The Movie Pit Podcast is live!
This week was pretty big movie news wise, so I tried to condense it as much as I could.
The Movie Pit Podcast is live!
This week was pretty big movie news wise, so I tried to condense it as much as I could.
The end of the year doesn’t just mean putting out your best/favorite movies of year. It can be a time to reflect the individuals like directors, actors, actress, supporting roles, villains and everything in between. So, that said, I’m here to do just that. We all have our favorites, and these are mine. This is of course my opinion. I tried to shorten the list as much as I could, but like every year, it was a bit too hard so I left the lists as such.
Also, villains are probably considered Supporting Actors/Actress in other lists, but again, to not only make the lists shorter, I want the villains to have their own category, because everyone loves a good villain, right?
Finally, everything and everyone will be in alphabetical order. This is also part one of two different lists. Enjoy.
Chris McKay – The LEGO Batman Movie
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Denis Villeneuve – Blade Runner 2049
Edgar Wright – Baby Driver
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
J.A. Bayona – A Monster Calls
James Mangold – Logan
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Patty Jenkins – Wonder Woman
Matt Reeves – War for the Planet of the Apes
Taika Waititi – Thor: Ragnarok
Andy Muschietti – It
David F. Sandberg – Annabelle: Creation
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Kathryn Bigelow – Detroit
M. Night Shyamalan – Split
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Steven Soderbergh – Logan Lucky
Just Missed the List
Ben Wheatley – Free Fire
Craig Gillespie – I, Tonya
Darren Aronofsky – Mother!
James Gunn – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina – Coco
Nacho Vigalondo – Colossal
Michael Showalter – The Big Sick
Ridley Scott – All the Money in the World
Andy Serkis as Caesar – War for the Planet of the Apes
Chris Hemsworth as Thor – Thor: Ragnarok
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor – Wonder Woman
Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington – Get Out
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill – Darkest Hour
Hugh Jackman as Logan – Logan
Lewis MacDougall as Conor – A Monster Calls
Michael Fassbender as David and Walter – Alien: Covenant
Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc – The Founder
Sam Rockwell as Dixon – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man – Spider-Man: Homecoming
James Franco as Tommy – The Disaster Artist
Richard Jenkins as Giles – The Shape of Water
RJ Cyler as Billy/Blue Ranger – Power Rangers
Ryan Gosling as K – Blade Runner 2049
Ryan Reynolds as Michael & Samuel L. Jackson as Darius – The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly – I, Tonya
Sharlto Copley as Vernon – Free Fire
Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs – Battle of the Sexes
Will Arnett as Batman/Bruce Wayne – The LEGO Batman Movie
Will Poulter as Krauss – Detroit
Just Missed the List
Ansel Elgort as Baby – Baby Driver
Armie Hammer as Ord – Free Fire
Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall & Josh Gad as Sam Friedman – Marshall
Chris Evans as Frank Adler – Gifted
Dave Franco as Greg – The Disaster Artist
Jackie Chan as Quan Ngoc Minh – The Foreigner
James McAvoy as David Percival – Atomic Blonde
Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert – Wind River
Jason Sudeikis as Oscar – Colossal
Javier Bardem as Him – Mother!
Joel Edgerton as Paul – It Comes At Night
Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail – The Big Sick
Mark Rylance as Mr. Dawson – Dunkirk
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke – Split
Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid Thorburn – Ingrid Goes West
Dafne Keen as Laura – Logan
Frances McDormand as Mildred – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gal Gadot as Diana – Wonder Woman
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom – Molly’s Game
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding – I, Tonya
Mckenna Grace as Mary Adler – Gifted
Noomi Rapace as The Settman Siblings – What Happened to Monday
Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito – The Shape of Water
Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson – Lady Bird
Anne Hathaway as Gloria – Colossal
Emma Stone as Billie Jean King – Battle of the Sexes
Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston – Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Sophia Lillis as Beverly – It
Talitha Bateman as Janice & Lulu Wilson as Linda – Annabelle: Creation
Just Missed the List
Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton – Atomic Blonde
Jennifer Lawrence as Mother – Mother!
Michelle Williams as Gail Harris – All the Money in the World
Seo-hyun Ahn as Mija – Okja
Zoe Kazan as Emily – The Big Sick
Zoe Lister-Jones as Anna – Band Aid
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty – All the Money in the World
Daniel Craig as Joe Bang – Logan Lucky
Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs & Jason Statham as Deckard – The Fate of the Furious
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard – Blade Runner 2049
Jacob Batalon as Ned – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Liam Neeson as The Monster (voice) – A Monster Calls
Michael Rooker as Yondu – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Patrick Stewart as Charles – Logan
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard – Kong: Skull Island
Cillian Murphy as Shivering Soldier – Dunkirk
Doug Jones as Amphibian Man – The Shape of Water
Demian Bichir as Miguel Alvarez – Lowriders
Domhnall Gleeson as Monty ‘Schafer’ – American Made
LilRel Howery as Rod Williams – Get Out
Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald & John Carroll Lynch as Mac McDonald – The Founder
Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt – I, Tonya
Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth – The LEGO Batman Movie
Shea Whigham as Cole & John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow – Kong: Skull Island
Taika Waititi as Korg & Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk & Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster – Thor: Ragnarok
Just Missed the List
Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage – Get Out
Christopher Meloni as Roger, Ike Barinholtz as Jeffrey & Bashir Saladuddin as Morgan Russell – Snatched
Jack Reynor as Harry – Free Fire
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben, Finn Wolfhard as Richie & Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie – It
Jon Bernthal as Griff – Baby Driver
Michael Cera as Dick Grayson/Dick – The LEGO Batman Movie
Pedro Pascal as Whiskey – Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Ray Romano as Terry – The Big Sick
Steve Zahn as Bad Apes – War for the Planet of the Apes
Stephen Merchant as Caliban – Logan
Allison Janney as LaVona Golden – I, Tonya
Ana de Armas as Joi – Blade Runner 2049
Felicity Jones as Mum – A Monster Calls
Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson – Lady Bird
Pom Klementieff as Mantis – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Robin Wright as Antiope – Wonder Woman
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie – Thor: Ragnarok
Tiffany Haddish as Dina – Girls Trip
Amiah Miller as Nova – War for the Planet of the Apes
Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne – Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Holly Hunter as Beth – The Big Sick
Lucy Davis as Etta – Wonder Woman
Michelle Pfeiffer as Woman – Mother!
Riley Keough as Kim – It Comes At Night
Just Missed the List
Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis – Live by Night
Glenn Close as Dr. Caroline Caldwell – The Girl with All the Gifts
Karen Gillan as Nebula – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Linda Cardellini as Joan Smith – The Founder
Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid – The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Sigourney Weaver as Grandma – A Monster Calls
Allison Williams as Rose Armitage – Get Out
Annabelle – Annabelle: Creation
Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – It
Cate Blanchett as Hela – Thor: Ragnarok
James McAvoy as Dennis/Patricia/Hedwig/Kevin/Barry/Jade/Orwell/The Beast – Split
Jamie Foxx as Bats & Jon Hamm as Buddy – Baby Driver
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Calvin – Life
Common as Cassian – John Wick: Chapter 2
Michael Shannon as Richard Strickland – The Shape of Water
Skull Crawlers – Kong: Skull Island
Sylvia Hoeks as Luv – Blade Runner 2049
Zach Galifinakis as The Joker – The LEGO Batman Movie
Just Missed the List
Charlize Theron as Cipher – The Fate of the Furious
Kurt Russell as Ego – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Tony Goldwyn as Barry Norris – The Belko Experiment
Woody Harrelson as The Colonel – War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: John Logan and Dante Harper
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Guy Pearce
Synopsis: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
I’m going to start off the review with this, I didn’t mind Prometheus. Was it a perfect film? No, it wasn’t, and even I can see the faults the film had. But the amount of bashing and hate the film received when the film was released was a bit too much. One of the problems that I do wholeheartedly believe was wrong with Prometheus wasn’t in the movie itself, it was the audience. I get it, it’s hard not to get really excited over a film. I do it, and I’m sure you do it too. But I remember the hype level for Prometheus and it was ridiculously over that I shut myself out from reading anything about the film before it came out. And I get it, I do, Alien has a special place in many people’s hearts – as it should – but people got themselves way to hyped up that they were disappointed with Prometheus because it wasn’t what they thought or wanted it to be.
So this brings us to Alien: Covenant. Not only is the film a sequel to Prometheus it’s also more of a step closer to reaching the point we saw in Alien. Not only is the film a continuation of what we saw before, but they go back to the early roots – a sci-fi horror film with the famous Xenomorph we have all learned to fear and love.
Covenant follows the colony ship called The Covenant, which is filled with couples, that is on the way to a new planet to start a new life. The only person awake and not in cryosleep is the android Walter (Michael Fassbender) who, like his predecessor David (also played by Fassbender), watches over the ship. However, an accident occurs that causes Walter to wake the crew members which results in some of them dying, including the captain. While the crew makes repairs they receive a mysterious transmission from a nearby undiscovered planet that is also perfect for them to inhabit. This leaves newly appointed, and untested, captain Oram (Billy Crudup) with a tough decision: go to the unknown planet that sent the transmission or continue the original course – of course, there wouldn’t be a movie if he chose the latter. The decision isn’t met with much agreement from the ship’s second-in-command, and chief terraformer Daniels (Katherine Waterston).
As we see in the trailers, a group heads to the planet seeing it as a perfect replacement, but soon they discover the origin of their transmission – the ship from Prometheus. As they try to explore more, two of the crew members get sick and as they try to head back they get stopped by the new creations Neomorphs, which of course, come bursting out of the sick crew members. The remaining members get saved by a mysterious figure who tells them to follow him. Skipping ahead, they discover that it’s David who is the only surviving member of the Prometheus. The crew later find out that the planet isn’t really all that safe.
Alien: Covenant is hard for me to judge. Almost like Prometheus, this movie is good until it isn’t. Ridley Scott knows how to direct sci-fi films, and the visuals here are pretty damn great, along with the combination of the landscapes that are beautiful, but the problem comes to some of the characters. While Prometheus didn’t focus on all the characters, you at least knew what all of them did. Covenant missteps on that a bit, as it only focuses on the bigger characters, making every other character just a prop for the Neomorphs and the Xenomorph to kill.
Fassbender is great once again as the androids David and Walter, and kudos to Fassbender for making the two vastly different in every way. Katherine Waterston joins the Alien franchise of female leading ladies, but her character only gets the time to shine when David or Walter aren’t around. Billy Crudup’s Captain Oram is a mixed bag and doesn’t really get earn his place until one of the bigger moments of the film – and I’ll be interested in seeing how people take and accept that scene. Danny McBride would be the next, and potentially final, big character in the film as one of the Covenant’s pilots named Tennessee. Surprisingly to some maybe, McBride does crack jokes in the film, but is one of the more grounded and down-to-earth characters in the film.
The rest of the cast is pretty much cannon fodder, Demian Bichir plays Lope, one of the head military leaders, who is actually in relationship with Hallet (Nathaniel Dean), but it never pays out as it should. Camen Ejogo plays Oram’s wife and biologist, who believes in Oram that he can lead the crew in a good direction, Amy Seimetz plays Faris, Tennessee’s wife, and the other pilot of the ship that is probably the best of the supporting characters, but she doesn’t get enough screen time.
Covenant does have the feeling of an Alien film, with the suspense, but it’s not as revved up as it should have been. Even the action scenes aren’t all that great and they end pretty quickly, which is a shame considering the previous Alien battles. When it focuses on the themes bought up in Prometheus, it extends them and while I won’t go into them in details – due to spoilers – it all comes down to David.
All in all, Alien Covenant is a frustrating movie. It’s a good movie until it isn’t, and when it becomes a bad movie it’s hard to get out of it. However, the big thing that does make me angry and disappointed, is some of the things bought up in Prometheus are not fleshed out or are completely erased which makes Covenant in some ways another rehash of ideas. I would still recommend Covenant to people, but keep your expectations low.
3 out of 5
Hello Boys and Girls!
It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!
What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Sci-Fi Action – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
The Guardians (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite character from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The returning cast includes Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion (playing a different character), Sean Gunn, and Glenn Close. The film’s new cast includes Kurt Russell (Quinn’s father, Ego), Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, and Tommy Flanagan.
Limited Release: The Wall
Directed by Doug Liman, an American sharpshooter is trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. The film was suppose to come out in March, but got pushed back to May, but either way it looks great. The Wall looks like a tension-filled drama I can’t wait to see. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laith Nakli and John Cena.
Lowriders (Drama – Universal Pictures/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Imagine Entertainment)
A young street artist in East Los Angeles is caught between his father’s obsession with lowrider car culture, his ex-felon brother and his need for self-expression. The film stars Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoist, and Demian Bichir.
Snatched (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Cherin Entertainment/Feigo Entertainment)
After being dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) decides to take a spontaneous trip with her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador, where they find themselves kidnapped, escaping and having to go on the run. The film stars Christopher Meloni, Oscar Jaenada, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, and Wanda Sykes.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Wilgram Productions/Safehouse Pictures/Weed Road Pictures)
Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film takes the very Ritchie tone to bringing a new take to the classical character Arthur played by Charlie Hunnam. The film sees Arthur, a street-smart brawler who finds himself drawn into a battle when he takes possession of the sword Excalibur. The film stars Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Katie McGrath, Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Hermione Corfield, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana.
Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Family Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Color Force)
Continuing the series based off the books by Jeff Kinney, Greg (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and the Heffley family antics ensue. The film also stars Charlie Wright, Tom Everett Scott, Owen Asztalos, Carlos Guerrero, and Alicia Silverstone.
Everything, Everything (Romance Drama – MGM, Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films)
Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, and Anika Noni Rose.
Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/TSG Entertainment/Brandywine Productions)
The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. The film looks like it’s finally an Alien prequel, and bloody. Very, very bloody. The cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Danny McBride, Callie Hernandez, Noomi Rapace, James Franco, and Guy Pearce.
Baywatch (Action Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/The Montecito Picture Company/Cold Spring Pictures/Contrafilm)
Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action Adventure – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Moving Picture Company)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) searches for the trident of Poseidon when an old enemy from his past comes to haunt him. The film also stars the returning Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, and Paul McCartney.
What are you looking forward to?
Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. So let’s get to it, shall we?
*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*
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.
4.5 out of 5
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.
3.5 out of 5
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.
4 out of 5
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.
3.5 out of 5
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.
3 out of 5
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, what are you looking forward to?
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Simon Kinberg
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, Ben Hardy, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, and Lana Condor
Synopsis: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credits scene.*
This year has been a great year for comic book/superhero films. All of them different in their own way, and all of them will have their fans and detractors, but the mistake that everyone should avoid making is trying to compare the films in how each handled their subject matter, characters and plot. Is it completely wrong to do so? Probably not. But like I said, all the comic book/superhero films are done in their own way. Saying that, I hate that I’m making the comparison, but for the sake of making a point I guess, X-Men: Apocalypse, like Captain America: Civil War is a culmination of the last two X-Men films (First Class and Days of Future Past). What does that all mean? Well let’s find out.
The film starts with what could be called the origin of Apocalypse (Isaac), set in the Nile Valley in 3600 BCE. However, something happens that seals him inside a pyramid until, of course, 1983, when he is set free. Seeing what the world has become, he sets out to find his followers, The Horsemen. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (McAvoy) has opened his school with Hank (Hoult) as one of the professors. He also deals with new students like Jean Grey (Turner), who is afraid of her powers, and new student Scott Summers (Sheridan), who has just discovered his powers at the expense of a bully and bathroom stall. Raven/Mystique (Lawrence) is now seen as a public figure amongst humans and mutants, thanks to the events of Days of Future Past.
Finally, Magneto has moved on with this life and has a family, but with Apocalypse now awakened and finding his new Horsemen, Magneto gets dragged back into the world he thought he left behind. What follows is this new group of X-Men trying to stop Apocalypse from building a “better” world.
Like I, begrudgingly, mentioned earlier, one of the things X-Men: Apocalypse shares with Captain America: Civil War is that it is a culmination of the films before it. A good chunk of the film is built up from the events of First Class and Days of Future Past, so Apocalypse does feel like a true sequel to both films and a film you will appreciate more if you’ve seen both films, and know you’re previous X-Men movies history. There are some nice callbacks to the previous films and several subtle nods that fans can appreciate sprinkled throughout.
The film itself is held together by the cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to prove that they are worthy successors to Patrick Stewart’s beloved Professor X and Ian McKellan’s Magneto. Fassbender has the better arc of the two at the beginning of the film, but gets a bit lost in the shuffle by the third act. Nicholas Hoult’s Hank/Beast is more of a background character this time around and Jennifer Lawrence does the best she can with what she’s given, but does take more a leader role by the end of the film that makes sense and isn’t shoehorned in. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver has, once again, a standout sequence and his own arc, that gives him more to do this time around, but it doesn’t go anywhere – at least in this movie, maybe?
The new cast holds their own against the veteran cast, and gives us a great hope for future X-Men films with this cast – at least for me. Tye Sheridan gives off a good vibe as Cyclops, while Sophie Turner gets some of the meatier material as Jean Grey. However, one of the big highlights is Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler, which we are introduced to in a mutant fight club along with pre-Horseman Angel (Hardy). Lana Condor has a brief appearance as Jubliee, but doesn’t go anywhere really.
As for the rest of the Horsemen, Alexandra Shipp’s Storm is the first one introduced and the most interesting out of the three since she has her own story before she becomes a Horseman. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke is just a bit disappointing, only in that she doesn’t have too much going on before hand and it feels like she joins just for the hell of it. One of the good things is that he’s actually in the movie, and she’s one of the few that actually wears her comic book outfit.
When it comes to Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse, Isaac owns it. Obviously, when images of him came out, Ivan Ooze was getting thrown around – which I hated – but seeing the costume in action and Isaac actually playing the character is great. One of the different between Apocalypse and other villains we’ve seen in the films is that Apocalypse doesn’t see himself as a mutant. He comes from a different time and sees himself as a God. That’s why he doesn’t care about anything or anyone that stands in his way, which is what makes him, arguably, the dangerous person the X-Men have dealt with to this point. And since the film is called Apocalypse, he does cause a lot of destruction.
X-Men: Apocalypse does have some flaws. Some emotional beats could, and at one point should, have been stretched out. Like I previously stated, some characters aren’t completely developed, which is one of the missteps that every ensemble film does, so you really can’t hold that against the film. Even some return characters like Lucas Till’s Alex Summers/Havok, Rose Byrne’s Moira Mactaggert and Josh Helman’s William Stryker which have their moments but are put on the backburner to develop the newer characters. Not a knock on the film, and something that is completely understandable, but still a bummer.
I wouldn’t consider this a spoiler, but if you haven’t seen the last trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, then maybe avoid this part. Wolverine does make an appearance in the film, and while it was awesome to watch him literally claw-up Stryker’s men. It did feel a little forced. I had no problem seeing Jackman in this especially knowing that this is one of his last performances as the character, but the scene felt like a way to lead into potentially Wolverine 3, and make us the audience know that Wolverine is a lot more dangerous, potentially, in this new timeline that was created thanks to Days of Future Past. It also adds a little more depth to the end-credits scene. Also, the scene pushes the boundary of PG-13 rating that could get fans excited for Wolverine 3, if they go the rumored R-rating.
All in all, X-Men: Apocalypse is another good edition to the X-Men franchise. It’s fun, has great humor, and entertaining. Is it the best one? Well, that’s up to you, but the cast is once again solid. There are some real highlights and standout sequences, but the film does have some missteps that don’t hurt it, but are noticeable. If you’re an X-Men fan, you’ll get a kick out of the callbacks and nods.
4 out of 5