April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. That said, this year could really take the cake, as Marvel pulled the unthinkable coup of moving their biggest films, and one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year to this month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

6th

Limited Release: Pandas

In the mountains of Sichuan, China, a researcher forms a bond with Qian Qian, a panda who is about to experience nature for the first time.

 

Limited Release: You Were Never Really Here

Based off the book by Jonathan Ames, and written and directed by Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), a traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. The film also stars Alex Manette, John Doman, Ekaterina Samsonov and Judith Roberts.

 

The Miracle Season

After the tragic death of star-volleyball player Caroline “Line” Found (Danika Yarosh), a team of dispirited high school girls must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hopes of winning the state championship. The movie co-stars Erin Moriarty, Helen Hunt and William Hurt.

 

Chappaquiddick

Ted Kennedy’s (Jason Clarke) life and political career become derailed after he is involved in a fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). The trailers have been rather weird to me, and while it’s based on a real event, I’ve never actually heard about this. However, with a cast like this, it could be good. The film also stars Ed Helms, Clancy Brown, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby and Bruce Dern.

 

Blockers

Three parents (Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena) try to stop their daughters from having sex on Prom night. I’m pretty sure the concept itself lends itself to being a little funny, and after seeing the trailer, I feel like that’s true to say. The movie does look like it’s going to go into the cringy and maybe raunchy area, but the sight of seeing John Cena playing against type will probably be fun. Blockers co-stars Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon and Colton Dunn.

 

A Quiet Place

Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, a family lives an isolated existence in utter silence, for feat of an unknown threat that follows and attack at any sound. Krasinski also stars along his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. The concept is awesome, and I can’t wait to see what Krasinski does with it. I mean, not only are we getting a brand new horror film, but a horror film where you can’t make a sound otherwise a monster – which we haven’t seen yet, which is great – will get you. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe co-star as the children.

 

11th

Beirut

A U.S. diplomat (Jon Hamm) flees Lebanon in 1972 after a tragic incident at his home. Ten years later, he is called back to war-torn Beirut by a CIA operative (Rosamund Pike) to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind. Beirut co-stars Shea Whigham, Mark Pellegrino, Douglas Hope and Dean Norris.

 

13th

Borg vs. McEnroe

The story of the 1980s tennis rivalry between the placid Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and the volatile John McEnore (Shia LaBeouf). Borg vs. McEnroe co-stars Stellan Skarsgard, Tuva Novotny and Robert Emms.

 

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

The true story of the most decorated dog in American military history — Sgt. Stubby — and the enduring bonds he forged with his brothers-in-arms in the trenches of World War I. The voice cast includes Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Ezzell and Gerard Depardieu.

 

Truth or Dare

A harmless game of Truth or Dare among friends turns deadly when someone – or something – begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare. Let’s be honest, a movie about the game we played at parties when we were younger sounds dumb, but at this point, we shouldn’t probably doubt Blumhouse Productions at this point. They’ve already done Happy Death Day, which is basically Groundhog Day, but Truth or Dare looks rather odd. I don’t know if it’s the way they change the people’s faces when they are “controlled” or what, but I don’t know. Truth or Dare stars Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sophia Ali, Aurora Perrineau, Morgan Lindholm and Sam Lerner.

 

Rampage

Based on the classic 1980s video game, Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) shares an unshakable bond with George, an intelligent silverback gorilla that’s been in his care since birth. When a rogue genetic experiment goes wrong, it causes George, a wolf and a reptile to grow to a monstrous size. As the mutated beasts embark on a path of destruction, Okoye teams up with discredited genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and the military to secure an antidote and prevent a global catastrophe. I mean come on, it’s giant animals fighting each other with The Rock. Rampage co-stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello, Marley Shelton, Jake Lacy, Jack Quaid, P.J. Byrne and Malin Akerman.

 

20th

Traffik

A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a bike gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. Traffik stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez, Laz Alonso, Dawn Olivieri, Luke Goss, Missi Pyle and William Fichtner.

 

I Feel Pretty

A woman (Amy Schumer) struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed? I’m not the biggest fan of Amy Schumer, I’d probably even say I’m not, but I kind of enjoyed Trainwreck and Snatched, but those movies looked at least okay and funny. This does not. I Feel Pretty co-stars Michelle Williams, Busy Phillips, Aidy Bryant, Rory Scovel, Tom Hopper, Emily Ratajkowski and Naomi Campbell.

 

Super Troopers 2

A sequel that was funded by crowd-sourcing; when a border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers are tasked with establishing a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area. I can’t honestly remember if I liked or enjoy the first movie – I haven’t seen it in a while – and the trailers haven’t really grabbed me in the way I think it should for a comedy sequel that fans have been dying to see. The original cast will return with Rob Lowe, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Tyler Labine also starring.

 

27th

Limited Release – Disobedience

Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, a woman returns to the community that shunned her for her attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Disobedience is lead by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. Marvel pulled the ultimate surprising move by moving Infinity War a week earlier than original intended, much to fans praise. This also makes this first Summer Movie Season where a Marvel film won’t open in the last few years. Either way, we finally get the ten-years-in-the-making film early and I’m okay with that.

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New Podcast – Thor: Ragnarok Plot Details, Deadpool Casts its Domino, Avatar 2 Delayed & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is here!

Later than usual because I forgot about it for a bit – can’t believe either!

Mini-Reviews: Jackie, Assassin’s Creed, Hidden Figures, Passengers & Sing

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Carroll Lynch, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson and John Hurt

Synopsis: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

I’ll admit, I didn’t know too much after Jackie Kennedy before the film, besides of course her being the First Lady, and being the widow of John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated when riding around Dallas. It’s a bit of shame that that’s the only thing most people, probably, know about her. However, here in Jackie, we get to see a glimpse of what she potentially – films based on true stories are already up for interpretation – through after her husband was shot.

The film starts off with a reporter, played by Billy Crudup, coming up to the house in Massachusetts where Jackie (Natalie Portman) is staying. The reporter starts to ask her questions and we flashblack to a couple of different events: her televised tour of the White House in 1961 and the week of the assassination. Through all of it, we see Jackie as she deals with the tour, and after the assassination of her husband, the grief of she is consumed by and how history will remember him.

Jackie is not an easy film to watch, not because it’s not any good, but because the majority of the film is Jackie Kennedy trying to keep herself composed after losing her husband. And I don’t know about most people, but I think some people sometimes forget that Jackie didn’t lose the President of the United States, she lost her husband, and that’s something the film bring up. Jackie lost her husband that just so happens to be the President. It’s a fine line that the film balances pretty well.

Another fine line the film balances is not making Jackie too much of a sympathetic character. The film has no problem making her a flawed person, and if you find her actions odd or even questionable, you’re not alone. The film isn’t there to make Jackie a saint, even though she lost her husband, the things she does make you believable she may be just a bit unstable. But that’s also the beauty of Jackie, Natalie Portman does an impressive job of creating and explore the layers to this public figure that went through it all, and through a very personal tragedy in the public eye. Once you get past the accent, you can really enjoy watching Portman hit every emotion to a tee.

All in all, Jackie rests in the capable hands of Natalie Portman as she brings Jackie Kennedy to life and walks a fine line between sympathetic and flawed that makes the film and character feel real.

Jackie

4.5 out of 5

jackie

 

 

 

Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel

Writers: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Menochet, Ariane Labed, Matias Varela, Callum Turner, Khalid Abdalla, Hovik Keuchkerian, Brendan Gleeson, and Charlotte Rampling

Synopsis: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguliar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassin’s society.

 

Based off the highly popular and successful video game series, Assassin’s Creed was many people’s hopes to finally have a good, or at least descent, video game film. Well, while the film has some really cool and great moments, Assassin’s Creed is not the film that will change people’s perspective of the video game films. Also, for fans of the game, the film doesn’t follow a lead character from the games, but does have some big elements – at least from the games that I have played.

The film opens with a crawl of text that sets up the historic storyline and gives us the glimpse of the Assassins and their fight with the Templar. The film then jumps time as we see a young Cal finding his mother killed and his father the prime suspect. We jump again as see Cal (Michael Fassbender) getting executed to only wake up in a mysterious facility owned by Abstergo Industries. It’s there he meets Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), the daughter of the company’s CEO, played by Jeremy Irons, who runs the Animus project. A device that allows the user to see, feel and experience their ancestor’s life and memoires.

Cal finds out that he’s part of the company’s latest big project to find the Apple of Eden. The idea is the Apple of Eden will eradicate free will. In order to get the artifact they need Cal to get the memories of his 15th Century ancestor in Spain, Aguilar de Nerha, who was the last to have seen the Apple.

The film has a descent set-up, but the problem becomes the film moves too fast for its own good, and doesn’t live any of the characters breath. The first time we meet Cal really is right before he’s executed for a crime of killing someone – we find out later that he may have deserved it, but it felt like a throwaway line – but Cal is just someone walking through the paces. We never really feel connected to Cal in the real-world, which is a bit of a bad sign considering we spend a lot more time in the real-world than the past. Speaking of the past, that’s when we get to see Fassbender shine to the extreme. Aguilar doesn’t need to say much as his presences is enough to tell the story. Next to him is Ariane Labed’s Maria, who unfortunately doesn’t get fleshed out as much as she should, but shines in her small screen time with Aguilar.

The rest of the cast is just okay. Marion Cotillard’s Sofia is there to lead the “science” to the audience and give the feeling that she actually cares about Cal, while Jeremy Irons does the best he can with what he’s given. Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Charlotte Rampling are heavily underused in their small roles which is shameful in a lot of ways.

The saving grace in the film is all the past scenes. It also happens to be where most of the action takes place. Combined with the heavy score, the action scenes make the film actually worthwhile, and once they stop, it does take a lot of the air away from you. It could have also helped that all the present/real world scenes fall rather flat and the concept of what they want the Apple of Eden seems rather, to not make it sound harsh, stupid. There’s also the “bleeding effect” concept that is rather cool, but near the end of the film the effect could have used better, especially since it seemed important.

All in all, Assassin’s Creed is a film that has a descent enough set-up, but the overall execution is poorly delivered. The action scenes make up for it, but it would have been better if they spent more time in the past than the present. Things aren’t fleshed out enough and the plan by the villains is rather dumb. Assassin’s Creed won’t change the opinion of video game movie doubters, but it’s serviceable enough.

Assassin’s Creed

3.5 out of 5

assassins_creed_ver2

 

 

Hidden Figures

Director: Theodore Melfi

Writers: Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell

Synopsis: A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.

 

Based on the novel by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures is set in the early days of the space race and is also based on a true story. We focus on three African-American women who work for NASA in Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer, and Mary (Janelle Monae). Katherine is a brilliant mathematician, Vaughan acts as the supervisor – although she isn’t – over the African-American “Computers” (the African-American women that worked the calculators), and Mary works with the engineers and hangs with the best of them. We follow the three as the space race comes to a head when Russia successfully sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit. Katherine is placed in the special task group to get the math right, Dorothy works to get her girls more important positions and be seen as an equal, while Mary takes the advice and tries to become a certified engineer. Each of them deal with their own hardships and discrimination in a time that was trying to progress.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that excited for Hidden Figures, but I’m glad I went to watch the film. The film is really well done and has great performances by the whole cast that is lead by Henson, and Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, the supervisor of the program. While the film follows Katherine, Dorothy and Mary, its Katherine that we mostly follow, which is fair considering we see her story at the very beginning of the film. Dorothy has to deal with Kirsten Dunst’s character Vivian Mitchell, and Janelle Moane’s Mary has a great story, but seems to take a backseat to Katherine’s and Dorothy’s arcs. Overall, their stories are an important part in NASA and the space race’s history, but each of them have their own part to play within the film itself.

The film does of course touch heavily on the race issues during the time. It doesn’t tiptoe around the issue too much, and shows how hard people of color, especially women, had during the time. There is a montage that involves Katherine running from building to building that effects her and her work, and while some will see it as heavy-handed or played out, it pays off in full effect later on in one of the most powerful scenes in the film, and one that is carried by Henson.

All in all, Hidden Figures is a great true story that many people may not know too much about. Carried together by its great cast, the film hardly lets up and if you feel yourself get angry over the treatment our main characters feel, I think the film has done its job.

Hidden Figures

4 out of 5

hidden_figures

 

 

Passengers

Director: Morten Tyldum

Writer: Jon Spaihts

Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

 

When you get two of the biggest and popular stars in Hollywood in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, you have to think it has to be great, right? Well, that is the case for Passengers, most of the time. The film follows Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), passengers on the spaceship Avalon that is destined to a new planet to start anew called Homestead II. However, the hibernation pods malfunction and they wake up ninety years too soon. With only a bartender android named Arthur (Michael Sheen), the two eventually develop feelings for one another until the ship starts to malfunction putting everyone still asleep and them in danger.

There is a lot more to Passengers than the marketing lets on, so I’ll keep everything to a minimal in this already mini-review. Like noted before, when Passengers works it really works. Everything is compelling, well-acted and Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry is spot-on, with each getting their individual big moments. Sheen as Arthur the android bartender brings the comedic relief to the film.

I will admit, it’s a bit hard to talk about the big theme and decision a character makes in the film without spoiling something, but that decision is much better to see for yourself, instead of being spoiled. The decision is something that lingers throughout the film and when its bought up it really is the heart of the film. The good thing is the film doesn’t pick a side on it. It lets the characters really be weighed up it and feels like it lets you decide whether it was right.

The film does falter at times, and that’s when the film takes a plunge. The romance story almost gets too heavy handed in the sci-fi elements, but with Pratt and Lawrence leading the charge it makes it pretty okay.

All in all, Passengers has a good setup that works when it’s in full effect, but when the film slows down too much is when the film takes a dive.

Passengers

3.5 out of 5

passengers

 

 

Sing

Directors: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet

Writer: Garth Jennings

Voice Cast: Mathew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson, Garth Jennings, Nick Kroll, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones and Rhea Perlman.

Synopsis: A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

 

Illumination Entertainment has been pushing Sing for a while now. The film has been promoted since early this summer, non-stop. This meant that the studio had really high hopes for the film. After seeing the final product, I can somewhat see why, but Sing doesn’t do too much to separate itself from the crowded animated crowd this year.

The film follows Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a koala bear who runs a failing theaters. Desperate to return the theater to its former glory he decides to put an open casting call for a singing competition. The casting call gets more attention than he thought after an error and the auditions bring a bevy of talent to Moon. The ones we follow are overworked housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), rocker Ash (Scarlett Johansson), smooth talker Mike (Seth MacFarlane), showman Gunter (Nick Kroll) and trying to break free from his father’s life of crime Johnny (Taron Egerton).

The film has other characters like a shy elephant in Meena (Tori Kelly), who actually can sing, but is too shy in front of crowds, John C. Reilly as Buster’s best friend Eddie, Jennifer Saunders as Eddie’s rich Grandmother, and director Garth Jennings as Buster’s secretary Miss Crawly.

Like I mentioned, Sing doesn’t really do anything special to separate itself from the other animated films this year with the expectation of having songs you may recognize. The characters are great when they have their individual moments to shine, but it’s nothing we having really seen before.

All in all, Sing has its moments, but compared to the other animated films released this year, it doesn’t really come that close. Filled with some genuinely funny moments, and standout song sequences, Sing is just an okay animated film.

Sing

3 out of 5

sing

June Movie Releases

Hi there!

Can you believe it’s already June! How the time passes by. Anyway, the second month of the Summer Movie Season goes into full swing and, just like May, brings with it some highly anticipated movies. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

 

3rd

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Comedy – Universal)

A Lonely Island movie that, of course will star Andy Samberg as Connor4Real, a pop/rap superstar whose album fails to sell records and goes into a tailspin and watches his celebrity life begin to collapse. Desperate to keep his fame, he’ll try anything including trying to get his old band together. The film also stars Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, Jorma Taccone, Tim Meadows, Martin Sheen and many, many more. I hate to admit it, but I’m not the biggest Andy Samberg fan, and from the trailers so far, I’m not really buying what their selling.

popstar_never_stop_never_stopping

 

Me Before You (Drama – New Line Cinema/MGM)

A girl in small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she’s taking care of. I know these kinds of films have a core audience, but doesn’t it seem like they are coming out more often? Anyway, the film stars Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Kirby and Charles Dance.

me_before_you

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Action Adventure – Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies/Gama Entertainment Partners)

Personally, the rebooted first film left little to be desired for me. There were some potentially great moments that could have saved it, but instead, the film was a bit too targeted to the younger crowd (which was fine, whatever). So that has left me a bit underwhelmed for the sequel, despite what the studio is trying to do by adding fan favorite characters – Casey Jones played by Stephen Amell, Bebop played by Gary Anthony Williams and Rocksteady played by Stephen Farrelly aka WWE Superstar Sheamus – and “promising” a much better film this time around. The trailers look alright, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to go watch it. The film also stars new cast members in Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman, Brian Tee as Shredder (a new one), Brittany Ishibashi as Karai, and Laura Linney.

teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_out_of_the_shadows_ver10

 

10th

Limited Release: Genius (Biography Drama)

Based on the book by A. Scott Berg, the film is a chronicle of Max Perkin’s (Colin Firth) time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and other. Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney and Vanessa Kirby also star.

genius

 

Now You See Me 2 (Action Thriller – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment)

The Four Horsemen – Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher’s character entirely (due to Fisher’s pregnancy) – are back a year after the events from the first film. The reason is to expose the unethical practices of a tech magnate Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who also threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. I enjoyed the first film and wasn’t as bad as people lead others to believe. I don’t know entirely how I feel about a sequel but the cast is great, so let’s hope they can at least make it enjoyable enough as the first. The sequel also stars Sanaa Lathan, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Jay Chou, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.

now_you_see_me_two_ver15

 

The Conjuring 2 (Horror – Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Evergreen Media Group/Dune Entertainment/The Safran Company)

A sequel to the surprising hit The Conjuring, the sequel sees Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) traveling to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits, in what at the time was called the London Amityville. James Wan returns to direct with a new cast of Franka Potente, Frances O’Connor, Simon McBurney, Sterling Jerins, Madison Wolfe, Lauren Esposito, and Maria Doyle Kennedy.

conjuring_two

 

Warcraft (Fantasy Action Adventure – Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment)

Based on the popular video game, World of Warcraft – or WoW for short – the film has a ton of weight on its shoulders. For one, some are pegging this film as one of the video games film to save the video game adaptations from sucking, and two, their taking a property that could alienate those who aren’t interested in watching a fantasy action film. I’ve never played the games, so I’m only basing everything off the trailers, and personally, I’m still not completely sold. It could be because I’ve never played the games. Warcraft sees two different nations, human and orc, on the brink of war and the top soldiers from both sides trying to stop it. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Clancy Brown, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, and Ben Schnetzer.

warcraft_ver8

 

17th

Limited Release: Clown 

The horror drama follows a father who finds a clown suit for his son’s birthday party, only to realize that it is not a suit at all. Interestingly, Clown has been sitting on the shelf for about three years and is just now getting a release here in the States thanks to the Weinstein Company and producer Eli Roth. But what is more interesting is the film is directed by Jon Watts, who will soon be directing the new Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

 

Central Intelligence (Comedy – Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Universal Pictures/Bluegrass Films/Principato-Young Entertainment)

Kevin Hart, a former cool guy in high school and now works as an accountant, is lured into the world of international espionage when his former high school classmate – and former fat friend – played by Dwayne Johnson shows up. Kevin Hart has slowly grown on me and I’ll watch anything (well, almost anything) with The Rock in it. Thankfully, this looks like a total Johnson project as he’s playing to his strengths here. Central Intelligence also stars Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul.

central_intelligence_ver2

 

Finding Dory (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

A sequel to Finding Nemo, the focus now turns to the friendly-but-forgetful blue fish Dory, one again voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, that starts to remember things about her family and works to reunite with them. Dory was definitely a highlight in the first film, but the question is whether or not Dory can be enough to lead a movie, as opposed to be a supporting character. The voice cast includes Albert Brooks returning as Marlin, Diane Keaton, Ed O’Neill, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Willem Dafoe, Dominic West, and Idris Elba.

finding_dory_ver6

 

24th

Limited Release: Swiss Army Man

Aka the movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse, no I’m not kidding. The movie follows a man, Paul Dano, who is stranded on a deserted island, finds and befriends a dead body (Radcliffe) and try to find a way home. The movie looks weird, to say the least, but it made some buzz – good and bad – during the film festivals.

swiss_army_man

 

Limited Release: The Neon Demon 

Nicholas Winding Refn (Bronson, Drive, Only God Forgives) is back with his new film that follows an aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) who moves to Los Angeles. Her youth and vitality are devoured y a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has. Refn obviously has his own style and it seems in full force here, not only that but the trailer is pretty eerie itself. The Neon Demon also stars Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Bella Heathcote, Jamie Clayton and Alessandro Nivola.

neon_demon_ver2

 

The Free State of Jones (Drama – STX Entertainment/Route One Films/Vendian Entertainment/Larger Than Life Productions)

Directed by Gary Ross, set during the Civil War, a poor farmer (Matthew McConaughey) from Mississippi leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army. It should be interesting to see how this plays out and with McConaughey at the lead, it should be pretty cool. Although, this doesn’t really seem like a Summer Movie Season movie, but more of a October or November movie. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali and Keri Russell.

free_state_of_jones

 

Independence Day: Resurgence (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – 20th Century Fox)

A long overdue sequel to one of the most cult classic sci-fi films, Resurgence is set twenty years after the events of the first film were the world has come together and was able use and advance their own technology from the leftover alien technology. They have made a new Space Defense Program waiting for the day the aliens come back. Unlucky, for them, the aliens have return and with a vengeance. Again, the sequel is long overdue to the point that I’m not really that sold on it yet. I’m sure I’ll go watch it, but I would have been more excited probably if it came out a few years ago. Independence Day: Resurgence stars Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vivica A. Fox, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Bill Pullman.

independence_day_resurgence

 

29th

The Shallows (Horror Drama – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Ombra Films/Weimaraner Republic Pictures)

A mere 200 yards from shore, Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills. The film looks to have more of an emotional battle for Lively’s character, instead of it just being a mere survival thriller, which could help. I’m not totally sold on it to be honest, but if the word of mouth is good, I’ll give it a chance.  The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Non-Stop, Run All Night) and stars Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, and Sedona Legge.

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What are you looking forward to?

‘Hitman: Agent 47’ Review

hitman_agent_forty_seven_ver4

Dir: Aleksander Bach

Writer(s): Skip Woods and Michael Finch

Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Thomas Kretschmann, and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

 

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

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

 

Video game movie adaptations have a rough hill to climb. For one, they take away the interactive aspect of it all, and forces you to watch –essentially– an entire cut-scene. The other – which is the main reason – is that they aren’t always very good, in fact, a lot of the time they are downright terrible. The problem with Hollywood is that forget most video games are fun to play and they take away that fun and make the films just a tad more serious than they probably should be. In other cases, it’s the studio or creative team thinking they can create something on their own and use the basic skeleton of the video games, which is often the reason the films fail. In the case of Hitman: Agent 47, the reboot tries to inject some more aspects of the video game, but still fails to bring a descent adaptation, despite two solid leads.

 

Hitman: Agent 47 starts off by telling us what and when the “Agent” program started. The program was to create Agents, genetically modified assassins, but was eventually shut down. However, a corporation called Syndicate International, lead by Le Clerq (Kretschamann), is looking to restart the program and to do so they need the lead scientist of the program, Litvenko (Hinds). They believe they can find him through his daughter, Katia (Ware), who is also looking for him for personal reasons. So they send John Smith (Quinto) to find her and bring her in, but Agent 47 (Friend) is after them as well with his own agenda.

 

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I did enjoy, for the most part, 2007’s Hitman with Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47, but with this being a complete reboot, Showtime’s Homeland’s Rupert Friend takes over the role and I have to say, he’s a little bit better in the role. Agent 47 is a bit of a tough character to crack in the sense that he’s a genetically modified assassin that had all his feelings stripped away from him. It is really all about the actor playing him and the charisma he brings along with his body language and style. You want to feel this guy is going to kill you and isn’t going to stop until that happens. Friend does bring most of that to the table, and for the most part. Friend brings that Terminator-esque vibe at the beginning as he calmly walks toward Katia and John Smith in a train station. However, I should say, in case you didn’t know, Paul Walker was originally intended to star before he sadly passed away.

 

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Probably one of the best cast members is newcomer Hannah Ware. Katia acts in some ways as the surrogate to the audience and the world of Agents. She plays a rather important part to everything going on, and if you have avoid the trailer – since one of them actually gives it away – I won’t spoil it here. But, it’s a pretty nice addition to the potential series, if they continue making them. Her character at one point feels like she’s going through a “tutorial level” with Agent 47 telling her how she has to deal with her surroundings. Ware does thankfully hold her own and gets involved as much as possible in the action.

 

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The villain side unfortunately doesn’t hold up too much. Thomas Kretschmann’s Le Clerq feels like he’s suppose to be main villain, but sends most of his screentime inside his specially designed safety office. That said, Zachary Quinto, who is really a henchman for Le Clerq becomes the primary villain for us. Quinto, who is usually reliable, doesn’t really deliver as the villain here. He doesn’t really do too much, sure he has some pretty intense fight scenes with Friend’s Agent 47, and he has an interesting character trait, but his character just lacks a bit. Ciaran Hinds, who isn’t a villain, gets a small but descent role as Katia’s father and creator for Agent program. Hinds is reliable as always and it’s kind of a shame he didn’t get more screen time since he brings the heart to the movie.

 

So despite the two solid leads in Friend and Ware, Hitman: Agent 47 does have its faults, and unfortunately those faults do take you out of the movie a bit. For one, a lot of the CGI takes you out of it. Some it works, but a lot of the time it just doesn’t look good at all. Sure the movie is low budget, but it shouldn’t have affected the CGI too much. Even some of the action sequences – which were put together by John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch – are great to watch, especially the beginning set-piece, but director Aleksander Bach makes some weird editing choices that don’t help the scenes out in any way and even makes them a bit hard to watch.

 

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One little tidbit that I thought could have added to the movie is having more world building. It looked like Fox was setting up for a franchise and there were some great opportunities for Fox to build that up a little more. They tried with a character named Diana (Angelababy), who looks to be Agent 47’s contact, but it was the scene at the end that really tries to build up the world, but by then it is too late.

 

All in all, Hitman: Agent 47 has some problems that take away from the movie a bit, but with its leads in Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware you can overlook them (for the most part). While it’s not the best video game movie adaptation – there’s also some nice nods to the games – it certainly isn’t the worse.

 

Hitman: Agent 47

3 out of 5

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