‘Baby Driver’ Review

Director: Edgar Wright

Writer: Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, CJ Jones, Jon Bernthal and Kevin Spacey

Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway drivers himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

 

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

 

I’m not going to make this a secret – I love Edgar Wright. Every movie he’s done I’ve either loved or thoroughly enjoyed to no end. So when he dropped out of Ant-Man and moved on to Baby Driver, I was both a little upset (I was really looking forward toward his Ant-Man) and excited to see what he was going to do with this. Thankfully, from the very first trailer I was completely in. Then the early reviews and reception came out and everyone was saying how great and awesome it was. However as the release date loomed, and the reception kept getting better and better, I started wondering, is it really that good? Yes, yes it is.

Baby Driver centers on Baby (Ansel Elgort), a skilled, but reluctant getaway driver working off his debut to Doc (Kevin Spacey). However, he’s a not a normal getaway driver, he constantly listens to music to drown out his tinnitus in his ears that was a result from a car accident where he lost his parents as a child, and it’s his inner soundtrack that makes him the best. One day he meets waitress Debora (Lily James), and finally sees a future where he doesn’t have to be a getaway driver. However, as he and Debora get closer, Doc ropes him back into the game on a big job alongside Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). What follows is Baby trying to escape in more ways than one.

Like I mentioned, Baby is constantly listening to music and acts like not only his own personal soundtrack but ours as well, giving us a sense at what Baby is feeling at the certain times. At one point, during Baby’s second job working with Jaime Foxx’s Bats – when he’s introduced – JD (Lanny Joon) and Eddie (played by Flea), Baby restarts a song because the timing in off. The funny thing is that it doesn’t come off as awkward or weird, it comes off as funny and almost necessary. I read somewhere that the film is almost a reverse musical, instead of people bursting out into song, its Baby’s music that pushes the story forward a bit.

I don’t know how people will feel with music almost constantly playing, but Edgar Wright makes it work so well that it is rather impressive. Also, the fact that the music syncs with the action and the choreography to perfection makes the film that much better. Speaking of the action and the choreography, it’s highly impressive what Wright was able to bring out of everyone, and what he’s able to accomplish with all the car stunts is damn cool.

When it comes to the cast, they are also all fantastic. I’m not the biggest fan of Ansel Elgort, but he’s not that bad here as Baby. He’s a man of few words – expect when he’s talking to Debora – and lets his soundtrack and driving do the talking for him. Kevin Spacey chews up every scene he’s in, which isn’t many, but he does leave his impression felt. Jaime Foxx as Bats is, well, crazy and a bit unhinged and does act as the primary villain, although you can argue that they’re all bad guys, expect Baby who’s a reluctant bad guy. Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez play the happy couple of Buddy and Darling, who are crazy about each other and Buddy actually likes Baby and sees something special in him, which plays a bigger factor than you think in the film near the end.

Lily James as Debora is, unfortunately, a little underdeveloped. She does have a story behind her, but it’s only her telling it so it could have helped if we’d see a little more of her. Jon Bernthal isn’t underdeveloped, he’s underused. Bernthal is part of the opening heist of the film, but isn’t seen after that. It’s a bit of a shame, but he’s great in the time that he’s there. CJ Jones also appears as Joseph, Baby’s deaf foster father who wishes Baby would leave the criminal life.

All in all, Baby Driver is a fantastic film with great car chase sequences with an awesome cast and an equally great soundtrack that perfect fits with the action and how Ansel Elgort’s Baby is feeling. Moreover, while Baby Driver isn’t as personal as Edgar Wright’s other films, it is as stylized as them and filled with more action. Do yourself a favor and go watch Baby Driver in the biggest and loudest theater you can find.

Baby Driver

4.5 out of 5

‘Rough Night’ Review

Director: Lucia Aniello

Writers: Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Colton Haynes, Ty Burrell and Demi Moore

Synopsis: Things go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.

 

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

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

 

Rough Night takes the crazy bachelor party and turns it on its head by having the ladies take center stage, and having them deal with the madness. Of course the film isn’t the first to do this, but the movie does try to make the concept its own. So let’s take a look at the craziness that is Rough Night, and what happens when five women try to get rid of a dead body.

The movie opens with during the last college year of four friends, Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer). They make a promise that they will always be friends no matter what. We skip ahead ten years and find out that Jess is running for State Senator and is about to get married to Peter (Paul W. Downs). Alice, now a school teacher, plans Jess a bachelorette party in Miami with Blair, who’s going through a divorce and custody battle, and Frankie, an activist. When they arrive in Miami, Jess’ Australian friend Pippa (Kate McKinnon) joins in the fun as well. The women end up in a club, where Frankie scores some cocaine, and after doing it they go back to a guest house they rented and order a stripper.

After the stripper arrives, Alice accidentally kills him while jumping on him causing the chair he’s on to fall back and hit his head on the ledge to the fireplace. After the women freak out that they killed someone, especially Alice, they spend the rest of the night trying to cover up the accidental murder, but as complications arise, they find out that’s its a lot harder than they thought. Meanwhile, Peter races to Miami after getting a confusing call from Jess earlier in the film, after they accidentally killed the stripper.

The film is honestly not that bad. The gender-switch is a welcomed aspect and the ladies absolutely nail their performances. We get a real sense of who these characters are and they all have more than one moment to shine. And even though they did accidentally kill someone, we never feel like they should go down for the crime, we actually kind of root for them – maybe because the frantic pace of the jokes keeps the film moving forward. It also helps that we cut to Peter on his journey trying to get to Miami as fast as possible, where he gets into his own misadventures, which are also pretty funny, but this is the women’s show.

The movie does introduce some random and weird characters like Ty Burrell and Demi Moore as a couple that lives next door, which are very sexual and hit on the women – more on Kravitz’s Blair. They don’t really add anything to the film other than some comedy bits, but even then it’s not as great as Peter’s story. However, I will say the way the situation resolves itself is a bit wonky, but I can’t think of how they would have done that which makes sense.

All in all, Rough Night is a pretty descent comedy, especially for first time director Lucia Aniello from Comedy Central Broad City fame. The pace is very steady and brisk, and with the cast being spot on, Rough Night is much more than what the trailers and TV spots have you believe.

Rough Night

3 out of 5

‘Baywatch’ Review

Director: Seth Gordon

Writers: Damian Shannon and Mark Swift

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hannibal Buress, Rob Huebel, Amin Joseph, Jack Kesy, Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff

Synopsis:  Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

 

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

 

When you think of Baywatch, what do you think of? 90s cheese? Slow-Mo? Good looking people in tight bathing suits? Yeah, all that sounds right. So when it was announced that a movie was being made, everyone acted like “how dare they” acting like Baywatch was this sacred brand that shouldn’t be touched. With the vein of 21 Jumps Street and some cheese factor, Baywatch is here and it’s a mixed bag of humor and cheese to make you want to run in slow-mo all over again. Well, maybe.

Baywatch follows Mitch Buchanan (Johnson), the hero and popular face of Emerald Bay, who along with Stephanie Holen (Ilfenesh Hadera) and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) are looking for new recruits to watch over The Bay. The eager recruits are Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), nerdy but heart full of gold Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) and the disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Zach Efron), who is there for not only a publicity stunt but to spend his probation out. Brining in the new recruits isn’t the only thing Mitch has to worry out, when drugs and bodies start piling up around the beach, Mitch gets the feeling that new powerful businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is behind it all. What follows is Mitch leading his team to get to the bottom of it, while butting heads with local cop Sgt. Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

Now look, you’re going to watch a Baywatch movie, so don’t go in pretending you were going to get fine and artsy cinema. It’s cheesy as hell, but it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to act like a movie that it isn’t. Hell, Zac Efron’s Brody makes a joke that the villain’s plot and the crew’s attempt to stop it sounds like a TV show. Furthermore, let’s face it, it’s a Baywatch movie, plot isn’t something we’re striving to see.

The cast is pretty serviceable here. Johnson is the charismatic leader that spits out insult after insult to Efron’s Brody, and is bound by duty to protect the beach at all costs – even though it’s not really his job. Efron’s Brody is the conceited, good looking new guy that learns being a lifeguard is more than keeping people from drowning, Jon Bass is a pretty great highlight playing bumbling nice guy Ronnie, who has a thing for CJ, played by Kelly Rohrach, who isn’t too bad and is involved in one of the romance subplots between her and Ronnie. Alexandra Daddario’s Summer gets to play along with Johnson and Efron’s hijinks, but is still underdeveloped as a character, which also goes for Ilfenesh Hadera’s Stephanie, who feels like she’s second-in-command within the crew, but disappears at times and really doesn’t do anything.

Priyanka Chopra plays the villain Victoria Leeds, who surprisingly holds her own – especially considering I’ve never seen her in anything. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Sgt. Ellerbee is also great in his local cop role who’s always reminding team Bayatch that they are just lifeguards and not a police force. Hannibal Buress and Rob Huebel pop in as a tech guy whose friends with Ronnie and the head of the Baywatch unit, respectably. Of course, there are cameos by Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff.

All in all, Baywatch has its really strong moments, but it all really depends on if the humor grabs you. Some of the jokes don’t work, and some really overstay their welcome. A lot of Baywatch is also a little underdeveloped, which almost isn’t that much an insult, since again, it’s a Baywatch movie – but it’s still not okay.

Baywatch

3.5 out of 5

Mini-Reviews: Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Hey everybody!

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

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Snatched

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Katie Dippold

Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman, Bashir Salahuddin, Oscar Jaenada and Christopher Meloni

Synopsis: When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results.

 

Snatched follows Emily (Amy Schumer), who has not only been fired from her job, but also gets dumped by her boyfriend (Randall Park) and has booked a non-refundable trip to Ecuador. This leads her to go to her overly cautious mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go with her especially after discovering an old photo album that showed a younger Linda on adventures. When Linda finally breaks down, the two end up in Ecuador where they meet a pair of tourists Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and her partner Barb (Joan Cusack), who was in the Special Forces. However, Emily connects with a good looking stranger, James (Tom Bateman) who shows her a good time before taking her and Linda to see the rest of the island. The three end up in an accident with Emily and Linda being held captive, and having to find a way to escape.

The film surprisingly works when it completely goes for ridiculous moments, rather than quick-witted humor. In fact, the ridiculous moments actually made the film more bearable for me to watch. I’ve admitted that I’m not the biggest Amy Schumer fan, but I didn’t let that effect the way I watched the film, and with that said, Schumer isn’t even the funniest person in her own movie. Schumer’s Emily could come off as unlikeable and annoying, and I wouldn’t blame you, but her relationship with Goldie Hawn’s Linda is the main focus of the film.

The mother-daughter dynamic starts off almost immediately and isn’t that bad, but the real deeper moments are far apart and actually feel real and not forced. Its arguments you can with our mothers and the resolution isn’t really always there and a quick answer. Schumer and Hawn handle those scenes so perfectly that for just a brief second you forget the comedy aspect of the film.

One of the things that makes Snatched work is the supporting cast, mainly the chemistry and scenes between Ike Barinholtz’s agoraphobic adult son Jeffrey and a State Department official Morgan Russell played by Basir Salahuddin. Anytime the two are on screen, you will be laughing hard – I know I did. Then there’s Christopher Meloni’s character, Roger Simmons, who I won’t spoil, but I’ll just say this – he’s a great and welcome addition to the ridiculous that is this movie. The same can’t be said for Oscar Jaenada, who plays the man in charge that kidnaps Emily and Linda, is wasted in the film, but it isn’t his film to begin with so I can forgive that.

All in all, Snatched works when it’s over-the-top. Not all the jokes work, and even the ones that do are a little iffy. Even though Amy Schumer is the lead in the film, the supporting cast is what makes this movie work on the levels that it does.

Snatched

3 out of 5

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Tom Wu, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay and Eric Bana

Synopsis: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts off with a lengthy opening credits scene showing off Arthur’s father Uther (Eric Bana) facing a powerful Mage attacking his castle. It gives us a tease of the power of the sword Excalibur. After his battle, Uther’s brother Vortigern (Jude Law) plans a coup and kills Arthur’s parents, but not before they were able to send a young Arthur down the river. We jump forward in time and find a now grown up Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), who grew up in a brothel, and with his two friends Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adair) and Back Lack (Neil Maskell) have a good thing going. They protect the girls at the brothel, and take a little bit of money from people on the street. However, when the seas by the castle start to recede, they reveal Excalibur, and Vortigen finds out that the sword has found a new person to wield it and use it against him.

The search wages and eventually Arthur finds his way there. When he pulls the sword from the stone and instantly becomes a target and a legend among the people. Arthur is then saved and works with his father’s old allies in Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), Goose Fat Bill (Aidan Gillen) and The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). What follows is Arthur coming to terms with not only learning to use the sword and defeat Vortigern, but become the legend the people think he is.

Legend of the Sword has many things working for it. The Guy Ritchie touch is welcomed to a story we’ve heard, read and seen numerous times. One of the best moments in the film is when Arthur and his friends are recounting a story about a troublesome group and what happened – it’s Guy Ritchie at his finest. In fact, the film works better when it’s not focusing on the mystical side of things. Seeing Arthur as a street-level grounded character was a good way to go with his concept.

That’s not to say some things don’t work. When the film goes all in on the mystical side of things, some of it stumbles. The idea that humans and Mages are at war – said at the beginning of the film – doesn’t really pay off for the rest of the film. Other than Vortigern having some powers and the character The Mage, that part isn’t really brought up again. Even some of Voritgern’s powers that are introduced don’t really make too much sense or are never really developed. Speaking of Vortigern, Jude Law does an okay job, but his character isn’t really all that fleshed out.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, Charlie Hunnam does fair job as Arthur. Obviously, it is a different take on Arthur, and Hunnam’s performance is connected to the sword as it shows him the last moments of his parents, which already keeps him up at night. Also, his chemistry with Ben-Adir’s Wet Stick, Maskell’s Back Lack and Bleu Landau’s Blue (son of Back Lack) works really well. Astrid Berges-Frisbey’s The Mage, keeps her cards close to the vest, but her powers are on full display throughout the film. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen are there to add a boost to the supporting characters, and do a find job at that.

The third act of the film however, is when Ritchie falls into summer box office territory. It goes completely over-the-top with the special effects and mystical side of things. It also gets a little hard to follow and feels a bit out of place even within the perimeters that film has set for itself.

All in all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn’t all that bad. There’s a lot of good concepts within the film, and although some things don’t really work out or are either underdeveloped or not fleshed out enough, the film never falters too much. Needless to say, this isn’t your parents King Arthur.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

3.5 out of 5

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

5th

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Sci-Fi Action – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Guardians (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite character from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The returning cast includes Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion (playing a different character), Sean Gunn, and Glenn Close. The film’s new cast includes Kurt Russell (Quinn’s father, Ego), Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, and Tommy Flanagan.

 

 

12th

Limited Release: The Wall

Directed by Doug Liman, an American sharpshooter is trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. The film was suppose to come out in March, but got pushed back to May, but either way it looks great. The Wall looks like a tension-filled drama I can’t wait to see. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laith Nakli and John Cena.

 

 

Lowriders (Drama – Universal Pictures/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Imagine Entertainment)

A young street artist in East Los Angeles is caught between his father’s obsession with lowrider car culture, his ex-felon brother and his need for self-expression. The film stars Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoist, and Demian Bichir.

 

 

Snatched (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Cherin Entertainment/Feigo Entertainment)

After being dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) decides to take a spontaneous trip with her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador, where they find themselves kidnapped, escaping and having to go on the run. The film stars Christopher Meloni, Oscar Jaenada, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, and Wanda Sykes.

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Wilgram Productions/Safehouse Pictures/Weed Road Pictures)

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film takes the very Ritchie tone to bringing a new take to the classical character Arthur played by Charlie Hunnam. The film sees Arthur, a street-smart brawler who finds himself drawn into a battle when he takes possession of the sword Excalibur. The film stars Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Katie McGrath, Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Hermione Corfield, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana.

 

 

19th

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Family Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Color Force)

Continuing the series based off the books by Jeff Kinney, Greg (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and the Heffley family antics ensue. The film also stars Charlie Wright, Tom Everett Scott, Owen Asztalos, Carlos Guerrero, and Alicia Silverstone.

 

 

Everything, Everything (Romance Drama – MGM, Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films)

Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, and Anika Noni Rose.

 

 

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/TSG Entertainment/Brandywine Productions)

The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. The film looks like it’s finally an Alien prequel, and bloody. Very, very bloody. The cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Danny McBride, Callie Hernandez, Noomi Rapace, James Franco, and Guy Pearce.

 

 

25th

Baywatch (Action Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/The Montecito Picture Company/Cold Spring Pictures/Contrafilm)

Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.

 

 

26th

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action Adventure – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Moving Picture Company)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) searches for the trident of Poseidon when an old enemy from his past comes to haunt him. The film also stars the returning Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, and Paul McCartney.

 

 

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?

 

7th

Limited Release: Their Finest (Comedy Drama)

Based on the novel by Lissa Evans, a British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg. The film has a pretty impressive cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Billy Nighy, Jack Huston, Paul Ritter, Richard E. Grant, Jake Lacy, Eddie Marsan Helen McCrory, and Jeremy Irons.

 

Limited Release: Gifted (Drama)

Frank (Chris Evans), a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary (Mckenna Grace), is drawn into a custody battle with his mother (Lindsay Duncan). Directed by Marc Webb, the film looks like a great small film for everyone involved. Gifted also stars Jenny Slate, Joe Chrest, Julie Ann Emery, and Octavia Spencer.

 

Limited Release: The Void (Horror Thriller)

When police officer Carter (Aaron Poole) discovers a blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road, he rushed him to a local hospital with a barebones, night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil. The film has released some creepy looking trailers, and it looks like an old school horror film, so maybe it could be great. The film also stars Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Art Hindle, and Kenneth Welsh.

 

Limited Release: Colossal (Sci-Fi Comedy Drama)

This wacky sci-fi comedy written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) follows a woman (Anne Hathaway), who after being dumped by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) returns home and finds out her breakdown has given her – somehow – control over a giant monster in South Korea. The film has been getting a lot of love on the film festival circuit, and with a great cast and a director I really like, I’m looking forward toward this. The film also stars Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson.

 

The Case for Christ (Drama – Pure Flix Entertainment, Triple Horse Studios)

Based on the book by Lee Strobel, and a true story of award-winning investigative journalist, and avowed atheist, applies his well-honed journalistic and legal skills to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife… and with unexpected, life-altering results. The film stars Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway, Robert Forster and Frankie Faison.

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures)

A reboot and fully animated film now follows Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who finds a mysterious map and set a journey along with her friends Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history. Taking the film the fully animation route might be what the franchise needs after the poorly received CGI/live-action hybrid. The voice cast also includes Rainn Wilson as Gargamel and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf.

 

Going in Style (Comedy – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM)

A reboot of the 1979 film that follows three retirees, who live off social security checks, decide tey have had enough and plan a bank heist, problem is they are heavily under qualified. I’ve never seen the original, but with the cast, it could work. Going in Style stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Maria Dizzia, Ann-Margret, and Joey King.

 

14th

Limited Release: The Lost City of Z (Drama)

Based off the novel by David Grann, the film is a true-life drama centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who disappears searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s. The film looks very atmospheric and dark, and everything I’ve seen from the trailer has me really hyped up for this. The cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller, and Angus Macfadyen.

 

Spark (Animated – Open Road Films, Gulfstream Pictures, ToonBox Entertainment, Redrover Co.)

Spark (Jace Norman), a teenage monkey and his friends, Chunk (Rob deLeeuw) and Vix (Jessica Biel), are on a mission to regain Planet Bana – a kingdom overtaken by the evil overlord Zhong (A.C. Peterson). The rest of the voice cast includes Hilary Swank, Susan Sarandon, Athena Karkanis and Patrick Stewart.

 

The Fate of the Furious (Action Adventure – Universal Pictures, Original Film, One Race Films)

When a mysterious woman known as Cipher (Charlize Theron) makes Dom (Vin Diesel) turn on those closest to him, the team will go through trials that will test them like they never have before. Let’s be honest here, you can laugh at how ridiculous these films are and they aren’t like “they used to be.” But, these films make a crap ton of money, and people – like me – watch them because there dumb fun. The move intriguing thing is how the films will handle Paul Walker. The cast of Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Natalie Emmanuel, Lucas Black, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell return along with new names like Theron, Scott Eastwood, Kristofer Hivju, and Helen Mirren.

 

 

21st

Born in China (Family Adventure – Walt Disney Company, Disneynature, Chuan Films)

A wildlife drama documentary that follows the families of endangered animals in China.

 

Phoenix Forgotten (Sci-Fi Horror – Freestyle Releasing, Cinelou Releasing, Scott Free Productions)

20 years after three teenagers disappear in the wake of mysterious lights appearing above Phoenix, Arizona, unseen footage from that night has been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition.

 

Unforgettable (Thriller – Warner Bros., DiNovi Pictures)

A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new life. Honestly, I feel like I’ve the film already based off the trailer, and I’ve never been the biggest Katherine Heigl fan, so I’m going pass. The film also stars Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, and Whitney Cummings.

 

The Promise (Drama – Open Road Films, Survival Pictures, Wonderful Films)

Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, the film follows a love triangle between Mikael (Oscar Isaac), a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), and Chris (Christian Bale) – a renowned American journalist based in Paris. The trailer doesn’t really grab me as much as I thought it would, but I’m sure it will be good – hopefully. The film also stars Jean Reno, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rade Serbedzija, Angela Sarafyan and James Cromwell.

 

Free Fire (Action Crime Comedy – A24, Film4, Rook Films, Protagonist Pictures)

Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival. I didn’t know too much about this movie until I saw the trailer, and it instantly jumped to my must-watch list. The film looks like a crazy fun good time and it helps that it has an impressive cast too. The film stars Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti, Babou Ceesay, Noah Taylor, Jack Reynor and Sharlto Copley.

 

28th

How to be a Latin Lover (Comedy – Pantelion Films, 3Pas Studios)

Finding himself dumped after 25 years of marriage, Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) who made a career of seducing rich older women, must move in with his estranged sister (Salma Hayek), where he beings to learn the value of family. The film also stars Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, Raquel Welch, Omar Chaparro, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, and Rob Corddry.

 

Sleight (Sci-Fi Action Drama – WWE Studios, BH Tilt, Diablo Entertainment)

A young street magician is left to take care of his little sister after his mother’s passing and turns to drug dealing in the L.A. party scene to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets into trouble with is supplier, his sister is kidnapped and he is forced to rely on both his sleight of hand and brilliant mind to save her. The film stars Jacob Latimore, Seychelle Gabriel, Dule Hill, Storm Reid, Sasheer Zamata, and Brandon Johnson.

 

The Circle (Sci-Fi Thriller – EuropaCorp, IM Global, Likely Story, Playtone, Imagenation Abu Dhabi)

Based on Dave Eggers’ best-selling novel of the same name, the film follows Mae (Emma Watson), who lands a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man. The film has Black Mirror-like vibe to it, and by the looks of it, always loveable Tom Hanks looks to play a villain-like character, who is the head of the company. The film also stars John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Ellen Wong, Nate Corddry, Poorna Jagannathan, Elvy Yost, Patton Oswalt and Bill Paxton.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Mini-Reviews: CHIPS, The Belko Experiment & Life

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

CHIPS

Director: Dax Shepard

Writer: Dax Shepard

Cast: Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosa Salazar, Jessica McNamee, Kristen Bell, Adam Brody, Richard T. Jones, Jane Kaczmarek, Isiah Whitlock Jr. Justin Chatwin and Maya Rudolph

Synopsis: A rookie officer is teamed with a hardened pro at the California Highway Patrol, though the newbie soon learns his partner is really an undercover Fed investigating a heist that may involve some crooked cops.

 

Loosely based off the popular show from the late 70s, CHIPS ups the ante on the comedy and raunchiness. Basically taking the Jump Street-like tone and making it fit its overtly over-the-top comedy and a very thin plot. Needless to say, this isn’t your parents’ CHiPs.

The film follows Jon Baker (Dax Shepard), reimagined as an ex-motocross rider who is down on his luck, addicted to pain medication from his injuries and trying to repair his broken marriage with his wife (played by Shepard’s real-life wife Kristen Bell) becomes a California Highway Patrol officer. He is then partnered up with undercover FBI agent Castillo (Michael Pena), renamed Francis Llewellyn Poncherello or “Ponch” who goes undercover when a heist involving potential corrupt cops is pulled off. The two have to find a way to work together as the threat becomes more real for the both of them.

As you can see Shepard not only starred in the film, he also wrote and directed the film. I’ve personally never seen a Shepard-directed film, so this was my first exposure to him as both. The humor is a bit over the top, but exactly what you’d expect in a raunchy R-rated comedy. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t so the humor will be something that you are either on board with or not, and if you’re not then you’re in for a long ride.

However, one of the biggest highlights – and probably the main one – is the chemistry between Shepard and Michael Pena. The two start off bickering at each other non-stop but eventually, of course, find a mutual respect. Although, I’ll admit Shepard’s Baker came off as annoying at the first, while Pena is impatience came out as dick-ish. The rest of the cast don’t really standout too much, but do they best they can do with the material their given.

Vincent D’Onofrio plays the villain, but other than one scene with Pena and Shepard, he’s really just there. Rosa Salazar plays a cop that may or may not be into Shepard’s Baker, Adam Brody plays Ponch/Castillo’s FBI partner who hates him – for a comedic/reasonable reason – while Isiah Whitlock Jr. plays the head of the FBI division Castillo/Ponch belongs to and constantly is yelling at him. Finally, Kirsten Bell doesn’t do too much to make an impact.

All in all, CHIPS is definitely not for everyone. Its best scenes are way too far apart and its humor is all over the place and sometimes outright offensive. While I wasn’t overly impressed, CHIPS is a passable enough comedy that you won’t hate yourself for watching. Maybe.

CHIPS

3 out of 5

 

 

The Belko Experiment

Director: Greg McLean

Writer: James Gunn

Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Adria Arjona, Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Brent Sexton, Owain Yeoman, James Earl, Rusty Schwimmer, Sean Gunn, David Dastmalchian, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry

Synopsis: In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogota, Columbia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

 

The Belko Experiment is, you can say, loosely based on the cult classic Battle Royale where it forces innocent people by mysterious forces to kill each other. The difference in this film is it takes it to an office space in a foreign country, and has a script by James Gunn. So, of course the question becomes does it do anything to keep itself separated from the herd? Somewhat.

The film follows employees of Belko Industries in Bogota, Columbia who are literally locked and sealed in their complex and told through the intercom that they need to kill their follow employees and friends or they will be killed themselves. To prove their point, they have installed “trackers” into their heads when they took the job which ends up actually being explosives. Of course, at first they think it’s a prank, but eventually they find out its real – and they need to kill 30 people or the voice will kill 60 at random.

As you see the set-up is rather simple, and the film doesn’t really waste too much time setting everything up, along with some of the characters. Our main leads are Mike (John Gallagher Jr.) and his girlfriend Leandra (Adria Arjona) who are still in the early stages of their relationship. We then have Tony Goldwyn as the COO in that branch, Barry Norris, who eventually becomes our “villain,” and I put villain in quotes, because obviously good and evil are blurred in these kind of situations and that something that Barry comes to terms with, but Mike struggles with even though he’s pushed by Leandra to come to a decision.

The rest of the cast is fine, but they only have small moments and it’s easy to sometimes remember who’s alive and not. John C. McGinley is easily the second villain in the film, and one that you see coming from the beginning, Sean Gunn has a small but somewhat funny comic relief role, Melonie Diaz plays new worker at Belko, Dany Wilkins, who feels like she could play a big role, but doesn’t really. Finally David Dastmalchian and Michael Rooker play technicians who try to find a way out their own way.

A movie like this will always make us, the viewer, decide what we’d do in a situation like this. The film also doesn’t hold back on the violence, because besides the explosives going off that literally blow the back of someone’s head, once the free-for-all starts, it doesn’t let up. It’s a dark, brutal and grizzly outlook of everything. So if gore isn’t your thing, you should probably pass on this.

All in all, The Belko Experiment isn’t anything new to this particular sub-genre. While the cast does fine with what they’re given, we already know that most of these characters are going to die, so we probably hold off on making a strong connection to any of them, which is in some ways a negative aspect for the film. However, if you want to watch a bloodbath in an office, then this is your film.

The Belko Experiment

3 out of 5

 

 

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare and Ryan Reynolds

Synopsis: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

 

One of the things I dislike about sci-fi space films with something mysterious onboard a spaceship is that it immediately gets compares to Alien. Which I guess is fair, but also not for whatever the film is because you have that thought in your mind and will not judge whatever film that is fairly. So the moment the first trailer for Life came out, everyone said it was Alien ripoff, or if you wanted to believe the crazy fan theory, a secret Venom prequel (it isn’t by the way). While Life is a genre changer, it is a pretty great tension filled thriller that keeps you engaged from start to finish.

The film follows the astronauts on the International Space Station that have discovered organic life from a sample recovered from Mars. The crew includes a CDC representative Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), doctor and long time inhabitant of the ISS David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), scientist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), pilot Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) and captain Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya). Once they get the organism and study it, they discover that its, as Hugh puts it, “all muscle, all brain” they end up nicknaming Calvin, based off a contest on Earth. Of course, Calvin breaks frees and starts causing chaos on the ship.

Life immediately makes it known how tense this movie will be putting us inside the ship as the crew attempt to grab a probe that has Calvin in it. It never really lets up until right before the last attempt to kill Calvin where characters talk about why they came to space. It’s a good scene, but it takes some of the (no pun intended) air out of the film.

But, what makes Life great is the cast. You can clearly see they all had a great time working together, as they all have great chemistry together and their characters are fleshed out enough to make us care of them once Calvin starts moving around the ISS. Speaking of Calvin, the design of Calvin is pretty interesting and one that I would love to see more of. However, when it comes to his – its? – movement it is pretty scary to imagine that thing coming at you, especially considering how smart it really is.

All in all, Life isn’t a game changer to the subgenre, but it is a tension filled ride from start to finish that has a great cast and a formidable and scary villain.

Life

4 out of 5