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.

Teaser Trailer for PADDINGTON 2

I was late to the party when it came to 2015's Paddington, an adaptation of the children's literature character as created by Michael Bond in 1958, that received glowing reviews and seemed to amass loving fans all over the world while remaining rather distant here in the States. Of course, I could have a misconception of how much attention the film received this side of the sea, but I don't know that I do. Paddington simply didn't seem to play in as many theaters and was certainly released much later stateside than it was in the UK. The run was so limited, in fact, I remember distinctly not being able to catch it during it's theatrical run, but instead buying it out of good faith on Blu-Ray and hoping for the best. I wasn't disappointed as the film was more or less what I expected: extremely pleasant and extremely cute. Director Paul King, who also helped pen the screenplays for both the original and the sequel, was able to craft a tender tale that seemingly captured the heart of the children's books it was based on while appealing to modern audiences all the same. Honestly, with all the positive word of mouth around the film I couldn't wait to see it and by the time I finally did I couldn't help but to agree with the fact it was a delightful piece of work; nothing especially exceptional by any means, but the best kind of example for the type of movie it was intended to be. With a budget of $55 million and a worldwide gross of over $265 million it seemed a no-brainer Studio Canal and its partners, including The Weinstein Company's Dimension division, would want another film in the series. And so, here we are, as Paddington 2 will continue to follow the adventures of the titular bear (again voiced by Ben Whishaw) this time having him face off against a thief who has stolen a book that is quite special to our Paddington. This first-look teaser doesn't give away too much by way of story, but it does feature plenty of shots of the newcomers to the cast including Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, and Jim Broadbent. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Imelda Staunton, Peter Capaldi and Julie Walters all return as well with Paddington 2 set to open on January 12th, 2018.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES & BAYWATCH

It was smooth sailing for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales this Memorial Day weekend while Paramount's Baywatch failed to match expectations. With an estimated $62 million for the three-day and $76.6 million for the four-day weekend, the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise finished at the top the holiday box office. Bringing in an estimated $208.4 million internationally the film currently sits at a worldwide total of $285.4 million. For a film budgeted at $230 million things could have gone a little better domestically, but as with the last installment this is largely a global play. The China opening ($67.8 million) is the third largest ever for Disney with this fifth film having already surpassed the third and fourth films' totals in that territory. While Dead Men Tell No Tales looks like it will become the lowest grossing domestic release of the franchise (lower even than On Stranger Tides' $241 million), it will be interesting to see just where it ends up globally (On Stranger Tides made $800+ million or the largest foreign total for the franchise). The other major release for the holiday weekend was Baywatch, which was bested by Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($24 million for the four-day holiday) in its fourth weekend of release. Baywatch, an R-rated comedy re-imagining of the nineties TV show starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron delivered only $18.1 million for the three-day weekend and around $22 million for its four-day total. The film received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, but the more interesting part of such insights are the fact the film played to an audience that was 55% over the age of twenty-five. For a film that seems targeted squarely at teen and young adults it doesn't seem to have captured that demographics attention the way Paramount might have hoped and/or imagined. With a price tag of $69 million and a rough start to the year for Paramount it will be interesting to see not only how they handle the situation moving forward, but how the pressure continues to build with each of their upcoming releases. Considering their next offering is another Transformers movie though, I'm sure they're likely breathing a sigh of (some sort of) relief. As always, be sure to follow the official Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

First Trailer for LOGAN LUCKY Starring Channing Tatum

It has been four years since director Steven Soderbergh has delivered a feature film and while he has continued creating in that time, namely on the HBO series, The Knick, his presence has been sorely missed in the cinema. Worse than this was the fact Soderbergh had more or less stated he'd be retiring from directing or at least taking an extended sabbatical. Thankfully, that time has passed rather quickly as we now have our first look at the first trailer for Soderbergh's return to feature films. Written solely by Rebecca Blunt in her only writing credit on IMDb (can someone tell me how one accomplishes as much?) the film follows two brothers who set out to reverse a family curse and pull off an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Soderbergh has taken this rather rote premise and, by the looks of this first trailer at least, breathed fresh life into it as each of the characters seem to have enough of an individual personality and set of quirks that the heist will be the least of the show-stopping moments in the film seems as the focus looks to be more on the mentality behind why such a scheme would appeal to such a ragtag group of misfits. Besides the fact Soderbergh and his team will no doubt insert lofty goals and ideas into what would otherwise be a seemingly matter-of-fact, mindless piece of entertainment the cast the writer, director, and cinematographer has put together seems to be having a great time. While the focus of the clip centers around Channing Tatum's Jimmy Logan and Adam Driver's Clyde Logan the true highlight is that of the left field performance Daniel Craig seems to have concocted; for his accent alone I can't wait to see the film. Had I really been aware of what this latest from Soderbergh entailed or that it was even being released this August it certainly would have made my most anticipated of the summer list. Logan Lucky also stars Riley Keough, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Dwight Yoakam, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, David Denman, Macon Blair, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, and opens on August 18th, 2017.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Review

The public consensus seemed to very clearly be that there was no need for yet another Pirates of the Caribbean movie especially when considering the bad taste left by the last installment, 2011's On Stranger Tides. There was no need to roll out Johnny Depp's most iconic character only for the purposes of likely tarnishing the legacy of Captain Jack Sparrow further. Of course, considering the fact On Stranger Tides still made over a billion dollars worldwide despite the lukewarm audience reaction and even worse critical reception it was almost guaranteed we'd be getting another pirate adventure at some point. Well, that day has finally come and the question this fifth installment in the franchise was going to need to answer first and foremost was that of, "Is this necessary?" It seems screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) understood as much and thus kicks off his attempt at a Pirates movie by re-introducing us to Henry Turner, son of William (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Turner (Kiera Knightley), as he vows to his father to figure out a way to free him from the confines of The Flying Dutchmen; a ship that carries souls to the other side and only allows its captain and crew to set foot on land for one day every decade. It seemed the fates of William and Elizabeth were sealed given that post-credit stinger in At World's End, but with great power comes great responsibility and Nathanson clearly felt the importance of intertwining such fates as those of the Turner's with that of Captain Jack's. This certainly doesn't hurt and the script sets the main objective up clearly enough that we can get on board without much need for hesitation; this is especially true if you weren't a fan of the direction original screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott took the first trilogy of films in as Dead Men Tell No Tales essentially undoes every complexity that original trilogy worked to accomplish. While that rubs me something like the wrong way given I have great admiration for what Gore Verbinski and his team accomplished the fact Dead Men Tell No Tales ends up being a rather enjoyable action romp makes me feel slightly better about Nathanson's change of course. And so, while Dead Men Tell No Tales certainly feels more significant to the overall legend of Captain Jack than the bland and generic previous film it is still unable to recapture the majesty of those first three adventures.

BAYWATCH Review

To what do we owe the pleasure of a Baywatch movie? In the wake of 21 Jump Street (and maybe Dukes of Hazard prior to that?) the idea of a big screen Baywatch movie seems like a treat, right? Granted that Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum spoof balanced the lampooning of its source material with being a legitimate and legitimately funny action/comedy it would seem that to apply that same formula to Baywatch would, at the very least, be a lot of fun if not obviously derivative. The possibility of this type of board room mentality where one thing works to great success so obviously it should be repeated until the general public is fed up with the trend would seem all the more likely to work in favor of a property like Baywatch when you factor in that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is starring and producing. Johnson is easily the most beloved movie stars on the planet at the moment and whatever he decides to invest his time in his fans will undoubtedly see-add to that mix the tried and true R-rated comedy buddy that currently is Zac Efron and you have a winning combo, right? Efron, along with Johnson, provide eye candy for the ladies as Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesha Hadera do the same for the guys (or whatever you're into, no judgement here) with the overall point being: there would seemingly be something attractive to everyone in Baywatch-especially as we immerse ourselves in the summer movie season and summer in and of itself where cases of beach fever are running rampant. Unfortunately, it seems the thought process behind the Baywatch movie was more in the vein of, "What else do we need? We have The Rock and Zac Efron! Let's just point the camera and shoot!" Baywatch is four minutes short of being an unnecessary two hours long and while everyone involved likely doesn't see an issue with this as they seemingly had a lot of fun making the movie (stay through the credits to see outtakes more fun than much of the movie) the final product viewers actually receive is very much a compilation of what that aforementioned board room thought would work rather than anything resembling an inspired idea.

First Trailer for WONDER Starring Julia Roberts & Owen Wilson

Just the other day I received a text from my wife asking if I'd heard anything about an upcoming movie called Wonder. Of course, what I immediately thought of was next week's Wonder Woman, but she knew about that and certainly wasn't questioning whether or not I'd heard of the next big comic book movie. So, what was this Wonder she spoke of and why did it all of a sudden seem to be the cause for much excitement when anticipating movies wasn't typically something she made a hobby out of? Turns out my wife, who is a high school librarian and read A LOT was in the midst of the novel of the same name that this adaptation is based on. The book, a New York Times bestseller, by author RJ Palacio, is by all accounts a solid piece of work that is genuinely moving and heartfelt and the first trailer for the film would have me believe nothing else. With Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man) writing the screenplay and novelist/writer/director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) taking on the material the film version of this story about a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time is certainly in strong hands. The trailer is appropriately schmaltzy, but never comes off as manipulative or overly sappy and hopefully the film in its entirety can very much do the same-balancing the inspiring and the sincerity with one another to the point of true effectiveness. It also doesn't hurt that Lionsgate and Chbosky have been able to attract a dynamite cast that not only includes Jacob Tremblay hot off the success of his first major role in Room, but also the inspiring choice of Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson (who have never worked together before) play the central character's parents. Wonder also stars Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Sonia Braga, Izabela Vidovic, Ali Liebert, Bryce Gheisar, Millie Davis, and opens on November 17, 2017.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING Review

For a film about an unforgettable romance the worst crime Everything, Everything commits is not exactly searing itself into the minds of viewers as such. Everything, Everything is a fine enough teen love story, but it is also a very slight love story-never allowing us to become invested in the characters or passionate enough about their plight as it seems we should. Moreover, the film does this to itself as it very well could have allowed more time and dedicated more of that time to developing why our two leads do indeed fall head over heels for another. Alas, at only ninety-six minutes Everything, Everything only has so much space to divulge the complexities of our greatest of virtues. That isn't to say the film doesn't make good use of the time it does spend on our star-crossed lovers, but only that we get to the inevitable rather abruptly (which might otherwise be admired) leaving the remainder of the film and the risks these characters take for one another seem all the more drastic and irresponsible which is the last thing you want when your movie positions the kids as the heroes who are smarter than the adults that surround them. The point being, as with everything, ones reaction to Everything, Everything will largely depend on the stage of life that viewer is currently experiencing when taking it in. Being a young parent, but someone who still feels at least slightly in touch with youth/popular culture Everything, Everything played with my sympathies toward the conundrum our characters face while at the same time appreciating that were this to actually occur in the real world the parents would be more rational and the stakes nowhere near as dire. Young love wants to feel a little dangerous though, a little forbidden, and slightly scary-it is what gives it that rush of excitement and uncertainty; it is what makes it all that more memorable in hindsight and it is in these details, in the minutiae of such times, that Everything, Everything actually finds its success. Director Stella Maghie and the screenplay from J. Mills Goodloe (Age of Adaline) that was of course adapted from the New York Times Bestseller by Nicola Yoon doesn't so much let her film stand on the shoulders of grand gestures or dramatic speeches, but more in the small, precise details of what makes love worth living for when you're young and want nothing more than to feel indestructible. This focus on precise over big moments allows much of the underdevelopment and lack of any real arc to (mostly) be forgiven come the end of the movie. Still, you won't remember much of it the next day.  

Official Trailers for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

As we close in on a month until a brand new Spider-Man movie opens it is still strange this will actually be the third time in fifteen years that we've had a new Spider-Man. Of course, the difference with Spider-Man: Homecoming is the fact this latest version of the webslinger will be co-existing with the heroes that have come to define the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fighting alongside them. If anything has become clear through its marketing strategy thus far it's that Homecoming very much wants to take on this John Hughes-like approach to Spidey given Peter Parker's young age and prime high school status. This is taken as a point of pride here as opposed to twenty-somethings playing high school seniors as has been done in the past. This certainly makes the fact we're getting a new Spider-Man flick a win, but it also doesn't hurt that these newest trailers are the best Sony and Marvel have released and make this movie look like a ton of fun. Directed by John Watts (Cop Car) who, along with his writers room, have taken their opportunity to make as retro a movie as we've indeed heard have also made the smart move in not again telling an origin story. From the design of the logo to the very outspoken intent of making this an inexperienced Peter Parker who enlists Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark as something of a mentor (who designed Spidey's suit as we saw in Civil War) this is a fresh approach given this is now the story of a normal kid with super powers in a world where superheroes are more or less the norm. This is timely considering this too is what Spider-Man movies have become in an era where the Guardians of the Galaxy are as widely known as Captain America. All of that said, these latest official and international trailers have made me more excited for this latest Spider-Man movie than anything else we've seen. Still, I sincerely hope Watts has a lot more up his sleeve that will make this latest Spidey iteration stand apart from his protagonist's new pack. Spider-Man: Homecoming also stars Tom Holland, Jon Favreau, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei, and opens on July 7th, 2017.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - ALIEN: COVENANT

In the third weekend of the summer movie season everything other than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is finding it hard to find an audience. As the major release of the week, Alien: Covenant debuted in 3,760 theaters with industry pundits expecting anywhere from a $40 to $43 million opening. Based on internet tracking the latest film in the Alien franchise was tracking well behind its direct predecessor, Prometheus, which opened with $51 million five years ago. It was always going to be a tight race between Covenant and Vol. 2, but it really came down to the wire as less than $1 million separated the Sunday estimate numbers. With an estimated $36 million, nearly 43% of which came from its Friday performance and included $4.2 million from Thursday previews, Alien: Covenant narrowly beat James Gunn's Marvel sequel as Vol. 2 dropped only 46% from weekend two to weekend three for a $34.7 million frame. With an opening less than $40 million this result is rather disappointing for 20th Century Fox and the franchise as a whole considering the much larger opening for Prometheus. Still, even Prometheus garnered 68% of it's $403.4 million global total from overseas markets and Covenant will likely be hoping to do the same. global cume of $117.8 million on a reported $97 million budget. This price tag is considerably less than the $130m spent on Prometheus and hopefully as much will come to work in the film's favor down the road. Elsewhere, WB and MGM's Everything, Everything (which I saw today and will be reviewing this week) brought in an estimated $12 million on only a $10 million budget, which was higher than expected and could potentially have some legs on it. As always, be sure to follow the official Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

First Trailer for THE GLASS CASTLE Starring Brie Larson

Short Term 12 was one of my favorite films of 2012 and made me take more notice of Brie Larson's undeniable magnetism than 21 Jump Street already had the year before. With the adaptation of Jeannette Walls' memoir Larson reunites with her Short Term 12 director, Destin Cretton, to relay the story of a young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty. With the likes of Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts playing the disillusioned parents and Larson at the forefront as the daughter who must learn to grow up faster than she should only to eventually abandon her parents in favor of a more traditional lifestyle, this looks to be rather straightforward awards fodder. Not that such fodder is necessarily a bad thing, it's just that The Glass Castle hits all the marks of what we expect from an awards season contender. All considered though, this actually has a late summer release date and visually, looks gorgeous. Very clearly a period piece the film has a lush color palette with the more posh costume designs that Larson gets to sport really showing off the style of the film as a whole. Story-wise as well as the inclusion of several red-headed children, there are certainly shades of last year's Captain Fantastic at play as that film also dealt with parents revolting against society and raising their families off the grid (The Glass Castle even stars Shree Crooks and Charlie Shotwell who played brother and sister in Captain Fantastic). While the reasons for leading such a lifestyle seem a little more nefarious, but not necessarily evil in The Glass Castle it will be interesting to see how different the two movies actually turn out to be. With a terrific cast, a writer/director whose debut feature made my top ten list of that respective year, and an engaging if not exactly fresh story I'm intrigued to see how the film turns out and, as always, am hoping for the best. The Glass Castle also stars Max Greenfield, Ian Armitage, Sarah Snook, and opens on August 11th.

ALIEN: COVENANT Review

As a human male who wasn't born until 1987, the year after James Cameron's seven-year-later sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece debuted, I was never overly inclined to invest much of my adolescence in Xenomophs or the lore of the talented Ms. Ripley. As someone who would unknowingly be lumped in with the millennial generation I didn't grow up with a fondness for those original films and thus they never became a critical part of the cultural landscape for me until much later in life. It might even be difficult for viewers with older tastes and dated perspectives to understand how such a film as restrained and measured as Alien might play for today's ADD audiences, but despite the fact I didn't end up seeing Scott's original film until a college scriptwriting class doesn't mean I didn't understand the how and why of its effectiveness. Still, because of the life experiences that shaped who I was up until the point when I saw Prometheus in the summer of 2012 I didn't mind that it felt completely different from what Scott had established as his Alien universe in the past. Like with music and most things in life if something works and people crave more of it the artist must find a way to strike a balance between what has come before while also reinventing themselves so as not to repeat the same old shtick over and over again. While many complained about Prometheus for being too heady and not so reliant on thrills or action Scott, along with screenwriters John Logan and Dante Harper, have seemingly course corrected for the sake of the fans with Alien: Covenant as the film more or less meshes what Prometheus started and what fans seemingly wanted in a new Alien movie. That isn't to say it all melds seamlessly or that Covenant is all the better for attempting to strike such a balance, but rather that it wants to have its cake and eat it too. As an individual who has no vested interest in continuing the Alien franchise as it once was, but who dug the hell out of Prometheus, I was slightly disappointed the more philosophical aspects of the film were traded in for more formulaic action beats and scares, but while Covenant may be a safer movie than Prometheus as well as a less effective film than Alien it is still very much an entertaining one that does enough good to earn its place among the ranks of a series that seems to be more well regarded out of nostalgia and a couple strong entries than a consistent quality in the films overall.

Final Trailer for TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Nearly a decade on from the first time Michael Bay graced us with his vision of the eighties cartoon series about two opposing factions of transforming alien robots who engage in a battle and we're on the fifth entry in this massive (and massively lucrative) franchise. In the interim between Transformers flicks Bay has shown some interesting tendencies as a director with the genuinely thrilling, funny, and entertaining Pain & Gain as well as the admirable if not overlong and somewhat indulgent 13 Hours. I've always appreciated Bay's visual style and the mastery he has over it as well as the simple energy he seems to possess in pushing himself and his crew to the limits so as to deliver the biggest kinds of blockbusters he can, but I don't think anyone would debate, including Bay himself, that what he's crafting is little more than junk food. Movies that will appease the masses and afford escapism to those willing to pay for two and a half ours of such, but not much else. There is no substance to the spectacle and unfortunately the same looks as if it can be said for the board room concoction that is The Last Knight. That said, this latest trailer for the film makes it look incredibly bad ass and I'm still very much excited to see Bay's latest foray into maximizing the IMAX experience on an IMAX screen. The question that will follow this unique anticipation is, "will I enjoy The Last Knight?" Only time will tell. Age of Extinction, the previous Transformers film that traded Shia LaBeouf for Mark Wahlberg, was a close tie for the worst in the series with Revenge of the Fallen still retaining that title. Extinction was a re-boot that didn't know how to re-boot itself. I can only hope that this time around writers Matt Holloway, Art Marcum, and Ken Nolan give the director a more straightforward, lean story that gives audiences what they came for with little to no more ambition, but I won't hold out too much hope. Transformers: The Last Knight sees the return of Wahlberg as well as starring Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Gemma Chan, Stanley Tucci, John Goodman, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and opens on June 23rd, 2017.

SNATCHED Review

If Snatched is what you expect it to be is that necessarily a good thing? Probably not, but if it's better than you expected does that make it a good movie or, just, not a terrible one? It's a tough line to walk and an even more difficult one to decipher, but at the end of the day it can't help but to feel as if Snatched, overall, is more of a missed opportunity than a success by the standards of its genre tropes. Missed opportunity due to the fact that not only was it written by a single screenwriter in Katie Dippold (The Heat, Ghostbusters) and directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies), but that it also stars one of the world's most popular stand-up comedians (like it or not) while being able to pull seventy-one year old Goldie Hawn out of a fifteen year semi-retirement. If one is able to rope in a comedic legend like Hawn for your project one might imagine that individual or team would utilize her and her talents to their greatest effect, but in Snatched it seems Levine and everyone around him were afraid to ask Hawn to do anything too uncomfortable and instead kept her tasks in as safe and as easy a box as possible. This only stands to resort the movie to Hawn playing an overly-cautious mother figure while Amy Schumer is the irresponsible, narcissist of a daughter that exemplifies every negative stereotype one could come up with about millennials and then throws them into a hostage situation where balance in the two competing personalities is supposed to be found. Alas, that is what the movie goes for, but none of it ever feels natural or authentic, but rather very much like a movie. Everything about Snatched is very movie-like and while that isn't always a bad thing, especially when as much is intentional, this technique only bodes well for Snatched part of the time and most of that time is when the film is actually being funny. In short, when the film owns up to its promise and delivers on the capabilities of its talented cast and creative teams, but more often than not Snatched feels like a given of a movie where, after it was decided Schumer and Hawn would play a bickering mother/daughter pair, the rest was left up to that chemistry to make the ship sail successfully. Schumer and Hawn more anchor the film than anything though; holding the antics steady despite the fact the ship itself hasn't been that well-constructed.

First Trailer for BATTLE OF THE SEXES Starring Steve Carell & Emma Stone

Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer for Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell. The film, based on the real life events of between tennis champion and feminist icon Billie Jean King (Stone) and chauvinist has-been Bobby Riggs (Carell), comes to us courtesy of directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris who also worked with Carell on Little Miss Sunshine. I remember seeing the first still released for this some time ago and though I wasn't familiar with the historical event it was depicting the cast and creators alone were enough to intrigue. With this first trailer I'm even more sold as not only is Stone following up her Oscar-winning turn in La La Land with something completely unexpected and rather humorous, but Carell seems to very much be channeling that of what made his clueless Michael Scott both appealing and endearing. For those of us who were fans of The Office and have sorely been missing Carell portraying this type of persona this is a welcome bit of inspiration that will hopefully shine a little bit of light on the typically dour onslaught of awards season movies. As for the trailer itself, this looks solid-both visually and conceptually. It's easy to see Dayton and Faris are very much going for the seventies aesthetic with some of the camera techniques matching those of films of the period to emphasize the setting even further. Story-wise, it's not hard to see why one would want to adapt this into a big screen feature and hopefully frequent Danny Boyle collaborator and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) has accomplished converting the real life story into compelling drama. The set-up for the trailer is especially interesting as it conveys a certain angle on the entirety of the situation that not only makes Riggs easier to swallow, but lends the story itself more layers. I can't wait. Battle of the Sexes also stars Sarah Silverman, Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Alan Cumming, Eric Christian Olsen, and opens on September 22, 2017.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

The curse of the second weekend of summer certainly hit the two major releases this year as neither King Arthur: Legend of the Sword nor Snatched were able to break out in any big way. Things never looked promising for Warner Bros. $175 million epic retelling of the King Arthur legend, but that didn't stop them from trying to sell it like the next big thing. As these things go though, a new series of films starring Charlie Hunnam as the Excalibur wielding King were not to be as Legend of the Sword collected what is only an estimated $14.7 million from 3,702 theaters. Expectations from the studio and around the industry heading into the weekend hued closer to the $23-25 million range, but even with these lowered expectations the Guy Ritchie film couldn't measure up. Worse even, is the fact Warner Bros. was hoping for a $23-25 million opening when compared with how much this thing cost them. Somewhat surprisingly, those who did actually get out to see the film awarded it with a "B+" CinemaScore which isn't great by opening day audience standards, but is honestly better than I expected it to do. To add more fuel to the fire is to consider that over the next three weekends alone the major releases are more or less guaranteed to make a fair amount of money given Alien: Covenant, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Wonder Woman are included among those releases likely wiping this unnecessary King Arthur re-boot off the map. There will be a lot of pressure on the international performance of the film in order to recoup some of its production costs, but after opening in 51 additional markets this weekend to only $29.1 million totaling a worldwide cum just shy of $44 million-it's going to be a long road home for those involved as Legend of the Sword will yet again serve more as a cautionary tale than anything else. As for Snatched, the $42 million budgeted Goldie Hawn/Amy Schumer comedy scored enough to come in second at the box office with an estimated $17.5 million over Mothers Day weekend and unlike Arthur, will face little competition over the next two weeks. Last but not least, Guardians Vol. 2 held on to the top spot dropping 57% for an estimated $63 million second weekend putting its domestic cume over $246 million which pushes the film over $630 million worldwide. As always, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, as well as subscribe to our YouTube channel!

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD Review

I like Guy Ritchie, I like his style, and I enjoy his approach to storytelling. The writer/director understands the unique ways in which one can convey something as simple as a montage and how such interpretive change can alter the reception and/or investment of an audience in something as simple as a montage. If you've seen any of Ritchie's s previous films, such as Snatch, RocknRolla, or either of the two Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes adventures, then you'll certainly recognize the marks of the director in his latest film; another re-telling of the King Arthur story. It was inevitable the legend of Arthur and his knights of the roundtable would eventually get their own gritty re-boot, but when it was announced Ritchie would be the one bringing said gritty reboot to the big screen the trend all of a sudden didn't feel so tired. Too bad we spoke too soon for despite the fact Ritchie gets a director, co-writer, and producer credit on this $175 million flick-it reeks of studio intervention and countless pacing issues due to as much. Before we get too far into this though, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn't an outright train wreck and has some rather inspired and interesting moments whether that be in character and set design, some of the performances, or of course the notable editing and inventive storytelling. Still, at the end of the day, this is a film whose parts are greater than its (overlong) summation and unfortunately that leaves a rather forgettable taste. Bland. Bland is the word I'm looking for. And while one might have advised Ritchie and the gang against rebooting a brand name no one seemed to be particularly interested in (the last incarnation of King Arthur came just over a decade ago and only delivered $200 million worldwide) there was always that hope Ritchie might put enough of a directorial stamp on the material that this new version might come to be more than justified. There are hints of Ritchie's British blue collar mentality and sense of humor that pop up throughout that hint at what could have been, a medieval Lock, Stock if you will, but more often than not King Arthur: Legend of the Sword becomes a bloated, CGI-fest that is more hollow spectacle than engaging character drama.

New Trailer for CARS 3

In always looking forward to what Pixar might come out with year after year it was always going to be something of a disappointment when the inevitable Cars 3 came around and now...here we are. This summer we will not be graced by a new, inventive piece from Pixar nor will we see a sequel to one of their more beloved films (Ratatouille 2, anyone?), but rather we will have the only trilogy capper in Pixar history outside of Toy Story for what is easily the weakest two films on the studios slate. I'm trying really hard here to be positive about what the film might offer as this new, official trailer is marginally intriguing, but there simply seems to be no balance of audience awareness and content maturity. The Cars franchise, like Planes, should strictly be for children, but this trailer looks to hint at a story with complexities that we know Pixar is capable of conveying convincingly, but that we know the world of Cars can't exactly deliver like, say, Woody and Buzz might be able to. Directed by Brian Fee (a storyboard artist on the first Cars) this looks like to be a darker film than what its predecessors might have indicated. The worst thing about the previous two Cars films were that they left no lasting impression, especially when compared to their peers. It may be that Fee is attempting to break that stigma around the franchise with this third film by going in an unexpected direction and if any of the marketing so far is any indication-things are definitely not looking the way I imagined a Cars 3 would look. That said, we still have a story dealing with Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen as he attempts to prove to a new generation of racers that he's still the best race car in the world. With this new trailer we get a better idea of what Cars 3 will look and sound like and while I'm intrigued by the implications of what the movie could actually be about there is still a lack of any genuine excitement. Cars 3 also features the voice talents of Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Larry the Cable Guy, Katherine Helmond, Cheech Marin, Paul Dooley, and opens on June 16, 2017.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 9, 2017

Initial Reaction: Video Review - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Well, there it went! The first official weekend of the summer movie season has come and gone and things have certainly kicked off with a bang. While we all knew the sequel to the much beloved 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't going to post Avengers-sized numbers ($207 million and $191 million, respectively) or even Civil War-style returns ($179 million) it was curious as to how high this Marvel sequel might fly given the release slot and the fact the original (which genuinely felt like the first true gamble from Marvel) debuted to a surprising $94.3 million. And so, given Vol. 2 just delivered a $146.5 million opening, 53.78% more than the original's opening weekend number, I can't imagine anyone over at Disney or Marvel is too upset with this outcome. This film to film jump comes in second to only The Winter Soldier to Civil War jump that saw an 88.5% increase. And this is just domestic numbers we're talking about. If we take into account the worldwide numbers Guardians Vol. 2 is pulling in it's already surpassed $425 million in just over thirteen days. The film opened in some international markets a week prior to opening in the U.S. while the U.S. shared this past weekend with a number of other countries, including China, where Marvel films always do fairly big business with this latest release yielding the fourth largest opening of any MCU film. Having already made another $20+ million so far this week it seems Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is on track to continue the average multiplier for MCU films at 2.73, which would give the film a $395 million domestic run. With the first film's 3.53 multiplier though, combined with the fact it doesn't really have any competition until Disney releases the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film on Memorial Day weekend it feels safe to say Guardians could very well do over $400 million in the U.S. alone. It should be a fun and interesting summer ahead so be sure to keep up with us and all the reviews we'll be bringing you this season as you can follow us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, as well as subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Official Trailer for BLADE RUNNER 2049

Time for another round of quick confessions: I've never actually finished Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi epic that is Blade Runner. I will, of course, see it before seeing the sequel later this year, but the original is one of those I've always been told I need to watch and have started countless times, but never actually sat all the way through until the end. And so, with little knowledge of exactly what to expect from this trailer other than a visually stunning clip (cinematographer Roger Deakins is once again responsible for what we see here) this first, full look at director Denis Villeneuve's (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) thirty-year later sequel plays well enough that general audiences might at least be intrigued while I imagine fans of the original will undoubtedly be sold. If I'm to understand history correctly it would seem the original Blade Runner wasn't a runaway hit out of the gate either critically or commercially-that it has only been over time that audiences have grown to appreciate the film and its layers and complexities after seeing several different versions of the film, the last of which was released a decade ago and was touted as "The Final Cut" AKA the only one where Scott had absolute artistic freedom. So, I guess that is the version I'll be checking out when I finally get around to in fact doing that. Still, despite my lack of any connection whatsoever to the previous film or even to Philip K. Dick's original source material, I'm a fan of all involved and have yet to dislike a film Villeneuve has made. Given the original was hailed for its production design and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1993 this sequel has a lot to live up to. Such honors mean the original film is considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and so I can't imagine Villeneuve took such a task lightly. With Deakins' eye, Villeneuve's direction, and a screenplay from original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher and Logan co-writer Michael Green I'm hoping the film delivers in all the ways fans have been waiting for while also initiating a few newcomers along the way. Blade Runner 2049 stars Robin Wright, Barkhad Abdi, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Lennie James, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and opens on October 6th, 2017.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 Review

With the first Guardians of the Galaxy I went (or at least wanted to go) into the film with little to no expectations. Of course, with Vol. 2 it would be next to impossible to do the same unless one had skipped the first which, of course, would then only mean it would be next to impossible to fully understand or better yet, appreciate, what this second film has to offer. And so, despite having some expectation for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 there wasn't much beyond suspecting that writer/director James Gunn might hand pick a new list of late seventies/early eighties hits to set something of a remixed version of the original's events to while pushing whatever story points the Marvel overlords needed pushed forward. If this sequel teaches us anything though (and it does try to teach if not at least say something significant) it's that sometimes expectations aren't detrimental to the overall effect a piece of art can have. That's right-I'm calling a Marvel movie, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 specifically, a piece of art as well as stating that it surpasses all expectations. I'm saying this loud and clear because I feel like it would be easy to think otherwise about the rather unconventional super hero movie that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 actually is. It seems it might be easy to be disappointed in the sequel because it doesn't exactly fit into the conventions we've become conditioned to expect. How does Guardians numero dos buck this trend that Marvel has so perfectly perfected as of late? Well, the first thing it changes is that of setting up a convenient villain in the form of another Thanos crony looking for world domination (Gunn literally thought bigger this time, going for galactic domination) while also giving our heroes a real and emotional investment in the plight of the antagonist. Sure, the film opens with the guardians on a for hire mission that sees them doing battle with a large CGI monster for the purposes of getting paid handsomely by a race of snobby and rather pretentious Goldfinger/Goldmember lookalikes, but this is essentially only a framing device and reason to usher Michael Rooker's Yondu back into the fray. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is instead mostly about the relationships between the members of the titular team and developing those dynamics in exchange for progressing the overall Marvel arc. Where Vol. 2 really exceeds though, is in balancing the exploration of these relationships with that of still telling an effective story, the guardians story, and there's just something special about a ginormous, big-budget, special-effects extravaganza that feels this personal. Also, Baby Groot.

Official Trailer for Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK

The final, official trailer for the latest epic from director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) has arrived and it looks rather glorious. This is easily my most anticipated film of the summer. Dunkirk was shot completely on IMAX 65mm film and 65mm large-format photography with Nolan and Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema reuniting once more for what will hopefully be a World War II film for the ages. While my concern with Dunkirk comes more out of the fact the market for WWII film is rather saturated these days than any worry with Nolan or the story he wants to tell there is a certain familiarity with these types of images that no longer allow them to feel as fresh no matter what scope one is shooting on. That said, the imagery we get here in this extended trailer only reinforces the beauty the filmmakers have found in this tragic event. The story concerns the real-life events of the evacuation of Dunkirk, known as Operation Dynamo, during the British military operation that saved 330,000 lives as Allied soldiers were surrounded by German forces. Nolan wrote the screenplay himself without usual collaborator, brother Jonathan, but the picture will reunite the director with longtime collaborator/composer Hans Zimmer. We already seem to know there is no one particular protagonist, but rather that Nolan's film will consist of several different perspectives on similar scenarios that will only stand to increase the tension within each of these situations. Granted, I'll see anything Nolan decides to put his time and effort into so all of this may not exactly be saying much, but nonetheless the idea we're getting a WWII film from the perspective of one of our great modern filmmakers is nothing to be dismissed. Dunkirk stars Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Styles, and opens on July 21, 2017.

First Trailer for THE DARK TOWER

Man, I really need to read more Stephen King. Given the upcoming IT re-make and the fact I've never seen the original miniseries (don't kill me) I feel like I have a lot of King territory to cover. All of that said, I have no idea what The Dark Tower is about or what all the hype is concerning, but I'm certainly interested. That said, this trailer is the first thing I've seen around the material and while I'm not sure I exactly understand why the intrigue is seemingly so great I am naturally interested to find out about this world, these characters, and the story that has captured the imagination of so many of King's readers. Hell, I have three months I may even try to knock out the source material beforehand if I have the time. So, how does this trailer look from the perspective of someone who has no attachment to said source material? Well, it looks fine. It definitely looks like a big-budget summer movie and the fact it gives Idris Elba a marquee role in a potential blockbuster franchise as well as potentially giving Matthew McConaughey one of his more interesting roles in a few years is worth the investment alone. Apparently there are eight novels in King's series and I suspect Sony is hoping this first film is a big enough hit that they might continue to make films and build a franchise around them especially given the studio is now sharing its most profitable property with Marvel and hasn't exactly found any other solid ground in the past few years. With Bond up for grabs this would seemingly only make The Dark Tower series more vital and a fairly large gamble for the studio. Still, what is different about this offering is the fact it will likely be an R-rated summer offering in the midst of PG-13 action adventures and animated blockbusters. The fact it does come from King also leads me to believe there will be a fair amount of horror involved-setting the expansive landscape that features the Gunslinger and the Man in Black apart even further. Here's to hoping filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) can use everything working for him to his advantage. The Dark Tower also stars Tom Taylor, Katheryn Winnick, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert, Fran Kranz, and opens on August 4th, 2017.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 2, 2017

Initial Reaction: Video Review - THE CIRCLE

The final weekend before the summer movie season begins is typically a rather quiet one and as far as major U.S. releases were concerned this weekend that remained true in 2017. There were certainly some surprises at the box office in what was the final week of April though as Pantelion's How to be a Latin Lover and Great India Films' Baahubali 2: The Conclusion made headlines as the two films finished in second and third place at the domestic box office, despite the fact they played in just over 1,500 theaters combined. Where did this leave what was thought to be the biggest release of the weekend in The Circle, then? Well, unfortunately director James Ponsoldt's transition to bigger budget material was a miss commercially, but that doesn't make me as sad as it would had the film been on par with his previous efforts that include The Spectacular Now and The End of the Tour. That the film itself is something of a dud (it scored a downright terrible "D+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences) is comforting only in the fact that Ponsoldt may yet get a rare second opportunity to introduce himself to the masses in a more appealing way. It's hard to imagine how The Circle went so wrong given it is based on a New York Time's Bestseller by Dave Eggars and not only stars Emma Watson hot off her Beauty and the Beast success, but America's favorite actor, Tom Hanks, in a supporting role as well. Pepper in the fact Bill Paxton gives one of his final performances here, Finn from Star Wars shows up, and the concept itself is modern and interesting enough to sttract younger audiences and one would think it was the complete package, but with little awareness and lukewarm reviews at best it seems The Circle was destined to flounder. The $18 million film from STX Entertainment in cooperation with Europacorp as part of its three-year deal opened in fourth at the domestic box office this weekend with only $9.3 million from 3,163 locations. Though things are quiet now they will certainly pick up this week with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 kicking off the biggest movie season of the year.  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 IT COMES AT NIGHT

A new trailer for director Trey Edward Shults follow-up to his homemade breakout hit, Krisha, has arrived online and is definitely one of my most anticipated films of the summer. The film, which just debuted at the Overlook Film Festival, a Shining-inspired horror film festival, has critics already singing its praises. I saw Krisha back in 2015 when it began making the rounds on the festival circuit and was impressed by what Shults was able to pull off with a micro budget and his family for actors. After showing the film at Cannes and it winning the 2015 SXSW’s grand jury and audience awards for narrative feature, the young writer/director inked a two picture deal with A24. It Comes at Night is the first film to be produced from that deal. The film is said to be a psychological horror film about a father who will stop at nothing to protect his wife and son from a malevolent, mysterious presence terrorizing them right outside their doorstep. To this effect, this first full-length trailer for the film still doesn't spill much in terms of such plot. We receive the bear minimum as far as story is concerned with the focus primarily on atmosphere and tone which is in line with the type of horror A24 has released thus far. If you're a fan of The Witch this trailer will likely be all the more enticing, but while that film certainly had atmosphere for days I didn't think the story was as strong as it might have been and found the film not nearly as satisfying as some. So, in hopes of striking the balance between the engaging narrative and the other, key elements of tone and atmosphere when discussing horror films-I hope Shults can pull it off in his first, major studio feature. A24 is one of the most interesting studios out there and anything they choose to either produce or acquire is worth taking note of. Here's to hoping their bet on Shults pays out. It Comes at Night stars Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo, and opens on June 9th, 2017.