A Wrinkle in Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Ava DuVernay
I actually have read the book that this movie is based on, and what I remember about it is… that I read the book. Yeah, the big concern that I had with this film after seeing the trailers is that this material is NOT gonna be easy to adapt as the source material is pretty abstract and kinda confusing from what I recall which can work for a book that you’re supposed to sit there and absorb at your own pace, but is less likely to come together as well when put on the big screen. Still, while the trailers were very vague and didn’t give much of an indication of what the story would be about, the imagery was striking and the director behind it is someone who is coming up in a big way in Hollywood, so maybe there’s a chance to pull this adaptation off given the resources behind it. Will this be the next touchstone for all ages cinema like ET, The Neverending Story, or about eighty percent of Pixar’s output, or is this one of those films that goes big and then fails hard? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of Meg Murry (Storm Reid) who is the daughter of Dr. Kate Murray and Dr. Alex Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine); the latter of whom just up and disappeared four years ago and leaving his family to wonder what the heck happened to him and if he will ever return. Naturally this doesn’t sit well with Meg who’s been having trouble in school lately due to bullying from kids who… I guess think it’s funny to make fun of a girl for her dad disappearing, and really only confides in her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) who’s surprisingly smart for his age and has started making friends with three mysterious women who just randomly show up every once in a while. After a particularly rough stretch at school where Meg bashes a girl’s face in with a basketball (TOTALLY deserved by the way), she makes a new friend in the form of Calvin (Levi Miller) who seems to be at least a tertiary part of the three mysterious women’s plans, and said mystery women finally confirm for Meg that her dad is STILL alive somewhere. The only catch is that he’s halfway across the universe, BUT that won’t prove to be much of a problem because it turns out that humans can ACTUALLY travel across time and space using only the power of their minds; something that the three mystery ladies demonstrate by taking her, Calvin, and Christopher Wallace to the last known location of their dad which is some planet very far away. We learn that the three mystery ladies are in fact Miss Who, Miss Whatsit, and Miss Which (Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey) and they’re some sort of cosmic entities that exist to help people across space and time fight injustices across the universe; and THEY manage to do it WITHOUT a blue police box! So now that Meg and Christopher Wallace have a solid lead on where to find their dad, what will they (along with Calvin) have to face in order to find him? Well, PROBABLY the black mystery ooze floating through space known as The Darkness as well as The It (no, not THAT It) which is growing and expanding at an alarming rate and will surely make it to Earth before too long. Will Meg, Charles Wallace manage to save their father from whatever it is that has kept him under lock and key for the last four years? What can The Misses teach this trio of children about the universe that will prepare them for the fight ahead? Did Ava DuVernay manage to make a more psychedelic and drug fueled film on Disney’s dime than Doctor Strange!? One SPECIFICALLY aimed at young kids!?
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!
Miss Sloane and all the images you see in this review are owned by EuropaCorp
Directed by John Madden
If you really take a look at Jessica Chastain’s acting career, it becomes clear that she’s truly one of the most versatile actors working today. Not only has she been in high caliber Oscar fare of multiple genres including The Martian, Zero Dark Thirty, and Tree of Life, but she’s also been fantastic in other places like The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Crimson Peak, and Lawless. Now she’s headlining a political thriller at right about the time that EVERYONE is not in the mood to even be thinking about politics. Well, I guess we can’t blame her or the director for that, and just because the world is going straight to hell doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy movies like this anymore, right? Can this new vehicle for Jessica Chastain turn out to be another high point in her illustrious career, or will her role in that Frozen knockoff with Chris Hemsworth turn out to be her highlight this year? I mean… that WAS a really solid movie that no one but me seems to appreciate, but even so! Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the greatest lobbyist ever, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) who’s faced with a crisis of… conscious maybe? Either conscious or competitive zeal; one of those two. Anyway, the crisis is that the lobbying firm she works for wants her to campaign against a bill that would restrict gun sales to criminals, those on the terror watch list, etc, and her boss (Sam Waterson) is being a REAL overbearing jerk about it. Not one to suffer fools lightly, Miss Sloane packs up her desks, grabs the best millennial interns under her command, and goes to work for Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) who is heading the Pro-Gun restriction effort. Of course, when you bargain with the devil (or in this case someone know what it takes to win) you get exactly what you pay for and Miss Sloane proves to be INCREDIBLY effective despite how uneasy some of her methods make some of her allies, particularly Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who experiences firsthand just how far Miss Sloane is willing to go to get what she needs. Will the best of the best be able to stand up against the most funded lobby to ever exist? What can all these starry-eyed liberal babies learn by watching Miss Sloane in action? What exactly led her to being like this? Personal tragedy? A drive to succeed? Rich relatives that changed her life for the better?
Free State of Jones and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Gary Ross
Good old STX Entertainment! They’re the little studio that’s trying so hard to be a respectable outfit, and sure enough they do have some good films under their belts like Hardcore Henry and The Boy… but then they also did Secret in their Eyes, which… yeah. Let’s not go there again. I hear The Gift is good at least! Anyway, they’re latest effort is the quote, unquote, HISTORICALLY ACCURATE film based on a the man who started a rebellion within The Confederacy during the Civil War. Does STX Entertainment have another notch in their belt with this Matthew McConaughey led biopic, or is this another disaster like… that one movie they made? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the tale of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), an army doctor for the Confederate Army who knows that they’re fighting and dying for rich white dudes to keep slaves. Well, that and to keep the status quo of dehumanizing black people, but I’m SURE that’s not crossing any of these poor farmers minds as they march forward into battle. It’s certainly not on Newton’s mind, THAT’S for sure! Anyway, when his… relative (I think his nephew) gets shot and killed in the battlefield, he deserts the army and goes home to deliver the dead body to his sister and to see his wife and son again. Eventually, he makes his presence known to local Confederate tax collectors (or rather Looters) when he starts stopping them from collecting way more than ten percent of the local farmers’ goods and is forced to hide out in the swamp with escaped slaves to wait out the war I guess; one of whom is Moses (Mahershala Ali) who is looking for his family and becomes a lifelong friend of Newton. At some point though, Newton is unable to sit still any longer and ends up turning the runaway slaves and other deserters into a functioning society within the swamp that apparently the Confederates are completely unable to overtake and they soon become a huge thorn in their side as they start raiding supply wagons and burning rich peoples’ stuff. That’s only half the movie though as eventually the war does end and we transition from the armed rebellion to Newton fighting for the rights of his fellow citizens who are now FORMER slaves in an area this not too happy about that. So how exactly did Newton manage to outlast the Confederate army throughout the rest of the Civil War? Are he and his friends any safer after the war than they were before? Does Matthew McConaughey have a beard, or did something die on his face?
Concussion and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Peter Landesman
Mr. Fourth of July is back with his latest attempt to win that Oscar after Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, and 7 Pounds didn’t do a damn thing for him. Well at least this one is a story that’s still fresh in people’s mind as it explores the events that led up to the NFL being in hot water over the dangers of head injuries and the consequences of not getting these issues treated in their former players. Does William Smith Jr finally have the movie that will get him an Academy Award that he can shove in Leonardo DiCaprio’s face, or does the search continue for Will to find something that will prove once and for all what a great actor he is? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) who happens to be on duty at a Pittsburg morgue the day that a former NFL player is found dead after long bouts of mental illness and medical problems. During the autopsy, Omalu discovers some irregularities that lead to him eventually discovering a hereto unknown disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that is caused by repeated blows to the head which is something that happens quite frequently to NFL players. Clearly this needs to be explored further as it’s clear that other older players begin to exhibit extreme mental issues, but the NFL instead decides to bury the guys work and deny it incessantly. Omalu though continues to push for more research and for the NFL to acknowledge the diseases existence, but to little avail at least at first. Along his journey to get the truth out there, he starts to pursue a romantic relationship with a fellow churchgoer (Prema Mutiso played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and eventually meets a former NFL doctor (Julian Bailes played by Alec Bladwin) who knows first-hand what it’s like to see former players’ minds deteriorate. With support from the medical community and his girlfriend along with the insider knowledge of Dr. Bailes, will Dr. Omalu get his way and save hundreds of people in the process, or is this a task too herculean for any one man to accomplish?