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?

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‘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

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. I’d also want to apologize for putting this up late. I started a new job and it’s completely messed up my schedule for everything (you may have notice there’s been no podcast for a few weeks now). So let’s get to it.

 

4th

The First Purge

Written by series creator James DeMonaco, the prequel will focus on the lead up and show the very first Purge event. The Purge movies started out as a small-scale house invasion thriller that had the potential for open-world sequels. Thankfully, that’s what we got and now after three movies, DeMonaco is finally giving us the prequel he’s talked since The Purge: Anarchy. The movies have also always had a political theme to them – at least in some way – and The First Purge looks to fully be embracing that which could be good. The First Purge stars Y’Ian Noel, Luna Lauren Velez, Lex Scott Davis, Melonie Diaz and Marisa Tomei.

 

6th

Sorry to Bother You

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. As soon as I saw this trailer I was immediately hooked. What’s better, is I don’t know how this movie will turn out in the end, and that’s what has me excited. Sorry to Bother You also stars Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews and Danny Glover.

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

As Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past. After what happened in Avengers: Infinity War I think we need a good balance of a comedy with Ant-Man, and now we have the long awaited introduction of The Wasp on the big screen. What’s not to be excited about? The sequel co-stars Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Judy Greer, Walton Goggins and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

13th

Limited Release: Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot

A biography about John Callahan. On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. The rest of the cast includes Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein and Udo Kier.

 

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula (Adam Sandler) with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. Once there, romance arises as Dracula meets the ship’s captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Little do they know, Ericka is a descendant of Dracula’s ancient nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing. The rest of the voice cast includes Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Fran Drescher, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Andy Samberg and Mel Brooks.

 

Skyscraper

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson), who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building. As much as I love Dwayne Johnson on the big screen being our modern day action hero, Skyscraper’s trailers have been rather mixed. I’m sure the movie will be entertaining as hell, but the trailers just aren’t selling it for me right away. The cast includes Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Roland Moller, Byron Mann and Chin Han.

 

 

20th

Limited Release: Blindspotting

A timely story about the intersection of race and class, set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland. The film stars Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Tisha Campbell-Martin.

 

Unfriended: Dark Web

A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back. I never saw the first movie, merely because it didn’t look that great, but the sequel  looks to be upping the ante a bit on the concept. The movie stars Getty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Chelsea Alden, Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Andrew Lees and Douglas Tait.

 

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

The sequel follows Donna’s (played by Meryl Streep and Lily James) young life, experiencing the fun she had with the three possible Dad’s of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). Sophie is now pregnant. Like Donna, she will be young when she has her baby. This is where she realizes she will need to take risks like her mother did. The cast includes Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Andy Garcia, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and Cher.

 

The Equalizer 2

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves? The Equalizer was one of my surprises of 2014, and seeing Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reunite was great. Now, we have another reunion between the two, but also the first sequel for both men, and it looks like they’re upping the ante in both story – making it personal – and action, which going off the first film’s final act, it should be good. Cast also includes Pedro Pascal, Sakina Jaffrey, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.

 

27th

Limited Release: Hot Summer Nights

A boy comes of age during a summer he spends in Cape Cod. This was filmed before Chalamet became a household name after Call Me By Your Name, so I’m sure the studio is hoping that will sell the movie. The film stars Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Jack Kesy, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner and Thomas Jane.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

The Teen Titans are determined to get their own superhero movie, so Robin and the others try to get noticed by Hollywood’s hottest director. Certain they can pull it off, their dreams are sidetracked when a super villain tries to take over world. The voice cast includes Tara Strong, Khary Payton, Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Kristen Bell, Lil Yachty, Halsey, James Corden, Will Arnett and Nicolas Cage.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, once again, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong. I don’t know how the Mission: Impossible movies do it. They keep getting better with each installment AND they keep looking great in the trailers, so hell yes I am excited for this. Fallout co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Caavill, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan and Angela Bassett.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ Review

Director: Stefano Sollima

Writer: Taylor Sheridan

Cast: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Elijah Rodriguez, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener and Matthew Modine

Synopsis: The drug war on the US-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

 

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

 

I was fortunate enough to get to watch Sicario: Day of the Soldado – it was still called Sicario 2: Soldado at the time – all the way back in February of this year, but had to sit on my thoughts because of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Now, the movie’s out and I can finally release this review. The review will be a combination of my first thoughts watching the movie, and my re-watch from this weekend. So, that said, let’s get to it.

Day of the Soldado opens by letting us know that the cartels make big business by trafficking people, and have now moved to terrorists. After a horrifying scene at a department store, the government has put the drug cartels on their list of dangerous threats. They call on someone with some experience in the field in Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to run an operation on taking them down. In turn he recruits his old partner Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) to help him, especially since Alejandro still has anger toward them for killing his family.

The mission is to make it look like the cartels are attacking each other, and one of those attempts is kidnapping the daughter of a kingpin, Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner). Of course, not everything goes as planned. Now, Matt and Alejandro have to figure out how they will survive with all sides closing in on them.

The first Sicario, which came out in 2015, was a surprisingly dark thriller that wasn’t afraid to go there and pushed our expectations on what a movie with this kind of material should be. So when a sequel was announced, many like myself, were eager to see what they would do, and how they would put us back into this world they created in the first film. Now, before we move on, obviously with the real-world issues going on at the border, it will probably be a little hard to watch this, without trying to bring it into the conversation. However, at this point, the conversation feels dated because the real-life issues are more horrifying. But, let’s just move on from that.

Unfortunately, Day of the Soldado doesn’t quite live up to the sequel expectations that the film should have had. The film at times feels rather empty, and instead of going for more character development or deeper story points like the first film did, it goes for the easy bloodshed and violence. That’s fine for the world the movie has created, but after watching Sicario, I wanted more of that great character development. Violence is expected in these movies, but I wanted more from the story itself.

On top of that, the sequel does feel like a proper sequel. By that I mean, even though the sequel has different people behind the scenes, they tried very hard – and sometimes actually pulled it off – to make you think the sequel was directed by Denis Villeneuve, and the cinematography was done by Roger Deakins. Of course, that’s not the case with the movie being directed by Stefano Sollima and the cinematography was done by Dairusz Wolski (Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, All the Money in the World). The score, which is great, was done by Hildur Guonadottir, who actually worked on the first film’s score and on films like The Revenant and Arrival. He builds off the amazing score that was done by the late Johann Johannsson, who sadly passed away between the films.

Thankfully, the cast is solid to make the missteps worth it. Brolin gets a bigger role in the sequel, and gets to play around with the character a lot more. Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro is once again great to watch, and how he engages with Isabela Moner’s Isabela and others – which aren’t many by the way – is good, but none of them are really like the Emily Blunt character from Sicario. Moner is fine as Isabela who knows what her father does, and uses it sometimes, but is still a young girl caught up in a bad situation. Everyone else like the returning Jeffrey Donovan as Graver’s other right-hand man, Steve Forsing, is a welcome sight, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo has a small but effective role, and Matthew Modine and Catherine Keener basically have cameo roles, especially Modine.

The only blemish on the cast, for me, is Elijah Rodriguez as Miguel. It’s nothing against Rodriguez and his acting, but rather the character direction or the lack thereof. The movie almost treats Miguel as someone we saw in the first movie, and that’s a problem especially considering where his character ends up at the end of the film. I wouldn’t consider this a spoiler, because it’s known – at least online – that after the success of Sicario, the plan was to make the series a trilogy. That’s made very clear with Miguel’s character, but for me, the character and the arc doesn’t feel deserved or developed enough for me to care.

All in all, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, for me, wasn’t as good as the first film. While it ups the violence you would expect from this world, it leaves behind the story and characters just a bit. That’s not to say the sequel is a bad movie, because it’s not. There are some standout scenes, and even some shocking scenes that I couldn’t believe they approved. The cast is still great, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of how they left the movie at the end, I would gladly step back into this world when/if a third movie comes out.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

3.5 out of 5

‘Hotel Artemis’ Review

Director: Drew Pearce

Writer: Drew Pearce

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Artemis

3.5 out of 5

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Review

Director: Ron Howard

Writers: Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany

Synopsis: During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

 

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

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story has had a troubled production to say the least. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind the Jump Street movies and The LEGO Movie, were set to direct the movie and were almost finished with three weeks left. However, constant clashes with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan throughout production finally hit a tipping point and they were fired, and replaced with Ron Howard. Then more reports came out, but I’ll let you search those on your own.

All that being said, the main question everyone had – after, Do we really need a Han Solo origin movie? – is whether or not Solo was going to be any good? Well, that all depends on whether or not you want to have some fun with the movie.

Solo opens on the planet Corellia, where we see Han (Alden Ehrenreich) getting into some trouble as he and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) try to get of the planet. Of course, they get separated, and Han swears to make it back, rescue her and live their lives far, far away. Cut years later, we see Han teaming up with a crew led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) to steal some a valuable mineral for a criminal boss named Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). The job eventually has them cross paths with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), the charming and suave Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) with his droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and a rival gang.

I have mixed feelings about Solo, I did not, not like it, but I also didn’t fully like it either. Against all odds, Solo is entertaining once you get pass the slow first act where it finally gets going and the action is picked up. Of course, it’s a prequel, so the sense of danger needs to be put on the backburner for the most part, like every other prequel out there, but at least the Kasdans tried to do some things to keep you on your feet.

When you look at it though, the movie rests on the shoulders of Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo, and surprisingly, he does a pretty decent job. Ehrenreich is relativity new to Hollywood as he broke onto the scene with now forgotten Beautiful Creatures, and had small roles in Stoker, Blue Jasmine and finally the Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar! which won him the role here. I really have nothing bad to say about his performance, Ehrenreich has the charm and the devil-may-care attitude you would expect from Han Solo.

Then there’s the much anticipated portray of young Lando Calrissian by Donald Glover, and yes, he’s great as Lando. Glover, to no surprise, brings a cool and confident attitude to Lando, and the clash of styles between Lando and Han is great to watch. Although, if you pay attention enough, it does at times sound like Glover is trying his best Bill Dee Williams impression. The other highlight of the cast is that of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s droid, L3-37. Droids always play a part in the Star Wars franchise, and most of the time it’s for comedy or a helping the main characters in a time of crisis. L3-37 definitely fits the bill here, but there’s something else with her character here, that I’m interested in seeing how people react to it.

The rest of the cast doesn’t leave too much of an impression sadly. Woody Harrelson’s Beckett is simply a man at the end of run as a criminal looking for that last big job. Paul Bettany’s Dryden is a lackluster villain, who is said to be vicious and deadly, and while one scene proves that and Bettany does his best with what he’s given, Dryden is rather forgettable in the pantheon of Star Wars villains.

Then there’s Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, who for me, is an oddity. The relationship between her and Han is believable enough for the movie, but there’s more to her character that we find out near the end of the movie that kind of comes out of nowhere. Obviously, this is a spoiler-free review, but where they leave her character along with Han is both curious, and for me, a bit frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating, as much as I was surprised by the movie’s entertainment value, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a tad frustrating when it comes other things it brings to the table. Again, removing the “is this movie really necessary?” from the table, Solo brings things we’ve heard about to the big screen, like the card game between Han and Lando, but for me the famous Kessel Run leaves a lot, and for me I mean a lot, to be desired. Moreover, the movie leaves some things too open for sequels for my liking, and yeah I know, sequels were bound to happen because it’s Star Wars, but I just couldn’t get behind it. Especially with that cameo that came out of nowhere.

All in all, Solo: A Star Wars Story is an entertaining movie once it really gets going. If you had any problems with The Last Jedi, you shouldn’t for Solo. Is a perfect or great movie? Not really. Will you be happy with the final outcome? Probably.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

3.5 out of 5

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?