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.

 

6th

It: Chapter 2 – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures

Synopsis: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the Losers Club have grown up (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Isaiah Mustafa) and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. Directed once again by Andy Muschietti, the film will co-star the original young cast of Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, and Chosen Jacobs.

Thoughts: I really liked the first It, so I was very eager to see what they would do with Chapter 2. So far, it looks DAMN good. Runtime aside – 2 hours and 49 minutes – which really doesn’t matter to me, so bring on the scary-ass clown!

 

 

13th

Hustlers – STX Entertainment

Based on the New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler – a crew of strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Directed by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddler), Hustlers stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Madeline Brewer, Julia Stiles, Lizzo and Cardi B.

 

The Goldfinch – Warner Bros., Amazon Studios, Color Force

An adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Donna Tartt, a boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Goldfinch’s impressive cast stars Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey Wright, Ashleigh Cummings, Willa Fitzgerald, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and Nicole Kidman.

 

 

20th

Downton Abbey – Focus Features, Perfect World Pictures, Carnival Film & Television

The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.

 

Rambo: Last Blood – Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Balboa Productions

Synopsis: Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. Rambo co-stars Oscar Jaenada, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal and Adriana Barraza.

Thoughts: Stallone’s last (maybe) time out as John Rambo has him fighting the cartel, and it looks like it’s going to be down-and-dirty. I’ll be honest; I don’t have quite the connection to the Rambo movies like I thought I did. I might have to do a quick re-watch of the movies before Last Blood to get a better feel. Either way, I enjoyed the last Rambo movie, which of course features Rambo mowing down an entire army with a truck-planted machine gun, and cutting people in half with a machete.

 

Ad Astra – 20th Century Fox, New Regency Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, Bona Film Group

Synopsis: Co-written and directed by James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), an astronaut (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. Ad Astra co-stars Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland.

Thoughts: Ad Astra seems like it’s going to be one of those movies that people are expecting one thing, and will get another, and hopefully it will be for the better. I mean you got Pitt, Jones and Sutherland in a sci-fi space movie! What more do you want!?

 

 

27th

Limited Release: Judy

Based on the stageplay “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter, legendary performer Judy Garland (played by Renee Zellweger) arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts. Judy co-stars Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Bella Ramsey, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon.

 

Abominable – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Pearl Studio

A magical Yeti must return to his family. The voice cast includes Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Albert Tsai and Sarah Paulson.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

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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?

‘It’ Review

Director: Andy Muschietti

Writers: Gary Dauberman, Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga

Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Stephen Bogaert, Jackson Robert Scott and Bill Skarsgard

Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

 

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

 

Based off the novel by Stephen King, at least the first half, Pennywise the Clown is back to make us afraid of clowns again. Of course, most of us know the two-part TV movie with Tim Curry playing Pennywise, but while that version may have scared us with some uneasy visuals and Curry’s performances, this new version of It is here to be a little more faithful to the original source material. and add the real horror that was written by Stephen King himself.

To be fair, I hadn’t watched the TV movie in a long time, and I ended up watching some clips online. While some of it sticks, for the most part I didn’t end up remembering half of the things in it. Seeing that – and that this film was going to be more faithful – my judgment and now broken bias was going to be left at home. Granted, the trailers proved this version of It was going to crack up the horror to eleven, and this was going to have a movie budget, against a early 90s TV movie budget. Either way, do yourself the favor, and try not to compare the two versions since they are very, very different, but more importantly, you’ll miss out on a great movie.

Set in Derry, Maine in 1989, people – most kids – have gone missing by the dozens. The film starts off by showing us the much promoted disappearance of Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), the younger brother of Bill (Jaeden Lieberher). It is also were we are introduced to Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) for the first time. We then jump forward a year, Bill holds on to hope that his younger brother is still alive, but we are now introduced to his closest friends; the always joking Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the germophobe Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff). The three eventually become friends with the new kid, whose obsessed with Derry’s history, Ben (Ray Taylor), the home-schooled Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Beverly (Sophia Lillis).

They forge a friendship and call themselves The Losers Club. However, before they can try to enjoy their summer, they deal with bullies, lead by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), but also have to face their fears when Pennywise puts all of them on his radar. It then becomes a race against time for The Losers Club to defeat “It” before one of them disappears. Because everyone floats down there.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m sure we all know someone that has seen the original It, or maybe even read the novel. Either way, Pennywise and The Losers Club have a following so this new version of It had a lot of eyes on it. Thankfully, it turned out great, because not only is It a great horror movie, it’s a great coming-of-age story with humor and heart to back it all up. That said, I applaud director Andy Muschietti and the writers in Gary Dauberman and Chase Palmer – Cary Fukunaga is also credited, since he was the original director and writer of the film, but dropped out due to creative difference – for being able to balance all the tones in the film and make it work for the film instead of making them work against it.

Next to the balancing act working, it’s the young cast that really makes It shine. Each of them having their moments to shine, and face their respected fears, but it’s the fact that we get to know them that makes us not only root for them, but also worry for them. Lieberher gets to shine the most as Bill, who is determined to find out what happened to Georgie and holding on faith that he’s still alive despite what people think. Lillis’ Beverly, personally, gets the more complicated and emotional arc as she seen as the town’s slut, but also the fact that she has to deal with her father, played by Stephen Bogaert, who makes uncomfortable advances toward her. Jeremy Ray Taylor’s Ben has probably one of the most realest arcs for a kid his age that involves Beverly.

Not everyone has the opportunity of being fleshed out unfortunately. Wyatt Oleff’s Stanley doesn’t really have too much going on other than being the Jewish kid who is about to have his bar mitzvah and wants to ignore everything. Finn Wolfhard’s Richie can sometimes come off as annoying and has a fear of clowns, but that fear doesn’t come up until after the group acknowledges that Pennywise exists. Jacobs’ Mike, obviously the only person of color, has his own problems especially with bully Henry Bowers. Finally, Jack Dylan Grazer does have his moments, but for me, his big moment comes near the end and has nothing to do with Pennywise.

However, the biggest drawn here is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Bill, the youngest of the Skarsgard family, will probably become a household name with his performance here. We don’t see a hell of a lot of Pennywise, but just enough to know when he pops up, you better be scared – or at least unnerved. His introduction scenes with Georgie is disturbing from the get go as we can see him salivating which just adds that creepy layer to Pennywise that was, arguably missing from the previous version. Yes, Tim Curry’s Pennywise was creepy, but he was creepy when the character had to be, Skarsgard’s version is always creepy.

All in all, It is like I noted earlier, not only a great horror movie, but a great coming-of-age film. The young cast is great, and the best part is they actually act like kids, so when they’re put into a fearful and dangerous situation we want them to make it through and we see can the genuine fear they have. Not only that, their chemistry is top notch, I can believe they’re friends and they have a bond, and when they face Pennywise, it is something special.

Whether you prefer the 90s It or this version of It, there is no denying that Stephen King’s story has touched everyone. Everyone has their fears, and the question becomes will you face them head-on yourself? Or have someone there to face them down with you? This version does lend itself to be horror especially considering this has a movie budget opposed to a TV movie budget – and R-rating which they take full advantage of. Whatever the case, the cast – including Skarsgard’s Pennywise – and their chemistry together make It not only a worthy adaptation of Stephen King’s stories, but a great film.

It

4.5 out of 5

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?

Mini-Reviews: Masterminds, Deepwater Horizon, Storks, & The Girl on the Train

Hey everybody!

Welcome to the third edition of Mini-Reviews. This time, it’s more of a mixed than it was last time. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Masterminds

Director: Jared Hess

Writers: Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Ken Marino, and Jon Daly

Synopsis: A guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes on of the biggest bank heists in American history. Based on the October 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery.

 

Yes, Masterminds is based on a true story. Of course, I’m sure the film takes some liberties, but for the most part the film tells the story of David Ghantt (Galifianakis), an armored car guard at Loomis Fargo who wants to do more in his life. He gets the chance when his co-worker Kelly (Wiig), under orders of the town small-town criminal Steve (Wilson), convinces him to rob Loomis Fargo. David, of course does it thinking he has a chance with Kelly, even though he’s engaged to Jandice (McKinnon). The good news is that David gets it done and is convinced to go down to Mexico to hide out, the bad news is that the FBI is on to him and Steve wants to cut loose ends.

Masterminds was set to come out two years ago, until it got pushed back to this year, and even then its release was in question thanks to Relativity Media’s bankruptcy. It also didn’t help that the film had a pretty descent cast, so it’s a shame that after all this, the film didn’t turn out as good as it could have been. I will say it does seem hard to make a comedy based on a true story, since you can’t really force funny moments in true stories, but if you have the right cast I assume you could. Masterminds is sadly not one of those.

I will say I’m not a huge fan of Zach Galifianakis, but he does okay here as a somewhat lovable and gullible David, who gets fooled into robbing $17 million. Kristen Wiig is reliable as always, and is arguably the heart of the film. Owen Wilson has his small moments, but doesn’t stand out as much as Jason Sudeikis’ hitman character Mike McKinney. His part of the film is rather odd, and at times will probably make you cringe-laugh, but he goes all in for this. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are put on the backburner for the most part. Jones plays a detective for the FBI hunting down David, while McKinnon plays David’s soon-to-be wife Jandice as an odd and cliché trailer park women, who has only one big moment.

All in all, Masterminds is a wasted opportunity to let all these great comedic actors to cut loose. There are some genuine funny moments in the film, but overall Masterminds fails to really connect, and make you laugh the way I think they thought it would.

Masterminds

2.5 out of 5

masterminds_ver8

 

 

Deepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Douglas M. Griffin, James DuMont, Joe Chrest, Gina Rodriguez, J.D Evermore, Ethan Suplee, Dylan O’Brien and John Malkovich

Synopsis: A dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

 

Peter Berg has become a “based on a true story” film master. Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor, the upcoming Patriots Day – based on the Boston Marathon bombing – and this. Berg has a way to really make the people in those films more important than the event itself sometimes, and Deepwater Horizon is another prime example of that. Not only that, he makes the film feel like a horror film at times, which is what the people onboard the actual rig probably felt like they were in on that fateful day.

The film mostly follows the Deepwater Horizon rig’s chief electrical technician Mike Williams (Wahlberg) and installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Russell) or Captain Jimmy as the crew calls him, on the day they arrive on the Deepwater Horizon along with a few BP company men and control room operator Andrea Fleytas (Rodriguez). However, when they arrive they find out that BP management, lead by Donald Vidrine (Malkovich) on the rig, want the crew to start drilling right away because they are behind schedule. Of course, Mike and Jimmy aren’t having any of it because the safety of the crew is at risk, Mike lets them know that the rig isn’t running at one-hundred percent, but Vidrine pushes them and they start drilling. What follows is the Deepwater Horizon suffering massive failure and an explosion that sets the rig up in flames. The crew then tries to survive and escape the rig at all costs.

Berg does a great job of setting everything up. He even goes into the technical side of things even though he probably knows not all the audience is going to know what the hell they’re talking about – we can get the gist considering we know what happens and they make it sound pretty bad. We also get a descent sense of these characters, so when the rig goes up in flames we care for these characters. And while most films would tip-toe around the situation, Berg tackles it head-on and does lay some – arguably all – of the blame on BP for forcing the rig workers to keep going.

The other great thing Berg does is make us, essentially, part of the crew. When the Deepwater Horizon goes up in flames, you can feel the horror that these men went through. This isn’t your typical escapist disaster film, this was a man-made disaster that isn’t filled with your typical Hollywood hero. Wahlberg or Russell don’t make big speech to comfort everyone, they get hurt and are equally affected by the rig explosion like everyone else. 11 men lost their lives that night, and the way Berg makes the event look, it’s almost hard to believe that not more people died.

The cast holds their own. Wahlberg gives one of his finest performances to date, and one that pays off at the end. I know Wahlberg may make people think of the film a certain way, but when he’s given the right material with a great director like Berg, he always turns in a great performance. Russell is as reliable as ever, Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien have their moments, but are scattered throughout the film and only really pick up during the events of the explosion. Finally, Malkovich seems to be enjoying himself playing a sleazy BP official, and while maybe that’s not how the real life Vidrine was, it does give us the general idea of greed and not caring about the consequences.

All in all, Deepwater Horizon is a very effective thriller that sometimes feels like a horror movie. Peter Berg knows exactly what to show and what kind of story he wants to tell, and instead of focusing on the oil spill – which got the most attention in the news – this highlights the people actually onboard the rig. I’ll even admit that by the end of this film, I was in tears. Something not a lot of films can make me do, and make me admit.

Deepwater Horizon

4.5 out of 5

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Storks

Director: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland

Writer: Nicholas Stoller

Voice Cast: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Anton Starkman, Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Stephen Kramer Glickman and Danny Trejo

Synopsis: Storks have moved on from delivering babies to packages. But when an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby.

 

I didn’t really expect anything from Storks when I first read about it. However, that all changed when I watched the film, because I really liked Storks. The film follows Junior (Samberg), who works at Cornerstore.com which is where storks now deliver packages instead of babies because delivering babies became too much of a problem. Junior is not in line for a promotion from his boss Hunter (Grammer), but before he can take the position he has to do one thing: fire the only human worker at Cornerstone, Tulip (Crown). Junior doesn’t really do so and instead puts her in a building by herself.

However, that only complicates matters as Tulip gets a letter from Nate Gardner (Starkman) who wants a sibling, and accidentally makes one. Junior already thinking he’d be in trouble with Hunter decides to deliver the baby on his own with Tulip tagging along. Of course, a grand adventure ensues.

I had a lot of fun with this movie more than I thought I would. The film never loses steam and the jokes are top notch, so much so that I was still smiling or laughing way after they were delivered. The stories are also very touching. On one end you have the human story of Nate, an only child, who wants a sibling to play with because his parents (voiced by Burrell and Aniston) are always busy with their real estate business. On the other end you have the two stories of Junior wanting to be more than a delivery man, and Tulip trying to find her own place in the world, and wanting to really help. The two stories perfectly blend together near the end that makes the finale all the more touching and heartwarming.

The rest of the voice cast is filled with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele playing Alpha and Beta Wolf, who are one of the many highlights of the film, and Danny Trejo as Jasper, a stork that comes into play in the second half of the film. Finally, another highlight of the film is Stephen Kramer Glickman as Pigeon Toady, who will leave you laughing for sure.

All in all, Storks is a ton of fun that takes a while to bring its core theme out, but the ride is so much fun that it doesn’t matter. Storks will leave you laughing out loud and leave you wanting a bit more.

Storks

4.5 out of 5

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The Girl on the Train

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson

Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow

Synopsis: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

 

Based on the popular and one of the fast-selling novels of all time by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train is being labeled as the possible next Gone Girl. A comparison that doesn’t really help any film since Gone Girl was vastly different animal that some people haven’t seen before. While the film does show shades of that, The Girl on the Train is a completely different animal altogether that is a less effective thriller and drama than Gone Girl.

The Girl on the Train follows alcoholic and divorced Rachel (Blunt) who rides the train every morning. During her rides, she always stops and spots the house of a couple who she doesn’t know but pretends to give them names and jobs. However, one day the woman, Megan (Bennett), ends up going missing and the day she did she noticed Megan with another man. What follows is Rachel trying to figure out what happened to a woman she’s made an unnatural connection to, but her obsession also becomes a problem for her ex-husband Tom (Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Ferguson), who she has been harassing them.

Going more into detail will probably lead me into spoiler territory which is something that I obviously don’t want to do. The film does jump back in time – a few months – so we get enough scenes with Haley Bennett’s Megan before she goes missing. The film also spends some time with Rebecca Ferguson’s Anna, who shines more near the end of the film than in the beginning. All that said though, this movie belongs to Emily Blunt. I’m okay with saying Blunt is one of the best actresses working today, and this film proves it. The rest of the cast, while they have their moments, kind of fall to the wayside. Edgar Ramirez and Laura Prepon are underutilized, especially Prepon, and Allison Janney, while her character was meant to only be small, would have been nice to see more of her.

The characters are probably going to make some people not like the film. There are times when you probably want to go into the screen and smack one of them around, which is what makes the film a little more relatable – to the characters anyway. It also helps that these characters are in the thriller genre, so their actions will make us question where they fall in line to the case. Although, there are times when the film gets bogged down in its own drama.

All in all, The Girl on the Train is held together by Emily Blunt’s great performance, along with Haley Bennett. The film gets bogged down a bit by its own drama, and while some things from the book don’t carry over, they make up for it by telling their own story. The Girl on the Train isn’t the next Gone Girl, but its effective while watching.

The Girl on the Train

3.5 out of 5

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‘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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‘Blair Witch’ Review

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Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, and Valorie Curry

Synopsis: After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his sister’s experiences in the demonic woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling.

 

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

 

It might be a little hard to believe that The Blair Witch Project came out more than 15 years ago, but now we have a proper sequel – get out of here Books of Shadows – to the film that, at the time, was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Say what you will, despite how you feel about the film in general, The Blair Witch Project made a lot of waves the way it was presented, and it changed the way horror films would come to be in the future. Now, all these years later, we have a proper sequel that was kept hidden from us until Comic Con when it was revealed that The Woods was really Blair Witch. So, have Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the men responsible for great films like You’re Next and The Guest, given us a proper sequel to a film that changed the landscape at the time so much? Let’s take a walk through very familiar woods and find out.

Blair Witch follows James (McCune), the younger brother of Heather Donahue, one of the leads from The Blair Witch Project, who is the focus of a documentary by his friend Lisa (Hernandez). The reason for the documentary is because James thinks he sees his sister in a mysterious video that was sent to him that seemingly shows her running through the house at the end of the first film. James convinces Lisa and their friends Peter (Scott) and Ashley (Reid) to go with them to search for his sister, or at least find out what really happened. Along the way, they meet up with the people that sent him the video, Lane (Robinson) and Talia (Curry), who tag along to find the legendary Blair Witch.

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The buzz for Blair Witch was pretty big from the people that got to see it early, so it had a lot to live up to. Of course, the horror film community is very hard to please, but I’m sure some of them will agree that this year big studio horror films have been better than expected, and way better than years past. So there was a chance, whether it be a slim one, that Blair Witch would continue the trend, and for most of the film it does. However, Blair Witch does have pitfalls that fans of the original film, and in general, may cause to lose interest and question this sequel, and they are justified.

If you didn’t realize that Blair Witch was a sequel to Project you could make the argument that this film feels like a reboot/updated version since the film used better technology than the first film. Of course, the first film was made for cheap and used cameras to make it look even cheaper. Blair Witch uses a drone, an updated camera, a webcam, and head cameras, so the PUT THE CAMERA DOWN AND RUN IDOITS mantra goes out the window and leads to some interesting shots and lets the actors – and mayhem – cut loose a little more. That being said, the updated-ness both hurts and gives the film a sense that this is a sequel. It helps in the sense that if you wanted to see how Project looked with good quality visuals, here it is, also again, it lets the actors and mayhem take a different approach and cut a little more loose. For example, when characters go off on their own, you don’t know what’s going to happen – in fact anything can happen, which is how the updated-ness works.

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However, it hurts in the sense that it takes away some of the charm, albeit terrifying charm, of the original, because the original film felt like we were watching something we weren’t suppose to be watching. This is why it worked and has become a touchstone in not just the horror genre, but the found footage genre. Ultimately, that is what hurts Blair Witch because it looks more polished.

Speaking of the updated-ness (I’ll stop using that word), the film does follow some of the same beat-for-beat moments of the first film. The group gets lost, they argue, they hear weird noises, and ultimately start disappearing. Of course, different things happen along the way – for the better – and some of the original myth is expanded in a respectful way to the first film that could please fans and helps build the tension more as the film progress. Does it help if you watch the first film? Probably, but the film does a good job of summing up facts from the first film for you. The cast of mostly unknowns also do well, but considering by the end they’re running around screaming, all of that kind of goes out the window.

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All in all, Blair Witch does have its moments that make it a worthwhile and deserving sequel to The Blair Witch Project. It does have pitfalls and makes decisions that it probably shouldn’t have made that hurts its overall execution, and what made the first film so successful and memorable. Blair Witch does have some descent scares, but it’s the decisions it makes that kills a lot of what could have been a better film.

Blair Witch

3 out of 5

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