Toy Story 4 Review

Disney and Pixar Upend Expectations with this Fourth Sequel that Comes to Justify Itself in Moving and Necessary Ways.

Child's Play Review

This Re-Boot/Re-Make of the Original, 1988 Killer Doll Slasher Flick is Made Fun by a Game Cast and some Creatively Endearing Choices.

Aladdin Review

Will Smith and a Charismatic Ensemble Bring Director Guy Ritchie's Live-Action Re-Make of the Classic Animated Tale to Life Just Enough to Justify its Existence.

MIB: International Review

Director F. Gary Gray and a Charismatic Cast Featuring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson aren't Enough to Lift this Reboot to the Height of its Predecessors.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Review

This Sequel to the High-Concept, but Only Mildly Entertaining 2016 Film Tries for More yet Comes up Feeling Emptier than Before.

First Trailer for DARK WATERS Starring Mark Ruffalo

In case you thought you were suffering from some strange case of déjà vu where there was a new trailer out for a movie with the same title as a random horror flick you're pretty sure you saw over a decade ago starring Jennifer Connelly then be confused no more as that was Dark Water while this new trailer is for a movie called Dark Waters! Emphasis on S! This also isn't a drama/horror/mystery based on a Japanese film that spawned from the countless Japanese-inspired horror films of the early aughts thanks to Gore Verbinski's Americanized version of The Ring, but rather this is a straight-up legal drama based on the true story of an attorney (Mark Ruffalo) for DuPont Chemical who discovered that his company was poisoning the residents of a small town for over forty years. Naturally, Ruffalo's Robert Bilott must do what is right and stand up to the evil corporation even if it means losing his job, his reputation, his family or in other words-his entire sense of livelihood, but to go to bed with a clear conscience is of a top priority and Dark Waters looks as if it will provide a very compelling set of actions that will at least lead to what we can hope is Bilott's clean conscience at the end of the film. All of that said, this is also the new film from Academy Award-nominated director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I'm Not There, Carol) and while I've always been more lukewarm to his films as opposed to critics more my senior it's also not hard to recognize the filmmaker's penchant for putting his own, interesting twist on certain types of stories or genres and hopefully that will be the case here. Focus Features has certainly packaged this as a movie with an important message and as a movie any viewer would benefit from seeing if not necessarily for the entertainment value, but for the information around this story that it's bringing to a wider audience and yet-as far as Haynes' work goes-this looks fairly straightforward; a legal thriller where the little guy must risk it all to stand up to the evil corporation. And while I'm sure there's more to the film than what this first trailer indicates, I'm curious as to just how much of an imprint Haynes will leave on this one. Dark Waters also stars Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman and opens in limited release on November 22nd, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - HUSTLERS

Warner Bros. had both a good and bad weekend as IT Chapter Two delivered a strong enough second weekend to retain its number one spot with nearly $40 million, dipping just 55% from its opening weekend and pushing the domestic total to over $153 million. The horror sequel also added another $47 million internationally for a global total that now sits at $323.3 million with both films in the franchise having now grossed over $1.02 billion worldwide on a collective production budget of only $60 million. Not bad, clown. On the other side of things though is the studios other new release, The Goldfinch, which bombed heavily by delivering one of the worst opening weekends ever for a wide release with only $2.6 million from over 2,500 locations; that performance is the sixth worst ever for a film debuting in that many locations. I've yet to see the film, but was heavily anticipating it as director John Crowley's previous film, Brooklyn, was one of my favorites the year it was released. I still look forward to seeing The Goldfinch, but both the poor box office and harsh reviews certainly put a damper on my expectations. Meanwhile, STX Entertainment's Hustlers burst onto the scene with strong word of mouth out of the Toronto International Film Festival last week to deliver the studio's largest opening in its short history with an excellent $33.2 million debut topping STX's previous record-holder, 2016's Bad Moms which opened with $23.8 million. Believe it or not, Hustlers is also the largest live-action debut for Jennifer Lopez as well, speeding past the $23.1 million opening for Monster-in-Law in 2005. Not surprising is the fact the film seemed to play as a "girl's night" favorite given the strong women's empowerment themes as the film's opening weekend audience was made up of 67% female with 69% of that crowd being aged 25 or older. The film presently sits at a strong 88% on RottenTomatoes while opening day audiences gave the film a "B-" CinemaScore. In short, it's not hard to imagine Hustlers landing anywhere in between the $100 to $120 million mark as its final domestic tally. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - IT CHAPTER TWO

IT Chapter Two kicked off the fall box office season with a strong $91 million debut though it failed to match the first film's $123 million opening back in 2017. On a more granular level, IT Chapter Two debuted in 4,570 theaters over the weekend with a per theater average of $19,926 while its predecessor earned about $10,000 more per theater on opening weekend in roughly 500 fewer theaters. There is also the running time to consider as Chapter Two runs ten minutes short of three hours (trailers and commercials not included) while the first film was a notable half hour shorter if not slightly more. Whether this had an impact on the number of shows theaters held is indeterminable as is the number of tickets bought to other movies by underage teens who then snuck into this finale, but the point of it all being that while IT Chapter Two might not have risen to the heights of its predecessor it was still well within expectations, ranking as the second largest horror opening of all-time behind only its companion film. Furthermore, 2017's IT remains the only horror film to ever open with more than $100 million meaning these two films now rank as the first and second largest openings for both a horror film as well as the first and second largest September openings of all-time. Now the question will be how much can Chapter Two leg it to? The first film finished with a domestic total of $327 million with $372 million more coming if from the rest of the world for a global cume of over $700 million. Odds are Chapter Two won't reach those heights, but as far as domestic totals go it's not hard to see the film crossing the $200 million mark-maybe even going as high as $240 million; this is especially true if the competition is right through the rest of the month (Ad Astra, Rambo, and Judy are among the other movies for adults opening in September with no other horror releases to speak of until Joker on October 4th) and into the midst of Halloween season. On the plus side, the film also received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences, the same as the original film, meaning prospects should be largely positive per word of mouth. Internationally, IT Chapter Two opened in 75 markets and delivered $94 million, giving the film a $185 million global opening. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Final Trailer for DOCTOR SLEEP Starring Ewan McGregor

It's been five or six years since I've seen Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and while it's certainly one of those movie experiences that stays with you I'll definitely be refreshing my memory when it comes to Kubrick's horror classic before venturing into director Mike Flanagan's (The Haunting of Hill House, Ouija: Origin of Evil) adaptation of Stephen King's sequel to both his and Kubrick's seminal work. The story of how Doctor Sleep, the novel, came to be is fairly interesting given in December of 2009, King posted a poll on his official website asking fans to vote for which book he should write next, Doctor Sleep or the next Dark Tower novel. The poll closed on December 31, 2009, when it was revealed that Doctor Sleep won by a mere forty-nine votes. King then posted an update confirming Doctor Sleep was in the works in 2011 and that the plot included a traveling group of psychic vampires called "The True Knot". Eventually, Doctor Sleep was published on September 24, 2013 and now-almost forty years after the release of Kubrick's film which King himself remains disappointed in-we have this film adaptation of the thirty-six year-later sequel King wrote to his original book. All of that said, it would seem a delicate situation to try and craft a movie sequel to said seminal work not only for the reason that The Shining is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, but also because a sequel is largely only ever just a sequel-"the second one"-and will forever live in the shadow of that original. So, the question is, "how does one combat that? Does one even try?" While I haven't read King's sequel and have no idea as to the critical response or how it was received by general consumers (or, for that matter, how the original novel was received as the film adaptation has always overshadowed the original work in my lifetime) it is comforting to know that someone as well revered and well seasoned in the horror genre as Flanagan is the one who was given the keys to build this castle. Like I said, I haven't read either of King's novels and its been a few years since I've seen The Shining, but as a horror film in and of itself this final trailer Warner Bros. has released offers an intriguing premise and spooky atmosphere outside of its promise of returning to the Overlook Hotel. Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Jacob Tremblay, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Alyn Lind and arrives in theaters on November 8, 2019.

IT CHAPTER TWO Review

IT Chapter Two is a film with great vision, while also being one that lacks focus. This lack of an anchor, or heart-if you will-is the source of much frustration as it's clear director Andy Muschietti has great ambition for what he not only wants his adaptation to be, but represent; this is to be the modern day equivalent of The Shining, a Marvel-esque sized accomplishment in the horror genre, but while the mission is clear and the intent appreciated it seems Muschietti's bloated sequel to his 2017 introduction to the Losers Club bit off more than it could chew. Rather than purely being the twenty-seven year-later sequel it was assumed to be, IT Chapter Two largely operates in a fashion where the first, more endearing chapter, didn't have to exist. It's nice that it does and of the two is the better film, but this is because that movie-while still sprawling in its scope-didn't have to deal in two separate timelines, didn't have to fully dissect the characters, but more just plant the seeds for them and it didn't have to somehow shoehorn in a story about an ancient ritual that would defeat this cosmic entity that we come to know is Pennywise the dancing clown. In other words, Muschietti's predecessor had the ability to focus on its characters in both its heroes and its antagonist while developing the undesirable, but sometimes symbiotic relationship between the two. In Chapter Two, Muschietti and his editor, Jason Ballantine, never find the necessary groove to make everything the film is trying to accomplish flow with the comprehension necessary to lend the film that needed focus, that necessary anchor that gives the viewer something specific to latch onto so that it connects to-if not everything the film is trying to do-at least one thing that will make it feel more personal and therefore more haunting. IT Chapter Two is such a film of fits and starts that it's almost impossible to find any one thing to latch onto at all, but lucky for us Chapter Two does in fact boast a game cast of adult Losers that make the jumbled narrative bearable while Muschietti's visual prowess remains on impressive display throughout. Furthermore, Bill Skarsgård's performance as Pennywise is still gold, but even in this regard the filmmakers don't take as much advantage of the performance as they should-layering in CGI and not allowing Skarsgård's disturbing portrayal to truly breathe. Like a buffet plate that's loaded with everything that looked good, IT Chapter Two ends up a pile of parts with a single bite out of each-nothing fully digested leaving the consumer full, but not satisfied.

First Trailer for BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Starring Will Smith & Martin Lawrence

There were a mere eight years between 1995's Bad Boys and 2003's Bad Boys II, so believe me when I say I'd thought the expiration date had long since passed for us to get that much requested third film to round out a trilogy of Bad Boys films featuring Will Smith's Mike Lowery and Martin Lawrence's Marcus Burnett and yet...here we are. I'm still somewhat in shock this movie actually exists, has been shot and now has a release date and trailer. It's real and for better or worse in terms of the final result, it feels so good to see Smith and Lawrence together again. Bad Boys II came out the summer after I turned sixteen and though I'd seen plenty of action flicks before, Bad Boys II felt like the be all end all to big, gluttonous R-rated action that just blew me away with its scope, its style, its comedy and everything in between. And while it's taken seventeen years, "better late than never" is the mantra we're going with here as new series directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were brought in to try and replicate the aesthetic and energy of Michael Bay from a screenplay by Joe Carnahan and Chris Bremner, with a story credit going to Peter Craig (The Town). Carnahan was originally set to direct this third installment, which I think would have been a wise choice given the typical bonkers nature of his movies (Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, Stretch) mixed with the general credibility he lends them in terms of emotional investment, but El Arbi and Fallah seem to have continuing franchises on lock down as they'll next be directing Beverly Hills Cop 4. One can only hope this bodes well for the quality of Bad Boys for Lif3 (I don't know if that's how we're officially writing it, but I like it), but as of right now this trailer delivers everything I could hope to get from a Bad Boys movie in that Smith and Lawrence look to be in good form, the action feels like a priority and they're undoubtedly busting some kind of drug ring; opposing styles/personalities be damned. Bad Boys For Life also stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez, Kate Del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano and opens on January 17, 2020.

MOVIES I WANNA SEE MOST: FALL 2019

Per usual, there are a lot of things to be excited for this fall at the movies. I'd like to state up front that when I say "fall" in terms of movie-going seasons that "fall" will be defined as beginning next week, the first weekend of September, through to the end of the year. This actually makes it more difficult to narrow down my most anticipated releases into a short ten as there are releases the first three weeks of September that I've been looking forward to the majority of the year, but I’ll hold off on those until I actually get to the list. Furthermore, I want to provide some context for this list by stating that the ten movies I’ve picked are the ten movies I would want to see most if I could only see ten more movies for the remainder of the year; if I were only allowed to enter a theater ten more times in 2019 these are the ten I would pick to see on those visits. Sure, there are things like Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, the new Jumanji film and Frozen II that I’m excited for and interested to see for one reason or another, but if I don’t know that any of those would necessarily make the cut if it were an absolute scenario such as the one I'm putting myself in for the sake of widdling down the release schedule to the ten titles I'm actually most anticipating. What I do want to do first though, is go through some of the movies that aren’t going to make my list, but that I think deserve to be highlighted as they have a lot of promise and one can only hope they turn out to be as fantastic as they look.