Friday, June 30, 2017

I'm Holding Out For The Hero Till The End Of The Niiiiiight

The past can be a daunting presence in one's life in varying ways. Sometimes it's a past full of happier memories that feel much more enticing than more dreary modern day circumstances, other times it's a wasted past full of missed opportunities that keep one up at night. Whatever kind of past is haunting your psyche, it's likely being so fixated on the events of the past is preventing you from fully appreciating the present, a corny axiom that has more than a kernel of truth to it. In The Hero, the titular lead character is having his own past loom large over his present day situation, though how he grapples with that issue results in some erratically paced cinema.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ten Years Later, Ratatouille Is Even More Delectable Than Ever


Ratatouille was released to American movie theaters ten years ago today and I'm still in utter disbelief that it exists. In a decade where American computer-animated movies were primarily imitating the more abrasive and pop-culture reference laden style of the first Shrek movie, here comes Ratatouille, bearing more resemblance to a low-key drama than most 2000's DreamWorks Animation fare, with its heavy emphasis on small-scale dialogue and contemplations on the cost and dangers of upsetting societally implemented social constraints by way of embracing who you really are. The fact that it had such a troubled production (Geri's Game director Jan Pinkiva came up with the story for this project and was originally directing the movie as well before replacing by Brad Bird) only makes it all the more mystifying that it even exists at all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Catch A Ride With The Thoughtful And Thrilling Cop Car

For the last two years, I've been trying to parse out exactly who director Jon Watts is. Ever since he got the gig to direct Spider-Man: Homecoming back in June 2015, I've pondered how a guy who had been flying so under my radar managed to nab one of the most coveted directing gigs in Hollywood at the time. While technically the indie horror film Clown was the first feature-length movie Jon Watts ever helmed, Cop Car was released first in a number of countries including the United States and was the motion picture that apparently caught the attention of Sony/Marvel to the point that they handed him the reins to Spidey.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

There's A Good Dog (Brent) At The Center of Megan Leavey

It has been said that war is Hell. By contrast, we know all doggies are pure and perfect creations. Combining the two of these contrasting entities would seem to be as odd of a pairing as Sardines & Mustard or Donald Trump and Codes To Launch Nuclear Weapons. Unlike those two awful duos though, dogs are a common presence in the world of warfare, with brave puppers going out on the front lines to perform all sorts of duties they're human companions can't. So, just to fully recap, not only are doggies cute, adorable and loveable, they're also bad-ass war heroes who put their lives on the lines for our country. Three cheers for doggies!

Robert DeNiro Makes Billy Crystal An Overly Familiar Offer He Can't Refuse In Analyze This

Looking over Billy Crystal's IMDb recently, I was surprised to realize that the guy was never really a prominent fixture of American cinema. He's done a number of hugely popular movies like When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers and the two Monsters Inc. features of course, but aside from a brief period in the last few years of the 1990's, he was never a Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler or Melissa McCarthy type figure who was doing one or two comedies annually. The guy's etched his way into being a perennial staple of American pop culture by way of being a superb awards host and stand-up comic but he was the kind of the fellow who just seemed to do comedy feature films infrequently.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Wet Hot American Summer Knows Teen Comedies And Hillarious Absurdist Comedy Super Well

So, this past weekend I watched Wet Hot American Summer for the first time.

I cannot tell you my thoughts on the movie right here and right now.

However, if you meet me back here at this picnic table in 10 seconds, I'll tell you everything.

(Ten seconds pass)

OK, so...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Host Is The Monster Movie With The Most!

All kinds of genres have gotten a revamp in the 21st century (for instance, comparing 20th century and 21st century superhero movies is akin to comparing apples and submarines, as Jeffrey Katzenberg might put it) and the o'l monster movie hasn't been immune to the kind of audacious reimaginings this centuries filmmakers have applied to other genre mainstays of world cinema. Matt Reeves 2008 feature Cloverfield used the found-footage filming method to bring the viewer up close and personal to a monster attacking a city and how it affects normal people, Guillermo Del Toro gave the Kaiju genre his own distinctive charm and creativity with Pacific Rim and one of the most beloved movie monsters of all-time debuted this year in Monster Trucks.

Transformers: The Last Knight Becomes First Domestic Box Office Dud In Transformers Franchise

"A king has its rein and then it dies. It's inevitable"- Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), Prometheus

For ten years now, the Transformers franchise has ruled over the worldwide box office, with even incoherent garbage like Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen managing to crack $402 million domestically and becoming the sixth movie in history to crack $400 million domestically. This past weekend, the newest installment in the series, Transformers: The Last Knight, debuted to middling numbers that, to be fair, don't suggest the franchise has quite reached Independence Day: Resurgence levels of being flat-out rejected by audiences but it does look like moviegoers are tired of the same old same old Autobot/Decepticon brawls.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Check Out Douglas Laman On This Week's Episode Of We Love To Watch!

I've never ever been on a podcast before but that's all changed forever now that I've made a special appearance on this week's episode of We Love To Watch, a podcast started by two super snazzy film geeks, Aaron Armstrong and Peter Moran, allowed me and fellow film writer Michael Guarnieri onto their podcast to discuss Red Planet and Mission To Mars, two dueling Mars movies released in the year 2000! You can find the podcast below, in which the four of us discuss the acting abilities of Gary Sinise and Val Kilmer, why many grounded space movies struggle to create compelling drama and Michael's pizza woes! It's an absolute hoot and it was a privilege to lend my thoughts and distinctive in all the wrong ways cackle to the proceedings! Be sure to listen to the can't miss episode below and be sure to check out the numerous other episodes the We Love To Watch podcast has created, there's so much comedic brilliance in there y'all!

Get Up On This Stagecoach Partner!

A lot of times when you go back to the earliest piece of work from a legendary actor, it's bound to be some small-scale role without much in the way of glamor, an amusing contrast to the massive presence they would cultivate in the years to follow. Do you think anyone watching Grizzly II: The Concert back in 1983 would have thought that fella playing the bit character of Ron would end up becoming George Clooney, one of the biggest leading men of all-time? How about the fella who played Detective Fartman in Lenny The Wonder Dog who would end up becoming one of the great dramatic actors of this decade and one of the leading members of the newest Star Wars trilogy?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Third Season Of Fargo Offers Dark Themes, Bold Storytelling And Loads Of Memorable Performances


Noah Hawley is an ambitious man, ain't he? Three years ago, he voyaged into the creatively perilous world of TV show adaptations of movies by making a TV show out of the 1996 movie Fargo and created something utterly fantastic in the process. For the second season of that program, he brought the proceedings to the 1970's, widened the scope and managed to deliver something even better than that first season. Just earlier this year, Hawley was the creative head on another FX drama called Legion that managed to fully embrace trippy storytelling and created maybe the best superhero TV show of all-time in the process.

Cars 3 Delivers A Shocking Amount Of Emotionally Engaging, If Sometimes Formulaic, Storytelling

In many ways, Cars 3 feels like a companion piece to last summer's PIXAR movie, Finding Dory. Not only are both sequels but they arrive in an era of PIXAR's filmography so heavily dominated by sequels it's become understandable to question whether the more bold storytelling instincts the studio was relying on for its first 15 years of existence have escaped them (though Inside Out is the kind of masterpiece demonstrating how good this studio can be when it really swings for the fences). Cars 3, even moreso than Finding Dory (whose predecessor never really spawned much in the way of merchandise) is mostly a gamble to create toys and assorted paraphernalia that these Cars movies have become most noteworthy for.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight Somehow Takes The Transformers Franchise To New Tedium-Drenched Low Levels Of Quality

It shouldn't shock any human being to hear that a Transformers sequel is bad. After what I recollect to be a solid first movie in 2007 (I haven't watched that original Michael Bay feature in years so I can't attest to how it holds up), the sequels in this series have been a never ending series of assaults on the senses. The only good things that have come out of these sequels is the various essays on Revenge Of The Fallen Roger Ebert penned back in 2009 and this one inexplicably bizzare John Turturro moment from the third movie. Otherwise, it's been utterly irritating nonsense for four straight movies. While other American blockbusters lend real gravitas to obscure characters, contemplate weighty themes or deliver rousing spectacle, the Transformers sequels are content to devote entire scenes to the Romeo & Juliet Law.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rough Night Has Major Story Problems But Don't Worry, It's Got A Good Number Of Laughs To Its Name

Someone pointed out to me the other day how the new comedy Rough Night marks Scarlett Johansson's first foray into straight-up full-on comedies and to my surprise, it kind of actually is. Granted, she's gone into romantic comedies multiple times in her career as well as a Woody Allen dramedy (I'm shocked I didn't know a Hugh Jackman/Scarlett Johansson comedy from Woody Allen movie even existed prior to a couple months ago) and providing voicework for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and Sing but in terms of headlining a top-to-bottom live-action comedy, this new Lucia Aniello feature does mark new terrain for the celebrated actor.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Come Sing Along With The Thoroughly Delightful Mary Poppins

I have been a Disney geek my entire life, to the point that my first word uttered on this planet was "Disney". I was doomed from the start to be a total nerd for all things Disney which is a key reason why I have such an encyclopedic knowledge of animated Disney fare and hold the man known as Walt Disney in such high esteem. Despite all of that though, I'd somehow never seen the movie Mary Poppins until just a few days ago. Perhaps the running time had put me off the movie as a lad, or perhaps because I wasn't as enamored with other classic live-action Disney movies as I was with classic animated Disney fare, but whatever the reason, Mary Poppins had evaded my eyeballs for over two decades of my life.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gene Kelly And George Gershwin's Music Shine In The Terrific Musical An American In Paris

Whenever we talk about modern actors, us film critics tend to have a habit of comparing newer movie stars to prolific actors of the past. I'm not exempting myself from this trend for sure, I totally did that with Michael Fassbender in my Steve Jobs review. It's not an inherently bad thing, but I do have to ponder if this tactic (which, again, I'm as guilty of as anyone else) when used so ubiquitously does tend to damper newer movie starts chances to establish their own identity while also reducing the uniqueness of the legendary older actors they're being compared to.

The Book Of Henry Has Lots Of Strange Plot Turns But What's The Point Of It All?


While the film geek community was aware that director Collin Trevorrow had a movie called The Book of Henry on the docket for release in 2017, the feature didn't gain all that much in the way of attention until it's bonkers first trailer was released, revealing the movies bonkers-looking plotline and immediately rocketing itself onto many people's radars. I'll freely admit to being one such person whose interest got piqued by the absolutely tonally all-over-the-map trailer which combined super-inventive kid movie tropes with Naomi Watts as a sniper action. The biggest question remaining for me and many others after watching that trailer was whether or not the actual movie itself would be this crazy....

Gone With The Wind Looks Nice But It Really Blows It When It Comes To Being Substantive In Any Way

We all know Gone With The Wind. Even if you haven't seen it, it's sheer level of pop culture presence is so widespread and ubiquitous that it's become something you know lines of dialogue and visuals from even if you haven't taken the plunge and watched the entire four-hour long movie. When you have a movie that's so incredibly popular and influential, the subject question inevitably comes up on whether or not it's actually any good. Was it an all-time classic or just a flash in the pan type deal that was only popular because of outside circumstances that boosted up an otherwise lackluster motion picture (see Twilight and American Sniper as examples of the latter day phenomenon).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cars 3 Has One Of PIXAR's Weakest Opening Weekends While All Eyez On Me Overperforms And Rough Night Flops

Even PIXAR couldn't avoid the summertime box office blues that have plagued many a-sequel this summer, as domestic audiences have rejected new Jack Sparrow, Alien, King Arthur and Mummy movies. Cars 3, the newest entry in the Cars saga, grossed $53.5 million this weekend, an underwhelming bow that makes it the fifth-lowest opening weekend for a PIXAR movie and only the third PIXAR movie in the 21st century to open below $60 million, which is really disappointing considering Cars 3 is a sequel to an already existing franchise. In terms of 2017 animated fare, Cars 3 can claim to be the biggest animated family movie opening weekend of 2017 as it came in $500,000 ahead of the bow of The LEGO Batman Movie while also ending up 7% ahead of the opening weekend of non-sequel The Boss Baby from this past March. Small thing to note; no animated movie has debuted to over $60 million in America since The Secret Life Of Pets nearly a year ago. Two animated movies (Moana and Sing) have managed to crack $200 million, but 2017 really hasn't had a mega-animated movie hit yet this year.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

3 Generations Is A Scattered And Clumsy Mess

3 Generations was supposed to come out in a general theatrical release domestically all the way back in September 2015 with the title of About Ray. After it garnered a critical thrashing at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Weinstein Company pulled it from its release schedule and it basically vanished. Then, earlier this year, it was abruptly announced that the studio would be releasing About Ray under its current title and in a smaller theatrical release under their Radius-TWC banner, which had been discontinued for over a year but was briefly brought back to life solely for the purpose of getting this feature finally released.

The 1932 Take On Scarface Still Remains One Of The Best Gangster Movies!

Howard Hughes is like a never-ending source of historical trivia. The guy's eccentric and reclusive private life is already the stuff of legend, and while I was well aware of him having a heavy hand in the film industry, I had no idea he was a staunch fighter against The Production Code (an entity meant to curb raunchy or unsavory behavior in American cinema) while he was the producer of the 1932 version of Scarface. Apparently, he told the directors in charge of this project (Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson) to forego any consideration for having their Scarface adhere to the guidelines of The Production Code and instead focus on making the most realistic and highest quality movie they could.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Ya Got Me Clueless, Look Into Your Eyes And The Skies The Limit..."

My disdain for John Hughes High School fare like The Breakfast Club (especially The Breakfast Club) is well-known but there's no denying, no matter how I felt about such projects, that they left a massive impact on pop culture. In the years following the 1980's, when such movies were released, a swath of High School set comedies came out and tried to replicate the identity of those John Hughes directed features only to come off as derivative and fade off into the oblivion. It was only those High School set movies that tried to be something different that managed to create their own impact on pop culture.

Your Mission To Mars, Should You Choose To Accept It....

Brian De Palma was one of the most influential filmmakers of the final three decades of the 20th century, with films like Scarface, Carrie and the 1981 masterpiece Blow Out cultivating praise from general moviegoers and film geeks alike. It's a pity then that he's been mostly M.I.A. in the 21st century, with only his divisive 2002 movie Femme Fatale scoring much in the way of praise, though a documentary all about the man himself entitled De Palma was released last year and ended up being widely praised. Hopefully a studio like Amazon Studios, Annapurna or A24 gives Brian De Palma a chance to make a truly great movie again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Where To Even Begin With The Cinematic Cataclysm That Is The Mummy?

The Mummy is so much fun, I really was shocked by how well-made it was. Sure, it gets more than a little obsessed with generic CGI mayhem, but The Mummy is a ton of fun, with strong lead performances that make casual conversations between the characters super entertaining, I'd totally recommend giving the 1999 version of The Mummy a watch! The 2017 take on The Mummy on the other hand....there's no easy way to put it, so lemme rip this band-aid right off and just say it: The Mummy is a full on disaster, a film that can't be counted on to deliver solid scares, originality or competent action. If you told this movie to go make two pieces of toast, I'm sure it would end up burning down the entire house in the process, that's how massively incompetent it is.

Red Planet Is The Most Boring Movie Ever Made About Astronauts Evading A Robot On Mars

If you want a fantastic high-quality motion picture all about a human being looking to survive on Mars and get back home to Earth, complete with thoughtful cinematography, a tremendous lead performance and loads of edge-of-your-set fun, then go check out Ridley Scott's The Martian, that's a sublime piece of cinema. If you want the super boring Asylum knock-off of The Martian that somehow got made 15 years before that Ridley Scott movie even came out, well, why would you want such a movie? That being said, if that's what you crave, the 2000 sci-fi "thriller" Red Planet should scratch that itch you shouldn't even have in the first place!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

We'll Always Have Paris (Can Wait)

We've all been on vacations, but no two vacations are alike, much like snowflakes! Yep, vacations come in all shapes and sizes depending on so many factors, like where you're going, who you're traveling with, all those crucial elements. Some vacations you go on are non-stop thrills and fun, just complete joy from start to finish. Then there are those vacations you endure that are a total snooze for their entire time, there's just no true blue enjoyment to be had. And then there are those vacations that have some fun and even memorable spots in them but end up being just kind of average, which, unfortunately, is the type of vacation the Eleanor Coppola movie Paris Can Wait most resembles.

Wonder Womans Wins Another Weekend At The Box Office As The Mummy And It Comes At Night Bomb And Beatriz At Dinner Has Strong Debut

And now, for the fourth time over the course of five weeks (following King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, Alien: Covenant and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), a massively budgeted Hollywood blockbuster failed to gain traction domestically. That's a trend that should be really disturbing for Hollywood executives and a remind that, while sequels aren't inherently bad, you can't just release another Alien movie and expect it to make money just because it's Alien for instance. But before we get to that new box office bust, let's talk about the number one movie in America, Wonder Woman, which brought plenty of good news for the box office.

In her second weekend, Diana Prince grossed another $57.1 million, a 44% dip from its opening weekend that serves as one of the smallest second-weekend drops for a movie that opened to over $100 million on its opening weekend! NICE! In ten days, Wonder Woman has grossed almost exactly $205 million, almost doubling it's whopping $103 million in just ten days. How high can this one go domestically? Hard to say since this really is an unusually strong hold for a superhero blockbuster but it looks like Wonder Woman will get past $300 million domestically. Can it knock out Batman v. Superman to become the biggest DC Extended Universe movie ever? I don't think so, even with this phenomenal second-weekend hold, but never say never....

But the bad news came in second place, where The Mummy was the movie that became our fourth big-budget misfire over the course of five weeks. This Alex Kurtzman blockbuster bowed to only $32.2 million, which is beneath all of the opening weekends of the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies (none of which had Digital 3D or IMAX 3D ticket pricing to boost their grosses), though it was the fifth biggest non-Mission: Impossible opening weekend ever for Tom Cruise. Sure, it racked up a hefty $141.8 million internationally but this is not the kind of opening weekend you want for a movie that's supposed to kick off an entire cinematic universe. The Mummy (whose B- CinemaScore is one of the worst CinemaScore ratings I've seen for a major bockbuster) is probably gonna end up doing $80-85 million domestically (it'll probably do $310-320 million overseas, which might be able to make this one the rare American film to crack $400 million worldwide without grossing $100 million domestically). Universal is almost certainly hoping those domestic numbers increase with their next entry in their Dark Universe franchise, Bride Of Frankenstein.

Despite having a smaller opening weekend than most major computer-animated family fare, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie had a larger than usual second-weekend decline than most in that subgenre, going down 48% to gross another $12.3 million for a 10-day total of $44.5 million. I'd imagine this one will end up grossing a little over $70 million domestically, not great even for an animated film that cost only $38 million. In fourth place was Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which went down another 51% to gross another $10.7 million for a 17-day domestical total of $135.8 million, which seems to be setting this one up for a final domestic total just under or over $165 million. Rounding out the top five was Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, which actually had the best weekend-to-weekend hold of any movie in the top 12, easing 36% to gross another $6.2 million for a domestic cume of $366.3 million.

Failing to break out was It Comes At Night, which A24 tried to position as a potential early summer sleeper hit but in the end the misleading marketing ended up poisoning the word-of-mouth and gave the movie a disastrous D CinemaScore. Grossing only $6 million, that's not awful for a $5 million budgeted thriller, but it's obvious with the marketing push A24 gave the project as well as it's 2,533 theater count that the studio was hoping for more out of It Comes At Night. This should become the sixth movie ever for A24 to crack $10 million domestically but it's doubtful it stays around at the domestic box office for long.

Also bowing this weekend was Megan Leavey, which was the first movie ever from Bleecker Street to open in wide release and also got by far their widest theater count ever with 1,956 locations playing the film. Though Megan Leavey performed slightly better than expected, it could only muster $3.7 million, which is still subpar given its reasonably sized theater count. I wonder why they didn't try to bow this one in wide release over June 30th, where it could have been timed with the patriotic 4th of July holiday? Seems like that would have been a natural move.

My Cousin Rachel bowed in 523 theaters (just 77 locations shy of premiering wide release!) and grossed an underwhelming $954,000 in its opening weekend. Aside from sleeper hit Gifted, Fox Searchlight has had a rouger 2017 thanks to them putting out a few titles like Wilson, Table 19 and now My Cousin Rachel into too many theaters to qualify as smaller limited release fare but don't give them enough promotion to get general audiences aware that these films are out there. So weird. We shall see if their two Sundance acquisitions for this year (Step and Patti Cake$) can end their Summer 2017 on a higher note.

Paris Can Wait expanded it's limited theater count to 176 theaters and grossed $457,207 (a 13% dip from last weekend) for a per-theater average of $2,598. and a current domestic total of $2.2 million. Making serious waves in the limited release sphere was Beatriz At Dinner which grossed $150,160 at 5 locations for a per-theater average of $30,032, which is the fifth best per-theater average for a limited release opening weekend in 2017. Considering Beatriz At Dinner is being distributed by Roadside Attractions, who have actually handled a number of recent arthouse sleeper hits, this one may become a title to keep an eye on as it expands its theater count in the weeks ahead. Finally, The Hero debuted this weekend to an OK $48,414 at 4 locations for a per-theater average of $12,104. The movie's distributor, The Orchard, planned to expand The Hero into 550 locations by the time 4th of July rolled around and we shall see if it still adheres to that plan after this weekend's box office.

The top 12 movies this weekend grossed $138 million, a lower than usual gross for a 23rd weekend in any given year.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Don't Let Misleading Marketing Turn You Away From The Grim And Transfixing It Comes At Night

It Comes At Night follows in the footsteps of the likes of Drive as a feature film with incredibly misleading marketing that I'm sure is setting up general audiences expectations in a way that they'll be incredibly displeased with what they're actually getting, though the more abstract nature of It Comes At Night was probably not gonna sit well with general audiences anyhow. I saw this movie in a jam-packed auditorium last night and the moment the film ended, the entire theater erupted into indignation at best and outright anger & rage at worst. It was quite a sight, with ceaseless babbling about the low quality of the feature they had just watched filling the hallways as we all left the theater and entered the Texas night.

The Mummy Returns Is An Overstuffed But Mostly Diverting Follow-Up

Once The Mummy premiered in May 1999 to solid reviews and strong box office, well, we all know what was bound to come next....a sequel! Just as The Mummy had returned for four further adventures in the 1940's after the initial 1932 Mummy movie, Brendan Fraser and pals would also be coming back to the silver screen to fight more undead baddies in another motion picture. Per usual for typical summer blockbuster sequels, the scope and budget was enlarged, though, also like many summer blockbuster sequels, the results weren't exactly better than its predecessor despite a grander size in the production.

My Thoughts On The Black Panther Trailer

We've been waiting for this for so long.

People have been eagerly awaiting a feature film adaptation of Black Panther for so very long, to the point that any reference to the character, no matter how small, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe drew profound excitement (I remember the mere off-hand mention of Wakanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron drew excitement from the packed auditorium full of moviegoers I was seeing the film with). Now, after eons of anticipation, a film based on this legendary superhero will finally arrive in February 2018. Before that though, we do get to see some footage from the feature in the form of a teaser trailer that dropped last night. Check it out below!

I mean....


What even needs to be said?

This looks outright flat-out incredible, holy goodness. Every frame of this trailer is jaw-dropping and that's really no exaggeration here. The look of Wakanda is obviously fully embracing the art of Afrofutirism to some stunning results, the costumes look bright, colorful and like nothing else we've seen in a blockbuster before, the action looks fantastic and oh boy, so many amazing actor get to grace the screen in this trailer alone! Lupita Nyong'o! Forest Whitaker! Michael B. Jordan! Angela Basset!!! And the shots we see of Black Panther himself in action are so great, the guys got an agility and grace to his hand-to-hand combat skills that are unlike anything else we've seen in an MCU superhero before.

 I'm chomping at the bit to see the full movie Ryan Coogler and co. have created after this phenomenal trailer! Kneel before the king of Wakanda folks because his movie looks quite incredible!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up (Entry #4): The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

ENTRY #4: The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up is a new weekly series wherein Douglas Laman listens to an album of music he's never fully listened to before (though he may have heard one or two songs from it) and writes up his brief thoughts on it.

There have been a lot of great artists. There have been a lot of artists who emotionally connected with people. But no singular individual has had such a profound impact on the world like David Bowie did. Here was a guy that wasn't content to sit inside the box in any aspect of his life whether it was his sexuality, conforming to gender norms or his catalog of music, the cornerstone of his entire career. His tunes communicated a sense of pulsating rebelliousness, an inability to conform to the norms that matched perfectly with the man belting out such songs. Want a classic example of that iconic spirit? Look no further than his 1972 album The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Has Enough Wit To Be A Charming Diversion

Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants books have been making kid readers across the planet crack up for decades now and yours truly was certainly a major fan of the books when he was a kid. The tales of George and Harold and their own superhero Captain Underpants were these giddy tomes filled with potty humor that made them not only feel different from typical kids literature but also made their humor sensibilities right at home with the kind of humor the typical adolescent child finds funny. Because, really, who under the age of 10 doesn't find the word "Poopypants" utterly hilarious beyond description?

The Mummy (1999) Review

In the 19 year interm between the third and fourth Indiana Jones movies, we had a smattering of globe-trotting old-timey adventure movies looking to replicate the same financial success of o'l Indiana Jones. Most notably, we had the two National Treasure movies, the two Lara Croft features, Sahara, you get the picture. Also in the mix were probably the most financially successful features in this trend, the first two Stephen Sommers Mummy movies (there would be a third one in this series but it was released a little over two months after the fourth Indiana Jones movie), which updated the original Boris Karloff horror movie by adding larger-scale action and a lighter tone to the mix, which actually makes for quite the fun adventure.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Snatched Has Some Funny Moments But It's Too Heavily Scattered To Work Fully

Family vacations always seem to detour into unexpected misadventures and detours and all kinds of other problems in the real world, but in the movies, I don't think there's such a thing as a drama-free vacation. Whether it's the Griswalds going on their Family Vacation or European Vacation or those Millers posing as a clean-cut family to get down to Mexico or Robin Williams and his family in the 2006 family film RV, cinematic depictions of family vacations just seem destined to go awry. Snatched, a new Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn comedy, very much continues this pattern of family getaways very much not going according to plan.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In Laman's Term: The Power Of Proper Build-Up

In Laman's Terms is a new weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

I love the feeling of anticipation. That sensation that builds up in your stomach as you see the waiter approach your table with your meal or seeing Christmas presents under the tree you get to open in just a few days, there's something about being so close yet so far to an object or event you want ever so much that can be quite exhilarating. Many movies get to replicate this phenomenon by way of leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat via the process of build-up, which in movies can make certain character revelations or action sequences all the more powerful. Today, I thought I'd take your dear reader through two excellent examples of proper cinematic build-up by way of examining an individual scene from two separate movies that both manage to demonstrate the power of well-done build-up.

The Godfather Doesn't Just Live Up To 45 Years Worth Of Hype, It Exceeds It

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #37
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #21 (Tied with L'Avventura and Contempt)   

In 1979, director Francis Ford Coppola would unleash a realistic drama called Apocalypse Now that emphasized the realistic emotional and mental turmoil experienced by soldiers dropped into Vietnam. Coppola dove right into a war that had grown bigger than any human being could imagine and dared to imagine what it must be like to live, to breathe, to exist in the midst of all that carnage. Seven years prior, this same guy was responsible for a minuscule indie you may have heard of entitled The Godfather that applied the same thought process of pondering what it's really like to live a life of pervasive violence to the world of mobsters.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Whether You Know Its Twist Ending Or Not, The Sixth Sense Is Top-Caliber Shyamalan Filmmaking

When I wrote up on Beetlejuice earlier this year, I noted what an experience it must have been for audiences encountering that feature in its initial theatrical release to discover the extremely idiosyncratic tendencies of Mr. Tim Burton. I'd imagine there was a similar revelatory feelings for moviegoers who saw The Sixth Sense in August 1999. Though M. Night Shyamalan apparently did two movies before this one, neither of which I'd ever heard of before penning this review (the poster for 1998 Rosie O'Donnell movie Wide Awake looks so much like the quintessential 90's family movie poster, it hurts), The Sixth Sense is very much the kind of movie Shyamalan would be associated with for his entire career, a creepy thriller heavily reliant on grounded human relationships and a big twist that knocks audiences off their feet.

Monday, June 5, 2017

All Along The Baywatch Tower

We don't have very many beaches down here in Texas, particularly in the land-locked region I call home, Allen, Texas. Ya gotta go down to Galveston or other areas closer to the Gulf of Mexico if you want some of that sun n' surf all that beach blanket bingo's are talking about these days. Considering I've never been a big fan of the beach, the fact that there aren't a lot of nearby beaches isn't exactly an insurmountable tragedy for me. What is a tragedy for me though is that I sat through the tragically unfunny beach-set motion picture Baywatch, which will likely keep me off of sandy shores for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman Wows With Wonderful $100.5 Million Weekend

Diana Prince launched her long overdue live-action motion picture to some box office figures as mighty as its lead hero! With $100.5 million garnered in just three days, Wonder Woman is a major hit, achieving the fourth biggest opening weekend ever (behind only Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Suicide Squad and Deadpool) for a superhero movie that doesn't star Iron Man, Spider-Man, Superman or Batman as well as the second biggest opening weekend ever (behind only Finding Dory) for a female-led movie that doesn't belong to the Twilight, Hunger Games or Star Wars franchises. Plus, it's already the biggest opening weekend ever for Chris Pine, the biggest opening weekend ever for a female-directed film and the sixth biggest June opening weekend in history.

The Original 1932 Mummy Movie Is More Tedious Than Chilling

And so, in preparation for that new Mummy movie that opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, I've decided to take a deep dive into the Universal Mummy franchise by way of watching all five original Universal Mummy movies as well as the first two Brendan Fraser Mummy movies (I've already seen the third in that series). This journey begins with, of course, the very first Universal Mummy movie, the one in 1932 that kicked things off for the franchise and reaffirmed Boris Karloff (who also played Frankenstein's Monster for Universal in this era) as a prominent fixture of monster movie mayhem in this era.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Terrific Wonder Woman Is Just As Thoughtful As It Is Rousing Fun!


Oh does that ever feel good to say!

After taking decades to get to the big screen, Wonder Woman finally has her first theatrical movie and thankfully, we don't have a Green Lantern or Fantastic Four on our hands here wherein the first theatrically released film adaptation of a beloved comic book character turns out to not have been worth the elongated waiting period. Instead, Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman is an absolute delight, one that mixes together the iconic compassion and warmth that made this character so beloved for decades now and stirring them up with plenty of rousing action sequences and even some contemplation of the complex morality present in mankind.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Space Between Us Gets Lost In Space

How come more of these romantic dramas aren’t from a female perspective? Like, any person of any gender can enjoy a romantic movie but these particular movies do have a notable female fanbase and are typically marketed towards women, not to mention that the most famous of these features (The Notebook, Twilight and The Fault In Our Stars for instance) are told through the prism of women. It’s kind of odd to me then that so many of these movies go for an overtly male perspective that relegates women to the sidelines as thinly sketched romantic interest material. Wouldn’t you be better served getting a woman as the face of the project and tying the premise into issues facing specifically women instead of treating your target audience as just a poorly defined object for your male protagonist to covet?