‘Annabelle: Creation’ Review

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writer: Gary Dauberman

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annabelle: Creation

4.5 out of 5

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August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone geez. Anyway, August is filled some films that could have potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month.”  Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

4th

Expansion Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

 

Limited Release: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) writes and makes his directorial debut here which follows an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teaming with a town’s veteran game tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. The film looks pretty great to be honest and seeing Sheridan make his directorial debut with great leads is going to – hoping – be great to watch. The film also stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Martin Sensmeier and Julia Jones.

 

Kidnap (Thriller – Aviron Pictures, Well Go USA Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Gold Star Films)

A mother, played by Halle Berry, stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. This was supposed to come out last year, but got shelved after Relativity Media and got picked up some by another studio. It also doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t look all that great, but you never know. The film stars Sage Correa, Dana Gourrier, Christopher Berry and Lew Temple.

 

Detroit (Drama Thriller – Annapurna Pictures, MGM, First Light Production, Page 1)

Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, the duo already have The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty under their belts and are now tackling this story set against the backdrop of the famous Detroit Riots. It looks absolutely great and has a great cast lead by John Boyega. Detroit also stars Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Ben O’Toole, John Krasinski and Anthony Mackie.

 

The Dark Tower (Sci-Fi Fantasy – Sony Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Imagine Entertainment)

Based on the Stephen King stories, The Dark Tower follows Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the Dark Tower, in hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. This puts him at odds with The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey. This movie has been in the works for so long, I’m happy to finally see this get made, and more importantly it doesn’t look that bad. The Dark Tower also stars Tom Taylor, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Fran Kranz and Dennis Haysbert.

 

11th

Limited Release: The Only Living Boy in New York 

Directed by Marc Webb, adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress. The film stars Callum Turner, Kiersey Clemons, Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges, and Pierce Brosnan.

 

Limited Release: Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker who takes a liking to Taylor Sloane (Elizaebth Olsen), a life influencer, who looks to live the perfect life. Ingrid moves to L.A to try and become friends with Taylor, but eventually – like always – takes things too far. The film also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell and Pom Klementieff.

 

Limited Release: Good Time

A bank robber (Robert Pattinson) finds himself unable to evade those who are looking for him. The film is by A24, who has been on a tear lately, and sees Pattinson’s character also trying to save his brother from being kept in prison. The film also stars Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

 

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Animation – Open Road Films, ToonBox Entertainment, Shanghai Hoongman, Gulfstream Pictures)

Following the events of the first film, Surly and his friends must stop Oakton City’s mayor from destroying their home to make way for a dysfunctional amusement park. The voice cast includes Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Isabela Moner, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham and Bobby Moynihan.

 

The Glass Castle (Drama – Lionsgate, Netter Productions)

Based on the memoir by Jeannette Walls, the film follows a young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty. The film has a great cast of Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield and Woody Harrelson.

 

Annabelle: Creation (Horror – New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster)

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle. Directed by David F. Sandberg, who did the impressive Light’s Out, the film is a prequel to the first Annabelle, which of course itself a prequel/spinoff of The Conjuring. The film stars Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia, Lulu Wilson, Adam Bartley, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Philippa Coulthard, Javier Botet, and Mark Bramhall. I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening late last month, and I really liked it. The film just never lets you go. I highly recommend.

 

18th

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Action Comedy – Lionsgate/Nu Image / Millennium Films/Skydance Productions/Campbell Grobman Films)

The world’s top bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client, a hit man (Samuel L. Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time. I like to call this the quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie given the red-band trailers have Jackson yelling “mother fucker” for most of it. The film also stars Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, and Gary Oldman.

 

Logan Lucky (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media, Fingerprint Releasing, Trans-Radial Pictures, Free Association)

Two brothers (Adam Driver and Channing Tatum) attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen after his semi-retirement with this great looking comedy heist film including to wacky characters like Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang and a one armed Adam Driver. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Katie Holmes, Jack Quaid, Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank

 

25th

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

Based on Deborah Moggach’s novel, 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 many times now, let’s hope it finally sticks. The film also has a nice cast of Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin McKidd, Jack O’Connell, Tom Hollander, David Harewood, and Judi Dench.

 

Crown Heights (Drama – Amazon Studios, Black Maple Films, Washington Square Films, Iam21 Entertainment)

When Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence. The film also stars Bill Camp and Nestor Carbonell.

 

All Saints (Drama – Columbia Pictures, Affirm Films)

Based on the true story of a salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.

 

Birth of the Dragon (Action – WWE Studios, BH Tilt, Groundswell Productions)

Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, the film is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between and up-and-coming Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and kung fu master Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) – a battle that gave birth to a legend.

 

Leap! (Animation – The Weinstein Company, Quad Productions, Caramel Film, Main Journey)

Originally a French film, an orphan girl (voiced by Elle Fanning) dreams of becoming a ballerina and flees her rural Brittany for Paris, where she passes for someone else and accedes to the position of pupil at the Grand Opera House. It looks like foreign animated films with an American voice cast is starting to become a trend, but for me, Leap! doesn’t look all that great. The dubbed voice cast also includes Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review

Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria and Amiah Miller

Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mystic quest to avenge his kind.

 

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

 

Planet of the Apes was a movie that changed the movie scene due to its amazing practical effects, visual storytelling – apes of horses! – and vision of the future. Sure the series went to some crazy places and out there ideas. No serious watch them or look it up, but the series always had a special place in people’s hearts, and after a lackluster attempt with Tim Burton’s version – although credit where credit is due with those practical effects – the series got a much needed shot-in-the-arm with the reboot back in 2011 in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Lead by motion-capture pioneer Andy Serkis with WETA Digital helping with the groundbreaking special effects, Rise became an instant hit with fans and nonfans alike. Serkis’ Caesar was a compelling character that made us feel and root for him to win, which meant yes, humans are the bad guys and had to be stopped. We then got Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which added an extra layer, it wasn’t humans vs. apes, it was humans vs. apes vs. apes, thanks to Toby Kebbell’s Koba, who hated what humans did to apes, and Caesar, who saw the good in humans once and believes that there could be peace. Now, of course, we get War for the Planet of the Apes, a great end to a great trilogy.

War picks up a couple years after the events of Dawn, and we now sees Caesar (Andy Serkis) with the remaining apes living in hiding in the woods from a group of soldiers lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After two attacks on their home, Caesar has had enough and decides to get revenge. Breaking away from the apes, and sending them to a new promised home, Caesar is followed by his trusted and closest friends in Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Eventually they come across a young girl, played by Amiah Miller, who has lost the ability to speak, and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), an ape that has learned to talk just be being around humans. What follows is Caesar struggling with his darker side to get revenge, but also still trying to remain the leader to his people

Despite the summer releases of all the films, and the massive – and impressive –special effects, this Apes franchise never really feels like a summer movie. They could have easily turned this into a full-fledged apes vs. humans series, but instead they made every film about making Caesar a fully fleshed out and complex character. The film could be looked at as character study on both sides. Are the apes the heroes, or are the humans. Yes, there are good humans like James Franco’s Will or Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, but for every good few humans, there are extremely bad humans like Harrelson’s The Colonel, who take the extreme.

Caesar fights for his people and to keep them safe, but so do the humans, and in this case Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel has a reasonable case for his actions. Although anyone in that kind of position will probably say their position is right, but in this case, he’s somewhat right. That said, that is another reason why I love this rebooted trilogy. It gives you both sides of the argument and lets you choose, but Caesar is such a great character and seeing his journey for three films now, you have to root for him.

Of course, some of that goes to Andy Serkis. Serkis’ subtle nuances always made Caesar feel more human, if that makes some sense. Here it’s the same, Caesar is still conflicted, but still has his purpose but is stuck figuring out if he wants to continue doing things his way or if he falls for the darkness that Koba told him he would and should do. That’s why his advisory here in Harrelson’s The Colonel is a great one. Like Caesar, The Colonel only has one purpose and will do whatever it takes to complete it.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, it’s hard to really judge all of them considering they are mostly all motion-capture. When it comes to the new characters in Bad Ape, he brings some humor to the otherwise dark toned film, and all of it works and is not forced. Then there’s Amiah Miller’s character who is a huge homage and Easter Egg to the original series that ties in where the future of the series can go, but also do their own version. Also, credit to Miller, who’s still relativity new to Hollywood, on what she was able to pull off here given that she doesn’t talk at all.

Speaking of homage and Easter Eggs, War does have a few more besides Miller’s character, but there is something that I really liked that they added that connects to the original. It was something that feels small, but when you look at past films, and potentially future films, it completely works and makes sense – although part of me kind of wishes they don’t make any more after this.

All in all, War for the Planet of the Apes has it all; action, drama, humor, beautiful cinematography by Michael Seresin and score by Michael Giacchino. More importantly, War is a fitting end to a near perfect trilogy that gave us a great character in Caesar played by Andy Serkis. While part of me would somewhat like to see where this franchise goes from here, the other part of me hopes they leave it at that.

War for the Planet of the Apes

4.5 out of 5

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

7th

Limited Release: A Ghost Story (Drama – A24)

Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon), in this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. The film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Action Adventure – Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures/Pascal Pictures)

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero. Of course, this marks the first Spider-Man film were our favorite web-slinger is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Michael Chernus, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Angourie Rice, and Donald Glover.

 

14th

Limited Release: Lady Macbeth

Based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov titled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” a 19th century young bride is sold into marriage to a middle-aged man.

 

Wish Upon (Horror – Broad Green Pictures, Busted Shark Productions)

A teenage girl (Joey King) discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them. The film looks pretty creepy, but I don’t know if I’m completely sold on it yet. The film also stars Ki Hong Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Elisabeth Rohm, and Ryan Phillippe.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (Action Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the remaining apes are left to deal with humanities latest attack from a dangerous and determined leader known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). The film look fantastic, and this being the third chapter it looks like it could be the best one yet. War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary and Karin Konoval.

 

21st

Girls Trip (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Will Packer Productions)

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annul Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. The film stars Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Deborah Ayorinde, Larenz Tate Kate Walsh and Queen Latifah.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/Gulf Films)

Based on the French comic by Pierre Christin and directed by Luc Besson, time-traveling agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne). The film also stars Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Clive Owen and the voice of John Goodman.

 

Dunkirk (Action Drama – Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Syncopy)

Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. I got to see the special preview during the IMAX screening of Rogue One, and I seriously took a deep breath afterwards because it was that intense. So if the film is anything like that, I think we’re in for a great ride. Dunkirk stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.

 

28th

Limited Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Documentary – Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Actual Films)

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

 

The Emoji Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures)

It’s hard to think that an Emoji movie will have a real plot, but it does. Gene (T.J. Miller), a muli-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji. The voice cast includes James Corden, Ilana Glazer, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart.

 

Atomic Blonde (Thriller – Focus Features, 87Eleven, Sierra/Affinity, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Denver and Delilah Productions)

Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston, an undercover MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The film also stars Sofia Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, James Faulkner and Toby Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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!

 

5th

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Sci-Fi Action – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Guardians (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite character from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The returning cast includes Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion (playing a different character), Sean Gunn, and Glenn Close. The film’s new cast includes Kurt Russell (Quinn’s father, Ego), Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, and Tommy Flanagan.

 

 

12th

Limited Release: The Wall

Directed by Doug Liman, an American sharpshooter is trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. The film was suppose to come out in March, but got pushed back to May, but either way it looks great. The Wall looks like a tension-filled drama I can’t wait to see. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laith Nakli and John Cena.

 

 

Lowriders (Drama – Universal Pictures/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Imagine Entertainment)

A young street artist in East Los Angeles is caught between his father’s obsession with lowrider car culture, his ex-felon brother and his need for self-expression. The film stars Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoist, and Demian Bichir.

 

 

Snatched (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Cherin Entertainment/Feigo Entertainment)

After being dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) decides to take a spontaneous trip with her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador, where they find themselves kidnapped, escaping and having to go on the run. The film stars Christopher Meloni, Oscar Jaenada, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, and Wanda Sykes.

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Wilgram Productions/Safehouse Pictures/Weed Road Pictures)

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film takes the very Ritchie tone to bringing a new take to the classical character Arthur played by Charlie Hunnam. The film sees Arthur, a street-smart brawler who finds himself drawn into a battle when he takes possession of the sword Excalibur. The film stars Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Katie McGrath, Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Hermione Corfield, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana.

 

 

19th

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Family Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Color Force)

Continuing the series based off the books by Jeff Kinney, Greg (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and the Heffley family antics ensue. The film also stars Charlie Wright, Tom Everett Scott, Owen Asztalos, Carlos Guerrero, and Alicia Silverstone.

 

 

Everything, Everything (Romance Drama – MGM, Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films)

Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, and Anika Noni Rose.

 

 

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/TSG Entertainment/Brandywine Productions)

The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. The film looks like it’s finally an Alien prequel, and bloody. Very, very bloody. The cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Danny McBride, Callie Hernandez, Noomi Rapace, James Franco, and Guy Pearce.

 

 

25th

Baywatch (Action Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/The Montecito Picture Company/Cold Spring Pictures/Contrafilm)

Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.

 

 

26th

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action Adventure – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Moving Picture Company)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) searches for the trident of Poseidon when an old enemy from his past comes to haunt him. The film also stars the returning Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, and Paul McCartney.

 

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Rings’ Review

rings_ver4

Director: F. Javier Gutierrez

Writers: David Loucka, Jacob Estes and Akiva Goldsman

Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan, and Vincent D’Onofrio

Synopsis: A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in 7 days.

 

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

 

When the American remake of Ringu came out in 2002, the film found an instant following because of the overall creep and disturbing factor. Of course, the mythology of the film was enough to grab you and pull you: you watch a creepy VHS tape, you then get a phone call with a voice telling you seven days and then you die. The Ring started the horror film remake craze – for better or worse – and became a cult favorite. Now, after all these years – and its sequel – Rings has been released and while usually the wait it worthwhile, it was not the case for this.

After an interesting opening involving an airplane, Rings jumps to our main characters. We start with professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), who along with one of his students, Skye (Aimee Teegarden), finds an old VCR and take it home. Gabriel eventually discovers a tape is stuck inside and continues to watch it – of course us the audience knows what it is: Samara’s tape. We then jump to Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her off to college boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe), who are saying their last goodbyes. After a few weeks, Holt isn’t returning any of Julia’s messages, but she gets a weird message from Skye. Julia takes it upon herself to go find Holt and finds out Holt has gotten himself involved in something he shouldn’t have. What follows is Julia eventually watching the video and discovering a new threat that changes everything we know about the mythical tape that kills you after seven days.

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So after the long wait, and the delay – the film was supposed to come out last year: twice – Rings doesn’t really live up to the wait, and to the promise the film tries to convince you of at the beginning of the film. There’s a rather odd new concept introduced to the film that is spearhead by Galecki’s Gabriel that is somewhat makes sense after two films, but one that I kind of wish we had more time with. Galecki also does his best to not make it come off as cheesy, which it easily could have.

When it comes to the other cast members, I don’t know if it has anything to do with them or the script, but every other thing came off as bland. They do have their moments, but the lack of real emotion at times hurts a lot of the scenes they’re in. Lutz’s character Julia has a “sub-plot” that is mentioned and never mentioned again, ever. I assume it was to show us what kind of person she is, and it somewhat pays off later, but they could have gone without mentioning the little tidbit at the beginning. Alex Roe as Holt feels like he has the same expression on his face the whole time, and Aimee Teegarden, who only has a small amount of screen time is actually really good, and I wish she could have been in it more.

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Galecki, like I mentioned, does the best he can with what he’s given, and actually looks like he gives a damn. Vincent D’Onofrio pops in as a blind character that knows about Samara and tries to veer Julia and Holt away from whatever they think they have a lead on. D’Onofrio might actually be the best character in the film, but stumbles near the end. Finally, Bonnie Morgan plays Samara, who actually did uncredited work on The Ring 2 as Samara (the crawling up the well scene). Sadly, Samara isn’t in the film nearly enough as she should be. Sure the film is about Julia trying to once again figure out why this video is so damn dangerous, but we should see Samara a lot more than we should.

The film itself also leaves a lot to be desired. I kept my expectations low, like I always do, but even more so for Rings merely because it honestly didn’t look that great. The film does have some creepy moments, but lacks the real sense of dread and disturbing factor the first film had, which made it so damn great. Rings doesn’t have any real sense of urgency, which seems kind of dumb to say considering, you know, you’ve been told you have seven days to live. Moreover, Rings often times is rather boring when it’s trying to build up its mythology.

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All in all, despite some cool shots Rings is not worth the long wait. The film doesn’t do anything to really further the mythology of the killer video. Sure they add a new concept, but it’s never really established enough to make it worthwhile.

Rings

1.5 out of 5

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! Compared to last year, February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. So let’s get to it!

 

3rd

Limited Release: The Comedian 

A look at the life of an aging insult comic, played by Robert De Niro. The film also stars Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Hannibal Buress, Edie Falco, Patti LuPone, Gilbert Gottfried, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Keitel and Billy Crystal.

 

Rings (Horror – Paramount Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment)

The third film in The Ring series, this film finds a young woman who finds out she is the newest target of the terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in 7 days. The film was suppose to come out last year for a while, before it got pulled a month before its release. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about this movie. The Rings 2 was nowhere near as good as the first film, but if the trailers continue to show stuff that looks interesting, then maybe I’ll give it a chance. Maybe.

 

The Space Between Us (Adventure Drama Romance – STX Entertainment, Southpaw Entertainment, Los Angeles Media Fund)

The first human born on Mars, Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson) to find his father. The film got pushed back to this date after being scheduled to be released late last year, but for whatever reason it’s coming out now. The film looks okay, although it looks a bit too teenager romance to me, but the cast is pretty great. The rest of the cast includes Carla Gugino, Janet Montgomery, David House, BD Wong and Gary Oldman.

 

10th

Limited Release: A United Kingdom (Drama)

Based on the true story, Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman (Rosamund Pike) from London in the late 1940s. The film also stars Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Jessica Oyelowo and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

 

Fifty Shades Darker (Romance Drama – Universal Pictures)

James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Cards) comes in to direct the second film for the popular – among some people – books. This time it finds Christian (Jamie Dornan) wrestling with his inner demons, as Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) confronts the anger and envy of the women who came before her. I never watched the first film, and have no intention to, but I know there are fans out there, so here you go. The film also stars Kim Basinger, Tyler Hoechlin, Bella Heathcote, Max Martini, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Fay Materson, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Eric Johnson and Marica Gay Harden.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Action Thriller – Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Pictures)

Legendary and mythical hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement again when a former associate plots to seize control of an international assassins’ guild. The result is John going to Rome to stop it and with a bounty on his head. John Wick was a massive surprise to everyone, and the sequel is on most people’s radar – including mine – so I can’t wait to see how the up the ante and what they have in store action wise. The film also stars Common, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Peter Stormare, Bridget Moynahan, Peter Serafinowicz, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fisburne, and Ian McShane

 

The LEGO Batman Movie (Animated Action Comedy – Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, DC Entertainment, Animal Logic)

A spinoff film from The LEGO Movie, it features, of course, LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). The film follows Batman/Bruce Wayne as he has to deal with working with others, and raising the orphan boy he adapted in Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera). LEGO Batman was a major highlight in The LEGO Movie, so seeing him get his own movie is, I can only imagine, a great move. The voice cast also includes Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn and Mariah Carey as The Mayor of Gotham.

 

17th

Fist Fight (Comedy – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/21 Laps Entertainment/Wrigley Pictures)

When one school teacher (Charlie Day) gets the other (Ice Cube) fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight. We probably aren’t expecting too much from Fist Fight, but the film looks decently funny, so let’s give it a show. The film also stars Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Jillian Bell, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Dennis Haysbert and Tracy Morgan

 

The Great Wall (Action – Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/Kava Productions/Le Vision Pictures)

Directed by Yimou Zhang, the film centers on the mystery centering around the construction of the Great Wall of China. The film already has a lot of eyes on it with the “white washing” controversy, even though director Yimou Zhang said he wrote the role of Matt Damon specifically for Damon, and the film isn’t just about Damon’s “white” character saving everyone. Regardless of all that, The Great Wall has a great international cast of Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Numan Acar, Eddie Peng, and Tian Jing.

 

A Cure for Wellness (Horror – New Regency Productions/Studio Babelsberg/Blind Wink Productions)

Directed Gore Verbinski, the film follows a young executive (Dane DeHaan), who is sent to bring back the company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. However, he soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. The film looks really eerie and creepy, and I can’t wait to see what Verbinski does with this. The film also stars Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs.

 

24th

Limited Release: Bitter Harvest

Based on historical events, the film tells the story of the Holodomor, the genocidal famine created by the Joseph Stalin. The film follows a group of people that rebel and try to fight the powerful forces looming over them.

 

Limited Release: Tulip Fever

Based on 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 a pretty impressive cast of Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Cara Delevingne, Kevin McKidd, Tom Hollander, Holliday Grainger, Zach Galifianakis and Judi Dench

 

Rock Dog (Animation – Lionsgate/Dream Factory Group/Huayi Tencent Entertainment Company/Mandoo Pictures/Eracme Entertainment)

When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events. The voice cast includes Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon and Sam Elliott.

 

Collide (Action Thriller – Open Road Films, Silver Pictures, IM Global Film Fund, DMG Entertainment, 42)

An American backpacker (Nicholas Hoult) gets involved with a ring of drug smugglers as their driver, though he winds up on the run from his employers across Cologne high-speed Autobahn. The film was supposed to come out last year, and it didn’t look that bad from the trailers. It looked like a fun little action film that would be passable, but got pushed back for some reason. The film also stars Felicity Jones, Marwan Kenzari, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley.

 

Get Out (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/QC Entertainment)

Directed by Jordan Peele, a young African American (Daniel Kaluuya) man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) cursed family estate. The film looks like a real psychological horror film, and the fact that’s directed by Jordan Peele is pretty interesting. Also that first trailer was just ridiculously crazy. The rest of the cast includes Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Caleb Landry Jones, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford.

 

What are you looking forward to?