‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review

Director: Peyton Reed

Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari and Paul Rudd

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Randall Park, David Dastmalchian, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Abby Ryder Fortson, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer

Synopsis: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review. There is also a mid-credit and post-credit scene.*

 

The twentieth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is a nice change of pace from the shattering conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War. The sequel not only doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a low stakes movie that is a hell of a lot of fun.

The movie follows Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who has been on house arrest for two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. He’s also been cut off by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) after going off to fight without telling them. The daughter-father duo are also trying to find Hope’s mother Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and bring her back from the Quantum Realm, which is realized more after an incident with Scott.

What follows is Hope and Hank getting Scott to help them get Janet out, but also dealing with the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who tries to steal a vital piece of technology, and a black market businessman Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) trying to profit off Pym’s technology.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a bit all over the place. We have the main plot which is trying to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm, which is connected to Ghost’s arc and Burch. We have Scott’s story of almost ending his house arrest, with pesky FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and trying to still prove he can be a good dad to his adorable daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Then you have random high jinks with some sight gags or Luis (Michael Pena) doing what made him so popular in the first movie.

Everyone is also on the top of their game here. Paul Rudd continues to bring his trademark charisma and excellent timing. Evangeline Lilly thankfully has a lot more to do here, and seeing her play The Wasp is a ton of fun to watch. Also, watching her and Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym trying to rescue Janet leads to one of the more emotional moments – there are quite a few – of the movie. Pena’s Luis is once again a scene-stealer, but he has some competition in Abby Ryder-Fortson’s Cassie.

We then have the new cast members starring with villain Sonny Burch, played by the always reliable Walton Goggins. The character could have easily been one-note, but Goggins just adds something to the character. Ghost played by Hannah John-Kamen does have a more rounded out story than you would think, and she’s played excellently by John-Kamen (who plays one of the leads in the SYFY channel show Killjoys, which I highly recommend). Randall Park has a small role as Agent Woo, but he plays it up with Rudd, and the two have great chemistry.

Finally, the two big additions to the MCU are Dr. Bill Foster, played by Laurence Fishburne, who hopefully we get to see more of, because he doesn’t get too much to do here, but it’s a nice addition for comic book fans. Then we have Michelle Pfeiffer has Janet Van Dyne aka the original Wasp, who sadly isn’t in the movie a lot, even though she plays an important part to the story. Regardless of that, her scenes are where most of the emotional core comes from, and the scenes she does have were great to watch.

All in all, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a hell of a lot of fun, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. It’s a more self-contained story, even though the events of Civil War are brought up, which helps the movie and the audience breathe a little bit. The action is beefed up, and cast is on top of their game. If you want to have a fun time at the theater, Ant-Man and the Wasp is your movie.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

4.5 out of 5

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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Review

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Director: Chad Stahelski

Writer: Derek Kolstad

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Wick: Chapter 2

4 out of 5

Mini-Reviews: Jackie, Assassin’s Creed, Hidden Figures, Passengers & Sing

Hey everybody!

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

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Carroll Lynch, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson and John Hurt

Synopsis: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

I’ll admit, I didn’t know too much after Jackie Kennedy before the film, besides of course her being the First Lady, and being the widow of John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated when riding around Dallas. It’s a bit of shame that that’s the only thing most people, probably, know about her. However, here in Jackie, we get to see a glimpse of what she potentially – films based on true stories are already up for interpretation – through after her husband was shot.

The film starts off with a reporter, played by Billy Crudup, coming up to the house in Massachusetts where Jackie (Natalie Portman) is staying. The reporter starts to ask her questions and we flashblack to a couple of different events: her televised tour of the White House in 1961 and the week of the assassination. Through all of it, we see Jackie as she deals with the tour, and after the assassination of her husband, the grief of she is consumed by and how history will remember him.

Jackie is not an easy film to watch, not because it’s not any good, but because the majority of the film is Jackie Kennedy trying to keep herself composed after losing her husband. And I don’t know about most people, but I think some people sometimes forget that Jackie didn’t lose the President of the United States, she lost her husband, and that’s something the film bring up. Jackie lost her husband that just so happens to be the President. It’s a fine line that the film balances pretty well.

Another fine line the film balances is not making Jackie too much of a sympathetic character. The film has no problem making her a flawed person, and if you find her actions odd or even questionable, you’re not alone. The film isn’t there to make Jackie a saint, even though she lost her husband, the things she does make you believable she may be just a bit unstable. But that’s also the beauty of Jackie, Natalie Portman does an impressive job of creating and explore the layers to this public figure that went through it all, and through a very personal tragedy in the public eye. Once you get past the accent, you can really enjoy watching Portman hit every emotion to a tee.

All in all, Jackie rests in the capable hands of Natalie Portman as she brings Jackie Kennedy to life and walks a fine line between sympathetic and flawed that makes the film and character feel real.

Jackie

4.5 out of 5

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Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel

Writers: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Menochet, Ariane Labed, Matias Varela, Callum Turner, Khalid Abdalla, Hovik Keuchkerian, Brendan Gleeson, and Charlotte Rampling

Synopsis: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguliar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassin’s society.

 

Based off the highly popular and successful video game series, Assassin’s Creed was many people’s hopes to finally have a good, or at least descent, video game film. Well, while the film has some really cool and great moments, Assassin’s Creed is not the film that will change people’s perspective of the video game films. Also, for fans of the game, the film doesn’t follow a lead character from the games, but does have some big elements – at least from the games that I have played.

The film opens with a crawl of text that sets up the historic storyline and gives us the glimpse of the Assassins and their fight with the Templar. The film then jumps time as we see a young Cal finding his mother killed and his father the prime suspect. We jump again as see Cal (Michael Fassbender) getting executed to only wake up in a mysterious facility owned by Abstergo Industries. It’s there he meets Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), the daughter of the company’s CEO, played by Jeremy Irons, who runs the Animus project. A device that allows the user to see, feel and experience their ancestor’s life and memoires.

Cal finds out that he’s part of the company’s latest big project to find the Apple of Eden. The idea is the Apple of Eden will eradicate free will. In order to get the artifact they need Cal to get the memories of his 15th Century ancestor in Spain, Aguilar de Nerha, who was the last to have seen the Apple.

The film has a descent set-up, but the problem becomes the film moves too fast for its own good, and doesn’t live any of the characters breath. The first time we meet Cal really is right before he’s executed for a crime of killing someone – we find out later that he may have deserved it, but it felt like a throwaway line – but Cal is just someone walking through the paces. We never really feel connected to Cal in the real-world, which is a bit of a bad sign considering we spend a lot more time in the real-world than the past. Speaking of the past, that’s when we get to see Fassbender shine to the extreme. Aguilar doesn’t need to say much as his presences is enough to tell the story. Next to him is Ariane Labed’s Maria, who unfortunately doesn’t get fleshed out as much as she should, but shines in her small screen time with Aguilar.

The rest of the cast is just okay. Marion Cotillard’s Sofia is there to lead the “science” to the audience and give the feeling that she actually cares about Cal, while Jeremy Irons does the best he can with what he’s given. Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Charlotte Rampling are heavily underused in their small roles which is shameful in a lot of ways.

The saving grace in the film is all the past scenes. It also happens to be where most of the action takes place. Combined with the heavy score, the action scenes make the film actually worthwhile, and once they stop, it does take a lot of the air away from you. It could have also helped that all the present/real world scenes fall rather flat and the concept of what they want the Apple of Eden seems rather, to not make it sound harsh, stupid. There’s also the “bleeding effect” concept that is rather cool, but near the end of the film the effect could have used better, especially since it seemed important.

All in all, Assassin’s Creed is a film that has a descent enough set-up, but the overall execution is poorly delivered. The action scenes make up for it, but it would have been better if they spent more time in the past than the present. Things aren’t fleshed out enough and the plan by the villains is rather dumb. Assassin’s Creed won’t change the opinion of video game movie doubters, but it’s serviceable enough.

Assassin’s Creed

3.5 out of 5

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Hidden Figures

Director: Theodore Melfi

Writers: Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell

Synopsis: A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.

 

Based on the novel by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures is set in the early days of the space race and is also based on a true story. We focus on three African-American women who work for NASA in Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer, and Mary (Janelle Monae). Katherine is a brilliant mathematician, Vaughan acts as the supervisor – although she isn’t – over the African-American “Computers” (the African-American women that worked the calculators), and Mary works with the engineers and hangs with the best of them. We follow the three as the space race comes to a head when Russia successfully sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit. Katherine is placed in the special task group to get the math right, Dorothy works to get her girls more important positions and be seen as an equal, while Mary takes the advice and tries to become a certified engineer. Each of them deal with their own hardships and discrimination in a time that was trying to progress.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that excited for Hidden Figures, but I’m glad I went to watch the film. The film is really well done and has great performances by the whole cast that is lead by Henson, and Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, the supervisor of the program. While the film follows Katherine, Dorothy and Mary, its Katherine that we mostly follow, which is fair considering we see her story at the very beginning of the film. Dorothy has to deal with Kirsten Dunst’s character Vivian Mitchell, and Janelle Moane’s Mary has a great story, but seems to take a backseat to Katherine’s and Dorothy’s arcs. Overall, their stories are an important part in NASA and the space race’s history, but each of them have their own part to play within the film itself.

The film does of course touch heavily on the race issues during the time. It doesn’t tiptoe around the issue too much, and shows how hard people of color, especially women, had during the time. There is a montage that involves Katherine running from building to building that effects her and her work, and while some will see it as heavy-handed or played out, it pays off in full effect later on in one of the most powerful scenes in the film, and one that is carried by Henson.

All in all, Hidden Figures is a great true story that many people may not know too much about. Carried together by its great cast, the film hardly lets up and if you feel yourself get angry over the treatment our main characters feel, I think the film has done its job.

Hidden Figures

4 out of 5

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Passengers

Director: Morten Tyldum

Writer: Jon Spaihts

Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

 

When you get two of the biggest and popular stars in Hollywood in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, you have to think it has to be great, right? Well, that is the case for Passengers, most of the time. The film follows Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), passengers on the spaceship Avalon that is destined to a new planet to start anew called Homestead II. However, the hibernation pods malfunction and they wake up ninety years too soon. With only a bartender android named Arthur (Michael Sheen), the two eventually develop feelings for one another until the ship starts to malfunction putting everyone still asleep and them in danger.

There is a lot more to Passengers than the marketing lets on, so I’ll keep everything to a minimal in this already mini-review. Like noted before, when Passengers works it really works. Everything is compelling, well-acted and Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry is spot-on, with each getting their individual big moments. Sheen as Arthur the android bartender brings the comedic relief to the film.

I will admit, it’s a bit hard to talk about the big theme and decision a character makes in the film without spoiling something, but that decision is much better to see for yourself, instead of being spoiled. The decision is something that lingers throughout the film and when its bought up it really is the heart of the film. The good thing is the film doesn’t pick a side on it. It lets the characters really be weighed up it and feels like it lets you decide whether it was right.

The film does falter at times, and that’s when the film takes a plunge. The romance story almost gets too heavy handed in the sci-fi elements, but with Pratt and Lawrence leading the charge it makes it pretty okay.

All in all, Passengers has a good setup that works when it’s in full effect, but when the film slows down too much is when the film takes a dive.

Passengers

3.5 out of 5

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Sing

Directors: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet

Writer: Garth Jennings

Voice Cast: Mathew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson, Garth Jennings, Nick Kroll, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones and Rhea Perlman.

Synopsis: A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

 

Illumination Entertainment has been pushing Sing for a while now. The film has been promoted since early this summer, non-stop. This meant that the studio had really high hopes for the film. After seeing the final product, I can somewhat see why, but Sing doesn’t do too much to separate itself from the crowded animated crowd this year.

The film follows Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a koala bear who runs a failing theaters. Desperate to return the theater to its former glory he decides to put an open casting call for a singing competition. The casting call gets more attention than he thought after an error and the auditions bring a bevy of talent to Moon. The ones we follow are overworked housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), rocker Ash (Scarlett Johansson), smooth talker Mike (Seth MacFarlane), showman Gunter (Nick Kroll) and trying to break free from his father’s life of crime Johnny (Taron Egerton).

The film has other characters like a shy elephant in Meena (Tori Kelly), who actually can sing, but is too shy in front of crowds, John C. Reilly as Buster’s best friend Eddie, Jennifer Saunders as Eddie’s rich Grandmother, and director Garth Jennings as Buster’s secretary Miss Crawly.

Like I mentioned, Sing doesn’t really do anything special to separate itself from the other animated films this year with the expectation of having songs you may recognize. The characters are great when they have their individual moments to shine, but it’s nothing we having really seen before.

All in all, Sing has its moments, but compared to the other animated films released this year, it doesn’t really come that close. Filled with some genuinely funny moments, and standout song sequences, Sing is just an okay animated film.

Sing

3 out of 5

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December Movie Releases

It’s December, ladies and gentlemen!

The year is almost over! How has your year been, because it’s been a great year for films, huh? December is also a tough month to set, because this is the big Oscar month, so a lot of films end up getting limited releases, expansion releases, and then wide releases. So if anything is off, it’s because of that. I’ll do my best to get everything where it’s suppose to go, and if not I’ll come back and update the schedule.  So let’s jump right in the films that will close out the year.

Also, Happy Whatever-It-Is-You-Celebrate!

 

2nd

Limited Release: Jackie (Biography Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Why Not Productions/Wild Bunch)

Following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children and define her husband’s historic legacy. The film has gotten a lot of love at the film festival circuit, and is getting a lot of Oscar buzz. It probably helped that this film has been in the works for a long time too. Jackie also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Billy Crudip, Max Casella, Richard E. Grant, and Caspar Phillipson.

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Limited Release: La La Land (Drama Comedy Musical)

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone reunite for La La Land which follows a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. The film is getting a ton of great reviews from the film festival circuit so this one is one you should keep your eye out for. Also the trailer really gives off the vibe that the film will be a nice tribute to films of old. The film also stars Finn Wittrock, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, Jason Fuchs, Hemky Madera, and J.K. Simmons.

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Incarnate (Horror Thriller – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/IM Global/High Top Releasing/Deep Underground Films)

A scientist with the ability to enter the subconscious minds of the possessed must save a young boy from the grips of a demon with powers never seen before, while facing the horrors of his past. The film stars Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, David Mazouz, Emjay Anthony, Matt Nable, and Catalina Sandino Moreno.

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9th

Expanded/Wide Release: Nocturnal Animals

Expanded Release: La La Land

Expanded Release: Jackie

 

 

Office Christmas Party (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Bluegrass Films)

When his uptight CEO sister (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager thrown an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand. The film also stars T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Rob Corddry, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Randall Park, Matt Walsh and Courtney B. Vance.

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16th

Limited Release: The Founder (Biography Drama)

Michael Keaton stars in this film that tells the story of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. I don’t think I’ve ever actually thought about the story of McDonald’s and since I’ve seen the trailer, it’s peaked my interest and I’m sure to many others as well. The rest of the cast includes Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini, Nick Offerman, B.J. Novak, and John Carroll Lynch.

 

 

Collateral Beauty (Drama – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/Overbrook Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Likely Star/PalmStar Media)

An advertising executive encounters three mysterious figures who encourage him to move on from the past. The film looks like it’s going to be a powerhouse with the cast, but the idea does seem odd, and one that you can probably figure out from the trailers. Hopefully the execution works. Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris, Michael Pena, and Helen Mirren star.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Sci-Fi Adventure –Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm)

Gareth Edwards directs the first spinoff/standalone film of the new set of Star Wars films, which actually takes us back in time as it follows Rebels on a mission to steal plans for the Death Star. Listen, it’s Star Wars, people are going to go watch it. However, the film’s last two trailers were freaking awesome, of course the film however, will have some closer eyes as the “dirty” word in Hollywood has hit the film: reshoots. Nonetheless, the film looks great and more importantly it looks different. The film stars Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, and Forest Whittaker.

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21st

Sing (Animation – Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment)

A koala named Buster (Matthew McConaughey) recruits his best friend to help him drum up business for his theater by hosting a singing competition. I don’t know if I’m over talking animal animated film this year, but I’m not getting behind the Sing train. The voice cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, John C. Reilly, Seth MacFarlane, Taron Egerton, Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz,  and Jennifer Saunders.

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Patriots Day (Lionsgate/CBS Films/Closest to the Hole Productions)

Directed by Peter Berg, the film is an account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s (played by John Goodman) actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. Berg has already made a splash this year with Deepwater Horizon with Mark Wahlberg, so I can only think that this will be either as good or just as good. Patriots Day also stars J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, Melissa Benoist, Michelle Monaghan, Alex Wolff, and Rachel Brosnahan.

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Passengers (Sci-Fi Adventure – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Capital/Original Film/Start Motion Pictures/Company Films)

A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) are awakened 90 years early. Two of the most liked and extremely talented actors in Hollywood are getting together for a film, and one that looks not too bad, I think we looking at a big hit here, don’t you think? Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia also star.

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Assassin’s Creed (Action – 20th Century Fox)

Based on the popular video game franchise, Michael Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch, who with the help of revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, The Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day. Justin Kurzel, who directed the well-received and great film Macbeth, directs and reunites not only with Fassbender but Marion Cotillard as well. The film also stars Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed, Mathias Varela, Brian Gleeson, and Michael Kenneth Williams.

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23rd

Limited Release: A Monster Calls (Fantasy Drama – Focus Features/Participant Media/River Road Entertainment/Apaches Entertainment/La Trini)

Based on a script and book by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls follows a boy as he seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom terminal illness. The film stars Liam Neeson as The Monster, Felicity Jones as the Mother, Sigourney Weaver as the Grandmother, Toby Kebbell as Dad, and Lewis MacDougall as the boy and Lily-Rose Aslandogdu as Lily. The film looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see how it does. The limited release is due to Focus Features trying to get the film an Oscar run. The film will come out early next year.

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Limited Release: Silence (Drama)

Directed by Martin Scorsese and based off the novel by Shusaku Endo, the film is set in the seventeenth century, where we follow two Jesuit priests that face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christianity. The film has been looking for a release date and what better date to come out in than in December around Oscar season right? The film stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Shin’ya Tsukamoto and Tadanobu Asano.

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Why Him? (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Red Hour Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

A dad (Bryan Cranston) forms a bitter rivalry with his daughter’s young rich boyfriend (James Franco). The film looks decently funny, at least we can hope, and seeing Cranston on the big screen is always nice – even if it’s a film like this. The film stars Zoey Deutch, and Megan Mullally.

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25th

Limited Release: 20th Century Women (Comedy Drama)

The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s. The film stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Alia Shawkat, Laura Wiggins, and Billy Crudup.

 

Limited Release: Paterson (Drama Comedy) 

Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet, who also happens to be named Paterson (Adam Driver). I saw the trailer for the first time recently, and it looks like a great little indie film that will showcase Adam Driver.

 

Limited Release: Hidden Figures (Drama)

Based on a true story, a team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical date needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kristen Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, and Kevin Costner.

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Limited Release: Live By Night

Based off the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck writes, directs and stars in this great looking film that is set during the Prohibition and follows Joe Coughlin, the son of a prominent Boston police captain, as he rises through the ranks of the criminal underworld and the trouble he falls into along the way. Besides the film looking great, it has a great cast in Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Sullivan, Anthony Michael Hall, Titus Welliver, Max Casella, Chris Messina, and Chris Cooper.

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Fences (Drama – Paramount Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions/Bron Studios/MACRO)

Based on the play by August Wilson, and directed by Denzel Washington, Fences follows an African American father who struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life. The film stars Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Stephen Henderson.

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So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Review

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Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jessie Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto, and Holly Hunter

Synopsis: Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on Superman, while the world wrestles with what kind of hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

 

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There is no end-credits scene.*

*Reviewer Note 3: There will be a spoiler discussion released later this week*

 

 

The DC Comics Cinematic Shared Universe is alive! While arguably Man of Steel started this new gritty version of an interconnected universe, but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the true start to their shared universe that will lead to Justice League movies. Whether you liked the movie or not, Dawn of Justice does something that many thought they would never see: Batman and Superman on the big screen together. However, is it any good? Are the negative reviews justified? Well, sadly yes, for the most part.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice begins by giving us a look at the new Bruce Wayne (Affleck). We get a brand new, and beautifully done, retelling of Bruce’s parents getting gunned down. But, we skip ahead in time and see him trying to get to a Wayne Enterprises building in Metropolis during the battle between Superman (Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon) from Man of Steel. As Bruce stands in the wreckage of what was Wayne Enterprises, he sees Superman and Zod fighting off in the distance and his facial expression says it all. He’s powerless at that moment, and wants to get back in the fight.

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We skip ahead in time a little more, as some LexCorp employers find something in the wreckage of one of the fallen Kryptonian ships that could help them fight Superman – if it ever comes to it – a rock of Kryptonite. The Kryptonite of course goes directly to Lex Luthor (Eisenberg), who might also have his own plans for it.

While all this is going on, Senator Finch (Hunter) leads a hearing against Superman and his actions. The brunt of it being that Superman should be accountable for his actions and whether or not he should be put in check. It’s not completely out there, as seen in Man of Steel, but also given the fact that Superman can if he wanted to – as Bruce says at one point – bring everything to the ground. This is what starts also sparks Bruce to don back the suit and become Batman again. If no one else is going to put Superman in check, Batman will. What follows is an eventual fight between our two heroes and the eventual team up with Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Gadot) to fight off a creation of Luthor’s doing; Doomsday.

Alright, let’s start off by saying this, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not the perfect movie. However, it’s not a terrible movie either. There are some parts that standout, some that are underdeveloped, some that don’t even make sense or are too ambiguous, and others that just don’t really work – like all movies. But, when it comes to BvS, it’s a little more true. The main thing about the film is that it’s too busy, and with it being too busy, it’s a bit of a mess. I hate to say it, but it suffers a tiny bit from The Amazing Spider-Man 2-syndrome. There’s a point in the movie where it introduces the bigger world, which I’m sure everyone knows – and given the title – where this is leading. But while the introducing the grander world, it comes off underwhelming. Sure I was excited to see the universe expand, but the way it was handled left something to be desired – at least for me.

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Thankfully, the film only spends a handful of minutes on expanding itself and keeps the focus on Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent/Superman. The film takes its time for us to get to know them as much as possible. Although they could have been more developed and given just a tad bit more depth, you know where each of them stand. All Superman does is try to help everyone, but because of what he and Zod did when they battle, he’s still considered dangerous – as he should be in reality – and Bruce aka Batman sees him the same way, and has his own way of bringing justice to Gotham as The Batman. This leads to Clark thinking Batman is a ruthless vigilante that has to be stopped, and Superman might be the only way to do it.

With that ideology for both men, it was bound the two would eventually butt heads. Of course, the two do fight in this, but it takes a long while to get there. When it finally does happen, it’s pretty rough-and-tumble. It’s a bit more brutal than I thought it would be, but I kind of wish it was longer. The movie is long itself, something I try not to be nit-picky about, but BvS could have used some more time on the cutting room floor. Anyway, back to the fight, I think there is enough there for fans, and casual fans, to get a kick out of it. However, the way the fight ends is bound to leave some people, in the most hardcore comic book fan, a bit disappointed and unsatisfied.

However, when it comes to seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman team up at the end against Doomsday, no matter if you’re a fan or not, seeing them together is so great. I won’t mention anything from the fight with Doomsday in the review, but to say it gives us a nice preview at what could come with future films.

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So let’s talk a little more on the cast, more specifically the new cast members. Ben Affleck’s Batman is fantastic. He’s a much more brutal Batman than we’ve had on the big screen – his solo fight scene is incredible – but it makes sense for the world the film is set in. He’s a Bruce Wayne that has been doing the hero thing for a while, and he has potentially finally met his match. Everyone complained when Affleck was casted and now many are saying he nailed it. I was always behind Affleck and, yes, he does nail Batman down here. Helping him along the way is his trusted butler Alfred, played by the great Jeremy Irons. Irons’ Alfred is more of a partner-in-crime here as he helps him when the situation calls for it, and knocks on Master Wayne when he can.

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman is a great addition to the film. Like Affleck, Gadot’s casting was criticized, even to the point of people saying she wasn’t right because she didn’t have bigger breasts, which is one of the stupidest things I read online when it broke out. And, like Affleck, Gadot is being praised, by many, for her work in the film. Seeing her fully embrace Wonder Woman character is a sight to really see. I know because I’ve seen the movie twice and when she appears in her Wonder Woman costume at the end to help fight Doomsday, both theaters loudly applauded.

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Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch character only appears in the first half of the movie and while her character plays a bit of an antagonist to Superman, you know what she’s doing is for the “greater good.” Scoot McNairy also pops in as someone who was affected by the events in Man of Steel, although Hunter and McNairy, who are great actors, are kind of wasted here in their small roles. Callan Mulvey also appears as a secondary villain, who comic book fans will know more of, but doesn’t really do too much to standout.

Finally, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. You want to talk about being audiences being split on something; Eisenberg’s Luthor is going to be one of them for sure. I, unfortunately, had a kneejerk reaction when Eisenberg was casted, but I knew that Eisenberg probably had what it took to play Luthor. Well, he played of version of Luthor alright. I appreciated that Zack Snyder was going for a new iteration of Luthor, but this new version came off as annoying and a bit unhinged. This is fine for a character if you’re taking him a certain direction, but that wasn’t the case with this Lex Luthor. Something about this Lex just didn’t click with me and his motivations are a bit murky at best. Eisenberg is a find actor, so maybe it was just the script or how Snyder told him to play it, but I wasn’t sold on Luthor.

All in all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a lot of things going against it. Some things are even bought up that are never fully developed or are left with unsatisfying conclusions. Is that hard to say as a fan that’s been waiting to see two of the biggest superheroes on the big screen together? Hell yes it is. However, despite all of that, there are some great things about the film. Look, might be weird considering this is a review – not that I’m getting paid to do these reviews – but don’t listen to the reviewer out there. If you want to listen to the guy or gal that already saw the movie and you trust their opinions on movies, then okay, but if you had intentions to go watch the movie, than watch it. Some movies are review-proof whether their good or not (I’M LOOKING AT YOU TRANSFORMERS).

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice won’t be for everyone. Yes, it’s a bit tad long, even for a guy that doesn’t like thinking about films runtime, and it has some pacing and timing issues. However, the new players to it all in Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jeremy Irons are great. There is also some interesting and nice twists to see that they put in, but I don’t know how that will come across to everyday movie fans. Is this a good sign for the Justice League movies? Who knows, and some are already saying probably not, but you know what? We’re going to watch it anyway. And a lot fans are liking the film. So, what’s more important, critics or fans?

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

3.5 out of 5