For me, these 'Hotel Transylvania' movies are all pretty decent, but they do have a tendency to slide downhill as they keep going. While I still really enjoy those first two, there was a certain overall predictability to 'Summer Vacation' and 'Transformania' that give the series a sort of unoriginality; and I give the series huge credit for the initial idea. That first film is STILL my favourite of the bunch.
Since this is the fourth title to this series I'll TRY to keep things somewhat clear with characters and such, since a lot has happened since the first movie. Let's start with the underlying story largely being about Dracula's daughter, Mavis, falling in love with a human named Johnny. In the first film they meet, in the second film they're married and have a kid, and then the third film kind of jumps to being a bit more about Dracula. This one goes back to the relationship, but mostly focuses on Johnny; a character who I can definitely see being sort of annoying to some.
This one opens with the monster celebrating the 125th anniversary of the hotel. Dracula (Brian Hull) secretly has intentions of finally retiring, and giving the hotel to his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). However, overhearing her father's plans, Mavis tells Johnny (Andy Samberg) the news, thereby overwhelming Johnny, who spills his renovation plans to Drac. Worried about what will become of his beloved hotel, Drac then tells Johnny a fib about a real-estate law that only allows monsters to own the hotel. Johnny is understandably disappointed, but may be able to get some help from Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan - who we met in 'Summer Vacation' as more of a nemesis).
Helsing has created a sort of ray gun that can turn humans into monsters and monsters in humans, so Johnny figures if he can be transformed, he won't have to worry about that real-estate law. Things work out for him, as he's changed into a monstrous dragon-like creature, but soon Drac finds out and tries to change him back. This, however, backfires, turning Drac human. The gun ends up breaking and requiring a special crystal, located somewhere in South America, to work again. Of course, the real catch is also the race against time, as there will be a point where the transformation is permanent.
This was originally meant to be released theatrically, but just as a lot of movies suffered through Covid, plans changed, and the distribution rights were eventually sold to Amazon. I can find a lot of flaws in it from my persopective, but really, this is still just a healthy dose of fun for the family. To make it even better, it's an Amazon original you DON'T have to pay to watch, making things feel much more accessible (as long as you have Prime). My only real criticisms lie in it being another race against time to fix a "spell". That doesn't make it bad, it just makes it predictable, and as far as I'm concerned, 'Shrek' still did it best.
For those looking for Drac's friends here, they're all back as well. Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his wife, Wanda (Molly Shannon); Griffin, the Invisible Man (David Spade), Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Frank (Brad Abrell) and his wife, Eunice (Fran Drescher). That said, fans will notice that Adam Sandler and Kevin James have been replaced, and that's a bit of a bummer, considering the buddy-buddy cast it has been up until this point. I'm not sure that there's official word on why there was no return, and some suspect their deals with Netflix. However, if this was meant to originally be theatrical, that still leaves questions.
Anyway, I think if you DO like all three of the originals, then this one isn't all too much of a stretch away from them. They're all fun and generally innocent family flicks that make for a pretty solid marathon, especially around the Halloween season. These could be movies I still turn to for a nice cheering up, even if I don't think they're all so wonderful, or even a bit cliched. This one was no different than the third for me. I didn't think it was altogether special, but I'm not about to tell people they need to avoid it because it's terrible. At worst, it's simply the weakest (maybe?) of the four, and at best, it's a bit of family fun in these hard times.
Over the years, there have been several titles that I consider good while most critics consider them bad, or even terrible. Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay do not have great critical track records, but just to provide an example on both, I still love 'Independence Day' and the 'Bad Boys' movies. For some reason I can see them as nonsensical fun to enjoy with a tub of popcorn, while so many other titles of theirs, I just don't like as much, and understand where critics are coming from.
'The Tomorrow War' comes to us from director Chris McKay - an interesting twist considering his directorial titles include things like 'Moral Orel', 'Robot Chicken' and 'The Lego Batman Movie'. This has a much less comedic theme to it (although it does have its share) and relies much more on the sci-fi thriller aspect of things. For yours truly, I might say it's 'Independence Day' meets 'Starship Troopers' meets 'Tenet' (but its far less confusing). I also think this is yet another title to add to the list of video game movies not based on a video game. It was a bit of fresh air, too. I can't go see 'F9' for some crazy, fun, nonsensical action right now (but hopefully soon) where I live, so I'm glad I got to experience that kind of fun with this.
In the very near future, we meet former Green Beret turned biology teacher, Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). He lives a pretty good life with his wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin) and daughter, Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). One day, while watching the World Cup, the event is interrupted by a time portal that brings in a team of soldiers from the year 2051. They warn that in their year, humanity is facing extinction, and they need to recruit any able-bodied people for the fight. The drafted, time travelling "soldiers" head to the future through a wormhole device called the "Jumplink", serve a week, and head back if they manage to survive - often only to face another tour of duty. As far as those who get killed and the effect it has on the future population, we do find out that it seems the draft consists of people who are going to pass in a short time anyway.
Chris gets drafted and heads into battle with a team of misfits, including his jump partner, Charlie (Sam Richardson) and experienced soldier on his third tour, Dorian (Edwin Hodge) - probably my favourite character throughout this thing. He's just a total badass. Anyway, the fight is between the human race and some pretty awesomely creative aliens known as Whitespikes. These things are like if the Warrior Bugs from 'Starship Troopers' breeded with the 'Cloverfield' monster, and it has tentacles that shoot spikes at you. They're cool-looking, ferocious, and damn hard to kill - even with what seems like unlimited ammo. Can they figure out how to stop these things before humanity is wiped out for good?
Now, just to set the record straight, this thing is kind of full of plot holes when it comes to the time-travelling aspect. For example, there's a moment where Pratt wants to go to the future to fix something, but in the present, it hasn't happened yet, and he has a long-ass time to fix it. It's the same way 'Back to the Future 2' makes no sense when Doc and Marty go 30 years into the future to help his unborn children... in 2015 (my God, I feel old). The bottom line is, though, if you're not one for time travel plot holes, this might not be for you. Even when it comes to the ending, its a question of "no one else honestly thought of this?" It's silly. However, somehow, that's just a part of the movie's charm, a lot like 'Independence Day' or 'Bad Boys 2'.
You're here to go for a ride, have fun, feel a bit of suspense, have a decent laugh, and see J.K. Simmons play Chris Pratt's jacked-as-hell father, James. I know I said Dorian was my favourite character based on his badassery, but James is on par. He'll be the fan favourite, guaranteed, and it's cool that we finally get to see him in full form and he's not just some angry guy working for the Daily Bugle. Otherwise, this is a film that has a lot of spectacle to it, and I really wish I could have seen it on a big screen for that reason. If this were the 90s (the days before streaming), this would have been considered a summer blockbuster, and I don't see it as anything deeper than just that, personally. This is the crazy-go-nuts action movie for those of us still stuck at home during this pandemic. So tune in, turn up and have fun! It's ridiculous, but if you're anything like me, you'll still have a good time with it.
Writer, Tom Clancy, is a bit of a legend in his own right. I'm probably wrong about this, but he's the only author I can think of who happens to be a triple threat who offers an array of movies, TV series and video game adaptations of his work. But I admit, I have a tendency to avoid his work. This has nothing to do with quality, but everything to do with me having a tough time following things. I tend to associate a lot of his material with "political thrillers" ('Clear and Present Danger', 'The Sum of All Fears'), and those tend not to be for me and my attention span. As far as the games, I really just haven't dabbled yet.
Anyway, I've always been the odd man out on Clancy. I don't criticise the man in the slightest though; if I can't follow what he puts out there, that probably only means he's being a little more realistic than most. One thing I have absolutely no trouble following, however, is a good, basic revenge film - and that's largely what 'Without Remorse' ends up being. If I was to give this some sort of a comparison, think of it as a cross between 'The Punisher' and, quite honestly, a good military first person shooter. This is another movie that makes for a really good video game movie without it actually being based on a video game - although there is an interesting moment at the end I won't spoil.
The film opens in Aleppo, where a team of US Navy SEALs are on a mission to rescue a CIA operative who has been taken hostage. The team, which includes Senior Chief, John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), discovers the captors are Russian military and not the pro-Assad group they thought. We get that there's already something personal between this team and the Russians. Three months later, the Russians retaliate by offing the team members one by one, however, Kelly survives only to suffer significant losses in the process that go beyond his fallen team.
Meanwhile, Kelly's team leader, Lt. Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) reviews response options for the attack on the team with CIA officer, Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) and Secretary of Defense, Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce). The CIA refuses to conduct an investigation, however, as American and Russian relations are currently risking a new Cold War. Greer to passes confidential information to Kelly, however, and long story short, Kelly ends up taking things into his own hands. What follows, at least in my eyes, ends up being a solid revenge film, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I've liked other Clancy material.
That said, however, this might not be the best Tom Clancy flick for Tom Clancy fans. A lot of reviews suggest (and I'd have to agree) there's a bit less brains going on here as opposed to brawn. Being that Clancy flicks tend to have a real intellect about them fans have adapted to, I could see this not being the best adaptation of his work. It works for someone who likes a good action flick, like yours truly, but there's not a whole lot here that makes you stop and think about things like a lot of other Clancy material. I can't help but feel that this was made for some non-fans in order to provide a bigger reach, and pull in people like myself. So if you're a big time Clancy fan, you probably won't get as much out of this than I did.
So once again, I would probably consider myself the odd man out on this movie. The bottom line for me is that I had fun with it, and found it much more exciting than I had anticipated. But I can't honestly recommend it very highly to typical Clancy fans, as it does admittedly seem to stray a bit from his typical. It's true to say this is less of a thinker than a lot of his other work, but it still makes for a solid revenge flick in my eyes, if that's something you've been craving a bit more of after checking out movies like 'Nobody' earlier this month. Let's just hope we don't get oversaturated with these this year...
It may come as a surprise to some, but I finally familiarized myself with the original 'Coming to America' only just a couple of years ago. Luckily for me, I didn't have to endure the long, 32ish year wait, and the sequel felt a bit like it was released with the two-year gap a lot of sequels get. To quickly recap of the first film, it features Eddie Murphy as Prince Akheem; heir to the throne of the great African nation of Zamunda. However, when he is given a wife, he doesn't appreciate how she acts as a type of servant rather than someone to share a bond with.
Of course, this leads Akheem to America where he eventually meets the woman of his dreams and they go back to Zamunda to get married and start a family, altering the old laws of the country to do so. It was a fun movie with plenty of classic Eddie Murphy style comedy, but I do tend to be an odd one out with my opinions on it as a whole. I considered it to be perfectly decent, and one of the funnier romantic comedies of the 80s, but not much more than a lazy Sunday afternoon movie.
'Coming 2 America' opens up 30 years later, where Akheem and his wife Lisa (Shari Headley) are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Things are disrupted when Akheem is summoned to tend to his dying father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) who informs him that he has a son who lives back in Queens, NYC. Akheem insists that he only has three daughters; Tinashe (Akiley Love), Omma (Bella Murphy) and eldest, Meeka (KiKi Layne). But his best friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) reveals to him a sidestep on their original mission in the first film. Apparently, Akheem (under the influence of what must have been some incredibly heavy-duty weed at the time) didn't realize that he was with a random woman before actually finding Lisa. Thus, he now has a 30-year-old son.
Akheem heads to America with Semmi once again to find his son and bring him back to become his heir to the throne. Although Meeka has been training to take his place, old laws state that a male must take over, and Akheem decides to adhere to that idea. He finds his son, Lavelle Junsun (Jermaine Fowler) and brings him, his mother (Leslie Jones) and even his uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan) back to Zamunda to begin Lavelle's much belated training. With the laws working against him, Akheem races against time, for if there is no heir to the throne, Zamunda risks a hostile takeover by their neighbors of... oh man, "Nexdoria"..., lead by the militant dictator, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes).
I think that once things are set up here, the ending is highly predictable, and the whole film feels like a bunch of unnecessary steps to reach its conclusion. It could very well be that I missed an important detail or two, but it seems to me things should have been a bit easier in order for the film to reach the point that it eventually did. I think long story short, the first one is just better altogether. This one did a lot that I didn't really appreciate, where at least in watching the first one, I got a lot of laughs from the different characters Murphy and Hall were portraying. They do that again here, but there's less of that and more celebrity cameo.
Morgan Freeman, En Vogue, Salt n Pepa, Rick Ross, Gladys Knight, John Legend ALL make cameo appearances. Sadly, however, you won't get to see Samuel L. Jackson reprise his role as "Hold-Up Man", but Louie Anderson does come back to play Maurice, who Akheem worked alongside in a restaurant for a short stint. I should probably add that all of the barbershop characters are back as well, and as far as I'm concerned, they really make both movies, so there isn't an ounce of disappointment with them. I suppose it's not without several faults, but I think if you choose to have fun with this, it won't be a problem. If you're a Prime subscriber, and a fan of the original, go check it out and see how it holds up for you.
I'll start this one out by saying that if you're looking for your average, action/effects-heavy disaster movie rollercoaster, you will not get it here. The way I see it, writer, Chris Sparling ('Buried') and director, Ric Roman Waugh ('Angel Has Fallen') took into consideration the zombie apocalypse scenarios that are 'The Walking Dead' and 'The Last of Us', and asked "why have they never done this with disaster movies?"
Nine times out of ten, an average disaster movie is entertaining because of its effects-driven action, and its meant to be a sort of thrill ride with little bits of attempted drama thrown in. Sometimes they're awesome, sometimes they suck, sometimes they're a combination of both, but you check these movies out for a little dose of adrenaline with a laugh here and there. 'Greenland', however, was probably the first disaster movie I've ever seen that actually made me feel a sense empathetic of dread. This is due to the fact that they gave me characters I gave a damn about, and the story is much more about them than the disaster itself. Going back to the aforementioned zombie material, that's what it felt like to me - what's happening around them doesn't matter nearly as much as what's happening to them.
The film centralizes on a "family" of three; John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). As small details about their relationship are revealed, in the meantime, a comet is said to be passing by the Earth named "Clark" (Possibly after Clark Kent?). Due to reassuring news reports and the like, the comet seems to be nothing to worry about. That is, until something changes its trajectory, and it starts heading towards Europe with plenty of big town-killing space rocks in tow.
While many smaller meteors and meteorites start landing, John is alerted by phone and TV that he and his family have been selected as part of a survival lottery. They are to report to a secret location in order to be flown to a secret bunker, far north (guess where), which will house any hopeful survivors of the disaster in order to rebuild. The catch is that they can't bring anyone in tow - no exceptions. This is all illustrated with a pretty emotional scene, but to the film's credit, that's exactly what it's out to do. This was just one part of the film that made me feel that genuine dread, and think to myself "this movie isn't messing around".
All goes pretty well until due to an admittedly stupid mistake, young Nathan's insulin gets left in the damn car. This sends John back for it, but while he's gone, the military in charge find out Nathan's diabetic and there are to be no illnesses on board the flight. One thing after another unfolds after that, and as I say, the film doesn't mess around and seemingly makes things very real-world, given the situation. Some examples of this include the fact that there are seemingly good-natured and terrible people wandering around. One particular looting scene illustrates this concept almost perfectly. We also see how good natured people can turn, and vise-versa, and the whole time, you're with this family, experiencing their respective experiences more than the film taking you to a variety of different groups and characters.
This may, however, be one of those cases where I give the film more praise than some. As mentioned earlier, this is not your average run of the mill disaster movie, and I think that's important to know before going in. If you are looking for a whole lot of awesome effects and a fun time, this isn't gonna be for you. Things do get dramatic here, and things honestly even get a little scary at times, often not having anything to do with the comet in question. I think this is one to approach if you want a good emotional ride as opposed to a good action-packed ride. Otherwise it may not quite be for you. If I'm honest, I kind of loved it, and at no point did I roll my eyes at it... except when I found out the military uses the same scanning gun I do at work.