Summer Movie Season 2019 Review

The 2019 Summer Movie Season is over!

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

 

The “I Have No Idea What to Think”

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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

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

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

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

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

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

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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

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Brightburn

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

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Stuber

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

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Real Surprises of the Summer

Aladdin

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

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Crawl

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

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Least-Liked/Disappointments

Dark Phoenix

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

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

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

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Men in Black: International

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

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Child’s Play

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

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Shaft

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

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Honorable Mention

Toy Story 4

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Spider-Man: Far from Home

The Peanut Butter Falcon

 

My Favorite Movies of the Summer

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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

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Detective Pikachu

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

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Booksmart

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

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

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Midsommar

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

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

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The Farewell

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

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Ready or Not

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

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

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

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have some early Academy Award nominees. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

6th

It: Chapter 2 – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures

Synopsis: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the Losers Club have grown up (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Isaiah Mustafa) and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. Directed once again by Andy Muschietti, the film will co-star the original young cast of Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, and Chosen Jacobs.

Thoughts: I really liked the first It, so I was very eager to see what they would do with Chapter 2. So far, it looks DAMN good. Runtime aside – 2 hours and 49 minutes – which really doesn’t matter to me, so bring on the scary-ass clown!

 

 

13th

Hustlers – STX Entertainment

Based on the New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler – a crew of strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Directed by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddler), Hustlers stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Madeline Brewer, Julia Stiles, Lizzo and Cardi B.

 

The Goldfinch – Warner Bros., Amazon Studios, Color Force

An adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Donna Tartt, a boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Goldfinch’s impressive cast stars Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey Wright, Ashleigh Cummings, Willa Fitzgerald, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and Nicole Kidman.

 

 

20th

Downton Abbey – Focus Features, Perfect World Pictures, Carnival Film & Television

The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.

 

Rambo: Last Blood – Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Balboa Productions

Synopsis: Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. Rambo co-stars Oscar Jaenada, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal and Adriana Barraza.

Thoughts: Stallone’s last (maybe) time out as John Rambo has him fighting the cartel, and it looks like it’s going to be down-and-dirty. I’ll be honest; I don’t have quite the connection to the Rambo movies like I thought I did. I might have to do a quick re-watch of the movies before Last Blood to get a better feel. Either way, I enjoyed the last Rambo movie, which of course features Rambo mowing down an entire army with a truck-planted machine gun, and cutting people in half with a machete.

 

Ad Astra – 20th Century Fox, New Regency Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, Bona Film Group

Synopsis: Co-written and directed by James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), an astronaut (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. Ad Astra co-stars Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland.

Thoughts: Ad Astra seems like it’s going to be one of those movies that people are expecting one thing, and will get another, and hopefully it will be for the better. I mean you got Pitt, Jones and Sutherland in a sci-fi space movie! What more do you want!?

 

 

27th

Limited Release: Judy

Based on the stageplay “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter, legendary performer Judy Garland (played by Renee Zellweger) arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts. Judy co-stars Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Bella Ramsey, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon.

 

Abominable – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Pearl Studio

A magical Yeti must return to his family. The voice cast includes Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Albert Tsai and Sarah Paulson.

 

So, 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 movies 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. Although, that seems to be less of the thing as the years have gone by. Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

2nd

Limited Release – Them That Follow

Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, Them That Follow tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart. The film stars Alice Englert, Walton Goggins, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, Thomas Mann, Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Colman.

 

Limited Release – Luce

Based on a play by J.C. Lee, who also wrote the script; a married couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher (Octavia Spencer) threatens his status as an all-star student.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Universal Pictures

Synopsis: Directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2), lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain (Idris Elba) threatens the future of humanity. Hobbs & Shaw co-stars Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren.

Thoughts: The first spinoff, surprisingly, of the Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw follows up on the great bro-chemistry of Johnson and Statham from The Fate of the Furious, and it looks as ridiculous as you would expect from a Fast & Furious spinoff. Add in Elba as “Black Superman” and Kirby as a new Shaw sibling.

 

 

9th

Limited Release – Brian Banks

An All-American football player’s (Aldis Hodge) dreams to play in the NFL are halted when he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. Years later, he fights to clear his name within an unjust system. Brian Banks co-stars Greg Kinnear, Sherri Sheperd, Melanie Liburd and Tiffany Dupont.

 

Limited Release – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen, who really does have Down Syndrome) runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a wrestler come true. The film co-stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal, Jake Roberts, Mick Foley, Thomas Haden Church and Bruce Dern.

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain – 20th Century Fox

Based on the novel by Garth Stein, through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), golden retriever Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. The Art of Racing in the Rain co-stars Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker.

 

The Kitchen – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, BRON Studios, DC Vertigo

Synopsis: Written and directed by Andrea Berloff (co-writer of Straight Outta Compton), who is making her directorial debut, and based off the comic series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle; The wives of New York gangsters (played by Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish) in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison. The Kitchen co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Common, James Badge Dale, Bill Camp, and Margo Martindale.

Thoughts: When I read that McCarthy, Haddish and Moss were going to do a comic book movie adaptation I was pretty interested considering the subject matter. Granted, I had never heard of The Kitchen, but the trio itself is interesting enough to get me in the theater.

 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Walden Media

Dora (Isabela Moner), a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents (Michael Pena and Eva Longoria) and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold. Dora and the Lost City of Gold co-stars Eugenio Derbez, Jeff Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Temuera Morrison and the voices of Danny Trejo as Boots and Benicio Del Toro as Swiper.

 

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Lionsgate, CBS Films, Double Dare You, Sean Daniel Company, Entertainment One

Synopsis: Based off the acclaimed novel by Alvin Schwartz, produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Andre Ovredal (Trollhunters, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) a group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stars Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Natalie Ganzhorn, Gil Bellows, Kathleen Pollard, Javier Botet and Dean Norris.

Thoughts: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has been in the works for a quite a while with del Toro having been attached for so long, but ended up handing over the directorial duties to Ovredal, who made the terrific The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The movie will be blend all the stories together with an interconnect story were the book is written by the mysterious Sarah Bellows. Overall, the thing looks damn impressive, and the fact that it’s a pretty much unknown cast, I think it works a hell of a lot better.

 

 

14th

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Rovio Animation

The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their beef to the next level. The voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Maya Rudolph, Awkwafina, Dove Cameron, Tiffany Haddish and Sterling K. Brown.

 

 

16th

Blinded By the Light – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Ingenious Media, Levantine Films, Bend It Films, Rakija Films

In 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.

 

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, thefyzz

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Annapurna Pictures, United Artists Releasing, Color Force

Based on the novel by Maria Semple, and co-written and directed by Richard Linkalter; A loving mom (Cate Blanchett) becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette co-stars Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer, Emma Nelson, Zoe Chao, Troian Bellisario and Laurence Fishburne.

 

Good Boys – Universal Pictures, Good Universe, Point Grey Pictures

Three sixth grade boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party. Good Boys co-stars Molly Gordon, Lina Renna, Will Forte, Lil Rey Howery and Retta.

 

 

21st

Ready or Not – Fox Searchlight Pictures, Vinson Films, Mythology Entertainment

Synopsis: A bride’s (Samara Weaving) wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game. Ready or Not co-stars Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell.

Thoughts: I didn’t really know too much about this one until I saw the trailer, but I was instantly hooked. The cast is filled with some pretty decently known names. Plus, the idea of a kid’s game turning into a full-blown survival thriller sounds great to me.

 

23rd

Limited Release – Brittany Runs a Marathon

A woman (Jillian Bell) living in New York takes control of her life – one block at a time. Brittany Runs a Marathon co-stars Lil Rey Howery, Micah Stock and Michaela Watkins

 

Overcomer – Affirm Films, Provident Films

The movie will unpack a pivotal issue in the life students and adults alike

 

Angel Has Fallen – Summit Entertainment, Millennium Films, G-BASE

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for the attempted assassination of the President (Morgan Freeman) and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat. Angel Has Fallen co-stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson and Danny Huston.

 

30th

*Playmobil has been moved to December

 

Don’t Let Go – Blumhouse Productions, Briarcliff Entertainment, OTL Releasing

After a man’s (David Oyelowo) family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece (Storm Reid). He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not. Don’t Let Go co-stars Mykelti Williamson, Shinelle Azoroh and Byron Mann.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios apparently, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. That said, this year could really take the cake, as Marvel once again is putting their big cash cow at the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

5th

Limited Release: Amazing Grace

A musical documentary presenting Aretha Franklin with choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972.

 

Limited Release: High Life

A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation. Robert Pattinson, Andre Benjamin, Mia Goth and Juliette Binoche star.

 

Limited Release: Teen Spirit

Written and directed by actor Max Minghella (The Social Network, TV series The Mindy Project and The Handmaid’s Tale); Violet (played by Elle Fanning) is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With her help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Teen Spirit also stars Rebecca Hall.

 

The Best of Enemies

Based on the book by Osha Gray Davidson and true events; civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) faces off against C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1971 Durham, North Carolina over the issue of school integration. The Best of Enemies co-stars Sope Aluko, John Gallagher Jr., Wes Bentley, Anne Heche, Nick Searcy and Bruce McGill.

 

Pet Sematary

Synopsis: Based on the novel by Stephen King, Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.

Thoughts: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Pet Sematary, so when I heard a remake was in the works, I was actually looking forward it. Then the trailer came out and I was interested. Then this last trailer came out, which upped everything from the first trailer and any sort of expectation I had about the movie. Hopefully, the movie turns out great.

 

Shazam!

Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation), Shazam! co-stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, Grace Fulton and Djimon Hounsou.

Thoughts: the DCEU has taken enough blows by now that it’s become commonplace, so it gets a little hard to get excited for any new movie, despite how good the trailers are. Shazam! unfortunately falls into that category. As much as the movie looks fun and different, I’m not holding my breath too much.

 

12th

Limited Release: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

A spinoff of the Ip Man films and directed by Woo-Ping Yeun; while keeping a low profile after his defeat from Ip Man, Cheung Tin Chi (Jin Zhang) gets into trouble after getting in a fight with a powerful foreigner (Dave Bautista). The film also stars Tony Jaa and Michelle Yeoh.

 

After

Based on the novel by Anna Todd – which came from a fan fiction site about Harry Styles – a young woman (Josephine Langford) falls for a guy (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) with a dark secret and the two embark on a rocky relationship. After is filled with newcomers or unknowns, expect big names like Jennifer Beals and Selma Blair.

 

Missing Link

Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) recruits explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) to help find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), this trio of explorers travel the world to help their new friend. The rest of the voice cast includes Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas and Emma Thompson.

 

Little

What seems like a riff on the film Big, a woman (Regina Hall) is transformed into her younger self (Marsai Martin) at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear. Little co-stars Issa Rae, Justin Hartley and Tone Bell.

 

Hellboy

Synopsis: Based on the Dark Horse comic book by Mike Mignola, and directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, TV series Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Westworld); caught between the worlds of supernatural and human, Hellboy (David Harbour) battles an ancient sorceress (Milla Jovovich) bent on revenge. Hellboy co-stars Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Penelope Mitchell, Alistair Petrie, Brian Gleeson, Sophie Okonedo and Ian McShane.

Thoughts: Despite still wanting that last Guillermo del Toro-directed Hellboy movie, this reboot has me pretty damn excited! David Harbour looks like a great new Hellboy, Ian McShane as Professor Broom and Milla Jovovich as a villain are nice touches.

 

17th

Penguins

The story of Steve, an Adelie penguin, on a quest to find a life partner and start a family when Steven meets with Wuzzo the emperor penguin they become friends. But nothing comes easy in the icy Antarctic.

 

Breakthrough

Based on the true story; when her 14-year-old John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) drowns in a lake, a faithful mother (Chrissy Metz) prays for him to come back from the brink of death and be healed. The film co-stars Josh Lucas, Mike Colter, Topher Grace and Dennis Haysbert.

 

 

19th

Limited Release: Little Woods

A modern Western that follows two sisters, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and Deb (Lily James), who are driven to work outside the law to better their lives. For years Ollie has illicitly helped the struggling residents of her North Dakota oil boomtown access Canadian health care and medication. When the authorities catch on, she plans to abandon her crusade, only to be dragged in even deeper after a desperate plea for help from her sister. Little Woods co-stars James Badge Dale, Luke Kirby and Lance Reddick.

 

Limited Release: Under the Silver Lake

Sam (Andrew Garfield), intelligent but without purpose, finds a mysterious woman (Riley Keough) swimming in his apartment’s pool one night. The next morning, she disappears. Sam sets off across LA to find her, and along the way he uncovers a conspiracy far more bizarre. Directed by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), the film co-stars Jimmi Simpson, Sydney Sweeney, Grace Van Patten, Riki Lindhome, Callie Hernandez and Topher Grace.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

Synopsis: Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker (Linda Cardellini) and her own children are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. The Curse of La Llorona co-stars Tony Amendola, Raymond Cruz, Sean Patrick Thomas and Patricia Velasquez.

Thoughts: I grew up knowing the folktale of La Llorona. This isn’t the first movie about her, but it is the first big budget studio movie and from everything so far, I’m looking forward to it.

 

26th

Avengers: Endgame

Synopsis: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

Thoughts: I mean, do I really need to put anything here? Do I?

 

What are you looking forward to?

February Movie Releases

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

How’s the cold treating you? Because it sure as hell SUCKED here in the Chicago-land area!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. It’s also the month that is bringing the end to a beloved franchise. So, let’s get to it!

 

1st

Limited Release: Arctic

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. The film is the feature film debut of Joe Penna aka Mystery Guitar Man from Youtube fame.

 

Miss Bala

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness and strength. The movie is, unbeknownst to me for some time, a remake of a Spanish film of the same name and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood). Honestly, I don’t have a lot of interest in watching this. The trailer does nothing for me, and why I hear Gina Rodriguez is great on her show Jane the Virgin, that may not mean she’s good to lead a movie. Hey, I could be wrong, and part of me hope I am, but another thing the movie has against it is its coming out on Super Bowl weekend, and movies coming out this weekend don’t tend to do too well. Miss Bala co-stars Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matt Lauria, Thomas Dekker and Anthony Mackie.

 

8th

Limited Release: Everybody Knows

Laura (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open. Everybody Knows co-stars Javier Bardem.

 

What Men Want

A gender-swap of the 2000 Mel Gibson-led movie What Women Want, this movie has Ali (Taraji P. Henson) is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession. However, she gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear their thoughts. The gender-swapping trend continues this year, and why I’m sure this movie will find its audience, What Men Wants may be one of those movies that gets lost in the shuffle for me. What Men Want co-stars Josh Brener, Max Greenfield, Aldis Hodge, Kellan Lutz, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Tracy Morgan.

 

The Prodigy

A mother (Taylor Schilling) concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him. This one pretty much came out of nowhere, mainly because of its test screening stories. According to multiple reports, and confirmed by its director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), The Prodigy had to be re-edited because the movie was TOO SCARY. Apparently, test audiences missed parts of the movie because they were recovering from the scares. Reading that, and then watching the trailer, I can believe that, because I never heard of the movie until I saw the trailer – in theaters – and that last bit scared the crap out of the whole audience, including me. Needless to say, this is one to put on the Must-Watch List.

 

Cold Pursuit

Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, a snowplow driver (Liam Neeson) seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son. Leaving the cheesy feeling of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” playing in the trailer, Cold Pursuit looks like it’s playing with the notion of Neeson playing the badass hero. I actually loved his delivery of the reading a lot of crime novels, so of course he’s ready to kill people. There’s also the feeling that this is a payoff of the joke in Daddy’s Home 2, but hey, seeing Neeson on the big screen beating the crap out of people? I’m in. Cold Pursuit co-stars Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern and William Forsythe.  

 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. I loved the first LEGO movie, and still do. That said, the trailers for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part are just okay, but I want to say part of that is to hide the story of the movie, and maybe even some of the jokes. I’m still going to be sitting in a packed theater opening weekend, so yeah. The voice cast from the first returns, but new additions include Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish.

 

13th

Isn’t It Romantic

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy. I kind of like the concept of this, but the trailer just doesn’t make me actually buy it.  Isn’t It Romantic co-stars Adam Devine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Jennifer Saunders.

 

Happy Death Day 2U

Tree (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. Listen, I was onboard the hate wagon for Happy Death Day, but then I watched it and damn I ended up actually liking it. It knew was it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. That said, when I heard about the sequel, I wasn’t too surprised, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this just a bit. Happy Death Day 2U co-stars Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Yarkin and Phi Vu.

 

14th

Fighting with My Family

Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and inspired by the life of WWE superstar Paige, a former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment. I’m actually a huge wrestling fan – and not just WWE – and knowing some of Paige’s actual story, part of me isn’t surprised it got turned into a movie. The movie itself does look pretty great, although just by seeing the trailer, it looks like they are taking some liberties already. Fighting With My Family co-stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Co-written by James Cameron, directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on the anime of the same name; the movie is set in the future where Alita (Rosa Salazar) tries to discover the truth of what she really is, and fight to change the world. This one could easily been written off, but the recent word of mouth for the movie is pretty, and slightly surprisingly, positive. It was also suppose to come out last year, but the push back could have helped the movie. I’m also really looking forward to it. Alita: Battle Angel co-stars Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Casper Van Dien, Mahershala Ali, Jackie Earle Haley and Jennifer Connelly.

 

22nd

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. I hate myself for saying it, but I yet to watch a How to Train Your Dragon movie, despite my best efforts to watch them. So I’m a bit bummed to think I’m going to miss seeing at least one of these movies in theaters.

 

What are you looking forward to?

January (2019) Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in late December, so there is also that to look forward to.

 

4th

Escape Room

Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive. The first time I saw the trailer for this, I honestly thought it was a remake of Cube, but with the modern twist of the highly popular Escape Rooms. The trailer itself is okay, but something tells me we probably saw most of the movie in the trailer already, which kind of sucks, but hey, what do you expect from the first new movie of the New Year? Those tend to not have the best track record anyway. Directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan, Insidious: The Last Key) – who also stars in the movie – Escape Room stars Taylor Russell, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, Jessica Sutton, Jay Ellis and Logan Miller.

 

11th

A Dog’s Way Home

Based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron, a dog named Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) travels 400 miles in search of her owner (Jonah Hauer-King), after she wandered away from home. I like dogs; I do, but dog movies, not so much. It also doesn’t help that the movie has that horrible CGI for the cougar (?). A Dog’s Way Home co-stars Ashley Judd, Alexandra Shipp, Edward James Olmos, Wes Studi and Ashley Judd.

 

Replicas

A scientist (Keanu Reeves) becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accident. This was originally set to come out last year, but the release date kept getting pushed back and back, and now it looks like it’s finally coming out. The premise seems interesting, and seeing Reeves out of the John Wick character is a nice sight. Replicas co-stars Alice Eve, Emjay Anthony, Thomas Middleditch and John Ortiz.

 

The Upside

A remake of the French film Les Intouchbales (which itself was based on a true story), a comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man (Bryan Cranston) with quadriplegia and an unemployed man (Kevin Hart) with criminal record who’s hired to help him. It should be interesting to see how this movie does for a number of reasons. One, you got Kevin Hart and his drama with his old tweets coming into the limelight, also on the top of that, Hart is playing a little bit more of a serious character here. It’s also a remake, and well, you know how people feel about those (although, I’ll be interested in seeing how many people actually know it’s a remake). The Upside co-stars Nicole Kidman, Tate Donovan, Golshifteh Farahani and Julianna Margulies.

 

18th

Glass

M. Night Shyamalan returns to the world he created in Unbreakable and Split, security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities. This is arguably one of the most anticipated movies of the month, and maybe even the first quarter of the year. Not only did Split surprise almost everyone that watched it, but to then pull the last minute Shyamalan-twist and reveal that it was actually the long-awaited sequel to Unbreakable, oh boy. All that said, the cast is also fantastic, and I guarantee that scene with Willis, McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Paulson in the same room is just going to be great. Glass co-stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Luke Kirby and Charlayne Woodard.

 

25th

Serenity

Written and directed by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Locke, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), the mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to haunt him, when his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) tracks down with a desperate plea for help, ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems. I honestly don’t know what to think about this. On one hand, Knight is one of my favorite people working behind the camera, and then you have this mystery suspense story with Hathaway, essentially playing a Femme Fatale, as she tries to get McConaughey’s character to kill her current husband (played by Jason Clarke). My only thing is that they don’t try to play it too smart, and ruin their movie. Serenity co-stars Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

 

The Kid Who Would be King

Written and directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s a nobody, until she stumbles upon the mythical sword, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and work alongside the legendary wizard Merlin (Sir Patrick Stewart) to stop the evil enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) from destroying the world. Besides the big roles of Merlin and Morgana, the movie is filled with unknown actors, which harkens back to Cornish’s Attack the Block – which you should watch if you haven’t yet – and it’s awesome to see Cornish back behind the camera. The movie itself looks like it could be good, and knowing what Cornish is capable of, we could be in for a fun ride.

 

What are you looking forward to?

2018 Summer Movie Season Round-Up

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

 

Worst/Least-Liked

Breaking In

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

 

Slender Man

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

 

 

Surprises

Overboard

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

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

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

 

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

Honorable Mentions

Upgrade

Hereditary

Incredibles 2

Leave No Trace

Eighth Grade

Sorry to Bother You

Tag

Searching

 

Best/Favorite

Ant-Man and the Wasp

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

 

BlacKkKlansman

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

 

Crazy Rich Asians

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

 

Hearts Beat Loud

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

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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