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?

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‘Atomic Blonde’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Kurt Johnstad

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Moller, Bill Skarsgard, and Eddie Marsan

Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

 

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

 

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, as I was lucky enough to see a free advanced screening of the film at the beginning of the month. Loosely based off the graphic novel titled The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde is the first film solo-directed by David Leitch, one of the co-directors of John Wick. So even before the film was released, we knew that the film would at least have great action scenes, right? Well, yes, it does, but Atomic Blonde isn’t without its faults. However, if anything, it once again proves that Charlize Theron – if you didn’t know already – is a total badass.

Atomic Blonde is set within days the Berlin Wall comes down, and follows Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who is introduced after getting out of a tub of ice water with bruises covering her whole body and a black eye. Lorraine then goes to MI6 to get debriefed by her boss Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). The film then is told through flashbacks. Lorraine is bought in after the death of fellow agent Gasciogne (Sam Hargave), who Lorraine had a brief relationship with, who was carrying heavy and sensitive information on him when he died. Lorraine’s mission is to go to Berlin, meet her contact David Percival (James McAvoy), find the information and get out of Berlin alive. However, the mission is thrown for a loop when the list actually does go missing, and the only person that knows anything about the list is a defector codenamed Spyglass (Eddie Marsan). Lorraine not only has to get the information, but get out of Berlin alive.

Since the trailers were released, I have been really looking forward to Atomic Blonde. It had a great cast, the style looked cool and more importantly it looked like Charlize Theron was going to kick a lot – a lot – of ass. Thankfully, we get a lot of Charlize Theron kicking ass. The problem with Atomic Blonde is that before we get to the extreme level of ass-kicking, the film trudges along. The film works along the lines of other spy thrillers by being layered and dense with plot and characters that may or may not betray or want to kill Lorraine. However, some of it doesn’t really work too well.

Sofia Boutella’s character Delphine gets introduced, but she doesn’t really do too much in the film other than the promoted sex scene with Theron’s Lorraine. Her character should be more important considering the state of things, but no. Eddie Marsan’s character is introduced early on, but then disappears for the rest of the film until he’s needed again. Although I wish we got a little more of him especially since he’s an important part to everything, but I can see why he’s gone. James McAvoy seemed like he was having fun playing his David Percival. He’s a bit snarky, unpredictable and sometimes straight-out untrustworthy, but he’s still damn fun to watch. It’s also great to see him clash with Theron’s Lorraine, considering their styles are so different.

However, the film belongs to Theron. She’s a force from beginning to end, and never turns it off. Her character is cold and distant, but considering the lifestyle she lives it makes sense. That also makes her a death machine to anyone stupid enough to mess with her, but she also gets hurt like everyone else which is a nice touch. Add that the fact that she did a lot of her own stunts, because you can clearly see her face throughout the fight scenes makes those fight scenes more believable and awesome. Including an amazing ten-minute or so non-stop action scene that feels like its unbroken and probably one of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

All in all, Atomic Blonde is a worthy action spy thriller worth your time. While the film faces some pacing issues that bring the film down, and loaded a bit too much for its own good, director David Leitch still puts together a great action film with a great lead in Charlize Theron. I wouldn’t personally put Atomic Blonde next to John Wick, but if you’re feeling left out story-wise, the action should hold you over.

Atomic Blonde

4 out of 5

‘Dunkirk’ Review

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, James D’Arcy, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh

Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

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

 

Based on the real event during World War II, and one of the most disastrous military missions in British history, Dunkirk is told through the perspective of three different viewpoints with imagined characters director Christopher Nolan made up, and a few characters that were based off real people. However, that doesn’t make Dunkirk any less of an important history film. I personally didn’t know anything about the real event at Dunkirk, and held off reading anything about the event until after the movie. This isn’t also your typical Nolan movie either, which makes the experience so much better. So let’s not waste any more space and get to what makes Dunkirk so damn good.

Nolan does do some experimenting with this film as it jumps across three different timelines that weave together in a slow fashion – all of them dealing with the British evacuation of Dunkirk. There’s the shoreline nicknamed The Mole, which takes place over the course of a week and follows British soldier Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and a fellow soldier he comes across played by Damien Bonnard, as they try to get out of Dunkirk. There’s “The Sea” that takes place over a day and follows Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney), and George (Barry Keoghan) who sail to Dunkirk as a rescue party and pick up a soldier (Cillian Murphy) along the way. Finally, “The Air” which takes place over the course of an hour and follows British pilots Collins (Jack Lowden) and Farrier (Tom Hardy) who provide air support for the ships.

One of the things you obviously notice right away about the film, despite big names like Hardy, Murphy, Rylance, James D’Arcy and Kenneth Branagh appearing, they are nothing more than supporting roles. Although, I’d make the argument that Rylance is one of the leads of the film, but I’ll leave that up to you. Also, considering this is a war film, you’re probably expecting buckets of blood and a hardcore brutal look at war like Saving Pirate Ryan right? Well, you don’t get that. However, you did get something better, for the lack of a better word – a cold, relentless and unforgiving look at war.

There never is a real safe place in their film, which adds to the tension every time we get what could be a moment of peace. Combine that with Hans Zimmer’s amazing score with a ticking clock that is both unnerving, but blends right into the scenes perfectly. Considering that, I was surprised like most people were that Dunkirk’s runtime is only an hour and forty-six minutes. Not that war films have to be long, but even with that “short” runtime, Dunkirk tells the story it is trying to tell.

I don’t know if people will see this as a negative, but Nolan doesn’t really get into any back stories of the characters. Everything is very in the moment, despite the non-linear narrative Nolan is putting on. You get a sense on who the characters might be by their actions, but Nolan doesn’t really give anyone an exposition dump to tell their story. The only real person that gets a ton of dialogue is Branagh’s Commander Bolton who is trying to get everyone out of Dunkirk. The other characters like Whitehead’s Tommy, who opens the film, can be seen as the lead of the film, but since the film jumps around I was okay that he wasn’t the central focus – but again that could be me

That said, the cast is great with everyone holding their own and not stealing the spotlight from anyone. Whitehead spends the majority of the film with Harry Styles, who surprisingly is not that bad. This could easily be seen as stunt casting, but the singer isn’t bad in his acting debut. Cillian Murphy is terrific as the soldier pleading with Mark Rylance’s character to turn back and go home. Speaking of Rylance, he does fine job as Mr. Dawson and his two main co-stars Barry Keoghan as George and Tom Glynn-Carney’s Peter. Jack Lowden and Tom Hardy as the pilots are only involved in the dogfights, which are great and enthralling to watch.

Even with the great cast, this movie belongs to Nolan and the crew. Specifically, the already mentioned Hans Zimmer and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who gives us the massive scope, but captures the intense dread and desperation of the characters, especially the ones on The Mole as they hear the German planes fly over them dropping bombs on them.

All in all, Dunkirk is an intense film that doesn’t let you go until the very end. Christopher Nolan was able to do something different in the war genre that I hope people appreciate and find the nuances with the great cinematography and score.

Dunkirk

4.5 out of 5

‘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?

‘Baby Driver’ Review

Director: Edgar Wright

Writer: Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, CJ Jones, Jon Bernthal and Kevin Spacey

Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway drivers himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

 

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

 

I’m not going to make this a secret – I love Edgar Wright. Every movie he’s done I’ve either loved or thoroughly enjoyed to no end. So when he dropped out of Ant-Man and moved on to Baby Driver, I was both a little upset (I was really looking forward toward his Ant-Man) and excited to see what he was going to do with this. Thankfully, from the very first trailer I was completely in. Then the early reviews and reception came out and everyone was saying how great and awesome it was. However as the release date loomed, and the reception kept getting better and better, I started wondering, is it really that good? Yes, yes it is.

Baby Driver centers on Baby (Ansel Elgort), a skilled, but reluctant getaway driver working off his debut to Doc (Kevin Spacey). However, he’s a not a normal getaway driver, he constantly listens to music to drown out his tinnitus in his ears that was a result from a car accident where he lost his parents as a child, and it’s his inner soundtrack that makes him the best. One day he meets waitress Debora (Lily James), and finally sees a future where he doesn’t have to be a getaway driver. However, as he and Debora get closer, Doc ropes him back into the game on a big job alongside Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). What follows is Baby trying to escape in more ways than one.

Like I mentioned, Baby is constantly listening to music and acts like not only his own personal soundtrack but ours as well, giving us a sense at what Baby is feeling at the certain times. At one point, during Baby’s second job working with Jaime Foxx’s Bats – when he’s introduced – JD (Lanny Joon) and Eddie (played by Flea), Baby restarts a song because the timing in off. The funny thing is that it doesn’t come off as awkward or weird, it comes off as funny and almost necessary. I read somewhere that the film is almost a reverse musical, instead of people bursting out into song, its Baby’s music that pushes the story forward a bit.

I don’t know how people will feel with music almost constantly playing, but Edgar Wright makes it work so well that it is rather impressive. Also, the fact that the music syncs with the action and the choreography to perfection makes the film that much better. Speaking of the action and the choreography, it’s highly impressive what Wright was able to bring out of everyone, and what he’s able to accomplish with all the car stunts is damn cool.

When it comes to the cast, they are also all fantastic. I’m not the biggest fan of Ansel Elgort, but he’s not that bad here as Baby. He’s a man of few words – expect when he’s talking to Debora – and lets his soundtrack and driving do the talking for him. Kevin Spacey chews up every scene he’s in, which isn’t many, but he does leave his impression felt. Jaime Foxx as Bats is, well, crazy and a bit unhinged and does act as the primary villain, although you can argue that they’re all bad guys, expect Baby who’s a reluctant bad guy. Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez play the happy couple of Buddy and Darling, who are crazy about each other and Buddy actually likes Baby and sees something special in him, which plays a bigger factor than you think in the film near the end.

Lily James as Debora is, unfortunately, a little underdeveloped. She does have a story behind her, but it’s only her telling it so it could have helped if we’d see a little more of her. Jon Bernthal isn’t underdeveloped, he’s underused. Bernthal is part of the opening heist of the film, but isn’t seen after that. It’s a bit of a shame, but he’s great in the time that he’s there. CJ Jones also appears as Joseph, Baby’s deaf foster father who wishes Baby would leave the criminal life.

All in all, Baby Driver is a fantastic film with great car chase sequences with an awesome cast and an equally great soundtrack that perfect fits with the action and how Ansel Elgort’s Baby is feeling. Moreover, while Baby Driver isn’t as personal as Edgar Wright’s other films, it is as stylized as them and filled with more action. Do yourself a favor and go watch Baby Driver in the biggest and loudest theater you can find.

Baby Driver

4.5 out of 5

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Review

Director: Michael Bay

Writers: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Josh Duhamel, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, Tony Hale, John Turturro and Anthony Hopkins

Voice Cast: Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Erik Aadhal, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Omar Sy, John DiMaggio and Jim Carter

Synopsis: Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene.*

 

Five, count them, five Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay have now cursed us been released, and I still can’t figure out why none of them have been any good. Sure, the first movie was okay, but since then the series has gone downhill. The lack of story, and really any sense of direction, make these movies really hard to follow, root for and really enjoy overall, yet, there are fans out there. The Last Knight, which is Michael Bay “last” movie in the series, is another entry of all style and no real substance.

The movie starts off on a somewhat good note setting it during The Dark Ages as King Arthur and his army in a midst of battle as they wait for Merlin, played by Stanley Tucci, who has already discovered the Transformers and pleads with them to help Arthur and his army. They do and give Merlin a staff, this beings the secret history and long place for the Transformers. We then cut 1600 years later and see Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) floating in space aimlessly only to get sucked into his broken home planet of Cyberton. There he meets Quintessa (Gemma Chan), who says he is the “Prime of Life” and tells Optimus he can have his home world back, but only if Earth is destroyed because of its hidden secret (spoiler territory which I won’t get into).

Then there is, of course, the human characters. We first meet teenager Izabella (Isabela Moner) who has her own Transfomers and is living in the fallen section of Chicago after the events of Dark of the Moon. She gets rescued by Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), now a fugitive from the government and famous for helping the Autbots that are still around, who now operates a junk yard where Autobots Bumblebee, Hound (John Goodman), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio) and the Dinobots – the only scene we see them in – are hiding from new agency in TRF, who are hunting down Transformers and killing them.

Cade gets involved in the bigger scheme of things when he comes across a medallion that attracts the attention of Megatron (Frank Welker) and Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). Burton brings together Cade – with the help of his own Transformer butler Cogman (Jim Carter) – and an Oxford professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) who is an important part of not only the medallion’s history, but why Cyberton is coming to Earth. We also have Optimus Prime acting unlike himself.

So, as you can see Transformers: The Last Knight has a lot – A LOT – going on, and that makes it an even bigger mess than it already is. The problem, well at least one of them, is that The Last Knight is adding too much mythology and lore way to late in the game. Also, some of it doesn’t make any sense. We see in the trailers that the Transformers have been on Earth longer than we thought. They also been there for big events like World War II – which of course was never mentioned in the films, especially with Bumblebee, who gets his own little flashback scene attacking a Nazi headquarters. Which when you think about, if the Transformers were helping the Allies during the war, shouldn’t it have ended quicker?

It’s almost like the film is insulting us that they think we can’t remember anything from the previous movies. Because you know, Stanley Tucci was in the last film, but is only seen here are Merlin during the Dark Ages segment in the movie. Even the Dinobots, and even mini-Dinobots introduced here, which were made to be a big deal in the last movie film, are not even a factor here. Also, if the world didn’t completely known about Transformers before the events of the first movie, how come we see paintings of King Arthur with the three-headed Transformer behind him in Oxford? It’s just dumb how these movies just throw something for the sack of story and plot, logic and proper storytelling be damned.

Yeah, I know. You don’t watch a Transformers movie for its story and plot; you watch it for its action scenes. Look, even I’ll admit, the series so far has had some pretty descent and great action sequences, but that only takes you so far, and eventually it just becomes noise and incoherent action. It also says a lot that the best action piece in this movie is the fight that’s been promoted heavy in Bumblebee taking on Optimus Prime, and even with that said, we pretty much see almost most of it in the trailers and TV spots.

The real problem is that Transformers shouldn’t be this bad. It’s actually hurts to even think about how bad these movies are. The human characters aren’t interesting enough, cringe-worthy humor and stupid – and I mean take you out of the movie stupid – puns, and once again, stereotypical/slightly racist robots that serve no purpose other than trying to get a laugh or connect with a young audience. Seriously, there are Decepticons here that get introduced similar to a scene ripped right out of Suicide Squad, which could have been fun but the Decepticons and Megatron do absolutely NOTHING in this movie. Are they in it? Yes, but do they serve a purpose? No. Not even close, but you forget they’re in this because they disappear for half an hour or longer. Also, the introduction of Hot Rod (voiced by Omar Sy) is wasted here as he doesn’t really serve a real purpose other than having another fan favorite Autobot and showing off his power of slowing down time.

But going back to the humans, Wahlberg looks like he’s at least trying in some scenes, but this could be his last movie. Laura Haddock comes off as snobby when she’s teaching her students, and while her family history is important to the film, that fact that she doesn’t know it makes no sense since it’s pretty much her job. Josh Duhamel comes back as Lennox from the first three movies, and honestly, doesn’t do much – so his character remains the same. Isabela Moner as Izabella plays the tough teenager wants to help the Autobots, but while her character plays a big role in the first act, her character just doesn’t matter for the rest of the movie. Finally, Anthony Hopkins – poor, poor Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins at least adds some star power to the film and rambles on for long periods of time giving off five minute exposition’s dumps. His role is suppose to feel important, but sometimes it just sounds like an old man rambling, which is a shame considering its Hopkins. He also has a dumb sub-plot with the returning John Turturro that goes on for far too long.

So let’s get to Optimus Prime, who has been the center of the promotional material since he goes “evil.” He also disappears once he gets saved from space. Optimus spends the first half of the movie – where he has about ten minutes (if that) screen time – with Quintessa and is gone for the whole second half of the film to finally appear in the final act to have that fight – and yes – become good again. Is that a spoiler? Come on, we all know he wasn’t going to stay evil.

All in all, Transformers: The Last Knight is more or less of the same thing from the other movies. If you’re a fan, you may like it, but if you’re like me, The Last Knight may finally be the last straw. Its one thing to make a bad Transformers movie, it’s another thing to continue to make them thinking they’re good. The adding of mythology and lore does not do the movie any favors as it’s already bloated enough with nonsense action. However, you know what the biggest problem is? Despite it being the last Michael Bay movie – maybe – he can’t help himself from adding a post-credit scene to story he won’t – potentially – be involved in anymore. If Bay truly wanted to leave the series, he would have left the new director enough room to do their own story and thing. But no. Finally, let’s face it, I can sit here and write “this movie is a steaming pile of combined shits that you only fuel by buying a ticket,” but The Last Knight will still make a crap ton of money.

Transformers: The Last Knight

2 out of 5