In Theaters: Transformers: The Last Knight, 47 Meters Down, All Eyez on Me, Cars 3, Rough Night, Megan Leavey, It Comes at Night, The Mummy, Captain Underpants, Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Baywatch, Everything, Everything, Alien: Covenant, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Coming Soon: Despicable Me 3, The House, Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wish Upon, Dunkirk, Girls Trip, Valerian, Atomic Blonde, The Emoji Movie, The Dark Tower, Detroit, Kidnap, Annabelle 2
★★★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: 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.
Image: "Dear Diary: Nobody asked for a reboot."
You know a franchise has outstayed it's welcome when your little sister, and the main reason you really saw these movies in the first place, is at the age where she has no interest in the newest film whatsoever, and declares that "You're on your own" for it. Not to mention the fact that this series has been going on since I first began reviewing movies way back when. Greg Heffley is almost in his 20s now! Man I'm feeling my age.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" starts with well, the wimpy kid, "Greg Heffley" (Jason Drucker) being forced against his will by his caring, cute, but overbearing mother, "Susan" (Alicia Silverstone) to go on a family road trip with his rather gooberish father, "Frank" (Tom Everett Scott), his idiotic, wannabe rockstar brother "Rodrick" (Charlie Wright), and baby brother "Manny" (Wyatt and Dylan Walters), to go see his grandma for her 90th birthday.
Greg, having accidentally become an embarrassing internet sensation (Involving him with a diaper stuck on his hand), plans to manipulate the trip into taking a detour to a gaming convention so he can do something that's kinda....Well, kind of hard to explain really. Anyways, shenanigans ensue, involving a baby pig, some psycho bearded fat guy who really wants to kill Greg, and constant family bickering that will eventually lead to some valuable lesson about family and overcoming your inner wimp.
The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" franchise has never really been much to talk about in terms of quality, but they were generally fine kids movies that at least didn't annoy the parents who were dragged to see them. Granted, "The Long Haul" really isn't that much different. It's just a weaker, and more unnecessary version of it. The story follows the same beats from the other films, complete with gross out humor and goofy antics. It feels like it was all cobbled together at the last second because all the kids from the original series had the nerve to grow up, and while it's technically a reboot of the franchise, it somehow manages to be a sequel at the same time. It's a paradox of wimpy proportions!
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" does provide a positive message, and offers an occasional couple of amusing gags, all while doing so as inoffensively as possible. It just lacks a bit more of the effort (And feels somewhat cheaper) than the other films before it. In terms of performances, Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott are not bad choices for their characters, and they do seem like they're having a lot of fun. Jason Drucker and Charlie Wright are okay enough, but they clearly aren't really actors yet, and lack the necessary comic timing Also, Greg's chubby best friend, "Rowley" (Owen Asztalos) pops up for about 5 minutes and vanishes, never to be seen again.
I've noticed that "The Long Haul" has hit a sour note with fans of the franchise, mostly due to the complete recast of all the characters. (#NotMyRodrick). It really isn't much different than the others. The kids may enjoy it, but it just doesn't feel like it needs to be here, offering less laughs and the sort of charm that the franchise used to provide. Honestly, I wish it was worse. Then I could say something like, "It should have been called "Diary of a Weaker Kid". Nope, Doesn't make me feel any better. 2 stars. Rated PG For CGI Vomit, And a "Psycho" Reference (Okay. That was kind of funny funny.)
Image: "Stop. Not so fast y'all. You think you can just up and run away, you're crazy. I like to eat people from other planets. Especially y'all."
I think I just watched "Prometheus" again. Except this time it was called "Alien Covenant". You can interpret that as you want. In the end, it's the same thing. It just depends on if you're okay with that or not, and if it's well made. And since I actually had a good time with "Prometheus" regardless of the understandable arguments against it, there is plenty of chest bursting (And back bursting) enjoyment to be had here. That never gets old.
"Alien: Covenant" begins in the year 2104, with the colony ship "Covenant" transporting thousands of sleeping colonists in stasis pods and frozen embryos to a new inhabitable planet to start a new life. Things take a dark turn when a "Space Storm" hits the ship, and, despite the efforts of synthetic Android, "Walter" (Michael Fassbender), the storm results in the deaths of a few colonists and the ship's captain, "Jacob Branson" (A barbecued James Franco cameo). The rest of the crew is awakened, including Branson's now widowed wife "Daniels" (Katherine Waterson), former first mate turned new captain "Christopher Oram" (Billy Crudup), lovable pilot "Tennesse" (Danny McBride), security officer "Lope" (Demián Bichir), and all the other future Alien chow. The crew intercepts a strange human transmission directing them to a nearby mysterious, unknown planet.
Against Daniels' objections, Oram decides it's totally a good idea and changes the ship's course to land on the planet. Once they arrive, the crew discovers a seemingly inhabitable, but pretty much lifeless planet, with a downed Alien ship and a pair of Dog Tags belonging to "Elizabeth Shaw" (Noomi Rapace), who the crew remembers being a member of the doomed "Prometheus" exhibition a few years earlier. After 20 minutes investigating the planet, everything goes to hell, with squishy monster Aliens bursting out of people's backs and throats, and the arrival of another android, "David" (Also Michael Fassbender), who claims he wants to get the crew to safety. Little does anyone know, something more horrifying than they could possibly imagine is starting to form, all leading to the creation of those terrifying dildo like Aliens we've all come to fear, "The Xenomorphs".
The comparing of "Alien Covenant" to "Prometheus" is an easy one. Both films suffer from the same exact faults, but excel in terms of their strengths. Mostly, that's thanks to Director Ridley Scott, who has pretty much defined this style of Science-Fiction/Horror, while bringing up some interesting philosophical concepts. The film goes through familiar territory, yet still finds a way to make you feel the suspense and atmosphere. Not to mention it's top notch visuals, which are both stunning and yes, beautifully, grotesquely horrifying. (Body horror at it's finest)
"Alien Covenant" has all of the same stuff that probably annoyed you in "Prometheus". There are more questions raised than answers, and especially considering the last movie ended on one big question, you feel don't feel much closer to the original series as you did when it began (Even if you do get the Xenomorph origins at long last.) Characters, who are clearly meant to be intelligent, act like total morons. Sure, stick your head inside that big, gooey egg pod. There might be presents in there, like the ones who latch onto your face! Sure, why don't we have shower sex after an alien attack? That always ends well in these kinds of movies! This all could of been avoided if you guys just kept on flying past the damn planet you knew nothing about.
Once again, it feels like a small amount of backstory is missing from "Alien: Covenant". I'm betting this is intentional, considering that the film basically skips what was meant to happen after "Prometheus". Its meant to build up the mystery of the situation and the suspense does still work quite well. Again comparing this to "Prometheus" (Which I am doing to both make a point and knowing it will piss some of you guys off at the same time), despite it's flaws, it still succeeds at what it sets out to do. It's most apparent with it's actors and characters who, even when they do something stupid, are still very memorable.
Katherine Waterson is truly wonderful as the one sane person, who really gets put through the ringer throughout the film, and turns into a believable badass by the end. Danny McBride is also excellent. He's not just in the film to provide comic relief, coming across as endearing in the more serious scenes. Billy Crudup gets to bring some complexity to the film, as a genuinely decent guy who is trying to find a way to make his crew happy (And you know, screws them over unintentionally). In the end, these characters (At least the main ones), do feel like people. Then there's Michael Fassbender, who is nothing short of amazing in this film, not just with his new character, "Walter", but with his returning character, "David". He isn't just acting against himself, with different accents, and personalities. He has created fascinating characters that are at times creepy, at times a little humorous, and thoroughly compelling.
The action and horror come together seamlessly in "Alien: Covenant", and the eventual reveal of the classic alien is nothing short of brilliant, with a few extra freaky creatures thrown in just for some blood splattering fun. While the film can feel a bit sloppy at times, trying too hard to please everyone), the film retains it's genuine terror and excitement from start to finish. Briskly paced, undeniably cool, and with an interesting mythology that only expands, "Alien:Covenant" is basically more of the same from the first five in the series. But hey, if you didn't mind that too much before, you're bound to find plenty to enjoy here. Credit to the competent filmmakers, who can still find freshness with in something old fashioned. God bless those lovable Aliens! 3 stars. Rated R For Gore, Gore , Gore... And More Gore.
Image: "Are you telling me that the name of this movie is nothing but a dirty joke?"
Amy Schumer will say whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She'll sprinkle in with a few vagina jokes for good measure. She's both undeniably funny and too much at the same time. I get it. She has no problem making you or I uncomfortable. It's also undeniable that there's a double standard for an edgy female comedian. So it doesn't surprise me that the haters are all over her new film, especially since Paul Feig and Katie Dippold (Director and Writer of the last year's "Ghostbusters") produced and wrote it. Internet Trolls unite!
"Snatched" starts with self-centered loser, "Emily" (Amy Schumer), planning out a vacation to Ecuador with her boyfriend (Randall Park), who breaks up with her before the trip. Since Emily can't refund the tickets, she convinced her recluse, cat obsessed mother, "Linda" (Goldie Hawn) to come with her on the vacation. Against Linda's protests, along with the protests form special-ops trained vacationers, "Ruth" (Wanda Sykes) and her tongue-less friend, "Barb" (Joan Cusack), Emily decides nothing could go wrong and parties it out with some hunky guy named (And I assure you, all guys with this name are hunky) "James" (Tom Bateman).
But as it turns out, James is only there to lure Emily and Linda into a scheme involving an evil crime boss, "Morgado" (Óscar Jaenada), who plans to hold them captive for ransom somewhere in Columbia. Emily and Linda manage to escape and are now on the run from the kidnappers, forced to rely on their lack of skills to survive, while growing closer as mother and daughter.
"Snatched" offers moments of humor here and there throughout, but its never enough to make a film critic truly recommend it to anyone, other than the many, many, older women I saw this movie with. (They apparently loved it, by the way. Naughty ladies.) It's not a particularly original idea, sort of going through the standard motions and beats you would see in a film like this.
Director Jonathan Levine ("50/50", "Warm Bodies") is competent at what he's doing, and everyone involved isn't necessarily sleepwalking through the film. But "Snatched" doesn't really have much else going for it. It's a goofy comedy that is attempting to inject some heart and say an important message (It's Mother's Day. Call your mother.) The film is genuine, yet it just doesn't really click.
Amy Schumer is a little all over the place lately, and I do get how that can annoy some people. She does show here (Much like she did in 2015's much better "Trainwreck") that she is a talented comedian, who also can actually act. She is essentially playing the same character she always plays here, and while she does it well, it does make you worry she could eventually go down the Sandler route and get a little too used to doing that. Schumer does thankfully have solid chemistry with Goldie Hawn, who despite not having been in a film in years does have a decent amount of charm.
Their mother daughter relationship in "Snatched" is a high point, coming across as actually cute and you see the point the film is trying to make. The best laughs come from the supporting cast, including Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz (as "Jeffrey", Emily's mama's boy brother), and the very underrated Christoper Meloni (as "Roger", a wannabe Indiana Jones type), who appears briefly, but leaves an impression. And as usual with these kinds of movies, the less I say about the unimpressionable villains the better.
"Snatched" is not the disaster I think everyone was really expecting, but it doesn't really have much reason to be here. By the end, there's very little to write home about, other than getting to see talented comedians at work. Everyone involved is much more talented than this, so let's hope Amy Schumer takes advantage of her new film career and stretches herself further in the future. Beware the cautionary tale of the Sandler. 2 stars. Rated R For F-Bombs, Vagina Jokes Galore and Tape Worm.
Image: King Arthur finally disposes of his nemesis, a moss covered coconut.
What more can you do with a legend when it's already been beat to death? Tarzan. Hercules. Dracula. King Arthur. But Guy Richie hasn't gotten his hands on one. Short of "Michael Bay's Dracula", I can't imagine this in worse hands.
"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" begins with "Uther Pendragon" (Eric Bana), armed with his magic sword, Excalibur, leading his armies against the evil "Mordred" and his army of giant war Elephants, and obliterating them with the power of the sword. But Uther's evil brother, "Scar", er, "Vortigern" (Jude Law) is revealed to have been manipulating all these events from the shadows with help from Ursula the Sea Witch. (Seriously, I don't know what that thing was!) Uther is able to get his son to safety before Vortigern murders him and takes over the kingdom, ruling it with an iron fist. Years later during Vorgitern's rule, Uther's now adult son, "Arthur" (Charlie Hunnam), having been raised in a brothel, has become known for his good deeds, helpful personality, and the fact that he's ripped as sh*t.
Around this time, Excalibur makes it's return, lodged inside a large stone. Fearing that he may lose his power, Vortigen sends his forces to find Uther's son, eventually tracking down Arthur. Before Arthur can executed, he is rescued by a group of rebels, including a woman only known as "The Mage" (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), one of Uther's former captains "Sir Bedivere" (Djimon Hounsou), and "Goosefat Bill Wilson" (Aidan Gillen). The group intends to help Arthur hone his skills with the magical sword, so he can kill Vortigen and reclaim his throne, despite the fact he clearly has no idea what the Hell he's doing.
"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is basically what you get when you let Director Guy Ritchie run around without adult supervision. Taking all of the many quirks, artistic choices, and oddly sophisticated, but sometimes charmingly bombastic that you've grown accustomed to in his films, and simply lets it all run wild. Sadly, it's all to the point where the film just feels too in your face, loud,and kind of obnoxious in terms of testosterone. Lots and lots of testosterone.
Despite Guy Ritchie's outrageous abuse of his style, the film doesn't look bad. The cinematography is solid, the sets and costumes look good, and as usual, he brings some visual flair. But some of the effects are questionable at best and laughable at worst, with some pretty lame CGI used on a variety of over the top creatures. Speaking of CGI, this film's over reliance on it is a constant distraction, especially once we get to the boisterous climax, that comes across as a video game right down to the "Kingdom Hearts" style final boss. (You know. I should go play that right now. It's significantly more fun that this movie.)
The dialogue in "King Arthur" wants to come across as intelligent with a sense of humor about itself, but rarely lands due to the (Intentionally?) choppy editing and lack of any real character development. That's disappointing since Charlie Hunnam is honestly not a bad choice to play the King Arthur character. He's got the look down, and a decent amount charm where you could of seen it work in a much better movie. Jude Law brings plenty of hammy sliminess, making him easily the most enjoyable part of the film. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen basically play....Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen. They do it well, mostly to make up for the lack of substance. Yet Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey doesn't really do anything other than serve as the Deus ex machina character and soft of, but not really, love interest. .
"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is Guy Ritchie on "Bro" overload. It's the definition of style over substance. But here, the style is more annoying than adrenaline pumping, while adding nothing new to the classic legend. Honestly, just read the book. Read any book, really. 1 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Loud Action And, Oh So Much Bromance.
Image: "Ooooh. What does this button do?"
Madness!. Madness I tell you! When Marvel Studios said that they would be bringing "The Guardians of the Galaxy" to the big screen, what with it's talking space raccoon and his big tree buddy who only says "I Am Groot", people said that the studio had jumped the shark and finally lost their mind. But not only did the film make a whole lotta' money, and get shockingly high critical and fan acclaim, it also has become one of the studio's biggest, and most beloved franchises. So, yeah. Marvel wins. Just let them do whatever they want already.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2" starts with the Guardians of the Galaxy, well, guarding the galaxy. (For money of course). Earthling/former smuggler "Peter Quill/Star-Lord" (Chris Pratt), former stepdaughter of Thanos "Gamora" (Zoe Saldana), musclebound brute "Drax" (Dave Bautista), gun toting raccoon "Rocket" (Voiced by Bradley Cooper), and everyone's favorite lovable tree "Baby Groot" (Voiced by Vin Diesel), have just finished protecting some powerful, priceless "Space Batteries" for a bunch of golden uptight jerks, known as "The Sovereign", led by the conceited high priestess "Ayesha" (Elizabeth Debicki) in exchange for the capture of Gamora's violent, criminal step-sister "Nebula" (Karen Gillan). Rocket decides to be a dick and steals some of the batteries for the hell of it, resulting in the Sovereign declaring war on the Guardians.
The Guardians wind up on a strange planet, meeting "Ego" (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Star-Lord's real father, and his cute green assistant, "Mantis" (Pom Klementieff). Ego tells Star-Lord that he too is a godlike being (And also happens to be a living planet. Don't ask) and the two start to bond, putting a bit of a strain on his relationship with the rest of the Guardians. Meanwhile, The Sovereign remains determined to kill the Guardians, sending "The Ravagers", led by Peter's former mentor, "Yondu" (Michael Rooker), who is having a little trouble of his own with one of his group members, "Taserface" (Chris Sullivan), who just can't seem to find anyone to take him seriously.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" obviously was going to have trouble replicating the same success of the first film, at least in terms of quality. But the sequel is a complete blast of wacky, quirky, space filled fun, that does still remember to take time to make us care for it's characters. Director and Writer James Gunn piles on the sarcastic and occasionally offbeat humor, but never forgets to develop the characters, providing them with genuine heart and emotion.
Visually, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is stunning to look at, with so many various colors popping all over the screen, that it looks like you're watching candy explode on screen. You'll never want to take your eyes off it. In terms of plot, it becomes a little more convoluted than before, but our charming cast makes up for the film's shortcomings. Chris Pratt just owns his role, bringing in good laughs and an emotional core that affects the rest of the film and it's characters. Zoe Saldana acts as the straight one to all of the goofiness of the Guardians, while also sharing some really well done scenes with Karen Gillan, who gets more development here to the point where she becomes a much more complex character then before. Dave Bautista is a complete riot (And honestly, my favorite character of the group), and of course, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel's characters are a delight. (Yes. Baby Groot is just so damn adorable)
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2" also brings best out of it's terrific supporting cast, with the wonderful Michael Rooker stealing the film at times from everyone else. Sean Gunn (as "Kraglin, Yondu's most loyal Ravager) gets a larger role this time around, and the movie benefits from it. Pom Klementieff is a great new addition to the team, and while Elizabeth Debicki and Chris Sullivan aren't exactly the most memorable of villains, they are suitably amusing throughout. And Kurt Russel is perfectly cast, clearly having the time of his life with his unbridled enthusiasm (I'm kind of wondering if he even knew he was being filmed.)
Despite the wackiness of the plot and it's characters, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" does get a little darker than you would expect, even finding a way to tug at your heartstrings, much like the first film found a way to do so. The film can feel a little messy at times, but its still is a labor of love, with it's likable characters, laugh out loud sense of humor, and a surprising amount of heart. It shows that the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is still nowhere close to slipping up anytime soon. Be sure to stick around for probably the best end credits sequence you'll ever see. I Don't know why people still leave the theaters so early. Haven't they watched these movies before? It's Marvel. You stick around for the end credits. 3 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Space Action, Scrotumheads, And Baby Groot Adorableness.
Image: How could you not trust this man?
You had all the ingredients right in front of you. You had Tom Hanks, who also just so happens to be the producer. A timely subject matter. You had Hermione. When it all goes wrong, it doesn't matter who's involved.
"The Circle" starts with "Mae" (Emma Watson), a young woman struggling through her job and her life. She lives with her mom, "Bonnie" (Glenne Headly) and her MS diagnosed dad, "Vinnie" (Bill Paxton). Things change when Mae's friend, "Annie" (Karen Gillan) tells Mae that she has gotten her a job at "The Circle", a large internet corporation that specializes in community and surveillance, run by "Eamon Bailey" (Tom Hanks) and "Tom Stenton" (Patton Oswalt).
Mae eventually starts to rise through the ranks of the organization, gaining Bailey's favor. She becomes part of The Circle's newest security venture, involving little glass eyeballs being placed all around the world, so they can watch everyone at anytime from anywhere. Mae befriends a loner in the corporation, "Ty" (John Boyega), who warns her that The Circle is likely up to no good, but Mae just can't seem to help herself and starts to become part of the sickeningly close, always smiling community (Basically this movie should of been called "Hermione joins a Tech Cult".)
"The Circle" has some fascinating ideas, full of so much potential that it makes the final product all the more depressing. The film never really expands on any of it's own ideas, never going any further than simply stating them. One of the film's main problems that likely led to this would be the messy, inconsistent story that takes itself far too seriously, making the attempts at satire come across as goofy, over the top, and not very realistic.
It's just so shocking that so much talent can be involved in something that comes across as amateurish. Emma Watson tries her damnest, but she can't seem to avoid her slipping accent and her character's erratic behavior, going from wary of the organization's methods to fully on board within minutes. John Boyega is hardly even in the film, which either looks like the filmmakers had no idea what to do with him, or more likely most of his scenes got cut. (I saw the trailer a dozen times over the last few months. Something is missing). We don't get much of Karen Gillan or Ellar Coltrane (as "Mercer", Mae's ex boyfriend), who just randomly pops up once or twice in the movie.
Not surprisingly, the highlights easily would be Tom Hanks (Who long ago passed the point of having to explain and justify his choices to all of us who are not worthy), who plays the role with so much charm and charisma that you kind of buy why people are being sucked into his "Questionable" plans, while Patton Oswalt, though he rarely shows it, gives us just enough of the hidden sliminess of his character. It is also bittersweet to see the late Bill Paxton in this film, especially considering his character's illness.
"The Circle" asks questions about security and privacy, about how much can people really be trusted with it, or if it's really worth it in the end considering what possible good you can do with it? It's undeniably an interesting concept. But director James Ponsoldt just speeds through it all so fast that you rarely have any time to catch up. The audience never gets much detail into what The Circle is really doing, which ends up forcing you to ask other questions that only shatter the film's logic. Like, how would the American government allow a place like this to even form without anyone questioning it? Who the Hell is placing all those cameras all over the place? How in God's name is the company responsible for a guy driving his truck off a bridge to his death avoiding a freakin' lawsuit? The ACLU is going to question these things!
It's not that "The Circle" is incompetent, and it's clearly made by competent people. But with a lack of a sense of humor, the film's satirical elements fall flat, and by the time we reach the climax (If you would even call it that), it comes across as jarring much like the rather confusing ending itself. I's a waste of talent, and by the end, a waste of your time. Just wait for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and stay home this weekend. Tom Hanks will. 1 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Peeping Toms (Get it?) and Dick Pumps.
Image: "Kung Fu Panda 4: The Cuteness"
Every year or two, at about the same time, around Earth Day, Disney's nature documentary centered film unit, "Disneynature" will release a film to the general public, aimed to educate as well as entertain children and adults of all ages......And every time, the public refuses to go see it. I guess because they don't have big explosions, grand special effects, or Kevin James falling down and going boom. Disney goes to all this trouble, with their crew risking life and limb from Panda attacks, and no one seems to appreciate it.
Narrated by John Krasinski, "Born in China" follows the lives and adventures of a mother Panda, "Ya Ya", trying to raise her curious little furball daughter, "Mei Mei", a mother Snow Leopard, "Dawa", struggling to raise her two cubs against the harsh climate and rival Leopards, a young Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey, "Tao Tao", who is yearning for attention due to the recent birth of a little sister, and a herd of Chiru, while they all try to survive in the mountains of China.
"Born in China" continues Disneynature's winning streak (At least in terms of quality), with another well put together, gorgeously filmed, and thoroughly heartwarming adventure. It brings us spectacular, almost unreal footage that you likely wont see anywhere else. (Unless you go to that part of China. But that's cheating). The shots of the landscapes, the constant changes in weather, and the interactions among the diverse communities of animals make for a beautiful experience.
Despite some probable minor manipulation, at least term's of the film's storytelling, it is fascinating, and almost kind of eerie, how full of personality these animals are. They all have their own stories, goals, and hardships that make you want to see them survive the hardships of the rather horrifying "Circle of Life", with the pandas in particular, stealing the whole film. (I could watch that little ball of fur all day)
While the film is aimed at a young audience, "Born in China" doesn't shy away from some of the more realistic outcomes to some of it's stories which, while a little hard to watch, show that it is taking it's audience seriously, hoping they are mature enough to handle it. The narration from John Krasnski might be one of the film's weaker points. While he isn't doing a bad job, injecting some humor and charm to the film, it just feels like there might of been a better choice for the job, especially considering how good the narrators for these films can be.
"Born in China" doesn't quite match up to some of Disneynature's much more superior work, such as 2014's "Bears" or 2011's "African Cats", but it's still a wonderful, and oddly relaxingly calm family film, that is sure to delight anyone of any age.....You know, if you actually SEE it! Please don't piss Disney off.We don't know what they're capable of. 3 1/2 stars. Rated G.
Image: Meth is a Hell of a drug.
They just don't listen to me.. The "Found Footage" genre is dead. It just isn't something that needs to stick around anymore. Especially the Horror ones. There's nothing original left to do with them, and there's only so many scares you can muster before audiences get the picture. "Unfriended" and "The Visit" were good. That's about it. If anyone has a clever new twist on the idea, please contact Hollywood immediately.
"Phoenix Forgotten" starts with a young filmmaker, "Sophie" (Florence Hartigan), who has returned to her hometown in Phoenix, Arizona. She is making a documentary about the unexplainable disappearance of her brother, "Josh" (Luke Spencer Roberts), and his two friends, "Ashley" (Chelsea Lopez) and "Mark" (Justin Matthews), who vanished twenty years prior while investigating the mysterious "Phoenix Lights". Many believed the vanishings to be UFOs, so Sophie begins her investigation by speaking to family members and local people, slowly discovering the truth. The film is interspersed with the found footage of the three teens, and what horrors eventually became of them.
By this point, the Found Footage genre has become so overdone that they're not even really promoting them all that much anymore (It's not like these films cost much of anything to make.) Even if "Phoenix Forgotten" is at least trying to put a bit of a twist in the genre. The film is basically two fake documentaries in one, the frame story with Sophie being shot with a modern day HD camera, complete with interviews with the local people, and the "found footage" having the look of being shot with an old, glitchy camera, which makes the footage actually look authentic.
"Phoenix Forgotten" does have moments of cleverness and parts where you actually feel some investment in what's going on. The film shows the reactions from the townspeople, how the disappearance of the teens affects them, and the personalities of the teens themselves. They characters come across as actual people, which makes it kind of tragic what eventually becomes of them. The fact that the film occasionally uses real footage from actual news reports and events adds genuine atmosphere.
With all that said, the execution is occasionally sloppy, with the framing story pretty much vanishing in the last half hour of the film's already short runtime. "Phoenix Forgotten" is never scary or even very suspenseful since you already know exactly whats going to happen, and the film doesn't provide any answers to the questions that you were already asking when the film starts. By the film's abrupt end, you don't feel anything was really accomplished. All of the actors are solid enough, with Florence Hartigan making for a likable presence,
"Phoenix Forgotten" is is a better made film than it really has any right to be, thanks in part to Director Justin Barber's attempts to change up the formula, but the "Found Footage" genre just isn't something that can really work anymore, at least in terms of theatrical release. But if any of you have a video camera and a freaky imagination, somebody might give you a couple million bucks to let them put it in theaters. 2 Stars. Rated PG-13 For Scary Images And Snot Bubbles.