Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Is A Terrifying Movie About What Happens When Fear Intrudes On Normalcy

Even if no other high-quality horror films had been released that decade, it's quite likely that the 1970's would have cultivated a persona as a landmark decade for horror cinema solely thanks to the presence of the massive success of the micro-budget horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But that phenomenal horror feature would not be the only low-budget entry in that genre to soar in this era, as four years after Leatherface sliced up a bunch of teenagers Michael Myers would enter the world of horror cinema via Halloween and, much like Leatherface before him, change the landscape of horror movies forever.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tom Hanks Inferno Falls Beneath Box Office Victor Boo! A Madea Halloween

First of all, I wanted to make a thorough apology for something that appeared in last week's box office article written by yours truly. I inadvertently used a terrible awful racial slur in the headline of last week's box office round-up article and from the bottom of my heart, I want to say I am so very sorry.  While I had no clue that the word itself was a racial slur when I used it initially, that's no excuse for the ignorance my article spread and I shall be more diligent about such things in the future. Again, my most sincere apologies to everyone, I assure you, it won't happen again.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

300 Is Sparta...And Also Pretty Middling

And so it was with March 2007 that Zack Snyder went from being just another director of one of the many horror remakes created in the mid-2000's to a visual auteur. In the nearly decade since 300's release, Snyder has received a, let's say, divisive reputation, with his last three films (Sucker Punch, Man Of Steel and Batman v. Superman) garnering a particularly negative response. But before all that, there was the subject of this review, 300, the film that launched a wave of new films full of slow-motion (a technique that had obviously existed before but had been made cool again by those 300 spartan warriors) and other movies starring Gerard Butler.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I Saw The Light Is An Abysmal Ode To A Country Music Legend

For those searching for a motion picture that examines the life of 1950's country music sensation Hank Williams in a remotely interesting way, well, you're gonna have to look elsewhere, because such a film is most certainly not what you'll find in the 2016 motion picture I Saw The Light. If you've been looking everywhere for the worst kind of musical biopic, the sort of movie that goes through a real-life individuals life with no compelling drama or filmmaking to speak of, well, I'd ask you what kind of life choices led to you pursuing such a hunt, but I suppose I Saw The Light fits such qualifiers.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Angels & Demons Is, At Best, Only Passable, But It's Got Way More Life In It Than Its Predeccesor

It's hard to imagine someone walking out of The Da Vinci Code in the summer of 2006 and going "Oh man, I wanna return to that universe!", though it's easy to picture vividly audiences leaving screenings of that 2006 Ron Howard film and muttering under their breaths "What was all the hype about?". And yet, Sony/Columbia was not going to be the studio that ignored the $700 million worldwide box office gross of The Da Vinci Code and respond to it with a sequel, so May 2009 brought the world Angels & Demons, a book actually published prior to The Da Vinci Code but reformatted as a sequel in its cinematic adaptation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Uncompromising Nature Of 13TH Is A Key Facet Of Its Effectiveness

One of the key components of art even existing in the first place is for it to help us grapple with universal problems in any given society. Sometimes art engages with said issues in a more stylized manner, other times it manages to confront pervasive problems in a more naturalistic method. Documentaries tend to fall into that second classification, allowing filmmakers and audiences alike a chance to interact with actual people and locations that relate to pressing matters. That certainly seems like an apt way to sum up 13TH, a new documentary from director Ava DuVernay (now streaming on Netflix) that thoroughly investigates systemic racism in modern-day American society.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Da Vinci Code Is The Worst Kind Of Nonsense...Boring Nonsense

At the dawn of the 21st century, The Da Vinci Code was everywhere. That 2003 Dan Brown novel was pervasive in its presence and it was only a matter of time before a feature film adaptation. And who better to handle such an adaptation than recent Best Director Oscar winner Ron Howard who was also coming off the biggest movie of his career, How The Grinch Stol Christmas. Reunite him with Tom Hanks, his lead actor from the 1995 hit Apollo 13, and you've got a surefire recipe for a major blockbuster right?

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Spy, With My Little Eye, A Subpar Comedy Entitled Keeping Up With The Joneses

With James Bond and Jason Bourne being more popular than ever in the 21st century, not to mention Austin Powers becoming a pop culture phenomenon in the last few years of the 20th century, spies have been prime fodder for American comedies in the past decade or so. But man, the last five years have put the pedal to the metal when it comes to spy comedies, ranging from family comedies (Cars 2, Despicable Me 2 and Penguins Of Madagascar), action-comedies (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Kingsman: The Secret Service) and general comedies (Spy, Central Intelligence and The Brothers Grimsby all come out in a 54 week span). And now there's Keeping Up With The Joneses, whose greatest accomplishment is ensuring that The Brothers Grimsby isn't the worst spy comedy of 2016.

Madea Frightens Her Way To The Top Of The Box Office, Jack Reacher Does Alright, Oujia Underwhelms And Moonlight Gets Off To Bright Start

After three years away from multiplexes across the country, Madea returned to movie theaters with a strong showing in Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween, which grossed a fantastic $27.6 million over the weekend. That's the third-best opening weekend for a Madea movie and the fourth biggest opening weekend ever for Tyler Perry as a director. It's also the first movie from Lionsgate to be the number one movie in America in 11 months. The last time that happened was with the very last Hunger Games movie.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Scariest Thing About Boo! A Madea Halloween Is Its Overlong Running Time

Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween was quite the momentous movie for me, for you see, I have never watched any other entries in the Madea saga (aside from the opening five minutes of Madea Goes To Jail) or any Tyler Perry directorial effort for that matter. With the release of this new Madea feature (the first new Tyler Perry film since Land Of The Nerds started, believe it or not), it was time for me to get better acquainted with a filmmaker whose been met with non-stop critical derision over the past decade unless he's appearing in a David Fincher drama.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Days Of Crazy Good Music: West Covina

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to The CW tonight, and in honor of its return, I've decided to do a column each weekday this week chronicling noteworthy songs from the first season. 

And now, for the last entry in this column, let's go all the way back to the very first musical number on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a little ditty entitled West Covina. Now, in my piece on The Sexy Getting Ready Song (which, like West Covina, also appeared in the first episode of the series), I mentioned how that song had a sort of confidence and assuredness that immediately gave Crazy Ex-Girlfriend its own unique vibe and the same can very much be said for West Covina, a tune that also reinforces the fresh spirit that flows throughout Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as well as helps illuminate who exactly lead character Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) is.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five Days Of Crazy Good Music: Cold Shower and Flooded With Justice

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to The CW Friday night, and in honor of its return, I've decided to do a column each weekday this week chronicling noteworthy songs from the first season. 

Yes, this one's a tiny bit of a cheat since it covers two songs instead of the typical one, but whatever. Anywho, both of these musical numbers come during a storyline wherein Rebecca's (Rachel Bloom) newest way of garnering extended periods of time with Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) is to help spearhead a lawsuit against his apartment complex regarding the faulty plumbing system that is making showers a chilly nightmare for Josh and numerous other individuals. It's the kind of storyline that expertly combines numerous facets of Rebecca's complex personality, namely her infatuation with Josh, her desire to be seen as a good person who crusades for the little guy and the legitimate talent she carries in her profession.

The First Teaser Trailer For Logan Makes Hugh Jackman's Last Wolverine Movie Look Very Different And Emotional

The final X-Men movie to feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is on its way for March. It's got a title (Logan, a nice little contrast with the title of the last solo Wolverine movie The Wolverine), a cast that includes Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant and Boyd Holbrook and now it's got a teaser trailer. Check it out below and prepare to see something very different from past X-Men movies and American blockbusters in general.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Five Days Of Crazy Good Music: Settle For Me

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to The CW Friday night, and in honor of its return, I've decided to do a column each weekday this week chronicling noteworthy songs from the first season. 

Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) is very much the focus of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, hence why the show has its title. But one of the best aspects of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in its initial season is how fully fleshed-out its supporting cast felt from the get-go. Rebecca's best pal Paula is a great example of this trait and Greg (Santino Fontana) is another shining showcase for how well Crazy Ex-Girlfriend depicted that Rebecca was not the only person residing in West Covina (Californiiiiiaaaaa!!) that was a tad bit off-kilter.

I Cannot Stress Enough Just How Exceptionally Dumb The 5th Wave Is

So much idiocy is crammed into the running time of The 5th Wave that I wondered at the end what screenwriter could possibly be responsible for this disaster. Then I saw in the credits that none other than Akiva Goldsman was one of the three credited screenwriters. Now it all made sense. Of course the man responsible for Batman Forever and Insurgent would be in charge of this project. Clarity washed over my body and suddenly the reason for why this project had gone so horribly off the rails was clear as day, though the script is far from the only thing that simply doesn't work in any way shape or form in The 5th Wave, believe you me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Space Jam Is Returning to Theaters Next Month Because You Couldn't Keep Your Nostalgia In Your Pants

Well, I hope you're happy. Yes, I'm talking to you specifically readers who adore Space Jam. I know my generation loves this movie something awful, but even before I became a snooty film critic, I obtained a particular disdain for this Joe Pytka "movie" because of how it shoved all the Looney Tune characters I loved to the sidelines in favor of a corny biopic about Michael Jordan. Now that I'm older, my feelings for the film have manifested into just resentment more than anything else. Yeah, I guess the theme song is kinda catchy but Space Jam really has nothing else going for it. It's a 90-minute commercial for Michael Jordan and that's it.

Five Days Of Crazy Good Music: I Love My Daughter

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to The CW Friday night, and in honor of its return, I've decided to do a column each weekday this week chronicling noteworthy songs from the first season. 

While Crazy Ex-Girlfriend definitely has a foot firmly placed in the world of Broadway musicals (just look at West Covina, the very first tune of the whole show), the great thing about the program is how it explores a wide gamut of musical genres and differing artists. While this wouldn't be the first time country music showed up on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (we'd also have Valencia's Women Gotta Stick Together song coming our way eventually), the tune I Love My Daughter does perfectly encapsulate a side of country music that could exist as its own subgenre; songs about dads harmonizing about their obsession with their daughter.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Five Days Of Crazy Good Music: The Sexy Getting Ready Song

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to The CW Friday night, and in honor of its return, I've decided to do a column each weekday this week chronicling noteworthy songs from the first season. First up....

The practice of women taking elongated amounts of time to prepare for going out has been the butt of jokes for ages, typically in the form of shallow jabs consisting solely of dudes asking "Why are women so slow?!??! LOLZ!" Leave it to Rachel Bloom to add some humanity to this endeavor from the perspective of the gender that actually goes through the extended rituals to match societies narrow vision of what constitutes beauty. This is The Sexy Getting Ready Song, a tune that dropped in the middle of the first episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and established right off the bat that this would be program that explored concepts and ideas not frequently seen on American television.

The Accountant Is Plenty Watchable But Also Sort Of A Mess

The Accountant is kind of an oddball movie. There's a lot of big actors wriggling around on-screen inhabiting a script that feels like it could have easily belonged to some sort of Steven Seagal and Charles Bronson action vehicle in the 1980's. It's an interesting dichotomy that actually makes the film watchable but it's kept from being truly as fun as it could have been by a script that seems to be hopping all over the place tonally and there's also the problem of the story being plagued by pervasive predictability.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Accountant Adds Up To Solid Box Office, Kevin Hart: What Now? Does Record-Breaking Business And Bad Box Office (Not Jet Fuel) Melts Max Steel

Ben Affleck scored another box office win this weekend with The Accountant, which grossed $24.7 million in its bow.  That's a considerably larger opening weekend than other like-minded action movies such as Alex Cross and John Wick. The advantage The Accountant had was the presence of post-Argo/Gone Girl Ben Affleck and a strong marketing campaign from Warner Bros. that gave the feature a vibe quite unlike anything else in the marketplace. Doesn't hurt that there aren't too many action movies out right now, giving The Accountant another reason it our-performed expectations. With an A CinemaScore under its belt, it wouldn't be surprising to see The Accountant end up over $70 million domestically.

Deepwater Horizon Has Peter Berg Finally Breaking Through As A Filmmaker

Peter Berg belongs with the likes of Antoine Faqua, Michael Bay and Zack Snyder in the category of directors I shall henceforth refer to as "Macho Dudes Making Macho Movies For Macho Moviegoers". Individuals belonging to this classification frequently make motion pictures that adhere to the most primal definition of what constitutes masculinity, with pervasive attempts to appear "rugged" and "extreme" typically coming at the cost of coherent storytelling and interesting characters. Those are certainly two elements missing in spades in Peter Berg's past work, especially in the 2012 disaster Battleship.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Disturbing Nadir Of Humanity Is Seen In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Right off the bat, Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre plainly informs its audience that this is not going to be a movie for the faint of heart. A narrator reads off a title crawl in a manner that avoids going too over-the-top while still retaining an air of menace. After this we get our first visual in the feature, the sight of dug up corpses sprawled out on top of some sort of fixture in a commentary. No jump scares or anything like that occur here, it's simply the camera panning out on this shot of this atrocity. The full horrifying nature of this visual is allowed to sink into the viewer and helps set the tone of what's to come in this motion picture.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A New Rogue One Trailer Has Mads Mikkelsen And Ben Mendelsohn Meeting And There's Also Some Star Wars Stuff

There's one movie coming out in December everyone around the world has been looking forward to for years now, especially given how the director of said movie recently directed a Warner Bros. summer blockbuster that debuted in May and was a major box office hit. This film revealed a trailer this past Spring and since then anticipation has mounted and mounted and such eagerness will likely only increase in the future. This movie is called Incarnate and is about Aaron Eckhart using Inception technology to fight a demon in a young boy's mind. Also coming out in December is something called Rogue One, which released a new trailer today you can watch below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The First Trailers For The Iron Fist TV Show And The Power Rangers Movie Are Here To Make You Go "Meh"

Two trailers debuted at the New York Comic-Con this weekend that made people everywhere go...."OK". Or maybe that was just me. As a full-on Marvel geek and a guy whose never seen a lick of Power Rangers stuff, these new trailers for the new Iron Fist Netflix show and the new dark n' gritty Power Rangers movie just don't do it for me. How about we go through each trailer and talk about why I'm personally on the fence on both projects, OK?

Scares Are Minimal In The First Paranormal Activity, The One That Started It All

Though it may have been released in 2009, Paranormal Activity was actually filmed in 2006 (something reflected in on-screen text in the film itself), an entire decade ago and a year before the first iPhone was released. Imagine how much technology has changed in the years since then. Everyone's got a portable camera/computer/entertainment system residing in their pocket now and entire films (like Tangerine) are filmed on people's phones now. Analyzing how much technology has changed in the epoch since Paranormal Activity was filmed provides a lot more entertainment than the movie itself, which is just disposable horror fare at the end of the day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Birth Of A Nation's Virtues Are Notably Hindered By A Lack Of Substance

I've been seeing a lot of think pieces about 2016 being the year cinema died or whatever, but maybe a more appropriate label to place on 2016 will be that it was  the year that delivered a bunch of OK but not really all that substantive biopics. Last month brought the OK Sully and the better-but-lacking-in-depth Snowden and now The Birth Of A Nation comes around to make the group as a trio. Regardless if this is a fluke or a larger signal of a trend of 2016 cinema, The Birth Of A Nation is yet another alright motion picture that lacks anything really to say regarding the real-life subject it concentrates its entire story on.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Find A Better Cinematic Passenger Than The Girl On The Train

There's a sense of confusion throughout The Girl On The Train, and I'm not just referring to how the protagonist of this story has a massive dependency on alcohol makes it difficult to remember crucial memories. No, there's a pretty clear sense of dubiety that's occurring in the script too, one that seems like the screenwriter of The Girl On The Train, in an effort to adapt the 2015 book (that I have not read, just for context), was struggling to figure out what kind of tone to go for here. Was this a trashy fun thriller? Was this a thoughtful exploration of alcoholism and regret? Was this both? What is this movie?

The First Weekend Of October Is A Quiet One At The Box Office As Girl On The Train Does Alright And Birth Of A Nation Misses The Mark

The Girl On The Train sailed down the rails this weekend with an opening weekend that can be best described as...adequeite. Grossing $24.66 million over its first three days of release, the bow of the new Emily Blunt thriller was fine considering its $45 million budget and actually ranks as the sixth biggest opening weekend ever for Emily Blunt. It's far off from the opening weekend of fellow October release Gone Girl, which The Girl On The Train was clearly emulating in its marketing, but that can be attributed to Emily Blunt not being as big of a star and the reviews being more mixed for this title. The more front-loaded nature of The Girl On The Train this weekend does call into question how it'll hold up in the weeks to come when it faces off against a barrage of newcomers, but we shall see.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Queen Of Katwe Has Absolutely No Trouble Lifting One's Spirit

I am very much upfront about not being a sports guy myself but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy plenty of good sports movies. The key of course, like a large number of other mediums of cinematic storytelling, is to make the character key and central, the sport the individuals actually play in the plot services the characters and not the other way round. That's why Rocky, for instance, is a fantastic movie for both boxing fanatics and people like me that have never watched a second of an actual boxing match. While the debate rages on whether or not chess qualifies as a sport, the film Queen Of Katwe, the newest directorial effort from Mira Nair, once again proves how important interesting lead characters can be to a film, as the world of chess becomes just one part of the tale of a girl becoming herself amidst newfound worlds and interests.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apocalypse Was An Unstoppable Foe For The Newest X-Men Movie, But For All The Wrong Reasons


Lots and lots of things went awry in this past summer's X-Men: Apocalypse, which just came out on Blu-Ray this past Tuesday and re-ignited my brain with memories of all of that features failings. Too many extraneous characters to count (Quicksilver, Psylocke and Rose Byrne's character had nothing to contribute) and tepid action scenes that looked so cheap and fake they wouldn't pass muster in a particularly poor episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Some movies that go off the rails feel like they could have been salvaged at one point or another, but honestly, X-Men: Apocalypse doomed itself the moment the current creative team behind these X-Men films decided to tackle the titular antagonist.

(Mean) Girls Got (Comedic) Rhythym

Isn't it nice when a movie kind of just knocks you off your feet in how much its quality surprises you? It's an unexpected sensation that totally happened with me after I finished watching Mean Girls for the first time yesterday. Now, it's not like I had never heard of this 2004 Mark Waters effort in the past 12 years, far from it. I knew about October 3rd being Mean Girls Day, I'd heard how fetch was "not gonna happen", the various jokes that had cemented themselves in pop culture in a way very few 21st-century comedies have. Basically, I was familiar with Mean Girls in that I'd absorbed that the film had managed to resonate with people in a certain way....and now I totally understand it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

O.J.: Made In America Is An Incredible Achievement, Simple As That

When you become a celebrity, your life is no longer your own.

Your reach extends outward almost infinitely, not just to the way your friends and family are affected by your level of exposure, but also in the way your fame resonates with the public. A kid in Wyoming who could become the next great scientist could have gotten his passion for the world of beakers and measurements ignited by the presence of Neil DeGrasse Tyson or deceased figures like Albert Einstein who are leaving their mark on this planet even long after they've left this life. How could O.J. Simpson not be a similarly influential figure? In the late 60's, a time of upheaval for African-Americans, he claimed incredible sports accomplishments that made him one of the more notable African-American sports figures in recent memory.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Next Pirates Of The Caribbean Movie Has A Trailer With A Javier Bardem Ghost...And No Johnny Depp

Because it worked out so well this past summer when Disney released a Johnny Depp-starring sequel to a six-year-old movie over Memorial Day, we all have Pirates Of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell Not Tales to look forward to come May 26, 2017. This new installment basically ditches everything from that stand-alone fourth movie no one liked (though I'd assume Barbossa's peg leg will return) and brings back stuff from the original trilogy, namely Will Turn and his now grown-up son. Oh, and Johnny Depp is also back, but not that adorable dog with the keys, as far as I know. Check out the first trailer for the new Pirates movie below.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Is Generic Even By Modern-Day Tim Burton Movie Standards

While dabbling in some weird-ish fantasy oriented imagery and having the requisite outsider protagonist that have been hallmarks of Tim Burton's work for decades now, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children may be one of the most generic films to come from the director, right alongside that Planet Of The Apes remake he did back in 2001. Don't mistake generic inherently for "worst", Miss Peregrine is most certainly better than Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the defensive nadir of Burton's work as a director, but it does feel like any sort of identity he usually brings with him to his work has been sanded off.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Miss Peregrine And Deepwater Horizon End September And Begin October With Middle-Of-The-Road Box Office

One month of fall came to an end this weekend as another month began, an occasion that was timed to the release of three new wide releases and the notable expansion of another title into over 1,000 theaters. Nothing really managed to break out though and that includes the top title at the box office, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, which grossed $28.5 million in its opening weekend. In terms of Young-Adult Book Adaptations, that's ahead of star Asa Butterfield's 2013 feature Ender's Game and just behind the third Divergent movie, Ascendant, from earlier this year. In terms of Tim Burton directorial efforts, it's actually his eighth biggest opening weekend ever, only slightly behind the bows of Dark Shadows and Sleepy Hollow.