‘The Predator’ Review

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black and Fred Dekker

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski and Thomas Jane.

Synopsis: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

 

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

 

Predator is one of my favorite movies of all time, and is definitely one of my favorite action movies of all time too. The movie starts off as a action movie and then goes into sci-fi horror monster movie, and it works perfectly. Not only that, the movie introduced us to, now, one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time. Then the sequel came out and, while defenders exist, it wasn’t all that great. The franchise then branched off to the comic world and brought in the aliens, or Xenomorphs, from Alien giving us Alien vs. Predator movies – which are better not talked about, especially you Requiem.

We waited years for another movie, and then we got Predators, which I got to watch recently again, and still didn’t hate it s much as others do (although, the problems are there). Then rumors came out that Fox was working on another Predator movie, and finally Shane Black himself joined. For those who don’t remember, or just don’t know, Black was in the first movie in a supporting role. So, for me, having him come back to the franchise was actually a pretty great move since we know that he’ll treat the property with respect.

All that said, The Predator has had a rough road to its release. There was the reshoots to change up the final act, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it happens all the time. However, right before the release of the movie, it was revealed by Olivia Munn that a scene was cut with actor Steven Wilder Striegel, because she found out he was convicted of sexually pursuing a 14-year-old female relative. The move has been drawing some lines with people, but I’ll let you decide where you fall in that. Of course, the important thing here is whether or not The Predator has been worth the wait. So let’s get to it.

The Predator opens up setting the overall threat of the movie as a Predator ship is trying to get away from another, bigger Predator ship. The former manages to get away as it jumps to Earth and crashes. The crash interrupts a mission lead by sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who then has the first face-to-monster-face with the Predator as it kills his men and sends him running away with some Predator gear. A special government agency eventually catches up to him, and he’s put in the crosshairs of special agent Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), who wants something from the Predator ship. Quinn is then sent to an institution and ends up on a bus filled with ex-soldiers with their problems.

Meanwhile, Traeger sends to get Dr. Casey Bracket, a biologist who could them and their secret Project Stargazer, figure out more about The Predator. There’s also Quinn’s young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the spectrum, who ends up getting Quinn’s contraband Predator gear and activates it, accidentally bringing the new upgrade Super Predator to Earth. What follows is a balls-to-the-wall action comedy, yes, you read that right, action comedy as humans go up against not one, but two Predators.

Again, being a huge fan of the first Predator, I was really looking forward to The Predator, so I was just a tad disappointed with the final outcome. The movie is a mixed bag of these that work, things that don’t and things that could have used some more time to flesh out.

What definitely worked, at least for me, was that classic Shane Black humor. It’s not even forced humor either, when the characters are spitting out jokes or being smart asses it makes sense. Most of the humor comes from the group of ex-soldiers Quinn meets on the bus. We have “Nebraska” Williams played by Trevante Rhodes, the jokester Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane) who has tourettes, Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). The dynamic of the group is easily the best part of the film, and most of them have their moment to shine – Allen gets the shaft on that end – but anytime they’re all together it’s great.

Someone else who clearly looked like he was having fun is Sterling K. Brown. Brown’s Traeger chews up a lot of his scenes, and while sometimes I feel like he goes just a bit over the top, having him as the human “villain” was a nice touch. Olivia Munn also gets to have some fun, and has a strong showing here, but seeing her bounce off the ex-soldiers and Holbrook’s straight-man character. Trevante Rhodes, from Moonlight, is arguably the standout as Nebraska, who essentially becomes the co-leader of the soldiers, and is one of the more fleshed out characters. Rhodes is definitely a name you should try to remember because this man is going to be huge.

When it comes to the things that don’t work too well, that comes when it tries to explain some of the science behind the Predator. Sure it’s fun explore the mythology and expand on that on the big screen – the comics have done that to great success – but it comes out as clucky and comes at weird moments in the movie that it comes off as weird. Secondly, like I mentioned, Alfie Allen gets the short-end of the stick in the main group ensemble, and he’s not alone, Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Quinn’s ex-wife and Rory’s father, doesn’t really do anything in the movie. Also, Jacob Tremblay could have done a little more in the movie, considering how important he becomes in the grand scheme of things.

Third, some of the CGI is also dodgy, with the Predator dogs coming off just a tad bit rubbery and some scenes rely a bit too much on CG blood which kind of lessens the fun on the gore factor. Speaking of which, the action and gore in this are up there. There are a few scenes that will make fans happy on both fronts, however, I will say the anticipated Predator vs. Super Predator fight is very underwhelming – at least for me – but that said, it does show you how lethal and dangerous the new Super Predator is, but still, I would have loved to see more of a throw down. Finally, and very quickly, the last scene isn’t all that great and I feel was a last minute addition and it shows.

All in all, The Predator is a lot of fun, but it is a very mixed bag. The humor works, and doesn’t become annoying, which it easily could have and the action and gore are fine when it’s allowed to be practical. The Predator isn’t Predator, and if you think it will be, I’m telling you right now, lower that expectation and you’ll enjoy the movie for what it is.

The Predator

3.5 out of 5

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September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great movies. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have a early Academy Award nominee. 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.

 

7th

Peppermint

Directed by Pierre Morel (District B13, Taken), Peppermint centers on a mother (Jennifer Garner), who after losing her husband and daughter in a drive-by incident, and finding the justice system failing her, she takes matters into her own hands on the five-year anniversary of their deaths. I honestly don’t know what to think of this. On one hand, I’m a fan of Morel’s work, although his last film The Gunman with Sean Penn was just a tad underwhelming. Then on the other, it doesn’t look all that great either. Hopefully, Peppermint will be a nice surprise especially with the cast involved. Peppermint also stars John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Annie Ilonzeh, Tyson Ritter, Michael Mosley, Juan Pablo Raba and Method Man.

 

The Nun

A priest (Demian Bichir) with a haunted past and a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. This is the second spin-off film in The Conjuring series after Annabelle, and its sequel. Chronologically, it’s also the first movie in the series. It’s a rather odd move considering the character of The Nun/Valak was a last minute addition to The Conjuring 2, and the popularity of the character is the reason this movie is being made. Also, and another oddity, Taissa Farmiga is the younger sister of Vera Farmiga aka Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, but there characters are said to have no actual connection. Either way, I’m looking forward to this. The Nun also stars Charlotte Hope and Bonnie Aarons returning to play The Nun.

 

 

14th

White Boy Rick

Based on a true story, White Boy Rick follows a teenager Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison. The McConaissance looks to be back, although the movie doesn’t really follow his character, but still. It also helps that the trailer is really great. White Boy Rick also stars Matthew McConaughey, RJ Cyler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bel Powley, Rory Cochrane, Jonathan Majors, Brian Tyree Henry, Eddie Marsan, Piper Laurie, Bruce Dern

 

A Simple Favor

Based on the novel by Darcy Bell, A Simple Favor centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. One of the surprising factors for A Simple Favor is that it’s directed by Paul Feig. Yes, that Paul Feig, the man that directed Bridesmaids, Spy and Ghostbusters, is directing a mystery crime drama that is giving off some Gone Girl-vibes. Sure they’ll probably be some humor in there, but it should be interesting to see what Feig does with a different genre. A Simple Favor co-stars Henry Golding, Rupert Friend and Linda Cardellini.

 

The Predator

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m looking forward to this! Directed by Shane Black, who co-wrote the script with Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad) is returning to the world of Predator as he was a part of the very first film, so we already know that Black is going to treat the movie with respect and care. The Predator stars Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen, Niall Matter, Jake Busey and Yvonne Strahovski.

 

 

21st

Limited Release: Fahrenheit 11/9

A documentary directed by Michael Moore, a provocative and comedic look at the times in which we live. It will explore the two most important questions of the Trump Era: How the fuck did we get here, and how the fuck do we get out?

 

Limited Release: Assassination Nation

A thriller that follows a quiet, all-American town of Salem that lost its mind. Assassination Nation stars Suki Waterhouse, Abra, Bella Thorne, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow, Cody Christian, Bill Skarsgard and Colman Domingo.

 

Life Itself

Written and directed by Dan Fogelman – the man responsible for NBC’s This is Us – Life Itself follows a young New York couple, who goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child. The unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes. Unfortunately, Fogelman only has one film under his belt, and it’s the forgotten, Al Pacino-led Danny Collins.  Life Itself stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Alex Monner, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Jean Smart, Antonio Banderas, and Mandy Patinkin.

 

The House With A Clock In Its Walls

Based on the novel by John Bellairs, a young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) aids his magical uncle (Jack Black) in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world. I’ll be honest, I never read or heard about the books, or heard of them. However, for me, the biggest question mark and thing that’s keeping me from looking forward to this is the fact that it’s directed by Eli Roth. The House With A Clock In Its Walls also stars Cate Blanchett, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Kyle MacLachian.

 

28th

Limited Release: The Old Man & the Gun

Based on the article, of a true story, by David Grann which tells the story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), The Old Man & the Gun co-stars Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Isiah Whitlock Jr., John David Washington, Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine and Danny Glover.

 

Smallfoot

A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as “humans” really do exist. I pretty much wrote this movie off from the get-go. However, I’ve been seeing the trailers pop up in theaters, and this could be a movie that winds up on my “Surprises of the Year” list. Or, it could be a forgotten about animated film. The voice cast includes Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, LeBron James and Common.

 

Little Women

A modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women follows four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March (Melanie Stone, Sarah Davenport, Allie Jennings, Elise Jones) – detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. Despite harsh times, they cling to optimism, and as they mature, they face blossoming ambitions and relationship, as well as tragedy, while maintaining their unbreakable bond as sisters. Little Women also stars Lea Thompson, Taylor Murphy, Ian Bohen, Lucas Grabeel and Bart Johnson.

 

Hell Fest

A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. I’m a little surprised that this is the first movie I’ve seen to have this premise. It’s basically a slasher movie set within Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios or Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America, and if you ever been to either, you know that’s pretty scary in itself. Hell Fest stars unknowns in Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio and horror icon Tony Todd.

 

Night School

A group of troublemakers are forced to attend night school in hope that they’ll pass the GED exam to finish high school. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother, Girls Trip) and co-written by lead Kevin Hart, Night School looks like it can be fun to watch, but I’m just a tiny bit worried that the movie will just be half funny, and rely too much on the over-the-top humor from Hart and Tiffany Haddish. Night School co-stars Taran Killam, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anne Winters, Rob Riggle, Jacob Batalon, Romany Malco, Al Madrigal, Ben Schwatz and Keith David.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Hotel Artemis’ Review

Director: Drew Pearce

Writer: Drew Pearce

Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum

Synopsis: Set in riot-turn, near-future Los Angeles, ‘Hotel Artemis’ follows the Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals.

 

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

 

Hotel Artemis, the directorial debut of Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce, has been on my radar since it was announced. Sure the movie drew comparisons to John Wick right off the bat, so the question was what was the movie going to do to stand out? Well, Hotel Artemis does do enough to make it stand on its own, but unlike its spiritual counterpart – for the lack of a better phrase – Hotel Artemis would rather build up the tension for a grand finale.

Set in Los Angeles in 2028, the city is rioting over the lack of water, but during all of that, two brothers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) pull off a bank heist that doesn’t go as planned. After Henry’s character gets injured, Brown’s character takes him to the Hotel Artemis, a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals to go to get patched up and lay low. There, they met The Nurse (Jodie Foster), who runs the establishment with her head of security, Everest (Dave Bautista). The Nurse gives everyone there nicknames according to their rooms; Brown gets Waikiki, while Henry gets Honolulu.

As Waikiki’s brother gets patched up, we meet other occupants of Hotel Artemis in a loud and foul-mouthed businessman Acapulco (Charlie Day), the French assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella), and a cop played by Jenny Slate. Things look to be going smoothly until The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) enters the picture, and things go to hell pretty fast from there.

While the trailers and TV spots focus on the action in Hotel Artemis, you’ll be surprised – maybe disappointed if you were absolutely looking for that – that Pearce shows a lot of restraint and keeps the action to a minimal until the very end. What Pearce does instead is build up these characters and world before unleashing the action scenes, which is actually kind of refreshing.

Also, the fact that Pearce was able to get a cast like this on his first feature is quite the coup. Everyone nails their roles to a tee. Jodie Foster, despite being behind-the-camera for years now, reminds us why she was such a great actress. The Nurse is the most fleshed out character out of everyone, reaching every emotion available, and while he’s not as colorful as other characters like Day’s Acapulco, her character doesn’t lend to that anyway.

Sterling K. Brown’s Waikiki is a man with a plan for everything, and more level-head than anyone involved including his mess-up for a brother. Sofia Boutella’s Nice is arguably the most dangerous of them all, and has a history with Waikiki that sadly doesn’t play out the way Pearce probably intended it when he wrote the script. Dave Bautista’s Everest is what you’d expect from a Dave Bautista role by now, and that’s okay in my book. Charlie Day looks to be having some fun with his role, but it doesn’t quite click for me. Finally, Jeff Goldblum’s The Wolf King, the man that runs L.A., is really nothing more, sadly, than a glorified cameo. And while his short time on screen is great, it does lead to some important events for the rest of the movie.

Another thing that sets Hotel Artemis apart from other similar movies – yes it does have some sequel bait/world building – is the impressive production design by Ramsey Avery. We are told by The Nurse, that she has worked for the Artemis for twenty-two years. The halls and rooms look old, but some way they look like a room you’d find in nice hotel. Combine that with the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, who did It, and you got yourself a great looking movie.

All in all, Hotel Artemis is a solid action thriller that’s worth your time. What Drew Pearce was able to do with his familiar concept, and what he was able to get from his impressive cast for his first feature is impressive. Despite promotion making you think the movie is a shoot ‘em up action thriller, Hotel Artemis takes you down another road that is actually worth it. With a slow build for a big finale, great character development and fleshed out characters, and great production design and cinematography, Hotel Artemis is something to check it out, and something I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to.

Hotel Artemis

3.5 out of 5

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?

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Benicio Del Toro

Synopsis: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysterious of the Force and secrets of the past.

 

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

 

When The Force Awakens ended, everyone went crazy trying to figure out how the next movie was going to approach everything we just saw and was introduced. Enter director Rian Johnson and when that first trailer dropped everyone went crazy all over again after hearing Luke’s words of “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” Since then The Last Jedi has been on everyone highly-anticipated movies of the year. So now that it’s here, was the wait worth it? Is it too over-hyped? Both? Neither? Well, let’s find out.

The Last Jedi has three stories going on. The first is the story that ended The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and is there to try and convince him to come back and help the Resistance, but to also help her find her place in everything and help her with her newfound abilities. The second follows Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with the Resistance Fleet fending off an attack by the First Order and butting heads with Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and even Leia (Carrie Fisher) herself. Poe, finding out something dire, decides to send Finn (John Boyega) and a technician, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), to another planet to find someone that can help them. The final story is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) still struggling with the darkness inside him and finally trying to prove himself to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

The Last Jedi is an interesting film. On one hand, it is a true Star Wars film that is filled with great visuals, great cinematography – here by Steve Yedlin – an amazing score by John Williams and great moments that the franchise is known for like epic battles and twists. On the other hand, the film feels a bit too messy for its own good, but in that messiness it does bring some surprises that is obviously causing some fans to be very divided. Yes, that’s vague but this is a spoiler free review.

What I’m okay with saying and giving away is The Last Jedi does have some pacing issues. You definitely feel that the movie’s length by the end of it all, but at least director and writer Rian Johnson is able to make it captivating that you don’t really care too much – at least at the end of the movie. The subplot with Finn and Rose going to a different planet and run into Benicio Del Toro’s DJ, feels a little off from the rest of the movie, and while I think I understand what Johnson was trying to do with that part of the film, that section could have been cut down a little.

Other big thing that The Last Jedi does is that it does take some risks – at least in terms of revelations – with its storytelling. However, those risks/revelations are the things that are diving fans, at last from what I’ve seen. Storylines and teases from The Force Awakens are brought up and played around with, even going as so far to give us some answers or, unfortunately, more questions. It’s these little things that pile up that keep The Last Jedi from being the awesome and great film we’d hope for, and instead being a messy Star Wars film that has awesome and great moments.

This isn’t me saying The Last Jedi is a bad film – you notice I never said that – but after watching The Last Jedi I felt a lot of conflict – like Kylo Ren – about my impression of the movie. I’ve seen it twice now, and while the second time I had some more fun with it, the flaws are there once you start to dig around and discuss the film. That said, the pretty great moments are there too, but that’s not enough for me.

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely a film that Star Wars fans will argue about for a long time. Does it have everything a Star Wars film is suppose to have? Yes. It’s fun, action-packed and funny when need be. Does it extend the ideas and uses the storylines that were paved for it in The Force Awakens? Yes, but it also does something that is frustrating, and has made frustrated which I understand. However, at the same time, I see what Rian Johnson was trying to do, so I can’t be too upset over it.

Needless to say, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is worth the watch, and, for the most part, you’ll have a great time watching. Visually, the film is great to look, and the cast is finally able to cut their teeth in more meaty material this go around. Finally, yes, like The Force Awakens, this draws a lot on past Star Wars movies – whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4 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!

 

1st

A Bad Moms Christmas (Comedy – STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures)

Amy (Mila Kunis), Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) struggle to cope when their respective mothers visit for the holidays. I’m sure I’m with many who were surprised at how funny the first Bad Moms was and how successful it ended up being. So, and I can’t believe I’m saying this; I’m looking forward toward the sequel to Bad Moms. The film co-stars Jay Hernandez, Peter Gallagher, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon.

 

3rd

Limited Release: LBJ

The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson) from his young days in West Texas to the White House. The film has a pretty impressive supporting cast in Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, C. Thomas Howell, Michael Stahl-David and Richard Jenkins.

 

Limited Release: Last Flag Flying

Written and directed by Richard Linklater, and a spiritual sequel to the 1973 film The Last Detail. Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-untied with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. The film looks pretty funny with three friends getting together on a road trip with some drama. The film also stars J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, and Yul Vazquez.

 

Limited Release: Lady Bird

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, in only her second directorial film but her first solo film, Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who tries to get through life in Northern California while dealing with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and her sick father (Tracy Letts). The film looks pretty great and a nice character piece with Ronan adding another potential great character to her resume. The film co-stars Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Kathryn Newton, Laura Marano, Daniel Zovatto and Lucas Hedges.

 

Limited Release: Blade of the Immortal

The 100th film by legendary director Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins), and based off the manga by Hiroaki Samura. The film follows Manji, a highly skilled samurai, who is cursed with immortality and whose path is crossed by young girl looking for the legendary immortal samurai to help her avenge her parents, who were filled by a ruthless warrior and his army. This looks like a crazy, bloody, fun ride that only Miike can create.

 

Thor: Ragnarok (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures)

Directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on another planet, and forced into a gladiatorial game against fellow Avenger, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Thor has to survive and must race against time to stop the powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying Asgard and everything in her way. I don’t know about you, but I’m stupid excited for this…that’s all, I can’t wait for this. The film co-stars Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Benedict Cumberbatch and Anthony Hopkins

 

10th

Limited Release: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), in what is described as a “darkly comic drama,” a mother (Frances McDormand) personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit. I’m a huge fan of what McDonagh has done so far, and I can’t wait to see what he does here, with yet, another great cast. The film-co-stars Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, Caleb Landry Jones, Zeljko Ivanek, Lucas Hedges and John Hawkes.

 

Daddy’s Home 2 (Comedy – Paramount Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions)

Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) must deal with their intrusive fathers, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, during the holidays. I didn’t watch the first Daddy’s Home until this year, and I didn’t mind it, so now with the sequel coming out, I’m kind of looking forward to it. The film co-stars Linda Cardellini, John Cena and Alessandra Ambrosio.

 

Murder on the Orient Express (Crime Mystery – 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions, The Mark Gordon Company, Genre Films)

Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs) investigates the murder of a wealthy American traveling on the Orient Express, the most famous train in the world. I loved the teaser trailer with that great tracking shot. Now that we’ve seen a little more of the trailer, I’m hoping this turns out to be great. The film also stars Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Penelope Cruz, Lucy Boynton, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, Marwan Kenzari, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench.

 

17th

Limited Release: Sweet Virginia

A former rodeo champ befriends a young man with a propensity for violence. The film stars Jon Bernthal, Imogen Poots, Christopher Abbott and Rosemarie DeWitt.

 

Limited Release: I Love You, Daddy

Directed, co-written and starring Louis C.K., when a successful television writer’s daughter becomes the interest of an aging filmmaker with an appalling past, he becomes worried on how to handle the situation. The film co-stars Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, Helen Hunt, Edie Falco, Chloe Grace Moretz and John Malkovich.

 

Limited Release: Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Directed by Dan Gilroy, the film stars Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo and Shelley Hennig.

 

The Star (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, The Jim Henson Company, Walden Media, Affirm Films, Franklin Entertainment)

A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas. This animated film came out of nowhere really, so I don’t know if I’ll be watching this. The voice cast is impressive though with Zachary Levi, Gina Rodriguez, Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Ving Rhames, Anthony Anderson, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Kris Kristofferson and Christopher Plummer.

 

Wonder (Drama – Lionsgate, Walden Media, Participant Media, Mandeville Films)

Based on the New York Times bestseller by R.J. Palacio. The film follows August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a facial deformation who enters fifth grade, in a mainstream elementary school, for the first time. I haven’t read the book, but just seeing the trailer, it looks like we’re in for a dramatic and touching story. The film co-stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Daveed Diggs and Mandy Patinkin.

 

Justice League (Action Adventure – Warner Bros./DC Entertainment/Dune Entertainment/Lensbern Productions)

It’s about time! The other big team-up of well-known superheroes is finally coming to the big screen, whether we like the approach or not. Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), to face an even greater enemy. The film also stars Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, and Diane Lane. Look, the DCEU has been shaky at best – expect you Wonder Woman – so here’s hoping that Justice League can at least put some stability to it.

 

22nd

Limited Release: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Based on the book by Les Standiford, the journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and other classic characters from “A Christmas Carol.” The film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) conjured up a timeless tale. The film also co-stars Jonathan Pryce.

 

Limited Release: Darkest Hour (War Drama – Focus Features/Working Title Films)

Directed Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina, Hanna) Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) leads a charge against Hitler’s army in the early days of World War II. I have to admit this looks pretty damn good. It also helps that the movie has been getting a ton of Oscar buzz. The film also stars Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Scott Thomas and John Hurt.

 

Coco (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Aspiring musician Miguel (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead. As much as we have come to learn not to doubt Pixar, but this is going to have a hard time surpassing The Book of Life in my mind. But, like I said, never doubt Pixar. The voice cast ranges all over the place from unknowns to be names like Benjamin Bratt, Cheech Marin, Renee Victor and Edward James Olmos.

 

24th

Limited Release: Call Me by Your Name

Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, in the 1983, the son of an American professor is enamored by the graduate student who comes to study and live with his family in their northern Italian home. Together, they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them. I didn’t know too much about this until I starting seeing the film festival buzz, and after watching the trailer, it could not be too bad. The film stars Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg.

What are you looking forward to?

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Review

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blade Runner 2049

4 out of 5