Jexi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
We are still VERY much in catch up mode right now and it’s starting to get a bit distressing as more and more movies I wanted to see close to leaving theaters, but at least I managed to catch THIS one which somehow got to my second run theater a good three to four weeks before I would have expected it to! You know how I found out that they had it? I USED MY PHONE!! It all connects if you look hard enough! Anyway, does this story about a phone with a heart of gold and the mouth of a sailor manage to be a biting and hilarious critique of how we interact and even bond with our electronic devices, or is it just a silly movie about the kids these days and their addition to screens? Let’s find out!!
This is the story of a man named Phil (Adam DeVine) who spends all his time on his phone and has no connections with anyone else; especially at his job where he writes top ten lists for a website run by the maniacal Kai (Michael Peña). I’m not sure why he has to go to an office to do that, especially since he doesn’t seem to get anything out of being around other people like his coworkers Craig and Elaine (Ron Funches and Charlyne Yi), but that’s his life and he seems to be content with it. Until of course his phone breaks after a run in with a local bike shop owner named Cate (Alexndra Shipp) and he has to go buy a new one which seems simple enough but turns into madcap hilarity when the AI assistant turns out to be a wise cracking, truth telling, emotionally berating, hard ass named Jexi who doesn’t put up with ANY of Phil’s crap and tries to get his life in order if for no other reason than how embarrassing it is to be around him. At first it seems to work as her tough love advice leads to him making friends at work, expanding his horizons a bit, and even landing a date with Cate, but once the job of fixing him comes closer and closer to being finished what is left for Jexi to do? Can Phil put his life back on track and learn to be the kind of person those MILLENNIALS ARE RUINING EVERYTHING articles wants us to be? What will Jexi do once she’s no longer needed and Cate starts to horn in on her territory? Is this what the AI in HER would have acted like if she was the star of that Joker movie?
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!
Love Simon and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Greg Berlanti
Does anyone else think we’re at the point where we need to come up with a better way of describing movies like this one other than “Like a John Hughes movie”? As much as those movies are a touchstone in popular culture, the phrase a bit played out at this point, and on top that movies such as this one, despite being quite faithful to the overall formula and tone that he developed, feels like something that couldn’t have (even if it SHOULD have) been made in his time. I mean I GUESS we could go with “teenage coming of age story”, but that still doesn’t feel like it fully encapsulates the specific high school angst and post puberty struggles of self-discovery that made us develop the term in the first place. Anyway, I’m just rambling here as I honestly had no idea of this movie’s existence until it showed up at my local theater, but I am happy that we’re getting an ACTUAL LGBTQIA+ teen comedy as that kind of movie is a lot more in my wheelhouse than the super serious LGBTQIA+ films like Moonlight or even Carol. Does this manage to succeed in being just as good if not better than its straight peers in the genre, or is its good intentions just not enough to carry this film all the way through its run time? Let’s find out!!
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is your typical teenager, in that he’s not quite sure about his place in the world and has secrets that he doesn’t feel like sharing with the rest of the world. As the audience though, we’re privy to ALL that information and we find out right away that Simon is in fact gay but hasn’t come out yet; not to his friends Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr), nor to his parents (Josh Duhmael and Jennifer Garner) and little sister (Talitha Bateman). He has his reasons for doing so and it’s not like there’s a LAW that says you have to do it as soon as you know, so his plan is to just continue pining after hot dudes while hiding any trace that he’s actually doing so! Simple enough, right!? Well… not necessarily. It turns out that there’s ANOTHER closeted gay dude in school who posts an anonymous letter on the school’s blog under the pseudonym Blue and leaves an e-mail address for people to contact him at. Simon on a whim decides to reach out to him (using a pseudonym as well) which leads to a flurry of back and forth e-mails as Simon starts to develop feelings for this unknown “Blue” person. However, since this IS a movie about teenagers, there has to be SOME sort of disaster and in this case it’s the nerdy kid Martin (Logan Miller) who finds Simon’s letters and tries to set up an “arrangement” (*cough* Blackmail *cough*) where Simon will help him clean up his act, take better care of himself, and become a much more attractive and emotionally available person which will help him meet awesome women who think he’s awesome and they can have awesome dates together. At least that’s what I’m sure is going through MARTIN’S head to make this sound so much more innocent, but what it breaks down to is Simon (under threat of being forcibly outed) having to arrange dates between Martin and Abby who the former has a crush on. Yeah, not the BEST situation to be in all things considered, and worse yet he might end up losing his chances with Blue who might get scared off if Simon is forcibly outed; thinking he might be next if he keeps contacting him. Can Simon juggle this rough situation with his everyday duties of being the typical American teenager? Will Martin make good on his threats and just how far will Simon have to go to keep that from happening? How is it that EVERYONE’S teenage years suck!? You’d think at least ONE person would luck out at some point!
X-Men: Apocalypse and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Bryan Singer
It’s that time again for another X-Men movie to try and prove its relevance in a post MCU world! So far, I think they’ve been doing a fairly good job of keeping this series humming along since Mathew Vaughn kicked the franchise back to life again five years ago. The post First Class movies haven’t been perfect, but the second shot at a Wolverine solo picture and the one that brought Brian Singer back to the franchise were both fine enough films, and now that Deadpool is kinda sorta in the mix, there may be hope yet that this franchise can make that leap to the big leagues instead of sitting comfortably as the acceptable knock off. Is this movie the start of that transition, or is this series just gonna keep spinning its wheels until another X3 disaster kills it off for good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up about ten years after Days of Future Past which is still about twenty years before the original X-Men, which I THINK is still in continuity (only X3 is the one we know for sure got blinked out of existence). In the intervening time, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has finally set up his school, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding and now has a family in Poland, and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)… well she’s basically doing the same thing as she as in the last movie, only now she’s a symbol of peace rather than a violent radical after she had saved the president from Magneto. Things seem to be at a tentative state of peace with the humans being somewhat okay with mutants and Erik more or less retiring Magento so he can live a normal life. We don’t come to an X-Men movie to see people be happy though! What’s gonna screw it up for everyone!? Well two things really. First is that Erik suffers a tragedy that throws him back into his anti-human hobby, and second is that there is a millennia old mutant calling himself, among other names, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) that just so happened to wake up from his deep slumber and is ready to take over the world (presumably after getting a shower and a bite to eat). It doesn’t take long for him to make his presence known so the X-Men must reunite and get some of the new students to fight the greatest threat to all of humanity… at least now that the Sentinels aren’t gonna be a thing anymore. Can Charles and Mystique whip these newbies into tip top shape to fight the new bad guy and save the world? What exactly will Erik do now that he’s given up on ever finding peace for himself? How many times are they gonna blow up the damn school!?