10 Intriguing Films from D23 Expo (2017)

Okay, so apparently there’s an official Walt Disney Company fan club known as D23, and every other year they get together to throw a massive exposition event that includes exclusive footage and trailers for upcoming Disney films. I knew none of this. Then, over the weekend, I see one bombshell Disney announcement after another due to the event that saw appearances from a number of celebrities including the newest Spider-Man, Tom Holland, and the attendance of over 100,000 guests. As a Disney fan, I’ll certainly be more attentive to D23 going forward. Here’s a list of the ten films that stood out from the show co-written with my friend and fellow blogger, Becky Davidson. You may note the exclusion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My excitement for the next installment couldn’t be higher, and the D23 expo showcasing a cool, but insubstantial behind the scenes featurette did nothing to fuel the flame.

Coco          November 22, 2017

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Directed by Lee Unkrich         Voices of Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Cheech Marin

My Take-It’s not the first animated film to take on Mexican culture’s Day of the Dead holiday. That was The Book of Life (2014). Will Coco suffer from comparisons? Doubtful. Pixar, when doing original material, generally blow the competition out of the water. They’re still a first class company. Still the most ambitious animation company (at least here in America), and despite not knowing much about this film, and not being overly impressed by what I do know, I trust the brand. I like that they are using all actual Hispanic people for the voice cast as well.

Becky-I’m always really excited any time I hear either Pixar or Disney Animations Studios is coming out with new, original stuff! Needless to say I’m super pumped for this film. I didn’t know what to expect from Coco at first, but the more I learn, the more I want to see the film. I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with music and it’s cool that our main character is Mexican. Go diversity! We need more of it, especially in animation. Also the animation looks really pretty. I’m at the point where I don’t want to see any more things for this film and just want to watch it.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure               November 22, 2017

Directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers                                    Voice of Josh Gad

My Take-It’s a short film, so only a small deal, but it’s leading to the forthcoming Frozen 2. The short will be good. The full length Disney sequel? Disney never used to make theatrical sequels. They always focused on creating new adventures. The theme of the expo for me was cash grab.

Becky’s Take- This Frozen short sounds adorable and I love me some Olaf. There’s nothing more to be said, except that I’m here for it!

A Wrinkle in Time March 9, 2018

Directed by Ava DuVernay       Starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis

My Take-I’ve never read this book. I’m a pretty avid reader, and especially of classic children’s lit, but somehow Madeline L’Engle’s 1963 novel slipped through. Truth be told, I’ve started reading it 2 or 3 times and just never felt compelled to continue past chapter 1. Perhaps I need this movie to spark my interest. The cast is strong. I like the director; a black female directing a big-budget Disney movie in 2017 shouldn’t be as important as it is. I don’t understand the plot, and the trailer didn’t help much.

Becky’s Take- I didn’t even realize that this was a thing until the trailer was released and everyone started talking about it. I know that it’s based off of a book, and I’ve heard of the book, but that’s all I really know about this story. I’m actually pretty indifferent about this film. I like that we get a diverse cast. I say again, go diversity! Some of the visuals are pretty cool too, but nothing that really excites me. We’ll see I guess.

Ralph Breaks the Internet         March 9, 2018

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Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston                                                  Voices of John C.Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson

 My Take- I’m hearing about all kinds of crazy things they’re doing in this film. Cameos from Mario and all the Disney princesses for one thing. Wreck-it-Ralph 2 should be good.

Becky’s Take-Okay so this is a sequel that I’m actually excited for! I loved Wreck It Ralph. I thought it was refreshing in so many ways and I loved all of the referential things. I love the title “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and am just hooked off of that. To learn that there’s this whole self-aware Disney Princess reunion thing happening in the film just makes it better. The only worry, that all of the “cameos” and references could overpower the story. What made the first film so great was the story and I don’t want to lose that. I have faith that Rich Moore and Phil Johnston will prevail as they did an incredible job with the first film.

The Incredibles 2       June 15, 2018

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Directed by Brad Bird                                                                            Voices of  Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson

My Take-Finally. At long last. 14 years later. It is coming. The sequel to possibly my favorite super hero movie. Brad Bird returns. The cast is back Everything is in place for a successful sequel. This time around, according to Holly Hunter, Elastigirl is the lead protagonist, and Mr. Incredible is stuck at home with the kids.

Becky’s Take- Out of all of the films we are talking about in this post, this is the one I’m the most excited for! The Incredibles was such a good film and one that deserved a sequel. There was so much material there to be explored and I’m in disbelief that it’s taken this long for a sequel to be made. I love that it’s taking place right where the first one left off, I’m excited for more Frozone, and I need more Jack Jack. If you’re not excited for this film, you should be!

Dumbo (live action remake)         March 19, 2019

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Directed by Tim Burton                                                         Starring Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Eva Green

My Take-The good news is Michael Keaton reteams with Tim Burton (Batman, Beetlejuice, Batman Returns). The bad news is I couldn’t be less interested in a live action remake of Dumbo. If anything belongs solely in the realm of cartoon it was Dumbo. It’s going to very difficult to make a big eared elephant as charming in CGI as he was traditional animation.

Becky’s Take-Disney, seriously we’re gonna need to have a talk about all of these live action remakes. You’re obsessed with them! I get it, the money is appealing, but why must you remake everything?! I don’t even care that Tim Burton is the one directing it, he didn’t do too great of a job on the Alice in Wonderland films. Why is this a thing? Again, I just don’t get it and I’m not feeling it.

The Lion King (live action)       July 19, 2019

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Directed by Jon Favreau                Starring Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Hugh Jackman, Seth Rogen

My Take-When I mentioned bombshells, the cast announcement for the upcoming live-action Lion King remake was chief among them. Hugh Jackman as Scar? Here’s the thing. No question Jackman can act, but Jeremy Irons was perfect. Jackman will have to work so much harder than Irons did to be scary, nasty, and sardonic. Those qualities came so naturally to Irons’ mellifluous voice. I think Jackman and this film will have to completely put aside Irons’ take, and just build a whole new villainous character out of Uncle Scar. He can’t be scary in the same way Irons was scary. And James Earl Jones is back as Mufasa? This is kind of hilarious to me. I agree anybody else would have been a pale imitation, but then why not bring the whole voice cast back? No one’d dead. Better yet, why remake this at all? It’s not even a “live-action remake.” It’s just a different form of animation. I’m not seeing it. I won’t mind if I’m proven wrong, and this turns out to be anything beyond passable, but I will be shocked.

Becky’s Take-WHY IS THIS A THING?! I DON’T GET IT! Okay, I so I know that this is a money grab, but still! The Lion King is one of those films that should not be touched or remade. This film is already doomed to fail as you will never be able to top the original. Also, can we even call this live action? All of the animals are getting the same CGI treatment as the ones in The Jungle Book. The Lion King is all about animals, so isn’t this really just some elevated animated remake? It seems that they just want to show off their new technology. You want to do that, cool, just go make something original. Apparently people were moved by what they saw at D23 Expo, but I’m still extremely skeptical of it. This is something I didn’t ask for, and certainly don’t want.

Toy Story 4     June 21, 2019

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Directed by Josh Cooley                            Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

My Take-I’m so disgusted by this. The trilogy was ended exactly right. Now Woody’s coming back to find Bo Peep. Eww. That’s featherweight stuff. This is a flagrant cash grab by a company that has always been better than third sequels.

Becky’s Take-Ugh, I’m so upset that this is actually a thing too. I thought that Toy Story 3 was such a solid way to end the trilogy, and the three films feel very contained. Usually, when there is a change in the director it doesn’t bode well. However, since the reason Lasseter left was related to not having the time to do it, it doesn’t make me more skeptical of this project. I hope this sequel brings lots of new things to the table, it is the only way it will be good and not a rehash of any of the previous films.

Aladdin (live-action)        No Release Date

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Directed by Guy Ritchie                                                                      Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

My Take-I’ve written previously on my blanket opinion about these live-action remakes. At a certain level, they will always be pointless. Will Smith stepping into the beloved Robin Williams’ shoes is a brave undertaking. He has the charisma. Guy Ritchie directing intrigues me. I’m a fan, despite recent missteps. There’s really nothing to do with these films except wait and be skeptical. It’s a cash grab for the studio but not for these actors, the director, and his crew.

Becky’s Take-Another live action remake that is totally unnecessary. The new casting does not make me excited for it one bit. When you had first asked me to co-write this blog post with you, you were like, “I’ll just send you 10 things that interest me and you can share your opinion, like Will Smith as Genie?” I honestly thought this was some weird ass example that you had pulled out of your ass. I can’t believe that this is a real thing! What is this casting? Have the directors lost their mind? Probably, seeing as how they didn’t cast a Middle Eastern actress to play Jasmine. I think part of the appeal of these live action remakes is seeing these characters we’ve loved in real life. People have always felt that Princess Jasmine was so white washed in the animated film, so why not take the opportunity to get this representation right? I don’t have anything against Naomi Scott, but I just think it’s the wrong call. Also, these casting choices worry me for the eventual Mulan remake, which I had originally been excited for as it is something that could be captured well cinematically.

Pixar’s Suburban Fantasy Movie           No Release Date

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My Take-Not much information yet, but the key words here are “original” and “Pixar.” News feeds mention talk of elves and trolls mixed with a suburban setting. Curious. It’s also a very personal film for the writer, Don Scanlon, who lost his father when he was a year old, and is incorporating some of that in the story.

Becky-Finally, another original film that we get to talk about! Sometimes it feels like we’re living in sequel and remake hell, so I’m always excited for things that are original especially when it comes to Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. They are just so fucking brilliant sometimes, and this new film from Pixar sounds like it has serious potential. The idea of a suburban fantasy is cool and Pixar can get super creative with the world building. Also anyone else get the feeling that we’re all going to cry our eyes out?

-Becky Davidson, https://simplybecky8.wordpress.com/-

-Walter Howard-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film of July (2017)

This July is set to be epic. With Baby Driver and Despicable Me 3 closing out last month, rolling into Spider-Man: Homecoming this week, I’m expecting huge blockbuster returns for July. There’s a big box office draw just about every week, and on top of this, many of them are already getting great reviews. People should appreciate this crop of films before the impending month of duds, also known as August kicks in. I looked at seven of the biggest movies being released this month, along with my brother and sister, and tried to predict box office production and rotten tomatoes score (if not already rendered). This is a sort of contest we’ve amused ourselves with over the years.

July 7

Spider-Man: Homecoming 92% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton

The last time people truly cared about Spiderman (Mr. gay except the physical act Andrew Garfield’s films never had enough momentum), the film rewarded us with Toby Maguire crying like a teenage girl and getting jiggy in the streets sporting an emo do. People were not pleased. Spider-Man died a little that day. I wasn’t sure he’d ever recover. Then, Marvel got their rights to the property back, and all of the sudden people are excited again. I don’t think it’s quite at the level of Peter Parker’s hey-day with Toby and Kirsten Dunst, but I do think people are ready to see it. One critic compared this new film to a John Hughes movie. I love that. Peter Parker has always been more interesting to me than Spider-Man. My Prediction: $420-430 million

David-It’s going to follow the Marvel formula, by the numbers, but still highly entertaining. Prediction: $310-320 million

Ava-Now that Marvel has their property back, they’re going to do it right. Has to be awesome. Prediction: $350-360 million

July 14

War of the Planet of the Apes 95% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer

The third installment in one of the most ambitious blockbuster franchises ever. Filmmakers always talk about upping the ante in sequels but few actually deliver. These Planet of the Apes add more and more emotional stakes each time up, rather than just more explosions. I’m pumped. My prediction: $260-270 million

David-My most anticipated film of the summer. Potential to be one of the best trilogies ever. Love Caesar. Prediction: $215-225 million

Ava- This movie is going to be amazing. That’s all I have to say. Prediction: $240-250 million

July 21

Dunkirk No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Starring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance

Christopher Nolan’s 70mm spectacle comes rather soon considering its apparent Oscar potential. I’m surprised by its 100 minute runtime which seems awfully short for what I thought was meant to be an epic. Bottom line though, Christopher Nolan delivers. He’s an excellent filmmaker, and I’m going to watch whatever film he wants to make. My prediction:$180-190 million/80-90% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-Christopher Nolan+it has Tom Hardy. Prediction:$225-235 million/80-90% on RT

Ava-Not a lot of action I’ve heard. Seems like it’s going to be boring. Prediction: $200-210 million/90-100% on RT

Valerian and the City of a Thousand No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delavigne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Rutger Hauer

Perhaps a harkening to his old classics, chiefly The Fifth Element, a film that managed to pull off a ginger heroine, a shrieking black man in drag, and a villain with a southern accent for no reason. Luc Besson’s last few films haven’t been great, but I believe in this project. But I don’t believe anyone will see it. My Prediction: $60-70 million/55-65% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-I’m getting a John Carter (reference 2012 box office nuclear bomb) vibe. Prediction: $90-100 million/65-75% on RT

Ava-I’m getting a John Carter (reference 2012 box office nuclear bomb) vibe, but I say that’s a good thing, even though I haven’t seen it. Prediction: $150-160 million/70-80% on RT

Girls Trip No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Starring Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish

Women can be just as raunchy as men part two after last month’s flop, Rough Night. Clearly, Bridesmaids was the template for these R rated rom-coms led by female casts, and Girls Trip is attempting to reach an audience that is often marginalized. We’ll see if that pays off, but I’m predicting a “the cast does all it can, but they deserve better than this” from the critics upon release. My Prediction: $35-45 million/30-40% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-Didn’t laugh at the trailer. Don’t plan on seeing it in theaters. Believe it will be a hit though. Prediction: $105-115 million/50-60% on RT

Ava-I did laugh during the trailer; non-stop. Prediction: $90-100 million/40-50% on RT

July 28

Atomic Blonde 78% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, Til Schweiger

Stylish, cool spy mystery based on a graphic novel that I have read, but don’t remember in the slightest. I’m hoping this Charlize Theron action vehicle is more memorable. I loved the energy and soundtrack shown in the trailer, and I’ll definitely check this one out. My Prediction: $80-90 million

David-I’m excited as a fan of Charlize Theron (since Mad Max). Prediction:$90-100 million

Ava-Trailer looked great and it has James McAvoy. Prediction: $100-110 million

The Emoji Movie No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Voices of T.J Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright

Wow. This movie. Just the fact that this is a movie. Attempting to be fair, I had similar feelings about The Lego Movie initially, and look how that turned out. But the trailer didn’t change my mind. Still, I’m going to go all in and predict that this will be a sleeper hit. My Prediction:$200-210 million/45-55% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-Yeah, pretty unimpressive. Idea is stupid. Will fail miserably. Small hope for Lego Movie success. Prediction: $90-100 million/35-45% on RT

Ava-Poop emoji. Prediction: $140-150 million/40-50% on RT

-Walter Howard-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotten Tomatoes Shaming

A few months ago a friend of mine let me know about some interesting comments Hollywood filmmaker and producer Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Money Talks, Red Dragon) made about review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, saying “The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.”The crux of this argument seems very reasonable. There’s no question in my mind that Rotten Tomatoes has watered down film criticism thanks to the average consumer’s desire for a bottom line and a rating rather than insightful commentary and criticism. Too often you’ll find reviews on Rotten Tomatoes reduced to a burn, or even worse, some pun that’s relevant to the film. Sometimes it seems that critics have their bottom line written up before they even see the film (check out old reviews for Apocalypto or Lone Ranger for examples).  If a classic, prose writing critic complains about the state of things, I say there’s something to it, but that’s about film criticism, not about the filmmaking industry as Ratner stated. I left his comments alone after reading them, mostly because no one was taking his comments very seriously. As savvy a film producer as he is, many of his movies have been rightfully blasted by critics. Chalk it up to sour grapes. Only now a few film executives involved in the box office disappointments Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch are chiming in. They blame poor Rotten Tomatoes scores for their lackluster box office performances (domestically anyways). This week’s The Mummy didn’t allow film reviews until today, just two days before its release. My feeling is that film studios, rather than be accountable for the movies they produce, and work on creating better products, will scapegoat Rotten Tomatoes and avoid critical reviews all together in the future. We’ll see if this is the case, but I feel like that situation is inevitable since execs don’t want to admit mistakes. Rotten Tomatoes helps movies. Films like Get Out, made for 4.5 million, made over 200 million thanks in large part, I believe, to stellar word of mouth-starting with Rotten Tomatoes. Small films that people otherwise would not have been interested in or maybe not even heard of, get boosted by this system. The truth about films that are “harmed” by Rotten Tomatoes, is that they probably didn’t have much interest to begin with. Suicide Squad was brutalized by critics, and still made a killing because people were in. They wanted that movie. Now, if/when they make a Suicide Squad 2, and if/when it gets horrible reviews, it will very likely bomb at the box office because people aren’t as keen on a second dosage. Many people are growing wary of sequels and remakes. A sequel or remake with bad reviews? Don’t bet on it.

5 Films from Cannes (2017)

The annual Cannes Film Festival kicked off in May of this year, running for 11 days, and screening 46 films, in addition to its classics program. Cannes is massive film event, hosting dozens of A-list actors and directors in attendance every year. That usually translates to at east a half dozen exceptional films from all over the world given an audience and a degree of coverage that they probably wouldn’t have garnered otherwise. I was underwhelmed, very superficially, just going off of names on paper, by the selection of films for this year’s festival. After the movies were screened, and the critics had their say, I still am not overly excited by many of these films. However, their are some Cannes’ entries that I know I’ll see, and hopefully enjoy.

The Beguiled 74% on Rotten Tomatoes

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My first thought: even Cannes is being hit with the remake bug. The original chamber piece starred Clint Eastwood as a Union soldier who stumbles on a Southern plantation filled with women and girls for him to seduce. A cautionary tale, a revenge flick, a gothic potboiler, the film was all of these things, and I am interested in how Sofia Coppola balances her version. I consider 74% on Rotten Tomatoes middling for an artistic feature, but I like Coppola’s work, and she’s made excellent films before that had mixed reviews (Marie Antoinette). I just don’t know if seeing Colin Farrell caught in a web will be remotely as satisfying as seeing Clint Eastwood. Also starring Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer 74% on Rotten Tomatoes

Is he an auteur or is he a troll? The Greek freak, Yorgos Lanthimos, returns after The Lobster two years ago amused some, confounded most, and introduced the director’s aesthetic  (akin to clinical numbness) to a wider audience. This film stars Colin Farrell as a doctor who gets involved with a creepy young man and his mother, straining his own marriage. Nicole Kidman costars as his wife.

The Meyerowitz Stories-New and Selected 87% on Rotten Tomatoes

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This is one of the best reviewed films of this year’s festival, and it comes from filmmaker Noah Baumbach, a writer-director who’s been in the zone over the past decade as far as I’m concerned. His film, Greenberg, is one that I’ve continued to come back to. Now, reteaming with that film’s star, Ben Stiller, and adding Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson, Judd Hirsch, Sigourney Weaver, Candice Bergen, and Adam Driver to the cast, Baumbach tells a dysfunctional family story that will be released on Netflix later this year. I love when Adam Sandler, who takes a lot from the film savvy public for the amount of garbage films he stars in, does a great movie, and no one sees it. He’s apparently terrific in this picture.

Okja 79% on Rotten Tomatoes

Another Cannes Film Festival entry heading to Netflix (I’m sensing a trend). Bong Joon-ho, Korean auteur of films like The Host, Memories of Murder (his masterpiece), and Snowpiercer, returns to the giant monster genre for Okja. A young girl befriends a massive beast named Okja, and has to defend it from a mercenary corporation. Joon-ho’s calling card is his ability to switch tones and genres like it’s nothing. Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Paul Dano star.

You Were Never Really Here 79% on Rotten Tomatoes

Lynne Ramsay, after leaving her last feature unceremoniously during production, returns to smaller filmmaking to great success according to critics.  Joaquin Phoenix stars as a war veteran determined to save a young girl from sex trade. The trailer feels like an April Fool’s joke.

-Walter Howard-

 

 

10 Films of June (2017)

Okay, the summer “blockbuster” season-the recent influx of bombs warrants the parenthesis-started off with a bang in Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2, a fantastic piece of entertainment, but has since fallen on hard times. Movie executives have taken to blaming Rotten Tomatoes for their commercial woes. I might write a piece about critic shaming later. I think it’s ridiculous to blame Rotten Tomatoes for sinking ships no one wanted to board in the first place, but enough of that. June has the potential to be a damn good month for film, so let’s jump right in. Oh, heads up. You won’t find Transformers: The Last Knight on my list. It gets no love from me.

June 2

Wonder Woman  93% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Alright. A good DC adaptation that isn’t Christopher Nolan’s Batman. What a novelty. I’m excited. I felt the trailers looked fun, but was too afraid to get my hopes up after the gut punch that was last year’s Suicide Squad. Now it seems Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is a critical success. Will its critical scores prove to be inflated out of goodwill like last year’s Ghostbusters reboot? No, I don’t think so. It’s important for me to weather my enthusiasm until I see it though.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie 85% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Another Rotten Tomatoes success, this sure to induce nostalgia comedy is Captain Underpants’ first foray onto the silver screen. By all accounts it’s pretty funny. I question the timing though as it will be competing against Wonder Woman which I suspect could resemble Goliath at the box-office.

June 9th

The Mummy No Score Yet

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I am not a believer in this reboot. I am a huge fan of the silly Brendan Fraser led trilogy of Mummy films minus the God-awful third feature). The first one with Fraser and Weisz especially remains to me a grand adventure-horror crossover, with the right tone and mixture of genres. I also like the period setting-obviously heavily indebted to the Indiana Jones series. I liked everything about those movies. I don’t like the direction this Tom Cruise led vehicle has taken. Modern day? Female mummy? Tom Cruise wailing on a plane? These are the ingrediants they chose to cook with? Am I being narrow minded? I think if this Mummy turns out great, I might still be holding on to my Brendan Fraser love. I’ll be like people who still think Michael Keaton had the best Batman movies.  Whatever the case, I am not attracted to the look of this film, but I am attracted to the mummy, and that seems wrong.

It Comes at Night 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Escaping some unknown terror, a family is taken in by a strict survivalist in Joel Edgerton. I’m not sure what happens from there, but based on reviews and the trailer, I am so psyched. Great year for horror films after Get Out, The Void, and Alien have already been released.

June 16

Cars 3 No Score Yet

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Disney has already blamed critics for their disappointment in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales, a franchise that’s gradually been losing interest for the past decade. Will the same fate find Cars 3? Pixar’s least admired work. I find it unlikely. Besides, this installment looks good. Not great Pixar, but good.

Rough Night No Score Yet

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I am not all that familiar with Broad City. I didn’t find the trailer all that funny. I also recognize that this is a Bridesmaids/The Hangover wannabee, but this summer needs a good comedy. Actually, when was the last time we’ve gotten a truly classic comedy. It’s been ages. I’d greatly appreciate it if this comedy about five best friends who accidentally kill a male stripper could fill that void, even if I doubt it.

All Eyez on Me No Score Yet

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They’ve got themselves a fantastic Tupac impersonator but does that translate to great acting? I don’t think this film looks any good. I don’t think it will reach the transcendent heights of Straight Outta Compton. Musical biopics in general are hard to make fresh because they’ve been done to death.

June 23

The Big Sick 97% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Kumail Nanjiani and Ray Romano star in this romantic comedy about a Pakistani man’s whose parents disapprove of his relationship with a white woman. When she falls mysteriously ill, he becomes involved with her family. Well-reviewed indy comedy, should make for a worthwhile viewing.

Despicable Me 3 No Score Yet

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Gru, his three darling girls, and wife return, this time to meet a long-lost twin brother. Illumination has come up impressively in the animation world, thanks almost entirely to the Despicable Me franchise. The first two films were sweet, silly, and fun. Hopefully the formula hasn’t worn out.

The House No Score Yet

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Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler team up for this R rated comedy about a quiet married couple who open a casino in their home in a desperate attempt to pay their daughter’s tuition. Ferrell hasn’t had a great comedy in some time now, and the trailer was more pleasant than laugh inducing. Sometimes with R rated comedies, the funny stuff can’t be shown on trailer, so hopefully that’s the case here.

I will also be looking out for I, Daniel Blake (Cannes winner from last year), Beatriz at Dinner (75% on Rotten Tomatoes), and My Cousin Rachel this month.

-Walter Howard-

 

 

Things that Ruined Sequels

Hollywood is always desperate for ideas. So when something works once, they are bound to do it again. Every couple of years a movie comes out that knocks it out of the park, and then Hollywood wrings what we liked from it into a rash of lesser products. Sometimes that means blatant rip-offs. After Jaws, we had Orca and Tentacles (a killer octopus movie). After E.T: Extra Terrestrial, we had Mac and Me. Jurassic Park sparked a wave of dino-pics: We’re Back, Theodore Rex. Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero was once unconventional. It worked. Now we have a string of odd personas suiting up: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Paul Rudd. And I’m sure there are more trends out there that I’m not thinking about. More commonly you have the disappointing sequel film. These come a dime a dozen. Every year, bad sequel after bad sequel. Here’s a quick list of things that stood out in sequels I might have otherwise liked had it not been for that one thing. Therefore this list excludes things like, say, bat nipples in Batman and Robin, since even minus that over-the-top heinous detail, it would have still been an atrocious movie.

  1. Spider-Man 3-Peter Parker has the emotions of a fifteen year old girl

Peter Parker was always an emotional superhero. He cried when his Uncle Ben died (understandable). He fights with his best friend. He has a will they, or won’t they thing going with Mary Jane. A lot of Sam Raimi’s saga was the stuff of t.v soap operas. I happen to be a fan, but when in the third installment, Mary Jane breaks up with him, and he starts bawling, I no longer could stand behind him. It’s embarrassing.

2. The Mummy Returns-The Scorpion King CGI

Heavily dependent on special effects, the Brendan Fraser led franchise of Mummy films was incredibly successful, and boasted, at the time at least, an impressive array of visual spectacle. It’s hard to remember how the second film in the series played when I first saw it on the big screen. Now, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in his first role,  appears in the end sequence, computer rendered, the visuals are laughable. They would be at home in a Playstation 1 video game. Seeing as the climax of the film is built on his, intended to be, terrifying presence, the resulting picture feels anti-climactic. The third Mummy picked up on that note of awfulness and carried it through an entire film.

3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull-Aliens (Spielberg couldn’t help himself)

Huge fan of Indiana Jones. A bit of an offbeat choice, but Temple of Doom is my favorite of the series. In fact, it is probably my favorite action film period. The first three are all great though, so I was on board for a fourth adventure 20 plus years later. Instead of Nazis, Indy is racing against the Reds in the 1950s. I was basically on board with that. The film was too reliant on CGI. That’s a major flaw, to be sure. But what really threw me, was the end of the journey. Aliens. The crystal skull belongs to an alien civilization with advanced knowledge. I would not have chosen that as the catalyst for an Indy adventure. The Bermuda Triangle. Atlantis. Those would have been interesting. Aliens just felt like a different movie.

4. The Hangover Part 2-Deja vu

We think we want the exact same thing from a sequel that we got from the first one, but that’s not exactly true. When confronted with a sequel that rehashed its winning plot in a new location, I was bitterly disappointed. The element of surprise from the first Hangover was gone by the second.

5. The Godfather part III-Sofia Coppola’s a director, not an actress

I like Sofia Coppola’s directing efforts: Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides especially. I’m looking forward to her remake of the Clint Eastwood classic, The Beguiled. I’m glad she found something that she’s good at, because acting was not it. I don’t know who’s to blame for hiring her for the job. Did her dad, the director, force her to take the role? Does being a parent really give you that big of a blind spot to your kid’s performance? She ruins every scene that she’s in. She makes her scenes hilarious no matter how serious they were intended. It doesn’t help that she’s working with Al Pacino, a great. Apparently, Winona Ryder almost played the part. At this point, all we can do is imagine how much better it would have been.

6. Star Wars episode 3: Revenge of the Sith-Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Okay, I love this movie. I love all Star Wars movies. No matter how bad the dialogue is. Episode 2 was especially unfortunate in its dialogue. Episode 3 had a chance to shut up all the old-school Star Wars fans/whiners who lamented the direction of the prequel films. Sure, it still had its laughable quotes. Super cheesy moments. But It almost made it to the end of the film without a moment as cheesy as NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

-Walter Howard-

 

The Mummy/ Questions

Okay, so Universal has wanted to reboot what you could really look at as one of their flagship film properties, The Mummy, for about five years now. Universal was built on monster movies beginning in the 1930’s with Dracula (1931 with Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein (1931, Boris Karloff). In 1932, they released The Mummy also starring Boris Karloff as an ancient mummy named Imhotep who’s brought back to life by a team of archaeologists. The archaeologists are always brilliant when it comes to discovering the lost tombs, then instantly mindless thereafter. They awaken Imhotep, and he wreaks havoc. Remade sixty years later (I’m bypassing the British Hammer productions which I haven’t seen), Universal this time made The Mummy a big budget, action adventure complete with broad humor and Brendan Fraser. Somehow, against all odds, this worked. I personally love this version. While the plot was similar, the Brendan Fraser series of Mummy movies were different movies. Indiana Jones meets The Mummy would have been apt. Now, Tom Cruise headlines yet another presumed series of Mummy films. Universal, inspired by/ ripping off of Marvel’s film production model/gold mine, wants to create a shared monster universe. Russell Crowe, who will play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, therefore will having a short role in this film, before getting his own. The first trailer for this Mummy came out in December and featured memorably Tom Cruise’ weird screams aboard a crashing plane. That was hilarious and prompted several memes, all savage in nature. All in all, I’m expecting a bomb. What does this film want to be? That could probably be my first question. I have so many small issues with what I’ve seen from the trailer, that I’m left with little to no positive expectations for it. Here are my questions:

  1. Will this avoid feeling like the sixth Mission Impossible? Now, I know you’re thinking, I like the mission impossible movies. Would that be so terrible? Yes. The inevitable sixth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise will likely be another sterling success, but a Mission Impossible/Mummy hybrid would be terrible. It’s already fighting an uphill battle with me by being set in the present. The present is not generally a very interesting setting for a monster movie. All gothic charm is gone instantly.
  2. Can an international model be scary? Based on the trailer. Nope. Image result for sofia boutellaIf your monster’s not scary, what do you have? She looks painfully reminiscent of Enchantress from Suicide Squad. You do not want to remind people of Suicide Squad.
  3. Does this film qualify as a gender reversed remake? Nah, probably not. You still have a white male protagonist. Man, I miss Brendan Fraser.
  4. How much screen time will Russell Crowe get? He played a large role in the film trailers, but my feeling is that he probably will have like a 2 minute cameo, after the end credits or something. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but I don’t think he will be in it much.
  5. Where is the humor going to come from? I’m talking about intentional humor, of course. Tom Cruise wailing on a plane doesn’t count. The promotional material all looks completely humorless. The poster looks like a young adult best seller.   Image result for the mummy 2017 sofia boutella posterBoo.
  6. Will their be any other tie-ins shown? Johnny Depp is set to play the Invisible Man, Javier Bardem is Frankenstein’s monster. Those are apparently set in stone, so will they make an appearance?

Released June 9th, 2017

-Walter Howard-