Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Cathy Yan
I was probably on the kinder end of things than most people when it came to Suicide Squad; the DCCU’s attempt to be fun and wacky that ended up having all the edge of a limited edition holo-foil issue of Spawn from 1994. In its own tacky cobbled together way it did manage to eek out a bit of charm, but what people mostly remember from the movie was the performances; namely one Harley Quinn played with gusto by the phenomenal Margot Robbie. Now that we’re more or less in DCCU 2.0, it makes sense for this character to be given another shot away from the baggage of the movie that came before; even from the studio itself as Robbie basically put this thing together with Warner Bros maintaining a mostly hands off approach. Is this the breakout hit that Warner Bros has been hoping for yet could never make themselves, or is this a desperate Hail Mary that misses by a mile? Let’s find out!!
Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) has had a rough go of it lately. She grew up with scary nuns, she had a string of bad relationships, she did at least get her college degree and became a psychiatrist but even THAT didn’t work out when she met some dude in clown makeup, and on top of that she had to fight a an ancient demon witch person or else have a bomb explode in her neck! Fortunately she’s out of prison and she even dumped the clown dude so she’s ready to start her life anew! A new pet, roller derby, and COPIOUS amounts of alcohol to deal with the unresolved feelings that she’s left with now that she’s single and away from the clown that made her life miserable. BUT ENOUGH ABOUT DAVID AYER (Ba-dum-tiss!), with the Joker in her rearview mirror it has given her a lot more freedom but also the ire of ALL the people they screwed over in the past, and as the one on the short end of this breakup some of them are ready to take their vengeance! One such vengeance taker is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) who’s a mid-range mob boss with a hot temper, enough toxic masculinity to smother ALL the adorable baby ducklings of the world, and an alter ego just one step below Taser Face; BLACK MASK! Complete with second rate Die Hardman cosplay! Him and his associate Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are not only after Harley but ALSO after a diamond that somehow ended up in the hands of a young street hustler named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and so perhaps there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone there, and on top of ALL that we also have a singer at Victor’s club named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who’s looking for a way out of the life, a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s hunting down gangsters, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) who’s stuck trying to untangle all these messy knots. Will Harley Quinn escape the payback that’s owed to her after working with the Joker for so long? Why is Roman so intent on getting this diamond, and who else may be gunning for it? Why DO they end up calling themselves the Birds of Prey anyway?
Doctor Sleep and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Now that we’re a good few years into the Stephen King revival that was kicked off by IT (actually Stranger Things if we’re being honest) it was about time we start calling back to OTHER Stephen King adaptations, and not just that brief shot of the original Pennywise in IT or the numerous random callbacks in The Dark Tower. This is a sequel not only to Stephen King’s original Shining novel, but is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, so describing the making of this movie as Quixotic is not that much of a stretch. Then again, there’s no reason not to swing for the fences if you’ve got the chance, and the director has proven time and time again with films like Gerald’s Game and Ouija: Origin of Evil that he’s capable of making very good horror films, so perhaps the untouchable triumph that was The Shining is not so out of reach after all! Is this a worthy sequel to the original film and a great movie in its own right? Let’s find out!!
Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has had a rough time of it since he and his mother managed to escape from the Overlook Hotel where his dad tried to murder the two of them before dying in the snow. It seems that he took after his father in the second worst way possible as he may not be an axe murderer, but he is an alcoholic who’s using his addiction to avoid dealing with his own problems as well as the powers that seem to have done nothing but cause him trouble as the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel try to haunt him to this day. He manages to find a bit of stability though in the town of True Knot where he meets a friend named Billy (Cliff Curtis), manages to give up the booze, and even gets a job as an orderly in a hospice care facility where he uses his power to sooth those who are about to die with those gifts that have given him nothing but heartache for the past thirty years. He also seems to have made a connection with another psychic user as they communicate with each other anonymously, but circumstances are about to change that will force them to finally meet one another. It turns out that there is a cult of other psychic users who have found out that eating the souls of psychically powerful people will give them everlasting life and so they roam the country looking for people to eat (mostly children as they are the most potent) and are ostensibly led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s powers are among the strongest out there. Our mysterious pen pal to Dan whose a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) catches psychic wind of these monsters as they feast upon a child, and Rose the Hat catches a glimpse of her as well, so now that both parties know of the other’s existence there will surely be some serious X-Men like conflict coming soon and Abra could use all the help she can get to bring these fiends to justice. Will Dan be willing to help his friend Abra with her little problem of cannibal psychics trying to hunt her down? Who exactly are these murderous psychics, and why is one of them wearing such a distinctive hat? Will they find an excuse for going back to the Outlook Hotel so they can sell this movie on Shining nostalgia? Well of course they will, but will it be a GOOD excuse!?
Christopher Robin and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Marc Forster
Disney’s recent attempts to cannibalize its previous properties into live action features have been decidedly mixed, and more so with me than with other critics it seems. Maleficent was one of the best movies that came out that year, but with The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast following it up… well let’s just say that this latest outing isn’t coming out with the highest of expectations from me. Still, there’s a lot of talent involved and like Maleficent it’s not a simple remake of another film; rather it’s a reimagining of the material to fit with modern sensibilities and current societal issues. That may sound pretentious, but kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and if Disney wants to make something that’s at least SOMEWHAT challenging for its core demographics, I’m sure not gonna stop them from trying! Does this story about a grown Christopher Robin manage to get us to the heart of what made Winnie the Pooh such a timeless classic, or is this movie just as cynical and jaded as the man they’re telling the story of? Let’s find out!!
Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is a young boy who spends many afternoons playing the Hundred Acre woods with his friends Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl (Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, and Toby Jones) and of course, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings as well). However, these idyllic summer days must ultimately come to an end as life has a way of pushing you away from childish things and he heads off to live his life; going to boarding school, dealing with loss, fighting in World War 2, and eventually marrying the love of his life Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and having a child they name Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). All this time however, The Hundred Acre Woods has managed to go on with him; albeit a bit more gloomy from time to time with Pooh still waiting to see if his best friend will ever come back. Well he might have to wait a bit longer as Christopher has to deal with problems at work and with his sniveling boss (Mark Gatiss) who’s forcing him to make ridiculous cuts which could include the jobs of a lot of people if he doesn’t find places to make them elsewhere. Things come to a head as he’s forced to work over the weekend that he had already scheduled to spend with his family in his childhood home and after even more stress and heartache he finds himself in a small park outside his house… where a familiar bear managed to somehow wander into. Will Winnie the Pooh manage to help Christopher Robin find a modicum of peace in his life? Can Christopher learn what’s REALLY important in life before he loses everything? Just how much honey does Pooh need to eat!? He doesn’t even have a digestive system!!
Beauty and the Beast and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Bill Condon
So Maleficent was good, as were the two Alice in Wonderland movies (WHAT!? THEY ARE!!), but what exactly is Disney’s end goal in trying to burn through their entire catalog in search of reigniting nostalgic fans to spend money on these stories once again? Sure, Mulan seems like a good idea, but they’ve got plans for live action adaptations of The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and even a Dumbo movie that’s been in development for almost three years now! Before all that though, we’ve got this remake of the classic 1991 film which seems to be the most… shall we say FAITHFUL, of the bunch so far as the trailers seem to imply that it’s basically shot for shot. Then again, they did bring Bill Condon on hand to direct who’s work includes Dream Girls and Chicago, as well as the ONE decent Twilight movie (*cough* Breaking Dawn Part 2 *cough*), so maybe there’s a bit more inspiration and creative flourish on hand than what we’ve been lead to believe from the marketing. Is this the yet another success for the Mouse House and the new direction they’re taking with their non-Marvel and Non-Star Wars films, or is this just a lazy cash grab for a studio that can do much better? Let’s find out!!
The movie is… well it’s Beauty and the Beast. Do you NEED me to tell you what it’s about? Ugh… fine. There once was a prince (Dan Stevens) who was total jerk. He rejected a beggar woman at his door which seems to be standard protocol in the Aristocracy, but this beggar was the one in ten thousand that you do not mess with as she turns out to be an Enchantress who puts a curse on the prince, his castle, and all of his servants. The prince, who is now a furry, has to find true love before time runs out which is determined by a magic rose slowly dying in his room or else the curse will be permanent and he will have to live as his fursona for all time! Now I wouldn’t think that would be TOO bad of an outcome (buff as all hell, no summer heat because the castle is in a perpetual winter, you don’t have to pay your servants anymore), but I guess it’ll do for a redemption arc. More important than that though is the story of Belle (Emma Watson) herself who is a bright young woman from the local village that can’t wait to live a life of excitement, adventure, and proper bathing habits; none of which she can find as long as she stays there. The village thinks she’s strange because she can read and stuff which makes her a bit of an outcast, but that doesn’t avert the local hottie Gaston (Luke Evans) from pursuing her with all his M’lady charms; backed up of course by his friend LeFou (Josh Gad) who’s just happy to be spending time with the big lug the same way Smithers finds working with Mr. Burns to be so rewarding! When disaster strikes and Belle’s father (Kevin Kline) is locked up by The Beast for trespassing on his land, Belle agrees to take his place and stay in the castle… FOREVER!! Admittedly not the BEST way to start a relationship, but maybe he can learn to stop acting like an uncouth animal from her example and maybe she can finally experience some of that adventure and wonder that has eluded her for so long. I mean… she’s STILL a prisoner, but it is at least a really nice prison! Will The Beast learn his lesson about giving poor people food (or was it finding love?) before it’s too late? What will Belle do now that she’s trapped in a magical castle with talking furniture, and will she find a way to escape her captor? Does anyone else think Ron Perlman should have been cast in this? Thirty years later, and he can STILL pull it off!
Jane Got a Gun and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company
Directed by Gavin O’Connor
January began with Oscar overflow from 2015, and it plans to end with… well not Oscar bait, but something MUCH classier looking than the usual January fare. We’ve got Academy Award winner Natalie Portman producing this western about a woman making a stand against those who wish to destroy her. Hell, take off the cowboy hats and replace the pistols with legal briefs and you basically have Erin Brockovich! Still, if they expected this movie to be any good, they wouldn’t have released it in January. Then again, we got The Boy in January, and that one turned out to be pretty great. Could it be that we have ANOTHER January success story on our hands? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins at a small house out in the country which is the homestead of Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) and her young daughter. Her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) is arriving home after… doing cowboy things, but is in pretty bad shape as he had a run in with the Bishop Boys gang. He managed to get away by the skin of his teeth, but the Bishops’ aren’t about to let him escape after what he and Jane had done to them in the past. It won’t take them too long to find their house, and with Bill out of commission Jane must prepare for what happens next. He drops off their daughter at a friend’s house before seeking out Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) who was her fiancée at one point, but all that changed some time ago in a backstory that we are drip fed throughout the movie. The sad bastard has been drinking himself to death since finding out that Jane had married someone else, but he eventually agrees to help her fend off the bad guys for some money, though it’s clearly an attempt by him to get back in her good graces. Armed with a couple of guns, some dynamite, and a few tricks that Dan picked up in the Civil War, the two of them prepare for the attack by the Bishop Gang led by John Bishop himself (Ewan McGregor). Not only that, but they finally have a chance to discuss what had happened between them all those years ago which could lead to some unexpected revelations for the both of them. Oh, and Bill’s hanging around there somewhere in the back; slowly dying from his multiple gunshot wounds. Will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to stay alive, or will this uneasy love triangle be the death of them long before the Bishops get there? Will there be very reasonable explanations for Jane’s actions that Dan should have PROBABLY guessed about instead of sulking for the last few years? Did anyone manage to sit through this entire movie without passing out from boredom?