‘The Grudge’ Review

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Writer: Nicolas Pesce

Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, John J. Hansen, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, Lin Shaye and Jackie Weaver

Synopsis: A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.

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

 

The second remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge from 2002 – the first American remake came out in 2004 – this new Grudge movie comes from writer/director Nicolas Pesce, known for The Eyes of My Mother, and brings the action to America instead of keeping it in Japan. Pesce had come out before the release of the movie saying his version of the story would be “fucked up.” So, some self-professed hype is already at play here. That said, I will admit that when I found out about Pesce directing the remake, and having seen The Eyes of My Mother, I thought he’s a pretty descent choice. However, now having seen The Grudge I will say this; I was wrong.

The Grudge tells four different stories – taking place in different years – that are all connected to one home, where every person that steps in it is met with a violent and deadly outcome. Like I mentioned, the action is moved to America, and mostly follows the story of Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), who has moved to a new town with her son, Burke (John J. Hansen), after the death of her husband. She’s assigned to her new partner, Goodman (Demian Bichir), and immediately finds a body in the forest that belonged to the long missing Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver). The case makes Goodman uneasy, and that makes Muldoon curious about the case.

The connected stories belong to Peter and Nina Spencer (John Cho and Betty Gilpin), real-estate agents who are dealing with pregnancy problems, and are trying to sell the, unbeknownst to them, cursed house. There is also Faith and William Matheson (Lin Shaye and Frankie Faison), who are other occupants of the house, when William asks for help from Lorna Moody. Then there is a short story between Goodman and his old partner Wilson (William Sadler), and finally the, short, story of what kick starts everything of Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) who worked in Japan – in the original cursed house – and brought the curse back with her.

While the non-linear narrative is nothing new for this brand, this Grudge makes things too muddy for its own good. While it doesn’t bounce around too much, the stories are a bit blah. It also doesn’t help that we know The Matheson’s, Sanders’ and Moody are dead so the tension of seeing their story play out is dampened a bit, but even when they’re playing out they really don’t do much to suck you in.

The only real story that draws you in is that of John Cho and Betty Gilpin, mainly because of how serious they play it. I’d argue that they should have been the focus and then have Riseborough and Bichir’s characters play into their story. The real shame here is the waste of the cast, even though everyone looks like they are trying to the best with what they have, the majority of the characters are underwritten or just not given anything to really do. This is true for Bichir’s Goodman, who doesn’t really do anything other than tell Muldoon to let the case go, and he always thought there was something wrong with the house.

Then comes the scares, probably the main reason everyone will try to watch this. On that front, The Grudge disappoints as well. The scares are pretty basic and nothing we haven’t seen before. Even the classic imaginary that we are familiar with – the hand in the hair, bathtub filled with dirty water – isn’t worthwhile. There are nice references to the past films, but it’s there to mainly show that Pesce was a fan of the series before he got the job. Which is a shame because I do think that Pesce has a good eye for imagery, but it’s almost like Pesce was afraid of letting the movie loose, and being “fucked up” like he promised.

All in all, The Grudge is less superior to its 2004 remake, and is way too messy for its own good. The characters are underdeveloped or underwritten, and it lacks the punch the movie tries to promise. Plus, it is a tad boring at times, which is something you don’t want from horror movie. If I had to pick something that I liked about it, it would probably be some of the score from The Newton Brothers.

The Grudge

Rating: Pass

 

My Favorite, and Surprise, Movies of 2019

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

Them That Follow

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Luce

Hustlers

Honey Boy

Marriage Story

The Report

The King

The Two Popes

Uncut Gems

1917

Portrait of the Lady on Fire

 

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Bodied

Cold War

Doctor Sleep

It Chapter Two

Klaus

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The Wandering Earth

Triple Threat

Yesterday

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Aladdin

Look, Disney live-action remakes are happening, and will continue, let’s get over it. Okay, now let’s talk a little about Aladdin. I don’t have an immediate connection to Aladdin like many others do, so the movie was already very lukewarm for me. That said, the movie wasn’t that bad. Will Smith as the new Genie wasn’t too bad, and Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine had some pretty great chemistry together. Aladdin was a pretty much a great family movie, and you can’t go wrong with that.

 

Blinded by the Light

I didn’t think I was going to watch Blinded by the Light, mainly because I didn’t think I’d connect to it because I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. The great thing is, you didn’t need to be. That to me, made me a fan.

 

Crawl

I was admittedly not on board with Crawl when I first read about it and saw the trailer. I gave it chance, and I’m glad I did, because instead of a pretty much a forgettable, cheesy movie; we got a damn solid thriller with Kaya Scodelario easily putting the movie on her shoulders.

 

El Chicano

El Chicano is mostly likely going to be one of the handful of movies that people didn’t even know came out in 2019. Produced by Joe Carnahan, the movie followed L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez, who is assigned a career-making case that he finds out has connections to his brother’s supposed suicide, and a turf war between two rival gangs that promises city-wide chaos. He then dons the masked street legend El Chicano to take the streets back. It’s a pretty solid indie action movie that touches on family, “superheroes” and culture.

 

6 Underground

This is the closest thing I think we’ll ever get to knowing how the mind of Michael Bay really works, without the worry of a PG-13 rating, and worrying about damaging a franchise name (Transformers). 6 Underground is a bit of a mess, but damn is it an entertaining mess.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Alita: Battle Angel

A lot, and I mean A LOT, of people had things to say about Alita: Battle Angel even before it came out and the reaction after the film came out was even more. It was a rather ambitious approach and take on the manga adaptation, that may not have totally worked for producer James Cameron – this being a passion project of his – and director Robert Rodriguez. While the movie loses some steam by the end, it was rather entertaining throughout.

 

Apollo 11

Documentaries rarely make it to my end of the year list, and some of that is mainly because I don’t really watch too many, I forget I watched them, or don’t watch any at all. That said, Apollo 11 stuck with me. The Apollo missions are historic in every way, but seeing this on the big screen, was one of my favorite experiences in a theater this year.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba together on screen in the Fast & Furious universe? Dumb fun action sequences? What more did you want!?

 

Fighting with My Family

Based on the life of former WWE superstar Paige, Fighting with My Family followed Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) who dreams of being in the WWE with her brother Zak (Jack Lowden), but when they only accept her, it sets a rift between them and pushes Saraya to her limit. The film itself was also based on the documentary of the same name, which followed the Knight family, who run a wrestling promotion in the native England. Pugh totally carries the film on her shoulders, with great supporting performances by Lowden, Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan and Nick Frost and Lena Headey as Saraya’s parents. The only thing that irked me a bit was knowing they didn’t really touch on a lot of stuff that Saraya actually went through in her time in WWE, but whatever.

 

Ford v Ferrari

One of the great things about Ford v Ferrari is that you didn’t need to be a gear-head to love/like the film. Mainly because the movie was much more about the friendly relationship between Carol Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) trying to beat the odds of beating Ferrari at Le Mans, a 24-hour race. Damon and Bale were fantastic together, that its hard to believe it took this long in their careers to work together.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Parabellum continued the world building of this hitman world, and even did some globe-trotting. Giving us more characters, more obstacles and more headshots than we can count; and I’m not losing any interest whatsoever.

 

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire followed Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy in the Hitler Youth, who finds out his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home; all while he talks to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself). Waititi’s humor may not be for everyone, but his humor here with the seriousness – and it does get serious – of the real setting of WWII, Jojo Rabbit was definitely an experience.

 

Little Women

I’m going to admit something I probably shouldn’t; I’ve never read Little Women. I knew what the book was about, but just never got around to reading it. That said, I was looking forward to the movie, mainly because of the cast and that Greta Gerwig was writing/directing. Thankfully, it didn’t really matter if I had read the book, because the casts’ chemistry and Gerwig’s direction was great to watch.

 

Queen & Slim

I really didn’t know what to expect from Queen & Slim, and that was probably the best thing to feel going into the movie. A simple date night gone wrong, with the added racial themes and tone, and you have really one of the best films of the year.

 

Richard Jewell

As a director, Clint Eastwood is pretty hit-or-miss. Recently he’s been on a miss or misstep category, but Richard Jewell has put him back in the hit category. Based on the true story of Richard Jewell, the hero that saved lives during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was labeled a villain by the FBI and the media. Honestly, the driving force behind the film is the terrific performance by Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell.

 

Shazam!

I was not onboard the Shazam! train whatsoever, but damn did I have a great time watching it. It was perfect, and some things were a little mishandled, but the cast is what really kept this movie together.

 

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Drama after the film came out aside, Far from Home was a nice follow-up to Homecoming. While the ramifications of Avenges: Endgame were there, admittedly used as almost a crutch, Far from Home continued the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Plus, the Mysterio illusion scene is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

A nice coming of age tale that follows Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a professional wrestler  come true. Along his adventure he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is running away from his own troubles and later convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak’s social worker, to join them. It’s a also a nice “road trip” moving with everyone putting on great performances, especially Gottsagen (who really has Down Syndrome), who honestly steals the show.

 

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

This is one I didn’t really know anything about until it came out. It follows an ex-cop turned militia man (the underrated, James Badge Dale), who is placed in charge to investigate the shooting at a cop’s funeral that leads to someone in his own militia. The film is extremely tense from start to finish, with everyone in the cast giving it their all, but make no mistake this is Dale’s show, with the only other person I want to point out is Happy Anderson, who plays Morris, in a long, drawn-out scene between the two early in the film. Definitely try to check this out.

 

Toy Story 4

Cash-grab or not, Toy Story 4 still tugged on the heartstrings the only way Disney and Pixar know how to do nowadays.

 

Other Notable Movies: Notre Dame, Happy Death Day 2U, Brittany Runs a Marathon, La Llorona, Pain & Glory, Little Monsters, One Take of the Dead

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Avengers: Endgame

Look, I’ve been invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like many others, since it started. Endgame was the culmination of everything since the very first Iron Man. If you didn’t like it, that’s fine too. But as a nerd, seeing the final battle on the big screen, with all those characters, MY GOD!

 

Booksmart

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde followed two top academic students and best friends (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who, on the eve of graduating high school, realize that being top of their class didn’t really mean too much as the people that partied also got into good schools. So, for one wild night, they go on the search for the big party of the night. There is a lot more to the basic premise of the movie, a lot of which you should go in without knowing. That said, Booksmart is hands down one of the best movies of the year.

 

Detective Pikachu

If you’re my age, or around my age, you grew up with Pokemon, and you may or may not have loved it. I loved it. I was hesitant about a CGI/Live-Action movie because of how the CG Pokemon would look, but they were damn impressive, a little more furry than I thought, but impressive nonetheless. Plus, I want a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu following me around now.

 

Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy is back! Playing real-life comic Rudy Ray Moore in what it took to make Moore’s iconic and classic Blaxploitation film. The whole cast is fantastic and Murphy is back to fine form towing the line from funny to dramatic.

 

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out was probably, for me, one of the most entertaining films and film-watching experiences, of the year. Down from the cast to Johnson’s directing and taking his own twist on the genre.

 

Midsommar

The second feature by Hereditary director Ari Aster, Midsommar is an even bigger and longer slow-burn of a movie that is both disturbing, and beautiful to look at it. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple on the ropes, who go to Sweden with two others to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival, where things go very, very wrong. The less you know the better, but again, it’s a slow-burn movie that goes somewhere I didn’t see it going.

 

Parasite

Bong Hive! That’s it. That’s my description of why it’s here.

 

Ready or Not

I really loved Ready or Not. There wasn’t too much I can even say that I disliked, so yeah it was going to be put in this section. The movie followed Grace (Samara Weaving), who just married into the Le Domas family, but before she can really become family she must survive the night of a deadly game of Hide and Seek. The movie was treated like a horror comedy, and it felt just like that but without getting into the campy side of things. The cast is fantastic in the roles they play, to the point you can almost tell they were given the okay to just let loose as much as possible.

 

The Farewell

Based on an actual lie that writer/director Lulu Wang is apparently still upholding, a Chinese family discovers that their grandmother has a short time to live, so they fake a wedding to gather before she dies. The movie is absurd in a good way, and when it’s not being darkly funny, its borderline tugging on your heartstrings. It also, probably, changed a lot of opinions on Awkwafina – like myself – who only saw her as a comedy act.

 

Us

Jordan Peele’s second directorial feature was every bit as great as his first, Get Out. While Us goes more into the horror genre, it still plays with social commentary that had everyone talking. Plus, we got to see everyone in the cast play two very different versions of themselves, so yeah.

 

That’s it folks. It was definitely an interesting year for movies, films and everything in-between. What were your favorite, enjoyable, liked and best movies/films of the year? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Undecided? Nevertheless, here’s to another great and awesome year of movies and films.

Favorites of 2019 – Fight/Action Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Trailers & More

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Avengers: Endgame – Captain America, Iron Man and Thor vs. Thanos & Finale

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Huang and his Men (Knife Fight)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick Escapes on Motorcycle

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy – Cheung Tin-chi vs. Tso Ngan Kwan, Cheung Tin-chi vs. Sadi the Warrior & Cheung Tin-chi vs. Owen Davidson

Terminator: Dark Fate – Dani, Diego and Grace Escape the Rev-9

Triple Threat – Payu and Jaka vs. Collins & Payu vs. Collins (Final)

 

 

Honorable Mention

Alita: Battle Angel – Motorball Game

Dark Phoenix – X-Men, Magneto, Ariki and Selene vs. Aliens

Hellboy – Hellboy vs. The Three Giants

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie Escape Brixton (London)

Triple Threat – Jaka vs. Long Fei (Fight Club)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – John Wick vs. Shinobi 1 and Shinobi 2 & John Wick vs. Zero

 

 

Other Notable Action/Fight Sequences

Anna – Restaurant Brawl

Gemini Man – Henry and Junior Motorcycle Chase

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Monarch vs. Rodan

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Shaw vs. Brixton’s Men (Hattie’s Apartment)

Polar – Vincent vs. Hall Guards

Jumanji: The Next Level – The Bridge Escape

Stuber – Vic vs. Tedjo (Hotel Room)

Zombieland: Double Tap – Tallahassee and Columbus vs. Albuquerque and Flagstaff

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Alan Silvestri – Avengers: Endgame

Matt Morton – Apollo 11

Michael Abels – Us

The Haxan Cloak – Midsommar

 

Honorable Mentions

Hildur Guonadottir – Joker

Marius De Vries – Teen Spirit

Rob Simonsen – Captive State

 

 

MISC

CGI Pokemon – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Hoyte Van Hoytema – Ad Astra (Cinematography)

Pawel Pogorzelski – Midsommar (Cinematography)

Mysterio Illusion – Spider-Man: Far from Home

 

Honorable Mentions

Autumn Durald – Teen Spirit (Cinematography)

Henrik Svensson – Midsommar (Production Company)

Laurie Rose – Pet Sematary (Cinematography)

Lucian Johnston – Midsommar (Film Editing)

Lukasz Zal – Cold War (Cinematography/Photography)

Mike Gloulakis – Us (Cinematography)

Visual Effects Department – Alita: Battle Angel

 

Other Notable MISC.

Alex Disenhof – Captive State (Cinematography)

Dan Laustsen – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parrabellum (Cinematography)

Lawrence Sher – Joker (Cinematography)

Nicolas Wong – La Llorona (Cinematography)

 

 

 

Trailers

Avengers: Endgame #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

Black Widow – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxAtuMu_ph4&t=4s

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU8-7BX9uxs

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Teaser) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFmhKpZKlE

Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt9L1jCKGnE

No Time to Die – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1arJ05kcQ8

Wonder Woman 1984 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfM7_JLk-84

 

 

Honorable Mentions

1917 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcmZN0Mbl04

Anna – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYeBlgQdFg

Bad Boys for Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKCj3XuPG8M

Hobbs & Shaw – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SA7FaKxZVI

Hobbs & Shaw Trailer 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ7PAyCDwEg

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7XM597XO94

Jojo Rabbit – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL4McUzXfFI

Zombieland 2: Double Tap – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlW9yhUKlkQ

 

 

Other Notable Trailers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLEPhfEN2M

Antlers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEM5HW7q5dY

Little Monsters (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d1KP-OhBP4

The Gentlemen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B0RpUGss2c

 

Favorites of 2019: Directors, Actors, Actresses, Supporting Roles & Villains

The end of the year doesn’t just mean putting out your best/favorite movies of year. It can be a time to also 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. Also, if someone is missing, it could be because I didn’t see them (aka missed the movie), or they just missed the list/had to be cut out. This is also part one of two different lists. Enjoy.

 

Directors

Anthony and Joe Russo – Avengers: Endgame

Ari Aster – Midsommar

Bong Joon-Ho – Parasite

Jordan Peele – Us

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – Ready or Not

Rian Johnson – Knives Out

 

Honorable Mentions

Craig Brewer – Dolemite Is My Name

Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Olivia Wilde – Booksmart

Martin Scorsese – The Irishman

Melina Matsoukas – Queen & Slim

Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Robert Eggers – The Lighthouse

Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit

 

Other Notable Directors

David F. Sandberg – Shazam!

Clint Eastwood – Richard Jewell

James Mangold – Ford v Ferrari

Lulu Wang – The Farewell

Marielle Heller – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Mike Flanagan – Doctor Sleep

Robert Rodriguez – Alita: Battle Angel

Rob Letterman – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

 

 

Actors

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc – Knives Out

Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs & Jason Statham as Shaw – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Eddie Murphy as Rudy – Dolemite Is My Name

James Badge Dale as Gannon – The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck – Joker

Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell – Richard Jewell

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man – Avengers: Endgame

 

Honorable Mentions

Christian Bale as Ken Miles – Ford v Ferrari

Daniel Kaluuya as Slim – Queen & Slim

Himesh Patel as Jack Malik – Yesterday

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran – The Irishman

Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo – Jojo Rabbit

Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake – The Lighthouse

Zack Gottsagen as Zak – The Peanut Butter Falcon

 

Other Notable Actors

Brad Pitt as Roy McBride – Ad Astra

Jack Lowden as Zak Knight – Fighting with My Family

Jack Reynor as Christian – Midsommar

Mena Massoud as Aladdin – Aladdin

Pierfrancesco Favino as Tommaso Buscetta – The Traitor

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man – Spider-Man: Far from Home

Vivelk Kaira as Javed – Blinded by the Light

Winston Duke as Gabe Wilson – Us

 

 

Actress

Awkwafina as Billi – The Farewell

Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly – Bombshell

Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury – Late Night

Florence Pugh as Dani – Midsommar

Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen – Queen & Slim

Kaitlyn Dever as Amy & Beanie Feldstein as Molly – Booksmart

Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson/Red – Us

Naomi Scott as Jasmine – Aladdin

Samara Weaving as Grace – Ready or Not

Saoirse Ronan as Jo March – Little Women

 

Honorable Mentions

Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera – Knives Out

Charlize Theron as Charlotte Field – Long Shot

Elle Fanning as Violet – Teen Spirit

Florence Pugh as Saraya Knight/Paige – Fighting with My Family

Jessica Rothe as Tree – Happy Death Day 2U

Julianne Moore as Gloria – Gloria Bell

Mackenzie Davis as Grace – Terminator: Dark Fate

Rosa Salazar as Alita – Alita: Battle Angel

Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa – Jojo Rabbit

 

Other Notable Actress

Cate Blanchett as Bernadette Fox – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Jillian Bell as Brittany – Brittany Runs a Marathon

Joanna Kulig as Zula – Cold War

Kyleigh Curran as Abra Stone – Doctor Sleep

Mckenna Grace as Judy Warren & Madison Iseman as Mary Ellen – Annabelle Comes Home

Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple – Glass

Sophia Lillis as Nancy Drew – Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Vanessa Kirby as Hattie – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Zoe Margaret Colletti as Stella Nicholls – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

 

 

Supporting Actor

Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Chris Evans as Ransom Drysdale – Knives Out

Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman – Shazam!

James McAvoy as The Horde – Glass

James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak & Bill Hader as Richie Tozier – It Chapter Two

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 

Honorable Mentions

Alessandro Nivola as Sensei – The Art of Self Defense

Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa – The Irishman

Bokeem Woodbine as Uncle Earl – Queen & Slim

Chris Hemsworth as Thor – Avengers: Endgame

Happy Anderson as Morris – The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

Nick Nolte as Clay Banning – Angel Has Fallen

Navid Mohammadzadeh as Naser Khakzad – Just 6.5

Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf – Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi as Adolf – Jojo Rabbit

Will Smith as Genie/Mariner – Aladdin

 

Other Notable Supporting Actors

Adam Brody as Daniel – Ready or Not

Dean Chaumoo as Bedders & Angus Imrie as Young Merlin – The Kid Who Would Be King

Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Kulvinder Ghir as Malik – Blinded by the Light

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino – The Irishman

Phi Vu as Ryan – Happy Death Day 2U

Raymond Cruz as Rafael Olvera – The Curse of La Llorona

Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin – Dolemite Is My Name

 

 

Supporting Actress

Billie Lourd as Gigi – Booksmart

Florence Pugh as Amy March – Little Women

Julia Butters as Trudi – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai – The Farewell

Zoey Deutch as Madison – Zombieland: Double Tap

 

Honorable Mentions

Elisabeth Moss as Claire Walsh – The Kitchen

Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley – Shazam!

Kathy Bates as Bobi Jewell – Richard Jewell

Katie Sarife as Daniela – Annabelle Comes Home

Scarlett Johansson as Rosie – Jojo Rabbit

 

Other Notable Supporting Actresses

Eliza Scanlen as Beth March – Little Women

Helen Mirren as Queenie – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Nasim Pedrad as Dalia – Aladdin

Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil – Bombshell

Melanie Scrofano as Emilie – Ready or Not

 

 

Villains

Baba Yaga – Hellboy

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – It Chapter Two

Henry Czerny as Tony & Nicky Guadagni as Aunt Helene – Ready or Not

Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio – Spider-Man: Far from Home

Lupita Nyong’o as Red – Us

Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat – Doctor Sleep

 

Honorable Mentions

Asia Kate Dillon as The Adjudicator – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Gabriel Luna as Rev-9 – Terminator: Dark Fate

Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer – Brightburn

Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann – Ma

Marisol Ramirez as La Llorona – The Curse of La Llorona

Mark Dacascos as Zero – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

The Seven Deadly Sins – Shazam!

 

Other Notable Villains

Alligators – Crawl

Idris Elba as Brixton – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

King Ghidorah – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Josh Brolin as Thanos – Avengers: Endgame

 

Be on the lookout for Part II coming.

Last Podcast of the Year – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Spoiler-Free Thoughts, Tenet and Top Gun: Maverick Trailers & More

Hello everybody!

Guess who keeps forgetting to put the podcast on here? THIS GUY! Sorry about that, everyone. I will be better when the podcast returns next year. That’s right, the title says it all, this is the last podcast of the year and I give my, admittedly scattered thoughts on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the newest trailers for Christopher Nolan’s new action thriller Tenet, Top Gun: Maverick and remake news on a classic film.

The podcast will return in a few weeks where I’ll give my thoughts on the films of 2019 – at least in podcast form with a co-host.

https://linktr.ee/chrisrenteria27

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Review

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray

Cast: Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Synopsis: Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

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

 

Set in 2020, and ignoring everything after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator: Date Fate sees a world where Sarah Connor (the returning Linda Hamilton) saved humanity. However, unbeknownst to Sarah, something more sinister has come from a different future, and has set its sights on a young Mexican woman, Dani (Natalia Reyes). Thankfully for Dani, Grace (Mackenzie Davis) has come from the future as well, to protect her from the nearly indestructible Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), who will stop at nothing to get his target.

Dani and Grace then meet up with Sarah, who has been killing Terminators since we last saw her, and three head out of Mexico, with the Rev-9 hot on their trail. Eventually, the two get help from Sarah’s old nemesis, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who agrees to help fight the Rev-9 and keep Dani alive. What follows is an epic conclusion with a massive fight for survival against all odds.

Look, the Terminator franchise has gone through A LOT since Judgment Day. When Dark Fate was announced with creator James Cameron and Linda Hamilton herself was coming back to play Sarah Connor, I put this on top of my must-watch list – being the movie optimist that I am anyway. Now, were here, and thankfully Dark Fate wasn’t that bad. I’ll take the stance that Dark Fate is the best Terminator movie to have come out since Judgment Day, but that’s honestly not saying much considering the sequel and reboots we’ve gotten – although, I’m in the small camp of people that probably enjoyed Terminator Salvation.

The movie itself isn’t anything too new as it takes bits from the previous films and updates them for a modern take. Davis’ Grace isn’t a Terminator herself, but a human with enhancement to give them a fighting chance against the deadly Rev-9s. Sarah has matured since the last time we saw her, and her arc was a rather surprising one if I’m being honest, but makes some sense. Reyes’ Dani is basically the new Sarah Connor, although, she not completely a new Sarah which is great, because you can’t replicate too much of the same thing.

Sticking to the cast, Mackenzie Davis does a pretty great job as Grace. Her determination to protecting Dani never feels forced, and she plays the kick-ass action star very well. Natalia Reyes as Dani has her moments, but she feels like the weak link in the cast. Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 has a lot of charisma, which makes his Terminator a little more scarier than previous versions. The Rev-9 has the T-1000 liquid metal exoskeleton covering the machine skeleton underneath, but when it comes to trying to find Dani, he’s able to put on a smile and talk normally with anyone that can get him to her, right before he kills them. Luna has a great balance of being “friendly” and determined to get to his target.

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger already have a handle on their characters, again, Hamilton’s Sarah is a little different from the last time we saw her, but for good reason. Schwarzenegger’s T-800 also has an interesting story here, but thankfully, he’s not in the movie too much. He appears right before the third act of the movie, and that’s enough since the movie really doesn’t need him too much. The movie really is more about our three women in Dani, Grace and Sarah.

Of course, being a Terminator movie we need to talk about some of the action here. Personally, I think the action isn’t really that bad. The first real big set-piece is Grace saving Dani and her brother Diego (Diego Boneta) from the Rev-9, which leads to a highway chase. The action in-between is fine, and it picks up at the end with the showdown between all parties. The CGI also isn’t that bad, although there are moments when the Rev-9 jumps to high spots where he’s clearly a little too rubbery.

All in all, Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthwhile sequel to the franchise with some great moments scattered throughout, and some nice homage’s to the previous movies. The movie isn’t without its faults, with some spotty CG and a few weird story choices, but overall, it is the best Terminator movie since Judgment Day, which again, isn’t saying too much considering what we’ve gotten since then.

Terminator: Dark Fate

3.5 out of 5

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

1st

Arctic Dogs – Entertainment Studios Motion Picture, AMBI Group

Swifty the Fox (Jeremy Renner) discovers a devious plan by Otto Von Walrus (John Cleese) to drill beneath the Arctic surface to unleash enough gas to melt all the ice. With the help from his friends – an introverted polar bear, a scatterbrained albatross, a crafty fox and two paranoid otters – Swifty and the gang spring into action to foil Otto’s plot and save the day. The voice cast also includes James Franco, Heidi Klum, Laurie Holden, Alec Baldwin, Omar Sy, Michael Madsen and Anjelica Huston.

 

Harriet – Focus Features, Story Gold Features, Martin Chase Productions, New Balloon

The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s (Cynthia Erivo) escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Harriet co-stars Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Deborah Ayorinde and Janelle Monae.

 

Motherless Brooklyn – Warner Bros., Class 5 Films

Based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem, and directed by Edward Norton; set against the backdrop of 1950s, Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Motherless Brooklyn co-stars Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Kenneth Williams and Alec Baldwin.

 

Terminator: Dark Fate – Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Skydance Media, Lightstorm Entertainment, Tencent Pictures

Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis) must protect a young girl (Natalia Reyes) from a newly modified liquid Terminator (Gabriel Luna) from the future. Dark Fate co-stars Diego Boneta, Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thoughts: The Terminator franchise doesn’t have the best history since the release of Judgment Day, but everyone is touting that Dark Fate is getting the franchise back on track. Of course, that’s studio people, it’s really all about the fans, and from the looks of it…they could be right. It helps that Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor for one, and it’s going back to its rated-R roots (which may or may not help who knows). It can’t be as bad as Genisys right? RIGHT?

 

 

8th

Limited Release – Honey Boy

Written and starring by Shia LaBeouf – it is a semi-autobiography of his life – a child actor works to mend the relationship with his hard-drinking, law-breaking father. Honey Boy stars LaBeouf (as his father), Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs, Maika Monroe and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

Playing with Fire – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Broken Road Productions

A crew of rugged firefighters meet their match when attempting to rescue three rambunctious kids. Playing with Fire stars John Cena, John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane, Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, Finley Rose Slater and Judy Greer.

Thoughts: What is this movie!?

 

Last Christmas – Universal Pictures,

Directed by Paul Feig, and co-written by Emma Thompson – Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Her last date with disaster? That of having accepted to work as Santa’s elf for a department store. However, she meets Tom (Henry Golding) here. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true. Last Christmas co-stars Thompson, Patti LuPone and Michelle Yeoh.

 

Midway – Lionsgate, The Mark Gordon CompanyD

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it. Midway stars Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Alexander Ludwig, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Ed Skrein and Dennis Quaid.

 

Doctor Sleep – Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, Intrepid Pictures

Based off the novel by Stephen King, years following the events of The Shining, a now-adult Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), Doctor Sleep co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Chelsea Talmadge, Cliff Curtis and Bruce Greenwood

Thoughts: A sequel to one of the most popular horror films, maybe ever, Doctor Sleep looks like it’s going to be a healthy mix of nostalgia and being its thing. It also helps that the film is directed by the very talented Mike Flanagan. So yeah, Doctor Sleep could potentially be one of the best movies of the month.

 

 

15th

Limited Release: Waves

Written and directed by Trey Edward Schults (It Comes at Night); Traces the journey of a suburban African-American family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father (Sterling K. Brown) – as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. Waves co-stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

The Good Liar – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema,

Based on the novel by Nicholas Searle, and directed by Bill Condon; career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life. The Good Liar co-stars Jim Carter, Laurie Davidson and Russell Tovey.

 

Charlie’s Angels – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Brownstone Productions,

When a young systems engineer  (Naomi Scott) blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels (Ella Balinska and Kristen Stewart) are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all. Charlie’s Angels co-stars Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo and Patrick Stewart.

Thoughts: I wasn’t completely sold on the new Charlie’s Angels movie, but I’ll admit the FIRST trailer at least had me in for the idea of the reboot. This second trailer though, oof.

 

Ford v. Ferrari – 20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment

Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan) – American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Ford v. Ferrari co-stars Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe and Tracy Letts.

Thoughts: This one has been in the works for a while, and it’s finally here and it looks pretty solid. The film already has a great backstory so hopefully that will bring people out to watch.

 

 

22nd

Limited Release – Dark Waters

Based on a real story and magazine article by Nathaniel Rich; A corporate defense attorney (Mark Ruffalo) takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution. Dark Waters co-stars Anne Hathaway, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber and Tim Robbins.

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Tencent Pictures, Big Beach Films

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood co-stars Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

Thoughts: You ready to cry? I’m not ready to cry. Because we’re going to cry.

 

21 Bridges – STX Entertainment, AGBO, Huayi Brothers

Thrust into a citywide manhunt for a duo of cop killers, NYPD detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) begins to undercover a massive conspiracy that links his fellow police officers to a criminal empire and must decide who he is hunting and who is actually hunting him. During the manhunt, Manhattan is completely locked down for the first time in its history – no exit or entry to the island including all 21 bridges. 21 Bridges co-stars Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, Keith David and J.K. Simmons.

 

Frozen 2 – Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom. Frozen 2 voice cast also includes Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown.

Thoughts: You ready for the next “Let it Go” to be played over 100 times? ARE YOU?

 

 

27th

Queen & Slim – Universal Pictures, BRON Studios,

A couple’s (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) first date take an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over. Queen & Slim co-stars Indya Moore, Chloe Sevigny, and Bokeem Woodbine.

 

Knives Out – Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital, FilmNation Entertainment, Ram Bergman Productions

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a detective (Daniel Craig) investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Knives Out impressive cast includes Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis  and Christopher Plummer.

Thoughts: Knives Out has gotten a lot, A LOT, of love in the film festival circuit, so Knives Out looks to be one of those movies that you’re going to need to watch opening weekend.

 

What are you looking forward to?