Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by JJ Abrams
So here we are once again, though I guess things are a little bit different since we last got a Star Wars movie with a number at the end of it. Whatever problems you may personally have with The Last Jedi (I have my own as well!), it certainly didn’t justify whatever the Fandom Menace was and only ended up souring people on Star Wars rather than provide constructive criticism of it. Seriously, if you’ve made MULTIPLE hour long videos letting people know just how much you dislike a movie, there’s probably something else going on than just critical analysis. With all that negativity surrounding the trilogy’s middle entry (from I must stress a VERY small if VERY vocal minority of people), there was a lot of interesting energy going into this final film as Lucasfilm and Disney were either going to ignore the toxicity and continue with what Johnson started, or they were gonna thread the needled of appeasing those people while also not losing the overwhelming majority of the audience that understood and appreciated what Johnson was going for. Do they succeed in stitching this fandom back together (or better yet unambiguously denouncing and excising the toxic parts of) with one great movie to finish of the Saga of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo? Let’s find out!!
After narrowly escaping destruction in The Last Jedi, the Resistance has started to grow its ranks once again on a well-hidden planet where Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with Master Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is now Emperor of the First Order has been searching for Emperor Palaptine (Ian McDiarmid) ever since a mysterious broadcast from the dead guy went out across the galaxy, and he eventually succeeds in finding some sort of tracking beacon that leads him right to his mysterious and hard to reach planet. It seems that Palpatine is still somehow alive (I’ll say The Force did it) and has an unstoppable military force waiting to be unleashed on the galaxy that Kylo can control IF he brings him Rey. The Resistance learns of this overwhelming power that Palpatine has at the ready from a mission that Poe and Finn (Oscar Isaac and John Boyega) just barely manage to complete and survive so now there’s a clear ticking clock that the Resistance is working against in order to stop The First Order once and for all; get to Palpatine’s planet and destroy its fleet before it can leave port on Doom Planet. Rey, Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)take it upon themselves to search for one of those tracking beacons that Kylo Ren used to find Palpatine’s planet and start looking into The Resistance’s past as well as the Empire’s past in order to find it and maybe a few more answers along the way. Will our quartet of space heroes find a way to stop Palpatine once and for all; a task that as it turns out Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader weren’t up to? What will Kylo Ren do to stop them from finding the beacon, and what agendas does he have of his own? Will this movie FINALLY make those angry Star Wars fans finally happy? Well of course not, but will it make the other ninety-nine percent of Star Wars fans happy!?
The Kitchen and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andrea Berloff
Oh, now who doesn’t love a good period crime movie? We’re over a hundred years into the medium and mobsters have outlived cowboys, pirates, and musicals which, now that I think about it, would make an interesting For Honor sequel. I’ll have to pitch that Ubisoft at some point, but which I mean send an overly enthusiastic tweet. ANYWAY! What caught my attention about this movie right off the bat is the cast which stars the one and only Melissa McCarthy alongside Tiffany Haddish who’s become one of the most recognizable names in movies, and yet despite two of the biggest names in Hollywood right now (as well as Elizabeth Moss who’s great as well), this hasn’t gotten a whole lot of advertisement from the studio or buzz from the critics. Is this a hidden gem that everyone else but me managed to overlook, or is this a disaster that everyone was desperate to hide? Let’s find out!!
Kathy, Ruby, and Claire (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss) are the wives of three members of the Irish Mob back in the late seventies who are sent to jail after a robbery gone bad and they’re left to fend for themselves despite the promises that the mob will protect them financially until their husbands get out. With nothing to fall back on, a lousy economy, and two kids to take care of, Kathy decides that they should pick up the slack that the current mob boss Little Jackie (Myk Watford) has left during his ineffectual run at the top. She, Ruby, and Claire start to collect protection money, solves problems for local businesses, and even starts to recruit a few of the guys to their side including Gabriel (Domhnall Gleeson) who has just returned to New York after a seemingly shady departure and is looking to sow himself back into the community. Seems like they were just what this organization needed to thrive, but with every opportunity they grab and every inch of power they accrue, it only paints a bigger target on their back as more and more people start to get jealous of how much these house wives have managed to show them up. Not only that, but their husbands will only be in prison for so long, so what’s gonna happen when they get out and try to reassert themselves as the head of their respective families as well as the organization itself? Can this trio survive in a world full of death, violence, and hard decisions? What kind of attention will they attract from outside interests, and will they see an opportunity to destroy the Irish mob or worthy foes to make peace with? Anyone else not surprised that Melissa McCarthy is great as a cold blooded killer?
Peter Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Will Gluck
Wait, didn’t we already get this movie like three years ago? Yeah, Russel Brand was the Easter Bunny or something, right? I didn’t imagine that? Ugh… anyway, it looks like after the SMASHING success of other CGI animal movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Woody Woodpecker, it’s time to drag this Beatrix Potter classic out of the closet and imbue it with all the stuff that out of touch executives think the KIDS OF TODAY will find totally dope! Okay, that’s a bit unfair considering I’ve never even read the original source material, and it’s not like updates to classic properties are ALWAYS a recipe for disaster as we saw with The Peanuts Movie. Maybe there’s a chance that this will turn out better than the trailers indicate? Yeah… I doubt it too, but let’s find out anyway!!
The movie follows the wacky adventures of our roguish hero Peter Rabbit (James Corden) who finds an endless deal of fulfillment in stealing other people’s stuff! In particular he just LOVES stealing vegetables from the garden Old Man McGregor (Sam Neill) and does it with such frequency that the man becomes obsessed with hunting down these rascally rabbits; by which I mean chopping their heads off, stripping the meat from their bones and baking them into a pie so that he can consume his most hated of enemies. CLEARLY this is a healthy relationship that Peter and his family of similarly roguish rabbits (Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Colin Moody) had developed with the guy, but it all becomes moot when the dude keels over and dies right as he’s about to snap Peter’s neck. In case you were wondering, yes; this is indeed a kid’s movie. So now that the old man is dead, the rabbits as well as the other woodland critters can finally take his garden for themselves, sleep in his bed, and poop on his dining room table, right? Well… kind of. At least for a little bit. See, what the animals don’t know is that there is another McGregor who’s the one that ACTUALLY gets the house and he’s coming by to fix the place up and sell it for tidy little profit. This new McGregor named Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) may not be as blood thirsty (at least at first), but is much faster and much cleverer than his great uncle was, and this means that Peter is gonna have to work TWICE as hard to get those vegetables and may have to go so far as to risk everything he holds dear in this battle of wills; one of which is McGregor’s neighbor Bea who is nice to the rabbits but also gets caught right in the middle of this feud between man and rabbit! Will Peter be able to claim what he CLEARLY feels is rightfully his? Will Thomas completely lose his mind trying to stop a few measly rabbits from somehow destroying his life? How did they manage to fit THIS much violence in a movie about talking rabbits that doesn’t have Bugs Bunny in it!?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rian Johnson
And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding! Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS. Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down. Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard. Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship. While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it. Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions. Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order? Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times? Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?
American Made and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Doug Liman
Hollywood? We need to talk. I know that you love to make movies about people (usually white dudes) who catch a lucky break or have one useful skill that pays off which launches them into fame, fortune, and eventual ruin, but I think it’s time to stop. Look, Wolf of Wall Street was wonderful and so was that Nicolas Cage movie from 2005, but these are starting to get stale and repetitive; especially with this film that looks so paint by numbers and generic that even Tom Cruise can barely seem to bring anything to the material. Still, bad trailers and a tired premise don’t ALWAYS spell doom for a movie, and Tom Cruise can really be THAT good in a movie so as to keep it engaging even if everything else is working against it. Does this film manage to avoid the pitfalls that so many films before it have fallen into, or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel to find just ONE more interesting story about a dude who found an odd way to strike it rich? Let’s find out!!
The movie is supposedly based on the real life story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who was your run of the mill airline pilot who was making some extra cash by smuggling in Cuban Cigars. His actions don’t go unnoticed by the mysterious Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is a CIA agent looking to make his mark and believes he has found it in this pilot that he easily convinces to quit his job and start working for the US Government. His patriotic duty turns out to be driving a plane with a camera on it so he can take pictures of Central American communist freedom fighters that the US has an interest in repressing and these pictures prove to be invaluable to that cause. Eventually he gets bigger missions such as delivering intel to Manuel Noriega, running guns to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua, and even running cocaine for the cartel which isn’t QUITE what the CIA had in mind but they certainly aren’t gonna stop him from doing it. Of course, with the CIA apparently doing all this on the down low, Barry not only starts catching the ire of other government organizations like the FBI and DEA, but also runs the risk of losing his sweetheart deals with the Cartel which is led up by Pablo Escobar (Maunicio Mejia). Throw in some family drama with his wife (Sarah Wright) who is kept in the dark for a lot of this and his brother in law (Caleb Landry Jones) who’s a total fuck up that knows too much and you’re looking at a powder keg ready to explode right in Barry’s handsome face! Will Barry find a way to keep the balancing act going indefinitely? How far will the US Government under Reagan go to get what it wants and what will that eventually mean for Barry? Wait, is this what the Top Gun sequel will be about!?
So I guess we’re gonna have to talk about this one again, huh? It certainly seems that everyone else is getting in on the action with various think pieces about what the movie actually means and how audiences are reacting to it, which… I guess I can’t criticize because I’m currently doing the exact same thing, but I’m still feeling a bit irksome about how much publicity this movie is getting when what I saw really didn’t merit all the hoopla. Making matters worse is the fact that CinemaScore (a poll of general audience moviegoers) have given the film a rating of F; bringing back the tired argument about how art films are just too GOOD for mainstream audiences to understand. I mean… sure, I’ve certainly held firmly on one side of that debate in the past (I bring up Michael Bay as often as possible), but after seeing the film itself, I just don’t think this is the one for some of the more snobby among us to lord over the undiscerning masses, because… well if you read my review, you’d know that I am rather close to absolutely hating this film; stopping just short of that due to the technical acumen, the finely tuned tension curve that’s constantly raising the stakes, and Aronfosky’s undoubtedly strong command of cinematic storytelling. Make no mistake; this isn’t an amateur hour shit show like God’s Not Dead 2 or Incarnate. This is a phenomenal filmmaker who tried to do something great but I feel has failed in spectacular fashion, and while I do understand the reasoning behind for softening ones opinions about a movie that genuinely tries THAT hard (the story of Icarus is usually seen to be a tragic one), I just… couldn’t. Too much about this movie is misguided for me to want to give it much of a pass, at least as far as my own feelings on it as I think it’s STILL probably a movie worth seeing at some point even if you ultimately hate it the same way I did. So I guess that begs the question, what is it that everyone seems to be getting out of this movie, and why do I feel it was done so poorly?
Mother! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
I’ve never really been a fan of David Fincher, yet I’ve very much appreciated Aronofsky despite them sharing quite a few similarities; mostly in regards to just how dark and cynical they can be when it comes to their subject matter. I guess Aronofsky still manages to CARE about his characters even when they’re terrible people or getting mercilessly destroyed which is something that feels absent from a lot of Fincher’s work like Fight Club or Gone Girl; both are about terrible people but never seem to get past simply PRESENTING us with their unpleasantness. Aronofsky’s different, especially with movies like The Wrestler and Black Swan which are straight up tragedies about broken people trying desperately to get their lives together and failing miserably in the process. Now we have Mother! which, aside from the gratuitous punctuation, seems to be in the same vein though leaning much more on horror tropes and absurd excess than a more focused psychological horror narrative and seems to be in the same vein as Noah (another one of his movies that I like) at least as far as just how far he’s willing to take the strangeness of it all. Is this another classic to add to his already impressive catalogue, or has he made his biggest misstep since The Fountain? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a HUGE spoiler, but AFTER that we follow around a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who lives with her husband (Javier Bardem) in a REALLY nice house that is in desperate need of repair, but at least it gives Jennifer Lawrence something to do while FAMED POET JAVIER BARDEM putters around not writing anything. Still, she seems perfectly content with her day to day life of fixing the place up and making it look more hospitable… but everything changes once some guy and his wife (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at their doorstep and Bardem is MORE than happy to offer their house, their food, and their personal space to the couple with no consultation from Jennifer Lawrence. Things escalate from there, but in ways I’d rather not spoil as the movie goes place you really couldn’t imagine from the trailers which sell this as a much different film. Does Jennifer Lawrence find a way to assert herself and regain control of what is hers? What is Javier Bardem’s deal with letting these people come in in the first place, and what ulterior motives do they have? No seriously, Aronfosky. What the fuck did you do here?
The Revenant and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Huh. When you think about it, Iñárritu is kind of doing the same thing here that he did with Birdman. Take an actor who’s known for something specific, and really dig into that a subtext of the movie. For Birdman, it was about Michael Keaton trying to stay relevant as a genuine artist yet really only being known for his (in a certain perspective) more shallow performances. Here, it’s almost like a metaphor for Leonardo DiCaprio’s continued struggle to win that fucking Oscar, taking on challenging role after challenging role yet never getting quite what he deserves. That really does fit into this story about braving the elements in a quest for revenge that we can all pretty much assume doesn’t give him the satisfaction and validation that his character is so desperately seeking. Still, does the movie itself manage to be entertaining in the same way Birdman was while still giving us some really interesting nuances to the story? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his struggles to get back to civilization after being left for dead by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) who also killed his son Hawk Glass (Forrest Goodluck). During a hunting expedition led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) the party was raided by a contingent of Native American Warriors and only a couple of them (including Hugh, John, Hawk, and Andrew) make it out alive. Because Hugh is the guy with the tragic backstory involving his Native American wife, he’s easily the best tracker in the group and so knows how to avoid the tribe while also finding the safest route through the mountains, though John doesn’t really trust him or his son due to almost getting scalped by Native Americans a while ago. Unfortunately for the party, Hugh gets the shit kicked out of him by a Grizzly Bear and is nearly dead after the encounter. The party tries to carry him along, but the strain becomes too great and he’s left with a couple men (Hawk, John, and one other dude Bridger played by Will Poulter) so that he can… die peacefully? I don’t know, but things don’t go as planned as the already suspicious John decides to kill off Hugh and ends up killing Hawk in the process… yet doesn’t feel the need to finish off Hugh I guess. Anyway, John convinces Bridger to leave and so Hugh is left for dead. That ain’t about to stop Leonardo DiCaprio though, as he crawls out of his shallow grave, and makes his way back to home base to kick Tom Hardy square in the teeth! Can he survive the stark and desolate countryside long enough to get his revenge!? More importantly, can Leo finally win his god damn Oscar!?