New Podcast – Oscars 2020 & Birds of Prey Thoughts

Hello, everybody!

The podcast is back, with a special early podcast where I talk about the 2020 Oscars; from the winners, stats and the moments. I also talk about the new film out in theaters Birds of Prey. Remember, you can listen to the podcast on multiple platforms like Youtube, Apple Podcast and Stitcher!

http://linktr.ee/chrisrenteria27

 

‘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

 

‘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

 

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Review

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray

Cast: Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Synopsis: Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

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

 

Set in 2020, and ignoring everything after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator: Date Fate sees a world where Sarah Connor (the returning Linda Hamilton) saved humanity. However, unbeknownst to Sarah, something more sinister has come from a different future, and has set its sights on a young Mexican woman, Dani (Natalia Reyes). Thankfully for Dani, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has come from the future as well, to protect her from the nearly indestructible Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), who will stop at nothing to get his target.

Dani and Grace then meet up with Sarah, who has been killing Terminators since we last saw her, and three head out of Mexico, with the Rev-9 hot on their trail. Eventually, the two get help from Sarah’s old nemesis, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who agrees to help fight the Rev-9 and keep Dani alive. What follows is an epic conclusion with a massive fight for survival against all odds.

Look, the Terminator franchise has gone through A LOT since Judgment Day. When Dark Fate was announced with creator James Cameron and Linda Hamilton herself was coming back to play Sarah Connor, I put this on top of my must-watch list – being the movie optimist that I am anyway. Now, were here, and thankfully Dark Fate wasn’t that bad. I’ll take the stance that Dark Fate is the best Terminator movie to have come out since Judgment Day, but that’s honestly not saying much considering the sequel and reboots we’ve gotten – although, I’m in the small camp of people that probably enjoyed Terminator Salvation.

The movie itself isn’t anything too new as it takes bits from the previous films and updates them for a modern take. Davis’ Grace isn’t a Terminator herself, but a human with enhancement to give them a fighting chance against the deadly Rev-9s. Sarah has matured since the last time we saw her, and her arc was a rather surprising one if I’m being honest, but makes some sense. Reyes’ Dani is basically the new Sarah Connor, although, she not completely a new Sarah which is great, because you can’t replicate too much of the same thing.

Sticking to the cast, Mackenzie Davis does a pretty great job as Grace. Her determination to protecting Dani never feels forced, and she plays the kick-ass action star very well. Natalia Reyes as Dani has her moments, but she feels like the weak link in the cast. Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 has a lot of charisma, which makes his Terminator a little more scarier than previous versions. The Rev-9 has the T-1000 liquid metal exoskeleton covering the machine skeleton underneath, but when it comes to trying to find Dani, he’s able to put on a smile and talk normally with anyone that can get him to her, right before he kills them. Luna has a great balance of being “friendly” and determined to get to his target.

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger already have a handle on their characters, again, Hamilton’s Sarah is a little different from the last time we saw her, but for good reason. Schwarzenegger’s T-800 also has an interesting story here, but thankfully, he’s not in the movie too much. He appears right before the third act of the movie, and that’s enough since the movie really doesn’t need him too much. The movie really is more about our three women in Dani, Grace and Sarah.

Of course, being a Terminator movie we need to talk about some of the action here. Personally, I think the action isn’t really that bad. The first real big set-piece is Grace saving Dani and her brother Diego (Diego Boneta) from the Rev-9, which leads to a highway chase. The action in-between is fine, and it picks up at the end with the showdown between all parties. The CGI also isn’t that bad, although there are moments when the Rev-9 jumps to high spots where he’s clearly a little too rubbery.

All in all, Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthwhile sequel to the franchise with some great moments scattered throughout, and some nice homage’s to the previous movies. The movie isn’t without its faults, with some spotty CG and a few weird story choices, but overall, it is the best Terminator movie since Judgment Day, which again, isn’t saying too much considering what we’ve gotten since then.

Terminator: Dark Fate

3.5 out of 5

‘It Chapter Two’ Review

Director: Andy Muschietti

Writer: Gary Dauberman

Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Martell, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Teach Grant, Andy Bean, Sophia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard

Synopsis: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

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

 

It’s – no pun intended – finally here! The much anticipated ending to the horror hit based on the classic and acclaimed novel by Stephen King, It. While the 2017 split some fans of the original TV movie with Tim Curry playing the famed Pennywise, the dancing clown, director Andy Muschietti (Mama) had some more room to play with. For one, this was not a TV movie, and it was rated-R, so blood, gore and foul language was on the table. Plus, if you stop anyone on the street and ask them about Pennywise or It, they would most likely know what you’re talking about.

I, for one, really enjoyed and liked Chapter One. The young cast was amazing and Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise was frightening on every single level he had to be. So needless to the say, I was looking forward to Chapter Two, especially with its adult cast being pretty damn impressive, and the promise it was going to up the ante. So, does It Chapter Two live up to the hype? Or does it sink deep into the sewers?

It Chapter Two starts out pretty rough with a scene that is in the book, but still doesn’t make it easy to watch play out. It also shows us that Pennywise is still truly alive ready to rein terror again in Derry. Pennywise’s return sparks Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who never left Derry, to call the Losers Club to return to Derry to defeat Pennywise for good, just like the promised at the end of the last film. Each of the Losers have gone on and made a good to great life for themselves. Bill (James McAvoy) is a well-known writer, whose last book is getting made into a movie, Richie (Bill Hader) is a famous stand-up comic, Ben (Jay Ryan) has become some successful businessman, and is now skinny, Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk analyst, Stanley (Andy Bean) is happily married and Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is a wealthy, but also still can’t escape an abusive man in her life.

When they finally get together, they catch up on their lives and the memories of their time in Derry start to come back, and then they all admit when they got the call from Mike, they felt fear. That fear is because they remember the man that gave them that fear, Pennywise. What starts is a series of horrifying events that target the Losers Club, and what leads to an epic final fight against Pennywise.

Of course, the big thing everyone is talking about is the runtime of It Chapter Two. The film runs at a lengthy two-hours and forty-nine minutes, and thankfully, for the most part you don’t really feel it too much, at least I didn’t. The beginning of the film is a little slow to start, but once the Losers get together, the movie moves to its epic finale, which admittedly, drags on just a bit, and is a bit too CG. Regardless of how you feel about the length, you have to give it to director Andy Muschietti and returning screenwriter Gary Dauberman (the Annabelle movies, The Nun) for stuffing the movie with more mythology on Pennywise, content and some ambitious moves. Unfortunately, the scope of It Chapter Two is just a bit too big and does lead to some unevenness throughout.

Given those problems, it’s made up through the cast. The adult cast are all great, and they really do feel like the adult versions of their younger counterparts. McAvoy’s Bill is still haunted by Georgie’s death, Chastain’s Beverly has a more nuanced and quieter performance, Mustafa’s Mike is a bit cagey since he’s never left Derry, Ryan’s Ben still pines over Beverly, and then you have the highlights of the cast in Hader and Ransone. Hader’s Richie is getting more of the love online, and it’s deserved, but for me Ransone deserves the same amount of praise, maybe even a little more.

Obviously, with Hader being attached, the humor/comedy was bound to be high, and that’s exactly what it was. Hader’s Richie is pretty much always on, which may or may not get a little tiring every now and then, but Ransone also gets his time to shine on the humor. After seeing the film, I honestly want to see Hader and Ransone reunite somewhere down the road. That said, Hader’s Richie has a subplot here that is nicely done and not heavy-handed.

Undoubtedly, the thing everyone probably wants to know is if It Chapter Two is scary. For the most part, I think so. It’s more or less of the same scares we got in It, with some jump scares and some well-time moments with Pennywise or other ghoulish beings. There also a pitch-perfect homage to another classic horror film that had me grinning from ear-to-ear while watching. That said, the movie is also pretty emotional. No seriously, I was at one point at the verge of tears, which is something I was not ready for watching a horror movie.

All in all, It Chapter Two is a worthy enough sequel, and while the sequel does get a bit too ambitious for its own good, the adult cast really holds the film together. The scares are upped, and Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is certified to be a new horror staple. I can’t really say that It Chapter Two is better than It, but if you were a fan of the first film, you should enjoy or like Chapter Two.

Also, keep an eye out for some great Easter Eggs and cameos!

It Chapter Two

4 out of 5

Summer Movie Season 2019 Review

The 2019 Summer Movie Season is over!

Once again, many have said this year’s Summer Movie Season was a disappointment, lacked any real substance, or was filled with too many sequels, reboots/remakes and what-have-you. Whether you want to listen to all that or not is up to you. Personally, I don’t listen to the noise, but I did feel like the latter half of the Summer Movie Season lacked any real, “I need to see this movie NOW.” Regardless of that, this summer had some pretty descent movies, and some great enjoyable movies. So here’s my roundup of the Summer Movie Season 2019 (movies are not in a particular order).

 

The “I Have No Idea What to Think”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Based on the acclaimed book series written by Alvin Schwartz, produced by Guillermo del Toro – who had always had plans on directing originally – and directed by Andre Ovredal (the fantastic The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was bound to be a hit, or at the least halfway descent. I know I felt the movie was good, but it was always going to have an uphill battle trying to make the series of short stories into a feature-length film. Personally, I think they found a pretty descent way to bring these stories together – they ended up using one of the stories as a building block to create the Sarah Bellows character, and then have short stories be “nightmares” or stories the character have had/heard be the ones that come to life.

Again, I liked Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but there was something about it that I felt it need more.

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film was one of the most divisive films of the summer, and probably will be for the rest of the year. Tarantino’s fairy tale-esque story of the final years of the Golden Age of Hollywood followed Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, an aging star, trying to find his way in a changing Hollywood with his stunt-man and best friend Cliff Booth, played amazingly by Brad Pitt. The film also starred Margot Robbie as the late Sharon Tate, and also included the Mason family.

I won’t go into the massive think and opinion pieces that the film spawned, but the film definitely had us talking more than I thought it would. No matter where you fell in the spectrum, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood did its job of getting us to talk about it on more than one level – good or bad.

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Should Have Been Better (But I’d Still Recommend)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Its giant monsters fighting each other, so yeah, I enjoyed it. It was everything in-between that kind of slowed the movie down.

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Brightburn

Brightburn, basically the Superman story but if he’d had been evil the whole time, would also go under the frustrating category for me because the movie doesn’t really fully execute what it was trying to do, or at least didn’t fully go where it should have.

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Stuber

Stuber is one of those movies that isn’t completely original – story-wise – but the concept of a cop, played by the always reliable Dave Bautista, who can barely see, who basically kidnaps his Uber driver, Stu, played by the also always reliable Kumail Nanjiani, to help him take down a criminal who killed his partner works here. Genuine laughs and some great chemistry between Bautista and Nanjiani made Stuber worthwhile.

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Real Surprises of the Summer

Aladdin

Say what you want about the Disney live-action adaptations, I’m personally in the whatever camp as long as they’re good. When it comes to Aladdin though, I was never personally a huge fan of the old cartoon, so my connection to it wasn’t as strong as others. I went in expecting a lukewarm movie, but instead I was drawn in by the big, bright musical numbers, and while the movie had some pitfalls, I was genuinely surprised I walked out of Aladdin as an enjoyable movie.

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Crawl

I completely counted out Crawl from the very beginning. The movie followed Haley (Kaya Scodelario), who during a hurricane, goes to check on her father (Barry Pepper) who turns out to be injured, and the two have to not only brave the hurricane, but also a group of alligators. Yeah, the concept is a little whacky, and the trailers didn’t sell it too well, but man did I enjoy the hell out of Crawl. The movie is a solid horror thriller that got me a couple times with some solid jump scares, and Scodelario and Pepper sell the hell out of it. Seriously, Crawl is going down as one of my biggest surprises of the year.

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Least-Liked/Disappointments

Dark Phoenix

20th Century Fox once again whiffed the famous Dark Phoenix comic story on the big screen, and it’s all the more frustrating again, because like the old X-Men movies, the build-up to this version of the story wasn’t all that bad. Apocalypse teased out story, but Dark Phoenix simply chose to ignore that tease in favor of just retelling the story all over again.

The movie also had some behind-the-scenes shenanigans, like a last-minute third act reshoot, Fox being bought by Disney, Jennifer Lawrence clearly not wanting to be there and, despite his best effort, long-time producer of the franchise Simon Kinberg making his directorial effort.

On top of all that, the movie feels just pretty bland. Speaking of bland…

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Men in Black: International

How do you not capitalize on the fantastic chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson from Thor: Ragnarok? I don’t know, but somehow they didn’t, and we suffered from it. Men in Black: International’s biggest problem is that’s really bland, and while things happen, it’s really not that all exciting. The movie also apparently had some behind-the-scenes troubles like the script constantly changing, an stars Hemsworth and Thompson rewriting their own lines. Never a good sign.

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Child’s Play

I was willing to give Child’s Play a chance, and while Brian Tyree Henry’s supporting cop character was probably the only real saving grace of the movie, and Mark Hamill voicing Chucky was a bold move, but the writing didn’t do him any favors, Child’s Play just didn’t do it for me. Some aspects of the movie were okay, but at the end of the day, Child’s Play is going to be remembered for being denounced by original creator Don Mancini.

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Shaft

Look, I love Samuel L. Jackson as much as the next person, but this new Shaft takes the wrong approach to old school/old mindset vs. new school. A lot of the jokes that Jackson’s Shaft comes off as a tad bit too misogynistic for their good, and despite the father-son dynamic between him and Jessie T. Usher’s Junior working near the end, Shaft had too many missteps and non-working parts to really have me rooting entirely for Jackson.

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Honorable Mention

Toy Story 4

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Spider-Man: Far from Home

The Peanut Butter Falcon

 

My Favorite Movies of the Summer

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Let’s face it, John Wick is the best American action series we’ve had for some time. The series has a great team behind it with former stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves getting us to root for people to get jacked up in the best way possible. Parabellum is more or less of the same from the previous films, but damn we I love seeing Reeves kick ass.

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Detective Pikachu

Growing up with Pokemon, I was always going to watch this. Granted, I was skeptical at first because I didn’t know how they would be able to pull it off without the CG looking goofy. Boy, was I wrong! The Pokemon looked great, and Ryan Reynolds brought Pikachu to life in a way I never thought was possible. Was it a little wonky, sure, but come on live-action Pokemon on the big screen!

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Booksmart

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde sure made waves this summer, at least with the people that saw it in theaters. Booksmart told the coming-of-age story of best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), who on the night before their graduation realized they haven’t partied enough – because they wanted to get into good colleges – and try to right the wrong, of course, comedic hijinks ensue. Booksmart might be one of those movies that people catch on streaming, and say “why didn’t I watch this in theaters!?”

Dever and Feldstein had tremendous chemistry together, and the movie gets pretty wild – no pun intended – and the movie could have gone the raunchy route, the movie took the innocent – well, somewhat innocent – route.

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Midsommar

Ari Aster did it again. Midsommar was on a lot of people highly anticipated list, mainly because we wanted to see what Aster had up his sleeve after Hereditary. We got our answer, and I don’t think we were entirely ready for it. The film followed a couple (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) who along with two more friends go to Sweden and visit a small village to see their summer festival. Of course, things go very, very wrong…and weird.

Whereas Hereditary was about what’s in that dark corner, Midsommar made all the horror hit you in broad daylight. It’s a vicious, slow-burn of a movie that makes you anxious and with an ending that left many questioning what the hell? Because yeah, Midsommar was probably one of the most “what the hell?” movies of the year.

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The Farewell

Based on an actual lie of Lulu Wang’s life, The Farwell follows Billi, played incredibly by Awkwafina, who finds out her grandmother in China has cancer. Her family, finding it better not to tell her, fake a wedding to get the whole family together to see one last time. I really loved this movie. Not only is it extremely touching, the performance by Awkwafina was, to me, extremely surprising. I think most of us know Awkwafina from her comedic work, so seeing her in a dramatic role like this was also welcoming. While the story is mostly around this Chinese family, I think we can all connect to the story in some form.

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Ready or Not

Ready or Not will probably go down as one of the movies of the summer that everyone missed out on. It follows Samara Weaving’s Grace, who gets married into the Le Domas family, but realizes that the family has a dangerous deal with a mysterious figure that requires a sacrifice in the form of a game – Hide and Seek. That’s basically the bare bones of the movie, but there is a lot more to unpack and watch to enjoy. Ready or Not knows what it is, so it doesn’t try to give you an dishonest movie or even try to make it more serious than it’s suppose to be.

Weaving, once again, is reliable as ever and the family is the perfect foil to her character who’s just trying to survive anyway possible. Ready or Not will definitely be popping up again at my end of the year list. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and go watch this in theaters with as little information that you possibly can.

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So that’s my list. I’m more interested in what your Summer Movie Season roundup is like. Let me know!

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano and Helen Mirren

Synopsis: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

 

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

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

 

A spinoff movie from the Fast & Furious franchise was always going to happen, it was just a question of when. Back when Fast Five came out, rumblings began to give new addition of the franchise, Dwayne Johnson’s DSS agent Luke Hobbs one, but Universal Pictures never pulled the trigger – admittedly, Johnson became a very busy man afterwards. Fast forward to the drama behind The Fate of the Furious, Universal finally gave Hobbs his movie…and they brought along Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw along too – due to the studio liking the chemistry between the two on set.

So now we have two of the biggest action stars in Hollywood in a spinoff of one of the biggest and profitable franchises today, and how do you top that? Get the guy that directed the first John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, David Leitch. Then make it a buddy action comedy, with some sci-fi elements, some laughable insults and, since this is still a movie in the Fast & Furious universe, family.

Hobbs & Shaw has a pretty basic setup, Deckard’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent, and her team try to retrieve a deadly virus codename “Snowflake,” but run into a huge problem in Brixton (Idris Elba), a technology-enhanced agent (read: Black Superman) for a shadow organization that want the virus for nefarious reasons. Hattie ends up injecting herself to get the virus away from Brixton. In the process, she is then labeled a traitor and has to go on the run.

We then jumped forward to seeing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) finding out about the virus going missing, and the two eventually find out they have to work together – something neither of them want to do. However, they have to put their difference aside, somewhat, when Deckard finds out that Hattie is involved, and that the virus will kill her in three days. It becomes a race to the clock to find a way to get the virus out of Hattie, while also on the run from Brixton.

 

Hobbs & Shaw really is its own thing. There is really no mention to the main series, so you don’t necessarily have to have previous knowledge of the main series, but it would help just a tad. The main focus of the movie is to bring out Hobbs and Shaw’s backstory. Obviously on Shaw’s side, we are introduced to Kirby’s Hattie, who is more than capable of taking care of herself, and yes, Helen Mirren’s mother – named Queenie – returns for about five minutes of screen time.

As for Johnson’s Hobbs, he gets to go home, as the trailers point out. We’re introduced to the Hobbs family, which isn’t the best kind of a relationship, and Hobbs’ daughter Sam returns (played by a different actress in Eliana Sua). The dynamic of the Hobbs family adds another layer to Hobbs, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to how the potential franchise of Hobbs & Shaw goes – Johnson isn’t coming back for Fast & Furious 9 – and if they propel that dynamic in the future.

 

But of course people are going to see Hobbs & Shaw for the action, and oh boy, is there a lot of action in this. While the Fast & Furious movies do go a little over-the-top with the stunts – okay, a lot, whatever – Hobbs & Shaw continues that trend, but now with a sci-fi-ish twist with Brixton (he literally has a bike that COMES TO HIM!). The action also has a nice added touch since you got Leitch behind the camera. Is it the best action in the series? Not really, but it’s damn enjoyable to watch happen when it does.

If the action doesn’t do it for you, then maybe the great chemistry between Johnson and Statham will do it for you. It’s mostly the two throwing jabs at each other, and while some don’t land completely, others should get a genuine laugh out of you, or at least make you laugh cringe. Either way, anytime the two are on screen together, and throwing barbs, you’re in for a good time. That said, I would love to see Johnson and Statham team up again, outside the Fast & Furious franchise.

The rest of the cast have their moments. I mentioned Kirby holds her own as Hattie Shaw, and Mirren is only in it for a bit, but she clearly having fun with the role. So let’s talk about Idris Elba as Brixton. Elba is also clearly having fun playing the villain with superhuman strength and some other technological enhancements. While the whole thing is kind of, admittedly, goofy, Hobbs & Shaw knows what it is, so it fits the world we’re watching. Eiza Gonzalez pops in as Madame M, but she doesn’t really add anything despite how they introduce her, Eddie Marsan has a small role as the scientist that created the “Snowflake” virus, Lori Pelenise Tulsano plays Sefina, Hobbs’ mother who could be a scene stealer for some, and Cliff Curtis plays Jonah, who I wish had some more to do.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Hobbs & Shaw, I’ll admit the movie is just a tad bit too long for its own good. Some of it comes from the surprise cameos the movie was able to pull off, and while the cameos are cool and pretty funny, they kind of overstay their welcome and drag the scenes out.  There is also an element that the movie really should have capitalized on, which is when Hobbs and Shaw basically become wanted men, but the movie pretty much ignores all that which is kind of a shame.

All in all, Hobbs & Shaw is a lot of fun, whether you’re going for the action or for the chemistry/insult-fest between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, or even for “Black Superman” himself Idris Elba, the movie has a little something for everyone.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

3.5 out of 5