Friday, January 20, 2017

Gone Baby Gone Kicked Off Ben Affleck's Directorial Career In A Somber Fashion

Ben Affleck's career circa the mid-2000's was not in a happy place. A number of high-profile box office and critical duds like Gigli, Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas had left his profile tainted and he would only appear on-screen in two movies (Hollywoodland and Smokin' Aces) in the five year period between 2004 and 2009. But in that time span, Affleck decided to reinvent himself as a director by adapting the first feature film screenplay he had penned since his breakthrough movie, Good Will Hunting. The movie he would make his feature film directorial debut on was Gone Baby Gone, a sobering drama that, to date, is his only directorial effort that he does not star in.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Art And Humanity Collide In Life, Animated

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs turns 80 years old. Think about that for a second. This movie is only 20 years away from having existed for an entire century. While Snow White and her diminutive pals may be the oldest film in the Walt Disney Animation Studios library, it's far from the only movie the studio has created that's endured throughout the decades. Thes likes of Jiminy Cricket, Dumbo and Mickey Mouse have been entertaining kids and adults alike for so long now, it's impossible to imagine the current pop culture landscape would even exist without them. But how do films like these manage to keep going on from generation to generation? Maybe it's because for many, these Disney animated films aren't just movies but a way to understand the world around them.

New Power Rangers And Logan Trailers Give Audiences A Glimpse At The Superhero Movies Of March 2017

March 2017 is gonna be a jam-packed month for movies, no denying that. We've got the extremely promising looking Kong: Skull Island, that live-action Beauty & The Beast movie (which I really hope offers more new stuff than the trailers suggest), Ben Wheatley's action comedy Free Fire, Jessica Chastain helping save people from Nazi's in The Zookeeper's Wife, the James Gunn-penned horror film The Belko Experiment, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting sequel and....The Boss Baby. Plus, we get two new high-profile live-action superhero movies entitled Logan and Power Rangers.

Both debuted new trailers this morning, so let's take a look at them shall we? First up is....
Is this as good as the first teaser? Of course not. That one's going to become one of all-time greatest trailers ever made if it isn't already. But this is still one spectacular trailer that emphasizes the X-23 and Logan relationship that looks to be the core of the movie as well as reinforcing the melancholy tone that feels appropriate for this final Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie. Also worth noting is how the hand-to-hand combat stuff in this trailer looks exceptionally well-made and I can't wait to see if that holds up throughout the whole feature. Plus, we get to see that X-Men comics exist in this universe and it actually got me kind of wistful to see Logan look at these comics and reminisces about how his adventures with his fellow mutants were never quite like that. Man oh man am I ready for this one!

Next up is....
First, the good news; this is a way better trailer than that dreadful teaser back in October. I actually dig some aspects of the lighter tone here that feels more appropriate for a tale about five teenagers transforming into robot humanoids. Plus, I love Kayne West's Power and it's nice to see that version of the song used here instead of some dark somber cover. I'll also freely admit it's a well put-together trailer that'll probably work mighty fine in enticing general audiences to give this new Power Rangers movie a go. As for me though....I dunno. I honestly think the last 45 seconds of this trailer kinda killed it for me, to be honest. Those new Power Ranger suits just look really really bad and it also just devolves into a bunch of CGI pixels fighting each other. I'm praying to God the actual movie gives some dramatic grounding to all of this mayhem, because if not, that climax could reach Man Of Steel levels of excruciating. So, while this trailers a definite improvement tonally, and there's a good song choice, I'm still really worried about this new take on the Power Rangers. I'm sure Power Rangers fans will go crazy over the appearances of the Zords and Goldar in this trailer (I have no idea what those words mean).

We shall see how both of these actual movies stack up once that jam-packed month of cinema arrives in March.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Animated Spider-Man Movie Gets Miles Morales As A Lead Character And Nabs Two Promising Directors

While this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming will be a collaborative effort between Sony and Marvel Studios, there is a Spider-Man movie coming in December 2018 that's wholly a Sony effort. This untitled project is an entirely animated Spider-Man movie from Sony Pictures Animation that two fellows by the name of Phil Lord & Chris Miller are writing and executive producing. Today, Sony officially announced that the lead character of this movie would be Miles Morales, something that had been rumored for ages now but was a welcome sight to see made official.

Captain Fantastic Tires To Be An Inspirational Tale About A Neglectful Selfish Father. It Doesn't Work.

Last year's Sundance Film Festival delivered some unique motion pictures that have stuck around in my mind a year after that festival concluded. There was the comedic classic Hunt For The Wilderpeople, the zany yet thoughtful Swiss Army Man, and of course, Kenneth Lonergan's beautiful meditation on grief Manchester By The Sea. But every film festival has its duds, it's just the law of averages when you're screening a large number of movies. The Hollars was one big star-studded misfire and Captain Fantastic serves as another example of indie feature that debuted at last year's Sundance Film Festival that just doesn't work.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monster Trucks Is The Best Movie Of 2017

That headline is technically true since all the other movies I've seen theatrically this year were technically released in 2016. Monster Trucks is the only 2017 movie I've seen theatrically thus far, so, yep, it is indeed the Best Movie Of 2017 for me right now!

Snarky explanation for that clickbait headline out of the way, let's talk about Monster Trucks, the second feature film from Paramount Animation that's been delayed nearly two whole years after its initial May 2015 release date and also serves as the live-action directorial debut for Ice Age director Chris Wedge. It's a live-action movie with a CGI creature best friend for the lead character in the vein of those Smurfs and Alvin And The Chipmunk movies, though this is more like the forgotten 2009 film G-Force in that Monster Trucks is technically an original property. And, thankfully, it's better than all of the other 21st century live-action/CGI family movies I just listed off.

Patriot's Day Is Brought To You Courtesy Of the Red, White And Blue...And Messy Screenwriting

Peter Berg's track record as a director has more loop-de-loops than a rickety o'l rollercoaster. Hancock had a solid first half that deteriorated into a forgettable second half, Battleship was a complete misfire, Lone Survivor I barely even remember apart from thinking it wasn't very good but then there was last Fall's Deepwater Horizon, a taut, well-made disaster movie that actually showed some real craftsmanship in terms of creating tension on Berg's part. Was this a sign that he was finally becoming something more as a director, that o'l Peter Berg was about to really break out and become an auteur that would leave the shackles of Battleship and Hancock behind him?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hidden Figures Wins The Box Office Again As La La Land Soars And New Mark Wahlberg And Ben Affleck Movies Flop

Note: This article covers only box office figures for the 3-day weekend.

As six movies went into wide release this weekend, all but one of the newbie movies failed to leave an impact, meaning Hidden Figures was able to win the box office again in its second weekend of wide release. Hidden Figures grossed another $20 million this weekend, going down only 12% from last weekend and bringing its domestic total to $54.3 million. It appears that this inspirational drama is gonna make a run for $100 million domestically, an amazing result for the $25 million budgeted film.

And No One Dared Disturb The Sound Of Silence

As a Christian, my biggest complaint with so-called faith-based Christian movies like God's Not Dead is...well, I don't just have one complaint with these atrocious movies, the worst of the bunch are pretty much top-to-bottom disasters. But in terms of complaints directly connected to my faith, these films claim to try to explore real-world struggles of Christianity but don't seem to exist in the real world. In an effort to be as squeaky-clean as possible, actual topics of hardship are rarely explored in these Christian films. More adult concepts are off-limits except for rare sequences like Kirk Cameron bashing in his porn-riddled computer in Fireproof and any of the tepid dramatic situations are easily resolved in a tidy little bow.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How Much Is That Doggie In The (Rear) Window?

While his most famous films (mainly the annual holiday TV fixture It's A Wonderful Life) have given Jimmy Stewart an image in mainstream pop culture as a loveable good o'l boy, it is interesting to see Alfred Hitchcock's collaborations with the actor (in Vertigo and the subject of this review, Rear Window) dive into darker territory, ones that show off both different sides of Stewart and demonstrate what a versatile actor he is. Rear Window also serves as a splendid opportunity to take witness of just how much of a maestro Hitchcock is at conducting suspense in the most restrained circumstances. All he needs is a window, a neighborhood of various personalities and one man peeping at the world around him to create something truly gripping.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Goodfellas Is A 145 Minute Reminder Of Why Martin Scorsese Is A Cinematic Legend

There was this odd phenomenon when The Wolf Of Wall Street came out three years ago regarding many commentators feeling that the movie was explicitly endorsing the various nasty deeds its lead character commits. Art is subjective and all that, so if that's your takeaway from the film, that's fair. Personally though, I'd say The Wolf Of Wall Street very much makes it clear that Jordan Belfort is a very bad man, one that the movie wants you to gawk at while seeing how much this real-life guy was able to get away with in his time of swindling and debauchery. Scorsese's whole point with that 2013 effort is for the viewer to come away with how delusional Belfort was as a human being; despite all the Quaallades and obvious wrongdoings he was committing, he still saw himself as untouchable, above the common world.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dev Patel Is Living On The Inside, Roaring Like A Lion

What an odd puzzle of a movie we have here. Lion starts off strong and finishes in a similarly satisfying manner, with both sections of the movie relying on some extremely well-done poignancy that tugs right at your heartstrings. But in between those opening and closing 10-minute or so segments is a messy movie with sporadic moments of goodness trying to breathe amidst an overly busy screenplay that's trying to shove too many real-life events into all too short of a running time. Looking at Lion as a whole, those opening and closing scenes likely resonate all the more because of how inconsistent a lot of the film as a whole.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Jetsons and WWE Are About To Meet In An Actual Movie That Is Happening This Year

Since the Boomerang channel and its wall-to-wall Hanna-Barbera programming was a cornerstone of my youth, I know a thing or two about Hanna-Barbera cartoons, from the well-known stuff to more obscure creations like Grape Ape, Squiddily Diddily and Ricochet Rabbit. One such program I always used to fancy, and one my Mom had nostalgic childhood memories of her own watching, was The Jetsons, a show about a standard family living in the future, the polar opposite of fellow Hanna-Barbera creation The Flintstones if you will.

Hidden Figures Is A Total Charmer Of A Movie With A Strong Cast

When ya think about it for even a microsecond, the achievements in space exploration done by NASA truly are incredible, some of the best accomplishments done by our species in the 21st century. We've been probing heretofore unknown territories, truly going, to quote Star Trek, "where no man has gone before". Tragically, NASA has seen massive budget cuts and what not in the decades past but Hidden Figures takes place in an era where we were all invested in NASA on a patriotic level, where it's accomplishments were simultaneously demonstrations of what kind of glorious achievements our country could grasp.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Coping With Grief At A Young Age Is The Crux Of The Phenomenal A Monster Calls

Contemplating on A Monster Calls after seeing it, I've come to the conclusion that the film is most reminiscent in tone of atmosphere of pop culture like Charles M. Schulz Peanuts comic strip or Spike Jonze's 2009 motion picture Where The Wild Things Are, slices of storytelling that dare to look at adolescence in an uncompromising fashion in a dramatically compelling way. After all, childhood isn't a portion of one's life that's just filled with ceaseless joy and wonderment, it's rife with its own set of unique challenges and struggles. To quote a blonde-haired self-proclaimed genius from the funny pages: "People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children." Much as we like to look back on childhood (like any part of our life that exists in the past) with rose-colored glasses, the reality of growing up as a youngster is much more emotionally complex and tumultuous.

Fences Sets The Stage For Strong Small-Scale Drama

Translating any storytelling medium to the confines of feature-length motion picture storytelling is going to come with its own set of challenges. Bringing books to the silver screen means you have to decide what material from the novel gets cut for the sake of brevity and what stays in while film adaptations of TV shows have to bring characters who typically work in only 22-44 storytelling environments and try and make them sustain as much as two whole hours of storytelling. Each of these forms of translation comes with its own set of challenges and the hurdles involved with bringing a stage play to the big screen as a movie are the ones Denzel Washington's newest directorial effort, Fences, faces.

Hidden Figures Rockets To Success While Newest Underworld Movie And A Monster Calls Fail To Take Off

Winter weather harshed the buzz of all the titles at the box office this weekend, with Deadline reporting that harsh winter storms closed down theaters in states like Georgia and Alabama over the weekend. If last years January 29-31st frame (which came one weekend after a box office frame harshly hindered by snowy weather), that does mean that the biggest titles this weekend like Hidden Figures, Rogue One and Sing can expect to have minuscule declines next weekend, though a number of smaller titles this weekend will likely face another hefty plummet next weekend as a swath of new releases descend on cinemas and take up thousands of screens.