Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Kaya Scondelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Ami Metcalf
Crawl is a movie where if you don't get the joke in the opening scene, you're not going to get it at all. Aside from that, Crawl is a mostly effective, thrilling "B" film. Alexandre Aja, is no stranger to fun, over the top horror thrills. Crawl lives somewhere in between Aja's The Hills Have Eyes remake, and his Piranha 3D remake. I was a little disappointed in how subdued Crawl is, given what Aja has given us before. That being said, Crawl is entertaining, if at times a little clunky in its execution. Kaya Scodelario, is great here, and Barry Pepper, does a nice job as her dad. The father/daughter story going on here, is done really well, aside from some of it being a little too heavy handed. Scodelario and Pepper sell it all, despite some of the shortfalls. The alligators, are done mostly well. Some of the effects on them aren't exactly the best, and it can take you out of the movie sometimes. However, it's the effective way Aja sets up the thrills, that will work around some of the CGI that isn't quite up to standard. Overall, Crawl is a fun, tense "B" film, with some disappointing points in its execution. It's a summertime popcorn flick, which brings the goods it promises.
Title: Spider-Man: Far From Home
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei
I personally realized while watching Far From Home, that I don't think I totally connect with any of these new characters. There's something about how they are portrayed, that just doesn't totally click with me. And I don't think that will ever change. That being said, I enjoy what Tom Holland does with the character. While I still feel that his nervous, borderline neurotic delivery gets a little annoying, he does a decent job in the role. Despite my issues with the characteristics of some of these characters, all are pretty much likable which helps. I found most of Far From Home to be fine. The story gets a little dragged on too much, and it tends to linger on plot threads way too long for my taste. If you are totally invested in the relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark, I suppose one would get much more out of what's being done here. Jake Gyllenhaal, as Mysterio, is probably the best possible way this character could have been portrayed on screen for a modern age. Gyllenhaal, is strong, if not a little hammy in some places, but it works quite well. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the surprises they had here. That mid-credit scene is quite good. Far From Home feels like it's stretching a lot to get to its point. It feels far too long than it should, and it doesn't quite reach the heights it sets out to climb. Easter eggs, and fan-service, aren't quite enough for me though. A lot of stuff in Far From Home, tends to get a little fan service-y for my tastes. Overall, Far From Home is an enjoyable entry in the franchise. It's a fun time.
Title: Child's Play
Director: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill, Beatrice Kitsos
Child's Play is good. There, I said it. And by Child's Play, I of course mean both. Look, yes, they remade it. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the original, will always exist. That film is good for what it is. I love the Child's Play series. Yes, even at its low point, I enjoy the series quite a bit. What kept that series going, and still keeps the series going, is Brad Douriff. He's iconic as the character; as THAT version of Chucky. This is a different interpretation of Chucky. And while I'm shocked that 2019's Child's Play is as good as it is, I'm not entirely shocked as some people may be after seeing it. I was actually on board with this after the first teaser. And once Mark Hamill was added as the voice, I was buying a ticket. Child's Play 2019, is a lot of fun. It's creepy, bloody, funny, and a solid horror remake. It takes elements from the original formula and both updates, and turns it on its head. Everyone in this film is solid. From Aubrey Plaza, to Bryan Tyree Henry, to Gabriel Bateman- they are all fun to watch. Mark Hamill, is PERFECT as THIS version of Chucky. It works so well that after you see it, you will instantly know why they got him to do the voice. The film has a few flaws. Particularly in some misplaced line readings, and a little bit of a weird middle act. However, the magic here, is in the character of Chucky himself. What they do to the character is smart. It's a great balance of heart, emotion, and creepiness, all thrown into the mix. Child's Play, is a genuine surprise. It's a crowd pleaser of a film, and fun time at the movies.
Title: Men In Black: International
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson
Dull. If Men In Black: International could be summed up in one word, it would be dull. It's not particularly funny, the story isn't particularly interesting, it's painfully predictable, and I'm afraid this entry will kill the franchise for a long time. It's actually kind of a shame. The premise here, feels like a natural progression for the franchise. Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, try their best to do what they can. They have really good chemistry together. However, we already know that, as they also had good chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok. Both have a few chuckles here and there, but the screenplay doesn't exactly give them great material to work with. The bulk of the laughs, come from Kumail Nanjiani's Pawny. Liam Neeson, is sleeping through most of this. A lot of the film, feels like it's coasting by on the bare minimum in fact. I found myself struggling to stay interested during most of this. There's a lot of wasted talent and money on screen here. Men In Black: International, is almost as bad as Men In Black II. I love this franchise. Both good and bad. However, this one is rough. There's very little to even get excited about in this. At least MIB II had Frank The Pug, and Will Smith. This has... ah, hell. It's just really damn dull. I was rooting for you MIB: International. I really was.
Title: Dark Phoenix
Director: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Tye Sheridan, Michael Fassbender, Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain
Well, the X-Men proper series of films under the Fox banner, limps to the finish line. The main issue with Dark Phoenix, is that nothing particularly exciting, or important happens. There are glimpses of what first time director, Simon Kinberg, wanted to do. The problem is, I don't think he should have been doing this all on his own. He never gets to where he wants to go, fully. Credit to him though; for a first outing, this could have been a lot worse. Working in his favor here, are three solid performances by McAvoy, Fassbender, and Sophie Turner. They manage to keep this excruciatingly dull story, interesting enough for us, as we drag to the credits. I believe it was something like and hour after the open, before an X-Man, or Woman, uses any power to, well, do anything. Aside from that, the only reason why this version of the Phoenix Saga is even watchable is because of Sophie Turner. The story itself, just isn't interesting enough. It's a repetitive slog of either talking about, Jean and how powerful she is, or, Jean pouting about what is happening to her. Kinberg, tries to sell us of this great threat, but it always falls into flat, cliche' territory. A lot of people just talk to each other about the threat. In between all of this, Jessica Chastain shows up, in a borderline embarrassing performance. Her character has virtually nothing to do here. And when she does, it's all just silly nonsense. That being said, there are a few moments throughout that are worth a look. The ending sequence is quite nice, and it shows that it was a re-shoot. The whole thing feels like a different movie. Dark Phoenix skirts by on very little. It's not overly terrible. It's watchable. I guess it could have been far worse. It's a dull, ending chapter for the Fox era of X-Men proper.
Title: Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford
I absolutely abhorred, Gareth Edwards' 2014 misguided Godzilla-less snoozefest. Besides the lack of the titular character in that film, the constant cutting away from the action onscreen, was a cinematic sin I will never forgive. In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we do get more Godzilla. We do get more monsters. However, someone please tell me why in the ever loving fuck, are we constantly cutting back to a hamfisted family drama in the middle of an epic monster battle? AGAIN?! Nobody. Fucking. Cares. These characters are so thinly written, I didn't even remember their names in the film. If we are going to do stuff like this, write your damn characters better. Nobody bought a ticket to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, to watch a family go through therapy. And make awful, world-ending decisions, because of bad family history. And the cutting away from the action. Why are we still doing this? There is a shot towards the end of the film, where a plane purposely flies into frame, to BLOCK the action on screen. It's the same shit we did in 2014. Stop it. Do not do this in Godzilla Vs. Kong. For the love of Jebus, don't do this anymore. That being said, forget the story here. Forget the characters here. The monsters and the battles, are the bread and butter. Any time there is a monster onscreen, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is spectacular. It's a damn-near masterpiece. Until we have to cut away to catch up on family therapy, or read the book of plot exposition. It's a freaking shame. Because of how badly written these characters are, I have to wonder who's idea the family drama story was. It's clear Dougherty respects and loves these monsters. It's shown onscreen every time we see a Kaiju. That's the freaking movie. This family story is so bad, it feels out of place in this. It feels like an afterthought. The monster stuff is so well done, I have to wonder if that's the movie Dougherty wanted to make. And then some Warner Bros. Executive saw an episode of Stranger Things. Look, there's nothing wrong with cutting away from monster action, to catch up with characters and plot. To see how this is done properly, watch Jurassic Park. All of that being said, the epic Kaiju battles are worth a ticket. Just ignore everything else.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad
During the first fifteen minutes of Aladdin, every single one of my cinematic synapses was firing on all cylinders. This was going to be bad. I was bracing myself for the next two hours. And then, something happened. I'm still not sure what it was. However, Aladdin turned out... good. Truth be told, the film has quite a few issues. Guy Ritchie, was both the wrong and right person to direct this thing. It's clear that he has no idea how to shoot a musical. So instead, he relies on things he watched in other musicals. Yes, even the animated Aladdin. Aladdin very much feels like a traditional musical. It all looks like something you saw in another musical, and not just the animated feature. There's also a weirdness that shows through, which actually plays in favor of Guy Ritchie. There is a charm to all of this. It is this charm, that propels Aladdin to the finish line. This is very much a crowd-pleasing film. It's easily digestible, with a few pieces of gristle in its bite. Mena Massoud, and Naomi Scott, are both solid as Aladdin and Jasmine. However, let's talk about the big, blue, elephant in the room. Will Smith is really good as the Genie. In fact, I would say he's perfect. Oh, no, not Robin Williams perfect. He's Will Smith perfect. This is his Genie. And he does his Genie well. He's funny, he can sing, he's charming, he has heart, and he's basically carrying this entire thing on his shoulders. You could feel the tension in the theater the moment Aladdin, starts rubbing that lamp. Everyone basically stiffened and waited for blue Will Smith to appear, and say something. And once he did, you could feel everyone collectively sigh in relief. Marwan Kenzari, I would say is the weak link as Jafar. It's... a different take, but I kind of dug what he did. Bottom line is, Aladdin isn't bad. It's good. It has issues, but it's really entertaining to watch. I'm actually glad the internet didn't kill this prematurely. Especially, Will Smith's Genie.
Title: Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Nighy, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere
Detective Pikachu is delightful to watch. Is it the best video game adaptation so far? I still say that the original Mortal Kombat is the best example in that department. That being said, Detective Pikachu could be a close second in my book. While the film has some noticeable shortcomings, most are forgiven as the duo of Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds, sell this thing. And sell it they do. Both carry this crazy world on their shoulders. I know virtually nothing about Pokémon. My knowledge comes from my younger sister, who was into the franchise when she was younger. While some of the in-depth world of the little monsters may go over some heads, the knowledge isn't needed. Instead, the strength of Ryan Reynolds voicing probably the most famous of the Pokémon, Pikachu, is enough to warrant a view. Reynolds, gives the furry yellow character a life, and yes, some great humor. Justice Smith, adds a solid heart to all of this. There was quite a nice emotional story I wasn't expecting. The Pokémon themselves, are also really well done. This world, is fully realized. It's probably the best possible way to do a live action version of the material. It never felt out of place, and it worked nicely. Detective Pikachu does suffer from a bit of a weak and predictable plot. The story gets bogged down in the later sections of the film. Still, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a mostly solid, entertaining family adventure. I was smiling quite a bit in this. I think you will too.
Title: John Wick 3: Parabellum
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, Asia Kate Dillon
What started as a strange teaser trailer for what appeared to be a generic action movie starring Keanu Reeves, has turned into something else entirely three films in. John Wick 3: Parabellum is flashy, loud, pulpy, surprisingly brutal, and mesmerizing. It has gun fu, knife fu, dog fu, horse fu, motorcycle fu, sword fu, book fu, axe fu, and every fu in between. While the franchise has veered into true comic book territory with Parabellum, it surprisingly works. Some of it may be a little too inside baseball, but it's a welcome leap into this mythology. John Wick, is the perfect character for Keanu Reeves. It's an understated performance that fits for both the character and actor. The surrounding cast, all combine nicely. From the gravitas of Ian McShane, to the offbeat craziness of Laurence Fishburne, everyone is fun to watch. The action and spectacle taking place here, is something in another stratosphere. It's hard-hitting, edge of your seat thrills, that will have you gasping at the screen at times. There are moments, where things can feel a bit excessive, but in a strange morbid way, fits for this world. I can't state enough, how good some of these action sequences are. If you love the world that was set up in the first two John Wick films, this thing is something special. The first forty minutes alone, are worth the price of admission. This is a pulpy grand time, at the cinema.
Title: Long Shot
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis
Funny and sweet, Long Shot surprises with its charm, wit, and bending of the Romantic Comedy. Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron, are really good together. Their chemistry drive this thing home. You really believe in these two. You want them to make everything work. It's kind of remarkable how much Long Shot hugs that cliche' line of the Romantic Comedy, yet still manages to surprise you as we go. Rogen, is doing himself (of course), and Theron, is really good as his better half. Everything just clicks here. The comedy is really funny; always switching between the romantic, the satirical, and the crude. Long Shot hits in all the right spaces, and it gives you an extra added sweetness, that only works because of Rogen and Theron's chemistry. The co-stars here, have some great moments to shine as well. Bob Odenkirk, is quite hilarious as the President, and Andy Serkis shows up chameleon style. Long Shot, is one of the best comedy's of the year. It's funny, sweet, and charming. It's is a great time.