Coco and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
I’m far from the only one to have Pixar fatigue, but it has been WAY too long since I’ve gotten excited for another animated film from them. Even the prospect of Incredibles 2 only fills me with a mix of ennui and meh, so what hope does this film have to bring me back around on the studio? Well it’s not a sequel for one which is a good sign and its premise, while not what I would call unique (*cough* Book of Life *cough* Grim Fandango *cough*), at least appears to be fleshed out (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) as all the trailers show an immense level of detail and craftsmanship in every frame as well as an amazingly diverse cast that looks to bring an underrepresented culture to the big screen. Hey, after the mostly positive reception and commercial success of Moana, it makes sense for Disney to stick with the formula; though hopefully we haven’t reached the point of diminishing returns just yet. Will this be the standout animated film of the year like we’re in the golden age of Pixar, or has ship already sailed for one of the biggest giants of the industry? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins by telling us the history of the Rivera family where Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) was stuck raising little Coco as her husband walked out on them to live out their dream as a world famous musician. She didn’t let that get her down that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and spent the rest of her life making shoes and teaching her family to make shoes; all the way to the present day where SHE may be dead and gone, but Coco is still around (Ana Ofelia Murguía) as the oldest living relative of the Rivera family and the great grandmother of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez). Now despite Imelda more or less banning music in the Rivera household which is a tradition that has carried to this day, little Miguel can’t help but want to be a musician like his hero Ernesto de la Cruz who was a famous musician long ago and is still fondly remembered in Mexico to this day. In fact… maybe there’s a connection between the guy who walked out on Imelda to become a famous musician, and this famous musician that Miguel is obsessed with right now!? Maybe he’s the long lost great great grandfather and the only one in his family that would understand his love of music!? Well Miguel is certainly convinced of this after finding some photographic evidence and decides to… rob Ernesto de la Cruz’s grave so he can use his guitar to win a talent competition? Okay… seems a bit extreme, but whatever! THE KID’S GOTTA PLAY!! Too bad that robbing a grave gets you a one way ticket to the afterlife as Miguel finds himself more or less a ghost to those in the living world and eventually finds himself in the city of the dead where all the people who died are now skeletons; including Imelda Rivera and the rest of his extended family! Will Miguel find a way to get back home before his brief vacation among the dead turns into a permanent residency? What will he be able to learn about himself and his family during his treat; including the elusive Ernesto de la Cruz who may be able to help Miguel live out his dreams as a musician? How the heck is a human supposed to survive in a city of the dead anyway!? It’s not like any of the residents have lungs, so do they even have oxygen there!?
Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW
Episode directed by Lee Rose
We’re back with another episode of THE MOST CONVOLUTED ADAPTATION OF A COMIC EVER! Seriously, this show is so unbelievably dense with plot (both in the hyperbolic and literal sense) that it makes Batman v Superman look damn near intelligible by comparison. What this show has over that movie however is decent acting from most of the actors, genuinely funny moments (as well as plenty of unintentional ones) and even though everything just kind of jumbles together into one impenetrable mass of manufactured intrigue, at least some of the stories here are interesting enough to hold your attention whenever the show bothers to bring them back up (*cough* Skeet Ulrich *cough*). So to catch everyone up, the big revelation at the end of the last episode is that Polly Cooper is now living with The Blossoms because… reasons I guess, and it’s basically throwing everyone relevant to this story for a loop. On top of that, we get a scene of Hermione and Veronica Lodge discussing THEIR overly convoluted plot and it makes we question why I’m bothering with this if it has to take five minutes out every episode just to catch everyone back up on all the convoluted bullshit that happened in the last episode before getting into THIS episode’s convoluted bullshit. OH RIGHT! I REMEMBER! There are a handful of characters that are always fun to watch on screen and we’re reminded of that as Cheryl spends the next few minutes trying to seduce Archie into going with her to some sort of Blossom family event! For some reason I keep forgetting that!
Daddy’s Home 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sean Anders
I don’t know about the rest of you, but the only thing I was wondering when I first heard about this movie was why they didn’t cast John Lithgow as the TOUGH dad. Seriously, the dude’s got Cliffhanger, Ricochet, and even Dexter under his belt to show us all how despicably evil he can when the role calls for it, and it’d certainly be much better casting for Marky Mark’s mean deadbeat dad than the guy they got; though I’m pretty sure ANYONE in Hollywood who’s not currently being ostracized for inexcusable behavior would have been a much more palatable choice than Raging Mel. I don’t know about this one. I certainly didn’t expect much out of the first film and it managed to be a bit better than I was expecting, but what are the chances that we’ll get a half-way decent sequel out of that; especially as it’s a Holiday film which are almost always a bad idea for sequels. Wait, didn’t I just say that like a week ago about A Bad Mom’s Christmas? Now that I think about it… two unexpectedly solid comedies about parenting that made a HUGE amount of money at the box office get Holiday sequels about the parents of the characters in the first film… that are released within a week of each other. Huh. Well that’s… coincidental. Anyway, does THIS Holiday sequel manage to AT LEAST be as good as the OTHER Holiday sequel we just got, or am I in for one HELL of a crappy movie going experience? Well… Let’s find out…
The movie begins about a year after the events of the first film where Brad and Dusty (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) have put aside their differences and are the best co-dads of all time; sharing responsibilities with the kids and working together as a cohesive family unit! Well… ALMOST perfect. Dusty’s biological daughter Megan (Scarlett Estevez) reveals during the school’s Christmas Recital that she’s not happy about having the holidays split between two households, so the two families band together and decide to have just one Christmas together which seems like a great idea… until Dusty gets a call from his dad Kurt (Mel Gibson) who’s decided to come down for the holidays. This is bad because Dusty’s dad is just like he was in the first film and will surely be nagging on him the entire time for not being MANLY enough whatever the hell toxic dinosaurs like him are always on about. In addition to that, we’ve got Brad’s dad Don (John Lithgow) coming to town who is ACTUALLY a really nice grandpa but seems to be hiding something from Brad, an increasingly tense standoff between Brad’s wife Sara and Dusty’s wife Karen (Linda Cardellini and Alessandra Ambrosio) about how to raise the kids they share (Dusty’s biological kids and Karen’s daughter from another marriage), and to top it all off, Dusty’s biological son Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) is about at the age where he needs to have THE TALK which throws EVERYTHING into chaos as the four dads on hand have their own idea of how it should go and who should give it. Will any of these plot threads come together into something resembling a cohesive whole? Is there a single point in this movie where it’s NOT uncomfortable watching Mel Gibson on screen? Can someone explain to me what I POSSIBLY could have done to deserve this!?
Justice League and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
So… it’s not like anyone is looking forward to this movie and is willing to yell at critics over it, right!? Sigh… now my opinions on Batman v Superman have been made quite clear on multiple occasions, but you know… with Wonder Woman and to a very VERY lesser extent Suicide Squad, I don’t think these films aren’t worth seeing. Heck, even Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the sense that there’s so much to learn about NOT making a good movie from it! I am absolutely not looking forward to this movie and I don’t expect it to be all that good, but I’m going to sit in my seat, watch all the crappy local car commercials, and then hope that I’m not just completely wasting my time and money being there. I The fact that I’m expecting this to be bad is not the same as WANTING it to be bad or HOPING for it to be bad just to get some “outrage clickbait” out of it, because I don’t need any MORE things in my life to piss me off even if I get a hilarious and insightful review out of it. I’d rather write hilarious and insightful review of GOOD movies! So then… does Warner Bros and DC have what it takes to keep this franchise afloat after Wonder Woman became an critical and box office smash, or are we stuck with more of the same crap until these DCCU films stop making money for them? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins sometime after the events of Batman v Superman where (SPOILER ALERT!) the world is still reeling over the DEATH OF SUPERMAN! Everyone’s moody, crime is on the rise, and to top things off, aliens have started invading Earth! Yeah, that whole dream sequence with the Parademons in the last movie? Well it’s not a full scale invasion just yet, but Batman’s swinging around Gotham City finding these space bugs all over the place and needs to figure out what the heck is going on! Well it doesn’t take long for the TRUE threat to reveal himself as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, now that Superman is deader than disco, feels confident enough to stage an all-out attack on Earth… for some reason. I mean I GUESS he tried to take over the planet back when it was Middle Earth and Amazons, Green Lanterns, and I THINK Shazzam were able to stop him, so maybe he’s after this planet for revenge or something. IT DOESN’T MATTER THOUGH! What matters is that he’s gonna tear shit up and the world needs its most powerful champions to fight against him which includes the aforementioned Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jasson Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Will the Justice League be able to put aside their differences and come together (right now!) in order to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? Just what is Steppenwolf’s master plan, and what other forces are in play that these mere mortals are only seeing the briefest glimpse of? How much more leeway will we have to give WB just to make sure we keep getting Wonder Woman movies!?
A Bad Moms Christmas and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Scott Moore and Jon Lucas
As glad as I was that the first film didn’t end up being an unbearable slog to sit through, I can’t say that the prospect of seeing another one fills me with much joy as I have serious doubts that STX can squeeze out another competent movie from this premise; especially when their go to idea for a sequel is to make it a freaking Christmas movie. Seriously, aside from Christmas Vacation and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, has there been a holiday themed sequel that WASN’T an absolute waste of time? Well I guess we’re about to put that theory to the test as we get ready to spend some more time with everyone’s favorite quote-unquote BAD MOMS who are actually not so bad moms. Does this manage to rise above the low expectations set for it being both a sequel and a Christmas film in one unfortunate package? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Amy (Mila Kunis) beginning her Christmas rituals of working way too hard and being utterly miserable in the process; not that anyone is REALLY asking her to do it as her two kids (Oona Laurence and Emjay Anthony) as well as her boyfriend Jesse (Jay Hernandez) and his daughter (Ariana Greenblatt) seem perfectly cool with a less intensive holiday experience. Now Amy would like nothing more than to just sit back and actually enjoy the season, but her plans to let go of the pointless and time consuming rituals that encompass the month of December are utterly destroyed once her mother Ruth comes to visit (Christine Baranski) who’s super judgmental, extremely demanding, and wants this to be the PERFECT Christmas for everyone! Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well it’s not much better with Kiki and Carla (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) who ALSO have their mothers coming into town (Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) and all the baggage that comes with them; the former being overbearing and invasive and the latter being… well just like her daughter. Will the titular Bad MomsTM find a way to fight back against these unwelcome invaders and make this the best holiday ever? Is there more to the rather sudden appearance of their mothers than what they’re claiming to be a merely innocent interest in spending time with their family? Just how raunchy are they willing to get to stand out in the surprisingly crowded market of naughty Christmas movies!?
Murder on the Orient Express and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
I’m hardly what you’d call “well read” as most of my cultural education comes from television and movies followed by people TALKING about television and movies, so while I’m aware that there’s a book out there called Murder on the Orient Express written by someone whose work I should really get around to reading, I don’t actually know what the story is about nor who the killer is which I GUESS would make me the target audience for a slick Hollywood retelling of the story starring some of the most beloved character actors out there… and Johnny Depp. I’m certainly excited to see this as I do love me a good mystery, and seeing a movie is ALMOST as good as reading a book… right? Anyway, does Kenneth Branagh manage to successfully bring the Agatha Christie classic to the silver screen once again, or does the brilliance of her work get lost in the midst of his vision for the material? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the famed detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) solving yet another world class mystery in the heart of Jerusalem and is now ready to take a much deserved vacation to recharge his mystery solving batteries! As luck would have it, he runs into an old friend named Bouc (Tom Bateman) who gets him a ticket on the one and only Orient Express which Bouc is the director of. Sadly for Poirot’s plans of leisure, not only does the train get stuck in an avalanche but one of the passengers (Johnny Depp) comes down with a bad case of MURDER! With only some minor cajoling from Bouc, Poirot begins to investigate The Case of the Stabbed Dude by looking into the pasts of all the other passengers (Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, and Miranda Raison) to see if there’s anything to connect one of them to the guy sleeping in a pool of his own blood. Will Poirot uncover the criminal mastermind who was unfortunately enough to be sharing a train ride with the world’s greatest detective? Just who was the man who got viciously murdered, and what could have motivated someone to commit such an act? Wait… isn’t it a bit TOO convenient that the train JUST SO HAPPENED to get stuck after a murder is committed!?
Thor: Ragnarok and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
After the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World (HOW DO YOU WASTE THE BEST DOCTOR WHO IN SUCH A BLAND VILLAIN ROLE!?) I wasn’t really looking forward to what they’d do with this character in his solo films and was more interested to see if he’d show up in a bunch of the other movies instead. Once those initial trailers hit with the heavy emphasis on fantastical Jack Kirby inspired designs and the rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack, there seemed to be hope in this franchise digging itself out of the pit the sequel left it in. At the very least, it LOOKED a lot pretty with much more vibrant colors, and it even manages to drag Jeff Goldblum into the MCU which in and of itself would make this movie worthy of existing even if everything else ends up being awful. Does Thor’s third chance at the plate end up being one of the best films in the entire MCU, or did they just throw a lot of flash and money at a franchise that is just unable to find its place after telling the origin story? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to find out what the heck Ragnarok is which was hinted at ALL the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Remember when he left the team to take a bath and saw some visions? Yeah, apparently it was all foreshadowing of the destruction of Asgard in a calamity known as Ragnarok, so Thor is basically trying to find a way to stop it… whatever it may be. In the meantime though, he manages to find out that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is actually alright as Loki basically stuck his ass in a retirement home on Earth, but when Thor goes down there to bring him back to the throne it turns out that he’s all out of time and disappears in a cloud of energy or something. If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the things he was doing when he was alive was keeping a hereto unknown daughter of his named Hela (Cate Blanchett) in some sort of magic prison which breaks as soon as he’s dead and so she’s come back for revenge against her family and all of Asgard. Both Loki and Thor are dealt with rather quickly with the latter losing his famed hammer Mjolnir and landing on some mystery planet where he is captured by a mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) and dragged to the planet’s ruler known as THE GRANDMASTER (Jeff Goldblum). The once mighty God of Thunder and son of Odin is now put in chains and is forced to fight in gladiatorial matches in order to somehow earn his freedom and eventually find his way back home before Hela puts it inextricably under her vengeful thumb. Can Thor find a way to escape the barbaric society run by the most fabulous of dictators? What familiar faces will he find on this planet that can hopefully help him on his journey home? How the heck is Thor gonna get around now that he doesn’t have his magic propeller hammer!?
The Saw films and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Lionsgate Films
As mentioned in my Jigsaw review, I’ve had a somewhat complicated relationship with Saw franchise as I’m sure is the case with a lot of fans who somehow stuck with this series to the bloody end despite it inarguably getting worse and worse as it went along. Now this is hardly new for horror franchises (just look at the startling sharp drop the Halloween movies took) but to me Saw wasn’t just a series that got BAD or CHEESY as it went along; it got actively toxic. What do I mean by that? Well if you read the review I’ve now referenced twice already (SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!) you probably already know what that is, but let’s go ahead and take a look at this series from the beginning to see just how it managed to change and pervert its core concepts over time. Oh, and we’re going into TOTAL SPOILERS on these films, so only read if you’ve already binged watched them on Netflix or cannot be bothered to ever do so. Let’s get started!!
Two men (Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell) find themselves locked in a room and chained to opposite sides of it with a dead guy right in the middle; presumably having shot his brains out given the blood on the floor and the gun in his hand. Eventually they find a few tapes left for them by the serial killer who locked them up there in the first place known only as Jigsaw. They only have so much time to get out of this trap before the killer starts looking towards their loved ones, and this means they may have to make some really tough decisions; ones that involve the titular saw of the movie.
I haven’t watched this movie in about a decade so going back to where it all started, ESPECIALLY after seeing what the series would ultimately turn into, was quite a shock as the original film has much more in common with Se7en than any of the other movies. To a certain extent it’s a bit unfair to compare this initial entry to the rest of the series as it ends up feeling like an outlier (similar to how the first Friday the 13th doesn’t even have Jason as the killer) but there are qualities to this that are sorely missed in the sequels. For one, Jigsaw isn’t the overwhelming and unstoppable force that he would become in later films and is also a downright sadistic mother fucker with no redeeming qualities. Later films went all in on the cult of Jigsaw which is one of the biggest failings of the entire series; not only because it puts forth a reprehensible world view, but it takes so much menace and danger away from Jigsaw as a character. The Jigsaw in this film (working through a character named Zep) isn’t given a platform to spout his faux-populist agenda and the film takes time to show just how horrific and unjustifiable his actions are; mostly through the extended sequences of Zep having to terrorize a mother and child while the game is going on. Compare this to the later films where even the INNOCENT victims barely get a semblance of humanity before becoming props in a giant shit show of moving parts and sharp metal, and you can see why things got so monotonous and smug as the series went along. Now I’m not about to tell you that this is a perfect movie by any stretch as the editing is rather poor and the performance by Danny Glover is surprisingly awful, but you can see why this first film managed to garner the reputation it did and why Lionsgate was so eager to turn it into a franchise. The only question is, now that we know who the killer is (the guy on the floor played by Tobin Bell was playing dead the whole time) where else could they really go?
Jigsaw and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate Films
Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig
I have a… complicated relationship with the Saw films as a few of them are ACTUALLY pretty solid thrillers, but ALL of them suffer from some fundamental problems that dogged this series throughout its seven film run; not to mention accruing brand new problems along the way that only made it harder and harder to take seriously. I guess that’s not unusual for a series like this as the downfall of horror favorites like Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers are about as stark, but at least with THOSE films I found something to like even in the bad ones as the very loose commitment to continuity allowed for new voices and interesting ideas to permeate the series even when they were in a slump. Saw is one of the few franchise that took its continuity VERY seriously which is one of the many reasons the films became such a train wreck but is also why I’m genuinely interested to see where this one goes. Does this new iteration in the franchise right the course and set the stage for a whole new series of much better films, or should they have just let well enough alone? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins as most Saw movies do with someone dying in a horrible way. Okay, maybe not THAT horrible as he simply gets shot by the cops, but what appears to be just a car chase gone badly soon reveals itself to be the start of a new Jigsaw game which Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is itching to solve along with his partner Detective Hunt (Clé Bennett) and forensic pathologists back at the station (Matt Passmore and Hannah Emily Anderson). As the game goes through the usual Saw paces of picking off its victims (Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, and Brittany Allen) the bodies start showing up around town to mock the detectives’ lack of progress and to give them subtle clues that will lead them to solving this mystery. The biggest mystery though is how exactly these games are going on as John Kramer (Tobin Bell) who was the original Jigsaw killer has been dead for over a decade and as far as we know all his protégées have bit the dust by now. Okay, maybe not Dr Gordon, but if this movie wants to ignore what happened in THE FINAL CHAPTER, I’m perfectly fine with that. Who is REALLY behind this latest round of murders and could it somehow be John Kramer coming back from beyond the grave? What do the latest victims of the Jigsaw Killer have in common, and what will they need to sacrifice in order get out of these deadly traps? Seriously, how many of those freaking puppets did he make anyway!?