Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Joachim Rønning
If I was reviewing movies when the first Maleficient came out, it probably would have been in my top ten of that year; THAT’S how much I genuinely loved that movie, and I don’t think I’m in TOO big of a minority on this one! It didn’t get the BEST reviews, but I think it still managed to connect with a lot of people and certainly made quite a bit of money even with its enormous budget. Doing a sequel though, eh… that doesn’t sound like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but I’m willing to throw myself into it and hope for the best considering how good the first one was and Jolie’s continued involvement with the series since she was the best thing about that movie. Do they find an interesting way to continue the story after its revisionist Happily Ever After, or should they have left well enough alone after managing to catch lightening in a bottle already? Let’s find out!!
Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) has been running the magic forest known as The Moors since her adoptive mother killed her biological father in the first movie. It’s cool though; the dude was a HUGE jerk and was played by Sharlto Copley, so he pretty much HAD to die! Someone who DIDN’T die though was Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) who’s been dating Aurora for some time now (ACTUALLY dating; not rescuing her from a castle and getting a bride as a reward), but now is the time for him to pop the question and join their kingdoms under one big happy family. This is cause for celebration for just about everyone in The Moors… except for one woman who finds this arrangement utterly dreadful. Actually two women, but we’ll get to that soon enough; we’re of course talking about Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) at the moment who has obvious reservations because of the whole Sharlto Copley thing, but agrees meet Phillips parents for dinner which will SURELY go off without a hitch, right!? Well… that OTHER woman who’s not too please about all this is Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has a clear bias against all things magical and is not about to let those ghastly creatures crash on her kingdom’s metaphorical couch, and so she sets into motion her diabolical scheme to ruin the forest and turn Maleficent into a fearsome monster once again. At first it seems to succeed as Maleficent is more or less banished from the kingdom after being a particularly unpleasant dinner guest, but things take an unexpected turn when she learns that there are OTHER creatures just like her that call themselves Dark Feys and have lived in hiding all this time, but Queen Ingrith’s plans may just put an end to all that. Will Maleficent unmask Queen Ingrith’s evil plans and restore her place as a good guy once more, or will she embrace her outsider status and become the worst nightmare that Ingrith and the rest of the humans could ever face? What will the Dark Fey do to protect themselves, and will it be in the best interest of everyone else in this conflict; even Maleficent herself? Can we maybe get a movie where Queen Ingrith meets Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman? I’m pretty sure that the combined efforts of Jolie and Thor wouldn’t be able to overcome THAT level of concentrated ham-tastic villainy.
Live by Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Ben Affleck
Look, we’ve ALL had a rough year, but let’s a take a moment to remember the less fortunate among us. Ben Affleck somehow managed to be in a WORSE super hero movie than Daredevil; a movie made EVEN WORSE when compared to the brilliantly done Netflix series. Not only that, but he’s roped himself into what SHOULD have been a sure bet franchise (how could they fuck up with characters like BATMAN!?) for the next decade or so which is probably gonna be longer than the current administration, provided he doesn’t change the rules and have to start calling him King or Führer. I kid of course, but for someone who clawed his way back from obscurity the way Ben Affleck did, it’s kinda disheartening to watch him get stuck in the middle of that mess. Oh well, at least he gets to make his own movies while Warner Bros tries to get its shit together. Does this gangster flick that is MUCH more in the Affleck wheelhouse the kind of film we need right now, or is this the huge let down we all deserve? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows affable rogue Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) who’s some bank robbing punk in Boston that plays by his own rules and answers to no one! Not even the two major mobs in the city, the Irish led by Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the Italians led by Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), can seem to tame this wild beast! Well… there is ONE person who’s thumb he’s under, and that’s his lady love Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) who JUST SO HAPPENS to also be one of Albert White’s mistresses. Needless to say that shit goes down with Albert, and Joe is left for dead as is Emma who the movie ASSURES us is dead despite not bothering to show it (hm…) which means this movie is about one thing. REVENGA!! As soon as Joe is out of jail, he goes straight to Maso to work for him (giving up on his play by his own rules principals) to see if he can deliver Robert White on a silver platter. Maso agrees, but in return Joe has to run his operation all the way in Florida for the foreseeable future which is where the majority of this movie takes place as the Boston stuff is pretty much an extended set up for the rest of the movie. While there, he has to wrestle with the Cubans, the Klan, and religious nuts just to name a few in his hopes of keeping Maso happy enough to eventually deliver on his promise of dragging Albert White back out into the open. During his stay in Florida, he’ll come across many friends like Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) and Graciela Corrales (Zoe Saldana), as well as just as many enemies like scumbag klansman (but I repeat myself) RD Pruitt (Matthew Maher) or the really annoying preacher girl Loretta Figgis (Elle Fanning) who came to Jesus SUPER hard after getting off heroin. Will Joe eventually get the REVENGA he’s so desperate for? Will any of that even matter now that he’s building up this new life for himself? Is this AT LEAST more cohesive than Batman v Superman?