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.

Image result for scary stories to tell in the dark movie gif

 

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.

Image result for once upon a time in hollywood your rick dalton gif

 

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.

Image result for godzilla king of the monsters gif

 

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.

Image result for brightburn gif

 

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.

Image result for stuber gif

 

 

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.

Image result for aladdin 2019 gif

 

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.

Image result for crawl movie 2019 gif

 

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…

Image result for dark phoenix gif

 

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.

Image result for men in black international gif

 

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.

Image result for child's play 2019 gif

 

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.

Image result for shaft 2019 gif

 

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.

Image result for john wick chapter 3 – parabellum gif

 

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!

Image result for detective pikachu gif

 

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.

Image result for booksmart gif

 

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.

Image result for midsommar movie gif

 

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.

Related image

 

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.

Image result for ready or not movie 2019 gif

 

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

Advertisements

June Movie Releases

Hi there!

Can you believe it’s already June! How the time passes by. Anyway, the second month of the Summer Movie Season goes into full swing and, just like May, brings with it some highly anticipated movies. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

7th

Late Night – Amazon Studios, Stage 6 Films, 30West, Imperative Entertainment

A late-night talk show host (Emma Thompson) suspects that she may soon be losing her long-running show. Eventually, she hires Molly (Mindy Kaling, who also wrote the script) to her all male writer’s room to help her boost her rating and keep her job.

 

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment

Synopsis: Continuing the story of Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt) and his pet friends, following their secret lives after their owners leave them for work or school each day.

Thoughts: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Secret Life of Pets movie,  I didn’t hate either, but it wasn’t something I was screaming for a sequel.

 

Dark Phoenix – 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Donners’ Company

Synopsis: Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now, the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.

Thoughts: Fox’s last X-Men film, and a rehash of the classic Dark Phoenix comic storyline. While a lot of people have written this movie off already, especially with the Disney/Fox merger, I doubt Fox would want to go out with a whimper. At least that’s the hope. Rumors say the movie’s a mess, and reshoots went into effective to fix the third act – which isn’t always a bad thing. That said, I hope Dark Phoenix is at least descent.

 

14th

Limited Release: The Dead Don’t Die – Focus Features, Animal Kingdom

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves. The Dead Don’t Die is lead by Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Selena Gomez, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.

 

Shaft – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Davis Entertainment

Synopsis: John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher), a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family’s help to uncover the truth behind this best friend’s untimely death. Shaft co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Avan Jogia, Method Man and Richard Roundtree.

Thoughts: Shaft is bringing three generations of Shaft’s together, and you know what, it actually looks fun.

 

Men in Black International – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Original Film, Amblin Entertainment, Tencent Pictures

Synopsis: The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization. Men in Black International stars Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani (voice) and Emma Thompson.

Thoughts: The Men in Black series is one of those franchises I can take or leave. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the first movie, and the sequel wasn’t all the great (I haven’t seen part three). That said, International is not a full reboot, as it takes place in the same timeline as the past films, but just follows our new heroes.

 

21st

Limited Release: Wild Rose

A musician from Glasgow (Jessie Buckley) dreams of becoming a Nashville star.

 

Anna – Summit Entertainment, EuropaCorp, Canal+

Synopsis: Beneath Anna Poliatva’s (Sasha Luss) striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins. Directed and written by Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element, Lucy), Anna co-stars Cillian Murphy, Luke Evans and Helen Mirren.

Thoughts: It’s a little rare for a movie to just come out of the blue, and even more rare to really surprise me with a trailer, but damn did Anna do that. Sure it’s giving off Atomic Blonde vibes, but seeing Luss’ Anna beat the crap out of guys with a broken dinner plate is awesome to watch.

 

Child’s Play – Orion Pictures, MGM, United Artists Releasing, Oddfellows Entertainment

Synopsis: A mother (Aubrey Plaza) gives her son (Gabriel Bateman) a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature. Child’s Play co-stars Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson and Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky.

Thoughts: The movie already has some fans up in arms, due to creator of the series and characters Don Mancini, not being involved and also denouncing the movie – even making a TV series of his own. Regardless of that, the movie does seem to be different than the original. It looks like Chucky is more Skynet that Voodoo. That or it’s a major misdirect.

 

Toy Story 4 – Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar

Synopsis: When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

Thoughts: Many see Toy Story 4 as a cash-grab, especially considering Toy Story 3 had a perfect ending, but it seems like Pixar isn’t truly don with toys, and you know what, neither am I.

 

26th

Annabelle Comes Home – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster, The Safran Company

Synopsis: Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologist Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind scared glass. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target – the Warren’s ten-year-old daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace). Written and directed by Gary Dauberman, making his directorial debut, Annabelle Comes Home co-stars Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife and Steve Coulter.

Thoughts: The first Annabelle movie was a little underwhelming, but Creations upped the ante on every level. Now, we have the man that wrote those films, plus The Nun, It and the upcoming It: Chapter Two) behind the camera, and brings in the Warrens, the third film could very well be another great film.

 

28th

Yesterday – Universal Pictures, Working Title Films, Etalon Film

Synopsis: A struggling musician (Himesh Patel) realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed. Directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire), and co-written by Richard Curtis, Yesterday co-stars Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran and James Corden.

Thoughts: When I first read about this project happening, I never thought the project would end up like this. The idea of the film is pretty out there, so it will really come down to execution.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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?

August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone, geez. Anyway, August is filled some films that could have potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month,” especially toward the latter half of the month because the kids are going back to school. Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

3rd

Limited Release: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Based on the novel by Emily M. Danforth, in 1993 a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians. The movie has been making some waves on the film festival circuit. The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, Quinn Shephard, John Gallagher Jr. and Jennifer Ehle.

 

The Darkest Minds

Based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken; imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future. The Darkest Minds stars Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Gwendoline Christie and Mandy Moore.

 

Disney’s Christopher Robin

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), who helps him to rediscover the joys of life. The voice casts includes Brad Garrett, Chris O’Dowd, Nick Mohammed, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones and Peter Capaldi. The live-action cast includes Mark Gatiss and Hayley Atwell.

 

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when Audrey discovers the boyfriend (Justin Theroux) who dumped her was actually a spy. The movie also stars Sam Heughan and Gillian Anderson.

 

 

8th

Dog Days

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles who are brought together by their loveable canine counterparts. Dog Days stars Eva Longoria, Vanessa Hudgens, Nina Dobrev, Thomas Lennon, Finn Wolfhard, Laruen Lapkus, Adam Pally, Jon Bass and Rob Corddry.

 

10th

BlacKkKlansman

Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and produced by Jordan Peele, the film based on a true story follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American police officer from Colorado, who successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter. The film stars Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold and Laura Harrier.

 

The Meg

Based on a novel by Steve Alten, after escaping an attack by what he claims was by a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. The Meg also stars Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Bingbing Li, Masi Oka, Jessica McNamee and Robert Taylor.

 

Slender Man

The story of a tall, thin, horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens. Slender Man stars Julia Goldani Telles, Joey King, Annalise Basso, Jaz Sinclair, Kallie Tabor, Kevin Chapman and Javier Botet.

 

15th

Crazy Rich Asians

Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, the story follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an American-born Chinese economics professor, who travels to her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) hometown of Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Before long, his secret is out: Nick is from a family that is impossibly wealthy, he’s perhaps the most eligible bachelor in Asia, and every single woman in his ultra-rarefied social class is incredibly jealous of Rachel and wants to bring her down. Crazy Rich Asians also stars Harry Shum Jr., Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Jimmy O. Yang, Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh.

 

 

17th

Alpha

Directed by Albert Hughes (From Hell, The Book of Eli), a story of survival set 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, which follows Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is presumed dead by his tribe after a hunting accident. He must survive the elements of the wild, along with a wolf he befriends, to find his tribe.

 

Mile 22

Directed by Peter Berg, an elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country. Mile 22 stars Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, Lauren Cohan and John Malkovich.

 

 

24th

Limited Release: Papillon

A remake of the 1973, and based off the autobiographical book by Henri Charriere, a prisoner detained on a remote island plots his escape. The film stars Charlie Hunnam, Rami Malek, Eve Hewson, Roland Moller and Tommy Flanagan.

 

A.X.L

The life of a teenage boy is forever altered by a chance encounter with cutting edge military technology. The movie stars Alex Neustaedter, Chloe Bridges, Becky G and the voice of Lucy Hale.

 

The Happytime Murders

Directed by Brian Henson, when the puppet cast of an ‘80s children’s TV show begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Leslie David Baker, Jimmy O. Yang and Maya Rudolph.

 

Searching

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her. A thriller that unfolds entirely on computer screens. Searching stars John Cho, Michelle La, Joseph Lee and Debra Messing.

 

31st

Limited Release: The Little Stranger

Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, Dr. Faraday, the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor, is called to attend a patient at Hundreds Hall – where his mother once worked. While there he discovers the family who now owns the land is haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Kate Phillips and Charlotte Rampling.

 

Kin

Based on the short film “Bag Man,” and directed by the directors of that film Jonathan and Josh Baker, an ex-convict and his brother are forced on the run by a vengeful criminal. Kin stars James Franco, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, Carrie Coon and Dennis Quaid.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Review

Director: Patrick Hughes

Writer: Tom O’Connor

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek

Synopsis: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

 

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

 

When the trailer dropped for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, it instantly put the movie on my must-watch list – already being on my radar anyway. Having two big personalities like Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson is guaranteed to at least be damn fun, right? Thankfully, the movie is just that – a hell of a lot of fun. Also, the movie is the quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie aka hearing him say motherfucker for two hours straight.

The film follows former AAA-certified bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), who is down on his luck after a client ends up dead on his watch. Bryce is given a second chance and a way back into the game from his ex-girlfriend Amelia (Elodie Yung), an Interpol agent, is in charge to bring in renowned hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), to The Hague and the International Court of Justice to testify against Belarusian war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). With time against them and a shaky partnership due to their a bad history – Darius trying to kill Michael twenty-eight time – Michael and Darius have to put aside everything, avoid getting killed and killing each other.

It should be noted right away, The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t a fully serious action movie. Not that the trailers give that impression anyway, but the movie has fun with itself too. It’s an action comedy movie that fully takes advantage of having Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. I mentioned above that the movie is the quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie where he says “motherfucker” in different ways, variations and situations.

More importantly, the chemistry between Jackson and Reynolds is fantastic and keeps the movie from falling apart at the seams. A good majority of the film is the two bickering at each other and even trying to one-up each other. While I think some will find it eventually annoying or off-putting, it really keeps the film together and they are so great at insulting each other that it just makes the film fun. Jackson’s Darius is the more loose, devil-may-care attitude while Reynolds’ Michael is more of the straight-man that thinks “boring is better” when it comes to protecting people.

Another highlight character is Salma Hayek’s Sonia, Darius’ wife, who is prison for Darius’ actions. You can tell Hayek had a lot of fun filming this because she swears up a storm that rivals Jackson’s Darius. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but when she’s on screen, she’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Sadly, the rest of the cast are kind of throwaway characters. Elodie Yung’s Amelia doesn’t do too much after she passes Darius to Michael, and Gary Oldman’s villain could have easily been played by anybody else, but Oldman does have a certain feel during the end that makes it worth it, but he is pretty wasted here.

The film’s overall story is pretty thin, and the film is broken up by flashbacks on how Darius met Sonia and how Michael met Amelia. The scenes are pretty funny, especially Sonia’s but they do kind of slow the movie down. This is also why the chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson needed to, and is, great. The story is thin, but seeing these two guys with great sense of timing and being a little self-aware make the film worth it.

All in all, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a ton of fun to watch. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, and even Salma Hayek, make the film worth it with their chemistry. The action isn’t too bad either, but if you’re looking for a serious action movie, this isn’t it, and that’s okay.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

4 out of 5

‘Central Intelligence’ Review

central_intelligence_ver2

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writers: Rawson Marshall Thurber, David Stassen, and Ike Barinholtz

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Aaron Paul, Tim Griffin, Timothy John Smith, and Thomas Kretschmann

Synopsis: After he reunited with an old school pal through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage.

 

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

 

When you put two of the most hardest working men in entertainment together in a movie, things could go wrong, or they could go right. Thankfully, those two hardest working men are Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The two, who have never worked together before, come off like they have known each other for years and just now chose to work together, and while the material for the film is a bit thin, the work these two put onscreen is worth the price of admission alone.

Kevin Hart plays Calvin, the former most popular kid in school nicknamed “The Golden Jet” and voted most likely to succeed, hasn’t lived up to that label as he is now an accountant. With his ten year high school reunion coming up, he tells his wife, and high school sweetheart, Maggie (Nicolet), that he’s not going because he doesn’t want to be asked about his job. However, things get complicated when a former high school loser Robbie Weirdicht, now called Bob Stone, comes back into his life by friending him on Facebook. Robbie isn’t the same though as he’s lost a lot – a lot – of weight and has gotten past the embarrassing incident of getting thrown naked in front of the graduating class during a prep rally. Oh, and is now a CIA agent on the run.

MV5BMTgyNjA2MDIyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzcwODUwOTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_

It should be noted that if anyone other than Johnson and Hart were casted, Central Intelligence probably, and would, have not worked at all. It’s the chemistry between these two that make the film so fun and enjoyable to watch. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to believe that this is the first film that Johnson and Hart have worked on because they play off each other so well. Hart is the more straight-laced persona, as he is pretty much the audience’s surrogate, and reacts to all the craziness the way most of us probably would. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get some great lines to rattle off.

Dwayne Johnson plays a pretty different version of himself than we’ve seen. Despite his massive size and ability to take out a room full of guys, Bob has a goofy sense of humor and even acts a like goof most of the time, all while wearing a fanny pack, and treating Calvin like his hero. Again, it’s a different version of Johnson, who we all see as the tough guy, but here Johnson plays a little more to his comedic strengths which is really cool to watch. Hell, he wears a shirt with unicorns on it for crying out loud!

MV5BMjM3MTU2OTE1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjU0NzcwODE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_

The movie does go off the tracks a bit when it tries to bring in the spy elements, not because they don’t work, but because the element isn’t that strong. Bob is in the middle of mysterious purchase of codes that can take down the government that puts him in the crosshairs of Agent Pamela Harris (Ryan). Here is where the film tries to add a mystery element, and while it was nice that the film was trying to separate itself from other action comedies that have been coming out, everything leading up to it and the reveal is a bit underwhelming and falls flat.

All in all, Central Intelligence works mainly because of the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. The two are great together, and I actually can’t wait to see what the duo will do next (besides the Jumanji remake). The film itself does have its flaws, but when Johnson and Hart are onscreen together, it doesn’t really matter. It’s still a great funny and enjoyable ride.

MV5BMTU0NDEzMDIyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTYwODUwOTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_

Central Intelligence

4 out of 5

‘American Ultra’ Review

american_ultra_ver5

Dir: Nima Nourizadeh

Writer(s): Max Landis

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, Tony Hale, John Leguizamo and Bill Pullman

Synopsis: A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.

 

 

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

 

 

When you think of movies with stoner leads you don’t really imagine there is going to be any action in it, or at least hardcore action. That is not the case with American Ultra, in fact, it works almost the opposite. It’s an action film with stoners in it. It’s a rather odd mix considering the action in the film is very heighten at times and albeit a bit shocking at times, but it always makes sense when you see the events of the film and how the movie operates.

 

American Ultra follows Mike Powell (Eisenberg), a stoner working in a convenience store in Liman, West Virginia with his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart). The two are happily in love, however Mike was part of a failed CIA operation called “Wise Man” and ambitious upstart CIA agent Adrian Yates (Grace) plans on wiping away everyone in the program, which includes Mike. When the program’s former head Victoria Lasseter (Britton) goes against the agency and actives him, the town is put into lockdown and Mike’s programming starts to go into effect, making him a lethal and trained killer. Now with Yates and his own program assets try to kill Mike, he must protect himself and Phoebe from getting killed.

 

I wasn’t really expecting much from this to be honest. I thought it would be a dumb fun action comedy, and while it is that for the most part, there is something about it that sets it apart from other action comedies. The other reason I wasn’t looking forward to it that much was I’m a little tired of Jesse Eisenberg playing the stoner/deadbeat-like character. Thankfully, here it isn’t too distracting. Sure he goes on some stereotypical-like dialogue, but Eisenberg’s deadpan and rapid delivery make it work, especially with the great chemistry he has with Stewart. I will say though, that his rambling does get a bit old during some points.

 

03

 

The rest of the cast works too and all have their shared moments to shine. Kristen Stewart – who is still probably shaking off the Twilight hate from fans – is pretty good here, playing Mike’s girlfriend Phoebe, who loves and supports him and thankfully there is more to her character than that, but is hurt a bit by becoming a de-factor-o damsel in distress in the last act of the movie. Topher Grace is weirdly miscast as the films villain. Although it makes some sense, as he’s trying to prove himself, there is a weird disconnect since because he’s more humorous than bossy.

 

american-ultra-gogg

 

It’s actually Walton Goggins, who is as reliable as always, that plays more of the villain role as the asset Laugher, for reasons you can probably imagine. Connie Britton looks to be having some fun playing her serious CIA agent, but at the same time has a protective side of her as she tries to help Mike get through everything. John Leguizamo plays Mike’s drug dealer Rose and has some funny moments, but is nothing more than a minor character, and the same can be said for Tony Hale who plays another CIA agent, Petey, caught in the middle of the power struggle between Britton’s Lasseter and Grace’s Yates. Finally, Bill Pullman pops up in a cameo performance that doesn’t really serve too much purpose other than being another government official.

 

While the film is highly enjoyable, American Ultra does take a hit early on as it does something that kind takes away from the enjoyment of the film as it “rewinds” everything. In some cases it works in films, but only if they do it as a final ta-da moment in the final few minutes, but not the very start of the film. Also, the film’s tone is a bit scattered. The film goes from action-comedy to spy espionage film, and the flip flop is a bit jarring at times, especially with the heighten and hyperactive violence in the film.

 

As for the action, the scenes are great to watch unfold. Yes, they might be a bit violent or jarring for some people, but considering what the movie is, I’m not surprised by how the violence is approached. A highlight is definitely the final act supermarket sequence.

 

wpid-jesse-eisenberg-is-stoned-cold-killer-in-american-ultra-trailer-600x330

 

All in all, American Ultra isn’t that bad of a film. Yes, there are some jarring things about it tone wise, and while the rewind aspect hurts the film, the enjoyment of watching the events unfold in real time is enough to make you forget that to some extent. If anything, the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart is enough to keep you entertained.

 

American Ultra

4 out of 5