Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Shallows Review

Ever since Steven Spielberg ushered in the age of the summer blockbuster with Jaws, sharks have been synonymous with big dollars in the world of pop culture. Sharknados are the rare piece of bad weather that people love and Shark Tale was one of last decade's most thought-provoking examinations of overtly sexualized aquatic wildlife and what happens when animation studios try to cash in on the success of Finding Nemo. The Shallows is the newest attempt to turn sharks into a license to print money and the strong box office returns for this Blake Lively feature suggest such a goal has been achieved.

Wreck-It Ralph 2 Has An Official Release Date!

Well, the release slate for Walt Disney Animation Studios got an update today, as director Rich Moore and actor John C. Reily announced that Wreck-It Ralph 2 is arriving March 9, 2018! An image released to commemorate the occasion, showing Ralph and Vanellope looming over buildings with names obviously parodying the likes of Amazon and Google suggest that the forthcoming follow-up will take Ralph and his pals to the internet and perhaps even modern day gaming. I personally loved Wreck-It Ralph, it's got a great script, a terrific vocal performance from Reily and its world seems perfectly suited for new adventures. So yeah, I'm jacked for more Wreck-It Ralph movies!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hook Review (Classic Write-Up)

You can practically see the head of TriStar waxing poetic on how much of a slam dunk Hook is conceptually. "It's got two of the biggest actors on the planet, one of the most well-known fictitious characters of all-time and it's directed by Steven Spielberg! How could this not be a runaway hit?" For sure, Hook made a pretty penny in its initial theatrical release (its $119.6 million cume back in 1991 would be about $246.1 million in 2016 dollars), but its critical reception was some of the most negative ever experienced by Spielberg and it's since faded from the public consensus. Today, 90's kids, from my experience with this age group, are more likely to have fond memories of fellow high-seas set family movie Muppet Treasure Island than they are of the first time Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg joined forces.

"Get The Show On, Go, Play!": Smash Mouth Was The Last Voice Of The 20th Century And The First Voice Of The 21st Century....For Better And For Worse

The 1960's had The Beatles. The 1970's had many of Queen's greatest hits. The 1980's had a bevy of hugely successful music ranging from Aerosmith to Journey. And among the biggest musical acts at the tail end of the 20th century and in the first few years of the 21st century was...Smash Mouth. A band that's mainly a punchline today and has only released one album since 2006. From 1997 to sometime around 2002 though, man, these guys were everywhere. They tapped into the zeitgeist of the era like fee bands at the time did. In fact, I'd argue their work was so linked to the era in which they were produced that it's hard for their music to work in a modern context. Not only is there not a whole lot in terms of vocals or interesting lyrics to take in, but it truly feels like only in the brief era in which they were so popular could they have flourished so greatly.

A New Trolls Trailer Brings On The Justin Timberlake Tune (You Know Which One) And Fecal Cupcakes

DreamWorks Animation next big bid to get a new franchise going (following non-starters like Rise Of The Guardians, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman & Penguins Of Madagascar) is Trolls, a movie adaptation of those Troll dolls that have been big toy business for nearly 60 years now. In terms of toy to movie adaptations, DreamWorks obviously hopes this one will be more on the order of The LEGO Movie than Battleship. Well, there's a new trailer out now for you to watch and get a better look at the world Trolls has concocted for its tiny fantasy critters to inhabit.

Monday, June 27, 2016

War Of The Worlds Review (Classic Write-Up)

The horrific events of 9/11 thrust American pop culture into a new age marked by uncertainty, particularly when it came to American Summer Blockbusters. In the twenty-six years since Jaws was released, Hollywood had been churning out big-budget affairs each summer to capture the masses worldwide. Obvious concerns soon came up that this escapist fare would have to change in order to fit into a post-9/11 world, especially given that most blockbusters in the past five years had been attempting to replicate the success of Independence Day, which featured scenes of well-known buildings and landmarks being destroyed that wouldn't fly as cinematic reverie now.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Neon Demon Is A Glowing Example Of Thoughtful Absurdity

I pity the poor human being tasked with writing out the plot summary that has to go onto the back of the DVD's and Blu-Ray's of Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon. What can you possibly type up that'll adequately prepare a prospective buyer/renter of this title for what they're in for? The Neon Demon isn't just littered with moments that are difficult to recount due to their absurdity, the film practically thrives on seeing how far it can push moviegoers in terms of throwing an ever escalating series of unorthodox images and scenes in their direction.

Finding Dory Has Exceptional Second Weekend While Independence Day: Resurgence Becomes Newest Summer Blockbuster Dud And The Shallows Is A Surprise Hit

The incredible box office run of Finding Dory continued unabated this weekend, with the film grossing an additional $73.2 million in its second frame. That's the fifth biggest second-weekend of all-time, only behind the second-weekend grosses of the two Avengers movies, Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's also only a 46% decline from its opening weekend, on par with the second-weekend dip of Monsters University and better than the second-weekend hold of Toy Story 3. In ten days, Finding Dory has grossed an incredible $286.5 million, the ninth biggest ten-day gross in history.

The Fundamentals Of Caring Review

Ben (Paul Rudd) could really use some cash. In an effort to get some financial stability in his life, Ben decides to take a six-week course to become a guardian for someone with physical disabilities. The individual he gets paired up with turns out to be Trevor (Craig Roberts), a foul-mouthed British 20 year-old with muscular dystrophy. Trevor has a strict adherence to his routine, which entirely entails him staying in his living room sans a brief weekly trip to the park on Thursdays. In an effort to get him out of his comfort zone and see the greater world, Ben decides to take Trevor to see various tourist attractions (all revolving around the concept of being "The World's Biggest", i.e. The World's Biggest Cow) that the dude is obsessed with.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Beefcake Kellan Lutz Seems To Be In The Running To Play He-Man In That Live-Action He-Man Movie

I'm more than a little surprised we haven't gotten a live-action He-Man movie in the 21st century yet considering how successful that live-action adaptation of fellow 80's toy/kids TV show property Transformers was. Such a project is finally coming to fruition, with McG coming onboard to direct this past January and now Kellan Lutz has dropped a tweet on the Twitter that indicates he's likely playing the real role. Here's the tweet:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence Is A Repugnant Fusion Of Noise And Tedium

Sometimes you leave a summer blockbuster feeling elated, the imagery and characters on-screen having just about made one's day. Other times you leave with mixed emotions", not having despised what occurred but also certainly not enjoyed it. And then there's how I felt about upon leaving Independence Day: Resurgence, a movie that left me only feeling aggravation. By the end, of the motion picture, I felt a great kinship with The Grinch since  all of the chaos on-screen only registered to me as "NOISE! ALL THE NOISE NOISE NOISE!"

Independence Day: Resurgence Begins Its Box Office Trek With Decent Thursday Night Box Office

If there's one blockbuster this summer that's always felt like an unpredictable fellow, it's Independence Day: Resurgence (a movie that I'll be seeing this morning and hopefully will have a review up for that one as early as tonight). This Roland Emmerich movie has had meek marketing but it does feel like there might be more potential nostalgia for this property than there is to, say, see the Ninja Turtles and X-Men in perfunctory adventures just two years after their last romp. The Thursday night box office for the title doesn't seem to indicate quite how it'll do over the weekend, but it looks like it might be on track to at least avoid becoming a total dud over the weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Underdogs Is the Worst Animated Movie You've Never Even Heard Of

Harvey and Bob Weinstein really wanted to get some payback at their old bosses at Disney, who they continuously clashed with at their times as studio heads of the then-Disney-owned company Miramax. As Harvey and Bob set out on their own with The Weinstein Company, they looked to have their own steady output of animated cinema to get back at Disney and their animated motion pictures. But in the decade since they started up the company, well, they've hardly made a dent in the world of American animation cinema. Films like Hoodwinked Too! and Escape From Planet Earth faced production woes while others experienced numerous release date delays until they were just pulled off the schedule altogether. Underdogs is in the latter category of animated cinema that comes from The Weinstein Company.

The Conjuring 2 Review

Like other well-known sequels such as Garfield: A Tale Of Two Kitties and Muppets Most Wanted, The Conjuring 2 takes its supernatural activities to the U.K., to allow for a distinctly new environment for paranormal investigators, Ed (Patrick Willson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) to inhabit and, hey, if it also helps boost the box office in that country, then who's gonna complain? In the 1970's, the duo travels to the country to investigate a young girl who appears to be possessed by the spirit of a man named Bill Wilkins and the possession itself is causing all sorts of problems around the household, as your demons tend to do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ikiru Review (Classic Write-Up)

There are plenty of amazing moments to be found in Hamilton, many of which show a sense of wisdom that can only be accurately described as "remarkable". One such moment arrives in one of the final songs of the musical, as Alexander Hamilton is about to finally succumb to death, something he imagines so much it feels more like a memory. As the darkness envelops him, he comes to a shocking realization over what the word legacy truly means. I'll let Lin-Manuel Miranda's lyrics take it from here:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

R.I.P. Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)

Anton Yelchin, taking care of some ducks.
Many things in the 2009 reboot of Star Trek caught my eye, but perhaps most noteworthy of that movies revelations was a then little-known actor named Anton Yelchin playing the role of Chekov. Just having turned 20 two months prior to the films release, Yelchin popped onto the screen as a plucky, young and instantly likable personality. Amidst the impulsive Kirk, the pessimistic Bones and the logical to a fault Spock, he (along with Simon Pegg as Scotty) provided a sense of light-hearted enthusiasm to the proceedings, the kind of optimistic drive that propelled man to want to explore the cosmos in the first place.

Finding Dory [Insert Pun Revolving Around The Word "Finding" Here] Record-Breaking Opening Weekend While A Big Johnson Does Well And Warcraft Surrenders

Of their past sixteen movies, PIXAR has managed to launch all but two of them (the underperforming Cars 2 and the money-loser The Good Dinosaur) into varying levels of box office stardom, ranging from the solid hauls of A Bug's Life and Brave to the monster blockbuster levels of Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo. Now it looks like they're up to fifteen box office smashes after this past weekend, which brought their newest release, Finding Dory, to a massive $136.2 million opening weekend, by far the biggest opening weekend for an animated movie (beating out the $121 million debut of Shrek The Third nine years ago).

Finding Dory Review

There's been some understandable apprehension lobbed at the slate of future movies emerging from PIXAR Animation Studios, namely in the fact that three of the four films the company will be releasing until the end of the decade are follow-ups to existing motion pictures. It's easy to see why such a feeling exists, not only because I've felt it time after time again, but also because the studios output has included features like Up, WALL-E or Inside Out whose basic premises seemed to defy conventional family-friendly American animation routines. To now see Cars 3 and Toy Story 4 on the horizon from a studio championed for its originality can't help but leave one with a tad bit of disillusionment.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Central Intelligence Review

For all of Dwayne Johnson's accomplishments in his career (one of which includes finally becoming a viable leading man with last summer's San Andreas after box office non-starters like Faster and Hercules), the charisma and charm that got him this far as world renowned celebrity are on full display in his turn as Bob Stone in Central Intelligence. Playing a dude who was a portly misfit in high school whose grown up into a naive super-assassin, Johnson always carries a smile on his face and tosses his entire being into the role. He's a hoot-and-a-half turning a pretty rote archetype (specifically the dude who looks like a conventionally hyper masculine individual that has similarly conventionally feminine interests) and breathes new vibrant life into it.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Lobster Review

This summer has brought a deluge of sequels and an equally large (if not even greater in size) amount of online editorials decrying the amount of follow-ups crowding movie theaters. In a season where neighbors, X-Men and turtles proficient in the ways of being a ninja have returned for obligatory sequels, in comes The Lobster from Greece auteur Yorgos Lanthimos with a premise that's, well, it's unique, that's indisputable. The Lobster basically saunters into this sequel-heavy summer all decked out in a classy suit, a golden pocket watch clasped in its palm and whistling a cheery tune. In other words, The Lobster practically emanates confidence in its idiosyncratic nature.

Cue The Applause; Lady Gaga Is Starring In A New Version Of A Star Is Born With Bradley Cooper

Three-time Academy Award-nominated actor Bradley Cooper has played many roles in his career. He's been an American Sniper, a guy who said Aloha and a gun-toting raccoon. Now he'll take on a new challenge; directing. Yep, Mr. Cooper is going behind the camera for the very first time. He'll be directing and starring in a new feature film remake of A Star Is Born. They've been looking for a leading lady before going full steam ahead on the project and it appears they found someone to star in the project with Mr. Cooper: Lady Gaga!

Finding Dory Breaks Some Box Office Records In Its Swimmingly Thursday Night Box Office Grosses

Finding Dory was always presumed to be a box office juggernaut in its opening weekend, but good Lord do these Thursday night numbers seem to signal that the film is well on its way to become a monster at the box office this weekend.

Ranking The PIXAR Short Films (Part Two)

OK, last Friday I started out my examination of the short films of PIXAR by ranking all 17 of them (not counting short films starring characters from PIXAR movies) from worst to best. Today, we look at the 9 best PIXAR short films, starting with....

Thursday, June 16, 2016

That Popular Wicked Musical Is Finally Getting A Movie Adaptation And Even Has A Far Off Release Date

We as human beings always grapple with the future. It comes toward us like a ceaseless thundercloud full of worries. Will our future be full of medical problems we cannot escape? Can we grapple with the time when our loved ones begin to vanish from this Earth at a substantially increased pace? And now a new query about our uncertain future can hover all of our collective heads for a good four years; will that Wicked movie be good or even end up getting made?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Warcraft Review

Now, the story of Duncan Jones 2016 motion picture Warcraft is a tad complex, so let's get the plot summary right out of the way, shall we? The world of the Orcs is dying and they need a new home. Their leader, Gul'Dan (Daniel Wu), uses green mist to extract energy from innocent people to power a portal to the human world where a large group of Orcs intend to gather enough human prisoners to power up the portal to a point where it can bring all of the other Orcs over. Among these Orcs is Durotan (Toby Kebbell), one of the few explicitly "good" Orcs and one of our lead characters of this movie who ends up having no impact on this narrative whatsoever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The New Trailer For Ben-Hur "Bens" Over Backwards To Appeal To Christian Moviegoers

Cinema strictly revolving around Christian themes had existed for decades prior to 2014 (just ask the likes of Reverent Herbert Jump and the various directors who worked for World Wide Pictures), they became a big business in modern day Hollywood when God's Not Dead, Noah and Heaven Is For Real made big bucks in quick succession. As both a Christian and cinema devotee, I wish more of the movies made in the wake of such financial success to more cues from one of 2014's most underrated features, Noah, by sparing no expense on interesting characters, darker themes and glorious production values.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The First Trailer For The Next Walt Disney Animation Studios Movie, Moana, Has Hit The Shores!

Ron Clements And John Musker are two of the most prolific figures in the history of Disney Animation thanks to their directorial credits on (deep breath) The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess And The Frog. Yeah, this duo has one helluva track record and their newest directorial effort, Moana, arrives this Thanksgiving. The first trailer for Moana has hit the interwebs and you can watch it below!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Conjuring 2 Possess The Box Office While Warcraft Is A Domestic Bomb, Some Audiences See Now You See Me 2 And Ninja Turtles Have Hefty Second-Weekend Dip

After three weeks in a row where major sequels underperformed, Hollywood got that "sequelitis" slightly cured with a solid bow from The Conjuring 2. Just like the likes of Neighbors 2, Alice Through The Looking Glass and TMNT: Out Of The Shadows, The Conjuring 2 opened below its predecessor, but only by 4% for a domestic opening weekend of $40.3 million. That's about 8% above the opening weekend of the Conjuring spin-off Annabelle and 19% bigger than the bow of The Purge, another R-rated horror film that debuted in June three years ago. Plus, it grossed $50 million in its first overseas frame, about double what the original took in in its first foreign frame.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Phillipa Soo To Exit Hamilton On July 9th

All good things must come to an end. The sun must set, the show must end and cast members of the Broadway sensation Hamilton must leave the program after nearly a year of constant performances. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the actor who plays the titular role of Hamilton and also created the book, music and lyrics for the show, was confirmed to be vacating the show a few days ago on July 9th, a not shocking development given his incredibly jam-packed schedule.

The Fifth Element Review (Classic Write-Up)

The Fifth Element is a walking-talking contradiction of a movie when it comes to its story. Namely, it's a film stuffed to the gills with characters, concepts and mythology, all of it newly created (it's not based on a toy, comic book, TV show or previously existing source material). There's so much going on, yet, it all flows as seamlessly as a peaceful river. All of the various subplots co-exist in entertaining harmony, one of the many positive aspects of The Fifth Element that makes it such an exciting and memorable adventure.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Look At The Short Films Of PIXAR (Part One)

Next week, PIXAR Animation Studios releases their seventeenth motion picture, Finding Dory. And with said movies release comes the unveiling of a new short film entitled Piper. At this point, short films accompanying each new PIXAR movie is a grand tradition that started with A Bug's Life and hasn't ceased since. To tie into the release of Finding Dory and Piper, I've decided to examine the PIXAR short films by ranking them from worst to best in a two part essay series. Just a heads up before we go ahead, I have decided to look at only short films that aren't spun-off from PIXAR movies, so no Cars Toons or BURN-E to be found here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Love & Friendship Review

Let it not be said that Love & Friendship skimped on its shooting locations because the various locales that its large cast inhabit are mighty impressive. Ditto for the costumes of the movie, which are a colorful cavalcade of time period appropriate (the film takes place in the 18th century) outfits that are absolutely glorious, major kudos to costume designer Elmer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh (who frequently works on notable European set projects like Calvary) for her stunning work here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Finest Hours Review

Chris Pine has struggled to really take off as an A-list leading man now that Star Trek has made him at least a well-known, though admittedly not quite a household name, kinda guy. I've always liked the dude, and even in otherwise crappy movies (like Horrible Bosses 2) he usually still gives it 100% percent. But there's no denying that some of his post-Star Trek efforts haven't quite taken off, with the likes of This Means Wars, Rise Of The Guardians and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit being non-starters at the box office. On the positive side of things though, he had the best moment, far and away, of Into The Woods and his 2010 effort  Unstoppable with Denzel Washington was a rip-roaring fun thriller.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Review

The Lonely Island has experienced massive success in terms of album sales and their music videos going uber-viral, so it's kind of bizarre how poorly their motion picture ventures have fared at multiplexes across America. Nine years ago Hot Rod became a major box office misfire and their second movie, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, has somehow fared even worse despite factors like inflation and the groups increased exposure in the years since Hot Rod. It's a real shame Popstar isn't faring well at all financially, but the good news is that this newest movie is yet another runaway success from the comedic music group.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Trailer For Yoga Hosers Is Just The Wurst

Next month, a new film from Kevin Smith will be released. No, it isn't the long-gestating Hit Somebody. No, it isn't Mallrats II; Mallbrats. No, it isn't Clerks III. No, it isn't Moose Jaws. No, it isn't a reincarnated form of Superman Lives. The filmmakers newest feature (and only his second film to carry a PG-13 rating, if I'm not mistaken) is the Canadian horror film Yoga Hosers. It looks...pretty terrible, honestly. Check out the new trailer for it below.

Why Do Adam Sandler Movies Hate Women?

I've seen Adam Sandler fight Pac-Man. I've seen Adam Sandler use super-speed to disarm a one-eyed Will Forte. Hell, I've even seen the guy actually give a fantastic performance in Paul Thomas Andersons Punch-Drunk Love. Yes, I've witnessed Sandler do many different things in his..."comedies". But there is a recurring motif in his projects that he never directs but typically writes. Hell, even in films he has no hand in screenwriting this recurring aspect of his work always pops up. The movies Adam Sandler typically stars in have a major tendency to treat women the same way the actor treats the very concept of comedy; very very very poorly.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ninja Turtles Win The Box Office With Much Smaller Opening Weekend Than Its Predecessor While X-Men Plummets And Me Before You Surprises

In their sixth theatrical film outing, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles found their newest movie, Out Of The Shadows, doing meh business domestically, with an opening weekend substantially lower than its immediate predecessor. Out Of The Shadows had an opening weekend of $35.2 million, which is 46% lower than the bow of the 2014 Ninja Turtles outing, making this the third weekend in a row (following Neighbors 2 and Alice Through The Looking Glass) where a sequel has opened to 45+% less than its predecessor.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows Review

Two years ago, we were, I guess blessed, with the presence of a live-action/CGI adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It made a bunch of cash at the box office but it was a mess of a movie. It lacked any interesting characters or involving action scenes that might have saved its deplorable screenplay and its fair to say that its financial success was motivated more by nostalgia than actual adoration for the film itself. With all that money comes, of course, a sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows.

It Happened One Night Review (Classic Write-Up)

Frank Capra spent 35 years directing feature films for Hollywood, accumulating a resume brimming with noteworthy titles today well up by film historians as some of the best motion pictures ever made. Hell, It's A Wonderful Life alone would give Capra a pass even if the rest of his filmography solely consisted of him directing direct-to-video Land Before Time sequels. But like I said, there's plenty of other significant projects that the fellow helmed back in the day, one of those features being the subject of this review, the 1934 romantic-comedy It Happened One Night.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

There's A Trailer Now For That Extended R-Rated Cut Of Batman v. Superman. This Calls For A Sarcasm Coated "Excelsior!"

It's the punching bag of the media this year. The very word "MARTHA!!" has gone from being a common name to a term that inspires titters of laughter from individuals across the planet. It's one of the most front-loaded blockbusters of all-time at the domestic box office, even more so than the likes of Ang Lee's Hulk and last year's Fantastic Four debacle. Hell, even actor Jeremy Irons has already declared that the movie was "deservedly so" torn to shreds by critics. To say the reputation of Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice has slipped down to one of the lowest levels possible of a major American blockbuster is a gross understatement indeed.