Mary Poppins Returns and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
This is one of the weirder cases of nostalgia I’ve had because I don’t have nostalgia about this story or the documentary from 2010. I have nostalgia for a review of it. Around that time I had just learned about Spill.com (which is now more or less split between Double Toasted and One Of Us) and one of the earliest podcasts I had heard from them was a series of reviews about films they saw at SXSW 2010 which included a review of the documentary. So when they announced this movie, I actually was rather interested to see it because I had never gotten around to the documentary but that review for whatever reason always stuck with me and so seeing a big budget studio adaptation of something I had THAT tertiary of knowledge for would be interesting; not to mention seeing what those same critics thought of this movie as well. Does this story of a man who found a way to cope with his trauma through the use of imaginative and painstakingly detailed art pieces manage to convey the raw emotional power of this man’s life and work, or are we stuck with another treacly adaptation that fails to live up to the material it’s based on; including the critically acclaimed documentary? Let’s find out!!
Loosely based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carrell), this movie follows the story of Mark who was nearly beaten to death by five Neo-Nazi monsters who did so after they learned that Mark enjoyed wearing women’s shoes. Fortunately Mark survived and the men were caught, but sadly he lost his memories, a lot of his motor skills (making it nearly impossible for him to write or draw), and has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since. In order to cope with what has happened, he created a World War II village named Marwen in his yard and stages elaborate action scenes and character moments using dolls that represent him, the Nazis who beat him up, and the women in his life who helped him afterwards. This includes Anna (Gwendoline Christie) a nurse who visits him once a month to bring him medication and check on his physical health, Julie (Janelle Monáe) a physical therapist with one leg who helped him walk again and has since been traveling the world and running in marathons, Caralala (Eiza González) who is Mark’s coworker at his part time job, Roberta (Merritt Wever) who works at the town’s hobby shop and has helped Mark get the parts he needs to bring this made up town to life, and Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis) who he may not know in person but has starred in some of his FAVORITE films! Sadly, the one doll that is based on Wendy (Stefanie von Pftetten) who the town is partially named after (Marwen is short for Mark and Wendy) has been permanently removed and put into the RIP bin for reasons that aren’t made explicitly clear but can be somewhat inferred as we learn more about Mark’s life as well as the struggles and demons he’s had to work through. One such demon is the Belgian Witch Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger) who is the cause of many of Marwen’s woes and has a very distinct counterpart in the real world that you’ll have to keep an eye out for while watching them movie. Things seem to have been going along like this for some time now, but when Mark gets a new neighbor across the street named Nicol (Leslie Mann), well it looks like Marwen’s about to get a new resident which will certainly add a few more stories to the town’s ever expanding lore, but maybe this is the point where he takes things too far with his work; not to mention the overwhelming stress he’s feeling about the attack now that the men responsible are going to finally be sentenced for their crimes. Will Mark be able to face his attackers in court and put the incident behind him once and for all? Will Nicol understand what Mark is going through or will his behavior cross some very clear lines that he seems completely oblivious to when dealing with women outside of his fantasy world? Is it just me, or should they start making Marwen merchandise at some point? I want that Deja Thoris doll!
The Darkest Minds and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Can we just take a moment and remind ourselves that YA adaptations (and even movies aimed at a YA audience) are NOT the worst thing to happen to the world of cinema? That would be Eli Roth, but in any case, I think we’re well past the days of Twilight Hate (at least we SHOULD be and anyone still carrying that torch would be kind of sad) and we even got some bug critical success stories like The Hunger Games; none of which I’ve ever seen but I hear are supposed to be good! In the last few years though, things haven’t really looked great for the genre as they still make money, but none of them have had much critical success or frankly leave much of an impact despite earning so much money. Even GOOD ones like A Wrinkle in Time still languished with critics and didn’t really find the audience it needed to. Now we have this movie which stepping up to the plate to take its swing at the box office. Does this manage to be another high point for a genre that should get a bit more respect, or is this the kind of poorly made tripe that (along with misogyny if we’re being frank) made these films such an easy target in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Ruby Daly (Lidya Jewett) is your typical elementary school student in a run of the mill suburb living her normal life when tragedy strikes as the world basically turns into an even MORE proactive version of Children of Men. Not only are people not having babies anymore, but children start to drop like flies from some mysterious disease, and worse yet the ones who survive get super powers. Now sure there’s a certain amount of… let’s say VOLATILITY in kids having the ability to move things with their mind and conduct electricity (as well as have super smarts and fire bending powers because… reasons), but things go a BIT further than some updated Health and PE classes to straight up generational genocide as ANY child exhibiting any sort of powers (I couldn’t quite tell if it was ALL children or just some of them) are brought to military run internment camps for classification, separation, and manual labor. Ruby ends up getting sent to one of them as she apparently has the ability to read minds I think which makes her the MOST DANGEROUS AND SPECIAL ONE EVER, but she manages to somehow keep it under wraps by mind wiping the doctor (you’d think they’d check for that) and getting classified as a lower tiered super person. Years go by and Ruby goes from a young girl to a teenager (Amandla Stenberg) but things come to a head as she seemingly gets discovered as one of the SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME kids and subsequently whisked away from the camp by a mysterious freedom fighter of sorts (Mandy Moore) who then wants her to join her group known as the Children’s League which seems like a good idea considering she’s got nowhere else to go and they’re for the liberation of children from government persecution… but then she gets a weird vibe from the dude she’s with (Mark O’Brien) and she manages to run away from them to find a van full of super powered teens (Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, and Miya Cech) who agree to take her in as they travel to some sort of children haven known as East River where they can… I guess live free? Of course it won’t be an easy trip as there are children hunting bounty hunters (Gwendoline Christie) roaming the streets as well as the military who aren’t about to let one of their kids go; especially if they’re one of the SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME kids! Will Ruby find a new home with her fellow super powered misfits? Just what does the Children League want from her, and are they truly fighting to save these persecuted children? Okay, seriously Fox? Did you just dust off an old X-Men script to make this movie?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rian Johnson
And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding! Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS. Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down. Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard. Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship. While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it. Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions. Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order? Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times? Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?
Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Rian Johnson
Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi! Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens. Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!
Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice. Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show. Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting. Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation. The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing. While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about. At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.