First Podcast of the New Year – 2017 Movies Review

The title says it all don’t you think? The first podcast of the year is here, and what better way than putting 2017 in the rear-view and talking about the year that was. Added bonus, I have a guest on the podcast this week to help me out. So sit back and enjoy everybody. Be warned, there is swearing, spoilers and it’s a long podcast. Finally, you’ll have the choice of either Youtube or iTunes. I will ask if you do listen on iTunes, help the podcast and me out and give me a rating and review there. I’d really appreciate it.

 

iTunes Link  – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-movie-pit-podcast/id1249582608?mt=2

Youtube link

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My Best/Favorite Movies/Films of the 2017

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

Silence

The Wall

The Beguiled

The Glass Castle

The Little Hours

Stronger

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Last Flag Flying

Mudbound

Call Me by Your Name

Raw

Prevenge

Gerald’s Game

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Ghost Story

Atomic Blonde

Battle of the Sexes

Colossal

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Patriots Day

The Florida Project

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Gifted

Wind River

Band Aid

The Founder

Okja

It Comes at Night

John Wick: Chapter 2

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Cars 3

Girls Trip

Ingrid Goes West

Lowriders

Sleight

The Girl with All the Gifts

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 was probably one of the most visually appealing films of the year, and it shouldn’t be a surprise since Roger Deakins was behind the cinematography along with director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). While the film did have moments that went on a tad bit too long, Blade Runner 2049 did manage to get you invested in the world of Blade Runner again.

 

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman is absolutely fantastic as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour puts all the weight on Oldman’s shoulders, and he’s able to carry it all the way until the very end of the film. Set during the very beginning of Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister during England’s worst time, and the film shows all the obstacles that he had to face. The film surprisingly doesn’t lull around too much, which it could have easily done, and while the film could have stretched out on a few places, it was Churchhill’s story and worked.

 

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit was a hard film to watch. It puts you right into the thick of the horrible incident at the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots, and never lets up on the tension. However, that’s one of the things that make it so enthralling. The cast is incredible and the claustrophobic feel of the movie makes the long time worth it. That said, Detroit is not a film that at the end you say, “man, I want to watch that again soon.”

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While I think we can all agree that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was not as great as the first movie, it does have a more emotional story than the first. If you didn’t tear up with the last scene with Peter and Yonda, you’re dead inside – I should know because I’m slightly dead inside too. Sure not all the jokes worked, but damn it, I enjoyed the hell out of Vol. 2.

 

It

The new iteration of Stephen King’s It was definitely going to divide fans. While some fans preferred the original with Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Clown, I rather enjoyed and liked this new version more. I know one of the biggest gripes with the new film is that it wasn’t scary enough – or at all if you ask some – but for me, It was indeed more creepy than scary, but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

 

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island feels like one of those movies, no one seems to really talk about as the year ended. Whether it be because it came out early in the year in March or people just weren’t for it at all. Personally, the movie does have faults with pacing, but it’s finally seeing Kong let loose on everything in his way – like the helicopter attack – was a sight to see. Also, the film is now part of Legendary’s Monster Universe with Godzilla, so it should be interesting to see how all of it fits together.

 

Lady Bird

Lady Bird was a film that I wanted to watch as soon as I watched the trailer for the first time. Saoirse Ronan was fantastic as “Lady Bird,” who wants to escape Sacramento because she finds it rather boring. However, it’s the journey from beginning to end, and her interactions with the people like her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and her mother Marion, played greatly by Laurie Metcalf.

 

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh’s return to the big screen did not fail or disappoint. Taking the heist film and giving it a southern twist with “cursed” brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, trying to turn their luck around. I really enjoyed the hell out of the movie, but the real draw for the film was definitely seeing Daniel Craig let loose as Joe Bang.

 

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut with Molly’s Game and it was a great one. Lead by Jessica Chastain playing Molly Bloom, telling her incredible true story, Sorkin infused his own style with a true story about Molly Bloom running the biggest poker games around, and her downfall after getting arrested. It’s a rather compelling story, and one that – with the exception of a few scenes – doesn’t let up until the very end.

 

Power Rangers

Look, I grew up with Power Rangers, and yes, I had my doubts about the movie. However, I enjoyed the hell out of this. An updated version of what the show was, even adding some new things to the mythology we knew of the original series. Was it the best movie of the year? No. But I’ll admit seeing and hear the zords run along each other with the original song – although cheesy – hit me right in the chest.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yes, I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and I still do too. However, when I step back and look at everything from the movie – now seeing it more than once – I did enjoy the movie a little more. There are some awesome visuals and shots in the movie that, for me, made it worthwhile. Nevertheless, I will say that yes, I do see a lot of the things that make the movie very divisive.

 

Split

Let’s face it; we had all given up on M. Night Shyamalan. I know I did, but The Visit restored some of it, but after watching Split, it was almost like watching the Shyamalan of old. That being said, Split was a movie that could have burst at the steams anytime, but it was Shyamalan’s direction with James McAvoy’s amazing performances as Kevin, and his different personalities. However, what made Split stick out the extra mile was classic Shyamalan twist at the end, which made Split connect to one of Shyamalan’s best early films.

 

The Disaster Artist

I have never seen The Room, and despite everyone saying I should watch the “worst movie ever made” I didn’t do it before I saw this. Thankfully, you didn’t need to absolutely watch The Room to enjoy and get The Disaster Artist – I’m sure it helped in some cases. But, what James Franco was able to get out of everyone on the cast, including what he was able to do by bringing Tommy Wiseau to life, but more importantly how he brought the story to life was great. The movie wasn’t just about the crazy making of The Room, but about Tommy and Greg (Dave Franco) living out their dream of making it in Hollywood.

 

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

A Monster Calls

I had heard a lot about A Monster Calls before it was officially released. I also never read the book, so when I walked in, it was pretty much a clean slate. That was something I was not prepared for. A Monster Calls is an emotional gut-punch from beginning to end, and the last twenty to fifteen minutes had me in tears. That’s right, I said it TEARS! That along gave A Monster Calls a place on my list.

 

Annabelle: Creation

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Annabelle. It had its moments, but overall it lacked the certain punch that its parent film The Conjuring had. Cue in director David F. Sandberg, who had just directed the hit horror film Lights Out, who upped everything about the first film, and dare I say, is right up there with the Conjuring movies in terms of quality and scares. Creation did bring a lot to the table, and had me on the edge of seat the whole time.

 

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright is one of those directors who apparently can’t make a bad movie. The buzz and hype around Baby Driver was extremely high when it premiered at SXSW that I pretty much told myself, “it can’t be that good, can it?” I was wrong, very, very wrong. Wright had made this high-octane and funny heist movie with great characters and an awesome soundtrack. Needless to say, I had force myself not to speed home after the movie.

 

Coco

I had my doubts about Coco, but of course we’ve all come to never doubt Pixar, and yet that’s what I did. And like all great Pixar movies, Coco had it all. A great story, great characters, amazing visuals, an amazing soundtrack; and more importantly, it tugged on every emotional string it would find. I’ll admit, it had me on the verge of tears, A LOT.

 

Dunkirk

I know Dunkirk had some fans divided, but I stand by what I said earlier in the year that Dunkirk is one of the best movies of the year. Christopher Nolan did an amazing job putting together the film, which on a technical level, is justified to be put on any top list of the year.

 

Free Fire

Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire has a simple premise, a gun deal gone wrong in a warehouse. Even with that simple premise, Free Fire was such a great, fun and funny film with a great cast that almost also felt like a throwback to the old 70s or early 80s gangster movies with similar premises.

 

Get Out  

If anyone thought Get Out was going to be hurt because of Jordan Peele comedic background, you were sorely mistaken. Get Out became an important movie that didn’t shy away from its message: racism, and what black men go through. Needless to say, Get Out put Peele on the map as a director to look out for.

 

I, Tonya

I wasn’t old enough to remember the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, but it was something I heard. However, I, Tonya isn’t a film about that, but a combination of a biopic about Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie, and the events that lead up to the incident and the effect it had on Harding. It’s a powerful film filled with great performances by the cast – with Allison Janney being the standout – scenes that are hard to watch and scenes that completely come out of left-field which includes a scene that has Tonya directly speaking to the audience that I wasn’t expecting.

 

Logan

It took three tries, but 20th Century Fox finally got the character of Wolverine right. Maybe it was that we knew this was Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last ride, or it had a breakout performance by newcomer Dafne Keen. Either way, Logan was a great bookend to one of the most popular X-Men characters and a fitting end to the character that Hugh Jackman did such a great job with.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Yes, another Spider-Man reboot seemed unnecessary and maybe unwanted, but this Spider-Man was finally connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! However, this reboot was worth it because it finally feels like we have the real Peter Parker on the big screen (I liked Andrew Garfield, so settle down). Plus, the movie was a hell of a lot of fun.

 

The Big Sick

This was something I was interested in from the very beginning. Based on the actual story of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick tugged on every emotion. It was funny, charming, heartbreaking and hopeful from beginning to end.

 

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Movie was a surprise hit for everyone, and LEGO Batman was definitely one of the highlights of it, so when it was announced that LEGO Batman would get his solo movie, everyone was pretty excited. Lucky for us, The LEGO Batman Movie was just as good, even better than its predecessor, but even better than that, the film had a lot of heart and was a love letter to the character of Batman.

 

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is probably one of my favorite directors of all time, and one of those directors that anytime a movie comes out by him, I’m undoubtedly going to go watch. That said, what he did with The Shape of Water was seamless. A twist on the classic “beauty and beast” story with some Creature from the Black Lagoon and other old timely films, The Shape of Water is a beautiful film from start to finish with a great score, production design and a cast lead by Sally Hawkins as mute Eliza, Richard Jenkins and del Toro mainstay Doug Jones as the creature.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

The Thor movies have never been the big blockbusters the other movies have been. Sure they’re popular enough with some fans – I’m looking at you Tom Hiddleston fans – but the Thor movies were always more on the serious side than the others. Marvel then turned Thor on its head as they splashed it with color and more humor, and I for one, loved it.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve been a huge fan of Martin McDonagh’s work like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and when I found out about this film and the cast, I immediately put this on “to watch” list. Thankfully, the movie delivered, and even surprised me too. Frances McDormand is great, but for me, the movie belonged to Sam Rockwell, in one of my favorite performances by him. The film was truly a dark comedy that hit on every level, and it left me wanting more, which doesn’t happen often.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

Not many modern trilogies turn out to be good. They often fall apart in the sequel or even the third movie, but thankfully that didn’t happen here. War for the Planet of the Apes closed a trilogy that started as an origin story to what really feels like a segway into the original films. However, what really made these films so special is Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar and the overall impressive and awe-inspiring special effects.

 

Wonder Woman

Finally, finally we got a Wonder Woman movie, but more importantly, IT WAS GOOD! Gal Gadot washed away some doubt of her casting as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it was undoubtedly Wonder Woman that made non-believers finally see Gadot was almost born to play the character. Taking the action during her first adventure was a great move. The movie was full of charm, great characters and character building, but more importantly, made Wonder Woman freaking badass.

 

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.

My Worst, Disappointments and Least-Liked Movies of 2017

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

I’ll put up my list of “Best/Favorite” movies of the year later, but with all those good/great/awesome movies I have seen, I had to sit through some stinkers unfortunately. Some of these I knew weren’t going to be any good walking in, but I ended up taking the hit anyway. The list ranges all over the place, so don’t think I’m attacking certain movies because it’s easy. I walk into every movie with a clear mind and soaking up the movie for what it’s worth.

The list will have the movies 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 they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list.

Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine and probably justified. Film is subjective, and that’s why I love it. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out.

Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Flatliners

Live By Night

Rings

The Bye Bye Man

Underworld: Blood Wars

 

 

Disappointments/Least-Liked/Worst Movies of the Year

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant got a lot of hate that wasn’t all justified. It’s not a great movie, and definitely didn’t live up to the hype the trailers put forward. For me, the movie was good, until it wasn’t. I don’t even mind that the Xenomorphs didn’t really appear until the last act of the movie, what bothered me the most was this movie is jam packed with talent, and many of them have absolutely nothing to do, or aren’t written too well. The only real good part of this new franchise is Michael Fassbender’s David, although Covenant probably has one of the most cringe-worthy lines of the year.

 

A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness looked like it was going to be this really twisted psychological gothic film directed by Gore Verbinski, but instead it is a film that had some of those elements, but failed to really deliver on them. It was also too long for its own good losing a lot of stream by the middle of the movie.

 

Geostorm

World ending movies are almost always perfect escapism, but eventually they all become one in the same. Geostorm tried something different, concept-wise, but it still failed on a lot levels to make it stick out as its own thing. Also, at one point the movie got a little too ridiculous even for me.

 

Ghost in the Shell

If ever there was a movie that got an enormous amount of hate before it came out that I can remember, it was Ghost in the Shell. The film, arguably, re-started the white-washing controversy in Hollywood, and the film didn’t help matters when they revealed their final twist. Similar to Alien: Covenant for me, this movie was doing okay for itself until that twist, which at that point, it dissolved before your eyes.

 

The Circle

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in the same movie? With an interesting concept? So, how in the holy hell did this movie end up so bad? The concept fell really flat, and the acting from Watson was cringe-worthy sometimes. Not only that, the movie wasted John Boyega, Karen Gillan – who was probably the best thing in the movie, but she’s not in it enough – and Hanks, who is in the movie for like five minutes because he probably had to pay his mortgage. Even though The Circle was probably asking us some interesting and noteworthy topics for discussion, the movie was so bad I didn’t care.

 

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is one of those movies I had read about since I started really following the movie news – all the way back in 2004-2005 – so finally seeing it on the big screen after all the false starts, people being eyed and changing studios was great. Unfortunately, the movie itself wasn’t all that great. The Dark Tower could have used a lot more time to really explain and expand the long history from the books, and let the actions really speak when they happened. Also, for the famous character of The Man in Black, played by Matthew McConaughey, he isn’t really all that menacing enough at least for me.

 

The Mummy

Probably one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me, if I had to pick one. I was really looking forward toward Universal putting their classic monsters back on the big screen in a shared universe. Especially considering Universal was really the first studio to have a shared universe – and me being a fan of that series. The Mummy was mixed bag of many things, Tom Cruise wasn’t likeable at all, they tried a tad too hard to create the universe in one movie, and Sofia Boutella’s Mummy character – being the best thing in the movie – wasn’t in it enough and was dealt with way too easily. We shouldn’t let one bad movie decide the complete fate of a new, and potentially great, shared universe. That said, The Mummy doesn’t help that argument, and from the sounds of it, it looks like the shared universe might be dead.

 

Suburbicon

This one hurt a little. You got a great cast with Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac with a script by the Coen Brothers and George Clooney, who directed it. In the end though, Suburbicon is a huge mess of the film that no one could save. The story is a bit too whacky for its own good, and it kind of comes from nowhere.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

………….I can’t even come up with something clever. This was SO BAD. Or as I put it when I reviewed it, Transformers: The Last Knight is a steaming pile of combined shits that you only fueled by buying a ticket. Nothing in this movie makes sense, and sometimes it felt like Bay forgot what he directed in the past films.

 

All right, so there are my worst, disappointments, least-liked films of the year. What were some of yours?

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Benicio Del Toro

Synopsis: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysterious of the Force and secrets of the past.

 

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

 

When The Force Awakens ended, everyone went crazy trying to figure out how the next movie was going to approach everything we just saw and was introduced. Enter director Rian Johnson and when that first trailer dropped everyone went crazy all over again after hearing Luke’s words of “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” Since then The Last Jedi has been on everyone highly-anticipated movies of the year. So now that it’s here, was the wait worth it? Is it too over-hyped? Both? Neither? Well, let’s find out.

The Last Jedi has three stories going on. The first is the story that ended The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and is there to try and convince him to come back and help the Resistance, but to also help her find her place in everything and help her with her newfound abilities. The second follows Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with the Resistance Fleet fending off an attack by the First Order and butting heads with Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and even Leia (Carrie Fisher) herself. Poe, finding out something dire, decides to send Finn (John Boyega) and a technician, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), to another planet to find someone that can help them. The final story is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) still struggling with the darkness inside him and finally trying to prove himself to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

The Last Jedi is an interesting film. On one hand, it is a true Star Wars film that is filled with great visuals, great cinematography – here by Steve Yedlin – an amazing score by John Williams and great moments that the franchise is known for like epic battles and twists. On the other hand, the film feels a bit too messy for its own good, but in that messiness it does bring some surprises that is obviously causing some fans to be very divided. Yes, that’s vague but this is a spoiler free review.

What I’m okay with saying and giving away is The Last Jedi does have some pacing issues. You definitely feel that the movie’s length by the end of it all, but at least director and writer Rian Johnson is able to make it captivating that you don’t really care too much – at least at the end of the movie. The subplot with Finn and Rose going to a different planet and run into Benicio Del Toro’s DJ, feels a little off from the rest of the movie, and while I think I understand what Johnson was trying to do with that part of the film, that section could have been cut down a little.

Other big thing that The Last Jedi does is that it does take some risks – at least in terms of revelations – with its storytelling. However, those risks/revelations are the things that are diving fans, at last from what I’ve seen. Storylines and teases from The Force Awakens are brought up and played around with, even going as so far to give us some answers or, unfortunately, more questions. It’s these little things that pile up that keep The Last Jedi from being the awesome and great film we’d hope for, and instead being a messy Star Wars film that has awesome and great moments.

This isn’t me saying The Last Jedi is a bad film – you notice I never said that – but after watching The Last Jedi I felt a lot of conflict – like Kylo Ren – about my impression of the movie. I’ve seen it twice now, and while the second time I had some more fun with it, the flaws are there once you start to dig around and discuss the film. That said, the pretty great moments are there too, but that’s not enough for me.

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely a film that Star Wars fans will argue about for a long time. Does it have everything a Star Wars film is suppose to have? Yes. It’s fun, action-packed and funny when need be. Does it extend the ideas and uses the storylines that were paved for it in The Force Awakens? Yes, but it also does something that is frustrating, and has made frustrated which I understand. However, at the same time, I see what Rian Johnson was trying to do, so I can’t be too upset over it.

Needless to say, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is worth the watch, and, for the most part, you’ll have a great time watching. Visually, the film is great to look, and the cast is finally able to cut their teeth in more meaty material this go around. Finally, yes, like The Force Awakens, this draws a lot on past Star Wars movies – whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4 out of 5

Mini-Reviews – Justice League, Lady Bird, Coco & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I know I’ve been slacking on my movie reviews, so please forgive me for that, I have been watching movies but I haven’t had a real chance to sit down and write full reviews. So this is going to make up for it, with some of the big movies I’ve watched. Movies not included are Daddy’s Home 2, Roman J. Israel Esq., Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Lady Bird

Director: Greta Gerwig

Writer: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott and Tracy Letts.

Synopsis: In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.

 

Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial effort, Lady Bird is a great coming-of-age story following Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who wants out of her town but is not financially able to go to a big college. It also doesn’t help that her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is working non-stop and thinks she should think more logically about college. During all of this, we follow Lady Bird, which is what she wants to be called, go through her final year at school, love and thinking what her future holds for her.

I had heard a lot about Lady Bird during its film festival run, and when I finally got the chance to see it, I can see why people really loved it. Gerwig’s writing was fantastical, nothing ever felt forced and Ronan is simply amazing as Lady Bird. The main thing for me about the movie is, despite the movie being set in 2002, it doesn’t really feel that way. Sure we have flip-phones and the whole, “the government is going to put trackers on us” mentally by one of the characters Lady Bird interacts with, and the news of attacks overseas by our government, but the time period isn’t really that important – at least from my point of view of watching.

The thing that makes Lady Bird work for me is the chemistry between Ronan and Metcalf. Any time they are on the screen together it makes the film pop, and it’s both fun and hard to watch as you see them argue and fight one minute and then suddenly have a heart-to-heart the next. It would be really hard to imagine if none of these ladies including Gerwig, are not nominated for the major award shows.

All in all, Lady Bird is a greatly acted film with top notch writing and humor that feels real. While I did feel it loses only a slightly bit of steam near the end, the cast and the script really make Lady Bird worth the while.

Lady Bird

4 out of 5

 

 

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Joe Morton, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

Justice League has had a long and hard road to get to the big screen. From the scarped George Miller-directed movie, to the DCEU’s battle to get fans and critics to go all in for their movies, the movie has finally arrived and it’s just okay. If you didn’t know, Zack Snyder directed the movie at first, but had to step down for the reshoots because of the death of a loved, and Joss Whedon – who had done some script work – came in to take over.

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of hopes for this. I still had the bad taste of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with me, but I was willing to really give Justice League a chance. Unfortunately, Justice League was a huge misstep for me. The CGI was really off in places – I’m looking at you Henry Cavill mustache removal!

Justice League has a rather simple plot; Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) gathers together the team of the Amazon, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the speedster Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the loner Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the cybernetically enhanced Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to stop the threat of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an intergalactic threat that comes to Earth to find the Mother Boxes, cubes with massive power. It’s up to them to stop him and save the world.

The problem with Justice League is, besides some of the terrible CGI, is it doesn’t really take the time to get to know the new characters. We know Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, but we get the cliff notes of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, which doesn’t help considering we’re suppose to care for these characters, and they’re the new big characters we’re going to follow. Miller’s Barry is too jokey; Stone’s Cyborg is a bit too stoic – although he does loosen up at the end – and Momoa’s Curry/Aquaman is a bit too “bro” for me, which is fine for a new approach, but I didn’t really get into it.

All in all, despite all that, yes, Justice League does have some fun and cool moments, but a lot of the negatives and drawbacks of the movie – some I didn’t even mention – really make it hard to enjoy the moments entirely. Justice League does take the DCEU into the right direction of more hopeful and fun, instead dark gritty. Hopefully, the DCEU continues down this route, otherwise the franchise is in a lot of trouble.

Justice League

2.5 out of 5

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Clarke Peters, Sandy Martin, Zeljko Ivanek, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Dinklage

Synopsis: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

 

Martin McDonagh, who directed In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, is a director that I will also keep a look out for now. When I found out about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the cast, it immediately jumped into my “Must Watch” list, and I’m glad I did, because this was a film that really stuck with me.

The film follows Mildred (Frances McDormand), who has recently lost her daughter in a brutal way, and after the police have seemed to give up on the case, she decides to buy three billboards that target the police for not doing their jobs. The billboards get the attention of the police, more specifically Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and the townspeople who are heavily against them. The film then follows Mildred as she deals with everyone seemingly against her, and Dixon and Willoughby trying to finally figure out the case.

There is a lot more going on in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that I won’t even hint at here, mainly because this film really does lend itself on knowing the least amount of information possible to thoroughly enjoy it and really get into the world that this movie takes place in. I will say it’s a dark comedy, so prepare yourself for that, and if you seen McDonagh’s other films, then you’d know what to expect.

I will say Frances McDormand is great as always, but I’d argue that this movie belongs to Sam Rockwell. He’s absolutely fantastic in this, and dare I say, this is one of his best performances he’s ever done.

All in all, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a wonderfully entertaining dark comedy with great performances by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Seriously do yourself a favor and try to avoid anything about the movie, and go watch it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4.5 out of 5

 

 

Coco

Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

Writers: Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich

Voice Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt

Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.

 

I am willing to admit that I had serious doubts about Coco. I knew that Pixar had been working on a Dia de los Muertos movie for a while now, but I was a huge fan of another Dia de los Muertos film called The Book of Life. However, Coco completely blew me away. The movie follows Miguel, who is banned from playing, listening or even thinking about music, but like all kids, he doesn’t follow his family’s rule. Miguel is inspired by a deceased musician from the town, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and through magic, enters the Land of the Dead on The Day of the Dead to find de la Cruz and find his place in the world.

Along his journey there, he meets his deceased family and a con man named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). But, Miguel finds out that he has to get back to the living world before he’s stuck in the Land in the Dead forever.

Like any Pixar movie, the movie has a great story, great characters and amazing visuals. The beautiful and bright colors of The Land of the Dead really pop and I kind of wish we could see more of it as a whole, and not just sections. I also liked that they really dug into the actual culture of everything, and it’s cool to see that represented in a movie like this.

More importantly, and the thing that will put any movie on my list of anything, this tugged on every emotional string that I had. I’ll admit, I was on the verge of tears A LOT. The characters actions and even some of the music, more specifically “Remember Me” started up the waterworks.

All in all, Coco is a great film with eye-popping visuals and an amazing soundtrack. I will admit, something in the final act was a little jarring, especially for a kids and Pixar movie but I guess it worked out at the end of it all.

Coco

4.5 out of 5

 

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

1st

A Bad Moms Christmas (Comedy – STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures)

Amy (Mila Kunis), Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) struggle to cope when their respective mothers visit for the holidays. I’m sure I’m with many who were surprised at how funny the first Bad Moms was and how successful it ended up being. So, and I can’t believe I’m saying this; I’m looking forward toward the sequel to Bad Moms. The film co-stars Jay Hernandez, Peter Gallagher, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon.

 

3rd

Limited Release: LBJ

The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson) from his young days in West Texas to the White House. The film has a pretty impressive supporting cast in Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, C. Thomas Howell, Michael Stahl-David and Richard Jenkins.

 

Limited Release: Last Flag Flying

Written and directed by Richard Linklater, and a spiritual sequel to the 1973 film The Last Detail. Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-untied with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. The film looks pretty funny with three friends getting together on a road trip with some drama. The film also stars J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, and Yul Vazquez.

 

Limited Release: Lady Bird

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, in only her second directorial film but her first solo film, Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who tries to get through life in Northern California while dealing with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and her sick father (Tracy Letts). The film looks pretty great and a nice character piece with Ronan adding another potential great character to her resume. The film co-stars Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Kathryn Newton, Laura Marano, Daniel Zovatto and Lucas Hedges.

 

Limited Release: Blade of the Immortal

The 100th film by legendary director Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins), and based off the manga by Hiroaki Samura. The film follows Manji, a highly skilled samurai, who is cursed with immortality and whose path is crossed by young girl looking for the legendary immortal samurai to help her avenge her parents, who were filled by a ruthless warrior and his army. This looks like a crazy, bloody, fun ride that only Miike can create.

 

Thor: Ragnarok (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures)

Directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on another planet, and forced into a gladiatorial game against fellow Avenger, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Thor has to survive and must race against time to stop the powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying Asgard and everything in her way. I don’t know about you, but I’m stupid excited for this…that’s all, I can’t wait for this. The film co-stars Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Benedict Cumberbatch and Anthony Hopkins

 

10th

Limited Release: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), in what is described as a “darkly comic drama,” a mother (Frances McDormand) personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit. I’m a huge fan of what McDonagh has done so far, and I can’t wait to see what he does here, with yet, another great cast. The film-co-stars Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, Caleb Landry Jones, Zeljko Ivanek, Lucas Hedges and John Hawkes.

 

Daddy’s Home 2 (Comedy – Paramount Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions)

Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) must deal with their intrusive fathers, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, during the holidays. I didn’t watch the first Daddy’s Home until this year, and I didn’t mind it, so now with the sequel coming out, I’m kind of looking forward to it. The film co-stars Linda Cardellini, John Cena and Alessandra Ambrosio.

 

Murder on the Orient Express (Crime Mystery – 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions, The Mark Gordon Company, Genre Films)

Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs) investigates the murder of a wealthy American traveling on the Orient Express, the most famous train in the world. I loved the teaser trailer with that great tracking shot. Now that we’ve seen a little more of the trailer, I’m hoping this turns out to be great. The film also stars Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Penelope Cruz, Lucy Boynton, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, Marwan Kenzari, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench.

 

17th

Limited Release: Sweet Virginia

A former rodeo champ befriends a young man with a propensity for violence. The film stars Jon Bernthal, Imogen Poots, Christopher Abbott and Rosemarie DeWitt.

 

Limited Release: I Love You, Daddy

Directed, co-written and starring Louis C.K., when a successful television writer’s daughter becomes the interest of an aging filmmaker with an appalling past, he becomes worried on how to handle the situation. The film co-stars Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, Helen Hunt, Edie Falco, Chloe Grace Moretz and John Malkovich.

 

Limited Release: Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Directed by Dan Gilroy, the film stars Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo and Shelley Hennig.

 

The Star (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, The Jim Henson Company, Walden Media, Affirm Films, Franklin Entertainment)

A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas. This animated film came out of nowhere really, so I don’t know if I’ll be watching this. The voice cast is impressive though with Zachary Levi, Gina Rodriguez, Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Ving Rhames, Anthony Anderson, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Kris Kristofferson and Christopher Plummer.

 

Wonder (Drama – Lionsgate, Walden Media, Participant Media, Mandeville Films)

Based on the New York Times bestseller by R.J. Palacio. The film follows August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a facial deformation who enters fifth grade, in a mainstream elementary school, for the first time. I haven’t read the book, but just seeing the trailer, it looks like we’re in for a dramatic and touching story. The film co-stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Daveed Diggs and Mandy Patinkin.

 

Justice League (Action Adventure – Warner Bros./DC Entertainment/Dune Entertainment/Lensbern Productions)

It’s about time! The other big team-up of well-known superheroes is finally coming to the big screen, whether we like the approach or not. Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), to face an even greater enemy. The film also stars Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, and Diane Lane. Look, the DCEU has been shaky at best – expect you Wonder Woman – so here’s hoping that Justice League can at least put some stability to it.

 

22nd

Limited Release: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Based on the book by Les Standiford, the journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and other classic characters from “A Christmas Carol.” The film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) conjured up a timeless tale. The film also co-stars Jonathan Pryce.

 

Limited Release: Darkest Hour (War Drama – Focus Features/Working Title Films)

Directed Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina, Hanna) Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) leads a charge against Hitler’s army in the early days of World War II. I have to admit this looks pretty damn good. It also helps that the movie has been getting a ton of Oscar buzz. The film also stars Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Scott Thomas and John Hurt.

 

Coco (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Aspiring musician Miguel (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead. As much as we have come to learn not to doubt Pixar, but this is going to have a hard time surpassing The Book of Life in my mind. But, like I said, never doubt Pixar. The voice cast ranges all over the place from unknowns to be names like Benjamin Bratt, Cheech Marin, Renee Victor and Edward James Olmos.

 

24th

Limited Release: Call Me by Your Name

Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, in the 1983, the son of an American professor is enamored by the graduate student who comes to study and live with his family in their northern Italian home. Together, they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them. I didn’t know too much about this until I starting seeing the film festival buzz, and after watching the trailer, it could not be too bad. The film stars Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg.

What are you looking forward to?

‘Geostorm’ Review

Director: Dean Devlin

Writers: Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Zazie Beetz, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Wu, Talitha Bateman, Ed Harris and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate start to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.

 

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

 

Natural disasters movies are probably, and arguably, the best escapism movies in Hollywood. There’s something about watching cities and monuments getting destroyed that we see every day or want to visit. But, let’s be honest, natural disaster movies have kind of lost their luster. There’s only so many times you can watch the Statue of Liberty get destroyed, or a massive wave destroying a city. Eventually, everything is going to get done, so you’re left with trying to do something different.

Off that note, Geostorm already had an uphill battle against the plethora of other natural disaster movies, so it decided to include all of them, and add the sci-fi element of a machine that can control the weather. Does it sound ridiculous? Of course it does! But we’re talking about people being able to control the weather with a machine. Oh, and it’s directed by Dean Devlin, who has produced all those disasters movies.

Geostorm is set in a world where after climate change has gotten so out of control, the world leaders finally band together to create what is dubbed “The Dutch Boy,” after the story of a boy who stops his town from flooding by putting his finger in a hole. The Dutch Boy is a series of satellites that control the weather from the International Space Station, the creator of the program is Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), but it taken away from him after a series of events and given to his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), who then has to fire him. We skip forward a few years, and after dangerous malfunctions starts happening, killing thousands of people, Max finds Jake and sends him back to the station to figure out what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Max, who is having a secret relationship with a secret service agent played by Abbie Cornish, deals with the problems on Earth as much as he can, before finding out there is something bigger to the whole picture. Now, the two brothers have to put aside their different and stop whoever is using the Dutch Boy as a weapon, and save the world.

I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm, unfortunately the movie doesn’t do itself any favors. Like I said, Geostorm had an uphill battle from the beginning, and it also didn’t help that the movie came out after real natural disasters that people are still recovering from. Moreover, the movie did end up doing a lot of reshoots to apparently fix a lot of issues (I can only imagine what those were).

That’s not to say Geostorm doesn’t have some good aspects to it. There are some dumb popcorn-movie entertaining moments, and some descent funny lines, but the movie doesn’t really have anything groundbreaking that we haven’t seen before. It’s a rather safe natural disaster movie which kind of defeats the purpose on the genre.

All in all, Geostorm is an uninspired natural disaster movie that never really capitalizes on its own “new” concept. The acting is borderline flat, with the destruction being a mix-match of things we’ve seen before, but more importantly, Geostorm is rather predictable with its twists, which take you out of the movie a bit. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm as much as I did, but the movie didn’t do itself any favors.

Geostorm

2.5 out of 5