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?
“Look, all I’m saying is that Nazi Zombies are technically zombies if you want to get pedantic about it, but they never follow the traditional zombie formula.” “What about Dead Snow?” “That was INTENTIONALLY tongue in cheek about its premise! It doesn’t count!”
Before I Fall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Ry Russo-Young
Oh look! It’s that movie that looks like that one movie that came out two decades ago! Okay, so maybe it’s not a TOTALLY original concept, but it at least looks more interesting than other YA novel adaptations like Divergent or The 5th Wave, and it does so without having to be set in the apocalypse! The trailers seem to be leaning into the central conceit of the movie, and while it still has that YA aesthetics that look more drab and cheap than anything else, there seems like there’s some more effort thrown into this one than you’d typically expect. Does this manage to rise above its peers and be one of the better examples of the genre, or are they just getting better at marketing these kinds of films to the general public? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) waking up on CUPID DAY which is NOT Valentine’s Day because these super hip and cool teenagers say so… even though it’s celebrated exactly the same way; down to the roses being handed out which I’m sure by any other name would still make this Valentine’s Day. Anyway, she’s going through her day like it was any other; hanging out with her friends Lindsay, Ally, and Elody (Halston Sage, Cynthy Wu, and Medalion Rahimi), dodging the creepy kid who’s been pining after her for years (Logan Miller) and making out with her boyfriend (Kian Lawley) who’s honestly not much of a prize considering the dude wears his baseball cap backwards AT ALL TIMES. Still, thing seem to be going fine in their lives and the four of them go to a party that night at the creepy kids place in celebration of Love Day or whatever the hell this is. Hey, say what you will about his social skills; the dude has an awesome house! The party however turns out to be less awesome because the creepy girl at school Juliet (Elena Kampouris) starts some beef with Samantha’s friend and is swiftly run out of the party by everyone there. Feeling deflated, the four of them leave the party and WHAM! They get in a car crash which… I THINK kills them? Either way, Samantha wakes up the next day… EXCEPT IT’S NOT THE NEXT DAY! She’s stuck in a time loop where she wakes up on the same morning each day and has no idea what it would take to break out of it; if that’s even an option. Can Samantha find a way to escape the purgatory that she’s found herself in? What can she learn by having to repeat the same day over and over again, and is this a wake-up call for her to become a better person? I feel like I’ve seen this in a movie before. Have they done this in a movie before?
Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters (1984) are both owned by Columbia Pictures
The new movie has finally come out we can all confirm that the world has not plunged into forty years of darkness, but while there have yet to be any reports of rivers and seas boiling or dogs and cats living together, there’s denying that we indeed saw some mass hysteria . Hopefully all that will subside soon enough, but those people have already gotten more attention than they deserve and it’s been difficult to keep everything in perspective as some people decided that the success or failure of this movie was going to be the crescendo in some childhood ruining man hating agenda, so trying to have a measured conversation about the strengths of both this new film and the original it’s based off of has not been an easy task. Thankfully we can hopefully start taking a measured look at both films’ individual merits and how one movie might have done somethings better than the other without having the more obnoxious among us either use it as proof that we are biased or evidence that the new movie is horrible. To kick that discussion off, here’s my own examination of both films and how one stacks up to the other based on important aspects that are in both films!
Who Ya Gonna Call? (The Crew)
This new movie made two fantastic decisions right off the bat. It was a reboot instead of a sequel, and they didn’t try to make these new characters analogues for the original crew. No one in this movie is a recreation of someone from the last film which means that we don’t have to play the WHO DID IT BETTER game on individual actors (a decision also wisely made by the Evil Dead reboot), and similarly I’m so glad that this new Ghostbusters team is not the trainees, or even worse THE DAUGHTERS, of the original crew which would have completely ruined what makes these new characters so interesting. Look, I’m well aware that this is a movie starring women that FIRST had to be done by men, but the fact that it’s not the case in the movie itself is an inspiring message to young girls to be proactive and forge their own paths. A lot of people who are upset about this movie seem to think it would have been better if this was a passing of the torch story which is a concept that worked pretty well for Star Wars, but there’s no way it would have worked here. At least in that movie there’s a whole universe to explore and the new people wouldn’t necessarily be in the shadows of the original cast allows them to do their own thing; something that would be infinitely harder here if the new Ghostbusters were still using the same logos, firehouse, equipment, jumpsuits, what have you that the original cast were wearing twenty years ago and everyone in the movie knew that. It wouldn’t be able to be its own thing as it would constantly be in the shadows of the original members who are still hanging around the background and would take attention away from the brilliant actors that are the real stars here.
Ghostbusters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Paul Feig
No other movie this year, save MAYBE Batman v Superman, had as much drama and passion as this reboot of a classic eighties comedy. A very vocal minority of people were deadest on hating this from the word go with nothing more to go on than the idea that it would star women instead of men, and they haven’t shut the hell up about it since then; effectively drowning out any legitimate criticism that was levied against the movie. It’s true that this is a reboot and that Ghostbusters was a very much a movie of its time (not only in concept but also the fact that comedies just don’t have the same clout and reverence they did back in the eighties), but I was still genuinely interested in seeing this based on who they ended up casting and some of the better moments in the trailer. Does this manage to live up to the hype as a patriarch smashing masterpiece, or will it live up to the OTHER hype of being the worst possible thing to ever happen to anyone at any time in history? Probably neither, but is it at least good? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Columbia Physics professor Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) being forced to confront an old colleague of hers, namely Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) over a book they wrote years ago on the paranormal which she has since disowned but has recently resurfaced and may pose a threat to her bid for tenure at the university. Abbey never stopped her research and is angry at Erin for abandoning her those many years ago so she’s not too keen to help her out and has even gotten a new partner in crime in the form of super engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and they’re both trying to get evidence that ghosts really do exist. Opportunity comes a-knocking for all three of them however as Abby and Holtzmann (with Erin along for the ride trying to get Abby to take her name off the book) actually do run into a ghost and get footage of it on camera. Unfortunately, the video goes viral, Erin gets fired from the University, and all three of them can’t get anyone to believe the story. Still, this is some groundbreaking stuff they’ve uncovered, so they pool all their money together to begin a start-up company and relocate to the attic of a Chinese restaurant (a firehouse looked promising, but was WAY too expensive). As they perfect their craft and Holtzmann works on the weapons, they eventually meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who saw a ghost at the subway station she works at and enlists the Ghostbusters to bust it before eventually joining the team, as does Kevin Beckman (chris Hemsworth) who becomes their secretary because no one else bothered to apply for the job. While all this is going on by the way, there’s some creepy dude named Rowan (Neil Casey) who seems to be setting up devices that amply the strength of ghosts that are already haunting various places in NYC and is clearly planning something much bigger. Can the Ghostbusters find out Rowan’s evil plan before it’s too late? Will the world even accept them as anything more than frauds and Ghost Hunter knock offs? Is there ANY chance that those determined to hate this movie will feel any different by actually watching it? I’m gonna guess no on that last one.
“Is THAT what people have been saying about us!?” “Yup.” “Wow…”
The Jungle Book and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Jon Favreau
In the early and mid-2000s, we got a deluge of straight to video sequels to classic animated features in the Disney catalog. Almost NONE of them were any good, and they thankfully died off by 2007. Now we’re in a new age of cannibalizing those cartoons by making them into live action, albeit with better results. These include Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and now this with PLENTY more on the horizon. Can Disney continue to successfully rehash their older properties, or are we getting to the point of diminishing returns? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Mowgli (Neel Sethi); a young child who was abandoned in the jungle and raised by wolves. Most of the animals don’t have any real beef with him, so they coexist without much strife to speak of until the fierce (and apparently ONLY) tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) shows up and declares that the boy must be turned over to him for death, else he will wage war on the other animals; particularly the wolf pack Mowgli’s a part of that also seems to be the highest ranking species here… or something. Rather than have his pack go to war over him, he leaves them behind and goes with his panther friend Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) who’s gonna lead him back to the human village which is the one place he’ll be safe from Shere Khan’s anti-human wrath. Unfortunately, the two get separated along the way and Mowgli instead finds himself moving in with a bear named Baloo (Bill Murray) who will teach him about chillaxing and eating honey. Will Mowgli truly be safe in his new home? What will Shere Khan do once he learns that Mowgli is not dead? Does this have at least the Bare Necessities to make it a good film!?
“What have I told you TIME and TIME again?” “Don’t forget to take that left turn at Albuquerque?” “And did you?” “No. I’ll do better next time.”
Ghostbusters and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Paul Feig
If the internet wasn’t already bad enough for you, the announcement of a Ghostbusters movie with a female cast should have been enough to put it over the edge. For reasons that are bafflingly petty, there are still a number of dumbasses who hated this movie just on principal. The principal that… what, women suck? I don’t know and frankly I don’t want to know. This trailer though is the first chance that many of us will have to form an ACTUAL opinion on it rather than get blindly angry at it for no good god damn reason. Does the trailers assuage the fears of those who legitimately had some hesitations for this, or will this be a complete mess of a reboot like… eighty percent of other reboots are? Let’s find out!!
The trailer begins with that most sacred of reboot traditions; softly playing the original film’s theme over establishing shots that are accompanied by trailer text. The text by the way is somewhat misleading as it references the original film (thirty years ago, four scientists saved New York) despite nothing else in here indicating that the Ghostbusters existed prior to the events depicted here (an actual reboot instead of a pseudo sequel). The trailer proper is all about the origin of these four people coming together and as well as creating their equipment, though this could all just be some VERY creative editing on the marketing department’s part to hide anything that indicate them not being the first crew to carry the name. I really hope that this IS a full on reboot though because having the original movie or the original cast be a presence here is just going to overshadow who the real stars of the movie are. Speaking of which…
Like any decent film critic, I’ve had a couple of movies that I promised myself I would eventually get to, but then they ended up slipping through the cracks for so long that I had given up hope on ever getting back to them. Well no more I say! Not only am I catching up on two movies I saw in 2015 that I never got to talk about, I have just recently had the chance to watch two other films from 2015 that are definitely worth discussing! So without procrastinating another second, here are four movies from the past year that I now have the chance to review!!
Rock the Kasbah and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Barry Levinson
Ah yes. The one where Bill Murray saves Afghanistan. See, THIS movie got a bit crowded out because it came to theaters the same week as Jem and the Holograms and The Last Witch Hunter. CLEARLY I was very busy at the time writing reviews for two of the worst movies of the year and things just snowballed after that to the point that I never got my thoughts down on this movie. It may have been the best movie of that week by a long shot, but that’s not saying a hell of a whole lot considering the not so stiff competition it was up against. Is it any good without the direct comparison to the garbage it was surrounded by when it was at the box office? Let’s find out!!
Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a guy who will try to get you to fall for anything, and probably believes half the bullshit that he’s spewing. At one time he was a somewhat successful manager to some big acts, but nowadays he just hangs out in his hotel room/office scamming wannabe singers out of some cash while trying to promote one of his clients Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) who might actually have a bit of talent if he can just get her a break. Opportunity comes a knocking one night where a military man sees her perform and suggest that Richie take her on a USO tour in Afghanistan which is supposed to pay very well with only a slight chance of death in the process. Richie’s all on board but Ronnie eventually reveals that she’s not into being somewhere that rough and not long after arriving in Kabul, she robs him of all his money as well as his passport; leaving him without any identification and in debt to the mercenary (Bruce Willis) who got Ronnie out of the country and was only given half his fee in the process with promises that Richie had the rest. Will he be able to scramble up enough money to pay back the mercenary and get his ass out of the country? Well that actually becomes pretty moot as the REAL plot involves a young woman in a nearby village named Salima Khan (Leem Lubany) who can sing like an angel but will be killed if anyone in her fundamentalist village (and almost anyone her in her fundamentalist country apparently) hears her do it. Richie though sees fame and fortune in the story and eventually convinces her to join an American Idol like competition (Afghan Star) which has never had a female singer on before, and the rest of the movie is basically the fallout of that with Richie learning some lessons about himself along the way!
“I co-wrote this one from Stevie Nicks back in 1990. She didn’t like the lyrics, but we got a top 100 hit out of it. SOMETIMES IT’S A BITCH!! SOMETIMES IT’S A BREEZE!!!!”