War for the Planet of the Apes Review

Star Andy Serkis and Director Matt Reeves Once Again Deliver a Deliberate and Meditative Blockbuster, but it Still Never Feels as Epic as it Seems to Want to.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Director Jon Watts Brings Everyone's favorite Webslinger to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a Fun if not Necessarily Profound Fashion.

Despicable Me 3 Review

The Third Time is Not a Charm for this Once Charming and Inventive Franchise as Despicable Me 3 is More of the Same with Few Redeeming Qualities.

Baby Driver Review

Director Edgar Wright Delivers yet Another Exciting Piece of Cinema with an Action Film Set to a Symphony of Classic Hits.

The Big Sick Review

Kumail Nanjiani Writes and Stars in this Unique Romantic Comedy about the True Story Around His and His Wife's First Year Together that is both Charming and Sincere.

DUNKIRK Review

Dunkirk is a horror movie. Make no mistake about it. You never see the villains. There is no physical trace of the German military anywhere in the film until one of the final frames. And yet, the presence of these antagonists looms over every scene. It is so inescapable in fact it is nearly suffocating. There is, in essence, no relief from the situation at hand and much like a horror movie more steeped in that genre's conventions you know only one thing is certain: bad things will happen and people will die. That doesn't mean one can look past the horror by not getting as accustomed with the characters, the people, experiencing these situations though, but rather Christopher Nolan has slyly and only crafted his characters to the extent that one largely puts themselves in the shoes of these individuals. As with any good scary movie there is an allure to the uncertainty that could not necessarily be labeled as enjoyable, but is engaging nonetheless and that essentially describes the emotions one will likely feel throughout the entirety of Dunkirk. From the opening, breathtaking scene in which one of our young protagonists flees the gunfire of unseen enemy forces to moments in which civilians on their personal boats navigate the rough seas as they cross the channel in hopes of nothing more than saving a few lives-Nolan ratchets up the tension and holds it as tight as he possibly can for an hour and forty-five minutes. Unlike most Nolan pictures, there is a brevity to Dunkirk that is key in sustaining the tension and keeping it at as intense a level as possible throughout, but like most Nolan films this is still very much an experience more than it is just another trip to the theater; it is immersive in a way that is difficult to put into words necessarily, but Dunkirk was always going to be something different as it sees one of the greatest filmmakers of our current generation crafting his version of a World War II film and to that extent this is a lean and intense piece of filmmaking that is rather exceptional. Lifting from the horror genre in terms of approach is only the beginning of what makes Dunkirk haunting, but much of what has to do with the accomplishment the film turns out to be is the way in which each of the elements Nolan uses to craft his movie congeal in such a natural way. Whether it be the structure that is used to differentiate between the timing and perspective of the tales from the air, land, and sea or the pounding score from longtime Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer that more or less makes up for dialogue in the film to the face of Kenneth Branagh in general. Dunkirk is a work in which it would seem there was nothing easy about creating what we see on the big screen, but that comes together in such an effortless fashion it feels as if there was no other way in which the movie might have ultimately turned out. In short, it's a reality where it seems the filmmaker's ambition has genuinely been met.

SDCC: New Trailer for THOR: RAGNAROK Starring Chris Hemsworth

I can't say that I've necessarily ever been excited for one of the Thor movies. Curious, sure, but more than anything I've always been a bit concerned that Thor is where the Marvel universe would surely lose its vanilla footing and their time-tested formula would finally fail them. And to a certain extent this is true; I don't know that I could find anyone who might not agree Thor: The Dark World is one of the lesser if not the least of the Marvel properties released thus far (though Doctor Strange and Iron Man 2 puts up a good fight). Thor has seemingly always received the short end of the hammer when it comes to either scope or director, but Ragnarok is making up for both as not only does the subtitle hint at the time in Norse mythology when the cosmos are destroyed, but Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have brought in filmmaker Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) who, given the previous teaser and now this fantastic trailer, has brought what seems to be a fresh start to the doomed Asgardian world. It may seem a little contradictory that the film dealing in the end of our titular characters world is also the one with the brightest color scheme and best sense of humor, but that's the main takeaway here. The trailer wastes no time in getting down to business and providing a quick synopsis of the story Ragnarok will offer as one of the first images we see is new villain Hela (Cate Blanchett) destroying the all powerful Mjölnir, Thor's hammer, along with his home world-forcing the Avenger across the universe into unknown worlds and to be imprisoned by unspecified beings that force him to participate in gladiator matches where he comes up against none other than Mark Ruffalo's Incredible Hulk. Needless to say, this things looks like it will easily take the cake for beingt he best Thor film we've ever seen as not only does the whole of the movie look good, but some of these visuals are genuinely stunning and I'm hoping that music is a sample from the score as it's not only unique, but pretty freakin' awesome. I was always slightly concerned we might get an Edgar Wright situation with Waititi, but it seems Marvel has learned a good lesson and I'm really excited and really hopeful that what we'll see on screen will be Waititi's unfiltered vision. Thor: Ragnarok also stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jef Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Sam Neill, and opens on November 3, 2017.

SDCC: New Trailer for JUSTICE LEAGUE

With Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman becoming the biggest movie of the summer Warner Bros. has put all of their effort into turning the tide on the rest of their heroes as they have debuted a lengthy new trailer for Justice League today at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. This trailer looks and feels awesome. What is there not to like? Ben Affleck's Batman is doing his thing, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is more or less his second in command while Ezra Miller's The Flash and Jason Momoa's Aquaman make it look like either of them could very easily steal the show. The only kind of question mark is Ray Fisher's Cyborg, but I like what we see of that mostly-CGI character here. What's interesting about this movie is that we have to keep in mind it was being planned and prepped for long before the backlash Dawn of Justice received and it is a film that has clearly had a new light shined on it due to those reactions. If you read any of the set visits from last summer you'll remember the fact WB and Snyder immediately went to work building a more positive narrative around the DCEU and for the most part, that was totally demolished by Suicide Squad. Ultimately, the film might have a spunkier tone due to quick re-writes, but it will still look like and be an epic Snyder film which is what these heroes and gods deserve. I don't mind owning up to the fact I'm a Snyder fan and that I hope his vision for this cinematic universe is seen through to the end even with the recent events of his personal life and the fact Joss Whedon has come in to steer Justice League to its opening day. Side note: really happy they still haven't showed us a glimpse of Henry Cavill's Superman despite the fact we know he will be back in some capacity for Justice League which hits theaters on November 17th, 2017. J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, and Amber Heard also star.

SDCC: Debut Trailer for Steven Spielberg's READY PLAYER ONE

It seems as if Steven Spielberg has been working on an adaptation of Ernest Cline's 2011 novel, Ready Player One, since it was released, but now that work is turning into reward and reality as the first trailer/footage for Spielberg's big-budget science fiction and utopian/dystopian adaptation has arrived via Warner Bros and San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. Spielberg made his first appearance at Comic-Con since 2011 when he came with Peter Jackson to promote The Adventures of Tintin though this time around it was all about Spielberg and despite the obvious fact that he was once again welcomed with open arms he also made good on what the fans seemingly expected from the adaptation in that this first look at the footage certainly seems to have delivered the goods. If Comic-Con and Disney's D23 Expo have taught me anything this week though it is the fat that I have a lot of reading to do over the course of the next several months between both this and A Wrinkle in Time. Spielberg, along with cast members Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and T.J. Miller who were also in attendance alongside author Cline and screenwriter Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Last Stand) presented the first footage from his highly anticipated sci-fi adaptation and as I've just stated the response seems to be overwhelmingly positive. As I personally had no expectations walking into the trailer or any real idea of what the story consisted of I was pleasantly surprised by the central idea the film and story seems to be centered around. At first, based simply on a plot description that told me that the creator of a massive multiplayer online game called Oasis dies and posthumously releases a video in which he challenges all Oasis users to find an Easter Egg that allows that player access to his fortune I thought it sounded very much like it would be akin to watching a video game play out on screen, but Spielberg has seemingly focused in on the mystery aspect of the story and the relevant themes of how each individual possesses their own particular version of reality via the ever-popular virtual reality. Spielberg also made heavy use of motion-capture for the film and that has made for what look to be some truly breathtaking visuals. That said, I'm also looking forward to getting a first look at The Papers, which is the director's real-life drama that’s currently in production with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and will actually be arriving in theaters first. Ready Player One also stars Hannah John-Kamen, Simon Pegg, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, and opens on March 30th, 2018.

SDCC: First Trailer for JIGSAW

It has been seven years since a Saw movie graced our theater screens at Halloween, but that was as long as Lionsgate could hold out as they have now attempted to reboot the once prolific franchise some thirteen years after James Wan's original became a surprise hit. I remember anxiously looking forward to each installment especially after the second and third films turned out to be much better than I could have ever expected, but as the series went on and became more and more convoluted introducing more and more players to not just the game, but in extraneous subplots outside the victim/torture scenarios it became increasingly more difficult to both keep up and care. When it finally came down to it, the Saw franchise went out with a whimper in 2010 with what is no doubt its worst entry in The Final Chapter. It seems Lionsgate will have to now retract that title and find a new name for that film as the directors of Daybreakers and Predestination, brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, have come along to craft Jigsaw. Upon hearing that title one might think this is some kind of origin story and that some young, handsome actor has been cast to play a young John Kramer, but that would almost immediately lead to the thought that such a route would be pointless given we were taken through all of Kramer's backstory and motivations throughout the course of those six sequels from 2005-2010. So, what exactly were the Spierig brothers going to do to add a layer of freshness to this stale franchise? Well, that was left up to screenwriters Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg AKA the guys who brought you such classics as Piranha 3D, Good Luck Chuck, and Sorority Row (2009). And so, what did these guys deliver? Apparently Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, returning) will follow a present day investigation as bodies begin turning up around Jigsaw's hometown, each of them having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to Kramer, but we all know Jigsaw has been dead for a while now so how is this possible? Will you be tuning in to see if the mystery is solved this Halloween? Hit the jump to check out the first trailer and let me know in the comments what you think of this latest attempt to reboot a once profitable franchise that hopes to capitalize on nostalgia from less than a decade ago. Jigsaw stars Bonnie Siu, Brittany Allen, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Matt Passmore, Sonia Dhillon Tully, Tina Jung, and opens on October 27th, 2017.

SDCC: Green & Red-Band Trailers for KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

The second trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the first major release from 2017's edition of San Diego Comic-Con. This is the follow-up to the wildly successful Kingsman: The Secret Service from 2014 with director Matthew Vaughn returning for what will be his first sequel despite two other films he's directed having spawned follow-ups. So, what is it about the world of the Kingsman that made Vaughn want to return? It seems to be the fact there is so much more to explore here whereas Vaughn knew that what he had to say about the Kick-Ass and X-Men universes was more or less complete in his respective films. With Kingsman, which, like Kick-Ass, is based on a Mark Millar graphic novel, the filmmaker seemingly only scratched the surface of the world in which this secret service organization exists and the sequel is certainly expanding that world. Bringing in a host of big name newcomers. The Golden Circle sees the Kingsman's headquarters being destroyed and the world coming under siege forcing Taron Edgerton's Eggsy on a journey that leads him to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called the Statesman. This new trailer certainly shines more light on the Statesman giving Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal a lot more to do this time around as well as getting a little more of Julianne Moore's villain who she's described as “Martha Stewart On Crack” . The trailer is also pretty relaxed about showing us Colin Firth's Harry Hart is alive and kicking, but I'm hoping there's more to this story that is divulged in the final cut. Vaughn and his crew have really seemed to up the ante by genuinely expanding the scope of the universe in which these characters exist so I'm hoping that given the director has finally decided to make a sequel that this turns out to be well worth the time and creativity invested. Kingsman: The Golden Circle also stars Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sophie Cookson, Mark Strong, Michael Gambon, and opens on September 29th, 2017.

First Trailer for THE SHAPE OF WATER from Director Guillermo del Toro

Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s latest, The Shape of Water, and it certainly looks like a Guillermo del Toro film. I say that not to talk down about the project as I adore del Toro's visual style and his eye for detail, but I hope the filmmaker simply isn't treading familiar ground here. An original story with a screenplay by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones) the story follows a lonely, mute woman named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who performs janitorial duties for a top-secret government laboratory. Within this mysterious facility a one-of-a-kind inhabitant is trapped and seemingly being tortured by something of a mad scientist/military hyprid as played by Michael Shannon. This inhabitant is not human, of course, because it is played by Doug Jones and is in a Guillermo del Toro picture, but he is more a humanoid creature who lives its life entirely underwater. Through what the lengthy trailer tells us we can discern that Elisa and the creature form something of bond with one another if not a close and intense relationship that sees each of them filling a large void in their life with the presence of the other. It is presented as a sweet, star-crossed love story of sorts within the context of a monster movie. It's something del Toro has done multiple times before with Pan's Labyrinth and Crimson Peak as he uses period pieces and real world events to inform a supernatural fairytale, but while the template may be worn I am certainly optimistic for what mysteries and adventures the director might ultimately bring to the table. And, of course, the film looks like a visual wonder and has an aura that each of del Toro's films possess reassuring us we're in a certain place and time to the extent we somewhat know what to expect, but don't all at the same time. The visionary filmmaker always tends to make movies that are fun to watch if not intriguing on a deeper level as well so despite the outline feeling somewhat familiar I hope there is enough unique stuff going on within this latest effort that will allow it to become its own entity. The Shape of Water also stars Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and opens December 8th, 2017.

THE BIG SICK Review

I love movies about stand-up comedians. There is something to the art form that I, personally, don’t believe I’d ever be able to successfully master and that is the factor of succeeding in such a fashion where it outwardly seems like one is struggling without actually struggling at all. Stand-up is very much an art that requires one to put their whole selves on the line and bank on the fact their personality is endearing enough for the majority of the audience to find appealing and latch onto. To do this one has to express a large amount of humility while simultaneously sparking a small amount of jealousy-jealousy in the way that the audience wishes they could channel and overcome their own life’s obstacles in the same way a given comedian seems to be doing by discussing them in front of a crowded room. One can’t succeed at the job too effortlessly or they lack credibility yet if the routine doesn’t come with a certain amount of effortlessness they seemingly lack the natural “it’ factor it takes to thrive; to stand out among a sea of other would-be storytellers. It’s a fine line one must walk in order to be able to pull off a certain kind of aura and it no doubt comes down to knowing one’s self better than others might ever care to get to know themselves i.e. exposing or opening one’s self up to their own shortcomings, faults, disadvantages-whatever it may be that people believe takes them down a few pegs from the pedestal they constantly hope to achieve as a person. By all accounts, Kumail Nanjiani is a fine stand-up comedian though I’d be lying if I said I’d listened to any of his sets prior to seeing his feature writing debut in The Big Sick (and no, I haven’t seen Silicon Valley either). This is brought up for the reason that those strengths Nanjiani plays toward as a stand-up have clearly crossed over to his screenwriting process as not only have he and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, crafted a heartfelt and rather eye-opening story around cultural differences in relationships, but they have done so by telling their story and to do this in an effective manner one certainly has to know themselves and be honest about themselves with themselves if that story is truly going to resonate. Needless to say, The Big Sick accomplishes as much rather well and, not coincidentally, does so with just the right amount of effortlessness so as to be both endearing to audiences in its quest and enviable to fellow artists in its craft.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 18, 2017