January (2019) Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in late December, so there is also that to look forward to.

 

4th

Escape Room

Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive. The first time I saw the trailer for this, I honestly thought it was a remake of Cube, but with the modern twist of the highly popular Escape Rooms. The trailer itself is okay, but something tells me we probably saw most of the movie in the trailer already, which kind of sucks, but hey, what do you expect from the first new movie of the New Year? Those tend to not have the best track record anyway. Directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan, Insidious: The Last Key) – who also stars in the movie – Escape Room stars Taylor Russell, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, Jessica Sutton, Jay Ellis and Logan Miller.

 

11th

A Dog’s Way Home

Based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron, a dog named Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) travels 400 miles in search of her owner (Jonah Hauer-King), after she wandered away from home. I like dogs; I do, but dog movies, not so much. It also doesn’t help that the movie has that horrible CGI for the cougar (?). A Dog’s Way Home co-stars Ashley Judd, Alexandra Shipp, Edward James Olmos, Wes Studi and Ashley Judd.

 

Replicas

A scientist (Keanu Reeves) becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accident. This was originally set to come out last year, but the release date kept getting pushed back and back, and now it looks like it’s finally coming out. The premise seems interesting, and seeing Reeves out of the John Wick character is a nice sight. Replicas co-stars Alice Eve, Emjay Anthony, Thomas Middleditch and John Ortiz.

 

The Upside

A remake of the French film Les Intouchbales (which itself was based on a true story), a comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man (Bryan Cranston) with quadriplegia and an unemployed man (Kevin Hart) with criminal record who’s hired to help him. It should be interesting to see how this movie does for a number of reasons. One, you got Kevin Hart and his drama with his old tweets coming into the limelight, also on the top of that, Hart is playing a little bit more of a serious character here. It’s also a remake, and well, you know how people feel about those (although, I’ll be interested in seeing how many people actually know it’s a remake). The Upside co-stars Nicole Kidman, Tate Donovan, Golshifteh Farahani and Julianna Margulies.

 

18th

Glass

M. Night Shyamalan returns to the world he created in Unbreakable and Split, security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities. This is arguably one of the most anticipated movies of the month, and maybe even the first quarter of the year. Not only did Split surprise almost everyone that watched it, but to then pull the last minute Shyamalan-twist and reveal that it was actually the long-awaited sequel to Unbreakable, oh boy. All that said, the cast is also fantastic, and I guarantee that scene with Willis, McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Paulson in the same room is just going to be great. Glass co-stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Luke Kirby and Charlayne Woodard.

 

25th

Serenity

Written and directed by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Locke, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), the mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to haunt him, when his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) tracks down with a desperate plea for help, ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems. I honestly don’t know what to think about this. On one hand, Knight is one of my favorite people working behind the camera, and then you have this mystery suspense story with Hathaway, essentially playing a Femme Fatale, as she tries to get McConaughey’s character to kill her current husband (played by Jason Clarke). My only thing is that they don’t try to play it too smart, and ruin their movie. Serenity co-stars Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

 

The Kid Who Would be King

Written and directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s a nobody, until she stumbles upon the mythical sword, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and work alongside the legendary wizard Merlin (Sir Patrick Stewart) to stop the evil enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) from destroying the world. Besides the big roles of Merlin and Morgana, the movie is filled with unknown actors, which harkens back to Cornish’s Attack the Block – which you should watch if you haven’t yet – and it’s awesome to see Cornish back behind the camera. The movie itself looks like it could be good, and knowing what Cornish is capable of, we could be in for a fun ride.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Maleficent’ Review

maleficent_ver3

Dir: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, and Lesley Manville

Synopsis: A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.

 

 

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

 

 

It is a common thing in Hollywood now to retell classic stories from our childhood and give them a new take. Whether it be a gritty or realistic one, or even a total retelling of the story. In the case of Maleficent, it is not just a retelling but also a look at the point of view from the “villain.” The reason why I say “villain” is because Maleficent makes the title character, Maleficent (Jolie), a sympathetic character.

 

The start of the movie plays as an origin story for Maleficent. We see her at a young age, as the narrator – even telling us this is a story we never knew – tells us the magical world is not on the best terms with the human one. Nevertheless, Maleficent befriends and eventually falls in love with a human, Stefan (Copley). We see them as they grow and were told eventually Stefan stopped coming and worked his way into working in the castle for the king. With the king falling ill, and taking a beating from Maleficent and the other magical creatures, Stefan finds a way to become the king but the catch is he has to kill the woman he was once in love with. Finding not able to do it he takes something else from her, her wings.

 

The rest of the story you can probably guess; Stefan becomes king, Maleficent becomes evil, curses the baby Aurora, etc.  Where the story twists is when Maleficent begins to feel sympathy for Aurora, and becomes her unlikely protector since her official fairy guardians Flittle (Maville), Knotgrass (Staunton), and Thistletwit (Temple) are incompetent.

 

Now I will admit, I was a bit hesitant about Maleficent because it looked like it might suffer from Snow White and the Huntsman-syndrome. The movie is great looking for the most part. Although it should not be too much of a surprise since the director is not only a first time director but an Oscar winner for Special Effects, Richard Stromberg (Alice in Wonderland, Avatar). Stromberg knows how to make a scene look bright and vibrant but also dark and moody. Needless to say, he knows how to make a scene look cool but going back to Snow White and the Huntsman-syndrome, sometimes all the scene is, is just a pretty looking scene or cool wallpaper.

 

Now that’s not a knock on the special effects, like I said, a lot of is great to look at. But, even with a movie that has ton of special effects, it can not just rely on that, we need the story and even though the concept of Maleficent seems like a good, the movie sometimes falls flat on that end. Next to some of the effects, the best thing about the movie is Jolie’s Maleficent.

 

Jolie gives a great performance as usual. She displays the right amount of emotion ranging from pain, envy to sadness, but in reality, this is a redemption story for Maleficent. Having her heart broken and then cursing Stefan’s daughter Aurora (Fanning) to then feeling sorry for Aurora. Maleficent might be the best character in the movie, although that isn’t really saying much, when all the other characters seem either one-dimensional or are just not that interesting. The other best character is probably her minion Diaval played by Sam Riley, who gives a solid performance.

 

Elle Fanning’s Aurora doesn’t really have much to do. Really all her performance is smiling a lot. She does have some moments to do other than smile but it’s kind of a waste of Fanning’s ability.

 

Sharlto Copley’s Stefan will probably divide fans but needless to say, he’s not the King Stefan we knew in Sleeping Beauty. Also, the dark tone moments come from him and his interactions either with himself or with Maleficent. Copley is a great actor but just like Fanning, his ability is only limited to what the script and director wants.

 

The comedy here is mostly left to the fairies Flittle (Maville), Knotgrass (Staunton), and Thistletwit (Temple). Although there is some humor with magical creatures, Maleficent and Diaval having their moments too.

 

All in all, Maleficent is a great concept but doesn’t really pack the punch you want it to. Even the twists to the story aren’t great considering you might see some coming or just don’t pack the emotional punch I think the creative team thought they would. There are some pretty things to look at but Jolie and Riley make, or at least try, to make the movie mean something more.

 

Maleficent

3.5 out of 5