Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is a cocktail that tastes bitter.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

I'd like to share something with you.

An idea that nearly happened way out in Hollywood.

There was a time when Steven Spielberg was busy at work, trying to get a fourth "Jurassic Park" movie off the ground. This was around 2005 and he worked hard on a version of a fourth "Jurassic Park" film until around 2007. He got William Monahan, who wrote "The Departed," to write a script, and the script was wild. Imagine a "Jurassic Park" movie where a mercenary leads a group of humanoid dinosaurs  fighting bad guys and saving missing children. It was the craziest thing ever attempted in this franchise, and also just in general. But it would have at least tried to revitalize a franchise that produced three films which were exactly the same. 

Colin Trevorrow made "Jurassic World" in 2015, and it seemed like his goal was to revitalize the "Jurassic Park" franchise. Sadly, "Jurassic World" is just like the three previous "Jurassic Park" movies, they are all the same. They are four excuses to get people on the island for some dinosaur mayhem. Sure, there is a certain amount of charisma with the hiring of Chris Pratt. But this franchise has never been about the characters or their development. This franchise has been about wowing its audience with dinosaur visuals. This franchise has been more about the dinosaur mayhem. The characters basically work has placeholders, cardboard cutouts needed to move each scene along with the films bigger stars.

I bring up the almost "Jurassic Park 4" because I see lots of parallels between the Monahan script and the finished product of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." The movie begins with mercenaries looking for bones and DNA, and of course as these movies go, they get attacked by dinosaurs on the island. Mercenaries were the main characters from Monahan's script. Then we see some news footage of a volcano on the Jurassic island ready to blow. Some people want to evacuate the dinosaurs off that island, others want to leave them there and let them die. In Monahan's script, the news footage showed dinosaurs hitting up the mainland. A new character named Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) is eventually introduced, and apparently Lockwood designed the first dinosaurs with John Hammond. This all completely retcons the entire canon of "Jurassic Park" as we know it, but whatever. Lockwood's aide Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) hires Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to help Lockwood's people get all the dinosaurs off the island and onto a different sanctuary island. No volcano or danger and no humans allowed, letting the dinosaurs live out the rest of their lives secluded in peace.

To help, Claire then turns to Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), and I can't help but see lots of the mercenary character from the "Jurassic Park 4" script in Grady. In that script, the lead mercenary had to go back to the island and get some DNA because Hammond was going to design some dinosaurs to kill the renegade dinosaurs hitting up the mainland. In "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," Owen, Claire and Lockwood's mercenaries go and try to save the dinosaurs. But of course, its not that easy. There are more mustache-twirling human villains this time out, and nobody who they seem. The first half of "Fallen Kingdom" regards this rescue mission, but the second half becomes so different that it feels like a different movie entirely. Lockwood is planning to sell the dinosaurs to the highest bidder, along with Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong) who became the de facto human villain of this new stretch of franchise. Of course Claire and Owen try to stop them.

There are definitely some parallels between the original "Jurassic Park 4" script and what is going on in the franchise now. I don't want to give away anymore secrets of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," but I could see them heading in a much wackier direction. I really would have loved to see the original idea for "Jurassic Park 4" and until they head that direction, I'll start being more interested in this franchise. "Fallen Kingdom" is so disjointed being a two-in-one experience that it hurts the movie. The secret to movies is keep your storyline simple, then again all four previous "Jurassic Park" films were fairly simple and that didn't help.

I think the biggest problem with these movies is that they refuse to write good human characters. Chris Pratt is fine, but he's more charisma than character, and so is Howard. They both do what they were hired to do, but they don't have characters to play. James Cromwell gets as much mileage out his character as he can, but he's not written convincingly enough to make an impact. Neither is Rafe Spall's character. Neither is the smarmy dinosaur seller played by Toby Jones. Neither is the generic mercenary played by Ted Levine. Its all about the dinosaurs, and when all of our characters are on the island, its the best stretch of the film, because the dinosaurs are front and center. The second of the film features mostly a human story. So we need strong human characters to carry us through until the end and we just don't get that here.

Not even Jeff Goldblum's cameo could save this from being just another pandering experience. Out of all the movie franchises out there, "Jurassic Park" really has never hit my sweet spot the way it has for so many others. I think that mainly there isn't a convincing story to tell. The human characters aren't strong enough to tell a good story. Once the humans are created with the strong passion of the dinosaurs, I'll start caring more about this franchise.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Creed 2 Trailer

I loved "Creed"

Even though it was a movie built on the spine of the original "Rocky," there was enough character, theme and story that made it all feel like it was something of its own. I thought for sure it was just another naked cash grab, and it ended up being a favorite of mine. Something that you could happily and shamelessly place next to the best of the "Rocky" series. I couldn't believe how well it worked, and now I have to say how ready I am for a sequel.

Apollo Junior versus Drago Junior. Oh yeah, get ready.




LOOKS AWESOME!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: "Hereditary" is frighteningly unsettling and ambitiously muddled

Hereditary Review
There have been several different types, styles and conventions in the horror genre that have established themselves firmly in genre itself. So much so, that fans of this type of movie have drawn lines in sand, declaring that only their favorite brand of horror is the only true form, and everything else is just a imitation. Me? I love it all. I've always loved it all. I love the goriest of zombie movies, and I love the most explicit of body horror movies. I've been fond of a few found footage movies, and I am sucker for dreadful mood and atmosphere.

There seems to be a sub-genre that is beginning to assert itself once again in horror canon, and again, horror fans are taking their side on the battlefield. Over the course of running this blog, I have posted positive reviews of both "It Follows" and "The Witch" and in both cases, I got shit for it. It seems many people, especially people my age, can't come to terms with a horror movie that is a slow-burn. We've been conditioned by Hollywood to believe that a bunch of young "actors" running around sweaty, getting killed in stylish ways is the only true way to scare somebody, but that's not even remotely true. We all are different as human beings, and we all have different fears. Something that might make one person feel brave may weaken the sensibilities of another, and that's why there are so many styles of horror movie, and why some of them work on others.

"Hereditary" is another film in line with "It Follows" and "The Witch," its another slow-burn modern horror movie, and if that isn't good enough for you. If you need the gore and the screaming children and the boo scares, then this isn't for you. If you long for mood and atmosphere and if you love the tension being turned up at a snails pace, then you'll end up enjoying "Hereditary" very much. It's a very well acted film. Its one of those movies that has just the right score which only heightens your senses that they turn to terror. I don't think it all adds up story-wise, and it may come as a surprise that I am ultimately still recommending the movie despite that. I'll let you in on a little secret, there have been plenty of horror films that don't make much sense logic-wise, but still have the ability to scare. ("Suspiria" being an incredible example of this) You can build some genuine dread even if your story doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The thing though is that you have somewhat of an idea what the story means or maybe the director intended you to piece things together on your own without being spoonfed story. I am still on the road as to what the intention of "Hereditary" is though. There is clearly a story being told, but there is still so much left unanswered that it kind comes to a frustrating conclusion. The first hour and a half is full is enough to keep you freaked out, and I will even say that the ending is wildly ambitious. I don't need all the answers at the end of a movie, but I want to feel like those who made the movie have those answers. As this film ended, I truly wasn't sure.

Toni Collette plays Anne Graham, and when we meet her, she's at the funeral of her mother. Anne's mother was suffering for a horrible illness before passing away, and it's left a hefty dent on Anne. Anne cared for her and before anything involving her mother began, she suffered from depression. Her husband Steve (Gabriel Bryne) fears her depression may be making a comeback. All the while very strange feelings are beginning to fall on Anne's children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charile (Milly Shapiro). That's just one side of the coin though, as the movie wears on, it gets weirder and weirder. First, the movie seems to focus on Anne, then it seems to shift to Charlie and then to Peter. As the story gets weirder and shifts perspective, I started to get confused by who the main character was supposed to be, but at the same time, I wrapped up in the terror of it all. There are moments in this film that I think horror fans are going to be discussing for the rest of the year, and I know for myself there are images that I am not going to be able to shake.

Toni Collette does astounding work all the time, especially when she's in a horror movie and I am blown away by how underrated she is. She stears many of the scenes and emotions in this movie, and she drives the entire movie with aplomb. A horror movie isn't anything without creepy kids, and both Wolff and Shapiro came to creep you out, and we get ultimate creep factor out of both of them. Ann Dowd shows up later in the movie. If you've seen her on "The Handmaid's Tale," then she's probably already invaded your nightmares. Dowd is downright freaky in this movie, and I was fascinated by all of her scenes.

This is certainly an ambitious moment for A24, a studio that's been hard at work for awhile building an original slate of films. "Hereditary" fits in nicely with the rest of its filmography. There is plenty to like here, if you are a certain horror fan. You may get frustrated with where the story goes structurally, but there is so much terror on display that's hard not to have a goood time.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: "Incredibles 2" is a worthy, fun-filled, and brilliant follow-up

Incredibles 2 Review

Pixar has been a champion box office machine, but its also been a studio that has kept creativity and storytelling front and center for many of its movies. It's a studio that has earned the right amount of clout that, even as a 29-year-old man, even though they specialize in family films, I'll watch anything they release, without a trailer, bar none. They have earned that right, and not many studios nor individuals have garnered such an honor.

But I will admit, its been a chore to watch some Pixar films, yes you read that correctly. Ever since the turn of the decade, Pixar has been playing the sequel game. Besides the "Toy Story" sequels, the slew of sequels that Pixar has created have been less than amazing. I don't care that much for the "Cars" sequels, and I thought "Monsters Anniversary" was a wet blanket. I also didn't think "Finding Dory" was anything that special. After making the perfect trilogy in "Toy Story," I had faith that Pixar could even do sequels, but that faith has been tested mightily already. Now, I am very uneasy about a "Toy Story 4" coming out next year.

Easily my favorite of the Pixar films has always been "The Incredibles." You can probably blame my lifelong fascination with superheroes on that, but I can't help myself. "The Incredibles" is for a lack of a better word, incredible. It's such a clever take on the superhero genre, a fun spin on how the superhero movie works, and yes, even had a great message about being special in this world, and what exactly that means. While I've secretly wanted a sequel for a long time, I was worried that Pixar may not do it justice, and just shell one out a sequel just for quick cash. When it comes to their sequels, they seemed to have abandoned the one thing that made them special as a studio, creativity and storytelling. 

Alas, an "Incredibles" sequel got made. It's fourteen years later, and I've always had a theory that the more years you move away from a certain movie, the less relevant it becomes. There have been plenty of sequels to movies that were twenty or even thirty years old that just didn't feel right because they were so far removed. This plus the trouble Pixar has with sequels left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I was ready to right the whole thing off. It didn't help that the trailers made the film look like a mere clone of the first film.

Maybe it was lowered expectations, maybe it was my genuine love for the original film, but I left my viewing of "The Incredibles 2" with a huge smile on my face. Not only is "The Incredibles 2" a worthwhile sequel, not only is a good movie, Brad Bird has directed and written another incredible installment of this series. Brad Bird wrote and directed the first film too, and he seems to have a good handle on the characters he created, and time seems to not have slowed down his ideas and how this wonderful family of superheroes work. Bird cooked up another solid story to pit these characters against and mixed with the colorfully brilliant animation that we've come to expect from Pixar, you are in for one wild ride.

So remember The Underminer from the first film? He showed up right as the credits began to roll? John Ratzenberger from "Cheers" provided his voice? Well keep him in your thoughts because "The Incredibles 2" begins with that showdown after Dash's track meet. The fight with The Underminer goes less than well for The Parr family and they fail to stop The Underminer from robbing a bank, causing serious damage in the process. While the city appreciated that the superheroes defeated Syndrome in the last movie, the idea of damage and accountability are still fresh, and the Parr family have to relocate again. The leaders of the world are planning to come together to discuss the fate of all superhero activity and all the Parr family can do is wait.

Soon after relocating, Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) of DEVTECH has a plan for a publicity stunt to get public favor back for the superheroes and he plans to use Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) in a new city for this stunt, she's picked because she's the least destructive of the entire family. So Elastigirl goes on these secret missions while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home with the kids. He's a little jealous at first that Deavor doesn't want to use him, but if his wife is the only way for him to get back into a super suit to fight crime, then he firmly stands next to his wife. This all leads to a showdown with Screenslaver, a mysterious villain who is connected to the plot.

That's all I'll say about the plot. So many sequels are built on the spine of the previous film and while "The Incredibles 2" may look like it does that to a certain degree, there is so much fun to be had, so much that is still so creative that I couldn't help but love it. Sure, you could look at it at a service value and just say that its like the first film but Elastigirl is going on the missions instead of Mr. Incredible. But the movie's story works as a new challenge for the family as a whole, not just one parent keeping a secret from the rest of her family. The villain twist from the first film felt a bit obvious, whereas the villain twist here isn't who you'd expect. The movie doesn't really deal with the more of the same regarding relocation acts or anything, instead it plays similar to "Captain America: Civil War" where the movie's general theme is whether or not superheroes are a force of real good in the world. Screenslaver works kind of like Zemo did in "Civil War" excepts with brand new motivations and a slew of new gadgets at his disposal. While you may see a similar connection from the first film, its not something that derails the movie.

Plus, more Jack-Jack. It's just amazing. The scene where Jack-Jack, the literal infant of the family who somehow has an over-abundance of superpowers, fights a raccoon is the highlight of the movie. Jack-Jack literally steals the show. So much so that if Brad Bird goes for three, I'd love a slightly grown-up version of Jack-Jack, in a "Legion" type movie, but that will never happen so I'm essentially talking out of my ass. I just love Jack-Jack so much in this movie. 

In conclusion, it seems like Pixar has put my theories of sequels to bed. Maybe Pixar can make a fun, daring, and yes creative sequel if they really put their mind to it. "The Incredibles 2" is the movie I hoped for for over a decade. I am so glad that we got another adventure with this family, and now I can only hope we can continually check in on this family, seeing how they are doing as the years wear on. Pixar has once again gained my faith back and they continue to keep me curious about all of their work.

FINAL GRADE: A

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Unfriended: Dark Web trailer

There was a movie that came out a few years ago, 2015 if I remember correctly, called "Unfriended." I reviewed it here for the site. If you remember correctly, I wasn't much of a fan of it. I figured that I'd forget and never have to think of it again. But astonishingly, there is a sequel coming out later this year.

Now, the first film dealt with a ghost getting revenge on a bunch of kids who were on a Facetime/Skype type call one night. This sequel looks like it is leaving the supernatural aspect behind, doing something different. In this trailer, it looks like a group on a Facetime/Skype style call find out one of their friends stole a laptop, and that the laptop contains sensitive material on it revolving the Dark Web, a place full of illegal activity. A group within the Dark Web find out and track the stolen laptop. They begin to mess with the group, and take them out one by one. Or at least that's what it looks from the trailer.

I wasn't much of a fan of the first film. I can't build lots of sympathy for person who stole a laptop. That's always the biggest thing when it comes to horror movies. If you are making a horror movie about young people getting killed, you better make sure we care about who is getting killed. Otherwise you are going to have a film full of random death. This looks to be another crapfest, but I hope I'm wrong.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

World of Jokers

So just this past week, there has been lots of Joker news. I am talking about THE JOKER, the popular Batman villain. A few months back, I reported on a Joker origin movie. The movie was to be directed by Todd Phillips (director of The Hangover) and the crime movie god himself Martin Scorsese was going to produce the movie. The film was set to star Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker himself. Apparently, its still happening, but with a budget drop. Yesterday, it was reported that the movie will have a $55 million budget, I have no idea what the budget was before but apparently there was a drop.

I actually thought that maybe the Phoenix-Phillips-Scorsese Joker movie was kaput, since it was also reported this week that Jared Leto will be getting a solo Joker movie. The same Joker Jared Leto played in "Suicide Squad." This news is a little surprising since "Suicide Squad" became fairly unpopular and Leto's Joker was highly criticized. Now apparently he will be getting his own movie soon. No plans so far, or what it would even be about, but it is in the works.

Will our film industry get over-saturated with Joker flicks? Will these movies come out around the same time? Is Warner Brothers trying to create its own "Armageddon-Deep Impact" scenario where they are the only winner? Will anything about these movies be profitable? Well, honestly, people love The Joker so perhaps one of them will make some dough. How if at all will these movies relate back to the DCEU, and if they aren't, what's the point?

We'll see how these ideas materialize. DC and Warner Brothers are promising lots of things for a franchise that hasn't been solely popular, so I wonder what will happen here.

SOURCE:
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/80199

https://nerdist.com/jared-leto-joker-batman-dceu-suicide-squad/

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dumbo Trailer

I know some people find it a bit shameless that Disney is cashing in on their old animated classics by simply turning them into live-action tales. But you know, I have to hand it to the studio. The live-action conversations have been good, by and large, and I've been enjoying what I've been seeing so far. Perhaps the nostalgia train is working for me, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I like the live action versions in general.

One of the next live action films on the Disney docket is "Dumbo" coming next year. It is being directed by Tim Burton, who thought made the only crummy live action Disney film. Yep, I didn't care for his "Alice In Wonderland" films at all. So I was totally was not onboard for another Burton adaptation. But the first teaser for "Dumbo" actually looks quite majestic. It sounds like they will be playing pretty close to the original source material for this. The film will star Colin Ferrell, Danny DeVito, Micheal Keaton (Batman and Penguin reunited!) and Eva Green.




Doesnt look like the typical Burton fair, but perhaps that's a good thing.

Can't wait to see more!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: "Ocean's 8" is much more than meets the eye

Ocean's 8 Review

I really like girl power in movies, and I certainly don't mind seeing female-led movies. Some of my favorite movie heroes are Sarah Connor and Trinity and Ellen Ripley and The Bride. I don't mind remakes of movies about women. With all of this said, it comes off as nothing more than a politically correct publicity stunt now that we are living in a all-women craze. Let's remake every successful movie but with all women! It's a nice thought, but it's a dead-end creatively and a perfect reminder that there are several people out there who misunderstand what this is all about. A few years ago, there were many screaming for Charlize Theron to play a female James Bond, when James Bond being a womanizer has always been part of his character. Were they planning on making this female James Bond a lesbian? If not, then simply calling a female spy James Bond isn't James Bond, it would be something else, so why not just embrace that something else? I would rather see an entire series of "Atomic Blonde," another spy movie starring Theron, then having her play a female James Bond simply because the Social Justice Warrior populace is asking for it.

That was my biggest problem with the female-led "Ghostbusters" a few years ago. It had absolutely nothing new, exciting or innovative to offer. It was a publicity stunt for the sake of it, a shameless way to make a few extra bucks off of a franchise that should have been left alone. Sadly, its tough to really discuss this, since even remotely suggesting it means I am anti-women, and that's just sad all around. You are responsible for the art you create and once you've created something it belongs to the audience. If the audience denounces it, then that's that, it doesn't mean that everyone is anti-feminism. The female-led "Ghostbusters" movie was not funny, despite all the good talent involved, it referred to the old movies simply for referring to them, the special effects were good if the year was 1995 and it just felt like more of the same instead of doing something fun with the universe.

I still can't fathom why these "remakes with all women" are still on the rise, and I was prepared to not give two shits about "Ocean's 8." Much like the original "Ocean's 11," its filled with great talent, like Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rhianna, Mindy Kaling, Helena Boneham Carter and even Richard Armitage. Sandra Bullock is Debbie Ocean, a mastermind who recruits a group of all-women criminals for a big heist. It already sounded like more of the same but with a PC twist, and that sounded like a waste of time.

"Ocean's 8" begins like the original did too, with a camera facing a distraught Debbie Ocean, in jail garb. The camera stays on her the whole time during a conversation about parole, you never see who she's talking to. This entire technique was used in the first film and its so shamelessly pulled from the original that I thought I was going to see a repeat of 2016's "Ghostbusters," a mere remake of a great movie with nothing but a political stunt being the only worth to see it. I was ready to hate it, I was ready to have so much of my time wasted.

I was ready for a lot of things. But then I kept watching. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are great in everything they do, they are some of my favorites. Richard Armitage is wonderful when he's snarky and unappealing, and he made a good foil for Bullock's character. James Corden shows up as an insurance fraud investigator and does some nice work. Anne Hathaway is good, but it always depends on the role. Sarah Paulson is a superstar from TV who seemed to transition well to the big screen. Mindy Kaling has some good comedic timing. So maybe I thought it wouldn't be a complete waste of time, and as I continued to watch the movie, the women did an impeccable job bringing these characters to life. I was also surprised to see that the movie IS NOT a remake. It's a continuation of the George Clooney movies. Debbie Ocean is Danny Oceans sister, Elliot Gould and Qin Shaobo from Clooney's movies make appearances here (Matt Damon also had a cameo in the movie, but it got cut). I appreciated that this took place in the same universe, instead of being a tepid attempt at something new. (It actually made me sad to learn that Danny Ocean is now deceased, making no room for a crossover of any kind. BOO!)

George Clooney's movies were all about criminals who were smart, cool and hip. Those movies were clever and slick. I wouldn't call "Oceans 8" clever or slick, but that doesn't mean that it tries hard to please. This is a movie about smart movie, but it has its own identity, it has its own feel and I applaud that the movie has its own beating heart, instead of merely trying to be what Clooney's movie was back in 2001. There is still plenty of fun to be had here, and its beating with a pulse of its own heart. That I can appreciate quite a bit.

I thought that it was a little disappointing that Sandra's character and Richard's character were once dating, and this whole plan just boils down to a revenge heist. That simply just copies too much on what was done before and I wished for a little more imagination when coming up with a reason to assemble all of these criminals. I also found it to be a bit cheesy that all the pop songs that appear in the movie are songs about women. It seems just a little cliche and a little too on-the-nose to be taken seriously. But perhaps that's the point the filmmakers were trying to make, trying to make something that was one-the-nose. The thing is, the movie already mostly works as just a caper film. Something fun and fresh, you don't need all that cliche stuff to remind the audience that you're making an all women movie. Just leave it how it is.

I know "Oceans 8" is continuation of a popular franchise, but it truly doesn't feel like any other movies out right now. I am glad that I was pleasantly surprised by this. I don't completely love it, but I found "Oceans 8" to be mostly enjoyable. In a blooming summer season, you probably will too.

FINAL GRADE: B

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"The Predator" trailer



The film franchise that is "Predator" has been all over the place since its inception. Some of the original movies are pretty good, nothing that blows my mind though. "Alien vs. Predator" may have been fun in concept, but horrible in execution. Sorry folks, but I can't even stand it as dumb fun. The remake by Robert Rodriguez from 2010 that had an all-star cast was so profoundly pedestrian that it never got the franchise off its feet. I've had a rough relationship with this franchise, so its hard for me to get too excited over a new movie.

I like Shane Black as a director, but I like it when he's able to thrive with his own material, the most corporate thing he did was "Iron Man 3" and its the only MCU movie I return to the most for pleasure. Has he learned something since then? He's got a killer cast to work with here including Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Jacob Trembley, Alfie Allen, Thomas Jane, Yvonne Strahovski, "Moonlight's" Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael-Key, and Boyd Hollbrook (who I swear looks like a grown-up Tom Felton). That's quite the line-up, and I hope they all shine, but there better be a story worth telling here.

Halloween trailer

I always liked the original "Halloween." Its one of the best horror films ever made. Bar none. Yes, its a slasher movie, but it helped define that subgenre that may not be as popular as it once was. Plus, for its time "Halloween" is impressive because it didn't rely on blood and sex and exploitative violence to be "Scary." The movie truly is all about terror, and that's what I love about it. I have it in my collection of movies, and I love watching it every October.

The sequels? Not so much. The remakes? Absolutely fucking not. I thought the franchise was dead for sure. But David Gordon Green is now taking a stab at it, reviving it after many years. He's bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie and continuing her story. I love that idea, and the movie itself looks like its going to be high on dread. Yes, it looks more violent than the original movie. Violence doesn't bother me, but you better use it towards building some genuine terror. We shall see what happens, but for right now. Looks good.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Trailer



It's been awhile since I put the words "excited" and "Sony" and "Spider-Man" all in one sentence. But I have got to admit that I am excited for Sony's upcoming Spider-Man film. Instead of playing with the Tom Holland continuity from the MCU, this is a brand new adventure focusing on Miles Morales.

For those who don't know who Miles Morales is, there is an alternate universe in the Marvel multiverse known as the Ultimate Marvel Universe, where characters were updated, and made more realistic. The Ulitmate Marvel Universe was on the rise in the 2000's when many comic book readers were jaded by the outdated characters with their long, confusing continuity problems. There were some changes made in this universe. Peter Parker would eventually train another person with spider-like powers and when Parker eventually died, this person stepped in to fill his shoes. This person was Miles Morales. Morales became such a popular character that he was integrated into the mainstream Marvel comics universe in 2015.

This movie is slightly based on a Spider-Man story where all the different versions of Spider-Man across all the Marvel multi-verse came together. There was a bad guy named Morlun who was traveling across the multiverse killing anybody with spider-like powers. Telling from this trailer, I don't know if we'll see Morlun, he doesn't seem to appear anywhere. I know that The Green Goblin (a very different version compared to the mainstream counterpart) and The Kingpin will appear. Who knows what other secrets this film will reveal.

I really like the unique animation in this movie and there is some incredible talent as far as voice acting goes. This could be a good one!

Review: "Fahrenheit 451" is a uneven, disjointed adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic

Fahrenheit 451 Review

There is a reason why Ray Bradbury is one of the most well-known science fiction writers ever. Not only that, but helped define the genre and mold it into what it is today. No easy feat that, and "Fahrenheit 451" was one of his greatest writings. Set in the future, we follow the life of a firemen, but not your typical firemen. The firemen of the future set books to flame, because nearly every book is outlawed, in fact, most people rarely, if ever, get out and enjoy nature. They are constantly in front of digital screens. Not only that, but there is little to no privacy. Sound familiar yet? Ever since Facebook was in lieu of the recent Presidential election, its a little creepy to realize that Bradbury might have been up to something very real with his classic novel.

Conspiracy theories aside, the 2018 adaptation features an even creepier version of this. Each building in which this movie takes place has high screens (much like explained in the original novel), the book burnings in the movie have become a sport, and social media icons float by like in those live Facebook videos as firemen gleefully put torch to various piles of literature. It's a disturbing, slightly horrendous sight, and as the generations quickly slouch into their comfiest chairs and dig their heads into their cell phones, I feel like its easy to see a future similar to this. The most interesting thing about the HBO adaptation, which originally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, was the dark look into the future.

Yes, you read that correctly, the look into the future is the most interesting thing about the movie. Sure, Michael B. Jordan plays Montag, the firemen who we view this world through and his partner Beatty, played by Michael Shannon. Both Jordan and Shannon are, as expected, very good in this. But Montag has been reduced to a typical stock good guy and Beatty is his mustache-twirling counterpart. Sofia Boutella plays Clairsse, a wonderful, provocative character in the book. A character that dies early, but leaves a massive impact on Montag in the book. Here, she's your typical love interest, and she's much older so that Montag doesn't come off like a creep. No wife for this Montag, he's given a cliche-ridden love interest instead.

I can't remember every single detail of the book, but I don't remember "Farenheit 451" being a simple action movie and a cat-and-mouse chaser. I know that in the book, the firemen began their new job after the world slowly began to no longer see worth in books and that most writings went on a blacklist because their contents were too offensive. I think in the world where Political Correctness tends to go overboard in certain aspects, and how Social Justice Warriors have to put their two cents on everything, a close adaptation would have been very realized today. Unfotunately in the movie, there is no need to push the films big ideas, its too busy showing radicals being chased by firemen. They don't even do much of a job explaining this world, just some minor lip service as the film begins. Very inconsequential stuff. 

While there is plenty to enjoy, and plenty that is eye-opening. And shoot, there is plenty here that is even entertaining, "Farenheit 451" is slightly disappointing. A movie that wants to appear smart, but has no idea what its really trying to say nor any idea on how to say it. 

FINAL GRADE: C-

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Suspiria Trailer

"Suspiria" is often lauded as one of the best horror films ever made. It has often be labeled a "Disney Horror Movie" and its interesting because its kind of correct. The colors are bright, the mood is very fairy tale-like, and the atmosphere is epic and almost like the pages of a story come to life. Apparently, if you set it to the music of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" it goes along with the movie flawlessly.



"Suspira" came out in 1977, and it centers around an American dance student transferring to a German dance Academy. After a series of brutal murders, she realizes that the school is a front for a supernatural conspiracy. That's my best guess though, I actually don't really know what the movie is about. There is so much strange material in the movie, you could shake a stick at it. I saw the movie last year, I want to say. While the movie piles on the dread and the scares, its not the scary movie I expected. I never once feared for a bad dream in the night I watched it, and I ended up being correct.

A remake of the movie is coming out later this year. It will star Dakota Johnson and Chloe Mortez. While I groaned at this revelation, the trailer itself actually looks pretty cool. I read that some of the footage from the movie was viewed at the Cannes Film Festival in France last month, and it was getting people pretty nauseated if the report is to be believed. The trailer released is full of great mood, and I am wildly curious to check it out. I am not sure if its going to be a straight up remake, but perhaps the spine of the movies will be similar while the story itself is different, a la "Ocean's Eleven."


The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Trailer



If you remember in 2014, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED "The LEGO Movie." I liked it so much more than I thought I would. I loved how clever the movie was, and how it had something very interesting to say adults strange relationship with their toys and how potentially dangerous it can be living in a world full of nostalgia. There is some discussion in certain films about how potentially damaging nostalgia can be, and I think "The LEGO Movie" did a fun, wonderful job exploring that. "The LEGO Batman" movie took some liberties making a parody about The Caped Crusader and as a life-long Batman fan, I really loved it.

I thought that maybe a second LEGO movie would be more of the same, but I am not so sure that is the case. This looks to be in a dystopian future, after Taco Tuesday. It seems like the little sister from the first movie's LEGO's began to take over. I love that this looks to be a direct sequel to the first film, and its funny that the movie is going "Mad Max" in terms of style. It looks like this is going to be a Man On A Mission movie instead of A Chosen One sequel, and I am curious to see if the team behind this movie will slyly and hilariously lambast the Man ON A Mission genre, just like they did with The Chosen One style movie.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Laura Dern delivers a career-high performance in "The Tale"

The Tale Review
This movie made a festival run before being picked up by HBO and being released earlier. So I've decided to review it tonight.

I have always wondered how Laura Dern never became one of the biggest actresses of her generation. I have always been fascinated by her in every David Lynch collaboration she did. I think it borders on crimes against humanity that The Academy never nominated Dern for her work in "Inland Empire" in 2007. But Lynch doesn't play the hype game and the movie was way too weird for awards. She is Bruce Dern's daughter. She's appeared in "Jurassic Park" and a host of other films. She's been in the game for quite awhile now. How she isn't one those go-to girls really bothers me, because I have always found her incredible. But nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen when I happened upon "The Tale."

"The Tale" is based on a true story about Jennifer Fox, who was documentarian before making this first feature film. The movie is about her life, about a very specific time in her life. Laura Dern plays an adult Jennifer Fox. We see Dern's Fox make documentaries. She also teaches at a university. She is going to marry a good man, played by Common no less. She is frequently called by her mother (Ellen Burstyn, who seems frantic about her daughter's whereabouts. There seems to be something to that though. Fox's mother Nettie has discovered an old story and notes regarding an event that happened to Jennifer when she was young and the contents of that event seem to point that something horrible happened to Jennifer at that time.

One of the main themes of the movie is memory. Fox seems to suggest that humans can't always be reliable for memories, even when its an individual's own life that a said individual is reflecting upon. Jennifer starts to think about the story she wrote when she was young, the notes that were sent to her. There was a summer when she was fifteen years old. She learned how to ride a horse that summer, and she was taught by an person known as Mrs. G (Elizabeth Debicki) and her helper/lover Billy (Jason Ritter). During these memories, Fox is played by Jessica Sarah Flaum. Fox seems to remember these two people as important figures in her life, and those who really taught her what love was. It seems that Fox's own parents were out of the picture mostly and she spent an unusual amount of time with these two adults, but it was all innocent and care-free. At least, that's how Fox remembers them. When her mother corrects her memory, we really begin to see that we have the power and even the desire to rewrite our own memories and how far we go to forget certain things.

From this point forward, Fox in the memories is played by Isabelle Nelisse and she's a much younger actress. We also begin to learn that Mrs. G and especially Bill are not who we really think they are, and as the adult Fox begins to piece her memories back together again, we learn that Bill was truly a monster. What begins as an intriguing mystery, quickly turns stark and sad and disturbing. Bill begins to groom the young Fox and it comes increasingly clear that he abused her sexually and that Mrs. G was more than aware of it. It is striking acting by both Debicki and especially Ritter. The moments of abuse are so realistic and raw that I truly felt the need to look away. These moments are so carefully, delicately directed that I have to give the real Jennifer Fox props, this is magnificent directing for a person who has never made a feature film before. 

Making a movie for the first time also leads to some pitfalls. There are very few artists to who hit a homerun of a first movie. There are definitely some first time jitters in Fox's films. She has trouble staging some scenes, working with actors, and blocking scenes appropriately. I'd also say that Common's fiance character isn't utilized the right way. "The Tale" was perfectly timed with our own social history due to the Hollywood stories that have dominated the news this year. Still, halfway through the year, it still feels that a new actor is in trouble with sexual harassment or even something worse. While I believe in the difference between an allegation and a conviction, I am happy that so many women are finding a platform to discuss what has happened to them. As this #MeToo movement continues to grow, I think its important to that we recognize good role models for men, and Common's character could have been an outlet for that. But he comes and goes, and his scenes are so blisteringly cliche that he feels like a waste. 

I think the most important point "The Tale" makes is how memories make us and how we sometimes try to remember something differently in order to move past a particular trauma. Every time a new famous person is accused of doing something bad sexually, lots of people will jump to the point of "why did they wait so long to say something?" "The Tale" clarifies that our memories may not be very reliable, and when we take time to remember and investigate a new, brighter memory takes its place, full of clarity. There are a number of factors that seem play into when a victim thinks its ready t share something, and clarity seems to be one of them. This movie reminds that instead of condemning those who step up and admit what happened to them, that we take the time to really listen, and be there for them and help them through it. We as an audience aren't owed anything, and somebody finding the courage to speak up is a great thing. This movie reminds us of that point as well.

I don't know if Jennifer Fox ever plans to make another feature film. But while some parts are a little patchy, she's got some remarkable chops and some real filmmaking muscle. It will be interesting to see if she ever plans to harness anymore of that.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Family Movies

The image above is from a film called "Eraserhead." It is noted as being the first film by David Lynch, who would become every hardcore film geek's favorite surrealist. The movie is about, or at least I feel very strongly that its about, a man trying to overcome the anxiety of being a first-time father. I know this, because David Lynch has said this himself in interviews. Like many Lynch movies, you probably wouldn't get that right away watching the movie, even though I'd argue that "Eraserhead" is much easier to follow and much more linear in storytelling than many of his future endeavors. This film is significant to me because I am about to be a father.

I don't let my personal life get into my writings too often, but I think if you've read enough of my work, you know I a married and I think I have mentioned maybe once or twice in passing that I am going to be a father soon. Today I got word that soon is going to be sooner than expected. My wait on fatherhood is about to close. For the past nine months I have felt and dealt with the many nerves, the many anxieties and the many thoughts that I think Jack Nance's character grapples with in "Eraserhead." I am wildly excited to be a dad, but I am also scared out of my mind. It my first kid after all, and no matter what anybody says, you can't predict how anything will go because every child is different. Plus, for me personally, I am a worrier by nature. So spending nine months thinking about how good of a father I am going to be has been nerve-racking. But there is a huge level of excitement as well, something I am not sure Jack Nance's character ever felt.

I've been asked repeatedly if I am going to shut my blog down after my daughter is born. The answer is definitely no. I will warn that posts will come slower, and this summer is probably going to be a slow summer for me personally. I wouldn't have it any other way though. I want to be there for my child, that is important to me like you wouldn't believe. But when I can, I will check in, I will keep you posted on anything I've watched. Whether its new or old or whatever. I'll eventually get a groove back, but that will depend on baby. But the blog will not leave. I am not going to prison. I ain't dying, I am simply having a child. But I understand that newborn children take up lots of time, time I am willing to give to that child. I have some big plans for her, and I would love to eventually include her on this blog. But that's many years off right now, and it will heavily depend on whether she likes movies at all.

I do want to check in one day a week at least, and do a rundown on new trailers, news of the week, and if I've seen anything new lately. Like last night, I was planning on writing a review for "Gringo, "the movie that came out last March with Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Sharlto Copley and David Oyelowo. But goodness, the movie was so embarrassingly disappointing that I didn't know what to say, and I fell asleep on the couch so that halted any writing I was going to do last night. But some quick reviews, and some quick thoughts on recent stuff is something I want to do in the upcoming weeks. Just depends on the time I am given, which won't be up to me. That's totally okay too though!

That will probably be one of the bigger things I will have to work on as a father. Not pushing my interest on my child. If she ends up not loving movies like I do, then I will not think about disowning her. That will be apart of who she is, and I will love every piece of her personality. But as a father, I want her to be able to follow her interests. My happiness will be secondary to hers, but if she happens to be a movie fan like daddy, then I will be happy to indulge that interest with her. And like I said above, I've got some ideas with her in mind IF she ends up loving movies like I do. But that all depends on her, and I am wildly curious to see what her interests will be. I have a feeling that she'll at least like movies, and I think some kind of media will engulf her somehow. I am a movie and comic book maniac and her mother is a TV and book lover, she's going to be into something, I am sure of it. I am curious to see what that will be.

All of this has got me thinking of Family Movies. And that doesn't mean Pixar or Dreamworks movies. But movies simply about families. I watched "Eraserhead" recently. I've been thinking of stuff like "Hanna" an adventure centered around a father and his daughter. I've definitely thought about "The Incredibles." I've reminisced the first time I saw things like "Homeward Bound" or "Free Willy" or the thousands of other things I grew up watching as a kid, and I wonder what her favorites will be growing. I am slightly dreading the day she sees Disney's "Frozen" because after working with children for five years, I know the popularity for that one hasn't weakened a bit. Joking of course, if she ends up loving it, then I will watch with her. Promise.

This is all my way of saying that I couldn't get anymore excited to be a Dad if I tried. I can't believe the wait is going to be over as soon as it is. Time sure seems to fly when you are heavily anticipating something. Hears to hoping everything goes well!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: "Deadpool 2" is wackier, crazier, and bloodier than before.

Deadpool 2 Review

When the first "Deapool" movie came out two years ago, there was no secret as to what audiences would be in for if they stepped into that theater. The attitude was present from the early marketing, and it was impossible not to see what was in store for people. There haven't been too many R-rated superhero movies yet, especially one that seem to embrace all the vulgarity, all the violence and all the danger that comes along with that rating. Though I'd argue "Deadpool" isn't good simply because its for adults. What the movie does well is completely embrace the material its adapting, better than any other superhero franchise out there. Not only that, but it has so much fun poking holes in the old superhero concepts that it was hard not to love.

As superhero movies continue to come out of the woodwork by the double-handful, it gets very tough to rate films in a franchise. I can't say if I prefer "Deadpool 2" over the first film. Not yet. Sure, some have been so great that they stick out from the rest of their franchise (i.e. "The Dark Knight" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier") but by and large, these superhero franchises really feel like the comics that are being adapted. "Deadpool 2" feels like a continuation of what happened before, the next big episode in an ongoing television show. As we get more and more adventures with these superpowered beings, its harder to rank their films. I have thrown that idea out the window. I just like seeing where these characters go next. I can't say that Deadpool, once again brought to magnificent life by Ryan Reynolds, does not disappoint with this matter. In the opening moments of "Deadpool 2," he's already made fun of the movie "Logan," and blown himself up with a flying middle finger jetting toward the audience. Yep, this is Deadpool alright.

If you couldn't stand the Merc With A Mouth the first time around, I am not sure this second film will sway you. Deadpool busy here, killing bad guys in the most creative of ways. Constantly breaking the fourth wall. Saying and doing things the wrong person will find offensive. The movie continues to bend and break the rules of the superhero movie. In the middle of this sequel, Deadpool recruits a team for the film's big finish. After parachuting out of a plane, the entire team aside from one person is dead, unable to land their parachutes. The movie is a wild ride from beginning to end, incredibly self-aware and dazzlingly tongue-in-cheek. It never once apologizes for what it is, so you are either going to take what you see or leave it.

The opening of the film leaves Deadpool in tragedy, so to blow some steam off, he goes to the X-Mansion and reconnects with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and he decides to go on a mission with them. Which leads them to Firestar (Julian Dennison) who is wreaking havoc at a mutant orphanage. Deadpool and Firestar have a bit of a tussle, which leads them to a mutant prison. But don't worry folks, they don't spend too much time there. Cable (Josh Brolin, playing his ten thousandth comic book character of his career) has come from the future to hunt Firestar, who will eventually lead a life that will get Cable's family killed.

So the plot is much more comic booky than the first film, which was all about the villain of the film trying to get Deadpool to call him by his real name, not his code name. The first film was very much a total joke on the superhero genre, while the sequel puts much more emphasis on family, unity and togetherness. Those fans expecting another one-note joke may be disappointed. This is one of those sequels that added much more heart to the equation, but to me, it was in a very subtle way. The movie remains playful and wacky throughout, just like the first film.

I don't know what's going to happen in the future, as there is talk about Fox being acquired by Disney. Its especially mysterious since Comcast swooped in and muddied the water with an offer for Fox too. IF Disney ends up with more Marvel properties, I sincerely hope that they keep Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. He really gets the energy of the character, he gets him, he understands him, he is Deadpool in the flesh. It would be wrong to recast him. Kapicic, Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Morena Braccarin, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams all return from the first film, and they continue to add wonder to this very weird world. Josh Brolin has a knack for these Marvel characters, although Cable is nothing like Thanos, he still does an incredible job bringing him to life. Cable is a ferocious badass in this movie, and Brolin embodies that perfectly. There is a cascade of cameos that any X-Men and Marvel fan will enjoy seeing. There are actors in here that you'll never expect to turn up, but they do. Watching these cameos fly by while accompanied by the goofy jokes will make fans both cheer in delight and laugh their asses off. Zazie Beetz is a wonderful addition to cast, playing Domino whose power is that she's lucky. That may sound like a goofy superpower, and believe me, there are plenty of jokes about it in the movie. But surprisingly, she's a complete badass, and how luck plays into the action scenes is quite fun. I liked Julian Dennison ever since I saw him in "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople," which is one of Hollywood's best kept secrets. He was a little God in that movie, and he's a little God in this movie too.

Deadpool doesn't seem like he's going to be changing anytime soon, and that is something we can agree is a happy thought. This continuation of his story is just as wacky as the first go around, so if that was fun to you, enjoy the ride once again.

FINAL GRADE: A

Friday, May 25, 2018

Review: "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is another solid anthology for the ongoing franchise

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

So far, for my money, the anthology "Star Wars" movies have been impressing more than the ongoing saga continuation. Granted, I did love "The Force Awakens," but it does nag at me that it was essentially just a remake of "A New Hope." Then, "The Last Jedi," well, nothing has changed since I saw back in December. I still feel like it was made by an angsty, emo-teenager who is trying really hard to be cool and who clearly hates everything about "Star Wars." I have been all for new stories set in the "Star Wars" universe, and I think that's a big reason why "Rogue One" really affected me. It was fun following some new characters unconnected to the Skywalkers. It felt fresh. It felt intense. It explained the gaping flaw that has gripped "A New Hope" for years. And yes, it made Darth Vader scary again.

I was skeptical at the beginning when it came to a Han Solo prequel. Hollywood has this thing with prequels were they like to take the mystique away from a certain. Honestly, I don't need every beloved character I know being explained away, and as always, prequels bother me because there is absolutely no tension in them. If you know your main character is going to live, then how can you create anything rendering emotional response? I figured Disney would just make a Greatest Hits movie about Han. We'd figure out his rivalry with Jabba The Hut. We'd figure out his rivalry with Geeto. We'd see the Kessel run. We'd find out how he met Lando and Chewie. And that would be the entire movie.

Well, we DO see the Kessel run. We DO find out how he met Lando and Chewie. But we never see Geeto or Jabba. The rest of the movie is tied to a crime spree. Yes, "Solo" is a Star Wars heist movie, and I absolutely loved it for it. The thing to is that the Kessel run, and Lando and Chewie tie directly into the main storyline. They aren't just random events that happen because its a Han Solo movie, these are things that are actually important to the plot. It was fun stepping outside the main Skywalker storyline and the rise of the Empire just to see some thieves getting by in a very dark, very corrupt world. Disney also brings all the fun and all the adventure we expect from a good "Star Wars" movie.

So as far as the new "Star Wars" movies go, the anthologies are kicking the new saga's ass.

The film opens on the planet Corellia, where we learn that Han has been growing up all his life, it's been a hard push through life and we learn Han has been lying, cheating and stealing just get by for life. The entire planet is run by Lady Proxima, a giant worm-like alien voiced by Linda Hunt. When we meet Han, he is played by Alden Ehrenreich. Who is going to far in this business. Let me just get that out of the way now, he's going far. He was the only good thing about the Coen Brothers' "Hail Ceasar" and he perfectly creates a young Han Solo. He's got the ego, he's got the fun play on language, he's got the handsome glare, he's got the swagger. He's got it all, really, and I was immensely impressed by his portrayal. 

Han has a crush though, a girl named Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) and they plan to get off the planet together. They nearly do, until Qi'ra is recaptured. Han promises to go back to Corellia to save her, he plans to become the best pilot ever and get a ship and save her. It's a little lame how he goes about being called Han Solo, but you know what, I didn't care. By the time the movie really got going, I was already on board.

Three years after leaving Corellia, Han meets up with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) a ruthless smuggler and criminal who is intending to steal several cases of hyperfuel, one of the most precious substances in the entire galaxy. It takes some explaining, and a run-in with Chewbacca, but Han is able to join Tobias' crew. The heist to steal the hyperfuel goes less than well, and Tobias then reveals that he was stealing the fuel for a terrible crime syndicate called the Crimson Dawn, led by Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Qi'ra also happens to work for Vos, and between Tobias, Han and Qi'ra, they are able to set up another attempt to steal some hyperfuel for Vos, but if they fail a second time, Vos will have them killed.

Again, I love the idea of a heist movie in the "Star Wars" universe. Yes, the movie is filled to the brim with double-crosses and some big surprises. Sometimes, though, the surprises can be a little much. There is a cameo by a popular character from "Star Wars" lore, but if the timeline is correct, then this character should be dead. It's not explained in the movie why this character is alive, and I am sure all the people going to see this movie this weekend have kept up with all the cartoons being made that are apparently canon with the movies. I do hope they realize that people are going to catch this, and it is going to have to make sense in the movies as well when and if this character shows up again. It's not enough to have a popular character step in without an explanation. But other than that, I love that this is a full-blown crime film in this universe.

The cast is just spectacular all around. Woody Harrelson is great as this type of character. He's got a swagger of his own, he's a charming little conniver and you can tell that Harrelson is relishing every moment he's onscreen. Donald Glover's work as young Lando is equally noted. I love that between Glover and Alden Ehrenreich, they are paying tribute to the actors who played these characters before them, but also putting a fresh, young spin on them at the same time. They can still call these characters their own, but also making sure they feel like the old characters we know and love. Much like what Christian Bale did with Batman. Emilia Clarke is an adorable actress, and I love that she brings some that Khaleesi edge when things start getting crazy in the last half of the movie. I was surprised to see Thandie Newton show up as a love interest for Tobias. She isn't in much of the movie, but she certainly makes her presence known. As does the character Rio, who is a multi-limbed alien voiced by Jon Favreau. Rio isn't in much of the movie either, but man he certainly makes an impression in his limited screen time.

The big thing was, this wasn't a Greatest Hits movie. This wasn't a movie that got bogged down by reshoots and a director change. It certainly sounded like there was a hot mess going on behind the cameras while making this movie, and the result could have been disastrous. "Solo" is completely unlike any other "Star Wars" movie, but that's where its power comes from. Finally, we get a prequel that adds some tension and some hard-felt emotions into the mix. Something I didn't think was quite possible. While Disney does try to wrap a typical heroic, goody ending before the credits roll. I absolutely loved that Solo never quite broke character. Obviously, if this is your first "Star Wars" movie, there will be plenty of time for that later. Yep, folks, its true this is a good one.

FINAL GRADE: A

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: "Overboard" is literally overboard with amorality and unfunny comedy

Overboard Review

Kate Sullivan is an everyday Joe Schmo, or should I say Jane Schmo, trying to make it in life. She is a single mom just trying to get by with the day to day. She has two jobs all by herself, and in between, she is picking up her children from school. Her daughters maybe embarrassed when their mom picks them up in a pizza car, but Kate can't help it. She is a pizza delivery person as well as a cleaner, and she's merely trying to provide for her three daughters.

As a cleaner, she happens upon the yacht of Leonardo Montenegro, the son of one of the richest people in the world. He's a snob, and when he first meets Kate, he makes some very rude remarks about her appearance, and works her to death. She complains to whomever will listen. When Leonardo tries to get Kate to get her some fruit, she makes it clear that she can only clean. So Leonardo promptly fires her. Leo then pushes her off his yacht and throws her equipment into the ocean, destroying it.

Karma ends up being a bitch for Leo though, as he slips off his own yacht and suffers brain damage that causes amnesia. Kate sees an opportunity. She fakes some documents that say that she has been married to Leo for fifteen years, and decides to get him to pretend to be his wife. She then begins ordering him around and doing things for her. Not only does he work multiple jobs, but he also does all the house chores. This was apparently a remake of a film starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. I never saw the original, so I have no idea how it parallels the first film. I can say that nothing funny happens in this film, and the film itself doesn't teach very good lessons.

Anna Faris plays Kate, and honestly Faris has always been a blank to me. She is no different here, and I honestly wonder how she got a career in Hollywood in the first place. Her mushy voice annoys the heck out of me, her wide eyes display no characterization, and she can't create a character to save her life. She has always been a poor, poor excuse for a leading lady. I think the business sees that though, she only ever seems to come around when everybody else is unavailable. Eugeino Derbez plays Leo, and he's fine. The script barely gives him a script to play with though.

Then there is the story itself, its a little too disturbing to be a comedy. That's right, disturbing. Yes, I get that Leo is a snobbish billionaire, and he treats Kate with absolutely no respect. But does that mean she can turn around and lie and torture him for her amusement just because he's a snobbish billionaire? The movie ha its own amorality, that's supposed to be funny I guess, but never quite comes off funny. When a movie boils down to two horrible people, and the movie has nothing important or worthwhile to say, it loses me. I don't see the point of any of it.

I wasn't expecting much from this, and I don't think you should either.

FINAL GRADE: D

Monday, May 21, 2018

Offiial Title for "LEGO Movie 2!"

The official title is "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part"

I really, really loved "The LEGO Movie," it was the surprise hit of the year for me, as I wasn't expecting much from it initially. So I am very much on board for The Second Part. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Will Arnett are all set to return. Tiffany Haddish has joined the cast, but in a mystery role! The comedic duo who wrote and directed the first film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, will write and produce this sequel. Mike Mitchell is set to direct!

Everything is about to get awesome again!

The HappyTime Murders Trailer

There has been a movie that I have been wildly curious about for a whole year now. That movie is "The HappyTime Murders"

I wrote about this almost a year ago. Brian Hensen, the son of the legendary Jim Hensen was following in his father's footsteps. Well, in a way at least. He has a knack for puppeteering like his old man, but instead of making kid-friendly fair, it looks like Brian will be into much darker things. This trailer proves that this is going to be a twisted little detective comedy.

I'll be honest, I'll never look at silly string the same way again.



As much as I have been looking forward to this trailer, I can't help but think that maybe the script is trying a little too hard? I definitely didn't laugh as much as I thought I was going to laugh. While the silly string scene was a moment of hilarity, it does push itself a little too far. Sometimes Seth MacFarlane overdoes his jokes every once in awhile on "Family Guy." There was definitely a vibe similar present. Alas, despite a few flaws, I am a huge fan of "Family Guy," so maybe I'll end up liking this too. It was bound to happen sometime, an adult version of "Sesame Street," I just hope they don't blow a great opportunity.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Adam Sandler turns a new leaf in "The Week Of"

The Week of Review

I am starting to wonder what professional critics expect from Adam Sandler.

Maybe I think this because I was always one of Sandler's fans. I was front and center for his prime career. "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy" are all films I love. I even liked things like "Eight Crazy Nights" a movie that seemed to fizzle upon its release. Sure, not everything he did during that time was good, I honestly don't think I ever need to watch "The Waterboy" ever again. But even in those days, critics never really got Adam Sandler. Or maybe they were just predicting the future, because as Sandler moved into the 2000's, he appeared as a one-tricky pony, only capable of doing one thing. "Punch-Drunk Love" was an absolute fluke, and everything else he touched seemed like over-indulgence for the sake of it. Except maybe "50 First Dates."

This deal with Netflix seemed like a vanity project for the actor more than anything else. I watched "The Ridiculous 6" and I watched "The Do-Over" and I watched "Sandy Wexler." Out of all three of those, "Sandy Wexler" was the best, but possibly not worth the effort of signing a major deal with Sandler. The other two are your typical shitty Adam Sandler movies. Suddenly though, there seems to be a change. I would highly recommend seeking out "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" its on Netflix too, and its honestly a different kind of Adam Sandler comedy all together.

You can add "The Week Of" to the unique experience of the new Adam Sandler comedy. For the first time in his career, he isn't relying on his angry ranting humor to get him through a comedy. For the first time in his career, he is playing multiple characters and making up weird voices for them. For the first time in his career, he isn't running in circles making the same points in his movies over and over again. Although I will argue that there is a typical, raging Sandler comedy hidden in the subtext of the film, and perhaps ten years ago this could have looked a lot different. That's easily the most frustrating thing about an otherwise good movie.

The movie is about two families, one is led by Sandler and the other is led by Chris Rock. Their children is getting married, Sandler's daughter and Rock's son. Chris Rock plays a successful, super-rich doctor and Sandler plays your typical, Middle-Class man. Sandler is hellbent on paying for the whole wedding, even though his family doesn't have much and even though Rock has offered many times to help, he's financially stable, and Sandler really isn't. But he wants to impress his future son-in-law's family and really wants to give his daughter the best wedding ever. 

So in your everyday Sandler fashion, next to nothing goes well. There is a leak at the hotel everyone is staying at. Someone gets hurt at the bachelor party, and by the end of the movie, the wedding venue is on fire. There is also a laundry list of other things that make the wedding a near-disaster. But like I said above, the humor in the film isn't your typical Sandler humor. There is a dryer, less zany sense of humor to the story. It almost feels like a Woody Allen comedy for much of its running time, and its amazing to see Sandler having an actual character to play. He does incredible work, and he's still very funny here.

There are a couple Sandler regulars in here, and all the way through, it feels like a natural, organic comedy. It's not overly-slapstick or overly-deadpan. For someone who actually experienced an entire year of wedding planning, the jokes about anxiety of planning a wedding were dead on. The stress and needs of everyone involved can be crazy and just that, stressful. And I thought the movie had something very true to say about it. The movie itself, kinda finishes in the same Sandler fashion, but you know, by the end I didn't care. There was so much fun on display that I was happy with the experience. I know this got panned by critics, but again, as I opened this review, I don't get what critics want from him anymore. Just about all my favorite Sandler movies have been panned by the critics, and I still love all of them. I can also appreciate with "The Week Of" that an artist this late in his career can still try something new, and try different things. Change can be a good thing, and now my interest in Adam Sandler's Netflix run has gone up a bit. Something that I didn't think was possible.

FINAL GRADE: B+ 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Primetime TV 2018-2019

I did this last year, and I wanted to create a place where you can see which shows were officially renewed and cancelled for the big primetime TV stations. Well, here are all the big ones right here right now.


Renewals
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.*
American Housewife
American Idol
The Bachelor
Bachelor In Paradise
Black-ish
Child Support
Dancing With The Stars
For The People
Fresh off the Boat
The Goldbergs
The Good Doctor
Grey's Anatomy
How To Get Away With Murder
Modern Family
Roseanne
Shark Tank
Speechless
Splitting Up Together
Station 19
Ten Days In The Valley

Cancellations
Alex Inc.
Boy Band
The Crossing
Deception
Designated Survivor
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World
Marvel's Inhumans
The Mayor
Once Upon A Time
Quantico
Ten Days In The Valley

*Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return in the summer of 2019 and will run for only thirteen episodes. There is a good chance that this will be the show's last. It's had an up and down inception, but overall I liked the show. But six seasons isn't bad at all. Otherwise, the only show I'll miss is The Mayor. Lots of forgettable stuff getting axed by ABC, and the renewals aren't surprising.



Renewals
The Amazing Race
The Big Bang Theory
Big Brother
Big Brother: Celebrity Edition
Criminal Minds
Elementary
Hawaii 5-0
Instinct
Life In Pieces
MacGyver
Madam Secretary
Man With A Plan
Mom
(all versions of) NCIS
Randsom
Salvation
Survivor
S.W.A.T.
Young Sheldon

Cancellations
9JKL
Kevin Can Wait
Living Bibically
Me, Myself and I
Scorpion
Superior Donuts
Wisdom of the Crowd
Zoo

I will definitely miss Scorpion, but I think the quality definitely was beginning to dwindle and I fell off the show for sure. I also liked Superior Donuts quite a bit, I will miss that one for sure. Other than those, not too many surprises here. All the big CBS staples will be back.

Renewals
The 100
Arrow
Black Lightening
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
Dynasty
The Flash
IZombie
Jane The Virgin
Riverdale
Supergirl
Supernatural

Cancellations
Life Sentence
The Originals
Valor

Well, no big surprises here at all. I would like to take a quick shoutout to Black Lightening. I haven't watched the whole first season yet, but I definitely like what I've seen so far! Penn and Teller: Fool Us is still up in the air at the moment.


Renewals
9-1-1
Bob's Burgers
Brooklyn Nine-Nine*
Empire
Family Guy
The Four
The Gifted
Gotham**
Hell's Kitchen
Lethal Weapon
MasterChief & MasterChief Junior
The Orville
The Resident
The Simpsons
Star

Cancellations
The Exorcist
The Last Man on Earth
Lucifer
The Mick
Shots Fired

*Brooklyn Nine-Nine will have a new home over at NBC, a fact that I greeted with a sigh of relief. Its one of the best comedies on TV right now, and I am not sure what Fox is thinking
**Gotham's next season will apparently be its last, and will focus on...get this...Bruce becoming Batman. Wasn't that the whole point in the first place? Kill it already
Fox breaks my heart, losing The Last Man on Earth and The Mick really hurt my soul. They better replace it with some good stuff!

X-Files is a long shot as of right now. LA To Vegas could go either way.



Renewals
America's Got Talent
American Ninja Warrior
A.P. Bio
The Blacklist
Blindspot
Chicago Fire, PD, etc, etc all renewed
Ellen's Game of Games
Good Girls
The Good Place
Law & Order: SVU
Midnight, Texas
Superstore
This Is Us
The Voice
The Wall
Will & Grace*

Cancellations
The Brave
Great News
The Night Shift
Rise
Taken

*Will & Grace will have at least two more seasons

No news on Timeless at this moment

I liked A.P. Bio, glad that's returning. I continue to love Superstore, and I thought I was the only one who watched it, glad its coming back. I watched Great News and the first episode of Rise, I couldn't get into either of them. Never gave Taken a shot, glad I didn't. You know what else? I actually really, really, really liked Ellen's Game of Games. Glad to see more of that.

Did your favorites survive? Let me know!