When it comes to the Wizarding World franchise, I'd consider the 'Harry Potter' story to be where my interests lie, and I've never really felt the need for much more. That said, it didn't stop my curiosity in watching all three of the 'Fantastic Beasts' films that followed, as secondary as they are. While I enjoyed the first, I was disappointed in the second, and ended up meeting this one a little bit in the middle.
Before getting into it, however, it should be noted that I might as well have gone into this blind. While I did see the first two of these, I don't really remember any of it since my last time seeing them both was on the big screen, upon their respective releases. So there may have been some stuff that was a bit confusing throughout, but I was able to get the gist of things here, and I think it felt like it had more substance this time around as well. It's not quite the first 'Fantastic Beasts', which felt very 'Harry Potter', but it's better than 'Crimes of Grindelwald' which officially seemed to make the whole wizarding thing a bit "old" (at least for me).
In the grand scheme of a timeline, this one takes place about ten years after 'Crimes of Grindelwald', where Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen - Johnny Depp in the last movie) is moving to take control of the Wizarding World. For quite personal reasons, the great wizard Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) cannot face him alone. He then recruits our series hero, Newt Scamander to head a collective of wizards and witches, along with our favourite new Muggle, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) to try to stop him from going full Voldemort (before Voldemort is a thing). There's more to it, but I wanted to keep this one a bit simple.
To give credit to the rest of the team, however, Newt's brother, Theseus (Callum Turner) joins along with charming Charms teacher, Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), French wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) who works as a spy, and Newt's assistant, Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates). Together, the collective tries to stop Grindelwald before things get out of hand, but also have to face Grindelwald's acolytes, led by Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who was understood in the last film to be the only one who could actually kill Dumbledore... and I don't really remember why. Although I'm not sure that's altogether important here.
I'm not entirely sure what all else to say about this one. Truth be told, there's a bit of me that's bored with the Wizarding World because it all seems to be about "world take-over" now, and while there's still a bit of "magic" left here, it is dwindling. The 'Harry Potter' series introduced us to so many cool concepts that go beyond cool new creatures, and there's a ton of solid character development within those pages - especially for Neville Longbottom. Here, things feel like more of the same and, I daresay, "adult" and even "political" as opposed to the original material. One could say this is the "prequel trilogy" (quite literally) of the 'Wizarding World' franchise (comparing it to 'Star Wars').
For me, the 'Harry Potter' series was just that bit more magical, charming and adventurous with great imagination packed behind every book/movie. The 'Fantastic Beasts' films feel, to me, largely like a big desperate attempt to keep the Wizarding World going for fans. But don't let me take that away from any fans either - I know this has its audience. I just so happen not to be someone these were really made for. I think I'll stick to my 'Potter'. Although one day I may give these three a marathon viewing to get the full effect that I'm probably missing at this point.
It has been said several times before, but 1984's 'Ghostbusters' is what I consider to be my favourite film of all time. So there's going to be quite a lot for me to get through and express with this review. First, I will go through on a critical standpoint, as I can see a lot of reason that the critics aren't as keen as the fans. Then, I will go through as a fan, and eventually draw my conclusion. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's just start with our basic plot.
The film opens 30-someodd years after the events of 'Ghostbusters II'. I don't want to say too much about how the film opens, as to me, it was one of the more intriguing parts of the movie. But we do eventually meet Egon Spengler's estranged family; daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon), and grandkids, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). While Trevor is a bit more what one would consider a "normal" teenager, Phoebe largely takes after her grandfather - not only in the ways of science, but she has his dry sense of humour and general attitude as well.
They find out that Egon is no longer with us (just like in real life, may he rest in peace), and further find out that the only inheritance he left them was a creepy old farm house in the middle of a quaint little town called Summerville - home to the Shandor mining operations. One may remember the mention of Ivo Shandor in the '84 movie - an architect, and head of the cult of Gozer. Well, again, not to spoil anything, but there's definitely a reason that this old farmhouse is located where it is.
Phoebe ends up taking a summer science course, "taught" by seismologist, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), whose method of teaching is basically to throw on a horror movie for the kids who don't wanna be there. Phoebe also meets "Podcast" (Logan Kim), who quickly becomes her lab partner, and kudos to the movie for not forming a romantic relationship here! Podcast is sort of the Venkman-like comedy relief here, and does a pretty good job of it. I can't deny getting a few genuine chuckles from the kid. Although Phoebe gave me the biggest laugh with a certain joke she tells about a hamster and a cigarette (you might already know it. It's terrible but hilarious.)
In the meantime, Trevor meets a waitress named Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), and gets a job at her diner in an attempt to get to know her better. The two kids slowly reveal their discoveries around the house, giving us great shivers of nostalgia. While Phoebe finds a PKE meter and, eventually, a proton pack, Trevor finds Ecto-1. Eventually, it all comes together, and the kids find themselves in the midst of Gozer's potential big comeback. Can they keep Gozer at bay? But more importantly, where are the guys!?
Now, critically, I can tell you right off the bat some of the problems with this film. Whether you agree to them being "problems" is totally up to you, but just to recognize where critics are coming from, I'm gonna play devil's advocate here. For starters, it's extremely nostalgic, and loaded with easter eggs for us hardcore fans. Some are subtle, like a Nestle Crunch bar found in Egon's flight suit pocket, referencing the moment Venkman gives it to him in the beginning of the '84 film. Others, almost cringeworthy. The way the line "who ya gonna call?" is brought into play here is honestly kind of ridiculous, and borders on a bad Dad joke. One might even say this is the 'Force Awakens' of 'Ghostbusters' movies.
Now, with all that said, as a die hard fan, none of this was actually that big of a problem for me. I had to consider certain things, especially with the famous line. It's really not like the first two movies didn't have moments like that. What about in '2' when they do the "Do, Ray, Egon" gag? And the first one? You can't honestly tell me the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man isn't corny as all hell. That's kind of what makes it all work though. So there's a part of me that might feel incomplete without a nice chunk of cheese. And as far as the nostalgia goes, I feel like that's absolutely necessary here - at least to a certain extent.
'Ghostbusters' fans have been waiting for this "Ghostbusters 3" for a very long time, and it's already technically happened twice, but also technically hasn't. At one point, the video game was actually considered your 'GB3', complete with the proper voices, and taking place earlier on. One might also say the same for the '16 film, but I'd never consider that a sequel of any sort, simply due to the fact that the original cast returns to play cameos, and other characters. This is about as "true" as a 'GB3' has ever really been (although I honestly think the game was more what we were looking for).
This wait has been so long that I can't really deny that there was a part of this that felt "too little, too late". But with that said, I certainly enjoyed the film quite a lot. Being that the '84 film IS my favourite, it's not about to be dethroned by any further GB material because of what it means to me. 'Ghostbusters' was lightning in a bottle that cannot be recaptured quite as well, so I already knew I wasn't going to be as blown away as I may have hoped. But I will say that this does provide an almost perfect love letter to those original movies - namely the first. There's no reason for a 'Ghostbusters' fan NOT to enjoy it, in my opinion. But just know that it won't be as special as that original movie.
Upon starting this site, I haven't paid any attention to anything much Hasbro has put into theaters, save for 'Bumblebee'. So while that may be something to look at in the near future for a theme, a lot of it has to do with my lack of nostalgic interest. While most kids were playing with G.I. Joes (as seen here) and Transformers, I was busy with my Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles. So before getting into the review, everyone should know I took this with a grain of salt. As mentioned in my previous review for 'F9', I'm really just happy to be back in theaters, and I thought this would be fun.
Things open with a young boy experiencing a touch of childhood trauma when his father is killed in front of him in cold blood. When the boy is all grown up, he has since become a skilled martial artist who has dedicated his fight to one day avenging his father. So as we can see, it's a fairly typical revenge plot. In order to hide his identity, he calls himself "Snake Eyes" (Henry Golding) a call back to the events of his father's death). He fights in an underground circuit in LA, and is one day approached by a man named Kenta (Takehiro Hira); a wealthy Yakuza boss who offers to provide his father's killer if Snake works for him. At first, Snake's plan for vengeance is unfolding well, but soon he's asked to prove his loyalty by shooting Tommy (Andrew Koji), Kenta's cousin.
From here, Snake and Tommy escape to Tommy's dojo in Japan, and requests that Snake be initiated due to his skill, and owing a life debt to him. In order to become part of the clan, Snake must undergo three trials in order to determine whether or not he is worthy (again, fairly typical). As the film unfolds, we get to some double-agent stuff, and it keeps you guessing as to who's supposed to be bad and who's supposed to be good, but any 'Joe' fan will be able to work it out pretty easily. Things like the Joes and Cobra are certainly a thing here, but the focus is thankfully more on the developing characters of Snake Eyes and Tommy, and though things are fairly typical, I can't deny that it was still fun.
I would probably go so far as to say that of the 'Joe' movies, this is probably the best of them. But in saying that, one should probably remember that the bar hasn't been set all that high. However, I did think it was well executed with decent fight scenes, and you don't have to throw reality out the window quite as much as you had to with the other 'Joe' movies. I appreciated the focus on this, and it's nice that while there's a few Joe and Cobra characters, there is by no means an oversaturation of them. It does a good job of making sure we know this is Snake's story, and being perhaps the most popular 'Joe' character, it's simple enough to give a damn. It's also not one of these descriptive origins saying how he got everything he owns. There's essentially just a uniform scene, and maybe a sword.
So all in all, for a 'G.I. Joe' story, this really wasn't bad. One should probably know that I went into this with very low expectations though. I'm still in a stage of appreciating the effect the big screen has on me again as opposed to viewing the movie in any sort of real negative way. But even with that, I can't really deny that I got what I expected; perhaps even a bit better. My opinion is that this is actually a perfectly passable movie, but one might not need the big screen to see it. It could just as easily be a straight to video release with its predictability and common themes. But what can I say? It's a 'G.I. Joe' movie, so one can't really expect gold.
First, let's just hit rewind for a moment and go back to 2017's original cut. You can see right here for yourself that it was a DC I actually enjoyed at the time. As time passed by, however, I managed to get completely sidetracked by everything Marvel was doing. By the time of 'JL's release, we Marvel fan-boys had reached 'Thor: Ragnarok', and the immense deal that would be 'Black Panther' was on the horizon. Speaking for myself, I expected to be let down as I was with 'Batman v Superman', and for that matter, 'Man of Steel'. However, I had fun with it, but perhaps because I chose to rather than think thoughts like "here we go again".
Thus, the whole "#releasethesnydercut" thing that DC fans have been fighting with for years now was not a bandwagon that I ended up jumping on. I was actually somewhat satisfied with the original cut, and would tend to respond in true cinema-snob fashion - "It's just more Zack Snyder. Why is that a good thing all of a sudden?". Truth be told I've always found him kind of hit or miss, but my response would suggest I wasn't giving him a proper chance to hit. I had to finally take into consideration certain things like studio interference and tweaking, and above all else, the fact that I WANT to see more films where studios give its director full reign. So, I decided I wasn't being fair, and gave it a chance.
For those unfamiliar with the plot/extended plot, here's a refresher. Centuries ago, a being named Darkseid (Ray Porter), with the combined energy of three "Mother Boxes", attempted to take over the world. In a flashback sequence, we see a massive battle fought between an alliance of Amazons, Atlanteans, Lanterns (at least one) and other humans going up against Darkseid and his Parademon army. Earth wins, and the Mother Boxes are separated and hidden around the world. As the film opens, we see where they end up; one in Themyscira, one in Atlantis and one in Cyborg's closet (don't worry, we find out why). One by one they are triggered by Superman's (Henry Cavill) final screams in death (from the end of 'Batman v Superman'), which send a sort of shockwave across the globe.
One of Darkseid's servants, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), finds out about the reactivation of the Mother Boxes, and heads to Earth. He intends to invade and collect the boxes in an effort to regain Darkseid's favor. With the boxes, he will be able to terraform a new Earth in the image of their home world of Apokolips. Learning that there may be danger on the way, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) seeks the help of a handful of superheroes that include Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to battle what's coming. The problem is, what's coming may very well have only been held at bay because Superman was still alive to protect the planet.
All in all, it's the same idea as the first but with so much more depth. The first thing that might come to mind is the length of the film, running at a full 4 hours. What I delighted in, however, was that the film was split into six chapters and an epilogue. One could just as easily slow-burn this movie in sittings or watch it like its a miniseries, using the chapters as cut-off points if you need to break for a meal or something. So its length isn't something I feel I can totally criticize, but I will nitpick about the overuse of slow-mo in this that could easily cut a bit out of it. Superman's dying sequence is about 7 minutes long when it's all done, and that shows us the activation of the boxes and where they are located.
Sometimes, however, the slow-mo could be good. I appreciated the use of it when the film showed us things like Flash saving a woman from a near-fatal crash so casually, or perhaps to even establish certain moods for certain moments. But like with most of Snyder's films, there's also a lot of it just unnecessarily there. Thankfully, however, he doesn't use it for everything here. Plenty of action sequences are fast-paced when they need to be, and on the whole, everything looks pretty amazing. Add to that a lot of DC catch-up fan service that can only fit into a 4-hour long movie, like the introduction of a certain Martian. I say that like it's a negative, but I mean it when I say it's a positive. It all seems to be attached to something Snyder wants for the DC universe that may not come to pass... but you never say never with this kind of stuff.
By the end of it all, despite a few lingering criticisms, I was actually impressed. I wasn't quite as excited about it as others seem to be, but that's all just in the fact that I've always been a heavier Marvel guy than a DC guy - even before any of these cinematic universes. 'Batman' was about all I was ever into when it came to DC, whereas I grew up with 'Spider-Man' and 'X-Men' more on the comic book side of it. So a DC movie is fun for me to check out, but I'll never be as invested in them as I am with Marvel. Having said that, I can't really deny that once things got going, I did find myself far more interested this time than last time. We have more character background and development this time around, which was missing more than I initially considered the first time around - Cyborg perhaps being the best example.
I'm very happy that Snyder got to see his vision for this through, and further dedicate it to his late daughter, Autumn. When you see that sort of dedication float across the screen, you think something like "screw my opinion, this is for her". Her passing was what initially made Snyder step away the first time around and have Joss Whedon finish it. Me, being a Whedon fan as it was, perhaps gave the previous film a little more credit than it deserved, thinking things like "well, Whedon's better anyway". I said I'd eat my words, and eat my words, I did. When you get right down to it, the Snyder cut, while significantly longer, is still far superior. Snyder's direction does the job of taking us into that dark DC world here more than he ever has before, and nothing but the slow-mo style really got under my skin. This is a dark, DC comic book brought to life on screen more than it ever has been.
I don't know what's gonna happen for DC or what they have planned for the future (other than upcoming 'Suicide Squad' and 'Batman' movies) but I'd love to see things play through to where they can become the Pepsi to Marvel's Coke - perhaps second-fiddle, but an incredibly worthy second-fiddle. If producers can pay attention to what this film did for its fans, it would be a great first step! Why not just hit rewind a little bit and use this as the jumping off point for more DC movies in this universe. Perhaps a redo of 'Green Lantern'? Time will tell. Until then, if you have Crave/HBO Max and love your DC material, then you really should check it out (multiple sittings if necessary, but it's pretty worth it)
Is it just me, or are DC films the undisputed champions of the "mixed review". The first 'Wonder Woman' seemed to be the most positively reviewed while basically everything else ends up being a fun ride with some great visual effects, but with little substance. People love them just as much as people seem to hate them, and some, like myself, aren't exactly fans, but understand some of the appeal. This is one of those truly medium entries into the DC library. A friend of mine gave it a one-word review of "meh", and I have to say, I'm right there with him.
The film opens sometime in the past where a young Diana Prince (Lilly Aspell) participates in an athletic competition for the Amazonian women on Themyscira (the hidden world where the Amazonians live). This part of the film is pretty awesome, and could easily be watched a a clip before going through the first (and far superior) film; it sets up Diana's overall character. I won't say much about it, but it's a lot of fun, a good point is made, and it makes you think of Diana's actions as a hero the first time around. It's a very entertaining section of the film, and Lilly Aspell is one of these young actors I would suggest keeping an eye on for years to come - she delivers enough that you can really route for her, and in such a short window of time.
After a peek at Diana's youth, we Fast-forward to 1984, where Diana works as a senior anthropologist as the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. In the meantime, she fights crime as Wonder Woman throughout the city. One day, at work, she meets an insecure brainiac named Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who looks up to Diana, and even envies her. Barbara is asked by the FBI to examine a relic that appears to be simple plastic, but apparently has the ability to grant wishes. Barbara makes a wish to be more like Diana, and Diana unknowingly makes a wish to see her deceased lover, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) again.
Diana gets her wish (kind of) as Steve returns in the body of another man, but more interestingly, Barbara inadvertently becomes more like Diana than she could have imagined. Meanwhile our villain is a wealthy oil tycoon named Max Lorenzano (Pedro Pascal) who is after the stone (dubbed the "Dream Stone") to not only save his failing oil company, but go power hungry and wish to become the embodiment of the Dream Stone itself. This way, he has the power to not only grant wishes, but take whatever he wants. Each wish comes with a cost, however, and there's a bit of a Money's Paw thing going on through the film.
While the first film easily remains DC's best modern title (at least in the 'Justice League' Universe), its follow-up isn't terrible, but fairly bland. If 'Wonder Woman' is a fresh, cold, glass bottle of Coca-Cola, '84' is a bit more like an unrefrigerated can of Coke you got from your basement stash - it's tolerable, but it's just nowhere near the same. A lot about this is very reminiscent of older superhero movies, and 'Batman Returns' was a title that kept springing to mind. I find Barbara's journey here very drawn from Michelle Pfeifer's Catwoman. Hell, she even becomes Cheetah Girl, and gets manipulated by a rich tycoon named "Max". This is where my mixed emotions about the film really come into play.
The fact of the matter is, this is a movie entitles 'Wonder Woman 1984', so for it to play like an oldschool superhero movie does make a lot of sense. That said, however, it still feels like a somewhat lazy excuse to go back to nostalgic roots instead of giving us a worthy follow-up to such a great predecessor. 'Wonder Woman' is DC's bread and butter, and though the film wasn't necessarily bad, it wasn't quite what it could have been. I can't say I was thoroughly disappointed; this wasn't like watching 'Batman & Robin'. But it might be in the same realm as... well, 'Batman Returns' - it's okay, but it has nothing on the previous film. It's just average at best, and certainly not the heroic film the first one was.
Within about the past five years, I'm pretty happy to admit that I can appreciate a good musical, so long as I enjoy the subject matter (so like any other movie, really). But it has been a little while since I've watched one on par with some of those old Disney classics; something to make me feel like a kid again, and just enjoy it for the fun time it is. I got all of that with this movie; a two-hour Christmas musical featuring an all-black cast, and directed by David E. Talbert. Talbert sticks out for me, as he also directed 'Almost Christmas', which was a recent one I thought was pretty underrated.
Things open with a kindly old woman (Phylicia Rashad - who I don't think anyone has seen since 'Cosby'), telling a bedtime story to her two children. The story tells of inventor and toymaker, Jeronicus Jangle (Justin Cornwell/Forest Whitaker) who one day gets his hands on a final component to his latest invention. Said invention is a mechanical matador doll named Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin), brought to life with this "component". Unfortunately, this sentience also comes with a bad side, as Diego convinces Jangle's apprentice, Gustafson (Miles Barrow/Keegan-Michael Key) to steel Jangle's book of inventions. Over the years, this leads to Gustafson's ultimate success as "Toymaker of the Year" for about 28 years in a row.
Meanwhile, Jangles and Things (Jangle's shop) falls into financial ruin, his wife Joanne (Sharon Rose) passes away, and he grows apart from his daughter, Jessica (Anika Noni Rose), who moves away. Thirty years pass, as Jangle becomes a bit of a hermit, but a kindly one... like Obi-Wan! He's lost his creative spark, and Jangles and Things has turned into a pawn shop. He will lose the shop entirely, however, if he doesn't either pay whatever debts he owes, or come up with some spectacular new invention to show the bank. His savior may very well come in the form of his visiting granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills) who shares Jangle's passion for inventing, and is incredibly smart. Can she help her Grandfather get back on his feet, and start competing with Gustafson; a man who doesn't deserve anything he has?
For starters, let me just put it out there that this is very much a magical, whimsical adventure that will likely appeal to kids a little more than adults. If musicals, or the whole Broadway thing aren't for you, then this probably won't be. That said, it's a good way to go for something new for the kids to watch and enjoy for Christmas. The two lead kids here are great, starting with Madalen Mills. I'm just gonna go long-story-short here and say she's 100% Oscar-worthy! This girl is 11-years-old, her personality lights up the room, and she's an incredible singer. This would be her first big role, and I'm gonna go so far as to say that she AND her character are a great inspiration to growing children, and I really think and hope she gets nothing but success in the coming years; what an amazing new talent.
That said, there's a lot of great talent here. I haven't even brought up two other main characters who deserve good credit for their roles all the same. First we have Ms. Johnston (Lisa Davina Phillip) who plays a woman, smitten with Jangle, but while Jangle still misses his wife, he's pretty standoffish about it. She's a great character though, and you can tell she's having a lot of fun being a flirt. Secondly, we have Edison Latimer (Kieron L. Dyer), Jangle's young new apprentice who joins Journey in her... well, journey, to help out her grandfather. He's there to play the awkward and nerdy scaredy-cat who has to come into his own. He does a good job of it though, for this being his first and only role. Odds are, he's another one to keep an eye on - I just hope he doesn't get typecast.
This is a Netflix Original, and it seems to be further proof that Netflix Original Christmas movies are nothing to really turn your nose up at. The first 'Christmas Chroincles' is great, 'Klaus' was Oscar-worthy, and I get the feeling this might be able to at the very least get nominated next year for certain songs ('This Day' and 'Square Root of Impossible' probably being the front-runners) along with Mills' outstanding performance. I'm saying it right now, she is almost bound to get SOMETHING for her efforts here, and if she doesn't, I will hereby swear off award shows forever and make up my own awards here... the Take 5 Awards! Heck, maybe I should do that anyway. Nevertheless, only speaking for myself, I'd consider this probably the best Christmas movie I've seen yet this year. It's a big, magical, whimsical production one can lose themselves in, if only they're able to accept their inner child. I am, indeed, feeling generous with this one, as it really did make me feel like a kid again.
The first Christmas movie I have sat down to watch this year is a bit of a doozy. By the end, I really didn't know what to think. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, it was a bit awkward in some points, but at the same time, I wish I got to see it on the big screen. I have never in my life been this torn on a Christmas movie, and I think it all just boils down to how bizarrely fitting it is for it to be released in 2020. You look at this and you start to wonder "my God, is this the feeling Christmas is gonna give me this year?"
Here's the plot; a somewhat crotchety Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson) runs his shop on a farm, close by North Peak, Alaska. He's happily married to Mrs. Claus, or Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), as she's named here. There's a bit of an "elephant in the room" when it comes to those particular casting choices, but all it does is further my confusion as to how I feel about Mel Gibson, so I'm just gonna focus on the film itself. Getting back to Ruth, she's the typical Mrs. Claus figure; baking cookies, knitting, sweet attitude. She reminds one of the typically sweet grandmother. Anyway, the couple find themselves on the financial decline because of naughty children and... how that makes sense when bad kids get coal, I don't know, but we just go with it.
The US government has an interest share with Chris' business, and sends a Captain Jacobs (Robert Bockstael) to propose a contract for producing jet fighter components for the military. Realizing they really need it, the couple go through with things and this is what becomes of Santa's workshop - a place to construct components for the military; I mean, how depressing is that? Luckily, for the movie's sake, the elves kind of just take it in stride instead of having the film pull the "feel sorry for them" routine. The elves are there to work for whatever Santa needs, and that's always been the kind of loyal elf I enjoyed - loyal, and out to deliver the goods to millions of happy children.
Children in the year this takes place, however, are seen to have become pretty terrible. This includes spoiled rich brat, Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield) who loses a "Best of Show" diorama contest, and essentially threatens the winner with the darkest of things. This, along with a probable many other things, earns him a lump of coal on Christmas morning. He then swears revenge by putting a hit out on Santa, using his personal hitman, Jonathan Miller (Walton Goggins). The film's central plot revolves around this portion of the story, and it's one of those situations that's meant to be comedic, but it's almost just too dark.
All in all, it's one of those brilliant concepts that was somewhat poorly executed. Taking the plot of this, it could have been a hilarious action/comedy if given to the right person. But this comes from brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms who are clearly very much on the Indie movie scene. Instead of taking the concept of a wronged kid taking revenge on Santa and having a lot of fun with it, the film almost takes itself too seriously, and it just seems to make this kind of role inescapable for Mel Gibson. Even as Santa Claus, Mel's gotta be a scruffy-lookin', gritty badass. But as far as the best Badass version of Santa that exists, as far as I'm concerned, that honor goes to 'Rise of the Guardians'.
If you want a cheery Christmas this year, and want to leave all the drama of this year behind you, I might just recommend avoiding this one. There's nothing really cheery, funny, or pleasantly dramatic in this one, and no real Christmassy takeaway at the end. so much as a strict message towards kids who aren't even allowed to watch the movie in the first place, as it's rated R. By the time you're done watching, you are just confused on what to think, and you kinda wanna turn to different dark Christmas movies. For example, 'Bad Santa' is still hilarious, and Even 'Krampus' is a lot of fun for a horror movie. I'll give this movie its core concept, and the originality behind it, but I wish it was put in someone else's directorial hands. Either way, it does have me curious about what else these Nelms brothers have done.
Although I still consider the whole superhero/superpower thing cool, I can't really deny that it has somewhat started its decent after peaking with 'Avengers: Endgame'. Everyone feels a bit differently about the whole situation, and I remain somewhat positive for now. But this was definitely a title that made me question whether or not they've finally run out of ideas enough to simply repeat them.
This one comes to us from Norwegian writer/director André Øvredal; the guy who made 'Trollhunter' and 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark', both of which I reviewed fairly positively. It's also not full-Norwegian like 'Trollhunter', so subtitles meet a kind of half-way point. This seems to be this director beginning to spill over into American filmmaking, although still staying true to his routes - routes that sadly repeat what American films have already done to death. Quite basically, a guy named Eric (Nat Wolff) wakes up in the woods after a supposed fire. Dazed, he wanders and tries to fix himself up at a medical clinic, but is harassed by a car full of teenagers, one of which he ends up killing through some unknown power.
The police eventually pick Eric up, and have a young psychologist named Christine (Iben Arkelie) speak to him about the apparent murder, as well as a fire that killed five people he's suspected of starting. He doesn't quite understand his powers, only that they go off when he's emotional and long story short, he and Christine eventually become fugitives while trying to learn what happened to him, and how he can harness and control his powers. Being that it's all Norwegian and deals with superpowers, namely lightning, I'll give you two guesses as to what the story touches on. Combine that with a touch of just about any 'X-Men' movie and some 'Infamous' and this is what you get. But it's not crossed over in a good, creative way. It's just... repetitive. There's nothing much here you haven't seen before.
I think the biggest criticism I can give to the film is that it drags to a point where it makes something about having superpowers actually kind of boring. Nothing much happens here, and it spends most of the time with the same lingering questions over their heads - to put it bluntly, "what's up with these superpowers". Other movies have done this kind of thing creatively and well while being their own thing; 'Chronicle' really springs to mind as a good example. This is a movie that's just kind of going through the motions, and it's truly un-unique.
At the end of the day, this is a bit of a throwaway, but I still have my eye on this director for his work on 'Trollhunter' and 'Scary Stories'. He may just be one of those hit-or-miss guys, and in that case, this was one title he "missed". Although it may be decent for Norway, as it touches on some of that folklore, in North America we have superheroes coming out the wazoo and delving into Norwegian folklore covers only a few of them (namely one). It's not exciting or really even fun, and it takes itself too seriously, giving us a brooder who even Batman would look at and tell he needs to calm the hell down.
I think the one thing I could possibly give this movie is in how it ends on a complete tone shift that somewhat fits its story. But even still, without getting too far into spoiler territory, it takes from things like 'Infamous' and doesn't feel entirely unique. All in all, one way or another, this is something you've seen before. Guy is confused about new powers, someone helps him understand his powers, and it's up to him to harness and control those powers before he kills everyone. It's a bit of a blend of superhero film tropes, but there really isn't much here to help it stand on its feet.
In 1996, 'The Craft' became a sort of phenomenon among all sorts of teenagers. I brought it up earlier this month in my Screening Suggestions, recommending it as a sort of Halloween favorite for the season. It's a neat time capsule to use in order to see the late 90s when certain gothic trends were taking over, and even the overall story is pretty well timeless. It didn't really need a reimagining, but just out of curiosity, I figured I'd see how well this turned out as a sort of nostalgic reach.
The film opens with three girls; Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lourdes (Zoey Luna) attempting a spell, but things don't work, as they need a fourth member for their Coven. Enter Lily Schechner (Cailee Spaeny), who moves into town with her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan) to live with Helen's boyfriend, Adam Harrison (David Duchovny) and his three sons, Abe (Julian Grey), jacob (Charles Vandervaart) and Isiah (Donald MacLean Jr.). After an incident at school, the girls befriend Lily, and find out that she makes a perfect fourth member due to her ability to communicate with them telepathically.
Throughout the film, the coven uses their newfound powers in various ways, very similar to the spells used in the original film - namely a spell to make a bully into a nice guy. The powers are much more superhero-like here, however, and to me that sort of ruins things. 'The Craft' was much more subtle with their magic, where here they have things like flames coming from fingers. They don't overdo it necessarily, but it's still kind of distracting. Either way, these powers are generally used to get back at their bullies, as they're the odd ones out in their school. They even repeat the "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" scene in a montage. It may be part of the love letter to the original film this is, but it does feel redundant.
Right around the half-way point, however, things do get a bit more interesting and original. For example a spell makes one character reveal his sexuality, and it's honestly pretty touching. It's a neat idea to show that circumstance of using magic, and it adds an original twist to the otherwise seemingly repetitive story. So there is a balance here between cheesy-looking magic that makes bathwater sparkle and magic that can reveal the deepest side of someone, showing us that they may not be who we think they are.
You may already know it by now, but there's a very interesting twist at the end you don't fully see coming. That said, even looking for the movie to watch, Google spoiled it for me pretty well immediately. I won't say anything here, but if you're at all interested, I might recommend not Googling any info on it. Just find it on Google Play or whatever you may have, and check it out. hat said, missing this one is sort of no harm no foul, as the original still does stand very well on its own. This was all around unnecessary, but it really wasn't bad at all, either. It provides a rather easy-to-access big title for the Halloween season, and does manage to strike that chord just well enough.
So, if you're looking for something not totally horrific, but something to watch for October 31st, and you're a big fan of the original film, this isn't a bad place to look. It's certainly not without a few issues, like redundancy from the original and some tacky visual effects, but I was still entertained, and really did enjoy the surprise ending. Even if you can predict the ending, it's still a neat note to go out on. I also think this doesn't quite have the dark fun of the original, and its notes are quite a bit more serious. But depending on who you are, that could also be a good thing. So check it out for yourself - it may just stroke your nostalgia just right.
In a horror-twisted re-imagining of the 1970-80 TV drama, current horror tycoon Blumhouse really drops the ball. I don't think I necessarily minded the idea of the film, but its execution is an absolutely confusing mess. Also, taking a fan favorite that lasted 5 or 6 years and rebooting it as a horror-based prequel probably won't sit well with fans of the show. I'll tell you right now, if you were ever a fan, I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.
Mr. Rourke (Michael Peña) runs a mysterious island that a group of maybe twenty-somethings (typical horror fodder) win a trip to. Apparently, upon visiting this island, you can live out a personal fantasy. Various theories are formed as to how it works including holograms, live action role playing, or even the idea of Rourke drugging their drinks with some sort of hallucinogen. One by one, the group is introduced to their "fantasy", but there's always more to the fantasy than meets the eye. Giving way to the old adage "be careful what you wish for", the film attempts to show us that we're more than our fantasies... then it ends in such a hurricane of twists and turns it kinda leaves you wondering what the hell you just watched.
Character-wise, Gwen (Maggie Q) wants the chance to say "yes" to a missed opportunity of a marriage proposal; Patrick (Austin Stowell) wants the chance to enlist in the Army, following in his father's footsteps; JD and Brax (Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang, respectively) are two step brothers who want to experience the ultimate party; and Melanie (Lucy Hale) wants a shot at revenge on her high school bully. It saddens me to say that as the movie tries to make its point, it does a pretty decent job at first. But there's a point in the film where everything starts to blend together, and as soon as paths cross, things get confusing as all hell, and it ruins the whole experience.
On top of the confusion, these characters aren't entirely likable except maybe Patrick. Gwen is somewhat likable, but a lot of the confusion of the film starts with her and up to that point, things are pretty boring. Michael Rourke shows up out of nowhere, too. It's kinda funny 'cause he has a reason for being on the island, but his role is mostly unnecessary, and the film could have easily been done without him.
Perhaps the biggest middle finger this gives to its audience is the fact that the "be careful what you wish for" lesson already lives in the original series. Many, many episodes would end with some sort of morality lesson. While this does that too, it does it to the extreme of a supernatural horror movie. That's not a terrible idea, but at the same time, if you're gonna do it, do it. There was nothing scary in this whatsoever. It wears the mask of a horror movie, but it ultimately doesn't really know what it wants to be. I keep coming back to this, but all it gave me was confusion, and I don't recommend it. Think of the ultimate lesson this is trying to teach, and you can find it better elsewhere. I didn't think it was bad at first, but that second half or so needs a serious adjustment.
Alright, so, cards on the table, the damn footage cut out half-way through. When I get a chance, I'm gonna come and revisit this review to edit it further. But I can give you my impressions so far, which are mostly positive.
Here we have a fine example of someone who just plain got things kinda right. Bearing in mind that I didn't get to probably more than the last half of the movie, this is clearly set in a fairy tale land, and is clearly trying not to be some kind of action horror like the other 'Hansel & Gretel' movie, starring Jeremy Renner as just another Hawkeye. Director, Oz Perkins' vision brings an older Gretel (Sophia Lillis) to the table, taking care of her ever-hungry little brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey).
After being cast out of their own home, which sets a super dark premise into motion, Gretel leads Hansel through the woods, looking for food and shelter. Of course, this eventually leads to the old hag's house, here named Holda (Alice Krige) where she acts like a perfectly kind host, but only Gretel seems to be suspicious of why she's so nice... especially with weird, creepy, long, black fingertips.
So, from what I did get to see (which was only a short way into their arrival at the cottage), this is basically a horrific look on the actual Grimm's fairy tale. You know, the dark and scary original one, as opposed to the one you may have bee told as a kid. Having said that, I have no idea how close the adaptation is, but it does seem clear that this was more about paying homage to the fairy tale rather than just trying something different - which, by the way, they sadly are. How odd is that?
As I said before, I'll be coming back to tweak this review upon getting to finish the movie (shit happens). But I can tell you that from what I've seen, this is a great example of how to make a PG-13 horror movie. Make the fear come from the overall atmosphere. It might sound odd, but this felt much creepier than a lot of modern horror. The cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, and I've heard it best described as each shot looking like a painting come to life. I, for one, am looking forward to getting through it. For the time being, I'll give it a fair rating, and finishing it might nudge it backward or forward - maybe even by two.
I haven't read either book all the way through yet, so right from the get-go, I should say that I don't know enough about either 'The Shining' or 'Doctor Sleep' for those comparisons. That said, this really does aim more towards the 1980 movie, featuring one of Jack Nicholson's best performances of his career. I've always liked the film for the dark, twisted mind-warp of a horror movie it was. Those comparisons to 'The Shinning' ('The Simpsons') make it even better.
For those who haven't seen it, almost spoiler alert, Danny (Roger Dale Floyd/Ewan McGregor) and his mother, Wendy (Alex Essoe) manage to escape the Overlook Hotel, while Jack turns himself into a fancy psycho ice sculpture. In the aftermath, Danny is still haunted by the ghosts of the Overlook, namely that cruddy looking woman in the bathtub. He meets with Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly), who he still speaks to as a spirit, and Dick tells him about a trick to get rid of these haunting images. It works, and we meet with Dan years later, all grown up and picking up his Dad's old drinking habit. We learn pretty swiftly that Dan is a pretty bad egg nowadays, but soon enough he works on fixing things.
In the meantime, however, a collection of... not really vampires but kinda? are going around, finding kids with gifts, and releasing their "steam", which they breathe in to remain youthful. So very much the vampiric concept, but a new and interesting take on it. However, this steam is released through pain and fear, and let's just say that a young and upcoming actor one might very well recognize by now deserves a damn Oscar for how believable he was through his suffering. That particular scene is a conversation all on its own, bringing back the brilliance of leaving our imagination to do so much of the work as things happen sort of off camera. And yeah, it's uncomfortable, and impossible not to empathize with the kid.
Anyway, while this kid is getting tortured (although I wouldn't classify this a a "torture porn" flick), a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) with a powerful psychic gift sees and feels this all happen. She soon enough becomes a 13-year-old trooper, seeking out Dan in person with her psychic link to him, asking for his help. At first he says she needs to lay low, but upon realizing the crimes of Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) are very real, he helps Abra with vengeful tactics, and it's 50 shades of awesome from there.
Now, for anyone coming to the movie to see the Overlook Hotel do its thing, you're gonna have to be patient. The Overlook scenes take place in the climax of the film, and we're talking about a two and a half hour movie. At the same time, though, if you can overlook the hotel (pun 100% intended), the story is great on its own. It's a neat modern take on vampirism without using actual vampires, which from my perspective have become pretty dated by this point. It blends that with advancing Danny's character and story, and introducing us to a bunch of new characters without ruining anything.
I wasn't entirely sure about my rating when I left the theater, but the more I think about it, the more I really like it. It's probably one of the best movies of the year, in my humble opinion. That uncomfortable torturous scene aside, the performances and direction are great here. We even have new actors playing old characters here, who pretty much nail it. I could believe that Wendy was Shelly Duvall, or Dick was Scatman Crothers. There's plenty of development for Danny, as we watch his struggle with alcoholism, the same problem his Dad faced.
So, I dunno how Stephen King feels about this one (he knowingly is not a fan of the 1980 film), but I really liked it, and would highly recommend it to people looking for some new horror that uses classic ideas. As far as why it's called 'Doctor Sleep', we find out that Danny finds a job where he earns the nickname, but that's all I'm gonna say about it. The reality of it is really quite touching, and adds some warm heart to Danny's side as opposed to Rose's cold and dark side. So check it out! But brace yourself when you see a child actor you probably recognize.
Last year's 'It', whether you liked it or not, was an undeniable hit. Piggybacking on the overall success of 'Stranger Things', which was largely inspired by 'It', a remake was almost a no-brainer. After all, fun though it may be, that original made-for-TV movie just isn't all that scary, so much as cheesy.
A combination of things make the first 'It' movie really good. It was mostly narrowed down to the idea that you could have a coming of age story with some light comedy within a pretty effectively scary horror movie. It gave you a bit of everything. It also leaves on a sort of cliffhanger, leaving them as kids, and bringing them into this movie as adults.
Mike (Isaiah Mustafa/Chosen Jacobs) has stayed in Derry, Maine since the events that occurred in the Summer of '89. Meant to be the "Loser" who sticks around and keeps an eye on things, he hears reports of murder coming over the radio. Being that the cases are all very similar, involving attacks on children, Mike assumes it's all happening again, and makes a few phone calls. This harkens back to the pact they made at the end of the first film, stating that they'd all return to Derry if Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) ever came back.
Bill (James McAvoy/Jaeden Martell), Ben (Jay Ryan/Jeremy Ray Taylor), Bev (Jessica Chastain/Sophia Lillis), Richie (Bill Hader/Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (James Ransone/Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stan (Andy Bean/Wyatt Oleff) each receive separate phone calls, and all but one make it back to Derry for the reunion. Before long, they individually experience strange occurances, similar to those experienced in their childhood, and they know they must eventually face down and defeat Pennywise to rid the world of him once and for all.
In the meantime, bully Henry Bowers (Teach Grant/Nicholas Hamilton) has since been confined to a mental health facility. His esential role in this is to work for Pennywise, escape, and set out to help him kill the Losers club - Pennywise knowing he has a personal vendetta against them already. He's sort of the reality villain the Losers have to face in life as opposed to what Pennywise represents - facing their worst fears. Henry gives Pennywise a physical puppet he can manipulate to his will very easily, and for the most part, he's a really creepy character.
I had to admire that they seemingly filmed all of the flashback scenes involving the kids while filming the first chapter. This was largely pointed out by my mind recognizing Finn Wolfhard as a younger version than the one I just saw in 'Stranger Things 3'. It's only about a year's difference, but a lot can change in that time for kids that age. If it was ever common knowledge, I must have missed that part going in.
All of the adult actors are very good at representing who they were as kids, and I wouldn't choose a recasting over anyone except perhaps replacing Jessica Chastain with Amy Adams - I honestly just see a much better match in the face, expression-wise. Chastain does fine though, all this really is, is a nitpick on my part. However, I found the most stand-out characters to be somewhere between Bill and Eddie, who both represent their characters almost flawlessly.
Where this one loses me a bit, however, involves two different things. First and foremost, it's the length. It's just a damn long movie, and it feels like it could have been spared a few things here and there. Adding to that, the adult side of the story is interesting, but I've always found the whole concept here to gel better with the coming of age story that involves the kids. What I'm trying to say is that the first film had all of that, whereas this is mostly centered on delivering the scares, and story-wise, it's largely about remembering things from their childhood.
That's not so much a criticism, as that's pretty much how the book goes. All i'm saying is that I feel there's more for an audience in the first chapter than the second. But if we really wanna get into criticism, I have to say that there were a few moments that were very confusing decisions. None of these hit me harder than a scene where someone gets vomited on, and the song 'Angel of the Morning' plays while it happens for about two seconds. It was such a "WTF" moment, and it could have been a great, triumphant horror moment involving the character. But nope. 'Deadpool' did it, 'Deadpool' is popular, so lets just copy it for a laugh. I'll tell you right now, any laughs I heard were very awkward sounding, as if to say "am I supposed to laugh here?"
Any criticisms aside, though, I feel like if you can give these a back-to-back marathon, it all comes together very nicely. It's just a long-ass marathon. But the acting is solid, the scares and atmosphere are very good, and it delivers nicely with what it has to work with. All in all, I still really enjoyed this, even after getting through the book. It's just further proof to me that there are some books that just can't be so literally translated. Speaking for myself, the themes and plot that need to be here are certainly here, and it's still miles above the original TV movie. If nothing else, it's a lot of spookhouse style fun, and great for the upcoming Halloween season.
By all accounts, in my humble opinion, this had the potential to be the next 'Zombieland' - and Bill Murray being in it would have been the icing on the cake. The trailer made this look pretty damn good. But while the film isn't without it's moments, I'm sad to report that in a zombie movie featuring Bill Murray, *deep breath* his jokes somehow mostly fall flat.
It's weird 'cause in a way, his dry, nonchalant humor fits this film very well. But the writing has it so that he's not even the funniest character in the movie, and that's admittedly a pretty big bummer. Who is, you ask? It's only my humble opinion, but Tilda Swinton. More on that in a bit. The bottom line, this movie should have been better than it was. Especially considering it's all-star cast.
The film opens up with a song called 'The Dead Don't Die' by Sturgill Simpson, which becomes it's own character. We soon meet two country cops, Cliff Robertson (Murray), and Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver). They are called to take in a man known in town as Hermit Bob (Tom Waits), accused by Farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi) for killing some of his farm animals. However, Bob is innocent, and this is the first strange occurrence which sets everything in motion.
Through these characters, we meet the rest of town, consisting of fellow officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny), Everyman character Frank Thompson (Danny Glover), joke store runner Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones), reporter Posie Juarez (Rosie Parez), a group of passing-through teens, headed by Zoe (Selena Gomez), and last but definitely not least, and everything that made this movie remotely good, morgue owner Zelda Winston (Swinton - as mentioned earlier).
We find out that the Earth is shifting its poles, causing odd hours of daylight, strange behavior in animals, and the dead coming back to life... wait, what? Well, anyway, that's what causes it here. I'll give it points for originality, at least. This is a straight up goofy comedy, too, so it's passable for a nice a ridiculous reason. Poles have shifted on this Earth before, and we weren't around yet to see what would have happened. Zombies are a stretch, but it's a neat, untapped reason.
I'm gonna be perfectly fair. When looking at the execution of this movie, I can sort of get that it was going for an all-out farce, where there were no limits. My best comparison would be to 'Kung Pow: Enter the Fist' as an all-out farce on old Kung-Fu movies. This is doing the same thing with zombies and their respective tropes. And like Kung Pow, it's adding a bit of extra "WTF" to it all with a weird twist ending. I also believe that the dry humor comes from the idea that these tropes are all old news, and things are being treated as a sort of "oh-this-again" situation, which is understandable. Let's face it, even if you can be truly original with zombies right now, they aren't exactly being asked for these days. The point is, I think I totally get what they were trying to do here, and I'll give them some leeway on it.
This is a title that's very self-aware, and breaks the fourth wall several times. In fact, the way they do fourth-wall breaking in this is a prime example of how the humor works. In one instance, Zelda asks for Ronnie's car keys. In handing them over, we see a Star Destroyer from Star Wars, and we all have a little fourth-wall snicker at the fact that Adam Driver is carrying around a mini Star Destroyer. On the other hand, it also goes all out when "reading the script" is mentioned, thus making the film a very obvious fake world, and eliminating any stakes whatsoever. It's really more of a fourth wall cliche.
Let's get back to Tilda Swinton though. When I think of Ms. Swinton, I think of her as being very classy, wise, proper, and pretty well set on her serious roles. Here, she lets it all out. She's a bad ass ninja type, extremely strange and eccentric, funny in her delivery, and seems to be the only proactive character in the movie. It makes me wonder if they were also going for the Daryl trope (the "everyone's favorite" character). Anyway, she's the main reason for being in your seat as opposed to Bill Murray. That's a sad thought, but it's okay. Murray will be back in 2020's 'Ghostbusters' follow up, as the Venkman we all know and love.
In closing, the humor is all over the place with more moments of giggling than laughing out loud. Following that, for such a cast, some of these characters are just tossed aside without a single thought. In fact, there's one group (I won't spoil who) who just run off and disappear, never to be heard of again. There were just so many loose ends here. Even if that was intentional as another sort of zombie trope, I can't give it a pass. I think the film's problem was that it didn't know where to draw the line. It just got too all-out ridiculous. But is it weird that I could see this becoming a cult hit in the near future, despite the fact that I didn't exactly love it? I guess time will tell.
2014's 'Godzilla' had people kinda split right down the middle. Despite it's title, there actually wasn't a hell of a lot of Godzilla in it, save for the end, which featured an epic fight scene between him and some MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), playing largely on the Kaiju idea left over from 2013's 'Pacific Rim'. The fight pretty much made the movie, giving us what we wanted to see - monsters fighting.
Going on personal opinion, that is what 'Godzilla' films are all about. No one watches these for what the humans are doing, and if you are, you're just plain doing it wrong. These movies represent fantasy titan wrestling matches, and not a whole lot more. Just look at some of the titles. Bearing that in mind, let's move on with my thoughts on 'King of the Monsters'
As the film opens up we learn that the Titans are just a thing now, and there are a known seventeen of them scattered across the globe. The main story line follows a family that lost their son, Andrew, after Godzilla's big fight from the previous film. The family splits over this. The father, Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) sort of never moves on, and develops a hatred fro the Titans, especially Godzilla. Meanwhile, the mother, Emma (Vera Farmiga) works for the MONARCH organization with daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) at her side. MONARCH researches these Titans, and Emma is working hard on developing a sort of communication device for them called ORCA
When Emma and Madison are kidnapped by eco-terrorists, Mark is called in to try to rescue them. However, with a certain film twist that's really pretty dumb altogether, we manage to get to four major monsters from the 'Godzilla' collection going, and the fight scenes are absolutely epic. The main movie takes a back seat and you stop caring because of the sheer spectacle of it all. As I said in the beginning, the Titan fights are what we're here for. It doesn't necessarily excuse the bad writing, but it does deliver what I came for when it comes right down to it, putting it somewhere in the middle for yours truly.
This one seems to have listened to the audience from the 2014 film, including myself, who said something along the lines of "it was okay, but the monster fight was the only thing that made it good". Well, same idea here. Personally speaking, I still find 'Kong: Skull Island' the front runner of this new Titan universe. We're only three movies in, but it's about to pick up next year with the release of 'Godzilla vs Kong'. It makes me wonder if now that the 'Infinity Saga' is done, this will be the new big thing. Superheroes aren't going away anytime soon, but I get the impression this will at the very least parallel things in popularity as an eventuality. So not necessarily now, but a few years down the line. Time will tell.
Anyway, to simplify everything, if you're like me and came to see monsters just beating the hell out of each other with some pretty damn admirably gorgeous CG, you'll get it. But if you came to see a good story, you're not entirely in luck. It's funny, you love the monsters, but you hate how they get to the monsters. Still though, it's well worth the big screen experience to see these four biggies go at it. I'm giving this one a low 4, because it looks just awesome enough to warrant it.
Tim Burton returns to lend his hand to Disney with his vision of 'Dumbo' - the story of a baby elephant who learns to fly with his unnaturally gigantic ears. The general moral of the story is, don't be a jerk to people with abnormalities 'cause those abnormalities could be seen as a gift. Or something like that.
Most of us are familiar with Dumbo and remember the animated Disney version from 1941, when it was still considered okay to jive-talk as a black crow named Jim Crow. Other than that moment, though, the movie's great, and has gone down in history as a sort of Disney staple. So how does this new live action take on it compare?
First off it's important to know that unlike the animated version with talking animals, this one tries to stay somewhat within the realm of reality. Timothy Q. Mouse is just a white mouse in an outfit, and most of the story revolves around two kids, Milly and Joe Farrier (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, respectively), their father, Holt (Colin Farrell) and the ringmaster Max Medici (Danny DeVito) and their dealings with entrepreneur, V.A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton) and his most special performer, Colette Merchant (Eva Green). Dumbo, sadly kinda gets pushed to the side, and while the underlying original plot points are still there, it now lacks a lot of the heart of the original where the main focus WAS Dumbo.
However, it's not without its charm. Honestly, it's cute, it's okay for the family, and it's harmless. But all in all, it's just kinda "meh". This is another one of those movies where there's this near-perfect balance between what's good about it and what's bad about it. Good, Danny DeVito's performance, bad, Nico Parker's performance. Although she's still very young, so I'll chalk it up to bad direction, but she's absolutely stiff and deadpan and boring. Good, the creative idea they had to portray the 'Elephants on Parade' sequence, bad, the fact that Dumbo's story is off to the side.
Anyway, this is perfectly fine as something to show the kids who might get a little more freaked out by the original (I know of many). It's pretty innocent, and pretty basic. Credit to them for trying something new, but it didn't quite work out in the same way it did for something like 'The Jungle Book'. But thankfully it wasn't a carbon copy like 'Beauty and the Beast' (that's right, I said it, but don't worry, 'The Lion King' is something I'm looking forward to and it looks like I'm about to eat those words).
It's perfectly passable, but it sadly lacks the potential for what it could have been. The original story is just far more charming in my eyes, and likable characters like Timothy Q. Mouse kinda lost their chance to be in the spotlight again here. I wasn't its biggest fan, but people do seem to be split on it. I can pass it as a 3, but it's on the lower end of things for certain.
This is gonna be a bit off, as I have no reviews up for either of the previous two films. So I'll have to give away a bit of the whole story between the first two, but I'll try to keep it relatively spoiler-free (for those who care).
To make a very long story very short, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) befriends a "Night Fury" dragon, despite frequent dragon attacks on his Viking home town of Burk. He names him Toothless, and discovers that dragons aren't to be as feared as they are.
Soon, Hiccup dedicates himself, along with a team of teenage misfits consisting of Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Ripple) to rescuing and housing captured and misunderstood dragons, giving them a home and protecting them from the various dangers of the human world.
On this particular outing, we discover that Toothless isn't the only Night Fury out there, after the previous films have pretty much suggested it. Upon discovering this new dragon, legends come up of a "Hidden World" where dragons of all sorts live in harmony. This could potentially provide a better home for Berkians and their now overpopulated town of dragons.
In the meantime, a dragon hunter named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) is discovered to be trying to capture this new Night Fury, and he and Hiccup find themselves at odds - Hiccup now being pretty much a leader-type since his first appearance when he was deemed a bit of a wuss. So much of the film is trying to get the dragons to the Hidden World with Grimmel hot on their heels the whole time.
Granted, it's a bit of a rushed explanation for everything, but what you really need to take away from it is that it rounds the trilogy off really nicely. If you liked the first two, this one is really no exception as far as quality goes. The flying scenes look incredible, especially in in 3D, and it's our usual combination of comedy, drama and all out adventure. On top of that, I greatly appreciate the overall development of Hiccup's character through this trilogy.
The film ends on a nice note where it genuinely seems to wrap things up. However, I said the same thing about 'Toy Story 3' which makes me almost dread a 4th movie just because of the fans and easy money. I'm not opposed to 'Toy Story 4' per se, but that really was a solid trilogy that ought to have just ended, saving whatever's left over for TV specials and the like. I'm kinda hoping this just sticks to what it is and doesn't feel the need to keep on going. Hopefully the same filmmakers can get another project off the ground instead.
Anyway, this is a trilogy that I could recommend to just about anyone. It's great storytelling combined with likable characters and solid development that takes place over several years. We really do get to watch Hiccup grow up through this. Add to that the comedic aspect as well as a lot of it tugging at heartstrings, and we've got one of the more solid overall trilogies of the past decade. At least, that's my humble opinion. I know it's only the end of February, but this will get its Oscar nom for next year, I'm sure.
If I'm honest, when I first saw the trailer for this one, I was more or less expecting a Nickelodeon-type, damn near Disney Channel-like movie. Think something along the lines of a 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' meets 'The Sword in the Stone' (the animated Disney version). But I'm actually happy to say that it ended up being more Disney's 'Sword in the Stone' combined with something like 'Moone Boy'. For those unfamiliar with 'Moone Boy', here's this.
Anyway, upon realizing that this was written and directed by Joe Cornish (writer of titles like 'Attack the Block', 'The Adventures of Tin Tin' and 'Ant-Man'), it was a fairly easy sell. And I'll be damned if I didn't actually enjoy myself quite a bit upon seeing it.
Here we meet two boys by the names of Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis [yes, Andy Serkis' son]) and Bedders (Dean Chaumoo). The two are your typical victims of bullying from Lance (Tom Tyler) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) - and yes, it's fairly easy to see where the names are going here. One day, while on the run, Alex stumbles into a construction sight, where he finds a sword and pulls it out of its stone. This of course will eventually turn him into the "chosen-one" character.
A new, strange boy comes to the school, who we soon learn is Merlin (Angus Imrie/Patrick Stewart), who has traveled into the mortal world to help Alex with the upcoming war between mortals, and the forces of the evil sorceress, Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). And oh yes, this means Alex has to rise to the occasion and fight off a whole bunch of demons and whatnot and... I mean, I'm not gonna lie, I thought this was the perfect new take on an epic kid's fantasy adventure.
It's by no means perfect, but just for the fun and fantasy of it all, it's really quite enjoyable. The only thing that really got to me was how some of the magic was done' involving a lot of fairly annoying finger-snapping and clapping. But that's just a nitpick on my part. It otherwise hit me just like 'This is the End' did, in that I was expecting something much more low-budget, and it shows, not the least of which in its creature effects.
It's a PG-rated movie that has the potential to scare little kids with how some of these demons and creatures look. On top of that, the action involved is actually quite fun. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be a very healthy box office draw, because as I said in the beginning, it really does strike you as a Nickelodeon/Disney Channel movie when you watch the trailer. It also doesn't help that it's sandwiched between the trilogy sequel of 'Glass' and surefire family success, 'The LEGO Movie 2', either.
So, while parts of the story admittedly lack a bit, I still got pleasantly surprised by this movie. As I said, it's not perfect, but there was definitely something enjoyable about it, and I encourage people to give it a chance. At the end of the day, it's just a fun, feel-good movie that might take you back to what it was like watching movies like 'The Goonies'.
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to DC, there's a bit of a disconnect with me. I tend to lean more towards Marvel's collection, and tend to consider most of what DC cranks out to be fantastic eye candy, but with minimal story-telling and character development, being a huge rush to try to catch up with Marvel.
While I can't say I've ever really and truly hated any of DC's stuff, most of it has been disappointing with the exception of 'Wonder Woman'. Call me a band-wagoner if you must, but keep in mind that films like 'Suicide Squad' and 'Justice League', I still managed to give a pass to, despite seeing their flaws.
The real question since mid 2016 has been "will anything ever be better than 'Wonder Woman', or even as good?" While the short answer is "probably not" (let's face it, the strong female superhero is one thing DC managed to beat Marvel to), I have to admit that 'Aquaman' here actually does come out pretty well, all things considered. In fact, this pretty much makes second place for me as far as DC's collection is concerned. A frank surprise, considering that by all rights, Aquaman ought to be about the lamest superhero in the DC Universe.
Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is born to a lighthouse keeper named Tom (Temuera Morrison) and an Atlantian woman named Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) who strongly believes that one day Arthur will unite the worlds of land and sea. However, Atlantian rules dictate that the love between Arthur's parents is forbidden, and Atlanna is pretty much hunted down into exile for her "crimes". Meanwhile, Arthur takes up the role of Aquaman, being stuck somewhere between his appreciation of land dwellers, along with his father, and being half Atlantian, but not necessarily able to show his face around Atlantis due to what he represents.
Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur's half-brother (and full-blooded Atlantian) uses a pirate named David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as a link between worlds in order to wage a war on the surface dwellers, after decades of our pollution causing problems. His betroved, Mera (Amber Heard) wants no part of it, and calls Arthur to Atlantis in an attempt to stop the worst from happening.
To me, this is sort of DC's answer to 'Thor' (the powerful being who is after a specific weapon [the Trident of Atlan, here] in order to make things work, and eventually take his rightful place on a throne, after proving himself worthy). However, plenty of challenge lies ahead for him. perhaps a little less so here, though, as Aquaman is already an established member of the Justice League, and has been for a year. So we do get the best of both worlds here. This is slight origin story blended with hitting the ground running, and the execution of it all flows quite nicely. Up until this point, a strong criticism of mine when it comes to DC has been that things feel rushed and kinda messy. This one isn't that bad.
I suppose my only real criticisms here lie within the overall bland acting, as so much of it is taken so seriously by so many, save Momoa, who seems to fully recognize that the whole thing is kinda silly, and goes for the 'Thor: Ragnarok' execution. First coming out of this, I thought the opposite, but after sitting on things for a while, it's clear that Momoa had the right idea for his role, so kudos to him. More criticisms go with a lot of the CG animation here with the impression that at this point, things could look much better. But all in all, this one really isn't that bad at all.
Maybe it's due to my overall unfamiliarity and disinterest I've always had with this character, or perhaps I've just lowered my expectations so far, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one overall. While it's no 'Wonder Woman', and still feels rushed in parts (which is odd considering its 2.5-hour running time), it manages to do its own thing without going so incredibly over the top. And while I'm not exactly standing and cheering when it's over, I can nod my head with approval and assume that DC is starting to get their shit together. Despite it being a 3, it's certainly a high 3.