Monday, October 30, 2017

A Realistic Take On Awkwardness Very Much Serves As A Positive Facet Of Eagle vs. Shark

There's not much in the life of Lily (Loren Horsley) that can be called extraordinary. She lives out her comfortable existence with her cartoonist brother, works at a fast food burger joint and enjoys watching documentaries about her favorite animal, sharks. But there is a customer that repeatedly comes into her place of work that does brighten her day and that customer is a dude named Jarrod (Jemaine Clement). Jarrod is basically your quintessential nerd's nerd and one whose oblivious that Lily has a crush on him. Lily does have a chance to build upon her infatuation with Jarrod when she gets invited to a party he's hosting wherein guests have to dress up as their favorite animal.

Mindbogglingly Middling Mob Movie Mars Suburbicon

So this is the part of the review where I'd normally recap the plot of the movie I'm reviewing but for Suburbicon, that seems like a momentous task simply given that concisely recapping the plot proper of this George Clooney directed feature film is a little difficult given how all-over-the-place the story of Suburbicon actually is. But I'm never one to shy away from a challenge, so lemme give this a go. The motion picture starts with an African-American family moving into Suburbicon, a supposedly idyllic suburban paradise, in the year 1959 much to the intense anger of their white neighbors, who sign petitions to get the new neighbors kicked out and yell & scream outside the families house each night.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cover Your Mouth And Don't Inhale Breathe

For Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), life was peaches and cream, especially once Diana Blacker (Claire Foy) came into the picture. The two met at a croquet match and after a brief montage that doesn't allow the viewer to properly process how or why these two would work together as a couple, they're married! No wait, they're also expecting a child! Lots of stuff is happening in these opening scenes. Something else tremendous occurs for the couple when Robin is stricken by polio, which leaves him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. Now a guy who was previously all about doing exotic traveling and parties is confined to a hospital bed, a situation that has Robin convinced his life is over.

Ranking The Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies (Part One) (In Laman's Terms)

In Laman's Terms is a 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!

With Thor: Ragnarok heading to U.S. theaters next weekend (it's already opened in the vast majority of foreign territories), I thought it was high time to do an essay I'd meant to do for a while now ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies from worst to best. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of these kinds of ranking articles, but for some reason, this one in particular just wouldn't get out of my brain, and when an idea gets lodged in my brain, well, I gotta write about it. So let's get the first part of this ranking, which will cover eight of the sixteen MCU films, started with...

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Snowman Is A Frosty Murder Mystery Misfire

Do you want to build a snowman? C'mon, your snowman can't turn out any worse than Tomas Alfredson's new thriller The Snowman, a film that clearly was meant to be a snowy Silence Of The Lambs but ends up being more incoherent than anything else. The premise of The Snowman, alas, does not revolve around a crime-solving snowman, but rather Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender, and yes, multiple characters solemnly intone that name throughout the film) taking time away from his favorite past time of drinking booze and passing out on playground equipment so that he can concentrate on a local missing person case, with the individual that's missing being a mother who's having marriage troubles.

Wakefield Can't Come Up With Enough Depth For Its Lead Characters Journey Of Self-Discovery

Life has not been easy for Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston), a guy who feels like life has been piling up on him between a dissatisfying job, a fractured relationship with his wife and two daughters who'd rather he didn't exist at all. He's looking for some escape from his existence and he finds the chance for just that when he rediscovers the little attic space in his families garage (which is a separate building from their house). Here, he discovers there's a lot of room in here as well as a window through which he can watch his families comings and goings. Suddenly, an attic used to store seasonal decorations and camping equipment is looking mighty inviting.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Silly Fun And Disaster Mayhem Are In Short Supply In The Rote Geostorm

The erratic weather patterns of planet Earth, which have only grown worse and more deadly as the years go by, have finally caused the various nations of the world to come together to conjure up a solution for these weather-related problems. Their remedy arrives in the form of a system of satellites, nicknamed Dutchboy, that hover above Earth and control the weather. Natural disasters are a thing of the past and the man behind designing Dutchboy, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), is a hero. Unfortunately, Jake Lawson is a rowdy guy who doesn't respond well to authority and him mouthing off to a U.S. senator ends up costing him his job.

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween Tops The Box Office While Geostorm Gets Soaked, Only The Brave Goes Up In Smoke And Snowman Gets Cold Shoulder

October 2017 continued its middling run at the box office as Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween topped the box office with $21.6 million. That's the second-lowest grossing opening weekend for a Madea movie, but that's less worrisome than it might be for other franchise since it was in close proximity to other Madea movies. Plus, going down only 24% from your predecessors opening weekend is a dip many much more expensive sequels from 2016 and 2017 would have loved to have. Going down from the $28.5 million bow of the first Halloween-themed Madea movie was inevitable given how the marketing for the sequel failed to offer much new to differentiate itself from its predecessor aside from references to recent horror movie hits Get Out and It. The first Madea Halloween movie was one of the leggier entries in the franchise as it did 2.6 times its opening weekend. I doubt the sequel will hold that well but it might just become the eighth Madea movie (out of eight) to cross $50 million domestically if it doesn't plummet in the weeks ahead.

The Foreigner Needed, To Quote Toby Keith, A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action

As The Foreigner starts, we're given no real introduction to the character of Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan), there's no flashback sequence to inform the audience of some kind of tragic backstory, he's just a dude who's trying to get his teenage daughter to a local store so she can get the dress she needs for a school dance. Right after he drops her off to go into that store while he parks the car, a bomb goes off that kills Quan's daughter, leaving him distraught and shaken. His daughter was the only family he had left, and as we later learn Quan had previously family members under similarly tragic circumstances, this seemingly normal guy snaps and begins a quest for vengeance.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Don Coscarelli's Phantasm Mixes Coping With Death With Wacky Sci-Fi Horror Concepts To Shockingly Cohesive Results

Death is a prominent force in the life of youngster Mike Pearson (A. Michael Baldwin). He recently lost his parents, which has forced him to live with his older brother, Jody Pearson (Bill Thornbury), and now death has reared its head again thanks one of his other brothers (he's got three) just now also passing away. How ironic then, given how heavily death plays into Mike's life up to this point, that it would be a mortician that garners Mike's suspicions. Specifically, a fellow only referred to as The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) that serves as the local mortician has aroused the distrust of Mike now that the adolescent individual saw this old and feeble man manage to lift his brother's coffin all by himself.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Devil's Backbone Is Yet Another Guillermo Del Toro Winner That Merges Scares With Brains

Guillermo Del Toro writing and directing tales that shine a more humanistic gaze upon fantasy creatures in the middle of a large-scale war seems to serve the auteur filmmaker well if his 2006 classic Pan's Labyrinth and the subject of this review, The Devil's Backbone, are any indication. For the premise of the latter film, Del Toro, along with David Munoz and Antonio Trashorras, have concocted a tale about orphan Carlos (Fernando Tielve) being dropped off at an orphanage in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. Here, Carlos finds himself the target of constant bullying by the orphans who have been held here for far longer than he has, though this bullying does result in Carlos making a major discovery.

Tony Gilroy Proves To Be A Skillful Filmmaker In His Directorial Debut Michael Clayton

Who is the titular character of Michael Clayton? Well, Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is the guy they ("they" being a big-time law firm) send in to help clean up messes. He'll walk you through options, he'll help you figure out the best way to proceed in a time of hardship, all that jazz. It's not a glamorous job, but it's one that pays the bills and gives Clayton a comfy life. The new client Clayton and the law firm he works for have taken on is that of the U-North corporation, which is in the middle of a lawsuit alleging that the company poisoned various local water supplies and hurt countless individuals.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women's Best Moments Reinforce How Clunky Some of its Storytelling Is

Now that Wonder Woman is the star of one of the biggest superhero movies of all-time, the character's backstory is pretty well-known by the general public, but the life of the creator of Wonder Woman is likely still a mystery to many. Well, in order to fully process who was behind the character of Wonder Woman, we have to go all the way back to the 1930's, when husband/wife duo William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) and Elizabeth Holloway Marston (Rebecca Hall) are trying to hit the big time at the college they work at, a college that, incidentally, does not recognize Elizabeth's intellectual achievements solely based on her gender.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Evil Dead II Thrusts Tons Of Crazy Well-Crafted Scares On The Audience

If you thought Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) had already been through hell watching all of his friends and his girlfriend get killed by demonic spirits in the first Evil Dead movie, just wait until you see how Evil Dead II puts this character through the wringer. Continuing right where the first one left off, Ash is trapped in the forest where that fateful cabin he and his friends got trapped in resides with there being no way to escape. He's stuck here with these Candarian Demons, who are bent on messing with his mind and eventually devouring him. Just because Ash is up against formidable supernatural forces though doesn't mean this guy is about to go down without a fight.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories Is One Of Noah Baumbach's Strongest Efforts Yet As A Director

The fact that the plural version of the word story is utilized in the title of the new Noah Baumbach movie The Meyerowitz Stories should indicate to the average viewer that this one film contains multiple different tales it plans to tell. All of the assorted plotlines follow the Meyerowitz family, a group of assorted artists at differing stages of life. The member of this family most prominent in the film itself is Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler), a piano player whose going through a divorce and also dealing with his 18-year-old daughter leaving home for college. Meanwhile, his half-brother, wealthy accountant Matthew Meyerowitz (Ben Stiller), is coming up from Los Angeles to sell their dads home.

The Mountain Between Us Is So Trite And Dull, It's Chilling

Rare is the trip by airplane that goes exactly as planned. You're bound to end up getting transferred to another flight or missing some piece of luggage or landing hours later than originally expected if you end up choosing this mode of transportation. Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) were already facing the kind of mundane difficulties we all go through when trying to embark on a flight, namely being unable to get on flights they absolutely need to get on for extremely important personal events (Bass has a patient he has to perform surgery on while Martin is getting married the next day).

Happy Death Day Slices Up Solid Opening Weekend, Foreigner Blows Up Decent Bow While Professor Marston Gets Schooled

If anyone's had a fantastic 2017, it's Blumhouse Productions, the company behind Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge. They've already had Split and especially Get Out makes gobs of money earlier this year and now Happy Death Day is here to be their newest box office hit. With $26.5 million, this one had the tenth biggest debut ever for a Blumhouse movie and has already more than made back its $4.8 million budget. The marketing on these Blumhouse movies continues to be noteworthy and Happy Death Day was no exception with omnipresent and distinctive advertisements making its presence known, not to mention a smartly chosen Friday The 13th release date.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

American Made Has Tom Cruise Doing Strong Work In Committing 1980's Debauchery

My yearning for Tom Cruise to do more non-blockbuster work has been heightened by seeing him in American Made, which has Cruise delivering one of his better performances in a while as Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an airline pilot who passes time in his mundane life by smuggling certain everyday items across the border for those willing to pay up for such items. He's caught in the act by a CIA agent known as Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who offers Barry the chance to use both his piloting skills and his yearning for a more exciting life by piloting a plane that can take photos of the bases of operations for Communist insurgents located South of the American border.

Who Would Want To Get Rid Of A Thoughtful Horror Movie Like The Babadook?

For Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis), life as a single mother isn't easy. You can tell just by looking at her tired face that she's being run ragged by the responsibilities of her life including raising her precocious son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), on her own. Samuel has some major behavior problems and his school is just about ready to give up on the boy and the fact that Samuel has become just as fascinated by a monster called the Babadook and telling everyone within earshot about how he's going to kill the Babadook as he is with performing magic tricks isn't helping anyone. Like I said, this isn't an easy life.

Friday, October 13, 2017

No Easy Answers to Brutal Questions Can Be Found In Munich

Back in 2005, Steven Spielberg delivered two motion pictures that managed to crystallize different aspects of how 9/11 impacted America. The first, War Of The Worlds, was a harrowing motion picture that managed to capture just what it was like to be an ordinary American citizen that suddenly found themselves thrust into the middle of an attack larger than anything they could have imagined. Six months after War Of The Worlds, Spielberg's second directorial effort of the year would arrive in the form of Munich, which paralleled real-life events from the 1970's to the morally shady (at best) the American government was responding to the 9/11 attacks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Battle Of The Sexes Has Its Trite Traits But Its Humanization Of Billie Jean King Saves The Whole Movie

For Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), there are more difficulties in playing professional tennis than worrying about potential injuries or missed balls on the court. As a woman, she's constantly putting up with double standards stemming solely from her gender and when her requests for payment equal to the payment male athletes receive, she decides to start up her own female-oriented tennis organization, one that's scrappy for sure, but full of grit and determination. They've got a cigarette sponsorship and numerous players, plus a hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), with whom Billie Jean King begins to develop a romantic relationship with.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thoughtfulness And Gorgeous Visuals Are Very Much In Supply With Blade Runner 2049 (SPOILERS!!!!)

Discussing Blade Runner 2049 in any kind of detail requires spoilers, so be forewarned, this entire review is lathered in spoilers. Want a spoiler-free reaction to the movie? Then I shall tell you this is a great movie with beautiful visuals and thoughtful ideas. If you want to hear me get more in-depth then that, then read on but BEWARE OF SPOILERS

Monday, October 9, 2017

Jake Gyllenhaal's Recent String Of Strong Performances Continue In Stronger

Prior to March 2013, Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) was just another guy in Boston, Massachusetts. A good-hearted fella with an immature streak, Bauman lived out his days with his boisterous family, a steady Costco job and an on-again/off-again relationship with Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). In his newest attempt to rekindle his relationship with Hurley, he promises to be there cheering her on at the finish line of marathon she's running. He makes good on that promise and shows up to the marathon the very next day with his own sign in tow when all of a sudden tragedy strikes in the form of a bomb going off that catches Jeff in its crossfire.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blade Runner 2049's Underwhelming Box Office [Insert Tears In Rain Reference Here] While Mountain Between Us And My Little Pony Also Underwhelm

All week, box office analysts were getting hyped at the prospect of Blade Runner 2049 possibly becoming the next early October science-fiction box office hit like Gravity or The Martian. Those huge advanced ticket sales numbers seemed to just spur on peoples hopes that this one would be a box office phenomenon....and that didn't happen. In fact, Blade Runner 2049 sputtered out, grossing only $31.5 million on opening weekend. That's only 31% higher than the opening weekend of Denis Villeneuve's last movie, Arrival, and that had a much lower budget to its name and it wasn't a sequel. This feature also had the fifth lowest-grossing opening weekend ever for a film debuting in over 4,000 theaters.

Unimportant Events Makes For Thoroughly Engaging Storytelling In The Band's Visit

Trips tend to never go as planned but for Lt. Col. Tawfiq Zacharaya (Sasson Gabai), things have been going particularly troublesome for himself and his fellow band members. They have come to Egypt to perform some music at an important local ceremony, but the scheduled ride meant to transport them to where they need to go never came. Thus, they're now trapped in a foreign land with no transportation, no shelter and very little money to speak of. Those alone are all troublesome elements but the fact that there's some turmoil going on amidst the various band members, particularly between Zacharaya and the younger and rebellious Khaled (Saleh Bakri), are only adding to the tension.

My Thoughts On The Final Justice League Trailer

So Warner Bros. dropped off a final trailer for next month's Justice League movie. It's the fourth trailer for a motion picture whose marketing campaign I've been mostly apathetic to. I really did thoroughly enjoy that first teaser trailer from Comic-Con last year, but the subsequent two trailers just didn't get me hyped and the other elements of the marketing, like a flood of images of Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash standing around, haven't done much to garner my interest. Like I said though, there is a final trailer out now, so let's see if it does anything to reverse my aforementioned apathy.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Nibble On Some Thoughtful Cannibalism With Raw

The most sublime entries in the world of horror fare tend to work best when its lead characters are well-rounded individuals whose plights already make for interesting cinema even before the blood, guts and what have you get unleashed. John Carpenter's The Thing and Halloween movie are great examples of this as are recent horror classics like Get Out, The VVitch and It Comes At Night. Hailing from France, the motion picture Raw, it turns out, is yet another example of a modern-day horror movie leaning just as heavily on characterization as it does on scares. This allows it to have an extremely thoughtful base rooted in relatable human experiences for it to build its insane, disturbing and gore-filled storyline upon.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Freaks Is An Early Example Of Humanistic Horror

The circus is basically a relic of bygone eras of family activities at this point and I'm not really all that wistful for the time when they were a prominent fixture of all-ages entertainment. As Patton Oswalt once noted in his stand-up, circuses inherently are creepy and have an extensive history of exploiting people and animals. For an example of pop culture representation of the former element, look no further than the 1932 Tod Browning directed feature Freaks, which is all about following the lives of a large number of physically handicapped individuals who are put on display by a traveling circus as members of their Freak Show exhibit.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Small-Scale Intimate Scenes Of Sicko Are Great. The Michael Moore-Centric Material? Less So.

Fahrenheit 9/11 had catapulted Michael Moore to a level of fame unheard of for the vast majority of not just documentary filmmakers in America, but filmmakers in any genre in America. The dude became a part of the Bush-era zeitgeist with his 2004 box office phenomenon and while I had heavily mixed feelings on that movie, there's no denying it struck a nerve with people and it set expectations high for whatever his follow-up project would end up being. Turns out, his next feature film would be Sicko, an extensive look at the American health care system, a hot-button topic in American politics as the rampant attempts to revoke the Affordable Healthcare Act under the newest presidential administration have demonstrated.

I Am Legend Is A Really Good Post-Apocalyptic Thriller Until It Isn't

The world itself has come to an end. A supposed cure for cancer has instead mutated into an airborne virus that is killing the vast majority of humanity off instantly while turning a small portion of the populace into feral monstrous creatures that hate the sunlight and feed on living flesh. An even tinier slice of the human race has proven to be resistant to the virus and Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) belongs to that part of his species as he's managed to be immune to the sickness that has ravaged the planet. Now, three years after the apocalyptic pandemic began, he roams the streets of an abandoned New York City with only his loyal dog by his side.

Monday, October 2, 2017

It Rules The Box Office Again As American Made Closes Out September 2017 Box Office While Flatliners....Uh, Flatlines, I Guess And Battle Of The Sexes Underwhelms

September 2017 came to an end this weekend and with the month grossing $695.3 million,
September 2017 became the biggest September ever at the domestic box office. Ruling the box office for the third time as the month winded down was It, which grossed another $17.3 million this frame, a 42% drop from last weekend, for a $291.1 million domestic cume. It appears Pennywise is heading for a domestic total between $330 and $340 million, which is nearly ten times the movies $35 million budget. Add in its tremendous foreign grosses that have pushed the feature past $500 million worldwide and it's no wonder this thing's one of the most profitablle movies of 2017.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Inhumans Is A Total Calamity, A Nightmare For Comic Book Fans And General Viewers Alike

If the Inhumans TV show refuses to give Lockjaw screentime, I'll help this pooch out
and make him the header image of my review for the first two episodes of this Inhumans TV show!
So who exactly is Inhumans aimed at? I'm not just producing this question because I despised it and that means nobody else could ever like it, I'm producing this question because it seems like it was produced from the ground up to both irritate comic book geeks and confuse newbies. Those well-versed in the mythology of these Inhumans characters form their half-a-century of appearances in various Marvel comics will be befuddled at how all the stylized elements of these characters have been tossed away in the name of budget constraints and replaced with thoroughly boring storytelling. Meanwhile, the world of the Inhumans and especially the superpowers of individual characters are so poorly explained that I can't imagine someone who isn't already familiar with the Inhumans being able to follow along.