Monthly Rewind for June

Hello, everybody!

The sixth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing June!

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

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

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Splice

The A-Team

Toy Story 3

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the indie sci-fi thriller Splice, which followed two genetic engineers (played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polly) who spliced together DNA of different animals and created a new type of specie that evolves too quickly. Splice continues trend of sci-fi movies of “what happens when you take the science too far,” but Splice took that to another level.

Next is The A-Team, which I think gets a little too much hate honestly. Yes, it’s over-the-top, but director Joe Carnahan wanted it to be over-the-top and honestly, I think the movie needed to be a little bit. I absolutely enjoy the hell out of this movie, and the main cast of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Rampage Jackson work together so well. If you haven’t watched it because of all the hate it gets, do yourself a favor and give it a watch. I guarantee you’ll be entertained.

Finally, Toy Story 3 aka the movie that broke all of us. I really don’t know what else to say about it other than it has one of the most perfect endings to a series that it could have given us.

 

 

2011

Green Lantern

Trollhunter

Super 8

X-Men: First Class

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the unfortunate Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the man granted with an alien ring that gives him special powers and inducts him into the intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps. Admittedly, the movie had problems behind-the-scenes and studio interference, so maybe – and I stress, maybe – that was why we got a lackluster Green Lantern movie.

Next is the found footage Swedish film Trollhunter, which followed a group of students who investigate mysterious bear killings, only to find out they are actually hunting trolls, and comes across a troll hunter. I really ended up enjoying the movie on the first go-around, seeing as the usual found-footage movies at the time were all focused on demons or supernatural occurring, it was nice for the format to take a different approach and follow a gigantic being.

Next is the J.J. Abrams-directed Super 8. Abrams’ homage to early 80s sci-fi movies that followed a group of child friends that witnessed a train crash in their small town that secretly held an alien. The marketing campaign behind the movie followed the Cloverfield-method – the mystery box – and didn’t give away too much. The movie itself was very Spielberg-esque and was led by a great young cast.

Finally, X-Men: First Class, the reboot to the X-Men franchise took the action to the 60s to follow the first team of X-Men, and the beginning of the friendship-turned-rivalry of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). I know some people have a problem with the movie because it messes up the “timeline,” which considering the X-Men themselves have dealt with time travel before that statement seems dumb to make in my opinion. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed First Class. I liked the new cast, and I loved seeing McAvoy and Fassbender playing off each other.

 

 

2012

Prometheus

Ted

Snow White and the Huntsman

Thoughts: Alright, let’s start off with the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted, the movie about a boy’s childhood wish that brings his teddy bear to life, and the friendship that follows into adulthood. Honestly, this movie about what you would expect, but there was just something about Mark Wahlberg fighting a teddy bear that is both ridiculous and fun to watch.

Next is Snow White and the Huntsman, a twist on the fairy tale that saw Snow White (Kristen Stewart) being banished into the Forbidden Forest and found by a new take on the Dwarfs, but also being hunted by the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) under orders of the evil queen aka Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Visually, the movie looks great. Story-wise, while changes to the story are welcomed, it’s still pretty standard. The movie also got some behind-the-scenes drama with the affair between Stewart and director Rupert Sanders.

Finally, Prometheus, the Alien prequel directed by Ridley Scott, which was promised as a prequel that would show how the Xenomorphs came to be, was redone before filming to give us something even further back in history – the Engineers. The movie gets a lot of hate, which is somewhat warranted, but it’s not as bad as some people think. Michael Fassbender is the saving grace of the movie as the android, David.

 

 

2013

This is the End

World War Z

Man of Steel

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the end-of-the-world comedy, This is the End. The movie had celebrities playing “themselves” when the apocalypse happens, and we end up following James Franco, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson holding up in Franco’s house after his party. The movie obviously takes a different approach to the apocalyptic movies, taking the comedic approach with comedy actors playing themselves.

Next is World War Z, based off the book of the same name, although the movie takes a more straight-forward story approach, rather than the different stories that are connected in their own way like the book. Brad Pitt plays a former United Nations employee who is hired to find and stop the zombie pandemic before he officially takes over the world. The movie itself suffered A LOT of behind-the-scenes troubles like a whole third act rewrite, after filming, Pitt and director Marc Forster clashing on set to point that they wouldn’t even talk to one-another (although that said to be a “rumor”), prop guns were stopped at the border of Hungary and Paramount ended up changing the rating from R to PG-13.

Despite all that, I still pretty much enjoyed World War Z. I liked seeing Pitt in a zombie movie, and the final act of the movie that we got sounded better than what we would have gotten to be honest. So, yeah, I can see the hate, but I enjoyed the movie for what it was. Just don’t show me the rubber looking zombies again.

Finally, the still debated to this day, Man of Steel. Let’s just jump to “the scene.” The scene that made most people jump off the ship when Clark/Superman (Henry Cavill) had to decide to either let Zod, played greatly by Michael Shannon, melt/kill four innocent people or kill the only real connection he had to his old home, despite being a complete psycho. But Chris, “Superman doesn’t kill!” Yes, he does, and HAS whether it was intentional or not. But, let’s not dwell on a dead horse conversation. The movie itself was a pretty descent origin story, showing the Superman story in a different light and take.

 

 

2014

The Rover

Edge of Tomorrow

Snowpiercer

Thoughts: Let’s start off with The Rover, starring Guy Pearce as a loner in a post-apocalyptic landscape who gets his car stolen, and goes after the thieves and manages to capture one to help him, played by Robert Pattinson.  I didn’t know what to expect from the film, I only saw the trailer once months before the movie came out, and I saw Pattinson attached. The Rover was one of the “big” – the movie didn’t get a wide release – movies after Twilight ended. That said, I thought Pattinson’s performance was pretty good, and while it took a while for people to see Pattinson as a serious actor, The Rover was a great start to that.

Next is the Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt led Edge of Tomorrow aka the movie where Tom Cruise dies a lot after being effected by alien blood that lets him relieve the day he dies. Eventually, he uses it against the aliens to stop them with the help of a famed soldier, played by Emily Blunt. Based on a manga called “All You Need is Kill” the movie was a pretty smart sci-fi movie with the Groundhog Day twist were we get to see Cruise die a bunch, and Blunt be a badass. It does lull in the middle of the movie, but it thankfully punches back up before the third act.

Finally, let’s talk about the awesome Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joo Ho, in his first English-language movie. The movie, like all Joon Ho movies, had some political or social themes, but Snowpiercer also has some awesome action scenes like the famous torch fight sequence. Seriously, if you haven’t watched the film, do it now!

 

2015

Jurassic World

Spy

Thoughts:  Let’s start off with Jurassic World, the sequel reboot to the franchise that takes place after the events of the original trilogy, but now ups the ante with reopening the park as a bigger experience and going full-blown commercial, including a bigger, meaner and dangerous new dinosaur, The Indominus Rex. A lot of people had problems with the movie, which is fair, but the movie was fun when it let itself be. Plus, seeing the final dinosaur fight made the little kid in me giddy, so that’s a plus in my book.

The next movie is the Paul Feig written/directed action spy comedy, Spy. Melissa McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA analyst who is forced to go undercover to prevent a global disaster. This movie is freaking hilarious. Honestly, for me, 98% of the jokes work for me, and it is never not funny. Paul Feig did the movie because he knew nobody would let him do a James Bond-esque spy thriller, and it completely works. Plus, seeing Jason Statham act like a fool is worth the watch alone.

 

 

2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The Conjuring 2

The Shallows

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Thoughts: Quite the month in 2016, so let’s get the worst out of the way. I’m looking at you Independence Day: Resurgence! I mean seriously, how do you mess up a sequel to a movie that everyone, to this day, That’s it, this movie sucks.

Let’s go from a bad sequel, to a good sequel in The Conjuring 2. The sequel ups the scares and creepy characters in Valek aka The Nun and The Crooked Man.

Next is a movie that surprised the hell out of me when I watched it the first time, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Andy Samberg plays Connor4real, a pop singer once part of a boy band who goes solo and has success until his latest album which bombs hard. He then tries to bounce back any way he can. The movie is heavily inspired by This Is Spinal Tap as the movie is done as a mock-documentary style, and is filled with the typical Lonely Island humor. Definitely worth a watch.

Another surprise this month was the Blake Lively shark thriller, The Shallows. Lively plays a surfer who gets attacked by a great white shark 200 yards from shore and has to take refuge on a rock where the shark circles her, and a battle of survivor begins. I honestly didn’t think this movie would be anything special, but the movie is a solid thriller, with a pretty good scare in there.

Finally, the Taika Waititi-directed Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Julian Dennison’s breakout role with Sam Neill as a mismatched foster family who go missing in the New Zealand wilderness where they get to know each other and try to survive. The film is very funny, with Waititi’s humor and wit on full force.

 

 

2017

Wonder Woman

The Mummy

Baby Driver

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the big one here, the failed attempt of Universal trying to restart a shared universe of their classic monsters with the Tom Cruise-led The Mummy. Universal played their hand too hard here, even taking a photo with the stars of their next two movies before the release of their first movie, and even naming the damn thing. Then the movie came out, and it was mediocre at best. Pretty much anything worthwhile watching was already given away in the trailers, so yeah.

Next is the Edgar Wright directed Baby Driver. Following a young and talented driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is always listening to music to drown out the ringing in his ear, and the different groups of thieves he drives for. Of course, during a major heist, things go wrong and Baby needs to get himself, and a young woman he’s recently met (Lily James), out of town. Wright is one of my favorite directors of all time, and Baby Driver cemented that fact, showing he didn’t just need Simon Pegg or Nick Frost to have a great movie. Of course, the one blemish on the movie is Kevin Spacey, but thankfully, he’s not in the movie that much.

Finally, Wonder Woman. After years of trying to get it off the ground, Warner Bros. finally delivered the Amazon Princess to the big screen with Gal Gadot, who was only known for playing Giselle in the Fast & Furious franchise, leading the charge with Patty Jenkins at the helm. The movie does fall into the CGI final battle cliché, but everything before that was a damn good experience. Plus, the score by Hans Zimmer was amazing.

 

 

2018

Upgrade

Hereditary

Hearts Beat Loud

Leave No Trace

Thoughts: Alright, the last year, and let’s start off with the least-known film on the list in Leave No Trace. The film starred Ben Foster and newcomer to the scenes Thomasin McKenzie (now know for her role in Jojo Rabbit), as a father and daughter who live out and strive out in the wilderness, but after being caught, go into social services until they try to make it back home. It’s a very great, quiet (in terms of drama anyway) film with a standout performance by McKenzie.

Another film that went under the radar was Hearts Beat Loud, which starred Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter who start an unlikely musical duo the summer before Clemons’ character goes off to college. The music in the movie is great, and Clemons and Offerman give great performances together and apart. I highly recommend you take the take to watch this, you won’t regret it.

Yet another film that may have passed a lot of people’s radar at first is the Leigh Whannell sci-fi action film, Upgrade. Set in the near-future, Logan Marshall-Green’s Grey, a self-labelled technophobe, is implanted with an experimental computer chip implant with an A.I. system after he and his wife are attacked, killing her and leaving him seeking revenge. The low-budget movie did the best with the budget it had, and did create a whole new world to play in. Honestly, it was one of the best sci-fi films in a while.

Finally, Hereditary. Ari Aster’s horror mystery film following a family that is haunted by disturbing occurrences and deadly consequences. The slow-burn approach to Hereditary was really the make-it-or-break-it thing for viewers, but for those that stuck with it, were treated with some heavy imagery and nuances to the story. Hereditary isn’t for everyone, but there’s no doubt the movie left an impact on those that watched it.

 

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

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. I’d also want to apologize for putting this up late. I started a new job and it’s completely messed up my schedule for everything (you may have notice there’s been no podcast for a few weeks now). So let’s get to it.

 

4th

The First Purge

Written by series creator James DeMonaco, the prequel will focus on the lead up and show the very first Purge event. The Purge movies started out as a small-scale house invasion thriller that had the potential for open-world sequels. Thankfully, that’s what we got and now after three movies, DeMonaco is finally giving us the prequel he’s talked since The Purge: Anarchy. The movies have also always had a political theme to them – at least in some way – and The First Purge looks to fully be embracing that which could be good. The First Purge stars Y’Ian Noel, Luna Lauren Velez, Lex Scott Davis, Melonie Diaz and Marisa Tomei.

 

6th

Sorry to Bother You

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. As soon as I saw this trailer I was immediately hooked. What’s better, is I don’t know how this movie will turn out in the end, and that’s what has me excited. Sorry to Bother You also stars Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews and Danny Glover.

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

As Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past. After what happened in Avengers: Infinity War I think we need a good balance of a comedy with Ant-Man, and now we have the long awaited introduction of The Wasp on the big screen. What’s not to be excited about? The sequel co-stars Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Judy Greer, Walton Goggins and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

13th

Limited Release: Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot

A biography about John Callahan. On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. The rest of the cast includes Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein and Udo Kier.

 

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula (Adam Sandler) with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. Once there, romance arises as Dracula meets the ship’s captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Little do they know, Ericka is a descendant of Dracula’s ancient nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing. The rest of the voice cast includes Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Fran Drescher, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Andy Samberg and Mel Brooks.

 

Skyscraper

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson), who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building. As much as I love Dwayne Johnson on the big screen being our modern day action hero, Skyscraper’s trailers have been rather mixed. I’m sure the movie will be entertaining as hell, but the trailers just aren’t selling it for me right away. The cast includes Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Roland Moller, Byron Mann and Chin Han.

 

 

20th

Limited Release: Blindspotting

A timely story about the intersection of race and class, set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland. The film stars Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Tisha Campbell-Martin.

 

Unfriended: Dark Web

A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back. I never saw the first movie, merely because it didn’t look that great, but the sequel  looks to be upping the ante a bit on the concept. The movie stars Getty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Chelsea Alden, Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Andrew Lees and Douglas Tait.

 

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

The sequel follows Donna’s (played by Meryl Streep and Lily James) young life, experiencing the fun she had with the three possible Dad’s of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). Sophie is now pregnant. Like Donna, she will be young when she has her baby. This is where she realizes she will need to take risks like her mother did. The cast includes Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Andy Garcia, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and Cher.

 

The Equalizer 2

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves? The Equalizer was one of my surprises of 2014, and seeing Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reunite was great. Now, we have another reunion between the two, but also the first sequel for both men, and it looks like they’re upping the ante in both story – making it personal – and action, which going off the first film’s final act, it should be good. Cast also includes Pedro Pascal, Sakina Jaffrey, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.

 

27th

Limited Release: Hot Summer Nights

A boy comes of age during a summer he spends in Cape Cod. This was filmed before Chalamet became a household name after Call Me By Your Name, so I’m sure the studio is hoping that will sell the movie. The film stars Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Jack Kesy, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner and Thomas Jane.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

The Teen Titans are determined to get their own superhero movie, so Robin and the others try to get noticed by Hollywood’s hottest director. Certain they can pull it off, their dreams are sidetracked when a super villain tries to take over world. The voice cast includes Tara Strong, Khary Payton, Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Kristen Bell, Lil Yachty, Halsey, James Corden, Will Arnett and Nicolas Cage.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, once again, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong. I don’t know how the Mission: Impossible movies do it. They keep getting better with each installment AND they keep looking great in the trailers, so hell yes I am excited for this. Fallout co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Caavill, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan and Angela Bassett.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Annabelle: Creation’ Review

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writer: Gary Dauberman

Cast: Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Phillippa Coulthard, Grace Fulton, Lou Lou Safran, Taylor Buck, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto

Synopsis: Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There are two Post-Credit scenes.*

 

The Conjuring unexpectedly started its own universe when it was released back in 2013, when the studio decided to give the Annabelle doll its own movie a year later. Annabelle acted as a prequel to The Conjuring, showing the horrors of the haunted doll before landing in the Warren’s Cursed Object Room. While I enjoyed Annabelle for what it was, it wasn’t all that great to me. However, everything about Annabelle: Creation in the trailers and TV spots was great and promising. I was lucky enough to see an advanced free screening of it, and good god did this scare the crap out of me.

Annabelle: Creation is set in the 50s and follows a dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) who after losing their daughter Bee in a tragic and sudden accident, believe they are visited by her spirit who wishes to live within a doll. However, they soon realize something sinister surrounds the doll and they lock it away. Years later, they take in a group of orphaned girls lead by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Stigman), thinking it would be good for them. The two main girls we follow are Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson), and of course, Janice ends up finding the doll and starts to unleash an evil amongst the house.

Despite the first Annabelle being just okay, Creation ups the ante in every way possible. Right from the beginning we get just a little creeped out by close-up shots of Samuel making the dolls, but it’s followed by seeing this family being happy before Bee’s accident. From there, we jump forward a couple years and we see the former happy home a little beaten up as the bus with the orphaned girls comes driving up the dusty road. Thankfully, we get a feel for some of the characters from the get-go before everything starts going to hell – not literally, but you know what I mean.

The cast is pretty solid, although you got big names in there like Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto in there, the film belongs to the young co-stars, more specifically Talitha Bateman’s Janice and Lulu Wilson’s Linda. As you spot from the trailers Janice finds the Annabelle doll and starts to experience weird and unexplainable things. She believes this is because she’s the weakest because she has Polio, and walks around with a crutch. It’s Bateman’s raw emotion that really makes us scared for her and wishing that someone would come in to save her. As for Wilson, she already has horror acting chops in last year’s – surprisingly good – Ouija; Origin of Evil, although here she plays for human side as opposed to the demon side. However, it’s also the friendship and bond that Janice and Linda have that makes the film great. The two want to find a home, preferably together, and we believe the friendship they have, which makes it somewhat gut-wrenching to see their friendship get tested when Annabelle shows up.

The rest of the cast is okay, Philippa Coulthard’s Nancy and Grace Fulton’s Carol have their own experience with the Annabelle doll and what she can affect that leads to some pretty cool scares, but they are usually followed by two other girls that somewhat disappear throughout the film only to reappear near the end to experience the mayhem. Stephanie Sigman’s Sister Charlotte doesn’t get to do a lot in the film, but does have a big scene with Miranda Otto – who also doesn’t have a ton of screen time. Anthony LaPaglia’s Samuel plays the stricken-father to a tee, but it sometimes comes off as creepy and way too cold.

Director David. F. Sandberg does an incredible job setting everything up with his cinematographer Maxime Alexandre, because Sandberg loves to play around with darkness in film. Much like his last film Lights Out, which James Wan also produced and was based off a short of Sandberg’s, Annabelle: Creation’s scariest and most horrifying scenes take place once the sun drops and the lights go out. Obviously, this is standard amongst all horror films, but there something about Sandberg’s approach to it that makes it all the more horrifying and great to watch.

Speaking of the scares, they are nonstop. Seriously, once it starts it never lets go. Usually horror films will save the good scares for the last act, but not here. Annabelle: Creation has multiple long scare scenes scattered throughout the film that are truly terrifying and probably best to watch in a packed theater with everyone shouting “NO” or “RUN.”

All in all, Annabelle: Creation is a great addition to the new Conjuring universe, and dare I say is one of the best films yet. The scares are top notch, the two leads in Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson are great and it’s horrifying to watch. I definitely recommend watching Annabelle: Creation in the biggest, loudest and darkest screen possible.

Annabelle: Creation

4.5 out of 5

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

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

 

 

4th

Limited Release: Loving

Loving has been getting some great reviews on the film festival circuit, and it helps that the film is based on a true story. Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple, are sentenced to a prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. The film also stars Will Dalton, Alano Miller, Chris Greene, Sharon Blackwood, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp, Marton Csokas, and Michael Shannon.

loving

 

Trolls (Animation – 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation)

Yes, a movie about those lovable toys from the 80s is getting a feature-length filmed. Does it really matter what it’s about? You’re taking your kids to go see whether you like it or not! The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhane Wallis, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor and John Cleese.

trolls_ver7

 

Hacksaw Ridge (Biography War Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Vendian Entertainment/Demarest Media/Icon Productions)  

Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair with this film that follows WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, who refused to pick up a gun and kill, and became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, the man knows how to direct and the film looks great. Hacksaw Ridge also stars Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths, Matt Nable, Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving.

hacksaw_ridge_ver2

 

Doctor Strange (Fantasy Action Adventure – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures)

Marvel is once again being ambitious by bring the magic side of the comics to life. After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil. Scott Derrickson directs Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Scott Adkins. The film looks pretty trippy and, yes, does have an Inception-vibe, but with a cast like this, and director Scott Derrickson onboard, we’re looking at another big hit for Marvel.

doctor_strange_ver3

 

11th

Limited Release: Elle

Based on the novel by Phillppe Djian, and directed by Paul Verhoeven, the film follows a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert), who gets caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

 

Limited Release in 3D: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Comedy Drama – Sony Pictures/TriStar Productions/Marc Platt Productions/Dune Films)

Directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel by Ben Fountain, 19-year-old Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad – contrasting the realities of war with America’s perceptions. The film doesn’t look that bad, and Ang Lee is doing the interesting move on filming the movie in a high-frame rate. The film will star Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Makenzie Leigh, Tim Blake Nelson, and Steve Martin.

billy_lynns_long_halftime_walk

 

Shut In (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/Lava Bear Films)

A widowed child psychologist (Naomi Watts), who lives in an isolated existence in rural New England with her comatose son (Charlie Heaton), gets caught in a deadly winter storm. However, that’s not her only problem as she starts to question her reality and tries to find a boy (Jacob Tremblay) she recently lost under her care. The film looks pretty creepy, and the isolation aspect could lead to some great moments. The film also stars Crystal Balint, Tim Post, Clementine Poidatz and Oliver Platt.

shut_in

 

Almost Christmas (Comedy – Universal Pictures)

A dysfunctional family gathers together for their first Thanksgiving since their mom died. The cast includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kimberly Elise.

almost_christmas

 

Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama – Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), the film takes place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. Arrival has some good things going for it. Villeneuve is a great director and has a cast of Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It also helps that early reviews have been nothing but positive, even saying Arrival could be a surprise Oscar contender.

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18th

Limited Release: The Take (Action Drama)

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. The film was originally titled Bastille Day, a special holiday in France, the film was pushed back and delayed after the attacks in France, and is now getting a release date. The film also stars Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon, and Anatol Yusef.

 

Limited Release: The Eyes of My Mother (Horror Drama)

A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. The film looks rather creepy to be honest, and the fact that the film is shot in black and white makes it all the more.

 

Limited Release: Manchester by the Sea (Drama)

An uncle (Casey Affleck) is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies, but is also dealing with his own personal troubles. Manchester by the Sea looks absolutely fantastic, and I’ve hear NOTHING but good things about this. The film also stars Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick, Josh Hamilton and Tate Donovan.

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Limited Release: Nocturnal Animals (Drama Thriller)

Based on Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan,” an art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. Again, another film with a great cast that I’m surprised is getting a limited release. Nocturnal Animals stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney and Michael Shannon.

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Expanded Release: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

 

Bleed for This (Biography Drama – Open Road Films/Verdi Productions/Magna Entertainment/Bruce Cohen Productions/Younger Than You)

Based on the story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), who after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. The film doesn’t look to bad really, and I’m a bit surprised it’s only getting a limited release. Bleed for This also stars Katey Sagal, Aaron Eckhart, Ted Levine, and Ciaran Hinds.

bleed_for_this

 

The Edge of Seventeen (Comedy – Sony Pictures/STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) when her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), starts dating her older brother (Blake Jenner). I didn’t really think anything about this, I thought it would be just another teeny bopper movie, but I saw the trailer and it does looks pretty damn funny. The film also stars Woody Harrelson, Alexander Calvert, and Kyra Sedgwick.

edge_of_seventeen

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros.)

Set 70-years before the events of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling brings us back to the Wizarding World by following writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who ends up in New York with a secret community of witches and wizards, and has to track down fantastic beasts that have gotten out of his magical briefcase. Harry Potter series director David Yates comes back to direct and also stars Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Colin Farell, Ron Pearlman, and Jon Voight.

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23rd

Expanded Release: Nocturnal Animals 

 

Rules Don’t Apply (Comedy Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/RatPace Entertainment/New Regency Pictures/Shangri-La Entertainment/Demarest Films)

Warren Beatty returns behind the camera after twenty plus years, and follows an unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her determined driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and the eccentric billionaire (Beatty) who they work for. There was something about the trailer that doesn’t grab me, and if the trailer has trouble define what tone it’s going to take, that is a bit of a problem. The rest of the cast is also great with Haley Bennett, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Matthew Broderick, Steve Coogan, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Candice Bergen and Martin Sheen.

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Allied (Thriller – Paramount Pictures)

Robert Zemeckis directs and Steven Knight (Locke, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Peaky Blinders) writes Allied. Set in 1942, Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her. Allied also stars Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Raffey Cassidy, Charlotte Hope and Jared Harris.

allied

 

Bad Santa 2 (Comedy – Miramax/Broad Green Pictures)

The long awaited sequel to Bad Santa will finally arrive, and fans look to be excited. The film will bring back Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as he’s roped into another heist by his fresh-out-of-jail -sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve, the problem is that Willie’s mother, played by Kathy Bates, finds out and joins in. The film will also stars Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, and Ryan Hansen.

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Moana (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

A young woman, Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The film is being directed by longtime Disney animated film directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who have directed films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. The rest of the voice cast includes Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.

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25th

Lion (The Weinstein Company/See-Saw Films/Aquarius Films/Screen Australia)

Based on the novel by Saroo Brierley, a five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Caluctta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he set out to find his lost family. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham

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Miss Sloane (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/FilmNation Entertainment)

An ambitious lobbyist, played by Jessica Chastain, faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass control legislation. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Allison Pill, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dylan Baker, Douglas Smith, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.

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What are you looking forward to?

Mini-Reviews: Keeping Up with the Joneses, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Desierto, Ouija: Origin of Evil, & Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Hey everybody!

Welcome to the sixth edition of Mini-Reviews. This time, there are more movie reviews than usual. I’ve been a bit behind so this is me making up for lost time. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

 

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Director: Greg Mottola

Writer: Michael LeSieur

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, Matt Walsh, Maribeth Monroe, Kevin Dunn and Patton Oswalt

Synopsis: A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies.

 

I didn’t think much about the film other than the fact it had a good cast. Ironically, I had that same feeling about Masterminds, which also had Zach Galifianakis, and while Keeping Up with the Joneses was a better movie than Masterminds, the film doesn’t do enough to warrant being a standout action comedy.

The film follows Jeff (Galifianakis) and Karen (Fisher) Gaffney, who quietly live in the suburbs. Karen is an interior designer while Jeff works Human Resources for a big company called MBI. However, the lives get turned upside when their new, and seemingly perfect, new neighbors Tim (Hamm) and Natalie (Gadot) Jones turn out to be spies. When the Joneses come clean, the Gaffney’s ended up being sucked into their mission to stop a deadly plot.

Keeping Up with the Joneses isn’t the best action comedy out, but it certainly isn’t the worst. The cast isn’t that bad and the mismatched casting of Galifianakis and Fisher with Hamm and Gadot actually works, although the bonding scenes and overall chemistry of Galifianakis and Hamm plays out better than Fisher and Gadot. There are some genuine laughs in the film, but overall the film does shoehorn in some jokes that fall completely flat. The film also does rely more on the comedy side of things rather than the action. Although the standout action sequence is a car chase that does feel a bit out of place within the movie, but one that actually works in terms of action.

All in all, the film does have a lot of issues, and while many will probably end up forgetting they watched Keeping Up with the Joneses in a few years, it isn’t completely a waste of time like some will have you believe it is.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

3 out of 5

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Director: Edward Zwick

Writers: Edward Zwick, Richard Wenk, and Marshall Herskovitz

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Aldis Hodge, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Madalyn Horcher, and Robert Knepper

Synopsis: Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

 

The first Jack Reacher was a pleasant surprise when it came 2012, but when the sequel was announced without director Christopher McQuarrie, fans were, respectfully, disappointed. That being said, the sequel went forward to new director Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond), who worked with Tom Cruise on The Last Samurai. However, the result this time around was not that great.

Never Go Back finds Jack Reacher (Cruise) traveling to Washington D.C. to meet up with Major Susan Turner (Smulders), who he has been talking to recently, and someone who has taken over his old unit. However, when Reacher finally reaches D.C. he finds out that Turner has been arrested for espionage, but something doesn’t feel right to Reacher and he decides to get to the bottom of it. To make things worse, Reacher finds out that there is a paternity suit against him and that he has a 15-year-old daughter named Samantha (Yarosh).

Tom Cruise really wants another franchise, and Jack Reacher could have been it if Never Go Back wasn’t such a mess. Cruise nails the no nonsense, tough guy one-liners, but having Reacher become a potential father doesn’t really fit the character, and at times, slows the movie down trying to make awkward situations where Reacher has to act like a father to Sam – and in some cases have Turner act as a mother. Some of the scenes are funny, but feel out of place next to the Reacher breaking nameless thugs’ bones, and a hitman named The Hunter (Heusinger) killing people that stand in his way.

I’m all for shaking a character up, but we’ve only had one movie with Reacher, and the first one had him as this unstoppable hitting machine that gets the job done. He’s like that here too, but it seems like he’s more tamed down this time around. There is a little more action this time around, although there’s nothing that compares to the chase scene in the first film.

The new cast is a nice addition. Cobie Smulders does the best she can with what they give her, but I kind of wished she was more important to the overall plot. Danika Yarosh as Sam, Reacher’s possible daughter, holds her own with Cruise and Smulders, but she’s sometimes left with being the person that it told to stay back or having to be saved. Patrick Heusinger’s The Hunter is an okay villain, when he’s actually being a villain, and Robert Knepper is severely underused.

All in all, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is an okay movie that happens to be a sequel. Not saying the potential franchise can’t come back, but Never Go Back was a step backwards for the character.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

3 out of 5

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Desierto

Director: Jonas Cuaron

Writer: Jonas Cuaron and Mateo Garcia

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Catano, Marco Perez, Oscar Flores and David Lorenzo

Synopsis: A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own racist hands.

 

Directed by Jonas Cuaron, the son of Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Gravity), Desierto is a timely film about the border of Mexico and the U.S., and while Cuaron does understand the material and issue, he rather follow the dangerous cat-and-mouse game between our leads. It’s not so much a bad thing, but Cuaron is still learning his footing in the directing game. It should also be noted that the names of the characters are never said in the film – only in the credits.

Desierto follows a Mexican man, named Moises in the credits, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who along with a group of Mexican immigrants are coming to cross the border illegally. When the truck they’re in breaks down, they are left to walk the rest of the way in the desert. However, they aren’t alone as a man, named Sam in the credits, played by Jeffrey Dead Morgan finds them and kills most of the group. Moises, along with a few others, are left to survive in the desert against Sam and his dog Tracker.

The film is one of the ultimate cat-and-mouse game films. The majority of the film is Sam chasing down Moises through the desert, which of course, adds a lot of tension since there is not a lot of places to hide there. It’s a hell of a lot harder when you also have a tracking dog and a madman with a rifle chasing you down. The film works best when it’s a thriller of the characters on the run, but it’s once it slows down is when the film starts to show its faults.

It’s not hard to see the political themes, especially this late in the political season. Sam’s truck even has a small confederate flag and once he kills the first group of people he sarcastically says “welcome to the land of the free.” It’s not a bad thing, but Cuaron never fully develops that idea, and chooses to focus on the chase instead.

When it comes the cast, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dead Morgan fully invest in their characters. Jeffrey Dean Morgan doesn’t go over-the-top like he could have, but he also doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong. In fact he barely flinches when killing the characters from far away. Gael Garcia Bernal, on the other hand, plays his character pretty straight. He’s trying to survive to make it to his kids, and does something in the film that I didn’t think the film would do. The only other character that gets some more depth is Alondra Hidalgo’s Adela.

The film does lose some steam near the end during the final confrontation between Moises and Sam because Cuaron wanted to keep the camera rolling. I’m not saying it wasn’t bad, but this is what separates him and his father in the director’s category. Although, not many directors are Alfonso Cuaron.

All in all, Desierto isn’t a bad film, but it works better when it’s a cat-and-mouse thriller rather than being a cat-and-mouse political undertone thriller. While Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are on point with their roles, the overall film lacks a certain punch to put it over the top.

Desierto

3 out of 5

desierto

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Jane Goldman

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Chris O’Dowd, Rupert Eveertt, Allison Janney, Judi Dench, and Terence Stamp

Synopsis: When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

 

Based on the novel written by Ransom Riggs – which I haven’t read yet – and directed by Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a movie I was actually looking forward to despite it being directed by Tim Burton. I haven’t been a fan of Burton’s for a while, but it looks like he was returning to form with his X-Men-esque fantasy tale. Also, having never read the book, I’m judging the movie for the movie itself, and not how loyal the film is to the book.

The film follows Jake (Butterfield), who is living in Florida, and wants to do something more in his life. That just happens when his grandfather, Abe (Stamp), passes away supernaturally. Remembering some stories as a child, Jake convinces his reluctant father (O’Dowd) to go to Wales so Jake can get closure on his grandfather’s passing, and maybe find out what really happening, all the while remembering the stories of his grandfather about a woman he once knew called Miss Peregrine (Green). Eventually Jake finds out the stories of his grandfather are not stories at all, and finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children that has children with powers of invisibly, floatation, pryokinesis, and other peculiarities. However, Jake finds out that all of them are stuck in September 3rd, 1943. Worse of all, dangerous monsters – known as Hallows – are after them lead by Mr. Barron (Jackson).

The film works best when the fanatical elements are in full swing. When Jake direst arrives at the home and meets everyone, the film is fun. We get to see everyone uses their abilities. Ella Purnell’s Emma is the one we get to know the most as she and Jake spend the most time together, her peculiarity is air and being able to float off the ground. We also meet Olive (McCrostie), who can turn into anything she touches into fire, Hugh (Parker) who is always invisible, Enoch (MacMillan) who has an interesting ability that leads to a surprising and cool sequence near the end of the film. There are twins, Claire (Raffiella Chapman) has a mouth on the back of her head, Horace (Hayden Keeler-Stone) can project his dreams, Fiona (Georgia Pemberton) can manipulate nature, and Bronwyn (Pixie Davies) is super strong.

It did seem like Miss Peregrine was tailor-made for Burton, and Burton does his usual thing and makes sure that the whimsy never fully gets put in the background. When the film does go off the fantasy element is when the film slows down a bit, but that rarely happens in the film. However, the film does get lost in itself for a bit, which is prone to happen when you have a lot going on. There’s even one plot point bought up that gets completely forgotten about once it’s introduced.

The cast does a great job with everything they were asked to do. Butterfield’s Jake does have a peculiarity that makes sense for the film, and one that makes the film rather suspenseful at one point. Eva Green as Miss Peregrine is great to watch. Green brings a levity and grand approach to the children’s guardian. Samuel L. Jackson’s Barron character is, well, Samuel L. Jackson playing a bad guy – minus the swearing. His character is a bit too cheesy at times and just a smidge over-the-top. Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd, and Allison Janney pop in for small roles that don’t really do too much in the film. One casting I couldn’t get over is Kim Dickens, who appears in literally two very short scenes as Jake’s mother.

All in all, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of the better Tim Burton films in the recent years. While the film does have some things wrong with it, the cast and whimsy of it all will keep you invested until the end.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

3.5 out of 5

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Ouija: Origin of Evil

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard

Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas and Parker Mack

Synopsis: In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters 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.

 

A sequel/prequel to the 2014 film, Ouija – which I never saw by the way, and kind of have no intention on seeing to be honest – Origin of Evil, is just that, an origin of the evil Ouija board that causes mayhem to the people that used it.

Ouija: Origin of Evil, set in Los Angeles in 1965, it follows the Zander family in mother Alice (Reaser), eldest daughter Lina (Basso) and youngest daughter Doris (Wilson), who run séance scam, but Alice does think she’s doing good by helping people, even if it’s not really true. Desperate for money, the family adds an Ouija board to shake things up. However, when Doris starts using the board more, strange things start to happen around the family, and eventually the family finds out that Doris has made contact with actual spirits – and they aren’t happy.

Never seeing the first film (although I read what the connection was afterwards), I can only judge the film for what it was, and in part I really enjoyed the film. Origin of Evil keeps a great deal of the focus on the family, making us really care for these characters, and when everything goes to hell at the end, you do feel worried for them. It also helps that the actresses are great, but the highlight and real star of the film is Lulu Wilson, who plays Doris. One scene in particular stands out where the focus is on her and talks about a certain subject that really sticks with you, and despite the subject, I couldn’t help but laugh because it was so uneasy to hear her talk about it.

The film does have some missteps, like a subplot with Henry Thomas’ character Father Tom. The subplot doesn’t really lead anywhere, and while it gives Elizabeth Reaser’s Alice more screen time, it felt shoehorned in. The other thing is the Ouija board. The board, while a huge and really only reason the events of the film takes place, is just hanging out in the background. The film could have probably done without the Ouija board and found a way to introduce the spirits another way.

All in all, Ouija: Origin of Evil handles itself pretty well, as a horror film that also has a solid family story holding it together. While I may not have understood some of the little things that may connect it to the first film, I still really enjoyed it for what it was.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

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?

‘Terminator Genisys’ Review

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Dir: Alan Taylor

Writer(s): Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyl, Byung-hun Lee and Matt Smith

Synopsis: John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

 

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a brief mid-credits scene*

 

 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of my favorite movies of all time, and dare I say one of the best actions movies ever. Of course I’m not the only person to share that feeling and it’s because of that reason that the Terminator series holds a special place in many people’s hearts. However, after Terminator 2 the series took a bit of stumble with the lackluster Rise of the Machines, and the not reaching its full potential with Salvation, so when it was announced that another installment was coming fans were right to be weary. However, when news that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be returning, some of those fans become a little less weary and curious to what they were going to do.

 

Fast forward – or time travel? – to earlier this year and one of the biggest twist that could have probably happened in the series was ruined in all the marketing. So what happens when you know the big twist to a highly popular series and once-was anticipated movie? You go in and try your best to enjoy it. So, was Terminator Genisys good? Terrible like the majority of film reviewers are putting it? Or something else? Well, bit of everything actually.

 

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Terminator Genisys isn’t just another installment to the series; it acts as a prequel, sequel and reboot. So in case you’re brand new to the series, don’t worry you’ll be thrown into the world that many have enjoyed for years. The movie starts with letting us know the events that led to our downfall: The day Skynet became aware and the day Judgment Day happened. We hear the story of one man that lead a resistance against the machines, and that man was John Connor (Jason Clarke). We see him leading the resistance with his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Courtney) to take down a harvesting farm, which is a cover for a weapon that John knows is there: The time machine.

 

Fans know the story: John sends Kyle back in time to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), who is targeted by Skynet as they send back a Terminator model T-800 to kill her before she can give birth to John. However, something happens when Kyle is sent back and it changes the timeline in a dramatic way. When Kyle ends up in 1984, Sarah isn’t a fragile and scared woman instead she is a strong fighter that knows about Terminators and the future. She also has someone that has protected her, a model T-800 Terminator that she happily calls Pops (or named Guardian in the credits). Kyle is of course confused about this and Sarah tells him that everything has changed and that they have been preparing for him. Another problem they have is a new T-1000 (Lee) is there and is hunting them down.

 

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However – again ruined in the marketing – Kyle and Sarah eventually come face-to-face with John himself. The reunion is cut short when Pops shoot John to reveal that John is in fact some sort of new Terminator. Kyle and Sarah make it their mission to not only save the future, but also try figure out what happened to John.

 

Like I mentioned before, the twist of John being a Terminator is a pretty big and nice twist to the series, and it would have been awesome to see it play out on screen for the time first. Instead marketing – and not director Alan Taylor – made the decision to give away the big twist to the movie killing any sort of tension to not only the scene, but for the rest of the movie. Yes, it is commonplace for studios to show off or reveal a few of their key sequences to make sure you go buy a ticket, and some studios have even tricked the audience into going to watch the movie by showing a really cool moment, that just so happens to be the end of the movie. But giving away the “John is some sort of new awesome Terminator” twist really hurt the movie going in.

 

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Also, we’re dealing with time travel. Just know going in that you’re going to deal with three different timelines that thankfully don’t get too murky. At one point, it’s explained by Pops that the timelines have changed and thankfully it doesn’t stop the movie dead. The alternate timeline does change a few things up and it should be interesting to see where they go with things from this point forward. Although at this point I’m not sure how many fans want to stick around after the new “twist.” Yes, there is another twist to the movie that only starts off in the third act and is obviously set up for future sequels. I’m not going to get too into it because it does go into spoiler territory.

 

So let’s go in the cast. Arnold steps right back into the role without fault. Yes, he is older and the movie goes into why that is, but there is a lot more to his character this time around. Like I’ve mentioned, Sarah calls him Pops and his official character name in the credits is Guardian, by that you know a lot of things have changed. On the other side of the coin, Jason Clarke as John Connor/new Terminator – no official name, just his quote that he’s “something more” – has to pull double duty as the John Connor legend, who gives a pretty impressive speech at the start of the movie and has a great relationship with Kyle before he sends him back, and the Terminator, who is like he says “can’t be bargained with.”

 

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Again, the twist would have been really cool to see for the first time while watching the movie, not only because it’s a massive spoiler, but also because it changes the dynamic of the character that we’ve known is the face of resistance against the machines and the mythos of the series. John Connor is no longer the good guy, the man that we root for. Instead he is our primary villain out to kill our heroes and has fallen into become a machine!

 

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As for John’s parents, Jai Courtney – who I’m not a real fan of to be honest – does okay as Kyle Reese. He doesn’t really go beyond anything we’d suspect from his character. Sure he has a standout moment when talking to Sarah early in the movie, but other than that nothing stands out. As for Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor, I’ve seen some reviewers say she’s been miscast or doesn’t do anything special for the role, and I don’t think that’s the case to be honest. Clarke is stepping into big shoes yes, but at the same time, this is a different Sarah Connor from the original The Terminator. Instead we get the Terminator 2 Sarah Connor, the one that is ready to fight anything that stands in her way and Clarke holds her own for the most part. She does work better off Arnold than Courtney for the most part and but overall she’s does fine playing the part of badass warrior.

 

J.K. Simmons as a small supporting role that doesn’t really add much to the overall movie, but you can clearly tell his character will have some sort of role in the potential sequels. Sadly, Byung-hun Lee’s T-1000 character doesn’t get a ton of screen time and is underused. Luckily, his part is rather enjoyable but you feel his missing presence throughout the movie.

 

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The action in the movie is actually pretty enjoyable, and there is quite lot more than I suspected. The other thing the movie had that surprised me was humor. It’s not like the movie is cracking jokes every minute, but humor is sprinkled throughout the movie and it makes sense. Of course, the movie has many more references and subtle additions from the previous movies – and yes, even the TV show – that fans can appreciate.

 

One thing that will bother people – even me to some extent – is the movie has a lot of questions that it asks, but never really answers. If they do, they don’t give you the full answer. The movie suffers a bit from setting things up for sequels instead of making the movie stand on its own. Some things make sense, but for the most part, the studio makes sure that they want the audience back for another go-around.

 

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All in all, Terminator Genisys isn’t as terrible as many people out there want you to believe. There are some enjoyable moments scattered throughout and the action is pretty great to watch. The cast work well together for the most part, with Jason Clarke and Arnold being the standout. The movie may act as a prequel, sequel, and reboot, but make no mistake that it is another addition to the series. Let’s hope that fans will want to keep coming back.

 

Terminator Genisys

3 out of 5