Monthly Rewind for March

Hello, everybody!

The third edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing March! (aka my birth month)

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Mother

The Runaways

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thoughts: Looking back, it’s hard to believe only three movies stood out to me this month. The first is the Bong Joon Ho-directed crime drama Mother, which followed a mother who desperately searches to clear her son’s name after he’s accused of murdering a girl. It was Joon Ho’s first movie after The Host, and is led wonderfully by Hye-ja Kim as the character of Mother. If you want your Bong Joon Ho fix, search out Mother.

Next up is The Runaways, the biopic about the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways, led by Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), and what they went through as the band grew. It was the first thing I knew Stewart in after Twilight blew up, and see her and Fanning together was fun to watch. Granted, I didn’t know too much about that actual Runaways themselves, it was nice to see it play out on screen.

Finally, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The original Swedish version that blew up overseas and then here in the States, and it also made Noomi Rapace a household name among film nerds. The film, based on the bestselling novel by Stieg Larsson, introduce us to the popular character of Lisbeth Salander and her anti-hero ways of taking down men who take advantage of the system. It was one of the rare movies that shook me and had me buzzing to anyone that would hear me after I watched it.

 

2011

I Saw the Devil

Battle Los Angeles

Sucker Punch

Thoughts: Oh, 2011, what was going on? Let’s start with the Zack Snyder-directed action movie Sucker Punch, which is probably the definition of cool, badass trailer that doesn’t translate into a good movie. It’s also the prime example that Snyder is more of a visual director than a plot/story-driven director since the action scenes were great to watch, but everything else was rather, blah.

Next is Battle Los Angeles, the sci-fi action movie that follows a squad of marines as they fight to an alien invasion in Los Angeles. I’m going to admit that I’m actually a fan of the movie. There’s enough familiar faces in there like Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan to get to connect, and some somewhat familiar faces to keep you fully invested in the action. The action is also pretty fun, and it gives off a more toned down Black Hawk Dawn with aliens.

Finally, another Korean film, I Saw the Devil directed by Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good the Bad the Weird, The Last Stand). The movie sees a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a twist. A special agent, played by Byung-hun Lee, tracks down his fiancé’s murderer, a dangerous psychopath played by excellently by the great Choi Min-sik, and deploys his own level of torture. This movie is FUCKED UP. I don’t want to say anymore, but this, go watch this with the information I just gave you, and that’s it!

 

2012

John Carter

Silent House

Casa de mi Padre

The Hunger Games

The Raid: Redemption

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with the big one here in John Carter. Disney really dropped the ball on this one. What should have started a franchise for Disney – again – was instead a heavy mix-bag of descent to good CGI and borderline mediocre. It’s a shame since the books were a heavy inspiration of sci-fi and fantasy movies that we all know and love. John Carter is, arguably, one of the biggest “what happened?” movies in Hollywood.

Next is the Elizabeth Olsen-led Silent House. A remake of the film La Casa Muda (The Silent House), the movie is shot like a one-take and follows Olson’s Sarah, who is trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat by a supernatural force. The movie is okay, mainly held together by Olson, who’s in every scene in the movie, and was only her second film (Martha Marcy May Marlene had gotten a limited release and a film festival run at this point). The movie’s ending also loses every bit of the film’s overall story, which is why people probably, in the end, didn’t enjoy it.

Case de mi Padre was a Spanish comedy starring Will Ferrell (yes, speaking Spanish) where he was trying to save his father’s ranch, with his brother (played by Diego Luna), who ends up going head-to-head with Mexico’s most feared drug lord. The movie is utterly ridiculous, including a “sex scene” that you’d expect out of a Ferrell, but you know what, I remember liking the movie when I saw it.

Next up is The Hunger Games, based off the popular book series by Suzanne Collins (who also co-wrote the script), the movie starred Jennifer Lawrence and basically launched her into super stardom. The movie itself was fine, but it was one of the rare instincts where I doubled-down on the phrase “the book is FAR superior than the movie.”

Finally, The Raid. Directed by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais, the movie took audiences by storm. Everyone called it the best action film is years, and you know what? They were right! The story might be unoriginal – elite SWAT team gets trapped in a building by the bad guy they are trying to take down – difference is, these guys beat the hell out of each other instead of shooting each other up for two hours.

 

2013

Stoker

Spring Breakers

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with Spring Breakers, which I will whole heartedly admit, I did NOT like this movie. It didn’t matter how enthralling James Franco was as Alien, this movie felt like it was two-and-half-hours even though it was actually an hour-and-a-half. That should tell you what my experience was like watching.

Let’s move on to Stoker, written by actor Wentworth Miller and directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst) which followed India (Mia Wasikowska), who finds out she had an uncle (Matthew Goode) she never knew about that comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). What follows is a mystery thriller of India trying to figure what her uncle really wants. It was a nice little solid thriller, but the problem was that not many people saw it. It also had an Asian cinema feel to it, which may have set people off too.

Now let’s talk about, a movie that I think gets a little too much hate, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Yes, Rise of Cobra was pretty much hot garbage, but Retaliation got the Dwayne Johnson push, along with it being a soft reboot. The movie also gave Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow way more to do, including that pretty cool mountain sequence. If you haven’t seen it in a while, give it another shot.

Next is Olympus Has Fallen, one of the two White House invasion movies that came out this year, but I much prefer Olympus Has Fallen mainly due to it going more action-centric and somewhat more serious. It also had Gerard Butler going back to the action genre after doing his romantic comedies stint.

Finally, The Croods. Coming from DreamWorks Animation, and having a voice cast of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Clark Duke, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman as the titular family of cave people who must find a new home after theirs is destroyed, and finding help from Guy (Ryan Reynolds). The movie was a lot of fun. I didn’t, admittedly, think the movie was going to be anything impressive, but the humor keeps the movie going from beginning to end.

 

2014

300: Rise of an Empire

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Need for Speed

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Noah

Sabotage

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which tells the story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed adaptation of Dune. It’s an amazing documentary about how all this work went into that adaptation of Dune, and what carried over to the version we all know.

Let’s now talk about Sabotage. Directed by David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad), it followed members of an elite DEA task force who are getting murdered one-by-one after they end up robbing a drug cartel safe house. It was lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a supporting cast of Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos, Max Martini, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway and Olivia Williams. This is honestly my least-favorite David Ayer film, and probably his worst. The movie is filled with unlikable characters and writing that is all over the place that makes the movie feel like it was a first draft.

Next is the somewhat controversial Darren Aronofsky’s directed Noah. The story of Noah, played by Russell Crowe, as he builds his ark before God’s flood. This story adds an army of people, seemingly lead by Ray Winstone’s Tubal-cain, who want to invade the ark and also save themselves, a group of fallen angels called Watchers who are rock creatures – the leader being voiced by Nick Nolte – and a less benevolent Noah that we’ve come to know. The film itself is okay, but it wasn’t something I’d recommend to everyone.

Moving on to 300: Rise of an Empire, a fourteen-year sequel to 300, takes the other perspective of the Battle of Thermopylae, the naval battle between the Greeks and the Persian army. The movie took the same graphic novel look and applied it to the sea battles which looked pretty cool. It also had a great villain in Artemisia, played by Eva Green.

Next is Need for Speed, based on the video game series, Aaron Paul plays a street racer who was framed for the murder of his friend by his wealthy associate, Dino (Dominic Cooper). When he gets released he joins a secretive and high-stakes race called The DeLeon, knowing Dino will be on the race, he takes part as a way to get revenge and redemption. Honestly, I was pretty surprised by Need for Speed, since I didn’t really expect much from it, but I needed up really doing the hell out of it.

Finally, The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson. Maybe not my favorite Anderson film, but a good one nonetheless.

 

 

2015

Chappie

Run All Night

It Follows

Thoughts: Let’s begin with Chappie, the third outing of Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), which follows a police droid (motion-captured and voiced by Sharlto Copley) that gets stolen and reprogrammed to become the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. The movie was held together by Copley’s portray as Chappie, Hugh Jackman’s villain character Vincent, and surprisingly the supporting performance by singers Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja. The movie itself, so-so.

Next is Run All Night, the Liam Neeson-led action crime movie where he plays a mobster hitman, Jimmy Conlon, who needs to keep his son safe for the night when he becomes the target of a hit, placed by his boss and longtime friend Shawn (Ed Harris), after the death of his son. This was Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Sera’s third team up of their four movies together (Unknown, Non-Stop and The Commuter). The movie itself was okay, it wasn’t their best, but maybe their second best with Neeson playing up his age in this one and the on-screen chemistry he has with Harris.

Finally, the much-talked about and analyzed horror hit, It Follows. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the film follows Jay (Maika Monroe, in her breakout role), who is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter, who only she can see. It Follows was one of the breakout horror films, if not just film in general, in 2015 for its themes and overall quality. In that time, a bunch of articles came out trying to break down everything, which from what I can remember, hadn’t happened in a while.

 

 

2016

Zootopia

10 Cloverfield Lane

Midnight Special

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Everybody Wants Some!!

Thoughts: First up, Midnight Special, the indie sci-fi drama about a father and son on the run from the government and a cult who want to use the child’s powers for their own good. The film had a great cast with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Jaeden Martell, Bill Camp, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Shepard, which keeps you invested from beginning to end.

Next is the Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age college film Everybody Wants Some!! Following a group of collage baseball players in the summer before their semester starts. It’s like other Linklater films – expect Boyhood – with a mix of unknown and up-and-comers.

Next is Disney’s Zootopia, which took critics and fans for quite a ride when it came out. Setting it in a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie cop bunny teams up with a con artist fox to solve a conspiracy. If anything, it gave us plenty of meme, gif content.

10 Cloverfield Lane, which is arguably the best movie of the month, is set within the Cloverfield universe, at least for the last ten to fifteen minutes. The movie follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle, who wakes up in an underground bunker after a car accident. She finds out the bunker belongs to John Goodman’s Howard, who has also taken in John Gallagher Jr.’s Emmett, and won’t let them leave because of a supposed chemical attack that has turned the air toxic. The movie got an interesting article after it came out relating the movie to domestic abuse, which was an interesting way to look at it. Plus, it has Winstead battling aliens, so yeah.

Okay, finally, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice aka “Why did you say that name?” I’m going off the theatrical version and look, I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I was probably one of the few people that was onboard the Batfleck bandwagon, and the giving Gal Gadot a chance as Wonder Woman. But, oh man what a massive disappointment this was. Like, how do you mess this up? Seriously! The Trinity of DC Comics and you drop the ball heavily. Big no-no.

 

2017

Logan

Kong: Skull Island

The Belko Experiment

Power Rangers

Ghost in the Shell

Thoughts: Oh, Ghost in the Shell, what happened? Let’s move pass the “white washing” controversy (the character is a robot, not to take away the seriousness of the situation, but still), and talk about the movie itself. It was rather bland.

Next is The Belko Experiment, written by James Gunn, the movie takes a twisted social experiment with eighty Americans locked in their high-rise corporate office in Colombia. They are ordered by a mysterious and unknown voice from the intercom system that they must participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. It’s a pretty descent movie, that can be a little mean sometimes, but given the material, I guess it makes sense.

Let’s talk about Power Rangers, Krispy Kreme aside, this movie would have blown little me’s mind away. Filled with, at the time, a relative unknown cast this reboot wasn’t really that bad. The characters are written well enough, although not all of them had proper time to shine. This movie towed the line at times from cheesy to serious, and it was truly something to hear the theme playing on the big screen again.

Next is Kong: Skull Island, the reboot/remake/reimaging of King Kong, saw a team of scientists along with a group of soldiers, a photojournalist and a personal tracker who venture to an uncharted island, where they encounter massive unknown creatures and Kong himself. I really enjoyed the movie and really liked what they did with Kong, and not trying to copy the original too much. The movie also had a cast of who’s who, and some disgusting imagery that you’d expect. It also opened the door for the new Kong vs. Godzilla movie happening.

Finally, let’s talk about Logan! The R-rated comic book, and the final run of Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine. Set in the future, Logan, now a broken down version of his former self is found by Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant child on the run from scientists and a group of enhanced mercenaries that will stop at nothing to get her back. There’s not a lot to hate or dislike about the movie, and it was one of those movies that took me a minute to process. And that last shot, oh man.

 

 

2018

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Unsane

Ready Player One

Thoughts: Our last year we’ll start with Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel Guillermo del Toro’s great – at least in my opinion – first movie about giants robots, called Jaegers, against giant monsters, Kaiju. The sequel sees the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first movie played by John Boyega. Boyega’s Jake, a former Jaeger pilot gets recruited to the new Jaeger program to fight off a new threat. Del Toro did not return to direct or write, so it did lose the del Toro touch, and while the sequel had some cool moments, it just didn’t feel right. Plus, the ending kind of just happens.

Next let’s talk about the Steven Soderbergh-directed Unsane, which he reportedly shot on an iPhone, which is impressive in itself. The movie followed Claire Foy’s Sawyer who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is, maybe, confronted by her stalker. The movie plays up the mystery of whether or not it’s real or not, but the real thing here is how Soderbergh was able to pull it off. The movie itself is fine.

The next movie is The Strangers: Prey at Night, the sequel to the first movie from 2008. This time instead of a couple, the sequel follows a family staying at a secluded mobile home park where they are hunted by our three masked psychopaths. The movie is very different from the first movie, mainly since the movie isn’t just isolated to a home, it gives everyone more space to play around. It’s also got a 80s vibe to it, which really made the movie work. I would highly recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet, and you don’t really have to watch the first movie to watch the sequel.

Finally, the ambitious adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel, Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie took us into the future and the world of OASIS, a virtual reality where people can be whoever they want to be, and when the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind Easter Eggs. Anyone who finds them, through his series of puzzles, gets completely control of the OASIS, and the creator’s fortune. The movie itself was quite the experience watching on the big screen, mainly because of how chalk-full of references and video game characters are in the book, and how many of them are on the screen at the same time.

It’s rather impressive that Spielberg was able to get all of this together, and more importantly, get it to really work for the majority of the film. Especially considering how much they changed from the book to the movie, mainly the sequence paying homage to The Shining.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

Monthly Rewind for February

Hello, everybody!

The second edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing February! (I know it’s late, going through some laptop changes and had to switch everything over)

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Cop Out

District 13: Ultimatum

The Wolfman

From Paris with Love

Shutter Island

The Crazies

 

Thoughts: There were a few disappointments this month in Kevin Smith’s action comedy Cop Out starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, which was heavily reported that Smith and Willis fought on set – which is probably the only thing that people remember from this movie. Then there was Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, which cast-wise (Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins) and practical effects of the titular character (done by the legendary Rick Baker) were all done right, but execution of the movie left a lot – A LOT – to be desired.

Another slight disappointment was District 13: Ultimatum. The sequel to the highly touted District B13, which blew up when it reached here in the States, didn’t really have the right amount of energy as the first. Sure the budget was bigger, but there was just something off about it.

From Paris with Love was, and still is, a weird movie. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays an employee at the US Embassy who gets paired with a spy, played by John Travolta (yes, you read that right, and his name was Charlie Wax) to stop a terrorist attack. You want to see Travolta in a cheesy, over-the-top role, this is it.

Shutter Island came out this month which gave us the twisty, dark tale of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Teddy Daniels trying to catch killer on an island for the criminally insane. Of course, it’s the ending that sticks out for everyone, with some figuring it out and others, arguably, still not really understanding the ending.

Finally, The Crazies, one of the better remakes out there, is a solid horror thriller about a small town that gets effected by a virus making everyone, well, crazy. Lead by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, it is definitely one you should check out if you haven’t already.

 

 

2011

I Am Number Four

Unknown

Drive Angry

Thoughts: aka the lightless February on the list. We’ll start with the Liam Neeson-starring Unknown, which saw him playing a man waking up from a coma, only to find out that someone else has taking over life, along with his wife. It’s probably one of the more forgettable Neeson-starring action movies, especially with a weird, and pretty unnecessary twist.

I Am Number Four, based on a book series, had an interesting concept – aliens and their guardians hid on Earth to avoid being killed by alien bounty hunters. The aliens can only be killed in numerical order, and we follow Four (Alex Pettyfer). It wasn’t a bad movie, but it also wasn’t a great movie. At least we got Teresa Palmer.

Finally, Drive Angry. Look, this movie knew EXACTLY what it was, and was not afraid of even going beyond that. Nicolas Cage hamming it up, William Fichtner hamming it up too as a character only called The Accountant, and for those interested, Amber Heard in short shorts. I love how cheesy this damn movie is and no one is going to tell me any damn different!

 

 

2012

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Goon

Act of Valor

The Innkeepers

This Means War

Chronicle

Safe House

Thoughts: This is the year that studios started bulking up February. I’m going to start off with two movies I happened to see at a short-lived action film festival in Goon and Tomorrow, When the War Began. Goon has picked up some love thanks to streaming, and followed Sean William Scott playing a “goon” aka a hockey player who is there only to start fights. It leads to a showdown with another “goon” played, surprisingly, but Liev Schreiber.

Tomorrow, When the War Began, based on a book series, is basically an Australian Red Dawn, with a Mad Max chase in the middle of the film. I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but I remember enjoying the hell out of it when I saw it. It could have been the film festival vibe, but I’ll get back to you on this.

Act of Valor has probably been forgotten in time, but at the time it was released, it heavily promoted that it was lead by a cast of mostly real-life former soldiers, which lead to it feeling a bit ridged or wooden in the performance camp, but the action sometimes felt like watching a Call of Duty mission.

Next on the list is Ti West’s The Innkeepers, which I know has a lot of fans, but personally I’m not the biggest fan of it. I appreciated the old school homage that West was going for, but it just lacked a certain something for me.

Look, This Means War is not a perfect movie, nor was it the best use of Tom Hardy or Chris Pine…BUT, I hate to say that I enjoyed watching the back-and-forth between Hardy and Pine as best friends/spies who fall for the same women, played by Reese Witherspoon.

Safe House was one of those movies that I really liked when I first watched it. I’ve watched it once since the release and some parts still stick out to me, but for the most part it stuff that you’ve usually seen before. Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA agent who is tasked to look after a fugitive (Denzel Washington), and both go on the run when the CIA safe house gets attacked. It’s a pretty entertaining action thriller for the most part.

Finally, Chronicle. It’s a rough sell now, considering the actions my Max Landis – the writer – and the allegedly bad work ethic of director Josh Trank (who went on to direct Fantastic Four, where the work ethic story came from). All that said though, looking back at the movie it shocked a lot of people, and meshed the superhero genre and found footage genre together to flip it on its head. The three leads in Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan (yes, he was in it) and Alex Russell did a great job of playing teenagers who get superpowers, and of course, eventually it gets to their heads – some more than others.

 

 

2013

Dark Skies

Snitch

Bullet to the Head

Identity Thief

Side Effects

A Good Day to Die Hard

Warm Bodies

Thoughts: This year was definitely a weird one. Let’s start off with Dark Skies, which I don’t think anyone remembers, I barely remember it. It followed a family that was getting haunted by aliens. It, it wasn’t good. Let’s follow it up with Snitch, a Dwayne Johnson-led drama, which was reportedly based on a true story, which followed a father, who works with the DEA to free his son after his son is set up in a drug deal. It’s not the typical Johnson movie we know of him now, but it just didn’t click the way I think they want to.

Speaking of things not really clicking, A Bullet in the Head, which starred Sylvester Stallone, a hitman, and Sung Kang, a detective who have to work together to bring down the hitman (Jason Momoa) who killed their partners. This is another I don’t remember too much from either, but I did remember it being a little too cheesy for a movie in 2013.

Identity Thief was one of Melissa McCarthy not-as-good comedies (I’m sure some of you are saying none) where she plays a, well, identity thief to Jason Bateman’s Sandy. Bateman’s Sandy then goes after her and it leads to an odd-couple buddy comedy. It also had a weird subplot with bounty hunters chasing after McCarthy. Like I said, not great, but just okay.

Let’s go from just okay to what the hell, with A Good Day to Die Hard. The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise where we see Bruce “I’m here to get paid” Willis team up with his now CIA operative son (played by Jai Courtney) in Russia to stop a nuclear threat, and ridiculousness ensues. Look, I love Die Hard and even Die Hard with a Vengeance. But this was SOO far removed from what Die Hard was it doesn’t even feel like a Die Hard movie. At all.  

Let’s move on to Steven Soderbergh’s twisty mystery drama Side Effects. It followed Rooney Mara, a woman who kills her husband (Channing Tatum) and it may have been because of bad prescribed drugs given to her. Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones also appear and I remember when I first saw it I was a little confused about the whole thing. It took a second viewing to getting a better grasp of everything. I wouldn’t say it’s Soderbergh’s best, but it was the first time I started to recognize Mara’s name.

Finally, Warm Bodies, a horror comedy romance in the vein of Romeo and Juliet, where a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) saves a living-women Julie (Teresa Palmer) and the two start a friendship/odd romance. Honestly, when I first saw it I thought it would be dumb, but once you pass the concept, it’s actually pretty entertaining for the most part. Hoult and Palmer definitely make it through while with some nice supporting cast performances by Rob Corddry and John Malkovich.

 

 

2014

Pompeii

Non-Stop

Robocop

The Lego Movie

Thoughts: Oh, 2014. Okay, let’s start off with the bad movies: Pompeii and Robocop. Pompeii saw Kit Harrington play a slave-turned-gladiator who has to save the love of his life from a corrupt Roman senator as Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. Honestly, the only thing that really pops out to me thinking about this is Kit Harington looked JACKED, and the ending of the movie. Not the movie’s ending, no, I’m talking about some of the people in my theater when the ending happened. I heard, I kid you not, loudly auditable gasp and “why!?” Clearly those people did not know about Mount Vesuvius, and I was very disappointed.

The remake of Robocop was…a movie? I’m not anti-remake/reboot/reimaging but Robocop gave me a real argument to be that person. Not only did the movie miss the entire point of the original, it really did nothing to stick out on its own, other than the lackluster new suit.

Okay, let’s move to a descent movie in Non-Stop, the second movie in the Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra team-up. Non-Stop had Neeson playing an air marshal who, in a transatlantic flight, has to find a terrorist onboard after being sent a text that someone on the flight will die every twenty minutes. It’s not Neeson/Collet-Serra’s best movie together, but it’s a descent thriller.

Finally, the biggest February movie at this point was The LEGO Movie. I can’t tell you how much I love this movie. I, like many others, was heavily surprised that they were able to pull off a LEGO movie, but also make it so damn good!

 

 

2015

Jupiter Ascending

Seventh Son

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The Lazarus Effect

The Salvation

Focus

Kingsman: The Secret Service

What We Do in the Shadows

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start with The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Oh, boy this was a mess. Credit to the siblings for trying to tell an ambitious, out-there story, but it was probably too out there…okay, too out there. Let’s talk about another fantasy action adventure movie in Seventh Son, which was not too ambitious and out-there, but lazy, and a waste of Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, and early Alicia Vikander.

Now let’s talk about some disappointments starting with Hot Tub Time Machine 2. I really liked the first movie, but the second one really didn’t live up to the built-in hype, and losing John Cusack was a bit of a hit. Secondly, The Lazarus Effect, which followed a group of medical researchers discover a way to bring the dead back. Instead of taking a more serious route with the science, considering they did go into it a lot, they went the “traditional” route and ended up with Olivia Wilde dying, only to come back with a demonic presence in her. Also, the trailer gave a lot away.

The Salvation saw Mads Mikkelsen playing an European American settler in the old West whose family gets murdered, but when he takes his revenge, he kills the brother of a land baron (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and when he finds out what happens, the two get into a collision course as he goes after the settler. The movie was kind a weird one, as it really slows down in the middle of the movie, so when the action picks up again, I kind of lost a little bit of interest, which I was really bummed about. The movie also starred Eva Green, if you need another reason to watch.

This next one is an indifferent one for me. Focus starred Will Smith as a veteran con man, who takes an amateur con artist played by Margot Robbie, under his wing and when they get romantically involved, he calls it quits – because you know, love and con artists don’t match? – however years later Robbie’s Jess and Smith’s Nicky meet during a new con and things get complicated. Focus isn’t actually that bad, with Smith and Robbie playing really well off each, and that’s really what keeps the movie going. But, honestly that’s about it.

Finally, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew’s Vaughn’s take on the spy genre with a balance of top notch action, quippy comedy and a great cast with the introduction of Taron Egerton to us fans, Kingsman deserves all the love it got and still gets. And yes, the church/”Free Bird” scene is still awesome to this day.

 

 

2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Gods of Egypt

Triple 9

Hail, Caesar!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Eddie the Eagle

Deadpool

The Witch

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get this one out of the way – I’m looking at you Gods of Egypt! A movie that was probably done ten years too late, with weird and wonky CGI and an uninteresting lead, the whole movie is just a bit oof. We then move on to Triple 9, which honestly was disappointing in all regards. The movie followed a gang of criminals and corrupt cops who plan on murdering a cop to pull off a heist across town. The reason it’s a disappointment is because this thing is jam-packed to the gills with names, but can’t make anything work.

Let’s talk about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the sequel to the great film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The sequel is a bit of a mixed-bag with the action still being top notch, but the story gets a little too ahead of itself and just a tiny bit hard to follow.

Speaking of a mixed-bag, let’s talk about The Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! which followed Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer, trying to keep the stars of a studio in check. But when George Clooney’s Baird Whitlock goes missing he has to deal with a whirlwind of cover-ups and twin sister reports played by Tilda Swinton. I think the thing that everyone remembers about the film is Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes’ scene together, but other than that, the movie does have its charming moments, but at the end of the day, it’s a descent Coen Brothers movie, nothing more.

Look, I’m in the small camp that enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, taking the classic tale and turning the Bennet Sisters and Mr. Darcy into badass zombie killers, while still trying to tell the story in its own way. It’s not perfect, even I can say that, and not all the actresses playing the Bennet Sisters get enough screen time to really get a good feeling for who they are.

Eddie the Eagle, told the story of Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton), who was the underdog skier in the 1988 Winter Olympics, along with his coach, played by Hugh Jackman. It’s your basic biopic underdog story with Egerton blasting his charm all over the place, and Jackman playing something a little different.

The long anticipated and would-it-happen-won’t-it-happen Deadpool movie came out this month, and while the movie divided fans, you couldn’t say that Ryan Reynolds and the team did the character some justice.

Finally, another divisive film that came out this month was The Witch, or The VVitch if you want to go that route. Either way, Robert Eggers directed a very atmospheric horror that followed a family getting tormented by a witch. It gave us Anya Taylor-Joy and Black Phillip. What more do you want?

 

 

2017

Rings

Collide

The Great Wall

Fist Fight

A Cure for Wellness

The Lego Batman Movie

John Wick: Chapter 2

Get Out

Thoughts: Okay, let’s talk about two bad movies to start off in Collide and Rings. Collide starred Nicholas Hoult as a driver who works for a gangster (Ken Kingsley) to pay for this girlfriend’s (Felicity Jones) medical bills, but things go wrong, and ends up in the crosshairs of a druglord (Anthony Hopkins). The movie wasn’t too out there, despite the concept, and speeds up –no pun intended – and then stops everything too often. Then there’s Rings…OOF. A sequel to the previous movies, and going “deeper” into the mythology that we already knew, a weird cult involving the tape, and the biggest f-k you ending that year.

Let’s talk about The Great Wall, or as some people just simply called it by the trailers “Matt Damon the white savor of China” Movie. The movie was not Damon playing the white savior of China, since the majority of the movie is played by actors of Asian descent defending the Great Wall of China from monsters. The movie itself is fine, and the thing that drew me in more was the cast since I knew who most of them were.

Now, let’s talk about a disappointment in A Cure for Wellness. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the surprisingly long creepy horror drama saw Dane Dehaan playing a young executive sent to a remote location “wellness center” to bring back the company’s CEO, but things aren’t what they seem. The movie itself does have a creepy vibe at times, but the movie sometimes moves at a snail’s pace and loses any bit of stream it’s built up. Plus, its ending comes out of nowhere, to the point that I was kind of onboard, but would have been more onboard if they had built it up a little more.

Next up is Fist Fight, starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube as high school teachers who, well, get into a fist fight on the last day of school. It’s a movie that should have been really dumb, but it was actually pretty funny seeing the complete opposites of Day and Cube go up against each other. And yes, the fight does happen, and it’s ridiculously descent.

John Wick: Chapter 2 upped the ante from the first John Wick in every way. From the action, to the world, to the mythology of John Wick himself, Chapter 2 delivered on the action sequel I wanted.

The LEGO Batman Movie, a sequel/spinoff of The LEGO Movie, follows LEGO Batman (voiced again by Will Arnett) on his own crazy adventure with Robin (voiced by Michael Cera). The movie did feel like a huge love letter to Batman, and for the fans.

Finally, Get Out. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut broke ground just about everywhere. From its themes, cast and story, Get Out is still talked about today with respect and love, and that’s the biggest accomplishment I think.

 

 

2018

The 15:17 to Paris

Winchester

Annihilation

Operation Red Sea

Black Panther

Game Night

Thoughts: The last year of our Monthly Rewind, and we’ll start with the “bad” movie of the month in Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, which is based on the true events of three American tourist who stop a terrorist attack on a train to Paris. The movie is, arguably, Eastwood’s “worst” movie, but that’s mainly because he cast the three actual heroes of the event to play themselves, and they didn’t have any real acting talent. It’s not their fault, clearly, but the movie didn’t really go anywhere considering the event only took a few minutes and Eastwood stretched it out to an hour-and-half.

Next, Winchester, which is also “based on a true story” of The Winchester Mystery House built by Sarah Winchester (played by Helen Mirren), the heir of the Winchester rifle, who builds a massive house to keep the spirits of those who were killed with rifles. It’s an okay movie, with Mirren really being the selling point here, but the movie itself leads to a finale that feels kind of just blah.

Let’s talk about the very divisive, Alex Garland-directed adaptation of Annihilation. Based off the novel written by Jeff VanderMeer, it follows a team of different scientists who go into an unknown environmental zone called The Shimmer, to look for Natalie Portman’s Lena’s husband character (played by Oscar Isaac). The cast, of pretty much all actresses, was great along with the visual effects. The “problem” came in with the final act, where it truly goes “out there” which some people went along with it, and other didn’t.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about Marvel’s Black Panther. A lot of people had things to say about Black Panther before, after and during its run in theaters. The movie was a massive milestone in the current comic book movie trend and culture, and in movie history itself. While I personally felt the movie was good, it didn’t speak to me like it did for others, who truly connected to the film, as it should.

Next, Operation Red Sea, a Chinese production which followed a Navy Marine Corps team who are sent to rescue hostages in a dangerous and country during a coup – which is loosely based on a true event in 2015. The movie was hands-down one of the best action films of 2018, with some impressive action sequences and a group of characters that you really connect to.

Finally, we got Game Night, honestly one of my favorite comedies of 2018 – and it came out in February. The movie followed a group of friends – lead by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams – who meet regularly for game night, but one night things are changed up, and it leads to a kidnapping and everyone trying to figure out if it’s real or not. It’s a great concept with a killer cast – Billy Magnussen and Jesse Plemons being the standouts – and jokes that completely work.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

New Podcast – Oscars 2020 & Birds of Prey Thoughts

Hello, everybody!

The podcast is back, with a special early podcast where I talk about the 2020 Oscars; from the winners, stats and the moments. I also talk about the new film out in theaters Birds of Prey. Remember, you can listen to the podcast on multiple platforms like Youtube, Apple Podcast and Stitcher!

http://linktr.ee/chrisrenteria27

 

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! Compared to last year, February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. It’s also the month that is bringing the end to a beloved franchise. So let’s get to it!

 

7th

Limited Release: The Lodge

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place. The Lodge stars Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone and Richard Armitage.

 

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) – Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, Luckychap Entertainment

After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord. Birds of Prey stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ali Wong and Ewan McGregor.

 

 

14th

Limited Release: Ordinary Love

An extraordinary look at the lives of a middle-aged couple in the midst of the wife’s breast cancer diagnosis. Ordinary Love is lead by Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville.

 

Limited Release: Downhill

A remake of the Swedish film; Barley escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple (Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Downhill co-stars Zach Woods, Zoe Chao, Helene Cardona, Kristofer Hivju and Miranda Otto.

 

What About Love – UC541

Two young lovers change the lives of their parents forever when the parents learn from the joyful experiences of their kids, and allow themselves to again find their love. What About Love stars Marielle Jaffe, Miguel Angel Munoz, Jose Coronado, Maia Morgenstern, Andy Garcia, Ian Glen and Sharon Stone.

*No Trailer Found*

 

The Photograph – Universal Pictures, Will Packer Productions, Perfect World Pictures

When famed photographer Christina Eames dies unexpectedly, she leaves her estranged daughter, Mae (Issa Rae), hurt, angry and full of questions. When Mae finds a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box, she soon finds herself delving into her mother’s early life — an investigation that leads to an unexpected romance with a rising journalist (LaKeith Stanfield). The Photograph co-stars Chelsea Peretti, Rob Morgan, Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jasmine Cephas Jones and Courtney B. Vance.

 

Sonic the Hedgehog – Paramount Pictures, Sega, Original Film, Blur Studio

A cop in the rural town of Green Hills will help Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) escape from the government who is looking to capture him. Sonic the Hedgehog stars James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Neal McDonough and Jim Carrey.

 

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island – Columbia Pictures, Blumhouse Productions

The enigmatic Mr Roarke (Michael Pena) makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort, but when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives. Fantasy Island co-stars Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Parissa Fitz-Henley, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Kim Coates and Michael Rooker.

 

 

21st

Limited Release: Emma

Based on the novel by Jane Austen; Following the antics of a young woman, Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), who lives in Georgian- and Regency-era England and occupies herself with matchmaking – in sometimes misguided, often meddlesome fashion- in the lives of her friends and family. Emma co-stars Josh O’Connor, Mia Goth, Johnny Flynn, Callum Turner, Chloe Pirrie, Miranda Hart and Bill Nighy.

 

Brahms: The Boy 2 – STX Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment, Huayi Brothers

After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms. The movie stars Katie Holmes, Ralph Ineson and Owain Yeoman.

 

The Call of the Wild – 20th Century Studios, 3 Arts Entertainment

Based on the novel by Jack London; Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life gets turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon in the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail-delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime as he ultimately finds his true place in the world. The Call of the Wild stars Harrison Ford, Cara Gee, Jean Louisa Kelly, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens and Bradley Whitford.

 

28th

Limited Release: The Whistlers

A policeman is intent on freeing a crooked businessman from a prison on Gomera, an island in the Canaries. However, he must first learn the difficult local dialect, a language which includes hissing and spitting.

 

Limited Release: Burden

When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens a South Carolina town, the idealistic Reverend Kennedy (Forest Whitaker) strives to keep the peace even as he urges the group’s Grand Dragon (Garrett Hedlund) to disavow his racist past. Burden co-stars Andrea Riseborough, Usher Raymond and Tom Wilkinson.

 

Limited Release: Guns Akimbo

Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a video game developer who inadvertently becomes the next participant in a real-life death match that streams online. While Miles soon excels at running away from everything, that won’t help him outlast Nix (Samara Weaving), a killer at the top of her game.  Guns Akimbo co-stars Ned Dennehy and Rhys Darby.

 

The Invisible Man – Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Goalpost Pictures

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Upgrade); When Cecilia’s (Elizabeth Moss) abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. The Invisible Man co-stars Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid and Harriet Dyer.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘The Gentlemen’ Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Matthew McConughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Tom Wu, Eddie Marsan and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

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

 

Writer/director Guy Ritchie made a splash on the film scene with his gangster comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels and Snatch. He’s recently taken a crack at a TV spy adaptation in The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which is criminally underrated), a different take on King Arthur with King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword and recently, the successful, Disney live-action film Aladdin. One thing that was clear in all of them, Ritchie has a style that he’s mastered, and it’s damn enjoyable when he finds his groove. Enter, The Gentlemen.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born, marijuana kingpin in London is looking to get out of the game. He’s lucky enough to find a buyer in Jeremy Strong’s Matthew, but when Dry Eye (Henry Golding) tries to make a move on Mickey’s empire, things get a little too complicated. On top of that, Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) has to deal with an ambitious, and somewhat sleazy cunning private eye in Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is under employment from Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to write a big story.

I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to The Gentlemen since I heard about, and it really did not disappoint. The movie is truly a Guy Ritchie film, but with some grown maturity from the filmmaker. The film throws you right into the action of everything with the movie mainly being told through the framing device of Fletcher telling Ray what he’s found out. Because of that, the first act of the movie is pretty exposition heavy, but Ritchie’s setting the stage for everything that’s about to come.

The movie doesn’t really slow down too much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing. Honestly, the only thing that I would count against the movie is sometimes the plot can get convoluted, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, doesn’t have too much to do expect one pretty out there scene that surprisingly works.

If the plot doesn’t draw you in then maybe the cast will. McConaughey plays it pretty straight despite him playing a weed kingpin, but it’s the confidence that he drips makes the character. Hunnam’s Ray is a loyal soldier to Mickey and besides dealing with Fletcher, he deals with another subplot in the movie. Henry Golding’s Dry Eye isn’t the most interesting “villain” in the movie, and you can clearly see his ambition gets the better of him. Jeremy Strong’s Matthew still a character you like to hate, which the handful of scenes he has.

Easily, the two show-stealing performances belong to Colin Farrell’s Coach, a boxing coach to the local young kids, and is a much more important character than you think. Then there’s Hugh Grant, who is having a BALL playing Fletcher, as he chews up the scenery every time he’s on. He’s a bit scummy, but it’s hard to hate him.

All in all, The Gentlemen is an entertaining gangster comedy from beginning to end, with a great cast and catchy dialogue. It’s a fine return to form by Guy Ritchie to the genre, and something I hope we see more of him in the future.

The Gentlemen

Rating: Stamp of Approval

 

‘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.