I, Tonya and all the images you see in this review are owned by Neon
Directed by Craig Gillespie
We can’t have an Oscar Season without at least ONE off the wall biopic, right!? Sure, you’ve got the more straightforward historical dramas like The Post and Darkest Hour, but despite Scorsese striking out with The Wolf of Wall Street at The Oscars, it still made a huge impact and many have tried to recreate its success since then. Not only that, but the fact we’re starting to look back at the nineties in a historical context with at least two recent OJ Simpson projects getting a huge amount of critical praise, it’s no wonder that right after him we get to the other big crime story of that decade; the assault on Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding’s possible involvement with it. Does this reexamination of one of the biggest names in nineties pop culture end up being a phenomenal look at her life and the decade around it, or is this a cynical cash grab trying to get a jump start on Gen X and Millennial nostalgia? Let’s find out!!
Back in the early nineties, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was one of the most prominent names in Women’s Figure Skating; having come from a very poor background and taking a lot of her social upbringing into her performances. Despite Figure Skating being a sport that prizes tradition and perfection in its (none of that uncouth “rock and roll” music!), they could not ignore Harding who was a natural on the ice and the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel (a feat accomplished by Midori Ito and Mao Asada from Japan a few years earlier). Still, it wasn’t an easy road as she had to deal with her abusive mother LaVona Fay Golden (Allison Janney) and her just as abusive husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan); both of whom seemed hell bent on making her life miserable despite swearing they were only looking out for her best interests. Things get complicated though when Tonya’s anxiety and even paranoia start to get to her as the weight of her modest celebrity as well as the skills of other skaters made her quite distressed. From here, we start to get speculative about what happened, but the general idea is that one of Jeff’s friends Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) has a friend of his attack one of Tonya’s rivals Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver) and the big mystery surrounding it is just how much did Tonya know about what was happening. Did she orchestrate the attack herself? Was she aware that it was going to happen but said nothing to stop it? The movie addresses these questions and more as this dramatized retelling of her story gives us not only a look at the facts as we know them of the case, but the media circus that built up around it and the… interesting characters that were involved. Oh, and there are a few skate numbers as well!
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Directed by Jake Kasdan
So I guess the nineties nostalgia train is just gonna keep on rolling until it either runs out of steam or derails horribly (the latter probably if someone gets the idea to do a Cartoon Network Cinematic Universe), and this latest stop on that journey might be the most baffling yet. Sure the original film is a straight up classic (don’t yell at me! It is!), but did it really have the kind of cultural impact to make what I GUESS is supposed to be a sequel some twenty years later? Maybe that’s why they got one of the most reliably bankable stars right now to take the lead, which to be fair is EXACTLY what they did in the original. Either way, does this manage to live up to the fantastic film that preceded it, or is this yet another soulless cash grab desperately pandering to millennial nostalgia for a quick buck? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of a group of kids stuck in detention for various reasons when they JUST SO HAPPEN upon a video game console that looks kind of like a TurboGrafx-16. Inside there is only a single cart called Jumanji which they decide to play because apparently detention in this school goes unsupervised; especially when its being served out in a storage room full of all sorts of precariously stacked sports equipment and I guess haunted video game consoles. The four kids, Spencer, Bethany, Fridge, and Martha (Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, and Morgan Turner) get sucked into the video game and turn into three character actors and a leading man in the process and now have to find a way to beat the game in order to get back to the real world. Dr. Smolder Bravestone is Spencer’s character (Dwayne Johnson) takes point due to his video game knowledge and brand new smoking bod, Franklin Finbar is Fridge’s character (Kevin Hart) is the animal expert with an infinitely deep backpack, Ruby Roundhouse is Martha’s character (Karen Gillan) as a Playstation 1 era female protagonist, and Professor Sheldon Oberon is Bethany’s character (Jack Black) who knows how to… read maps I guess? Anyway, the four of them have to work together in order to complete their mission of getting some sort of jewel back to its sacred resting place before the EVIL Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) shoots them all in the head and takes the jewel for himself. Will these four brave (or at least sort of brave) heroes manage to put aside their differences and work together to escape this CryEngine tech demo? What secrets are hiding in this jungle, and will those secrets contain references to the previous film?
Ant-Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Peyton Reed
Marvel films have gotten quite a bit of criticism recently which is to be expected with a studio that has become so omnipresent in popular culture. When something gets this big, it’s only natural that a lot more voices enter the conversation which means that the overall discussion turns into a diverse mix of varying opinions, and not all of them are going to be positive. Still, it seems that with Ant-Man, Marvel is trying to expand what these movies can be with this one primarily being a heist film rather than what we usually get from this studio, though it hasn’t been a smooth ride what with the original director (Edgar Wright) leaving production partway through. Does this movie succeed in tweaking the formula that made the other films a success, or has the shaky production surrounding this film led to a sub-par outing for a studio trying desperately to convince us that they’re totally going to keep up this track record of excellence for the next decade? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a flashback to that most infamous of decades, the eighties. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) is at the height of his career and is respected by all his peers. Unfortunately, it turns out to be 1889 and just like Michael Douglas, Hank’s career is about to take a turn for the worse. He’s working for Shield (which is actually Hydra but whatever) and is the discoverer of what is known as the Pym Particle. Essentially, he made super science goo that makes things shrink which makes aid goo super valuable. Valuable enough that Shield is going behind his back and trying to recreate the formula which is enough for him to quit his job and he vows to let the secret formula die with him.
Michael Douglas’s secret to his success on the other hand is something he’s willing to tell everyone. Spoiler alert: It’s his dick.