‘Happy Death Day’ Review

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, Jason Bayle, Laura Clifton and Rob Mello

Synopsis: A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

 

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

 

Slasher movies are a dime a dozen in the horror genre, however, what use to be the dominant subgenre in film has pretty much kept itself to VOD or Red Box rentals. That’s not to say the subgenre isn’t great anymore, but it’s not as good as it was back in the day – probably. That being said, you got to give props to anyone who has the gull to do a modern day slasher nowadays and give it a twist. That’s what the folks over at Blumhouse did, giving Happy Death Day the Groundhog Day treatment, and despite my early thoughts on the movie, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, it does misstep on a lot of areas.

The movie follows Tree (Jessica Rothe) – short of Theresa – on her birthday. She wakes up, hungover, in a dorm room that belongs to Carter (Israel Broussard), and as she leaves she comes across certain things; her father calling her, a weird guy checking her out, an activist trying to get her to sign a petition, sprinklers going off on a couple, a car alarm going off, a pledge off, an admirer, dealing with her sorority sisters and meeting with her married professor. Along with a few other things, it all comes to a head when a masked killer kills her – however, when she dies she wakes up back in Carter’s room and relives the day. Tree must then try to put the pieces together, and find out who has been trying to kill her. Lucky for her, she has an unlimited amount of lives.

Happy Death Day was not a movie was I really looking forward to, but I kept my reservation to myself and took the movie in like I do for every movie. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, but that’s not to say the movie was all that great. Happy Death Day has a pretty good concept, and I applaud writer Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon for fully embracing it and not making the movie too cliché. The movie does unfortunately carry some tropes with it, but the concept and the movie not trying to take itself too seriously, does help it out just a tad.

Given the concept, Jessica Rothe is left to carry the movie on her shoulders, and for the most part she carries pretty damn well. Rothe’s Tree does make bad decisions like expected, but she does bunker down to try and figure out what exactly is going on. Tree also isn’t the most likeable person either. In fact, none of the characters, with the exception of Carter and a random girl sitting outside the sorority, are terrible people and not likeable at all. It’s to be expected, but it is off putting for a while.

Although, I’m not one to complain about a movie’s rating, Happy Death Day’s rating of PG-13 doesn’t do it any favors. Which is odd, considering you can get away with a lot in PG-13 movies nowadays, and this movie could have benefited more with a hard PG-13 rating. Given the concept, I thought there would be some elaborate or even at least one creative kill, but the movie shows them off-screen, and even when they are shown, they’re very bloodless – unless you count the blood on the masked killer’s knife. I know there’s a lot of debate amongst horror fans about PG-13 and R-rated horror movies, and while I don’t need every horror movie to be rated-R, Happy Death Day could have benefited by pushing the rating, at least for one kill.

Another con I would point out is even though the movie has a brisk one hour and thirty-eight minute runtime, Happy Death Day loses some steam before the final act. However, the final act does tighten everything up. Additionally, there is one particular subplot that involves Tree that seems rather important, and hints at connecting to the overall story, but it’s never really fleshed out and feels rather weird when it’s bought up and stops the movie completely. Landon has mentioned in interviews that this would be bought up in a potential sequel, but it is rather glaring when you sit down and think about it after watching the movie.

All in all, Happy Death Day is rather entertaining, and Jessica Rothe carries the movie on her shoulders. However, Happy Death Day also has glaring and unfortunate missteps that make the movie okay as opposed to be potentially great.

Happy Death Day

3 out of 5

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October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

6th

Limited Release – The Florida Project

Sean Baker, who directed the first film to be entirely shot entirely on an iPhone in Tangerine, returns to direct The Florida Project. Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World. The film stars newcomer Brooklynn Prince, Caleb Landry Jones, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto and Willem Dafoe.

 

My Little Pony (Animation – Lionsgate/Hasbro Studios/Allspark Pictures)

When a dark force threatens ponyville and the Mane 6, they go on a journey to the end of Equestria to save their beloved home and they meet new friends and dangerous challenges along the way. I… I don’t know guys. The voice cast includes Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Michael Pena, Uzo Aduba, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Sia, Ashleigh Ball, Shannon Chan-Kent, Andrea Libman and Tara Strong.

 

The Mountain Between Us (Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Charles Martin, stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness. The film doesn’t look too bad, of course having two big names like Idris Elba and Kate Winslet leading your film for what looks like the majority of the film it’s got to be at least a little good right? The film also stars Dermot Mulroney and Beau Bridges.

 

Blade Runner 2049 (Sci-Fi – Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Alcon Entertainment, Thunderbird Films, 16:14 Entertainment, Torridon Films)

Set thirty years after the events of the first film, a new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD Blade Runner who has been missing for 30 years. The long-awaited sequel is finally coming out and boy does it look great! From the cinematography, the visual effects and the cast, Blade Runner 2049 could be one of the best films of the year. The film also stars Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Barkhad Abdi, Carla Juri, Lennie James and Robin Wright.

 

13th

Limited Release: Breathe

Directed by Andy Serkis, making his directorial debut, the inspiring true love story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) Cavendish, an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. The film has been getting a lot of love on the film festival circuit so keep an eye out of this film when it comes out. The film co-stars Diana Rigg, Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville.

 

Limited Release: Goodbye Christopher Robin

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by her son C.R. Milne. The film stars Margot Robbie, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nico Mirallegro, Alex Lawther and Kelly Macdonald.

 

The Foreigner (Action Thriller – STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers, thefyzz, SR Media)

Based off a novel called The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, a humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. I didn’t know this movie was even happening, but when I watched the trailer I honestly can’t wait. The film stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan and Michael McElhatton.

 

Happy Death Day (Horror Mystery Thriller – Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Digital Riot Media)

A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The Groundhog Day-esque slasher idea sounds cool, but it’s all really going to come down to the execution of the idea that makes this film either memorable or forgettable.  The film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.

 

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (Biography – Annapurna Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Topple Productions, Boxspring Entertainment, Opposite Field Pictures)

The true story of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the polyamorous relationship between his wife (Rebecca Hall) and mistress (Bella Heathcote), the creation of his beloved comic book character “Wonder Woman” and the controversy the comic generated in its earlier years. The film looks pretty interesting, and to be honest, I don’t know too much about Marston – especially this – so this has definitely peaked my interest. The film also co-stars Connie Britton, JJ Field, and Maggie Castle.

 

Marshall (Biography Drama – Open Road Films, Starlight Media, China Wit Media, Chestnut Ridge Productions)

The film is about a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases. It looks like Chadwick Boseman is the new king of biopics, already playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown and now Thurgood Marshall, in what looks to be a great film. Also, I like that they aren’t going with the Brown v Board of Education trail, and one that maybe not to many people know about. The film co-stars Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Keesha Sharp, Jussie Smollett, Sophia Bush, Jeffrey DeMunn and James Cromwell.

 

20th

Limited Release – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos – Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. The film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp and Alicia Silverstone.

 

Same Kind of Different as Me (Drama – Paramount Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Reserve Entertainment, Disruption Entertainment)

International art dealer Ron Hall must befriend a dangerous homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife, a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the journey of their lives. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, Dana Gourrier, Olivia Holt, and Jon Voight.

 

Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (Comedy – Lionsgate, The Tyler Perry Company)

Madea, Bam and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the boogeyman are unleashed. The film stars Tyler Perry (obviously), Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Brock O’Hurn, Yousef Erakat, Jc Caylen.

 

Only the Brave (Drama – Sony Pictures, Black Label Media, Di Bonaventura Picture)

Based on the elite crew of men who battled a wildfire in Prescott, Arizona in June 2013 that claimed the lives of 19 of their members. Going through two different names until landing on Only the Brave, the true story film looks pretty good, and I’m sure it’s only going to be easy to watch, but with a cast like this, it looks like we’re in for a great film in this busy week. The film stars Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Hardy, Andie MacDowell, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges

 

Geostorm (Sci-Fi Action – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Skydance Productions)

As a man heads into space to prevent climate-controlling satellites from creating a storm of epic proportions, his brother discovers a plot to assassinate the president. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, it looks absolutely ridiculous, but on the other, it looks absolutely ridiculous that it could be dumb fun. The film stars Gerard Butler, Ed Harris, Katheryn Winnick, Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturgess and Andy Garica.

 

The Snowman (Crime Drama – Universal Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Working Tile Films/Another Park Film)

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearances of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. The trailer makes this look like an uncomfortable crime thriller, but one that will be great to watch – as weird as that sounds.  The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, James D’Arcy, Val Kilmer and Toby Jones.

 

27th

All I See is You (Drama Thriller – Open Road Films, Wing and a Prayer Pictures)

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves. This movie has been moved around a few times, it was supposed to come out last month, but got pushed back to his month, so let’s see if that sticks. The movie stars Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, Wes Chatman, Ahna O’Reilly and Danny Huston.

 

Jigsaw (Horror – Lionsgate, Twisted Pictures, Serendipity Productions, A Bigger Boat)

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise as the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade. The film stars some unknowns for the most part with the biggest names being Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie and Tobin Bell (somehow).

 

Thank You for Your Service (Biography War Drama – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment)

Based off the book by David Finkel, a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq struggles to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. This looks really good. I wasn’t really all that excited for the movie when I first heard about it, but the trailer has really turned me around. The film stars Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Omar J. Dorsey, Beulah Koale, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Amy Schumer.

 

Suburbicon (Crime Mystery – Paramount Pictures, Silver Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Black Bear Pictures)

Directed by George Clooney and co-written by him and the Coen Brothers. A home invasion rattles a quiet family town. This looks absolutely fantastic! That’s it. The film has an impressive cast in Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler and Oscar Isaac.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘It’ Review

Director: Andy Muschietti

Writers: Gary Dauberman, Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga

Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Stephen Bogaert, Jackson Robert Scott and Bill Skarsgard

Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

 

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

 

Based off the novel by Stephen King, at least the first half, Pennywise the Clown is back to make us afraid of clowns again. Of course, most of us know the two-part TV movie with Tim Curry playing Pennywise, but while that version may have scared us with some uneasy visuals and Curry’s performances, this new version of It is here to be a little more faithful to the original source material. and add the real horror that was written by Stephen King himself.

To be fair, I hadn’t watched the TV movie in a long time, and I ended up watching some clips online. While some of it sticks, for the most part I didn’t end up remembering half of the things in it. Seeing that – and that this film was going to be more faithful – my judgment and now broken bias was going to be left at home. Granted, the trailers proved this version of It was going to crack up the horror to eleven, and this was going to have a movie budget, against a early 90s TV movie budget. Either way, do yourself the favor, and try not to compare the two versions since they are very, very different, but more importantly, you’ll miss out on a great movie.

Set in Derry, Maine in 1989, people – most kids – have gone missing by the dozens. The film starts off by showing us the much promoted disappearance of Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), the younger brother of Bill (Jaeden Lieberher). It is also were we are introduced to Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) for the first time. We then jump forward a year, Bill holds on to hope that his younger brother is still alive, but we are now introduced to his closest friends; the always joking Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the germophobe Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff). The three eventually become friends with the new kid, whose obsessed with Derry’s history, Ben (Ray Taylor), the home-schooled Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Beverly (Sophia Lillis).

They forge a friendship and call themselves The Losers Club. However, before they can try to enjoy their summer, they deal with bullies, lead by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), but also have to face their fears when Pennywise puts all of them on his radar. It then becomes a race against time for The Losers Club to defeat “It” before one of them disappears. Because everyone floats down there.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m sure we all know someone that has seen the original It, or maybe even read the novel. Either way, Pennywise and The Losers Club have a following so this new version of It had a lot of eyes on it. Thankfully, it turned out great, because not only is It a great horror movie, it’s a great coming-of-age story with humor and heart to back it all up. That said, I applaud director Andy Muschietti and the writers in Gary Dauberman and Chase Palmer – Cary Fukunaga is also credited, since he was the original director and writer of the film, but dropped out due to creative difference – for being able to balance all the tones in the film and make it work for the film instead of making them work against it.

Next to the balancing act working, it’s the young cast that really makes It shine. Each of them having their moments to shine, and face their respected fears, but it’s the fact that we get to know them that makes us not only root for them, but also worry for them. Lieberher gets to shine the most as Bill, who is determined to find out what happened to Georgie and holding on faith that he’s still alive despite what people think. Lillis’ Beverly, personally, gets the more complicated and emotional arc as she seen as the town’s slut, but also the fact that she has to deal with her father, played by Stephen Bogaert, who makes uncomfortable advances toward her. Jeremy Ray Taylor’s Ben has probably one of the most realest arcs for a kid his age that involves Beverly.

Not everyone has the opportunity of being fleshed out unfortunately. Wyatt Oleff’s Stanley doesn’t really have too much going on other than being the Jewish kid who is about to have his bar mitzvah and wants to ignore everything. Finn Wolfhard’s Richie can sometimes come off as annoying and has a fear of clowns, but that fear doesn’t come up until after the group acknowledges that Pennywise exists. Jacobs’ Mike, obviously the only person of color, has his own problems especially with bully Henry Bowers. Finally, Jack Dylan Grazer does have his moments, but for me, his big moment comes near the end and has nothing to do with Pennywise.

However, the biggest drawn here is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Bill, the youngest of the Skarsgard family, will probably become a household name with his performance here. We don’t see a hell of a lot of Pennywise, but just enough to know when he pops up, you better be scared – or at least unnerved. His introduction scenes with Georgie is disturbing from the get go as we can see him salivating which just adds that creepy layer to Pennywise that was, arguably missing from the previous version. Yes, Tim Curry’s Pennywise was creepy, but he was creepy when the character had to be, Skarsgard’s version is always creepy.

All in all, It is like I noted earlier, not only a great horror movie, but a great coming-of-age film. The young cast is great, and the best part is they actually act like kids, so when they’re put into a fearful and dangerous situation we want them to make it through and we see can the genuine fear they have. Not only that, their chemistry is top notch, I can believe they’re friends and they have a bond, and when they face Pennywise, it is something special.

Whether you prefer the 90s It or this version of It, there is no denying that Stephen King’s story has touched everyone. Everyone has their fears, and the question becomes will you face them head-on yourself? Or have someone there to face them down with you? This version does lend itself to be horror especially considering this has a movie budget opposed to a TV movie budget – and R-rating which they take full advantage of. Whatever the case, the cast – including Skarsgard’s Pennywise – and their chemistry together make It not only a worthy adaptation of Stephen King’s stories, but a great film.

It

4.5 out of 5

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have some early Academy Award nominees. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

1st

Re-Release – Close Encounters of the Third Kind

One of the, arguably, best sci-fi films of all time will be re-released for its 40th anniversary and re-mastered. The film will only be in theaters for a week, so if you’ve never seen it, hopefully you’ll get the chance. For those that don’t know, the film is directed and written by Steven Spielberg and after an encounter with U.F.O.’s, a man (Richard Dreyfuss) feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

 

Unlocked (Action Thriller – Di Bonaventura Pictures, Silver Reel, Bloom, Lipsync Productions)

A CIA interrogator is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack. The films stars Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Michael Douglas.

 

Tulip Fever (Drama Romance – The Weinstein Company, Ruby Films, Worldview Entertainment)

Based off 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 been moved around so much, let’s hope this one finally sticks. The cast includes Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne, Zach Galifianakis, Holliday Grainger, Jack O’Connell, Kevin McKidd, and Judi Dench.

 

8th

Limited Release: Rebel in the Rye

The life of celebrated but reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, who gained worldwide fame with the publication of his novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The film stars Nicholas Hoult, playing Salinger, Kevin Spacey, Zoey Deutch, Sarah Paulson, Lucy Boynton, Hope Davis and Victor Garber.

 

9/11 (Action Drama – Atlas Distribution Company, Black Bear Studios, The Film House, Thunder Studios, Sprockefeller Pictures)

Based off a play by Patrick James Carson, a group of five people find themselves trapped in an elevator in the World Trade Center’s North Tower on 9/11. They work together, never giving up hope, to try to escape before the unthinkable happens. The film stars Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman, Wood Harris, Jacqueline Bisset and Olga Fonda.

 

Home Again (Romance Dramedy – Open Road Films, Black Bicycle Entertainment)

Life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turns when she allows three young guys to move in with her. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Reid Scott, Lake Bell, Nat Wolff, Lola Flanery, Candice Bergen and Michael Sheen.

 

It (Horror – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/KatzSmith Productions)

A retool of the famous Stephen King novel and TV film before it, in a small town in Maine, seven children known as The Losers Club (Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Sophia Lillis) come face-to-face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). The film also stars Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Steven Williams, Megan Charpentier and Javier Botet.

 

15th

All I See is You (Drama Thriller – Open Road Films, SC Films, Wing and a Prayer Pictures)

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves. The film stars Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, and Danny Huston.

 

American Assassin (Action Thriller – Lionsgate, CBS Films, Di Bonaventura Pictures)

Based on the novel series by Vince Flynn, the film follows Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) … The film also stars Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Scott Adkins and Taylor Kitsch.

 

Mother! (Horror Drama Mystery – Paramount Pictures, Protozoa Pictures)

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, the film centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, Stephen McHattie, Brian Gleeson, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

22nd

Limited Release: Woodshock

Directed by Black Sawn production designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, a woman (Kirsten Dunst) fall deeper into paranoia after taking a deadly drug. The film also stars Pilou Asbeak, Lorelei Linklater, and Joe Cole.

 

Limited Release: Victoria and Abdul (Drama – Universal Pictures/Focus Features/BBC Films/Working Title Films/Cross Street Films)

Based on the book by Shrabani Basu, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). The film also stars Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Tim Pigott-Smith, Jonathan Harden and Robin Soans.

 

Limited Release: Battle of the Sexes

The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs. Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Andrea Riseborough, Jessica McNamee, Alan Cumming, and Elisabeth Shue.

 

Limited Release: Stronger

Based on the book and memoir by Jeff Bauman, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 helps the police track down the killers while struggling to recover from devastating trauma. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, and Clancy Brown.

 

Friend Request (Horror Thriller – Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Seven Pictures, Two Oceans Productions)

When a college student unfriends a mysterious girl online, she finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends. The film stars a young unknown cast, but it is lead by Fear the Walking Dead star Alycia Debnam-Carey.

 

The LEGO Ninjago Movie (Animation – Warner Bros./Warner Bros. Animation/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Lord Miller/Animal Logic)

Six young ninjas tasked with defending their island home, called Ninjago. By night, they’re gifted warriors, using their skills and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters. By day, they’re ordinary teens struggling against their greatest enemy: high school. The voice cast includes Dave Franco, Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Zach Woods, Abbi Jacobson, Michael Pena, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jackie Chan.

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Action Comedy – 20th Century Fox, Marv Films, TSG Entertainment)

When an attack on the Kingsman headquarters takes place and a new villain (Julianne Moore) rises, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are forced to work together with the American agency Statesman to save the world. The film also stars Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Cookson, Vinnie Jones, Elton John and Colin Firth.

 

 

29th

Limited Release: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

The story of Mark Felt (played by Liam Neeson), who under the name “Deep Throat,” helped journalists Bob Woodward (played by Julian Morris) and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal in 1974. The film is jam-packed with star power as it co-stars Diane Lane, Michael C. Hall, Maika Monroe, Ike Barinholtz, Kate Walsh, Josh Lucas, Noah Wyle, Eddie Marsan, Marton Csokas and Bruce Greenwood.

 

Til Death Do Us Part (Thriller – Novus Content, Footage Films, 51 Millimeter)

Michael and Madison had planned to spend the rest of their lives together, until one day Michael’s controlling way turned their perfect marriage. With help of her best friend, Madison decides to get away. Despite adopting a new identity, she meets Alex and learns to love again, until Michael finds Madison again. The film stars Annie Ilonzeh, Stephen Bishop, Taye Diggs, Malik Toba, and Robinne Lee.

 

Flatliners (Sci-Fi Horror – Sony Pictures, Screen Gems, Village Roadshow Pictures, Furthur Films, Laurence Mark Productions)

A sequel/reboot of the original early 90s film, medical students experiment on “near death” experience that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives. The film stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, Kiersey Clemons, James Norton, Charlotte McKinney and original star Kiefer Sutherland.

 

American Made (Crime Thriller – Universal Pictures/Cross Creek Pictures/Imagine Entertainment/Vendian Entertainment/Quadrant Pictures)

Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow), and based on a true story, a pilot named Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) land works for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s. The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Jesse Plemons, Jayma Mays, Lola Kirke, Caleb Landry Jones, Benito Martinez, Jed Rees, April Billingsley, Sarah Wright and Connor Trinneer.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Annabelle: Creation’ Review

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writer: Gary Dauberman

Cast: Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Phillippa Coulthard, Grace Fulton, Lou Lou Safran, Taylor Buck, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto

Synopsis: Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There are two Post-Credit scenes.*

 

The Conjuring unexpectedly started its own universe when it was released back in 2013, when the studio decided to give the Annabelle doll its own movie a year later. Annabelle acted as a prequel to The Conjuring, showing the horrors of the haunted doll before landing in the Warren’s Cursed Object Room. While I enjoyed Annabelle for what it was, it wasn’t all that great to me. However, everything about Annabelle: Creation in the trailers and TV spots was great and promising. I was lucky enough to see an advanced free screening of it, and good god did this scare the crap out of me.

Annabelle: Creation is set in the 50s and follows a dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) who after losing their daughter Bee in a tragic and sudden accident, believe they are visited by her spirit who wishes to live within a doll. However, they soon realize something sinister surrounds the doll and they lock it away. Years later, they take in a group of orphaned girls lead by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Stigman), thinking it would be good for them. The two main girls we follow are Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson), and of course, Janice ends up finding the doll and starts to unleash an evil amongst the house.

Despite the first Annabelle being just okay, Creation ups the ante in every way possible. Right from the beginning we get just a little creeped out by close-up shots of Samuel making the dolls, but it’s followed by seeing this family being happy before Bee’s accident. From there, we jump forward a couple years and we see the former happy home a little beaten up as the bus with the orphaned girls comes driving up the dusty road. Thankfully, we get a feel for some of the characters from the get-go before everything starts going to hell – not literally, but you know what I mean.

The cast is pretty solid, although you got big names in there like Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto in there, the film belongs to the young co-stars, more specifically Talitha Bateman’s Janice and Lulu Wilson’s Linda. As you spot from the trailers Janice finds the Annabelle doll and starts to experience weird and unexplainable things. She believes this is because she’s the weakest because she has Polio, and walks around with a crutch. It’s Bateman’s raw emotion that really makes us scared for her and wishing that someone would come in to save her. As for Wilson, she already has horror acting chops in last year’s – surprisingly good – Ouija; Origin of Evil, although here she plays for human side as opposed to the demon side. However, it’s also the friendship and bond that Janice and Linda have that makes the film great. The two want to find a home, preferably together, and we believe the friendship they have, which makes it somewhat gut-wrenching to see their friendship get tested when Annabelle shows up.

The rest of the cast is okay, Philippa Coulthard’s Nancy and Grace Fulton’s Carol have their own experience with the Annabelle doll and what she can affect that leads to some pretty cool scares, but they are usually followed by two other girls that somewhat disappear throughout the film only to reappear near the end to experience the mayhem. Stephanie Sigman’s Sister Charlotte doesn’t get to do a lot in the film, but does have a big scene with Miranda Otto – who also doesn’t have a ton of screen time. Anthony LaPaglia’s Samuel plays the stricken-father to a tee, but it sometimes comes off as creepy and way too cold.

Director David. F. Sandberg does an incredible job setting everything up with his cinematographer Maxime Alexandre, because Sandberg loves to play around with darkness in film. Much like his last film Lights Out, which James Wan also produced and was based off a short of Sandberg’s, Annabelle: Creation’s scariest and most horrifying scenes take place once the sun drops and the lights go out. Obviously, this is standard amongst all horror films, but there something about Sandberg’s approach to it that makes it all the more horrifying and great to watch.

Speaking of the scares, they are nonstop. Seriously, once it starts it never lets go. Usually horror films will save the good scares for the last act, but not here. Annabelle: Creation has multiple long scare scenes scattered throughout the film that are truly terrifying and probably best to watch in a packed theater with everyone shouting “NO” or “RUN.”

All in all, Annabelle: Creation is a great addition to the new Conjuring universe, and dare I say is one of the best films yet. The scares are top notch, the two leads in Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson are great and it’s horrifying to watch. I definitely recommend watching Annabelle: Creation in the biggest, loudest and darkest screen possible.

Annabelle: Creation

4.5 out of 5

August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone geez. Anyway, August is filled some films that could have potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month.”  Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

4th

Expansion Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

 

Limited Release: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) writes and makes his directorial debut here which follows an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teaming with a town’s veteran game tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. The film looks pretty great to be honest and seeing Sheridan make his directorial debut with great leads is going to – hoping – be great to watch. The film also stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Martin Sensmeier and Julia Jones.

 

Kidnap (Thriller – Aviron Pictures, Well Go USA Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Gold Star Films)

A mother, played by Halle Berry, stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. This was supposed to come out last year, but got shelved after Relativity Media and got picked up some by another studio. It also doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t look all that great, but you never know. The film stars Sage Correa, Dana Gourrier, Christopher Berry and Lew Temple.

 

Detroit (Drama Thriller – Annapurna Pictures, MGM, First Light Production, Page 1)

Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, the duo already have The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty under their belts and are now tackling this story set against the backdrop of the famous Detroit Riots. It looks absolutely great and has a great cast lead by John Boyega. Detroit also stars Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Ben O’Toole, John Krasinski and Anthony Mackie.

 

The Dark Tower (Sci-Fi Fantasy – Sony Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Imagine Entertainment)

Based on the Stephen King stories, The Dark Tower follows Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the Dark Tower, in hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. This puts him at odds with The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey. This movie has been in the works for so long, I’m happy to finally see this get made, and more importantly it doesn’t look that bad. The Dark Tower also stars Tom Taylor, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Fran Kranz and Dennis Haysbert.

 

11th

Limited Release: The Only Living Boy in New York 

Directed by Marc Webb, adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress. The film stars Callum Turner, Kiersey Clemons, Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges, and Pierce Brosnan.

 

Limited Release: Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker who takes a liking to Taylor Sloane (Elizaebth Olsen), a life influencer, who looks to live the perfect life. Ingrid moves to L.A to try and become friends with Taylor, but eventually – like always – takes things too far. The film also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell and Pom Klementieff.

 

Limited Release: Good Time

A bank robber (Robert Pattinson) finds himself unable to evade those who are looking for him. The film is by A24, who has been on a tear lately, and sees Pattinson’s character also trying to save his brother from being kept in prison. The film also stars Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

 

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Animation – Open Road Films, ToonBox Entertainment, Shanghai Hoongman, Gulfstream Pictures)

Following the events of the first film, Surly and his friends must stop Oakton City’s mayor from destroying their home to make way for a dysfunctional amusement park. The voice cast includes Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Isabela Moner, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham and Bobby Moynihan.

 

The Glass Castle (Drama – Lionsgate, Netter Productions)

Based on the memoir by Jeannette Walls, the film follows a young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty. The film has a great cast of Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield and Woody Harrelson.

 

Annabelle: Creation (Horror – New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster)

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle. Directed by David F. Sandberg, who did the impressive Light’s Out, the film is a prequel to the first Annabelle, which of course itself a prequel/spinoff of The Conjuring. The film stars Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia, Lulu Wilson, Adam Bartley, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Philippa Coulthard, Javier Botet, and Mark Bramhall. I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening late last month, and I really liked it. The film just never lets you go. I highly recommend.

 

18th

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Action Comedy – Lionsgate/Nu Image / Millennium Films/Skydance Productions/Campbell Grobman Films)

The world’s top bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client, a hit man (Samuel L. Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time. I like to call this the quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie given the red-band trailers have Jackson yelling “mother fucker” for most of it. The film also stars Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, and Gary Oldman.

 

Logan Lucky (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media, Fingerprint Releasing, Trans-Radial Pictures, Free Association)

Two brothers (Adam Driver and Channing Tatum) attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen after his semi-retirement with this great looking comedy heist film including to wacky characters like Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang and a one armed Adam Driver. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Katie Holmes, Jack Quaid, Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank

 

25th

Tulip Fever (Romance Drama – The Weinstein Company, Worldview Entertainment, Ruby Films)

Based on Deborah Moggach’s novel, 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 been moved around so many times now, let’s hope it finally sticks. The film also has a nice cast of Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin McKidd, Jack O’Connell, Tom Hollander, David Harewood, and Judi Dench.

 

Crown Heights (Drama – Amazon Studios, Black Maple Films, Washington Square Films, Iam21 Entertainment)

When Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence. The film also stars Bill Camp and Nestor Carbonell.

 

All Saints (Drama – Columbia Pictures, Affirm Films)

Based on the true story of a salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.

 

Birth of the Dragon (Action – WWE Studios, BH Tilt, Groundswell Productions)

Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, the film is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between and up-and-coming Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and kung fu master Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) – a battle that gave birth to a legend.

 

Leap! (Animation – The Weinstein Company, Quad Productions, Caramel Film, Main Journey)

Originally a French film, an orphan girl (voiced by Elle Fanning) dreams of becoming a ballerina and flees her rural Brittany for Paris, where she passes for someone else and accedes to the position of pupil at the Grand Opera House. It looks like foreign animated films with an American voice cast is starting to become a trend, but for me, Leap! doesn’t look all that great. The dubbed voice cast also includes Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

July Movie Releases

Hello!

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

 

7th

Limited Release: A Ghost Story (Drama – A24)

Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon), in this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. The film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Action Adventure – Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures/Pascal Pictures)

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero. Of course, this marks the first Spider-Man film were our favorite web-slinger is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Michael Chernus, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Angourie Rice, and Donald Glover.

 

14th

Limited Release: Lady Macbeth

Based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov titled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” a 19th century young bride is sold into marriage to a middle-aged man.

 

Wish Upon (Horror – Broad Green Pictures, Busted Shark Productions)

A teenage girl (Joey King) discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them. The film looks pretty creepy, but I don’t know if I’m completely sold on it yet. The film also stars Ki Hong Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Elisabeth Rohm, and Ryan Phillippe.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (Action Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the remaining apes are left to deal with humanities latest attack from a dangerous and determined leader known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). The film look fantastic, and this being the third chapter it looks like it could be the best one yet. War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary and Karin Konoval.

 

21st

Girls Trip (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Will Packer Productions)

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annul Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. The film stars Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Deborah Ayorinde, Larenz Tate Kate Walsh and Queen Latifah.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/Gulf Films)

Based on the French comic by Pierre Christin and directed by Luc Besson, time-traveling agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne). The film also stars Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Clive Owen and the voice of John Goodman.

 

Dunkirk (Action Drama – Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Syncopy)

Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. I got to see the special preview during the IMAX screening of Rogue One, and I seriously took a deep breath afterwards because it was that intense. So if the film is anything like that, I think we’re in for a great ride. Dunkirk stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.

 

28th

Limited Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Documentary – Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Actual Films)

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

 

The Emoji Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures)

It’s hard to think that an Emoji movie will have a real plot, but it does. Gene (T.J. Miller), a muli-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji. The voice cast includes James Corden, Ilana Glazer, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart.

 

Atomic Blonde (Thriller – Focus Features, 87Eleven, Sierra/Affinity, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Denver and Delilah Productions)

Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston, an undercover MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The film also stars Sofia Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, James Faulkner and Toby Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?