Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Idara Victor
Alita: Battle Angel is not great. It's not good. It's barely passable as OK. It does this because of two factors. The first, is Rosa Salazar, as the titular character. She is so good, so likable, and so charismatic as Alita, the film is salvaged; strike that, watchable because of it. The second, is the mind-boggling special effects. Alita, and her world, are so believable and brought to life stunningly. However, everything else here borders on an epic fail. The script is excruciatingly bad. Dialogue is beyond cringe worthy at times. Moments meant to be played out as serious, are laughable. Christoph Waltz, is the only other thing worth mentioning as a positive. He is solid, and plays off of Salazar, nicely. Mahershala Ali, on the eve of probably winning another Oscar, is so, so, so, bad in this. Jennifer Connelly, is beyond wasted here as well. I hope Cameron, used this as practice for writing a screenplay, as he needs to shake off all that rust before his bazillion Avatar sequels. This thing makes me nervous for those (and yes, I'm still a fan of the first). While Rodriguez, doesn't do him any favors (aside from getting the effects right), the biggest problems with Alita start and end with this dreadful screenplay. Salazar, is letdown by all of this. It's a damn shame.
Title: Happy Death Day 2U
Director: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis
The first Happy Death Day, played like a new take on the slasher genre. Happy Death Day 2U, feels like a crazy 80's Sci-Fi comedy adventure. There's less horror this time around, which might throw some people off the Happy Death Day train, which is just barreling along a different track at full speed in this movie. I found this highly entertaining. It's funny, bat-shit insane at times, and surprisingly sweet at parts. Jessica Rothe, is the glue here. The first time her character realizes that she's back in the death-loop, is some of the most entertaining moments I've seen on film this year. It's hard to tell how some people will react to the drastic shift in tone here. If you go into Happy Death Day 2U expecting the first film, you might find yourself surprised at what you get. And I think, in a good way. It reminded me a bit of The Purge franchise, in that the sequels don't resemble the first film at all. Happy Death Day 2U, is a good time.
Title: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Alison Brie, Stephanie Beatriz
The Lego Movie 2 might lack some of the pizzazz the first film had, but it still packs an entertaining punch. The voice cast assembled here, is fantastic. Pratt and Banks, anchor again, however, Tiffany Haddish brings a fresh charm to her, Queen Whatevra Wa'Nabi. Will Arnett's Batman, returns in a solid extra outing. Like the first film, Lego Movie 2, has an emotional core message. The first, was about a father and son. This time around, the message is just as special and works nicely. The creative angle is still here, and the animation style is still something unique. In fact, it feels like there have been some improvements. While I don't think it's as solid a movie, it's still extremely entertaining.
Director: Bradley Cooper
Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos
I know I am late to this party, but man, A Star Is Born is electric. Not bad for a film that has been done quite a number of times in the past. While there are a few elements that come across as a bit cliche', Bradley Cooper gives it his all. Not just as a first-time director either. His performance is haunting, and it sticks with you. Lady Gaga, gives an outstanding performance in her own right. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga, is what binds this film together. Cooper's steady hand as a director, make it all work in the end. Surrounded by some great music, and a talented supporting cast (Sam Elliott is fantastic as well), A Star Is Born is some great cinema. It's simple, yet very effective storytelling.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark
Glass may not stick the landing every time it tries, but it more or less lands with steady footing. Shyamalan, directs the shit out of this movie, and that is both a strength and weakness here. The screenplay, tends to buckle when things get too deep. However, most of the movie takes some big swings, and for that, I quite admire it. The movie does slow down a lot, but that's expected given what we had in Unbreakable and Split. Night, uses to his benefit, fantastic performances to sell all of this. The entire cast, is wonderful here. McAvoy, is just as good, if not better than he was in Split. Bruce Willis, is great, returning as David Dunn, and Jackson, is also solid. The main issue with Glass, is some of the overindulgent storytelling. Night, clearly has something to say, but it doesn't always come out clear. Sometimes, it can be downright gibberish, which is a bit frustrating. Still, when Glass is firing on all cylinders, it often feels like a masterpiece. It's a shame that it isn't quite all put together though. I personally loved where the film headed. The journey just isn't always a smooth one, which can be frustrating.
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons
Vice is a painfully scatterbrained dramedy, about one of America's most controversial political figures. Trying to infuse comedy into his story, director, Adam McKay, isn't able to fully maintain an entertaining narrative. Most of the comedy lands with a thud, and the film's message is so muddled, it sinks rather than swims. The film trudges through, on the back of a fantastic performance by Christian Bale, who transforms himself into Dick Cheney. Along for the ride, are, Amy Adams and, Steve Carell, who both turn in equally fantastic performances. Besides that, Vice is a boring, excruciating exercise in message mismanagement.
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Temuera Morrison, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
So, how do you do an Aquaman movie? James Wan's take, is the best possible way to do it. Aquaman has no business being as good as it is. Wan's film is loud, sometimes dumb, often times dense with Shakespearean-like power struggles, utterly bananas, and bombastic spectacle. The biggest quality it has going for it though, is just plain, simple fun. Yes, Aquaman isn't going to win any accolades when it comes to story. However, it's a character that's been around for 70+ years. The cliche' throne-power-struggle aspect, works for what the film does. Wan, gleefully embraces the silliness of the content, and also grounds it into reality. Anchoring all of this, is a pretty stellar cast. Jason Momoa, is wonderful as the titular character. He brings Aquaman into a new light. Gone are the days of Aquaman being a joke. Momoa, exudes presence as the character. Amber Heard is also solid as Mera. She also gets to be pretty bad-ass in her own right here as well. Patrick Wilson, is totally chewing up the scenery here, as the lamenting sibling who believes he is the rightful heir to the throne. Aquaman is also a visual masterpiece. The effects and action here, are something wondrous to behold. Aquaman is bright, colorful and vibrant. Something we really haven't seen in the DCEU yet. While some aspects of Aquaman don't entirely land, overall, this thing is fantastic fun. It has a sense of wonder to it all as well, which make the experience all the better for it. Throw in a little surprising heart as well, and Aquaman is a solid time at the cinema.
Title: Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby
As seemingly as Tom Cruise appears to age backwards, the Mission: Impossible series has aged well. Very well. With each passing entry, the series seems to get better and better. Mission: Impossible - Fallout, is no different. This may be the strongest entry in the franchise yet. Packed with dynamic action, a quick-moving plot, colorful characters, and edge-of-your-seat thrills, Fallout isn't just one of the best films of the summer. Mission: Impossible - Fallout, IS the best film of the summer. This is what summer movies are supposed to be. Tom Cruise, proves once again, that age isn't a factor. What he's willing to put his body through for our mere enjoyment on screen, is something to witness. There's action scenes in here, that had me gawking and that's hard to do. The surrounding cast, are all great and add to the film nicely. The Mustache- I mean Henry Cavill, does a solid job here. It's nice to see him out of his cape for a brief time. While the story is taught and doesn't meander much, the film's length can be a weakness. However, McQuarrie, keeps the film moving and it never really slows down. This film flows very nicely and with a heavy packed plot, that's a real feat. Mission: Imposible - Fallout, is a fantastic addition to the franchise. I wish I could go back to my younger self watching the first two films in the series, to encourage me to stick it out a few entries. Things got better. And better still.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Byron Mann, McKenna Roberts, Roland Moller
If you go into Skyscraper expecting a bland, run-of-the-mill action film, then you won't be disappointed. The biggest sin of Skyscraper, is just that. There is nothing within the film, that elevates it to something you might find on TV scrolling through channels late at night. There's no hook to make anything standout. You would think the titular skyscraper itself would be that hook, but alas, this not the case. Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell, give sustainable performances. However, their characters are unfortunately too one-note to really put any investment in. In fact everyone is so one-note, you can smell the plot unfold in the first scene. Yes, Johnson is an amputee, but just that fact alone isn't enough for us to truly care about the character. That being said, there are some decent action set-pieces in here, which are enough to wet the appetite of action fans. Unfortunately, there's not much else. Skyscraper is a barely serviceable action film, to cool off from the summer heat.
Title: Ant-Man and the Wasp
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Hannah-John Kamen, Michelle Pheiffer, Laurence Fishburne
Ant-Man and the Wasp isn't going to get points for sheer originality. However, it more than makes up for it with a fun, raucous, romp, up there with the best of the MCU. I love the first Ant-Man. It's still my second favorite Marvel film to date. Ant-Man and the Wasp, brings the same fun and fancy free energy that its predecessor did. The film is funny, action packed, and moves at brisk pace. In a way, it's perfect summer entertainment. Paul Rudd, returns to the titular role and he hasn't missed a beat. Joining him more closely this time, is Evangeline Lilly, who kicks ass as The Wasp. Michael Douglas, returns as well, and he does a fine job. The main problem with Ant-Man and the Wasp is once again, the villain. Marvel still can't seem to get those right. They've been making these films now for 10 years and while yes, Thanos, Loki, and Killmonger are fine, those odds are terrible. Still, despite the weak villain and a little bit of a slow start, Ant-Man and the Wasp is fantastic fun. It's able to rise above the shortcomings, with relentless fun.