May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

4th

Bad Samaritan

A pair of burglars stumble upon a woman being held captive in a home they intended to rob. The movie stars Robert Sheehan, Carlito Olivero, Kerry Condon and David Tennant.

 

Overboard

A remake of the 1987 film, but this time with the genders reversed; a spoiled, wealthy yacht owner (Eugenio Derbez) is thrown overboard and becomes the target of revenge from his mistreated employee (Anna Faris). I’ve slowly become a fan of Eugenio Derbez – Faris is always reliable – and while the movie just looks okay, hopefully it’s at least entertaining. Overboard co-stars Eva Longoria, Swooise Kurtz, Josh Segarra, Alyvia Alyn Lind, and John Hannah

 

Tully

Written by Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult); Marlo (Charlize Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis). It’s hard to root against the team of Reitman and Cody who did Juno together – I haven’t seen Young Adult – and with a cast like this, we’re probably looking at another hit. Tully co-stars Mark Duplass and Ron Livingston.

 

11th

Revenge

Never take your mistress on an annual guys’ getaway, especially one devoted to hunting – a violent lesson for three wealthy married men. The movie is lead by Matilda Lutz.

 

Life of the Party

Written by husband-and-wife duo Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy; when her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into a re-set by going back to college – landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna – now Dee Rock – embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected. I honestly don’t know what to make of the movie. I know there are some people out there that don’t like McCarthy, but I still think she can churn out some great comedy, so hopefully it happens here. The impressive cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Adria Arjona, Jessie Ennis, Matt Walsh, Jacki Weaver and Christina Aguilera.

 

Breaking In

A mother (Gabrielle Union) takes her two children on a weekend gateway to her late father’s secluded, high-tech estate in the countryside. She soon finds herself in a fight to save her children from four men who break into the house in search of something. It’s kind of nice to see Union back on the big screen, and while the movie hasn’t completely sold me yet, it could be a worthwhile small thriller.

 

Terminal

The twisting tales of two assassins carrying out a sinister mission. A teacher battling a fatal illness, an enigmatic janitor and a curious waitress leading a dangerous double life. Murderous consequences unravel in the dead of night as their lives all intertwine at the hands of a mysterious criminal mastermind hell-bent on revenge. Terminal stars Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Matthew Lewis, Dexter Fletcher, Max Irons and Mike Myers.

 

18th

Limited Release: First Reformed

A former military chaplain is wracked by grief over the death of his son. Mary is a member of his church whose husband, a radical environmentalist, commits suicide, setting the plot in motion. The movie stars Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer.

 

Show Dogs

Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show god in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening. I honestly couldn’t get passed the trailer, so I don’t think I’ll be personally watching this. The live-action cast includes Will Arnett and Natasha Lyonne, with the voice cast including Ludacris, Alan Cumming, Shaquille O’Neal, Gabriel Iglesias and Stanley Tucci.

 

Book Club

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club. The movie stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Alicia Silverstone, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia and Don Johnson.

 

Deadpool 2

Directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde), Deadpool 2’s story has been mostly secret, but from what we can tell in the trailers it looks like Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) has to protect a young mutant (Julian Dennison) from the future, time-traveling mutant known as Cable (Josh Brolin). To do so, it looks like Deadpool forms the group X-Force. We can assume hilarity and action ensue. The rest of the cast is filled with the returning Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni, Stefan Kapicic, T.J. Miller and Leslie Uggams. The new cast also includes Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Terry Crews, Shioli Kutsuna, Jack Kesy and Eddie Marsan.

 

25th

Solo: A Star Wars Story

During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Clarissian (Donald Glover) years before joining the Rebellion. Obviously, Solo had a very public behind-the-scenes debacle and drama with Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired weeks before principal photography was done, over creative differences that spanned before then. Ron Howard then came in to not only finishing filming, but reshoot footage – a lot of it. That said, the prequel is dividing a lot of fans, and for good reason. Do we need a Han Solo origin story? Probably not. Will it be good? Let’s hope so. Solo also stars Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Warwick Davis, Jon Favreau and Paul Bettany.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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March Movie Releases

Hello there!

Can you believe it’s March already? Anyway, besides it being my birth month(!) there are some great films coming out in March that we can look forward to. Also, a large amount of limited releases to some big films, so let’s start shall we?

 

2nd

Death Wish

Loosely based on the novel by Brian Garfield, and remake of the 1974 classic with Charles Bronson, A family man becomes a vigilante killing machine when his family is violently attacked by robbers. I really don’t have much interest in this. For one, it’s directed by Eli Roth, and Bruce Willis is always hit-or-miss, but from the trailers, it kind of looks like he’s there and not phoning it in, so we’ll have to wait and see. Death Wish stars Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Camila Morrone, Beau Knapp and Elisabeth Shue.

 

Red Sparrow

Based on the novel by Jason Matthews, ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations. The first trailer didn’t really do too much for me, but this latest trailer got me interested a little more. I mean sure, it has Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons, but let’s hope the movie is a worthwhile thriller, and not one that drags things on longer than it should. Red Sparrow also stars Charlotte Rampling, Ciaran Hinds, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Mary Louise-Parker.

 

9th

Limited Release: The Leisure Seeker

Based on the novel by Michael Zadoorian, a runaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker. The film stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren.

Limited Release: Thoroughbreds

Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems – no matter what the cost. I didn’t know anything about this until I saw the trailer, and I was immediately hooked. The dark comedy of it all with the cast and the late Anton Yelchin is really all I need. Thoroughbreds stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, and Paul Sparks.

The Hurricane Heist

Directed by Rob Cohen, thieves attempt a massive heist against the U.S. Treasury as a Category 5 hurricane approaches one of its Mint facilities. Good, god. This is honestly one of the most ridiculous movie trailers I’ve ever seen. Not only that, I’m sure the movie will be too, but you damn well know I’m going to go watch this. The Hurricane Heist stars Maggie Grace, Toby Kebbell, Ryan Kwanten and Ben Cross.

Gringo

A dark comedy mixed with a white-knuckle action and dramatic intrigue, explores the battle of survival for businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) when he finds himself crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal. I had briefly heard about this project before the trailer, and when I watched the trailer I was completely hooked. I don’t know what it was, but this just looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Gringo stars David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton and Sharlto Copley.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

A long awaited sequel for The Strangers, a family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night are visited by three masked psychopaths, to test their every limit. I was a huge fan of the first movie, and do consider it to be one of my favorite horror/thrillers of all time, so like everyone else, I have been eagerly awaiting a much-talked about sequel. The Strangers: Prey at Night stars Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman and Martin Henderson.

A Wrinkle in Time

Based on the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, and directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma) after the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother and her friend to space in order to find him. I have not read the book, but I know this has been in the works for a while, and to finally see it happen, with a cast like this with a director like DuVernay, we might be in for a great experience. A Wrinkle in Time stars Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey.

 

16th

Limited Release: Flower

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother. Flower stars Zoey Deutch, Dylan Gelula, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn.

Limited Release: 7 Days of Entebbe

Inspired by the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, and the most daring rescue mission ever attempted. The film stars Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Nonso Anozie and Eddie Marsan.

I Can Only Imagine

The inspiring and unknown true story behind MercyMe’s beloved, chart topping song that brings ultimate hope to so many is a gripping reminder of the power of true forgiveness. The movie stars Dennis Quaid, Madeline Carroll, Trace Adkins and Cloris Leachman.

Love, Simon

Based on the novel by Becky Albertalli called “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” everyone deserves a great love story. But for Simon it’s complicated: no-one knows he’s gay and he doesn’t know who the anonymous classmate is that he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, scary and life-changing. I’ll be honest, when I first heard and read about this, I was not interested whatsoever. However, I saw the trailer and I loved the charm the movie had – through the trailer! That should tell you everything about this movie. Love, Simon stars Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Logan Miller, Keiynan Lonsdale, Alexandra Shipp, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner.

Tomb Raider

Based on the popular video game franchise, Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. I’ll be honest, I was all for this reboot when Alicia Vikander joined. Then the trailers started coming out, and I’ll be honest, I get pumped watching them. Tomb Raider co-stars Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Nick Frost, Kristin Scott Thomas, Hannah John-Kamen and Dominic West.

 

23rd

Limited Release: Isle of Dogs

Written and directed by Wes Anderson, Isle of Dogs is set in Japan and follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog. The highly impressive voice cast includes Koyu Rankin, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, Courtney B. Vance, F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray.

Paul, Apostle of Christ

The story covers Paul, going from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Jesus Christ’s most influential apostle. The film stars James Faulkner, Olivier Martinez and Jim Caviezel.

Midnight Sun

Based on the Japanese film, Midnight Sun centers on Katie, a 17-year-old sheltered since childhood and confined to her house during the day by a rare disease that makes even the smallest amount of sunlight deadly. Fate intervenes when she meets Charlie and they embark on a summer romance. The movie stars Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Quinn Shephard and Rob Riggle.

Sherlock Gnomes

A sequel to Gnomeo & Juliet, Gnomeo & Juliet, recruit renowned detective Sherlock Gnomes to investigate the mysterious disappearance of other garden ornaments. The voice cast includes James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Merchant, Mary J. Blige, Michael Caine and Maggie Smith.

Unsane

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, and shot completely on an iPhone. A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear –but is it real or a product of her delusion? Soderbergh coming out of his self-retirement is the best thing that happened for us fans. Not only did we get Logan Lucky last year, now we have this coming out, and to find out that he shot it completely on an iPhone is so Soderbergh. Unsane stars Claire Foy, Juno Temple, Joshua Leonard, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving and Jay Pharoah.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat. I mean come on! If these trailers don’t get you pumped up, what will? Pacific Rim Uprising stars John Boyega, Rinko Kikuchi, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Adria Arjona, Dustin Clare, Karan Brar, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Tian Jing.

 

30th

Limited Release: Gemini

A heinous crime tests the complex relationship between a tenacious personal assistant and her Hollywood starlet boss. As the assistant unravels the mystery, she must confront her own understanding of friendship, truth and celebrity. Gemini stars Zoe Kravitz, Lola Kirke, John Cho, Greta Lee, James Ransone and Ricki Lake.

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

The third film in the series, Pastor Dave responds to the unimaginable tragedy of having his church, located on the grounds of the local university, burned down.

Acrimony

Written and directed by Tyler Perry, a faithful wife tired of standing by her devious husband is enraged when it becomes clear she has been betrayed. Acrimony stars Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Nicolet and Lyriq Bent.

Ready Player One

Based on the book by Ernest Cline, and directed by famed director Steven Spielberg; when the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clued and starts a race for the Egg. I read the book a couple years ago, and really liked it. When I heard the movie was coming out, I wondered how they were going to even do this, but everything I’ve seen so far has been pretty great. I don’t know how the movie will bring everything in Ready Player One to life, but I’m excited to see it. Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller, Hannah John-Kamen, Lena Waithe, Ralph Ineson, Letitia Wright and Mark Rylance.

What are you looking forward to?

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have some early Academy Award nominees. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

1st

Re-Release – Close Encounters of the Third Kind

One of the, arguably, best sci-fi films of all time will be re-released for its 40th anniversary and re-mastered. The film will only be in theaters for a week, so if you’ve never seen it, hopefully you’ll get the chance. For those that don’t know, the film is directed and written by Steven Spielberg and after an encounter with U.F.O.’s, a man (Richard Dreyfuss) feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

 

Unlocked (Action Thriller – Di Bonaventura Pictures, Silver Reel, Bloom, Lipsync Productions)

A CIA interrogator is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack. The films stars Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Michael Douglas.

 

Tulip Fever (Drama Romance – The Weinstein Company, Ruby Films, Worldview Entertainment)

Based off the novel by Deborah Moggach, an artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam. The film has been moved around so much, let’s hope this one finally sticks. The cast includes Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne, Zach Galifianakis, Holliday Grainger, Jack O’Connell, Kevin McKidd, and Judi Dench.

 

8th

Limited Release: Rebel in the Rye

The life of celebrated but reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, who gained worldwide fame with the publication of his novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The film stars Nicholas Hoult, playing Salinger, Kevin Spacey, Zoey Deutch, Sarah Paulson, Lucy Boynton, Hope Davis and Victor Garber.

 

9/11 (Action Drama – Atlas Distribution Company, Black Bear Studios, The Film House, Thunder Studios, Sprockefeller Pictures)

Based off a play by Patrick James Carson, a group of five people find themselves trapped in an elevator in the World Trade Center’s North Tower on 9/11. They work together, never giving up hope, to try to escape before the unthinkable happens. The film stars Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman, Wood Harris, Jacqueline Bisset and Olga Fonda.

 

Home Again (Romance Dramedy – Open Road Films, Black Bicycle Entertainment)

Life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turns when she allows three young guys to move in with her. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Reid Scott, Lake Bell, Nat Wolff, Lola Flanery, Candice Bergen and Michael Sheen.

 

It (Horror – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/KatzSmith Productions)

A retool of the famous Stephen King novel and TV film before it, in a small town in Maine, seven children known as The Losers Club (Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Sophia Lillis) come face-to-face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). The film also stars Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Steven Williams, Megan Charpentier and Javier Botet.

 

15th

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

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves. The film stars Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, and Danny Huston.

 

American Assassin (Action Thriller – Lionsgate, CBS Films, Di Bonaventura Pictures)

Based on the novel series by Vince Flynn, the film follows Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) … The film also stars Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Scott Adkins and Taylor Kitsch.

 

Mother! (Horror Drama Mystery – Paramount Pictures, Protozoa Pictures)

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, the film centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, Stephen McHattie, Brian Gleeson, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

22nd

Limited Release: Woodshock

Directed by Black Sawn production designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, a woman (Kirsten Dunst) fall deeper into paranoia after taking a deadly drug. The film also stars Pilou Asbeak, Lorelei Linklater, and Joe Cole.

 

Limited Release: Victoria and Abdul (Drama – Universal Pictures/Focus Features/BBC Films/Working Title Films/Cross Street Films)

Based on the book by Shrabani Basu, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). The film also stars Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Tim Pigott-Smith, Jonathan Harden and Robin Soans.

 

Limited Release: Battle of the Sexes

The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs. Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Andrea Riseborough, Jessica McNamee, Alan Cumming, and Elisabeth Shue.

 

Limited Release: Stronger

Based on the book and memoir by Jeff Bauman, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 helps the police track down the killers while struggling to recover from devastating trauma. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, and Clancy Brown.

 

Friend Request (Horror Thriller – Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Seven Pictures, Two Oceans Productions)

When a college student unfriends a mysterious girl online, she finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends. The film stars a young unknown cast, but it is lead by Fear the Walking Dead star Alycia Debnam-Carey.

 

The LEGO Ninjago Movie (Animation – Warner Bros./Warner Bros. Animation/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/Lord Miller/Animal Logic)

Six young ninjas tasked with defending their island home, called Ninjago. By night, they’re gifted warriors, using their skills and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters. By day, they’re ordinary teens struggling against their greatest enemy: high school. The voice cast includes Dave Franco, Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Zach Woods, Abbi Jacobson, Michael Pena, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jackie Chan.

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Action Comedy – 20th Century Fox, Marv Films, TSG Entertainment)

When an attack on the Kingsman headquarters takes place and a new villain (Julianne Moore) rises, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are forced to work together with the American agency Statesman to save the world. The film also stars Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Cookson, Vinnie Jones, Elton John and Colin Firth.

 

 

29th

Limited Release: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

The story of Mark Felt (played by Liam Neeson), who under the name “Deep Throat,” helped journalists Bob Woodward (played by Julian Morris) and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal in 1974. The film is jam-packed with star power as it co-stars Diane Lane, Michael C. Hall, Maika Monroe, Ike Barinholtz, Kate Walsh, Josh Lucas, Noah Wyle, Eddie Marsan, Marton Csokas and Bruce Greenwood.

 

Til Death Do Us Part (Thriller – Novus Content, Footage Films, 51 Millimeter)

Michael and Madison had planned to spend the rest of their lives together, until one day Michael’s controlling way turned their perfect marriage. With help of her best friend, Madison decides to get away. Despite adopting a new identity, she meets Alex and learns to love again, until Michael finds Madison again. The film stars Annie Ilonzeh, Stephen Bishop, Taye Diggs, Malik Toba, and Robinne Lee.

 

Flatliners (Sci-Fi Horror – Sony Pictures, Screen Gems, Village Roadshow Pictures, Furthur Films, Laurence Mark Productions)

A sequel/reboot of the original early 90s film, medical students experiment on “near death” experience that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives. The film stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, Kiersey Clemons, James Norton, Charlotte McKinney and original star Kiefer Sutherland.

 

American Made (Crime Thriller – Universal Pictures/Cross Creek Pictures/Imagine Entertainment/Vendian Entertainment/Quadrant Pictures)

Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow), and based on a true story, a pilot named Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) land works for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s. The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Jesse Plemons, Jayma Mays, Lola Kirke, Caleb Landry Jones, Benito Martinez, Jed Rees, April Billingsley, Sarah Wright and Connor Trinneer.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Ghost in the Shell’ Review

Director: Rupert Sanders

Writers: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Chin Han, Peter Ferdinando, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara, and Juliette Binoche

Synopsis: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved form a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

 

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

 

Based, maybe to many loosely based, off the comic by Masamune Shirow and the hit anime in the early 90s, Ghost in the Shell has been under the radar for some time now. Whether it be the fact that most people think it shouldn’t have been remade or – the big one – the white washing controversy, the film has certainly been in the public eye so it indeed to impress a lot of people to justify it being made. Unfortunately, Ghost in the Shell impresses at the right moments, but then it becomes a bit bland and shallow.

Set in future Tokyo where people are now okay with doing cybernetic implants, we follows Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), who after an accident which only leaves her brain intact, a company called Hanka places her brain in a state-of-the-art robot body that will allow her to pass as human. We skip forward  a year, and she now works for a government division called Section 9, a tactical response unit tasked with hunting down terrorist, and is now known as The Major. The team soon realizes that they have a serious threat in Kuze (Michael Pitt), a terrorist who is hacking into and killing members of the Hanka robotics company. However, as the investigation goes on The Major starts to remember things from her past that throws the investigation in a different direction.

I’m going to throw this out there now, I haven’t seen the original anime – yet – I’ve wanted to for some time now, and wanted to before watching this, but time caught up with me and I couldn’t. So everything in this review is going to be based off this film, and solely this film. So please forgive me if I think something works or doesn’t work, but is essential to the anime or original source material.

Let’s start off with the cast, since that’s the biggest thing everyone was talking about before watching the actual movie. Scarlett Johansson does fine playing the conflicted character trying to figure out her place in the world, but also bound by duty to take down Kuze. Pilou Asbaek plays Major’s friend and partner Batou, who, honestly, doesn’t get enough screen time, Peter Ferdinando is a Hanka company man named Cutter who’s has a history with the program Major was a part of. “Beat” Takeshi Kitano plays Aramaki, Major and Batou’s boss who only speaks in Japanese, who also could have used more screen time considering the role he plays later on in the film.

Juliette Binoche plays Dr. Ouelet, the lead scientist that makes Major who she is, and while Binoche puts her best effort into the role, her character – to me – doesn’t rise up to the stakes her character should have been. Speaking of that, Michael Pitt’s Kuze is pretty disappointing. Not only is he not in the film enough, he only has one real good scene with Johansson which reveal the beginning of the secrets for Major. It’s nothing against Pitt either, he’s just not in the film long enough to really give Kuze that level of importance the film tries to five him at the beginning of the film. The rest of the cast, well, they’re just there unfortunately.

Ghost in the Shell also tries to ask the important deep question like what makes you human and can Major be an actual individual? But the film spends little time actually digging into to those questions, and instead takes the sci-fi crime thriller action route. Which would be fine if this wasn’t a remake of Ghost in the Shell – from what I heard anyway – and this was an original film, but it isn’t and it hurts the film in the long run. What also hurts the film is the white washing controversy does come to the forefront in multiple ways.

One is like I mentioned earlier, Kitano’s Aramaki only speaks in Japanese – and everyone else speaks to him in English. That wouldn’t be much of a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s one of the only real Asian in the film who has a major role – Yutaka Izumihara plays a character named Saito, who I’m not even kidding, I think only has two scenes and Chin Han, who plays a character named Han, who is a member of Section 9, but doesn’t really do anything to stand out. However, the biggest way the issue lingers is near the end when you figure out what happened in Major’s past. You can make the argument that it makes sense to do that, but at the same time it is kind of stupid and disrespectful to the point that it took me out of the film completely. It’s not the best way to go, especially in a film that people were already up in arms about.

All in all, Ghost in the Shell isn’t a groundbreaking film like its predecessors. The one redeeming thing about the film, if you want to look at it that way, is the visual effects. It really gives you a sense of how different the world is, and it should be too much of a shock considering it is directed by Rupert Sanders, who got his start doing visual effects. However, like his previous film in Snow White and the Huntsman, Ghost in the Shell is all show with very little substance.

Ghost in the Shell

3 out of 5

Mini-Review – Underworld: Blood Wars, Sleepless, Patriots Day, Live By Night & The Bye Bye Man

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. This is a longer one than usual, due to me falling behind. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Underworld: Blood Wars

Director: Anna Foerster

Writer: Cory Goodman

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, James Faulkner, Peter Andersson, Clementine Nicholson, Bradley James, Daisy Head and Charles Dance.

Synopsis: Vampire death dealer, Selene fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.

 

The Underworld series started off as an interesting franchise that had some cool mythology and made Kate Beckinsale a big name to those not familiar with her. The sequel came along and was just okay which lead to a prequel for the third film. Then the fourth film came out and things took a turn for the worse. The series had lost its footing and became lost in its attempt to make itself relevant. This now leads us to Underworld: Blood Wars, which is more of the same, but thankfully better than Underworld: Awakening, which isn’t saying much really.

Blood Wars starts off by giving us a bit of a refresher on the series so far – leaving some things out – but also shows that Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is now a fugitive from the remaining vampires and new Lycan leader, Marius (Tobias Menzies), who wants the location of Selene’s daughter. The problem is that even Selene doesn’t know where her daughter is, and with the help of David (Theo James), his father Thomas (Charles Dance), and a vampire council member Semira (Lara Pulver), Selene is brought back into the fold to help deal with Marius.

Like I mentioned, Blood Wars is more of the same from the previous films – stylized action set-pieces, new mythology and characters being introduced and Kate Beckinsale in tight leather kicking-ass. Other than that, the film doesn’t really do anything that feels substantial. Things are brought up that would be considered twists or could have landed bigger if written better or anything the film did actually mattered.

The film is too rushed for its own good. Everything lands too quickly, and the final act of the film just happens. One particular part in the final act does mean something since it’s connected to the beginning of the film, but other than that the final act is structurally not sound.

When it comes to the cast, they all do the best they can with what they are given. Kate Beckinsale is the only real saving grace of the cast since she’s played the part so many times now. Theo James is just as bland as he was in the last film, while Tobias Menzies’ Marius is supposed to be this great Lycan leader, but doesn’t really do anything that frightening – also his cheap two dollar CGI wolf character doesn’t do him any favors. Lara Pulver as Semira could have been a great character if she had more screen time as could have Clementine Nicholson’s Lena, who is part of a new vampire clan, Finally, Charles Dance’s Thomas should have had more time, because you know, its Charles freaking Dance.

All in all, Underworld: Blood Wars is a passable sequel, and a better one than Awakening, but again, that’s not saying much. Things feel like they just happen, and the structure of the film is just off that you can never really feel any sort of enjoyment. One thing that really bothered me is the ending. I obviously don’t want to spoil it, but considering how it ends, it just felt like the whole film was for nothing.

Underworld: Blood Wars

2.5 out of 5

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Sleepless

Director: Baran bo Odar

Writer: Andrea Berloff

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Scoot McNairy, Gabrielle Union, Octavius J. Johnson, T.I., Dermot Mulroney, and David Harbour

Synopsis: A cope with a connection to the criminal underworld scours a nightclub in search of his kidnapped son.

 

A remake of the French film Nuit Blanche, Sleepless takes place mostly in one location and is surprising a little better than I thought it would be, even though I had watched the original film years before.

Sleepless follows Las Vegas officer Vincent Downs (Jaime Foxx), who along with his partner Sean (T.I.) steal a bag of cocaine at the beginning of the film. Little do they know, the cocaine belongs to a crooked casino boss Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) who is going to sell the drugs to the dangerous Rob Novak (Scott McNairy), the son of a local mob boss. In order to get the drugs back, they kidnap Vincent’s son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson) and demand he return their product. Of course, things don’t go over smoothly as Internal Affairs agents Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) and Doug Dennison (David Harbour) become involved.

Like I mentioned, the film is a little better than I thought it was going to be, but Sleepless does run into some issues throughout. The film doesn’t do Jamie Foxx any favors besides making him look like an action hero. Foxx’s usual charisma is put on the backburner so he can be almost stoic at times, which is a bit of a shame. Although, the result does lead to impressive fight scenes, including a kitchen scene and a highly impressive hotel room fight.

The rest of the cast do their best with what they are given. Scoot McNairy is one of the best underrated and unknown actors around, and while he plays a villain well, they could have done just a little more with him. Michelle Monaghan plays the straight-laced IA agent who has her moments, and after watching this, I hope we see more roles like this from her, and her chemistry with the always reliable David Harbour is spot on. Dermot Mulroney looked like he enjoy playing a slimy villain, Gabrielle Union only has a handful of scenes, so her casting feels wasted and T.I. also has only a few scenes but all of his scenes feel the same when you look back afterwards.

All in all, Sleepless feels a bit hallow at times, but it does have its moments that make the price of admission worth it.

Sleepless

3.5 out of 5

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Patriots Day

Director: Peter Berg

Writers: Peter Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, Jimmy O. Yang, Rachel Brosnahan, Christopher O’Shea, James Colby, Michael Beach, Vincent Curatola, Jake Picking, Melissa Benoist, and J.K. Simmons

Synopsis: An account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorist responsible.

 

Considering Patriots Day is based off a real event, and one that I’m sure most of us remembering watching on TV as the events unfolded, I’m going to play with the “no spoilers” rule here a bit. The film follows the events at the Boston Marathon and what the first responders and FBI did to find and capture the Tsarnaev brothers.

The film has a lot of players on the board, we mostly follow Boston Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), a made up character based on several people, who is at the finish line of the marathon when the first bomb went off. The events bring everyone is like Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Governor Deval Patrick (Michael Beach) and FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) to find Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) which involved shutting down all of Boston and lead to a dangerous shootout in Watertown.

Peter Berg really does have a knack for true-story films, Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon were great films, and all star Mark Wahlberg, but the thing that makes these films, along with Patriots Day is how he handles the material. Berg treats the events with tremendous respect and never tries to feed the audience a political agenda or lean the audience a certain way. He lets the story tell itself and lets the characters come to life in their own way, even though most of the characters are based on real people. It’s also a credit to the great cast that they are able to do so.

However, with a big cast like this, the film does have a lot of characters to follow that a lot of them don’t get real time to breathe and don’t get the justice they deserve. J.K. Simmons has a small, but good, role as the Watertown sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, Rachel Brosnahan and Christopher O’Shea play couple Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes who were close to the first blast sight, Jake Picking plays Officer Sean Collier, who was shot by the brothers, and Jimmy O. Yang plays Dun Meng, who has a dangerous encounter with brothers halfway through the film. Another thing Patriots Day falls into is some pacing issues before the final act of the film, but again, it’s the cast the keep the film together.

Two of the highlights of the film, if that’s what you want to call it considering the nature of the real life events, is the aftermath of the bombing. How Berg moves the camera through the destruction and through the eyes of Tommy is both horrifying and telling on how the first responders probably felt when they helped so many that day. The other is the shootout before Dzhokhar runs and hides in the boat he was later recovered from.

All in all, Patriots Day isn’t an easy film to watch due to the nature of the events and how Berg was able to recreate it. The cast, despite being one person too many, does a tremendous job paying respect to people they were playing and to those affected by the actions that happened that horrible day and what happened afterwards.

Patriots Day

4 out of 5

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Live by Night

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck

Cast: Ben Affleck, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, Robert Glenister, Remo Girone, Chris Cooper and Brendan Gleeson

Synopsis: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.

 

Based off the novel by Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck writes and directs what has become a bit of a passion project for him, so it’s a bit odd to see what became of the film. Affleck has shown he’s a great to solid director with films like Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, but Live by Night will be – hopefully – the only blemish on his resume.

Ben Affleck plays Joe Coughlin, a former World War I soldier and son of a police officer (Brendan Gleeson), who returns home and starts to see himself as an outlaw and runs heists throughout Boston. He eventually falls in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller), who happens to be the mistress of Irish mob boss Albert White (Robert Glenister). This puts him on the sights on White’s rival, Italian mob boss Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone) who wants Joe to work for him. Joe eventually does and Maso sends him down to Tampa to run his bootlegging operation. Once there, and reunited with his old partner Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) and they make a nice empire for themselves. That all changes when Joe starts falling in love with Graciela (Zoe Saldana), and struggles to keep his moral code in place.

Live by Night is unfortunately a bit of a mess, which is odd considering Affleck was passionate about getting the film made, and took so long to make. That’s not to say there is some great stuff within the mess, but it is the scattered material that keeps the film from being great. Not only that, the film has a bit too much going on that by the end, it feels like the film is forcing itself to tie-up the loose ends that were introduced beforehand. It’s a bit of a shame too, considering Affleck has shown he can handle himself with great material.

The cast itself is great, but it’s a shame that some characters don’t have time to expand and get developed more. Chris Messina, who is always great with the right material, playing Joe’s right-hand man Dion Bartolo could have used more time onscreen as could Elle Fanning’s character Loretta, the daughter of Tampa sheriff Figgis played by Chris Cooper. Especially considering Fanning is involved in a big subplot. Zoe Saldana also pops in but doesn’t really do much after her initial introduction, and reminding Joe that he doesn’t need to be cruel to do the life he’s involved in. Brendan Gleeson’s glorified cameo suffers just a bit due to him using his natural Scottish accent that makes it a little hard to understand. Sienna Miller’s character could have been an interesting character, but her arc gets cut too soon.

Affleck does okay as the Joe, and even though we follow him throughout the film his moments of doubt and morality being tested are usually rushed to the point that it just feels like Affleck is trying to get to the next scene, which is odd considering the film is over two hours. When it comes to working with his production designer and cinematographer, he works well. Every scenic shot is beautiful to look at, and the sets look amazing.

All in all, Live by Night has some issues that could have been avoided, but sadly they aren’t which hurts the film in the long run. The cast is great, but none of their characters are developed fully or pushed to the wayside to tell Ben Affleck’s Joe story. While the action scenes are top-notch, Live by Night is just a tad underwhelming in the long run, but in no way should change your view on Affleck’s directing ability.

Live by Night

3.5 out of 5

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The Bye Bye Man

Director: Stacy Title

Writer: Jonathan Penner

Cast: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Jenna Kanell, Michael Trucco, Cleo King, Leigh Whannel, Doug Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss and Faye Dunaway

Synopsis: Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind man’s most unspeakable acts.

 

It’s a bit of a shame that after the great year horror had last year – finally – a film like this comes along and washes all that away. Apparently based off a story called “The Bridge to Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck, The Bye Bye Man has an interesting concept that falls apart once the film gets going. That’s only the beginning of this film’s issues.

The film follows three college friends in Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and their friend John (Lucien Laviscount) who buy and move into an old house off campus. Everyone seems okay at first until Elliot finds an old coin on his nightstand left by the previous owner. He then discovers writing underneath the drawer that says “Don’t Think it, Don’t Say it” and under that are craved words “The Bye Bye Man.” At first he laughs it off, but when the three start experiencing strange things in and out of the house, they soon learn The Bye Bye Man (played by the awesome character actor Doug Jones) is indeed real, and after them.

One of the problems with The Bye Bye Man – one of many – is we don’t get a sense of the characters, and hardly care for them. Elliot is the closet one to actually having a backstory, while Sasha is just the girlfriend who, at the beginning, tries to convince Elliot that what is happening is real, but after Elliot goes along with it, she becomes a bit annoying, and John somewhat disappears for a bit and we really don’t miss him. Jenna Kanell pops in as Sasha’s friend Kim, who is a psychic of sorts and, based off the trailers, is the one that gets killed by the train, which is the highlight of her character.

However, the saving graces of the film – cast wise – is the small roles by Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway and Leigh Whannell. Faye Dunaway appears near the end of the film and adds to some backstory of The Bye Bye Man, Carrie-Anne Moss plays a local detective that could have been played by really anyone else, but Moss adds some gravitas to the role. Leigh Whannell plays Larry Redmond a writer that “discovers” The Bye Bye Man and is involved in the best scenes in the film: flashbacks. Finally, Doug Jones does this best he can with what he’s given as the titular character.

All in all, the concept of the film sounds good at first, but once we start seeing what he does and really think about it afterwards, The Bye Bye Man fails to execute on its promise. The characters are bland and are never developed and a muddled story doesn’t help. The Bye Bye Man is almost passable film while watching, but nothing you’ll remember.

The Bye Bye Man

2 out of 5

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Let me know what you think.

New Podcast: Jon Favreau and Disney Reimagining The Lion King, Sony Developing New Cinematic Universe & More

The podcast is here! And early!

Like I mentioned in the podcast, I’m going out of town this weekend so I decided to record the podcast early and put this out before I left. Enjoy!

‘The Magnificent Seven’ Review

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Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writers: Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennet, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, and Matt Bomer

Synopsis: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

 

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

 

Based on the classic Western of the same name, that was based on the classic film by acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa Seven Samurai, Antoine Fuqua brings is take to The Magnificent Seven with his own star-studded cast and great visuals of his own. I’ll be honest, I’ve been looking forward to this – and yes, I’ve seen the originals – but of course I actually don’t mind remakes and knee-jerkingly reject them just at the thought of it. So, was my excitement worth it? Or does it have to take a long walk into the sunset with my head down? Let’s load up our horse and find out.

The Magnificent Seven starts off by showing just what kind of person the heroes would be going through. The town of Rose Creek are being taken over by a mining corporation run by Bartholomew Bouge (Sarsgaard) who wants the townspeople to sell him their land, but when he shoots the husband of Emma Cullen (Bennett) – played by Matt Boomer – she goes to find men to help her and townspeople take back their town. She eventually finds and recruits bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington), who in turn brings in gambler and playboy Josh Farraday (Pratt) to help him bring in the best people to give the town a shot. The two haul in famed sharpshooter Goodnight Robincheaux (Hawke) and his knife-wielding partner Billy Rocks (Lee), an outlaw named Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), tracker Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) and Comanche Native American named Red Harvest (Sensmeier). All seven of them get together to protect the town, even with odds stacked against them. What follows is a grand – or magnificent? – finale that will make any Western fan happy.

(l to r) Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star in Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

(l to r) Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee 

I know I watched the originals, but let’s focus on the Western here, but it was a while ago so I can’t remember too much of it. However, I do know Fuqua’s version is different in its own way, and makes sense for the story he’s trying to tell. I know many won’t, and don’t like the idea of a Magnificent Seven remake – even though it itself is a remake, but whatever – but the film is a lot of fun, and completely worthwhile for new fans or old fans.

The cast is what makes the remake really worthwhile. Washington has worked with Fuqua three times now, and continues to show the duo have a lot of fun together and are great together. Chris Pratt’s Faraday looks like he’s enjoying poking fun at his fellow cast members and being a bit of a playboy, but he does have a sense of pride and duty once everything goes down. Peter Sarsgaard’s Bogue doesn’t have enough screen time as he probably should, which is saying something considering the film is a bit over two hours. Haley Bennett’s Emma Cullen gets a lot of screen time at the beginning, but blends into the background as the film moves forward.

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Ethan Hawke’s Goodnight has an interesting arc, although it takes a while for it to really come up and it kind of just slides away. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Jack Horne is a tracker that gets compared to a bear a lot, Byung-hun Lee’s Billy Rocks is the calm and collective one, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s Vasquez has a nice little rivalry with Faraday, and Martin Sensmeier’s Red Harvest has his moments.

Some, and even I’ll agree with some of it, will say the group gets together is too fast and there isn’t enough conflict between them. Especially since we hear that Jack Horne has killed a lot of Native Americans, and while their interactions with Red Harvest are minimal they never come off as standoffish but slight jabbing. It’s nice dynamic – all the characters have them – but it’s something that I know people will bring up. There are some other things that are never fully developed, but for the most part the film doesn’t suffer that much from it.

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The action is top notch and the final shootout is a sight to see. There is a lot going on in the scene, but you always know where you are and can follow the action throughout. It’s also pretty satisfying considering the film builds up to it for half the film. It also helps that the final shootout is great since right before the ending the film loses some steam and slows down.

All in all, The Magnificent Seven is a great, fun ride of a film. The cast is great and the final shootout is a great time. While the film may not be perfect in terms of some pacing issues and not going fleshing out some details, it is a worthwhile remake to a remake of a remake.

The Magnificent Seven

4 out of 5

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