My Worst, Disappointing, Least-Like Movies of the Year

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

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

The list will have the movies in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list. Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine, and probably justified. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out. Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Blackhat (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Forward Pass)

Hitman: Agent 47 (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Infinite Frameworks Studios/Fox International Productions)

Hot Tube Time Machine 2 (Paramount Pictures/MGM)

Taken 3 (20th Century Fox/EuropaCorp/Canal+/TSG Entertainment/M6 Films/Cine+)

The Transporter Refueled (EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/TF1 Films Productions/Belga Films/Canal+)

 

 

Disappointments/Least-Liked/Worst Movies of the Year

Aloha (Sony Pictures/Fox/Columbia Pictures/Vinyl Films)

Cameron Crowe’s latest film was hit with criticism with “white-washing” and keeping the film from critics to review just a couple days before release (not the only film on this list that did that). However, watching the film you can see why they kept it away from critics. Aloha had a great cast of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, and Bill Murray. Sadly, they couldn’t save this. The film tries to have high stakes, but only when it wants to, and it even felt ridiculous at times. Overall, the film was very uneven that at times made the film boring.

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Fantastic Four (Fox/Marvel Entertainment/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment)

This one definitely goes into the disappointing and worst section. 20th Century Fox can’t nail down “Marvel’s First Family,” and it is strike three for them. Of course, it didn’t help that there was so much behind-the-scenes drama between the studio and director Josh Trank, and the troubling reshoots and scenes in the trailer that are nowhere in the film. Despite all that, like I said in my review: The fans lose in this, not Fox or Trank, us because we want to see a good Fantastic Four movie and what we got crap. Started out good, but crap nonetheless.

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Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Dune Entertainment)

I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. There are some great scenes in there, but the film felt way too big for its own good. The Wachowskis seemed like they were doing a lot of world building, but it all felt too condense and rushed with nothing having time to breathe. Dare I say, it probably would have worked better as a mini-series instead of a movie, but that’s just my opinion. The first sign was indeed the release date switch, when they pushed back the release date by a year.

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Maggie (Liongates/Roadside Attractions/Grindstone Entertainment Group/Gold Star Films/Lotus Entertainment/Silver Reel/Gold Star Films/Matt Baer Films)

I wasn’t expecting too much of Maggie, but I walked in open-minded (as always) to watch a different take of the zombie genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a father dealing with his daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, being infected with virus that is turning people into zombies was interesting to see. However, Maggie’s slow burn didn’t really do the film any favors as the film felt too slow at times and when something powerful happened it took me a while to actually register it because I had to catch up at times. One thing that made me put the film on the list was the ending. The ending looked like it was going to go down a very powerful route, but instead went out in a whimper, and didn’t take the risk that that film could have really made and where they were potentially hinting at. I will say that Arnold as a father figure was great to see.

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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Paramount Pictures/Blumhouse Productions)

I was a fan and defender of the Paranormal Activity films up until the third installment, and I enjoyed most of the spinoff The Marked Ones, but the series showed signs of losing it during the fourth installment. It seemed like the series just didn’t care anymore, and while it tried to add new things to the series, it just never kicked off the way they probably thought it would. As for The Ghost Dimension, the last of the series, it just didn’t do it for me. The supposed answers we were promised were rushed and lackluster, and the ending was just weak and not a good end to the series at all. The movie felt like just another installment that was setting up the real final installment. Another case of a good series losing it momentum by the end, and overstaying its welcome.

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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions)

I didn’t walk in really expecting much from this. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It had its funny and goofy moments, but it knew what it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, the sequel did take itself a little bit too seriously for its own good. The jokes fell flat the majority of the time, and to be honest it just wasn’t that good. All the charm and goofiness the first film had was stripped away and replaced with unnecessary fat jokes and lame/awful jokes.

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Point Break (Warner Bros./Alcon Entertainment/DMG Entertainment/Studio Babelsberg)

Despite my slight optimism for remakes in general, Point Break was a shallow and pointless remake that didn’t do much for me – and probably anyone – and while it had it’s very short and brief moments and a great performance with Edgar Ramirez, Point Break failed on all spectrum’s.

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Seventh Son (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Seventh Son felt a bit messy. The movie isn’t horrible, but the movie sometimes feels like you’re already familiar with some aspects of the world and it’s a little off-putting at times. One scene in particular threw me off only because they made the scene feel like it was really important, but emotionally it didn’t come out that way because there was no real investment in character involved.

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Terminator Genisys (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions)

Terminator Genisys had some potential, Arnold Schwarzenegger came back, after some fans wanted him back, Alan Taylor was directing, and the film was going to add some new things to the timeline that we all know. Then that second trailer came out. You know, the one that gave away what could have been the biggest twist in the series and potentially a great moment to watch onscreen for the first time. Yeah, that one. Knowing that going in really hurt the movie, and despite their being another layer to the twist, it still wasn’t enough to forgive them for spoiling that big plot point in the trailers, TV spots, and posters.

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The Gallows (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Blumhouse Productions/Management 360/Tremendum Pictures)

Another addition to the Found Footage horror subgenre was The Gallows, and like some of the films before it: it wasn’t good. Despite some cool and eerie shots in the movie, one of the characters – mainly holding the camera – was annoying to the point that it took me out of the movie. I can handle annoying characters, but holy hell did he reach a whole new level. Moreover, the motivation and reveal of why the events happen ended up making no sense whatsoever and seemed like a last minute thing. The Gallows may be the worst Found Footage movie I’ve seen.

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The Green Inferno (BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Worldview Entertainment/Dragonfly Entertainment/Sobras International Pictures)

I’m not the biggest Eli Roth fan, but I’ve slightly enjoyed some of his movies in the past, but The Green Inferno was rough to watch, and not in the way it was supposed to be rough to watch. None of the characters were really all that likeable, with the expectation of maybe two, and even the slow burn and waiting for everything to go to hell isn’t worth the wait. Some of the gore is good – that’s what the film is really about anyway – but overall this wasn’t good at all. This is definitely one of the worst films of the year.

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The Lazarus Effect (Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions/Relativity Studios)

This one had a ton of potential and even had the cast lead by Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass to back it up. Unfortunately, the potential of the film disappeared once the film became a supernatural slasher-esque film in the last act. The Lazarus Effect had a great premise behind it, but the execution of it lacked power and left the film underwhelming to watch.

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Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Pictures/A113)

This one hurt. I was actually conflicted to put Tomorrowland on this list and not put it as an “Honorable Mention” on my “Favorite/Best” movies of the year. However, that wouldn’t be extremely fair to the other movies. Tomorrowland had ton of potential, had a great team behind the camera and in front of the camera, but ultimately it was the lack of execution and beating over the head theme (which I loved, but sill) that made this probably one of the biggest disappointments, if not the biggest, of the year.

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So, what were your biggest disappointments, worst, or least-liked films of the year?

‘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

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!

 

2nd

*The Walk gets an early/limited IMAX release before its wide release next week. So check out next week for my thoughts*

*Sicario gets its final theater release this week*

 

The Martian

Ridley Scott adapts Andy Weir’s critically acclaimed and best-selling novel of the same name with an impressive and awesome cast. The film follows Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as an astronaut that is left behind and presumed dead on Mars during a man mission. Watney then has to use his skills to surive on the planet while his crew (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, and Aksel Vogel) find out from NASA that he is still alive and decide to go get him back. The film looks great and, like I mentioned, the cast is great. Besides the aforementioned cast members, The Martian also stars Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels.

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9th

*Steve Jobs gets a limited release only in L.A and New York. It gets a wide release at the end of the month, so I’ll give my thoughts and info there.*

 

Limited Release: The Final Girls

Max (Taissa Farmiga) grieving the loss of her mother (Malin Akerman), a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself and her friends pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer. The film was a hit as Fantastic Fest and based on the trailer, it does look like it can be a fun time. The film also stars Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Alla Shawkat, Thomas Middleditch, Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Tory N. Thompson and Dan B. Norris.

 

Pan

Joe Wright (Hanna) brings the classic J.M. Barrie characters to life in a prequel format. The films follows a young orphaned Peter Pan (Levi Miller) who gets transported to the fantasy land of Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and finds out that he is part of a prophecy by the people there that he will lead them to freedom by the fearsome Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). I’m not completely sold on Pan just yet, the trailers make the film look like it could be a lot of fun and Neverland looks, well, fantastical. Maybe it’s the prequel idea or that I wasn’t always the biggest Peter Pan fan, but I will probably end up watching it. Pan also stars Garrett Hedlund (Hook), Rooney Mara (Tiger Lilly), Amanda Seyfried (Mary), Nonso Anozie (Bishop), and  Adeel Akhtar (Mr. Smee).

 

The Walk

Robert Zemeckis tells the true story about French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. The film looks great and Zemeckis apparently shot a lot of the film in IMAX and the stuff he filmed in it looks great (seeing the trailer in IMAX anyway). This one definitely is in a must-watch list. The Walk stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale and Ben Kingsley.

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16th

Limited Release: Room

Rising star actress Brie Larson stars in a modern-day story about the boundless love between mother and child; young Jack knows nothing of the world except for the single room in which he was born and raised. The film is an adaptation of the novel written by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the film) and is inspired off the real life cases of Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elisabeth Fritzl, who were kidnapped and held captive and hidden in rooms for 18 years and had children. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (who directed last year’s Frank) debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival recently to rave reviews, especially for Larson, who plays the mother and Jacob Tremblay, who portrays Jack. The film also stars Joan Allen and William H. Macy.

 

Goosebumps

R.L. Stine’s famous characters come to life in this film that follows Zach (Dylan Minnette), who teams up with Hannah (Odeya Rush) – who just so happens to be the daughter of famous author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) – to help her free their home town of Greendale, Maryland after Stine’s characters magically get set free. I’ve been split on this since it was first announced. I was for it when they said they were going to do, then Jack Black got cast as R.L. Stine and nothing against Black, he can be good when he wants to be and with the right material, but I didn’t buy it. Then the trailers came out, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun family movie or just least dumb fun, so I’m in again. Goosebumps also stars Ryan Lee, Halston Sage, Ella Wahlestedt, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjlani, Ken Marino and Amy Ryan.

 

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks reunite to tell a true story about an insurance salesman (Hanks), who is brought in by the government to help them negotiate the return of a soldier that shot down behind enemy lines during the Cold War for a spy that is in America. Written by the Coen Brothers, the film looks like a great drama-thriller that is suited for Spielberg and Hanks, and with these two fronting it, it should be good. Bridge of Spies also stars Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Eve Hewson, Peter McRobbie, Austin Stowell, Sebastian Koch, and Mark Rylance.

 

Crimson Peak

Guillermo Del Toro goes back to his gothic horror roots with this film. That sees Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author who is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds and remembers. The film looks creepy as hell and del Toro is a master of his craft and with a cast that also includes Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Leslie Hope, Burn Gorman and Jim Beaver, this has been on my must-see list since it was announced.

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23rd

Burnt

Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones as a chef that ruined his career with drugs and his diva begavior that tries to clean up his act by going to London and starting a new restaurant so he can gain three Michelin stars. I’ve seen the trailer a few times now and I’m not completely sold on it yet. Maybe it’s because Jon Favreau’s Chef was so good that it has tarnished me watching another chef movie, okay not really, it’s just that the trailer hasn’t grabbed me yet, which doesn’t sit well with me because the cat is great. The cast includes Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Matthew Rhys, Uma Thurman, Sarah Greene, Omar Sy and Emma Thompson.

 

Rock the Kasbah

Bill Murray fronts this musical comedy about a down-on-his-luck music manager (Murray) who discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on a music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on a popular TV show, Afghan Star. I’ve only seen the trailer once at a movie theater and it looked pretty funny. But, I think I’ll have to watch another trailer to really get me into the film. Yeah sure it’s Bill Murray, but, that can’t be enough to carry a movie – at least for me. The film also stars Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan, and Danny McBride.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

The last installment of the Paranormal Activity films brings everything full circle, or at least that is what producers are saying. The film follows the same format from what we’ve seen so far. A family finds old and weird tapes from Katie and Kristi’s childhood and eventually weird things start to happen around their home and around their young children. They then find a special camera that shows us, for the first time in the series, “The Ghost Dimension” where we can see things that human eyes can’t. Personally, I just hope that it doesn’t disappoint because the series has kind of gone downhill since the third outing.

 

Jem and the Holograms

A modern day adaptation of the popular 80s musical cartoon directed by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)tells us the story of a small town girl (Aubrey Peeples) who goes from video sensation to global superstar known as Jem. She and her three sisters (Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, and Aurora Perrineau) begin a journey to of self-discovery and family. A lot fans are up-in-arms about the adaptation because it doesn’t look like the Jem they knew growing up. Just basing it off the trailers, I’m not really looking forward to this. It could be that I’m not the demographic they are trying to reach, but something about the trailers doesn’t pull me in. The rest of the cast includes Molly Ringwald, Ryan Guzman, Nicholas Braun, Nathan Moore and Juliette Lewis.

 

The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel stars as, well, the last witch hunter that was cursed with immortality and now in present-day New York he must team up with another witch (Rose Leslie) to take down a plot that plans on releasing a more powerful witch upon the world. The movie doesn’t look that bad really and I think we can all know what to expect, but the trailers do make the film look like it could be at least a cool time while watching. The film also stars Elijah Wood, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Julie Engelbrecht, Rena Owen and Michael Caine.

 

Steve Jobs

Danny Boyle-directed and Aaron Soarkin-written biopic about, well, Apple innovator and face of the company, Steve Jobs. Jobs is played by Michael Fassbender that will follow Jobs through three, 30-minute scenes spreading across sixteen years of the life of Steve Jobs. The scenes will dramatize backstage events before three major product launches and will employ some flashbacks depicting key moments of Jobs’ life. The film debuted at film festivals recently and has been heavily praised by many, and not surprisingly, has been said it could be nominated for Oscars when the time comes. The film looks great so let’s see what happens. The films also stars Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Ortiz, and Jeff Daniels.

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30th

Our Brand Is Crisis

A feature film based on the documentary of the same name, focuses on the use of American political campaign strategies in South America. The film is being labeled as a comedy-drama, and while I haven’t seen the trailer, I’ve seen bits of the documentary online and it gives me an idea on who they will go with this. The cast is rather impressive with Sandra Bullock leading the cast with Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Scott McNairy, Zoe Kazan and Joaquim de Almedia.

 

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Originally titled Scouts vs. Zombies, the film sounds ridiculously yes, but after watching the trailer, it actually looks like a fun movie. The red-band trailer really doesn’t hold back and the movie doesn’t look like it’s going to hold back. I can’t believe I’m looking forward to this, but I am. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sarah Dumont, Joey Morgan, Halston Sage, David Koechner, and Cloris Leachman.

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What are you looking forward to?