Artemis Fowl and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
I don’t think I’ve seen a GOOD new movie since the theaters closed up which is probably no coincidence as any studio who thinks their film will earn MONEY will probably want to wait until theaters are open again to take their chances on a strong weekend box office. It certainly hasn’t improved my general outlook in this very challenging time, but Disney has a chance to lift the spirits of the world by giving us a fantastic adventure film that the whole family can enjoy! Is this the YA cash cow that Disney’s been looking for!? Let’s find out!!
Artemis Fowl Jr (Ferdia Shaw) is the son of famed… artifact collector or something, Artemis Fowl Sr (Clin Farrell); both of whom live a happy little life in a giant coastal mansion with their not-butler Domovi Butler (Nonso Anozie). The only problem is that dear old dad has a habit of jetting off to another adventure in artifact “collecting” which leaves little Artite with little more to do than win dozens of awards at school and be a pompous jerk about it because on top of being super-rich he’s also a super-genius with a bad attitude. Everything changes however when one of his father’s trips ends with his yacht sinking in the ocean and somehow it also comes out that he’s actually a master thief. In reality, he’s been captured by an EVIL fairy and tells little Artie to give them the MAGICAL MACGUFFIN OF ULTIMATE DESTINY, or else his dad is going to die. Oh yeah, fairies and other magical stuff are in this movie which comes in about as abruptly as that sentence did and little Artie gets over the shocking revelation just as quickly. It turns out the MAGICAL MACGUFFIN OF ULTIMATE DESTINY is some artifact from the land of the fairies which is located underground (glad we never ran into any of THOSE cities amongst all the fracking, am I right?) and Magic Cop Julius Root (Judi Dench) is adamant about finding it. One of her subordinates Officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) has a personal stake in finding this artifact so she goes rogue and gets… let’s say ENTANGLED with Little Artie’s situation and through further complications, the ENTIRE Magic Army is on Artie Jr’s doorstop and are looking to drag him out of there with the help of a giant dwarf named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) who they need for… reasons I suppose. Using only his wits, the help of his non-butler, and even the help of his non-butler’s niece who is ALSO a super genius and kung-fu expert, he must find a way to locate the artifact, get the Magic po-po off his lawn, and try to wrangle an entire novel’s worth of world-building and character development into less than ninety minutes of screen time. Can Artie Jr outsmart the Magic Cops with this heightened intellect and penchant for slick suits? What is the mysterious evil fairy planning, and what will happen if the MAGICAL MACGUFFIN OF ULTIMATE DESTINY were to fall into their hands? Is this grab bag of every other fantasy movie even CLOSE to the sum of its blatantly lifted parts!?
The Gentlemen and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films
Directed by Guy Ritchie
So hey! Now that we’re talked about our collective complicated relationship with Michael Bay, we might as well get to Guy Ritchie as well! I actually haven’t seen most of his movies, even the ones that everyone else seems to like (no, I haven’t seen Snatch) but the general consensus is well known and can be seen even in the few films I’ve sat through; an over reliance of style over substance which coupled with the wrong material is utterly disastrous. He SOMEHOW didn’t crash and burn with Aladdin even if that isn’t a great movie, but King Arthur was an absolute garbage fire of a movie; one that I’m sure we’ll all have fun laughing about for years to come. Then again, his adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a surprising fun little ride, and with him returning to his comfort zone for this movie maybe he’ll get back into the groove of things and give us something truly enjoyable once again! Can Guy Ritchie still knock it out of the park when he’s doing the one thing we know he’s good at? Let’s find out!!
Told to us by way of Fletcher the journalist (Hugh Grant), Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is the biggest grower and distributor of marijuana in the UK, and despite being so successful and sacrificing so much to keep his business afloat, well he’s approaching that age where there are more important things and so he decides it’s time to sell it. His buyer to be is the much more respectable Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) who will need to pay a pretty penny for it as that kind of infrastructure will be primed to make BILLIONS once pot is legalized in the UK, but as it turns out there’s someone else vying for a chance to get it from Mickey; namely the Chinese-British gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) who’s uncle George (Tom Wu) basically controls all the other drugs in the country. Mickey isn’t planning on selling to anyone else though and politely tells him to shove it which was probably the right move to make but still ends up causing headache for Mickey and his crew including his right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) who coincidently is the person that Fletcher is telling this story to. Kind of seems odd that he’s telling Raymond about things that he was already there for, but Fletcher assures him that there’s a twist to this story that he won’t see coming and is one that he’s certain Raymond and Mickey will be more than willing to pay twenty MILLION dollars to find out. With so much at stake, what will Mickey do (or perhaps have already done given the framing device) to keep his empire from crumbling right before the big sale? What could Fletcher possibly have that Raymond and Mickey don’t already know, and is it really worth as much as he says it is? Will this be the redemption of both Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie after that disastrous King Arthur movie!?
It’s not always easy to look past a REALLY blatant issue in a movie to see everything else that’s great about it, but this might be a case where that effort is warranted. It’s such an oddly paced and weirdly structured film that about an hour into the movie I legitimately thought we were still in the first act, and yet almost every individual scene works in its own isolated little bubble. It’s almost like a sketch comedy movie, like if Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s framing device was a guy reading the book out of order, and if you can look past how bizarrely this whole thing is paced (and a few moments where the crudeness and violence sail right past good taste) then you’ll find a really fun and interesting gangster film here. If only Guy Ritchie wouldn’t get in his own way the whole time, then we could have had something great, but at least he’s back in his element and isn’t trying to turn King Arthur into… I don’t even know; Robin Hood crossed with Dragon Ball Z and Dark Souls? Now that I think about it that does sound amazing, but trust me; he DID indeed find a way to screw that up.
Dumbo and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Tim Burton
Dumbo wasn’t really one of my favorites in the Disney cannon growing up. I was always more of an Aladdin guy myself, so the prospect of getting a Dumbo movie from Tim Burton of all people seemed like the perfect mix of baffling and uninteresting, BUT once the trailers started coming out and I realized Danny DeVito was gonna DeVito it up in there, it at least managed to get my attention even if not for all the right reasons. Sure, I’ll go to bat for DeVito almost every time (except The Lorax. Ugh…), but what exactly are they trying to do with this movie!? Is this the kind of remake that’ll make people even more cynical of Disney than they already should be, or is there some bold unique vision to all of this that I’m just not seeing? Let’s find out!!
Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has just returned from the war to the circus he worked for prior, and finds things a bit worse for wear. Granted he lost an arm, but the circus is losing profits, animals, and oh yeah his wife died as well. His kids seem fine if nothing else (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) and the circus’s ringmaster Max Medici (Danny DeVito) has some work already lined up for him. Okay he’s not gonna be riding horses and shooting guns like he used to, but being the elephant handler is almost as good, right? It’s a particularly sweet deal since Medici’s new elephant is about to have a baby which will bring in the crowds from all over! Unless of course the elephant is a freak with big ears or something, but what are the chances of THAT happening!? Okay, so the baby happens to be a big eared freak (because elephants don’t have big ears already?) but Medici gives him a shot at the spotlight which ends up going pretty badly for all involved as the rowdy crowd starts jeering and calling him Dumbo which sets off his mother who then gets sold to another circus; leaving Dumbo all alone to be mocked and ridiculed by the masses. Sounds a bit heavy, but fear not! The children have found out that he has a USEFUL gift which is the ability to fly, so now instead of being a laughingstock to make money for his capitalist overlords, he can be an inspiration wonder for his capitalist overlords! Speaking of capitalists, Dumbo’s ability to soar through the air with the greatest of ease gets the attention of VA Vandevere (Michael Keaton) who has a MUCH bigger circus in New York (you could call it some sort of park for the purposes of amusement) and convinces Medici to move his operation there with absolutely NO catch whatsoever! PINKIE SWEAR! He just wants Dumbo to perform with his trapeze artist Colette (Eva Green) because… I don’t know, I guess a flying elephant wasn’t enough to appease the masses? With Dumbo’s new found fame and spectacular abilities, will he be able to one day reunite with his mother as the kids have promised him over and over again? What is Vandevere REALLY up to, and is there any chance that a guy with that kind of hair ISN’T a bad guy? Was anyone really asking for this? Like… at ANY point did someone out there even suggest that Dumbo should be made into a live action movie?
Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steve McQueen
Is it time for another cinematic confession? Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work. What can I say? I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*). Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it? Let’s find out!!
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week! Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this. It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from. Thanks, Citizens United! Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life. She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best. Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist? What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind? Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
Well DC certainly isn’t about to keep Warner Bros solvent for years to come, so it’s time to dip back into the Harry Potter well and Accio them some of that sweet franchise cash! Now despite the somewhat desperate circumstances surrounding the studio behind this film, there is a lot of potential here as JK Rowling wrote the script for it and David Yates has returned once again to direct. Then again… neither one of them has had much luck with their creative endeavors since the last Potter film, particular David Yates whose Legend of Tarzan earlier this year is one of the many domestic flops Warner Bros has had to deal with in the last few years. Huh. Well I’m SURE none of that is important when it comes to this film which promises to get us all back to waving overpriced wands and repurchasing the book sets once again! Does this latest entry in the Potter Franchise manage to inject some new life to build a new slate of films from, or is this a desperate cash grab form a lot of people who haven’t found a way to move on from this series? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in New York City with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his TARDIS like suitcase full of magical creatures. He’s come to the US in search of yet another magical creature to further his research, yet things start to go sideways once his suitcase’s latch starts malfunctioning which gives some of the more rascally creatures a chance to escape. You’d think that tying a belt around it would solve the issue, but maybe he would need a MAGIC belt and simply didn’t have one available at the time. Anyway, one of the creatures does get loose which is quickly retrieved, but not before a No-maj (the American word for Muggle) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) sees too much as well as Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) who seems to work for the US Ministry of Magic and wants to bring Newt in for questioning. Sadly for all involved, shenanigans ensue and Newt’s suitcase is broken wide open for even MORE creatures to escape which means that he must roam the streets of New York looking for them with Tina and Jacob in tow in an attempt to keep things nice and quiet as well as avoid jail time for all three of them. Of course, that’s not ALL that’s going on here as there seem to be some deeper intrigue involving a REALLY on the nose religious group known as the New Salem Church (subtle) being led by some zealot (Samantha Morton) and there might even be some traitorous players in the US Ministry of Magic that are helping them in their goals of hunting down magic users. Will Newt manage to get his creatures back before animal control either kills them or gets eaten themselves? What exactly is the New Salem church after, as well as those inside the wizarding world who are VERY closely looking at their activities? How the hell did Newt even get mixed up in all this!? HE JUST WANTED TO BUY SOMETHING!!