Mary Poppins Returns and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rob Marshall
Well this one has certainly been a long time coming, hasn’t it? I mean with the pace at which Disney is cannibalizing its older properties to make billions at the box office, it was only a matter of time before one of their most iconic features gets a shiny coat of HD paint! Just over the horizon, we still have The Lion King, Dumbo, Mulan, Aladdin, and the list will certainly keep growing from there. Still, this isn’t quite a Beauty and the Beast shameless shot for shot retelling of an animated feature since this is an ACTUAL sequel that continues from the original film! It’s been so long since I’ve seen the first Mary Poppins that I’m not sure what to expect here, but the cast is strong and Rob Marshall is made for this kind of material. Will it be a fun and engaging experience for audiences of all ages who need a little bit of nonsense and silliness in their lives, or has modern Disney failed to understand what made that classic film so memorable for so many people? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up about twenty years after the first one where the Banks Children are now the Banks Adults. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) has had a particularly rough go of it as his wife had just died a year ago and he had to give up his dreams of being an artist to get a job at the bank, but he’s still go the house he grew up in and three perfect children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson); not to mention his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) who helps around the house between labor protests, and their housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters) who’s still cleaning up after them all these years later. They’ve weathered a storm so things can only be looking up, right? Well as it turns out, Michael took out a big loan at the bank to cover expenses this last year and now they’re gonna repossess the house unless he can pay the loan back in full within five days. Well shoot! If only they had a magical nanny who could make all this better with songs and animation! Well it turns out that the Banks family is in luck because whatever mystical force is watching over them has sent Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) to once again fix their problems and watch the kids while Michael and Jane try to scramble to find their father’s old bank stock they could use to possibly pay off the loan. With the help of a friendly lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and various colorful characters including her cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), Mary Poppins is on a divine mission to introduce a bit of whimsy and discipline into these children’s lives, and maybe help Michael and Jane rediscover their childhoods along the way! Will Michael and Jane find what they need to save their childhood home? What can the kids do to help the situation, and can Mary Poppins be the key to it all? Why the heck didn’t I get a flying magical nanny when I was a kid? I don’t even think they had to pay her!
A Quiet Place and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by John Krasinski
We had quite a few good horror films last year like IT, Happy Death Day, and ESPECIALLY Get Out, but pickings have been a bit slim in the first third of 2018 with the only wide releases going to the fourth Insidious movie and the rather underwhelming Annihilation if you’d even want to count that. THANK GOODNESS that Platinum Dunes has stepped up to the plate because they’ve ALWAYS made good movies, am I right!? Okay, so the studio has a pretty shaky track record with some pretty awful remakes being their staple up until 2010, but they have gotten a bit better at picking movies what with The Purge series being under their banner and I even liked that Friday the 13th film they did, though I’m certainly in the minority on that one. This movie at least has been getting some positive buzz despite what I feel what I thought were rather underwhelming trailers, so maybe the steady improvement of Platinum Dunes productions will continue unabated! I mean as long as we forget about those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie… and the first Ouija movie. ANYWAY, does this latest thriller with a unique premise manage to be all it’s cracked up to be, or will the silence in the theater be less due to enraptured awe and more due to straight up boredom? Let’s find out!!
We begin this story in the near future where it seems that society has crumbled and the few remaining survivors are eking out a rather mundane existence as they try to avoid being hunted down by whatever it was that nearly wiped us all out. What is hunting them exactly? I don’t know, some sort of Silent Hill looking dudes with sharp claws that LOVE to slice and dice people whenever they can find them. The key to their success however turns out to be some EXCELLENT hearing skills, so in order to survive in this world you need to stay QUIET! At least the Abbott family has managed to make this new way of life work for them as Momma and Poppa (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) have worked tirelessly to set up rules and precautions to protect their children and to keep their mouths shut! Sure, they lost ONE kid, but they’ve still got two left who know not to make even the SMALLEST of sounds if they want to survive, and there’s even another kid on the way which SEEMS like a bad idea considering how hard it is to reasonably explain to a baby that they’re crying is not very helpful at the moment, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there! Anyway, the eldest kid Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is having trouble dealing with the death of her little brother which she blames herself for and on top of that is deaf herself which makes it easier for her to communicate without sound but means that things might be a bit more dangerous if she can’t hear any approaching threats. At least she’s better equipped to handle what’s going on than her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) who’s REALLY traumatized by everything that’s happened since the monsters came to town and spends most of his time being terrified about everything around him; not the MOST impracticable of positions to take, but it does cause some friction between him and his dad when he has trouble letting go of his fears to focus on the basic survival tasks at hand. So with one kid feeling guilty, another one scared of his own shadow, and a third one threatening to come out of their mother in the very near future, things may not be sustainable for that much longer no matter how much Super Dad tries to keep things firmly within his grasp. Can this family survive this terrifying threat for as long as it takes for someone to figure out how to destroy these creatures once and for all? Will they find a way to successfully have this baby and raise it without attracting the attention of the creatures that have the super strong hearing and extremely deadly claws? Seriously, how have you guys survived THIS long if knocking something over is enough to get these creatures to come a knocking!?
My Little Pony: The Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and Hasbro
Directed by Jayson Thiessen
It took them seven years to do this? We’ve had at least four equestrian girl movies, not to mention a slew of Hasbro properties making it to the big screen, but one of the most successful reboots of all time was put on the back burner until now!? Well better late than never I guess, though the trailers leading up to its release have certainly strained my credulity on that expression. Still, trailers aren’t always accurate and I’m certainly a big enough fan of this series that it wouldn’t be THAT hard to keep me at least mildly entertained. Can the team behind such a successful television series make a successful leap to the big screen, or was this as ill-fated a project as… well pretty much all the OTHER Hasbro films that we’ve gotten so far? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with yet another friendship festival that’s hosted by the Princess of Friendship (how much of Canterlot’s tax revenue is straight up pork for Twilight’s pet projects?) and they’ve even managed to get the one and only Sapphire Shores… I mean Countess Coloratura… I mean Songbird Serenade (Sia), to make an appearance! Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) along with her assistant Spike (Cathy Weseluck) and her friends Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack (Tabitha St Germain, Andrea Libman, and Ashleigh Ball), seem to have everything under control and are ready to set everything in motion, but then a fleet of very intimidating airships descend upon the capital of Equestria and start demanding their complete and utter surrender! It turns out that this is the opening salvo for a maniacal dictator known as The Storm King (Live Schreiber) and is being led by a mysterious pegasus with a broken horn named Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) who somehow manages to take out the three other princesses, Celestia, Luna, and Cadence (Nicole Oliver, Tabitha St Germain (again), and Britt McKillip) without the slightest bit of resistance! Either this is one bad mother of a pony or the Princesses need better security! In any case, the Twilight and her friends manage to escape but don’t have much to go on other than a mysterious message that Celestia shouted out before she was defeated and captured by Tempest Shadow; seek the queen of the hippos who lives beyond the badlands. Not sure how hippos will help in this situation unless you dropped them on Tempest, but with nothing else to go on they begin their journey outside of The Shire… I mean Equestria, hoping to find a way to stop The Storm King and Tempest before it’s too late. What will our little ponies find outside of the comforting boarders of Equestria, and will they know how to deal with such strange and frightening environments? What is Tempest REALLY after in all this, and what does the Storm King have in store for all of them once he arrives in Canterlot? Is the answer to all these questions Friendship? I bet it’s gonna be Friendship.
My Little Pony: The Movie and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Lionsgate and Hasbro
Directed by Jayson Thiessen
Despite being such a popular series with a fan base that is heavily invested in the creative side of the process as much as it is in the show itself, there really hasn’t been much said about the My Little Pony movie that’s been in production. Heck, it honestly feels like Equestria Girls, which was a spin off that only got a limited theatrical release, had MUCH more fanfare and anticipation surrounding it than something Hasbro is actually risking quite a bit of money on. Okay, there’s no way we’re talking Transformers money here, but there’s no way a feature length animated feature with celebrity voices THIS famous was less than what they invested in freaking Jem and the Holograms which had its first trailer out five months before its release compared to four months for this film. Still, an uneven marketing campaign doesn’t always spell doom for a film (*cough* Wonder Woman *cough*), and even if it’s a sign that the studio doesn’t have faith in the final product… well go ask Newmarket Films how that worked out with Donnie Darko. Either way, let’s find out!!
Okay, so there’s no getting around it. The movie looks PRETTY terrible based on this trailer. The first thing you’ll notice is that the art style is quite different from the series which isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing (watching it for the first time, I was somewhat reminded of the changes made for the Spongebob Squarepants movie), but it doesn’t come off as an IMPROVEMENT and there are clearly areas where they were cutting corners; most notably with the copious use of CG for the buildings and backgrounds.
The Girl on the Train and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Tate Taylor
The only thing I knew about this movie before walking in was that the trailer had probably the most baffling musical choice imaginable. Seriously, who the hell puts Kanye West in the trailer for a movie that we’re supposed to take SERIOUSLY!? If you can somehow tune out the poor choice of music (how is the WOMAN heartless when she’s the one who gets MURDERED!?) there is something intriguing about the premise and it’s the perfect time to release these kind of dark murder mysteries now that Oscar Season is upon is. Is this an early contender for best of the year status, or is this a wannabe Gone Girl knockoff that’s simply jumping on the bandwagon? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Rachel (Emily Blunt) as the titular girl on the train as she passes by the same sight she sees every time she rides it. Every day, the train stops right in front of these two houses; one has her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new family, and the other has this couple who from all outward appearances looks perfectly happy. This routine goes on for some time until one day she notices a new man in the house with the woman Megan (Haley Bennett) which shatters Rachel’s already fragile mental state (for various reasons, she’s crawled inside a bottle for the last few years) and she gets even MORE drunk than usual that night and gets off at the stop that’s close to their house. Jump to the next morning and Rachel wakes up in her room; covered in mud, blood, and booze with no explanation of what happened the night before. Eventually, it turns out that Megan has disappeared (which means she’s dead but they haven’t found the body yet) and no one knows what happened. Rachel seems to have an idea, but the memories of that night are so fried that she can’t piece them together and feels compelled to save this woman who she’s been watching all this time… and if she can also throw some shade at her ex-husband’s new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) in the process, well then that’s just brownie points. Can Rachel find out what happened to Megan and find some sense of self-worth, even in her completely debilitated state? Who was this woman that’s gone missing, and can her past lead us to the reason she was murdered? Can we all just agree to give Emily Blunt the Oscar now!? It’s basically Leaving Las Vegas 2!!
The Huntsman: Winter’s War and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
I really haven’t been looking forward to this. Cutting Snow White out of a sequel to Snow White? Yeah… no. This exists simply because Chris Hemsworth had a weekend free between Captain America and In the Heart of the Sea. Still, the first movie was a pretty solid fantasy film that had drop dead gorgeous designs and if nothing else that seems to have carried over here. Not only that, but they managed to somehow get Charlize Theron back, and while the explanation will probably be dumb as hell, she WAS one of the best aspects of the first film. Can they manage to squeeze out ONE decent sequel before driving this franchise into the dirt, or is it too late to even hope for that much? Let’s find out!!
First of all, this movie is very much a sequel despite the advertising that states otherwise. It STARTS as a prequel, but only to fill in the backstories for the characters who weren’t around for the first movie. Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) was murdering her way through the fantasy kingdom’s royal families when her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) reveals that she is not only in love, but pregnant as well. Despite the careful warnings of her sister, Freya goes all in on love and gets seriously burned. Okay, well maybe SHE doesn’t get burned, but her baby does as she finds her one true love has torched the nursey with the baby inside. Ouch. This traumatic incident is enough to not only awaken Freya’s hidden ice powers, but to essentially make her emotionally dead and disdainful of love. Since grief council apparently doesn’t exist in this world, she instead takes out her pain on the Northern part of the country (it’s ALWAYS in the North where things we don’t know about until later happened) where she creates her icy doom fortress and raids villages for children to raise as her Huntsmen. Two such huntsmen are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) who fall in love which is strictly forbidden in the snow palace, so Sara’s killed and Eric is left for dead. Got it? Good. We THEN cut to the present time (not too long after the first movie) where Snow White (who apparently is still in this except not really) has ordered the mirror mirror on the wall to be sent away where its wicked powers cannot hurt anyone. Unfortunately, the convoy delivering it to some vaguely defined sacred place never reached their destination so she requests the huntsman to go out there, find the damn thing, and finish delivering it before it can fall into the wrong hands. Say… those of the Ice Queen? He heads out on the journey with Nion and Gryff (Nick Frost and Rob Brydon) who are two dwarves (one of whom is from the first movie) and try to figure out just what the hell happened to the mirror and the convey. But wait! Not all is as it seems as Eric is soon confronted with Sara who somehow is still alive and super pissed! How did she manage to recover from being murdered? Will this little posse of fantasy bad asses be able to find the mirror before it’s too late? Just how blatantly are they ripping off Frozen in this!?
Sicario and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Isn’t it great to that we start getting GOOD movies again? I mean sure, Black Mass had its problems but compared to some of the crap I had to sit through in the last two months, it was practically Kubrick. Now we’re getting this movie AND The Martian in the same week without a single bible thumping propaganda piece in sight! Does this tale about government agencies working against the Cartel manage to be one of the better films of the year, or is a disappointing procedural that will get lost in the shuffle by the time the Oscars roll around? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) who’s head of some sort of tactical response team in the FBI stumbles across a horrifying crime scene during one of her missions where the Cartel has apparently been burying people they kill in the walls of the building. Okay… well it gets even worse when the team accidently sets off a trap bomb that may have killed any remaining hostages that the team thought were on the premises. Despite the awful day she had, the silver lining comes in when she catches the attention of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who offers her a chance to work with him on more direct missions against the Cartel. She agrees to go with him and meets with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) who’s a complete mystery and may not even be working for the United States in any sort of official capacity. Still, he proves to be very effective in the line of duty as he and Matt (along with Kate who’s still adjusting to their methods) work on operations that will definitely cut the Cartel’s legs out from under them. Still, she has her reservations to the actions they take and once her partner from the tactical response team Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) gets in on it to, it’s clear that her conscious is getting the better of her and that Matt and Alejandro aren’t exactly who they seem to be. Will Kate decide that their methods, while unorthodox, are necessary for the war they’re trying to fight, or will she not allow herself to go through the mental hoops necessary to somehow justify their actions and her own?