The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - X-MEN: APOCALYPSE & ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

The extended Memorial Day weekend is typically a rather big weekend for movies as it somewhat kicks off the real summer movie season that has already been somewhat happening throughout the month of May. With this weekend though, most kids are officially done with school and more excited than ever to do things their school schedule doesn't typically allow for. This sense of freedom was evident in our seven o'clock Thursday screening of X-Men: Apocalypse being more crowded than I expected (though the same couldn't be said for Alice Through the Looking Glass). Given Apocalypse comes on the heels of the critical and commercial success that was Days of Future Past this new installment was always going to have big shoes to fill, but even as a kind of return to the team-up super-hero movie that the first X-Men film was, but with the fresh-faced cast of First Class, Apocalypse fell short with both critics and at the box office. Estimates for the four-day holiday weekend are in and 20th Century Fox is reporting an estimated $80 million holiday weekend total, placing the film at the top of the charts, but still being considered something of a disappointment considering that total is approximately $30 million less than DOFP's four-day total back in 2014 with its three-day total ranking sixth in comparison to the rest of the X-Men franchise. As for Disney's Alice sequel things only continue to look worse as the studio now anticipates a $34.1 million four-day weekend which is well off the $60 million tracking the film was targeting heading into the weekend (and a far cry from the $116 million opening weekend the first film scored in March of 2010). Still, Charles and I saw both films this weekend and have two new video reviews for you. So, without further adieu hit the jump to see our full video reviews as well as subscribe to our channel for a new review (or reviews) each week!

On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 31, 2016

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Review

For a movie wholly concentrated on time, time travel, and the essence of time it sure feels like this sequel to the 2010 Alice in Wonderland is a huge waste of it. Time that is. Of course, given that 2010 Tim Burton film made north of a billion dollars at the box office it was an inevitability that we'd be getting a sequel sooner or later, but it's still somewhat surprising it has come this late. Six years have passed, a handful of other live action adaptations of classic Disney animated films have been made and yet here we are, back in Wonderland. Having not read the Lewis Carroll stories on which these adventures of Alice have been based one has to imagine that to have made as big a cultural impact as they have they were more inventive and innovative than the film adaptations we're now receiving. To say that is to say that Alice Through the Looking Glass is no more interesting or compelling than its predecessor. It wasn't without hope that this viewer walked into this six year later sequel with optimism that new director James Bobin (The Muppets) might bring something fresh and exciting to what otherwise felt like the jaded side of Tim Burton that was incarnated in his predecessor. Transforming the widely known Wonderland as perceived by the naiveté of a child Alice, Burton turned the fantasy world into Underland and gave us a darker film than expected. That was all well and good until the movie didn't really work, but Bobin has now come along to bring to life a brighter, more enticing time in the realm of Wonderland as our heroine must travel through space and time to try and save the dying of depression Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). This brings to mind the biggest undoing of Through the Looking Glass in that its narrative drive simply isn't compelling enough to sustain its nearly two hour runtime. It becomes repetitive and as if it is searching for disparate plot strands to try and pull together a complete story. Linda Woolverton, who has made a career out of writing Disney films (including The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast), adapted Carroll's story here and while there are certainly moments of inspired humor, a few nice character moments, and grand majestic visuals by way of Bobin and the special effects team, there is no substance to the product as a whole. It is a wonder how forgettable the film turns out to be.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Review

At this point in the sixteen year-old X-Men franchise the only thing the film that followed the ultimate team-up/culmination of fourteen years of X-Men movies had to be was a good next adventure. Going from the high that was Days of Future Past featuring both old and new cast members with a time hopping plot that saw everything torn apart only to be put back together on a new timeline there was never going to be a way to compete, so why not just give audiences what they really wanted in a proper follow-up to First Class? Where the younger versions of the mutants we've all grown to love go on an adventure together and further solidify themselves as the X-Men? Maybe that would have been too easy. Maybe that would have been looked at as taking the road more traveled, but in following up the popular comics storyline of Days of Future Past it was immediately obvious director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg thought they needed to do the same with the sequel and so they opted to adapt another popular storyline from the comics that included one of the X-Men universe's biggest bads: Apocalypse. This was a fine idea in theory and certainly had fans of the series excited for a showdown between Professor X's mutant team and the very first mutant, but seeing as how Kinberg and Singer have chosen to execute that story on the big screen it feels less like a step in the right direction and more like a recycled collection of comic book movie clichés. The whole affair feels tired, rushed, and nowhere near as layered or nuanced as the two previous films that were all in all pretty stellar. That this latest trilogy of X-Men films featuring the incredible core cast of Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy goes out on such a generic note is rather disappointing, but more than that it is frustrating. It is so abundantly clear not only how much talent this cast has that is being wasted, but also how much potential this film had to be a really solid super hero flick with the same story even, but conveyed in different and more interesting ways. Fans of the genre will always be indebted to the X-Men films for jump starting the current domination of movies based on comic books, but while their counterparts at Marvel are flourishing it can't help but feel as if the X-Men are currently somewhat stunted.

First Trailer for THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Upon hearing the synopsis for the new film from director Peter Chelsom (The Mighty, Serendipity) I couldn't help but to think of the 2007 John Cusack film Martian Child which I remembered really wanting to see, but being disappointed by the follow through on the engaging premise. After watching the trailer for The Space Between Us I have the feeling this could very well go the same way as Martian Child. The premise is certainly intriguing and the trailer promises an interesting dynamic that could either play out in a very conventional manner or manage to tap into very specific, but very real emotions through what is still a fantastical set-up. I'm really hoping for the latter, but given the script comes from Allan Loeb I'm cautious to expect too much. The outcome, as with every movie, really depends on a number of factors, but Loeb has written movies along the lines of Just Go With It and The Dilemma (though I did like The Switch) so I have to wonder how much emotional insight there will be on the page for the actors and filmmakers to pull from. Maybe this is a personal project of his and there will be extra effort poured into it. I certainly hope so as this first trailer makes the film out to be a really unique idea that has some really interesting dynamics to explore and even the potential to say something impactful if not necessarily profound about the human race. Then again, it also looks like it could fall apart in the third act. As always, time will tell, but for now I'll remain optimistic as this trailer made me grin. The Space Between Us stars Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, and opens on August 19th, 2016.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE & NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING

This week there was a triple header hitting theaters in The Angry Birds Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and The Nice Guys. While myself, Charles, and the crew were able to catch all three of the films this weekend we also shot two reviews instead of just a single one as we were all pretty excited for the follow-up to 2014's Neighbors, but felt something of an obligation to talk Angry Birds as it was clear going into the weekend that the family film would win the box office. And the film to finally knock Captain America and Iron Man from the top spot was indeed The Angry Birds Movie as it claimed $39 million in its opening weekend. This win could be short-lived for the app adaptation though, as Disney and Pixar's Finding Dory opens in a month and is sure to be massive giving Angry Birds room to breathe, but only to a certain extent. Something of a bigger surprise to me, personally though, was the drop in which Neighbors 2 suffered when compared to the $49 million opening of the original. Comedy sequels hardly tend to make as much as their originals if that original is an out and out hit at the box office, but this drop seems incredibly steep considering the movie is actually really good. Bringing in an estimated $21.79 million for a third place finish, that's a 55.5% decline from the originals opening weekend. The only hope being that the film will have room to flourish on its good word of mouth as there isn't another R-rated comedy targeted at the under 25 crowd until the week after next when The Lonely Island's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opens. The last time a Lonely Island movie opened it was against Seth Rogen's Superbad to which Hot Rod didn't stand a chance, but nine years on and Popstar may be something of a death certificate to Neighbors 2. It will be interesting to see it play out, but for now be sure to hit the jump to see our full video reviews as well as subscribe to our channel for a new review every week!

Full Trailer for STAR TREK BEYOND

Apparently there were a few folks who weren't too pleased with the first glimpse of the latest Star Trek film we received back in December. I didn't realize I guess as I thought it was a fine enough teaser to let audiences know the movie was coming as well as get it in front of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That's all it really was anyway, being it was still eight months out from release at that point-a short teaser cobbling together what completed footage they had to notify the masses that would be seeing Star Wars that a new Star Trek movie on the horizon. Five months later though, and we've hardly heard or seen anything else about this third film in the new trilogy. That changes today as last night Paramount held an event in Los Angeles where it not only premiered a new trailer but announced that the world premiere of the film will take place at San Diego Comic-Con on July 20th with the world’s first outdoor IMAX screening complete with a live orchestra. All of that sounds good and exciting (though I'm interested if critics will have a chance to screen the film more than two days prior to the films wide release), but I was generally excited for the film anyway given Simon Pegg co-wrote the script with Doug Jung and Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin was taking over for J.J. Abrams. On top of all that, this second full-length trailer makes the film out to be nothing short of terrific. This is a full-fledged glimpse of what the story concerning Chris Pine's Captain Kirk and his crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise entails this time around. I'm sure we'll here complaints about how Lin and his team hid minority actors like Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella under pounds of make-up, but if the characters work (and Elba certainly seems to be intimidating here) I'm not sure that should matter. Regardless, I'm really excited for the movie and can't wait to see it. Star Trek Beyond also stars Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, and opens on July 22nd, 2016.

THE NICE GUYS Review

From the moment The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," kicks in and the old Warner Bros. logo flashes across the screen one can't help but be hooked by The Nice Guys. It's been eleven years since Shane Black made his directorial debut with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang after toiling away in the writers room for years and while it's been much too long since I've seen that Robert Downey Jr./Val Kilmer crime caper I have to imagine the cult following it has amassed since its release over a decade ago is happy to see Black back behind the helm of what he does best. Though Iron Man 3 may be the most divisive Marvel film of the bunch, Black clearly has a knack and a love for crafting stories from a time in which he obviously remembers fondly and nostalgically despite those times being admittedly reckless and ill-conceived. We are dropped into 1977 Los Angeles immediately, the music blaring, the now goofy clothes worn with honor, and a smog settling in over the skyline that immediately sets the tone of something being slightly askew. The magic of Black's touch in crafting the exact right tone he desires is that of not making this skewed feeling strictly pertain to the events of his story, but more it applies to the characters that will operate within this series of events that Black has crafted to more or less exploit the type of characters and the type of relationships he finds interesting and funny. That is all to say the plot actually matters very little here, but instead it is the chemistry of our two leads and the understanding with which they convey Black's dialogue and character qualities that make The Nice Guys more of an exception than the rule. Sure, there might have been two other actors that might have pulled this off in a similarly successful fashion and I'd even be willing to bet that replacing Russell Crowe with someone along the lines of a Liam Neeson or Kyle Chandler might have yielded better results, but Gosling absolutely owns his role and is essential to the movies success. This is Gosling's movie-make no mistake-and it will solidify both his presence and his talent as being among the most appealing in the business today (as if it wasn't already). As it is though, The Nice Guys is a buddy cop film that excels in creating a buddy dynamic so fun and compelling that all the cop stuff hardly matters.

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE Review

Walking into this feature length film based on, not even a legit video game, but an app I had no idea what to expect or what type of story this thing might entail. That said, I didn't expect much from The Angry Birds Movie and so to find out that it wasn't a complete waste of time, but in fact pretty funny in certain spots and put together with a fair amount of competence and investment that it delivered lush visuals and entertaining characters was nothing short of a pleasant surprise. In reality, this is a movie that epitomizes an inconsequential piece of entertainment, as it is neither important nor significant by any stretch of the imagination. What The Angry Birds Movie does well enough though, is serve the purpose for which it was created and that is to keep the kiddos and fans of the game entertained for a brief ninety minutes on a weekend afternoon. Having never played the game I can't really speak to how well the film integrates the elements of the game or if these are done in natural, organic ways as opposed to being shoehorned in for the sake of hitting the more popular elements of the game, but as far as story is concerned the premise that is set up with our three main protagonists is more or less an excuse to have the climactic third act of the film be a more detailed version of watching the computer play a round of the game for you. This isn't really an issue-it's kind of the point after all, but in doing this the question that arose was if the characters we're introduced to are interesting enough to care about when it comes time for them to risk their lives potentially knocking down a pig city. Do we care about what is being risked, what is potentially being destroyed, or what is being sought after? For the most part, the answer is a fine enough yes. There is no reason to become emotionally invested in these proceedings and there is certainly no need to become frustrated with the expected beats this redemption story hits, but in tackling this particular kind of story the film hits the beats well enough that you're willing to go along for the ride, listen to the pop-infused soundtrack, and smile against your better judgement when pop culture references are made for no apparent reason or every time Jason Sudeikis has to spout a bad bird pun.

NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING Review

Two summers ago we were introduced to Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Miller, a couple who'd just welcomed their first child into the world and purchased their first home in what were natural steps towards adulthood. That seemingly smooth transition was abruptly interrupted when they learned they were actually living next door to a fraternity. Led by incorrigible party guy Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) the two households went head to head with one another in a war of wits and schemes that once again conveyed the age old lesson of Seth Rogen comedies in that there comes a time in every young man's life when it's time to become a confused man-child. While this interesting, albeit somewhat contrived premise worked wonders the first time proving fertile ground for consistent and interesting comedy, it was such a singular type of event that to make a sequel would seem to automatically cheapen the effect of the first film. Lucky for us, director Nicolas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) along with Rogen and longtime writing partner Evan Goldberg as well as Brendan O'Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen have crafted a screenplay that not only allows for this same premise to work again, but also uses this set-up to make legitimate social commentary. Executing comedy successfully is difficult enough, but to on top of that endeavor to actually say something substantial in between your weed and dildo jokes is admirable, at the very least. What this comes down to is placing a fledgling sorority (led by the likes of Chloë Grace Moretz, Dope's Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Feldstein) in the house where Teddy's Delta Psi once resided. In doing this, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is able to transform itself from simply giving the Miller's another challenge in sleep deprivation to a film that analyzes the inherent double standards of society by exposing how our system has more or less been cultivated to give males the advantage in the majority of circumstances. The issue of being able to party may be a trivial one, but this is obviously an in to a bigger means and that Neighbors 2 makes you contemplate anything at all is rather impressive.

New Trailer for POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING

The more I see of The Lonely Island's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping the more I excited I get for what it potentially holds. Everything about the film seems to encapsulate what The Lonely Island was put on this earth to create and I can only hope my sky high expectations going in don't set me up for disappointment. If this latest trailer is any indication though, this all seems to be heading in the best possible direction. With a little over two weeks to go before its release the marketing campaign is kicking into high gear with the trio also releasing two new songs this week that we hear in the trailer titled "I'm So Humble" and "Mona Lisa". Again, so far so good as both new tracks, while somewhat abbreviated, promise classic Lonely Island formulas by taking timely and/or brutally honest perspectives and applying them to the superfluous stylings of pop music. Andy Samberg has always been good at portraying dimwitted, but lovable characters and he seems to have captured that essence perfectly in Conner who we'll simultaneously loathe and want to treat like an abandoned puppy. This trailer gives audiences more of an idea for the layout of the film and the fact it is lampooning the recent wave of pop star documentaries to come from those pop stars own camps a la Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. While I've yet to run into anyone who isn't excited for this movie I'm still very curious to see if the film will expand past the borders of Lonely Island fans and reach a broad audience given their last film, 2007's Hot Rod, only grossed $14 million worldwide. As a fan of theirs, I adore Hot Rod and feel the movie has definitely picked up steam since its home video release, which bodes well for Popstar, but let's hope that translates to high praise and recognition right out of the gate this time around; especially if the final product deserves it. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping also stars Sarah Silverman, Mike Birbiglia, Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots, Bill Hader, Joan Cusack, Snoop Dogg and opens on June 3, 2016.

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING Review

Any film that chooses to embrace Electric Light Orchestra, or for that matter acknowledge how wonderful ELO truly is, is okay in my books. This bodes well for A Hologram for the King as it seemingly has a lot to offer, but ends up offering as much in such a fashion that it feels it's holding back on the best, most interesting stuff. I haven't read the novel by Dave Eggers on which this film adaptation is based, but from being familiar with Eggers style and having his influence be strongly present during my college years I can see how this book, which was published after I graduated from college, would seem like a natural progression for the writer. He is getting older, so too are his protagonists, but the existential questions still remain-just in different forms and from different perspectives. Though I haven't read Eggers' novel it is easy to see the main ideas and themes the author was addressing come through in the opening moments of director Tom Tykwer's (Cloud Atlas, Run Lola Run) film. Tykwer takes us through the deconstruction of what more or less defines success in Western culture and strips it away from our protagonist before dropping him into Saudi Arabia where success and satisfaction are still measured in many of the same ways, but where society has a more narrow view of how those rewards should be distributed and touted. Still, the film doesn't look down upon its main setting so as to say we have it all figured out in America and they should take note, but rather it displays the still very present complications and struggles alive within a well to-do, middle-aged white guy that should seemingly have it all, including any opportunity he desires. Most writers place their surrogates into characters who mimic themselves which translates to an abundance middle-aged white guys, but here the choice to have the lead character fit this profile is a strategic one, a decision that greater emphasizes the difference in having it all and having what is meaningful. I'm still not sure if there is an analogy or metaphor that we should interpret from the title, but it seems it should naturally have an underlying meaning. I bring this up because much like the title of the film the contents feel as if there should be more to them, something that anchors the ideas and makes them feel more substantial; effecting viewers in greater ways. Instead, A Hologram for the King simply skims the surface, albeit an interesting surface.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - MONEY MONSTER

Everyone knew Captain America: Civil War was going to repeat in its second week of release and it did just that, bringing in an estimated $72.5 million to take the number one spot. Making this expected win even sweeter for parent company Disney is the fact Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book brought in an estimated $17.7 million in its fifth weekend, pushing the film's domestic total over $310 million. I bring up The Jungle Book again as it is now the second Disney release in 2016 to top $300 million domestically after Zootopia (which is still at number six on the box office charts after over two months of being in release) and they'll undoubtedly be joined by Civil War sometime this week. Of course, we're here to talk about the week's big new release in Money Monster. The George Clooney/Julia Roberts thriller opened in third with an estimated $15 million more or less on par with expectations. It still seems strange that a film headlined by George Clooney and Julia Roberts (and directed by Jodie Foster at that) isn't a guaranteed smash, but here we are. Money Monster has the advantage of being the only adult-focused movie on the menu for some time and it also doesn't hurt that I rather enjoyed the film-finding it to be more effective than not even if it comes across slightly preachy and simple-minded at certain points. By virtue of the fact this is indeed a film made by adults for adults one would think the older age groups might flock to the movies for an opportunity to see a film made on old fashioned principles, but while the $15 million is promising and the film will likely near $50 million domestic on a $25 million budget it can't help but remain insane how much of a bigger draw having the names Roberts and Clooney on your movie would have been not even twenty years ago. The times they are a changin'! As always, you can hit the jump to see our full video review and be sure to subscribe to our channel for a new review every week!

On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 17, 2017

First Trailer for DON'T BREATHE

I can't quite figure out what the consensus around the Evil Dead re-make is, but I rather liked the film for lack of a better word. I'm not sure if one can necessarily "enjoy" a movie where people are murdered in gruesome fashion by demons and angry spirits, but from what I remember of the single time I've seen the film-I liked it. What stuck out most about that film and what I still recall is the distinct visual prowess that director Fede Alvarez brought to the proceedings. With his follow-up, Don't Breathe, it looks as if Alvarez is once again keen on capturing the creepy through means of some fairly spectacular visuals. The tone and intensity to go along with it are apparent right from the get-go in this first look at the film that already premiered at the South by Southwest Festival earlier this year. The early word out of SXSW was strong and though it is easy to see why a film like this would play like gangbusters at that particular film festival it seems as if that strong word of mouth is well warranted as I was hooked by this trailer and the simple, but engaging premise immediately. Only being halfway through the year at this point all we've received are pretty crap horror pictures (I just caught up with The Boy this weekend and it was more or less a waste of time, but still better than The Forest). Still, I'm hopeful that this summer might deliver a few quality horror flicks by way of The Conjuring 2 and The Purge: Election Year, but I'll go ahead and add Don't Breathe right alongside Lights Out as possible indie thrillers that could break out. At least this way we are guaranteed a few new gems to watch once Halloween rolls around and these summer releases are making their way onto home video. Either way, the film looks solid and the cast featuring Evil Dead's Jane Levy, Goosebumps' Dylan Minnette, and a menacing Stephen Lang all look to be at the top of their game. Don't Breathe is scheduled to open on August 26th, 2016.

THE DARKNESS Review

If one tends to keep up with things such as what type of films studios or production houses make or acquire it is possible to be excited for a film based solely on the people backing it. Whether it be the ever-reliable A24 or Megan Ellison at Annapurna Pictures if either of these studios are attached to an upcoming release I tend to be interested solely because they make interesting and diverse choices in the movies they choose to release. In the realm of horror-especially smaller, more independent horror-there has been one name that has risen above the rest in recent years and that would be Blumhouse Productions run by its founder and CEO Jason Blum. The guy has had a pretty strong track record as he's been behind some of the biggest recent horror franchises including the Insidious and Paranormal Activity films, even resurrecting M. Night Shyamalan's horror career last year with The Visit, but that isn't to say there haven't been a few stinkers along the way either. Every genre has them, but horror somehow seems to suffer the most. With The Darkness Blum and co. have, for some strange reason, decided it was a good idea to give the guy who's directed two Wolf Creek movies a nice enough budget to cast the likes of Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell in a screenplay (written by director Greg McLean and a couple of Shane/Shayne's) that is more than happy to go through the obligatory horror movie check list and mark off every cliché imaginable. The Darkness is a bad movie. There are no if's, and's, or but's about it-it flat out sucks and there is hardly anything to redeem its many, many shortcomings much less being worth anyone's time lest they might waste it on this schlock. Even worse, this outright terribleness is apparent right from the get-go. For some reason actors like Matt Walsh and Jennifer Morrison (who I assume are generally busy people) agreed to show up for what couldn't have been more than a two day shoot to capture what is the set-up and a handful of expositional dialogue in such strained and phony ways that there was no denying the quality of what was to come. When ones dialogue can't even be conveyed believably by someone as incredibly endearing as Walsh, there's a problem.

Teaser Trailer for THE ACCOUNTANT Starring Ben Affleck

In putting together my most anticipated films of the year I labored over whether or not to include The Accountant starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick. From the synopsis it sounded like an interesting enough drama/thriller and with director Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) at the helm I was certainly intrigued, but something about the project just screamed this was going to wind up more in the vein of Runner Runner than The Town. With the first teaser trailer though, I'm certainly more intrigued than I was based solely on the already interesting credentials this thing had going for it. While this could certainly end up being more on the generic side of things it looks as if Connor has taken something of a methodical approach to the material as Affleck plays a forensic accountant that is in another world as far as working with numbers is concerned and while he sits behind the guise of a small town CPA he is doing much bigger business behind the scenes as he un-cooks the books for some illicit clients. It was reported that Affleck pushed directing his next film (Live By Night, which is now in the can) after already pushing it back once before due to Batman v. Superman in order to make this film and so, if nothing else, my interest is piqued for what Affleck might have seen in Bill Dubuque's (The Judge) screenplay that made him so committed to seeing this project through to the end. Whatever the case may be with the final product, there is certainly a lot of promise here and this teaser does a perfect job of highlighting the character quirks that are enough to entice and make one wonder what type of story might have been built on top of them. Besides Affleck and Kendrick, The Accountant also stars J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, and opens on October 14th, 2016.

MONEY MONSTER Review

We may all be created equal, but we are certainly not all born into the same circumstances. In order for our system to work the way it is designed to things must remain this way. People must continue to fail or slip through the cracks of said system so that we not only have opportunities for exceptionally driven individuals to thrive, but also for those who are unable to make it past being the breakfast manager at McDonald's. We are all created equal, but it's what we do with that equality and the opportunity this state of mind affords us no matter how many advantages or disadvantages we 're born into. It is in this idea of equality that Jodie Foster seems to find an in to this story cobbled together by three screenwriters that seemingly wants to be about something, but in the end is more a slight encapsulation of the time we're living in than a piece of art that reflects or examines the time that has spawned it. Money Monster is Foster's fourth directorial feature and undoubtedly her biggest film to date, but it is this bigger feel, this corporate mandated aesthetic and approach that hinders more than helps in whatever Foster's actual objective might be. And so, it begins by Foster and her team of screenwriters (including Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf) looking at how the little man might take on the privileged and exploring equality from that perspective, but as we come to learn more details about the situation and the plot becomes more clear in that it is going to blame the downfall that was the catalyst for the outrageous (but not unbelievable) actions of one of our main characters on a single bad guy who did a single bad thing instead of making this an amalgamation of bad choices and ethically wrong dealings there is a hint that it might become more about equality in the sense of taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions whatever they may be no matter where we fall in society's class system. Had Money Monster delved more into an idea Dominic West's character spouts near the end of the film and come to something of a less pleasant conclusion, but a more realistic one I imagine the film might have struck more of a nerve, but as it is and as it goes Money Monster is simply a neat little thriller that is consistently entertaining.

First Trailer for BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK from Director Ang Lee

Ang Lee's latest endeavor, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, easily made the top three of my most anticipated films of the year list based solely on the credentials the film was sporting so to finally see some footage and feel reassured in that choice is beyond satisfying. Lee is a master filmmaker and one of the most diverse auteurs in the game at the moment. Over the course of his last three features alone the director has taken us from Woodstock in the summer of 1969 to being stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and now we join him at the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys game. Based on the novel by Ben Fountain that was published in 2012, the story follows Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who is part of the Bravo Squad unit that's been fighting in Iraq. After a brief but intense fight anointed as "the Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal", Lynn and seven other surviving members return to the U.S. and are hailed as war heroes. These war heroes are sent on a "Victory Tour" by the government and as part of this tour, Bravo Squad are invited as guests to the annual Thanksgiving game featuring the Cowboys. The disenchantment with the notions those of us in the safe haven of America have of war against what actually goes on in battle seems to be the juxtaposing theme Lee is shooting for here as we get only a few glimpses of the flashbacks that cause Alwyn's Lynn to more or less break down in the middle of this celebration. In short, given the inherently deep and somewhat controversial subject matter I'm eager to see what conclusions and ideas Lee has drawn with his film. The movie will also be notable for having been shot at 120 frames per second in 4K native 3D and the clarity of such images produced in this format is certainly visible in this first look. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk also stars Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker, Tim Blake Nelson, and opens on November 11th, 2016.

First Trailer for ASSASSIN'S CREED Starring Michael Fassbender

I won't pretend to know anything about the Assassin's Creed video game series or video games in general to the point I'm typically indifferent to the idea of video game film adaptations especially given most tend to be financial failures with the few I've seen largely being forgettable. It is with this Assassin's Creed adaptation though that my interest is piqued. Not only for the fact it has Michael Fassbender in the starring role, but that it has the actor re-teaming with Macbeth director Justin Kurzel and his cinematographer Adam Arkapaw who, despite shortchanging Shakespeare's story, made a visually stunning representation of The Bard's play. With Assassin's Creed it seems as if Kurzel and Fassbender were very much intent on keeping the same visual style intact as, if there is one thing that stands out about this trailer it is how gorgeous it looks. As far as story goes though, I was unsure what to expect and while a little bit of reading will enlighten one to the fact the game series is set in a fictional history of real world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control-I still wasn't sure what to expect. This summary sets up your basic good versus evil situation, but the trailer for the film makes this premise slightly more enticing by introducing us to Fassbender's Callum Lynch, a death row inmate who is taken to a pharmaceutical company known as Abstergo (which seems to indicate some future conflicts) as they go through with a procedure on Lynch that enables him to experience the memories of his ancestor in 15th Century Spain. Consider me enticed. Also, I dig the music choice. Assassin's Creed also stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael K. Williams, and opens December 21st, 2016.

THE LOBSTER Review

Note: This is a reprint of my review for The Lobster, which originally ran on September 13, 2015 after seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival. I am publishing it again today as it hits theaters this weekend.

Most will likely walk out of The Lobster either loving or hating it. It's easy to see why this will be something of a divisive film given it's weird as hell. With all its observational humor conveyed in static, dry tones and cynical quips that paint the internet culture into a real-world society it will surely have its fans. Undoubtedly, there is much to like and appreciate here, but while I laughed several times and found the overall sentiment of the film to be a rather sweet one that is conveyed in a ridiculous yet inventive way I couldn't help but feel that it was trying too hard to be as much when the coolness factor of its unique ideas should have been effortless. The strangeness of the set-up to this world is so out there that it can't help but feel weird solely for the sake of being weird. Weird is fine and all, but The Lobster is pushing it. Some will find this endearing, others will see it as straining and unfortunately by the time the film concluded I was more in the latter category than the former. Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, in his English-language debut, certainly has a lot to say with his high-concept comedy, but up until the last half hour or so of the film things are more about the concept than they are the ideas he's attempting to discuss. Lanthimos spends so much time trying to make sure his audience will understand this world without blatantly spilling tons of exposition that all of the dialogue in the first hour feels like a sly way of explaining the rules of this world where one checks into a resort to find a mate and if failing to do so in forty-five days, facing the reality of being turned into an animal. So, yes, the film is conceptually striking given it is all a large metaphor for the way in which society tells us our lives are better when lived with a partner, but never does it transcend this gimmick until the moving final shot.

First Trailer for QUEEN OF KATWE Starring Lupita Nyong’o

It seems as if Lupita Nyong'o has taken up a comfortable residence in the arms of Walt Disney as she's no doubt seen huge returns for her CGI turns in both The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book, but with her latest film, Queen of Katwe, the actor is finally stepping back in front of the camera and in what seems to be a well-intentioned and heartfelt family film that will tell an uplifting story of struggle and overcoming certain odds. Based on a true story with William Wheeler (The Hoax) adapting Tim Crothers book of the same name the film tells the story of a young girl from Uganda who trains to become a world chess champion. While this could very well be the next in the long line of inspirational Disney sports movies there is of course something distinctly different about it and that is the fact we are seeing a very non-American story. There have been plenty of movies concerning chess that are interesting enough, but to layer in this intellectually challenging sport typically thought to be relegated to wealthy old white guys and throw into the mix a young girl living in poverty makes it almost too unbelievable to be true. Nyong'o will play the mother of the young girl, Phiona Mutesi, who will be played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga. If this trailer is any indication the film will very much be more about the journey than it is the destination as it is easy to see the beats this thing is going to hit, but then again director Mira Nair (The Namesake) seems a force to be reckoned with and an extremely talented filmmaker that could turn what is undoubtedly an inspirational story, if not still a familiar one, into something truly stirring. David Oyelowo also stars with Queen of Katwe opening on September 23rd, 2016.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 10, 2016

Initial Reaction: Video Review - CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

We all knew it was going to be a massive weekend for Captain America: Civil War, but the Cap just opened bigger than Iron Man did in his third outing. Granted, Iron Man makes a pretty heavy contribution to Cap's third film so in terms of numbers are we talking about Captain America 3 or The Avengers 3 instead? The number of heroes involved in Civil War would certainly suggest the latter, but this is also very clearly a Captain America film. The point is: none of this matters because it is all Marvel and the Disney owned studio has completely monopolized the super hero blockbuster game. As its ever expanding cinematic universe grows the movies can only become bigger with characters inevitably crossing paths with one another more often than they once did. Black Panther's first solo film will look nothing like Captain America's first solo film and you know what? That's okay-in fact, it's pretty awesome. I've said over and over how happy I am to see what I always envisioned super hero movies being as a kid come to fruition as a reality in my early adulthood, but this kicking off of Phase III of the MCU feels like a culmination of those hopes and dreams. The Russo Brothers have crafted a film that is undeniably exciting and riveting for general audiences, but also a super hero film with glimmers of greatness for those that have been along for the ride since 2008. This investment continues to pay off in huge ways as Civil War took in the fifth largest opening weekend of all-time. With an estimated $181.79 million, Civil War is the third largest opening for a Marvel Studio film. With an "A" CinemaScore and solid hold overs in its first three days expect the film to pass $300 million domestic by next Sunday (if not sooner) with plenty of room for strong legs as its only direct competition is X-Men: Apocalypse which opens on May 27th. As always, you can hit the jump to see our full video review and be sure to subscribe to our channel for a new review every week!

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! Review

"There's a party down on the corner, do you want to go? They got rhythm, a little blues, and a whole lot of soul. I don't care what you've got to say,  you're comin' with me anyway. We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time." So go the words of Huey Lewis and the News' 2001 song "We're Not Here for a Long Time (We're Here for a Good Time)" and while Richard Linklater's latest film takes its name from the more appropriate Van Halen track from 1980 the writer/director is echoing the same sentiments as Lewis and his News were in their song. One of the many characters in Linklater's entertaining ensemble even throws out the familiar saying at a moment when we're discovering the drastic steps he's taken to recapture his more idyllic past. An idyllic past is mostly what Everybody Wants Some!! is really about, though. The ability to escape and live in an existence, at least for a period of time, that feels like the perfect mix of being care-free and celebrating that freedom by partying as consistently as possible. This window of unattached existence is what Linklater seems to have deduced brings out the most natural form of who we are meant to be as human beings. In experiencing this type of freedom by simply existing we are allowed to pine for that period of time the rest of our lives as most will go on to conform with the societal structures expected of them. Thus, our idyllic past is created with the key being it must remain that idyllic high point without any attempt to recreate such memories because we all know real, genuine fun can't be commonplace. It can't happen every night and the same thrills remain intact. If humans were to live forever as the characters in Everybody Wants Some!! do over the course of this three-day weekend we'd likely live half as long and grow tired of the emptiness drinking and promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners would eventually bring. And so, what Linklater is slyly conveying is that of a cherished time in his own life; memories that inform the man he is today with the added acknowledgment that it can't last forever, but it's beyond critical to drink in when that time arrives.

First Trailer for INFERNO Starring Tom Hanks

For some reason, I'm rather excited about the idea of another Dan Brown adaptation courtesy of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. By the time this latest film premieres it will have been over a decade since The Da Vinci Code hit theaters and while I found that film incredibly challenging to get through in its long stretches of being little more than boring it felt like an event of sorts and that it ended up making $217 million domestically and $758 million globally there is no surprise it spawned more adaptations of Brown's work. Though 2009's Angels & Demons didn't do as much business it still fared well and is easily the more entertaining of the two films. With many notes acquired I'd be surprised if Inferno doesn't turn out to be a fun, unfiltered mystery/thriller that plays into all our favorite guilty pleasures that seem to make up the easily digestible narratives of Brown's work. That said, I still haven't read any of Brown's novels and don't plan on changing that soon so I have no idea how good or potentially fun this adaptation stands the chance of being, but I enjoy conspiracies and Tom Hanks enough to be excited for this thing. David Koepp returns after adapting Brown's Angels & Demons to do the same here and replacing the obligatory female sidekick previously played by the likes of Audrey Tautou and Ayelet Zurer is Felecity Jones who, in this story, helps Hanks' Robert Langdon race against the clock to foil a deadly global plot. The catch is, the beginning of the film finds Langdon waking up in a European hospital with amnesia. How will this play into the plot? Who knows. Hopefully it simply serves to make the mystery as intriguing as possible as that was the biggest downfall with the series originator. Of course, the biggest mystery will be if there is still an audience for this series seven years after the last film and three years after the book was published. We shall find out when Inferno, also starring Ben Foster, Omar Sy, and Irrfan Khan, opens on October 28th, 2016.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Review

Super hero movies, as we know them today, must walk the difficult line of being somewhat grounded in a reality audiences can relate to while at the same time embracing (not just accepting, but embracing) the inherent goofiness of the facts of the matter. In a broad scope, this is about guys and girls in colorful suits with silly nicknames duking it out with what tends to be (at least in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) a flavor of the week villain that does just enough to further the arc of what remains to be built in this ongoing series. What grounds these colorful characters sporting strange labels is the repercussions of their actions. The Avengers can shut down an entire alien race while destroying New York in the process and widely be regarded as the heroes of the scenario, but the fact of the matter is that if this were to happen in our reality there would be thousands upon thousands dead and even more injured. With the third Captain America film, Civil War, Marvel has found it the necessary time to begin giving their heroes more heady spaces to wander. Sure, there is still a bigger antagonist than either Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) or Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Civil War that leads to the plot being more run of the mill than I was hoping things might go, but there is enough justification and perspective to this villains plan that we go with what we're being offered. Perspective is a key word here. Not only in the driving force that puts the team at odds over the still brewing conflict concerning The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), but for these superior beings to take into account the consequences of their actions and come face to face with their shortcomings-the film more or less exploring how they deal with such realizations when they're brought up as potential charges. Captain America is a firm believer in consequentialism in that his goals are morally important enough that any method of achieving them are acceptable with the understanding of the unfortunate caveat that he will never be able to save everyone. It is in exploring such territory and being bold enough to bring their heroes face to face with such a reality that Marvel exceeds in walking that difficult line. Captain America: Civil War is very much a Marvel movie in that it is full of bright colors, genuinely funny quips, and some solid action set pieces, but bringing these characters (and these performers) into more interesting dynamics with one another notches up the reality factor with the result being an admirable balancing act that deserves to be applauded.

MILES AHEAD Review

The title of this latest music biopic suggests that Miles Davis was a man ahead of his time and many would agree when speaking about his musical talents, but Don Cheadle's first directorial effort, Miles Ahead, isn't introspective enough to put on display why this particular individual was allowed insight into music others hadn't yet tapped into, but rather it's about how Davis was very much a product of his time. In his actions and his views in his personal life Davis was very much of the state of mind that society should function a specific way, especially in regards to how he was allowed to treat the opposite sex and how they weren't allowed to treat him. One can only imagine Cheadle and screenwriter Steven Baigelman (who also worked on Get on Up) decided to come at Davis' story from a more personal angle due to how destructive he needed to be in order to be inspired enough to create what would become his legacy. Of course, that leaves audiences, or more appropriately Davis himself, to deal with the bigger question of what is worth more in the long run-his present prize or his potential imprint he could leave on culture? In Miles Ahead, Cheadle shows us how one drove the other-how life goes on for Davis long after the thrill of living is gone (one can learn a lot from John Cougar Mellencamp). What was the thrill though? The music or the indisputable love of his life, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi)? The even bigger question is does Davis ever figure this out for himself? Sure, he is now the subject of a motion picture and regarded as one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century, but how often did he think of Frances and the times they could have shared, the memories they could have potentially made while grappling with a reputation that could go either way? Miles Davis, the man, would have you believe that he didn't grapple with anything as one of his most famous quotes states, "do not fear mistakes. There are none," but it's hard to believe given Cheadle's interpretation that being one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century came with a price Davis wasn't always sure he wanted to pay.

Green & Red-Band Trailers for BAD MOMS

It looks as if writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have a very limited range of topics they're interested in tackling as they've now made the change from three men behaving badly to three women more or less doing the same thing. Lucas and Moore wrote the original Hangover screenplay which bodes well for them in my book and with that clout the duo went on to pen and direct 2013's 21 & Over which was fine, but forgettable and unfortunately underutilized the talent of Miles Teller while attempting to capitalize on the success of Pitch Perfect by placing Skylar Astin front and center. And so, with their latest Lucas and Moore have re-directed their focus towards the females as they were fortunate enough to cast Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and (most importantly) Kathryn Hahn in their film that looks unsurprisingly similar to their previous efforts. Granted, enough charm could certainly come from the perspective change that Bad Moms will be worth checking out. In the film, three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits finally deciding to ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and self-indulgence. The trailer hints at as much being accomplished as Kunis' character defies the strict and uptight PTA President (Christina Applegate) that, if nothing, else should provide a solid amount of laughs. The rest of the trailer has something of a forced tone to it, but I enjoyed Bell in The Boss this year, have always admired Kunis' comedic abilities, and am just happy to see Hahn in such a prominent role in a comedy led by and about women. Though the film is about breaking conventions these trailers certainly hint at a movie that falls into some pretty standard ones. I'm hopeful, but only time will tell. Bad Moms also stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, Emjay Anthony, Oona Laurence, and opens on July 29th, 2016.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - KEANU

This week is the quiet before the storm, at least stateside it is. One week before Captain America: Civil War kicks off the summer movie season and yet it has already amassed an estimated $200.2 million international opening, a mere one million dollars behind Avengers: Age of Ultron's $201.2 million from last year. In our prolonged wait for the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe though, U.S. audiences were delivered the first big screen attempt from comedy duo Key & Peele who ended the run of their popular sketch comedy show last fall. While Keanu, a movie about two friends who hatch a plot to retrieve their stolen kitten by posing as drug dealers for a street gang, was the biggest news of the weekend it was still rather quiet news when compared to the numbers The Jungle Book is still racking up. In its third weekend the Jon Favreau "live action" film earned another $42.4 million ( dropping only 31% from last weekend) as the film's domestic cume climbed to $252 million with its global cume now at $684.7 million. This reign will of course come to a close next weekend as Civil War is expected to destroy everything in its path making the other new releases this weekend all the more forgettable. Besides Keanu, there was also the latest Gary Marshall-directed holiday movie in the form of Mother's Day, but despite a plethora of famous faces the movie was only able to garner an $8.3 million opening weekend. Not great when compared to Valentine's Day's $56.2 million opening back in February 2010. The other wide release was the video game adaptation Ratchet & Clank which only stole $4.8 million worth of that younger audience away from The Jungle Book. And while Keanu was the top new release of the weekend it was only able to muster $9.35 million, which isn't terrible considering its $15 million budget, but not great when it had to settle for third place behind not only The Jungle Book, but The Huntsman: Winter's War as well. All of that out of the way, Keanu is a fun if not minor enough blip to tide audiences over until the real fun begins this Friday. As always, you can hit the jump to see the full video review and be sure to subscribe to our channel for a new review every week!