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.

LADY BIRD Review

There is a line in Lady Bird that goes, “different things can be sad. It’s not all war!” Which not only served to make me feel more validated in times of my own sadness despite knowing there are countless others who have much more to complain about than myself, but this line of dialogue also kind of reassured me that all kinds of films could be great-not just the serious dramas that carry a weight of self-importance. Maybe Lady Bird does this somewhat intentionally as it knows its target audience will be the twenty to thirty-somethings that grew up in the early aughts as depicted in the film, largely compiled of the more artistic and individualistic states of mind that flock to such indie fare, who will inevitably contemplate if a coming-of-age comedy, such as Lady Bird, can be as great a film as anything else they've seen this year despite not necessarily being about something as earth-shatteringly important as other movies undoubtedly will be. Maybe writer and first-time director Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Mistress America) understood who her audience would be and wanted to reassure them of the safe intellectual zone where it would be okay to praise her debut to levels of near perfection it ultimately wouldn't be able to match triggering the inevitable backlash that she would blindly blow past due to her effortless charm. Maybe Gerwig recognized all of this in the midst of writing the film and decided to consciously insert this line of reassurance reminding all of us that it's okay to love her movie as much as you admire whatever Steven Spielberg or Paul Thomas Anderson are putting out this awards season, or maybe she was simply re-living a feeling from her youth when someone made her feel small about something she felt was really big. Either way, the fact of the matter is that Lady Bird, while admittedly specific to a certain demographic of the population (I'm all for diversity, but that doesn't mean we have to denounce films where there isn't as much we think there could be), is not just a straightforward coming-of-age movie, but one that is more about the navigation of that period in life that does the seemingly impossible task of collecting all these moments and disparate elements that no doubt each felt like defining moments in Gerwig's own adolescence and brings them together in a film that allows each to permeate throughout the entirety of the movie while at the same time shaping a thorough, comprehensive picture of our titular character.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT Review

There is a sense of uneducation that comes with viewing The Florida Project. It seems as if director Sean Baker (who broke out with 2015's Tangerine, but actually has three prior features to his credit) is intent on showing audiences that the magic of the cinema can exist without the typical three act structure that Hollywood films have conditioned audiences to expect and it's not that other films haven't done the same thing or attempted to prove as much, but this seems a point of real effort and focus on the part of The Florida Project. That isn't to say the picture becomes sidetracked or caught up in this endeavor, but rather that it makes for an interesting take when going into the film. This won't even necessarily hinder expectations, but it is a facet of the film that is to be observed in terms of craft as the film slyly deconstructs our expectation of what a movie is supposed to be by showing that such a product can still be engaging and entertaining while not necessarily delivering an outright objective for our protagonist to accomplish by the time the hour and forty-five minute mark hits. Rather, The Florida Project is a beautiful rendering of childhood on the fringes with the central subjects not necessarily being aware of their surroundings or situations, but more it addresses how the innocence of childhood tends to take away any association of status and instead replaces it with the simplicity of making the most of what one has to work with. In this way, The Florida Project accomplishes the difficult feat of being both incredibly light and fun in the way it elicits smiles from the audience as we witness the preciousness of youth while being simultaneously just as heartbreaking when it comes to the realization of the reality these people are living. It is a testament to innocence in many ways as the film exercises this abandonment of structure by chronicling the adventures of three six to seven year-old's during the summer months as they live just outside Orlando and in the shadow of Disney World-the happiest place on earth. It abandons structure because these children know nothing of such a thing in their lives while what comes to pass is absolutely necessary, undoubtedly for the best, but also incredibly emotional because of the nearly two-hour journey we've just experienced with these characters. It's a chronicling of that transition from innocence to experience in many ways, but this isn't the focus of the film and neither is the backdrop of this poverty-stricken community, but rather it is the wonder and hope that makes childhood universal and, in turn, The Florida Project so affecting.

Official Trailer for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

In what will be ten years to the weekend after Iron Man arrived in theaters in May of 2008 we will see the (first part of the) culmination of the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's hard to believe we've been living in this world for a decade now when, looking back, those beginnings were so humble. I clearly remember sitting in the theater not knowing what to expect from Iron Man, but mainly being excited that a new The Dark Knight trailer was playing before it. Oh, how the tables have turned as we come off the lukewarm reaction and success of the rushed Justice League and see what time, patience, and care have done for the MCU with our first glimpse at Joe and Anthony Russo's Infinity War. Bringing together all of Marvel's heroes has always been ambitious, but as the MCU-train has rolled on and the roster only continued to expand it has become more and more curious as to how Kevin Feige and the Russo's might bring this all together in a cohesive manner. If this first trailer is any indication it seems they have done so with real charm and scale. There isn't a lot of details plot-wise, but there are enough shots to suggest that, if you've been following along with the previous MCU films, many of the strands from previous films will be, if not resolved, at least touched upon in this first part of what will ultimately be a two-part finale. I honestly can't get over how this trailer has made me feel. It made more hairs on my arm stand up than do in that shot of Peter Parker experiencing his Spider sense. Spider-Man's suit looks amazing, Black Panther's line in regards to Captain America is fantastic, and that music...that music is really paying off for Marvel. Good for you, Alan Silvestri. The visual scope also looks to fit the number of characters which has been something of a shortcoming for Marvel in the past with many of their films feeling great, but looking flat. The location shots among the sprawling green planes of Wakanda lend a sense of true epicness and that final tag, that final tag is just perfect. I seriously can't wait. Avengers: Infinity War stars Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Zoe Saldana, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff, Dae Bautista, Josh Brolin, Paul Bettany, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro, Benedict Wong, Don Cheadle, and opens May 4th, 2018.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 28, 2017

http://www.reviewsfromabed.com/2017/11/on-dvd-blu-ray-november-28-2017.html

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. Review

Rome and Israel. They share quite the history with one another; a history that is splattered with wars over ideals some of which deal in economics, but those most notably that deal in religious and/or philosophical dealings. In the latest from writer/director Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) it seems the use of these two titles that exist in the realm of common knowledge as opposing forces is to illustrate another kind of philosophical war-the one within a person who has principles, a code of ethics he has lived by his entire life, and the choice to betray those principles, a choice he is totally justified in, due in large part to the fact the world doesn't understand him. One could draw many conclusions as to why Gilroy might have chosen these two words to identify the unlikely hero of his story, but it seems to make the most obvious sense that Rome and Israel are these two ideas, these two kinds of states of consciousness that are constantly at odds with one another. In Roman J. Israel, Esq. these two pillars of opposing thought form the basis of Denzel Washington's character, a savant of sorts who has worked behind the curtain at a law firm for thirty plus years while his partner, an unseen enigma of a man who was nicknamed "The Bulldog", handled all of the courtroom dealings that Roman didn't have the desire nor the social skills to navigate. It is when our titular character is unexpectedly put under this spotlight and then further humiliated by the realization he's invested his life in a practice that has seemingly invested nothing in him that he comes to this fork in the road where his ideals no longer seem to matter and so the point or validity in continuing to try to fight for them is futile. On a broad scope that all may sound like a fancy way of saying this film deals in themes of doing what one feels is right for the recognition and doing what one feels is right because it's right and the difference in character that dictates the difference in intent, but Roman J. Israel, Esq. goes a little deeper than that for Washington's Roman gladly worked in the shadows for years doing work he needed little recognition for, but that he at least thought was making a difference. When Roman is forced to awake from his routine he comes to realize the system he has worked under all these years has allowed for little change after all, but has instead been replaced by a world that isn't based around right or wrong or bad or good, but more around what deal can be made to avoid circumstance as long as possible.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas may as well be one of those holiday Hallmark originals for all of the dopey, saccharine spins it puts on Charles Dickens coming up with "A Christmas Carol" and the overall quality of life in 1843, but luckily director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day) was working from a screenplay by writer/actor Susan Coyne (Mozart in the Jungle) as adapted from Les Standiford’s 2008 novel of the same name where distinctive features of those Hallmark originals (or hallmarks of those hallmarks) come to be non-existent. There is no gushing love story at the center of it, no excessive amount of perfectly pressed pants or flannel (or whatever the equivalent was in 19th century London), but rather there is this overriding feeling that came to pass throughout the entirety of the experience that was one of lovable cheese. The usual suspects of certain clichés and plot points might not all be present, but that feeling of the overwhelming power of pure holiday love and all that it can conquer, is. And while this may just be due to the fact I’m a sucker for the Hallmark channels block of holiday programming to the point I draw every holiday-themed movie back to these standards The Man Who Invented Christmas is so family friendly and earnest in its intent that it’s hard to discern between what the movie wants you to feel and what this material should make you feel. As another in a line of “story behind the story” films that have, for one reason or another, decided to catch on some thirteen years after Finding Neverland made it a hot idea to studio execs The Man Who Invented Christmas is perfectly serviceable in delivering all of the broad moments required by an audience that craves what they already know; the name Marley coming from a waiter at a restaurant where Dickens was eating for instance coupled with the tidbit that he “collected names” for his works from his everyday life. Things one could have just as easily assumed without having concrete proof of them, but this is the kind of depth and insight The Man Who Invented Christmas offers: facts that might not have been necessarily well-known, but ones that are rather obvious in that they aren’t surprising and offer little to no real drama that would justify this story about Dickens writing his career-defining novel being a story in its own right.

COCO Review

At the heart of all Pixar films there is a journey. There’s the journey to get the thing or the person to the place in order to save the day. This is a template Disney and Pixar have used time and time again in order to ensure a structure and beats that the youngest of audience members can seemingly recognize and appreciate, but I didn’t consider this initially. As an adult viewer I was simply bummed to discover that the studio was once again leaning on this crutch in Coco in order to convey what seemed to be a unique narrative from a marginalized culture. Inside Out did the same thing when it took all of these original ideas and concepts it had and then used them in service of the heroes journey arc we've seen countless times before, and especially in films whose target audience is largely children. What Inside Out did to ultimately reverse this expectation by the end of the film was to of course use that template in service of those original ideas and concepts as a way to explore them as well as the ideas and themes the filmmakers were keen on conveying. It worked. I teared up. Coco more or less does the same thing in that this is a heroes journey of self-discovery for our protagonist, Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez), and it is an entertaining one at that, but while these familiar beats are present to allow the younger audience members a sense of connection and understanding it is the emotional strands of family, legacy, and pride in that family history that are woven throughout this otherwise standard structure to be the connective tissue for what Coco is truly meant to represent. This dawned on me as the credits began to roll and I was feeling content with what I'd just experienced if not bowled over by the visual prowess that Pixar is now achieving, but as I looked down at my three year-old daughter sitting next to me and asked her if she enjoyed the movie it became obvious as to why there needs to be this accessible structure by which the character's and their story arcs relate to younger viewer's otherwise Pixar would strictly be making films for adults. Pixar does make films for adults wrapped in the facade of colorful children's fables, we've known this for years, but with Coco it became more evident why this approach has been so important in that, as my three year-old grows up and continues to watch Coco, she will only gain more from it on each viewing. In this way, Coco carries on the great tradition of Pixar while continuing to diversify and expand that special brand it has now seemingly perfected.

WONDER Review

Sometimes we forget there is more to the movies than entertainment. Sometimes, it seems, we forget that there can be more to a story than information, simple insight, or distraction, but rather that a story can genuinely move you. I mean, truly move you to the point it inspires a change in mentality, a refreshed outlook, or even just a slight alteration in compassion. As sappy and excessively sweet as it may sound that is what Wonder does. It is a movie that has all the trappings of a melodramatic dramedy that plays on the sentimentalities of the audience in false ways and if you're a seasoned movie-goer of any kind it's easy to see why this would be pinpointed as such. The trailers and other marketing material have made Wonder look like something that ranks somewhere between a Hallmark made-for-TV movie and an after school special that serves to show children the repercussions of bullying, but walking out of the theater it is beyond evident that this movie is so much more than these dismissive descriptions would have you believe. Wonder never succumbs to the sappiness of it all, but more importantly is when it does reach for its peak emotional moments or dare to try to move the audience-it owns it completely. Wonder is a movie aware of what it is meant to do without being self-aware in the slightest. The word is humble. Wonder is a movie that defines being respectable without having to feel like it needs to announce its importance; it just is. Manipulative by nature, but unassuming and wholly modest in its execution writer/director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) finds the perfect balance in understanding the specifics of what his movie is intended to accomplish while making the audience wholly aware of it without flat-out exploiting their emotions. As a dad though, this thing hit me right where it was supposed to and while I understand that what is presented on screen is to a large degree a completely manufactured world where the schools are exaggerated, family time is strictly mandated, and there seems no financial concerns whatsoever these are also all things that aren't critical to the main idea and morality that the film is trying to convey and much can be forgiven when your movie promotes a simple idea like kindness this well and moves you this effectively.

New Trailer for A WRINKLE IN TIME

Walt Disney Pictures has released a new, full-length trailer for Selma director Ava DuVernay's adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle's much beloved 1962 novel "A Wrinkle in Time". The story follows Meg Murry (Storm Reid), her brilliant brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and their friend Calvin (Levi Miller) on an unexpected journey into alternate dimensions on a mission to bring their father (Chris Pine) home. The film has certainly assembled a strong cast as Oprah Winfrey (It feels so strange having to type her full name), Mindy Kailing, and Reese Witherspoon are highlighted both in the trailer and new poster (see below) as three chimerical celestial beings who help Meg “wrinkle” time and space. Though somewhat difficult to get a grasp on the meanings and impressive nature of what DuVernay has brought to life here given I have no frame of reference it is after seeing this new trailer that I look even more forward to establishing one. There is almost nothing I love more about the movies than walking into a film that is so boldly a science fiction/fantasy that builds its own world unabashedly as it seems DuVernay has done here. With A Wrinkle in Time it seems DuVernay was given the keys to a kingdom she's always desired to explore and so, to be able to witness this opportunity come to fruition will no doubt be something rather remarkable when the film is released next Spring. Selma was the best film I saw in 2014 (though it technically received a wide 2015 release) and so, without even knowing what type of film DuVernay would be tackling next there was anticipation to see where the filmmaker's career would go and to see it not only go in a direction that is rather unexpected, but also in such a potentially special direction is all the more assuring. Visually, this thing looks wonderful and the cast all look as if they're really tuned in to not only delivering a final product that is a fun experience and beautiful to look at, but meaningful as well. I'm in the bag and officially cannot wait. Definitely one of my most anticipated films for 2018. A Wrinkle in Time also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry, Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium, André Holland as Principal Jenkins, as well as Bellamy Young, Rowan Blanchard, Will McCormack, and will open on March 17th, 2018.

THE STAR Review

In The Star, the latest production from Sony Pictures Animation (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Arthur Christmas), we are introduced to a sheep named Ruth (voiced by SNL's Aidy Bryant) who has essentially defected from her flock because of the titular star, an unusually bright heavenly body that showed up around the same time the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth to inform her she was highly favored and would be carrying and raising the son of God. Ruth can't help but to feel the appearance of this star is significant in a way she can't describe or pinpoint, but rather it is something she inherently feels she can't ignore. Ruth follows this feeling even when the rest of her flock continue to travel with their herd. This more or less makes Ruth the greatest embodiment of what true, genuine faith looks like in The Star and while this is a movie based around the nativity story in a way children might be able to more easily access it, this is the greatest virtue it has to offer. Admittedly, the idea of going against the grain, rebelling against the norm for the sake of something you truly believe in is something of a common theme in children's entertainment so as to promote individuality (this is the arc played by our main character, a donkey named Bo (Steven Yeun), actually), but there is a difference in doing something out of desire or drive for the satisfaction of your own life and being able to give of your own life for a purpose you believe is greater than yourself and that is what comes to be the most evident about Ruth in The Star. Ruth exemplifies a selflessness in service of this unwavering faith in something that struck her upon seeing that star start shining in the sky; a feeling she can't explain other than to describe the fact it stirs something inside of her. But faith has always been about not having the right answers, but rather a feeling. A hunch, really. It's a hunch that there is something bigger connecting it all and connecting us all together. For Ruth, and eventually Bo and several other animals that bear witness to the events that take place in The Star that feeling, that hunch, turns out to be God.

JUSTICE LEAGUE Review

I guess I should start out by saying that I am and always have been a fan of Zack Snyder. Without much effort I can recall sitting in the theater and experiencing Dawn of the Dead along with that moment when it clicked that this wasn't just a fun horror flick, but it was a good movie. I can remember seeing 300 several times if not for the admittedly thin story, but for the ways in which the director was pushing the boundaries of the visual medium. My heart almost dropped out of my chest upon first glimpsing that opening credits sequence to Watchmen in glorious IMAX and with Man of Steel it felt as if Superman had never been so epic; that the whole scope of his being had been presented, warts and all, even if most didn't agree that Superman should have warts. I loved Man of Steel and to a certain degree, I loved Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice as well. I'm not one to say that film is without its flaws, there is a convoluted nature to the proceedings that are unnecessary and it devolves into a CGI crapfest for the last forty minutes, but for me BvS was very much a personal film and one that was as grand in scale as it was deep with heart and rich with themes. Though the marks against it have their validity it is a film that arguably has more to say and more at stake than any other superhero film produced in the last seventeen years and certainly in the last nine or so since Marvel has streamlined the process. This brings us to Justice League, a movie that is hard for me to even call a Snyder film for, despite having the trademark look of the director during certain sequences, is undoubtedly the least Zack Snyder film to have ever been produced. It's sad and disheartening in the way that Justice League, or what Snyder began in 2013 and has been building through to up until recently has culminated with this, a vanilla action film with people dressed like characters we know and love, but to the benefit of a story that is paint by numbers if not the simplest example of such, a barrage of unfinished CGI and shortcuts, with no real stakes to be felt. Say what you will about those civilian casualties or the lack of awareness for them in previous films, but they added a weight to these proceedings that reinforced that in order for evil to be avenged evil first has to occur. Warner Bros. and Geoff Johns have gone out of their way to ensure Justice League took into consideration the complaints from previous endeavors and it does, resolving it to be the broadest and most generic theater-going experience one might have this year. The masses will no doubt love it.

First Trailer for RAMPAGE Starring Dwayne Johnson

The trailer releases continue in front this week's Justice League with the latest being that of Dwayne Johnson's next action adventure that this tie around is based on an actual video game and not just inspired by a movie based around a game. I'm of course talking about Juman...I mean Rampage, a movie based on the 1980s video game stars Johnson as a primatologist who shares a close bond with George, a remarkably intelligent silverback gorilla, until a rogue genetic experiment transforms the ape into a gigantic, raging monster. This isn't the end of the line though, as Johnson's character comes to discover George isn't the only giant raging monster who has been genetically altered as of late, but that in fact there are more of these predators on the loose including a giant wolf and crocodile. And so, this definitely looks like a movie. That's about as much as I can feel at the moment. Reuniting with director Brad Peyton (Journey 2, San Andreas) it sees as if Johnson is intent on keeping his most vocal demographics happy over the course of the next five months as not only will the sequel to Jumanji stand to put Johnson in good standing with the pre-teen to teenager crowds, but I imagine placing Rampage in a similar time slot to this year's Kong: Skull Island was no coincidence as Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema no doubt hope to once again capitalize on the non-traditional release dates outside the summer movie season for movies that look like traditional blockbusters. Of course, most know video game adaptation don't necessarily tend to do well, but this property is so dated at this point one has to wonder if the brand recognition element will even factor in. To be frank, I hadn't heard and certainly had never played the game that inspired this prior to seeing the trailer and I can kind of understand why as this looks more like an amalgamation of a whole bunch of movies I've seen before if not having done it better. I guess we'll see come next spring, but as for now let's just sit back and enjoy the fact Johnson has seemingly decided to stick with what feel like the safest bets a movie start can make in today's Hollywood while the fact this all feels very 2007 without admitting Johnson sees to be taking steps back in his career rather than moving forward. Only time will tell as this could be a ton of fun, but we shall see. Rampage also stars Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, and opens on April 20th, 2018.

Initial Reaction: Video Review - MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

It was always kind of a given that Thor: Ragnarok would take the top spot at the box office for a second week in a row, but that didn't mean there was going to be a fight for second! And while Marvel's seventeenth entry in their cinematic universe did indeed take the top spot bringing in another $56.6 million for what was only a 56% drop in its second weekend, pushing the film's domestic gross over $211 million after just ten days in release giving it enough to have already bested the domestic gross for both the first Thor ($181m) and Thor: The Dark World ($206.3m). So, while some might be thinking super hero fatigue will have to set in eventually there seems to be no sign of slowing the MCU as things only continue to get bigger, more lucrative, and just as well received if not more so as the franchise marches on. We're not really hear to talk about Thor: Ragnarok though, but rather the focus is on the two new big releases over last weekend as both the topic of our review this week, Kenneth Branagh's re-envisioning of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, as well as Daddy's Home 2, the sequel to the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg surprise smash from two years ago, both put up a solid fight for that second place spot. When it came down to it though, it was Daddy's Home 2 that pulled out the win to the tune of a $30 million opening which is $8.7 million less than the first film did over the 2015 Christmas holiday, but given this sequel has the Thanksgiving holiday next week and then all of December this is a seemingly great start for the $100 million picture. And so, now we come to third place where the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express also opened solidly with $28.2 million on a production budget of $55 million. While both I and my co-host this week, Daniel Wingfield who was filling in for Charles, found the film to be pleasant enough with it ultimately being a nice option for moviegoers to have over the holidays more than anything I was curious as to what type of crowd would get out and see the film on the big screen. Per opening weekend numbers, Orient Express played to an audience that was 56% female vs. 44% male with 51% of the overall audience being 35 years of age or older. That said, it will be interesting to see how the film competes over the holiday next week as things begin to get crowded starting with the arrival of Justice League tomorrow and Disney/Pixar's Coco next week. 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 Teaser Trailer for DEADPOOL 2

In the lead up to this week's Justice League it was always promised there would be some kind of onslaught of new trailers vying to get in front of the latest super hero team-up and naturally, as a  result, we are beginning to get our first look at what blockbusters will be hitting theaters next summer. Granted, this is nothing compared to what we'll see in a months time when everyone studio and their cousin will be dropping trailers prior to The Last Jedi, but it's admittedly nice to spread things out a bit. Furthermore, what is also nice is the reminder that Deadpool has to play by no rules whatsoever. This is made clear by this first trailer for the sequel to Ryan Reynolds crown jewel to his career as rather than release a traditional teaser in the vein of what we get a solid minute and a half into this just over two minute trailer is instead a take on "The Joy of Painting" and that otherwise innocent show as hosted by the always gentle Bob Ross. That said, this works unbelievably well (maybe too well, even) in terms of how much I'm sold on more Deadpool despite not really having seen anything from the actual movie which is great, but doesn't excuse the fact I'm a sucker for trailers and now really want to see a trailer for this thing! That said, Reynolds continues to make the most of this character as I genuinely laughed out loud twice during his Ross impersonation and couldn't help but chuckle and shake my head throughout the rest of it. Of what we know of Deadpool 2, Reynolds returns as Wade Wilson alongside Josh Brolin as Cable, Zazie Beetz of Atlanta as Domino, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Stefan Kapicic as Colossus, and Karan Soni as Dopinder. John Wick co-director and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch takes over for Tim Miller this time around, but both Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have returned to pen the screenplay so count on more of the same, but you know...bigger and probably more irreverent than ever. Deadpool 2 also stars Eddie Marsan, Jack Kesy, Julian Dennison, and opens on June 1st, 2018.

DADDY'S HOME 2 Review

I will admit, and not necessarily begrudgingly, that I didn't mind 2015's Daddy's Home. One might even say I liked it to a certain extent. Did I understand why stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were reuniting with something that was a more standard studio comedy rather than following up their 2010 Adam McKay film, The Other Guys, despite the fact it was likely because that film only made $170 million worldwide on a budget of $100 million? No, despite that evidence I still didn't and yet, somehow, Daddy's Home was something I laughed at consistently enough and had a warm enough time with that I was more than happy to recommend it to those looking for a light watch on a weekend afternoon. This was undoubtedly all it was ever meant to be. That was, until that second Ferrell/Wahlberg collaboration ended up going bonkers and making over $240 million worldwide on a production budget of only $69 million and thus is the reason we now have a Daddy's Home 2 that cost just a little more ($31 million more to be exact) with the addition of granddaddies Mel Gibson and John Lithgow present to up the antics of Ferrell's Brad and Wahlberg's Dusty as they try to co-dad in peace. Paramount was also keen to release this sequel prior to the holiday season as a whole thus kind of inadvertently kicking it off itself (Bad Moms Christmas obviously helping with this as well) as the studio looks to capitalize on their family-friendly PG-13 comedy playing through the Thanksgiving break and having collected all it needs prior to Star Wars coming in and claiming all the screens. That said, is this strategic approach going to work? Does Daddy's Home 2 offer the same comforts as its predecessor without succumbing to the stupidity that first film was always on the verge of flirting with or without becoming a carbon copy of that initial film? For the most part, sure. Daddy's Home 2 ups the antics in the way that sequels do without being maybe as consistently funny as it should be given the talent on hand. All things considered though, Daddy's Home 2 does further the story of the scenario set-up in the first film in natural and organic ways while adhering to the wacky tone that first film defiantly established. We are introduced to more family members in order to spice up the proceedings and from keeping it from becoming that total retread of the original while the dynamics of such relationships are explored and caveats of others revealed to add layers to characters we might have imagined we already knew everything about. That isn't to say writer/director Sean Anders (Sex Drive, Horrible Bosses 2) and writing partner John Morris (Hot Tub Time Machine, We're the Millers) have delved into the anxieties of blended families and come up with a film that analyzes the dynamics and struggles of such situations-this is very much of a movie world where no one has any problems except the ones in their personal life as created by their personal life with money being no object-but there is something to be said for Daddy's Home 2 as it doesn't simply rest on the laurels of its predecessor when it very easily could have.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Review

You know those times when you think something is unnecessary, let's say for the sake of this format it's a movie, and yet despite those initial hesitations and questions of purpose you come to realize that it's not a complete waste of time, but rather that you actually like certain aspects of this fresh perspective it once seemed was uncalled for. I have never before read the 1934 Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, nor had I seen what is probably the most famous adaptation of this work in Sidney Lumet's 1974 film that starred Albert Finney as one of Christie's most famous and long-lived characters, Detective Hercule Poirot. That was, until earlier this week when I decided to catch-up with what was no doubt much of the reason 20th Century Fox decided it was indeed necessary to bring Christie's work back to the big screen with no lack of prestige in either its talent or production. In doing so, it became clear how much that '74 film serves as a perfect blueprint for the murder mystery venture and while I certainly doubt it was the first film of its kind it certainly is a fine example of how to make this type of movie in an effective, fun, and engaging manner. So, what does Sir Kenneth Branagh do when he gets his hands on such rich material and the opportunity to play as famous a character as Poirot? Well, not much really. Branagh keeps to the guidelines of the genre for the most part while the changes in characters and character arcs in this latest adaptation feel more like attempts to differentiate this version from Lumet's more than they do organic changes that came out of adapting Christie's story for a more modern audience. Sure, there are changes made to certain character's ethnicities and the color of certain character's skin, but beyond these factors serving to be acknowledged as they might have been in the context of 1934 there is no reason to have changed anything about the character other than for the sake of variety and equality, which is never a bad thing, of course, but the hope was that whatever changes Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) made for this latest adaptation they might have been done to either improve upon the story or offer some facet previously unexplored. And yet, this version of Murder on the Orient Express is a safe if not efficient take in the mystery genre that relies on star power for character development and handsomely mounted production values to fill in for substance leaving the experience of Branagh's latest to be perfectly serviceable if not exactly fulfilling.

First Trailer for THE POST Starring Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks

While director Steven Spielberg began and finished production on next year's adaptation of Ready Player One before even considering directing The Post, both films are now in the can with 20th Century Fox releasing the first of two Spielberg films in the next five months before the end of the year in a limited run before expanding wide in January so that it qualifies for awards consideration. Spielberg has undoubtedly made a great many films in his career and I genuinely mean "great", but as of late the definitive filmmaker of many a generation has felt like he's been on something of an autopilot setting with the likes of both The BFG and Bridge of Spies being fine by Spielberg standards if not feeling slightly half-hearted and a little more than conventional. While I'm anxious to see what Spielberg does with the material provided him by the Ernest Cline novel I am also more than intrigued to see what Spielberg was able to do with the stellar cast he was able to assemble (and in such a short time, no less) that not only sees the filmmaker reuniting with Tom Hanks for the fifth time, but working with Meryl Streep for the first-so you can bet your ass this thing is at least getting one nomination come the 2018 Academy Awards. The Post tells the story of the United State’s first female newspaper publisher of The Washington Post, Kay Graham (Streep) and its hard-driving editor, Ben Bradlee (Hanks) as they fight to publish the Pentagon Papers, which proved the government had systematically lied about the scope of the Vietnam War. The film, which comes from Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer and Liz Hannah (a producer on Hitchcock/Truffaut), looks like a perfect piece for such acting giants to collaborate with a master of the craft as this first look at the final product hints at a film with plenty of big moments and stirring speeches while at the same time conveying a timely and important message about the importance and value of the free, honest, and respectable press. Make no qualms that rushing to get this film into theaters was no just a question of potential accolades, but one of addressing the current climate of our country as well. The Post also stars Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlberg, Zach Woods, Bradley Whitford, and opens in limited release on December 22nd, 2017 before going wide on January 12, 2018.

THOR: RAGNAROK Review

You know those ideas that are better in conception that they ever turn out to be in actuality? The ones where the pairing of two things, like Vince Vaughn and True Detective, sound fantastic, but when the reality of it comes into being it only serves to prove that some mediums and personalities just weren't meant to be meshed? Well, for the first twenty or so minutes of the third solo Thor film I thought that might be what was happening. The idea of taking darling indie comedy director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and pairing him with the massive machine that is Marvel to bring their most self-serious and most dour hero into the new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that might bridge the Shakespearian those ideas that almost felt too good to be true, you know, like Edgar Wright making a Marvel Studios film (which, it turned out, was in fact just that). It was an idea that seemed it might produce something truly singular for the long-standing MCU, but would it be too weird for Kevin Feige and the gang to really let slide? Honestly, I was waiting for the moment over the last two years when the news would break that Marvel and Waititi had to break over "creative differences" but to my pleasant surprise that day never came and today we sit here with Thor: Ragnarok, the best solo Thor movie that has been made to date, the first Thor movie that truly seems to utilize the full spectrum of the character and the world he inhabits and the never ending reaches of the cosmos he can inhabit while also upending many of the story conventions we've come to expect from our super hero epics. That is all, of course, after the rather nerve-wracking twenty or so minutes at the beginning of the film where it looked as if Waititi had bitten off more than he could chew in terms of managing a production the size of Ragnarok while also in the simple splicing together of jokes and story, of tender moments and CGI-filled natural environments where it was apparent that maybe the best choices had not been made. It's a rough start, but this only makes all that follows that much more assuring in its competency. Thor: Ragnarok is slight to be sure, but it is a ton of fun and serves up just enough freshness for the title character and his present situations that it's impossible not to throw your hands in the air and just enjoy the cheeky ride this take on the super hero genre offers.

Red Band Trailer for I, TONYA Starring Margot Robbie

One of the biggest stories to come out of TIFF 2017 was that of Craig "Fright Night" Gillespie's biopic I, Tonya starring Margot Robbie as the infamous Tonya Harding. It was a film that had almost zero buzz going into the festival, but shortly after the first screening it was clear I, Tonya was one to watch as it received rave reviews with much of the audience praising the films ability to balance both the comedy and tragedy of the situation. Given it's been almost twenty-five years since the events that turned figure skating into a full-on tabloid event and made Harding a household name for all the wrong reasons it will be interesting to see the varied audience reactions from those who are old enough to remember the actual events and those who weren't born yet who will go in not knowing the details of what went down in 1994 and only aware this is a movie that stars Margot Robbie and the Winter Soldier. For those who might not have been aware of who Tonya Harding is prior to this trailer or for those who need a refresher of the figure skating scandal this red band trailer for Gillespie's film certainly seems to serve as an enticing refresher as this looks as appropriately bonkers as one might hope while clearly having some semblance of a soul that will look past the chaos of the situation and into the circumstances of these characters that drove their choices and actions to the point of no return. All things taken into consideration, it seems pretty clear why I, Tonya received such a stunning response as everything about this trailer is intriguing and beyond fascinating to the point I can't wait to see it and only hope that the fairly new Neon production house that acquired the film out of Toronto is able to give this thing a wide release on the announced December 8th date. I, Tonya also stars Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Mckenna Grace, Caitlin Carver, and was written by Steven Rogers who is responsible for such nineties hits as Hope Floats and Stepmom.