OLD Review

M. Night Shyamalan Returns to the Big Screen with a Psychological Thriller that is Equal Parts Fascinating and Baffling.

SNAKE EYES Review

Paramount Pictures Once Again Attempts to Jump Start a G.I. Joe Series of Films with what is the Most Generic of Summer Popcorn Flicks.

BLACK WIDOW Review

The First Marvel Cinematic Universe Film in Nearly Two Years Delivers a Rousing Spy Thriller that Should Have Happened Years Ago.

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY Review

LeBron James Takes up Michael Jordan's Mantle as he Joins the Looney Tunes for an Out of this World Basketball Game that is More Commercial than Entertaining Endeavor.

F9: THE FAST SAGA Review

Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and his "Family" Return as does Director Justin Lin for a Ninth Outing that Feels More Pompous than Pleasant.

2021 Oscar Predictions


This has been something of a whirlwind awards season given the extended timeline due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has more or less turned everything about everyone's lives upside down in one form or another. Not only has the Academy had to adapt to the new landscape in which the masses are seeing or saw the majority of their movies last year, but they are also in the midst of continuing to catch-up with the ever-evolving social landscape around the movies being made that are in contention for nominations. From the onset of about October when it was clear there was still going to be some semblance of an awards season even if no one had any real idea what it would look like, it appeared there were two or three front-runners that had the potential to dominate. One of those has proved especially true in Chloé Zhao's Nomadland which premiered simultaneously at both the Venice and Toronto film festivals last fall. Not only did it premiere at those festivals though, but it took home major awards from each including the top Golden Lion prize at Venice and the People's Choice Award at Toronto. Needless to say, it's been the front runner ever since. The other major contender out of that early festival circuit was Regina King's directorial debut, One Night in Miami... which only ended up garnering a couple of nominations though this feels as if it might be due, in some part, to the delayed ceremony and extended qualifying deadlines. That said, a movie that premiered ahead of both Nomadland and One Night in Miami... has become something of a dark horse in the awards conversation meaning only that while it has been almost universally praised since its premiere at last year's Sundance film festival it never seemed poised for Oscar dominance. I'm of course talking about Lee Isaac Chung's Minari which ended up earning six nominations, only one of which it is likely to win, but this was a big win nonetheless for the micro-budgeted drama about a Korean family that starts a farm in 1980s Arkansas. The most nominated film of the year belongs to the most nominated studio of the year with Netflix's Mank receiving ten nominations whereas The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 each earned six nominations alongside Minari while Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman scored five. I've included both who I think will win in my predictions below as well as who I think should win. Hit the jump for my full list of predictions.

MORTAL KOMBAT Review

I don't know if it's due to going without movie theaters and therefore big-budget blockbusters for nearly a year, but between this and Godzilla vs. Kong it has been a pleasantly surprising return to the tentpole extravaganzas that had become almost too common to pre-pandemic life. That isn't to say 2021's Mortal Kombat is anything more than someone with the loftiest of expectations might hope it to be, but it's an assured piece of both filmmaking and storytelling that knows what it is, embraces everything about its own ridiculousness, and runs with all of it to the point it almost forces viewers to genuinely care about what is going on with this silly yet compelling multi-dimensional death battle. Of course, one's level of enjoyment with the film may come from their affection for the now iconic video games and its catch phrases that have made their way into the everyday lives of an entire generation. Some enjoyment (or complete distaste for, honestly) may come from the nostalgia-tinted glasses those who loved the nineties movie adaptations still wear, but even if you're an audience member with little to no brand recognition or fondness for the property what is both slightly unexpected but also an advantage to this new iterations success is that Greg Russo (his first feature) and Dave Callaham's (2014's Godzilla, Wonder Woman 1984, and the upcoming Shang-Chi) screenplay makes it an accessible adventure for anyone inclined to see what all the fighting is about. That is to say, Russo and Callaham build out the worlds Mortal Kombat encompasses in a simple and straightforward fashion that doesn't overwhelm the audience with too many levels nor does it dig too deep into the politics of the tournament itself, but instead takes what everyone loved about the games and puts them front and center: the characters. I'll backtrack slightly on this point as the film does introduce a new character into the Mortal Kombat mythos with its main protagonist Cole Young (Lewis Tan), but other than providing this surrogate who will take the audience through and into this universe the movie is otherwise all about bringing these characters viewers will recognize to life in what is ultimately fun and entertaining ways. Sans a pretty impressive opening sequence that admittedly sets the bar too high for the nonsense that follows, nothing about director Simon McQuoid's film is what one might label as "good", but almost everything about what it does in service of re-capturing that feeling of sitting in front of your cousin's tiny TV in their bedroom and mashing buttons in hopes it will result in a combination that will defeat said cousin in a bloody battle to the death is one thousand percent enjoyable.         

Official Teaser Trailer for Marvel's SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS


Created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin,  Shang-Chi made his comics debut in 1973 as a result of Marvel attempting to capitalize on the popularity of martial arts in America. There are reports that Marvel and Stan Lee were trying to develop a film adaptation as early as the 1980s, (one such planned incarnation was to have starred Brandon Lee) but it wasn't meant to be. After a long road to the big screen though, the martial arts master is finally joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe at a time when new blood couldn't be more welcome. Directed by Dustin Daniel Cretton — who was born in Hawaii and is of Japanese descent — the filmmaker initially made a name for himself with 2013's Short Term 12 (which now features a murderer's row of talent including fellow MCU hero Brie Larson) as well as helming the little-seen The Glass Castle, and 2019's Oscar-contender, Just Mercy. Cretton, who has said he never had any intention of making the crossover to big-budget tentpole cinema, has gone on to say that making a superhero movie with a predominantly Asian cast has, "helped contribute to what I think is a really beautiful update to what started in the comics a few decades ago." As for the titular star of the film, the casting of thirty-one-year-old Simu Liu, best known for his role as Jung Kim on the Canadian sitcom Kim's Convenience, is a Cinderella story in and of itself. The actor had been tweeting at Marvel as early as 2014, so when Shang-Chi was officially announced, he naturally followed up with the domineering movie studio and to Liu's surprise, actually received an invite to audition eventually landing the role in July of 2019. As the beginning of a new franchise for the MCU, this will be an origin story many (including myself) are very much unaware of which makes for the third film post-Endgame (and the first starring a new character) all the more exciting and mysterious. Cretton's film, which he co-wrote with Dave Callaham, will follow our protagonist from his raising as the son of Wenwu (frequent Wong Kar-wai collaborator Tony Leung) who serves as the head of a villainous organization known as the Ten Rings. Wenwu has gone by many names in the world of the film including that of The Mandarin who first appeared in 2013's Iron Man 3 to controversial and mixed reactions when he showed up as a fraud via Ben Kingsley's Trevor Slattery. When we meet Shang-Chi in this film, he’s been free from his father's influence for a decade after choosing to walk away from a life of death and crime, but of course he is unable to run from his past forever. With some terrific-looking fight sequences as shot by legendary cinematographer Bill Pope (The Matrix, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and a supporting cast that includes Awkwafina, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chieng, and Michelle Yeoh, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hopefully deliver us back into the world of movie-going and the bright future of the MCU when it opens in theaters on September 3, 2021.

VOYAGERS Review

A quick ten minutes into the latest from writer/director Neil Burger and we're hit with the question of how fair or unfair is it that people don't get to choose the environment or the situation they're born into. It's unfair, of course, that some are born into wealth and privilege while racism, misogyny, poverty, and countless other disadvantages are intrinsic to the existence of others from the day they're ushered into this world. This is a typical conclusion when assessing systems and how each individual entering that system, by choice or not, has a different starting line. These cut and dry conclusions, as unfair as they may be, are still very much a fascinating topic though, especially when considered in the context of children being created in a lab and curated from the time of their birth for a single purpose, a purpose they solely exist to serve, and a purpose they have absolutely no say in. That they were born from donors and not loving parents willing to take on the responsibility of their nurturing is the first disadvantage they face, but that they are then expected to simply conform to the needs of the previous generation and sacrifice their own sense of purpose for the mistakes of those elders is the next daunting reality they have to accept. Thus is the premise of Burger's Voyagers, a science fiction action/drama that like any good piece of science fiction works best when it's exploring its main idea or concept and the questions that spurn from as much rather than trying to answer them. That said, what Burger is attempting to cover here is engaging ground nonetheless as he dives into the deep, dark void of space in order to isolate ideas around nature versus nurture and if the wiring and influence of these subjects' genetic inheritance is enough to guarantee they not only have the intelligence and ingenuity to complete their mission, but the willpower to avoid the predictable foibles of human nature. What these children are born into, what they are tasked with, and what is expected of them is not fair and one would be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn't agree with that assessment, but the fact remains no one is granted the opportunity to choose what they're born into though there is still the choice of what type of person they want to become no matter the circumstances. Voyagers seeks to examine the necessary balance of innocence and experience required to fully grasp the possibilities of this line of thought via the guise of a genre film that sports sleek sets and pretty people that thankfully succumbs more often than not to the whims of its notions than to the trappings of its brand. 

GODZILLA VS. KONG Review

While appreciating Gareth Edwards' aspirations with 2014’s Godzilla and becoming perplexed by how Michael Dougherty’s 2019 sequel could be so little fun despite its reactionary take to criticisms leveled against the first film, it seems the only movie in Warner Brother’s new monster-verse that knew exactly what it was and what it needed to be was Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong flick. This may then explain why in Adam Wingard’s (You're Next, The Guest) clash of the titans that Kong is made to be the center of attention; the lynch pin on which every cockamamie human character's quest hinges. That isn't to say the king of the monsters doesn't factor into the match of the century in any meaningful capacity, but more that Wingard takes up Vogt-Roberts' mentality of embracing the absurdity in this universe and then lets his imagination run wild more so than he does try to either ground this in any kind of reality as Edwards did or let it be brought down by the human characters as Dougherty did. There is little to no regard for logic and no one - especially screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein - seems to have been bothered with the semantics of how a "sci-fi quack trading in fringe physics" is able to convince Rebecca Hall's Dr. Andrews AKA "The Kong Whisperer" to have military assets escort Kong from his home on Skull Island to Antarctica in order to enter a portal to Hollow Earth on the whim of a tech billionaire (Demián Bichir) who is looking to harness the energy of this "ecosystem as vast as any ocean" so that he may power a weapon that can compete with Godzilla who recently became a threat again after a seemingly unprovoked attack. The best part of it all though, is that none of this matters, not really, and only exists to prop up reasoning for how the two titular titans come face to face with one another. Whereas Edwards elicited Dante's Inferno in the Halo jump sequence in his Godzilla film, Wingard elicits a Saturday morning toy commercial in Godzilla vs. Kong and naturally - it's more fun than anything this monster-verse has produced thus far. One could complain the creative team behind the film doesn't take great pains to make any of this thought provoking in terms of Godzilla beginning as an allegory for nuclear war or discussing Kong's origins in analyzing colonialism and man's need for dominance over others, but this isn't about those things or even those characters individually. This is a movie about a giant gorilla and a giant lizard coming to blows with one another and it's just as stupid, ridiculous, and thoroughly entertaining as something with that simple premise should be.