First Podcast of the New Year – 2017 Movies Review

The title says it all don’t you think? The first podcast of the year is here, and what better way than putting 2017 in the rear-view and talking about the year that was. Added bonus, I have a guest on the podcast this week to help me out. So sit back and enjoy everybody. Be warned, there is swearing, spoilers and it’s a long podcast. Finally, you’ll have the choice of either Youtube or iTunes. I will ask if you do listen on iTunes, help the podcast and me out and give me a rating and review there. I’d really appreciate it.

 

iTunes Link  – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-movie-pit-podcast/id1249582608?mt=2

Youtube link

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January Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in December so there is also that to look forward to.

 

You’ll notice that I will put the companies attached and responsible for releasing the film as well. Just trying something new to expand the page a bit and instead of posters, now you’ll be seeing trailers. I’ll try to update whenever new trailers come out.

 

 

5th

Insidious: The Last Key (Universal Pictures & Blumhouse Productions)

In the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise, Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home. The Insidious movies have always been pretty creepy in terms of visuals and the spirits the characters have to face. Shaye’s Elise is undoubtedly the best character in the franchise, so it makes sense that they would bring her back to be the face of the franchise. However, it kind of feels like – at least in the trailers – that they are trying to pass on the franchise to a new character in presumably Spencer Locke’s character.  Of course, we could be wrong, but The Last Key looks like another creepy installment to the franchise that I can’t wait to watch. Insidious: The Last Key also stars Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Caitlin Gerard, Tessa Ferrer, Josh Stewart and Kirk Acevedo.

 

12th

Expanded Release: The Post & Hostiles & Phantom Thread

 

Proud Mary (Sony Pictures & Screen Gems)

Taraji P. Henson plays Mary, a hitwoman working for an organized crime family in Boston. Her life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes awry. I didn’t know anything about this until I saw the trailer, and I was indifferent about it. While I’m always for actors getting out of their comfort zone – Henson isn’t really known action roles – I’m not completely sold on the movie yet. That’s not to say I don’t think it won’t be any good, or I’m not going to watch it, but it’s something I’m not rushing out to watch. Proud Mary also stars Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Billy Brown, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley and Danny Glover.

 

The Commuter (Lionsgate, StudioCanal & Ombra Films)

Reuniting director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson – having done Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night together – The Commuter follows a businessman is caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute. The movie does have another added layer in that this could be Neeson’s final action movie – he did back peddle on that a bit, but still. The movie does look pretty good, despite the very spotty CGI of Neeson jumping from one train cart to another in the trailers. Either way, it’s Neeson doing what he does best, so I’m going to be sitting in the theater watching it. The Commuter also stars Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill.

 

Paddington 2 (Warner Bros., StudioCanal, Heyday Films & Canal+)

Paddington was a surprise and smash hit back in 2014, so a sequel was going to happen. Now, the sequel follows Paddington (voiced once again by Ben Whishaw), who is happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community. Paddington picks up a series of odd jobs to by the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen, and the blame put on him. I haven’t seen the first Paddington even though I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. However, just watching the trailers, it seems like a good time. Paddington 2 stars Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Brendon Gleeson and Hugh Grant.

 

19th

Forever My Girl (Roadside Attractions & LD Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Heidi McLaughlin, after being gone for a decade a country star returns home to the love he left behind. Forever My Girl stars Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.

 

Den of Thieves (STX Films, Diamond Film Productions & G-Base)

Den of Thieves follows an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department hunting down the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the crew plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank. I didn’t really think anything about the movie until I saw the trailer, and I have to admit, this jumped to my watch list. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the gritty feel of it, but seeing Gerard Butler chew it up as a questionable lawman is probably worthwhile. Den of Thieves co-stars Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones and 50 Cent.

 

12 Strong (Warner Bros., Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Alcon Entertainment, & Black Label Media)

Based on the true story and novel by Doug Stanton, the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. The juxtaposition of the soldiers on horses going up against tanks is something that weirdly drew me in right away. The cast is also pretty damn great too. 12 Strong stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, Michael Shannon, Elsa Pataky, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, Rob Riggle and William Fichtner.

 

26th

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Twentieth Century Fox, Temple Hill Entertainment & Gotham Group)

The final installment of the Maze Runner adaptation, The Death Cure follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he embarks on a mission to finally take down WCKD. I was surprised by the first Maze Runner but the sequel left me a bit disappointed. This looks like the big explosive finale that was built up in the last movie, so my only hope would be that they make it pay off. Maze Runner: The Death Cure co-stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Walton Goggins and Patricia Clarkson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

My Best/Favorite Movies/Films of the 2017

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

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

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

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Silence

The Wall

The Beguiled

The Glass Castle

The Little Hours

Stronger

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Last Flag Flying

Mudbound

Call Me by Your Name

Raw

Prevenge

Gerald’s Game

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Ghost Story

Atomic Blonde

Battle of the Sexes

Colossal

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Patriots Day

The Florida Project

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Gifted

Wind River

Band Aid

The Founder

Okja

It Comes at Night

John Wick: Chapter 2

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Cars 3

Girls Trip

Ingrid Goes West

Lowriders

Sleight

The Girl with All the Gifts

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Blade Runner 2049

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

 

Darkest Hour

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

 

Detroit

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

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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

 

It

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

 

Kong: Skull Island

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

 

Lady Bird

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

 

Logan Lucky

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

 

Molly’s Game

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

 

Power Rangers

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

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

 

Split

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

 

The Disaster Artist

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

 

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

A Monster Calls

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

 

Annabelle: Creation

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

 

Baby Driver

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

 

Coco

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

 

Dunkirk

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

 

Free Fire

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

 

Get Out  

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

 

I, Tonya

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

 

Logan

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

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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

 

The Big Sick

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

 

The LEGO Batman Movie

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

 

The Shape of Water

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

 

Thor: Ragnarok

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

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

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

 

Wonder Woman

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

 

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

My Worst, Disappointments and Least-Liked Movies of 2017

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

I’ll put up my list of “Best/Favorite” movies of the year later, but with all those good/great/awesome movies I have seen, I had to sit through some stinkers unfortunately. Some of these I knew weren’t going to be any good walking in, but I ended up taking the hit anyway. The list ranges all over the place, so don’t think I’m attacking certain movies because it’s easy. I walk into every movie with a clear mind and soaking up the movie for what it’s worth.

The list will have the movies 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 they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list.

Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine and probably justified. Film is subjective, and that’s why I love it. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out.

Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Flatliners

Live By Night

Rings

The Bye Bye Man

Underworld: Blood Wars

 

 

Disappointments/Least-Liked/Worst Movies of the Year

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant got a lot of hate that wasn’t all justified. It’s not a great movie, and definitely didn’t live up to the hype the trailers put forward. For me, the movie was good, until it wasn’t. I don’t even mind that the Xenomorphs didn’t really appear until the last act of the movie, what bothered me the most was this movie is jam packed with talent, and many of them have absolutely nothing to do, or aren’t written too well. The only real good part of this new franchise is Michael Fassbender’s David, although Covenant probably has one of the most cringe-worthy lines of the year.

 

A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness looked like it was going to be this really twisted psychological gothic film directed by Gore Verbinski, but instead it is a film that had some of those elements, but failed to really deliver on them. It was also too long for its own good losing a lot of stream by the middle of the movie.

 

Geostorm

World ending movies are almost always perfect escapism, but eventually they all become one in the same. Geostorm tried something different, concept-wise, but it still failed on a lot levels to make it stick out as its own thing. Also, at one point the movie got a little too ridiculous even for me.

 

Ghost in the Shell

If ever there was a movie that got an enormous amount of hate before it came out that I can remember, it was Ghost in the Shell. The film, arguably, re-started the white-washing controversy in Hollywood, and the film didn’t help matters when they revealed their final twist. Similar to Alien: Covenant for me, this movie was doing okay for itself until that twist, which at that point, it dissolved before your eyes.

 

The Circle

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in the same movie? With an interesting concept? So, how in the holy hell did this movie end up so bad? The concept fell really flat, and the acting from Watson was cringe-worthy sometimes. Not only that, the movie wasted John Boyega, Karen Gillan – who was probably the best thing in the movie, but she’s not in it enough – and Hanks, who is in the movie for like five minutes because he probably had to pay his mortgage. Even though The Circle was probably asking us some interesting and noteworthy topics for discussion, the movie was so bad I didn’t care.

 

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is one of those movies I had read about since I started really following the movie news – all the way back in 2004-2005 – so finally seeing it on the big screen after all the false starts, people being eyed and changing studios was great. Unfortunately, the movie itself wasn’t all that great. The Dark Tower could have used a lot more time to really explain and expand the long history from the books, and let the actions really speak when they happened. Also, for the famous character of The Man in Black, played by Matthew McConaughey, he isn’t really all that menacing enough at least for me.

 

The Mummy

Probably one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me, if I had to pick one. I was really looking forward toward Universal putting their classic monsters back on the big screen in a shared universe. Especially considering Universal was really the first studio to have a shared universe – and me being a fan of that series. The Mummy was mixed bag of many things, Tom Cruise wasn’t likeable at all, they tried a tad too hard to create the universe in one movie, and Sofia Boutella’s Mummy character – being the best thing in the movie – wasn’t in it enough and was dealt with way too easily. We shouldn’t let one bad movie decide the complete fate of a new, and potentially great, shared universe. That said, The Mummy doesn’t help that argument, and from the sounds of it, it looks like the shared universe might be dead.

 

Suburbicon

This one hurt a little. You got a great cast with Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac with a script by the Coen Brothers and George Clooney, who directed it. In the end though, Suburbicon is a huge mess of the film that no one could save. The story is a bit too whacky for its own good, and it kind of comes from nowhere.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

………….I can’t even come up with something clever. This was SO BAD. Or as I put it when I reviewed it, Transformers: The Last Knight is a steaming pile of combined shits that you only fueled by buying a ticket. Nothing in this movie makes sense, and sometimes it felt like Bay forgot what he directed in the past films.

 

All right, so there are my worst, disappointments, least-liked films of the year. What were some of yours?

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Benicio Del Toro

Synopsis: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysterious of the Force and secrets of the past.

 

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

 

When The Force Awakens ended, everyone went crazy trying to figure out how the next movie was going to approach everything we just saw and was introduced. Enter director Rian Johnson and when that first trailer dropped everyone went crazy all over again after hearing Luke’s words of “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” Since then The Last Jedi has been on everyone highly-anticipated movies of the year. So now that it’s here, was the wait worth it? Is it too over-hyped? Both? Neither? Well, let’s find out.

The Last Jedi has three stories going on. The first is the story that ended The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and is there to try and convince him to come back and help the Resistance, but to also help her find her place in everything and help her with her newfound abilities. The second follows Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with the Resistance Fleet fending off an attack by the First Order and butting heads with Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and even Leia (Carrie Fisher) herself. Poe, finding out something dire, decides to send Finn (John Boyega) and a technician, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), to another planet to find someone that can help them. The final story is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) still struggling with the darkness inside him and finally trying to prove himself to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

The Last Jedi is an interesting film. On one hand, it is a true Star Wars film that is filled with great visuals, great cinematography – here by Steve Yedlin – an amazing score by John Williams and great moments that the franchise is known for like epic battles and twists. On the other hand, the film feels a bit too messy for its own good, but in that messiness it does bring some surprises that is obviously causing some fans to be very divided. Yes, that’s vague but this is a spoiler free review.

What I’m okay with saying and giving away is The Last Jedi does have some pacing issues. You definitely feel that the movie’s length by the end of it all, but at least director and writer Rian Johnson is able to make it captivating that you don’t really care too much – at least at the end of the movie. The subplot with Finn and Rose going to a different planet and run into Benicio Del Toro’s DJ, feels a little off from the rest of the movie, and while I think I understand what Johnson was trying to do with that part of the film, that section could have been cut down a little.

Other big thing that The Last Jedi does is that it does take some risks – at least in terms of revelations – with its storytelling. However, those risks/revelations are the things that are diving fans, at last from what I’ve seen. Storylines and teases from The Force Awakens are brought up and played around with, even going as so far to give us some answers or, unfortunately, more questions. It’s these little things that pile up that keep The Last Jedi from being the awesome and great film we’d hope for, and instead being a messy Star Wars film that has awesome and great moments.

This isn’t me saying The Last Jedi is a bad film – you notice I never said that – but after watching The Last Jedi I felt a lot of conflict – like Kylo Ren – about my impression of the movie. I’ve seen it twice now, and while the second time I had some more fun with it, the flaws are there once you start to dig around and discuss the film. That said, the pretty great moments are there too, but that’s not enough for me.

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely a film that Star Wars fans will argue about for a long time. Does it have everything a Star Wars film is suppose to have? Yes. It’s fun, action-packed and funny when need be. Does it extend the ideas and uses the storylines that were paved for it in The Force Awakens? Yes, but it also does something that is frustrating, and has made frustrated which I understand. However, at the same time, I see what Rian Johnson was trying to do, so I can’t be too upset over it.

Needless to say, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is worth the watch, and, for the most part, you’ll have a great time watching. Visually, the film is great to look, and the cast is finally able to cut their teeth in more meaty material this go around. Finally, yes, like The Force Awakens, this draws a lot on past Star Wars movies – whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4 out of 5

New Podcast – Avengers: Infinity War, Live-Action Mulan, Masters of the Universe & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

The podcast is up everybody and ready for your listening enjoyment. I got some good stuff, just saying.

Mini-Reviews – Justice League, Lady Bird, Coco & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I know I’ve been slacking on my movie reviews, so please forgive me for that, I have been watching movies but I haven’t had a real chance to sit down and write full reviews. So this is going to make up for it, with some of the big movies I’ve watched. Movies not included are Daddy’s Home 2, Roman J. Israel Esq., Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Lady Bird

Director: Greta Gerwig

Writer: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott and Tracy Letts.

Synopsis: In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.

 

Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial effort, Lady Bird is a great coming-of-age story following Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who wants out of her town but is not financially able to go to a big college. It also doesn’t help that her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is working non-stop and thinks she should think more logically about college. During all of this, we follow Lady Bird, which is what she wants to be called, go through her final year at school, love and thinking what her future holds for her.

I had heard a lot about Lady Bird during its film festival run, and when I finally got the chance to see it, I can see why people really loved it. Gerwig’s writing was fantastical, nothing ever felt forced and Ronan is simply amazing as Lady Bird. The main thing for me about the movie is, despite the movie being set in 2002, it doesn’t really feel that way. Sure we have flip-phones and the whole, “the government is going to put trackers on us” mentally by one of the characters Lady Bird interacts with, and the news of attacks overseas by our government, but the time period isn’t really that important – at least from my point of view of watching.

The thing that makes Lady Bird work for me is the chemistry between Ronan and Metcalf. Any time they are on the screen together it makes the film pop, and it’s both fun and hard to watch as you see them argue and fight one minute and then suddenly have a heart-to-heart the next. It would be really hard to imagine if none of these ladies including Gerwig, are not nominated for the major award shows.

All in all, Lady Bird is a greatly acted film with top notch writing and humor that feels real. While I did feel it loses only a slightly bit of steam near the end, the cast and the script really make Lady Bird worth the while.

Lady Bird

4 out of 5

 

 

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Joe Morton, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

Justice League has had a long and hard road to get to the big screen. From the scarped George Miller-directed movie, to the DCEU’s battle to get fans and critics to go all in for their movies, the movie has finally arrived and it’s just okay. If you didn’t know, Zack Snyder directed the movie at first, but had to step down for the reshoots because of the death of a loved, and Joss Whedon – who had done some script work – came in to take over.

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of hopes for this. I still had the bad taste of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with me, but I was willing to really give Justice League a chance. Unfortunately, Justice League was a huge misstep for me. The CGI was really off in places – I’m looking at you Henry Cavill mustache removal!

Justice League has a rather simple plot; Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) gathers together the team of the Amazon, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the speedster Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the loner Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the cybernetically enhanced Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to stop the threat of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an intergalactic threat that comes to Earth to find the Mother Boxes, cubes with massive power. It’s up to them to stop him and save the world.

The problem with Justice League is, besides some of the terrible CGI, is it doesn’t really take the time to get to know the new characters. We know Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, but we get the cliff notes of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, which doesn’t help considering we’re suppose to care for these characters, and they’re the new big characters we’re going to follow. Miller’s Barry is too jokey; Stone’s Cyborg is a bit too stoic – although he does loosen up at the end – and Momoa’s Curry/Aquaman is a bit too “bro” for me, which is fine for a new approach, but I didn’t really get into it.

All in all, despite all that, yes, Justice League does have some fun and cool moments, but a lot of the negatives and drawbacks of the movie – some I didn’t even mention – really make it hard to enjoy the moments entirely. Justice League does take the DCEU into the right direction of more hopeful and fun, instead dark gritty. Hopefully, the DCEU continues down this route, otherwise the franchise is in a lot of trouble.

Justice League

2.5 out of 5

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Clarke Peters, Sandy Martin, Zeljko Ivanek, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Dinklage

Synopsis: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

 

Martin McDonagh, who directed In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, is a director that I will also keep a look out for now. When I found out about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the cast, it immediately jumped into my “Must Watch” list, and I’m glad I did, because this was a film that really stuck with me.

The film follows Mildred (Frances McDormand), who has recently lost her daughter in a brutal way, and after the police have seemed to give up on the case, she decides to buy three billboards that target the police for not doing their jobs. The billboards get the attention of the police, more specifically Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and the townspeople who are heavily against them. The film then follows Mildred as she deals with everyone seemingly against her, and Dixon and Willoughby trying to finally figure out the case.

There is a lot more going on in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that I won’t even hint at here, mainly because this film really does lend itself on knowing the least amount of information possible to thoroughly enjoy it and really get into the world that this movie takes place in. I will say it’s a dark comedy, so prepare yourself for that, and if you seen McDonagh’s other films, then you’d know what to expect.

I will say Frances McDormand is great as always, but I’d argue that this movie belongs to Sam Rockwell. He’s absolutely fantastic in this, and dare I say, this is one of his best performances he’s ever done.

All in all, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a wonderfully entertaining dark comedy with great performances by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Seriously do yourself a favor and try to avoid anything about the movie, and go watch it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4.5 out of 5

 

 

Coco

Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

Writers: Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich

Voice Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt

Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.

 

I am willing to admit that I had serious doubts about Coco. I knew that Pixar had been working on a Dia de los Muertos movie for a while now, but I was a huge fan of another Dia de los Muertos film called The Book of Life. However, Coco completely blew me away. The movie follows Miguel, who is banned from playing, listening or even thinking about music, but like all kids, he doesn’t follow his family’s rule. Miguel is inspired by a deceased musician from the town, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and through magic, enters the Land of the Dead on The Day of the Dead to find de la Cruz and find his place in the world.

Along his journey there, he meets his deceased family and a con man named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). But, Miguel finds out that he has to get back to the living world before he’s stuck in the Land in the Dead forever.

Like any Pixar movie, the movie has a great story, great characters and amazing visuals. The beautiful and bright colors of The Land of the Dead really pop and I kind of wish we could see more of it as a whole, and not just sections. I also liked that they really dug into the actual culture of everything, and it’s cool to see that represented in a movie like this.

More importantly, and the thing that will put any movie on my list of anything, this tugged on every emotional string that I had. I’ll admit, I was on the verge of tears A LOT. The characters actions and even some of the music, more specifically “Remember Me” started up the waterworks.

All in all, Coco is a great film with eye-popping visuals and an amazing soundtrack. I will admit, something in the final act was a little jarring, especially for a kids and Pixar movie but I guess it worked out at the end of it all.

Coco

4.5 out of 5