Godzilla: King of the Monsters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Toho
Directed by Michael Dougherty
I may have been a bit cold about the first Godzilla film (no not the one from 1954 and no not the FIRST Hollywood version) which had a tendency to favor human drama over monster punching action, but with Kong: Skull Island being a phenomenal bit of bloody adventure action and the trailers for this film looking absolutely gorgeous, it looks like things may finally be kicking into high gear for the once and future king! Shoot, they managed to get MOTHRA in this! What more could you possibly ask for!? Does the latest Godzilla movie live up to its title as King of the Monsters, or is this further evidence that the big green guy’s day in the spotlight has come to an end? Well probably not the latter since Shin Godzilla was pretty awesome and Toho isn’t about to give up this cash cow anytime soon, but let’s find out!!
Following the events of Godzilla 2014 (and technically Kong: Skull Island as well), the world is now hyper aware of Kaiju being a “thing” they just have to deal with now, and ever since Godzilla kicked those monsters’ butts the last time more and more seem to be popping up all over the place. Fortunately Monarch, the secret organization that studies Kajiu, has been keeping them either asleep or in cages so as not to cause further catastrophe, though I do wonder exactly where they get their funding if the government is constantly calling them in for hearings to tell them how bad they are at their job. Ah, it probably doesn’t matter! What DOES matter is that one of the Monarch scientist Dr. Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) have been KIDNAPPED by… anti-Kaiju terrorists I guess (led by Charles Dance) and are planning something NEFARIOUS with her research which involves communicating with Kaiju. Good thing she’s got a self-pitying ex-husband named Mark (Kyle Chandler) who’s off somewhere still brooding about his son who died during the first movie, and Monarch calls him in to… help I guess. I mean they’ve already got Dr. Serizawa from the last film (Ken Watanabe) as well as Dr. Chen and Dr. Chen (Zhang Ziyi) who are Kaiju experts, Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) who cracks jokes and does science stuff, and even a couple of army people including Jackson Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who cracks jokes as well, so why are they throwing in a guy who explicitly wants all the Kaiju killed into the pro-Kaiju organization? I guess to try and figure out how those kidnapping Kaiju-haters think? So now this rag tag group of scientists and random dudes are off to stop the anti-Kaiju terrorists from waking up all the monsters which I guess will show people that the monsters are bad… or something. Hey, isn’t Godzilla supposed to be in this movie at some point?
The Darkest Minds and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Can we just take a moment and remind ourselves that YA adaptations (and even movies aimed at a YA audience) are NOT the worst thing to happen to the world of cinema? That would be Eli Roth, but in any case, I think we’re well past the days of Twilight Hate (at least we SHOULD be and anyone still carrying that torch would be kind of sad) and we even got some bug critical success stories like The Hunger Games; none of which I’ve ever seen but I hear are supposed to be good! In the last few years though, things haven’t really looked great for the genre as they still make money, but none of them have had much critical success or frankly leave much of an impact despite earning so much money. Even GOOD ones like A Wrinkle in Time still languished with critics and didn’t really find the audience it needed to. Now we have this movie which stepping up to the plate to take its swing at the box office. Does this manage to be another high point for a genre that should get a bit more respect, or is this the kind of poorly made tripe that (along with misogyny if we’re being frank) made these films such an easy target in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Ruby Daly (Lidya Jewett) is your typical elementary school student in a run of the mill suburb living her normal life when tragedy strikes as the world basically turns into an even MORE proactive version of Children of Men. Not only are people not having babies anymore, but children start to drop like flies from some mysterious disease, and worse yet the ones who survive get super powers. Now sure there’s a certain amount of… let’s say VOLATILITY in kids having the ability to move things with their mind and conduct electricity (as well as have super smarts and fire bending powers because… reasons), but things go a BIT further than some updated Health and PE classes to straight up generational genocide as ANY child exhibiting any sort of powers (I couldn’t quite tell if it was ALL children or just some of them) are brought to military run internment camps for classification, separation, and manual labor. Ruby ends up getting sent to one of them as she apparently has the ability to read minds I think which makes her the MOST DANGEROUS AND SPECIAL ONE EVER, but she manages to somehow keep it under wraps by mind wiping the doctor (you’d think they’d check for that) and getting classified as a lower tiered super person. Years go by and Ruby goes from a young girl to a teenager (Amandla Stenberg) but things come to a head as she seemingly gets discovered as one of the SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME kids and subsequently whisked away from the camp by a mysterious freedom fighter of sorts (Mandy Moore) who then wants her to join her group known as the Children’s League which seems like a good idea considering she’s got nowhere else to go and they’re for the liberation of children from government persecution… but then she gets a weird vibe from the dude she’s with (Mark O’Brien) and she manages to run away from them to find a van full of super powered teens (Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, and Miya Cech) who agree to take her in as they travel to some sort of children haven known as East River where they can… I guess live free? Of course it won’t be an easy trip as there are children hunting bounty hunters (Gwendoline Christie) roaming the streets as well as the military who aren’t about to let one of their kids go; especially if they’re one of the SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME kids! Will Ruby find a new home with her fellow super powered misfits? Just what does the Children League want from her, and are they truly fighting to save these persecuted children? Okay, seriously Fox? Did you just dust off an old X-Men script to make this movie?
The Post and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Oh good! Now that it’s officially 2018, the rest of us can FINALLY see the best movies of 2017! Because THAT doesn’t seem like a backwards approach to releasing critically acclaimed films; ESPECIALLY ONES BY THE MOST FAMOUS DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME! Sigh… whatever. My feelings about theatrical release schedules aside, there’s been a lot of buzz about this movie being yet another Awards Darling what with the big name cast, the legendary director, and the timely subject matter given the political climate we are currently and TORTUROUSLY living under. That said, I’m not always the biggest fan of movies that seem so perfectly designed to soak up Oscars (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*) and while I didn’t give it the most GLOWING review at the time, I do think that Spotlight is an unreasonably high bar for any film to try and reach which certainly seems to be the goal here given the topic at hand at hand the pedigree behind it. Then again, how can you go wrong with Spielberg? If your answer to that question is Hook by the way, you’re just flat out wrong. HOOK IS AWESOME!! Anyway, does Spielberg manage to eke out yet and another cinematic masterpiece to add to his collection, or is this simply relying on his name to sell it both at the box office and with critics? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows The Washing Post during the time The Pentagon Papers (a study of the likelihood of victory in Vietnam that indicated that the government knew there was no chance of winning yet still committed forces there anyway) were being released by The New York Times and Nixon’s Justice Department was doing what they could to stop it. Now The Washington Post wasn’t doing so well as its owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is seen as an ineffective leader for reasons that CLEARLY have very little to do with her actual abilities (I WONDER WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE!?) and was in the middle of trying to find outside investment when this all started to unfold. The editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is itching to get his hands on some of the papers that The Times had gotten and were forced to stop publishing due to a federal court injunction (COMPLETELY unprecedented in American history), but even if he WERE to find the it’d be a huge risk for everyone involved; especially Miss Graham who has the most invested in the company. Eventually though, one of the assistant editors Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) manages to get his hands on not just the parts The Times obtained, but more or less the WHOLE damn report straight from the source itself Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys). With Ben having EXACTLY what he wants and a staff of likeminded reporters to back him up, it all comes down to Miss Graham to decide whether or not the risk of publishing these documents in her paper outweigh the potential good that having such documents out there will do for journalism and first amendment rights. Even then though, if they jump the gun and the Nixon Administration wins whatever court battle would certainly lie ahead, that could lead to an even WORSE seizure of unchecked executive power. Will Kay find a way to get the truth out there without losing everything else in the process? What can The Justice Department and Nixon do to this newspaper and its staff if these documents are released in spite of the injunction placed on The Times? The REAL question is, will this movie win MOST of the awards or ALL of the awards?
Get Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jordan Peele
2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate. Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise. Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”. Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is! Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films? Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre! Anyway, let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone. Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over. Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris. On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this. Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized. Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned? What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange? Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu? That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!
The horror genre of films is interesting because of how aware its fans are of the problems inherit in it, while still celebrating those flaws in ways that many people find incomprehensible. I’m a pretty big horror fan myself, but I understand the frustration that some people have with the overreliance on tropes and that tend to appear in some of the weakest examples of the genre. However, this dichotomy between the quality of the tropes and the love of them that fans have has led to some great examples of genre spoofing and exploration that’s been hard to match in other film genres. Movies like Scream and You’re Next have been able to walk that line between honoring what came before while also subverting and improving in ways that a lot of horror films fail to do. The Cabin in the Woods (written by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard) is the current reigning champ of these kind of self-aware horror films, and yet or some reason I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. Well what better way to fill that gap in my viewing history than to watch it for my MONTH OF HORROR MOVIE REIVEWS!? Can the movie possibly be as good as the hype has promised it is, or is it another overrated horror flick that’s inexplicably beloved by fans of the genre? Only one way to find out and that’s to keep on reading!!