On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 9, 2018


There is something inherently kind of trashy about horror films. If Oscar bait movies are mansions then horror flicks typically reside in the trailer parks. There is a class system to movies that is even less subjective than the constructs applied to actual society and there is almost no arguing that horror movies are always the ones that get relegated to the, "fun, but not actually good or worthwhile" category while time and time again movies with more grounded subject matter are allowed to be labeled as good without necessarily being exceptional. One could argue that horror would have to duke it out with comedy as to which genre gets the least amount of respect, but to that point one could argue that at least major studios still take more chances on broad comedies than they do mid-budget horror flicks and not to mention that, despite comedy stars largely being reduced to dancing clowns, there is genuine admiration for those who are able to pull off successful comedy as it has been admittedly more difficult to pull off than reliable drama. It's appreciated when horror is approached with clear skill, just look at what James Wan has done for the genre, but no matter how skillfully the job is done there is hardly ever any real merit awarded to what we might call a "scary movie." And so, when a studio or director decide to approach the horror genre with the objective of being more illustrious than usual there is reason to be excited for what the final product might deliver. Add to this the fact the movie this studio and director are setting out to make is a new adaptation of one of the horror maestro himself, Stephen King's, most talked about works and it is almost unavoidable: the anticipation and thus the expectations. This is where it seems society has landed on director Andy Muschietti's (Mama) new take on King's magnum opus of a novel that is IT; there is a want for this kind of horrific escapism. This is not because there isn't enough horror in the real world (no, there's plenty of that these days), but because audiences seek a genuine escape back to a time when things seemed simpler while adding a dose of thrills to that nostalgia kick. This new version of IT has come at an opportune time with the implied legacy being that it will take on the mantle of being one of the most disturbing films in recent memory, finally doing justice to the source material, while hopefully living on as such for years to come. So, how does the actual film line up with everything that has come to be expected of it? Fairly well, considering. By no means is IT a transcendent work of horror fiction, but it provides an ample amount of legitimate scares while at the same time capturing this touching tale of friendship and unbreakable bonds that is so endearing it can't help but to make everything else about the movie that much more unnerving. As with all things, IT will inevitably be grouped into that aforementioned set of hierarchical cinema categories, but I have to imagine Muschietti's film, while not achieving that upper class status it so ambitiously seemed to be chasing, works hard and well enough to escape the lows of thoughtless dismissal earning enough admiration without a solid balance of respect to settle into the most comfortable of middle classes. Video review here. Full review here. B-

At the age of sixty-three and nearly seven years after any type of significant showing on the big screen I imagine Jackie Chan doesn't necessarily want to be starring in second rate scripts Liam Neeson passed on as someone called Quan Ngoc Minh. I imagine he'd like to be making more thought-provoking actioners or maybe even interesting character pieces, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards for the poor guy. He seems to have tried his hand at making low-risk action/comedies and has done an abundance of voice over work, most recently in the subpar The LEGO Ninjago Movie, but the question has now become that of how does a man always known for his agility and stylistic fighting abilities age into a Hollywood environment based on franchises and brand recognition? Well, make Rush Hour 4 obviously. This is kind of the point though, as Chan has played in seemingly everything the industry could think to put him in, so it makes sense that now-as there is no shortage of aging stars that were once marquee names who are willing to try their hand at being action stars-that a true action star would join in on the fun. Unfortunately, The Foreigner isn't that much fun. As much as this feels like a last resort of sorts for Chan it is a double-edged sword for that of his co-star Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan would seemingly like to be a well-regarded leading man in more mature fare, but it is likely he sees no other options in maintaining his relevancy and so we will continue to get things such as leading roles like in The November Man (though I wonder if he could even pull off something like that only three years after the fact) and supporting roles such as this before having a late in life career renaissance that will leave his legacy as more than just the guy who once played James Bond...or maybe that arc will be saved for Daniel Craig. All of this is to say that both Chan and Brosnan as well as director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro, Goldeneye, Casino Royale) have been put to better use in much better movies as The Foreigner feels like a much-delayed attempt to hop on the now sub-genre of older, unsuspecting guys kicking ass and taking names. The Foreigner is a film as generic as anything we've seen this year which is a shame considering it doesn't utilize its stars strongest asset to great effect. I like Jackie Chan, you can't help but to root for the guy and that is inevitable here as well despite the fact that every few minutes you might have to ask yourself where these characters are, where they're going, and/or what exactly they're doing and for what reason. It's that kind of movie though, one that by the time the credits roll you'll shrug it off and move on; no harm and no real foul. Full review here. C-

One might think, given Chadwick Boseman has now played three historical characters in three rather high profile biopics, that it is not only something the actor enjoys or is good at, but that these historical figures might begin to meld together in one fashion or another as far as their screen personas are concerned. If nothing else though, Marshall proves that Boseman is as skilled an actor as he is a disguise artist given his representation of the titular character in Marshall is as different and unexpected as his incarnations of Jackie Robinson and James Brown were before. The fact Boseman doesn't really share any physical features with the late Marshall isn't distracting for, as Boseman has done in the past, he seemingly captures a spirit or an essence of that person-even if their personality wasn't widely known-and delivers in his portrayal that real personality. It's authentic and it's something you can't manufacture. Lucky for audiences, Boseman's performance and its definitive nature in clarifying Boseman's transformative abilities is not all the movie has to offer as Marshall is a number of interesting things bound together in a seamless and rather moving package that just so happens to include another phenomenal turn from an actor who has shown time and time again that there is no reason to doubt his talent or his choices. Furthermore, Marshall is as much a movie about Mr. Thurgood Marshall, American lawyer and eventual Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as it is about Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), an insurance lawyer from Greenwich, Connecticut who comes to form something of an uncommon bond with the famed lawyer who went from town to town for the NAACP fighting for African Americans who were on trial not for their deeds, but for their race. It is important to note that Friedman was a white Jew (this takes place in 1941, mind you) and is someone who no doubt faced prejudice in his own life to certain extents, but it is this combination of Boseman and Gad and their buddy dynamic, of the biopic and the courtroom drama, and of those whodunit aspects with the structure of a super hero origin story that sets Marshall apart from not just being another serious drama pining for awards by portraying real-life events, but a motion picture that is genuine in its attempt to portray all facets of the life of a man who strove for nothing but admirable change. Full review here. B

I didn't see the My Little Pony The Movie, but apparently it deals in a dark force conquering Canterlot, where the Mane 6 embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship to save their homeland. So, yeah...













The only movie this year that I heard that might be worse than both My Little Pony The Movie and The Emoji Movie is Friend Request, a horror flick about a popular college student who graciously accepts a social outcast's online friend request, but soon finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.