Summer Movie Season 2019 Review

The 2019 Summer Movie Season is over!

Once again, many have said this year’s Summer Movie Season was a disappointment, lacked any real substance, or was filled with too many sequels, reboots/remakes and what-have-you. Whether you want to listen to all that or not is up to you. Personally, I don’t listen to the noise, but I did feel like the latter half of the Summer Movie Season lacked any real, “I need to see this movie NOW.” Regardless of that, this summer had some pretty descent movies, and some great enjoyable movies. So here’s my roundup of the Summer Movie Season 2019 (movies are not in a particular order).

 

The “I Have No Idea What to Think”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Based on the acclaimed book series written by Alvin Schwartz, produced by Guillermo del Toro – who had always had plans on directing originally – and directed by Andre Ovredal (the fantastic The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was bound to be a hit, or at the least halfway descent. I know I felt the movie was good, but it was always going to have an uphill battle trying to make the series of short stories into a feature-length film. Personally, I think they found a pretty descent way to bring these stories together – they ended up using one of the stories as a building block to create the Sarah Bellows character, and then have short stories be “nightmares” or stories the character have had/heard be the ones that come to life.

Again, I liked Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but there was something about it that I felt it need more.

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film was one of the most divisive films of the summer, and probably will be for the rest of the year. Tarantino’s fairy tale-esque story of the final years of the Golden Age of Hollywood followed Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, an aging star, trying to find his way in a changing Hollywood with his stunt-man and best friend Cliff Booth, played amazingly by Brad Pitt. The film also starred Margot Robbie as the late Sharon Tate, and also included the Mason family.

I won’t go into the massive think and opinion pieces that the film spawned, but the film definitely had us talking more than I thought it would. No matter where you fell in the spectrum, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood did its job of getting us to talk about it on more than one level – good or bad.

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Should Have Been Better (But I’d Still Recommend)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Its giant monsters fighting each other, so yeah, I enjoyed it. It was everything in-between that kind of slowed the movie down.

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Brightburn

Brightburn, basically the Superman story but if he’d had been evil the whole time, would also go under the frustrating category for me because the movie doesn’t really fully execute what it was trying to do, or at least didn’t fully go where it should have.

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Stuber

Stuber is one of those movies that isn’t completely original – story-wise – but the concept of a cop, played by the always reliable Dave Bautista, who can barely see, who basically kidnaps his Uber driver, Stu, played by the also always reliable Kumail Nanjiani, to help him take down a criminal who killed his partner works here. Genuine laughs and some great chemistry between Bautista and Nanjiani made Stuber worthwhile.

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Real Surprises of the Summer

Aladdin

Say what you want about the Disney live-action adaptations, I’m personally in the whatever camp as long as they’re good. When it comes to Aladdin though, I was never personally a huge fan of the old cartoon, so my connection to it wasn’t as strong as others. I went in expecting a lukewarm movie, but instead I was drawn in by the big, bright musical numbers, and while the movie had some pitfalls, I was genuinely surprised I walked out of Aladdin as an enjoyable movie.

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Crawl

I completely counted out Crawl from the very beginning. The movie followed Haley (Kaya Scodelario), who during a hurricane, goes to check on her father (Barry Pepper) who turns out to be injured, and the two have to not only brave the hurricane, but also a group of alligators. Yeah, the concept is a little whacky, and the trailers didn’t sell it too well, but man did I enjoy the hell out of Crawl. The movie is a solid horror thriller that got me a couple times with some solid jump scares, and Scodelario and Pepper sell the hell out of it. Seriously, Crawl is going down as one of my biggest surprises of the year.

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Least-Liked/Disappointments

Dark Phoenix

20th Century Fox once again whiffed the famous Dark Phoenix comic story on the big screen, and it’s all the more frustrating again, because like the old X-Men movies, the build-up to this version of the story wasn’t all that bad. Apocalypse teased out story, but Dark Phoenix simply chose to ignore that tease in favor of just retelling the story all over again.

The movie also had some behind-the-scenes shenanigans, like a last-minute third act reshoot, Fox being bought by Disney, Jennifer Lawrence clearly not wanting to be there and, despite his best effort, long-time producer of the franchise Simon Kinberg making his directorial effort.

On top of all that, the movie feels just pretty bland. Speaking of bland…

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Men in Black: International

How do you not capitalize on the fantastic chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson from Thor: Ragnarok? I don’t know, but somehow they didn’t, and we suffered from it. Men in Black: International’s biggest problem is that’s really bland, and while things happen, it’s really not that all exciting. The movie also apparently had some behind-the-scenes troubles like the script constantly changing, an stars Hemsworth and Thompson rewriting their own lines. Never a good sign.

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Child’s Play

I was willing to give Child’s Play a chance, and while Brian Tyree Henry’s supporting cop character was probably the only real saving grace of the movie, and Mark Hamill voicing Chucky was a bold move, but the writing didn’t do him any favors, Child’s Play just didn’t do it for me. Some aspects of the movie were okay, but at the end of the day, Child’s Play is going to be remembered for being denounced by original creator Don Mancini.

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Shaft

Look, I love Samuel L. Jackson as much as the next person, but this new Shaft takes the wrong approach to old school/old mindset vs. new school. A lot of the jokes that Jackson’s Shaft comes off as a tad bit too misogynistic for their good, and despite the father-son dynamic between him and Jessie T. Usher’s Junior working near the end, Shaft had too many missteps and non-working parts to really have me rooting entirely for Jackson.

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Honorable Mention

Toy Story 4

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Spider-Man: Far from Home

The Peanut Butter Falcon

 

My Favorite Movies of the Summer

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Let’s face it, John Wick is the best American action series we’ve had for some time. The series has a great team behind it with former stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves getting us to root for people to get jacked up in the best way possible. Parabellum is more or less of the same from the previous films, but damn we I love seeing Reeves kick ass.

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Detective Pikachu

Growing up with Pokemon, I was always going to watch this. Granted, I was skeptical at first because I didn’t know how they would be able to pull it off without the CG looking goofy. Boy, was I wrong! The Pokemon looked great, and Ryan Reynolds brought Pikachu to life in a way I never thought was possible. Was it a little wonky, sure, but come on live-action Pokemon on the big screen!

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Booksmart

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde sure made waves this summer, at least with the people that saw it in theaters. Booksmart told the coming-of-age story of best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), who on the night before their graduation realized they haven’t partied enough – because they wanted to get into good colleges – and try to right the wrong, of course, comedic hijinks ensue. Booksmart might be one of those movies that people catch on streaming, and say “why didn’t I watch this in theaters!?”

Dever and Feldstein had tremendous chemistry together, and the movie gets pretty wild – no pun intended – and the movie could have gone the raunchy route, the movie took the innocent – well, somewhat innocent – route.

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Midsommar

Ari Aster did it again. Midsommar was on a lot of people highly anticipated list, mainly because we wanted to see what Aster had up his sleeve after Hereditary. We got our answer, and I don’t think we were entirely ready for it. The film followed a couple (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) who along with two more friends go to Sweden and visit a small village to see their summer festival. Of course, things go very, very wrong…and weird.

Whereas Hereditary was about what’s in that dark corner, Midsommar made all the horror hit you in broad daylight. It’s a vicious, slow-burn of a movie that makes you anxious and with an ending that left many questioning what the hell? Because yeah, Midsommar was probably one of the most “what the hell?” movies of the year.

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The Farewell

Based on an actual lie of Lulu Wang’s life, The Farwell follows Billi, played incredibly by Awkwafina, who finds out her grandmother in China has cancer. Her family, finding it better not to tell her, fake a wedding to get the whole family together to see one last time. I really loved this movie. Not only is it extremely touching, the performance by Awkwafina was, to me, extremely surprising. I think most of us know Awkwafina from her comedic work, so seeing her in a dramatic role like this was also welcoming. While the story is mostly around this Chinese family, I think we can all connect to the story in some form.

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Ready or Not

Ready or Not will probably go down as one of the movies of the summer that everyone missed out on. It follows Samara Weaving’s Grace, who gets married into the Le Domas family, but realizes that the family has a dangerous deal with a mysterious figure that requires a sacrifice in the form of a game – Hide and Seek. That’s basically the bare bones of the movie, but there is a lot more to unpack and watch to enjoy. Ready or Not knows what it is, so it doesn’t try to give you an dishonest movie or even try to make it more serious than it’s suppose to be.

Weaving, once again, is reliable as ever and the family is the perfect foil to her character who’s just trying to survive anyway possible. Ready or Not will definitely be popping up again at my end of the year list. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and go watch this in theaters with as little information that you possibly can.

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So that’s my list. I’m more interested in what your Summer Movie Season roundup is like. Let me know!

‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’ Review

Director: Jon Watts

Writers: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers

Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Cobie Smulders and Marisa Tomei

Synopsis: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There are TWO post-credit scenes.*

 

How do you follow one of the most comic book-y movies of all time that spanned over a decade and over twenty movies? That was the challenge Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures had in front of them when putting together Spider-Man: Far from Home. Not only did they have to follow Avengers: Endgame, but also make a proper sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming that wasn’t just Spider-Man/Peter Parker having to move on from saving the entire universe with The Avengers and his now deceased mentor/father-figure Tony Stark. So did they pull it off? Yes. Yes they did.

Set months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is eager to take a break from the superhero gig, and go on his European school vacation with his friends and tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels about her. Of course, being a superhero and an Avenger now, that isn’t easy. Unbeknownst to Peter and the public, elemental monsters – The Elementials – start to wreck havoc across the globe, which leads him to be recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help fight the threat alongside Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero who claims he’s from another dimension, and has first hand experiencing fighting these monsters. Peter now has to handle fighting giant monsters while on vacation and having the responsibility of being the potential new Tony Stark/Iron Man.

One of the troubles of reviewing Far from Home is a good chunk of the great scenes and moments are all spoilers, so I’ll tread lightly going forward. That said, one of the best story elements about these new Spider-Man movies is director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers really have a firm grasp about what makes Peter Parker just that Peter Parker. Peter is still a teenager, and despite being a teenager with superhero abilities, he wants to be that, but is constantly told he needs to step up and be a superhero/Avenger. It’s not that Peter is being ungrateful or that he is ungrateful, he loves being Spider-Man, and wants to help people, but he is still a teenager and wants to hang out with his friends, tell the girl he likes that he likes her and just be normal for five minutes.

The other great thing about the sequel is that it keeps its charm, humor and heart from Homecoming. Holland and Zendaya, who has a lot more to do this time around, have great chemistry together, and pretty perfectly recreate that awkwardness you’d have when you’re around your crush. It’s also nice to see the balance between the more serious moments, like Peter questioning himself, and humorous moments, mostly between Peter and his classmates, are mostly tight enough.

The rest of the cast have their moments, but one of the big highlights is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck aka Mysterio. Gyllenhaal is obviously having a lot of fun with the role, and whether or not you know anything about the character from the comics, you’ll enjoy what they do with Mysterio here.

All in all, Spider-Man: Far from Home is a ton of fun, and does a lot with what they have. It thankfully doesn’t feel bloated or overstuff, and while it does have its lull moments, the cast and balance of tones keep the film together. Finally, in true Marvel fashion, the post-credit scenes change the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. It will be interesting to see Marvel goes forward with it, and also how it changes the story of Spider-Man. Either way, Far from Home is highly enjoyable and should be watched on the biggest screen you can find it.

Spider-Man: Far from Home

4.5 out of 5

‘Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ Review

Director: Rob Letterman

Writers: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Derek Connolly and Rob Letterman

Cast: Ryan Reynolds (voice), Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Chris Geere, Rita Ora, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy

Synopsis: In a world where people collect Pokemon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

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

 

I, like many my age – no matter how bad you want to deny it – grew up watching and playing Pokemon. It’s something that, somehow, has remained in nerd culture through new generations and fans still bringing it up. If it wasn’t apparent, when Pokemon GO came out, the thing spread like wildfire and was a craze that I think people wouldn’t happened (do people still play it? Serious question, not bashing). It was because of the GO craze, Warner Bros. and Legendary decided to jump on it and announce they were developing a Pokemon movie, and they were choosing to do the Detective Pikachu route.

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t fully onboard with the idea at first. I thought Hollywood would bastardize one of my childhood favorites with another crappy CGI/live-action hybrid movie that would probably water down what made the property so good and memorable. Then the trailers came out and I was fully onboard. So, did Pokemon Detective Pikachu live up to the expectations the studio put out? Or does the video game curse continue?

Pokemon Detective Pikachu follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a once aspiring Pokemon trainer, who suddenly gets a call informing him that his estranged detective father has been killed in a car crash. While going through his father’s apartment, he runs into a talking Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who claims to be his father’s Pokemon partner, but can’t remember anything since he has amnesia, expect one thing – Tim’s father isn’t dead, but only missing.

The two decide to embark on a journey to find out what happened to Tim’s father, who was on the verge of breaking something huge. Along the way, they helped by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), an intern at the big news corporation, who has a nose for a good story, who also has her Pokemon, Psyduck, with her at all times. What follows is Pokemon shenanigans, world building, and a mystery buddy-cop film.

Detective Pikachu’s staying power is going to be interesting to see. On one hand, the movie is jam packed with Easter Eggs for the hardcore fans, to the point that you may need to watch it twice to catch some of them. On the other, non-fans will maybe have at least a little bit of a hard time with the world they are thrown into. Because, director Rob Letterman wastes no time filling the screen with Pokemon. Once we get pass the cold opening and Tim’s introduction, which shows him trying to catch a Cubone after being forced by a friend, we go straight into Ryme City.

Ryme City is the creation of Bill Nighy’s Howard Clifford, a city where Pokemon and humans coexist together. The Pokemon fill the city streets and hold jobs like everyone else. It’s here where most of the Pokemon are shown, and I’m sure fans will have a field day trying to name them all. It’s also not filled with generation one Pokemon, there were Pokemon there I didn’t even know or recognize. Dare I say, it’s almost Who Framed Roger Rabbit-esque in its story and format, and Blade Runner in terms of visual look for the first half of the movie.

All that said, Detective Pikachu can’t just thrive on the Pokemon, it is trying to tell a story. Smith’s Tim is charismatic enough to push the story along and his chemistry with Reynolds’ voiced Pikachu keeps the movie going until the credits roll. Newton’s Lucy is a hard buy at first, as her character seems to be pulled from the old noir films – which the film does try to be for the most part – but then becomes the ambitious news reporter, even though she’s really an unpaid intern, by trying to break the case along with Tim, Pikachu and her Psyduck.

Of course, the highlight of the cast and the movie is Ryan Reynolds as the talking Pikachu. Reynolds is always reliable for witty, crisp delivered one-liners, and he brings that with Pikachu, and while he’s not foul-mouthed like Deadpool – although Reynolds said there are R-rated outtakes enough a movie – Reynolds’ Pikachu genuinely funny. Plus, the chemistry he has time Smith, despite the live-action and human interaction differences, is fantastic.

All the fun aside, Detective Pikachu does have some faults that keep it from being a good movie to a great movie. The movie’s story gets a little too ridiculous for its own good in the third act, and despite some cool Pokemon action, it doesn’t really justify the direction of the story, although you might be able to guess where it was headed at some point. Of course, there is the big one – do you need to know anything about Pokemon to enjoy the movie? Sort of. Knowing little things about the world could be helpful in some moments and situations while watching the events unfold, but not knowing them should affect your enjoyment.

Then there are the tonal shifts. The first ten, fifteen minutes of the movie is pretty much a drama with Tim dealing with the loss of his father, but then Pikachu is introduced and the movie becomes a comedy. But then Tim’s story comes back and the movie stops everything to have a drama beat, and then go right back to comedy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the movie missteps on balancing the two sometimes. To get a little nit-picky, despite the amazing designs of the all the Pokemon, and how amazingly truthful they are, there some times with they look just a tad bit wonky, again, nit-picky.

All in all, Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a fun entertaining movie that you’ll enjoy whether or not you know anything about the Pokemon lore or franchise. The story is a little flimsy by the end, but it’s the core cast of Justice Smith’s Tim, Kathryn Newton’s Lucy and Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu that will keep you invested from beginning to end. Pika Pika.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu

4 out of 5

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

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

 

3rd

Limited Release: El Chicano

A pair of twin brothers (Raul Castillo) from East L.A. choose to live their lives differently and end up on opposite sides of the law. The movie co-stars Jose Pablo Cantillo, David Castaneda, Aimee Garcia and Kate del Castillo.

 

The Intruder

A young married couple (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good) buy a beautiful Napa Valley house on several acres of land only to find that the man they bought it from (Dennis Quaid) refuses to let go of the property.

 

Uglydolls

An animated adventure in which the free-spirited Uglydolls confront what it means to be different, struggle with a desire to be loved, and ultimately discover who you truly are is what matters most. The voice cast includes Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas, Emma Roberts, Janelle Monae, Gabriel Iglesias, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, Pitbull and Wanda Sykes.

 

Long Shot

Synopsis: When Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) reunites with his first crush, one of the most influential women in the world, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), he charms her. As she prepares to make run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly. Long Shot co-stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Randall Park, Alexander Skarsgard, June Diane Raphael, Andy Serkis and Bob Odenkirk.

Thoughts: Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before), Long Shot already has a good word of mouth thanks to its premiere at SXSW, and the trailer also does a bang up job of doing the movie justice.

 

10th

Limited Release: All is True

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, a look at the final days in the life renowned playwright William Shakespeare, who Branagh will play. The film also stars Lydia Wilson, Kathryn Wilder, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.

 

Limited Release: Tolkien (expansion to follow)

Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author, played by Nicholas Hoult, as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. Tolkien co-stars Lily Collins, Genevieve O’Reilly, Pam Ferris and Colm Meany.

 

Poms

A comedy about a group of women who form a cheer leading squad at their retirement community, proving that you’re never too old to ‘bring it!’ Poms stars Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Pam Grier and Bruce McGill.

 

The Hustle

A gender-bend remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson star as female scam artists, one low-rent and the other high class, who team up to take down the dirty rotten men who have wronged them. The Hustle co-stars Alex Sharp and Tim Blake Nelson.

 

Detective Pikachu

Synopsis: In a world where people collect Pokemon to do battle, a boy (Justice Smith) comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu (voiced and some motion capture by Ryan Reynolds) who seeks to be a detective. Detective Pikachu co-stars Kathryn Newton, Karan Soni, Suki Waterhous, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy.

Thoughts: I grew up with Pokemon, so seeing a live-action Pokemon movie is right in my wheelhouse. That said, I’ll admit, I wasn’t onboard right away. The live-action/CG hybrid had me worried because those don’t usually work and I worried they would mess up the CG on the Pokmon. Plus, I didn’t really like the Detective Pikachu approach. But damn have the trailers impressed the hell out of me. I guarantee that I’m going to feel like a kid while watching this.

 

 

17th

Limited Release: The Souvenir

A young film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) in the early 80s becomes romantically involved with a complicated and untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). The film also stars Tilda Swinton and Richard Ayoade – and yes, Honor is Tilda’s real-life daughter.

 

The Sun Is Also a Star

Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager finds love at a difficult time in her family’s life. The Sun Is Also a Star stars Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton.

 

A Dog’s Journey

A sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets. The movie co-stars Dennis Quaid, Abby Ryder Fortson, Kathyrn Prescott, and Marg Helgenberger.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Synopsis: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere. The film co-stars Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Robin Lord Taylor, Jason Mantzoukas, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos and Anjelica Huston.

Thoughts: John Wick surprised everyone when it came out, and now it’s become a fan favorite in the short time. But, do I really need to put anything here. It’s John fucking Wick!

 

22nd

The Tomorrow Man

Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) spends his life preparing for a disaster that may never come. Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) spends her life shopping for things she may never use. In a small town, these two people will try to find love. The Tomorrow Man also stars Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow and Wendy Makkena.

 

24th

Booksmart

Directed by Olivia Wilde, making her directorial debut; Two academic superstars and best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) who, on the eve of their high school graduation, realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. Booksmart co-stars Billie Lourd, Noah Galvin, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte.

 

BrightBurn

Synopsis: What if a child (Jackson A. Dunn) from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? Brightburn co-stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman

Thoughts: Produced by James Gunn, and written by Gunn’s cousins, Brightburn is basically the Superman story, but with him being evil from the very beginning. I’m all for it.

 

Ad Astra (It’s still technically on the schedule, but no trailer. Some reports saying it’s moving later this year, but looks about right)

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edge of the solar system to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. Ad Astra co-stars Ruth Negga, John Ortiz, Jamie Kennedy and Donald Sutherland.

 

Aladdin

When a street urchin (Mena Massoud) finds a lamp with a genie (Will Smith) inside, he uses the lamp to turn himself into a prince in order to win the heart of a beautiful princess (Naomi Scott). But an evil vizier (Marwan Kenzari) is after the lamp too. Aladdin co-stars Billy Magnussen, Nasim Pedrad, Numan Acar, Navid Negahban and Alan Tudyk.

 

 

31st

Ma

Synopsis: A lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn’t get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host. Ma co-stars Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, McKaly Miller, Juliette Lewis, Missi Pyle and Luke Evans.

Thoughts: The movie reunites Spencer with her The Help director Tate Taylor, in let’s face it, the weirdest, but intriguing movie in both their careers.

 

Rocketman

Synopsis: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s (Taron Egerton) breakthrough years. Rocketman co-stars Richard Madden, Jamie Bell and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Thoughts: The movie just looks bombastic.

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Synopsis: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collies with Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. Godzilla: King of Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Ziyi Zhang, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Thomas Middleditch, Bradley Whitford and Charles Dance.

Thoughts: It’s FUCKING GODZILLA, RODAN, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH ON THE BIG SCREEN AGAIN!

 

What are you looking forward to?

2018 Summer Movie Season Round-Up

And just like that, the 2018 Summer Movie Season is over! It is kind of hard to believe that it’s already September, but yet, here we are. That being said, I’d like to run down some movies that stood out to me this summer. Ranging from my Worst/Least-Liked, Surprises and, of course, my Best/Favorite movies of the summer. My lists always range all over the place since I tend to watch a lot of movies. Of course, there are movies missing from the list because I couldn’t find a place to put them or I just didn’t get to watch them – I’m looking at you Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Alright, let’s get to it.

 

Worst/Least-Liked

Breaking In

Breaking In is one of those movies that you feel like you’ve seen a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the movie wasn’t really that great. The characters aren’t great or are very poorly written, the “action” isn’t all that great and it’s rather uneventfully for the majority of the movie. When it finally lends itself to be eventful, it takes the safe route.

 

Slender Man

This one has a lot of problems. One, a feature film on the big screen about the famous/popular internet meme is WAY too late. Two, the bad timing of the release with the real life stabbing of the young girl by those two disturbed girls trying to please Slender Man. Finally, the public dispute between producers and Sony Pictures on how to handle the movie which affected the movie in more ways than one. The movie moved around the release schedule before Sony pulled the movie, and then unceremoniously put the movie back against The Meg. Finally, Sony reportedly removed some “key” scenes, so the movie we saw was not a true final cut. All that said, it showed. The movie was uneven at times, and the characters weren’t all that great and – it could have been my theater – some scenes were just too dark to see anything. It’s a shame, because Slender Man could have been, at the very least, a horror movie that could have been at least somewhat good.

 

 

Surprises

Overboard

A remake of the 1987 film with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Overboard switches up the genders and has Anna Faris playing a down-on-her-luck single mother who meets an arrogant rich playboy, played by Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez, who gets amnesia after being thrown off his boat. Faris’ character sees this as an opportunity to get some revenge after he mistreated her. The movie doesn’t have a lot of love – remake aspect aside – but I actually found the movie pretty charming, and genuinely funny at times. Derbez and Faris are great together, and while I wasn’t expecting anything from this, especially after Derbez’s last outing, How to be a Latin Lover, left little to be desired, Overboard is worth a watch.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Speaking of not expecting much, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was a movie that was not on my radar whatsoever. I was a fan of the original animated show, but the newest and latest animated show wasn’t for me, so I had no real connection to the movie at all. However, I took the plunge and went to watch it, and boy, am I glad I did. Seeing this was definitely one of my best moments of the summer. The movie was funny, meta, not afraid to make fun of the superhero genre and overall just fun.

 

Alright, let’s get to the Best/Favorite Movies of the Summer, but before that, let’s do some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Upgrade

Hereditary

Incredibles 2

Leave No Trace

Eighth Grade

Sorry to Bother You

Tag

Searching

 

Best/Favorite

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t up there with Marvel’s best films (the Captain America trilogy), but it did up the ante on everything in the first Ant-Man. The humor and the action was good, and the Quantum Realm played a bigger role, and potentially gave us a hint of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, seeing Evangeline Lilly playing The Wasp was great to watch. It was also a nice palette cleanser after watching Avengers: Infinity War.

 

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee’s latest film is one that was on a lot of people’s radar when it was announced. The incredible true story of a black undercover police officer, played by Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington, with the help of a white police officer, played by Adam Driver, infiltrate the KKK and help delay or stop attacks before they happen. I’ll be honest, I’m not very familiar with all of Spike Lee’s work, but BlacKkKlansman is, and was, one of the year’s best films.

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians was not a movie I was looking forward toward completely. I was going to watch it, but it wasn’t something I was dying to see. Then all the word of mouth came out, plus the reviews, so when I sat down to watch this, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how great the movie was, but how funny and charming it was. Of course, the other big thing with the movie is it is a mostly to all Asian cast in a long time. The cast was great and with a sequel already lined up to happen, Crazy Rich Asians was also a surprise of the summer for me.

 

Hearts Beat Loud

This was a film I didn’t know anything about until word started coming out. The film follows Nick Offerman as Frank Fisher, a single and widowed father and former musician, wanting to start a band with his young daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) after they record a song. Hearts Beat Loud is also much more than that, and the great thing is the movie doesn’t have a huge cast. Offerman and Clemons are great together and Ted Danson and Toni Collette have great supporting roles with Offerman, while newcomer Sasha Lane sharing her scenes with Clemons. It will be hard for me to imagine not having Hearts Beat Loud in my end of year list.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The Mission: Impossible series is still going, and it shows no real signs of slowing down – even though Tom Cruise broke his DAMN ANKLE AND KEPT FILMING THE STUNT. Regardless of that, I had a hell of a lot of fun watching Fallout. The Paris sequences and the bathroom fight alone for me was worth the price of admission alone.

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,” especially toward the latter half of the month because the kids are going back to school. Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

3rd

Limited Release: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Based on the novel by Emily M. Danforth, in 1993 a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians. The movie has been making some waves on the film festival circuit. The Miseducation of Cameron Post stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, Quinn Shephard, John Gallagher Jr. and Jennifer Ehle.

 

The Darkest Minds

Based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken; imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future. The Darkest Minds stars Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Gwendoline Christie and Mandy Moore.

 

Disney’s Christopher Robin

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), who helps him to rediscover the joys of life. The voice casts includes Brad Garrett, Chris O’Dowd, Nick Mohammed, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones and Peter Capaldi. The live-action cast includes Mark Gatiss and Hayley Atwell.

 

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when Audrey discovers the boyfriend (Justin Theroux) who dumped her was actually a spy. The movie also stars Sam Heughan and Gillian Anderson.

 

 

8th

Dog Days

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles who are brought together by their loveable canine counterparts. Dog Days stars Eva Longoria, Vanessa Hudgens, Nina Dobrev, Thomas Lennon, Finn Wolfhard, Laruen Lapkus, Adam Pally, Jon Bass and Rob Corddry.

 

10th

BlacKkKlansman

Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and produced by Jordan Peele, the film based on a true story follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American police officer from Colorado, who successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter. The film stars Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold and Laura Harrier.

 

The Meg

Based on a novel by Steve Alten, after escaping an attack by what he claims was by a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. The Meg also stars Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Bingbing Li, Masi Oka, Jessica McNamee and Robert Taylor.

 

Slender Man

The story of a tall, thin, horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens. Slender Man stars Julia Goldani Telles, Joey King, Annalise Basso, Jaz Sinclair, Kallie Tabor, Kevin Chapman and Javier Botet.

 

15th

Crazy Rich Asians

Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, the story follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an American-born Chinese economics professor, who travels to her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) hometown of Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Before long, his secret is out: Nick is from a family that is impossibly wealthy, he’s perhaps the most eligible bachelor in Asia, and every single woman in his ultra-rarefied social class is incredibly jealous of Rachel and wants to bring her down. Crazy Rich Asians also stars Harry Shum Jr., Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Jimmy O. Yang, Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh.

 

 

17th

Alpha

Directed by Albert Hughes (From Hell, The Book of Eli), a story of survival set 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, which follows Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is presumed dead by his tribe after a hunting accident. He must survive the elements of the wild, along with a wolf he befriends, to find his tribe.

 

Mile 22

Directed by Peter Berg, an elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country. Mile 22 stars Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, Lauren Cohan and John Malkovich.

 

 

24th

Limited Release: Papillon

A remake of the 1973, and based off the autobiographical book by Henri Charriere, a prisoner detained on a remote island plots his escape. The film stars Charlie Hunnam, Rami Malek, Eve Hewson, Roland Moller and Tommy Flanagan.

 

A.X.L

The life of a teenage boy is forever altered by a chance encounter with cutting edge military technology. The movie stars Alex Neustaedter, Chloe Bridges, Becky G and the voice of Lucy Hale.

 

The Happytime Murders

Directed by Brian Henson, when the puppet cast of an ‘80s children’s TV show begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Leslie David Baker, Jimmy O. Yang and Maya Rudolph.

 

Searching

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her. A thriller that unfolds entirely on computer screens. Searching stars John Cho, Michelle La, Joseph Lee and Debra Messing.

 

31st

Limited Release: The Little Stranger

Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, Dr. Faraday, the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor, is called to attend a patient at Hundreds Hall – where his mother once worked. While there he discovers the family who now owns the land is haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Kate Phillips and Charlotte Rampling.

 

Kin

Based on the short film “Bag Man,” and directed by the directors of that film Jonathan and Josh Baker, an ex-convict and his brother are forced on the run by a vengeful criminal. Kin stars James Franco, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, Carrie Coon and Dennis Quaid.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Review

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett

Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

 

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

 

Mission: Impossible is arguably one of the best action franchises still around. The franchise has come a long way since the first film back in 1996, and since J.J. Abrams brought back the franchise in 2006, they keep getting better and better with every sequel. However, director Christopher McQuarrie has definitely put his stamp on the franchise, especially since he’s the only director to back came to direct a sequel. So where does Fallout stand in the franchise? Pretty high up there, to be honest.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), and his team of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames), as they track down a dangerous new organization called The Apostles, a spinoff if you will, of the criminal organization The Syndicate from Rogue Nation. The group is run by mysterious and unknown John Lark, who is after plutonium cores to set off bombs around the globe. After a botched attempt to get them before Lark, the CIA’s Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) forces Ethan and the IMF to have bring along August Walker (Henry Cavill) to insure they finally get the plutonium and Lark. Of course, all of that is easier said than done, especially when Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) and Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) reenter the picture.

I’m not going to lie, I really, really liked this movie. Fallout is thrilling from beginning to end, and doesn’t really ever let the reigns go for anything. The characters, which have all primarily been in the series before work well together. You believe that Ethan, Luther and Benji care for one another and would do anything to protect each other, while also trying to successfully complete their mission. Ferguson’s Ilsa, even though this is her second film – a rare feat for female characters in the series – also feels right at home when she shows up. These are characters we’ve seen and care about, so when certain things are set into motion, or even when they’re picking on one another, we get an emotion out of it.

I don’t want to take a jab at another long-running franchise – Fast & Furious – but Fallout knows who their characters are, and isn’t afraid to have them outshine one another every now and then. Even though Cruise’s Ethan is the lead, everybody has their moment, and it’s awesome to see them take the reins and roll with it.

When it comes to the new characters, more particularly, Henry Cavill’s Walker, he is the perfect opposite of Cruise’s Ethan. Ethan would rather take care of something as smoothly and hazard-free as possible, Walker will just straight-up walk up to the situation, get his hands dirty and deal with the consequences later. It’s also nice to see them play off with each other, and it’s even more apparent during one of the many standout sequences in the HALO jump.

Mission: Impossible is known now for their big set pieces, and Fallout is no different. While the HALO jump is cool to see – looks great in IMAX – there are two chase scenes in Paris that had me on the edge of my seat, and that’s all I’ll say that about. That said, the series has made itself proud of doing a lot of their stunts and action sequences with no to little CGI, which is maybe one reason why fans appreciate these films – as they should. That’s the case here, and while it looks like they used some CGI in little parts here and there, Fallout is probably the most daring for stunts, especially knowing that Tom Cruise broke his ankle during one of the stunts – which they actually ended up using in the film.

As much as I really liked the movie, there are some things that just kind of didn’t work for me. For one, and this is something I can’t believe I’m saying, Fallout is a just a tad bit too long. Fallout is the longest of the Mission: Impossible films and you can clearly feel it before the third act gets going. Cast wise, Angela Bassett’s Erica Sloan is kind of wasted here, even though her character doesn’t necessarily call for her to be in the film a lot, having someone like Bassett play the role, and having her disappear for most of the film was odd. Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane isn’t as compelling as he was in Rogue Nation, but he’s also now the only villain to appear in two Mission: Impossible films. Lastly, and this is something I didn’t mind, but others probably will, Fallout relies a little bit too much on small twists.

All in all, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the best experiences you’ll have in theaters this summer. It’s got great action, the cast is spot on, the score is also damn great and it’s thrilling from beginning to end. I can’t say enough good things about Fallout. The fact that Mission: Impossible has had the staying power and continues to get better with every installment is amazing and hard to believe, but somehow they keep doing it, and I’m all for it.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

5 out of 5