TITLE: JUSTICE LEAGUE
DIRECTOR: ZACK SNYDER
STARRING: BEN AFFLECK, GAL GADOT, EZRA MILLER, RAY FISHER, JASON MOMOA, HENRY CAVILL
Here we go again. Another DC movie poised to tear the internet apart. Let's make one thing clear- Justice League is not a "perfect" film. However, what is a perfect film? A film can be made technically perfect, but also be so disconnected from its audience it doesn't matter. In this age of comic book movies, there is no perfect comic book film. I kind of feel bad for DC after leaving Justice League. They listened to critics of Batman v Superman, and made a more lighthearted film. Then, critics shit on them for doing just that. Justice League has a a few major flaws. For one, Steppenwolf, is a weak villain. However, he's just as weak as the weakest Marvel villains (Malekith and Red Skull come to mind). The story isn't the strongest here either, but it works for this film. Some of the CGI is a little off, but nowhere near as bad some are making it out to be. Everything else though, works. The team works. The chemistry between the leads here, is fantastic. Justice League, is a lot of FUN. Yes, I said it. Ezra Miller, had an uphill battle with Barry, as he has Grant Gustin to compete with. Miller, is great here and I can't wait to see him in future films. Affleck, and Gadot, continue owning their respective characters. I want an Aquaman movie NOW. Jason Momoa, nails his Aquaman. Ray Fisher, is also strong as Cyborg, which may surprise some people. And I LOVE what they did with Superman. What ever happened to going to a movie just to escape? Justice League, is that and so much more- especially if you are a DC fan. I was grinning from ear to ear during a lot of this movie. Justice League isn't a bad film. Don't be fooled. It has some problems to be sure. However, the journey is so much fun, a lot of that gets overlooked. This is the kind of movie, one can nitpick to death. I had such a blast watching it, I just can't. Oh, and the two end credit scenes here, are perfection. The applause in the theater for the second one, was deafening.
TITLE: THOR: RAGNAROK
DIRECTOR: TAIKA WAITITI
STARRING: CHRIS HEMSWORTH, TOM HIDDLESTON, TESSA THOMPSON, CATE BLANCHETT, JEFF GOLDBLUM, MARK RUFFALO
Thor: Ragnarok may not be the best made MCU film. However, it's probably one of its more entertaining entries. Ragnarok has jokes. Lots of 'em. Sometimes they hit, and other times they don't. The parts where Thor: Ragnarok suffered for me the most, was when it was a Marvel movie. When it's a Taika Waititi film, it's a blast. It's colorful, fun and engaging. Although sometimes, the film drags along its bloated middle section. However, enter Ruffalo's talking Hulk, to save the day. I can't wait to see his interaction with the rest of the Avengers, later on down the road. Performances are solid, despite a little bit too hammy of a performance by, Cate Blanchett. It's nice to see Hiddleston, have some solid screen time here as well. And Jeff Goldlum, is a hoot. All in all, Thor: Ragnarok is a fun entry in the MCU. Albeit, perhaps a little bit of an empty entry.
TITLE: KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
DIRECTOR: MATTHEW VAUGHN
STARRING: TARON EGERTON, JULIANNE MOORE, MARK STRONG, COLIN FIRTH, HALLE BERRY, CHANNING TATUM, PEDRO PASCAL, JEFF BRIDGES
Oh, my. Kingsman: The Golden Circle, is everything I expected from a Kingsman sequel, and everything I didn't expect. I adored the first Kingsman. It was weird, fresh and exciting. Matthew Vaughn, turned the spy genre on its head with the first film. While The Secret Service definitely had its little quirks and off the wall moments, The Golden Circle doubles down on that. This film is batshit insane. Your level of enjoyment with The Golden Circle, is going to depend on what your tolerance level is. I suspect if you liked the style of the the first film, you will love what Vaughn does here. I actually kind of adore what The Golden Circle does. However, it isn't as good as the first. With Vaughn basically doing whatever he wants here, the screenplay tends to suffer. It's not as tightly written as the first, and the pacing tends to drag. I love the performances in here though. Everyone is solid, and they totally get what this film is, as they go along with Vaughn's vision. I also love how the evolution of the characters we met in the first film, doesn't get lost in the craziness. In fact, that is the grounding this film needs. Yes, it's zany. However, these characters remain human. Despite its faults, I kind of love The Golden Circle, but it's not for everyone.
DIRECTOR: ANDY MUSCHIETTI
STARRING: JADEN LIEBERHER, SOPHIA LILLIS, FINN WOLFHARD, BILL SKARSGARD, JEREMY RAY TAYLOR, CHOSEN JACOBS
IT, never exceeds the sum of its parts, which is a shame. What's most effective in this Stephen King adaptation, are the kids. The Losers Club, is depicted so well here. All these young actors, are fantastic both in their roles, and with each other. The filmmakers are going to have a tough time come Chapter 2, finding adult actors to gel as well as the young kids. The inevitable comparisons to Tim Curry, who portrayed the evil clown Pennywise, in the 90's miniseries, to Bill Skarsgard in this version, are inevitable. Both portrayals are very solid. They are also very different. Curry's version is iconic; one may even say, the only good thing about the miniseries. Skarsgard does a great job here, making the character his own. The problem is, he never really gets a good amount of time to shine. A good portion of his performance, is peeking around corners and then ducking back into the shadows. Ultimately, outside of the Losers Club, and the few moments Skarsgard gets to flex his muscles, the rest of IT is just a run-of-the-mill, paint-by-numbers horror film. It's plagued by cheap jump scares, false scares, stringy music, a slow pace, and an abundance of forced moments. However, IT isn't bad. In fact, it is one of the stronger adaptations of a Stephen King horror novel. It has a knack of pulling itself back into focus. Most of that, is due to these wonderful young actors here. IT, is good, but it's generic shortcomings are disappointing.
DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
STARRING: MARK RYLANCE, TOM HARDY, ANEURIN BARNARD, JACK LOWDEN, KENNETH BRANAGH, CILLIAN MURPHY, BOBBY LOCKWOOD
Technically, Dunkirk is a fantastically made movie. Director Christopher Nolan, knows how to stage, shoot and craft, a spectacle. From aerial dogfights, to sinking ships, to flames, Nolan captures the intensity of the situation of Dunkirk. However, where the movie ultimately suffers, is in its complete lack of character. Yes, this is war. Yes, there shouldn't be time to get to know people. However, the lack of character here, or story for that matter, make Dunkirk feel hollow. The vast majority of the film, feels like a master filmmaker doing nothing more than showboating what he is capable of, rather than telling a story. For some, this will be sufficient enough. With a little more connection, for me, Dunkirk would probably have made a bigger impact. Hans Zimmer's often times intrusive scoring, isn't enough to make up for it either. All that said, Dunkirk succeeds for the most part. The dogfight sequences alone, are enough for the price of admission. It's a technical masterpiece of cinema.
TITLE: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
DIRECTOR: MATT REEVES
STARRING: ANDY SERKIS, WOODY HARRELSON, STEVE ZAHN, KARIN KONOVAL, AMIAH MILLER
Some have called this new Planet of the Apes trilogy of films, among the best trilogies of all time. Having now seen War for the Planet of the Apes, I would have to agree. Every entry in this current saga, has gotten better incrementally. Rise, is a solid spectacle, Dawn, is riveting, and War, is nothing short of superb. Director Matt Reeves, has crafted something with War, that is incredibly special. Anything else that comes after this entry, is going to have a tough time beating the craftsmanship in this film. War for the Planet of the Apes, is incredibly gripping. From the moment the film starts, it has you and never lets you go. Andy Serkis, gives yes, an Oscar worthy performance as Caesar. The emotion that he is able to bring through the motion capture, is both spectacular and heartbreaking. You feel for Caesar in every frame of film. Steve Zahn, is also quite spectacular here, and Woody Harrelson, while one note at times, still manages a great performance. All of the motion capture performers here, are incredible. The evolution of the motion capture technology in War, is astonishing. You can definitely see the advances, as each entry has progressed. War for the Planet of the Apes, is in many ways, daring in its approach. This is a gripping, often times heartbreaking, and emotional drama. In the midst of summer, that's pretty ballsy. Yes, it has its action, but that's not the focus here. War for the Planet of the Apes, is one of the best films of the year, not just of the Apes franchise. Absolutely superb from start to finish.
TITLE: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
DIRECTOR: JON WATTS
STARRING: TOM HOLLAND, MICHAEL KEATON, JACOB BATALON, JON FAVREAU, MARISA TOMEI, ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
There's just enough in Spider-Man: Homecoming to wet the appetites of Marvel fans, who have wanted the character over at Marvel Studios for a while now. The ultimate problem with Homecoming, is that it is essentially an origin story with no origin story. Most of the film gets lost in its meta-John-Hughes-thing, it forgets to be something of value. In fact, nothing of real value happens in the film. Essentially, Homecoming feels like it only exists to tell people that Spider-Man, is friends with The Avengers. And, hey, he can be in those movies too! And, hey, hipster Millennials, it's like a John Hughes movie! Instead, throughout most of the film, Peter Parker is forced to Batman Begins his way through stuff, via a very contradictory method from Tony Stark. Holland, is fine as the character, even if his shtick can get tiresome. Michael Keaton, is owning his role as Adrian Toomes. Vulture is a nice villain, but that's only credit to Keaton, as the character pretty much has one purpose here. And no, it's not to be the bad guy. The film has its moments, and while not on my top list of Spider-Man, nor Marvel entries, it's is fun summer entertainment.
TITLE: BABY DRIVER
DIRECTOR: EDGAR WRIGHT
STARRING: ANSEL ELGORT, KEVIN SPACEY, JON HAMM, JAMIE FOXX, EIZA GONZALEZ
There's no denying the craft in Baby Driver. However, the flick suffers a bit in the first half. It's a weird, uneven pace, where we are supposed to try an connect with the titular character. The problem is his odd quirk, just wasn't enough for me to care about where the film ultimately goes. That being said, Baby Driver is all style over substance. All of these characters are more or less odd quirks, whom we are forced to go on this ride with. In the end, what we are left with is a rousing crime thriller, with a little bit of Fast & Furious flavor sprinkled in for good measure. The story takes a bit of a back seat, and it works here. The soundtrack, and the way music is used, is the real winner in the film. The performances are all pretty solid, with Kevin Spacey, and Jon Hamm, stealing the show. The chemistry between the characters are what sell the weak, and often times cliche'd storytelling here. In the end, the flaws present in the film are pretty much erased, with its slick style. And we are left with a fun time at the movies.
TITLE: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
DIRECTOR: MICHAEL BAY
STARRING: MARK WAHLBERG, LAURA HADDOCK, ISABELA MONER, ANTHONY HOPKINS, JOSH DUHAMEL,
Ok. Here's the thing. I did not walk out of The Last Knight, with the same seething hatred I had for both Revenge of the Fallen, or Age of Extinction. After some serious thought, I feel the same about this incarnation, as I did about Dark of the Moon. In short, it's an improvement over the last one. However, that being said, it's not saying much. The Last Knight, is not a great film. However, there are moments that I did genuinely enjoy. Whenever the Transformers are alone on screen, particularly Optimus Prime, I had some fun with the film. There's a little bit of life, that permeates throughout, unlike Revenge of the Fallen, or Age of Extinction. While I still left having no fucking idea what the hell was happening, there's no denying that final sequence, is great summer spectacle. And there are some interesting action sequences, even if the majority suffer from Bayitis. The human characters, are what they are. I really enjoyed Anthony Hopkins in this. He's chewing all the scenery he can. I also didn't hate Wahlberg this time around, so that should count for something. And I enjoyed the young Isabela Moner as well. Bottom line, The Last Knight is not great. It's not particularly good either. And it's shorter than the last film. So, that's good. If you like this franchise, then you should like this one.
TITLE: 47 METERS DOWN
DIRECTOR: JOHANNES ROBERTS
STARRING: MANDY MOORE, CLAIRE HOLT, MATTHEW MODINE, CHRIS JOHNSON
While 47 Meters Down suffers from a plethora of problems, the flick manages to swim away mostly entertaining. Director Johannes Roberts, crafts something out of literally nothing here. Mandy Moore, and Claire Holt, just aren't strong enough for us to really care what happens to them. However, I'm not exactly sure if it is entirely their fault, or the skinny script, which is the problem. The duo are mostly left to shouting names, or breathing heavily, which can be grating over time. There is also a repetitive problem with the film. The same thing tends to happen more than once, and it gets annoying. Nevertheless, there are a few sequences which are sure to entertain. The CGI sharks, are a huge letdown too, but I like how they are used here. 47 Meters Down, is one of those flicks that gets worse, the more time one has to ruminate on it. Like, that boyfriend subplot, which was useless. I mean, why? Anyway, it's an entertaining, but quickly forgettable film.