Captain Marvel Review

The Latest Marvel Cinematic Universe Film and the First to Have a Female Lead Sells us on A Lot of Stuff, but not Specifically on the Character.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review

This Final Chapter in the DreamWorks Animation Trilogy is about Growing-Up yet Makes You Feel Like a Kid Again.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Review

The Surprise May be Gone, but Thankfully this 5-Year-Later Sequel Maintains Most of the Wit, Charm, Humor, and Heart of the Original.

Alita: Battle Angel Review

Robert Rodriguez's Manga Adaptation is More a First Chapter than a First Book, but the Visual Ambition is Worth the Price of Admission Alone..

Green Book Review

This Academy Award-Winning Best Picture is Boiled Down History, but Damn if the Two Leads don't Turn in Charming Performances.

CAPTIVE STATE Review

Rupert Wyatt passed on making a sequel, never mind a complete trilogy of Planet of the Apes movies which then gave writer/director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) an in to complete the trilogy and go on to now be penning and planning a solo Batman film for WB's DCEU. Would Wyatt have preferred this career path? Who's to say? And who's to say if Wyatt had rounded out the Apes films that he would have been offered the Batman film at all, but it does stand to question if Wyatt regrets his decision to pass on such high profile opportunities. Since deciding not to return to the world of stories about simians though, Wyatt has only made one feature (2014's re-make of The Gambler for Paramount which held a $25 million production budget and only turned over a $39 million worldwide gross) with Captive State being his second outing into feature-length material and a seemingly personal one at that. Wyatt co-wrote the screenplay for Captive State with Erica Beeney (The Battle of Shaker Heights) and serves as a producer, but this low-budget drama/thriller has more in common with Wyatt's 2008 breakout, The Escapist, than it does his 2011 introduction to the mainstream despite posing as a tale that typically functions on the same scale or budget as a Planet of the Apes sequel.

Official Trailer for AVENGERS: ENDGAME

Since the credits rolled on Infinity War nearly a year ago now and with Captain Marvel's opening weekend now behind us, the countdown to Endgame has officially begun and Marvel just ratcheted up all the feels with this official trailer release. Still holding back a considerable amount and being very picky with what new footage we are allowed to see before any of the general public actually sees the complete film, this official trailer plays more as an homage of sorts to the core original Avengers than it does a glimpse into the future of the MCU. This is a nice touch given this truly does feel like a culmination of ten-plus years of movie-watching while the tag on the trailer includes Brie Larson's Carol Danvers in an effort to move into the future as well. It's kind of surreal in a way that this was always going to be unavoidable, but somehow seemed as if it might be so big so as to forever elude us. Here we are though, less than two months out, we barely know anything about the plot of the film except for the countless theories that are floating around the internet, with this latest trailer not mentioning Thanos at all, and I can't help but know we'll all be all the better for it come Thursday, April 25th when the collective MCU fans sit down to experience the true end of an era. Avengers: Endgame also stars Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Evangeline Lily, Vin Diesel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff, Dae Bautista, Josh Brolin, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Wong, Don Cheadle, and opens April 26th, 2019.

Official Trailer for Disney's ALADDIN Starring Will Smith

It's been a tough road for Disney's live-action adaptation of their 1992 animated classic, Aladdin, thus far as it seems with each new look there is a fair amount of online backlash-most of which seems to be around Will Smith's incarnation of the Genie. Of course, if you're familiar with that seminal nineties movie (and if you're not, you need to get familiar) Genie was always going to be the biggest hurdle considering Robin Williams' groundbreaking iteration. While Williams' performance will obviously loom large it would seem naive to think Smith didn't think through this whole scenario before agreeing to take the role in the first place. Smith had to know he was in something of a no-win situation given the reverence for Williams' interpretation and the fact he would have to come-up with something both radically different and pretty special to even be allowed in the same conversation. I hope this is the case and given this first, true look and representation at what the full film might actually be like I'm more optimistic than I've yet to be in regards to this project at all, but I'm definitely more optimistic than I was a month ago. Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Dumbo, those are all one thing, but when you have a property that fuels nostalgia for the entire generation who is now the base demographic with expendable income there has to be a plan in place. With this official trailer we are allowed glimpses at more of the iconic moments from the animated original as well as seeing how the movie might mix things up so as to not be a complete carbon copy. The scale is present here, there is more personality to each of the characters, and there is the expected tone in the editing given this has director Guy Ritchie behind it (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes). That said, some of it does still look very staged and fake as opposed to the natural tangibility one would think is the point in creating these live-action re-makes. On the plus side though, along with some of the classic music that we hear references to in the trailer this live-action version will also feature new songs by Alan Menken and La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Menken wrote with Howard Ashman and Tim Rice for the 1992 version). Aladdin will also star Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and opens on May 24th, 2019.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 12, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL Review

Captain Marvel, notable for being the first female-led Marvel Cinematic Universe film after twenty-one movies, is a fun and sometimes unique take on the super hero origin story that unfortunately never finds its groove enough to the point it's somewhat fearful the character won’t be able to get her groove back when it comes time for Avengers: Endgame. For all intents and purposes, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s (Half Nelson, Mississippi Grind) MCU debut is your boilerplate Marvel origins story which, by virtue of where we’re now at in this universe, makes it feel small in comparison to even the most recent additions. Falling somewhere in between the muddled middle of Doctor Strange and Black Panther, Brie Larson's Carol Danvers isn't a riff on an origin story we've seen before, but neither does it have the added elements of magic as in Strange or the advantage of introducing us to a new world a la Panther. In a Phase Three world, a mostly Earth-set origin story was going to have to give us a little something more than also doubling as the origin story for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury or-at least-it was going to need to find a really cool, really fresh way to convey that story. For example, in the opening twenty or so minutes of Captain Marvel, we are treated to what is essentially a Star Wars or Star Trek-like space opera with the full-on introductions of the Kree and Skrull races we've heard whisperings of for years as well as to the Kree home planet and their military force for which Danvers has been trained by her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Such introductions lend the film something of a Guardians of the Galaxy-vibe, but the tone is different enough that this could simply be yet another facet of the MCU we haven't yet seen. Were Boden and Fleck, who also wrote the script alongside Geneva Robertson-Dworet (2018's Tomb Raider), to harness the momentum of this initial set-up and action sequence, executing it in the fashion of a genre flick of this type that was released in the decade their film is set, the film might have proven to be a more unique and odd side venture for the MCU, but unlike the flavor Taika Waititi brought to Thor: Ragnarok or the subversiveness James Gunn infused his GotG films with, Captain Marvel ends up being a perfectly serviceable, but highly average entry in the ever-expanding MCU; a movie that feels more like the pilot of a nineties spin-off series that never hits the same strides as the series that inspired it rather than the explosive debut it could seemingly have so easily been.

First Trailer for Ari Aster's MIDSOMMAR

In Sweden, "Midsummer" is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, taking place on a day between June 19 and June 25 as well as the preceding evening. Midsummer is such an important festivity in fact, that there have actually been discussions about making Midsummer's Eve into the National Day of Sweden. This is all well and good, but what does the director of last summer's breakout horror flick, Hereditary, know about this festival that we don't? Or, moreover, what might he know that would lead him to base his second feature for A24 around it? As it turns out, the holiday has its roots in a pre-Christian solstice festival. Rather than trying to stamp out such pagan festivals, the early Catholic Church would co-opt them by associating them with Christian celebrations. For example, the winter solstice took place on December 25th and thus establishing this as the date when Jesus was born allowed the Church to be able to absorb the pagan midwinter festival of Yule into the Christian celebration of Christmas. Further, Biblical sources suggest that St. John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus, meaning that his birthday could then be conveniently associated with the pagan summer festivals. Alas, "Midsummer" as it is presently celebrated was more or less born with the modern festival featuring the usual trademarks of food, entertainment, and fellowship, but with plenty of unique ticks such as the inclusion of magic and anything to do with nature being thought to have a special power as well as the large outdoor bonfires and the tradition of decorating a "maypole" with greenery and flowers. Writer/director Ari Aster will undoubtedly go after the pagan origins of this festival in order to produce some of the more "unconventional" aspects of this festival, but it will be interesting to see just how much religion and the origins of this real-life celebration play into Aster's narrative. For now, this first trailer offers all the mood and tone necessary to know that, at the very least, Aster's beautiful aesthetic was no fluke; this trailer is gorgeous. Midsommar stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgran, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, Will Poulter, and is currently set to open on August 3rd, 2019.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 5, 2019

2019 Oscar Predictions

This has been something of a whirlwind awards season given not only the tumultuous time the Academy itself has had trying to adapt to the ever-evolving cinematic and social landscape, but also in regards to the fact most of the second-tier awards shows leading up to the big night have put what is, at least for me, the most exciting film of the season on the back-burner. Going into the fall film festival season and then further into the rush of prime awards contenders being released it seemed A Star is Born was destined to go all the way and while eight Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture on top of $423 million worldwide on a budget of $36 million ain't too shabby, it was thought A Star is Born would be the most heavily favored film of the night, but when Sunday night comes and goes it wouldn't be surprising if Bradley Cooper's directorial debut goes home with only Best Original Song. Why A Star is Born went from pre-determined favorite to nearly flaming out completely is anybody's guess and could be attributed to voters disregarding the third re-make of a film to the highlights of other favored winners throughout awards season. It's somewhat depressing considering A Star is Born was one of my favorite films of 2018, but it will undoubtedly serve the film well in the years to come as it will be remembered more as a deserving film that got little love rather than an admirable film that received more than it deserved. Of course, the big winner of the night is expected to be Alfonso Cuarón's Roma as it garnered ten nominations and it wouldn't surprise me if it ended up taking home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Foreign Language Film (as predicted below) among others (Cinematography seems to be a lock as well), but given Paweł Pawlikowski's director nod for Cold War it's entirely possible Roma takes Best Picture and Cold War takes Foreign Language. Other than this though, there isn't much by way of drama or uncertainty as to who will be accepting statues Sunday night and thus the reason I've not only included who I think will win in the predictions below, but who I think should win. Hit the jump for my full list of predictions.

New Trailer for ROCKETMAN Starring Taron Egerton

After releasing a slight featurette focused on the fact star Taron Egerton (Kingsman) would be doing all of his own vocal work as Elton John in director Dexter Fletcher's upcoming biopic, Rocketman, earlier this week Paramount has now followed it up with the second, official trailer for the film and it must be said that this thing looks a thousand times better than it initially did after the reveal of that first teaser. That first teaser was released around the same time Bohemian Rhapsody was gracing theaters last year and after Rhapsody more or less followed the traditional beats of a music biopic and given Fletcher was brought in to finish the film after the firing of Bryan Singer it was easy to see why that first look left a feeling this might be more of the same despite John obviously being a singular and unforgettable figure both in both music and pop culture. What is great about this new, full-length trailer though, is that while it does somewhat stick to the familiar beats of the "rise to stardom" arc we've seen countless times before in movies of the same ilk it also really lends a sense of getting to know the man behind the facade, behind the excess, and behind the extravagance. There is a particular shot in the trailer where Egerton, dawning the famously sequined Dodgers uniform John wore during his 1975 show at Dodger stadium, goes from backstage to out in front of the overwhelming audience and the change in his facial expression so perfectly captures not only the essence of what the character might have been feeling at the moment, but also speaks to how much of and how good of a showman John was and still is to this day. There are also hints of the more whimsical, weird movie Rocketman is no doubt destined to be as Fletcher is said to have tried to display John's larger-than-life stage presence through what is more of a fantasy-like approach that channels the music and personality of John more appropriately rather than keeping things completely straightforward a la RhapsodyRocketman also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Gemma Jones, and opens on May 31st, 2019.