Toy Story 4 Review

Disney and Pixar Upend Expectations with this Fourth Sequel that Comes to Justify Itself in Moving and Necessary Ways.

Child's Play Review

This Re-Boot/Re-Make of the Original, 1988 Killer Doll Slasher Flick is Made Fun by a Game Cast and some Creatively Endearing Choices.

Aladdin Review

Will Smith and a Charismatic Ensemble Bring Director Guy Ritchie's Live-Action Re-Make of the Classic Animated Tale to Life Just Enough to Justify its Existence.

MIB: International Review

Director F. Gary Gray and a Charismatic Cast Featuring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson aren't Enough to Lift this Reboot to the Height of its Predecessors.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Review

This Sequel to the High-Concept, but Only Mildly Entertaining 2016 Film Tries for More yet Comes up Feeling Emptier than Before.

First Trailer for DARK WATERS Starring Mark Ruffalo

In case you thought you were suffering from some strange case of déjà vu where there was a new trailer out for a movie with the same title as a random horror flick you're pretty sure you saw over a decade ago starring Jennifer Connelly then be confused no more as that was Dark Water while this new trailer is for a movie called Dark Waters! Emphasis on S! This also isn't a drama/horror/mystery based on a Japanese film that spawned from the countless Japanese-inspired horror films of the early aughts thanks to Gore Verbinski's Americanized version of The Ring, but rather this is a straight-up legal drama based on the true story of an attorney (Mark Ruffalo) for DuPont Chemical who discovered that his company was poisoning the residents of a small town for over forty years. Naturally, Ruffalo's Robert Bilott must do what is right and stand up to the evil corporation even if it means losing his job, his reputation, his family or in other words-his entire sense of livelihood, but to go to bed with a clear conscience is of a top priority and Dark Waters looks as if it will provide a very compelling set of actions that will at least lead to what we can hope is Bilott's clean conscience at the end of the film. All of that said, this is also the new film from Academy Award-nominated director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I'm Not There, Carol) and while I've always been more lukewarm to his films as opposed to critics more my senior it's also not hard to recognize the filmmaker's penchant for putting his own, interesting twist on certain types of stories or genres and hopefully that will be the case here. Focus Features has certainly packaged this as a movie with an important message and as a movie any viewer would benefit from seeing if not necessarily for the entertainment value, but for the information around this story that it's bringing to a wider audience and yet-as far as Haynes' work goes-this looks fairly straightforward; a legal thriller where the little guy must risk it all to stand up to the evil corporation. And while I'm sure there's more to the film than what this first trailer indicates, I'm curious as to just how much of an imprint Haynes will leave on this one. Dark Waters also stars Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman and opens in limited release on November 22nd, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - HUSTLERS

Warner Bros. had both a good and bad weekend as IT Chapter Two delivered a strong enough second weekend to retain its number one spot with nearly $40 million, dipping just 55% from its opening weekend and pushing the domestic total to over $153 million. The horror sequel also added another $47 million internationally for a global total that now sits at $323.3 million with both films in the franchise having now grossed over $1.02 billion worldwide on a collective production budget of only $60 million. Not bad, clown. On the other side of things though is the studios other new release, The Goldfinch, which bombed heavily by delivering one of the worst opening weekends ever for a wide release with only $2.6 million from over 2,500 locations; that performance is the sixth worst ever for a film debuting in that many locations. I've yet to see the film, but was heavily anticipating it as director John Crowley's previous film, Brooklyn, was one of my favorites the year it was released. I still look forward to seeing The Goldfinch, but both the poor box office and harsh reviews certainly put a damper on my expectations. Meanwhile, STX Entertainment's Hustlers burst onto the scene with strong word of mouth out of the Toronto International Film Festival last week to deliver the studio's largest opening in its short history with an excellent $33.2 million debut topping STX's previous record-holder, 2016's Bad Moms which opened with $23.8 million. Believe it or not, Hustlers is also the largest live-action debut for Jennifer Lopez as well, speeding past the $23.1 million opening for Monster-in-Law in 2005. Not surprising is the fact the film seemed to play as a "girl's night" favorite given the strong women's empowerment themes as the film's opening weekend audience was made up of 67% female with 69% of that crowd being aged 25 or older. The film presently sits at a strong 88% on RottenTomatoes while opening day audiences gave the film a "B-" CinemaScore. In short, it's not hard to imagine Hustlers landing anywhere in between the $100 to $120 million mark as its final domestic tally. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - IT CHAPTER TWO

IT Chapter Two kicked off the fall box office season with a strong $91 million debut though it failed to match the first film's $123 million opening back in 2017. On a more granular level, IT Chapter Two debuted in 4,570 theaters over the weekend with a per theater average of $19,926 while its predecessor earned about $10,000 more per theater on opening weekend in roughly 500 fewer theaters. There is also the running time to consider as Chapter Two runs ten minutes short of three hours (trailers and commercials not included) while the first film was a notable half hour shorter if not slightly more. Whether this had an impact on the number of shows theaters held is indeterminable as is the number of tickets bought to other movies by underage teens who then snuck into this finale, but the point of it all being that while IT Chapter Two might not have risen to the heights of its predecessor it was still well within expectations, ranking as the second largest horror opening of all-time behind only its companion film. Furthermore, 2017's IT remains the only horror film to ever open with more than $100 million meaning these two films now rank as the first and second largest openings for both a horror film as well as the first and second largest September openings of all-time. Now the question will be how much can Chapter Two leg it to? The first film finished with a domestic total of $327 million with $372 million more coming if from the rest of the world for a global cume of over $700 million. Odds are Chapter Two won't reach those heights, but as far as domestic totals go it's not hard to see the film crossing the $200 million mark-maybe even going as high as $240 million; this is especially true if the competition is right through the rest of the month (Ad Astra, Rambo, and Judy are among the other movies for adults opening in September with no other horror releases to speak of until Joker on October 4th) and into the midst of Halloween season. On the plus side, the film also received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences, the same as the original film, meaning prospects should be largely positive per word of mouth. Internationally, IT Chapter Two opened in 75 markets and delivered $94 million, giving the film a $185 million global opening. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Final Trailer for DOCTOR SLEEP Starring Ewan McGregor

It's been five or six years since I've seen Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and while it's certainly one of those movie experiences that stays with you I'll definitely be refreshing my memory when it comes to Kubrick's horror classic before venturing into director Mike Flanagan's (The Haunting of Hill House, Ouija: Origin of Evil) adaptation of Stephen King's sequel to both his and Kubrick's seminal work. The story of how Doctor Sleep, the novel, came to be is fairly interesting given in December of 2009, King posted a poll on his official website asking fans to vote for which book he should write next, Doctor Sleep or the next Dark Tower novel. The poll closed on December 31, 2009, when it was revealed that Doctor Sleep won by a mere forty-nine votes. King then posted an update confirming Doctor Sleep was in the works in 2011 and that the plot included a traveling group of psychic vampires called "The True Knot". Eventually, Doctor Sleep was published on September 24, 2013 and now-almost forty years after the release of Kubrick's film which King himself remains disappointed in-we have this film adaptation of the thirty-six year-later sequel King wrote to his original book. All of that said, it would seem a delicate situation to try and craft a movie sequel to said seminal work not only for the reason that The Shining is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, but also because a sequel is largely only ever just a sequel-"the second one"-and will forever live in the shadow of that original. So, the question is, "how does one combat that? Does one even try?" While I haven't read King's sequel and have no idea as to the critical response or how it was received by general consumers (or, for that matter, how the original novel was received as the film adaptation has always overshadowed the original work in my lifetime) it is comforting to know that someone as well revered and well seasoned in the horror genre as Flanagan is the one who was given the keys to build this castle. Like I said, I haven't read either of King's novels and its been a few years since I've seen The Shining, but as a horror film in and of itself this final trailer Warner Bros. has released offers an intriguing premise and spooky atmosphere outside of its promise of returning to the Overlook Hotel. Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Jacob Tremblay, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Alyn Lind and arrives in theaters on November 8, 2019.


IT Chapter Two is a film with great vision, while also being one that lacks focus. This lack of an anchor, or heart-if you will-is the source of much frustration as it's clear director Andy Muschietti has great ambition for what he not only wants his adaptation to be, but represent; this is to be the modern day equivalent of The Shining, a Marvel-esque sized accomplishment in the horror genre, but while the mission is clear and the intent appreciated it seems Muschietti's bloated sequel to his 2017 introduction to the Losers Club bit off more than it could chew. Rather than purely being the twenty-seven year-later sequel it was assumed to be, IT Chapter Two largely operates in a fashion where the first, more endearing chapter, didn't have to exist. It's nice that it does and of the two is the better film, but this is because that movie-while still sprawling in its scope-didn't have to deal in two separate timelines, didn't have to fully dissect the characters, but more just plant the seeds for them and it didn't have to somehow shoehorn in a story about an ancient ritual that would defeat this cosmic entity that we come to know is Pennywise the dancing clown. In other words, Muschietti's predecessor had the ability to focus on its characters in both its heroes and its antagonist while developing the undesirable, but sometimes symbiotic relationship between the two. In Chapter Two, Muschietti and his editor, Jason Ballantine, never find the necessary groove to make everything the film is trying to accomplish flow with the comprehension necessary to lend the film that needed focus, that necessary anchor that gives the viewer something specific to latch onto so that it connects to-if not everything the film is trying to do-at least one thing that will make it feel more personal and therefore more haunting. IT Chapter Two is such a film of fits and starts that it's almost impossible to find any one thing to latch onto at all, but lucky for us Chapter Two does in fact boast a game cast of adult Losers that make the jumbled narrative bearable while Muschietti's visual prowess remains on impressive display throughout. Furthermore, Bill Skarsgård's performance as Pennywise is still gold, but even in this regard the filmmakers don't take as much advantage of the performance as they should-layering in CGI and not allowing Skarsgård's disturbing portrayal to truly breathe. Like a buffet plate that's loaded with everything that looked good, IT Chapter Two ends up a pile of parts with a single bite out of each-nothing fully digested leaving the consumer full, but not satisfied.

First Trailer for BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Starring Will Smith & Martin Lawrence

There were a mere eight years between 1995's Bad Boys and 2003's Bad Boys II, so believe me when I say I'd thought the expiration date had long since passed for us to get that much requested third film to round out a trilogy of Bad Boys films featuring Will Smith's Mike Lowery and Martin Lawrence's Marcus Burnett and we are. I'm still somewhat in shock this movie actually exists, has been shot and now has a release date and trailer. It's real and for better or worse in terms of the final result, it feels so good to see Smith and Lawrence together again. Bad Boys II came out the summer after I turned sixteen and though I'd seen plenty of action flicks before, Bad Boys II felt like the be all end all to big, gluttonous R-rated action that just blew me away with its scope, its style, its comedy and everything in between. And while it's taken seventeen years, "better late than never" is the mantra we're going with here as new series directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were brought in to try and replicate the aesthetic and energy of Michael Bay from a screenplay by Joe Carnahan and Chris Bremner, with a story credit going to Peter Craig (The Town). Carnahan was originally set to direct this third installment, which I think would have been a wise choice given the typical bonkers nature of his movies (Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, Stretch) mixed with the general credibility he lends them in terms of emotional investment, but El Arbi and Fallah seem to have continuing franchises on lock down as they'll next be directing Beverly Hills Cop 4. One can only hope this bodes well for the quality of Bad Boys for Lif3 (I don't know if that's how we're officially writing it, but I like it), but as of right now this trailer delivers everything I could hope to get from a Bad Boys movie in that Smith and Lawrence look to be in good form, the action feels like a priority and they're undoubtedly busting some kind of drug ring; opposing styles/personalities be damned. Bad Boys For Life also stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez, Kate Del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano and opens on January 17, 2020.


Per usual, there are a lot of things to be excited for this fall at the movies. I'd like to state up front that when I say "fall" in terms of movie-going seasons that "fall" will be defined as beginning next week, the first weekend of September, through to the end of the year. This actually makes it more difficult to narrow down my most anticipated releases into a short ten as there are releases the first three weeks of September that I've been looking forward to the majority of the year, but I’ll hold off on those until I actually get to the list. Furthermore, I want to provide some context for this list by stating that the ten movies I’ve picked are the ten movies I would want to see most if I could only see ten more movies for the remainder of the year; if I were only allowed to enter a theater ten more times in 2019 these are the ten I would pick to see on those visits. Sure, there are things like Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, the new Jumanji film and Frozen II that I’m excited for and interested to see for one reason or another, but if I don’t know that any of those would necessarily make the cut if it were an absolute scenario such as the one I'm putting myself in for the sake of widdling down the release schedule to the ten titles I'm actually most anticipating. What I do want to do first though, is go through some of the movies that aren’t going to make my list, but that I think deserve to be highlighted as they have a lot of promise and one can only hope they turn out to be as fantastic as they look.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - READY OR NOT

Color me surprised as I genuinely expected this past weekend in box office news to turn out the opposite of what it actually did. Who knew people wanted more of Gerard Butler's Mike Banning rescuing the President than they did another indie horror flick? To be fair, the odds for both headliners going into the weekend seemed about even, but given the quality and good time Ready or Not turned out to be, not to mention the fact it's an original movie with a cast featuring no marquee names, I was rooting for the little horror movie that could. In the end, Angel Has Fallen-the third film in the "fallen" franchise (is that what we're calling it?) was able to garner $21.4 million outperforming expectations despite it being the smallest opening in the franchise as it was just shy of London Has Fallen's $21.6 million debut. That said, Angel is the first in the series to debut at #1 after both of the previous installments landed in the runner-up position (Olympus opening against The Croods in 2013 and London opening against Zootopia in 2016). The release dates for these previous installments were both in earlier frames of the year though, and given Angel opened in the doldrums of August, after the summer movie season has expired, it had no such competition to deal with. What's even more baffling is the fact Angel joined its predecessors in earning an "A-" CinemaScore while scoring 94% RottenTomatoes audience score. What?!?! Olympus was fine (White House Down was better) and London was next to awful while Angel at least looked to be like little more than your run of the mill, mid-budget action flick, but you guys are going to make me make time for this aren't you? Anywho, we're here to talk about Ready or Not, which debuted last Tuesday night and entered the weekend with just over $3 million after its first two days of release. Once we hit the weekend though, the likes of Good Boys, Sony and AFFIRM's Overcomer, The Lion King and Hobbs & Shaw were too much for the little Fox Searchlight film that could. Of note, the film played in 2,855 locations and brought in just over $8 million for a five day performance just over $11 million. While that number is slightly below expectations, the film received great reviews and received a "B+" CinemaScore as well as having an opening weekend audience that consisted of 53% female with 79% of coming in under the age of 35-which should bode well for the film this coming weekend where no other major releases are slated. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week! 

Final Trailer for JOKER Starring Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix enters the super hero genre with what is probably the only role he could ever have entered the genre with: the Joker. While Phoenix was a ripe thirty-four in 2008 and could have more than capably played this same role in Chistopher Nolan's groundbreaking The Dark Knight it is hard to argue anything less than kismet that Heath Ledger took that role and now eleven years later Phoenix is working with a filmmaker more his speed in a film solely dedicated to the character. Despite his films typically receiving more negative press than unanimous praise, I've been a fan of director Todd Phillips since he knocked me out with a double dose of Frat Pack greatness in 2003 and 2004 with Old School and Starsky & Hutch before going on to become better known for The Hangover trilogy. While that trilogy may have become more and more mediocre over the course of three films in terms of story, they vastly improved Phillips' cinematic eye while the filmmaker's subversive take on the material at least led to interesting outlets. And while the character of the Joker arguably will suffer more than he might prosper from an origin story, with a screenplay by Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter) along with a cast that features the likes of not only Phoenix, but Robert De Niro, Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, Shea Whigham, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Marc Maron, Bill Camp and Bryan Callen it's hard to argue one isn't at least intrigued by the promise if not excited by the idea. Furthermore, can we emphasize the cinematic eye of Phillips and how it has only continued to grow with what we see in this final trailer? The seventies-set New York crime drama feels visceral in a way that transcends the legacy of the character making it feel that Joker, like The Dark Knight, will simply be a strong genre film that just so happens to also feature characters inspired by comic books. This is easily my most anticipated film of the year and it will be hard to forgive all those seeing it early on the film festival circuit as us general movie-goers have to wait another month until Joker hits theaters on October 4th, 2019.


It's hard to pin down the exact moment in a movie when said movie becomes so assured of itself that it's seemingly firing on all cylinders in the exact way the filmmaker(s) intended; some movies are lucky to have such moments at all, but the really special ones are lucky enough to have them early in the runtime-immediately displaying a confidence so unwavering in what it is and what it intends to be that the audience knows what they're in for from the word go. Ready or Not, the new feature from directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (V/H/S segment "10/31/98"), is one of those movies that you feel instantly knows not only what it wants to be, but exactly how it's going to become that thing. This is apparent not only from the sentiments expressed through the opening credits sequence, but in the initial introductions between each of the characters we promptly get a sense of. From the first scene in which we meet Samara Weaving's Grace we understand who she is as an individual and from the given interaction with her fiancé, Alex (Mark O'Brien), gather how she feels about joining this dynasty of a family as well as the institution of marriage in general; there's a coolness to her that defaults to playing down particularly major events in her life for fear of getting her hopes up too much and/or ultimately being disappointed. The reasons for this become evident the more we learn about Grace's past, but even throughout the remainder of the Le Domas clan the family dynamics are so well defined that the way in which these people operate-even when it comes to attempting to kill the newest member of their family-isn't completely unexpected, but instead each of these characters demonstrate what we assume about them from the precedent they've already set. It is in these rooted characterizations defined from the beginning that also allows for the tension to meld effortlessly with the comedy of the piece; brutal to its core with as much blood as a Tarantino feature, Ready or Not fuses that tricky tone of violence and irreverence into a wild, ninety-minute experience. This isn't anything you haven't seen before, especially if you keep current with the horror genre, but it is so aware of what it is and so expertly crafted to be the best version of itself that everything about it feels original and raw.     

Tavern Talk: Video Review - GOOD BOYS

In a summer dominated by Disney, Universal Pictures is breathing something akin to a sigh of relief at the moment as the new, R-rated comedy Good Boys helped propel them to a third straight week where one of their pictures sat atop the domestic box office. And actually, with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw still holding strong in second, Universal held the top two spots at the box office this week. Good Boys was among another crop of several new releases last week though as not only did five new wide releases open the week prior, but they were joined by another handful this week that included The Angry Birds Movie 2, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, the Bruce Springsteen-inspired Blinded by the Light and Richard Linklater's Where'd You Go, Bernadette starring Cate Blanchett. While Good Boys delivered above expectations though, the rest of these wide releases were largely disappointments this weekend as Angry Birds only earned $16 million over the course of its first six days (Sony actually released this last Tuesday) as compared to the $38 million its predecessor opened with over three days in 2016. The unnecessary 47 Meters Down sequel (and I liked the first one!) couldn't crack the top five barely mustering a $9 million debut (less than the original's $11 million opening weekend number) while the well-reviewed indie that is Blinded by the Light barely cracked the top ten with only $4.45 million over its first three days on a reported budget of $15 million. Worse off was the Annapurna-produced and United Artist's release of Where'd You Go, Bernadette which finished with only $3.46 million in the eleventh place spot. As for the good news though, Good Boys earned $21.4 million over its opening weekend, easily recouping its $20 million production budget. The film, which is only the third original feature this year alongside Us (another Universal film) and The Curse of La Llorona (which is loosely tied to the Conjuring movies) to top the box office and with strong reviews and a good general reception, the film currently sits at an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, it's not hard to see Good Boys legging it to a $60 million-plus domestic finish especially given the lack of competition in the upcoming weeks. On Tavern Talk this week we were lucky enough to have filmmakers and NYU Grad Students Tara Sheffer and Bianca di Marco join us to discuss the film as well as their upcoming project. Hit the link after the jump to support Tara's new film, My Dear God, and as always-be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week! 


If twelve year-old's could actually see the new Seth Rogen-produced comedy, Good Boys, which chronicles-in too honest a nature for their own sensibilities apparently-the misadventures of this transformative stage from elementary to middle school then there would undoubtedly be a thousand more "bean bag boy" trios popping up across the nation tomorrow all honesty...that wouldn't be such a bad thing. For all of the promotional focus around this movie being on the gimmick of it starring actors too young to see their own movie because of the words and actions they say and do the truth of the matter is that despite this seemingly backwards rule (for the record, I don't think anyone under fifteen should probably watch this if for no other reason than to preserve as much innocence as possible for as long as possible) the heart of Good Boys lies in the fact that a sweetness is ultimately born from the vulgarity it would seem reliant upon. Our three co-leads, best friends and founding members of the aforementioned "bean bag boys" are so oblivious to the true meanings of some of the things they say, so unsuspecting in the ramifications of some of their actions and-most importantly-have the best of intentions in the quest the movie ultimately sends them on that the crudeness that comes to serve as the details in said quest only make to further emphasize the honesty of how kids act among themselves when their parents and elders aren't around. This point of these children being tawdry is just that-to garner cheap laughs from their peers, not because they actually possess such personalities; they're unrefined, sure, but they're not crass. The minutiae of such distinctions allows for the kids themselves to feel blameless in their thoughts and in their words, but more products of their environments in the truest sense of the phrase. This is where Good Boys becomes something wholly different in its approach though, for as much as the movie is, on a surface-level, about garnering laughs from twelve year-old's saying the "F" word writer/director Gene Stupnitsky and co-writer/producer Lee Eisenberg seem intent on emphasizing the fact the title of their film is more earnest than it is satirical; meaning the bean bag boys-despite all the trouble they get into-are in fact, fundamentally, honest-to-God good boys.     


With five new wide releases opening going into the weekend the only foregone conclusion was that last week's number one, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, would remain at the top spot. The fight for second would largely be between Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Dora and the Lost City of Gold while the likes of The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Kitchen and Brian Banks could seemingly do anything or nothing. Fortunately for Tavern Talk, the new release we chose to review this week did indeed prove to be the biggest as CBS Films, eOne and Lionsgate's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation raked in almost $21 million in its first weekend on a budget of $25 million. While the film did receive a rather discouraging "C" CinemaScore from opening day audiences (we liked it a little more than that), the PG-13 film also played to crowds where 54% of the overall audience was older than twenty-five. While the film had the unique challenge of appealing to the generations that grew up with it while still maintaining the spirit of the source material and therefore appealing to current tweens and teens rather than only those who loved it as children who are now adults it seemed to use this appeal and potential appeal largely to its advantage. It's worth noting the Guillermo del Toro-produced and André Øvredal-directed feature will also be the last horror flick to open for the next month or so before the behemoth that will be It: Chapter Two arrives. 2015's Goosebumps ended its run with $58 million from a $23 million opening and given Scary Stories has been marketed as being a "first horror movie" for kids who are old enough as well as the room to grow the idea of this thing reaching $60 million or so isn't completely out of the question. Dora the Explorer's live-action adaptation debuted to $17 million which was enough for a third place finish while receiving an "A" CinemaScore, The Art of Racing in the Rain finished just outside the top five and on the lower end of studio expectations with an estimated $8.1 million while Warner Bros. and New Line's The Kitchen fell below even the lowest of expectations with a $5.5 million debut. Lastly, Bleecker Street's release of Brian Banks finished just outside the top ten with $2.1 million though I can attest to this one being worth your time as even if the film itself is made in a rather generic fashion the story it's telling is truly extraordinary. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by 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 Greta Gerwig’s LITTLE WOMEN

Sony Pictures has released the first look at writer/director Greta Gerwig’s follow-up to her Oscar-nominated debut, Lady Bird. For her second feature, Gerwig chose to adapt Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1868 novel, Little Women, that follows four sisters who come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War. While I have fond memories of the 1994 Gillian Armstrong-directed adaptation starring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes and Christian Bale (which I remember considering funny even at that time as period pieces weren't exactly my thing as an eight to nine year-old boy) as it was one of those VHS tapes on repeat at my Nanny's (my mom's mom) house that I never thought twice about the origins of. Originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, the book is known for being a mostly autobiographical novel in which Alcott chronicled the March sisters including Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh of Midsommar) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen of Sharp Objects) as they grow up, find love and find their place in the world. Timothee Chalamet takes on the role of Theodore Laurence, the grandson of the March's neighbor and the young man who is ultimately after the heart of the strong and willful Jo. All of that said, I don't remember much of the specifics or details of said story and therefore am unsure of what exactly attracted Gerwig to this project as her follow-up outside of the fact it's a classic novel and something of a familiar brand that might help it garner more traction outside of this simply being Gerwig's second film as a director. Given I remember that previous version being more than appealing though, I'm anxious to see what Gerwig has done with the source material to make it her own. If there's anything that stands out about the trailer it is how impeccable the period detail seems to be while simultaneously feeling as fresh as anything Gerwig might have done otherwise. Though set in the 19th century the conflicts and interactions all feel very much alive and the actors just as present in these emotions as they would be were they in a high school setting. Rather than feeling like the stuffy, unrelatable period piece it very well could have Gerwig seems to have crafted something much more accessible. The themes and ideas being relayed are unsurprising yet still important, but I'm really loving the way Gerwig and her cinematographer, Yorick Le Saux, seem to have balanced the look of the film with these bright pops of vibrant color and the rich textures of the dark shadows as if to fully embrace the little women of the title coming into their own and carving out their own respective places in society. Little Women also stars Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper and opens on Christmas Day.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: August 13, 2019


Set among the warm fall colors in 1968, director André Øvredal's (Trollhunter) adaptation of Alvin Schwartz's collection of folklore that are forever ingrained in the minds of the children who read them thanks to Stephen Gammell’s red and blue-tinged illustrations is a genuinely frightening slice of nostalgia horror aimed at the same audience as Schwartz's three collections of short stories with the visual prowess to line up alongside the creepiest of horror shows. It's a difficult line to skirt and an even greater feat to accomplish, but what allows this compilation of the individual stories to feel like a cohesive whole is both the fact that no individual creature or arc is meant to outshine the other and that Øvredal along with screenwriters Dan and Kevin Hageman with a credit also going to producer Guillermo del Toro is the fact they utilize said creatures and arcs within the architecture of your standard "killer/slasher" structure to enhance the character arcs of our heroes. The caveat of this adaptation is that they've made each of these "scary stories" a symptom of the same source-a book written by the strange, misbegotten daughter of the family who founded this rural farming community in which the film takes place: Sarah Bellows. This plot device of a literal book of scary stories allows for the main characters to have the knowledge and understanding of what they're dealing with, for the structure to ratchet up the tension by placing a ticking clock via the head count and finally, for the Hageman's and del Toro to write these protagonist's in a way so that the stories they end up in from Bellows' book are of a metaphorical nature thus lending the individuals and the stories themselves a certain amount of depth. This isn't to say Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark transcends the horror genre and will go on to serve as a defining piece of work, but more that this film in particular had the difficult task of relaying a work written for children that was meant to make those children feel like adults into a movie that looked as if it were made for adults, but successfully functioned as a movie for both audiences. And sure, different genres do this all the time, but there has always been a clear distinction between PG-13 horror and R-rated horror and while some of this achievement may be relegated to the fact this was granted a PG-13 rating and we therefore accept this content is acceptable for younger teen audiences, to see past the semantics is to see that Scary Stories doesn't simply achieve the objective of being creepy, but it ever so quietly works its way into that rarified air of being a horror film that feels as familiar and comforting as the fall leaves its set within while still being unnerving; hell, it may not break any barriers, but it does feel like a breath of fresh air.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

While the big story with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw over the weekend was that it debuted on the lower end of what the franchise typically pulls in a $180 million worldwide opening is nothing to scoff at. Debuting in 4,253 theaters (the second widest release in the Fast & Furious franchise) the action epic budgeted at $200 million pulled in $60 million, which was in line with Universal's pre-weekend expectations, but I will admit to being surprised this number was closer to a $50 million opening and not a $100 million opening. On the plus side, the film did receive an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences and is currently sitting pretty at 90% via the audience score on RottenTomatoes (which apparently counts for a lot these days). These favorable reactions can only bode well for the legs on this thing given it's the last big "event" movie of the summer and while this weekend and next will feature a combined ten new wide releases that will undoubtedly bring down that large theater count, none of these save for (maybe?) the 47 Meters Down sequel will draw heavily from the audience Hobbs & Shaw is targeting. Internationally, the film launched in sixty-three overseas markets as well with an estimated $120 million, totaling that aforementioned $180 million global debut. This performance marked the fifth largest global opening ever for the studio with the film already having garnered another $5.871 million on Monday and $8.52 million on Tuesday giving the spin-off a $74.431 million five-day domestic cume. With the strong word of mouth and fairly even split in male to female audience members, I wouldn't be surprised if the film landed only a 50-60% drop this upcoming weekend easily pushing it over $100 million domestic and getting close to if not hitting that $350 million global mark; not bad for only ten days of release even if it didn't necessarily turn in core franchise numbers. Elsewhere in box office news, this past weekend once again improved over the same weekend last year as the likes of The Lion King, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the platform release of A24's The Farewell each continue to play strongly. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!


Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a movie where, in the breadth of a single scene, we are witness to a character stating that, "humanity's hate for itself is greater than its self-preservation" alongside another piece of dialogue that goes something like, "genocide, smenocide." This is to say that Hobbs & Shaw very much knows what it wants to be with the question being if by the end of its mammoth two hour and seventeen minute runtime it actually has become what it wanted to be. One might interpret these two opposing lines of dialogue (spoken by the same character, I might add) for a film that wants to have its cake and eat it too by being both a serious action film that in fact takes itself seriously while injecting consistent moments of humor with the obvious outcome being that the latter then also consistently undermines the former, but what sets Hobbs & Shaw apart from its Fast & Furious brethren is that, from the get-go, it's apparent this thing doesn't take itself serious at all-in any regard-and so, when a character does begin spouting philosophical verbiage as Idris Elba's Brixton Lore does from time to time he does it with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. It only seems natural this would be the case in a movie where both Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham play what are more or less heightened versions of their own public personas whilst The Rock takes down a helicopter with his bare hands and Statham shows off his Wing Chun kung fu, karate and kickboxing skills to the extent that if he and director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) don't team-up for a martial arts-heavy film series to jump-start the next phase of Statham's career I will be sorely disappointed. As the ninth film in the series, but the first spin-off it only feels like the natural evolution for Hobbs & Shaw to be as outlandish and self-aware as it is and in following through on these instincts in every situation and not attempting to get too caught-up in plot, basing anything in anything resembling reality, or details such as logic and physics Leitch and his crew end up delivering exactly what audiences are looking for from this type of summer blockbuster. Keeping a keen eye on character and an even tone with the humor and its balance with the legit action Hobbs & Shaw maintains the emphasis on character being most important as that's what brought us here in the first place while the delivery of tight fight choreography and colossal action set pieces is what convinces us that not only should we continue to care about and invest in these characters, but that the creative forces behind the scenes care about them too...and that's ultimately what allows Hobbs & Shaw to succeed at becoming exactly what it wanted to be. 

Teaser Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN

In what felt both like an uncertainty and an inevitability legendary director Martin Scorsese and one of his most notable collaborators, Robert De Niro, have once again re-teamed with one another to produce what is not only a mob/gangster drama, but to tell a decades-spanning story that follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a hitman whose actions changed the course of American history. Based on Charles Brandt's 2003 novel, I Heard You Paint Houses, the film chronicles the meeting of Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa (played in the film by Al Pacino) and is based on interviews Brandt had with Sheeran over the course of five years detailing how he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Though I haven't read the book, I'll certainly be looking into it prior to seeing the film as Sheeran undoubtedly shared genuinely important and fascinating insights about both many a famous murders as well as this infamous chapter in US history and how intertwined it was with the mafia. And while it is nice to see Scorsese and De Niro reuniting with one another as well as including Pacino to boot the real draw here and who Netflix and Scorsese let drive this first, teaser trailer is that of the one and only Joe Pesci. Pesci hasn't had a substantial role in a film for nearly a decade with his last screen appearance being the little seen 2010 Taylor Hackford film, Love Ranch. Seeing and more impactful even, hearing, Pesci once again as he sets up the first lines of communication between Sheeran and Hoffa triggers immediate chills being experienced. Much has also been made of the rather hefty price tag on the film (a cool $160 million) much of which was attributed to the de-aging process applied to the three screen legends mentioned thus far given this is a story that, as was stated earlier, spans decades. It's difficult to even see where this technology comes in as far as the footage in the trailer save for the final, revealing shot that puts an emphasis on De Niro's face, but there is also this weird disconnect with De Niro's roles and his real life as it's difficult to sometimes remember that De Niro doesn't exactly look the way he did in Goodfellas anymore even if that's how he's been frozen in our memory as appearing. With the film premiering as the opening night film at this year's New York Film Festival on September 27th it's hard to imagine this won't be a major awards contender this year. Here's to oping! The Irishman also stars Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jack Huston, Kathrine Narducci, Jesse Plemons, Domenick Lombardozzi, Paul Herman, Gary Basaraba, Marin Ireland and will open in theaters and be available on Netflix sometime this fall.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - ONCE UPON A TIME IN...HOLLYWOOD

In just nineteen days of global release Disney's photorealistic re-imagining of The Lion King has already crossed the $1 billion mark. Additionally, the $175 million Jon Favreau picture has earned $360 million of that billion in domestic dollars after only eleven days in theaters. For comparison's sake, 2016's The Jungle Book finished its theatrical run with $966 million worldwide. To boot, this makes The Lion King Disney's fourth movie this year along with Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame and Aladdin to pass $1 billion and both Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are still to come. With $917 million as of Sunday, Toy Story 4 looks like it might just barely miss the boat. Of course, while it's been clear for some time now that there is no stopping Disney this year the big story this weekend actually belonged to Sony Pictures who produced the latest film from Quentin Tarantino as Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood-a 160-minute, R-rated drama consisting of more dialogue than action-earned $41 million making it the largest opening weekend for the director, topping the $38 million ($46 million adjusted for inflation) opening of Inglourious Basterds a decade ago. Opening day audiences gave the film a "B" CinemaScore and this combined with the fact the film was actually down 20% from Friday to Saturday and 16% from Saturday to Sunday will make for an interesting conversation when it comes to the kind of legs this $90 million production will have over the next few weeks (months?). It is also of interest how Hollywood will play overseas given this is such a geographically distinct title, but as Sony supposedly spent an additional $110 million on the film's marketing campaign the studio is essentially looking to recoup $200 million on the project meaning a strong overseas haul will be necessary. Tarantino's latest will open in Germany, France and the United Kingdom on August 16th with those being the three markets outside of the US that consistently yield the biggest results for QT. Once more for comparison's sake, Django Unchained earned $263 million of its $425 worldwide cume overseas while Inglourious Basterds earned $201 million of its $321 million worldwide take in global dollars. Given Hollywood doesn't open for a few more weeks in those major global markets it's hard to tell where this thing is headed, but given this is Tarantino's priciest film to date it will need to remain consistent in earnings while the film itself takes a detour from those aforementioned revenge fantasy narratives. Time will tell, but until then be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!


I've been trying for over a week now to figure out exactly why Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood, the latest opus from auteur Quentin Tarantino, hit me the way it did. As someone who's never visited California or more specifically, Hollywood, and as someone who wasn't born until nearly two decades after the year in which the film takes place there were no personal nostalgic ties to what is very clearly a very nostalgic movie for its writer and director. I love the movies as in "the movies", sure, both for their fascinating behind the scenes processes as well as certain aspects of the business and I adore the idea of crafting this love letter to a bygone era that, in many ways, is reoccurring at this very moment even if the players are very different in the similarly circumstanced game. Any piece of work that provides insight into any aspect or era of the movie business is typically something I'm game for, granted, but even my affinity for films and television shows produced in the late fifties through to the end of the sixties is low and wouldn't justify the instinctively adoring reaction these impossibly detailed re-creations of such receive and no doubt deserve. There is plenty to like and appreciate within the massive two hour and forty-minute runtime Tarantino has assembled with his latest, but it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly it is that occurs within those (nearly) three hours that not only made me long once more for days consisting of more innocence, but also genuinely made me love what I was watching and want to remain in this world he was enchanting us with. After a week of mulling over the film though, of continuing to go back to certain scenes, countless performance moments and a hundred other facets I hadn't yet considered day after day the bigger picture came to be that it wasn't necessarily any one thing in what will from now on be referred to as OUaTiH, but more it was the effect each of these elements had on one another; the meticulous re-creation of 1969 informed and enhanced the performances of these fictional characters which were in turn heightened in the context of the film by the real-life events that Tarantino weaved through his narrative so as to create a sense of familiarity while still holding tight to the destination he's driving towards. Ultimately, this stands as one of Tarantino's best, most introspective works as it delivers the feeling one wants to leave the theater with after having experienced a Tarantino flick while the experience in and of itself is something of an unexpected and surprisingly soulful one.


Despite the fact it feels like we should have maybe received a sequel to Zombieland five or six years ago I remember feeling so bowled over by that first original feature to capitalize on the popularity of Walking Dead that I'm just happy they were able to get everyone back together for a sequel at all. This includes director Ruben Fleischer who made such a strong feature debut with the original Zombieland that I'm always optimistic his next film might deliver on that promise even if everything since has yielded fair to middling results. And while it's kind of crazy Zombieland: Double Tap exists in today's world given the caliber of the cast and the fact Emma Stone had seemingly resigned from broad comedies it's nice to see the ole' gang back together and each of them at least appear to be having a good time. In this decade-later follow-up (though it still remains to be seen if it's been a decade in the world of the movie as well) Jesse Eisenberg's Columbus, Woody Harrelson's Tallahasse, Stone's Wichita, and Abigail Breslin's Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family. While this new trailer largely looks like more of the same in a new setting it's kind of hard to expect anything more than that from a ten year-later sequel set around a zombie apocalypse. More importantly is the fact Fleischer and screenwriters Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984) along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool, Deadpool 2) seem to have been creatively invested in the property and have come up with a few gags that appear to deliver in the same way as the gags from the first while not relying on throwbacks to jokes from that first film. That said, Bill Murray is on the cast list for this thing along with Dan Aykroyd, so make of that what you will. More than anything though, I'll go into Zombieland 2 with the hope of simply having a good time with some old friends; I'm not expecting this thing to break any new ground or even be the funniest film I see all year, but if it has a good time with a premise and cast who we know can deliver as much then the wait will have been well worth it. Zombieland: Double Tap also stars Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Avan Jogia and opens on October 18th, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - THE LION KING

Disney continues its box office domination this summer with their re-make of The Lion King as director Jon Favreau's photorealistic take on Disney's 1994 animated classic pulled in an impressive $191 million in its first weekend making this the first weekend of the last six weekends to top the last year's total-The Lion King going one further and actually surpassing the total gross of this weekend last year all by itself. Not to be stopped, Disney also celebrated the fact Avengers: Endgame finally surpassed Avatar to become the highest grossing worldwide release of all-time. Avatar held the worldwide record gross for ten years, but with Endgame's global total passing $2.79 billion it now holds the title-that is, until Disney likely re-releases Avatar once more prior to the debut of James Cameron's numerous Pandora-set sequels. This weekend was largely about The Lion King though, as the film delivered a record opening weekend for the month of July, besting the previous record holder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2  with $169 million, as well as becoming the second largest opening of the year thus far and the seventh largest opening of all-time. And though the majority of critics were lukewarm on the film (our reviewers fell in the enjoyable if not completely satisfying range) it seemed Favreau and company's effort was enough to please the masses as opening day audiences gave the film an "A" CinemaScore. Looking at Aladdin's current run and given that film is still ranking in the weekend top ten, The Lion King could potentially reach over $687 million domestic should it match Aladdin's current multiplier. Should it decide to hue closer to 2017's Beauty and the Beast though, a finish closer to $535 million is likely. That's something of a wide range, but either way this is good news for the $260 million production as, internationally, the film added $269 million this weekend for an international total of $346 million and a global cume that now stands at almost $600 million after only a weekend in wide release (it opened in China last week where it already grossed $97.5 million). Next weekend, we'll see if the latest from Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt can keep this winning streak alive. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by 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 TOP GUN: MAVERICK Starring Tom Cruise

It has been some time since I've sat down and actually watched Toy Scott's 1986 action/drama centered around students at the United States Navy's elite fighter school who competed to be best in the class, with one daring young pilot learning a few things not taught in the classroom and yet I'm still anxious to see how that once daring young pilot has evolved in what will be thirty-four years since that original next summer. Tom Cruise is obviously reprising his role in the long-awaited follow-up to Top Gun, but after Scott's untimely death in 2012 it seemed the sequel became even more of an uncertainty. It's kind of amazing that everything aligned in order for this film to have come to exist, but here we are and less than a year from now everyone who loved all the music, motorcyclin' and volleyballin' of the original will seemingly be in for another treat as director Joseph Kosinski (who worked with Cruise on Oblivion, but has also made Tron: Legacy and the severely under seen Only the Brave) has included all of this and more in his follow-up. As penned by Peter Craig (12 Strong), Justin Marks (Counterpoint), and Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle), with a little help from long-time Cruise collaborator, Christopher McQuarrie, who was brought in after the fact to work on the script next to nothing is known about the plot of the film, but what we do know is that Val Kilmer will return as Iceman, Miles Teller will be playing the role of the now-adult son of Anthony Edwards' Goose, and that Glen Powell so impressed producers during his audition for the role of Goose's son that they created a new, different character just for him. Next to these scant details, this first trailer for the film gives us a real glimpse at the tone and aesthetic Kosinski has captured and while the imagery is familiar it possesses a modern sheen-especially in the aerial shots that place us right alongside Cruise's Maverick in the cockpit-that give it that Kosinski trademark look. Cruise also seems to be somewhat relishing getting the opportunity to play a more hardened version of this character as this clip hints at a narrative concerning a man unable to move on and a world that is set to leave him behind. I can't wait to see this thing in IMAX. Top Gun: Maverick also stars Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris and opens on June 26th, 2020.

Official Trailer for IT: CHAPTER TWO

Scoring the largest opening weekend for an R-rated movie ever, then continuing to perform week after week ultimately taking in over $700 million worldwide, the runaway success of 2017's IT gave director Andy Muschietti’s sequel the luxury of an A-list ensemble and plenty of time to develop and shoot it.  Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader lead the cast of IT: Chapter Two as the sequel picks up with the characters from the first film as adults twenty-seven years later. While not too much is known about the follow-up, we obviously know from the book and previous mini-series that a devastating phone call brings "The Losers Club" back together and back to Derry, Maine. In speaking with Entertainment Weekly Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgård, stated that, "The arc of the first movie is that he, for the first time, experiences fear himself,” which could certainly mean the character might go in one of two drastically different directions, but it seems rather than sulk back into the darkness from which he came Pennywise will be seeking revenge as Skarsgård reiterated that this encounter with fear, "fuels hatred and anger towards the kids, who are now adults, so I think there might be an even more vicious Pennywise.” And given some of the voiceover in this new, final trailer for the epic horror film it seems this is nothing short of accurate. While I've never read Stephen King's novel and only saw the 1990 miniseries in the lead-up to the release of the 2017 film, these two films seemingly set themselves apart from your typical trash horror flicks from the get-go as Muschietti’s objective is aimed at being more illustrious than is typically seen in the horror genre and in pulling off this level of grandeur really well in that first film it only creates more reason to be excited for what this final product might deliver thematically. Along with Skarsgård, McAvoy, Chastain and Hader IT: Chapter Two will also star Javier Botet, Xavier Dolan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Troy James, Jay Ryan, Jake Weary, Jess Weixler as well as seeing the return of Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, and Jeremy Ray Taylor. The film is scheduled to open September 6th, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - STUBER

In what will be the last lull week of the summer until mid-August or so, Spider-Man: Far From Home repeated as the number one movie at the box office bringing in $45.3 million, for a 51% drop as the film presently sits at just over $280 million domestic. The film also added $100 million overseas this past weekend, for a global total that is now just shy of $850 million or $150 million away from a billion after only seventeen days in release. Far from Home's current international total of $570 million makes it the highest grossing Spider-Man movie internationally, besting Spider-Man 3's $555 million overseas total as well. Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 4 held in the second place spot for the second weekend in a row, dipping only 39% in its fourth week of release for a $20.94 million haul. This gives the film a domestic total thus far of nearly $350 million, now making it the fifth largest Pixar release of all-time domestically. Internationally, Toy Story 4 added $48.1 million for a $427 million total and a global tally that has now topped $775 million. It is in the third and fourth place spots that we finally get to the weekend's new releases as Paramount's R-rated alligator thriller Crawl, debuted with a somewhat surprising $12 million. As of today, Crawl has likely surpassed its budget domestically with a total of $13.3 million as of Monday on an estimated budget of $13.5 million. The film has also opened in a few markets internationally and has garnered nearly $5 million for a global total just over $18 million. Given the surprisingly good word of mouth on this one I'm eager to check it out and see how much fun it is. In our review this week, we discussed Disney's release of Fox's R-rated comedy Stuber which unfortunately stumbled in fourth place as it now sits at just over $8 million on a reported budget of $16 million. The film received a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences which could translate to something akin to legs as the broad comedy won't really have any competition in the genre until August 16th's Good Boys (unless you count Hobbs & Shaw), but by that point the theater count on this thing will be so dismal it almost doesn't matter. Internationally, Stuber opened in nine markets to almost $3 million placing it just shy of $12 million globally. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by 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 HUSTLERS Starring Jennifer Lopez

The first trailer for STX Films' Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez, Crazy Rich Asians' Constance Wu, Keke Palmer and Riverdale's Lili Reinhart has arrived and outside of being known as the movie where J.Lo plays a stripper this is also writer/director Lorene Scafaria's highest profile project since her very good, but little seen 2012 film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. The director also made 2015's The Meddler with Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne which I recall having to miss when attending that year's Toronto International Film Festival and never following-up with later, but that is all beside the point as Scafaria has now adapted Jessica Pressler's New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores” and rounded up quite the all-star cast to bring to life this outlandish true story. The film tells the story of a group of strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients, and made bank in the process. Set in the late 2000's in New York City in the wake of the financial crisis, Scafaria's film will deal explicitly with the toll it took on this group of dancers who relied on their wall street clientele for big pay days. In this Robin Hood-like story, Lopez plays the ringleader of this group who take their plans of getting their full cut a little too far. Now, I'm sure the film will get a lot of attention for the fact it has Lopez twirling around on a pole in skimpy outfits, not to mention the rest of the cast, but having a woman at the helm of the project will seemingly only amplify the point of how each sex has to hustle in their own ways given the body they were born with and these women simply had to out-hustle a different type of hustler than themselves; the type who couldn't resist a body "with the sort of waist-to-hip ratio scientists have concluded affects men like a drug." In short, this very much looks to be a gangster drama of the Scorsese variety, but where the gangsters just also happen to be strippers and while I feel a little sorry for Andrea Berloff's The Kitchen which has similar aspirations and opens a month earlier it seems Hustlers has more of a hook that might get the buzz buzzing a little bit louder. Hustlers also stars Cardi B, Lizzo, Julia Stiles, Madeline Brewer, Stormi Maya, Frank Whaley, Usher Raymond, and opens on September 13th, 2019.


Dropping movies in the middle of the week to account for a holiday and in turn, holiday crowds, always shakes things up a bit and this summer the box office needed a little shaking up after a series of franchise disappointments in June. Of course, it goes without much knowledge of the film industry that July was likely going to open with a franchise addition as well and one would be correct as the big release of last week was director Jon Watts' follow-up to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, but more importantly-the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film after April's Avengers: Endgame. In Far From Home, the MCU deals with the fallout of Endgame in as skillfully a way as they probably could have-maybe even eschewing the more serious ramifications for now as many of the burning questions fans had after Endgame are resolved in quick bits of teen comedy. Saving more of that for my eventual review though, let's talk about how the film did financially. Going wide last Tuesday, July 2nd, Far From Home began its run with a $91 million Tuesday to Thursday haul while topping that over the traditional three-day weekend with an almost $93 million Friday to Sunday total. This gave the film a six-day start of over $185 million domestically to which it has since earned an additional $10 million while internationally, the webslinger delivered $244 million from 66 markets last weekend after opening in a few markets the week before for an overseas cume of $392 million and a global tally that now sits atop $588 million. This domestic performance accounted for the largest six-day opening for a Tuesday release on top of the film already delivering the largest Tuesday opening day ever, other words, Marvel continues its streak of critically and commercially successful film as Far From Home also garnered a 90% on RottenTomatoes. Finishing just outside the top five was the other big release last week in A24's Midsommar, delivering $7.35 million for Tuesday to Thursday time frame, $6.56 over the traditional weekend, while finishing with nearly $11 million over the full five-day frame. While our reviewers here at TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction both gave the film a superior five stars, Midsommar received a "C+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, which-while not great-is actually an improvement over writer/director Ari Aster's Hereditary, which enjoyed a solid box office multiplier last June. The nearly two and a half hour runtime likely doesn't help with how many screenings people have the option of attending either, but Hereditary garnered some solid word of mouth over the course of its run and it will be interesting to see what the discussion around Midsommar will be and if it will factor into the film's box office at all. 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!


Jon Watts' second Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, has a lot of things going on, but just as Thanos preached in Avengers: Infinity War, what keeps everything intact and moving at a sustainable pace in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a post-Mad Titan world is, somewhat ironically I guess, the fact Watts and the screenwriters are able to keep everything "perfectly balanced". What is most interesting in slating the sequel to Watts' 2017 film as the immediate successor to Avengers: Endgame though, is that it immediately signaled the type of tone Marvel Studios and "showrunner" Kevin Feige would be addressing the fallout of the monumental events that any average viewer of the MCU knew were coming. The fact remaining that while Endgame concludes on something of an uplifting note for Steve Rogers the ramifications for many other characters were nowhere near as...complete. There were countless questions that required the attention of the creators behind the curtain: what is the state of organized religion in a post-snap world? How did those who'd gotten re-married in the five years since the snap and weren't polygamists deal with the fact their husband and/or wife just showed back up one day? If kids not snapped away aged five years and presumably continued their schooling, why would they still be in the same grade as their counterparts that did "blip" away? As Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) puts it at the beginning of Far From Home, "it's been a long, dramatic, somewhat confusing road," and while the subject of our review today might be intended to bridge the gap and help audiences, "move a new phase in our lives," the fact remains that this "bridging of the gap" could have been handled in a multitude of ways, but for one reason or another Feige and co. decided to place this responsibility on the back of their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and thus the question remains the same: why? Why is Tom Holland's sixteen year-old Peter Parker, the youngest avenger, the one to bear this responsibility? It all comes back to that aspect of tone and knowing what consequences to take seriously and place weight in while knowing which to laugh off; Watts' high school comedies dressed up as super hero flicks make an ideal vehicle to blend the heart and the humor and it doesn't hurt that the film becomes a pretty good "Spider-Man" movie along the way as well.

Official Trailer for JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

In a not-so-surprising turn, Sony has released the first, full length trailer for the sequel to their Christmas 2017 smash, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the day before Spider-Man: Far From Home officially opens. Given Welcome to the Jungle is Sony's all-time top domestic earner and the film earned an insane $962 million worldwide two years ago it was a no-brainer the studio would pump out a sequel as soon as it could, but while this may feel slightly rushed in terms of attempting to capitalize on this surprise sequel, the studio was able to gather back all of the original cast members as well as director Jake Kasdan with the most surprising part being that the two (returning) screenwriters, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, have seemingly cooked up a story that will change things up enough from the previous film while still utilizing the aspects that made that film work so well in the first place. That is to say, Sony can seemingly keep this franchise going as long as they want given the avatars are the stars of the film and not the human counterparts who become trapped in said board/video game. To boot, the idea of having Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan being able to adopt different personalities in each movie depending on who gets sucked into the game is a great concept and one the studio and filmmakers could have a lot of fun with over the course of a few more sequels. In Jumanji: The Next Level, our real-world friends from the previous film return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own but discover that nothing is as they expect. The players need to brave parts unknown, from arid deserts to snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game. Of course, the hook here is that Hart and Johnson are no longer playing polar opposite high school kids, but two curmudgeonly old friends in the form of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Needless to say, Johnson and Hart doing impressions of DeVito and Glover is the last thing I thought I needed in my life, but after today I need it more than most things. This should be another fun adventure flick with a strong re-watchability factor and I can't wait to see what Kasdan and crew have in store this Christmas. Jumanji: The Next Level also sees the return of Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Ser'Darius Blain, Nick Jonas, Rhys Darby, and Colin Hanks while Awkwafina and Dania Ramirez join the cast as the film is set to open on December 13th, 2019.


Annabelle Comes Home, the third film in this particular series and seventh in the ongoing “Conjuring universe” is either as good or mediocre as one might expect it to be depending on their level of expectation walking in. For someone such as myself, someone who hasn’t seen either of the previous Annabelle features due to the poor reputation of the first, but also enjoys an entertaining horror flick with a sly sense of humor Annabelle Comes Home turned out to be something of a bonkers, go-for-broke genre flick that ends up being a lot of fun due to the fact expectations dictated this would be no fun at all. Those going in expecting anything more might be slightly underwhelmed given the typical beats the slim outline of a story adheres to as well as a certain lack of grimness that typically permeates from this series. With such tempered expectations though, it’s not difficult to see why the trio of McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, and Katie Sarife become so endearing to the point all the mini-teasers for every other upcoming “Conjuring universe” movie hardly countered the sympathy the audience builds for each of the three girls simple yet effective character arcs. As executed by Conjuring-verse writer and first-time feature director Gary Dauberman, Annabelle Comes Home might make you wonder what the budget on fog machines alone was, but it also genuinely escalates in a way that by the time the film reaches the aforementioned gonzo third act it feels earned and not simply like an obligation. Additionally, Dauberman does a fine job of imitating James Wan's (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) sweeping sense of menace as the first-time filmmaker opts for more practical scares than CGI spirits. There is a glaring exception to this no CGI rule in the "Black Shuck" folktale from the British Isles, but otherwise Dauberman and his team use a combination of elaborate make-up, simple camera tricks, and some of the most intense sound design ever configured in order to not just create these creatures, but truly craft their presence. Furthermore, it is in both the attention to and appreciation of detail at the level executed here that Annabelle Comes Home turns out to be less a rote reel of horror cliches and more a fun twist on the "house of horrors" concept; the scares getting increasingly more elaborate the deeper one goes while feeling more a rush of excitement and adrenaline as opposed to actual terror by the time it comes to an end.