John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Review

Director Chad Stehelski and Keanu Reeves Continue to Up Their Game in this Third Installment as the Action is More Impressive than Ever.

Avengers: Endgame Review

This Season Finale for the MCU brings to a Conclusion one of the Greatest Experiments in Cinematic History with as Much Grace and Satisfaction as One Could Hope.

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu Review

The First Live-Action Pokémon Film Sports a Beautiful Aesthetic and some Fun Moments, but the Story Undoes Much of this Work.

The Intruder Review

Dennis Quaid Takes a Turn Into B-Movie Territory as a Maniac who Can't Seem to Let the Past Go.

Long Shot Review

Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron Deliver Their Version of the Romantic Comedy with some Political Commentary on the Side.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum ended it's first weekend with a total of $56.8 million dollars or $15 million more than the first John Wick made in its entire domestic run. That is to say, Keanu Reeves' latest franchise is more than on the upswing and puts the exceptional assassin in the same league as fellow action franchises like Mission: Impossible, Taken, and even with 007 himself-or is at least coming dangerously close to catching him. As of Monday, John Wick 4 is scheduled to hit theaters on May 21, 2021, so there is no room for doubt as to how happy Lionsgate was with this opening especially given the budgets for each John Wick film have increased marginally in comparison to the rise in return they've garnered. While John Wick: Chapter 2 ended with $172 million worldwide (a nice improvement over the original's $89 million), Parabellum is already at almost $100 million worldwide after only five days of release and will, in all likelihood pass the second film's final worldwide take with its domestic take alone if not come within throwing distance. As for Avengers: Endgame, it earned $29.4 million (-54%) over the weekend to bring its 24-day total to $770.8 million. This number puts it over the total domestic gross of Avatar ($760 million) to make it the second-biggest domestic earner of all time, but behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens at $937 million (which it seems nothing will ever be able to compete with). Worldwide, the MCU flick has now earned $2.615 billion and is $173 million away from beating Avatar to become the biggest movie of all time. In other words, this one is going to come down to the wire, folks. Furthermore, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu dropped 56% in its second weekend for a $24.815 total bringing its ten-day total to $94 million. The film scored another $56 million overseas, a 50% drop from last weekend for a now $287.4 million global cume putting it in a position to overtake Warcraft ($433 million worldwide) as the "biggest video game movie ever". The other new releases this week, A Dog's Journey and The Sun is Also a Star both disappointed with the sequel to A Dog's Purpose earning just $8 million over the weekend (as compared to the first film's $17 million opening) while the teen romance based on a YA novel starring two recognizable and incredibly good-looking people from popular TV shows simply couldn't translate into dollars as the film opened outside the top five at number eight with only $2.6 million. Given the film opened on 2,073 screens, this will likely end up falling into the disappointing category of having opened on over 2,000 screens yet still making less than $10 million domestic. As always, be sure to follow the official Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Official Trailer for THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN


In what could be seen as the next big trend in Hollywood we have yet another talking dog picture that guides us through the life of their owner this time featuring Kevin Costner as the pretentious, but completely pleasing puppy. While Sony and Universal have chosen to produce film adaptations of author W. Bruce Cameron's series of books about dogs finding their purposes and their way home, 20th Century Fox has instead decided to go with an adaptation of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein in which a dog named Enzo recalls the life lessons he has learned from his race car driving owner, Denny. Milo Ventimiglia plays Denny Swift in the film and though I've never seen a single episode of This is Us certainly seems to be playing on that shows audience to try and give his film career a boost as The Art of Racing in the Rain and Fox have no qualms about sporting the fact this is the same studio that brought you the heart-wrenching Marley & Me. In other words, they know exactly what they're doing and I honestly can't be that mad about it given my appreciation for that Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston tear-jerker and the fact this trailer sports more seemingly authentic moments in than all of any of those other Dog's Purpose films that set their premise on the idea of canine reincarnation. In fact, The Art of Racing in the Rain looks to be a more traditional reaffirmation of appreciating the little things in life as conveyed through the eyes of a spectator to Denny’s journey of life, love, and loss who undoubtedly appreciates all of it more those of us who become so wrapped up in what needs and has to be done that we forget to appreciate what we do. This is all well and good and will naturally move those who are suckered into watching it all the way to tears, but I'm anxious to see just how much more genuine this feels as opposed to Purpose or if we're operating in the same type of schmaltzy melodrama realm as those other, recent film where our hero is a witty and philosophically sophisticated dog. Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) and written by Mark Bomback (War for the Planet of the ApesThe Art of Racing in the Rain also stars Amanda Seyfried, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Gary Cole, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, and opens on August 9th, 2019.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM Review

It's been five years in real time, but in the life of John Wick (the entirely endearing Keanu Reeves) the man has had one hell of a month - if that. From losing his wife to losing the puppy his wife bought him to killing the son of the mob boss that killed his dog and stole his car leading him back into a life he only thought he'd left behind. In this ill-fated scenario, Mr. Wick found himself dealing with more and more repercussions of his actions to the point that at the end of the second film he was so filled with rage that he would seemingly never be able to forgive anyone who dared cross him again...much less himself for having allowed his life to slip back into these old routines. So filled with rage, in fact, that he broke the only rules he'd ever had to follow thus forcing the hand of his powerful friend, Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the grounds on which Wick had broken said rules of the league of extraordinary assassins that he was assigned the label of "excommunicado" therefore placing a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. These are the kinds of things that happen when one kills a member of a shadowy international assassin's guild though, not to mention a member who was seated at what is referred to as the "High Table". John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum begins with the stakes as high as they've ever been-even Wick's closest friends are unable to look past the bounty in order to give this broken man another chance. It is in this scenario and current mental state the character inhabits that make it fairly critical to have seen the previous films in director Chad Stehelski's now trilogy of films. Parabellum kind of assumes we're present in the theater because we're already invested in the character and then moves forward with such a momentum that there's little time to catch-up if you're not already in it. That said, the pacing is not just an excuse to continually grow the breakneck speed of the action as well as the scope, but is more a stylistic choice that every function of the script adheres to and if the John Wick trilogy has done one thing consistently it's adhere to stylistic choices. As the series has progressed more layers have been added, but never have these brought the story, character development, or action beats down. Rather, each of these elements necessary to making a feature motion picture are held to the same standards the action is. That isn't to say the dialogue is as Shakespearian as the action, but does it function so as to effectively elicit the intended visceral reaction of the audience? Damn straight.

Official Trailer for ANGEL HAS FALLEN Starring Gerard Butler

In the wake of John Wick 3 opening this weekend why not remind the world Gerard Butler also has an action franchise that is about to now become a trilogy all thanks to the fact it was lucky enough to open three months prior to White House Down (the superior Die Hard knock-off of 2013) and suck out all the air from the “protect the president” premise. While I certainly would have preferred to see director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) be given an excuse-and a budget-to explore how Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx’s chemistry might have carried over into multiple films more so than I’ve enjoyed seeing Butler bounce from scenario to scenario and director to director just so Lionsgate might have an excuse to make some money in the off season months, this is the reality we live in. With this trilogy capper, Angel Has Fallen, the studio has brought in writer/director Ric Roman Waugh who didn’t pen this script, but has apparently been writing and making films for over twenty years with his most notable feature being Snitch, the Dwayne Johnson-led action picture from 2013 about a dad who goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son. In Angel Has Fallen, Butler’s Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat. Also of note is the fact Morgan Freeman is now President in this universe as Freeman previously played the Speaker of the House who acted as President in the original and was promoted to VP in London Has Fallen though I wonder why Aaron Eckhart didn't care to return for another round as President Benjamin Asher. Whatever the case may be, it seems this thing will do well enough in its late summer release to muster up a few interested parties who have seen everything else and care just enough to know what Mike Banning if not Gerard Butler is up to these days. Angel Has Fallen also stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston, and opens on August 23rd, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU

This week on TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction we reviewed Warner Brothers Pokémon Detective Pikachu starring Justice Smith and featuring the voice work of Ryan Reynolds, but as far as box office is concerned the story was whether or not this internationally adored brand would be able to knock-off Avengers: Endgame in its third weekend of release. Ultimately, Endgame did end up dropping a little more than expected, but was still able to maintain the top spot over the weekend, holding off a record start for a video game adaptation from Detective Pikachu. With an estimated $63 million weekend, Endgame now has a domestic total that stood at $723.5 million as of Sunday and has, as of today, now earned $734.1 million in just nineteen days of domestic release. Endgame is only the third film ever to top $700 million domestically as it passed Black Panther ($700 million) to become the third highest grossing domestic release of all-time. Endgame will pass Avatar's $760 million domestic total by Saturday if not by Friday of this week to become the second highest grossing domestic release of all-time, but that number one spot held by The Force Awakens with $936 million is seeming less and less likely. On the international side of things, Endgame added another $102.3 million for a $1.76 billion international cume and a global total of $2.485 billion. This means the film remains the second highest grossing international and worldwide release ever, trailing Avatar in both categories by $302 million worldwide and $265 million. Avatar still sits atop the worldwide chart with $2.788 billion and given Endgame will, at the very least, seemingly finish its domestic run with around $850 million it feels like asking for another $200 million internationally throughout the rest of its theatrical run shouldn't be a big deal. Time will tell though. Finishing in second, Detective Pikachu earned $54 million over its first weekend and has, as of today, passed $63 million domestically making it likely to pass the $200 million worldwide mark before going into its second weekend of release. The adaptation of the 2016 video game, which itself is based on the massively popular Pokemon franchise, delivered the largest opening weekend for a video game adaptation topping 2001's Lara Croft Tomb Raider ($47.7m). Meanwhile, The Hustle lived up to expectations ($13 million), but Poms ($5.4 million) and Disney's release of the Fox Searchlight drama, Tolkien ($2.2 million), both struggled in their debuts while The Intruder ($6.6 million) and Long Shot ($6.1 million) hung on better than expected, both remaining in the top five. As always, be sure to follow the official Tavern Talk YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Teaser Trailer for MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL Starring Angelina Jolie

First of all, it will have been over five years since the first Maleficent was released by the time this oddly scheduled sequel arrives in theaters. Was anyone clamoring for this? Doubt it, but the more pressing question might be did anyone really care for the first one? I mean is there a large enough pocket of the population who were eleven in 2014 that are now sixteen and are just beside themselves with the fact they're finally getting a Maleficent sequel? For one reason or another, I just don't tend to believe that to be the case. And yet, here we are as this Halloween season Angelina Jolie along with much of the original cast (which feels surprising) return to stir up a little more trouble in their fantasy land for, as the slowed-down version of the popular song tells us in the trailer, this is the "season of the with." With a screenplay from Linda Woolverton (which would typically be encouraging given her involvement in that golden age of 90's Disney animation, but has become tainted by the fact she also wrote the predecessor to this as well as Alice Through the Looking Glass) the Mouse House took one-half of the Kon Tiki team in Joachim Rønning that they picked up to direct that fifth Pirates movie a few years back and slapped him on this CG-fueled project next with hopes that even if this follow-up doesn't necessarily perform as well as the original it will at least make its budget back and then some as well as having something of a kinder critical reception a la Dead Men Tell No Tales. To this point, that first Maleficent film did bank $758 million worldwide ($241 domestic) on a $180 million budget, so assuming they dropped the budget slightly on this one they should be in fine hands to make a couple extra bucks this fall. Still, even if this unnecessary and unwarranted sequel completely bombs it's not like it will be anything more than a blip on Disney's financial report in a year that also features three Marvel movies, a Star Wars film (and the end of the current saga at that!), the "live-action" The Lion King, and Toy Story 4. Come what may, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, and opens on October 18th, 2019.

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU Review

It's still difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that despite countless video games and other IP adaptations over the years that Pokémon has somehow eluded becoming a big screen, live-action event film until this weekend. I can remember Christmas of '99 and getting a Game Boy Color that had to be shared between myself and my siblings with each of us wanting to play our respective Pokémon games at the same time whether that was the red version I received or the blue version my brother did. This was my first real encounter with the world of Pokémon after which I enjoyed collecting the cards more so than I did necessarily playing the actual game. And then there was of course the animated series which led to a couple of animated feature-length films and some Nintendo 64 games (Pokémon Stadium was legit!), but in retrospect it all felt more like a fad that came and went rather quickly in the scheme of things. After the Pokémon roster started expanding past that original one hundred and fifty characters and through to a few years back when the brand re-claimed its dominance over the market with Pokémon GO-the interactive mobile game that had you feeling like you were actually catching Pokémon in the wild-I'd been more or less out of the loop. Moreover, despite how far-reaching Pokémon continued to be, I simply couldn't muster any interest in the multi-format craze; the individual facets of it seeming as widespread as the next and each with as dedicated a fan base as the next. What was I missing? With this in mind, one can imagine my initial response to the news Warner Bros. was hiring Ryan Reynolds to voice Pikachu in a live-action adaptation of one of the newer video games that dealt with this fan-favorite Poké-creature becoming a detective. In short, it sounded like a really dumb idea that could in no way translate to the big screen in any type of credible manner that might pull in an audience beyond the already initiated and the Deadpool 3 screenwriters. Rather, it felt as if it would probably end up going the route of those Alvin and the Chipmunk or Smurf movies where no one actually cared about them and the only people who saw them were children whose parents needed eighty-eight minutes of repose over the weekend. This was, of course, until the first trailer arrived lending the feature the favor of clearly being a more creative endeavor than those aforementioned cash before quality adaptations. This is to say there was evidence of a certain level of care given in the creation of Pokémon Detective Pikachu as the trailer and subsequent execution of the film illustrates both a style and ambition in developing this world that means to both fulfill the fan base as well as weave this strange attraction from the uninitiated by being just weird enough to be engaging; by being unabashedly unusual, but undeniably interesting.

Teaser Trailer for IT: CHAPTER TWO

The success of the first half of director Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King's IT afforded him the luxury of an A-list ensemble and plenty of time to develop and shoot this sequel we kind of already knew was happening even before that first film blew all expectations out of the water; going on to score the largest opening weekend for an R-rated movie ever, then continuing to perform week after week ultimately taking in over $700 million worldwide. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader lead the cast of IT: Chapter Two as the sequel picks up with the characters from the first film as adults twenty-seven years later. While not too much is known about the follow-up just yet, we obviously know from the book and previous mini-series that a devastating phone call brings "The Losers Club" back together and back to Derry, Maine. In speaking with Entertainment Weekly Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgård, stated that, "The arc of the first movie is that he, for the first time, experiences fear himself,” which could certainly mean the character might go in one of two drastically different directions, but it seems rather than sulk back into the darkness from which he came Pennywise will be seeking revenge as Skarsgård reiterated that this encounter with fear, "fuels hatred and anger towards the kids, who will be adults in this one, so I think there might be an even more vicious Pennywise. He’s really going after it.” While I've never read Stephen King's novel and  only saw the 1990 miniseries in the lead-up to the release of the 2017 film, this set of films (and maybe this simply comes from the precedent the sheer size of the book sets) quickly established themselves as separate from the pack of your typical trash horror flicks. Muschietti’s approach seemed to carry the objective of being more illustrious than usual and in pulling off this level of grandeur in that first film there is only more reason to be excited for what this final product might deliver thematically. Along with Skarsgård McAvoy, Chastain, and Hader IT: Chapter Two will also star Javier Botet, Xavier Dolan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Troy James, Jay Ryan, Jake Weary, Jess Weixler as well as seeing the return of Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, and Jeremy Ray Taylor. The film is scheduled to open September 6th, 2019.