‘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

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New Podcast – Summer Movie Season Preview 2019

Hello everybody!

I got a new podcast for all of you, and it’s a big one! A guest and I rundown the Summer Movie Season. It’s a fun one – even though the mic was a little farther away from us than I had originally thought. You also take the podcast on the go because the podcast is on iTunes!

 

iTunes Link  – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-movie-pit-podcast/id1249582608

 

Youtube

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?

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

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