No Time to Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Even without the year-long delay caused by a global Pandemic, there was a pretty long wait between this film and the last one which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence as Spectre turned out to be rather disappointing, and this coupled with Craig’s public comments about continuing to play the part made it hard to assume anything other than a troubled production as a studio scrambled to find out where they went wrong after Skyfall was such an overwhelming success. That, and the Bond franchise is not exactly known for quality swansongs for their stars. I mean I liked Diamonds Are Forever quite a bit, but that’s still a ludicrous movie to end the Connery era, and A View to A Kill is only saved from being the worst of the Moore era by Octopussy being such a disaster right before it. Heck, even Pierce Bronson’s final film is so off the wall that some speculate it’s all just a dream sequence! So yeah, with a disappointment preceding it, a wonky track record for the franchise, and a five-year production cycle when the Craig films usually only needed three, there were a lot of auspicious signs even without COVID coming to upend the entire film industry! Still, you can never count James Bond out as every failure inevitably leads to another success down the road, and the Craig era has been a definite standout in the franchise’s fifty-year history. Does Craig’s final film buck the conventions and become a standout in an already impressive run, or will we need to wait for another Bond to bring this series back to life? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of Spectre, James Bond and Madeline Swann (Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their hard-fought victory over Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Chrstoph Waltz), but as with any Spy story, paranoia starts to creep in and an attack from Spectre leads James to believe that once again he has been betrayed by the woman he loves. With little ceremony and huge amounts of salt, James cuts Madeline out of his life and spends the next five years bumming around on a beach until an MI6 scientist (David Dencik) is kidnapped with a secret weapon that MI6 VERY much doesn’t want to get out into the world, but even more so wants to keep it under wraps. M, Moneypenny, Q, and the new 00 Agent Nomi (Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Lashana Lynch) are doing what they can but Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) of the CIA is well aware of what’s going on and convinces Bond to come back for one more mission and perhaps show the new recruits Logan and Paloma (Billy Magnussen and Ana de Armas) a thing or two about this line of work. All is not as straightforward as it seems however as the kidnapped scientist is just the smallest tip of the ice burg for a mysterious plot devised by an even more mysterious man (Rami Malek) that is in some way connected to Madeline. Can James Bond return to the life he left behind for one last mission, or has the years of hard drinking and heartbreak taken their toll? Was Madeline a deep agent the whole time for whomever this mysterious man is and Bond was right to mistrust her? Never mind the NEW bad guy; what’s Blofeld up to these days? Has he gotten that eye looked at?
Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series! Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy! I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out! Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago? Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign. I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between. Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth? In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side! Let’s find out!!
IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined! He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie. Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past. Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well. Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky. Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past. Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is? Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about? Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?
The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners
For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one! So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!
Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.
I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much. Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies. It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero. That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking. The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer. I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part. I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer. If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.
Downsizing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alexander Payne
Every year, there’s usually one movie that starts off getting quite a bit of Awards buzz (mostly due to its cast and filmmakers) that eventually pivots all the way back to being an absolute train wreck once the critics get a chance to see it, and it’s usually not due to a genuine lack of talent on anyone’s part. More often than not, it’s misguided or something happened in the production that forced corners to be cut, so the badness of these kind of movies tend to be UNIQUE compared to the drivel that usually comes out during the rest of the year. Last year the winner of this prize was Collateral Beauty that tried SO hard to be a heartfelt and charming tale despite ostensibly being about people acting like total monsters towards someone with emotional issues, and word has been circulating that this is gonna be that film for 2017. I thought the trailers looked good as does its interesting premise, but I’ve been burned by good trailers before (*cough* Mother *cough*), so I’m hoping for the best but will keep my guard up just in case. Are the critics right about this film being wholly unable to live up to its lofty ambitions, or is this one of those few instances where the popular consensus will shift once it gets screened for the masses? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Paul (Matt Damon) who’s a simple man with a ho-hum job living a ho-hum life with his ho-hum wife (Kristen Wiig) in his ho-hum town of Nowhere-ville. He’s looking for something to spice up his life and to give him a renewed sense of meaning (by which I mean he wants to buy more stuff), so he starts to entertain the idea of him and his wife Downsizing. What is Downsizing you may ask? Well it’s a process by which a human can be permanently shrunken down to a fraction of their normal height and then move to a community of similarly shrunken people. Since things cost less when they are smaller, that means that Paul’s meager life savings can let them live as kings for the rest of their lives in one of these communities, so he eventually makes the leap. However, his wife doesn’t go with him (balking at the last second) and he’s basically back where he was before; miserable and looking for ways to be happy. Through his ongoing life in Tiny Town (also known as Leisureland) he meets with a goods trader Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) as well as a Vietnamese protestor who was Downsized against her will named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau) that seem to be much happier than him and might just hold the secrets to helping Paul find what he’s been looking for. Can Paul find a shred of happiness in his sad pathetic life? What doors with Dusan and even Ngoc open for Paul that will help him on his journey? Wait, so we have this HUGE premise about people being shrunk down and living in corporate run micro-communities… and we’re focusing on some sad white dude the whole time!?
Tulip Fever and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company
Directed by Justin Chadwick
Now THESE are the movies I live for! What makes a good or bad movie even better is if there’s a good story behind it, and this looks like a disaster waiting to happen; what with its troubled production (it’s earliest incarnation was supposed to be filmed in 2004) and the fact that it’s been sitting on Harvey Weinstein’s shelf for almost three years now. Not only that, the premise itself sounds completely absurd (a steamy period romance AND ALSO the explosion of the Dutch tulip market) and the trailers made it look like a muddled mess; probably due to that whole “sitting around for three years” thing. Sometimes a film can rise above a nightmarish film shoot with films like Apocalypse now and even The Shining being great examples of that (even if Shelly Duvall’s treatment on set was pretty freaking grotesque), but other times we get stuff like Waterworld, The Super Mario Bros Movie, or even Food Fight. Does this film manage to come out of all this turmoil as an intact and extremely entertaining film, or should they have never bothered dusting this off in the first place? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Sophia (Alicia Vikander) who’s agreed to marry Cornellis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) in exchange for her younger sister getting a free trip to American and her getting out of the orphanage. All she has to do is sire him an heir and live a happy domesticated life; provided the dude who more or less bought her doesn’t get bored and throw her out on the streets. Still, even if a baby would have kept him from doing such a thing (at least not right away) she seems completely unable to get pregnant which puts a strain on their “relationship” which I guess you can call it. In walks Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan) who is painting a portrait for them but manages to fall madly in love with Sophia who eventually reciprocates his feelings. After more than a few bangings behind Sandvoort’s back, trouble starts to brew when Sophia’s maid Maria (Holiday Grainger) gets married and the father (Jack O’Connell) disappears due to some contrived misunderstanding. Now her being pregnant and unmarried is a problem while Sophia being NOT pregnant is a problem as well. I wonder if the two things could somehow come together to come up with a solution! Oh and there’s a Tulip Market bubble that’s going on in the background that I’m sure means something important. Will Sophia be able to give Sandvoort what he wants while also finding a way to escape his clutches? What will happen to their brilliant plan if the REAL father comes back at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME? Are we SURE that Dane Dehaan isn’t just playing Valerian again and this is one of his Time Travel stories?
The Legend of Tarzan and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
I had no idea this movie was even coming out until maybe a month or two ago, and it seems like the studio wants it that way. They’ve been trying to get a live action Tarzan movie out since AT LEAST 2003 (probably to capitalize on the Disney film) and you can really tell that this shit was cobbled together from a production that’s been willed into existence by sheer stubbornness at the refusal to let a bad idea (or at least a good idea with no good way to bring it to life) just go away and to work on something else. Still, the Disney movie WAS pretty good and he’s a character that’s endured for over a hundred years now as he was a creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs; the king of badass genre stories. Do they manage to eke out an enjoyable action flick from this timeless source material, or will this suffer the same fate as the Conan remake and John Carter which were the last two Burroughs adaptations? Let’s find out!!
A quick refresher on the story of Tarzan that we all know (as told by Phil Collins). AHEM! A paradise untouched by man; a simple life, the apes lived in peace. But dangers are in fact no stranger here! The son of man known as Tarzan is taken in by the apes after his parents are killed, but in this version it’s actually the apes that killed his dad… so I guess that makes things a bit awkward here. Despite that; the power to be strong, the wisdom to be wise, all these things came to him in time during his journey from boy to man! But in time he ALSO wanted to know about these strangers like him. One stranger in particular was Jane Porter whose every gesture and every move she made in turn made Tarzan feel like never before, and soon he had this growing need to be beside her. Now if you only know the story from the Disney Movie (pretty much anyone born after 1990 and are HOPEFULLY getting all these clever jokes I’m making), you all know that his story ends with Jane staying with him in the jungle. Not true here (and in pretty much every other version of the story from my understanding) as he goes to some other world far beyond that place; namely England. Thankfully this brings me to the ACTUAL movie I’m talking about (also meaning I can stop quoting Phil Collins lyrics) which involves a domesticated Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) who’s being asked by the British government to go to back to his home (The Congo) for… some reason. Actually, I’m not sure why Jim Broadbent (playing A British PersonTM) wants him there so badly, but I do get why Samuel L Jackson wants him there who’s playing George Washington Williams; an ambassador for the US who wants to see if the rumors about the Belgians enslaving people in their colony is actually true so he can report it back to his government. Tarzan (also known as John Clayton) begrudgingly accepts the assignment and also begrudgingly accepts that Jane (Margot Robbie) is gonna go along with him. Waiting for him in The Congo though is Christoph Waltz playing Captain Léon Rom who is assigned by the King of Belgium to get some damn diamonds out of that colony by any means necessary, and Tarzan is the key to getting them. How? Well there’s a tribe there whose leader is SUPER pissed at Tarzan and has agreed to help Waltz get the diamonds if he will deliver Tarzan. Needless to say that Rom goes about this in the most dickish way possible which includes kidnapping Jane, and so Tarzan must go after them to save his wife and stop them from doing any more evil shit in his home country; all of this with the help of Samuel L Jackson of course. Can the two find out what Léon Rom is up to and save Jane before it’s too late? Just what is Christoph Waltz up to other than to pillage the country of all its natural resources? Wait, this movie is somehow less than two hours!? Well it certainly FEELS a lot longer, that’s for sure.
Spectre and all the images you see in this review are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures
Directed by Sam Mendes
Has it really been three years since Skyfall!? That movie was absolutely fantastic, wasn’t it? Well now the same crew (minus Roger Deakins) is back to give us the next entry in the James Bond franchise! Will they be able to make another fantastic entry in the long running franchise, or will this fail to live up to the massive expectations that Skyfall left us with? Let’s find out!!
As expected, the movie is about the lovable spy James Bond (Daniel Craig) and his latest efforts to find the mysterious organization that’s been hunting him and causing chaos from behind the shadows! I though they already figured out it was Quantum, but whatever. After a VERY explosive mission in Mexico, he’s one step closer to finding this evil organization but problems arise when it turns out he went out on his own without MI6 approval. This is particularly troubling for the organization (and M played by Ralph Fiennes) due to the government still wanting to shut them down which you may recall being a subplot in the previous film. In its place, the government wants to establish a worldwide surveillance program that’s being headed up by Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) who seems just a bit too eager to get Bond out the way. Bond once again goes out on his own (has he listened to anyone since maybe Casino Royale?) to follow up on his leads to find whoever it is that’s pulling the strings behind recent events and is probably controlling Quantum, though that’s still a bit unclear. Will Bond discover what this organization is that they spoil in the title? Will he find the mastermind behind this (Christoph Waltz) who we’ve been told is NOT Blowfeld but who the hell else would be the head of Spectre? Will James Bond finally get to the bottom of something without having to kill every lead he has!? It’s probably gonna be a no on that last one.
Oh look! Another James Bond film is coming out! Who could have seen that coming!? The new film, simply called Spectre, is the twenty-fourth film in the long running series and the fourth film to star Daniel Craig in the title role. His track record has actually been pretty good so far with Casino Royale and Skyfall being great films in their own right (no one remembers Quantum of Solace so just shut up about it), but with them finally tackling the infamous organization in earnest (bringing in more of the old school features of the franchise), are they finally going to end up biting off more than they can chew? Well we won’t know until November, but for now let’s look at the trailer!!
The trailer begins with James Bond getting lectured by the new M (if you want to know what happened to the old M, watch Skyfall) for going off on his own to Mexico for some reason. Not sure what he was doing there, but it involved blowing up a building.