October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, however, unlike past years; it seems there is only one “big” pure horror movie coming out. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

4th

Limited Release – Pain and Glory

A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him. Pain and Glory stars Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Asier Etxeandia and Nora Navas.

 

Limited Release – Lucy in the Sky (Expansion/Wide Release Later in the Month)

Astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space, and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small. Directed by Noah Hawley (creator/writer on TV series Legion and Fargo), Lucy in the Sky co-stars Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, Zazie Beetz, Nick Offerman, Colman Domingo, Jeffrey Donovan and Ellen Burstyn.

 

Joker – Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, BRON Studios

Synopsis: A standalone story around the origin story of Batman’s iconic arch nemesis never before seen on screen, Todd Phillips (The Hangover movies, War Dogs) directs the exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, and a broader cautionary tale. Joker co-stars Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Brian Tyree Henry, Shea Whigham and Robert De Niro.

Thoughts: Joker has been one of those movies that Film Twitter has been going crazy for since the second trailer, and even more so, after it had its premiere in the film festival circuit, and the word of mouth was great. While I’m still on the outside of the hype train, I do hope that the movie is good, mostly for the stake of not seeing people go at each other’s throats online.

 

 

11th

Limited Release – Parasite

Directed by Joon-ho Bong (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, Okja), all unemployed, Ki-taek’s (Kang-ho Song) family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they got entangled in an unexpected incident.

 

Jexi – CBS Films, Entertainment One

A comedy about what can happen when you love your phone more than anything else in your life. The cast includes Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Wanda Sykes, Ron Funches, Justin Hartley and the voice of Rose Byrne.

 

The Addams Family – United Artists Releasing, MGM, BRON Creative,

Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the directing duo behind Sausage Party, an animated version of Charles Addams’ series of cartoons about a peculiar, ghoulish family. The Addams Family voice cast includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Elsie Fisher, Pom Klementieff, Aimee Garcia, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Allison Janney and Bette Midler.

 

Gemini Man – Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Alibaba Pictures

Synopsis: Directed by Ang Lee, an aging hitman (Will Smith) faces off against a younger clone of himself. Gemini Man co-stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong and Clive Owen.

Thoughts: Gemini Man has been in the works for quite some time now, seriously like decades. Finally, we’re getting it with Ang Lee behind the camera, and Will Smith fighting himself. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

16th

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot – Fathom

Once again written/directed by Kevin Smith, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith) return to Hollywood to stop a reboot of ‘Bluntman and Chronic’ movie from getting made. The sequel brings back familiar faces along with more celebrity cameos.

(Red Band Trailer)

 

18th

Limited Release – The Lighthouse

Directed by The Witch’s Robert Eggers; the story of two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. The Lighthouse co-stars Valerila Karaman.

 

Jojo Rabbit – Fox Searchlight Pictures, Defender Films, Piki Films

Based on the novel by Christine Leunens, and written and directed by Taika Waititi; a young boy (Roman Griffin Davis) in Hitler’s army finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Jojo Rabbit co-stars Waititi as an imaginary Hitler, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, and Sam Rockwell.

Thoughts: Jojo Rabbit is in a very unique position. On one hand, fans are eagerly awaiting to see Taika Waititi’s newest film that looks funny and great. On the other, it was reported that Disney is every hesitant on how they are going to promote this because they’re basically scared of losing the general audience because of the subject.

 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – Walt Disney Pictures, Roth Films

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) begins to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and dark new forces at play. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil co-stars Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Chiwetel Ejifor and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

Zombieland 2: Double Tap – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Pariah

Synopsis: Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors (Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch and Luke Wilson) and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

Thoughts: Ten years after the first film came out, the gang is all back and not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera too. Writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, along with director Ruben Fleischer are back to bring us back into this crazy zombie-filled world.

 

 

25th

Limited Release – Frankie

Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces. Frankie stars Isabelle Huppert, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear and Brendan Gleeson.

 

The Current War – 101 Studios

The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world. The Current War co-stars Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton and Matthew Macfadyen.

 

Countdown – STX Entertainment

When a nurse downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With the clock ticking and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

 

Black and Blue – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures

A rookie cop (Naomie Harris) inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam by corrupt cops. She teams up with someone from a neighboring community (Tyrese Gibson) to get the footage to the right people, all while on the run from corrupt police officers and other criminals. Black and Blue co-stars Frank Grillo, Beau Knapp, Reid Scott and Mike Colter.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Halloween’ Review

Director: David Gordon Green

Writers: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride & Jeff Fradley

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, James Jude Courtney, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardener, Dylan Arnold, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, Jibrail Nantambu, Haluk Bilginer, Nick Castle and Will Patton

Synopsis: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

 

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

 

In 1978, legendary director John Carpenter gave us one of the best horror movies in Halloween, and gave us one of the most iconic characters in film, even to this day, in The Shape aka Michael Myers. It’s a real testament to the movie and Carpenter for what it and he was able to do with Halloween, especially considering the movie wasn’t a big studio movie, but rather an independent movie. Halloween was made on the cheap, and yet, it has had a tremendous staying power over the years that can’t be explained.

Sadly, not all the movies in the franchise have been great. Carpenter never really wanted Halloween to become a franchise, but he was asked to write a sequel with Debra Hill – who also co-wrote the first movie. He ended up making it a family affair when he made Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode siblings. Halloween II was then suppose to end the Myers character, but Hollywood wanted more. We got a different Halloween story with Season of the Witch, but audiences wanted more Myers, and that’s what they got, and that’s where things got bad. Going from continuing the family affair, adding a supernatural cult, bringing back Laurie Strode as it ignored the cult storyline, to remaking them with Rob Zombie, Halloween has come a long way to get back to this point.

That’s why many were surprised and curious to see what horror production banner Blumhouse would do with the property, especially since Jason Blum was able to get John Carpenter back to the franchise. The biggest question mark was who they got to direct, David Gordon Green, and co-write, Danny McBride. However, their idea was said to be okayed by the man himself, Mr. John Carpenter. This new Halloween is a sequel to Carpenter’s first movie, and will ignore everything after it. So, is the wait worth it? Or is Halloween an over-hyped sequel?

Forty years after the events of Halloween, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has waited for the day that Michael Myers aka The Shape (played by original actor Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) would escape custody after being caught for the murder of her friends on Halloween night. The movie starts off with podcasters Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees) visiting Michael the day before he’s to be transferred to serve the rest of this time. From there they visit Laurie, who has become a recluse, who lives in the middle of nowhere, and has modified her house for a potential attack.

It’s there that we learn what Laurie has been doing since that fateful night. We learn that she’s been married twice, and had her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) taken from her at the age of twelve. The two have an estranged relationship, but it’s Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (newcomer Andi Matichak), who tries to keep some kind of relationship with her. However, almost everyone sees her as a basket case, and no one wants to hear about Michael Myers anymore. Unfortunately for them, Michael Myers does escape, and comes back to Haddonfield to continue his murderous ways.

I have a very special place in my heart for John Carpenter’s Halloween, mainly because it was the first horror movie I ever watched. Not only that, I still to this day, get chills when I hear that iconic theme music. So needless to say, I was looking forward to this and seeing what McBride and Gordon Green would bring to the table that made Carpenter come back after all these years. Turns out, it was still a family affair after all.

Halloween does a great job establishing the relationship of this broken family. Jamie Lee Curtis does a hell of a job playing Laurie again. Gone is the woman who was a victim and dragging herself away from her attacker. In her place is a strong and ready survivor who prayed everyday that Michael would break out so she could kill him. That doesn’t mean that she’s cold and heartless, no, we see the effects that night had on her, and how her actions affected the relationships around her. The relationship between her and Greer’s Karen doesn’t have too much screen time, but it has enough to make its point, and make you care for them by the time the third act rolls around. Then there’s Matichak’s Allyson, who I wished had a little more do to. Sure her character is almost a mirror image of Laurie from the first movie, but for the most part, she acts as the middle-woman between her mother and grandmother.

The rest of the supporting cast is hit-and-miss. Toby Huss plays Allyson’s father Ray, who comes off as the awkwardly funny day/comic relief, which is welcomed especially considering the rest of the movie is pretty heavy. Rees and Hall as the podcasters serve their roles well, but don’t really standout too much. Virginia Gardner, Dylan Arnold and Drew Scheid play friends of Allyson, but the only one that really stands out to me is Gardner’s Vicky, who ends up babysitting Jibrail Nantambu’s Julian in one of the better comic relief scenes in the movie.

We have the always reliable Will Patton playing Officer Hawkins, whose character was apparently there when they took Michael Myers to prison after the events of the first movie. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really do too much with that, and even when it does it feels like an afterthought or is too rushed. Finally, we have James Jude Courtney playing The Shape/Michael Myers – Castle only plays Michael in one scene – and he does a tremendous job. This Michael is everything that John Carpenter wanted him to be, pure evil. Michael Myers shows no remorse in this movie, and some of the kills some might find borderline over-the-top, but for you gore fans, there is a plenty for you to like.

Now, not everything is good. The one real misstep in the movie is an out of nowhere twist that really makes no damn sense. In a way, it meant to get Michael where he’s suppose to be to confront Laurie, but it happens so out of the blue and with no real build-up that it slows the movie down and takes you out of everything that happened. There also the subplot, or lack thereof, of Allyson and her boyfriend played by Dylan Arnold, that again, feels like it happens only to get her alone and run for the third act. Speaking of the confrontation – this isn’t a bad part of the movie – it is a long, tension-filled sequence that is brutal and well worth the wait.

All in all, Halloween is a worthwhile sequel, and the first proper sequel – besides Halloween II – to John Carpenter’s classic horror film. Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode is both powerful and vulnerable, The Shape/Michael Myers is scary again and the score in the film, done by Carpenter, his son and Daniel A. Davies is amazing and totally fits into this new movie. Of course, the movie will be probably divide some fans, but for me, I really enjoyed what they did and I can’t wait to see what they do after this.  Also, for those worried about McBride’s humor being too much for the movie, don’t worry, it’s not all entirely there.

Halloween

4 out of 5

October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, however, unlike past years; it seems there is only one big horror film coming. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

5th

A Star is Born

A musician (Bradley Cooper) helps a singer and actress (Lady Gaga) find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Another remake of the classic film – the last starring Kris Kristofferson and Babra Streisand – the film is not only Cooper’s directorial debut, but has also gotten a lot of praise in the festival circuit. A Star Is Born co-stars Dave Chappelle, Bonnie Somerville, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Harney, Anthony Ramos and Sam Elliott.

 

Venom

When Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life. To say Venom is dividing fans would probably be an understatement, especially when there a brief time when there was a very small hope that Venom could exist in the MCU. Of course, that’s not the case and Venom will be the first movie in Sony’s Marvel Universe, which is already starting to grow with other movies lined up. All that said, Venom doesn’t look too bad to me. Will it be good? Well, let’s hope so. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Venom co-stars Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Michelle Lee, Jared Bankens, Sam Medina, Scott Haze and Woody Harrelson.

 

12th

Limited Release: The Oath

Written and directed by Ike Barinholtz – who also stars in the movie – in a politically divided America, a man struggles to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying his family. The Oath also stars Tiffany Haddish, Billy Magnussen, Carrie Brownstein, Nora Dunn and John Cho.

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Halloween comes to life in a comedy adventure based on R.L. Stine’s 400-million-selling series of books. I was pretty surprised with the first Goosebumps, and it looks like the sequel isn’t a direct sequel, but rather its own thing, but still in the same world. The trailers haven’t really shown too much, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but here’s hoping the sequel doesn’t disappoint. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween stars Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Madison Iseman, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong and Jack Black.

 

Bad Times At The El Royale

Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I read it was happening. Written and directed by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), the movie looks like a stylized thriller that will probably not go the way we think, and I’m all for it. Bad Times At The El Royale stars Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nic Offerman and Chris Hemsworth.

 

First Man

Based on the book by James R. Hansen, and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land), First Man is a look at the life of the astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). First Man will follow the legendary space mission that led to him becoming the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. First Man already has some buzz around it with the festival circuit run, but also because of the “controversy” that the movie won’t have the Flag Planting. Either way, First Man will be one of the big movies to look out for this month, and during award season. First Man co-stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham and Ciaran Hinds.

 

19th

Limited Release: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Based on the true story, and an adaptation of the memoir of the same name, by best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) and follows Israel, who falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Co-stars Richard E. Grant, Julie Ann Emery, Alice Kremelberg and Jane Curtin.

 

Limited Release: What They Had

Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home at her brother’s (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her ailing mother (Blythe Danner) and her father’s (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together. What They Had co-stars Taissa Farmiga, Aimee Garcia and Josh Lucas.

 

Limited Release: Mid90s

Written and directed by Jonah Hill, making his feature-film directorial debut, Mid90s follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop. The movie co-stars Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Alexa Demie and Katherine Waterston.

 

Serenity

Written and directed by Steven Knight, writer of films like Eastern Promises, Locke (which he also directed), TV series Taboo and Peaky Blinders and the upcoming The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Serenity follows the mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) that comes back to haunt him when his ex-wife (Anne Thaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. Ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems. I’m a fan of Knight, so I’m always eager to see what he does next, however, the trailer for Serenity does feel like it’s biting off more than it can chew, so hopefully that’s not the case, especially because the cast is stacked. Serenity co-stars Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

 

The Hate U Give

Based on the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. The Hate U Give co-stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, K.J. Apa and Anthony Mackie.

 

Halloween

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m pumped for Halloween. Sure the idea that the movie was co-written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, and directed by Green – the guys behind Pineapple Express and Eastbound & Down – is pretty out there, but with the blessing for John Carpenter, and produced by horror superhouse company Blumhouse, what’s not to like? Halloween co-stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Virginia Gardner, Miles Robbins, Toby Huss, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle and Will Patton.

 

26th

Hunter Killer

An untested American submarine captain teams with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general. No, this is not a made up movie, and no, you haven’t traveled back to the 80s. This is a real movie happen in 2018, and it looks bonkers as hell. Hunter Killer stars Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens, Zane Holtz, Common and the late Michael Nyqvist.

 

Johnny English Strikes Again

After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker. Johnny English Strikes Again co-stars Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Jake Lacy and Emma Thompson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Geostorm’ Review

Director: Dean Devlin

Writers: Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Zazie Beetz, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Wu, Talitha Bateman, Ed Harris and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate start to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.

 

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

 

Natural disasters movies are probably, and arguably, the best escapism movies in Hollywood. There’s something about watching cities and monuments getting destroyed that we see every day or want to visit. But, let’s be honest, natural disaster movies have kind of lost their luster. There’s only so many times you can watch the Statue of Liberty get destroyed, or a massive wave destroying a city. Eventually, everything is going to get done, so you’re left with trying to do something different.

Off that note, Geostorm already had an uphill battle against the plethora of other natural disaster movies, so it decided to include all of them, and add the sci-fi element of a machine that can control the weather. Does it sound ridiculous? Of course it does! But we’re talking about people being able to control the weather with a machine. Oh, and it’s directed by Dean Devlin, who has produced all those disasters movies.

Geostorm is set in a world where after climate change has gotten so out of control, the world leaders finally band together to create what is dubbed “The Dutch Boy,” after the story of a boy who stops his town from flooding by putting his finger in a hole. The Dutch Boy is a series of satellites that control the weather from the International Space Station, the creator of the program is Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), but it taken away from him after a series of events and given to his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), who then has to fire him. We skip forward a few years, and after dangerous malfunctions starts happening, killing thousands of people, Max finds Jake and sends him back to the station to figure out what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Max, who is having a secret relationship with a secret service agent played by Abbie Cornish, deals with the problems on Earth as much as he can, before finding out there is something bigger to the whole picture. Now, the two brothers have to put aside their different and stop whoever is using the Dutch Boy as a weapon, and save the world.

I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm, unfortunately the movie doesn’t do itself any favors. Like I said, Geostorm had an uphill battle from the beginning, and it also didn’t help that the movie came out after real natural disasters that people are still recovering from. Moreover, the movie did end up doing a lot of reshoots to apparently fix a lot of issues (I can only imagine what those were).

That’s not to say Geostorm doesn’t have some good aspects to it. There are some dumb popcorn-movie entertaining moments, and some descent funny lines, but the movie doesn’t really have anything groundbreaking that we haven’t seen before. It’s a rather safe natural disaster movie which kind of defeats the purpose on the genre.

All in all, Geostorm is an uninspired natural disaster movie that never really capitalizes on its own “new” concept. The acting is borderline flat, with the destruction being a mix-match of things we’ve seen before, but more importantly, Geostorm is rather predictable with its twists, which take you out of the movie a bit. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm as much as I did, but the movie didn’t do itself any favors.

Geostorm

2.5 out of 5

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Review

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James and Dave Bautista

Synopsis: A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

 

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

 

The first, since Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel, Blade Runner came out in 1982 and was directed by Ridley Scott. The film, in many people’s eyes changed the way sci-fi films, and even regular films, were made. The film raised questions and with all the different versions of the film, made the audience fill in some gaps. With the sequel, it expands on a lot of points the first film brought up, while giving us an enthralling story, great characters, and beauty cinematography.

That being said, I want to note that this review is going to be pretty vague. Not because the movie is a sequel – although if haven’t seen Blade Runner by this point, will you? – but because I think the less you know about the movie the better.

Set thirty years after the events in the first film, Blade Runner 2049 follows new Blade Runner in LAPD detective “K” (Ryan Gosling), who hunts down the synthetic humans created as a work force called replicants. On his recent assignment, he comes across something that is not only surprising, but something that can change everything. This eventually puts him on track to find former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who has been missing for thirty years. Unfortunately for K, this also puts him on new replicant creator Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who sends his employee Luv (Syliva Hoeks), to keep an eye on K.

Right from the opening scene, we know this story is going to be different on a lot of levels. Most of it comes from Gosling’s K. Again, I’m going to give you very little about the film, and even the characters because it’s pretty great to watch them evolve and react in front of you. Gosling does do a great job here, having K be a man of a very words when need be, and having a certain restraint for most of the film. On the other end, there’s Harrison Ford, who thankfully doesn’t even give an impression that he’s phoning it in. Although, I will let this slip, he’s not in the film as much as you think or as the ads would make you think as well.

The rest of the cast is a mixed bag, not in the usual way where there’s good or bad performances because the film is filled with great performances, but in terms not everyone has enough time to shine. Most of the characters that enter server their purpose like Lennie James’ Mister Cotton, Barkhad Abdi’s Doc Badger, Hiam Abbass’ Freysa and Dave Bautista’s Sapper, but it’s the other characters that you think would have a bigger amount screen time. Jared Leto’s Wallace, who could easily be the “villain” of the movie only has a handful of scenes, while Hoeks’ Luv does all the heavy lifting on the antagonist side of things. Mackenzie Davis pops in as Mariette, and has a scene that I’m curious how people will react too, and Ana de Armas plays Joi, which will undoubtedly make her a household name.

However, one of the best things – besides the mystery story – is the production design by Dennis Gassner and cinematography by Roger Deakins. If anything, the film is stunningly beautiful to look at it. The use of colors and sets are pause worthy so you take it all in. I don’t want to say this is Deakins best work – only because I haven’t seen all of it – but I don’t think anyone would argue with that statement.

Unfortunately, not everything about Blade Runner 2049 is great. I’m not one to complain about a film’s runtime, but Blade Runner 2049 does feel like a long film. That’s not to say the movie is boring, but there are a lot of shots that are long and maybe too drawn out for their own good, but the run time did way on me, which doesn’t happen often. If anything, that would be one of my complaints and cons for the film.

All in all, Blade Runner 2049 is a great film with amazing production design and, to no surprise, amazing cinematography by Roger Deakins. Ryan Gosling delivers on everything he given, and works well with the supporting cast of Harrison Ford and especially breakout star Ana de Armas. Take my word for it, the less you know about the film, the better the experience will be. Also, if you can, watch it in IMAX, or at least Dolby.

Blade Runner 2049

4 out of 5

October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

6th

Limited Release – The Florida Project

Sean Baker, who directed the first film to be entirely shot entirely on an iPhone in Tangerine, returns to direct The Florida Project. Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World. The film stars newcomer Brooklynn Prince, Caleb Landry Jones, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto and Willem Dafoe.

 

My Little Pony (Animation – Lionsgate/Hasbro Studios/Allspark Pictures)

When a dark force threatens ponyville and the Mane 6, they go on a journey to the end of Equestria to save their beloved home and they meet new friends and dangerous challenges along the way. I… I don’t know guys. The voice cast includes Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Michael Pena, Uzo Aduba, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Sia, Ashleigh Ball, Shannon Chan-Kent, Andrea Libman and Tara Strong.

 

The Mountain Between Us (Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Charles Martin, stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness. The film doesn’t look too bad, of course having two big names like Idris Elba and Kate Winslet leading your film for what looks like the majority of the film it’s got to be at least a little good right? The film also stars Dermot Mulroney and Beau Bridges.

 

Blade Runner 2049 (Sci-Fi – Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Alcon Entertainment, Thunderbird Films, 16:14 Entertainment, Torridon Films)

Set thirty years after the events of the first film, a new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD Blade Runner who has been missing for 30 years. The long-awaited sequel is finally coming out and boy does it look great! From the cinematography, the visual effects and the cast, Blade Runner 2049 could be one of the best films of the year. The film also stars Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Barkhad Abdi, Carla Juri, Lennie James and Robin Wright.

 

13th

Limited Release: Breathe

Directed by Andy Serkis, making his directorial debut, the inspiring true love story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) Cavendish, an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. The film has been getting a lot of love on the film festival circuit so keep an eye out of this film when it comes out. The film co-stars Diana Rigg, Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville.

 

Limited Release: Goodbye Christopher Robin

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by her son C.R. Milne. The film stars Margot Robbie, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nico Mirallegro, Alex Lawther and Kelly Macdonald.

 

The Foreigner (Action Thriller – STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers, thefyzz, SR Media)

Based off a novel called The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, a humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. I didn’t know this movie was even happening, but when I watched the trailer I honestly can’t wait. The film stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan and Michael McElhatton.

 

Happy Death Day (Horror Mystery Thriller – Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Digital Riot Media)

A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The Groundhog Day-esque slasher idea sounds cool, but it’s all really going to come down to the execution of the idea that makes this film either memorable or forgettable.  The film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.

 

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (Biography – Annapurna Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Topple Productions, Boxspring Entertainment, Opposite Field Pictures)

The true story of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the polyamorous relationship between his wife (Rebecca Hall) and mistress (Bella Heathcote), the creation of his beloved comic book character “Wonder Woman” and the controversy the comic generated in its earlier years. The film looks pretty interesting, and to be honest, I don’t know too much about Marston – especially this – so this has definitely peaked my interest. The film also co-stars Connie Britton, JJ Field, and Maggie Castle.

 

Marshall (Biography Drama – Open Road Films, Starlight Media, China Wit Media, Chestnut Ridge Productions)

The film is about a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases. It looks like Chadwick Boseman is the new king of biopics, already playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown and now Thurgood Marshall, in what looks to be a great film. Also, I like that they aren’t going with the Brown v Board of Education trail, and one that maybe not to many people know about. The film co-stars Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Keesha Sharp, Jussie Smollett, Sophia Bush, Jeffrey DeMunn and James Cromwell.

 

20th

Limited Release – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos – Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister. The film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp and Alicia Silverstone.

 

Same Kind of Different as Me (Drama – Paramount Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Reserve Entertainment, Disruption Entertainment)

International art dealer Ron Hall must befriend a dangerous homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife, a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the journey of their lives. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, Dana Gourrier, Olivia Holt, and Jon Voight.

 

Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (Comedy – Lionsgate, The Tyler Perry Company)

Madea, Bam and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the boogeyman are unleashed. The film stars Tyler Perry (obviously), Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Brock O’Hurn, Yousef Erakat, Jc Caylen.

 

Only the Brave (Drama – Sony Pictures, Black Label Media, Di Bonaventura Picture)

Based on the elite crew of men who battled a wildfire in Prescott, Arizona in June 2013 that claimed the lives of 19 of their members. Going through two different names until landing on Only the Brave, the true story film looks pretty good, and I’m sure it’s only going to be easy to watch, but with a cast like this, it looks like we’re in for a great film in this busy week. The film stars Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Hardy, Andie MacDowell, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges

 

Geostorm (Sci-Fi Action – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Skydance Productions)

As a man heads into space to prevent climate-controlling satellites from creating a storm of epic proportions, his brother discovers a plot to assassinate the president. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, it looks absolutely ridiculous, but on the other, it looks absolutely ridiculous that it could be dumb fun. The film stars Gerard Butler, Ed Harris, Katheryn Winnick, Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturgess and Andy Garica.

 

The Snowman (Crime Drama – Universal Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Working Tile Films/Another Park Film)

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearances of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. The trailer makes this look like an uncomfortable crime thriller, but one that will be great to watch – as weird as that sounds.  The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, James D’Arcy, Val Kilmer and Toby Jones.

 

27th

All I See is You (Drama Thriller – Open Road Films, Wing and a Prayer Pictures)

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves. This movie has been moved around a few times, it was supposed to come out last month, but got pushed back to his month, so let’s see if that sticks. The movie stars Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, Wes Chatman, Ahna O’Reilly and Danny Huston.

 

Jigsaw (Horror – Lionsgate, Twisted Pictures, Serendipity Productions, A Bigger Boat)

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise as the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade. The film stars some unknowns for the most part with the biggest names being Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie and Tobin Bell (somehow).

 

Thank You for Your Service (Biography War Drama – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment)

Based off the book by David Finkel, a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq struggles to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. This looks really good. I wasn’t really all that excited for the movie when I first heard about it, but the trailer has really turned me around. The film stars Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Omar J. Dorsey, Beulah Koale, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Amy Schumer.

 

Suburbicon (Crime Mystery – Paramount Pictures, Silver Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Black Bear Pictures)

Directed by George Clooney and co-written by him and the Coen Brothers. A home invasion rattles a quiet family town. This looks absolutely fantastic! That’s it. The film has an impressive cast in Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler and Oscar Isaac.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘The Accountant’ Review

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Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Bill Dubuque

Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and Jeffrey Tambor

Synopsis: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.

 

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

 

It seems like Hollywood likes giving older actors today their own action thrillers. Liam Neeson had his with Taken, and that seemed to start the trend, and while some of them work, The Accountant is its own animal, and while a lot of the film works, it falls into some, unexpected, pitfalls that makes the film not completely what you were expecting.

The Accountant follows Christian Wolff (Affleck), a small-town CPA with a form of high-functioning autism that makes him, you can say, socially awkward around others. He helps people with their taxes during the day, but at night, he works with shady organizations, gangsters and the cartels. His actions put him on the crosshairs of Treasury Department and Director Raymond King (Simmons), who brings in an analyst Marybeth Medina (Addai-Robinson) to try and find Wolff – who is “in” pictures they have, but don’t show his face.

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During all this, Wolff takes on a new client, a robotics firm, by Lamar Black (Lithgow), who says there is missing money that was found by an accountant in Dana Cummings (Kendrick). Wolff, being excellent in his job, finds out what’s wrong but subsequently puts Dana in danger and is forced to solve the mystery and going up against killers, all lead by a mysterious Braxton (Bernthal).

The Accountant rests of the shoulders of Ben Affleck, and has been shown in the past he is up to the challenge. When the film focuses on Wolff, and the flashbacks as a child with his father played by Robert C. Treveiler, is when the film works. Seeing what Christian goes through as a child and the way his father dealt with his condition flows nicely throughout the film. The other thing that works in the film is when we actually see Christian doing his day job. It surprising to see an action thriller actually make math and accounting look fun, and seeing Christian, and even Dana at one point, being enthusiastic after what he discovers on the first day was fun to watch.

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The film doesn’t go fully into Christian’s autism, and it may not be a full representation of it, but Affleck does bring a likeability and even sympathy to the character. The autism isn’t a disadvantage for him, and even when he’s killing people, it isn’t a way for him to cope – he has his own way of doing so – he does it because it’s part of his job. It a hard trait to pull that off, but Affleck does it well.

The rest of the cast handles themselves well. You would think Anna Kendrick would stick out, and while she does a bit, she hangs in there with Affleck, although her role isn’t as big as you would think. J.K. Simmons is reliable as always, and shares most to all of his screen time with Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Medina, who does a pretty good job of hunting down Wolff on her own. Jon Bernthal, also always reliable as ever, seems to have fun playing a ruthless killer, although it would have been nice to see more of him in the film. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow have small roles in the film, with Tambor getting really a glorified cameo.

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While the film works on a lot of levels, The Accountant does loses some steam when it takes on a massive exposition dump right before the third act. I won’t go into details about what the scene is about since it delves in spoiler territory, but the scene only works on some levels, and felt like shoehorned in scene that they put in so they make this a potential franchise. I’m not complaining too much, because it would be cool to see Affleck return as this character and go back to this world, but the scene itself – again, only working on some levels – felt a bit shoehorned.

Finally, there are a couple of unexpected revolutions in the film, and maybe some will see coming before they are revealed, or at least you’ll ask the question. The reveal does just kind of happening, and it never fully resolves itself, but again, if they go with a sequel it should be interesting to see how it goes.

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All in all, The Accountant is a worthwhile action thriller that sees Affleck tackling something a little different, and doing a great job at it. The film doesn’t seem like it has a lot going on, and it takes a while for things to really pick up, but when it finally does, The Accountant is a solid action thriller that could lend itself to a sequel.

The Accountant

4 out of 5

Mini-Reviews: Masterminds, Deepwater Horizon, Storks, & The Girl on the Train

Hey everybody!

Welcome to the third edition of Mini-Reviews. This time, it’s more of a mixed than it was last time. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Masterminds

Director: Jared Hess

Writers: Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Ken Marino, and Jon Daly

Synopsis: A guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes on of the biggest bank heists in American history. Based on the October 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery.

 

Yes, Masterminds is based on a true story. Of course, I’m sure the film takes some liberties, but for the most part the film tells the story of David Ghantt (Galifianakis), an armored car guard at Loomis Fargo who wants to do more in his life. He gets the chance when his co-worker Kelly (Wiig), under orders of the town small-town criminal Steve (Wilson), convinces him to rob Loomis Fargo. David, of course does it thinking he has a chance with Kelly, even though he’s engaged to Jandice (McKinnon). The good news is that David gets it done and is convinced to go down to Mexico to hide out, the bad news is that the FBI is on to him and Steve wants to cut loose ends.

Masterminds was set to come out two years ago, until it got pushed back to this year, and even then its release was in question thanks to Relativity Media’s bankruptcy. It also didn’t help that the film had a pretty descent cast, so it’s a shame that after all this, the film didn’t turn out as good as it could have been. I will say it does seem hard to make a comedy based on a true story, since you can’t really force funny moments in true stories, but if you have the right cast I assume you could. Masterminds is sadly not one of those.

I will say I’m not a huge fan of Zach Galifianakis, but he does okay here as a somewhat lovable and gullible David, who gets fooled into robbing $17 million. Kristen Wiig is reliable as always, and is arguably the heart of the film. Owen Wilson has his small moments, but doesn’t stand out as much as Jason Sudeikis’ hitman character Mike McKinney. His part of the film is rather odd, and at times will probably make you cringe-laugh, but he goes all in for this. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are put on the backburner for the most part. Jones plays a detective for the FBI hunting down David, while McKinnon plays David’s soon-to-be wife Jandice as an odd and cliché trailer park women, who has only one big moment.

All in all, Masterminds is a wasted opportunity to let all these great comedic actors to cut loose. There are some genuine funny moments in the film, but overall Masterminds fails to really connect, and make you laugh the way I think they thought it would.

Masterminds

2.5 out of 5

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Deepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Douglas M. Griffin, James DuMont, Joe Chrest, Gina Rodriguez, J.D Evermore, Ethan Suplee, Dylan O’Brien and John Malkovich

Synopsis: A dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

 

Peter Berg has become a “based on a true story” film master. Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor, the upcoming Patriots Day – based on the Boston Marathon bombing – and this. Berg has a way to really make the people in those films more important than the event itself sometimes, and Deepwater Horizon is another prime example of that. Not only that, he makes the film feel like a horror film at times, which is what the people onboard the actual rig probably felt like they were in on that fateful day.

The film mostly follows the Deepwater Horizon rig’s chief electrical technician Mike Williams (Wahlberg) and installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Russell) or Captain Jimmy as the crew calls him, on the day they arrive on the Deepwater Horizon along with a few BP company men and control room operator Andrea Fleytas (Rodriguez). However, when they arrive they find out that BP management, lead by Donald Vidrine (Malkovich) on the rig, want the crew to start drilling right away because they are behind schedule. Of course, Mike and Jimmy aren’t having any of it because the safety of the crew is at risk, Mike lets them know that the rig isn’t running at one-hundred percent, but Vidrine pushes them and they start drilling. What follows is the Deepwater Horizon suffering massive failure and an explosion that sets the rig up in flames. The crew then tries to survive and escape the rig at all costs.

Berg does a great job of setting everything up. He even goes into the technical side of things even though he probably knows not all the audience is going to know what the hell they’re talking about – we can get the gist considering we know what happens and they make it sound pretty bad. We also get a descent sense of these characters, so when the rig goes up in flames we care for these characters. And while most films would tip-toe around the situation, Berg tackles it head-on and does lay some – arguably all – of the blame on BP for forcing the rig workers to keep going.

The other great thing Berg does is make us, essentially, part of the crew. When the Deepwater Horizon goes up in flames, you can feel the horror that these men went through. This isn’t your typical escapist disaster film, this was a man-made disaster that isn’t filled with your typical Hollywood hero. Wahlberg or Russell don’t make big speech to comfort everyone, they get hurt and are equally affected by the rig explosion like everyone else. 11 men lost their lives that night, and the way Berg makes the event look, it’s almost hard to believe that not more people died.

The cast holds their own. Wahlberg gives one of his finest performances to date, and one that pays off at the end. I know Wahlberg may make people think of the film a certain way, but when he’s given the right material with a great director like Berg, he always turns in a great performance. Russell is as reliable as ever, Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien have their moments, but are scattered throughout the film and only really pick up during the events of the explosion. Finally, Malkovich seems to be enjoying himself playing a sleazy BP official, and while maybe that’s not how the real life Vidrine was, it does give us the general idea of greed and not caring about the consequences.

All in all, Deepwater Horizon is a very effective thriller that sometimes feels like a horror movie. Peter Berg knows exactly what to show and what kind of story he wants to tell, and instead of focusing on the oil spill – which got the most attention in the news – this highlights the people actually onboard the rig. I’ll even admit that by the end of this film, I was in tears. Something not a lot of films can make me do, and make me admit.

Deepwater Horizon

4.5 out of 5

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Storks

Director: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland

Writer: Nicholas Stoller

Voice Cast: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Anton Starkman, Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Stephen Kramer Glickman and Danny Trejo

Synopsis: Storks have moved on from delivering babies to packages. But when an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby.

 

I didn’t really expect anything from Storks when I first read about it. However, that all changed when I watched the film, because I really liked Storks. The film follows Junior (Samberg), who works at Cornerstore.com which is where storks now deliver packages instead of babies because delivering babies became too much of a problem. Junior is not in line for a promotion from his boss Hunter (Grammer), but before he can take the position he has to do one thing: fire the only human worker at Cornerstone, Tulip (Crown). Junior doesn’t really do so and instead puts her in a building by herself.

However, that only complicates matters as Tulip gets a letter from Nate Gardner (Starkman) who wants a sibling, and accidentally makes one. Junior already thinking he’d be in trouble with Hunter decides to deliver the baby on his own with Tulip tagging along. Of course, a grand adventure ensues.

I had a lot of fun with this movie more than I thought I would. The film never loses steam and the jokes are top notch, so much so that I was still smiling or laughing way after they were delivered. The stories are also very touching. On one end you have the human story of Nate, an only child, who wants a sibling to play with because his parents (voiced by Burrell and Aniston) are always busy with their real estate business. On the other end you have the two stories of Junior wanting to be more than a delivery man, and Tulip trying to find her own place in the world, and wanting to really help. The two stories perfectly blend together near the end that makes the finale all the more touching and heartwarming.

The rest of the voice cast is filled with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele playing Alpha and Beta Wolf, who are one of the many highlights of the film, and Danny Trejo as Jasper, a stork that comes into play in the second half of the film. Finally, another highlight of the film is Stephen Kramer Glickman as Pigeon Toady, who will leave you laughing for sure.

All in all, Storks is a ton of fun that takes a while to bring its core theme out, but the ride is so much fun that it doesn’t matter. Storks will leave you laughing out loud and leave you wanting a bit more.

Storks

4.5 out of 5

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The Girl on the Train

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson

Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow

Synopsis: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

 

Based on the popular and one of the fast-selling novels of all time by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train is being labeled as the possible next Gone Girl. A comparison that doesn’t really help any film since Gone Girl was vastly different animal that some people haven’t seen before. While the film does show shades of that, The Girl on the Train is a completely different animal altogether that is a less effective thriller and drama than Gone Girl.

The Girl on the Train follows alcoholic and divorced Rachel (Blunt) who rides the train every morning. During her rides, she always stops and spots the house of a couple who she doesn’t know but pretends to give them names and jobs. However, one day the woman, Megan (Bennett), ends up going missing and the day she did she noticed Megan with another man. What follows is Rachel trying to figure out what happened to a woman she’s made an unnatural connection to, but her obsession also becomes a problem for her ex-husband Tom (Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Ferguson), who she has been harassing them.

Going more into detail will probably lead me into spoiler territory which is something that I obviously don’t want to do. The film does jump back in time – a few months – so we get enough scenes with Haley Bennett’s Megan before she goes missing. The film also spends some time with Rebecca Ferguson’s Anna, who shines more near the end of the film than in the beginning. All that said though, this movie belongs to Emily Blunt. I’m okay with saying Blunt is one of the best actresses working today, and this film proves it. The rest of the cast, while they have their moments, kind of fall to the wayside. Edgar Ramirez and Laura Prepon are underutilized, especially Prepon, and Allison Janney, while her character was meant to only be small, would have been nice to see more of her.

The characters are probably going to make some people not like the film. There are times when you probably want to go into the screen and smack one of them around, which is what makes the film a little more relatable – to the characters anyway. It also helps that these characters are in the thriller genre, so their actions will make us question where they fall in line to the case. Although, there are times when the film gets bogged down in its own drama.

All in all, The Girl on the Train is held together by Emily Blunt’s great performance, along with Haley Bennett. The film gets bogged down a bit by its own drama, and while some things from the book don’t carry over, they make up for it by telling their own story. The Girl on the Train isn’t the next Gone Girl, but its effective while watching.

The Girl on the Train

3.5 out of 5

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October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

7th

 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (Comedy – Lionsgate/Participant Media/CBS Films)

Imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian (Griffin Gluck) is tired of his middle school’s obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild. The film also stars Laruen Graham, Isabela Moner, Adam Pally, Thomas Barbusca, Efren Ramirez and Andrew Daly. The film isn’t really targeted toward me, but I’m sure if I was younger this would be up my alley.

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The Girl on the Train (Mystery Drama Thriller – Universal Pictures/DreamWorks/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Marc Platt Productions)

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, The Girl on the Train follows the story of Rachel (Emily Blunt), who goes on a train to London. She witnesses the “perfect” couple: Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). But one day, havoc ensues and Rachel becomes involved in their drama and mystery of Megan. I’ve read the book and I can’t wait to see how they bring this to the big screen. Edgar Ramirez, Justin Theroux, Lisa Kurdow, and Allison Janney also star.

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The Birth of a Nation (Historical Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Mandalay Pictures/Bron Studios/Phantom Four/Ting Giant Entertainment)

This film has been making a lot of waves at film festivals and is even considered an Oscar hopeful and favorite. However, recent things have come to light about Nate Parker that may hinder some of the film’s success, but only time will tell. The film follows Nat Turner (played by Nate Parker, who also wrote and directed the film), a former slave in America, who leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americas in Virginia that results in a violent retaliation from whites. The rest of casts includes Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Katie Garfield, Colman Domingo, Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King and Jackie Earle Haley.

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11th

Limited/Short Release: Shin Godzilla/Godzilla Resurgence

The Toho Godzilla is back! The film will be getting a limited and short run here in the States from the 11th to the 18th. So if you want to see the “official Godzilla” on the big screen, here’s your chance.

 

14th

Limited Release: Certain Women

Based on the short stories on Maile Meloy, the lives of three women (Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart) intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail. The film also stars Rene Auberjonois, James Le Gros, and Jared Harris.

 

Limited Release: Christine 

The film is based on the true story of 1970s TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, which will be played by Rebecca Hall. I assume many of you will assume what happens in the film based on the trailer or will look it up, but the story of Chubbuck is something I can’t believe I haven’t heard of. The film has a very impressive cast of Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Timothy Simons, J. Smith-Cameron, Maria Dizzia and John Cullum.

 

Limited Release: Desierto 

A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken up border patrol duties in his own racist hands. The film looks like a strong and powerful film and has strong leads in Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Not only that, the film is being done by the Cuaron father-son duo, Alfonso Cuaron – the director of Gravity – is producing, while his son Jonas Cuaron is directing. Desierto also stars Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Catano, Marco Perez, Oscar Flores and David Lorenzo.

 

Kevin Hart: What Now? (Concert – Universal Pictures)

Another Kevin Hart live concert film, this time from the Philadelphia outdoor venue, Lincoln Financial Field.

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Max Steel (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – Open Road Films/Dolphin Entertainment/Mattel Entertainment/Playground Productions/Ingenious Media)

The adventures of teenager Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) and alien companion Steel (voiced by Josh Brener), who must harness and combine their tremendous new powers to evolve into the turbo-charged superhero Max Steel. The movie has been in the works for a handful of years now, and was even set to be released last year, but got pushed back because it wasn’t ready yet. Now, Max Steel is going to have to kick in it’s marketing into overdrive since the release date was just set in the middle of September, but I’m sure it will probably find it’s audience. The film also stars Maria Bello, Andy Garcia, Ana Villafane, and Mike Doyle.

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The Accountant (Drama – Warner Bros./Electric City Entertainment/Zero Gravity Management)

A forensic accountant (Ben Affleck) un-cooks the books for illicit clients. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Accountant stars a star studded cast that also includes Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow. The film looks rather good – I say like I had anything to do with it – but seeing Affleck playing a badass with a cast like this around him? Nothing wrong with that, right?

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21st

Limited Release: American Pastoral

Ewan McGregor stars and makes his solo directorial debut that is based off Philip Roth’s novel that is set in postwar America, where a man watches his seemingly perfect life fall apart as his daughter’s new political affiliation threatens to destroy their family. The film also stars Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker, Rupert Evans, Valorie Curry, and David Strathairn.

 

Limited Release: The Handmaiden

Directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst, Stoker), a woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

 

Limited Release: In a Valley of Violence

Directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), a mysterious stranger (Ethan Hawke) and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. The film looks like an interesting blend of genres with Western and comedy. The film also stars John Travolta, Karen Gillan, James Ransone, Taissa Farmiga, and Burn Gorman.

 

Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate/The Tyler Perry Company)

Tyler Perry brings one of his biggest and most beloved characters in Madea to life again in this horror comedy that sees Madea fighting off the supernatural on Halloween as she tries to keep a group of misbehaving teens safe.

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I’m Not Ashamed (Drama – Pure Flix Entertainment/All Entertainment/Visible Pictures)

Based on the inspiring and powerful true story and journal entries of Rachel Joy Scott (Masey McLain) – the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. I don’t know how people will react to this film, but I’m sure there is an audience. The cast is filled with unknown actors and actresses.

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

A prequel to the film that came out in 2014, this film set in 1967 L.A, a widowed mother (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters (Lulu Wilson and Annlise Basso) add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by a merciless spirit, the family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side. Ouija: Origin of Evil also stars Henry Thomas, Sam Anderson, Doug Jones, and Lin Shaye.

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Keeping Up with the Joneses (Action Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation)

A suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) are government spies. I didn’t think much about this, but the trailers make it seem like it could be a fun watch. Keeping Up with the Joneses also stars Patton Oswalt, Matt Walsh, and Kevin Dunn.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Crime Drama – Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/TC Productions)

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns to the headquarters of his old unit, only to find out an old partner and friend (Cobie Smulders) is accused of espionage. I was surprised by the first Jack Reacher, and although I wasn’t screaming for a sequel, Never Go Back looks pretty damn good. Robert Knepper, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, and Danika Yarosh also star.

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28th

Inferno (Mystery Thriller – Columbia Pictures/Imagine Entertainment)

Based on the continuing book series by Dan Brown, Ron Howard comes back to follows the adventures of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who becomes a target of a manhunt and with the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) and his knowledge of symbology, Langdon has to solve a crime, while also trying to escape the manhunt. Inferno does look a little more action-centric than the past films, but Hanks and Howard seem to really enjoy doing these films, so more power to them.  The film also stars Ben Foster, Irrfan Khan, and Omar Sy.

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What are you looking forward to?

‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Review

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Director: Gregory Plotkin

Writers: Jason Pagan, Andrew Deutschman, Adam Robitel, and Gavin Heffernan

Cast: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Don McManus, and Michael Krawic

Synopsis: Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

 

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

 

I was one of the many fans here in Chicago to see the first Paranormal Activity when it finally came out in theaters in its first limited run, before it finally came out in a wide release. I had heard the buzz surrounding the film from the film festivals, and how it had a troubled timed getting into the right hands so people can actually watch it. So, to my delight, I loved the first film, and is actually one of best movie theater experiences ever. The crowd was into it, I was into it, and I couldn’t wait to tell people to go watch it. The first movie was something special. It felt like an old school horror film and one that didn’t rely on buckets of blood, gore, nudity, or stupid teenager characters. Instead it was a slow build to an impactful and chaotic ending. Paranormal Activity restarted the trend of found footage films which took off like wildfire. However, the series has taken a slump in quality, and The Ghost Dimension which is labeled as the “final film” promised to answer all the questions that have arising in the series. If this is truly the last film in the series, then it wasn’t the best ending, nor the ending I would have wished to see this series go.

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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension starts off like every other entry. A new family is introduced in the Fleege family. Ryan (Murray) and his wife Emily (Shaw) along with their young daughter Leila (George) have moved into a new house around Christmas time. They also have Skyler (Dudley), Emily’s sister, and Ryan’s brother, Mike (Gill) living in the house for the holidays. Ryan and Mike eventually discover a box of VHS tapes and a modified video camera that picks up strange things and shapes in the house. When Ryan and Mike watch the tapes they find even stranger things as they see young Katie and Kristi (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown reprising their Paranormal Activity 3 roles through a mixture of old and new footage) as they are put their some sort of initiation. Of course, strange things start to happen around the house, Leila starts to act strange and out of character, and the family eventually figures out that the house may have something sinister.

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As you probably guess with the opening of the review, I’ve been a fan of the Paranormal Activity series, well, for the most part. I really liked their first three movies, and The Marked Ones – which is considered a spinoff – but the fourth film and this last film are the weakest of the series. The Ghost Dimension is also the first movie of the series to go 3D, which is keeping with the trend in horror that the final installment is in 3D. I didn’t watch the movie in 3D, but it looked like the biggest 3D moments where in the end and unfortunately it didn’t really help with the mix of really crappy looking CGI.

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Speaking of the CGI, I think this is the most heavy-filled CGI installment, due to the fact that the series introduced a camera that can finally see the demon that has been terrorizing families from the start, Tobi. However, what could have been a cool effect actually comes out as wonky and not as scary as you would think. In fact, I would have been okay with Tobi being the unseen force, especially seeing what they did with him. The unseen presence was one of the best parts and what made the Paranormal Activity movies just a bit more terrifying. Finally seeing the force behind it makes it a bit more “real” and takes away the effectiveness of it all.

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The new family does okay, but as the supposed final family that Tobi will terrorize they aren’t the best family the series has had, nor does it serve any real purpose to the overall series. Murray’s Ryan as the father figure and puzzle solver of everything is protective of his daughter, but doesn’t really stand out too much. Shaw’s Emily doesn’t really do anything until the finale but by then it’s too late. Gill’s Mike has one of the best lines of the movie, but comes off as obnoxious the rest of the time. Dudley’s Skyler has her moments, but is underutilized like Shaw. Ivy George’s Leila is equal parts innocent, adorable, and creepy as hell, so she actually is arguably the best part of the movie.

Nothing against the new cast, but if this was going to be the last installment of the series, I had hoped the family would have more of connection to the overall mythology the series was creating. In fact, The Ghost Dimension essentially ignores the last film and feels like a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel. That to me, besides the overall movie, is the biggest disappoint of the film. Even the connections the film makes to the past films are only mentioned in passing or just lackluster. For the final film in a series, it certainly doesn’t do much to tie up loose ends. Even the answers we were promised felt clucky, rushed, and unsatisfying. Hell, with a series like this, they could have kept going for another year or two, but stop while you’re ahead right? Or, in this case, stop when they start getting crappy.

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There are some moments where I though the film was going somewhere, but it just ended up cutting everything at the knees and those brief moments of potential go nowhere. Even the concept of the special camera is done well at first and could have been something awesome and fresh and a good way to go, but they completely dropped the ball. Even the finale is a little more over chaotic for my liking and for the series, but it makes a tad sense. Doesn’t mean it should’ve been done.

All in all, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a lackluster and disappointing end to the potential end of the series. Having been a fan of the series since the beginning I saw the ups and downs, and unfortunately this is a massive let down of could have been a potentially good – or at least descent – ending.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

2.5 out of 5