Fast & Furious 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Justin Lin
It looks like movies are back (at least for those who can safely vaccinate, which if you haven’t and are able to then do it please!) and what a better way to kick off the summer season than with another Fast & Furious movie!? Gotta admit, I was not on the F&F train for over a decade and it wasn’t until Fate of the Furious that I finally gave the franchise a chance. It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but the latter half of the franchise has been quite impressive as big budget spectacles though and the more professional wrestlers they throw into the mix the more I look forward to seeing them! So after a year of global misery and despair, is this action blockbuster we need to celebrate our slow but sure recovery, or has the Fast Franchise gassed out right when we needed it the most? Let’s find out!!
Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) have been living the quiet life with Dom’s son Bryan out in the country, but this peace is not meant to last as Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with a distress message from the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and they are forced to come out of retirement to find him and find what he was trying to protect. Sadly they don’t find the former, but the latter is a piece of some sort of doomsday device that is pretty much the SAME doomsday device these last few movies have had, and it gets taken right from under their noses by a mysterious jacked dude (John Cena) who also drives cars, has a cross necklace, and keeps staring menacingly at Dom. Turns out that this is none other than Jakob; Dom’s long lost brother! Not only must Dom and the crew stop Jakob and who he’s working for from getting the other pieces of the Doomsday Device, Dom must confront his past and perhaps even realize his own mistakes before they threaten to throw the world into utter chaos! Will Dom be able to face his brother and bring an end to his maniacal schemes? Who else has a stake in this Doomsday Device, and will they prove to be an ally or a hindrance to the Fast & Furious family? Speaking of family, are we sure Dom and Jakob aren’t actually cousins, or were their parents’ genes an ethnic roulette wheel?
Justice League 2017 & Justice League 2021 as well as all the images you see are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Both films directed by Zack Snyder
I can’t say I was ever looking forward to this day as I was one of the people who actually LIKED the original cut of Justice League and then spent the last four years seeing people opine (and worse) for a movie that they already got; not to mention the awful news that broke about how the reshoots went for Ray Fisher. Still, Warner Bros is looking for ANY sort of cash cow to make their HBO Max service a success, so they threw a bunch of money at Zack Snyder and company to make an extended version of the movie they already made and feed into the LOST SNYDER CUT narrative that has been stuck with us for so long. Now that the movie is finally out, was it worth all the hype and can it possibly justify the ridiculous over the top actions its most ardent supporters took? Well obviously not, but instead of just doing a straight up review as the films are very similar in a lot of ways, I think it’d be much more interesting to take a look at what this new version gets right as well as where it falls short of the original cut. Let’s get started, and beware of Spoilers ahead!!
Something Good: The colors make more sense
The drastic change in pallets between the early trailers and the later ones was a definite sign that things were changing significantly and a lot of scenes in the movie ended up suffering for it. Batman in particular always looked like an overstuffed sausage in bat-pants stuffed with pudding (which isn’t COMPLETELY gone but is much less prominent now), and there was a garishness to certain scenes where they pushed the colors up just a little bit too high. The corrections here definitely fit more with what was being filmed and the pallet fits well with the new tone of the movie.
Something Bad: The colors are more boring
And yet I just couldn’t get behind it. Sure the colors didn’t always WORK, but for the most part they were bright and colorful which added a much needed cheeriness to a franchise that until then was stuck in its own morose grander. Thankfully later movies like Shazam, Aquaman, and arguably even Wonder Woman 1984 built a brighter look from the ground up and the aesthetic fits better with those movies, but going back to this kind of look after those films is just deflating; even if it’s more competently done. And I’m also going to throw this in here, I just don’t get why they insisted on using an IMAX aspect ratio for a moving going to a streaming service. It’s distracting the whole way through and I never felt like it added anything.
Wonder Woman 1984 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Patty Jenkins
It’s been a WILD year that is thankfully coming to a close, but one of the big stories that will be with us throughout all of 2021 is going to be the distribution of films and what industries are going to survive this extended break from theaters. Everyone’s made concessions here and there, but Warner Bros recently took charge of the conversation (wisely or not) by announcing that all of their delayed 2020 films will be available on HBO Max at no additional charge. This has certainly angered a lot of filmmakers and production companies who were banking on the eventual box office offset costs so we’ll see if Warner Bros relents at some point in the future, but for now their first offering to the service is this movie; the sequel to Wonder Woman that was one of the most anticipated films of the year that time forgot! Was it worth waiting for it to finally come to the small screen, or is this something they should have delayed indefinitely? Let’s find out!!
It’s the mid-eighties and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) has a new life in Washington DC as an Anthropologist at the Smithsonian. A bit unfair to crowd out the competition by LITERALLY BEING FROM ANCIENT TIMES, but she does her best to keep a low profile and does the occasional super hero save as her alter ego Wonder Woman wherever evil doers rear their ugly head. As charmed as this life seems however, she still carries the weight of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) around her like an albatross around her neck. One day at work, the nerdy girl at the office Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) is sent a bunch of reclaimed artifacts and one of them catches both her and Diana’s eye; some sort of wishing stone that looks like something you’d buy at Spencer’s Gifts. They disregard it at first, but Barbara starts to get super strength and super charisma while Diana somehow runs into none other than Steve Trevor; risen from the dead but not in a creepy zombie way! Seems a bit odd but she’s willing to roll with it! However, a local businessman named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) seems to know just what this stone is and needs it to save his failing business, but what no one seems to realize (or care about) is what the stone may be taking away from them as well. Will Diana discover the hidden dangers of the stone and stop Maxwell before he does something TRULY evil with it? What will Barbara learn about herself as she becomes more powerful and no longer has to be disrespected by others? I wonder what would happen if Batman wished his parents back. Is there any way we can add this thing to the Robert Pattinson film?
Ralph Breaks the Internet and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
I remember when the first Wreck-It-Ralph movie came out that I couldn’t wait for there to be a sequel! However, as the years went on and the marketing pivoted from video games to him being ON THE INTERNET, I started to lose interest because the sequel that I would have wanted didn’t seem like it was going to manifest. Now that’s not to say I thought it would be a BAD movie, but what I was seeing wasn’t getting me as excited as say a Disney version of Super Smash Bros or whatever where we got even MORE nostalgic characters (maybe even ones from Nintendo!?) that Ralph and crew could go on adventures with. Now clearly NOTHING could have competed with the fan fiction I made up in my brain so even if the lead up to this movie wasn’t filling me with fanboy joy I wasn’t about to dismiss it out of hand for those reasons. Does this manage to live up to maybe not quite MY expectations but REASONABLE ones for a sequel to a modern Disney class, or should they have gone with my idea of having Mario and Sonic fight zombies together while Ralph and Boswer play Yu-Gi-Oh… or something like that? Let’s find out!!
It’s been several years since the events of the first film where Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman) uncovered Turbo’s evil plan, and things have been going pretty well since then. Vanellope has been racing, Ralph has been wrecking, and Fix-it Felix Jr and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch) have been the most adorable couple ever six years running! Still, things might be settling down a bit TOO much for Vanellope who’s time in the spotlight has turned a bit monotonous, but soon things go all Monkey’s Paw on her as her game breaks down and she and Ralph have to go online to see if they can find a replacement part before the kindly arcade owner (Ed O’Neill) sells the machine for scrap. Once online using the arcade owner’s recently purchased modem, they discover all the fantabulous things THE INTERNET has to offer, including the part they need on eBay. However, they don’t have any ACTUAL money and so need to find a way to score some cash through shady loot hunting in an online game with a bad ass NPC named Shank (Gal Gadot) and slightly less shady viral marketing through a trending video website run by an algorithm called Yesss (Taraji P Henson). Oh, and they visit Disney’s website at one point just to make sure you remember things like Star Wars, Zootopia, and their ever expanding stable of princesses. Will Ralph and Vanellope be able to buy the part and save her game before it’s too late? What will Vanellope learn about herself by seeing all these new and exciting places, and will Ralph be able to adapt to these new experiences? Where exactly did they manage to find such a clean and efficient version of THE INTERNET, and is there any way I can get on there!?
Justice League and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
So… it’s not like anyone is looking forward to this movie and is willing to yell at critics over it, right!? Sigh… now my opinions on Batman v Superman have been made quite clear on multiple occasions, but you know… with Wonder Woman and to a very VERY lesser extent Suicide Squad, I don’t think these films aren’t worth seeing. Heck, even Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the sense that there’s so much to learn about NOT making a good movie from it! I am absolutely not looking forward to this movie and I don’t expect it to be all that good, but I’m going to sit in my seat, watch all the crappy local car commercials, and then hope that I’m not just completely wasting my time and money being there. I The fact that I’m expecting this to be bad is not the same as WANTING it to be bad or HOPING for it to be bad just to get some “outrage clickbait” out of it, because I don’t need any MORE things in my life to piss me off even if I get a hilarious and insightful review out of it. I’d rather write hilarious and insightful review of GOOD movies! So then… does Warner Bros and DC have what it takes to keep this franchise afloat after Wonder Woman became an critical and box office smash, or are we stuck with more of the same crap until these DCCU films stop making money for them? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins sometime after the events of Batman v Superman where (SPOILER ALERT!) the world is still reeling over the DEATH OF SUPERMAN! Everyone’s moody, crime is on the rise, and to top things off, aliens have started invading Earth! Yeah, that whole dream sequence with the Parademons in the last movie? Well it’s not a full scale invasion just yet, but Batman’s swinging around Gotham City finding these space bugs all over the place and needs to figure out what the heck is going on! Well it doesn’t take long for the TRUE threat to reveal himself as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, now that Superman is deader than disco, feels confident enough to stage an all-out attack on Earth… for some reason. I mean I GUESS he tried to take over the planet back when it was Middle Earth and Amazons, Green Lanterns, and I THINK Shazzam were able to stop him, so maybe he’s after this planet for revenge or something. IT DOESN’T MATTER THOUGH! What matters is that he’s gonna tear shit up and the world needs its most powerful champions to fight against him which includes the aforementioned Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jasson Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Will the Justice League be able to put aside their differences and come together (right now!) in order to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? Just what is Steppenwolf’s master plan, and what other forces are in play that these mere mortals are only seeing the briefest glimpse of? How much more leeway will we have to give WB just to make sure we keep getting Wonder Woman movies!?
Wonder Woman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Patty Jenkins
You know what they say! FOURTH TIME’S THE CHARM!! After three rather disappointing attempts by Warner Bros to turn the DC Universe into a viable competitor to the MCU, we’re at the last one before the big team up movie that could make or break this franchise going forward. Don’t forget, the post Justice League movies are still in pre-production at this point with a lot of them either losing directors or still trying to find one. If this movie AND Justice League turn out to be duds, it wouldn’t be the most out there idea for Warner Bros to finally pull the plug. On top of that, this is the first Wonder Woman film ever made (outside of a TV movie starring Cathy lee Crosby) despite being very popular since her creation in 1941 and the fact that Superhero movies have been a big market; even before the MCU. Heck, if someone was willing to make a Steel movie back in 1997, then surely we should have gotten a Wonder Woman film before now! Needless to say that there is A LOT of pressure on this film to not just be good, but to be GREAT in order to justify its own existence for some people (probably the same people who had a problem with the casting in the latest Ghostbusters movie) and to clean up the mess that the three other movies left for her. Can Wonder Woman live up to her name and show the world how to do this right, or has DC and Warner Bros managed to give us yet another disappointing slog that could have been so much more? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins on the magical island of Themyscira; home to the Amazons who have isolated themselves from the rest of the world and are led by Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who is dead set on keeping these rules in place. However, her daughter Diana (Gal Gadot) proves to be much more than her mother gives her credit for and they are constantly clashing over her desires to be a true Amazon warrior that protects people over her mother’s insistence on keeping her safe. Fate manages to bring all this to ahead however when a World War I pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) somehow manages to crash land in the waters near Themyscira which leads to the regiment of German soldiers chasing him to attack the island. In the ensuing conflict, her mentor and aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) along with several others are killed but Themyscira is kept safe. Diana’s eyes have been opened however and now she has no choice but to take Trevor back to where he came from and to fight the evil that has taken over the world. She believes the war itself to be the work of the God of War Ares and hopes that by destroying him that the war can come to an end, and while Trevor knows a bit too much about humanity to buy this explanation, she IS gonna give him a ride home and she knows her way around a sword, so he agrees to take her to the front lines if she takes him back home. Is it truly the work of a God that has turned these countries against each other, or will Diana have to learn the hard way just how terrible humans can be? What plans do the German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and a master chemist Doctor Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya) have in store to turn this war on its head and to crush The Allied Powers? Are we gonna get a bunch of losers talking crap about this movie because it stars a woman. The answer to that is yes, but the IMPORTANT question is… should you care? No. The answer to that question is no.
Keeping Up with the Joneses and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Greg Mottola
Are you SURE I didn’t see this last month? I’m just getting the weirdest sense of déjà vu right now… Well either way, we’re stuck with another Zach Galifianakis comedy to throw on the pile, and the Unique Selling Point here is that it’s a spy movie. Sigh… Really? We just got a dumb criminal movie; now we’ve got him dicking around in the most overplayed genre of the year!? Well, who knows? Central Intelligence managed to be good despite its rather weak spy angle, and while Masterminds had a pretty strong cast as well, THIS one has sexiest man alive who’s named after food, Jon Hamm, as it’s costar! Maybe this could end up being really good! Right? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the Typical American Suburban CoupleTM made up of Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) who are living out what some dumbass Hollywood executives must believe are the normal lives of middle class white people. Jeff works at some defense company as the Human Resources manager which means he basically wastes people’s time and lets them use his computer for personal stuff. Basically he’s a doormat that’s merely tolerated by his peers, but he’s perfectly happy to live this life of quiet desperation for some reason and will probably be behind his crappy little desk until the day he keels over and dies. Those plans start to change though as the cul-de-sac gets new neighbors in the form of Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) who are pretty bad at their jobs as they are OBVIOUSLY spies. In fact, they are so unsubtle about this that Karen picks up on it immediately and it doesn’t take long for her suspicious to be confirmed. By the time this happens though, both she and Jeff have already been dragged into some sort national security operation to prevent some sort of black market sale that was happening right under Jeff’s nose as SOMEONE who’s been using his computer was setting it all up from there! Now the two couples have to work together to save the world or something, and I’m SURE Jeff and Karen are gonna pull their weight in this situation and not be total albatrosses hanging around the necks of these two professional spies who ACTUALLY know what the hell they’re doing. Who is the person setting up the sale that will threaten national security, and why did they have to be a dick about it by using Jeff’s computer? The Joneses may seem like the perfect power couple, but are there issues that they aren’t addressing? Was anyone looking forward to this? Like… at all?
Criminal and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Ariel Vromen
While Michael Keaton is out there making his comeback off of Birdman and Spotlight, one of his leading man contemporaries of the nineties, Kevin Costner, is trying to rebuild Is career off of Superman cameos and sports movies. Sure, Michael Keaton was in the Need for Speed movie and the Robocop remake, but at least he’s spending his time in between cash-in movies doing Oscar caliber work to keep himself respected in the industry and not just relevant at the moment. Still, Costner has some serious talent and seems to be working towards artistic relevancy even if it hasn’t panned out so far so there’s hope yet that he can get back to or even surpass his peak relevance when Dances with Wolves was tearing up the Oscars. Will Criminal be the movie to bring Costner back to leading man status, or will this be yet another mistake to knock him down a peg toward total irrelevance? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with good ol’ Ryan Reynolds as a secret agent (again) who’s doing all sorts of spy things without any real context for the audience. He’s carrying around a bag of money with a passport inside, so clearly this is some sort of rainy day fund for either himself or for someone else. It’s clear that that rainy day has come however as he’s being tailed by a red headed bad guy (Antje Traue) who’s working for the main bad guy Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Mollà) and they’re trying to stop Ryan Reynolds from… doing whatever it is he’s doing. He does the best he can but I’m guessing the guy was shooting during his lunch breaks from Deadpool, so he gets caught and murdered by the bad guys within fifteen minutes of the film, though apparently without giving them the information they needed. The CIA, whom Ryan Reynolds was working for, is uber-pissed about all this and the head of this branch (Quaker Wells played by Gary Oldman) which for some reason is based out of the UK (okay…) needs whatever information Ryan Reynolds was hiding from the baddies. So what’s the BRILLIANT idea that he comes up with? Well… Get a world renown doctor in the field of memories (Dr. Franks played by Tommy Lee Jones) to do a SUPER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT where he essentially transfers the memories into another person. Who’s the vessel for these new memories though? Well for reasons (sciency reasons I’m sure), they need someone who’s frontal lobe isn’t working properly and the only person they could find is a psychotic and ultra-dangerous criminal by the name of Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to play along with their Frankenstein plan and not try to escape at the earliest opportunity. Oh wait. After the surgery he does just that. Whoopsie daisy. So now we got a career criminal with CIA memories, a bad guy looking to take over the world, and I think the Russians are in the mix as well; all of whom are gonna give the CIA and Gary Oldman a brain aneurysm before this day is over. Will the lost memories of Ryan Reynolds be enough to save the world from Xavier Heimdahl? Will Jericho get over his angst and brooding long enough to not let the world be destroyed? Who thought this was going to work? Like… at all?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
The day has finally come where DC and Warner Bros step up to the plate and take their best swing at catching up to Marvel before being left irrevocably behind the curve. There is so much about this movie that could go right and can also go horribly wrong. It’s the first movie that not only has Batman and Superman together, but is also the first appearance of Wonder Woman. It’s taking a lot of inspiration from one of the most revered Batman stories of all time. It’s setting up a DC universe that intends to rival that of Marvel Studios. All of this CAN be great if they can pull it off, but the sheer magnitude of this release and the expectations from not only fans but the studio itself does not bode well for a director who is already hit or miss an on screen interpretation of Superman that has gotten heavily criticized. Can they pull off the impossible as effortlessly as The Last Son of Krypton would, or is this going to be an atomic bomb of a mess that will shake Warner Bros to its very core? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins at the end of Man of Steel, only now we’re following Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he tries to save people in the city of Metropolis while Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill) are having their big smack down. Needless to say that there’s not much he can do (especially outside of his Batman suit) and has to more or less sit there as the city falls apart around him due to these two men who have come from the sky and could crush all of humanity. Cut to a year and a half later, and we see a world that is very much split on Superman. Sometime between then and now there was apparently enough people who LIKED Superman to make him a memorial in the middle of Metropolis, but for the most part he’s being attacked on the news and constantly questioned about his true motivations. One such Superman naysayer is Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) who is trying to manipulate the US military and members of Congress to give him access to all the resources they have on Krypton (mainly Zod’s ship and his lifeless corpse) as well as permission to import some Kryptonite that was found in India. While Lex is working on that, he’s also working surreptitiously to undercut Superman’s acts of genuine good while laying traps and breadcrumbs for Batman (who I don’t believe he knows is actually Bruce Wayne) to become even more resolute that Superman has to be stopped before he becomes a true threat to humanity. Along the way, we’ve got Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) keeping Superman’s spirits high while he grapples with a world that hates and fears him (Lois is also working on a story about clearing Superman’s associate with something bad that happened in Africa), and we also have Bruce’s faithful butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) trying to steer him on the right path and away from Superman. Still, the punch up is inevitable if the title is any indication, and the two of them have to hash out their differences before eventually working together to fight Doomsday alongside their new ally Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Will they be able to stop Lex Luthor and his plans to… do bad things I guess? Will the world FINALLY accept Superman after he fights ANOTHER city destroying bad guy? Are they SERIOUSLY gonna try to launch an expansive DC film universe off of this movie? Can we just get to Suicide Squad already?
Triple 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by John Hillcoat
I had not even heard of this movie until I saw a poster for it at the theater. Hell, I don’t even think I saw a trailer for it before the movie came out! That seems kind of odd considering some of the actors they have in here such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Kate Winslet. Then again, the movie also has Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, and Clifton Collins Jr, so maybe it’s not so much an under the radar hit and more of a lower tier movie that happened to luck out in the casting department. Still, with so little to go on as to what this movie was about, it definitely had the chance to surprise me and offer something unexpected. Is this a hidden gem that got sprung on us just as we were leaving February, or is this the just one more subpar mess that we have to deal with before ending one of the worst months for movies? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows way too many characters, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible (definitely clearer than the movie makes it). You’ve got the leader Michael (Chiwetel Ejifor), the fuck up Gabe (Aaron Paul), the fuck up’s brother Russell (Norman Reedus), the bad cop Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and the even worse cop Franco (Clifton Collins Jr) who make up a team of five criminals that pull of heists I guess. In fact, the movie starts right as they begin their latest scheme which is to knock over a bank looking for something specific for their employers who I believe are Israeli mobsters led by Irina (Kate Winslet). Now the Israeli mobsters need this crew to pull of another job, but the job is neigh impossible in the time they would normally have to do it (three minutes before the cops come). Their plan is to cause a Triple 9 which is the nickname for killing a cop (radio code 999) at which point all the police in the city (the ENTIRE city) will converge on that location, and it JUST SO HAPPENS that Marcus has a new partner in the form of Chris (Casey Affleck) who would be perfect to kill because… reasons. Why would someone kill a cop that is so directly tied to them? Anyway, what the bad guys here aren’t aware of (or aren’t all the concerned about) is Chris’s uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) who’s investigating the bank robbery and is starting to pick up some clues. Not only that, but things begin to deteriorate between the bad guys and after something PARTICULARLY heinous happens to them, the fuck up starts to… well, fuck up. There’s also a subplot about a Mexican gang causing trouble in the city, something about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s son, and then Gal Gadot shows up a couple times to remind us that she can act even if Batman v Superman turns out to be a giant bomb. Can these guys pull off the heist without killing each other or getting themselves killed first? Will Casey Affleck survive to the end of the movie? Can someone get me flow chart for all this? I’m already confused…