Monthly Rewind for February

Hello, everybody!

The second edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing February! (I know it’s late, going through some laptop changes and had to switch everything over)

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Cop Out

District 13: Ultimatum

The Wolfman

From Paris with Love

Shutter Island

The Crazies

 

Thoughts: There were a few disappointments this month in Kevin Smith’s action comedy Cop Out starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, which was heavily reported that Smith and Willis fought on set – which is probably the only thing that people remember from this movie. Then there was Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, which cast-wise (Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins) and practical effects of the titular character (done by the legendary Rick Baker) were all done right, but execution of the movie left a lot – A LOT – to be desired.

Another slight disappointment was District 13: Ultimatum. The sequel to the highly touted District B13, which blew up when it reached here in the States, didn’t really have the right amount of energy as the first. Sure the budget was bigger, but there was just something off about it.

From Paris with Love was, and still is, a weird movie. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays an employee at the US Embassy who gets paired with a spy, played by John Travolta (yes, you read that right, and his name was Charlie Wax) to stop a terrorist attack. You want to see Travolta in a cheesy, over-the-top role, this is it.

Shutter Island came out this month which gave us the twisty, dark tale of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Teddy Daniels trying to catch killer on an island for the criminally insane. Of course, it’s the ending that sticks out for everyone, with some figuring it out and others, arguably, still not really understanding the ending.

Finally, The Crazies, one of the better remakes out there, is a solid horror thriller about a small town that gets effected by a virus making everyone, well, crazy. Lead by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, it is definitely one you should check out if you haven’t already.

 

 

2011

I Am Number Four

Unknown

Drive Angry

Thoughts: aka the lightless February on the list. We’ll start with the Liam Neeson-starring Unknown, which saw him playing a man waking up from a coma, only to find out that someone else has taking over life, along with his wife. It’s probably one of the more forgettable Neeson-starring action movies, especially with a weird, and pretty unnecessary twist.

I Am Number Four, based on a book series, had an interesting concept – aliens and their guardians hid on Earth to avoid being killed by alien bounty hunters. The aliens can only be killed in numerical order, and we follow Four (Alex Pettyfer). It wasn’t a bad movie, but it also wasn’t a great movie. At least we got Teresa Palmer.

Finally, Drive Angry. Look, this movie knew EXACTLY what it was, and was not afraid of even going beyond that. Nicolas Cage hamming it up, William Fichtner hamming it up too as a character only called The Accountant, and for those interested, Amber Heard in short shorts. I love how cheesy this damn movie is and no one is going to tell me any damn different!

 

 

2012

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Goon

Act of Valor

The Innkeepers

This Means War

Chronicle

Safe House

Thoughts: This is the year that studios started bulking up February. I’m going to start off with two movies I happened to see at a short-lived action film festival in Goon and Tomorrow, When the War Began. Goon has picked up some love thanks to streaming, and followed Sean William Scott playing a “goon” aka a hockey player who is there only to start fights. It leads to a showdown with another “goon” played, surprisingly, but Liev Schreiber.

Tomorrow, When the War Began, based on a book series, is basically an Australian Red Dawn, with a Mad Max chase in the middle of the film. I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but I remember enjoying the hell out of it when I saw it. It could have been the film festival vibe, but I’ll get back to you on this.

Act of Valor has probably been forgotten in time, but at the time it was released, it heavily promoted that it was lead by a cast of mostly real-life former soldiers, which lead to it feeling a bit ridged or wooden in the performance camp, but the action sometimes felt like watching a Call of Duty mission.

Next on the list is Ti West’s The Innkeepers, which I know has a lot of fans, but personally I’m not the biggest fan of it. I appreciated the old school homage that West was going for, but it just lacked a certain something for me.

Look, This Means War is not a perfect movie, nor was it the best use of Tom Hardy or Chris Pine…BUT, I hate to say that I enjoyed watching the back-and-forth between Hardy and Pine as best friends/spies who fall for the same women, played by Reese Witherspoon.

Safe House was one of those movies that I really liked when I first watched it. I’ve watched it once since the release and some parts still stick out to me, but for the most part it stuff that you’ve usually seen before. Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA agent who is tasked to look after a fugitive (Denzel Washington), and both go on the run when the CIA safe house gets attacked. It’s a pretty entertaining action thriller for the most part.

Finally, Chronicle. It’s a rough sell now, considering the actions my Max Landis – the writer – and the allegedly bad work ethic of director Josh Trank (who went on to direct Fantastic Four, where the work ethic story came from). All that said though, looking back at the movie it shocked a lot of people, and meshed the superhero genre and found footage genre together to flip it on its head. The three leads in Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan (yes, he was in it) and Alex Russell did a great job of playing teenagers who get superpowers, and of course, eventually it gets to their heads – some more than others.

 

 

2013

Dark Skies

Snitch

Bullet to the Head

Identity Thief

Side Effects

A Good Day to Die Hard

Warm Bodies

Thoughts: This year was definitely a weird one. Let’s start off with Dark Skies, which I don’t think anyone remembers, I barely remember it. It followed a family that was getting haunted by aliens. It, it wasn’t good. Let’s follow it up with Snitch, a Dwayne Johnson-led drama, which was reportedly based on a true story, which followed a father, who works with the DEA to free his son after his son is set up in a drug deal. It’s not the typical Johnson movie we know of him now, but it just didn’t click the way I think they want to.

Speaking of things not really clicking, A Bullet in the Head, which starred Sylvester Stallone, a hitman, and Sung Kang, a detective who have to work together to bring down the hitman (Jason Momoa) who killed their partners. This is another I don’t remember too much from either, but I did remember it being a little too cheesy for a movie in 2013.

Identity Thief was one of Melissa McCarthy not-as-good comedies (I’m sure some of you are saying none) where she plays a, well, identity thief to Jason Bateman’s Sandy. Bateman’s Sandy then goes after her and it leads to an odd-couple buddy comedy. It also had a weird subplot with bounty hunters chasing after McCarthy. Like I said, not great, but just okay.

Let’s go from just okay to what the hell, with A Good Day to Die Hard. The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise where we see Bruce “I’m here to get paid” Willis team up with his now CIA operative son (played by Jai Courtney) in Russia to stop a nuclear threat, and ridiculousness ensues. Look, I love Die Hard and even Die Hard with a Vengeance. But this was SOO far removed from what Die Hard was it doesn’t even feel like a Die Hard movie. At all.  

Let’s move on to Steven Soderbergh’s twisty mystery drama Side Effects. It followed Rooney Mara, a woman who kills her husband (Channing Tatum) and it may have been because of bad prescribed drugs given to her. Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones also appear and I remember when I first saw it I was a little confused about the whole thing. It took a second viewing to getting a better grasp of everything. I wouldn’t say it’s Soderbergh’s best, but it was the first time I started to recognize Mara’s name.

Finally, Warm Bodies, a horror comedy romance in the vein of Romeo and Juliet, where a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) saves a living-women Julie (Teresa Palmer) and the two start a friendship/odd romance. Honestly, when I first saw it I thought it would be dumb, but once you pass the concept, it’s actually pretty entertaining for the most part. Hoult and Palmer definitely make it through while with some nice supporting cast performances by Rob Corddry and John Malkovich.

 

 

2014

Pompeii

Non-Stop

Robocop

The Lego Movie

Thoughts: Oh, 2014. Okay, let’s start off with the bad movies: Pompeii and Robocop. Pompeii saw Kit Harrington play a slave-turned-gladiator who has to save the love of his life from a corrupt Roman senator as Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. Honestly, the only thing that really pops out to me thinking about this is Kit Harington looked JACKED, and the ending of the movie. Not the movie’s ending, no, I’m talking about some of the people in my theater when the ending happened. I heard, I kid you not, loudly auditable gasp and “why!?” Clearly those people did not know about Mount Vesuvius, and I was very disappointed.

The remake of Robocop was…a movie? I’m not anti-remake/reboot/reimaging but Robocop gave me a real argument to be that person. Not only did the movie miss the entire point of the original, it really did nothing to stick out on its own, other than the lackluster new suit.

Okay, let’s move to a descent movie in Non-Stop, the second movie in the Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra team-up. Non-Stop had Neeson playing an air marshal who, in a transatlantic flight, has to find a terrorist onboard after being sent a text that someone on the flight will die every twenty minutes. It’s not Neeson/Collet-Serra’s best movie together, but it’s a descent thriller.

Finally, the biggest February movie at this point was The LEGO Movie. I can’t tell you how much I love this movie. I, like many others, was heavily surprised that they were able to pull off a LEGO movie, but also make it so damn good!

 

 

2015

Jupiter Ascending

Seventh Son

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The Lazarus Effect

The Salvation

Focus

Kingsman: The Secret Service

What We Do in the Shadows

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start with The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Oh, boy this was a mess. Credit to the siblings for trying to tell an ambitious, out-there story, but it was probably too out there…okay, too out there. Let’s talk about another fantasy action adventure movie in Seventh Son, which was not too ambitious and out-there, but lazy, and a waste of Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, and early Alicia Vikander.

Now let’s talk about some disappointments starting with Hot Tub Time Machine 2. I really liked the first movie, but the second one really didn’t live up to the built-in hype, and losing John Cusack was a bit of a hit. Secondly, The Lazarus Effect, which followed a group of medical researchers discover a way to bring the dead back. Instead of taking a more serious route with the science, considering they did go into it a lot, they went the “traditional” route and ended up with Olivia Wilde dying, only to come back with a demonic presence in her. Also, the trailer gave a lot away.

The Salvation saw Mads Mikkelsen playing an European American settler in the old West whose family gets murdered, but when he takes his revenge, he kills the brother of a land baron (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and when he finds out what happens, the two get into a collision course as he goes after the settler. The movie was kind a weird one, as it really slows down in the middle of the movie, so when the action picks up again, I kind of lost a little bit of interest, which I was really bummed about. The movie also starred Eva Green, if you need another reason to watch.

This next one is an indifferent one for me. Focus starred Will Smith as a veteran con man, who takes an amateur con artist played by Margot Robbie, under his wing and when they get romantically involved, he calls it quits – because you know, love and con artists don’t match? – however years later Robbie’s Jess and Smith’s Nicky meet during a new con and things get complicated. Focus isn’t actually that bad, with Smith and Robbie playing really well off each, and that’s really what keeps the movie going. But, honestly that’s about it.

Finally, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew’s Vaughn’s take on the spy genre with a balance of top notch action, quippy comedy and a great cast with the introduction of Taron Egerton to us fans, Kingsman deserves all the love it got and still gets. And yes, the church/”Free Bird” scene is still awesome to this day.

 

 

2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Gods of Egypt

Triple 9

Hail, Caesar!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Eddie the Eagle

Deadpool

The Witch

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get this one out of the way – I’m looking at you Gods of Egypt! A movie that was probably done ten years too late, with weird and wonky CGI and an uninteresting lead, the whole movie is just a bit oof. We then move on to Triple 9, which honestly was disappointing in all regards. The movie followed a gang of criminals and corrupt cops who plan on murdering a cop to pull off a heist across town. The reason it’s a disappointment is because this thing is jam-packed to the gills with names, but can’t make anything work.

Let’s talk about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the sequel to the great film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The sequel is a bit of a mixed-bag with the action still being top notch, but the story gets a little too ahead of itself and just a tiny bit hard to follow.

Speaking of a mixed-bag, let’s talk about The Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! which followed Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer, trying to keep the stars of a studio in check. But when George Clooney’s Baird Whitlock goes missing he has to deal with a whirlwind of cover-ups and twin sister reports played by Tilda Swinton. I think the thing that everyone remembers about the film is Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes’ scene together, but other than that, the movie does have its charming moments, but at the end of the day, it’s a descent Coen Brothers movie, nothing more.

Look, I’m in the small camp that enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, taking the classic tale and turning the Bennet Sisters and Mr. Darcy into badass zombie killers, while still trying to tell the story in its own way. It’s not perfect, even I can say that, and not all the actresses playing the Bennet Sisters get enough screen time to really get a good feeling for who they are.

Eddie the Eagle, told the story of Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton), who was the underdog skier in the 1988 Winter Olympics, along with his coach, played by Hugh Jackman. It’s your basic biopic underdog story with Egerton blasting his charm all over the place, and Jackman playing something a little different.

The long anticipated and would-it-happen-won’t-it-happen Deadpool movie came out this month, and while the movie divided fans, you couldn’t say that Ryan Reynolds and the team did the character some justice.

Finally, another divisive film that came out this month was The Witch, or The VVitch if you want to go that route. Either way, Robert Eggers directed a very atmospheric horror that followed a family getting tormented by a witch. It gave us Anya Taylor-Joy and Black Phillip. What more do you want?

 

 

2017

Rings

Collide

The Great Wall

Fist Fight

A Cure for Wellness

The Lego Batman Movie

John Wick: Chapter 2

Get Out

Thoughts: Okay, let’s talk about two bad movies to start off in Collide and Rings. Collide starred Nicholas Hoult as a driver who works for a gangster (Ken Kingsley) to pay for this girlfriend’s (Felicity Jones) medical bills, but things go wrong, and ends up in the crosshairs of a druglord (Anthony Hopkins). The movie wasn’t too out there, despite the concept, and speeds up –no pun intended – and then stops everything too often. Then there’s Rings…OOF. A sequel to the previous movies, and going “deeper” into the mythology that we already knew, a weird cult involving the tape, and the biggest f-k you ending that year.

Let’s talk about The Great Wall, or as some people just simply called it by the trailers “Matt Damon the white savor of China” Movie. The movie was not Damon playing the white savior of China, since the majority of the movie is played by actors of Asian descent defending the Great Wall of China from monsters. The movie itself is fine, and the thing that drew me in more was the cast since I knew who most of them were.

Now, let’s talk about a disappointment in A Cure for Wellness. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the surprisingly long creepy horror drama saw Dane Dehaan playing a young executive sent to a remote location “wellness center” to bring back the company’s CEO, but things aren’t what they seem. The movie itself does have a creepy vibe at times, but the movie sometimes moves at a snail’s pace and loses any bit of stream it’s built up. Plus, its ending comes out of nowhere, to the point that I was kind of onboard, but would have been more onboard if they had built it up a little more.

Next up is Fist Fight, starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube as high school teachers who, well, get into a fist fight on the last day of school. It’s a movie that should have been really dumb, but it was actually pretty funny seeing the complete opposites of Day and Cube go up against each other. And yes, the fight does happen, and it’s ridiculously descent.

John Wick: Chapter 2 upped the ante from the first John Wick in every way. From the action, to the world, to the mythology of John Wick himself, Chapter 2 delivered on the action sequel I wanted.

The LEGO Batman Movie, a sequel/spinoff of The LEGO Movie, follows LEGO Batman (voiced again by Will Arnett) on his own crazy adventure with Robin (voiced by Michael Cera). The movie did feel like a huge love letter to Batman, and for the fans.

Finally, Get Out. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut broke ground just about everywhere. From its themes, cast and story, Get Out is still talked about today with respect and love, and that’s the biggest accomplishment I think.

 

 

2018

The 15:17 to Paris

Winchester

Annihilation

Operation Red Sea

Black Panther

Game Night

Thoughts: The last year of our Monthly Rewind, and we’ll start with the “bad” movie of the month in Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, which is based on the true events of three American tourist who stop a terrorist attack on a train to Paris. The movie is, arguably, Eastwood’s “worst” movie, but that’s mainly because he cast the three actual heroes of the event to play themselves, and they didn’t have any real acting talent. It’s not their fault, clearly, but the movie didn’t really go anywhere considering the event only took a few minutes and Eastwood stretched it out to an hour-and-half.

Next, Winchester, which is also “based on a true story” of The Winchester Mystery House built by Sarah Winchester (played by Helen Mirren), the heir of the Winchester rifle, who builds a massive house to keep the spirits of those who were killed with rifles. It’s an okay movie, with Mirren really being the selling point here, but the movie itself leads to a finale that feels kind of just blah.

Let’s talk about the very divisive, Alex Garland-directed adaptation of Annihilation. Based off the novel written by Jeff VanderMeer, it follows a team of different scientists who go into an unknown environmental zone called The Shimmer, to look for Natalie Portman’s Lena’s husband character (played by Oscar Isaac). The cast, of pretty much all actresses, was great along with the visual effects. The “problem” came in with the final act, where it truly goes “out there” which some people went along with it, and other didn’t.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about Marvel’s Black Panther. A lot of people had things to say about Black Panther before, after and during its run in theaters. The movie was a massive milestone in the current comic book movie trend and culture, and in movie history itself. While I personally felt the movie was good, it didn’t speak to me like it did for others, who truly connected to the film, as it should.

Next, Operation Red Sea, a Chinese production which followed a Navy Marine Corps team who are sent to rescue hostages in a dangerous and country during a coup – which is loosely based on a true event in 2015. The movie was hands-down one of the best action films of 2018, with some impressive action sequences and a group of characters that you really connect to.

Finally, we got Game Night, honestly one of my favorite comedies of 2018 – and it came out in February. The movie followed a group of friends – lead by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams – who meet regularly for game night, but one night things are changed up, and it leads to a kidnapping and everyone trying to figure out if it’s real or not. It’s a great concept with a killer cast – Billy Magnussen and Jesse Plemons being the standouts – and jokes that completely work.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

My Best/Favorite Movies/Films of the 2017

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

Silence

The Wall

The Beguiled

The Glass Castle

The Little Hours

Stronger

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Last Flag Flying

Mudbound

Call Me by Your Name

Raw

Prevenge

Gerald’s Game

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Ghost Story

Atomic Blonde

Battle of the Sexes

Colossal

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Patriots Day

The Florida Project

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Gifted

Wind River

Band Aid

The Founder

Okja

It Comes at Night

John Wick: Chapter 2

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Cars 3

Girls Trip

Ingrid Goes West

Lowriders

Sleight

The Girl with All the Gifts

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 was probably one of the most visually appealing films of the year, and it shouldn’t be a surprise since Roger Deakins was behind the cinematography along with director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). While the film did have moments that went on a tad bit too long, Blade Runner 2049 did manage to get you invested in the world of Blade Runner again.

 

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman is absolutely fantastic as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour puts all the weight on Oldman’s shoulders, and he’s able to carry it all the way until the very end of the film. Set during the very beginning of Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister during England’s worst time, and the film shows all the obstacles that he had to face. The film surprisingly doesn’t lull around too much, which it could have easily done, and while the film could have stretched out on a few places, it was Churchhill’s story and worked.

 

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit was a hard film to watch. It puts you right into the thick of the horrible incident at the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots, and never lets up on the tension. However, that’s one of the things that make it so enthralling. The cast is incredible and the claustrophobic feel of the movie makes the long time worth it. That said, Detroit is not a film that at the end you say, “man, I want to watch that again soon.”

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While I think we can all agree that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was not as great as the first movie, it does have a more emotional story than the first. If you didn’t tear up with the last scene with Peter and Yonda, you’re dead inside – I should know because I’m slightly dead inside too. Sure not all the jokes worked, but damn it, I enjoyed the hell out of Vol. 2.

 

It

The new iteration of Stephen King’s It was definitely going to divide fans. While some fans preferred the original with Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Clown, I rather enjoyed and liked this new version more. I know one of the biggest gripes with the new film is that it wasn’t scary enough – or at all if you ask some – but for me, It was indeed more creepy than scary, but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

 

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island feels like one of those movies, no one seems to really talk about as the year ended. Whether it be because it came out early in the year in March or people just weren’t for it at all. Personally, the movie does have faults with pacing, but it’s finally seeing Kong let loose on everything in his way – like the helicopter attack – was a sight to see. Also, the film is now part of Legendary’s Monster Universe with Godzilla, so it should be interesting to see how all of it fits together.

 

Lady Bird

Lady Bird was a film that I wanted to watch as soon as I watched the trailer for the first time. Saoirse Ronan was fantastic as “Lady Bird,” who wants to escape Sacramento because she finds it rather boring. However, it’s the journey from beginning to end, and her interactions with the people like her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and her mother Marion, played greatly by Laurie Metcalf.

 

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh’s return to the big screen did not fail or disappoint. Taking the heist film and giving it a southern twist with “cursed” brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, trying to turn their luck around. I really enjoyed the hell out of the movie, but the real draw for the film was definitely seeing Daniel Craig let loose as Joe Bang.

 

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut with Molly’s Game and it was a great one. Lead by Jessica Chastain playing Molly Bloom, telling her incredible true story, Sorkin infused his own style with a true story about Molly Bloom running the biggest poker games around, and her downfall after getting arrested. It’s a rather compelling story, and one that – with the exception of a few scenes – doesn’t let up until the very end.

 

Power Rangers

Look, I grew up with Power Rangers, and yes, I had my doubts about the movie. However, I enjoyed the hell out of this. An updated version of what the show was, even adding some new things to the mythology we knew of the original series. Was it the best movie of the year? No. But I’ll admit seeing and hear the zords run along each other with the original song – although cheesy – hit me right in the chest.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yes, I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and I still do too. However, when I step back and look at everything from the movie – now seeing it more than once – I did enjoy the movie a little more. There are some awesome visuals and shots in the movie that, for me, made it worthwhile. Nevertheless, I will say that yes, I do see a lot of the things that make the movie very divisive.

 

Split

Let’s face it; we had all given up on M. Night Shyamalan. I know I did, but The Visit restored some of it, but after watching Split, it was almost like watching the Shyamalan of old. That being said, Split was a movie that could have burst at the steams anytime, but it was Shyamalan’s direction with James McAvoy’s amazing performances as Kevin, and his different personalities. However, what made Split stick out the extra mile was classic Shyamalan twist at the end, which made Split connect to one of Shyamalan’s best early films.

 

The Disaster Artist

I have never seen The Room, and despite everyone saying I should watch the “worst movie ever made” I didn’t do it before I saw this. Thankfully, you didn’t need to absolutely watch The Room to enjoy and get The Disaster Artist – I’m sure it helped in some cases. But, what James Franco was able to get out of everyone on the cast, including what he was able to do by bringing Tommy Wiseau to life, but more importantly how he brought the story to life was great. The movie wasn’t just about the crazy making of The Room, but about Tommy and Greg (Dave Franco) living out their dream of making it in Hollywood.

 

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

A Monster Calls

I had heard a lot about A Monster Calls before it was officially released. I also never read the book, so when I walked in, it was pretty much a clean slate. That was something I was not prepared for. A Monster Calls is an emotional gut-punch from beginning to end, and the last twenty to fifteen minutes had me in tears. That’s right, I said it TEARS! That along gave A Monster Calls a place on my list.

 

Annabelle: Creation

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Annabelle. It had its moments, but overall it lacked the certain punch that its parent film The Conjuring had. Cue in director David F. Sandberg, who had just directed the hit horror film Lights Out, who upped everything about the first film, and dare I say, is right up there with the Conjuring movies in terms of quality and scares. Creation did bring a lot to the table, and had me on the edge of seat the whole time.

 

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright is one of those directors who apparently can’t make a bad movie. The buzz and hype around Baby Driver was extremely high when it premiered at SXSW that I pretty much told myself, “it can’t be that good, can it?” I was wrong, very, very wrong. Wright had made this high-octane and funny heist movie with great characters and an awesome soundtrack. Needless to say, I had force myself not to speed home after the movie.

 

Coco

I had my doubts about Coco, but of course we’ve all come to never doubt Pixar, and yet that’s what I did. And like all great Pixar movies, Coco had it all. A great story, great characters, amazing visuals, an amazing soundtrack; and more importantly, it tugged on every emotional string it would find. I’ll admit, it had me on the verge of tears, A LOT.

 

Dunkirk

I know Dunkirk had some fans divided, but I stand by what I said earlier in the year that Dunkirk is one of the best movies of the year. Christopher Nolan did an amazing job putting together the film, which on a technical level, is justified to be put on any top list of the year.

 

Free Fire

Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire has a simple premise, a gun deal gone wrong in a warehouse. Even with that simple premise, Free Fire was such a great, fun and funny film with a great cast that almost also felt like a throwback to the old 70s or early 80s gangster movies with similar premises.

 

Get Out  

If anyone thought Get Out was going to be hurt because of Jordan Peele comedic background, you were sorely mistaken. Get Out became an important movie that didn’t shy away from its message: racism, and what black men go through. Needless to say, Get Out put Peele on the map as a director to look out for.

 

I, Tonya

I wasn’t old enough to remember the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, but it was something I heard. However, I, Tonya isn’t a film about that, but a combination of a biopic about Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie, and the events that lead up to the incident and the effect it had on Harding. It’s a powerful film filled with great performances by the cast – with Allison Janney being the standout – scenes that are hard to watch and scenes that completely come out of left-field which includes a scene that has Tonya directly speaking to the audience that I wasn’t expecting.

 

Logan

It took three tries, but 20th Century Fox finally got the character of Wolverine right. Maybe it was that we knew this was Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last ride, or it had a breakout performance by newcomer Dafne Keen. Either way, Logan was a great bookend to one of the most popular X-Men characters and a fitting end to the character that Hugh Jackman did such a great job with.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Yes, another Spider-Man reboot seemed unnecessary and maybe unwanted, but this Spider-Man was finally connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! However, this reboot was worth it because it finally feels like we have the real Peter Parker on the big screen (I liked Andrew Garfield, so settle down). Plus, the movie was a hell of a lot of fun.

 

The Big Sick

This was something I was interested in from the very beginning. Based on the actual story of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick tugged on every emotion. It was funny, charming, heartbreaking and hopeful from beginning to end.

 

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Movie was a surprise hit for everyone, and LEGO Batman was definitely one of the highlights of it, so when it was announced that LEGO Batman would get his solo movie, everyone was pretty excited. Lucky for us, The LEGO Batman Movie was just as good, even better than its predecessor, but even better than that, the film had a lot of heart and was a love letter to the character of Batman.

 

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is probably one of my favorite directors of all time, and one of those directors that anytime a movie comes out by him, I’m undoubtedly going to go watch. That said, what he did with The Shape of Water was seamless. A twist on the classic “beauty and beast” story with some Creature from the Black Lagoon and other old timely films, The Shape of Water is a beautiful film from start to finish with a great score, production design and a cast lead by Sally Hawkins as mute Eliza, Richard Jenkins and del Toro mainstay Doug Jones as the creature.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

The Thor movies have never been the big blockbusters the other movies have been. Sure they’re popular enough with some fans – I’m looking at you Tom Hiddleston fans – but the Thor movies were always more on the serious side than the others. Marvel then turned Thor on its head as they splashed it with color and more humor, and I for one, loved it.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve been a huge fan of Martin McDonagh’s work like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and when I found out about this film and the cast, I immediately put this on “to watch” list. Thankfully, the movie delivered, and even surprised me too. Frances McDormand is great, but for me, the movie belonged to Sam Rockwell, in one of my favorite performances by him. The film was truly a dark comedy that hit on every level, and it left me wanting more, which doesn’t happen often.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

Not many modern trilogies turn out to be good. They often fall apart in the sequel or even the third movie, but thankfully that didn’t happen here. War for the Planet of the Apes closed a trilogy that started as an origin story to what really feels like a segway into the original films. However, what really made these films so special is Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar and the overall impressive and awe-inspiring special effects.

 

Wonder Woman

Finally, finally we got a Wonder Woman movie, but more importantly, IT WAS GOOD! Gal Gadot washed away some doubt of her casting as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it was undoubtedly Wonder Woman that made non-believers finally see Gadot was almost born to play the character. Taking the action during her first adventure was a great move. The movie was full of charm, great characters and character building, but more importantly, made Wonder Woman freaking badass.

 

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.

New Podcast Episode: Oscar Picks, Nightwing Film Being Developed, Matt Reeves Directing The Batman & More

It’s been a while since I’ve posted the podcast up here, but here’s a new episode of the podcast with a guest.

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?

Favorite/Standout Cinematography, Action/Fight Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Visual Effects & Trailers of 2016

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, visual effects and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Assassin’s Creed: Run Through the City

Assassin’s Creed’s best moments where set in the past, and a majority of them were action sequences. The standout sequences was the run through the city that involves Aguilar (Michael Fassbender) and Maria (Ariane Labed) on the run from Ojeda (Hovik Keuchkerian) and his men. Along with small fights in tight quarters or on rooftops, the scene may be the best scene in the whole film.

 

Captain America: Civil War: Airport Battle & Captain America/Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man

Okay, this is a copout since this these are most of the action sequences, but let’s face it, Civil War, was filled with great action sequences. Of course, the biggest highlight was the Airport Battle that was unbelievably nerdy. The second big fight is Captain America and The Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man in a fight that is much more personal that I think anyone could have imagined being in a comic book film.

 

Deadpool: Deadpool Takes Out Convoy

While the scene is just a modified version of the “leaked” footage that came out the year before, the convoy sequence stood out to me because it happens in such a confined space and it still allows Ryan Reynolds to give us very Deadpool like lines.

 

Doctor Strange: The Ancient One vs. Kaecilius/Zealots & Strange vs. Kaecilius and Zealots

The fight scenes in Doctor Strange brought a new style to fight scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Magic. Not only that, that opening fight scenes between The Ancient One and the Zealots and Kaecilius showed the MCU isn’t scared of going a more martial arts route.

 

Ip Man 3 – Ip Man vs. Frank & Ip Man vs. Cheung Tin-chi

The Donnie Yen Ip-Man films are always filled with great fight scenes and Ip-Man 3 was no different. The two standout fights for me was the heavily promoted fight with Mike Tyson – who plays a mob boss named Frank – and the final fight between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi (Jin Zhang). The fight with Frank is actually good, and while arguably a stunt fight (they could have easily casted someone else), it doesn’t disappoint too much. As for the final fight with Cheung Tin-chi, this one was building almost from the beginning of the film, and when it finally happens, you can totally feel the emotion behind every punch and movement they make.

 

Moana: Moana and Maui Escape Kakamora

Another animated sequence that stood out to me was this Mad Max: Fury Road-inspired chase scene in Moana. Right down to the beating drums, and weirdly dressed Kakamora’s, the chase was something I’m sure George Miller would be proud of.

 

Rogue One: Chirrut Imwe vs. Stormtroppers, Final Battle, Vadar Boards

I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up on other peoples lists. Personally, seeing Donnie Yen mess up some Stormtroopers was awesome. However, the final battle on Scarif was what the film was building up to, and it did not disappoint. Finally, the Vadar scene. I won’t give it away too much if you haven’t seen it, but wow!

 

Storks: Junior and Tulip vs. The Penguins

Animated “fight/action” sequences usually involve comedy and aren’t really taken seriously, and you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. Storks did that with their fight scenes that involves are heroes, Junior and Tulip, going up against penguins. What makes it standout – besides the homage to Aliens – all of it happens as they try to make the least amount of noise possible so they don’t wake up the baby.

 

The Revenant – Opening Ambush

The opening ambush scene was really something to watch unfold. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is done in the classic Lubezki trope in that it’s done in shot continuous take. Not only that, it happens very fast and is so chaotic, that it makes it a standout scene.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver’s Rescue & Wolverine Breaks Free

While Quicksilver’s Rescue was awesome to watch, seeing Hugh Jackman unleashed a bit of Berserker Rage on Stryker’s men was an even more awesome sight to see. Especially knowing that Jackman is on his way out the door as Wolverine/Logan

 

 

Honorable Mention

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman vs. Knyazev’s Men

Deadpool: Deadpool vs. Ajax (Finale)

Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters vs. Times Square Ghosts

Hacksaw Ridge: First Attack

Headshot: Ishmael vs. Tano & Ishmael vs. Lee

Kill Zone 2: Chatchai vs. Kit (Prison Riot) & Chatchai/Kit vs. Ko Hung aka The Warden

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Skeletons vs. Hollows

Star Trek Beyond: Enterprise Takeover

Suicide Squad: Suicide Squad/Katana/Rick Flag’s Unit vs. Monsters (Streets)

The Magnificent Seven: Finale Shootout

Warcraft: Durotan vs. Gul’dan

 

 

Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Emmanuel Lubezki has already made himself a well-known name amongst cinematographers, so it came as no surprise that his work in The Revenant was amazing and beautiful to watch.

 

Jarin Blaschke – The Witch

I’ve never heard of Jarin Blaschke, but I will be on the lookout for whatever he does next because his work in The Witch was equal parts creepy, eerie and gut-wrenching scary as hell. I’m not usually a fan of quotes in movie trailers, but the quote in the trailers that basically said it feels like something you shouldn’t be watching it completely true.

 

Linus Sandgren – La La Land

La La Land feels like an ultimate homage to old timey Hollywood films right down to cinematography during the musical sections of the film. Also, the fact that they used real location around Los Angeles is an added bonus (says the man from outside Chicago).

 

Pedro Luque – Don’t Breathe

One of the reasons that Don’t Breathe worked – at least for me – is the look of it all. The creepy house with the overall dark look made the film a more effective horror thriller. Pedro Luque really had a great eye for it all, and lets add the surprisingly good blackout sequences using night vision to show the pure terror of our main characters was great.

 

Zach Kuperstein – The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother is probably one of the creepiest films cinematography-wise. The film is shot in black and white, and for some reason, it made it a hell of a lot more creepier. It makes you imagine what the colors would look like, but even its nature shots and more distributing shots, the film is still beautiful to look at.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Bradford Young – Arrival

Don Burgess – The Conjuring 2

Marc Spicer – Lights Out

Natasha Braier – The Neon Demon

Pasha Kapinos/Vsevolod Kaptur/Fedor Lyass – Hardcore Henry

Roman Osin – The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Stephane Fontaine – Jackie

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Dario Marianelli – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is already a great film, but one of the main reasons is because of the music. The music connects to theme they’re going for, and Regina Spektor’s cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps” is beautiful.

 

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Easily one of, if not, the best soundtracks of the year, La La Land’s soundtrack is as vivid as the set-pieces it plays over. You can easily be addict to the soundtrack, I know I was, because as soon as I walked out of the theater I bought the soundtrack.

 

Mark Korven – The Witch

The Witch is already eerily creepy with its cinematography, but add on the music that was created by Mark Korven, you have yourself an all around horror film of nightmares.

 

Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda – Moana

Come on, let’s face it – you’ve been singing songs from Moana since you’ve seen it, right? Okay then.

 

Musical Department in Sing Street 

Sing Street doesn’t have one specific person attached for the music. Some were covers, but Drive it Like You Stole It, is one of the best new songs of the year.

 

Honorable Mentions

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – Batman Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Johann Johannsson – Arrival

Lukasz Pawel Buda/Samuel Scott/Conrad Wedde – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai, and Bryce Dessner – The Revenant

 

 

Visual Effects

Doctor Strange

Marvel introduced us to the magical realm and other dimensions, and I don’t know if anyone other than Scott Derrickson could have introduced us to that. The visuals were just amazing to see, even with the Inception-style effects, that aren’t as dominate as you would think, the visuals made Doctor Strange a standout Marvel film.

 

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a film that probably should have failed, but it didn’t – at all. The film is bursting with phenomenal visuals, that even after you find out that almost everything was created with visuals, you watch wondering, was that real? Honestly, The Jungle Book was arguably some of the best CGI we’ve ever seen.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Ghostbusters

Pete’s Dragon

The BFG

 

 

Trailers

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 2

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

 

Free Fire

 

 

Kong: Skull Island

 

 

Logan

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

Wonder Woman Comic Con

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Get Out

First Official ‘Suicide Squad’ Trailer

The Birth of a Nation Teaser

First Sausage Party Trailer

 

So that’s it ladies and gentlemen.

What are some of your favorites, and be on the lookout for the big lists next week!

New Podcast: Logan Story Details, Gears of War Movie, Lucasfilm Starts Test Screening Actresses & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

A day late because I was dirt tired last night.