Captain Marvel Review

The Latest Marvel Cinematic Universe Film and the First to Have a Female Lead Sells us on A Lot of Stuff, but not Specifically on the Character.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review

This Final Chapter in the DreamWorks Animation Trilogy is about Growing-Up yet Makes You Feel Like a Kid Again.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Review

The Surprise May be Gone, but Thankfully this 5-Year-Later Sequel Maintains Most of the Wit, Charm, Humor, and Heart of the Original.

Alita: Battle Angel Review

Robert Rodriguez's Manga Adaptation is More a First Chapter than a First Book, but the Visual Ambition is Worth the Price of Admission Alone..

Green Book Review

This Academy Award-Winning Best Picture is Boiled Down History, but Damn if the Two Leads don't Turn in Charming Performances.

Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Quentin Tarantino's latest film is set in the late sixties and focuses on Charles Manson victim Sharon Tate's (Margot Robbie) next door neighbor, fictional TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Though both DiCaprio and Pitt have worked with Tarantino before, this will be the first time the two mega-stars will share the screen. While Dalton and Booth's odyssey will undoubtedly serve as the focus of the film, Tarantino has gone on record saying this is the closest thing he's done to Pulp Fiction since that breakout film of his twenty-five years ago. Naturally, this leads one to believe Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood will have the kind of sprawling narrative and ensemble cast of characters that film sported. Set in Hollywood in, more specifically, 1969 this teaser trailer sets up DiCaprio‘s aging Western star as he's trying to find his place in a changing Hollywood landscape alongside his trusty stunt double Booth. The year is critical though as it is the year of Tate's tragic murder at the hands of the Manson Family cult. While early reports said Tarantino's script isn’t focused on the Manson murders, it will remain intriguing to see just how integral Robbie's role as well as Manson's is in the film, but while DiCaprio seems to be having a good 'ole time here, it can't help but feel like Pitt is going to steal this show simply from the minimal amount of footage we get here. Speaking of a sprawling ensemble cast, Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood also stars Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Scoot McNairy, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, James Marsden, Clifton Collins, Keith Jefferson, Emile Hirsch, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Danny Strong, Sydney Sweeney, Clu Gulager, James Landry Hébert, Mikey Madison, Lena Dunham, Maya Hawke, Nicholas Hammond, and opens in theaters on July 26th, 2019.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - CAPTIVE STATE

It's been some time since I've written one of these box office recap-type articles, but as I now have more control of my review show via Movie Tavern and can guarantee a consistency in their production it seemed a good time to pick this back up as one more way to promote these video reviews. Unfortunately, the movie we'll be kicking this off with is one that decided to open the second weekend of Captain Marvel's release as well as being the lowest earner in a crop of three brand new releases over the St. Patrick's day weekend. Coming in outside the top five at the box office in the number seven spot, director Rupert Wyatt's Captive State was unable to garner much of an audience, delivering just $3.1 million from 2,548 locations for only a $1,242 per theater average. The film also received a "C-" CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences which is, well, not good...and can only mean this thing will drop harder than a rock and disappear just as quick as it appeared. The film played to an opening weekend crowd that was 55% male with 66% of the crowd coming in under the age of thirty-five while all I can personally attest to is the fact there were only two other people in our theater the Thursday evening before Spring Break officially commenced. The other new releases of the weekend were Wonder Park, an animated feature from Paramount that debuted in second place with a domestic total of $16 million, and Five Feet Apart, a YA adaptation starring Riverdale's Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson (Edge of Seventeen, Columbus, Support the Girls) as two teenagers with life-threatening illnesses who meet in a hospital and fall in love. The romantic drama opened in third place delivering an estimated $13.1 million. Of course, Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel remained atop the box office in its second weekend of release with a $69.3 million sophomore frame. This pushes the film's domestic cume over $266 million after just ten days in domestic release while the film added $119.7 million from 54 markets bringing it's global total to $494 million for a worldwide cume now well over $760 million. 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!

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 19, 2019

Official Trailer for Disney & Pixar's TOY STORY 4

First and foremost, while I'm sure Toy Story 4 will feature plenty of new characters that can be sold as toys and plenty of new incarnations of old characters that can be re-packaged for sale in support of this fourth film, there is a strange kind of respect for making your new, seemingly co-lead character a spork with googly eyes and pipe cleaner arms that parents of pre-schoolers can bring home on the daily. Disney, Pixar, and the Toy Story brand are each worth more money than I can comprehend and it would seem that to reach such heights would only garner more greed and more ways to try and increase said wealth and stability, but then they go and make what feels like a purely financial move in green-lighting a fourth Toy Story movie after the third film rounded the trilogy out so perfectly all the more pure by placing at the center of it a toy any young boy or girl regardless of economical status can make for themselves. It's surely a calculated corporate move in some regard, I have no doubts, but it's also kind of *nice*. Still, it's easy to admit that when that final reel of 2010's Toy Story 3 finished rolling it seemed there was no better or more poignant way to complete this trilogy that had begun some fifteen years earlier, spanned my childhood, and revolutionized animation as we knew it. Over the nearly twenty-five years now that Pixar has been in power they have become increasingly more reliant on sequels to the films that originally made them that powerhouse. No matter how much I wished for Pixar to keep that book closed though, it was always something of an inevitability that we'd get another chapter in the Woody and Buzz saga. In this fourth chapter a new toy called "Forky" joins Woody and the gang on a road trip that reveals how big the world can really be for a toy. Pixar vet Josh Cooley makes his feature directorial debut from a screenplay by Stephany Folsom and Will McCormack (Celeste & Jesse Forever). Toy Story 4 features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Patricia Arquette, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Bonnie Hunt, Jodie Benson, John Ratzenberger, Tony Hale, Blake Clark, and opens on June 21st, 2019.

CAPTIVE STATE Review

Rupert Wyatt passed on making a sequel, never mind a complete trilogy of Planet of the Apes movies which then gave writer/director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) an in to complete the trilogy and go on to now be penning and planning a solo Batman film for WB's DCEU. Would Wyatt have preferred this career path? Who's to say? And who's to say if Wyatt had rounded out the Apes films that he would have been offered the Batman film at all, but it does stand to question if Wyatt regrets his decision to pass on such high profile opportunities. Since deciding not to return to the world of stories about simians though, Wyatt has only made one feature (2014's re-make of The Gambler for Paramount which held a $25 million production budget and only turned over a $39 million worldwide gross) with Captive State being his second outing into feature-length material and a seemingly personal one at that. Wyatt co-wrote the screenplay for Captive State with Erica Beeney (The Battle of Shaker Heights) and serves as a producer, but this low-budget drama/thriller has more in common with Wyatt's 2008 breakout, The Escapist, than it does his 2011 introduction to the mainstream despite posing as a tale that typically functions on the same scale or budget as a Planet of the Apes sequel.

Official Trailer for AVENGERS: ENDGAME

Since the credits rolled on Infinity War nearly a year ago now and with Captain Marvel's opening weekend now behind us, the countdown to Endgame has officially begun and Marvel just ratcheted up all the feels with this official trailer release. Still holding back a considerable amount and being very picky with what new footage we are allowed to see before any of the general public actually sees the complete film, this official trailer plays more as an homage of sorts to the core original Avengers than it does a glimpse into the future of the MCU. This is a nice touch given this truly does feel like a culmination of ten-plus years of movie-watching while the tag on the trailer includes Brie Larson's Carol Danvers in an effort to move into the future as well. It's kind of surreal in a way that this was always going to be unavoidable, but somehow seemed as if it might be so big so as to forever elude us. Here we are though, less than two months out, we barely know anything about the plot of the film except for the countless theories that are floating around the internet, with this latest trailer not mentioning Thanos at all, and I can't help but know we'll all be all the better for it come Thursday, April 25th when the collective MCU fans sit down to experience the true end of an era. Avengers: Endgame also stars Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, Evangeline Lily, Vin Diesel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff, Dae Bautista, Josh Brolin, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Wong, Don Cheadle, and opens April 26th, 2019.

Official Trailer for Disney's ALADDIN Starring Will Smith

It's been a tough road for Disney's live-action adaptation of their 1992 animated classic, Aladdin, thus far as it seems with each new look there is a fair amount of online backlash-most of which seems to be around Will Smith's incarnation of the Genie. Of course, if you're familiar with that seminal nineties movie (and if you're not, you need to get familiar) Genie was always going to be the biggest hurdle considering Robin Williams' groundbreaking iteration. While Williams' performance will obviously loom large it would seem naive to think Smith didn't think through this whole scenario before agreeing to take the role in the first place. Smith had to know he was in something of a no-win situation given the reverence for Williams' interpretation and the fact he would have to come-up with something both radically different and pretty special to even be allowed in the same conversation. I hope this is the case and given this first, true look and representation at what the full film might actually be like I'm more optimistic than I've yet to be in regards to this project at all, but I'm definitely more optimistic than I was a month ago. Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Dumbo, those are all one thing, but when you have a property that fuels nostalgia for the entire generation who is now the base demographic with expendable income there has to be a plan in place. With this official trailer we are allowed glimpses at more of the iconic moments from the animated original as well as seeing how the movie might mix things up so as to not be a complete carbon copy. The scale is present here, there is more personality to each of the characters, and there is the expected tone in the editing given this has director Guy Ritchie behind it (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes). That said, some of it does still look very staged and fake as opposed to the natural tangibility one would think is the point in creating these live-action re-makes. On the plus side though, along with some of the classic music that we hear references to in the trailer this live-action version will also feature new songs by Alan Menken and La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Menken wrote with Howard Ashman and Tim Rice for the 1992 version). Aladdin will also star Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and opens on May 24th, 2019.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 12, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL Review

Captain Marvel, notable for being the first female-led Marvel Cinematic Universe film after twenty-one movies, is a fun and sometimes unique take on the super hero origin story that unfortunately never finds its groove enough to the point it's somewhat fearful the character won’t be able to get her groove back when it comes time for Avengers: Endgame. For all intents and purposes, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s (Half Nelson, Mississippi Grind) MCU debut is your boilerplate Marvel origins story which, by virtue of where we’re now at in this universe, makes it feel small in comparison to even the most recent additions. Falling somewhere in between the muddled middle of Doctor Strange and Black Panther, Brie Larson's Carol Danvers isn't a riff on an origin story we've seen before, but neither does it have the added elements of magic as in Strange or the advantage of introducing us to a new world a la Panther. In a Phase Three world, a mostly Earth-set origin story was going to have to give us a little something more than also doubling as the origin story for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury or-at least-it was going to need to find a really cool, really fresh way to convey that story. For example, in the opening twenty or so minutes of Captain Marvel, we are treated to what is essentially a Star Wars or Star Trek-like space opera with the full-on introductions of the Kree and Skrull races we've heard whisperings of for years as well as to the Kree home planet and their military force for which Danvers has been trained by her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Such introductions lend the film something of a Guardians of the Galaxy-vibe, but the tone is different enough that this could simply be yet another facet of the MCU we haven't yet seen. Were Boden and Fleck, who also wrote the script alongside Geneva Robertson-Dworet (2018's Tomb Raider), to harness the momentum of this initial set-up and action sequence, executing it in the fashion of a genre flick of this type that was released in the decade their film is set, the film might have proven to be a more unique and odd side venture for the MCU, but unlike the flavor Taika Waititi brought to Thor: Ragnarok or the subversiveness James Gunn infused his GotG films with, Captain Marvel ends up being a perfectly serviceable, but highly average entry in the ever-expanding MCU; a movie that feels more like the pilot of a nineties spin-off series that never hits the same strides as the series that inspired it rather than the explosive debut it could seemingly have so easily been.

First Trailer for Ari Aster's MIDSOMMAR

In Sweden, "Midsummer" is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, taking place on a day between June 19 and June 25 as well as the preceding evening. Midsummer is such an important festivity in fact, that there have actually been discussions about making Midsummer's Eve into the National Day of Sweden. This is all well and good, but what does the director of last summer's breakout horror flick, Hereditary, know about this festival that we don't? Or, moreover, what might he know that would lead him to base his second feature for A24 around it? As it turns out, the holiday has its roots in a pre-Christian solstice festival. Rather than trying to stamp out such pagan festivals, the early Catholic Church would co-opt them by associating them with Christian celebrations. For example, the winter solstice took place on December 25th and thus establishing this as the date when Jesus was born allowed the Church to be able to absorb the pagan midwinter festival of Yule into the Christian celebration of Christmas. Further, Biblical sources suggest that St. John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus, meaning that his birthday could then be conveniently associated with the pagan summer festivals. Alas, "Midsummer" as it is presently celebrated was more or less born with the modern festival featuring the usual trademarks of food, entertainment, and fellowship, but with plenty of unique ticks such as the inclusion of magic and anything to do with nature being thought to have a special power as well as the large outdoor bonfires and the tradition of decorating a "maypole" with greenery and flowers. Writer/director Ari Aster will undoubtedly go after the pagan origins of this festival in order to produce some of the more "unconventional" aspects of this festival, but it will be interesting to see just how much religion and the origins of this real-life celebration play into Aster's narrative. For now, this first trailer offers all the mood and tone necessary to know that, at the very least, Aster's beautiful aesthetic was no fluke; this trailer is gorgeous. Midsommar stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgran, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, Will Poulter, and is currently set to open on August 3rd, 2019.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 5, 2019

2019 Oscar Predictions

This has been something of a whirlwind awards season given not only the tumultuous time the Academy itself has had trying to adapt to the ever-evolving cinematic and social landscape, but also in regards to the fact most of the second-tier awards shows leading up to the big night have put what is, at least for me, the most exciting film of the season on the back-burner. Going into the fall film festival season and then further into the rush of prime awards contenders being released it seemed A Star is Born was destined to go all the way and while eight Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture on top of $423 million worldwide on a budget of $36 million ain't too shabby, it was thought A Star is Born would be the most heavily favored film of the night, but when Sunday night comes and goes it wouldn't be surprising if Bradley Cooper's directorial debut goes home with only Best Original Song. Why A Star is Born went from pre-determined favorite to nearly flaming out completely is anybody's guess and could be attributed to voters disregarding the third re-make of a film to the highlights of other favored winners throughout awards season. It's somewhat depressing considering A Star is Born was one of my favorite films of 2018, but it will undoubtedly serve the film well in the years to come as it will be remembered more as a deserving film that got little love rather than an admirable film that received more than it deserved. Of course, the big winner of the night is expected to be Alfonso Cuarón's Roma as it garnered ten nominations and it wouldn't surprise me if it ended up taking home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Foreign Language Film (as predicted below) among others (Cinematography seems to be a lock as well), but given Paweł Pawlikowski's director nod for Cold War it's entirely possible Roma takes Best Picture and Cold War takes Foreign Language. Other than this though, there isn't much by way of drama or uncertainty as to who will be accepting statues Sunday night and thus the reason I've not only included who I think will win in the predictions below, but who I think should win. Hit the jump for my full list of predictions.

New Trailer for ROCKETMAN Starring Taron Egerton

After releasing a slight featurette focused on the fact star Taron Egerton (Kingsman) would be doing all of his own vocal work as Elton John in director Dexter Fletcher's upcoming biopic, Rocketman, earlier this week Paramount has now followed it up with the second, official trailer for the film and it must be said that this thing looks a thousand times better than it initially did after the reveal of that first teaser. That first teaser was released around the same time Bohemian Rhapsody was gracing theaters last year and after Rhapsody more or less followed the traditional beats of a music biopic and given Fletcher was brought in to finish the film after the firing of Bryan Singer it was easy to see why that first look left a feeling this might be more of the same despite John obviously being a singular and unforgettable figure both in both music and pop culture. What is great about this new, full-length trailer though, is that while it does somewhat stick to the familiar beats of the "rise to stardom" arc we've seen countless times before in movies of the same ilk it also really lends a sense of getting to know the man behind the facade, behind the excess, and behind the extravagance. There is a particular shot in the trailer where Egerton, dawning the famously sequined Dodgers uniform John wore during his 1975 show at Dodger stadium, goes from backstage to out in front of the overwhelming audience and the change in his facial expression so perfectly captures not only the essence of what the character might have been feeling at the moment, but also speaks to how much of and how good of a showman John was and still is to this day. There are also hints of the more whimsical, weird movie Rocketman is no doubt destined to be as Fletcher is said to have tried to display John's larger-than-life stage presence through what is more of a fantasy-like approach that channels the music and personality of John more appropriately rather than keeping things completely straightforward a la RhapsodyRocketman also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Gemma Jones, and opens on May 31st, 2019.

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL Review

Though a fan of science fiction I'm not familiar with Yukito Kishiro's 1990 manga comic Battle Angel Alita that inspired the latest Robert Rodriguez picture as produced by James Cameron. I'll clarify that I truly enjoy science fiction largely for the genre's ability, whether it be in the writing or when translated to the big screen-the concept artist, director, or costume and set designers-ability to create a new environment and/or new world's altogether. Further, to apply a structure to this environment where an advanced, and if not advanced at least futuristic society, exists where the world follows the rules of this implemented structure is inherently fascinating as it undoubtedly takes cues from our present world and applies what the creator might think will be to the human races benefit or ultimate detriment. Such prophecies within the genre over the years have created an amalgam of tropes, motifs and clichés, but while the dystopian future has been a familiar trend over the last few years especially it does well to establish a compelling backdrop or habitat, if you will, for the kind of people we come to know in Alita: Battle Angel. Cameron, Rodriguez, and Laeta Kalogridis's (Shutter Island) screenplay shows early on that it has the aforementioned innate ability and, more importantly, a strong desire to construct a world centuries ahead of our present time that is not only inventive, but feels fully realized and lived-in. What the screenplay doesn't do and arguably fails to do is follow through on the promises of this world in which it builds. Meaning, that while it's not automatically a negative to utilize familiar sci-fi and action tropes there does need to be a unique take on whatever traits your movie or story might be adopting from the genre and there are certainly flashes of as much in Alita, but most of it comes from the investment in our main character rather than any kind of investment in the beats she is following. You want to know more about the character, you want to live alongside them because this world that has been created feels so alive and so layered and so interesting, but it's almost as if you also wouldn't mind checking in on and seeing what other characters are up to because as much as we like Alita, there isn't really much depth or surprise to the video-game structured script that is pitting her against the ultimate final boss in the sky.

First Trailer for THE HUSTLE Starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson

The first trailer for the upcoming gender-swapped remake of the 1988 Frank Oz film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which itself was a remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Story), now titled The Hustle, has dropped via MGM and despite having sat on the shelf for a year or so now seems primed to be something of a runaway spring/summer hit. The trailer isn't exactly overly impressive as there's no real reason to be seen as to why Anne Hathaway is sporting something of a dreadful British accent, but there certainly seems to be some chemistry between her and co-star Rebel Wilson as the pair play a couple of con artists who team up to take on the men that have wronged them. While having never seen an episode personally, I've heard enough good things to imagine that the fact this new iteration comes from Veep director Chris Addison is nothing but a good sign for what the film has in store for audiences. In the film, Hathaway's character is the refined pro, while Wilson will naturally be playing the more scrappy, street con artist. While there are a few solid laughs in the trailer featuring both leads it is clear the film will lean on Wilson's weight as a point of comedy and while I find Wilson tremendously appealing she has certainly played that shtick out in the Pitch Perfect movies with hopes that Addison (along with help from Jac Schaeffer's re-worked screenplay) might not lean so much on this aspect, but instead find more creative comedy outlets. It's easy to see this one becoming something of a sleeper hit due to the pure and simple fun laced into the premise with the pairing of Hathaway and Wilson being something of an unexpected, but interesting one that might, at the very least, produce some sense of manufactured fun if not necessarily genuine laughs. There is enough here to be optimistic about the film's prospects though, and if the two leads do in fact have some dynamite chemistry it's not hard to imagine there being more adventures of the same ilk with these two. The Hustle also stars Alex Sharp, Tim Blake Nelson, Dean Norris, and opens on May 10th, 2015.

New Look at Disney's Live-Action ALADDIN Starring Will Smith

Things are not looking good for Disney's live-action adaptation of their 1992 animated classic, Aladdin, as it seems with each new look there is a fair amount of online backlash-most of which seems to be around Will Smith's incarnation of the Genie. Of course, if you're familiar with that seminal nineties movie (and if you're not, you need to get familiar) Genie was always going to be the biggest hurdle considering Robin Williams' groundbreaking iteration of that being who could grant you three wishes. While Williams' performance will obviously loom large it would be completely unfair to dismiss Smith's take on the character based solely on a single (likely unfinished) CGI shot and a single line of dialogue. I mean, I understand the complaints, but it doesn't look THAT bad and I can only hope the animators continue to the balance of real-life Smith with his animated incarnation to the point the final product offers a more convincing aesthetic. What's unfortunate is this spot revealing Smith as the more recognizable version of Genie was-in some capacity-probably a response to the negative backlash Smith and the film received for this Entertainment Weekly cover. More than anything, my hope is that Smith thought this whole scenario through before even agreeing to take the role in the first place. Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Dumbo, those are all one thing, but when you have a property that fuels nostalgia for the entire generation who is now the base of your expendable income demographic there has to be a plan in place. Smith had to know he was in something of a no-win situation given the reverence for Williams' interpretation and the fact he would have to come with something both radically different and pretty special to even be allowed in the same conversation. I hope this is the case. I am a massive Smith fan and have been for a long, long time, but I really hope he has an ace in his back pocket here otherwise it begs the question of why he would even take on this challenge in the first place. We do get a few glimpses of other, big moments from the animated film here as well, but despite director Guy Ritchie's filmography it all looks very staged and fake as opposed to the natural tangibility one would think is the point of these live-action re-makes. On the plus side though, the film will feature new songs by Alan Menken and La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Menken wrote with Howard Ashman and Tim Rice for the 1992 version). Aladdin will also star Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and opens on May 24th, 2019.

THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART Review

It was a given The LEGO Movie would eventually get a sequel, but it's kind of crazy it took five years for that sequel to actually happen. That said, Warner Bros. has certainly expanded the LEGO brand by giving LEGO Batman his own feature as well as delivering their only misstep thus far, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. And while there was some trepidation going into this delayed, but inevitable sequel given original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were no longer at the helm there was some hope given it was still their minds that conjured up the screenplay. Thankfully, Trolls director Mike Mitchell was brought on board and has successfully converted Lord and Miller's screenplay into a sequel that keeps things in step with if not necessarily surpassing the original. Of course, given the precedent set for the original and what it turned out to be versus the raised bar for the sequel and what it has turned out to be-that's a solid accomplishment and a resounding endorsement. That is to say, upon initially hearing there was going to be a movie based solely around the LEGO brand and the toys and properties they owned it seemed obvious the eventual movie would turn out to be little more than a cash grab; nothing more than one big commercial, if you will. To expect this was ultimately foolish given the creative team behind it as Lord and Miller delivered a witty, colorful, and (per usual) meta piece of cinema that took some unexpected themes and conveyed them in a manner that allowed the children to enjoy the toys coming to life while the adults latched onto those ever fleeting moments of innocence that come with raising children and attaching certain memories to their playthings. The LEGO Movie intentionally evaded everything audiences expected it to be, disrupting the status quo and turning heads, but how was something so inventive and appropriately rowdy supposed to then follow itself up with something as conventional as a sequel? Especially given the abstract qualities of the first and having to continue the same narrative while holding tight to the themes the first film so perfectly encapsulated? It turns out, the trick is to lean into such things even further; deliver the same goods in a different package and through different techniques. And though The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part might feel redundant in certain ideas, the ideas it's pedaling never don't need to be heard...especially when they're this creatively catchy.    

First Trailer for SHAFT Starring Samuel L. Jackson

In the summer of 2000 I was thirteen and too young to see Samuel L. Jackson kick ass in Shaft or to know what Shaft was, for that matter. And so, never did I catch up with this billed-as-a-remake, but really more of a generequel (maybe the first of its kind?) as Jackson's John Shaft character was the nephew of the earlier film's Shaft. In never going back to catch-up with that film I also never caught with any of the three previous Shaft titles starring Richard Roundtree that were released in 1971, 1972, and 1973 with a television series picking up that same year and producing seven 90-minute movies through 1974 with Roundtree reprising his role in each. In 2000, Jackson was as hot as ever though. Leading up to Shaft Jackson was double-billed with Tommy Lee Jones in William Friedkin's Rules of Engagement and followed it up with (somewhat ironically) M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable; because I'm sure the guy thought nineteen years ago that two of his films that year would produce sequels, but that both would take nearly two decades to come to fruition. Speaking of Jackson, as Glass presently sits atop the box office for its third consecutive weekend the man will also appear in next month's Captain Marvel as a younger version of Nick Fury, there's no telling how much Fury might show up in Avengers: Endgame, and if the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home is any indication it looks as if Jackson's Fury will be playing a fairly pivotal role in that MCU film as well. So, three Marvel movies, two sequels including Shaft to nineteen-year-old properties, and potentially two other major releases this year (The Last Full Measure and The Banker) put Jackson as not only the busiest actors in Hollywood, but considering the likely box office for each of his franchise films here, also one of the most profitable. As for the trailer itself, it looks like a mixed bag of fine enough action and some solid comedy bits-most of which will come from Jesse T. Usher's not-as-inherently-badass long lost son of Jackson’s character. Tim Story (Think Like A Man, Barbershop) directs from a script by Kenya Baris (Black-ish) and Alex Barnow (The Goldbergs). Shaft also stars Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria, Titus Welliver, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, and opens on June 14th, 2019.

Trailer Roundup: SUPER BOWL LIII

With the Super Bowl happening this past weekend audiences received a look at some of the bigger movies coming out this year. The Super Bowl is still the biggest television event of the year drawing between 110 and 115 million people annually though the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII was the lowest-rated title game in ten years. Taken on those terms and considering the current price tag for thirty seconds of airtime is a record high $5.25 million ($175,000 per second) it would seemingly make sense as to why studios will pay such amounts to have that many sets of eyeballs on their product, but given the biggest slump in a decade a few companies may have felt cheated. Getting down to the real business at hand, Disney played the field largely with this year's Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings in Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, as well as a special game day spot for Toy Story 4. Universal jumped the gun just a little dropping the full trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on Friday while the Super Bowl spot was more or less a condensed version of that full trailer. The studio also gave us what I hope will be the final look at Jordan Peele's US before its theatrical debut next month (as well as a glimpse at his The Twilight Zone series). Paramount dropped a short clip followed by a full trailer online afterward for their animated hopeful in Wonder Park while 20th Century Fox is making one last ditch effort going all in on the James Cameron produced, Robert Rodriguez-directed, Alita: Battle Angel that debuts next week. And that's it, that's all the major movie studios were willing to spend the big bucks on this year. If you were hoping for Disney to drop more including spots for Star Wars: Episode IX and/or Frozen 2 then you'll be waiting until at least April for one of those if not longer for the other. Hit the jump to watch all of this year's big game trailers.

MISS BALA Review

Drug cartels and beauty pageants aren't exactly two things one might naturally pair together and certainly aren't two things one might believe to have similar skillsets, but in these opposing actions we find some crossover and it is in this intersection of the two as presented in 2019's Miss Bala that we find the most interesting theme director Catherine Hardwicke's (Thirteen, Twilight) film has to offer: appearance, pretense, facade. Both worlds in which these two seemingly distant activities take place present this outward appearance where it is key to maintain the less than pleasant reality behind the scenes. While no expert in either drug and weapons trafficking or in beauty pageants, it would seem that within a drug cartel what the money can buy you is obviously flaunted in the forefront while the dirty work is kept behind closed doors while with beauty pageants what is presented is the whole point and the whole point is to be pretty and appealing, but what no one sees is the hard work and dedication it takes to present such a veneer. What is interesting about this though, is that in keeping up such appearances the individual must learn to exude a certain level of confidence, to truly build this exterior based on their look and the way they carry themselves that might be completely misleading or the exact opposite of what they might be feeling inside. Of course, this could be true of any number of things and in any number of professions, but it is these parallels that the film examines and ultimately utilizes to its substantial advantage that give Miss Bala just the slightest amount of weight whereas otherwise this English-language re-make simply settles into a pattern of being a mostly interesting action noir of sorts if not ever being as fun as it feels it should be given the baked-in premise of this average, every-day protagonist discovering her own sense of worth and inner-strength that allows her to be able to combat this situation she's fallen into completely by accident. Gina Rodriguez (TV's Jane the Virgin) is more than formidable given what the role calls for and she graphs her character's arc in believable fashion, but it is the otherwise routine direction and lack of intuition into tone on the part of Hardwicke that levels the themes and character work clearly at play here.

First Trailer for FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

A spin-off of The Fast and the Furious franchise that might have simultaneously broken-up the Furious family, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw sees Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's US Diplomatic Security Agent Luke Hobbs forming an unlikely alliance with Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw. The two had some electric chemistry when they were finally allowed to face one another on screen in 2017's The Fate of the Furious, but no one expected-least of all Vin Diesel and (apparently) Tyrese Gibson-said chemistry to result in an actual stand-alone movie where the hardened secret agent and former villain would team-up to fight what I can only assume is Idris Elba's baddie, Brixton, who no doubt has some nefarious plot to steal a valued piece of technology. Hot off the success of Deadpool 2, the film is directed by David Leitch (John Wick) with a script by Chris Morgan, the franchise’s screenwriting architect since Tokyo Drift. I'm going to be honest, I've kind of fallen hard for this franchise and I need a new chapter in this ever-expanding series of increasingly ridiculous films every couple of years and when I don't see as much coming to fruition it makes me very sad. I'm happy Johnson and Statham are able to collaborate further and have some fun with this spin-off and I sincerely hope it helps boost Johnson's floundering financial reputation (Rampage and Skyscraper were not great for his brand) while only continuing to prove what a global star Statham is (The Meg was no joke), but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't the littlest bit upset that Hobbs' side excursions will be keeping him from the penultimate chapter in the main Fast and the Furious series of films if it is to remain true that Diesel and the gang call it quits after Fast 10. Only time will tell how as much pans out, but for now Leitch, Johnson, and Statham seem to have crafted more than a worthy distraction. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw also stars Vanessa Kirby as Deckard’s sister, Hattie, along with Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, and opens on August 2nd, 2019.

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING Review

The Kid Who Would be King takes the Arthurian legend, drops it into modern day Britain, and puts a Stranger Things twist on it in the hopes of capturing some of the magic of those live-action adventure flicks for kids that were more prominent in the early to mid-nineties. The Kid Who Would Be King is immediately appealing and don't get me wrong, has its charms, but as one sits and experiences the film it can't help but become evident that this charm largely is due to the fact audiences simply don't see this type of movie as often anymore. Were we still to get a handful of these kinds of movies every year odds are The Kid Who Would Be King would fall somewhere in the bottom half of the barrel, but given the rarity of its genre and style of its execution it can't help but to feel a little more special. Writer/director Joe Cornish, who is largely known for directing 2011's Attack the Black and introducing the world to a nineteen-year-old John Boyega, but who is also a frequent collaborator of Edgar Wright's and who has worked on screenplays for the filmmaker including Ant-Man and Hot Fuzz, has decided to place his own twist on this traditional hero's journey of a story that we've seen numerous versions and interpretations of since the beginning of cinema. Unfortunately, Cornish's twist on the material isn't exactly fresh or unique in any form that inspires something of a revitalized hope in this live-action children's genre which is rather disappointing given the way in which his previous film took certain tropes of the alien invasion film and spiced them up with a unique location and wicked sense of humor; it was fun because it featured conventional story beats upended by unconventional protagonists whereas The Kid Who Would Be King, which essentially has all of the same elements minus the R-rating, displays half the energy and even less of the creativity that seemed to surge through Attack the Block's veins. Cornish displays fits and starts of both as there is a certain energy to moments and flashes of innate creativity in others, but overall the film feels patched together and somewhat choppy-as if Cornish is never able to fall naturally into the groove he wants this story to find and thus the final product defaulting to this collection of overused themes and narrative devices that feels flat and rather bland. Cornish ultimately doesn't even attempt much of a twist on these beats, but more plays to the strength of them which-thankfully-is more than enough to keep the target audience entertained if not completely entranced.

Red-Band Trailer for THE BEACH BUM Starring Matthew McConaughey

Neon, the distribution house who has produced recent favorites such as I, Tonya, Vox Lux, and Three Identical Strangers continues its run of making real competition for prominent indie studios like A24 with what might possibly be the most outrageous film we see all year. While the studio released a first look at the film a couple of months ago they have now released a second, red-band trailer for the film allowing it to seemingly market itself in its truest and most liberated fashion. Writer/director Harmony Korine‘s comedy starring Matthew McConaughey as a “rebellious rogue” named Moondog living large, mostly high, and completely by his own rules in Miami is about as much as one can derive the movie is about from either trailer though. What makes the lack of any insight about the film in terms of its objective or what it hopes to relay is the sheer amount character, mood, and tone put forth in the images we have seen thus far. While McConaughey's stock has certainly taken a dive over the last few years post-Oscar win (last weekend's Serenity made for the star's sixth straight critical and commercial live-action flop following The Sea of Trees, Free State of Jones, Gold, The Dark Tower, and White Boy Rick as even his two animated films, Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings, either didn't perform critically or commercially), but with that in mind the guy is do for a win and if anything might bring him out of a funk-at least critically-it's that of a collaboration with Korine. The filmmaker originally made his name by writing the 1995's controversial Kids, the NC-17 drama that featured Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson in their film debuts, but went on to wider acclaim after writing and directing 2012’s Spring Breakers and as this will be Korine's follow-up there is definitely a certain amount of anticipation-let's just home the filmmaker isn't peddling the same themes here as the setting, color palette, and character traits all share more than a little in common. The Beach Bum also stars Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Stefania LaVie Owen, and hits theaters on March 22nd after making its world premiere at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 22, 2019

2019 Oscar Nominations

Here we are once again with the 2019 Oscar nominations and while I attempt to limit any coverage of the awards season hoopla (simply because there are so many to cover and too little to care about) the Academy Awards are obviously the biggest show of the season and so it was with great anticipation I awaited this morning’s announcements. What has been great about this year's award season thus far is the seeming lack of any clear front-runner. There have been so many films vying for the attention of awards season audiences this season, including a few that hardly got noticed at all including First Reformed (how is Ethan Hawke not racking up on statues?) and First Man (available on home video platforms today!), and thus it has resulted in a field of nominees that, while more concentrated than I imagined, still leaves room for an open playing field come the night of the ceremony. Let's start with things I'm happy to see. Obviously, with A Star is Born being one of my favorite movies of 2018 I am thrilled to see writer/director/star Bradley Cooper and his film grab a Best Picture and Best Actor nomination, but the snub of no directing nod for Cooper is a big indicator of how the gold might actually pass this one up. Still, it's nice to see Lady Gaga get nominated in the Best Actress category here though her odds have winning have decreased significantly over the past month or two. A Star is Born felt like the heavy-hitter of this awards season going in, but hasn't done much outside a few wins for Gaga in acting and Original Song. While I'm still optimistic about the film's chances at taking home some major prizes there is definitely more of a risk of something like Green Book or-most likely-Roma taking some of the major categories. I wouldn't be surprised if there's another split among Director and Picture this year, but we'll get into the details of things in the following paragraphs to come. For now, hit the jump for a full list of nominees.

GLASS Review

Nineteen years after writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's sophomore effort, Unbreakable, and two years after he confirmed his return to form with Split, the unique auteur has concocted what is the third film in an unlikely, but not so unlikely trilogy given the twist in Unbreakable was that all-along viewers were watching the origin story of a new hero and his arch nemesis yet were unaware of it. Like Unbreakable, Split was marketed under the guise of a different genre than what its true intentions held and when that original, James Newton Howard score re-emerged in those final moments of Split almost two years ago to the weekend it was one of the greatest "twists" I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a theater. This inadvertently created an issue for Shyamalan though, as with this trilogy-capper, Glass, there is no disguising what genre this film belongs to: this is a super hero movie through and through. And so, for a director who has made a name and a career off of the misdirect and/or "twist ending" the challenge in penning his first, unabashed sequel would be that of how might he might continue building these characters organically while integrating them into one another's respective worlds as well as framing the continuation of their story through a device that would satisfy the intrigue and sustain the investment. The idea that James McAvoy's "Beast" or Kevin Wendall Crumb as we know he truly exists is in the same world as Bruce Willis' David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price made for some exciting prospects, but where would Shyamalan actually go with things? How would these three individuals find their way across one another's paths and even if they happened to meet-what might it ultimately amount to? These are big questions that require much ambition and follow-through and while Shyamalan has been saying since Unbreakable opened in 2000 that he's had ideas or plans for a follow-up the time has finally come to put up or shut-up and for the most part, it's a good thing Shyamalan doesn't shut-up. With Glass, the filmmaker certainly has much to communicate and much he wants to say, but one will be hard pressed to figure out how all of these (broken) pieces are meant to fit together.

First Trailer for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM

The third entry in Keanu Reeves' latest franchise, John Wick, that began as a humble one-off revenge thriller in 2014 with little to no aspirations has (finally) released its first full trailer and this neon-soaked barrage of violence and fine tailoring couldn't look more badass. John Wick: Chapter 3 or Parabellum as it has now been subtitled will follow the events of Chapter 2 in allowing audiences to witness the "excommunicado” of its titular assassin as he is now a wanted man by the entire criminal underworld, but without the safe haven of places like The Continental to escape to. While it looks as if much of this latest film will see Wick on the run, eluding and deflecting those with balls big enough to try and claim the bounty on his head it also looks as if director Chad Stahelski (who co-directed the first film, but went solo on the sequel), directing a script from Derek Kolstad, will be introducing plenty of new faces-not least of all a character played by Halle Berry. While Berry hasn't exactly spurned the promising beginnings of her career into one of widely adored projects or a franchise or character that has catapulted her to insane levels of fame, she seems right at home in this world of Wick and given she seems to essentially be teaming up with Reeves I can only hope the chemistry and banter between them is as good as I might venture to guess; the touch of her having a pair of attack dogs isn't bad either. Of course, what most come to the John Wick franchise for is the action and it would be hard to blame them as both the aesthetic of the film in general and the look of the many large action sequences here look to be downright striking. Taking place mostly at night, with lots of moody rain we see Wick chase sword-wielding motor cyclists on a horse in a chase sequence I can't imagine will be anything less than bonkers while Wick also seems to have figured out a way to make even reading lethal. Needless to say, this looks to be exactly what any sequel to that 2014 original would promise itself to be. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum once again reunites Reeves with his Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne, with other newcomers including Anjelica Huston, Jason Mantzoukas, Hiroyuki Sanada, Robin Lord Taylor, Tiger Hu Chen, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman, while Ian McShane,  Lance Reddick, Common, and Ruby Rose all return when the film opens on May 17th, 2019.

Teaser Trailer for SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

It's been quite the a month or so for Marvel Studios-kicking things off with what feels like the ramp-up for their first film of 2019 with the much anticipated, first female-led Captain Marvel and of course following that up with the glorious teaser that finally revealed the title and our first real look at what we now know is Avengers: Endgame. And now, today brings us the first look at what will be Marvel's (in association with Sony, of course) third film of 2019 in the official sequel to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Far From Home only just wrapped shooting in October, but while filmmakers and digital effects artists are now able to work almost simultaneously with one another, building sequences that require large amounts of CGI as dailies are being sent to them from set, this did leave one curious as to just how much has been accomplished in the three months of post-production as rumors began to swirl as early as the same week the Endgame trailer dropped that we'd be getting a Far From Home trailer. Sony no doubt wanted to give their animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie time to breathe before reminding people there would be another movie featuring the web-slinger hitting theaters in less than a year and good on them for it as Spider-Verse certainly deserves all the acclaim and accolades it is receiving, but no lie-this looks great and the effects look better than expected meaning we get more money shots here than I thought we might. Given the events of Infinity War and the fact we don't yet know what happens in Endgame it was always going to be a tricky task to market a film featuring a character that supposedly "died" in that movie, but this teaser makes no reference to that seminal work in regards to superhero films, but instead goes one further and confirms Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury is also back from being dusted. Jon Watts returns to direct this sequel that will see Peter Parker and his friends, including Zendaya's MJ and Jacob Batalon's Ned, going on a summer vacation to Europe where Peter and co. find themselves in a plot with Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio. Spider-Man: Far From Home also stars Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Michael Keaton, Angourie Rice, Martin Starr, Tony Revolori, J.B. Smoove, and opens on July 5th, 2019.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 15, 2019

MOVIES I WANNA SEE MOST: 2019

With a new year we are brought many a new prospects for our entertainment purposes and in looking forward to 2019 one thing is more than clear and that is the fact audiences will have an abundance of interesting material to choose from. In setting out to make a most anticipated list I actually began with some fifty-something films I found interesting or knew I'd care to see based solely on surface factors such as director, cast members, or synopsis. It pains me that movies like John Crowley's follow-up to Brooklyn, Goldfinch, won't get acknowledged here nor will James Mangold's Ford v. Ferrari, Danny Boyle's Beatles project, or Joe Wright's The Woman in the Window, but that is the way these things work. That is without mentioning the long list of blockbusters that won't appear here-including Glass, Shazam!, Captain Marvel, John Wick: Chapter 3, The Lion King, and the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sequel-as I'm certainly excited to see what each of those deliver, but am not anticipating any with the fervor my top ten bring.

THE UPSIDE Review

Charming is the key word here. You will be charmed. The Upside is charming. Charmed in the sense not that The Upside will put you under a spell necessarily, but more in the sense of it being a pure pleasure; a delight, if you will. Many a foreign films are re-tooled into American stories so as to make the context more familiar and the circumstances more relatable/understandable, but oddly enough the 2011 French film, The Intouchables, might be the last foreign film to come to mind when considering what would benefit from a re-contextualization as it, by virtue of its broad and rather simple odd-couple premise, feels the least foreign in terms of beats and emotions relayed. Still, for one reason or another it was deemed a big enough hit overseas and therefore must have been doing enough right to make a stateside studio want to re-make it once more (it has already been re-made in India as well as having a Spanish-language re-make to boot) and so why not hire the likes of Walter White and the most reliable comic actor of the moment to bring it to a wider, English-speaking audience? Thus, The Upside was born and first premiered on the festival circuit back in the fall of 2017, but was shelved and sold off following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. Eventually bought by STX Entertainment, the studio is either hoping people overlook the time of year in which they are dumping this into theaters and simply trust the inspired pairing of Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart or they are just trying to unload what is sure to make some money, but what they ultimately realize was always an unnecessary piece of cinema. And yet, unnecessary as it may be, the inspired pairing of Cranston and Hart is what makes director Neil Burger's (Limitless, The Illusionist) re-make of the film a film with genuine heart and even a little insightful substance from time to time rather than that of a film completely devoid of any charm or wit that exists solely as an opportunity to replicate a previous winning formula. The Upside is certainly formula and it goes without saying any seasoned movie-goer will know to expect every beat this hits, but that doesn't mean it's neither appealing nor endearing as it strokes its familiar elements to the point it is these charming qualities that stand out most.   

ESCAPE ROOM Review

Though I haven't seen Vincenzo Natali's 1997 film, Cube, I have seen about thirty-two Saw movies and, in all honesty, could take or leave a PG-13 version of those movies that decided to utilize that same premise while also capitalizing on the recent fad of going with your friends to an "escape room" and seeing if you can figure out the clues in enough time to, well...escape. It's a nice little riff writer/director Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key) has come up with, sure, but he's essentially re-contextualized that aforementioned Natali picture for modern audiences as the synopsis for Cube is surprisingly accurate for Robitel's Escape Room. "Six complete strangers of widely varying personality types are involuntarily placed in an endless maze containing deadly traps." Change that "involuntarily" to "voluntarily" and you have yourself a whole new movie. Despite the glaring similarities between itself and a number of other subgenre peers though, Escape Room still manages to make itself feel fresh in ways that emphasize the journey rather than leave it all up to the destination. Escape Room doesn't necessarily improve upon any of these well-worn tropes, but it isn't a completely wasteful take on the premise either; it doesn't re-invent the wheel, but it re-designs it to the extent a wheel can be re-designed.

New Trailer for HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

With a budget of under $5 million and a domestic gross of $122+ million it was inevitable that Blumhouse and Universal would be jumping on this train and quickly pumping out a sequel to the surprise Halloween smash that was Happy Death Day-which will have only debuted sixteen months prior by the time its sequel hits on Valentine’s Day this year. While the premise of Happy Death Day was tried and true it had never really been attempted in the vein of a horror movie-or more specifically-a slasher movie before, but it made sense: in slasher movies a mysterious killer goes around killing this core group of teens we come to know in an order we can easily guess based on a combination of race, gender, and screentime, but instead of being a predictable, run of the mill slasher what if it was the same kill every time with our hero trying to figure out how they both got stuck in said loop and how they might escape it; it’s defeating the killer on a whole other level and while this premise doesn’t typically lend itself well to sequels, it can’t help but seem Happy Death Day 2U (one of the greatest sequel titles of all time, I might add) is taking things to a whole other level with where this next film may in fact go next. Given the sequel’s plot picks up from Happy Death Day's conclusion it almost feels like Christopher Landon’s film will reach for Back to the Future 2 aspirations where not only does the second film become a satisfying continuation in executing the logical next step, but also goes about lending the events of the original more meaning at the same time. Landon, who directed the first film from a screenplay by Scott Lobdell, has penned the sequel screenplay on his own (though he's no rookie having written Disturbia and several of the Paranormal Activity sequels) and seems to have infused more of his comedic tendencies (see Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse if you haven't already) into the fabric of the film as star Jessica Rothe definitely seems to have more opportunities here to show her full comedic range as was hinted at in the first film while the film itself feels more like a horror/comedy than a straight-up scary movie. Happy Death Day 2U also stars Israel Broussard, Suraj Sharma, and Sarah Yarkin and opens in theaters on February 14, 2019.