luck single mother who meets an arrogant rich playboy, played by Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez, who gets amnesia after being thrown off his boat. Faris’ character sees this as an opportunity to get some revenge after he mistreated her. The movie doesn’t have a lot of love – remake aspect aside – but I actually found the movie pretty charming, and genuinely funny at times. Derbez and Faris are great together, and while I wasn’t expecting anything from this, especially after Derbez’s last outing, How to be a Latin Lover, left little to be desired, Overboard is worth a watch.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Speaking of not expecting much, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was a movie that was not on my radar whatsoever. I was a fan of the original animated show, but the newest and latest animated show wasn’t for me, so I had no real connection to the movie at all. However, I took the plunge and went to watch it, and boy, am I glad I did. Seeing this was definitely one of my best moments of the summer. The movie was funny, meta, not afraid to make fun of the superhero genre and overall just fun.

 

Alright, let’s get to the Best/Favorite Movies of the Summer, but before that, let’s do some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Upgrade

Hereditary

Incredibles 2

Leave No Trace

Eighth Grade

Sorry to Bother You

Tag

Searching

 

Best/Favorite

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t up there with Marvel’s best films (the Captain America trilogy), but it did up the ante on everything in the first Ant-Man. The humor and the action was good, and the Quantum Realm played a bigger role, and potentially gave us a hint of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, seeing Evangeline Lilly playing The Wasp was great to watch. It was also a nice palette cleanser after watching Avengers: Infinity War.

 

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee’s latest film is one that was on a lot of people’s radar when it was announced. The incredible true story of a black undercover police officer, played by Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington, with the help of a white police officer, played by Adam Driver, infiltrate the KKK and help delay or stop attacks before they happen. I’ll be honest, I’m not very familiar with all of Spike Lee’s work, but BlacKkKlansman is, and was, one of the year’s best films.

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians was not a movie I was looking forward toward completely. I was going to watch it, but it wasn’t something I was dying to see. Then all the word of mouth came out, plus the reviews, so when I sat down to watch this, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how great the movie was, but how funny and charming it was. Of course, the other big thing with the movie is it is a mostly to all Asian cast in a long time. The cast was great and with a sequel already lined up to happen, Crazy Rich Asians was also a surprise of the summer for me.

 

Hearts Beat Loud

This was a film I didn’t know anything about until word started coming out. The film follows Nick Offerman as Frank Fisher, a single and widowed father and former musician, wanting to start a band with his young daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) after they record a song. Hearts Beat Loud is also much more than that, and the great thing is the movie doesn’t have a huge cast. Offerman and Clemons are great together and Ted Danson and Toni Collette have great supporting roles with Offerman, while newcomer Sasha Lane sharing her scenes with Clemons. It will be hard for me to imagine not having Hearts Beat Loud in my end of year list.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The Mission: Impossible series is still going, and it shows no real signs of slowing down – even though Tom Cruise broke his DAMN ANKLE AND KEPT FILMING THE STUNT. Regardless of that, I had a hell of a lot of fun watching Fallout. The Paris sequences and the bathroom fight alone for me was worth the price of admission alone.

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great movies. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have a early Academy Award nominee. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

7th

Peppermint

Directed by Pierre Morel (District B13, Taken), Peppermint centers on a mother (Jennifer Garner), who after losing her husband and daughter in a drive-by incident, and finding the justice system failing her, she takes matters into her own hands on the five-year anniversary of their deaths. I honestly don’t know what to think of this. On one hand, I’m a fan of Morel’s work, although his last film The Gunman with Sean Penn was just a tad underwhelming. Then on the other, it doesn’t look all that great either. Hopefully, Peppermint will be a nice surprise especially with the cast involved. Peppermint also stars John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Annie Ilonzeh, Tyson Ritter, Michael Mosley, Juan Pablo Raba and Method Man.

 

The Nun

A priest (Demian Bichir) with a haunted past and a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. This is the second spin-off film in The Conjuring series after Annabelle, and its sequel. Chronologically, it’s also the first movie in the series. It’s a rather odd move considering the character of The Nun/Valak was a last minute addition to The Conjuring 2, and the popularity of the character is the reason this movie is being made. Also, and another oddity, Taissa Farmiga is the younger sister of Vera Farmiga aka Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, but there characters are said to have no actual connection. Either way, I’m looking forward to this. The Nun also stars Charlotte Hope and Bonnie Aarons returning to play The Nun.

 

 

14th

White Boy Rick

Based on a true story, White Boy Rick follows a teenager Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison. The McConaissance looks to be back, although the movie doesn’t really follow his character, but still. It also helps that the trailer is really great. White Boy Rick also stars Matthew McConaughey, RJ Cyler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bel Powley, Rory Cochrane, Jonathan Majors, Brian Tyree Henry, Eddie Marsan, Piper Laurie, Bruce Dern

 

A Simple Favor

Based on the novel by Darcy Bell, A Simple Favor centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. One of the surprising factors for A Simple Favor is that it’s directed by Paul Feig. Yes, that Paul Feig, the man that directed Bridesmaids, Spy and Ghostbusters, is directing a mystery crime drama that is giving off some Gone Girl-vibes. Sure they’ll probably be some humor in there, but it should be interesting to see what Feig does with a different genre. A Simple Favor co-stars Henry Golding, Rupert Friend and Linda Cardellini.

 

The Predator

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m looking forward to this! Directed by Shane Black, who co-wrote the script with Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad) is returning to the world of Predator as he was a part of the very first film, so we already know that Black is going to treat the movie with respect and care. The Predator stars Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen, Niall Matter, Jake Busey and Yvonne Strahovski.

 

 

21st

Limited Release: Fahrenheit 11/9

A documentary directed by Michael Moore, a provocative and comedic look at the times in which we live. It will explore the two most important questions of the Trump Era: How the fuck did we get here, and how the fuck do we get out?

 

Limited Release: Assassination Nation

A thriller that follows a quiet, all-American town of Salem that lost its mind. Assassination Nation stars Suki Waterhouse, Abra, Bella Thorne, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow, Cody Christian, Bill Skarsgard and Colman Domingo.

 

Life Itself

Written and directed by Dan Fogelman – the man responsible for NBC’s This is Us – Life Itself follows a young New York couple, who goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child. The unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes. Unfortunately, Fogelman only has one film under his belt, and it’s the forgotten, Al Pacino-led Danny Collins.  Life Itself stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Alex Monner, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Jean Smart, Antonio Banderas, and Mandy Patinkin.

 

The House With A Clock In Its Walls

Based on the novel by John Bellairs, a young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) aids his magical uncle (Jack Black) in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world. I’ll be honest, I never read or heard about the books, or heard of them. However, for me, the biggest question mark and thing that’s keeping me from looking forward to this is the fact that it’s directed by Eli Roth. The House With A Clock In Its Walls also stars Cate Blanchett, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Kyle MacLachian.

 

28th

Limited Release: The Old Man & the Gun

Based on the article, of a true story, by David Grann which tells the story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), The Old Man & the Gun co-stars Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Isiah Whitlock Jr., John David Washington, Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine and Danny Glover.

 

Smallfoot

A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as “humans” really do exist. I pretty much wrote this movie off from the get-go. However, I’ve been seeing the trailers pop up in theaters, and this could be a movie that winds up on my “Surprises of the Year” list. Or, it could be a forgotten about animated film. The voice cast includes Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, LeBron James and Common.

 

Little Women

A modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women follows four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March (Melanie Stone, Sarah Davenport, Allie Jennings, Elise Jones) – detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. Despite harsh times, they cling to optimism, and as they mature, they face blossoming ambitions and relationship, as well as tragedy, while maintaining their unbreakable bond as sisters. Little Women also stars Lea Thompson, Taylor Murphy, Ian Bohen, Lucas Grabeel and Bart Johnson.

 

Hell Fest

A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. I’m a little surprised that this is the first movie I’ve seen to have this premise. It’s basically a slasher movie set within Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios or Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America, and if you ever been to either, you know that’s pretty scary in itself. Hell Fest stars unknowns in Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio and horror icon Tony Todd.

 

Night School

A group of troublemakers are forced to attend night school in hope that they’ll pass the GED exam to finish high school. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother, Girls Trip) and co-written by lead Kevin Hart, Night School looks like it can be fun to watch, but I’m just a tiny bit worried that the movie will just be half funny, and rely too much on the over-the-top humor from Hart and Tiffany Haddish. Night School co-stars Taran Killam, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anne Winters, Rob Riggle, Jacob Batalon, Romany Malco, Al Madrigal, Ben Schwatz and Keith David.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?