My Favorite, and Surprise, Movies of 2019

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

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

Them That Follow

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Luce

Hustlers

Honey Boy

Marriage Story

The Report

The King

The Two Popes

Uncut Gems

1917

Portrait of the Lady on Fire

 

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Bodied

Cold War

Doctor Sleep

It Chapter Two

Klaus

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The Wandering Earth

Triple Threat

Yesterday

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Aladdin

Look, Disney live-action remakes are happening, and will continue, let’s get over it. Okay, now let’s talk a little about Aladdin. I don’t have an immediate connection to Aladdin like many others do, so the movie was already very lukewarm for me. That said, the movie wasn’t that bad. Will Smith as the new Genie wasn’t too bad, and Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine had some pretty great chemistry together. Aladdin was a pretty much a great family movie, and you can’t go wrong with that.

 

Blinded by the Light

I didn’t think I was going to watch Blinded by the Light, mainly because I didn’t think I’d connect to it because I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. The great thing is, you didn’t need to be. That to me, made me a fan.

 

Crawl

I was admittedly not on board with Crawl when I first read about it and saw the trailer. I gave it chance, and I’m glad I did, because instead of a pretty much a forgettable, cheesy movie; we got a damn solid thriller with Kaya Scodelario easily putting the movie on her shoulders.

 

El Chicano

El Chicano is mostly likely going to be one of the handful of movies that people didn’t even know came out in 2019. Produced by Joe Carnahan, the movie followed L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez, who is assigned a career-making case that he finds out has connections to his brother’s supposed suicide, and a turf war between two rival gangs that promises city-wide chaos. He then dons the masked street legend El Chicano to take the streets back. It’s a pretty solid indie action movie that touches on family, “superheroes” and culture.

 

6 Underground

This is the closest thing I think we’ll ever get to knowing how the mind of Michael Bay really works, without the worry of a PG-13 rating, and worrying about damaging a franchise name (Transformers). 6 Underground is a bit of a mess, but damn is it an entertaining mess.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Alita: Battle Angel

A lot, and I mean A LOT, of people had things to say about Alita: Battle Angel even before it came out and the reaction after the film came out was even more. It was a rather ambitious approach and take on the manga adaptation, that may not have totally worked for producer James Cameron – this being a passion project of his – and director Robert Rodriguez. While the movie loses some steam by the end, it was rather entertaining throughout.

 

Apollo 11

Documentaries rarely make it to my end of the year list, and some of that is mainly because I don’t really watch too many, I forget I watched them, or don’t watch any at all. That said, Apollo 11 stuck with me. The Apollo missions are historic in every way, but seeing this on the big screen, was one of my favorite experiences in a theater this year.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba together on screen in the Fast & Furious universe? Dumb fun action sequences? What more did you want!?

 

Fighting with My Family

Based on the life of former WWE superstar Paige, Fighting with My Family followed Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) who dreams of being in the WWE with her brother Zak (Jack Lowden), but when they only accept her, it sets a rift between them and pushes Saraya to her limit. The film itself was also based on the documentary of the same name, which followed the Knight family, who run a wrestling promotion in the native England. Pugh totally carries the film on her shoulders, with great supporting performances by Lowden, Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan and Nick Frost and Lena Headey as Saraya’s parents. The only thing that irked me a bit was knowing they didn’t really touch on a lot of stuff that Saraya actually went through in her time in WWE, but whatever.

 

Ford v Ferrari

One of the great things about Ford v Ferrari is that you didn’t need to be a gear-head to love/like the film. Mainly because the movie was much more about the friendly relationship between Carol Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) trying to beat the odds of beating Ferrari at Le Mans, a 24-hour race. Damon and Bale were fantastic together, that its hard to believe it took this long in their careers to work together.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Parabellum continued the world building of this hitman world, and even did some globe-trotting. Giving us more characters, more obstacles and more headshots than we can count; and I’m not losing any interest whatsoever.

 

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire followed Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy in the Hitler Youth, who finds out his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home; all while he talks to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself). Waititi’s humor may not be for everyone, but his humor here with the seriousness – and it does get serious – of the real setting of WWII, Jojo Rabbit was definitely an experience.

 

Little Women

I’m going to admit something I probably shouldn’t; I’ve never read Little Women. I knew what the book was about, but just never got around to reading it. That said, I was looking forward to the movie, mainly because of the cast and that Greta Gerwig was writing/directing. Thankfully, it didn’t really matter if I had read the book, because the casts’ chemistry and Gerwig’s direction was great to watch.

 

Queen & Slim

I really didn’t know what to expect from Queen & Slim, and that was probably the best thing to feel going into the movie. A simple date night gone wrong, with the added racial themes and tone, and you have really one of the best films of the year.

 

Richard Jewell

As a director, Clint Eastwood is pretty hit-or-miss. Recently he’s been on a miss or misstep category, but Richard Jewell has put him back in the hit category. Based on the true story of Richard Jewell, the hero that saved lives during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was labeled a villain by the FBI and the media. Honestly, the driving force behind the film is the terrific performance by Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell.

 

Shazam!

I was not onboard the Shazam! train whatsoever, but damn did I have a great time watching it. It was perfect, and some things were a little mishandled, but the cast is what really kept this movie together.

 

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Drama after the film came out aside, Far from Home was a nice follow-up to Homecoming. While the ramifications of Avenges: Endgame were there, admittedly used as almost a crutch, Far from Home continued the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Plus, the Mysterio illusion scene is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

A nice coming of age tale that follows Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a professional wrestler  come true. Along his adventure he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is running away from his own troubles and later convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak’s social worker, to join them. It’s a also a nice “road trip” moving with everyone putting on great performances, especially Gottsagen (who really has Down Syndrome), who honestly steals the show.

 

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

This is one I didn’t really know anything about until it came out. It follows an ex-cop turned militia man (the underrated, James Badge Dale), who is placed in charge to investigate the shooting at a cop’s funeral that leads to someone in his own militia. The film is extremely tense from start to finish, with everyone in the cast giving it their all, but make no mistake this is Dale’s show, with the only other person I want to point out is Happy Anderson, who plays Morris, in a long, drawn-out scene between the two early in the film. Definitely try to check this out.

 

Toy Story 4

Cash-grab or not, Toy Story 4 still tugged on the heartstrings the only way Disney and Pixar know how to do nowadays.

 

Other Notable Movies: Notre Dame, Happy Death Day 2U, Brittany Runs a Marathon, La Llorona, Pain & Glory, Little Monsters, One Take of the Dead

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Avengers: Endgame

Look, I’ve been invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like many others, since it started. Endgame was the culmination of everything since the very first Iron Man. If you didn’t like it, that’s fine too. But as a nerd, seeing the final battle on the big screen, with all those characters, MY GOD!

 

Booksmart

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde followed two top academic students and best friends (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who, on the eve of graduating high school, realize that being top of their class didn’t really mean too much as the people that partied also got into good schools. So, for one wild night, they go on the search for the big party of the night. There is a lot more to the basic premise of the movie, a lot of which you should go in without knowing. That said, Booksmart is hands down one of the best movies of the year.

 

Detective Pikachu

If you’re my age, or around my age, you grew up with Pokemon, and you may or may not have loved it. I loved it. I was hesitant about a CGI/Live-Action movie because of how the CG Pokemon would look, but they were damn impressive, a little more furry than I thought, but impressive nonetheless. Plus, I want a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu following me around now.

 

Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy is back! Playing real-life comic Rudy Ray Moore in what it took to make Moore’s iconic and classic Blaxploitation film. The whole cast is fantastic and Murphy is back to fine form towing the line from funny to dramatic.

 

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out was probably, for me, one of the most entertaining films and film-watching experiences, of the year. Down from the cast to Johnson’s directing and taking his own twist on the genre.

 

Midsommar

The second feature by Hereditary director Ari Aster, Midsommar is an even bigger and longer slow-burn of a movie that is both disturbing, and beautiful to look at it. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple on the ropes, who go to Sweden with two others to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival, where things go very, very wrong. The less you know the better, but again, it’s a slow-burn movie that goes somewhere I didn’t see it going.

 

Parasite

Bong Hive! That’s it. That’s my description of why it’s here.

 

Ready or Not

I really loved Ready or Not. There wasn’t too much I can even say that I disliked, so yeah it was going to be put in this section. The movie followed Grace (Samara Weaving), who just married into the Le Domas family, but before she can really become family she must survive the night of a deadly game of Hide and Seek. The movie was treated like a horror comedy, and it felt just like that but without getting into the campy side of things. The cast is fantastic in the roles they play, to the point you can almost tell they were given the okay to just let loose as much as possible.

 

The Farewell

Based on an actual lie that writer/director Lulu Wang is apparently still upholding, a Chinese family discovers that their grandmother has a short time to live, so they fake a wedding to gather before she dies. The movie is absurd in a good way, and when it’s not being darkly funny, its borderline tugging on your heartstrings. It also, probably, changed a lot of opinions on Awkwafina – like myself – who only saw her as a comedy act.

 

Us

Jordan Peele’s second directorial feature was every bit as great as his first, Get Out. While Us goes more into the horror genre, it still plays with social commentary that had everyone talking. Plus, we got to see everyone in the cast play two very different versions of themselves, so yeah.

 

That’s it folks. It was definitely an interesting year for movies, films and everything in-between. What were your favorite, enjoyable, liked and best movies/films of the year? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Undecided? Nevertheless, here’s to another great and awesome year of movies and films.

Favorites of 2019 – Fight/Action Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Trailers & More

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Avengers: Endgame – Captain America, Iron Man and Thor vs. Thanos & Finale

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Huang and his Men (Knife Fight)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick Escapes on Motorcycle

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy – Cheung Tin-chi vs. Tso Ngan Kwan, Cheung Tin-chi vs. Sadi the Warrior & Cheung Tin-chi vs. Owen Davidson

Terminator: Dark Fate – Dani, Diego and Grace Escape the Rev-9

Triple Threat – Payu and Jaka vs. Collins & Payu vs. Collins (Final)

 

 

Honorable Mention

Alita: Battle Angel – Motorball Game

Dark Phoenix – X-Men, Magneto, Ariki and Selene vs. Aliens

Hellboy – Hellboy vs. The Three Giants

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie Escape Brixton (London)

Triple Threat – Jaka vs. Long Fei (Fight Club)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Shinobi 1 and Shinobi 2 & John Wick vs. Zero

 

 

Other Notable Action/Fight Sequences

Anna – Restaurant Brawl

Gemini Man – Henry and Junior Motorcycle Chase

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Monarch vs. Rodan

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Shaw vs. Brixton’s Men (Hattie’s Apartment)

Polar – Vincent vs. Hall Guards

Jumanji: The Next Level – The Bridge Escape

Stuber – Vic vs. Tedjo (Hotel Room)

Zombieland: Double Tap – Tallahassee and Columbus vs. Albuquerque and Flagstaff

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Alan Silvestri – Avengers: Endgame

Matt Morton – Apollo 11

Michael Abels – Us

The Haxan Cloak – Midsommar

 

Honorable Mentions

Hildur Guonadottir – Joker

Marius De Vries – Teen Spirit

Rob Simonsen – Captive State

 

 

MISC

CGI Pokemon – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Hoyte Van Hoytema – Ad Astra (Cinematography)

Pawel Pogorzelski – Midsommar (Cinematography)

Mysterio Illusion – Spider-Man: Far from Home

 

Honorable Mentions

Autumn Durald – Teen Spirit (Cinematography)

Henrik Svensson – Midsommar (Production Company)

Laurie Rose – Pet Sematary (Cinematography)

Lucian Johnston – Midsommar (Film Editing)

Lukasz Zal – Cold War (Cinematography/Photography)

Mike Gloulakis – Us (Cinematography)

Visual Effects Department – Alita: Battle Angel

 

Other Notable MISC.

Alex Disenhof – Captive State (Cinematography)

Dan Laustsen – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parrabellum (Cinematography)

Lawrence Sher – Joker (Cinematography)

Nicolas Wong – La Llorona (Cinematography)

 

 

 

Trailers

Avengers: Endgame #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

Black Widow – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxAtuMu_ph4&t=4s

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU8-7BX9uxs

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Teaser) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFmhKpZKlE

Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt9L1jCKGnE

No Time to Die – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1arJ05kcQ8

Wonder Woman 1984 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfM7_JLk-84

 

 

Honorable Mentions

1917 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcmZN0Mbl04

Anna – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYeBlgQdFg

Bad Boys for Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKCj3XuPG8M

Hobbs & Shaw – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SA7FaKxZVI

Hobbs & Shaw Trailer 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ7PAyCDwEg

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7XM597XO94

Jojo Rabbit – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL4McUzXfFI

Zombieland 2: Double Tap – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlW9yhUKlkQ

 

 

Other Notable Trailers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLEPhfEN2M

Antlers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEM5HW7q5dY

Little Monsters (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d1KP-OhBP4

The Gentlemen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B0RpUGss2c

 

Summer Movie Season 2019 Review

The 2019 Summer Movie Season is over!

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

 

The “I Have No Idea What to Think”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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

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

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

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

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

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

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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

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Brightburn

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

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Stuber

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

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Real Surprises of the Summer

Aladdin

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

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Crawl

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

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Least-Liked/Disappointments

Dark Phoenix

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

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

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

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Men in Black: International

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

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Child’s Play

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

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Shaft

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

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Honorable Mention

Toy Story 4

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Spider-Man: Far from Home

The Peanut Butter Falcon

 

My Favorite Movies of the Summer

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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

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Detective Pikachu

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

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Booksmart

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

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

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Midsommar

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

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

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The Farewell

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

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Ready or Not

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

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

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

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

3.5 out of 5

August Movie Releases

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

 

2nd

Limited Release – Them That Follow

Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, Them That Follow tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart. The film stars Alice Englert, Walton Goggins, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, Thomas Mann, Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Colman.

 

Limited Release – Luce

Based on a play by J.C. Lee, who also wrote the script; a married couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher (Octavia Spencer) threatens his status as an all-star student.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Universal Pictures

Synopsis: Directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2), lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain (Idris Elba) threatens the future of humanity. Hobbs & Shaw co-stars Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren.

Thoughts: The first spinoff, surprisingly, of the Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw follows up on the great bro-chemistry of Johnson and Statham from The Fate of the Furious, and it looks as ridiculous as you would expect from a Fast & Furious spinoff. Add in Elba as “Black Superman” and Kirby as a new Shaw sibling.

 

 

9th

Limited Release – Brian Banks

An All-American football player’s (Aldis Hodge) dreams to play in the NFL are halted when he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. Years later, he fights to clear his name within an unjust system. Brian Banks co-stars Greg Kinnear, Sherri Sheperd, Melanie Liburd and Tiffany Dupont.

 

Limited Release – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen, who really does have Down Syndrome) runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a wrestler come true. The film co-stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal, Jake Roberts, Mick Foley, Thomas Haden Church and Bruce Dern.

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain – 20th Century Fox

Based on the novel by Garth Stein, through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), golden retriever Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. The Art of Racing in the Rain co-stars Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker.

 

The Kitchen – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, BRON Studios, DC Vertigo

Synopsis: Written and directed by Andrea Berloff (co-writer of Straight Outta Compton), who is making her directorial debut, and based off the comic series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle; The wives of New York gangsters (played by Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish) in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison. The Kitchen co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Common, James Badge Dale, Bill Camp, and Margo Martindale.

Thoughts: When I read that McCarthy, Haddish and Moss were going to do a comic book movie adaptation I was pretty interested considering the subject matter. Granted, I had never heard of The Kitchen, but the trio itself is interesting enough to get me in the theater.

 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Walden Media

Dora (Isabela Moner), a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents (Michael Pena and Eva Longoria) and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold. Dora and the Lost City of Gold co-stars Eugenio Derbez, Jeff Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Temuera Morrison and the voices of Danny Trejo as Boots and Benicio Del Toro as Swiper.

 

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Lionsgate, CBS Films, Double Dare You, Sean Daniel Company, Entertainment One

Synopsis: Based off the acclaimed novel by Alvin Schwartz, produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Andre Ovredal (Trollhunters, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) a group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stars Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Natalie Ganzhorn, Gil Bellows, Kathleen Pollard, Javier Botet and Dean Norris.

Thoughts: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has been in the works for a quite a while with del Toro having been attached for so long, but ended up handing over the directorial duties to Ovredal, who made the terrific The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The movie will be blend all the stories together with an interconnect story were the book is written by the mysterious Sarah Bellows. Overall, the thing looks damn impressive, and the fact that it’s a pretty much unknown cast, I think it works a hell of a lot better.

 

 

14th

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Rovio Animation

The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their beef to the next level. The voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Maya Rudolph, Awkwafina, Dove Cameron, Tiffany Haddish and Sterling K. Brown.

 

 

16th

Blinded By the Light – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Ingenious Media, Levantine Films, Bend It Films, Rakija Films

In 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.

 

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, thefyzz

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Annapurna Pictures, United Artists Releasing, Color Force

Based on the novel by Maria Semple, and co-written and directed by Richard Linkalter; A loving mom (Cate Blanchett) becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette co-stars Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer, Emma Nelson, Zoe Chao, Troian Bellisario and Laurence Fishburne.

 

Good Boys – Universal Pictures, Good Universe, Point Grey Pictures

Three sixth grade boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party. Good Boys co-stars Molly Gordon, Lina Renna, Will Forte, Lil Rey Howery and Retta.

 

 

21st

Ready or Not – Fox Searchlight Pictures, Vinson Films, Mythology Entertainment

Synopsis: A bride’s (Samara Weaving) wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game. Ready or Not co-stars Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell.

Thoughts: I didn’t really know too much about this one until I saw the trailer, but I was instantly hooked. The cast is filled with some pretty decently known names. Plus, the idea of a kid’s game turning into a full-blown survival thriller sounds great to me.

 

23rd

Limited Release – Brittany Runs a Marathon

A woman (Jillian Bell) living in New York takes control of her life – one block at a time. Brittany Runs a Marathon co-stars Lil Rey Howery, Micah Stock and Michaela Watkins

 

Overcomer – Affirm Films, Provident Films

The movie will unpack a pivotal issue in the life students and adults alike

 

Angel Has Fallen – Summit Entertainment, Millennium Films, G-BASE

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for the attempted assassination of the President (Morgan Freeman) and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat. Angel Has Fallen co-stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson and Danny Huston.

 

30th

*Playmobil has been moved to December

 

Don’t Let Go – Blumhouse Productions, Briarcliff Entertainment, OTL Releasing

After a man’s (David Oyelowo) family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece (Storm Reid). He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not. Don’t Let Go co-stars Mykelti Williamson, Shinelle Azoroh and Byron Mann.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

2019 is here! So you know what that means – NEW MOVIES!

Of course, there are a lot of movies coming out this year, and while I’m looking forward to many of them, there are some that stand out among the rest. So here I am, give you my most anticipated movies of the year. It should be noted that of course things could change. For example, movies get shifted around, pulled off the schedule or new movies are put on the schedule that I end up really looking forward to.

So with that said, this list is based off the current schedule that’s out, and they’ll also be done by release date, because it’s just easier that way. Let’s get to it!

 

*Note: My Best/Favorite Movies of 2018 Podcast will be coming out hopefully this weekend. That’s why you haven’t seen it yet.*

 

Captain Marvel – March 8th

Yes, this list will include Marvel’s big three movies coming out – deal with it! Okay, now that that’s out of the way, Captain Marvel is something I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. Not only is the movie Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie, it has a pretty damn great cast. Brie Larson plays the titular hero, aka Carol Danvers, an army pilot who gets caught in the middle of an intergalactic war between two alien races – the Kree and the Skrulls. The movie will also be a good introduction to the character to a lot of people who don’t know anything about the character, and that said, Captain Marvel has some good stories to tell. Captain Marvel co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace and Annette Bening.

 

Us – March 15th

Jordan Peele is back behind the camera with another terrifying story, and this time he’s not hiding the creep factor like he did in the trailer for Get Out. Us follows a family (Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex), who while on a family vacation with friends run into some unexpected visitors. Everyone was talking about the trailer when it dropped on Christmas Day, and it was well worth it, because the trailer starts off innocent and slowly gets weird and creepy until it goes full-on “what the hell is going on?” and just like that, Us, has gone on a lot of people’s Must-Watch List. Us co-stars Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Anna Diop and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

 

Hellboy – April 12th

As hard as it might be for some – including myself – let’s move pass the notion that we will no longer get a third Hellboy movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. That said, the first trailer for the new Hellboy movie actually had me pretty excited. Directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), the new movie has Hellboy (David Harbour) facing off against an ancient sorceress (Milla Jovovich) named Nimue the Blood Queen bent on revenge. It looks like a Hellboy movie, and seeing Harbour get a lead role in a big movie like this is great. I was a fan of his before Stranger Things and seeing him finally get the recognition he deserves should be awesome to watch. Hellboy co-stars Sasha Lane, Penelope Mitchell, Daniel Dae Kim and Ian McShane.

 

Avengers: Endgame – April 26th

Arguably, the biggest Marvel film to date, Avengers: Endgame (yes, it’s called Endgame, you figured it out, good for you) finishes the story they started in Avengers: Infinity War. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect from this, and I like it. The story could pretty much go anywhere, and even though we’ve seen set photos, without that context, we’re just talking in the abyss. I always keep my expectations, hype or what-have-you at the door when watching big movies like this, but I don’t think I’ll be able to contain myself watching this in a theater with all the other fans around.

 

Detective Pikachu – May 10th

Loosely based – maybe – off the game of the same name, Tim (Justice Smith) meets an intelligent talking Pikachu (voiced and also apparently motion-captured by Ryan Reynolds) who help each other as they look into the mysterious disappearance of Tim’s father. I, like many probably reading this, grew up with Pokemon and have a special place in my heart for the property. However, I had my doubts about the movie, mainly because it was going to be a CGI-Live Action hybrid, and those tend to not be that great. But DAMN did the trailer change my mind. The world looks great, the designs of the Pokemon look great too, and might be unexpected; because I know I didn’t envision Pikachu with fur. Detective Pikachu co-stars Kathryn Newton, Karan Soni, Rita Ora, Suki Waterhouse, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – May 17th

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back again, and this time he’s being hunted down by everyone. At least that’s the impression we got after the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2. The first movie came out of nowhere, and now John Wick is one of the best action series out there. Are they simple (plot-wise)? Sure, but damn there are a lot of fun. John Wick: Chapter 3 co-stars Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Jason Mantzoukas, Robin Lord Taylor, Mark Dacascos and Anjelica Huston.

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – May 31st

The gigantic sequel follows the agency Monarch trying to control the chaos that is to come when Godzilla battles three new monsters that have been awaken in Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah. I know the first new Godzilla didn’t get a lot of love, but I personally enjoyed it. Now, not only do we get a sequel, but one that has all of the well-known other monsters we’ve come to know and love/hate. It also helps that the trailers are also great, and it looks epic! Godzilla: King of the Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Ziyi Zhang, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Thomas Middleditch, Bradley Whitford and Charles Dance

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home – July 5th

The last Marvel movie of the year, Spider-Man: Far From Home follows Peter (Tom Holland) and his friends on a summer vacation to Europe, where Peter is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to stop a powerful threat. Of course, there have been a lot of set photos to come out, and it’s also been revealed that Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck aka Mysterio isn’t a villain and will be working with Spider-Man. Other than that, we don’t know much, but given that Homecoming was a great new addition, Far From Home should be good too, right? Spider-Man: Far From Home co-stars Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei.

 

Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw – August 2nd

A spinoff of the Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw follows Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) teaming up with once again with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Despite how you feel about the Fast & Furious franchise – I personally think they are the ultimate turn-off-your-brain/have fun with it movies – the addition of Johnson’s Hobbs and Statham’s Shaw added a much needed boost to the franchise. Plus, the chemistry between Johnson and Statham was one of the best things about The Fate of the Furious, so a spinoff announcement had me onboard. Add on the fact that the movie will be directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and have Idris Elba as the villain. Come on, I’m getting in line opening night. Hobbs & Shaw co-stars Vanessa Kirby, Eddie Marsan and Eiza Gonzalez.

 

Honorable Mentions

Glass – January 18th

The Prodigy – February 8th

The Curse of La Llorona – April 19th

Brightburn – May 24th

Men in Black International – June 14th

Toy Story 4 – June 21st

The Lion King – July 19th

It: Chapter 2 – September 6th

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – August 9th

Zombieland 2 – October 11th

Are You Afraid of the Dark? – October 11th

Star Wars: Episode IX – December 20th

 

So, what movies are you looking forward to this year?