Denis Villeneuve's Grand and Gorgeous Epic is as Insightful about Sincerity and Strategy as it is Engaging on the Broad Levels of a Big-Budget Studio Blockbuster.


Matthew Vaughn has Officially become a Director of Diminishing Returns with this Overstuffed and Laughably Corny Slog of a Spy Caper.


This Trip back to North Shore High Justifies itself by still being Sharp in its Observations of Vacuousness.


Writer/Director Cord Jefferson’s Feature Debut Splits the Difference Between Searing Satire and Emotional Family Drama Coming out a Winner in Both Respects.


Emma Stone is Daring and Mark Ruffalo is Hilarious in this Surreal Fever Dream of Philosophy and Attempting to Understand our Nature through Unorthodox Methods.

First Trailer for LIFE Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

It was a little odd to open up the browser this morning and see news of a trailer for a movie I hadn't yet heard about that has some pretty major credentials going for it. Though I hadn't yet heard of Life the fact both Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds showed up in the five-second tease that appeared on my Facebook home page made me take notice. What exactly was this unknown major property that would apparently be blessing us with its presence Memorial Day weekend next year? I wasn't sure, but given the notable actors seemed to be floating around in zero gravity it seemed as if we might be in for an action/adventure in space. Turns out, Life may serve to be a little more interesting than that as it seems director Daniel Espiniosa (Safe House, Child 44) and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool) don't exactly have a run of the mill action/adventure in store for the summer movie season, but rather something more in line with the action/horror vibes of Alien. As the just over two-minute trailer shows us the film is about the six-member crew of the U.S. Space Station as they come in contact with the first proof of life beyond earth in the form of a small, single-celled organism. The trailer does well to set an eery tone by overlaying a speech from John F. Kennedy that was made in regards to the space race in the early sixties while simultaneously showing just how far we've come and establishing the crew members that consist of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation's Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, and Ariyon Bakare. By then diving slightly into the plot and showing just enough of the crux of the situation that will provide much of the tension and inevitably much of the action the trailer then hooks us indefinitely. As if the star power and intrigue of space weren't enough the idea of something along the lines of a big-budget horror/sci-fi coming out next summer only makes this project all the more appealing. Now the interesting scenario to watch play out will be just how well Alien: Covenant will do when it opens just over two months after Life's May 26th, 2017 release date.


In a world where even Tom Hanks has a franchise it's something of a shame America's favorite actor isn't in a better one than this. That said, the now trilogy based around symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) and based on the wildly popular series of novels from author Dan Brown are movies of pure junk food status and aspire to be nothing more than appeasing puzzles audiences unravel along with Langdon and whomever his next adventure decides to pair him with. Though the novels are said to very much be of the same variety as far as quality is concerned (I haven't personally read any of them) it is easy to see why there are such pleasures to be taken from the high caloric intake these movies serve up despite the lack of any real weight or nutritional value. Mystery adventures such as Inferno and its predecessors should be taken at face value and little more. There is an obvious factor to an actor of Hanks caliber taking on such a role if he were going to choose an ongoing series of films to be a part of in that Langdon is always the smartest guy in the room and Brown's novels along with the film adaptations spout facts upon historical facts in order to present the facade of intelligence and inventiveness, but while there is certainly an amount of creative ingenuity that comes along with writing any piece of fiction much less one that concerns ancient architecture, Renaissance artists, and their personal lives-each containing clues that further both the main mystery and the arc of its protagonist-there is also something inherently ridiculous to the quest Langdon and his peers are asked to go on. Making huge leaps to vague conclusions time and time again and encountering more secret passageways in old museums than there are plot twists, Inferno falls perfectly in line with the two previous films in the series if not more with 2009's Angels & Demons which saw director Ron Howard and his team taking things a lot less seriously than they did with the still daunting and tepidly paced The Da Vinci Code from 2006. Still, as its seven years on from the last sequel Inferno can't help but to feel a little less inspired and a little more under baked as it's obvious the only reason Hanks and Howard returned to this world and this character was for secure box office returns and likely the chance to make something they're a little more invested in. Whatever the case may be, Inferno is serviceable if not rather forgettable in its brisk pacing and handsome presentation. In other words, Inferno is little more than empty calories, but often times enjoyable calories nonetheless.


I have defended myself for being nearly thirty years-old and never really getting into Oasis or their music in the mid-nineties (though I was only nine or so when they peaked so I don't really have to defend myself) by stating that I was the oldest of my siblings and thus had no older brother or sister to guide me in the direction of what was hip or cool at the time. I had to blaze my own path, dammit! This applies to other, more mature music and movies of that decade that I'm still not overly familiar with or don't have a strong nostalgia for, but I mention Oasis due to the obvious fact there is a new documentary surrounding the toxic band that could never get far enough past themselves to see what more they could have been to the rest of the world. And so, going into such a music documentary where I wasn't overly knowledgeable of the band, their history, or their music (I mean, I know "Champagne Supernova" and "Wonderwall", of course) I based how I would gauge the effectiveness of the documentary on whether or not I was inspired to search out and listen to more music by the band once the credits rolled. And to its credit, director Mat Whitecross' take on the band and their insanely fast rise and even quicker fall is as swift and level as one could hope to achieve when you're unable to get the two key members of the group you're focusing on in the same room for interviews. In other words, having to shape a single story from what would no doubt be two very different perspectives comes off more effortless than it likely was to actually pull off. Told solely through video clips that are cut together to form something of a re-enactment of the scenes and events being described Oasis: Supersonic is almost exactly what one would expect from a film titled as so, but through this easily recognizable structure and to someone uninitiated with the mythos of Oasis I found the enlightening early moments of how both Noel and Liam Gallagher fell into their roles in the band and how they evolved as the group gained more and more notoriety to be gripping and more than telling as to why the band met the fate it ultimately and inevitably did. Like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode the elements that made up the Oasis its fans will forever remember were never destined to remain together forever, but only long enough to produce the music they brand as timeless and curate the impressions and attitudes that will unfortunately always overshadow those songs.


American Honey would have you believe that everything that happens in America happens at magic hour. That golden period in the day just before sunset during which the daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. From depicting everything from its core group of ragtag door to door magazine salesman doing their best to scam the neighborhoods of middle America to seeing Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and Star (Sasha Lane) consummate their distressed relationship the film finds comfort in the waves of color exerted by the evening sky. American Honey, directed by Scottish-born filmmaker Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank), would have you believe that the underbelly of America is one of harsh lines between the white trash and the wealthier classes that populate the southern regions of the country though to disparage the cracks in American culture to little more than two distinct categories is one of the films unfortunate misconceptions that is apparent from the get-go. Were it not for the clear intention of American Honey to be this sprawling epic at nearly three hours this lack of delineation would be more forgiving, but that it truly gives itself time to develop its characters and the landscape in which they exist one would like to have been delivered a more complex portrait that better mirrors the melting pot one can easily see this country to be by simply driving through any county in as random a state as Arkansas. Residing in a state most likely tend to forget about in the grand scheme of our nation, Arkansas keenly displays the actuality of just how gentle those lines between classes can be. Still, this nagging flaw that is present throughout Arnold's nearly three hour thesis on what is both so discouraging about the United States and what makes it so simultaneously charming can't tear down the entire effort from being valiant as American Honey is ultimately a sweet ode to our misfit of a nation. The film goes on too long and doesn't have enough of a narrative drive or intriguing enough character arcs to invest our own selves in, but somehow it remains engrossing-uplifting even with its inability to acutely examine class relations rendered somewhat unnecessary by the films ability to display the inherent hopefulness in each of us despite all the ugliness we tend to see surrounding us.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 25, 2016

Initial Reaction: Video Review - JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

As October comes to a close and the Oscar/Fall blockbuster season really begins to heat up we are getting a barrage of more mainstream adult-skewing entertainment as essentially the entire month of October has been laced with films aimed at the over twenty-five crowd from The Girl on the Train to The Accountant to now having a Jack Reacher sequel and next week having the third installment of the adaptations based on Dan Brown novels-it seems October 2016 will firmly go down as the month for adult viewing (and they say Hollywood makes nothing but super hero movies anymore!). In some ways, one could argue Jack Reacher is something of a super hero though and as much as that may be true this is Tom Cruise playing this particular brand of super hero in a movie based on a book series by sixty-one year-old Lee Childs who has been churning out such novels for the better part of twenty years now. So, make no qualms that this is a film squarely targeted at those who've been a fan of Child's writing for that amount of time and fans of Cruise for even longer. Still, this wasn't enough to garner the sequel to Cruise's 2012 debut as Reacher the number one spot at the box office this weekend as that would go to another returning box office champion in the form of Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween. Perry hasn't played the titular character in three years and it seemed his hard core fans missed him during that time as this latest installment in Perry's ongoing Madea universe garnered the actor/writer/director/producer and overall entrepreneur $27.6 million from 2,260 theaters which is the largest opening for a Madea feature and for a Tyler Perry-directed film since 2009's Madea Goes to Jail ($41 million). Trailing just behind that total is Never Go Back which debuted to an estimated $23 million from 3,780 theaters with 82% of the audience being over the age of twenty-five. Other new wide releases this weekend included the sequel/prequel to 2014's Ouija which I didn't see as I heard it was terrible, whereas Ouija: Origin of Evil has garnered mostly positive reviews despite making less in its opening weekend ($14 million versus $19.8 million) and opening day audiences smacking it with the same "C" CinemaScore as the first film. Still, the sequel was made for only $9 million so it's already made back its budget, but if the quality really is as much of an improvement as critics are saying that really is a shame. Elsewhere, Fox's ensemble comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses brought in a disappointing $5.6 million from 3,022 theaters. That's it for now, but as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel as we have a new review (or reviews) up each week!


There is a point in the newest comedy from director Greg Mottola where it seems this broad comedy might rise above the grind it seems so destined to follow, but it only ends up being a brief moment of wackiness that Mottola and crew don’t care to dedicate themselves to carrying out. Rather, Keeping Up With the Joneses continues its stride toward the mediocre with very little to serve as surprising or inspired despite being made by the guy who put together Superbad and Adventureland. Yes, Mottola, the man who directed the likes of one of the great high school comedies of the last fifteen years as well as tapping into the struggles of that weird time post-college where you’re not sure where to go from that point has made a movie for the first time in five years that in fact couldn’t feel more uninspired. My hope, when I saw that Mottola was directing, was that the trailers and TV spots for the film might intentionally be setting our expectation bar low so that when we finally saw the finished product we might be taken with how much better it actually is than we expected. And while this does somewhat happen given the trailers and TV spots indeed made this look terrible in the vein of a run of the mill comedy that says let's put your average person in the midst of a ridiculous situation and see how funny they act in response to it kind of way. Still, with the talent Mottola and the studio garnered for this project my hope was that the film might bring something deeper or more acute to the scenario of superspies in suburbia, but there is no such sly observations or social commentary to be found in Keeping Up With the Joneses. Unfortunately, all we have here is a wacky situational comedy that too often relies on lead Zach Galifianakis’ one-liners too lift it from the doldrums of the generic jokes and obvious pratfalls Michael LeSieur’s screenplay is built on. LeSieur (You, Me & Dupree) seems the type of comedy writer who comes up with an interesting or funny enough scenario and then applies it to a familiar structure making the final product more predictable than laugh-inducing. That said, Keeping Up With the Joneses is about as good (and bad) as one would expect given the terrible trailers. It’s familiar and overly safe, but the fun performances from each of the four leads lend it a spring in its step that otherwise would have left this thing dead on arrival.


If this second Jack Reacher movie is good for anything it's to prove that Tom Cruise is indeed just as much a movie star as he's ever been. Cruise, who has been on something of a roll lately when it comes to action spectacles, has taken some time off from being Ethan Hunt and those impossible missions he tends to embark upon in order to return to the simpler, more straightforward drifter that is Jack Reacher. There's nothing wrong with this choice, nothing at all-in fact, the 2012 Jack Reacher film that was based on the long-running Lee Child's book series was a hard boiled, no frills, balls to the wall action romp that felt practical and logical in every fiber of its being. There was an authenticity to the action and crunch to the violence that made it all feel rather congenital to who this stoic titular character really was. We didn't get much past the solid facade, but the movie itself would give us plenty of mood and attitude in order to fill in the gaps. That Christopher McQuarrie film would take Cruise away from the extraordinary stunts and instead forced him to keep his feet on the ground and running in the vein that we've come to affectionately endure Tom Cruise running in. 2013's Jack Reacher never tried to be anything it wasn't and while this sentiment could be echoed for Never Go Back in all honesty the sequel doesn't try to be much of anything at all. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is so middle of the road predictable that by the time an action scene is loaded and ready to play out there is such a disassociation between the story and Cruise simply strutting around doing his thing that it's hard to care about or invest in either. Not only does Never Go Back feel rather pedestrian in its story and acting though, but the execution couldn't feel more lazy or uninspired either. Helmed by Edward Zwick who previously directed Cruise in the sweeping and rather stunning The Last Samurai I expected more from the duo when it came to delivering simple goods that could be smoldered down into basic formula with only a dose of skill and ingenuity thrown in when it came time for Reacher to dispatch with a few bad guys. Instead, what Zwick and Cruise deliver this time around is the epitome of "just good enough" with that only being more of a disappointment when considering the talent and thus the potential involved. It may be that I watched this on a large format screen, but there are certain action sequences and, even worse, standard dialogue scenes that look as if they belong on an old tube TV. In fact, sans the cell phones, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back very much feels like an action thriller that was produced in 1994 with no higher ambition other than being considered for the long flight home.


Certain Women is my introduction to the much celebrated writer/director Kelly Reichardt who has crafted such films as Wendy and Lucy and Night Moves. Reichardt is said to craft these methodically paced character studies that exist more for their introspective takes on the lives of their characters than anything resembling plot. Minimalist, if you will. Reichardt seemingly adapts many of her films from short stories or collections of short stories. And while I've yet to see any previous films from the filmmaker including her much heralded 2010 feature Meek's Cutoff I don't know that her latest necessarily urges me to go back and see what all the fuss is about. That said, Certain Women is certainly intriguing though the reasons for such interest fall more on the befuddling side of things rather than the promising. It is easy to sell the minimal approach as being more insightful and more telling simply out of the convenience of letting the audience do more of the heavy lifting, but some of the time keeping in line with the minimal approach is simply a substitute for there not being much to say in the first place. It's not hard to appreciate that Reichardt has approached these tales of three individual women in three different stages of their lives that only overlap in the most subtle of ways in an even more subtler fashion, but it is only by virtue of the focus shifting from one story to the next that the film doesn't become a complete and utter bore. And it would were it left in the hands of certain characters and beside the fact this is the point of those certain characters' profiles-documenting the monotony and lack of anything spectacular or interesting occurring in their lives-the film isn't ever able to come up with anything new or profound enough to say about the mundanity of daily life or the foibles that eventually bring us all around to the same level playing field as human beings to be noteworthy in its own right. I can understand and again even appreciate that this is very much a film that speaks to the complex and misunderstood experiences of the female in our male-driven society, but as a product that is intended to convince me of the discrepancies and double standards females deal with on a daily basis that males might not even consider I took away very little by way of enlightenment. There is a fine line between being understated and simply being uninteresting and unfortunately Certain Women skirts that line too often to fall on that minimal, but effective side of things.

Teaser Trailer for LOGAN Starring Hugh Jackman

And so, here we are. Sixteen years removed from the original Bryan Singer X-Men film that arguably launched this wave of super hero domination we are still experiencing and Hugh Jackman is putting on the claws for what is said to be his final time. Jackman has gone from a thirty-two year old unknown Australian actor to the now forty-eight year old grizzled face of the entire X-Men franchise. He has also become something of a movie star in his own right as he's made solid projects outside the spandex universe, but Wolverine is (or was) his bread and butter and he's had no problem admitting that for some time. With Logan though, the actor and director James Mangold (Walk the Line) who collaborated on 2013's solid if not troubled The Wolverine have come together once again to tell the final story in Jackman's Wolverine arc that will seemingly center around the Old Man Logan storyline from the comic books. To note how far comic book movies have come since Jackman first played this character is to note that X-Men came out in the dead heat of the summer of 2000 surrounded by only the likes of Mission: Impossible II as the closest competition while also being a year where a Mel Gibson rom com finished within the top five highest grossing films of the year. We will receive Jackman's swan song as the adamantium-clawed mutant at the beginning of March. What this says about the state of modern cinema and the regularity of blockbuster-size products is likely a discussion for another day, but as for this first glimpse at Jackman's final go around as Logan things are looking pretty dour. Though, admittedly, not as dour as I was initially hoping. There is simply something to Mangold's chosen aesthetic that feels too generic where the song choice here, Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt," is used to make up ground for the lack of mood in the visuals. That isn't to say the film looks bad-not at all-there are some great images here I was just hoping for something a little more distinct given the circumstances. That said, this looks like a sprawling adventure and I'm optimistic Jackman's tenure as Wolverine will go out on a high note. Logan also stars Patrick Stewart (reprising his role of Professor Charles Xavier), Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Boyd Holbrook, Doris Morgado, Sienna Novikov, and opens on March 3rd, 2017.

First Trailer for Gore Verbinski's A CURE FOR WELLNESS

I placed A Cure for Wellness in my most anticipated of 2016 when I was led to believe it would be released this year simply on the merits of it being the first film director Gore Verbinski had made since his major 2013 misfire in The Lone Ranger (misfire in terms of budget versus box office, not necessarily in terms of quality). Never mind the fact this would also be Verbinski's return to the horror genre after crafting The Ring re-make in 2002 which still stands to be one of if not the scariest theater-going experience of my life. And so, while the film will inevitably come out at the beginning of 2017 I am still very much looking forward to it and won't immediately discredit the quality of the film simply based on the early-in-the-year release date that typically signals poor quality-especially in reference to horror films. For a film that is as visually impressive as this trailer makes the final product out to be one can only hope that the story and its power is able to measure up. Still, in this first-look trailer we don't get much in the way of narrative, but rather are treated to a flurry of beautifully concocted images that add up to a full portrait that will hopefully be terrifying as all get out when brought together to serve the story. Based on an original idea by Verbinski and screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) the film is said to follow an ambitious young executive who is sent to retrieve his company's CEO from an idyllic but mysterious "wellness center" at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa's miraculous treatments are not what they seem. Surely, the mystery around this "wellness center" will be key to the marketing of the film, but I've already seen more than enough to be hooked as Verbinski feels like an underrated talent and something of a hidden gem. Just look at the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy in all their majestic grandeur and don't forget the modern classic that is Rango-the guy has serious skills and to see him returning to the world of horror should herald much more than the silence of February will likely bring. A Cure for Wellness stars Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Jason Isaacs, Celia Imrie, Lisa Banes, Adrian Schiller, Susanne Wuest and opens on February 17th, 2017.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - THE ACCOUNTANT

We're running a little behind this week, but our review of this past weekend's box office champion The Accountant is now up and able to be viewed. Besides the editing and uploading delay this week we also had a few lighting issues as one may be able to tell by the quality of the picture on the video, but nevertheless the content is there and hopefully still enjoyable enough. The Accountant finished the weekend with an easy win as its only real competition over the weekend was the release of Kevin Hart's new stand-up special, What Now? which brought in an estimated $11.98 million from 2,567 theaters making it the biggest debut for a stand-up comedy film ever. As for the Ben Affleck fronted film it brought in an estimated $24.7 million which was both above expectations (which were anticipated to be anywhere between $15-20 million) as well as besting the opening numbers for both Affleck's Argo and The Town. Now, whether The Accountant will climb as high as those Oscar hopefuls is doubtful as The Accountant will make no such waves this awards seasons (that will be left to the Affleck directed Live By Night) and may have a shorter than average shelf-life as the next three weekends see the release of a new Jack Reacher film followed by another Tom Hanks/Dan Brown treasure hunt, and then not only a new Marvel movie, but also Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge which will each take large chunks of the key demographic that flocked to see The Accountant in its first days of release. It was easy to see the film was going to have a strong first weekend from the size of our Thursday preview audience though as it was easily one of the more packed theaters we'd been in on a Thursday night since maybe Don't Breathe back in late August. While that will do it for now, we will have a review for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back this weekend and look forward to the bigger releases of the fall movie season as they are now fast approaching. As always, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel as we have a new review (or reviews) up each week!

New Trailer for ASSASSIN'S CREED Starring Michael Fassbender

Like I said back in May when the first trailer premiered, 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 this new trailer gives us an even better glimpse at the visual prowess of their interpretation and how gorgeous it will be if nothing else. As far as story goes, I was don't know what to expect and while the little bit of plot offered here concerning the fact Fassbender's character is key more for his bloodline than any traits his person might currently possess is interesting I'm curious to how things will unspool from that premise. Given the game is said to be 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-it seems screenwriters Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, and Michael Lesslie have plenty of mythology to work with. This trailer, while naturally delivering more footage, alsograbs my attention by giving a protagonist in Fassbender's Callum Lynch that is initially against whatever he us about to undergo, but seemingly comes to enjoy it. It may be a slight detail, but I like what that could mean for the tone of the film overall. Assassin's Creed also stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael K. Williams, and opens December 21st, 2016.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 18, 2016


In director Gavin O'Connor's (Warrior) latest film, The Accountant, the films titular character and our protagonist is one that operates on the high end of the autism spectrum. The character is a math savant who has utilized his high-functioning skills to cook the books for several high-profile criminal clients that would seemingly stack the character's pockets, but may also serve as a threat to Christian Wolff and his legitimate, small-town CPA office. It's a hell of a way to set-up intrigue around a character while simultaneously bringing attention to those who function a little different from what society considers to be the norm especially when the film makes such a character as much a superhero as they do here. As Wolff, Ben Affleck is not only a genius when it comes to numbers though, but he's been nurtured into something of a killing machine by his militaristic father (Robert C. Treveiler). The film then combines these elements of Wolff's personality while mixing in a U.S. Treasury investigation led by the soon to retire Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and his forced apprentice of sorts in Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) that leads Wolff to take on something of a legitimate client in a major robotics company run by John Lithgow. This plotline also introduces us to the obligatory love interest in Anna Kendrick's Dana, but mostly The Accountant is about Affleck kicking ass and counting numbers with the amount of plot Bill Dubuque's (The Judge) screenplay attempts to pile on only serving to take away from the more interesting character study that's trying to peek out from behind all the storylines. And while the film does indeed suffer from something of an identity crisis while at the same time playing into the fact it knows fully what it is by embracing the inherent goofiness of an assassin accountant it never stops being entertaining. Even as the plot jumps from Wolff's main mission to that of the Treasury investigation, and onto the third party tracker embodied by the always charismatic Jon Bernthal and back to Wolff there is always something to keep us invested even if what is doing so feels scattershot. This would typically be a detriment to a film given it signals a lack of trust in the lead characters ability to sustain audience engagement, but under O'Connor's steady hand The Accountant makes one feel just satisfied enough by the time they're done consuming it without actually offering anything of nutritional value.


Yes, Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is one of those young adult adaptations where a seemingly normal kid who possesses zero self-confidence comes to learn that he's special in some capacity. That he is in fact "the chosen one" and that without his presence an evil plan couldn't possibly be thwarted. Director Tim Burton's (Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) adaptation of author Ransom Riggs' best-selling novel is indeed that type of movie and there is no eluding those comparisons. What allows this seeming cookie-cutter product to come off a different conveyor belt than some of its peers though is the level of uniqueness with which it is operating in. Riggs' novel plays by the conventions of the genre, sure, but there are so many fresh and interesting ideas brought to the table that it is easy to see past the rather standard narrative beats. It is all about the journey rather than the destination, right? If one has little trouble buying into that saying than they should have no trouble finding a point in which they can immerse themselves in the world of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her peculiars. While I can admit to the fact the adaptation (penned by Jane Goldman of Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman fame) has a few shortcomings in not giving a few of its exceptionally talented cast members enough to do while sporting other scenes in which the exposition is far too glaring the overall product we are delivered is one of wonder and curiosity. I can only imagine going into the film having not read the source material that the plot could come off somewhat convoluted-especially in the obligatory action-heavy third act-but more times than not Goldman finds interesting ways to speak around the necessities of the plot which are only aided by the visual flair of Burton who finds himself firmly in his own wheelhouse with this world. From the overly dark and dreary opening credits sequence to the way in which it cuts abruptly to sunny Florida where Burton once again chastises the slums of suburbia it is clear Burton is back in a field where he feels his creative juices are free to flow. Essentially-the guy can do whatever he chooses and it will likely work in this alternate reality where what we come to be treated to is a fully realized world with special powers giving way to numerous adventures that is only halted from time to time by the not fully realized characters that populate it.


Disney has created something of a sub-genre for itself with the inspirational sports dramas. They've been doing this in their live action department for some time, but within the past fifteen years or so they have really capitalized on the curbside appeal of a marquee name starring in a "based on a true story" film that chronicles some rather exceptional events that lead to a stirring conclusion audiences can energetically cheer for. Fifteen years on and one might think the mouse house is running short on true life sports stories though as they've now resorted to a movie about chess (not exactly a game that translates to much excitement on film), but it is in these inherent doubts that Queen of Katwe rises above expectations to be a sports movie that not only inspires, but uses the familiar beats of its genre to its advantage rather than allowing them to become a detriment. In not only taking the seeming requirements of such a story in stride director Mira Nair's film becomes more than the sum of its parts by adding a level of maturity and, unfortunately, reality to its story elements that would once upon a time have been Disney-fied so as to gloss over the harsher aspects of the circumstances these real-life characters find themselves in. That Disney doesn't try to mess with The Namesake filmmakers interpretation of Phiona Mutesi's (played here by Madina Nalwanga) story serves it in ways that give it more shadings than something like Million Dollar Arm or Glory Road in which the more conventional approaches resulted in fairly average and conventional films. Don't get me wrong-Queen of Katwe isn't necessarily groundbreaking and certainly isn't life-changing, but it is able to use these tropes we've grown accustomed to in just the right ways meaning they are done in an effective manner. Couple this with the fact Nair has assembled a rather incredible cast that includes Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo supporting newcomer Nalwanga and the other inexperienced child actor's that make up the majority of this authentic cast and the result is not only that of your standard underdog tale in the form of an inspiring sports movie, but an inspiring sports drama that actually has the will and passion to inspire should one come at the movie with their cynicism in check.


There is something to this formula director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg have cooked up together. They've found a composition of elements that when brought together in their capable hands more than appeals to a large type of audience while simultaneously being thrilling and intelligent enough for the seasoned moviegoers to look past the standard genre elements they fit squarely into. This formula largely resides in the telling of American stories that focus on the little guy. The man's man who isn't sitting somewhere in an office with a suit on pulling the strings, but rather the men on the front lines. This is appealing to a whole region of the country not accustomed to seeing mirrors of themselves on the big screen in such big budget productions, but Berg and Wahlberg (lots of German ancestry going on here) have now told two sweeping stories concerning two "based on real life events" (and have a third coming later this year) that are more or less simple stories when taken at face value, but that permeate more meaning about the state of affairs in our country and world than a pointed essay about the state of affairs in our country and world ever could. This is how Berg captures his core audience and pleases his critics: he's able to say something boldly heroic about the men who risk their lives for others or perform in composed and exceptional manners when finding themselves in a set of insane circumstances while hinting at what this illustrates in the larger scope of things. In essence, it is those who are unassuming and voluntary in their heroics who continue to be the pulse of this country's integrity and not the house of governmental leaders or the big business tycoons who cut corners and jobs for their own personal gain. Thus the reason why the big business tycoon or better yet BP, AKA what was once known as British Petroleum, but changed their brand to that of "Beyond Petroleum" in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, fulfills that role of antagonist here. Why that spill happened, which resulted in severe environmental, health and economic consequences, as well as serious legal and public relations repercussions for BP, happened in the first place is the story Deepwater Horizon is telling and much like their previous collaboration, Lone Survivor, Berg and Wahlberg tap into a real understanding for the value of life and that it is not worth throwing away for inconsequential details such as how many days past schedule one large oil and gas company might be.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

While we've had a few awards bait titles released so far the Oscar season seemed to officially kick-off this weekend with the wide release of Nate Parker's controversial The Birth of a Nation which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January to rapturous applause and the biggest acquisition deal in the festival's history with Fox Searchlight winning the bidding war at $17.5 million. In the months following this record-breaking deal reports began to surface concerning the now seventeen year-old case in which director, writer, producer, and star Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of sexual assault and that four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide. These charges obviously put a damper on how the multi-talented Parker's film would be received, but I don't think Fox Searchlight was counting on The Birth of a Nation's opening weekend opening as low as it did. The film, centered around Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, who orchestrates an uprising brought in an estimated $7.1 million from 2,105 theaters. The film will be lucky to hit $25 million domestic it seems and will ultimately fade from the cultural conversation long before the real Oscar talk begins. I understand the seriousness of the allegations against Parker and how they negatively impact his image, but separate from all of that the film is quite good and it's a pity the art can't be separated from the artist in this case. The big story of the weekend though, was The Girl on the Train. The much anticipated adaptation of Paula Hawkins' bestselling novel ended up a bit shy of expectations with an estimated $24.7 million from 3,144 theaters, but that was enough to land it atop the weekend box office. The Girl on the Train also opened internationally in 34 territories this weekend adding an estimated $16.5 million to its total giving the film a worldwide tally of $41 million on a production budget of $45 million so Universal won't be shedding any tears, but this certainly won't be a water cooler conversation starter the same way Gone Girl. That's it for now, but as always be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel as we have a new review (or reviews) up each week!

First Trailer for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 Starring Keanu Reeves

The first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 2 has arrived starring Keanu Reeves, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Common, Peter Stormare, and Riccardo Scamarcio. The film opens on February 10th, 2017. I'll have thoughts up later, but wanted to post the trailer as soon as possible.

Teaser Trailer for POWER RANGERS Reboot

For some reason I'm extremely interested to see how this reboot of the popular Power Rangers TV series turns out. The last time I was excited for something having to do with Power Rangers was probably when my Aunt was taking myself, my siblings, and my cousin to see Power Rangers Turbo at our local dollar theater in 1997. When I was ten years old. All of that said, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a huge part of my childhood. As big as Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles was when Power Rangers came along in 1993 when I was of the tender age of six it captured my imagination and everything I imagined comic books and animated super hero shows to be were they to come to life. With that in mind, I can't wait to see what director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) has done with the property and how he has both made it new and fresh while drawing from the best parts of the series given that at this point in time Power Rangers has not only been a part of my generations childhood, but the two or three generations since. From all we've seen from the promotional material thus far and now this first footage it seems Israelite and his main cast of unknowns who are playing the "teenagers with attitude" have found a way to accomplish this in both a modern and super fun way that looks as if it will celebrate the original, very cheesy, series in the best ways. All I can feel from this teaser is good intentions and while Israelite and his crew have certainly changed a fair amount of the mythology and look of what I grew up with the major factors are still here and if through those they were able to find new avenues to explore I'm all for it. The one major cause for concern is the six credited writers on the project. Granted. that list includes the likes of Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class), his writing partner Ashley Miller, as well as Max Landis (Chronicle) it also includes the guys behind Gods Of Egypt, Dracula Untold, and The Last Witch Hunter. Given the teaser knows how to restrain itself I'll remain optimistic, but this is certainly enough to give pause on what otherwise seems to hold a lot of potential. Power Rangers stars Ludi Lin, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Dacre Montgomery, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, and opens on March 24th, 2017.


Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation plays with the title of D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent film to reappropriate its phrase of a title to no longer be used in a deprecating manner towards black people. Griffith's film (which is a requirement in any film school due to it being widely accepted as the first feature length motion picture) used blackface to portray African American characters while, given the time in which it was made, is also wildly racist in many regards. For Parker to be willing to challenge a term and the cultural baggage that goes along with it that has now been established for over a century is bold. This boldness ultimately works in his favor though as his film certainly stands to make a statement. Coming off a whirlwind debut at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of this year the film scored a record for the most expensive acquisition deal in the festivals history with Fox Searchlight snatching up Parker's slave drama for an astonishing $17.5 million. Of course, in the months since that acquisition stories have re-surfaced about the seventeen year-old case in which The Birth of a Nation's director, writer, producer, and star Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of sexual assault and that four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide. Such allegations can of course not be taken lightly and it doesn't exactly bode well for Parker that he depicts or suggests two savage and humiliating rape scenes in his film as performed by malicious and one-dimensional Caucasian villains, but to let those allegations influence the judgement of this piece of art he has created feels unnecessary. Sure, this is solely a product of Parker's doing as he had a hand in every stage and facet of this production and thus his particular view of the world undoubtedly made its way into the DNA of the film, but to allow such outside influences such as actions from nearly two decades ago to come into account for a piece of art made by an individual who has no doubt grown, matured, and maybe even changed in that time period isn't wholly fair. And I understand-neither was what he was accused of doing. It wasn't fair that the repercussions of his actions might have contributed to the accuser's death, but taken on its own terms-only as a piece of filmmaking depicting an ugly time in history that simultaneously attempts to re-write multiple generations worth of certain interpretations of history- The Birth of a Nation is a powerful and unapologetic film that uses that aforementioned boldness and an appealing saga of revenge to craft something memorable if not exactly transcendent.


The Girl on the Train, the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins best-selling novel, is directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) and features a solid cast of talent led by the remarkable Emily Blunt, but ultimately serves as a reminder that even the most creative juices can be filtered through the system and down into the most generic of thrillers when there is no more motivation to a story than to relay melodrama. My apologies for the run-on, but like the movie it is describing there is a lot going on in The Girl on the Train with none of it seeming to amount to much at all. Even as the film comes to its "shocking" conclusion there is little to take away from the film other than the fact that we now know "whodunit" never mind the fact we don't really know why they did it or what more might be going on below the surface because that is as deep as The Girl on the Train gets: surface-level. That isn't to say there aren't glimmers of more interesting caveats to the film as it's clear the intent of the premise was to allow the material to explore how we perceive the lives of others yet only assign them a handful of details to remember them by when they, in reality, have just as full a life as one's own self. Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Men, Women, & Children) don't have much of an interest in these aspects of the story though as they seem more concerned with cramming in as much of the source material into their one hundred and twelve minute feature version without bothering to flesh any of that material out. Novels are, by nature, too layered and more inherently nuanced than films to be adapted directly and so the key when taking on a project such as this is to latch onto one idea or theme that the book contains and view the entirety of the story through that prism so as while maybe not capturing every moment from the beloved book one actually stands a better chance at capturing the spirit-which, both fans of the novel as well as the uninitiated (count me among them) will undoubtedly thank you for in the long run. This will not only add more compelling and fascinating aspects to the film with each viewing, but it will help viewers to better understand the fractured psyches through which this story is conveyed. As for the product Taylor and his team have delivered-there will be no replay value to this film. Once the mystery is gone it only becomes more glaring how poor the execution is.


The best thing one can say about Masterminds is that it seemingly accomplishes what it sets out to do and be. Of course, that's a pretty solid compliment if you're going for a certain type of quirky/oddball comedy that not everyone will understand or even care to understand. It has always felt as if director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) has marched to the beat of a slightly different drum than any other comedy director and that continues to show in his feature films as he documents characters that are interesting or strange because of the inherent state of their personality rather than documenting the actions of fairly average individuals who are put into extraordinary circumstances. That isn't to say the ensemble cast of Masterminds don't find themselves in the middle of some pretty spectacular circumstances because they do, but this is due to the fact they voluntarily sign up for crazy expeditions rather than them being thrust upon them. Now, this isn't original to Hess' films of course; plenty of comedies find humor in the eccentric and the zany, but Hess notches it up a few levels-making his films feel as if they are operating not in the real world, but from the perspective of these bizarre minds that allow us to see the world how they see it: in unconventional and bizarre ways. This is especially glaring in Masterminds as it reminds us time and time again that what is happening is based on a true story that occurred in 1997 and at the time, was the second-largest all-cash robbery in U.S. history. As with most "based on a true story" movies the film version of these events takes the real life events and paints them in broad strokes though it at least seems that writers Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey have kept the general facts of the case intact enough while interpreting those actions to inform character decisions that give way to the more outlandish tone the film sports. Of course, how are we to know that what we're treated to in Masterminds isn't exactly how the real David Ghantt perceived things to be during these time in his life? The point is-it doesn't matter. Whether they were or not I can appreciate that Hess takes on a certain singular style and approach and applies it to every scene making what was already a fascinating story that much more enjoyable...if you enjoy Hess' particular brand of nonsense, that is.

Mr. CHURCH Review

While Mr. Church might have initially been looked at as something of a return to quality movie-making for star Eddie Murphy it is more a return to the realm of inoffensive movie making than anything else. Mr. Church is certainly no Pluto Nash or Norbit...hell, it's not even Meet Dave (which I admittedly never finished), but it isn't the high-reaching piece of transcendent cinema that encapsulates all the major themes of one's life that illustrates mistakes made and identities redeemed that it seemed to want so badly to be in its trailers either. Rather, Mr. Church is a pleasant enough distraction about a kind-hearted man that is largely elevated by the credible performances of its two leads. Both Murphy and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) deliver the necessary sympathies to draw on audience emotions that keep us invested in the sometimes tedious story that strings us along for decades with large stretches where little to nothing happens or is revealed. Fortunately, it isn't really the narrative that is meant to drive Mr. Church though, but rather the core relationship that forms between Murphy's titular character and Robertson's Charlotte Brody which remains the reason we become and stay as invested as we do throughout the sometimes tepid 100-minute runtime. The film, which comes from TV writing veteran Susan McMartin in her first feature film credit, feels rather episodic as a result with director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Double Jeopardy) doing little to add any filmmaking flairs as, at the age of seventy-six, seems to be on auto pilot. In that way, Mr. Church is very much a competently made and sometimes even emotionally affecting film, but most of the time it feels like a Hallmark movie that is emotionally manipulative for reasons of knowing it has little else to offer by way of connecting with its audience. It is a holiday Hallmark film that escaped the clutches of such a fate by appealing to talent such as Mr. Murphy by being a project not typically offered to the comedian and thus an opportunity after an intentional hiatus to do something different. Murphy, while doing his best to salvage this sappy if not occasionally comforting piece of melodrama can't rescue the project from total mediocrity, but he puts forth a valiant effort and that is duly noted.

Teaser Trailer for JACKIE Starring Natalie Portman

One of the bigger surprises to come out of the Toronto International Film Festival this year was the wave of positive reactions and praise in response to director Pablo Larraín's Jackie. The film that is a biopic of the First Lady to John F. Kennedy is said to tell a searingly personal account of Mrs. Kennedy's life in the hours and days following the assassination of her husband. Starring Natalie Portman in the titular role early word is the actor will easily land in the Best Actress category at this year's Academy Awards as Larraín has given Portman a platform on which to craft a version of this person that is more introspective and nuanced than any other portrayal we've seen of this First lady on screen before. And to be honest, this first look at the film for those of us not privileged enough to attend a major film festival is completely astonishing. The visual prowess of the film seems to mirror the light, but striking gravitas of its titular character while the score is as exquisite and classy as most would imagine the real Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was. It is the narration of this teaser that really drives home the weight the film likely holds though, as the quote from the musical "Camelot," reinforces the idea of sudden change and the more sudden realizations that things will never be the same as they once were. In the stage play King Arthur speaks these words near the end as he comes to realize that the grand notions and the lofty ideas of his beloved Camelot are gone. The Jackie that is the subject of Larraín's film is very much in this same state of mind. By layering in these elements the teaser culminates with a barrage of imagery that figuratively resembles the walls of the Kennedy's Camelot falling down around them. It's more than effective-it is moving even and if Larraín's film can elicit as much of an emotional response as it does in this two-minute clip I can only imagine what the feature film experience might be like. I can't wait. Jackie also stars Billy Crudup, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, John Carroll Lynch, and opens on December 2nd, 2016.

Teaser Trailer for PATRIOTS DAY Starring Mark Wahlberg

While Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg's Deepwater Horizon just hit theaters this past weekend (I'll be catching up with that one tomorrow) the actor/director duo (who also worked on Lone Survivor together) have already completed their next project together and are once again working within the realm of a tragic true story that turned average human beings going about their everyday lives and jobs into heroes. Patriots Day recounts Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis's actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. Three years removed from the marathon bombing and I can still remember exactly where I was when the news started pouring in about the events taking place at an even that was intended to bring unity and spirit to the city that was taken advantage of as an opportunity to diminish both such goals. In this rather somber first trailer we are mainly treated to a run through of Wahlberg's Sgt. Tommy Saunders as he goes about his routine before leaving for duty on April 15th, 2013. This first look is clearly meant to elicit the American spirit of the piece with more American flags popping up here than a Michael Bay flick while the trailer is scored with a piano version of "America the Beautiful" that resonates in an effective way when paired with the vague images suggesting the real terror that took place that day. While Lone Survivor was on of the best films of 2013 in my opinion and despite the fact I can't yet speak on the quality of Deepwater Horizon I'm inclined to be excited for what Berg and Wahlberg will deliver here as they seem to have tapped into a specific niche of their own that they find both interesting and artistically fulfilling. We'll find out if they can keep their streak alive when the film begins its awards-qualifying run on December 21st. Patriots Day also stars Michelle Monaghan, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Wolff, Michael Beach and expands wide on January 13, 2017. 

On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 4, 2016


It's just as easy to tell the summer movie season is over by the rush of prestige pictures October begins to bring as it is by the appearance of teaser trailers for the next summer movie season. Still, besides some of the teases we received at Comic-Con this year we haven't really seen much of what we'll be getting at the cinema in the summer of 2017. That all changes as Disney has released a two and a half minute teaser for the fifth installment in their massive Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. While generally a fan of the original trilogy I can hardly remember much of anything about Rob Marshall's 2011 continuation On Stranger Tides. All of that said, this latest installment that is once again produced by Jerry Bruckheimer has courted directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg who are the duo behind the foreign adventure film Kon-Tiki from 2012 which was (not coincidentally) about a 1947 expedition by raft across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. Though this initial teaser doesn't give much by way of story and we don't see Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow except for on a Wanted poster we do get our first glimpse at Javier Bardem's Captain Salazar that is apparently out to deliver death to Depp's Captain Jack by way of Brenton Thwaites' Henry who is definitely not Sam Claflin's Philip from the previous film. And while little more of the story is known than what this teaser tells us the script comes from Jeff Nathanson who has penned movies ranging in quality from The Terminal and Tower Heist to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Rush Hour 3 so make of that what you will when considering what we could potentially be in store for here. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales also stars Orlando Bloom, Kaya Scodelario, David Wenham, Geoffrey Rush, and...Paul McCartney? Apparently we'll get Beatles over the Stones in this latest installment that arrives in theaters on May 26th, 2017.


I'm going to need to do some major catching up this week as this past weekend saw the release of three new wide releases and the expansion of another. It seemed only two of these will end up mattering in the long run as the Tim Burton adaptation of Ransom Riggs' best-seller, Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children, ended up atop the weekend box office while the Lone Survivor reunion of director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon finished second. The other films referenced to are the long-delayed Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) comedy Masterminds and the based on a true story inspiration Disney flick Queen of Katwe. Both of these films have rather stellar casts considering their genres with Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones all starring in Hess' take of one of the biggest bank heists in American history while Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo headlined the account of a Ugandan girl who sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess. While I was hoping for something unexpected from Masterminds it was critically panned and only earned an estimated $6.6 million from 3,042 theaters. Queen of Katwe couldn't do any better in its first weekend of wide release making only $2.6 million from 1,242 theaters. It was Miss Peregrine who reigned supreme with an estimated $28.5 million from 3,522 theaters. The film also received a "B+" CinemaScore with audiences under twenty-five giving it an "A-" which bodes well for the YA property in the coming weeks. Deepwater Horizon finished second with an estimated $20.6 million from 3,259 theaters and also scored an "A-" CinemaScore. Filling out the remainder of the top five were holdovers The Magnificent Seven as well as Sully which continues to do impressive numbers. Thanks again to Jordan Mears for filling in for me this weekend and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel as we have a new review (or reviews) up each week!