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.

THE CIRCLE Review

Not everyone is going to like you. That is a lesson today's society could stand to appreciate a little more if not learn, but that doesn't mean that's going to stop people from trying. Wanting to be liked isn't inherently a bad thing, but when we depend on "Likes" to sustain our own sense of self-worth, when we're living off "Likes" there could certainly be one or two issues pop up. When we live through the persona we've created online and reach a point we can't identify our true selves then what people like isn't actually the individual anymore anyway, so where do we draw the line? How can this age of transparency be utilized in positive ways rather than resorting to fake or devious methods to again try and prove that some lives are more valuable or more special than others? In The Circle Emma Watson plays a young, presumably middle glass girl in her early twenties who goes to work for a tech company a la Google called The Circle and essentially becomes their poster child for transparency. Submitting herself to the line of thinking that she can only be her best self when she knows people are watching her; that to leave her to her own devices would mean that she would develop and keep secrets and to harbor secrets is to have something to lie about to the world. Sound slightly cult-ish? It's supposed to, but while the tech company that is The Circle clearly has ulterior motives for their extreme invasions of privacy that they so lovingly convey as being concerns for the greater good of mankind The Circle the movie doesn't seem as clear on what its motives or meanings are supposed to be. On one hand there is certainly an analogy at play for the world as presented in the film when compared to that of the social media-driven culture we're all currently a part of, but while Facebook can still plead connection and bringing people together as their main objective it is so blatantly obvious that The Circle seeks world domination that it's past the point of believable someone hasn't called them on their bluff already. Furthermore, the film builds in a fashion where the audience is led to believe there is going to be a major twist, a serious maneuver of innovation over intelligence, a battle of wits for the ages, but when such metaphoric beans come to be spilled there is hardly any cohesion to the point our protagonist makes. Watson's Mae Holland uses The Circle's tools against its nefarious leaders, but she has no point, no position, and all we're left with is a clouded message of a movie that goes nowhere.

GIFTED Review

I was reading a piece last week by Jaime Weinman for Vox that talked about a shift in film criticism recently and how critics have become more socially conscious than ever. While the piece is an interesting assertion of how many movies of late have come to be judged as much for their ethics as their art there was one particular section that took me by surprise and stuck with me. In a section titled "The end of Kaelism" Weinman says, "A work of art — serious or popular — isn't supposed to be judged by how much you agree with it, but by how it makes you feel and whether it can convince you of its validity." The context of this quote is key as the writer was discussing the approach of critics such as legendary New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, the man who invented the auteur theory, as critics who ultimately sported an "art-for-art's-sake approach to culture." I was reminded of this approach, this train of thought, as I sat watching the latest from director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man). I was struck by the fact that despite recognizing the predictable tropes utilized in Gifted that I was really, really into the story and that despite the clichés of the courtroom drama Webb's techniques were overcoming them in a way that was delivering a film, a piece of art, that made me feel good; that made me appreciate movies for showing me what they can do. How they can move you. I went into Gifted expecting something along the lines of a sappy, Hallmark-style melodrama with better actors and production design, but within the first fifteen minutes Gifted had convinced me of its validity — it had convinced me of its sincerity that was ingrained in its otherwise competent execution. Sure, many will dismiss Gifted for being the type of film that is emotionally manipulative because it wouldn't be mad if you shed a few tears and/or formulaic in the way that the premise is an old cliché that has been used before (specifically in 1991's Little Man Tate which I haven't seen, but more or less sounds like the same movie), but just because a movie might indeed be full of cliché or admittedly formulaic doesn't mean it's automatically bad. Webb is able to tell this recognizable story in ways that allow it to pop. The director and screenwriter, Tom Flynn, are able to prove certain tropes aren't always bad and that doing the opposite isn't always good by delivering all that is predictable and formulaic about Gifted with a warm and wholly wonderful sincerity that comes straight from the heart.

FREE FIRE Review

"Everyone's from somewhere," says gun runner Vernon shortly after his introduction in director Ben Wheatley's (Kill List, High-Rise) Free Fire. Vernon, as played by South African native Sharlto Copley, is observing the plethora of people who have ascended upon an abandoned warehouse in Boston in 1978 to buy some of his guns. These people come from all over; some from Ireland, others from America, and further there are those of different ethnicities to be considered. This melting pot of participants bring history, prejudice, and a laundry list of assumptions about one another to the table. These preconceptions inform the tone of where each individual might register in the likelihood of who they're going to snap at and could potentially inform us of how this particular scenario was going to play out even before it did, but instead such quirks are only relied on for humor. Each of these men, these proud, overcompensating men tell us the clichés of their ancestry and fire insults back and forth with one another that same heritage being the punchline of most of them. Given the odd amount of time devoted to jokes and jabs about it, we assume there might be a point to it all in that they come to see past the error of such ways and that despite what someone might have heard or been told about a culture that it doesn't necessarily apply to all or that, at the very least, the stereotype might be something of an embellished truth. But no, Wheatley along with co-writer and frequent collaborator Amy Jump have no time for depth, leaving such ideas on the table and only using those clichés and stereotypes for the aforementioned comedic purposes. That isn't to say that a film can't have fun and be good while having no substance whatsoever, but it is saying that if this is the route your movie chooses to go it better be damn good at accomplishing what it sets out to accomplish and Free Fire just isn't. The idea is there, that is clear. The ambition is admirable, no doubt. Still, Free Fire never seems able to reach the heights of what Wheatley or Jump likely had in their heads when they were writing and storyboarding the project. Having only seen High-Rise prior to this and not being a fan of that film there might be an inherent hesitance toward the director's work, but there seems an obvious disconnect between the idea that spawned such a movie and the execution that has delivered the disappointing final product we see play out on screen.

THE LOST CITY OF Z Review

The Lost City of Z is a twenty year epic that essentially chronicles the fine line between ambition and irresponsibility. It's an illustration of how one must gauge the ramifications of their actions in the long run to better determine that present decision. In The Lost City of Z we are told the story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) a man who became obsessed with finding what no one around him believed could be true. It wasn't always the driving force in his life, when we meet Fawcett he is simply looking to restore the respect of his name, but as his life evolves and opportunities arise he develops a need or more, the ambition, to discover the unknown that he knows is out there. Even as his wife (a wonderful Sienna Miller) waits at home for him raising what amounts to be their three children. Fawcett is gone for years at a time when on his expeditions and given those twenty years take place between 1905 and 1925 his younger children often forget who he is by the time he returns. The questions Fawcett eventually has to come to terms with are those of if the lost years with his children and wife were worth what was on the other side of the world? It would seem, as the movie tells it, that they were. That there was no letting go of this need to know the unknown and that even if he had done so in favor of remaining with his family for the rest of his days that those final days would have undoubtedly been tinged with regret. It's a difficult position to be in emotionally; knowing you should likely do one thing in favor of the other, but realizing that itch is never going to go way until you scratch it. As a film, this is the angle director James Gray takes in choosing to convey the story of Percy Fawcett. A true story of a man who displays fearlessness from the beginning, a selfishness necessary to leave a certain type of legacy, and a mentality that fully surrenders to the idea that death is the best sauce for life. This may all sound beyond enticing and rather mysterious, but The Lost City of Z is a rather straight-forward and old fashioned adventure movie that delivers its ruminations in subtle enough fashion that an impression is left even if the adventures themselves aren't as grand as one might imagine if they know Fawcett's story before going into the film.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: April 25, 2017

Full Trailer for KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Last week we received a brief, 16-second teaser for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This is the follow-up to the wildly successful Kingsman: The Secret Service from 2014 with director Matthew Vaughn returning for what will be his first sequel despite two other films he's directed having spawned follow-ups. So, what is it about the world of the Kingsman that made Vaughn want to return? It seems to be the fact there is so much more to explore here whereas Vaughn knew that what he had to say about Kick-Ass and the X-Men universe was more or less complete in his films. With Kingsman, which, like Kick-Ass, is based on a Mark Millar graphic novel, the filmmaker seemingly only scratched the surface of the world in which this secret service organization exists and the sequel is certainly expanding that world. Bringing in a host of big name newcomers The Golden Circle sees the Kingsman's headquarters being destroyed and the world coming under siege forcing Taron Edgerton's Eggsy and the the rest of the gang on a journey that leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy. While an added layer to an already familiar operation is always an exciting facet in a sequel it would appear that, from this trailer, Vaughn and his crew have really upped the ante in this second film by not simply adding more characters, but by genuinely expanding the scope of the universe in which these kinds of individuals can exist with not all of them falling under the same category of being slick-suited super-spies. Rather, we get a fair amount of footage of Channing Tatum sporting Americana to the brim while essentially being the U.S.'s answer to Britain's Eggsy. I was a big fan of the original and am a big fan of Vaughn's work in general so I'm hoping that given he's finally decided to make a sequel that this turns out to be well worth the time and creativity invested. Kingsman: The Golden Circle also stars Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Sophie Cookson, Mark Strong, Michael Gambon, Colin Firth, and opens on September 29th, 2017.

Movies I Wanna See Most: Summer 2017

Due to some unfortunate circumstances in my professional life I was unable to make a list of my most anticipated films of the year so I'm happy to have had the time to scour the release calendar for the summer and get to know a little better what we'll be seeing in theaters over the next few months. The summer movie season is always one of my favorite times of the year because it seems people outside those of us who consistently devour movies seem to make a big deal of what's opening at the theater each week. And when it's something the masses are interested in it feels like a celebration and no matter how crappy or generic some of these movies might be that attract the masses-I can't help but smile about people finding joy and excitement in the cinema. I've always prided myself on trying to find a balance between big-budget and indie fare whereas a large number of well-renowned or even fairly compensated critics tend to dismiss the blockbusters and adore the smaller, intimate movies without hesitation. I like to try and think in terms of objectives and how well a movie accomplishes the objectives it sets out to accomplish by the end of the film and I find this especially critical when approaching summer movies. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily more excited for Transformers: The Last Knight than I am something like It Comes at Night, but rather that I'm interested in both of them for very different, albeit intriguing reasons. While neither of those titles will be on my list I would place director Trey Edward Shults follow-up to Krisha within my personal top fifteen alongside the likes of Alien: Covenant, Luc Besson's Valerian, the strangely appealing The Hitman's Bodyguard, as well as the latest from Sofia Coppola in The Beguiled which I could see breaking out with the current stock of Nicole Kidman rising (though it has a lot of tough indie competition this year). Elsewhere, you won't find the likes of The Mummy or King Arthur on my list (I appreciate Guy Ritchie, but just can't seem to muster any enthusiasm for this familiar tale) and neither of the animated threequels that will make bajillions of dollars in Despicable Me 3 and Cars 3. Like I said though, I'm by no means opposed to unabashed blockbusters as is evidenced in my number ten pick...

Teaser Trailer for AMERICAN ASSASSIN

Lionsgate and CBS Films have released a first look at their feature adaptation for the late Vince Flynn's long-running series that centers around character Mitch Rapp. While I haven't personally read any of Flynn's novels there are apparently a lot of people who do. Each one of Flynn's fifteen (fifteen!) novels that are set in the world of counter terrorism and feature Rapp have been a New York Times best-seller, the three most recent entries having gone to number one, with the series as a whole having sold nearly 20 million copies to date. While we're on the subject, it seems American Assassin is actually the eleventh book in Flynn's series, but the first chronologically. This makes sense as to why the studio would then cast Dylan O'Brien in the lead role at the ripe old age of twenty-five as they are no doubt hoping this film might potentially kick-off a profitable franchise for them. All of that taken into consideration, this teaser for American Assassin is quite terrific and promises everything one could hope for from a piece of genre filmmaking like this. Director Michael Cuesta made one of the more underseen investigative procedural's and all-around underrated films of three years ago with Kill the Messenger and with the tone of the story he's working with here as well as an screenplay adapted by the likes of Michael Finch (Predators), Marshall Herskovitch (The Last Samurai), Stephen Schiff (The Americans), and director Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond) it would seem Cuesta might be able to bring that same sense of urgency, suspense, and intrigue that he did with his last feature. Here's to hoping this is more along the lines of Christopher McQuarrie's Jack Reacher than that of Zwick's lackluster sequel from last year. American Assassin also stars Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch,and opens on September 15, 2017.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: April 18, 2017

Initial Reaction: Video Review - THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

After a huge March where we essentially saw would-be blockbusters open every week April has been relatively quiet since. That is, until now as the eighth installment in the ever-expanding The Fast amd the Furious franchise opened on Friday and raced to a record-setting debut weekend. The first film in the franchise post-Paul Walker and things are dark for Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and his team. Not only were fans of the series curious as to where these characters might go next after the departure of their brother, but with the twist that Dom had all of a sudden gone rogue fans seemed even more enticed by what might have caused such a shift in the wake of everything and everyone finally being at peace. While The Fate of the Furious didn't come anywhere close to besting the domestic debut of Furious 7 ($147 million) this eighth chapter in the street car saga was still able to top $100 million easily leading the Easter weekend charge and becoming the second 2017 release thus far to top the $100 million mark. The big headline of the weekend though was that on top of its solid domestic debut, The Fate of the Furious also opened in over 60 international markets where it brought in a record total of $432.3 million which, when combined with the domestic total, comes out to another record total of $532.5 million worldwide. The first number breaking the international opening record and the second breaking the worldwide debut record. This worldwide record was previously held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $529 million, but as of this past weekend the latest installment of The Fast and the Furious was bigger that the latest installment of Star Wars. Needless to say, the plans for a ninth and tenth film in the franchise, currently set for release in 2019 and 2021, are no-brainers as there seems to be no slowing down this franchise-at least not in terms of profitability. That's all for this week, 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 STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII - THE LAST JEDI

If all would have gone according to the original plan we would actually be seeing The Last Jedi open in theaters next month, but that of course wasn't to be and so here we are-two years removed from the, "Chewie, we're home," moment when the world got their first real glimpse at what this new Star Wars trilogy might offer and luckily everything went down well with The Force Awakens. All of that to say we now finally have our first look at director Rian Johnson's (Brick, The Brother's Bloom, Looper) follow-up to J.J. Abram's safe, but respectable introduction to this latter trilogy. Every other movie in town has pretty much cleared out and with the Star Wars celebration kicking off in Orlando this week we have already been blessed with a plethora of news around that galaxy far, far away, but this is undoubtedly what everyone was looking forward to the most. While watching the live The Last Jedi panel this morning featuring Johnson as well as President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy they teased a few new details about the eighth installment including a hint that Rey's hero might not be all she'd built him up to be. The likes of Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill talked as minimally about the story as possible, but we'll take what we can get. Besides some vague plot details there wasn't much to take away despite a few new stills from the film adding to the excitement. Other guest appearances included BB-8, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran who plays a new character named Rose who is a maintenance worker in the resistance, but this was all for show more than it was tell as none of the panelists divulged much about the new film-until that first teaser/trailer was released. There will be much dissecting and speculating I imagine, but for now let us just bask in the glory of seeing the first images of a new Star Wars movie that will hopefully answer some of those burning questions left by The Force Awakens as well as the full-on return of Hamill to the role of Luke Skywalker giving long-time fans chills for days. The film also stars Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Warwick Davis , Kenny Baker, and Benicio Del Toro. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15th, 2017.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS Review

What direction The Fast and the Furious franchise might go in the aftermath of the untimely death of Paul Walker and the heartfelt sendoff that was Furious 7 was always going to prove to be an interesting answer. And now, we have that answer in the form of The Fate of the Furious-the eighth installment in this accidentally successful saga that only continues to up the action ante while somehow managing to also drive the plot forward and successfully push the story in new directions. It must be said up front that if you're a fan of the series and what it's become then this latest entry will more or less satisfy you, but whereas up until this point it's been exciting and interesting to see where the next film would take the series the question of how long this can go on is certainly more prevalent as Fate comes to a close. It's not that Fate necessarily loses any of the steam from the previous films, but more that it's beginning to spin its wheels; ultimately leaving little new room for the series to expand. Sure, there are questions left unanswered that will undoubtedly be resolved in future installments, but now that we've built to the events of Tokyo Drift and are in fact two movies past the moment of real momentum where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the real big bad of the franchise, showed up and did his thing the question is now if there is anything left for the series to do to re-entice audiences. It is not without admirable effort that The Fate of the Furious attempts to re-ignite the investment in these characters and their on-going adventures as this latest chapter takes the route of fracturing the one thing that has always been the constant of The Fast and the Furious-its family unit. If you've seen the trailers or even any of the clips that have been released for Fate it is likely that you're aware of the arc that Vin Diesel's patriarch Dom Toretto takes this time around. While this turn of dynamics among the cast is a welcome change in narrative direction it only works as well when it is able to balance itself with the overall tone of the franchise, but too often it takes itself a tinge too seriously and goes a shade too dark for this to both feel fresh while in the same vein as the outlandish, but supremely entertaining Fast & Furious movies we know and love.  

PERSONAL SHOPPER Review

I wasn't sure how I felt about Personal Shopper until I got back to my hotel room after watching it and couldn't shake the feeling I was being followed. There is a weird, distinct feeling to the type of movie Personal Shopper is because it doesn't really feel like a movie as we've come to recognize them. Going into the film I had little knowledge as to what it was or what it was about other than the fact it starred Kristen Stewart and came from writer/director Olivier Assayas who also made the highly praised, but befuddling to me Clouds of Sils Maria (also starring Stewart). And so, while I was once again compelled to seek out the film due to the rave reviews it was receiving there was never a great sense of what I was getting myself into. While Personal Shopper doesn't fit squarely into any one genre it instead handles itself with the fluidity and unpredictability of real life where we simply take things as they come no matter how they might otherwise be classified. This is affirming in the sense that nothing is ever predictable about the film and one legitimately never has a clue where the film could go from one moment to the next, but it also makes the focus feel somewhat sloppy in its execution. Were there a clearer intent from the get-go the film's final moments might have been even more shattering than they already are. While there is plenty to feast on here, plenty of feels and subtle details that add up to something substantial as a whole the project is slighter than I would have initially imagined. Slight in that we never dig too deep into any one of those aforementioned facets that Stewart's Maureen is currently dealing with in her life. The slim script, the film runs a quick and quiet 105 minutes, hops from one point of stress for our protagonist to another-flustering both Maureen and the audience until the more supernatural elements of the script become the overwhelming interest in her life then causing everything else to begin to accentuate this point of conflict in terms of opening her eyes to what she's been searching for. What is it exactly that Maureen is searching for? There could naturally be one of a number of interpretations, but while I can appreciate what Personal Shopper does in its challenging of genre and the skill it displays in executing genuine chills it is ultimately more about what it has to say than what it actually says.  

First Trailer for Kathryn Bigelow's DETROIT

The first trailer for Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) highly anticipated new film, Detroit, has premiered via Annapurna Pictures. The film, which was written by Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker), chronicles the Detroit riots of 1967. The riots are historically known to have been initiated by a police raid of an unlicensed bar in the city’s Near West Side when confrontations turned violent, ultimately resulting in the deaths of thirty-nine people and leaving hundreds wounded as the riots went on for five days. Bigelow and Boal have seemingly approached this event with the idea of telling several different accounts that occurred over the course of the five days in order to paint a full picture of what happened, why it happened, and how those on either side of the law were forced to handle themselves. In typical Bigelow fashion the film seemingly holds a number of tense moments while the ensemble cast as led by The Force Awakens' John Boyega are seemingly giving top notch performances to only accentuate that suspense further. Though not overly familiar with the details of the events that happened in Detroit that summer the tagline for the film, as shown at the end of the clip, hints that the film will paint a picture from a perspective most history books aren't accustomed to telling. I'm anxious not only to see what a talented filmmaker like Bigelow does with such material, but also the kinds of conversations it creates given the material couldn't be more relevant or a more timely reminder for the American conscience. The remainder of the ensemble cast includes Chris Chalk, Nathan Davis Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Austin Hébert, Joseph David-Jones, Malcolm David Kelley, John Krasinski, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Ben O’Toole, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Peyton Alex Smith, Jeremy Strong, Ephraim Sykes, and Leon Thomas III. Detroit opens in theaters on August 4th.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - GOING IN STYLE

It was something of a quiet week on the new release front as the top new release at the box office this weekend, Smurfs: The Lost Village,  came in third behind Boss Baby (which I guess I'll have to see eventually) and Beauty and the Beast with an estimated $14 million. This may seem odd as The Smurfs were once titans of the summer movie seasons child demographic, but this was the first full animated Smurfs feature whereas the 2011 ive-action/animated hybrid debuted to a strong $35.6 million eventually going on to gross $142.6 million domestically. Unfortunately,  the sequel could only open with $17.5 million in 2013 and The Lost Village seems to only be continuing this downward trend. We're not here to talk Smurfs though as we decided to go with what was entertainment squarely aimed at the older crowds (which probably isn't what you want to do when you have a YouTube channel, but oh well). This week we discussed Going in Style, the latest film from Zach Braff that stars Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine a three lifelong pals who risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money. With a light, fun premise and the kind of credentials this cast inherently brings with it Going in Style actually outperformed for much of the weekend, but was still only able to muster up a fourth place finish for the weekend. This is one of those scenario's where ranking hardly matters though, as Tthe film is debuted in 3,061 theaters and going into the weekend was only expected to open with around $8 million. Cut to this morning and Going in Style had a reported $12.5 5 million opening domestically with another $4.3 million worth of tickets sold internationally. With a reported budget of $25 million it seems this one will have the legs and lack of competition to easily recoup its budget and then some. That's all for this week, but as always be sure to follow us on InstagramTwitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel as we have a new review (or reviews) up each week!

Teaser Trailer for THOR: RAGNAROK

I can't say that I've necessarily ever been excited for one of the Thor movies. Curious, sure, but more than anything I've always been a bit concerned that Thor is where the Marvel universe would surely lose its vanilla footing and their time-tested formula would finally fail them. And to a certain extent this is true; I don't know that I could find anyone who might not agree Thor: The Dark World is one of the lesser if not the least of the Marvel properties released thus far (though Iron Man 2 puts up a good fight). Thor has seemingly always received the short end of the hammer when it comes to either scope or director, but Ragnarok is seemingly making up for both as not only does the subtitle hint at the time in Norse mythology when the cosmos are destroyed, but Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have brought in filmmaker Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) who, given the barrage of production stills we saw and now with this teaser, has brought what seems to be an air of fresh starts to the doomed Asgardian world. It may seem a little contradictory that the film dealing in the end of our titular characters world is also the one with the brightest color scheme and best sense of humor, but that's the main takeaway here. The trailer wastes no time in getting down to business and providing a quick synopsis of the story Ragnarok will offer as one of the first images we see is new villain Hela (Cate Blanchett) destroying the all powerful Mjölnir, Thor's hammer, along with his home world-forcing the Avenger across the universe into unknown worlds and to be imprisoned by unspecified beings that force him to participate in gladiator matches where he comes up against none other than Mark Ruffalo's Incredible Hulk. Needless to say, this is the first Thor film I've ever actively anticipated based on the credentials alone and this first look at actual footage does nothing but create more excitement and more hope that what we'll see on screen will be Waititi's unfiltered vision. Thor: Ragnarok also stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jef Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Sam Neill, and opens on November 3, 2017.

GOING IN STYLE Review

There is something to be said for movies that have no particular ambition due to a level of self-awareness. There is something to be said for swallowing your pride, accepting the reality of the situation, and doing what you can with the given factors. It's admirable and with such unabashed pride in the face of acceptance there is charm to be found. A different, slightly quirky, break from the norm type charm and this is what Going in Style relies on to let its audience know it is well aware of what it is and that it has no qualms about it. If you don't have any qualms with the type of entertainment a movie like Going in Style promises to deliver then you likely won't have any issue with the movie either. Going in Style is exactly what one would expect it to be given it comes from screenwriter Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent, Hidden Figures) and by his pen is an updated version of the 1979 film of the same name that starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. That film, which I admittedly haven't seen, came from director Martin Brest who may or may not have the strangest filmography in the history of directors. The man, who made his big studio feature debut with the original Going in Style at the age of twenty-eight, would go on to direct the likes of such films as Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run, and Meet Joe Black among others until he debuted Gigli in 2003 and hasn't worked since. If you're old enough you may recognize the guy as Dr. Miller from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but all of this is neither here nor there (though someone should really look into how one film was so detrimental to an otherwise prosperous career). The point is, what made Going in Style a movie worth re-making seems to have been absent from the consideration of the studio and filmmakers and more was simply an excuse to round up some of our best aging actors, throw them in a film together, and let the chemistry and credibility do the rest of the work. If one has seen the like-minded Last Vegas then you know this actually turns out fairly well and to no surprise Going in Style yields much the same results. A superfluous and completely unnecessary re-make, no doubt, but a frothy enough excursion you don't take seriously enough to be upset about.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - GHOST IN THE SHELL

After a rocky month in March, we close it out with the final blockbuster in a month filled with one every week and as nature would have it, the last week of the month is where the formula finally falters. After Logan, Kong; Skull Island, and Power Rangers all performed well on their inital weekends out the gate it was Ghost in the Shell, the film based on Masamune Shirow's original 1989 manga as well as the 1995 anime, that fell flat. With a reported production budget of $110 million the PG-13 rated, Scarlett Johansson-starrer brought in only $19 million from 3,440 locations. This was well below industry expectations as most had the film at least scoring a $30 million opening. I preface the numbers with the rating due to the fact most expected or at least hoped that Ghost in the Shell might appeal to those who recognized the brand as well as to those who made Johansson's 2014 A.I. action effort, Lucy, a hit. Lucy was an R-rated original property though and Ghost in the Shell has a storied past of being a groundbreaking graphic novel of sorts before being turned into a beloved animated feature in the mid-90's. Fans of the series weren't necessarily happy about the idea their source material was being mined by those in Hollywood who will take any brand and try to turn a profit from it and there is of course the outrage over the casting of a white actress in the lead role over a Japanese actress. Still, the problem here seemingly lied in none of those factors (fans were always going to be too curious to stay away), but rather the studios fear of going all out with the material. The film is fine enough and looks fantastic on the big screen, but after the successes of Deadpool, the John Wick films as well as Logan it seems going with the safe, PG-13 option so that more people are allowed to see your film doesn't necessarily yield results where people actually show up to watch your film. In other words, go big or go home. Another interesting factor is the breakdown of opening weekend audiences for Ghost in the Shell were 61% male versus 39% female whereas Lucy had an opening weekend audience that was 50% female. Wherever the fault may lie, one thing is clear: we won't be getting any Ghost sequels anytime soon. 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!

Official Trailer for ANNABELLE: CREATION

It seems I may in fact have to catch up with director John R. Leonetti's supposedly terrible 2014 spin-off Annabelle as the sequel that spin-off, or as it is now being labeled, "the next chapter in The Conjuring universe," Annabelle Creation looks to be rather intriguing. It seems after finding and producing a full length version of David F. Sandberg's Lights Out last summer horror maestro James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) enlisted Sandberg to also direct the next installment in his ever-expanding horror brand. Though Wan is currently busy prepping for Warner Bros. Aquaman solo film as part of their DC Comics Extended Universe there is no doubt the studio wants to also keep the director very much involved in the genre and properties where he built his name and where they see large returns on micro budgets. The first Annabelle was produced for a paltry $6.5 million and raked in $84 million domestically and $256.8 million worldwide. Add to that last summer's The Conjuring 2 which had a slightly bigger price tag at $40 million, but made over $100 million in the U.S. alone with a worldwide total of over $300 million and you'll understand why the studio will continue to pump out sequels and anthology films until they're blue in the face. All of that taken into consideration, it doesn't hurt that the studio and Wan are assigning such projects to people they believe in. Though Leonetti's initial film may not have been critically acclaimed he was a guy who'd served as Wan's cinematographer on a number of project's throughout the years and who Wan likely went to bat for. The same seems to be true of Sandberg who made a short film that he was lucky enough to get in front of someone as influential as Wan who liked it and has now given him the keys to the castle. As for this trailer, this looks like a much bigger, more refined piece of filmmaking than its predecessor as the period setting and grandness of the origin story lend the whole thing an aura of horrific prestige. A little too much of the story is divulged, but here's to hoping Sandberg and writer Gary Dauberman (who also helped pen the It re-make) still have a few surprises left for audiences. Annabelle: Creation stars Anthony Lapaglia, Miranda Otto, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Philippa Coulthard, Lulu Wilson, Kerry O'Malley, Samara Lee, Brian Howe, and opens on August 11, 2017.