‘Fighting with My Family’ Review

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant

Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Lena Headey and Dwayne Johnson

Synopsis: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment

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

 

Based on the true story of WWE superstar Paige, real name Saraya-Jade Bevis, Stephen Merchant and producer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took inspiration from Paige’s real life and the documentary series about Paige’s family to make Fighting with My Family. Being a wrestling nerd myself, I have been looking forward to this since it was announced, and hearing the good word of mouth, I was fully ready to really enjoy the film. That said, whether or not you know Paige’s story or not, you’ll walk out appreciating the journey.

The film follows Saraya (Florence Pugh) and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) Knight who have been training as professional wrestlers since they were kids by their wrestling parents Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headey). Their dream? Going to the WWE, and eventually they get a call to try-out for them, and head to WWE’s developmental program, NXT. However, when Saraya is chosen over Zak, Saraya goes to Orlando to begin her training and Zak has to stay behind to figure out what do now that his dream can no longer be achieved. Paige’s underdog story then begins through trials and tribulations.

Fighting with My Family has your basic underdog sports formula we’ve seen before, expect this time it’s done through pro wrestling. Paige wrestles – pun intended – with being different around the other potential contenders, dealing with the drama with her brother and eventually reaching the dream she wanted in the grandest way possible. This isn’t necessarily a negative toward the film, considering it is what you expect in this kind of story, but it is just a bit of a shame that Merchant went the formulaic route.

That goes double considering Paige’s story is much more than what we get onscreen. Again, being a wrestling nerd and knowing her story, it was a shame to see some things taken out or completely ignored. Of course, that’s not to say that everything in the movie is a lie. It is still Saraya’s story, but having her just be dropped into the crazy world of the WWE is far from what happened.

Regardless of all that, Fighting with My Family is still very good, and most of that comes from the cast. Merchant puts the weight of the movie squarely on Pugh’s shoulders and she carries it with ease. She’s able to bring everything the story requires from the drama, to the humor to even some for the ring work she was allowed to do. Jack Lowden as Zak is equally great, and the chemistry he and Pugh have is fantastic, and makes the two easily believable and easy to root for that we become almost immediately invested in both of their journeys.

Supporting role wise, I wish we had seen a little more of both Nick Frost and Lena Headey. They’re in it enough for the story the film is trying to tell, but still having those two in your movie, and not having them in it a little more is a bit of a bummer. Vince Vaughn’s Hutch Morgan – a combination of different people like Norman Smiley, Dr. Tom Prichard and Bill DeMott, at least according to Paige – balances the line between a hard-nosed, nonsense coach and giving Saraya enough to motivate her, but still being a hardass. Finally, for those worried that Dwayne Johnson would overtake the film, don’t worry, he’s only in about three or four scenes, and we’ve seen most of them in the trailers and TV ads.

All in all, Fighting with My Family is an underdog story we’ve seen before but in a different sport that most people have either fallen out of love with or still follow to this day. That said, Stephen Merchant’s direction and balance of drama and humor is spot on, plus the cast keep you invested from start to finish.

Fighting with My Family

3.5 out of 5

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My Best/Favorite Films of 2016

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. Also, the list won’t include limited release like Live By Night, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day or Silence since they didn’t open in my area, so I’ll include those in my list of 2017 (assuming they make the list of course). 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

Anomalisa

American Honey

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Café Society

Captain Fantastic

Eye in the Sky

High Rise

Indignation

I Saw the Light

Loving

Miss Sloane

Swiss Army Man

The Birth of a Nation

The Hollars

The Invitation

The Light Between Oceans

The Wave

 

 

Just Missed The List

Demolition

Don’t Think Twice

Lights Out

Nocturnal Animals

The Magnificent Seven

Train to Busan

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Bad Moms (STX Entertainment/Block Entertainment)

If you told me that Bad Moms would be as funny as it was at the beginning of the year, I’d probably walk away from our conversation. But, I gave Bad Moms a chance and I actually had an enjoyable time watching it. It isn’t perfect, but there are plenty of laughs with a great lead cast in Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn.

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

I never watched the first Ouija (and I still don’t at this point), so walking into Origin of Evil knowing it was a prequel, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Thankfully, the sequel/prequel really worked, and honestly, worked better as a family drama than it did horror. Although some of the horror moments by Mike Flanagan, who directed films like Oculus and Hush, worked really well and of course it helped that he had a great cast, especially standout and young star Lulu Wilson.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal Pictures/Party Over Here/The Lonely Island/Apatow Productions)

Popstar was one of those films that I watched the trailer and found out what it was about, I couldn’t see myself watching it. Add the fact that I’m not that big of an Andy Samberg fan, but boy was I wrong. The movie was way more funnier than the trailers, and the mockumentary really adds to the movie as a whole, especially the bee “scene.” I’m okay with being wrong this time around.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Cross Creak Pictures/Head Gear Films/Handsomecharlie Films/QC Entertainment/MadRiver Pictures)

I had actually been looking forward to this for a long time now, and while it wasn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knew what it was and didn’t try to overdo it or be something else.

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Storks (Warner Bros. Animation/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Stoller Global Solutions)

Storks didn’t grab my attention at all until the second trailer came out, and even then I wasn’t completely sold on it. Then I watched it and I was glad I did. I genuinely had a great time watching the film. It had solid jokes that had me laughing for a good while after, and a very touching story with a satisfying ending that I didn’t think it would.

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The Shallows (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Ombra Films/Weimaraner Republic Pictures)

Another film I had no expectation for but ended watching anyway was the Blake Lively-trying-not-to-get-eaten-by-a-shark film. But, The Shallows wasn’t all that bad, in fact, it kind of made me change my mind on Lively as an actress. Granted it was one film, and it had everything to do with the material she was given, but The Shallows hands down is my surprise film of the year that didn’t suck.

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Honorable Mentions

10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Spectrum Effects)

Considering the title for the film came out of nowhere, many were waiting to see what 10 Cloverfield Lane would bring to the table. Thankfully, it came in the form of a great film than probably most people didn’t anticipate. The third act twist to make it connect to the overall world of Cloverfield and all the online marketing threw a lot of people off, but nothing can take away what this film was able to do, in the short time we had to adjust. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best thrillers of the year.

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Christine (The Orchard/Great Point Media/Fresh Jade/BorderLine Films)

Based on a true story I didn’t know before this film, I was still excited to see how they would approach the material. Also, knowing what was going to happen didn’t affect the final product at all. Rebecca Hall is a standout in this and her performance is amazing to watch from beginning to end.

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Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Closest to the Hole Productions/Leverage Entertainment)

Peter Berg feels like he’s become a “based on a true story” director, which is fine if they’re anything like Deepwater Horizon. Whether you think the concept of making a film based on the BP oil spill is a “good” idea, the film was more about the actual workers there. Not only that, the film is heavily emotion that I will not lie, made me tear up.

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Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Marvel continues its trend of changing the way they make their films and keeping the fans on their feet. Doctor Strange introduced magic to the already well-oiled machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with trippy, and great, visuals Doctor Strange may not be the best Marvel film, but one that definitely sticks out, and will leave a lasting impression.

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Don’t Breathe (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Ghost House Pictures/Stage 6 Films/Good Universe)

Fede Alvarez had a lot of eyes on him after he directed the not-as-bad-as-people-thought-it-would-be remake of Evil Dead, and Don’t Breathe was a worthy follow-up. The film was filled with great tension throughout that was helped by the great sound design. Not only that, the film was vastly different from what the trailers made you think you were walking into, which is always nice.

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Eddie the Eagle (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/Saville Productions/Studio Babelsberg)

Based on the real life of Eddie the Eagle, Taron Egerton continued to prove that he is one of the best young and upcoming actors working today. Add in the fact that he’s playing a real person whose story was not only a feel-good one, but one that is truly inspirational was great to watch. Also, anytime we get to see Hugh Jackman is a plus, right?

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Finding Dory (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Many, myself included, worried whether a sequel to Finding Nemo was even necessary, but doubting Pixar at this point has been a bad move. Not only was Finding Dory a worthy sequel, it was a ton of fun. The film never tried to be like the previous film, and instead did things differently to tell its story, and thankfully it paid off.

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Found Footage 3D

One of the highlights of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was Found Footage 3D. Keeping true to the title, the film is shot in found footage in 3D, and as terrible as that may sound to some, Found Footage 3D is a lot of fun and worthy to seen. I’ll say this about the film, it’s the Scream of found footage movies.

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Ghostbusters (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Captial/Feigco Entertainment/Pascal Pictures/The Montecito Picture Company)

Yes, I actually enjoyed Ghostbusters. The film didn’t deserve all the hate it got. Was it perfect? No, but it wasn’t terrible either. And yes, the female-led cast actually worked. The film was funny, and the last act – although fell into typical Summer Blockbuster Movie tropes – had some cool things going for it, like ghosts taking over Time Square.

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Green Room (A24/Broad Green Pictures/Film Science)

One of the main attractions of Green Room for many I’m sure was seeing the always loveable Patrick Stewart play a terrifying Neo-Nazis leader, and that’s what he did indeed. Also, it later turned out to be one of the last films by Anton Yelchin. With all that said, Green Room did turn out to be much more than those points. While the film had some horror elements, Green Room works better as a survival thriller.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Demarest Media/IM Global)

Say what you want about Mel Gibson, and maybe he still deserves it or maybe not, but the man can direct a damn movie! Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful film that, like some films on the list, is based on a true story that maybe not a lot of people knew, and props to Andrew Garfield for bringing not just the character, but the actual man, to life. The war scenes were brutal, sure, but it was Garfield’s performance that really made this movie shine.

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Headshot (Infinite Frameworks Studios)

Headshot was the newest film that starred The Raid and The Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yullisman. The film does lean more on the drama side before the action kicks into overdrive and becomes the martial arts film that the trailers promised.

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Here Alone (Vertical Entertainment/Lola’s Productions/Easy Open Productions/Manhattan Productions/Gentile Entertainment Group/Preferred Content) 

One of the biggest surprises of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was not really too much of a horror film, but a thriller drama that follows a woman trying to live her life in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The film sounds simple but it is so much more than the synopsis has you believe. The film surpassed any sort of expectations I had for it, which was none, because I didn’t know anything about it before hand.

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Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox/Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films)

This could have gone in my surprises of the year, but I ended up really liking Hidden Figures a lot more than I had original thought. Along with a story that really happened, I had to include it in my list of films of the year. The film was smart, funny and highly entertaining from beginning to end. Also, the wide release is early January, but I managed to see a “Special Engagement” showing, so I was able to put it on my list for 2016.

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Midnight Special (Warner Bros./Tri-State Pictures/RatPac Dune Entertainment)

Another film that I wished more people got to see was this film. Midnight Special may have the backdrop of a sci-fi film, but it really is a story about family and what a father would do for his son. The film is a independent film to the truest point, and even when the sci-fi elements come into play, it never undermines the family drama.

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Moonlight (A24/Plan B Entertainment) 

There’s something special about Moonlight when watching it. The film’s decision to follow our main character from childhood to adulthood was an interesting move, but also made sense when you remember everything that was shown beforehand. The film’s theme was also something that was handled extremely well, and since the trailer – at least from what I remember – didn’t say or hint at anything about it, I was surprised and floored. Moonlight takes the risk and it pays off.

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Pete’s Dragon (Walt Disney Productions)

I had never seen – or at least don’t remember – the original Pete’s Dragon, and I’m kind of glad of that because this iteration is great. It did feel like more of a older crowd film, but there was enough for kids to enjoy and understand. The film also didn’t have a hard time pulling on the heartstrings, and Elliot the Dragon, was worth the price of admission alone.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (IFC Films/IFC Midnight/IM Global/Impostor Pictures/42)

Directed by Trollhunters director Andre Ovredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those films that just came out of nowhere, and one you should see if you get the chance without knowing too much about it. All you need to know is Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have great chemistry as father and son coroners who have to deal with a mysterious body and creepy as things going down.

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The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

This was a film I wasn’t too excited about just based off the premise, but once the cast came together and watching the first trailer, it went to must-watch watch. The Edge of Seventeen is a great coming-of-age film that is lead by Hailee Steinfeld and had a great supporting cast. It wasn’t the best coming-of-age film this year, but one of the best for sure.

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The Handmaiden (Amazon Studios/CJ Entertainment/Magnolia Pictures/Moho Film/Yong Film)

Directed by Chan-wook Park, this erotic thriller – to put it lightly – was like nothing I ever thought it would be like. I mean, seriously, like. Nothing. I. Never. Thought. It. Would. Be.

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The Witch (A24/Parts and Labor/Rooks Nest Entertainment/Code Red Productions/Mott Street Pictures/Code Red Productions/Maiden Voyage Pictures)

The Witch was one of those films that I couldn’t shake off after watching. That doesn’t happen often, and that’s saying something coming from a guy that watches a lot of films in general. From start to finish, the film grabs you with its unique cinematography, eerie setting, and overall sense of dread.

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Zootopia (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

After watching Zootopia, I thought, that’s it for animated films this year right? Well, no, but Zootopia is still right there on top of the list. Filled with smart social commentary and a great voice cast, Disney has done it again with their animated films.

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Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Arrival (Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Arrival was one of those films you make you feel comfortable until it hits you with all the emotions it’s gathered up throughout the film. It’s also one of those films that leaves you thinking way after watching the film, and start asking questions about what you would do. It’s a great film that came out of nowhere, and one we need a little more of.

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Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

The Civil War story in the comics is unbelievable, so when Marvel announced they were going to put it on the big screen, I was a little hesitant – even though I trust Marvel. So when I watched Civil War, all I could think about was how great they were able to bring their own story into the film, and make it work and make Captain America: Civil War one of the best Marvel films so far.

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Carol (The Weinstein Company/Film4/Killer Films/Number 9 Films)

Technically a 2015 film, but considering its wide release rollout – which is when I saw it – wasn’t until 2016, I’m putting Carol here. Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you put this film because it is such a great film. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara made these characters and story feel so real that even with the period piece, you can easy see how modern the story is as well.

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Deadpool (20th Century Fox/Marvel Enterprises/TSG Entertainment)

Deadpool could also be labeled a Surprise Film of the Year, but let’s face it, Deadpool belongs in a favorite films of the year list. Considering it took so long to get this film made, all the kudos goes to Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to bring, arguably, one of the most hardest comic book characters to life on the big screen.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused is so relatable to many, it’s kind of weird. We’ve all been there at some point of our lives and Linklater has this ability to find actors that we can relate to and root for it’s almost impossible.

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Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate/Oddlot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Film 44)

Hell or High Water is one of those films you watch and wonder, why didn’t this get a bigger release? It had great performances by the cast all around, the story and cinematography were great, and feel of the film is constant throughout. If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and watch this film!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (The Orchard/Piki Films/Defender Films/Curious Film)

This is one film I didn’t know too much about before going to see it. All I knew was it was getting rave reviews and it was directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, Thor: Ragnarok). I loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and one of the reason I loved it was because it was so different in its own quirky, weird, fun way.

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I Am Not a Serial Killer (IFC Midnight/Fantastic Films/Floodland Pictures/Winterland Pictures/Liquid Noise Films/Level 5 Films)

Having read the novel a few years back, I didn’t even know a movie was being released until it premiered on the film festival circuit. However, I Am Not a Serial Killer is definitely of those rare films that surpasses the source material, and what helped was the casting of Max Records and Christopher Lloyd.

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Jackie (Fox Searchlight Pictures/LD Entertainment/Wild Bunch/Why Not Productions/Protozoa Pictures/Bliss Media/Fabula)

Natalie Portman gives an absolutely crushing and great performance as Jackie Kennedy. The film is built and carried by her as we see Portman literally go through every emotion she can go through bringing the former First Lady to life that lost her husband in front of her, who also happened to be the President of the United States in a very public way.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features/Laika Entertainment)

Laika Entertainment’s fourth film, and for me personally, their best, Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully done film with tremendous production design and awesome score. The story at times feels simple, but man did I fall in love with this film.

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La La Land (Summit Entertainment/Black Label Media/Marc Platt Productions/Impostor Pictures/Gilbert Films)

I was blown away by La La Land! I didn’t think the film would be as good as people were saying it was, but I’m glad it was. The film was beautifully done and filled with a great and emotional soundtrack that I’ve slowly become addicted too. The fact that is also feels like an old Hollywood film is what makes the film go above the rest.

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Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions/B Story/Big Indie Pictures/Pearl Street Films/CMP/K Period Media)

Films about grief are common in Hollywood every year, however what makes Manchester by the Sea stick out is that it feels overly real than the rest. There’s no pouring his emotions out by Casey Affleck’s character, and the film shows people go through grief in their own ways. Add on the breakout performance by Lucas Hedges, and the small but powerful performance by Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea is one of the best films of the year.

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Moana (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Disney Animation continues to bring powerful, emotional and beautifully done films, and it felt like this year was a great year for them. Moana tells a great story through its character, but also its amazing soundtrack, which probably makes sense since they had Lin-Manuel Miranda helping them out.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Allison Shearmur Productions)

Let’s face it, Rogue One was a huge risk for Lucasfilm. Another prequel? Really, did they learn nothing from the past? Well, we were wrong! Rogue One was not only a great prequel to A New Hope, but a great Star Wars film in general. It brings a whole new level to the franchise, and whether you are a hardcore fan, a moderate fan, and someone who is just starting, Rogue One is a ton of fun, action-packed and filled with great characters.

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Sing Street (The Weinstein Company/FilmNation Entertainment/Likely Story/PalmStar Media)

I remember watching the trailer for Sing Street and automatically knew it was going to be something special, and it looked like I was right. Sing Street is one of those films that you may have seen before, but the cast and soundtrack they were able to pull together makes this film not only one of my favorite films of the year, but one of the best films of the year.

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Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment)

Star Trek Beyond is one of those films that I don’t think many people gave a chance because Into Darkness was underwhelming and disappointing. Which is a fair assessment. However, Star Trek Beyond was a better film and a more fun film that was reminiscent of the first film in the rebooted franchise.

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The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Evergreen Media Group/The Safran Company/Atomic Monster)

At this point, I think I’ll follow James Wan anywhere. I don’t know if The Conjuring 2 was better than the first film, but it is a worthy sequel and one that works within the world that Wan created. Not only that, he continues to bring creepy as hell characters to the big screen to fill our nightmares.

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The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures/Fairview Entertainment/Moving Picture Company)

Another worthy candidate for Surprise of the Year, The Jungle Book proved you can take an old property and do something new with it, and add to it. Also, the fact that the film only has one real person in it in Neel Sethi, and everything else was done in CGI that looked real in some cases, it’s rather impressive.

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The Nice Guys (Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment/Misty Mountains)

Shane Black’s return to the dark comedy and noir films proved to be a good move with his great film in The Nice Guys. It’s a shame that no one really went out to see it because they missed out on the great chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

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The Revenant (20th Century Fox/New Regency Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Appian Way)

Like Carol, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s new film was technically a 2015 film, but didn’t get its wide release rollout until 2016, which is when I saw it. Of course, the film earned Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar, but it was also the performances of the other cast members like Tom Hardy and the reunion of Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Also, watching Leo go through the torturous journey is worthy of watching the film.

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So that was my year. What are your favorite/best films of the 2016.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Review

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Director: Mel Gibson

Writers: Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffths, and Vince Vaughn

Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

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

 

Directed by Mel Gibson, his first since Apocalypto in 2006, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a real-life hero during World War II in Desmond Doss, whose story I’ve personally never heard of, and it’s unbelievable that his story isn’t told more. The film isn’t a full look into Doss’ life, nor is it his full time in the war, but only a small part during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge. Gibson himself said that he took some liberties with some parts of the battle and didn’t including everything because he thought some audiences wouldn’t believe it, which if and when you watch the film, it hard to believe that Doss did even more than what was shown.

Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss (Garfield), a religious man who is the son of a World War I vet, Tom (Weaving), who decides to enlist into the army to be a medic and help save his fellow soldiers. However, his beliefs of not picking up a gun puts him into a headstrong battle with his military superiors and fellow soldiers, who see him as a coward, and after getting through a Court Marshall hearing, is sent into war without a weapon to defend himself with, becoming a Conscientious Objector. What follows is an incredible heroic story of what Doss was able to do and how many lives he saved during that horrific battle.

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Doss’ life is certainly one that will make you question his beliefs, which is reasonable and it’s something that Gibson doesn’t shy too much away from, especially at the time this film takes place. However, Gibson and Andrew Garfield’s performance do bring humanity and reason to Doss’ beliefs, and his convictions keeps us invest throughout the film. We almost have no choice but to root for him, especially when the army tries to punish him.

His heroism is put on full display during the war scenes. Of course, we know that Gibson can direct war battles, and this was a real event were many men lost their lives, so walking in we already knew that this was going to be brutal to watch – and it was. The constant bombs going off with bullets whizzing by makes you feel that sometimes you’re running with the men on Hacksaw Ridge. The battle sequences are brutal, but not as brutal as Gibson’s other films, especially since the film relies a bit of CGI for some scenes – you can’t go blowing people’s face off now can you?

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Despite this being a war film, the film is carried and driven by the performances. Garfield is terrific as Doss, playing him at first as the off-beat character from Virginia, so harrowing hero in the midst of death surrounding him. Teresa Palmer plays his future wife, Dorothy, who brings levity to the film, but once Doss goes to the war, she is never seen again, which is kind of a shame but makes sense. Luke Bracey’s Smitty Ryker is one of the antagonistic soldiers to Doss, but has a great scene with Doss near the middle of the film that makes you forget he was in the Point Break remake.

Vince Vaughn pops in as Sgt. Howell, and while it is a little hard to believe him as an army sergeant at first, but Vaughn plays the role well enough. Sam Worthington play Captain Glover, who leads the charge to get Doss to quit the army. Worthington has been great since taking a break from mainstream big studio films, and he continues the trend here. Hugo Weaving as Doss’ father, Tom, has a great arc in the film and even with minimal screen-time he does what he has to do. The rest of the cast do well too, but most of them have only small amounts of screen time and once we get to the battle scenes it’s a bit hard to really recognize them.

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The most important thing about this film is that it doesn’t go straight into the war battles. We really get to know Doss before and after he registers, and see who he is before he’s thrown into war. The film does introduce someone close to Doss’ life that suddenly disappears without reason, and while you can say “that’s a little thing,” when you look at the film with a wider lens, it would have been nice to see that character mentioned or seen again.

All in all, Hacksaw Ridge is a great look into a hero that I don’t think many people knew about. Andrew Garfield brings Desmond Doss to life and shows us the hardship he went through to save others during World War II. Filled with some great action, and some surprising humor, Hacksaw Ridge has me waiting to see what Mel Gibson does next.

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Hacksaw Ridge

4.5 out of 5

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, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

7th

 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (Comedy – Lionsgate/Participant Media/CBS Films)

Imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian (Griffin Gluck) is tired of his middle school’s obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild. The film also stars Laruen Graham, Isabela Moner, Adam Pally, Thomas Barbusca, Efren Ramirez and Andrew Daly. The film isn’t really targeted toward me, but I’m sure if I was younger this would be up my alley.

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The Girl on the Train (Mystery Drama Thriller – Universal Pictures/DreamWorks/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Marc Platt Productions)

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, The Girl on the Train follows the story of Rachel (Emily Blunt), who goes on a train to London. She witnesses the “perfect” couple: Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). But one day, havoc ensues and Rachel becomes involved in their drama and mystery of Megan. I’ve read the book and I can’t wait to see how they bring this to the big screen. Edgar Ramirez, Justin Theroux, Lisa Kurdow, and Allison Janney also star.

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The Birth of a Nation (Historical Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Mandalay Pictures/Bron Studios/Phantom Four/Ting Giant Entertainment)

This film has been making a lot of waves at film festivals and is even considered an Oscar hopeful and favorite. However, recent things have come to light about Nate Parker that may hinder some of the film’s success, but only time will tell. The film follows Nat Turner (played by Nate Parker, who also wrote and directed the film), a former slave in America, who leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americas in Virginia that results in a violent retaliation from whites. The rest of casts includes Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Katie Garfield, Colman Domingo, Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King and Jackie Earle Haley.

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11th

Limited/Short Release: Shin Godzilla/Godzilla Resurgence

The Toho Godzilla is back! The film will be getting a limited and short run here in the States from the 11th to the 18th. So if you want to see the “official Godzilla” on the big screen, here’s your chance.

 

14th

Limited Release: Certain Women

Based on the short stories on Maile Meloy, the lives of three women (Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart) intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail. The film also stars Rene Auberjonois, James Le Gros, and Jared Harris.

 

Limited Release: Christine 

The film is based on the true story of 1970s TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, which will be played by Rebecca Hall. I assume many of you will assume what happens in the film based on the trailer or will look it up, but the story of Chubbuck is something I can’t believe I haven’t heard of. The film has a very impressive cast of Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Timothy Simons, J. Smith-Cameron, Maria Dizzia and John Cullum.

 

Limited Release: Desierto 

A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken up border patrol duties in his own racist hands. The film looks like a strong and powerful film and has strong leads in Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Not only that, the film is being done by the Cuaron father-son duo, Alfonso Cuaron – the director of Gravity – is producing, while his son Jonas Cuaron is directing. Desierto also stars Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Catano, Marco Perez, Oscar Flores and David Lorenzo.

 

Kevin Hart: What Now? (Concert – Universal Pictures)

Another Kevin Hart live concert film, this time from the Philadelphia outdoor venue, Lincoln Financial Field.

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Max Steel (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – Open Road Films/Dolphin Entertainment/Mattel Entertainment/Playground Productions/Ingenious Media)

The adventures of teenager Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) and alien companion Steel (voiced by Josh Brener), who must harness and combine their tremendous new powers to evolve into the turbo-charged superhero Max Steel. The movie has been in the works for a handful of years now, and was even set to be released last year, but got pushed back because it wasn’t ready yet. Now, Max Steel is going to have to kick in it’s marketing into overdrive since the release date was just set in the middle of September, but I’m sure it will probably find it’s audience. The film also stars Maria Bello, Andy Garcia, Ana Villafane, and Mike Doyle.

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The Accountant (Drama – Warner Bros./Electric City Entertainment/Zero Gravity Management)

A forensic accountant (Ben Affleck) un-cooks the books for illicit clients. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Accountant stars a star studded cast that also includes Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow. The film looks rather good – I say like I had anything to do with it – but seeing Affleck playing a badass with a cast like this around him? Nothing wrong with that, right?

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21st

Limited Release: American Pastoral

Ewan McGregor stars and makes his solo directorial debut that is based off Philip Roth’s novel that is set in postwar America, where a man watches his seemingly perfect life fall apart as his daughter’s new political affiliation threatens to destroy their family. The film also stars Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker, Rupert Evans, Valorie Curry, and David Strathairn.

 

Limited Release: The Handmaiden

Directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst, Stoker), a woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

 

Limited Release: In a Valley of Violence

Directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), a mysterious stranger (Ethan Hawke) and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. The film looks like an interesting blend of genres with Western and comedy. The film also stars John Travolta, Karen Gillan, James Ransone, Taissa Farmiga, and Burn Gorman.

 

Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate/The Tyler Perry Company)

Tyler Perry brings one of his biggest and most beloved characters in Madea to life again in this horror comedy that sees Madea fighting off the supernatural on Halloween as she tries to keep a group of misbehaving teens safe.

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I’m Not Ashamed (Drama – Pure Flix Entertainment/All Entertainment/Visible Pictures)

Based on the inspiring and powerful true story and journal entries of Rachel Joy Scott (Masey McLain) – the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. I don’t know how people will react to this film, but I’m sure there is an audience. The cast is filled with unknown actors and actresses.

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

A prequel to the film that came out in 2014, this film set in 1967 L.A, a widowed mother (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters (Lulu Wilson and Annlise Basso) add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by a merciless spirit, the family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side. Ouija: Origin of Evil also stars Henry Thomas, Sam Anderson, Doug Jones, and Lin Shaye.

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Keeping Up with the Joneses (Action Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation)

A suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) are government spies. I didn’t think much about this, but the trailers make it seem like it could be a fun watch. Keeping Up with the Joneses also stars Patton Oswalt, Matt Walsh, and Kevin Dunn.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Crime Drama – Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/TC Productions)

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns to the headquarters of his old unit, only to find out an old partner and friend (Cobie Smulders) is accused of espionage. I was surprised by the first Jack Reacher, and although I wasn’t screaming for a sequel, Never Go Back looks pretty damn good. Robert Knepper, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, and Danika Yarosh also star.

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28th

Inferno (Mystery Thriller – Columbia Pictures/Imagine Entertainment)

Based on the continuing book series by Dan Brown, Ron Howard comes back to follows the adventures of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who becomes a target of a manhunt and with the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) and his knowledge of symbology, Langdon has to solve a crime, while also trying to escape the manhunt. Inferno does look a little more action-centric than the past films, but Hanks and Howard seem to really enjoy doing these films, so more power to them.  The film also stars Ben Foster, Irrfan Khan, and Omar Sy.

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What are you looking forward to?

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month. In with a few surprises. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

2nd

Limited Release: Yoga Hosers

Kevin Smith directs – and also stars – this odd comedy horror fantasy film that follows two teenage yoga enthusiasts, one played by his own daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp, who team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that threatens their major party plans. The film has already opened on the film festival circuit to let’s call it a mixed reaction. The film also stars Johnny Depp, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey, Haley Joel Osment, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Adam Brody, Jason Mewes, and Natasha Lyonne

 

The Light Between Oceans (Walt Disney Motion Pictures/Dreamworks SKG/Touchstone Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Participant Media)

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat. They start to raise it as their own until a woman (Rachel Weisz) comes around claiming she’s lost her baby. With a cast like this, and what sounds like a compelling story, I can’t imagine this film being bad at all.

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Morgan (Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions)

Directed by Luke Scott – the son of director Ridley Scott – a corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) has to decide and determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) life that was made in a laboratory environment. This film came out of nowhere for me, but the film looks pretty damn good. The teaser trailer that came out automatically hooked me and with a great cast, this jumped to my anticipated films of the year. The film also stars Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Body Holbrook, Sam Spruell, Jonathan Aris, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti.

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9th

The Wild Life (Lionsgate/StudioCanal/nWave Pictures/uFilm)

An outgoing parrot named Tuesday, who dreams of seeing the outside world, and his friends enjoy their time on their exotic island until a violent storm brings Robinson Crusoe. Seeing him as a way off, they try to help get off, but not without trouble. The film is originally a French animated film that is being dubbed in English. Personally, the film doesn’t look very appealing to me.

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When the Bough Breaks (Drama – Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Unique Features)

A surrogate mom for a couple becomes dangerously obsessed with the soon-to-be father. Regina Hall, Theo Rossi, Morris Chestnut, and Glenn Morshower star. The film isn’t really targeted toward me, but the film doesn’t look that great to me honest.

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The Disappointments Room (Drama Thriller – Relativity Media/Demarest Films/Media Talent Group)

Written by Wentworth Miller and directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), the film follows a mother (Kate Beckinsale) and her young son (Lucas Till) release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. This film has sat on the shelves for a while, and will finally come out. It does look creepy, but the film will have to do some heavy marketing to get on people’s radar since it just moved to this date right before the beginning of the month. The Disappointments Room also stars Michaela Conlin, Michael Landes, Duncan Joiner and Gerald McRaney.

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Sully (Biography Drama – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Malpaso Productions/Flashlight Films)

The film tells the true story of American pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who heroically landed an aircraft full of passengers on the Hudson River. But the story is much more than just him landing the plan. Sully look pretty impressive after that trailer, especially the plan going into the river. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks as Sully himself and Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot. The film also stars Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Sam Huntington, and Holt McCallany.

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16th

Limited Release: The Good Neighbor

A pair of high school kids try to trick a neighbor into thinking a house is haunted, but their intended victim turns out to be far more dangerous than they imagined. The film stars James Cann, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist, Laura Innes, Edwin Hodge, Anne Dudek, Bailey Nobel, Lili Reinhart, and Mindy Sterling.

 

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise (Pure Flix Entertainment/Grace Hill Media/MediaWeaver Entertainment/Cantinas Entertainment)

The film is a documentary following the Australia-based worship band Hillsong. The film will follow their humble beginning and rise to an international church.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby (Romantic Comedy – Universal Pictures/Working Title Films)

The adventures continue for British publishing executive Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) as she enters her 40s, and yeah, she has a baby. Colin Firth returns as Mark Darcy and Sally Philips returns as Shazza, and the film will also stars Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, and Patrick Dempsey. I don’t know if anyone was screaming for another Bridget Jones movie, but here it is.

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Snowden (Biography Drama Thriller – Open Road Films/Onda Entertainment/KrautPack Entertainment/Sacha Inc.)

Directed by Oliver Stone, Snowden is about the former CIA employee Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who leaked thousands of classified documents. The trailer makes it seem like the film will focus on Snowden before he leaked everything a bit, and then jump to what maybe happens after. The film has a very talented cast, and was supposed to be released late last year before it was pushed back to this year. Snowden also stars Shailene Woodley, Scott Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, Timothy Olyphant, Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson and Melissa Leo.

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Blair Witch (Horror – Lionsgate)

You want to talk about films that came out of nowhere, Blair Witch is the definition of that. Originally called The Woods, it was recently revealed that the film was really a sequel, yes a sequel, to the Blair Witch films. Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) the film follows Blane, as he takes a group of friends into the woods, after he discovers a video of what could be his missing sister. The problem they find is that they have gone into the same woods that belong to the legendary Blair Witch. I always already looking forward to The Woods because of Wingard, but now that it is a Blair Witch film, my excitement went down just a little, but it’s still Wingard so I’m going to watch this.

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23rd

Limited Release: Queen of Katwe

Based on the book by Tim Crothers, a young girl from Uganda trains to become a world chess champion. I’ve only seen the trailer once, but I felt like I’ve already seen the film. Nonetheless, it looks like an impressive story and the film will find the right people. The cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and introduces Madina Nalwanga playing the main character.

 

Limited Release: Beauty and the Beast

Directed by visionary filmmaker Christophe Gans (Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill), the film is, well, Beauty and the Beast in French. The film looks great and has two great leads in Lea Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the Beast/Prince. Of course, people are looking forward to the Disney live-action version next year, but this could hold you over.

 

Limited Release: The Dressmaker 

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, a glamorous woman named Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage (Kate Winslet), returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong. The film also stars Liam Hemsworth, Sarah Snook, Judy Davis and Hugh Weaving.

 

Storks (Animation – Warner Bros. Animation)

Storks have moved on from delivering babies to packages. But when an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby. Voice cast includes Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo and Kelsey Grammer. It seems like 2016 is the year of talking animals and Storks will continue the fashion.

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The Magnificent Seven (Western – Sony Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/MGM)

Based on the classic Western that was really a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven follows seven gun men in the west come together to help a village against a gang coming through. The film already carries some heavy hitters in director Antoine Fuqua and stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer, Haley Bennett, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, and Ethan Hawke. This looks pretty great to be honest. Even with the cast, I was a little hesitant, but the trailers have completely won me over.

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30th

Limited Release: American Honey (Drama Comedy)

A teenage girl (Sasha Lane) with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits. The film won some awards in the film festivals it played in, and has gotten some pretty high praise. The film also stars Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough.

 

Masterminds (Action Comedy – Relativity Media/Michaels-Goldwyn)

A night guard (Zach Galifianakis) at an armored car company in the Southern U.S organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history, problem is others on his trail, and they want the money too. The film doesn’t really look too bad – and I’m not the biggest Galifianakis fan – and again like Before I Wake trailers were put out before Relativity Media pull every movie they had off the release schedule because they filed for bankruptcy. Masterminds also stars Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones, Jon Daly, and Ken Marino.

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Deepwater Horizon (Action Drama – Lionsgate/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures)

Directed by Peter Berg, Deepwater Horizon is based on the true story of the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. History. I’m sure this might still be a touchy subject with some, and people will probably say why the trailer calls the people onboard “heroes,” since they “caused it” or at least a part of it. But Deepwater Horizon still looks pretty descent. The film has a great cast of Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, J.D. Evermore, and John Malkovich.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Fantasy Adventure – 20th Century Fox/Tim Burton Productions/Chernin Entertainment/St. Petersberg Clearwater Film Commission)

Based on the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs, the film follows Jacob (Asa Butterfield) who follows clues that take him to a mysterious land, where he discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores the building, he discovers that its former occupants were far more than peculiar; they possessed incredible powers. And they may still be alive. I haven’t read the book, but honestly, I’m not the biggest Tim Burton fan anymore. However, this looks pretty good. The cast also includes Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Ella Purnell, Kim Dickens, Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.

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So, what are you looking forward to?

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

 

1st

Expansion: Swiss Army Man

Limited Release: Our Kind of Traitor

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Based on the novel by John le Carre, a couple find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Mark Stanley, Alicia von Rittberg, Mark Gatiss and Stellan Skarsgard.

 

The Legend of Tarzan (Action Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Jerry Weintraub Productions/Dark Horse Entertainment)

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Directed by David Yates, the last four Harry Potter movies and the new spin Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this new iteration of Tarzan sees Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard), who has now acclimated to life in London, is called back to the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment that ends up being a trap by Captain Rom (Christopher Waltz), who also has Jane (Margot Robbie). The film looks promising to be honest, but  I didn’t know what to expect with this. The cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, Cali Nelle, and John Hurt.

 

The Purge: Election Year (Action Thriller – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Why Not Productions)

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Set two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy, Sergeant (Frank Grillo) is back, now, as head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), the front runner in the Presidential election where her man platform is eliminating the Purge for good. Election Year seems to look like it’s tackling some political issues, but also going back to its horror roots, but still keeping the action thriller theme they introduced in the sequel. The film also stars Mykelti Williamson, Terry Serpico, and Joseph Julian Soria.

 

The BFG (Family Fantasy – Walt Disney Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Walden Media and The Kennedy/Marshall Company)

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Based on the book by Roald Dahl of the same name, the film follows Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who encounters a Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers, he refuses to eat boys and girls. The BFG also stars Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, Olafur Darri Olafsson, and Penelope Wilton.

 

8th

Limited Release: Captain Fantastic (Drama)

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In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father (Viggo Mortensen) devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. The film also stars George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle, and Frank Langella.

 

Limited Release: Cell (Horror Thriller)

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Based on the novel by Stephen King, when a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England. I haven’t read the book, although I always wanted to, and now I have an even better reason to because the movie looks a bit generic to be honest. The film stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague and Stacy Keach.

 

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Cherin Entertainment)

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Two brothers place an online ad to find dates for a wedding and the ad goes viral. The film stars Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza. The looks pretty outrageous, and will definitely find an audience.

 

The Secret Life of Pets (Animation – Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment)

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The film follows, well, the secret life of pets as Max (voiced by Louis C.K), has to not only deal with his owner bringing in a new pet in Duke (Eric Stonestreet), but the two have to work together to take down Snowball (Kevin Hart), who wants to take down happy-owned pets and their owners. I think this one could be a surprise for many and I’m looking forward to it. The voice cast also includes Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Jenny Slate, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Dana Carvey.

 

13th

The Infiltrator (Drama/Thriller – Broad Green Pictures)

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Based off the book by Robert Mazur, played by Bryan Cranston in the film, a U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The film also stars John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Amy Ryan, Joseph Gilgun, Benjamin Bratt, Said Taghamoui, and Jason Isaacs. This one kind of snuck up on my radar, and I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.

 

 

15th

Limited Release: Café Society (Dramedy)

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The new Woody Allen movie follows a young man (Jesse Eisenberg), who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry. There, he falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant café society that defined the spirit of the age. The film looks very Woody Allen, which is good thing, and has a pretty big-named cast of Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Anna Camp, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, and Steve Carell.

 

 

Ghostbusters (Sci-Fi Action Comedy – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment)

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Directed by Paul Feig, the film takes a new approach to the Ghostbusters, and makes them all female now with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. The idea wasn’t taken too kindly by fans of the original films and even Ernie Hudson – who later took back what he said – but personally, with the team behind it, I’m looking forward to it. And guess what? If you don’t want to watch it, then don’t watch it! The film also stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Andy Garcia, Elizabeth Perkins, Cecily Strong, Annie Potts, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Bill Murray.

 

 

22nd

Ice Age: Collision Course (Animation – 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios)

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Scrat pursuit for his elusive acorn sends his to space and he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transforms and threaten the planet. Back on Earth, Manny, Sid, Diego, and the rest of the herd set out to try to save themselves and meet new characters and new exotic lands. I didn’t see the last Ice Age movie and I think I’ve detached myself from the series at this point. The voice cast includes Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Keke Palmer, Wanda Skyes, Chris Wedge, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Max Greenfield, Adam DeVine, Michael Strahan, Jessie J, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lopez and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

 

Lights Out (Horror – Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Grey Matter Productions)

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Based on the short film of the same name, director David Sandberg brings his short film to the big screen that will be produced by James Wan. The short film is rather creepy and if Sandberg can bring that same atmosphere to the big screen than the film could turn out great. Teresa Palmer, Alicia Vela-Bailey, and Emily Alyn Lind star.

 

Star Trek Beyond (Sci-Fi Adventure – Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot)

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Justin Lin takes over for J.J. Abrams to bring the third Star Trek outing that sees the Enterprise crew stuck on a planet facing down a new, deadly enemy. The film brings back the original cast and brings in new cast members in Sofia Boutella, Deep Roy, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Melissa Roxburgh, Joe Taslim, and Idris Elba as the villain. Of course, one of the big things going into this is the sudden death of Anton Yelchin who plays Pavel Chekov in the films.

 

27th

Nerve (Mystery Thriller – Lionsgate/Allison Shearmur Productions)

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Based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan, a high school senior (Emma Roberts) finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.” I don’t know how I feel about the film, the trailer was okay, but I’m not completely sold just yet. The rest of the cast includes Dave Franco, Jonny Beauchamp, Emily Meade, and Juliette Lewis.

 

29th

Limited Release: Equity (Drama)

equity

Labeled as the “first female-driven Wall  Street film,” it follows a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption. The film stars Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Alysia Reiner.

 

Limited Release: Indignation (Drama)

indignation

Based on the novel by Philip Roth, Indignation made some waves at the film festivals earlier this year and gain some very positive buzz. The film, set in 1951, follows Marcus (Logan Lerman), a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, who attends a small Ohio college where he struggles with sexual repression and cultural disaffection, amid the ongoing Korean War. The film also stars Sarah Gadon, Ben Rosenfield, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Noah Robbins, Philip Ettinger and Susan Varon.

 

Bad Moms (Comedy – STX Entertainment/PalmStar Media/Block Entertainment)

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A woman who seems to have the perfect life – a great marriage, overachieving kids, beautiful home, stunning looks and a great career – is actually overworked and stressed out. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms and go on a un-mom like binge of freedom putting them up against a devoted group of perfect moms. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Kathryn Hahn, Lily Singh, Emjay Anthony, Oona Laurence, and Kesha star in what looks like a great comedy.

 

Jason Bourne (Action Thriller – Universal Pictures/The Kennedy/Marshall Company/Double Negative)

jason_bourne

Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon return for another installment of the Jason Bourne series that sees Jason Bourne (Damon), now remember who he truly is, goes back to the world he thought he left behind to uncover more from his hidden past. I cannot wait any longer for this film. I love the Bourne series and seeing Damon and Greengrass return is awesome. Not only that, the films also brings back Julia Stiles and includes new (awesome) cast members Alicia Vikander, Riz Ahmed, Vincent Cassel, and Tommy Lee Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. Although, it doesn’t seem too much like the studios are pushing their huge films like previous years, but there are big films coming out before the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

 

1st

Limited Release: Everybody Wants Some!! (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater tells a story of a group of college baseball players navigating their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. The film has a young cast of Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell, Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Tyler Hoechlin, Glenn Powell, Zoey Deutch, Dora Madison, Austin Amelio, Holly Jee, and Jonathan Breck. This is part of a limited release and will get wider releases in the weeks to come, so if you don’t see it on April 1st, you can catch it in the following weeks.

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Limited Release: Miles Ahead (Biography Drama)

Written, directed and starring Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead is an exploration of the life and music of legendary musician Miles Davis (Cheadle). The movie doesn’t look too bad, but with a limited release I don’t know if I’ll get around to watching it. Miles Ahead also stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Keith Stanfield.

 

God’s Not Dead 2 (Drama – Pure Flix Productions)

Sequel to the popular film (among some circles) the sequel sees a high school teacher asked a question in class about Jesus. Her reasoned response lands her in deep trouble and could expel God from the public square. I never saw the first film, so I’m pretty sure I won’t see this one. God’s Not Dead 2 stars Jesse Metcalfe, Melissa Joan Hart, David A.R. White, Robin Givens, Hayley Orrantia, Maria Canals-Barrera, Pat Boone, Ernie Hudson and Ray Wise.

gods_not_dead_two

 

Meet the Blacks (Comedy – Freestyle Releasing/Hidden Empire Film Group)

Mike Epps stars in this film that is essentially a parody/spoof of The Purge when Carl Black (Epps) moves his family to Beverly Hills to relax, only to realize the Purge is about to happen. I have to say a lot of spoof/parody movies that come out look pretty dumb and not worthwhile. However, Meet the Blacks actually looks pretty decently funny. Mike Tyson, Zulay Henao, and Charlie Murphy also star.

meet_the_blacks

 

8th

Expansion Release: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Green Room (Horror Thriller)

A band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence and are soon targets of a white power skinhead group, lead by Patrick Stewart, who want all evidence of the crime eliminated. The cast is rather impressive and the film is on a few people’s watch list, and I can see why, I mean, when is the last time we’ve seen Patrick Stewart as a bad guy? Green Room stars Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, Joe Cole, Callum Turner and Eric Edelstein.

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Limited Release: Demolition (Comedy Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Black Label Media/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Right of Way Films/Mr. Mudd)

David, a successful investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal), struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law (Chris Cooper), to pull his life together, Davis doesn’t and starts a complaint letter to a vending machine company that actually turns into a series of letters revealing personal admissions. The letter actually make it to customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts) who is going through her own burden, the two form an unlikely connection. The two, along with Karen’s son (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild his life by starting a demolition his home.  The film looks pretty great so I’m looking forward to this.

demolition

 

Hardcore Henry (Action – STX Entertainment/Versus Pictures/Bazelevs Production)

Based on the music video “Bad Motherfucker” by llya Naishuller, Naishuller will bring a feature0lenght adaptation that will be shot entirely like a first-person shooter and was shot with a GoPro. The film follows Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator (Haley Bennett) from AKAN, a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day in Moscow, Russia. The film looks crazy, which is probably the best way to describe it. I don’t know how many will be down to a watch an entire movie shot like a video game, but if it good, then why not right?

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Before I Wake (Horror – Relativity Media/Demarest Films/Intrepid Pictures/MICA Entertainment)

This was supposed to come out last year – I even wrote about it – but when Relativity Media went into bankruptcy, this and many of their films were pulled from the schedule, but now they are back in good(?) shape and their films are coming out. Although I still haven’t seen anything new come out for this, it’s still being billed to come out this week. If it doesn’t, I don’t know when it will come out now. Anyway, the film follows a couple (Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth) who adopt an orphaned child (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan, who directed Oculus, which I really enjoyed, and it looks like he’s going to make this as creepy as his previous films, so I can’t wait to watch this. Annabeth Gish, Scottie Thompson and Dash Mihok also star.

 

The Boss (Comedy – Universal Pictures/On the Day)

Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a titan of the industry is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading. When she gets out, she tries to rebrand herself as America’s sweetheart to the country and to her former employees by helping one of her former employee’s (Kristen Bell) daughter sell girl scout cookies. The film looks okay, I haven’t seen every McCarthy comedy, but it looks like more of the same from the previous films. The film co-written (McCarthy co-wrote it as well) and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed her in Tammy, which may not be a good sign. The Boss also stars Peter Dinklage, Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Ella Anderson, Parker Young, Kathy Bates, and Margo Martindale.

boss

 

15th

Expansion/Wide Release: Green Room

Final Expansion: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Sing Street (Musical Comedy)

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family by starting a band and moving to London. The film looks pretty damn funny and looks like a great addition to the coming-of-age genre. There looks to be a great unknown young cast with some bigger names in supporting roles like Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jack Reynor.

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Limited Release: Colonia (Thriller)

Based on true events, Lena (Emma Watson) is on the search for her kidnapped boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), who being held hostage by the infamous Colonia Dignidad run by Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist), a place no one has ever escaped from during Pinochet’s reign in 1973.

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Criminal (Action Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Millennium Films/BenderSpink/Campbell Grobman Films)

The memories and skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict. The film may not sound like much but the cast is freaking huge. Of course, we don’t know how much screen time these people will have, but still. Criminal stars Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Jordi Molla, Amaury Nolasco, Antje Traue, Scott Adkins, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones

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Barbershop: The Next Cut (Comedy – New Line Cinema/MGM/Cube Vision)

It’s been more than ten years since the last Barbershop movie (which I don’t remember watching) but that doesn’t seem to stop Ice Cube and Malcolm D. Lee from doing another film. The film has Calvin (Cube) and his crew now working with a beauty salon making the all man’s barber shop now a co-ed place. The film will also tackle some issues like gun violence and doing great community work (at least that’s what I got from the trailer). I don’t know if I’ll watch this, but this will have its audience. The Next Cut also stars Common, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, Eve, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Dean Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

barbershop_the_next_cut

 

The Jungle Book (Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Pictures/Moving Pictures Company)

A new approach to the classic story by Rudyard Kipling about an orphan boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi), who is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear and a black panther. The film will be a combination live-action, motion capture and photorealism and the trailers have been nothing but great so far, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out. The motion-capture and voice cast includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Emjay Anthony, Ralph Ineson, Jamie Dornan, Lupita Nyong’o and Ben Kingsley.

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22nd

Limited Release: A Hologram for the King (Drama)

A failed American businessman (Tom Hanks) looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch. The film also stars Ben Whishaw, Sarita Choudhury, Tracey Fairaway, Dhaffer L’Abidine, Jay Abdo and Tom Skerritt.

 

Elvis & Nixon (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media/Amazon Studios)

Follows the untold true story behind Elvis (Michael Shannon) and President Nixon (Kevin Spacey), resulting in the moment that has been immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives. Should be interesting to see how this plays out with the rest of the cast that includes Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan and Colin Hanks.

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The Huntsman Winter’s War (Fantasy Action Adventure – Universal Pictures/Roth Films)

A prequel (and seems like a sequel too) to Snow White and the Huntsman focus on Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) has his past catches up to him. The Huntsman Winter’s War sees Queen Freya (Emily Blunt) bringing back her sister Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from the dead to conquer the land. This leads Eric to find Sara (Jessica Chastain) – a former love – and a band of warriors to stop them. The film looks a hell of a lot better than I thought it would and I’m glad that they focusing on Eric this time. Winter’s War also stars Sam Claflin, Colin Morgan, Sophie Cookson, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, and Nick Frost.

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29th

Limited Release: A Beautiful Planet (Documentary)

An exploration of Earth and beyond as seen from outer space.

 

Mother’s Day (Comedy – Open Road Films/PalmStar Media/Gulfstream Pictures/Rice Films)

Garry Marshall is back at it. The man behind intertwining story films like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve (and of course other films) is back and this time tackling stories around Mother’s Day. Of course, the film has a huge cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Britt Robertson, Sarah Chalke, Shay Mitchell, Christine Lakin, Jon Lovitz and Margo Martindale.

mothers_day

 

Ratchet & Clank (Animation – Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures/Sony Computer Entertainment/Insomniac Games/Rainmaker Entertainment/Blockade Entertainment/CNHK Media)

Based on the popular video game series, Ratchet and Clank see the two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop an alien race lead by Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in their galaxy. The two then join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to stop them. I’ve only played one game in the series, but the trailers aren’t really helping the film at all for me. The voice cast includes James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, Belle Thorne, John Goodman and Paul Giamatti.

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Keanu (Action Comedy – Warner Bros./Principato-Young Entertainment)

Jordan Peele co-wrote this film that follows friends who hatch a plot to get back a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers for a street gang. The film is being labeled as an action comedy and the premise sounds a bit fun, so let hope the execution pans out. Keanu stars Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Forte, Nia Long, Jason Mitchell, Method Man, and Rob Huebel.

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What are you looking forward to?