In Theaters: Wish Upon, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Big Sick, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The House, Despicable Me 3, Baby Driver, Transformers: The Last Knight, 47 Meters Down, All Eyez on Me, Cars 3, Rough Night, Megan Leavey, The Mummy, Captain Underpants, Wonder Woman
Coming Soon: Dunkirk, Girls Trip, Valerian, Atomic Blonde, The Emoji Movie, The Dark Tower, Detroit, Kidnap, Annabelle 2, The Nut Job 2, The Glass Castle, The Hitman's Bodyguard, Logan Lucky, Leap, Home Again, It, American Assassin
★★★½: Very Good
★★½ : Eh
★★: Could've Been Worse, Could've Been Better
★½: Is It Too Late To Get A Refund?
★: Hope You Have A Good Date
½: Little To No Redeeming Value
No Stars: Rethink Your Life Choices
Image: Just wish for a Pony.
I guess you could say a generic ass PG-13 horror movie deserves a generic ass PG-13 movie review. But I like to at least attempt to add a little bit more of interest to my reviews. No matter how blandly uninteresting the movie is. But if you find my review boring and uninspired, please know that I've probably put more thought into it than these filmakers.
"Wish Upon" follows a young high school girl, "Clare" (Joey King) who only lives with her dumpster diving father, "Jonathan" (Ryan Phillippe) after witnessing her mother (Elisabeth Röhm) commit suicide years before. Clare deals with bullying popular girls, high school crushes, her dad's embarrassing job, and the fact that she lives in a rundown, crappy house. Things take a turn when her dad finds a strange box with Chinese writing on it. Not understanding what she's doing exactly, Clare wishes for one of the mean girls to go rot (Which she does. Literally.). Clare eventually starts to realize what she has found and what she can do with it, being given 7 wishes, but with every wish, somebody has to die in some shape or form. Clare kind of becomes a terrible person as her wishes continue and the body count rises until she finally starts to realize this might not be the best idea in the world.
"Wish Upon", which is directed by John R. Leonetti (Who previously directed "Annabelle" and....."Mortal Kombat: Annihilation"?), is the most by the book, unoriginal attempt at safe horror you could possibly get. Trying to be dark and gruesome, but not too much so that they get the young audience to show up. Its never scary in the slightest, with the many deaths in the film ranging from silly to hilarious, while generally being over the top every time. Sadly it's never in a way that makes for a so bad it's good experience. Mostly because the film does so little with it's somewhat interesting idea, inconsistently tying the deaths and the wishes together, and taking too much of it's already short runtime. Instead, the film wastes it on blandness.
At least we benefit from the usually reliable Joey King, who is honestly too good of a young actress for this. She has plenty of personality and acting chops to carry the movie on her own, despite the fact her character is a selfish little sh*t. We also get actually pretty solid work out of Ki Hong Lee (as "Ryan", Clare's helpful love interest) and Shannon "Justice for Barb" Purser (as "June", one of Clare's friends and one of the only people to realize that something is messed up about the situation). Ryan Phillippe is.....weird. Don't really know what else to say about that. Its just an odd casting choice/performance.
"Wish Upon" starts to pick up in the last act, when stuff actually start to happen. The movie suddenly realizes how horrible the decisions it's main character makes and finally calls her out on it. And to this movie's credit, it throws in a pretty clever last second surprise that feels like a fitting way to end a horror film like this. Too bad it takes too damn long to get anywhere. By that point it's too late, and you've already sat through the most simplistic, uninspired form of teen horror that only the 12 Year Olds will find scary. 1 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Death By Rug And A Pokemon Go Ripoff.
Image: He looks pretty upset. I think you should give him that Oscar nomination already.
I think we can all admit that lat summer's "Blockbuster" films was pretty bland stuff. (I mean, "Ghostbusters" was as good as it got for the most part). This year however, we have had original movies ("Baby Driver"), big superhero flicks ("Wonder Woman", "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2", and "Spider-Man: Homecoming), and some good laughs and big heart ("The Big Sick" and "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie"). Now we're getting possibly one of the most powerful, emotional dramas you will see in theaters this year. Except with Apes. Damn, Dirty Apes.
In a world where humanity is being wiped out by a disease that instead makes apes smarter, "War for the Planet of the Apes" starts a few years after the last one ("Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"), with beloved, intelligent talking Ape, "Caesar" (Andy Serkis) trying his best to protect his Ape followers and loved ones after his former friend turned enemy, "Koba" (Toby Kebbell) pretty much screwed everyone over and started a war between the humans and apes. Now Caesar's clan is being hunted down by a military group led by a bloodthirsty man only known as "The Colonel" (Woody Harrelson), who has even recruited some of Koba's former followers, including a large Gorilla, "Red" (Ty Olsson), who wants revenge on Caesar. Caesar plans to move his followers to a save haven, but a betrayal results in the Colonel attacking and murdering Caesar's wife, "Cornelia" (Judy Greer) and oldest son, "Blue Eyes" (Max Lloyd-Jones).
Caesar sends his followers on their own, planning to go after the Colonel on his own to kill him. Caesar is joined by his Orangutan best friend "Maurice" (Karin Konoval), chimp second in command "Rocket" (Terry Notary), and loyal gorilla "Luca" (Michael Adamthwaite) to track down the Colonel's base. They come across a young mute girl, "Nova" (Amiah Miller), who Maurice becomes a foster parent to, and an eccentric Chimp, "Bad Ape" (Steve Zahn), who leads them to where the Colonel and his forces are located, currently using Ape slave labor to build a wall to keep out some bad hombres. So the war for the planet truly begins, along with the internal war for Caesar's soul as his lust for revenge start to lead him down a dangerous path.
I know I have been whining about "Transformers: The Last Knight" a lot lately, but trust me. It's important to mention that movie when I talk about this one. (I swear. This is the last time). Compared to what that movie does (Or doesn't do), "War for the Planet of the Apes" represents the exact opposite. It actually gives you what you want, focusing on the characters you want them to focus on. Characters who are actually fully developed, and where the visual effects enhance the experience. Visually it is just incredible to look at, with the Apes themselves looking more real than the actual people in the movie. There is just so much detail and time being put into their designs, and so much focus on their facial expressions, which adds to the emotional impact of the film.
"War for the Planet of the Apes" is a beautifully crafted film, not just in terms of it's jaw dropping effects, but also in it's direction by Matt Reeves (Who previously directed the last film and is set to direct the next "Batman" film), who adds a dark beauty to the movie. The film is very bleak, filled with nightmarish imagery of war, torture, slavery, and humanity at it's worst. (In fact, I think it does a better job at showing the complex morality of humanity in the apocalypse better than any zombie movie in the last few years). Its powerful, compelling stuff, yet despite how brutal it can get, whether it be the exciting action or the captivating drama, the film has this heart to it that adds hope to the situation.
The impressiveness of the special effects and motion capture work aside, we also get amazing performances out of the actors who are utilizing them to their best effect. Andy Serkis (Who the Academy will never acknowledge ever in the history of forever. And until they do, I shall never forgive them), is just utterly terrific in the film. Along with the skillful visual effects rendering, it's all his movements, his voice, and his expressions that bring to life our conflicted hero. Steve Zahn is also wonderful in the film, bringing in much needed humor and a lovable personality to lighten the dark mood. Woody Harrelson is realistically terrifying, portraying a great villain that sticks with you after the movie is over. The rest of the Ape cast (Who take up more of the screentime than any of the humans), including Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite and others, bring these Apes to life to the point that you forget than none of them are actually real. We also get a breakthrough performance out of Amiah Miller, who's expressive face convey plenty of feeling, and serves as the heart of the film.
"War for the Planet of the Apes" is an intelligent, thought provoking film that treats it's audience with respect. The film never spoon feeds you. It expects you to know what something is supposed to mean and and to come to conclusions on your own. Unlike that garbage talking robot movie (Damn it! Sorry. Couldn't help it), it has the balls to take risks, not just with it's story, but with it's hero, who's story arc continues from the first two and occasionally goes down a dark path. (Something you don't really see in your average summer blockbuster). In fact, much of the first half of the film is subtitled sign language, with little actual talking (Aside from Caesar and Bad Ape). Top it all off with a mesmerizing score by Michael Giacchino, and you are sucked in instantly.
This isn't just why we all gather at the movie theater during the summer, this is why we see movies in general. "War for the Planet of the Apes" is the perfect representation of the modern movie going experience. It is thoughtful, powerful and boldly told, culminating in a spectacular finale that is bound to get even the strongest human a little choked up. I'm honestly running out of adjectives to describe it. "Apes" Is great filmmaking, and I can't wait to see it a second time. 4 stars. Rated PG-13 For War Being Hell.
Image: "So, did you hear he one about the Muslim and...."
If you've followed this site, you know knows my thoughts on the Romantic Comedy genre as a whole. I just generally find many of the movies in the genre to lack many real laughs or actual romantic chemistry, have thoroughly predictable plots, and usually seem to find themselves more charming than they actually are. It just always feels fake to me. Now ladies, please don't think I'm a heartless bastard. I am a film critic after all. In my defense, I was just waiting to be proven wrong.
"The Big Sick" is loosely based on the life of Kumail Nanjiani, who plays well, um, "Kumail", a struggling comedian who also works as an Uber driver on the side. His family desperately hopes he will continue their old fashioned Pakistani Muslim tradition of arranged marriage. During this time, Kumail meets a cute girl, "Emily" (Zoe Kazan), and the two of them are essentially perfect for each other, sand they start a relationship, despite Kumail keeping his family's plans for him a secret from Emily, and keeping his relationship a secret from his family. Emily discovers this, and seeing that Kumail himself cannot truly commit, she breaks the relationship off.
Some time later, Kumail finds out Emily is in the hospital with a sickness so bad that the doctors have to put her into a medically induced coma. Kumail meets Emily's parents, "Terry" (Ray Romano) and "Beth" (Holly Hunter), who are also going through their own personal issues. Eventually Kumail starts to bond with Terry and Beth, realizing the mistakes he made with his relationship with Emily, and the mistakes he is making with his family, as they can only hope that Emily pulls through.
"The Big Sick" is one of those films that comes across as real and honest. Director Michael Showalter takes this tired genre and not only finds a way to make the formula work, but also serve as what I feel other romantic comedies have tried desperately to do. The film is funny, heartfelt, and thoroughly charming beyond reason with it's genuine characters and a smart script written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon (The inspiration for the "Emily" character in the film)
The clever and at times, profound dialogue is expertly delivered by the terrific cast, with Kumail Nanjiani giving a comical, yet sincere performance that is nothing short of wonderful. Zoe Kazan is perfectly cast (And perfectly adorable beyond reason), and has great chemistry with Nanjiani. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano both provide plenty of laughs and plenty of heart, and the film's supporting cast all have their roles to play. The way the film treats it's cultural themes is both funny, complex, and understanding.
"The Big Sick" is essentially what I think any romantic comedy should aspire to be. None of the laughs feel forced, the romance and drama is handled well and with the respect it deserves, and the charm just comes naturally instead of being obviously fake. The film is hilarious, emotional, and infectiously sweet, surprisingly making for one of this year's best films. Not even a hardened critic like myself could walk out of this movie without a big smile on my face. My cold, cold heart has melted. And I'm finally ready for love. 4 stars. Rated R For A Strong Amount Of Language And For Smart And Hilarious Cultural Jokes.
Image: First, we'll start with a sensual massage.
Too soon? Aside from "Batman", everyone favorite web slinging teenager, "Spider-Man" is probably the most rebooted superhero out there. We have had three different film versions of him in the past ten years. We've seen the same origin twice now. I mean, poor Uncle Ben just exists simply to die, really. With that said, it's understandable why Spider-Man is so beloved. He's us. He's that lovably nerdy high school students who deals with every day problems. Who just so happens to have superpowers. And luckily, Marvel's got him now (Although Sony is still gonna be making money off him), and they may of perfected the fan favorite hero.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" begins after the events of "Captain America: Civil War" where "Peter Parker/Spider-Man" (Tom Holland) was called in by his hero, "Tony Stark/Iron Man" (Robert Downey Jr.), with his whole "Captain America Gone Rogue" problem, Tony rewards Peter with a new spidey suit, while telling him to continue his current job of saving cats out of trees, and the Avengers will call him when they need him.
Peter is now forced to deal with his superheroics, while trying to balance out his school life. His best friend "Ned" (Jacob Batalon) discovers his secret identity, he develops a crush on the popular girl "Liz" (Laura Harrier), and a new supervillain arrives in the form of "Adrian Toomes/The Vulture" (Michael Keaton), a former salvage company owner turned arms trafficker after getting screwed over by Tony Stark's new clean up division. Peter, obsessed with becoming an Avenger like his hero, starts to learn what it truly means to be Spider-Man and the responsibility that comes with it. "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" and whatnot.
Unlike the previous outings, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" this time chooses to skip the backstory that we all already know by this point, and instead decides to focus on our main character himself, along with a more personal story that remains a superhero film, but can also serve as a a terrific coming of age story. The high school setting has never been more fitting, which also makes for some of that Marvel humor that we've all come to love.
As the sixteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" also finds humor in everyday situations with the typical civilian's reaction to seeing superheroes in action less amazed than usual, instead this time treating it as something you would see any other day. This also makes the film's smaller scale fit more within the story, which is a major theme as well. Peter's journey throughout is him trying to become part of something bigger, while learning the importance of helping the little guy.
Look. I love Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. They made excellent versions of the character. But Tom Holland is just perfect. He's immensely likable, funny, and acts like any teenager would act if given superpowers. The character has the charm that you want him to have and his problems are relatable. (You know, with the exception of the whole webs shooting out of his wrist thing). I'd be happy to have Robert Downey Jr. on screen for one scene, but he plays an important role in the film, yet never outshines our hero. Jon Favreau (as "Happy", Tony's loyal bodyguard) is always a welcome addition in these movies. Marisa Tomei (as "Aunt May", Peter's very attractive, protective aunt) has a certain warmth to her that you want to see in this character. And Michael Keaton makes for a intriguing, and oddly sympathetic villain, while also remaining menacing throughout. We also get some good work out of the younger cast, including a hilariously nerdy Jacob Batalon, a suitably dickish Tony Revolori (as "Flash Thompson", Peter's rival), and a wonderfully weird Zendaya (as "Michelle", one of Peter's classmates who just sort of appears now and again) Another memorable standout includes Jennifer Connelly (as "Karen", the AI in Peter's suit).
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" is probably the best Spider-Man film we've ever had, even better than the Raimi films, and also serves as one of the most endearing entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Jon Watts balances out the fun action with the film's sense of humor and genuine heart, with a great cast of characters and a more personal story. Its further proof that Marvel still does what their job better than anyone else. (Okay. DC came close with "Wonder Woman"). But with "Marvel", we already knew it before we saw it. 4 stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Content, Though It's Perfectly Suitable For Kids.
Image: First you get the money....Then you get the power.
Just because you know people are good at improvisation, and generally make you laugh when they do it, doesn't mean they should use up an hour and a half to do as much as they can with a thinly written script. Nobody can do that. Not even Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler. No matter how funny they are.
"The House" starts with husband and wife, "Scott" (Will Ferrell) and "Kate" (Amy Poehler) hoping to get their daughter, "Alex" (Ryan Simpkins) into an expensive college. Thanks to city councilman, "Bob" (Nick Kroll) going back on the city's plan to offer a scholarship in exchange for a big ass pool, Scott and Kate left desperate to find a way to pay for Alex's tuition. They end up finding "help" from Scott's friend, "Frank" (Jason Mantzoukas), who has a gambling problem and is going through a bad divorce because of it, to come together and open an illegal casino in his basement to make the cash they need. And that's about it. I honestly hate when this happens. Nothing but Shenanigans. You know the drill.
"The House" has a funny premise, and maybe a good laugh or two (Most of which were in the trailer), but it never seems to have much going for it outside of that. In terms of plot, it's more of a series of scenes that either rely on the actors improvising what little they have to work with, or are just build up to mostly just one joke that takes too long to wrap up. It generally seems that the screenwriters (One of which is first time Director Andrew J. Cohen) didn't really come up with much after the basic idea.
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest people on the planet, and while its not like they're completely unfunny, its just that they can't salvage as much as they probably thought they could. The whole thing with Nick Kroll doesn't really add up to much other than to have some kind of bad guy, same goes for Jeremy Renner's glorified cameo (as "Tommy", a gangster). On the bright side, Jason Mantzoukas gets some of the biggest laughs, easily stealing the movie and just seemingly finding more to work with than anyone else.
"The House" really falls apart by the end, where it appears the writers sort of wrote themselves into a corner and just couldn't think of a way to end the movie. (Was that last 15 minutes really all that necessary?) Though the film isn't completely without laughs, they're mostly just occasionally sprinkled throughout a sloppy, underwritten movie that still somehow feels too long at only an hour and a half. Just watch Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler on "Saturday Night Live". We gotta' have more cowbell! It's much funnier, shorter, and cheaper. 1 1/2 stars. Rated R For Language Galore And Terrible Parenting.
Image: "Conceal yourself! Children are watching!"
Want to truly comprehend how long the "Despicable Me" franchise has been going on for? About as long as this website has been going on, but unlike the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" franchise, it's still a ridiculously successful franchise with a large following that also kickstarted Illumination Entertainment. It also, of course, gave us those little, Twinkie like Minions that appear everywhere you turn, whether you want them there or not.
"Despicable Me 3" starts with former failed supervillain, "Gru" (Steve Carell) failing to capture former 80s child star turned mad supervillain, "Balthazar Bratt" (Trey Parker) after he attempts to steal the world's largest diamond. This failure results in Gru and his wife, "Lucy" (Kristen Wiig) being fired from the Anti-Villain League by their new director, "Valerie Da Vinci" (Jenny Slate). They are worried that they wont be able to provide for their adopted daughters, "Margo" (Miranda Cosgrove). "Edith" (Dana Gaier), and "Agnes" (Nev Scharrel), leaving Gru to feel like he hasn't accomplished anything since he quit being a villain.
To make matters worse, those little gibberish speaking cheesy poofs known as "The Minions" (Most voiced by Pierre Coffin), led by rebellious minion "Mel", want to go back to their villainous ways and quit working for Gru, only to wind up in prison. Gru learns from his neglectful mother, "Marlena" (Julie Andrews) that he has a rich twin brother, "Dru" (Also Steve Carell). Gru takes his family to meet Dru, who reveals that their father was a well known villain and wants to team up with Gru to return to villainy all while Balthazar Bratt plots to reclaim the diamond and use it to destroy Hollywood for canceling his show (Get in line).
"Despicable Me 3" doesn't do too much new with the franchise, and it certainly is the weakest film in the trilogy (Though a bit better than the "Minions" spin off). The movie still offers plenty of solid laughs, bouncy and colorful animation, and cuteness overload to keep the kiddies interested, with the occasional "Getting Crap Past The Radar" joke that the adults will appreciate.
Illumination Entertainment's in your face style of marketing aside, they still do an excellent job when it comes to animating characters. Sometimes even the best gags come from the movements and cartoonish nature of how they're animated, with a funny visual joke waiting in the background. Sometimes it's over the top, scattershot style can be a little much, but the film uses it to it's advantage. Especially in terms of pacing, which makes "Despicable Me 3" a quick, easy sit.
Steve Carell, this time playing two characters, is still perfectly cast and plenty lovable as Gru, While Kristen Wiig is both funny and adorable like she always is. The minions, whose constant appearances have started to become a bit old by this point, still give the film some of it's best laughs. However the real scene stealer this time around would be Trey Parker ("South Park"), who is suitably over the top of an overly flamboyant villain, serving as a bizarre representation of the 80s in the most hilarious way possible.
"Despicable Me 3" at times can feel like it's starting to run out steam, with a few unnecessary subplots that add little to the overall film, but it's a solid continuation of the series and feels like a good place to end (But it probably won't. Please don't become "Ice Age"). The heart and sweet nature is still there, and you're bound to laugh at least a few times. (The Minions prison scene is undeniably funny stuff). While the film may not be much compared to 2017's better animated comedies, such as "The Lego Batman Movie" or "Captain Underpants", it's still a fine little family diversion to pass the time until "Spider-Man: Homecoming" next week. 3 stars. Rated PG For Cartoony Action And More Hardcore, Yet Tasteful Minion Nudity.
Image: "He kinda' looks like a baby!"
Gotta' give 2017 credit for something. They're certainly trying out some new and weird material. Once you get past all the sequels, franchises, and cinematic universes, we've still found time for some truly inspired, original filmmaking. Like "Get Out", "Colossal", etc. And Edgar Wright's weird, strangely intelligent and at times oddly brilliant "Baby Driver" is no exception. I live in Austin. Weird can be good. Weird is in.
"Baby Driver" follows "Baby" (Ansel Elgort), a young getaway driver who, after an accident when he was younger that caused the death of his mother, listens to music constantly to block out his tinnitus. Baby has been forced to work for a criminal mastermind, "Doc" (Kevin Spacey), and drives around different bank robbers, including the particularly unfriendly "Griff" (John Bernthal), a charming party animal "Buddy" (John Hamm) and his girlfriend "Darling" (Eiza González), and the somewhat sadistic "Bats" (Jamie Foxx), while also finding time to take care of his deaf foster father, "Joseph" (CJ Jones). But as Baby's time working for Doc starts to run out, he meets a cute young waitress, "Debora" (Lily James), and falls madly in love, hoping to finally get out of the business and never look back. However, we wouldn't have a movie if things worked out perfectly, resulting in Baby taking part in a heist that's soon falling apart before it even begins.
"Baby Driver" is not what you would expect in the best possible way. Best known for the hilarious, "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy", Edgar Wright (Who also wrote the film), takes a basic idea we've seen before, but never takes the predictable or silly route. Instead, he fills the film with fully fleshed out characters, stunning actions scenes, and an uncommon, but plenty kickass soundtrack, while throwing in a few laughs along the way. It makes for some of the most ludicrously stylish fun you can have at the movies right now.
Music plays a major role in the film's story and adds to the film's skillful direction. The song choices are not exactly what you would expect, but they fit the film's tone and enhance the scenes they are used in. (Some of these songs I'd never even heard of). And unlike a certain giant robot movie last week, the action is filmed beautifully, where you can actually tell what the heck is going on. Matching the pace of the film, it's just pure adrenaline from start to finish, without sacrificing good character development and smart dialogue.
Ansel Elgort is just likability personified in this movie, bringing relatability to his character, and he has perfect chemistry with Lily James, who is just absolutely adorable and completely lovable. It's one of those rare sweet romantic subplots that actually work. Kevin Spacey is at his Kevin Spaciest, dominating the film with the power of his charm. Jaime Foxx gives probably his best performance in some time, and John Hamm drifts from charming to terrifying like a pro. The relationship between Ansel Elgort and CJ Jones is also a nice, endearing little subplot. Although I am not sure what John Bernthal is doing here other than to pop up for a minute, then just disappear as if he was never there.
Though the ending to "Baby Driver" feels a bit rushed through, the film is definitely unique in terms of filmmaking and how it makes a standard action film storyline feel fresh and original, while embracing the weird at the same time. Weird is in and Edgar Wright is one weird son of a bitch. But we love him for it. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Strong Language And A Surprising Amount Of Violence.
Image: I know Optimus. I'm pretty pissed too.
Okay Michael Bay. I am going in open minded. Scratch that. I’m going in not caring in the slightest. That’s right. I said three years ago with your last film (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) to do whatever you wanted with it. I said that there was nothing you could do to anger me anymore. I blocked out all the negative critic reviews because well, that’s always gonna be a given. I decided that I wasn’t going to show the lick of emotion going into this thing. My expectations are nonexistent.........Okay. Now that I have seen it..... SCREW YOU!!! How dare you dump this incomprehensible, despicable, insulting pile of garbage not just on Transformers fans, but the average moviegoer!......Well, I tried to be calm.
So lets get into this massacre of storylines that the filmmakers call a plot. “Transformers: The Last Knight” opens in the Dark Ages, explaining that the robots who turn into vehicles, dragons, and other such stuff from the planet Cybertron have been here on Earth longer than we thought. (Didn’t we establish that three or four movies ago?). Apparently they helped the not so great wizard, “Merlin” (Stanley Tucci for some reason) aid “King Arthur” (Liam Garrigan) and his Knights of the Round Table. Thousands of years later, Autobot leader, “Optimus Prime” (Peter Cullen) has left Earth to confront his evil creators, only to wind up captured by the head creator, a sorceress named “Quintessa” (Gemma Chan), who brainwashes Optimus into becoming her slave.
Meanwhile on Earth, all Transformers are currently being hunted down and captured by a government military force, including the former Autobot ally, “William Lennox” (Josh Duhamel). A young girl, “Izabella” (Isabela Moner) and her little robot buddy, “Sqweeks” (Reno Wilson) wind up with another friend to the Autobots, “Cade Yeager” (Mark Wahlberg), who is currently living with a group of Autobot refugees, including the non speaking “Bumblebee”, fat gun toting bastard “Hound” (John Goodman), samurai “Drift” (Ken Watanabe), whoever “Crosshairs” (John DiMaggio) is, and the T-Rex Dinobot “Grimlock”.
Fate leads to Cade being chosen for something that has something to do with a Transformers historian, “Sir Edmund Burton” (Sir Anthony “I have clearly lost my mind” Hopkins), his crazy robot butler “Cogman” (Jim Carter) and other Autobot friend “Hot Rod” (Omar Sy), and a lovely Oxford Professor “Vivian Wembly” (Laura Haddock). All of which has to do with some big event with Cyberton crashing into Earth, the end of the world, and Merlin’s big ol’ staff. Also, Decepticon warlord “Megatron” (Frank Welker) is in it too.
So last time I said that these movies weren’t getting any better, but at least they weren’t getting any worse. Its like Michael Bay said, “Challenge Accepted!” and proceeded to make not just the worst “Transformers” movie yet, but also one of the absolute worst experiences I have ever had in a movie theater. In terms of writing, editing, directing, “Transformers: The Last Knight” is just straight up inept. Its amazing that a major film studio can take over $200 Million to be completely incompetent. There are so many people who dream of making their own film, let alone their own “Transformers” film, and yet they never will. Not because they’re bad at what they do, but because apparently lazy is just acceptable these days.
The story in “Transformers: The Last Knight” (Which is the fifth film in the franchise) is a complete disaster, with too many plot points and characters, yet at the same time it gives us such a thinly written script that just can't seem to figure out what tone is. At nearly two and a half hours in length, you feel like you’ve watched three separate movies before it’s finally over, with the film wasting too much time on stupid crap and never truly giving you what you want. Look, I don’t want to hate, but Michael Bay just continues to somehow disappoint despite the already low bar. Especially this time where the film is shot with different types of cameras. Not that this is the first time a director has done that (Christopher Nolan does that all the time). However here the film’s aspect ratio keeps shifting from widescreen to fullscreen to whatever that other one is, even at random moments when characters are just talking, which makes for a distracting and eventually, headache inducing experience.
Mark Wahlberg’s character by this point has become even more irritating than Shia LaBeouf’s from the previous films. The film’s many attempts to convince me that he is the most badass of badasses, just makes the Transformers themselves seem less important to his generic storyline. His romance in the film with Laura Haddock (Who does provide some excellent fanservicey outfits. A Bay trademark) is as bland and unoriginal as you can possibly get. Isabela Moner and Jerrod Carmichael (as “Jimmy”, the comical black guy. Another Bay trademark) don’t do anything, vanish for a large portion of the movie, and just reappear in the last act for no reason. Great actors like Stanley Tucci and John Turturro (as “Seymour Simmons”, an eccentric ally to the Autobots) are criminally wasted, while Anthony Hopkins somehow gives an even more bizarre performance than he did in “Collide” earlier this year. (Never thought I would ever hear Sir Anthony Hopkins refer to Marky Mark as “Dude”.)
The Transformers themselves for the fifth time in a row feel like secondary characters in their own movie. Its great to hear the voices of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker return to portray the characters that they did way back in the original cartoon from the 80s, but their screentime is limited. The whole “Optimus gone bad” story arc only lasts a couple minutes and Megatron’s confusing motivation making for an insult to such classic characters. Other voices such as the admittedly perfectly cast John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, John DiMaggio, Omar Sy, Jess Harnell (as “Barricade”, a Decepticon who appears then vanishes. Never to be seen again), and Steve Buscemi (as “Daytrader”, a Transformers trader who also appears then vanishes. Never to be seen again) should all be interesting, but never get to do anything other than look cool. Gemma Chan doesn’t resonate as a villain in the slightest (And where this plot point goes is more laughable than scary), while the only possibly enjoyable character could be seen as Jim Carter, who might be amusing if not for the horrendous film he was in.
Every once in a while there might be a moment where I saw myself starting to feel some kind of odd enjoyment in “Transformers: The Last Knight”, but the film somehow finds a way to ruin that too. The effects may look good, though by this point they don’t really show anything all that impressive. There may be the occasional cool “Transformers” reference, but it’s not like it means anything or goes anywhere. While it’s cool to see Optimus Prime and Megatron duking it out like old times, its hard to care where you’re never given any form of emotional connection to the characters.
“Transformers: The Last Knight” is the worst example of modern cinema. This is coming from a guy who always defends today’s kind of movies against those who say that the old movies were always better. There was just as much crap back then as there are great movies right now. With that said, this is a movie that could only exist in today’s day and age. It’s sloppy, full of holes, more focused on effects and advertising, and comes across as cynical in how it just sets up another movie despite claiming to be “The Final Chapter”. (Yes. There is in fact a post credits, and it's just a giant middle finger to the audience) To quote the great robot, Tom Servo. "You know, there are certain flaws in this film." No Stars. Rated PG-13 For Mechanical Violence And Noise, Noise, Noise.
Image: My guess is it's not a Goldfish.
Okay, I should probably clarify what the Hell is going on. You’re probably wandering what you’re doing on a different site. What happened to “Eagan at the Movies”? The bottom line is that we have gotten it all fixed for right now. Might be problematic in the future. Might lead to something better. But that's not important. Lets talk about Sharks killing people!
“47 Meters Down” begins with two sisters, “Lisa” (Mandy Moore) and “Kate” (Claire Holt), on vacation in Mexico. Lisa is going through a bad break up, so Kate decides she needs to do something fun like cage diving with sharks. (I’m admittedly a complete coward and would never consider that fun). So along with a couple of bros they met, they board a boat owned by “Captain Taylor” (Mathew Modine), who sets up the cage that Lisa and Kate are going to be diving in. Lisa is scared, thinking this is a bad idea, but Kate assures her nothing can go wrong.
So yeah. Something goes wrong. The boat winch breaks, sending the cage, along with Lisa and Kate, tumbling down to the sea floor at 47 meters. Now low on oxygen, badly injured, and with a crap load of hungry sharks circling them, Lisa and Kate must find a way back to the surface before they suffocate, pass out from the pressure, or become dinner.
“47 Meters Down” to it’s credit looks better than any movie like this has any right to be. For something originally meant for nothing more than a straight to DVD release (or at least for Video on Demand), the film does succeed at moments of atmosphere and terror. It’s really all you’re gonna get, but for fans of the genre, I doubt they’ll be too picky.
The plot is basic and really just dives right in (Ha!), without giving too much development to it’s characters other than the fact you just don’t want to see them get eaten or worse. As for dialogue, its nothing more than the usual survival talk. Luckily Mandy Moore is a much better actress than she's given credit for, and she elevates what little material is given her, while Claire Holt is also plenty serviceable. Its also nice to see Mathew Modine take time out of his busy schedule of torturing super powered children in “Stranger Things”.
The last second twist is fun, but predictable, and you aren’t given anything more than advertised. “47 Meters Down” is the definition of “Getting what you paid for”. You get to see some sharks look scary and chomp down on some people. Little depth or characterization, but at least a couple decent enough performances. You wanted a shark movie and you will get your shark movie. Dig in. 2 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Sharky Menace And For Reminding Me Why I Will Never Cage Dive.
Image: Thug Life Apparently.
So apparently Tupac really is alive. Not only is he chilling with Elvis, he took time out of his day to change his name to Demetrius Shipp Jr. and go be in a movie about himself. Makes sense, don’t you think? Either way, for all this film’s issues, they got the look right. Too bad the rest of the film is a complete mess.
“All Eyez on me” follows the life story of hip-hop artist “Tupac Shakur” (Demetrius Shipp Jr.), while in a correctional facility (It's prison. Just say prison). Tupac tells his biography to a journalist (Hill Harper), starting from his childhood, being raised by his political/Black Panther supporting mother “Afeni” (Danai Gurira), his relationships with various people, including his best friend “Jada Pinkett” (Kat Graham) and his once friend and soon to be future rival, “The Notorious B.I.G.” (Jamal Woolard).
Shakur talks about how he rose in popularity, became famous, and got into trouble with the law, all while becoming a symbol of inspiration to the African American community. When Tupac is eventually released from prison, he later signs up with “Death Row Records” and it’s record producer/wannabe mafia boss, “Suge Knight” (Dominic L. Santana). Shakur’s choices further adds controversy to his life until eventual murder, which to this day despite many accusations, has never truly been solved.
The idea was there for “All Eyez on Me”. This had the making of a fascinating biopic about a fascinating person, whose life has generated many fans and controversy. The sad part is that this film has no intention of addressing any of that and settles for essential a Tupac highlight reel, going from scene to scene of his life without much real development or sense of the word pacing.
In fact, “All Eyez on Me” goes for the most generic form of storytelling in terms of biopics. The film simply moves from scene to scene, life event to life event, without taking much time to focus on much of it. Director Benny Bloom just can’t seem to keep the film structured properly. Its a shame because Tupac Shakur's life story is actually very interesting, and a rather important one for many in the black community. Love him or hate him, he left an impression, certainly more than this movie will.
All jokes about possible cloning aside, Demetrius Shipp Jr., who is also a newcomer, is not a bad choice for the role. He’s got the look and plenty of charisma, showing, much like the real man, just how people were able to gravitate towards him and why he made such an impact. Kat Graham does solid work despite limited screen time. Danai Gurira could be seen as a little over the top, but considering how passionate her character is she does have a few powerful moments. But sadly other actors like Jamal Woolard, Dominic L. Santana, and Jarrett Ellis (As “Snoop Dog”, who needs no introduction) are wasted. They’re not bad, but the film’s lack of proper pacing and focus don’t allow them to fully resonate with the audience.
“All Eyez on Me” feels insultingly by the book, probably in a rushed attempt to get this film out as quickly as possible. The story is intriguing enough as it is and could of made for a compelling character study, but at nearly two and a half hours in length, the failed attempt feels all the more frustrating. You would be better off just reading up on Tupac Himself. Or get Spotify. 1 1/2 stars. Rated R For Language And The Thug Life.
Image: And your kids are now traumatized for life.
Yes I know! We still haven’t gotten a sequel for “The Incredibles” yet. But we have somehow gotten a trilogy of “Cars” movies. Its weird that “Hot Wheels” with faces is apparently one of the most successful properties to come out of the beloved animation studio, “Pixar”. To it’s credit though, even when Pixar goes for the middle of the road, its still generally a pretty solid ride.
“Cars 3” opens in the possibly post apocalyptic world where humanity is no more and the entire population is made up of vehicles with eyes and mouths. The film follows now veteran racer, “Lightning McQueen” (Owen Wilson), who is starting to fear the takeover of the new, shinier, faster, younger racer cars, especially rookie, “Jackson Storm” (Armie Hammer). The next race turns into a complete disaster, with Storm dominating and McQueen getting into a horrifying crash. While he survives, McQueen starts to lose his spirit when all the racing analysts declare that he is finished and should retire much like his now deceased mentor, “Doc Hudson” (Voiced by Paul Newman in the original movie) was forced to.
Refusing to quit, McQueen is determined to make sure he can not only race again, but become good enough to beat Storm, despite the demands of retirement from McQueen’s new boss, “Sterling” (Nathan Fillion), who only cares about branding and profits. He finds some unexpected help from a new perky trainer, “Cruz Ramirez” (Cristela Alonzo), and McQueen begins training to become better than ever before, while also learning to cope with the changing times.
“Cars 3” is the threequel I doubt many were really asking for. The franchise has overall been considered Pixar’s weakest, with the last sequel, “Cars 2”, to be the first (And only) film to ever get negative critical and fan reactions. While I never disliked this series, I will admit, there did seem to be a certain amount of emotion lacking from them that Pixar had been known to always provide. But I suppose third time really is the charm as “Cars 3” is the best film in the franchise. While thoroughly predictable, following many of the same plot points you’ve seen from other films, this one still offer plenty of charm, a few good laughs, a lot of heart, and some positive morals for both kids and adults. Not to mention, as usual with both Disney and Pixar, the animation is just gorgeous (Pixar really is just showing off by this point). With so much attention to detail on the designs of every car, right down to the shine, scratches, and rust, mixed in with beautiful colors, you really can’t help but smile when you look at it.
Owen Wilson is essentially Lightning McQueen by this point, and I can only imagine his voice coming out of that character. Cristela Alonzo is a nice addition, adding some humor and a little depth once we start to learn more about her character. Larry the Cable Guy (as “Mater”, McQueen’s dimwitted tow truck buddy) is fine in small doses and the film wisely keeps him to just occasional comic relief this time around. We get a few good laughs from Tony Shalhoub (as “Luigi”, an excitable Italian member of McQueen’s pit crew) and Bonnie Hunt (as “Sally”, McQueen’s girlfriend), who actually has a role this time unlike the last film. Armie Hammer and Nathan Fillion lay on the smarm as the closest things this movie has to villains, with Chris Cooper (as “Smokey”, Doc Hudson’s old mentor) being a welcome addition, and the late, great Paul Newman (Who sadly passed away almost 9 years ago) gets a heartwarming little tribute, through the use of unused recordings and archived dialogue.
While the film’s ending comes as a surprise and provides a rather mature message for kids, “Cars 3” rarely goes anywhere you wouldn’t expect it to. It still doesn’t quite measure up to Pixar’s best work, but it does at least offer much of the delight and enjoyment that we get from the studio. Kids will love it and adults will certainly appreciate it. And Lightning McQueen survives and isn't horribly disfigured, contrary to what that horrible early preview of the film suggested. Easy, Pixar. we can only handle so much. 3 stars. Rated G.
Image: Please let me be the groom! Please let me be the groom!
Those bachelorette parties certainly seem way more fun than your standard bachelor party. While we get a bunch of drunken bros, most of which you don't know or even like, eventually hiring a stripper (Who may or may not cause you to do something stupid) and pretty much doing anything else that will cause you to wake up the next morning filled with grief, shame, and the realization that you will likely be ruining some poor girl's life. However, the girls will be partying it out, doing all kinds of wild stuff, and actually enjoying themselves. (Not to mention Scarlett Johansson is at this one. So I definitely need to be there) What I'm trying to say is, they know how to party. Not to mention they seem to know how to properly hide a dead body.
This "Rough Night" begins with "Jess" (Scarlett Johansson), who is about to be married to her dorky boyfriend, "Peter" (Paul W. Downs). Jess reunites with her college friends, including former roommate/best friend "Alice" (Jillian Bell), former bickering lovers "Frankie" (Ilana Glazer) and "Blair" (Zoë Kravitz), and her other, wacked out Australian college buddy "Pippa" (Kate McKinnon). They all gather in Miami for Jess' bachelorette party and go out for a night of debauchery, drugs, clubs, drinking, topping it all off with the inviting of a male stripper, which results in said stripper accidentally bashing his head in and winding up dead. So the friends need to find a way of disposing the body in the most calm and rational way as possible......Which is what they don't do and we have our movie.
"Rough Night" is one of those movies where critics like me aren't really given much to talk about. You've been through this kind of territory many times before, sometimes better or sometimes worse. All you can really hope for is that its funny, and for the most part, it is. Granted, most of it is likely helped by the talent involved. Scarlett Johansson plays it straight against all the wacky shenanigans perfectly, while Jillian Bell is a riot as usual. Illana Glazer and Zoë Kravitz get plenty of laughs, with Kate McKinnon's bizarre performance is oddly mesmerizing to the point where you just wanna see more. All five of them have solid chemistry which actually makes the film's moments of heart feel genuine. Paul W. Downs (Who also co-wrote the film) actually gets some pretty good moments here and thoroughly commits to the absurdity, while Ty Burrell and Demi Moore pop up in odd roles (as "Pietro" and "Lea", an aggressively sexual couple).
To be perfectly honest, movies like "Rough Night" kind of tick me off. Not that there is actually much wrong with it. It's just that because they make for really boring reviews. In terms of plot and predictability, its all exactly what you would expect. Hitting the standard beats, it ends in a way you should easily figure out 10 minutes in, and I won't be giving anything away saying that the plot isn't going to go anywhere too dark, just amusingly ridiculous. To it's credit, the film does it's job and does it well enough to recommend to anyone look for a girl's night out. You're just here to see some funny women be funny, which is exactly what you get and not much else. But It does confirm how much fun it would be to hang out in person with these ladies, so I'm happy to volunteer my services in disposing of the body. 2 1/2 stars. Rated R For Raunchy Girl Language And Stripper Homicide.
Image: A girl and her dog.
There are a couple things in film that will always get us. Children or babies in danger, aging couples nearing the end (Damn it, I can't take it!), and relationships with animals, who may or may not be in danger. Hell, even a weak film like "A Dog's Purpose" had it's moments, showing that just the idea of a faithful companion in any form of danger, can make a grown man blubber. So yeah. This story just had to work.
"Megan Leavey" tells the true story of a young woman (Kate Mara) whose life isn't quite going anywhere. She is constantly at odds with her mother, "Jackie" (Edie Falco), and always getting into trouble and screwing up. So since she has nothing else to lose, she joins the US Marines, where she proceeds to get into trouble and screw up some more. Megan eventually takes interest in becoming a K9 handler. Unfortunately, she is paired with a rather rebellious, easily agitated German Shepherd, "Rex".
Despite a rough start, Megan begins to see that she and Rex are perfect for each other, serving in two deployments in the war in Iraq until they are both wounded in an explosion. When Megan plans to leave the Marines, she also intends to adopt Rex as well, which proves to be a very difficult task. Megan, realizing that she owes Rex more than just her life, is willing to do anything to see that a furry war hero is brought home.
"Megan Leavey" is one of those films that could of gone off course really easily. But the film avoids the cheese and forced drama, instead relying on the genuinely heartwarming story of a girl and her dog, which anyone can relate to. The film treats it's serious subject matter with the utmost respect that it deserves. Thanks to Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film rarely loses focus of it's intention, telling a powerful story that should give audiences the feel good movie they've been looking for.
Kate Mara shows off just how terrific an actress she can really be, retaining likability and relatablility throughout, with honest emotion, charm, and heart. Her character's relationship with Rex pulls on your heartstrings, finding time to make you both laugh and occasionally sob (I fought it back.) We also get solid work out of Edie Falco, Bradley Whitford (as "Bob", Megan's divorced dad), Tom Felton (as "Andrew Dean", a veteran dog handler), while Common (as "Gunnery Sergeant Massey", Megan's superior) shows continued growth as an actor, giving an excellent performance,
"Megan Leavey" does have a couple weak spots, especially when the movie takes a detour to focus on a romantic subplot involving one of her corporal buddies, "Matt Morales" (Ramón Rodríguez), which almost never adds much of anything. When the film keeps it's focus on the relationship of it's two heroes (Both here and in real life), the film truly shines, making for the perfect crowdpleaser. Especially if you have a soft spot for the cute and furry. And cute redheads. 3 1/2 Tears...I mean, Stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Content And Harsh War Reality.
Image: It always comes at night....Or in this case, the daytime.
I'm afraid of the dark. And so are you. Don't try to kid yourself. Nobody wants to be lost in some dark hallway, armed with a small flashlight of lantern, only able to see what's in front of you, not knowing what might pop up from behind or what will just run at you from the front. We can't see it, we can't predict it, we just don't know who or what it is that's hiding in the dark and that just scares the crap out of us. But most horror films are filled with cheap scares that are immediately forgotten about. This one could give you nightmares.
"It Comes at Night" begins in a possibly post apocalyptic world (It's never really clarified), where the world and it's people have fallen to some kind of horrifying and contagious disease that causes them to become covered in boils, vomit black stuff, and die slow and painful deaths. A family lives alone in the woods, away from the world, including the father, "Paul" (Joel Edgerton), his wife, "Sarah" (Carmen Ejogo), their curious son, "Travis" (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), and their doggy "Stanley".
The family lives in a boarded up house, where they have all promised never to open the only door at night, because of what they fear is lurking outside. Their house is broken into by a desperate man, "Will" (Christopher Abbott), who is only looking for water for his wife, "Kim" (Riley Keough) and their young son, "Andrew" (Griffin Robert Faulkner). Paul decides to allow the family to stay with them, but as time progresses, distrust and paranoia starts to get to everyone and some really weird, messed up sh*t is about to happen.
Despite what you might be thinking, "It Comes at Night" is not really a horror movie in the more traditional sense. It's more psychological, trying to mess with your head, and make you question what's real and what isn't. With that in mind, it's more artistic way of bringing out suspense and dread might not sit well with today's audience. Just look at the "D" on Cinemascore. (Then again, "Boo! A Madea Halloween" has an "A", so I suggest not taking them seriously in the slightest.) The film is a unique sit through, filled with disturbing and unsettling imagery, along with clever use of darkness itself with Director Trey Edward Shults utilizing it beautifully.
"It Comes at Night" doesn't exactly answer any questions. (Okay, it doesn't answer anything), but it does fill you with a sense of fear that's much different from your standard horror film. With some dream sequences meant to further mess with your head (And create future YouTube screamers) and sounds that you probably think you've heard while wandering outside late at night, its hard not to become engaged in the experience. Even if the experience is just such a complete downer to the point you kind of question what the point of it all was.
In terms of acting, everyone in "It Comes at Night" is terrific, with Joel Edgerton, who has probably become one of the most reliable actors in Hollywood, and Carmen Ejogo, who is an incredibly underrated actress, both playing up the family dynamic and paranoia perfectly. We spend most of the film with Kelvin Harrison Jr., giving us a more innocent look into this bleak, almost pessimistic world that's been created.
One understandable complaint of the film could be had with the film probably has to do with the reveal of what's really going on (Or in this case, lack thereof). The ending comes abruptly in a way that's just depressing, but to the point where you don't really know how you're meant to feel. (I'm still not sure myself honestly.)
I am sure the way "It Comes at Night" ends and the mixed feelings that arise from it are purely intentional, and I can see plenty of people reacting to the film poorly. "Night" is meant to fill your head with unseen fears that trick you into becoming just as jumpy as it's characters. And while it doesn't always satisfy, you will certainly remember the experience and will probably hold that flashlight extra tighter next time you're in a dark room. You wimps. 3 stars. Rated R For Projectile Vomit And Humanity At It's "Finest".
Image: "Ray....when someone asks you if you are a God, you say YES!"
Before there was the "Marvel Cinematic Universe", there were the "Universal Monsters".You remember those old, classic black and white movies. Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein and his monster, all the classics. They were part of the original cinematic universe. Sadly, they never really capitalized on it (And the oodles of dough that came with it), while Marvel would later perfect it. But now Universal is bringing back their old monsters (And the Hunchback for some reason) to start up their new big screen franchise. Only to have Wonder Woman kick their ass at the box office this week.
"The Mummy" begins in ancient Egypt, where a power hungry princess, "Ahmanet" (Sofia Boutella), fearing that she will never have the throne, decides to call upon the evil god, "Set" (aka Egyptian Satan), and murder her family. Her demonic alliance results in her being mummified alive by her people and buried in a prison like tomb far from Egypt. Now in the present, a pair of soldiers, "Nick Morton" (Tom Cruise) and his wussy buddy, "Chris Vail" (Jake Johnson), who secretly have tendency to steal priceless items from war zones to sell to the black market, stumble upon Ahmanet's tomb.
Nick's previous little fling, "Jenny Halsey" (Annabelle Wallis), turns out to be an archaeologist for a secret organization, and she wants to study Ahmanet's sarcophagus. So Nick decides to release it from it's prison and on the plane ride home, where Ahmanet's power is unleashed. Nick is able to get Jenny a parachute to safety, but goes down with the plane, killing everyone else. But Nick learns that he just can't die, along with Vail (Who has become an undead apparition), because Ahmanet has chosen him to become Set's new vessel. Now Nick teams up with Jenny and her mysterious employer, "Dr. Henry Jekyll" (Russel Crowe), to put a stop to Ahmanet's plan for world destruction.
Originally meant to begin with 2014's dreadful "Dracula Untold", this new version of "The Mummy" is intended to be the first in Universal's new cinematic universe, or "The Dark Universe". However the film ends up being a bit of a disappointment. Not that I was really expecting too much from this, but I always found the idea of creating a series of films based around our beloved book/film monsters to be full of so many possibilities. In the end, the film mostly teases them, while cramming too much into a tonally inconsistent movie.
Director Alex Kurtzman (Whose name you probably recognize from a ton of geek related stuff) has the idea down, filling "The Mummy" with some clever moments of horror and action, but the plot is far too complicated and sloppy, with the film's many admittedly fascinating ideas never being fully realized. The film takes some time for some solid atmosphere, though its usually interrupted by the movie's failed attempts at humor, clearly trying to be too much like Marvel.
This leads to the biggest issue with "The Mummy". It's trying way too hard to be like everything else. The plot, which is all over the place and seemingly made up as it goes along, takes too many ideas from other films, including the previous "Mummy" films before it. It doesn't help that the script can't seem to figure out the tone it wants to have. When the horror elements are focused on, some of it works, but the more humorous aspect falls flat, along with the film's lack of character development.
At least Tom Cruise is a pro and he still shows it after almost 40 years in the business. He brings his A-game, with his cowardly, somewhat jerky character's wisecracks (And the fact that he genuinely looks terrified by the horror presented to him), show what the movie should of been. Same goes for Russel Crowe, (Who isn't in the movie near enough.) He not only looks like he's having some fun, but he shows where this idea could really go if it were in more capable hands. (His "Mr. Hyde" transformation is the film's most memorable moment.) Annabelle Wallis is pretty, but doesn't have the range to pull off how much she is given to do in this movie, and while Sofia Boutella is plenty creepy looking (And kind of hot in a weird, slit your throat kind of way way), but her villainess is just not very interesting or memorable. Also, this movie completely wastes the fun that could of been had with the idea of an undead Jake Johnson.
"The Mummy" has it's moments from time to time, especially when you can see what the filmmakers have in mind for the future of the film universe. But it seems like nothing more than just a cool idea once we reach the rather confusing ending, failing to fully deliver on the classic monster movie excitement that you really don't see much of anymore. The potential is still there, and I do want this to succeed. It's just that before Universal starts making big plans, they actually need to figure out what the Hell their plan even is. 2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Scary Images And PG-13 Mummy Booty.
Image: My sister and I laugh the same way when our Dad walks out in his underwear.
We were all kids once. Well I was, anyway. Like all kids, we had a strange obsession with poo, boogers, and undergarments. (That last one especially for some reason.) And most kids, from my generation anyone, could see that personified in the beloved, classic children's book series, "Captain Underpants" by Dav Pilkey. They were silly, nonsensical, but funny and surprisingly intelligent. So it makes sense that the movie wouldn't be any different. Especially if they still make poo jokes.
"Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" follows the life of young pranksters/comic book creators "George Beard" (Kevin Hart) and "Harold Hutchins" (Thomas Middleditch), two best friends who try to bring laughter and joy to "Jerome Horwitz Elementary School", the most depressing school you'll ever see, run by the tyrannical "Principal Krupp" (Ed Helms). Mr. Krupp, who hates fun altogether, loathes George and Harold's many pranks and looks forward to the day that he can finally catch them red handed. Krupp gets his chance when George and Harold sabotage a boring science convention and are ratted out by the nerdy know-it-all, "Melvin Sneedly" (Jordan Peele).
Mr. Krupp plans to destroy George and Harold's friendship by forcing them into separate classes, but George, in a move of desperation, uses a hypno ring that he got out of a cereal box to hypnotize Mr. Krupp, turning him into one of their characters from their comics, a half naked superhero named "Captain Underpants". George and Harold decide to use this to their advantage to make sure they can remain together, all while attempting to make the school a better place, despite Captain Underpants' incredible stupidity and reckless behavior. However, things become more complicated by the arrival of a mad supervillian posing as a science teacher, the unfortunately named "Professor Poopypants" (Nick Kroll). Poopypants plots to rid the world of laughter because, well, his name is Poopypants, so its up to George and Harold (And to a lesser extent, Captain Underpants) to save the day.
From DreamWorks Animation, "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" is basically pure nonsense, but that's what it's supposed to be. Never taking itself too seriously, right down to the way the story is presented, occasionally referencing the limited budget and veering back and forth from some hand drawn animation. The film then reverts back to 3D (Which itself is clearly meant to resemble 2D animation), resembling the original books perfectly, right down to a "Flip-O-Rama" scene that is utterly brilliant. (You guys remember those right?)
The almost chaotic animation style makes the film occasionally frenetic, though the film's short, brisk length and pace balance it out. The jokes are sure to make both kids and their parents laugh, with plenty obviously meant only for the adults. While the film is undeniably meant to generate more laughs than anything, "Captain Underpants" still takes time to add a little depth to its characters, with George and Harold's relationship actually coming across as cute and pretty heartwarming.
Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch don't exactly sound like little kids, but they do really fit the characters, who are both likable and oddly relatable. Ed Helms provides plenty of big laughs, while really playing two different characters, between the over the top meanness of Mr. Krupp and the over the top joyousness of Captain Underpants. Nick Kroll is hilarious, as he tends to be with voice roles. (The German accent just makes it funnier), as is Jordan Peele, who I had no idea was even doing that voice until after the movie ended. And Kristen Schaal (as "Edith", the shy lunch lady who is crushing on Mr. Krupp's hot bod) is always welcome.
"Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" is blissfully silly with plenty of jokes revolving around underwear, toilets, and other goofy, gross stuff. Despite this, somehow the film is never juvenile. In reality, this "Underpants" is smart, clever, and thoroughly charming. With lovable characters, beautiful animation, and a good message about the importance of just having a sense of humor, "Captain Underpants" is probably the best movie to come out of DreamWorks Animation in some time. I told you boogers and poo are funny! 3 1/2 Stars. Rated PG For Hilarious And Totally Appropriate Toilet Humor, And Totally Appropriate Partial Nudity.
Image: Aaaaand.... Theme Music!
Lets face it. DC has got issues. Aside from the Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton "Batman" films, and a couple of the "Superman" ones, they just can't seem to make their beloved and abundant characters translate into quality movies. Their answer to the "Marvel Cinematic Universe", known as the "DC Extended Universe" was to give us disappointments like "Batman V Superman" and "Suicide Squad". But now they have just found something that even Marvel hasn't been able to accomplish. They've given us the first ever great female superhero movie. Not that anyone would argue, but "Elektra" and "Catwoman" are bad and bad for you.
"Wonder Woman" begins in the Amazonian island of Themyscira (Meaning women only. Sorry dudes) where the young "Diana" (Gal Gadot) hopes to become an Amazonian warrior much like her aunt, "General Antiope" (Robin Wright), but her mother "Queen Hippolyta" (Connie Nielsen) does not want her to follow this path, fearing that the dreaded god of war, "Ares", could find her and use her for his own nefarious ends. Things become more complicated with the arrival of the island's first man, "Steve Trevor" (Chris Pine), a US spy, who also accidentally leads some German soldiers to the island, resulting in many casualties, Steve warns them of the ongoing Great War (World War I), and of the deadly chemical weapons about to be unleashed by the maniacal "General Erich Ludendorff" (Danny Huston) and scarred mad Scientist, "Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison" (Elena Anaya).
Hippolyta has no intention of involving her people with this war, but Diana, believing Ares is the one behind the war, takes matters into her own hands, taking with her a sword known as the God Killer Shield (Self explanatory what it does), and that colorful armor that kinda makes a "W" symbol, and leaves with Steve to go to venture into the world of man. Allied with smooth talking spy "Sameer" (Saïd Taghmaoui), alcoholic sharpshooter "Charlie" (Ewen Bremner), opportunistic smuggler "Chief" (Eugene Brave Rock), Steve's quirky secretary "Etta Candy" (Lucy Davis), and peaceful speaker "Sir Patrick Morgan" (David Thewlis), Diana learns more of the outside world, along with the good and evil than the world of man can spawn.
Like all DC comics fans, I had been hoping that "Wonder Woman" would be the one that could change the course for their film universe, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. In fact, its actually better than you would even expect it to be. Instead of focusing on cramming too much into too little time and relying on an obsessive need to catch up to Marvel, this film instead takes time develop truly likable and memorable characters, mixing some humor and emotion with the drama, and bringing in empowering messages of heroism and shockingly, the reality of war and humanity's role in it.
Director Patty Jenkins does an excellent job explaining the world of Themyscira and how it works, which applies to Diana's journey as she discovers how different the rest of the world in in comparison. Injecting a few moments of genuine fun, while also remembering the seriousness of the setting, it ends up being the perfect place to tell the story. With some awesome action sequences (Though a little too reliant on CGI), is full of excitement. (That trench scene was a thing of beauty)
Gal Gadot is now who I think of when I think of "Wonder Woman" (And I intend to think about her a lot.) She's tough, totally badass, yet remains very feminine, with her own personality quirks and a little naivety, which makes her an incredibly compelling character. Her chemistry with Chris Pine, who is also great in the film, is sweet, injecting some humor and charm to the film. Danny Huston and Elena Anaya are perfectly sinister villains, while David Thewlis steals whatever scene he's in. Connie Nielson and Robin Wright have great small, but important roles, Lucy Davis gets some good laughs, and Ewen Bremmer, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Eugene Brave Rock are terrific additions to the film.
"Wonder Woman" does falter a bit towards the end, with the large, explosive, flashy climax that reminds you a little too much of rather over the top finale of "Batman V Superman". But that's really a minor complaint towards the end, and it doesn't last too long. The film succeeds with it's characters and it's heart. And despite the comedy put in to balance the film out, it never shies away from the reality of war, making Wonder Woman's acts of heroism all the more powerful.(Which has been something the other DC films have been lacking lately). Leave it to a badass woman to come out to save an entire film franchise. Men had their shot. 3 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For War Violence And Male Discrimination. (How dare Alamo Drafthouse give the ladies something to look forward to.)
Image: The worst case of cutting yourself while shaving.
Fourteen years! This franchise is the same age as my younger sister. I was only starting Middle School when it all started. Hell, we've had three presidents since then. The original 2003 film (Or "The Curse of the Black Pearl" as it was called) was and to some degree still is, one of my personal favorite films. It was fun, exciting, quotable, memorable, just like the Disneyworld ride it was based on. However, unlike the ride, this wasn't meant to be ridden over and over again.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" starts with young "Henry Turner" (Brenton Thwaites), son of the cursed current captain of "The Flying Dutchman", "Will Turner" (Orlando Bloom) and "Elizabeth Swann" (Keira Knightley), hoping to find the fabled "Trident of Poseidon" to release his father from his curse. Henry first has to track down legendary, drunken, buffoonish pirate, "Jack Sparrow" (Johnny Depp). His search also leads him to work on a British Navy ship, which is attacked by a crew of ghosts, led by the dreaded, maniacal pirate hunter, "Armando Salazar" (Javier Bardem).
Salazar wants revenge on the pirate who caused his cursed death, which surprise surprise, is Jack Sparrow. Salazar sends Henry to find Jack and to tell him that he intends to finally track him down and kill him. Henry eventually finds Jack, along with a feisty astronomer, "Carina" (Kaya Scodelario), who is also searching for the Trident for her own reasons. The three of them plan out their search for the Trident, with Salazar forcing Jack's old rival, "Hector Barbossa" (Geoffrey Rush), to help him find Jack before he gets his hands on the Trident.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" sadly doesn't take the series anywhere new, once again having some big bad guy coming back to kill Jack Sparrow, so he and a few other people have to go find some kind of mystical artifact while Barbossa finds his way into the story somehow. I've never found this franchise to ever really be bad. Honestly, I kinda enjoy the second and third films ("Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End") despite their glaring flaws, but that's where it all should of originally stopped. Then after 2012's pretty forgettable "On Stranger Tides", the series has continued regardless of how necessary it needs to be, and unlike the "Fast & Furious" franchise, they've never really found anything new to justify it's existence.
"Dead Men Tell No Tales" looks great in terms of visuals and cinematography, with Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandbergwith providing some cool actions scenes and some really impressive special effects. (If you look past the jumping Zombie Shark). Salazar and his ghostly crew in particular are a rather amazing effect, with enough little amusing details to add to the film's tone. In general, the series always had the look of a Pirates life down, dirty, yet large in scope. Despite it's excellent look and feel, this fifth installment is by far the weakest one yet, due to it's lackluster script, which is so convoluted, yet so underwritten, that the film's big reveals and the fates of certain characters leave little to no impact.
Johnny Depp gave us Jack Sparrow years ago, who has become as beloved as any other major Disney character, and while he still has his moments, the shtick just got old after a while. Brenton Thwaites and the rather adorable Kaya Scodelario aren't so much bad in the film, their characters aren't given much more development other than what is presented in their opening scenes. Geoffrey Rush doesn't need to be here again, but he chews the scenery like the pro he is. Luckily, even this film continues the series' trend of excellent baddies, and Javier Bardem just oozes villainy and is having a blast doing it.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" suffers from too many, unnecessary subplots, whether it be with returning characters like Jack's BFF, "Gibbs" (Kevin McNally), or newly added characters like evil British officer, "Scarfield" (David Wenham), who literally does nothing but make the film longer. Even other characters who have importance don't really feel like they need to be here and the film has trouble trying to give them all enough attention to warrant their focus in the film.
Though its been billed as the "Final Adventure", that's hands down the biggest lie Disney has ever told us considering the film's post credit scene that only implies not just a continuation, but some really confusing plot lines in the future. (The mythology in these films are starting to go all over the place by this point.) "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" has it's moments, like all the film's do, it still doesn't feel like we absolutely needed this. 2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Scary Images And Drunken Johnny Depp (A little unsettling in hindsight don't you think?)
Image: The cast of "Baywatch" flees from their own movie as fast as they can.
This is starting to become it's own genre now isn't it? The whole "Take an old, cheesy TV series and turn it into a raunchy, R rated comedy" genre. Sadly, instead of a charmingly self aware "21 Jump Street" type (Or "22 Jump Street"), we basically get another "CHiPs" and considering the star power involved, its a shocking waste of time.
"Baywatch" starts with cocky former Olympic athlete, "Matt Brody" (Zac Efron) being forced to perform community service by becoming a lifeguard for an elite lifeguarding division, "Baywatch", which is led by the beloved, massively musclebound "Mitch Buchannon" (Dwayne Johnson). Brody is also forced to endure tryouts, along with his pretty love interest, "Summer" (Alexandra Daddario) and chubby dork, "Ronnie" (Jon Bass), who is only there because he has the hots for one of the lifeguards, "C.J." (Kelly Rohrbach). But when Mitch discovers drugs and a dead body, he connects it all to evil businesswoman, "Victoria Leeds" (Priyanka Chopra), and believes its up to Baywatch to solve the case, despite the fact literally nobody wants them involved. Nobody.
"Baywatch" is another one of those comedies that settles for the easy joke, which usually revolves around some kind of lower, lengthy appendage or some random swear repeated, but this time it commits possibly the worst crime a comedy can make. Taking competent people, making them unfunny, and putting them in a movie that is just ungodly boring. With a running time reaching nearly two hours, the film's lack of laughs only further damn a silly, over the top, yet somehow blandly generic plot.
From Director Seth Gordon ("Horrible Bosses", "Identity Thief"), "Baywatch" never really goes far enough with it's premise, nor does it ever truly embrace the campiness of it's own source material. Its like it wants to be taken seriously at the wrong parts, and aside from the occasional chuckle, just provides jokes that fall flat. Hard. Like when you hit the water face first hard. It doesn't help that most of the jokes are pretty bottom of the barrel, usually going for easy and lazy, rather than clever or smart.
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron do what they can with what is given, mostly providing the film's most amusing moments, while the lovely Alexandra Daddario's hypnotic blue eyes are worth it enough. Priyanka Chopra's villainous role is nothing but typical, never being funny or threatening, Ilfenesh Hadera (as "Stephanie", Mitch's love interest, I think) doesn't really say or do anything. And Jon Bass is nowhere near as funny or as lovable as this film seems to continuously suggest. Also, he and Kelly Rohrbach? No. Just no. Not even here. No.
Despite being overlong enough as it is, "Baywatch" still feels like some scenes are missing, making me wonder how long the final cut originally was. Its choppy and tonally all over the place, especially with it's characters and plot, and since it's like it forgot to be funny, it's just a waste of something that really could of worked. Not to mention some rather horrendous CGI work, which is not something I thought I would bring up in a review for "Baywatch" of all things.
"Baywatch" could of been fun, but its a slow, dull chore to sit through. It could of been amusing if it committed to either being a parody or a satire, especially when you compare it to it's goofy source material. Really, you should just watch that instead. It's got a shorter runtime, less dick jokes, and way more Hasselhoff. 1 star. Rated R For Bouncy Bouncy And Jiggle Jiggle.
Image: "Lets piss off a bunch of old, white people and kiss."
Is it possible for a perfectly decent, sweet, well made, if not a little cheesy, love story to be ruined completely by a nonsensical, outlandish and completely out of nowhere plot twist? ....... Yep, pretty much.
"Everything, Everything" follows "Maddy" (Amandla Stenberg), a young girl suffering from a disease that prevents her from ever leaving her home, with her only real interaction being between her doctor mother, "Pauline" (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse, "Carla" (Ana de la Reguera). Maddy takes an interest in the new neighbors, in particular, the new guy next door, "Olly" (Nick Robinson), who Maddy thinks is totally adorbs. Only being able to speak with him through text messages and the occasional cute smile to each other from their windows, Carla allows Olly, behind Pauline's back, to come over where he and Maddy start to fall in love. But Pauline isn't having any of it, especially after Maddy becomes ill after going outside for a minute. Maddy is determined to live her own life and see the outside world, planning to run away with Olly to see the ocean, even if it kills her.
"Everything, Everything" is not the kind of movie that was made for me. It's more for sensitive teenage girls who want a dose of death with their romances. Similar to other films in this genre (The romance/drama/death genre?), it can't help occasional moments of melodrama and cheesy lines of dialogue. With that said, the film is competently made, and Director Stella Meghie does a solid job, especially when it comes to the focus on the two main characters and their interactions, which are (And I will gladly admit this), cute.
Amandla Stenberg (Rue from "The Hunger Games") is a good young actress, with charm to spare, and she actually has good chemistry with Nick Robinson. Both actors are surprisingly a delight to watch together, injecting humor, likability, and some professionalism to a fine, but not perfect script. Anika Noni Rose does good work as well, despite some "Things" involving a little twist that happens later on. (I Can't spoil it for you. Even though I want to. Sorry.)
"Everything, Everything" is a well made, well acted, fairly charming romance for about the first 70 minutes or so. It's in the last 20 where the movie collapses on itself. Somewhat like earlier this year's "The Space Between Us" (Though this film is slightly better made), the film leads to a rather bizarre plot twist that would normally raise questions in the real world. It's beyond stupid, it makes zero sense, and it destroys any form of logic that the film had set up from the beginning.
I was even considering giving "Everything, Everything" are fairly positive review up until the ludicrous ending. A genuinely heartwarming and at times effective movie is nearly ruined by it's soap opera-style plotting. Which is a bit of a shame. When I awkwardly go into these movies all by myself, I don't need the experience to be made even more awkward than necessary. Think about MY feelings for a change. 2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Content And Poor And Seriously Improper Medical Practices.