Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by JJ Abrams
So here we are once again, though I guess things are a little bit different since we last got a Star Wars movie with a number at the end of it. Whatever problems you may personally have with The Last Jedi (I have my own as well!), it certainly didn’t justify whatever the Fandom Menace was and only ended up souring people on Star Wars rather than provide constructive criticism of it. Seriously, if you’ve made MULTIPLE hour long videos letting people know just how much you dislike a movie, there’s probably something else going on than just critical analysis. With all that negativity surrounding the trilogy’s middle entry (from I must stress a VERY small if VERY vocal minority of people), there was a lot of interesting energy going into this final film as Lucasfilm and Disney were either going to ignore the toxicity and continue with what Johnson started, or they were gonna thread the needled of appeasing those people while also not losing the overwhelming majority of the audience that understood and appreciated what Johnson was going for. Do they succeed in stitching this fandom back together (or better yet unambiguously denouncing and excising the toxic parts of) with one great movie to finish of the Saga of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo? Let’s find out!!
After narrowly escaping destruction in The Last Jedi, the Resistance has started to grow its ranks once again on a well-hidden planet where Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with Master Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is now Emperor of the First Order has been searching for Emperor Palaptine (Ian McDiarmid) ever since a mysterious broadcast from the dead guy went out across the galaxy, and he eventually succeeds in finding some sort of tracking beacon that leads him right to his mysterious and hard to reach planet. It seems that Palpatine is still somehow alive (I’ll say The Force did it) and has an unstoppable military force waiting to be unleashed on the galaxy that Kylo can control IF he brings him Rey. The Resistance learns of this overwhelming power that Palpatine has at the ready from a mission that Poe and Finn (Oscar Isaac and John Boyega) just barely manage to complete and survive so now there’s a clear ticking clock that the Resistance is working against in order to stop The First Order once and for all; get to Palpatine’s planet and destroy its fleet before it can leave port on Doom Planet. Rey, Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)take it upon themselves to search for one of those tracking beacons that Kylo Ren used to find Palpatine’s planet and start looking into The Resistance’s past as well as the Empire’s past in order to find it and maybe a few more answers along the way. Will our quartet of space heroes find a way to stop Palpatine once and for all; a task that as it turns out Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader weren’t up to? What will Kylo Ren do to stop them from finding the beacon, and what agendas does he have of his own? Will this movie FINALLY make those angry Star Wars fans finally happy? Well of course not, but will it make the other ninety-nine percent of Star Wars fans happy!?
The Dead Don’t Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Two things I’m not particularly well versed in are zombie movies and Jim Jarmusch movies; the former because I find many entries in the genre to be tedious and the latter because I haven’t gotten around to them yet. Good thing I get to kill two birds with one stone here as I guess even he couldn’t resist the allure of big box office gold with yet another zombie film! Then again, we’re kind of on the other side of the whole zombie craze, so maybe this is the PERFECT time for his indie sensibilities and surprisingly extensive connections to make the ultimate commentary on the modern interpretation of the genre! Or maybe it’s just a goofy comedy with the dude from Star Wars and Selena Gomez. The point is that you can never pin this guy down to just one thing, so it’s probably both at the same time. The REAL question though is whatever it ends up being, is it any good? Let’s find out!!
Police Chief Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) are living out their lives patrolling the small town of Centerville without much to worry about other than Hermit Bob (Tom Wait’s) possibly stealing chickens and the dead body in their police station that someone from the big city promises to pick up real soon. The town is filled with lots of colorful characters like Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) who’s a racist jerk, Hank Thompson (Danny Glover) who’s clearly getting too old for whatever it is that he does, and Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones) who runs a really cool gas station filled with old school horror movie merchandise, and all of them certainly have their concerns about reports of the Earth being pushed off its orbit due to arctic fracking, but it’s not something they have much control over so they just keep doing what they’re doing. Sadly for the citizens of Centerville (except for Farmer Miller because screw that guy), the grave environmental catastrophes thousands of miles away seem to be having a global effect and the dead start to rise from their graves. Chief Robertson and Officer Peterson, along with the third and final cop in the town Officer Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) have to figure out the best course of action for dealing with this nonsense and they could use a little help from the new undertaker in town Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) who seems to know her way around bladed weapons and might just have a plan for dealing with the undead rising from their graves. Can the cops as well as the rest of the citizens of Centerville survive this literal night of the living dead? What can be done even if they do survive it now that the Earth has changed its orbit and the moon is now glowing for some reason? What even was the last zombie movie I saw? Does Overlord count?
BlacKkKlansman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Spike Lee
There’s a lot going on right now and as much as I’d honestly like to take a step back from the heavier subject matter to focus on terrible horror films and laughable thrillers, well… there’s a bigger story that needs to be told and at the very least I can try to stay engaged with the films that are being made because of it. Fortunately the films this year that faced issues of racism, white supremacy, privilege, and state sponsored oppression have been pretty great so far with The First Purge being a worth addition to one of the best film series we have today, Sorry to Bother You feeling like the kind of gonzo shot in the arm film making that will inspire others to think outside the standard feature film model, and Blindspotting being a supremely empathetic examination that’s palatable and poignant for any audience member. However, it’s time for the king to return to his throne as Spike Lee has spent his entire career (barring Oldboy) speaking on these very issues that the rest of Hollywood is just catching up to and is now throwing their weight behind these artists. Did Spike Lee make the definitive film of our turbulent times, or has his style gotten tiresome in the face of newer voices in his political circle? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the strange yet true story of Detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who joined the Colorado Springs police force in the seventies and not long after joining the force started a sting operation against the KKK in the area. With the help of a fellow cop Detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) he managed to impersonate a white supremacists over the phone while Flip would pretend to be him in person; a plan that was so successful that they even managed to dupe KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) who had several conversations with Ron never realizing he was in fact black. As the investigation goes along though, things start to get complicated as certain members of the Colorado chapter of the KKK start to suspect their newest recruit, and Ron start to find it hard to live not only a double life as a fake white man, but also the dichotomy of being a black man and a police officer in that period of time; especially when he starts falling for the President of the Black Student Union Patrice (Laura Harrier) who is just as militant against white systems of power as Ron is determined to use his position in said system to take the KKK down a peg. Will Ron and Flip manage to stop the KKK from whatever it is they’re planning without getting caught in the crossfire themselves? How far will the KKK members go to assert themselves as a threat to be taken seriously, and who do they plan to hurt in the process? Just how many white people jokes can Ron get away with before David Duke becomes suspicious!?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rian Johnson
And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding! Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS. Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down. Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard. Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship. While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it. Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions. Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order? Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times? Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?
Logan Lucky and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Oh hey! Wasn’t this guy supposed to retire like five years ago? Last I heard, he was done making movies and Behind the Candelabra was supposed to be his last film! I guess it’s never easy for someone in this business to TRULY retire (didn’t Jet Li try to do that like fifteen years ago?) and it’s usually a good thing when they don’t. I mean sure, not EVERYONE manages to make their best films in the latter half of their career, but Soderbergh has been a solid talent for some time now and I think we’re better off with him at least TRYING to stay game than just giving it up all together. Will his latest effort confirm just how much he was missed for the maybe one year at most he stopped directing stuff, or was his initial instinct to quit at the peak of his career the right call to make? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) getting fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to a pre-existing injury that the company found out about. Now if you ask his brother Clyde (Adam Drive), he’ll tell you that this is just yet another example of The Logan Family Curse which he believes to be responsible for an IED blowing off his hand and forearm, and while the guy is clearly the superstitious type, it’s not like he doesn’t have a lot of evidence backing him up. Jimmy losing his job is just another burden for him to carry on top of his somewhat messy divorce with his wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes), his straining relationship with his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), and just the general suckiness of living in North Carolina where the Drinking water is almost always at risk from shoddy chemical plants who just keep spilling their shit into the supply. Maybe this is all a sign for him to go the Walter White route and make money in a less than ethical way just to get some of the weight off of his shoulders and live just a bit more conformably. He may not be cooking meth, but he DOES plan to rob the very speedway that he worked for because he knows that the money is transported through a series of tubes that go from the individual (and overpriced) merchants to the big vault down below. Even with his little inside tip, it STILL seems like a tough job to pull off which means he’ll need a little extra help from demolitions expert and current inmate Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) as well as his rather dumb yet completely loyal brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson); not to mention his brother as well as his sister Mellie (riley Keough) who’s an expert driver and the perfect wheel woman for this job. Can this ragtag group of misfits manage to pull off the heist to end all heists right under everyone’s noses? How exactly do they hope to not only get in the vault and steal all that money in the first place, but make sure they don’t get caught after the fact? Is this where the James Bond movies will end up going? Hey, it’s at least more coherent than the LAST movie!
Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Rian Johnson
Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi! Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens. Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!
Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice. Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show. Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting. Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation. The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing. While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about. At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by JJ Abrams
Alright, look. This review is going to have spoilers and if you’re worried about that, then here are my thoughts real quick.
The movie is fantastic. The bad guy stuff is the best, the good guy stuff is bogged down a bit by the references they’re trying to fit in, but overall it’s a fun ride and a worthy successor to the original trilogy.
You got that? Okay, here comes the rest of the review.
The movie starts off with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) getting a sci-fi USB stick that contains the location of Luke Skywalker who has been missing for a very long time. Before he can take the flash drive to The Resistance however, the village he’s in gets raided by the new bad guys named The First Order who are the Empire in all but name. Kind of like how Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC. Nothing’s changed, but now they have a less obviously evil/unhealthy name. Anyway, Poe gets captured by Darth Vader 2.0, also known as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) but not before Poe gives the USB stick to R2-D2 2.0, also known as BB-8. The droid makes his way to a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who takes it in while simultaneously A Storm Trooper named FN-2187 (John Boyega) breaks out Poe from the evil starship. Their escape is cut short when they get shot out of space and crash land on the planet below (the one BB-8 and Rey are on) and FN-2187 (also known as Finn) is the sole survivor. His deal is that he wants to get as far away from The First Order as quickly as possible, but now that he’s on the dirt planet he doesn’t really have a way to do that. Fortunately, he eventually finds the droid and Rey, poses as a Resistance fighter, and convinces them to help him escape the planet and drop off the droid (with him escaping to wherever the hell he wants to in the process). Can these two make it to The Resistance before The First Order can capture them? Will Finn step up to the plate when the time comes, or will his self-preservation instincts kick in before he has a chance to play the hero? Is Rey more than what she appears to be and is the she the key to stopping The First Order once and for all? WHERE’S HAN SOLO!?!? Oh wait, there he is.