With the window between theatrical and streaming collapsing as movies are coming hitting the home market mere weeks after their run in theaters, it’s getting a little too easy for me to just forget about something and return to it when it’s most convenient for me. Before, there was a window where missing it in theaters meant you couldn’t see it in any form for months, but now I can just hold out for a bit and see it when it’s still kinda relevant with the added bonus of being able to fold laundry when I do so. I’ll definitely try to get better about this, especially with so many big releases that need attention soon, but for now, let’s have some fun looking at three recent movies that were on your TV before you knew it!
John Wick: Chapter 4
John Wick: Chapter 4 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Chad Stahelski
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is finally striking back against The High Table to take back his freedom, but with every life he takes, he incurs a greater debt that his friends and associates are forced to pay back. With his friend Shimazu (Hiroyuk Sanada) targeted and his other friend Caine (Donnie Yen) called in to take him out, John is forced to spill even more blood and find ways to work the system to his favor as yet another member of The High Table (Bill Skarsgård) has him in his sights. Will John ever get the peace he desires, or will his quest for vengeance be his ultimate undoing?
Now I actually did catch this one when it was still in theaters, but it wasn’t easy for me to come up with the right words for it back then. Perhaps the reason why is that the John Wick franchise has been a bit of a bugbear for me as I appreciate what it’s doing and how well it executes its vision but simply cannot get past the narrative which got worse with subsequent sequels. That issue, thankfully, has been mitigated here as the script does a lot to work around its more obnoxious conceits, though we still haven’t quite made it back to the first film as far as being a great movie instead of just an action-packed one; hence why I’m just now getting around to it. The lack of agency for our main character has been addressed as he has a clear goal he’s striving for instead of getting dragged around by contrivances, but with that freedom comes the expectation to have an actual character again and sadly he’s just not as interesting as he was in the first one; something that others have noticed as well as his word count in this final entry was a joke when it first came out. Thankfully the film’s solution is to introduce a lot of fun and interesting characters to pick up the slack, though it didn’t escape my notice that a lot of their plot threads are left dangling as Lionsgate is clearly interested in milking this franchise for years to come. Donnie Yen turns in a terrific performance and is frankly the star of this movie as far as I’m concerned as he has all the pathos that John should while kicking all sorts of butt in the many action scenes that he participates in. He’s easily the best character the franchise has come up with and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lionsgate is already begging him to be the lead in the next few of these movies. My personal favorite addition, however, is Scott Adkins who shows up doing a phenomenal riff on LeCheffe from Casino Royale. The guy is one of our best underrated-action-stars and he proves to be a natural comedian in a role that could have simply been a joke but is genuinely engaging, and his fight with John ends up being my favorite action scene in the movie. All of this is well and good, but a problem the films still haven’t addressed yet is the length as they’ve been creeping up past two hours since the second one and this one just goes on and on. No matter how good the action scenes are in this, and they are very good, it’s hard to sustain enthusiasm for as long as this movie expects you to. I know I’m a bit of a sourpuss when it comes to this series and I admit that a lot of my antipathy is specific to my taste in storytelling, but for what it’s worth this manages to be a high note for the sequels even if it still can’t quite recapture the magic of that first film.
Eternals and all the images you see in this review are owned by Disney
Directed by Chloé Zhao
One thing you can say about the MCU is that they’ve never met a character, no matter how obscure to the general public, that they couldn’t find a way to work. Well except maybe Iron Fist, but the Netflix shows are their own thing anyway so I wouldn’t bother counting that anyway. Heck, the ONLY thing I knew about Guardians of the Galaxy prior to the movie being announced was Rocket Raccoon’s inexplicable inclusion in Marvel Vs Capcom 3, and that turned out to be one of the best things the MCU has popularized! The Eternals however seem like Marvel REALLY trying to challenge themselves as far digging up obscure characters to make into household names as I STILL couldn’t tell you a thing about them despite seeing the trailers a few times! It’s definitely going to be its own thing which could be its saving grace considering how lackluster the Post-Endgame MCU has been so far, but is it too far away from what audiences’ expect for them to latch onto? Let’s find out!!
The Eternals are BASICALLY to Marvel Superheroes what Dracula is to other vampires. This group has been doing the super hero shtick before it was even cool to do so since they’ve been around since the time of Quest for Fire; protecting humanity from alien creatures known as Deviants, while also giving us a few pointers in the right direction. Of course they can only influence humanity so much and are forbidden to interfere with human conflicts as decreed by their Space Creators known as Celestials, and over time they just kind of drifted apart as the Deviants became few and far between. Cut to modern day where Sersi (Gemma Chan) is working as a school teacher in London when a SUPER POWERFUL Deviant comes out of nowhere, and she along with fellow Eternals Sprite and Ikaris (Lia McHugh and Richard Madden) have to stop it before it can cause too much damage. Clearly there is a new threat on the horizon if the Deviants are reemerging, so the trio must scour the globe looking for their fellow Eternals (Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Koeghan, Don Lee, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie) and convince them to put aside whatever difference they may have and come back together for a mission to save Earth! Can The Eternals overcome whatever threat is looming over the planet this time? Just what split them up in the first place, and how have the years away from each other changed them? Seriously, I know they’re doing their own thing here but can we at least get ONE Avenger to tag along? It can be one the B-Listers like War Machine or Hawkeye!
The Devil All the Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix
Directed by Antonio Campos
It looks like Warner Bros non-stop protestations that movies and movie theaters are back has failed to materialize as the world is still ravaged by a pandemic and studios are still shy about putting anything out to overwhelmingly empty theaters. I guess it means we’re going back to the Netflix well once again which is perfectly fine as we ALL need to do our part to keep people safe, and they’ve been putting out a steady stream of original movies so I’m pretty much spoiled for choice until the world decides to reopen again. So with the breadth of Netflix’s catalog in front of me, which one do I choose? Well it was either Cuties or the new movie with Robert Pattinson, and as much as I hear good things about Cuties (and hear bad things from the absolute WORST people about it), I had to stick with my main man Robbie P and see what he’s up to! Does this movie satiate the listless masses for another week of perpetual lockdown, or does the dour tone of this movie hit a bit TOO close to home right now? Let’s find out!!
Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) is your typical sweet kid from the country with a definite chip on his shoulder. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, but given enough of a push he can be convinced to take serious action against those who slighted him and his family. Perhaps he got that mean streak in him when he was a kid (Michael Banks) and his father (Bill Skarsgård) used to do the same thing. Perhaps it has to do with his mother (Haley Bennett) who died of cancer when he was young and the… interesting actions his father took during that time. Still, he doesn’t have much to complain about considering he lives with his loving grandma (Kristin Griffith) and… let’s go with half-sister Lenora (Eliza Scanlen) and leave it at that. To get into the specifics there is something I’ll leave the movie to explain, but needless to say that things are pretty good for him, and as long as they aren’t surrounded by a bunch of terrible people to set Arvin off, things will go just fine for them! Well I hate to break it to you, but there are some bad people in this little town and Arvin is stuck right in the middle; between the devils all around him and the devils within himself. Does the world push Arvin to take drastic measures to restore order in the face of injustice, and can one man survive in a world full of bad people? What will Arvin lose of himself in this story of pain, loss, and vengeance, and is there any sort of light at the end of the tunnel once he’s found the justice he seeks? This sounds like a superhero origin story, though PROBABLY not the one that Holland usually plays.
IT Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Alright, so we’re all in agreement that the first film was amazing, right? I mean it had a few issues here and there, but dang it if Chapter One wasn’t a horror masterpiece with great performances, a terrifying villain, and the brilliant idea of taking the GOOD parts of a Stephen King book and leaving out all the stuff that doesn’t work. Heck, I’m pretty sure the last time that happened was when Kubrick made The Shining which Stephen King really doesn’t like for some reason. Now we’ve got the sequel which has the neigh impossible task of capturing lightening in a bottle twice; especially since most of what made the first one so memorable will necessarily have to be either absent or pushed to the side. Can the filmmakers pull off the impossible by making the notoriously unworkable ending to the book into something not just comprehensible but just as good as the film that came before it? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up twenty seven years after the events of the first film where the mysterious murders in Derry have started up once again and Michael (Isaiah Mustafa) as the only member of the Losers Club left in town has to bring the gang back together to fight the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again. Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, and Stanley (James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean) have all gone their separate ways and can’t even seem to remember their time in Derry or the monster they fought all those years ago, but after a phone call from Mike they all start to remember (some take the news harder than others) and travel back home to take care of what IT is once and for all. In the process they will have to confront their pasts, face their fears, and do all sorts of weird stuff in the vein attempt of trying to destroy a monster that has lived for hundreds of years while they’re a bunch of middle aged writers, comedians, and risk analysists, who might be able to throw a punch but not much else. Can the monster known alternatively as IT, Pennywise, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!? be defeated by these friends brought together once again by the pact they made long ago? What is the clown planning for them as revenge for the defeat that he suffered back in the eighties? Maybe he can defeat them by trying to explain the ending of the book and just wait until their brains explode.
Assassination Nation and all the images you see in this review are owned by NEON
Directed by Sam Levinson
Wow, people are really liking this, aren’t they? Unlike Mandy or The Predators, I actually did catch a trailer for this at some point so I knew it was something like The Purge but also about divulging personal information, so basically that episode of The Simpsons where the kids reveal all their parents secrets, only with a MUCH darker ending. Still, The Purge films are a pretty high bar to reach even if NEON has a pretty solid track record with their movies. Can this latest effort from a much smaller studio hope to compete with the franchise that got to the party way earlier and with a much bigger studio behind it? Let’s find out!!
Lilly, Sarah, Bex, and Em (Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, and Abra) are four teenage girls in the town of Salem; living out there days being the baddest crew in school who appreciate the little things in life; such as gossip, boys, and tearing down the patriarchy! One day a hacker starts leaking personal information of Salem’s citizens; starting with the corrupt mayor, but then moving on to the kind principal and then eventually everyone else. The secrets being revealed are causing some… stress you could say with some people opting to wear masks, others starting violent militias, and everyone just going all in on showing the worst sides of themselves. Homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, all of the above and more, just starts running rampant once the façade has been stripped away by the leaked data. One of the more prominent victims turns out to be Lilly who has her own secrets she was trying to hide and makes her a pariah to basically everyone except her friends who are standing with her, at least for now. What more could be revealed that could make the situation even worse than it is? Just how far will these people go to inflict pain on others for dubiously justifiable reasons as well as to cover up what secrets they may have themselves? Is it just me, or do things seem REALLY tense lately!?
Deadpool 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by David Leitch
The first Deadpool was really solid for what it was, and I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it only SORT of is! It was not so much a movie in its own right as it was a proof of concept for a character to show how something this dark, comedic, and off the wall can be done in the super hero genre. It makes sense considering this character had pretty much been struggling to prove itself for years as a cinematically viable presence what with the awfulness that was Origins Wolverine (there was an even a stinger for him to return in later X-Men films) or even that CG rendered test footage that became the big car action scene in the real film. I wasn’t THE MOST thrilled with the end result as a movie, but I was glad that Ryan Reynolds found a character perfectly suited for his capabilities as an actor and that a studio was finally ready to back him up on that. Now that EVERYONE knows who Deadpool is and are ready to see him in action outside of an origin story, is there enough left to work with to make the amazing film he truly deserves, or was he just a gimmick the whole time and lightening won’t be striking twice for this one? Let’s find out!!
After getting his revenge, resolving his character arc, and making a boat load at the box office, Deadpool AKA Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is living his Merc with a Mouth life full of blood, snappy quips, and awesome days with his lady love Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Sadly the good times won’t last forever and Wade is basically left to his own devices which can only spell doom and gloom for those foolish enough to get in his way… unless of course you’re made entirely out of metal. Oh hey! His best buddy Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) is made of metal! Maybe he can get Wade out of his funk and FINALLY get him to join the X-Men! Thing is, that’s KIND of a monkey’s paw wish as he DOES indeed join the team (as a trainee) but right away screws things up when a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennsion) gets himself into trouble and Deadpool comes to his aid in a manner that doesn’t QUITE meet the X-Men code… or the law, and winds up going to Mutant Jail which is apparently a thing. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s ALSO a half cyborg dude named Cable (Josh Brolin) pulling a Terminator by coming back to the past to save the future and it SEEMS to involve both Wade AND death, so Deadpool certainly has his work cut out for him in order to escape prison, keep the kid from ending up a reprobate like himself, and stopping the Future Cop from whatever the hell it is he plans on doing. Will Wade learn how to not just be an irreverent jackass, but an irreverent jackass with a HEART? Just how far will Cable go to complete his mission, and how much collateral damage will Wade have to suffer because of it? He may not be the best man for the job, but is he at least the FUNNIEST one!?
IT and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
MAN this one takes me back! I still have my grandfather’s copy of the book that I read in middle school; torn to shreds naturally considering how much I carried it around. I’ve read a few Stephen King books here and there and I tend to like his style overall, but his movies are some of the most hit and miss films you could imagine; ranging from critically acclaimed masterpieces like The Shining to garbage you’ve never even heard of like Riding the Bullet. IT is one of the weird ones as its one of the most definitive King books out there (not just in popularity but in terms of content as well) but it’s honestly… a little bit… weak. Not saying it’s BAD, but there’ just SO much going on in there that it feels like several novels fighting for control of the narrative. Heck, if The Dark Tower didn’t LITERALLY do this, I’d say it’s almost akin to mashup of everything King had done up to that point only without a single shred of restraint to keep the whole thing manageable; hence why the damn thing is so thick you could beat a man to death with it. Still, we already got one adaptation of this story that everyone seems to like which means that someone EVENTUALLY had to take another crack at it for BRAND NAME RECOGNITION, but they at least had the foresight to make it a hard R movie instead of a PG-13 which works for SOME movies, but not for a story like IT. Will this be the new standard for Stephen King adaptations, or will this be like The Dark Tower where I’m the only one out there who actually enjoyed it? Let’s find out!!
The story of IT is set in the town of Derry (zero points if you can guess what state it’s in) where there’s been an unusual uptick in missing kid reports which has most of the town on edge; especially the kids themselves who fear they’ll be next. We know what’s up though! The first thing we see in the movie is little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) falling victim to the supernatural menace that has been picking off kids left and right while taking the form of a really creepy looking clown known simply as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Everyone believes little Georgie to be dead, but his brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is convinced that he’s still out there and plans to find him by any means possible; including going into the spooky sewers that may be full of waste but could ALSO be full of answers! His friends Richie, Stan, and Eddie (Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, and Jack Dylan Grazer) are helping him despite their better judgement and this circle of friends increases to include Mike, Ben and Beverly (Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray, and Sophia Lillis); all of whom are outcasts in one way or another and seem to be the only ones even TRYING to figure out what’s going on in their small town. Will they find the answers they seek the further they delve into the town’s cryptic history? What will Pennywise the clown do once he realizes these kids are onto him, and is there more to him than meets the eye? How the heck are they gonna do in two hours what a TV movie couldn’t do in less than three!? AND THEY HAD TIM CURRY TO HELP WITH THAT ONE!!
Atomic Blonde and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by David Leitch
Holy crap! The day has FINALLY come, hasn’t it!? There are usually a handful of movies that I genuinely look forward to each year and for most of 2017 the big one was this Charlize Theron spy thriller with a lot of bloodshed and a lot more attitude! The trailers looked phenomenal with Theron putting her heart into this John Wick knock off (it even has one of that movie’s directors) and James McAvoy being… well James McAvoy, but that’s why we go to see him in movies! Still, a trailer isn’t always true to what a movie will ultimately be about and while I certainly have high hopes for this, I should PROBABLY temper them lest my expectations get too astronomical and I end up setting myself up for disappointment. But still! CHARLIZE THERON PUNCHING DUDES IN THE FACE! How COULD it go wrong!? Well if it does, we’ll certainly find out!!
The movie begins with the death of an MI6 agent (Sam Hargrave) in East Germany right at the tail end of the Cold War, and the British Government are in desperate need of someone to clean up the mess the poor bastard left behind. Enter Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who given two objectives to complete once she gets there; find THE LIST that the MI6 agent had secured before getting a bullet in the head (you know, that list of EVERY SPY EVER that’s in EVERY SPY MOVIE EVER) and find a double agent known simple as Satchel who is more than likely responsible for this whole mess. Her only contact in the country is MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who’s gone DEEP undercover in the Berlin punk scene but has more knowledge of the country’s inner workings than anyone else. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems as there’s a French agent rather conspicuously following them around (Sofia Boutella), there’s like five different German/Nazi dudes who hate punk music trying to find her, and she keeps getting stymied at every turn presumably to the machinations of that darn double agent! Will Lorraine find this list that could CHANGE THE TIDE OF THE WAR before it falls into the wrong hands? Who is this mysterious double agent, and could they be closer than she dares to believe? How is it that all the hired goons keep finding her so easily!? Is it the hair? It’s probably the hair.