February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

How’s the cold treating you? Because it sure as hell SUCKED here in the Chicago-land area!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. It’s also the month that is bringing the end to a beloved franchise. So, let’s get to it!

 

1st

Limited Release: Arctic

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. The film is the feature film debut of Joe Penna aka Mystery Guitar Man from Youtube fame.

 

Miss Bala

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness and strength. The movie is, unbeknownst to me for some time, a remake of a Spanish film of the same name and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood). Honestly, I don’t have a lot of interest in watching this. The trailer does nothing for me, and why I hear Gina Rodriguez is great on her show Jane the Virgin, that may not mean she’s good to lead a movie. Hey, I could be wrong, and part of me hope I am, but another thing the movie has against it is its coming out on Super Bowl weekend, and movies coming out this weekend don’t tend to do too well. Miss Bala co-stars Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matt Lauria, Thomas Dekker and Anthony Mackie.

 

8th

Limited Release: Everybody Knows

Laura (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open. Everybody Knows co-stars Javier Bardem.

 

What Men Want

A gender-swap of the 2000 Mel Gibson-led movie What Women Want, this movie has Ali (Taraji P. Henson) is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession. However, she gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear their thoughts. The gender-swapping trend continues this year, and why I’m sure this movie will find its audience, What Men Wants may be one of those movies that gets lost in the shuffle for me. What Men Want co-stars Josh Brener, Max Greenfield, Aldis Hodge, Kellan Lutz, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Tracy Morgan.

 

The Prodigy

A mother (Taylor Schilling) concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him. This one pretty much came out of nowhere, mainly because of its test screening stories. According to multiple reports, and confirmed by its director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), The Prodigy had to be re-edited because the movie was TOO SCARY. Apparently, test audiences missed parts of the movie because they were recovering from the scares. Reading that, and then watching the trailer, I can believe that, because I never heard of the movie until I saw the trailer – in theaters – and that last bit scared the crap out of the whole audience, including me. Needless to say, this is one to put on the Must-Watch List.

 

Cold Pursuit

Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, a snowplow driver (Liam Neeson) seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son. Leaving the cheesy feeling of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” playing in the trailer, Cold Pursuit looks like it’s playing with the notion of Neeson playing the badass hero. I actually loved his delivery of the reading a lot of crime novels, so of course he’s ready to kill people. There’s also the feeling that this is a payoff of the joke in Daddy’s Home 2, but hey, seeing Neeson on the big screen beating the crap out of people? I’m in. Cold Pursuit co-stars Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern and William Forsythe.  

 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. I loved the first LEGO movie, and still do. That said, the trailers for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part are just okay, but I want to say part of that is to hide the story of the movie, and maybe even some of the jokes. I’m still going to be sitting in a packed theater opening weekend, so yeah. The voice cast from the first returns, but new additions include Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish.

 

13th

Isn’t It Romantic

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy. I kind of like the concept of this, but the trailer just doesn’t make me actually buy it.  Isn’t It Romantic co-stars Adam Devine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Jennifer Saunders.

 

Happy Death Day 2U

Tree (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. Listen, I was onboard the hate wagon for Happy Death Day, but then I watched it and damn I ended up actually liking it. It knew was it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. That said, when I heard about the sequel, I wasn’t too surprised, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this just a bit. Happy Death Day 2U co-stars Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Yarkin and Phi Vu.

 

14th

Fighting with My Family

Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and inspired by the life of WWE superstar Paige, a former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment. I’m actually a huge wrestling fan – and not just WWE – and knowing some of Paige’s actual story, part of me isn’t surprised it got turned into a movie. The movie itself does look pretty great, although just by seeing the trailer, it looks like they are taking some liberties already. Fighting With My Family co-stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Co-written by James Cameron, directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on the anime of the same name; the movie is set in the future where Alita (Rosa Salazar) tries to discover the truth of what she really is, and fight to change the world. This one could easily been written off, but the recent word of mouth for the movie is pretty, and slightly surprisingly, positive. It was also suppose to come out last year, but the push back could have helped the movie. I’m also really looking forward to it. Alita: Battle Angel co-stars Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Casper Van Dien, Mahershala Ali, Jackie Earle Haley and Jennifer Connelly.

 

22nd

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. I hate myself for saying it, but I yet to watch a How to Train Your Dragon movie, despite my best efforts to watch them. So I’m a bit bummed to think I’m going to miss seeing at least one of these movies in theaters.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! Compared to last year, February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. So let’s get to it!

 

2nd

Winchester (CBS Films, Blacklab Entertainment)

Eccentric firearm heiress believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. I had some doubts about the movie at first – even with Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke attached – but seeing the first trailer really got me onboard. Then I did some background on the actual Winchester house, and well, that got me even more hooked. Plus, it’s Helen freaking Mirren in a horror movie .Winchester co-stars Sarah Snook, Tyler Coppin and Angus Sampson.

 

9th

Limited Release: La Boda de Valentina

Jason (Ryan Carnes) and Valentina (Marimar Vega) get engaged, Valentina is hesitant about introducing Jason to her family. However, things get even more complicated when Valentina’s ex, Angel (Omar Chaparro) comes into the picture and not only tries to win Valentina back, but also starts a little competition with Jason.

 

Peter Rabbit (Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, Animal Logic and Olive Bridge Entertainment)

An animated comedic take on the classic Beatrix Potter’s tale and character, the movie follows Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden), who tries to make Mr. McGregor’s (Domhnall Gleeson) life a living hell after he closes the gates to his vegetable garden and tries to kick them all out of the forest. I honesty have nothing for this. When I heard there was going to be a Peter Rabbit movie, I didn’t want it to be this.

 

The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and Malpaso Productions)

Directed by Clint Eastwood, and based on the true story and event that happens in 2015, three American soldiers stop a terrorist attack on a train bound to Paris. In an added bonus, Eastwood cast the real heroes of that day – Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone – to essentially reenact their heroic from that day. This is also the second real-life event turned into a movie for Eastwood, both of which only took a mere minutes – the other being Sully. Here, the movie will also focus on the younger years of the three heroes before the attack on the train. The 15:17 to Paris also stars Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Tony Hale, Thomas Lennon and Jaleel White.

 

Fifty Shades Freed (Universal Pictures)

The third and final installment of the Fifty Shades series, the movie sees Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) finally married, but both face threats to can ruin their new happy life. I…don’t really care for these movies. They’re not targeted toward me, and I haven’t watched any of them, which means, that I wouldn’t be watching this.

 

16th

Limited Release: Samson (Pure Flix Productions and Boomtown Films)

After losing the love of his life to a cruel Philistine prince, a young Hebrew (Taylor James) with supernatural strength defends his people, sacrificing everything to avenge his love, his people and his God. Samson also stars Billy Zane, Caitlin Leahy, Jackson Rathbone, Lindsay Wagner and Rutger Hauer.

 

Early Man (Lionsgate, Aardman Animations and StudioCanal)

Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne), along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City to save their home. Claymation is a toss-up, but Early Man looks like it could be a surprise hit, especially with the rest of the voice cast that includes Maisie Williams, Richard Ayoade and Timothy Spall.

 

Black Panther (Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures)

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed), Black Panther follows T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. Look, I’m not going to lie – I’m pumped for this. This is a long time coming too, and to finally see Black Panther getting his own movie, and looking this good? Come on! Black Panther co-stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

 

23rd

Every Day (Orion Pictures, MGM, Likely Story)

Based on the novel by David Levithan, a shy teenager (Angourie Rice) falls for someone who transforms into another person every day. I know this movie isn’t targeted for me, but the concept sounds kind of interesting, although this is tight week already with the movies I’m going to talk about in a bit. Every Day co-stars Colin Ford, Debby Ryan, Owen Teague, Justice Smith, Jacob Batalon and Maria Bello.

 

Game Night (Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Aggregate Films and Davis Entertainment)

A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery. I didn’t think too much about this, until I saw the trailer and I immediately was onboard. Game Night stars Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Kylie Bunbury and Kyle Chandler.

 

Annihilation (Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, DNA Films and Scott Rudin Productions)

Based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, and adapted by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), a biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. I’ve heard about the book for a while, and hearing all the great things about the book, and seeing the trailer to this, Annihilation jumped from my must watch list to my most anticipated movies of the year. Annihilation co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Benedict Wong and Oscar Isaac.

What are you looking forward to?

‘The Great Wall’ Review

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Director: Zhang Yimou

Writers: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Tony Gilroy

Cast: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau, Lu Han, Hanyu Zhang, Kenny Lin, Eddie Peng, Xuan Huang, Ryan Zheng, Karry Wang and Willem Dafoe.

Synopsis: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

 

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

 

The Great Wall received a lot, and I mean a lot, of criticism when the trailer was released showing Matt Damon surrounded by Asian actors and by the look of it, saving them and China from monsters. After all of it, director Zhang Yimou and Andy Lau came out and said that was not the case, and that the character was always written to be non-Asian, but people still were angry – without watching the film. Now, that the film is out, I know people will still keep to their stance not seeing past Damon’s casting, but if you can get past that – especially seeing that Damon is the true savior of China in the film – we get a descent and passable action film.

The film follows William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), mercenaries that came from Europe to China seeking the fabled “black powder” to make them rich. However, they find The Great Wall of China instead with a massive army inside that call themselves The Nameless Order. Once within, they discover that China is under attack from monsters the Order have called the Tao Tei. Once they prove themselves to the Generals, including Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), they are recruited to stop the monsters from breaching the Great Wall and attacking the world. However, Tovar and William are conflicted once the fight becomes more dangerous. Tovar wants to complete the mission they were on, while William wants to stay and fight.

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People will have their opinions about The Great Wall, but the way I looked at it – without spoiling it of course – Damon’s William isn’t the “White Savior” many thought he would be. Does he play a factor to the end game? Yes, there’s no denying that, but at least from what I saw, he isn’t the key to killing the monsters like many thought or the trailers would have you believe. Is he special? Sure, he’s really good with a bow. That’s it. Once you get past Damon’s weird accent, and sometimes what feels like wooden acting, William is a character drawn to two worlds. He’s a mercenary that kills for others and money, but once he meets The Nameless Order and Commander Lin, he sees there are other reasons to fight.

When it comes to the rest of the cast Pedro Pascal has great chemistry with Damon, and because of that I wished he had more screen time. Tian Jing’s Commander Lin has some great moments scattered throughout, and being the only real female character in the film it was good to see. Also, she’s not a love interest! She does have an effect on Damon’s William, but it more of a respect than romantic – although you can make the argument probably. Willem Dafoe on the other hand is pretty much wasted here. Besides adding some insight in what is going on, he doesn’t really do anything and could have been played by anyone else.

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When it comes to the action, it’s pretty good despite the massive amount of CGI monsters. That shouldn’t be too surprising considering the man that directed this in Zhang Yimou. From films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers, the action is pretty great and filled with great cinematography, and heart-pounding score that Zhang is accustomed to. Moreover, when it comes to the creatures, the designs aren’t that bad and their design makes them difficult to fill as well. Also, the fact that most TV spots or trailers never really fully showed them off was impressive.

All in all, people are going to have their opinions on The Great Wall as a film and politically, which is fine. I just hope people can look past that and find some enjoyment in the film. It’s not perfect, most of the characters don’t get enough screen time or are not even developed at all, and there a small subplot that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t do really anything for the film – at least personally. But, the end game of it all, the film is a passable action film.

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The Great Wall

3.5 out of 5

‘A Cure for Wellness’ Review

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Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Justin Haythe

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Harry Groener and Jason Isaacs

Synopsis: An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.

 

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

 

Gore Verbinski is one of those director’s who makes films that you like or don’t. Sure the same can be said for all directors, but Verbinski also has a weird filmography. From The Mexican, The Ring to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and finally The Lone Ranger. So while A Cure for Wellness had some potential from the trailers, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to see the film that had a lot of potential and sparks of great scenes, to fall apart.

The film follows Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young executive at a financial service firm in New York City who is ordered by his board to go get the firm’s CEO, Pembrooke (Harry Groener), at a spa resort in the Swiss Alps after he sends them a weird letter. However, there is extra incentive for Lockhart in getting back the CEO sooner rather than later, but when Lockhart arrives and Pembrooke doesn’t want to leave, Lockhart leaves to regroup only to get into an accident, get a broken leg and has to stay at the resort. However, the more Lockhart stays, the more mysterious and disturbing the resort is.

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Despite what I said at the beginning, A Cure for Wellness does have some great things going for it. The cinematography by Bojan Bazelli, who has worked with Verbinski on The Ring and The Lone Ranger, is equal parts beautiful and horrifying. Add on the production design and the film looks like it could be set in any time period, with the exception of Lockhart using a cell phone at the beginning of the film. Also, the nice little touches of horror that Verbinski scatters throughout the film adds to the sense of mystery and dread the film needs.

However, when it comes to everything else, it’s a huge hit-or-miss. A Cure for Wellness has too much going on for its good, and that’s saying something considering the film is two-and-a-half hours long. The film essentially has three different stories going on, but only two of them actually make the film worthwhile. Those two storylines involve the history of the resort and how it connects to the head doctor in Volmer (Jason Isaacs) and Hannah (Mia Goth), the only other young person around. There is a third plot point that involves Dane DeHaan’s Lockhart and a personal tragedy, but it doesn’t really feel like it serves the overall narrative, and could have easily been cut out.

When it comes to the cast, the strongest member is Mia Goth, but the negative aspect is that she’s not in the film enough. Hannah serves a great purpose, but the true nature isn’t revealed until the final act, and by then you’d probably figure it out so the impact is lessened. However, it doesn’t make her journey great to watch. When it comes to DeHaan, he’s feel a bit miscasted at the beginning of the film. He’s plays off as “tough” Wall Street guy, but it comes off a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s just me, and it’s nothing against DeHaan either, because I think he’s a great actor when given the right material, and once he’s stripped of the Wall Street guy, he’s good. When it comes to Jason Isaacs, well, at this point he can play a bad guy or mysterious/maybe evil character in his sleep.

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However, the biggest issue I have with the film is the length. I’m not one to usually complain about a film’s length, but A Cure for Wellness’ biggest weakness is how long it is. Like I said before, some of the secrets you could probably figure out or, at least, guess so it takes away some of the impact the reveals have. Another added factor to the length is there are scenes that could have easily been cut, and not affect the final product, and potentially make the film better.

All in all, A Cure for Wellness was a –personal– disappointment. While the film does introduce some interesting concepts it fails to really execute on them or makes them fall flat instead of excite. The only real saving grace in the film is the fantastic visuals, production design and score.

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A Cure for Wellness

3 out of 5

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Review

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Director: Chris McKay

Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, & John Whittington

Voice Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Mariah Carey, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ellie Kemper and Billy Dee Williams

Synopsis: Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

 

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

 

No one knew what to think when The LEGO Movie came out, and then we watched it, everyone (okay not everyone) fell in love with it. Something many agreed was the standout was LEGO Batman, so when it was announced that LEGO Batman would be getting a spinoff, it seemed right and logical. And before you ask, no, you don’t have to watch The LEGO Movie in order to watch The LEGO Batman Movie, in fact, the film stands on its own. So was the gamble worth it? Yes, yes it was.

The LEGO Batman Movie starts off with a pretty lengthy and action-packed opening where Batman (Will Arnett) takes on what looks to be his entire rogues gallery lead by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis). Afterwards, he returns to Wayne Manor on Wayne Island where he essentially lives by himself with the expectation of Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), and lives his life as a lonely man. However, that changes when Jim Gordon retires and his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is bought in to be the new commissioner and wants to work with the Batman to finally end crime in Gotham, which of course he doesn’t like. Add on the fact that while be distracted as Bruce Wayne, he unknowingly adopts an orphan in Richard Grayson (Michael Cera), or as the other kids in the orphanage call him, Dick. What follows is Batman bringing Dick into the fold and discovering what it means to work together and be a part of a team.

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While the film may be for kids, there is enough here for hardcore Batman fans. The film really digs deep into the core of the character and what makes him tick. The film makes fun of how long the character’s been around, but at the same time it brings up the obvious questions fans, and non-fans, bring up about him. It never gets to the point that it brings the character down – as it shouldn’t – but just enough to make you really think back and criticize the character and his actions. However, it all wrapped up as a huge love letter to Batman and it works on much a personal and ambitious level, and all done in LEGO form.

The voice cast is pretty spot on with Will Arnett, once again, being the highlight once again. He has this ability to tap into Batman that makes him comes off as both a jerk at times, but also a charming character. Michael Cera is a close second to stealing the show from Arnett as Dick Grayson/Robin as he’s equal parts naïve, adventurous and funny, moreover he’s the perfect opposite to Batman. Ralph Fiennes is pretty spot on as Alfred, Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon does the best with what’s she’s given, and is a nice non-villain foil/love interest to Batman.

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Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, which I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on when he was casted does a great job. Seeing him be down on the dumps when Batman tells him he’s “fighting around” is both hilarious and a bit heartbreaking in its own way. To go a bit nerdy, hearing Billy Dee Williams voice Two-Face –albeit in a small role – was still cool to hear. The rest of the villain cast don’t really have big moments like Joker, and some other villains Joker recruits – which leads to a fun introduction and funny moments – so I won’t get too much into them. Finally, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return to voice Superman and Green Lantern in a fun cameo appearance.

While I’m sure many will find some things wrong or misplaced with the film, the film lags for a only a bit, The LEGO Batman Movie nows who the audience is. One thing I do love about the film is it stands on its own. Despite one moment in the film, it stands on itself and doesn’t rely on The LEGO Movie to keep it up – not that it really needed it – I mean, come on, it’s LEGO Batman for crying out loud.

All in all, The LEGO Batman Movie is all around fun. Whether you’re a hardcore Batman fan or not the film has just about everything for everybody watching. More importantly, the film knows and understands the character, which makes the film feel like the ultimate love letter, and the perfect one.

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The LEGO Batman Movie

4.5 out of 5

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Review

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Director: Chad Stahelski

Writer: Derek Kolstad

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarico, Common, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Claudia Gerini, Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne

Synopsis: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

 

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

 

Back in 2014, the first John Wick came out and everyone was surprised how great it was. It could have easily gone under the radar as a dumb fun action thriller with Keanu Reeves getting revenge of the people that killed his dog. But, the film became an instant favorite with everyone that watched it because of the crazy action/fight sequences with “gun-fu” and how the film felt like a throwback to the eighties and early nineties action films. So, when it was announced that John Wick: Chapter 2 was happened, fans eagerly waited what The Boogeyman’s next adventure would have in store. Little tease – lots and lots more of headshots.

Chapter 2 opens up with a long action sequence that follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves) getting his car back, and once he gets it back he returns home where once again put his guns and gold coins away so he can live out his retirement. Of course, nothing is that easy in this world, and gets a visit from an old acquaintance in Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who is calling in a favor, blood markers as they call them, that Wick owes him. The catch is if Wick doesn’t do it, he will be killed or despite declining the offer John eventually does do the favor which ends up with him getting a bounty placed on his head. Watch follows is John Wick doing what he does best.

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John Wick: Chapter 2 wastes little time throwing us back into the world of the mysterious assassination guild that involves The Continental. What was just teased and mentioned in the first film is fleshed out just a bit more here. Of course, not everything is explored and answered, which adds a fun layer to the film, but not knowing everything is what makes the film so damn fun. I mean, seeing John Wick shooting people in the head is a hell of a lot of fun too, the world this film takes place in is great to explore too.

Like the first film, Chapter 2 is carried by Keanu Reeves, who let’s face it, was born to play John Wick. Reeves continues to play Wick as a calm, collective and quiet kick-ass hitman who loves headshots. While the character isn’t as conflicted here like he was in the first film, there are a couple of moments that show John Wick’s humanity. Seriously, I can watch Reeves shot people in the head for three hours and not get bored.

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The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss. Riccardo Scamarcio’s D’Antonio just gives off villain-vibes and is somehow easily unlikeable. Ruby Rose plays Ares, a mute henchwoman that tussles with John throughout the film, Common plays Cassian, a guard to Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini), who gives John a run for his money on multiple occasions. Ian McShane and Lance Reddick have just a little more to do than they did the first time around and Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King, although he’s never referred to as that, is someone who has a history with John and doesn’t appear until the end of the second act of the film, but it was awesome to see Reeves and Fishburne together on the big screen again.

All in all, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a damn good fun time. The action is pumped to eleven and the world building continues to help elevate the world introduced in the first film. I think as long as Keanu Reeves can keep doing the intense action scenes, I’ll be down for ten more John Wick films.

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John Wick: Chapter 2

4 out of 5

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! Compared to last year, February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. So let’s get to it!

 

3rd

Limited Release: The Comedian 

A look at the life of an aging insult comic, played by Robert De Niro. The film also stars Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Hannibal Buress, Edie Falco, Patti LuPone, Gilbert Gottfried, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Keitel and Billy Crystal.

 

Rings (Horror – Paramount Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment)

The third film in The Ring series, this film finds a young woman who finds out she is the newest target of the terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in 7 days. The film was suppose to come out last year for a while, before it got pulled a month before its release. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about this movie. The Rings 2 was nowhere near as good as the first film, but if the trailers continue to show stuff that looks interesting, then maybe I’ll give it a chance. Maybe.

 

The Space Between Us (Adventure Drama Romance – STX Entertainment, Southpaw Entertainment, Los Angeles Media Fund)

The first human born on Mars, Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson) to find his father. The film got pushed back to this date after being scheduled to be released late last year, but for whatever reason it’s coming out now. The film looks okay, although it looks a bit too teenager romance to me, but the cast is pretty great. The rest of the cast includes Carla Gugino, Janet Montgomery, David House, BD Wong and Gary Oldman.

 

10th

Limited Release: A United Kingdom (Drama)

Based on the true story, Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman (Rosamund Pike) from London in the late 1940s. The film also stars Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Jessica Oyelowo and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

 

Fifty Shades Darker (Romance Drama – Universal Pictures)

James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Cards) comes in to direct the second film for the popular – among some people – books. This time it finds Christian (Jamie Dornan) wrestling with his inner demons, as Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) confronts the anger and envy of the women who came before her. I never watched the first film, and have no intention to, but I know there are fans out there, so here you go. The film also stars Kim Basinger, Tyler Hoechlin, Bella Heathcote, Max Martini, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Fay Materson, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Eric Johnson and Marica Gay Harden.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Action Thriller – Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Pictures)

Legendary and mythical hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement again when a former associate plots to seize control of an international assassins’ guild. The result is John going to Rome to stop it and with a bounty on his head. John Wick was a massive surprise to everyone, and the sequel is on most people’s radar – including mine – so I can’t wait to see how the up the ante and what they have in store action wise. The film also stars Common, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Peter Stormare, Bridget Moynahan, Peter Serafinowicz, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fisburne, and Ian McShane

 

The LEGO Batman Movie (Animated Action Comedy – Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, DC Entertainment, Animal Logic)

A spinoff film from The LEGO Movie, it features, of course, LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). The film follows Batman/Bruce Wayne as he has to deal with working with others, and raising the orphan boy he adapted in Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera). LEGO Batman was a major highlight in The LEGO Movie, so seeing him get his own movie is, I can only imagine, a great move. The voice cast also includes Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn and Mariah Carey as The Mayor of Gotham.

 

17th

Fist Fight (Comedy – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/21 Laps Entertainment/Wrigley Pictures)

When one school teacher (Charlie Day) gets the other (Ice Cube) fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight. We probably aren’t expecting too much from Fist Fight, but the film looks decently funny, so let’s give it a show. The film also stars Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Jillian Bell, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Dennis Haysbert and Tracy Morgan

 

The Great Wall (Action – Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/Kava Productions/Le Vision Pictures)

Directed by Yimou Zhang, the film centers on the mystery centering around the construction of the Great Wall of China. The film already has a lot of eyes on it with the “white washing” controversy, even though director Yimou Zhang said he wrote the role of Matt Damon specifically for Damon, and the film isn’t just about Damon’s “white” character saving everyone. Regardless of all that, The Great Wall has a great international cast of Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Numan Acar, Eddie Peng, and Tian Jing.

 

A Cure for Wellness (Horror – New Regency Productions/Studio Babelsberg/Blind Wink Productions)

Directed Gore Verbinski, the film follows a young executive (Dane DeHaan), who is sent to bring back the company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. However, he soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. The film looks really eerie and creepy, and I can’t wait to see what Verbinski does with this. The film also stars Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs.

 

24th

Limited Release: Bitter Harvest

Based on historical events, the film tells the story of the Holodomor, the genocidal famine created by the Joseph Stalin. The film follows a group of people that rebel and try to fight the powerful forces looming over them.

 

Limited Release: Tulip Fever

Based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, an artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam. The film has a pretty impressive cast of Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Cara Delevingne, Kevin McKidd, Tom Hollander, Holliday Grainger, Zach Galifianakis and Judi Dench

 

Rock Dog (Animation – Lionsgate/Dream Factory Group/Huayi Tencent Entertainment Company/Mandoo Pictures/Eracme Entertainment)

When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events. The voice cast includes Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon and Sam Elliott.

 

Collide (Action Thriller – Open Road Films, Silver Pictures, IM Global Film Fund, DMG Entertainment, 42)

An American backpacker (Nicholas Hoult) gets involved with a ring of drug smugglers as their driver, though he winds up on the run from his employers across Cologne high-speed Autobahn. The film was supposed to come out last year, and it didn’t look that bad from the trailers. It looked like a fun little action film that would be passable, but got pushed back for some reason. The film also stars Felicity Jones, Marwan Kenzari, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley.

 

Get Out (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/QC Entertainment)

Directed by Jordan Peele, a young African American (Daniel Kaluuya) man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) cursed family estate. The film looks like a real psychological horror film, and the fact that’s directed by Jordan Peele is pretty interesting. Also that first trailer was just ridiculously crazy. The rest of the cast includes Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Caleb Landry Jones, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford.

 

What are you looking forward to?