Ad Astra and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by James Gray
We already sent Matt Damon into space and couldn’t get rid of him, so I guess its Brad Pitt’s turn on the intergalactic chopping block. Space movies, especially ones that try to reflect our current understanding of outer space and an approximation of our current technology have been a great way to explore our own humanity as well as the stars themselves with 2001: A Space Odyssey still being the gold standard that these kinds of films try to aspire to. Does this newest sci-fi drama about Brad Pitt IN SPACE prove to be a worthy contemporary of the genre, or will the only favorable comparisons be to Plan 9 From Outer Space? Let’s find out!!
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut in the near future where that’s back to being a viable career and NASA has morphed into the SpaceCom which has put bases on the moon, on Mars, and they even sent a space ship out to Neptune to look for life beyond what they can see back on Earth. That space ship was part of the “Lima Project” which was launched sixteen years ago with Roy’s dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) and hasn’t been heard from in years and is presumed lost forever. That is until weird electrical pulses start to reach Earth that knock out power in a lot of places and even causes a giant space antenna to come crashing down that Roy just so happened to be working on at the time, and SpaceCom thinks that it might be the… super science generator (something to do with dark matter maybe?) that they stuck on Clifford’s ship all those years ago. On the off chance that this is the case, they want Roy to get his butt to Mars and use their super science broadcasting antenna (basically pirate radio IN SPACE) to get a message out to Neptune and hopefully to his dad. Things get complicated right away however as there seems to be more going on than SpaceCom is telling him, and on top of that he’s got some unresolved issues with the old man, what with him leaving his family to never return, that may or may not complicate things even if they DO get a message to him. Will Roy come to terms with the decisions his father made as well as finally get the closure he’s looking for? What challenges will he face and what secrets will he uncover during the rather long voyage from Earth to Mars? How do you pack for kind of trip anyway? A lot of protein bars I guess?
Stuber and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Michael Dowse
I don’t know about you, but if there’s ONE thing I’ve always wanted to see in a movie, its endless product placement for a company trying to corner the market on an industry through sheer financial force of will! Then again, I probably shouldn’t be sitting TOO pretty on my high horse considering I still review Disney films despite their vicious takeover of 20th Century Fox (coincidentally the studio who made this film), so I guess I’ll just have to judge this movie on its own merits instead of how blatantly EVIL it’s marketing is. Anyway! Does this Buddy Comedy manage to be the best of both their lead actors’ filmographies, or are you much better off watching Hotel Artemis and The Big Sick instead? Let’s find out!!
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is your average millennial stuck trying to make it in the gig economy and failing to earn the affections of his BFF (Betty Gilpin) who he’s been secretly in love with but decided to invest in her startup company instead of just telling her he likes her. We’ve all been there, am I right!? Well investing in other people’s ideas isn’t cheap, so along with his day job at a sporting goods store he drives with Uber (DOWNLOAD NOW FOR YOUR MOBILE DEVICES!!) and does his very best to be as accommodating as possible. This is 2019 though, and apparently being a massive jerk is in vogue now so despite his best efforts he’s barely hanging onto his current user score which is dangerously close to getting him kicked off the service entirely. Enough about that guy though! This is a movie with a famous wrestler, so let’s talk about that famous wrestler! Vic (Dave Bautista) is a cop who is obsessed with finding this drug trafficker named Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais) who he nearly caught a while back but managed to escape and also killed his partner in the process. After six months though, there hasn’t been a break in the case and so he takes a bit of time off to try and reconnect with his daughter (Natalie Morales ) and finally get that laser eye surgery he’s been meaning to get. He’s at home and waiting for his vision to return as well as running out the clock until the start of his daughter’s art show when he gets a call from one of his informants telling him that Teijo is gonna be at this big drug deal later tonight at some undisclosed location in town. Seeing his chance but not seeing much else, Vic is determined to take Teijo down once and for all… but he needs a ride. I THINK YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING!! Can Stu provide wonderful ride sharing service to the antsy and determined Vic and maintain his unobtrusive existence with a slightly higher star rating? Can Vic solve this case without his vision, and can he convince Stu to help him beyond his duty of just getting him from one place to another? Seriously, does this dude not have even ONE cop friend or a super tough bro he could have called instead!?
Dark Phoenix and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Simon Kinberg
I’ve probably been nicer than most about the X-Men franchise, going so far as to be somewhat positive about Apocalypse, and even I can’t be bothered to muster any enthusiasm for The Last Stand: Remastered. I mean I GUESS I can see why Fox would want to prove that it was the other guy’s fault and not their own, and it certainly worked well enough for Dexter Fletcher, but with this franchise being so easily overshadowed by Deadpool, the MCU, and even some of the better DC films, it’s starting to feel more Quixotic than artistically advisable. Still, I have been surprised by movies I didn’t expect much out of before, and it’s not like they have much to lose considering this franchise is more or less done whether they make this movie or not, so hey! Let’s see if Fox can pull it off one more time for old time’s sake!
It’s the radical nineties for the X-Men with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his crew of charismatic comrades more popular than ever; much like the ACTUAL nineties. Newcomers Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Ororo Munroe, and Kurt Wagner (Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Kodi Smit-McPhee) are fitting in well enough, Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) barely contained annoyance with all of this is about as same as usual which is greatly contrasted with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who looks like he couldn’t be happier to be there, and Quicksilver (Even Peters) is… around. ANYWAY! The big difference in this film that I alluded to just now which I don’t BELIEVE was the case last time is that The X-Men have become household names and everyone wants to be them! No more mutant discrimination, at least not outright, and all the jerk mutants went with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to some island somewhere to keep things nice and peaceful. Why, the only thing that could ruin this perfect existence is if one of the high profile mutants on Xavier’s team went off and started blowing stuff up, but what are the odds of THAT happening!? Yeah, so Jean Grey gets hit by some sort of cosmic ray in the beginning of the film during an astronaut rescue, and it seems to have overcharged her system to the point that she can barely control her powers as well as her emotions; the latter of which is exacerbated by some dark secrets she’s made keenly aware of and have made things rather awkward at the academy. With one big public relations nightmare that could lead to Mutant internment AGAIN, Xavier and his crew have to find out what’s happening to Jean and if there’s any way to save her from whatever it is that will either destroy her from the inside or give her enough power to destroy us all from the outside. Oh, and Jessica Chastain is in this somewhere in the background. I’m sure she can’t be up to any good though! Will Jean Grey succumb to the power she’s been granted and become the worst enemy the X-Men have ever faced? Will Xavier finally learn that despite his idealistic rhetoric that he’s made huge mistakes in the past that could bring the world closer to destruction than anything his more militant counterpart ever came up with? If this is worse than X3, does Fox get like a Lifetime Achievement award for how badly they can ruin a franchise? I mean they should have already gotten one for their Fantastic Four movies, but you know the Academy! Give it to them when convenient; not when they deserve it!
Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series! Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy! I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out! Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago? Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign. I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between. Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth? In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side! Let’s find out!!
IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined! He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie. Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past. Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well. Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky. Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past. Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is? Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about? Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?
The Kid Who Would Be King and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Joe Cornish
What, a kid’s movie in January? Man… I don’t want to waste my time watching this, especially after seeing Into the Spider-Verse! Is any movie gonna be as good as that one? No? Then why even bother! Wait a minute… this is directed by Joe Cornish? As in… THE Joe Cornish? As in Attack the Block Joe Cornish!? Well why didn’t you lead with, imaginary person I’m pretending to have a conversation with! Yes, after a rather long hiatus between Attack the Block and this one where he stepped back to be a writer instead of director, he’s finally back with his second film after such an extraordinary first feature! Seriously, if you haven’t seen Attack the Block then stop reading this review and go see it now! Now, I tell you!! You want to know why John Boyega is in Star Wars!? GO WATCH THAT MOVIE!! Anyway, does the triumphant return of Joe Cornish mean we have yet another masterpiece on our hands, or did he stay away from the director’s chair this long for a good reason? Let’s find out!!
In what I can only assume is a Post-Brexit London, Alexander Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is your run of the mill kid who gets bullied mercilessly at school but has a funny best friend named Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) whose got his back when he needs it. One day he stands up for his buddy when he’s getting taunted by older kids Lance and Kaye (Tom Taylor and Rhianna Doris) who end up chasing him down to a construction site which JUST SO HAPPENS to be empty and there JUST SO HAPPENS to the sword Excalibur sticking out of the ground. You’d think someone would have excavated it, but instead they cleared all the dirt around the sword and left it sitting there in case someone felt the urge to pull it out. This is good news for Alex who DOES have such an urge and voila! He pulls it out and all heck starts to break loose! Well not at FIRST, but the sword leaving its resting place has awakened the dark sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson who’s… in the center of the Earth I think, and it calls out to the wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie and Patrick Stewart) who heads back to London post haste to meet the new king! After some shenanigans and a fight with a giant monster that shows up at his house, Alex learns that he is in fact the next king of… Well I GUESS England (or maybe the whole UK now?) and must gather some knights to finally stab Morgana to death once and for all! Through even MORE shenanigans, he manages to enlist the help of the bullies to join him as his fellow knights along with Bedders, and so they must now find a pathway to the center of the Earth! So where do they start? Um… well, Alex’s father gave him a book on Arthurian lore when he was a kid, so maybe they should visit him on the other side of the country since he seems to have known about Alex’s King-ness well before anyone else! As good a place to start as any I guess! Will Alex and his crew find where Morgana is hiding and stop her before she can take over the world? What challenges will they be forced to face along the way, and is Alex ready for such a huge responsibility at such a young age? Can we maybe get this movie, but with the cast of Attack the Block instead? I mean I’m sure John Boyega costs a lot more now, but it’d at least make a lot more sense to me!
Santa’s Little Helper and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios and 20th Century Fox
Directed by Gil Junger
We’re back with another Christmas Tale brought to us by the WWE and oddly enough it not only stars The Miz once again but has the same director from Christmas Bounty! Apparently someone saw that first movie and thought that these two should ABSOLUTELY work together again which is certainly not the call that I would have made (mine would have involved an iron maiden to start with), but I guess that’s why I’m not making creative decisions for everyone’s favorite supporter of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family! Will they be able to pull off something halfway decent this time around, or was Christmas Bounty just the warning shot for something even far worse to come!? Let’s find out!!
Right off the bat, this movie is LEAGUES better than Christmas Bounty, and not just because they have a slightly improved font! First, The Miz is the star and not playing a supporting part which means we get to see him right away and all throughout the movie. Second, he is ACTUALLY really good in the role here which is basically yet another riff on the Scrooge archetype and fits in perfectly with his in-ring persona as a guy so smug you want to punch him in the face. He’s some dude who I GUESS works at a mortgage company and is working on this Rec Center the company wants to foreclose on for… reasons. Apparently the director of the Rec Center ran off with all their money and The Miz, who is called Dax Hardwick in this, is personally visiting the place to rub it in everyone’s faces that they’re gonna take it out from under them and bulldoze it to the ground! Damn! We’re up to Grinch levels of evil already!
Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steve McQueen
Is it time for another cinematic confession? Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work. What can I say? I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*). Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it? Let’s find out!!
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week! Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this. It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from. Thanks, Citizens United! Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life. She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best. Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist? What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind? Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?
Bohemian Rhapsody and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher
The day has finally come, hasn’t it? Over thirty years since his death, several failed attempts, and this one being mired in controversy because of who Fox decided to helm the damn thing, we FINALLY have ourselves a Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic. Like I said in my trailer talk, I’m probably in the majority of Queen fans in that I know the songs and see them as one of the biggest and most influential bands out there, but know very little about them outside of that. I know a little bit about Freddie and that they did the soundtracks for Flash Gordon and Highlander, but anything else (including who the other bandmates are) is a total mystery to me. Therefore, this is the kind of movie that’s PERFECT for me as well as millions of other people! Hook us with the great music and the solid performances, and then tell us all the details we should know about them and let us leave the theater a little bit smarter and with a renewed interest to buy any number of those CD collections or to splurge on iTunes! However, with a rather ho-hum trailer followed by similarly ho-hum reviews, is this truly the Queen biopic we’ve been waiting for, or was something missing (other than the director) to make this a true masterpiece? Let’s find out!!
If you don’t know already, Farrokh Bulsara, i.e. Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) was your typical young adult in the seventies. Work a crappy job, write a few songs on the bus, and drink the night away listening to the local talent. One night however, he manages to convince one of the bands into letting him join and soon enough they form the band Queen; composed of Mercury, Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello). From there, we watch Mercury’s relationship to Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), fights with record executives (Mike Myers), and his burgeoning bisexuality as well as relationship with his handler Paul Prenter (Allen Leech). However, with individual egos, crushing discrimination against homosexuality, and the looming AIDS crisis, will Freddy manage to keep it all together or will he succumb to his worst tendencies to find some measure of fulfillment and happiness? Oh, and I’m sure the other guys have their own thing going on.
Bad Times at the El Royale and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Drew Goddard
Oh hey! I know this guy! Yeah, didn’t he do that movie that everyone else liked but I was pretty nonplussed about? Okay, probably have to be more specific there. This is the guy who made The Cabin in the Woods (no not that guy, the guy who ACTUALLY directed it) which was an interesting idea but for me it suffered from a somewhat oblivious tone and an ending that soured me from ever really enjoying the film again. Well after a few years doing quite a bit of writing, he’s back in the director’s chair with this film that looks to be a mishmash of noir tropes as opposed to horror ones, though he managed to keep Chris Hemsworth around. Will this be the movie that sells me on the brilliance of this director after a somewhat disappointing opening salvo, or is this another guy who I’m just not gonna get and be a sourpuss about while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Let’s find out!!
The El Royale is a hotel on the border between Nevada and California, once a hotbed of celebrity debauchery but now a shell of its former self; handing out cheap rooms to unscrupulous and impoverished characters who aren’t really here for the ambiance. On the fateful day that this movie starts, there JUST SO HAPPENS to be quite a few people there who may or may not have nefarious schemes in mind, including the vacuum salesman Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), the kindly Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), and the mystery woman who signs the guestbook with an obscenity (Dakota Johnson). Now normally they would just go their separate ways and not bother one another no matter what bad stuff they’re into, but what the concierge Miles (Lewis Pullman) isn’t telling them is that this place isn’t simply a rundown hotel; rather it’s a rundown hotel WITH A SPYING ROOM! As each one of them goes about their business, things start to unravel as some discover this place and see what the others are up to which inevitably causes their stories to intertwine in ways that will either lead to fair and equitable compromises or an utter bloodbath; especially with the Mystery Woman having some serious baggage in the form of another mystery woman with her (Cailee Spaeny) and some dude who just might be looking for them (Chris Hemsworth). Will these lovely guests manage to finish what they came here to do with all their limbs still attached? What is each one of them hiding, and how important will it be to the other people there? How the heck did hotel stay open this long!? They’ve got ONE guy running the darn place!!
The Predator and all the images you see in this editorial are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Shane Black
It’s been a few weeks since The Predator graced the multiplexes in all its confused glory, so I think now’s a pretty good time to really get into what exactly is SO fascinatingly wrong about this movie that I couldn’t fit into a proper review. The last time I did something like this was all the way back when The Mummy was supposed to be the next big thing which sadly didn’t end up being the case despite making four hundred million worldwide and so The Dark Universe is more or less dead on arrival. A shame because, despite the film’s ASTOUNDING amount of flaws, it was compelling in a way that very few terrible movies can be and I’d have loved to see a DCCU style nightmare come out of it. Predators though still has a chance to be the next (albeit smaller) version of this with its incredibly pronounced sequel bait at the end and comparatively lower stakes, so why not give it the proper WTF treatment? Unlike my last list however, this isn’t ranked in an ascending order of absurdity; rather it’s structured in a way to try and get across the ESCALATING sense of absurdity that builds as the movie goes along, so while one thing may not be as out there or ridiculous as the thing before it, it all adds up into this ludicrous mishmash of ideas that either should have been left on the cutting room floor or given the time it needed to not feel so inexplicably jammed into an already overly tight runtime. Let’s get started!!
10) Lock him up and throw away the key! – Why the heck is Quinn being railroaded!?
So the movie begins with The Predator (at least the first one of them) crash landing on Earth basically within spitting distance a squad of army dudes out on a mission. Our lead dude is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who finds the escape pod The Predator used as well as part of his armor; including his mask and one of his arm bands that both have VERY advanced computer systems in them. His men die at the hands of The Predator, he manages to escape, and then he mails the pieces of armor to his home in the US. Now why would he do that? Well apparently he correctly assumed that he would be arrested by THE HIGHER UPS and sent to a mental institution as a way to keep him quiet about the alien… because reasons. Now to be clear, this is not just ANY army dude; the mission he was on was to assassinate a drug lord on an ally’s soil (Mexico) and the US Military isn’t about to send someone on that kind of job who doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut and play ball. How is this guy not an ASSET to The Stargazer Project considering his sterling military record, and for that matter why are they so intent on keeping HIM out of the loop when they IMMEDIATELY bring a civilian scientist on board (Dr. Casey Bracket played by Olivia Munn) to run tests on the darn thing!? Speaking of which…