Alright everyone! Now that we’ve had our fun with the GOOD list, it’s time to put on some work pants as we start wading through the unimaginable dreck that was yet another “fun” aspect of the abysmal year that we all had to suffer through. You know what though? Most of us made it through to the other side, so if looking back at the year that couldn’t beat us and having a laugh (or one last bitter tirade) at the pathetic excuses for entertainment that made daily life just a little bit worse, well I think we all deserved it, don’t you?
Anyway, let’s not beat around the bush any longer! WE’RE DIVING RIGHT IN!!
Dishonorable Mentions: Death Note & Bright
Since I didn’t even bother trying to watch another Adam Sandler movie this year, this dubious distinction goes to two OTHER Netflix features; albeit it for very different reasons. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t particularly mind either of these films as I think they had some good ideas buried within their mediocre (and cheap looking) execution with Death Note having an interestingly different take on its main character (a whiny little punk with issues of inadequacy instead a megalomaniacal genius) and Bright having an ALRIGHT set up for what is essentially a weaker version of 16 Blocks. That said… yeah, these films are REALLY flawed and in glaringly offensive ways. As much as I like the idea of taking some of the pomp and circumstance out of Death Note and reframing Light Yagami to be a less foreboding figure, I don’t see why that necessitated him to be white since they never play with that change in his identity within the text of the film. There could have been a component of White Privilege to the story (especially with L being black), but that seems to have never been the intent on the part of the filmmakers who simply seemed to associate AMERICAN REMAKE with WHITE AS DEFAULT. Similarly, the half-baked and ham fisted social commentary in the script for Bright creates one of the most cringe inducing screenplays of the year which has Orcs standing in for Black People in a world that still has Black People, and it even finds an excuse to get Will Smith to say “Fairy Lives Don’t Matter” before beating said fairy to death. Sure, the movie picks up once it gets away from its proudly ignorant views on race and becomes a straight up chase film with Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (who’s under a decent enough make up job), but that’s hardly enough to excuse everything that it gets wrong in the process. Now I don’t want this to come across as Netflix bashing because they DO put out quite a bit of decent content as I’ve heard good things about First They Killed My Father, Beast of No Nation, even The Babysitter, and while it wasn’t my favorite King Adaptation this year I thought Gerald’s Game was pretty good too. That said, they’ve had quite a few stumbles over the years, pretty much starting with their awful Adam Sandler deal, and these two movies are just further examples of their awkward steps towards becoming a media empire of their own; something they’ll need to keep working on now that Disney is gonna own everything else in the world and will eventually come out with their own streaming service to try and crush them. If Netflix wants a chance to survive the Disney/Fox merger, they’ll need to avoid having clunkers like this clogging up their service.
Fist Fight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Richie Keen
First rule of Fist Fight? Make as many references as possible! Hey, I’m not the one who said FUCK THE POLICE in the red band trailer, alright? That’s ALL on Ice Cube! Corny lines aside though, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this film; mostly because of the cast as I LOVE Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Ice Cube can be pretty compelling when given the right material. I mean sure, it IS February which usually doesn’t fare much better than January as far as movies, and while it’s been pretty mediocre since the start of 2017, there have been a few bright spots here and there. Can this movie about two dudes beating the crap out of each other for contrived reasons be one of the exceptions? Hell, we let John Wick get away with that, right? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place on the last day of high school where all the seniors are pulling hilarious pranks like hanging vulgar signs on the building, stealing the principal’s car, and mowing a penis into the track field. Needless to say that none of the teachers are too thrilled to be here (and yet for some reason aren’t calling the cops) which includes English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube). Well… maybe less so Mr. Strickland who seems to come at today with the same FUCK YOU attitude that he would every other day as he’s the only teacher who can SORT OF keep the kids in line; mainly by threatening to beat the shit out of them. Of course, a guy with these kinds of anger management issues is bound to do something stupid, and that happens on this fateful day where one kid pisses him of and he takes a fucking fire axe to his desk; in full view of the class as well as Mr. Campbell who just so happened to be around during the incident. Under threat of both of them being fired by Principal Tyler (Dean Norris), Mr. Campbell rats on Mr. Strickland who in all fairness endangered the lives of SEVERAL people and probably shouldn’t be in a god damn school in the first place if this is how he’s gonna act. Mr. Strickland doesn’t quite see things that way however, and like a REAL man decides that he’s gonna punch his way out of this, so he challenges Mr. Campbell to a fight after school which the entire town hears about in a matter of minutes. Hashtag Teacher Fight! Can Mr. Campbell find a way out of this ass beating, or is he gonna get his face smooshed in by a guy twice as big as him? Does Mr. Strickland have ulterior motives for starting this fight in the first place? Can… can someone tell who thought this was a good idea in 2017? Please?
Don’t pin this on him! It was YOUR buddy who directed this damn thing!
xXx: Return of Xander Cage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by DJ Caruso
I know I’ve SEEN the first xXx movie, but the only things I can recall are a fake diner, non-lethal bullets with fake blood in them, and a bunch of scientist being killed by the bad guys because reasons. Needless to say that it didn’t leave much of an impression on me considering how poorly I can recall it as well as the fact that I never felt the need to go back and rewatch it. Still, what with The Fast and the Furious becoming the most popular international franchise outside of Marvel, they obviously had to milk this franchise again; something that didn’t seem to go well the last time they did it with Ice Cube, but I guess now that XANDER CAGE is back, we can take one more swing at it! Does the return of Vin Diesel breathe new life into a franchise that’s been comatose for over a decade, or is this just one big Weekend at Bernie’s scheme gone even worse than any of us could imagine? Let’s find out!!
The movie opens up with NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), who I guess was in the first movie, trying to recruit some football player (as in Soccer) to be a member of xXx, though I’m not sure if that’s a title, the name of the organization, or both. It doesn’t really matter though because both he and the football player (Neymar) are killed by a satellite that drops out of the sky. Normally these burn up on reentry LONG before they could really cause THAT kind of damage on the ground, but this is no the movie to be asking those kinds of questions in. The more important question is… WHO’S RESPONSIBLE!? Well, government operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) seems to have an idea of HOW if not exactly WHO as the government JUST SO HAPPENS to have some sort of box that serves NO OTHER PURPOSE than to drop satellites from the sky. Okay… well the box is stolen by a bunch of badasses (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) which means the government has to find an EQUALLY badass person to hunt them down; namely Xander Cage (Vin Diesel). It doesn’t take long for Jane to recruit him for the mission, and he brings along a crew of people with a certain set of skills to help him out. Adele the sniper (Ruby Rose), Tennyson the stunt driver (Rory McCann),a nd of course Nicks the DJ (Kris Wu) because apparently you need one of those for this kind of mission. Can this rag tag crew of Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes save the world before the OTHER Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes destroy it? What was the government planning to do with that ridiculously specific doomsday device anyway? Most importantly, does Vin Diesel look cool in this?
Barbershop: The Next Cut and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Malcolm D Lee
I tend not to review movies if I haven’t seen the original films first; even if the connection between them is tenuous at best. Mostly it’s an excuse to keep my own sanity (*cough* Allegiant *cough*) but I think it’s fair to say that those who go see sequels without seeing the previous films are gonna be hard pressed to review it in the context of the series as well as in the context of itself as a singular film. That said, I made an exception here; primarily because this is one of those years later sequels which means they’ll likely have a refresher of sorts at the beginning to catch everyone up to speed, and also because I thought the trailers looked pretty good with a solid cast and genuinely funny moments; That and the added bonus of seeing Nikki Minaj onscreen. ANYWAY! Does this manage to bring in a new audience while also pleasing the longtime fans of the series, or will this be a disaster borne from the cast and crew’s desire to just cash in on their previous success? Let’s find out!!
The movie primarily follows the misadventures of Calvin (Ice Cube) who runs a joint barber shop/beauty shop where many of his friends work, including his wife Angie (Regina Hall). Going to work every day with the people you love, shooting the shit, cutting hair; sounds like the perfect life, right? Well it WOULD be if the shop wasn’t right smack dab in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago! Calvin has to worry about gangsters shooting guns outside the shop, customers shooting them INSIDE the shop, and even his own son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr) get suckered and seduced into the thug life. Can this little barber shop prove to be the catalyst for real change in the neighborhood once they decide to take direct action? Will Calvin sell the shop so that he and his family can get out of the bad neighborhood while leaving all his friends twisting in the wind? Is Cedric the Entertainer going to live up to his name for once!?
“What all this? Where the hell am I!?” “Relax. You’re in a good movie.” “… Say what?” “YOU’RE IN A GOOD MOVIE!!” Okay, you’re saying words, but they just sound all jumbled together and don’t make any sense.”
Straight Outta Compton and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by F Gary Gray
Does this count as the beginning of Oscar season? I mean we ARE in August and this is a biopic about famous yet controversial musicians! What more could the academy be looking for!? This retelling of the history of NWA directed by F Gary Gray (because who the hell else would you get to direct this) has gotten a lot of buzz recently and is already a certifiable smash hit at the box office with an opening weekend of over SIXTY MILLION which is nearly unheard of for a rated R movie. So what is it about this movie that’s gotten so many people’s attention? Is it the controversial nature of its subjects? Maybe it’s out of pure nostalgia that people are checking out this movie about a rap group from the nineties. That basically how Dragon Ball Z managed to make it in the top ten on a limited release. Well for whatever reason this movie has connected with the movie going public, the question remains as to whether or not it’s any good, especially considering that the movie is produced by the people it’s portraying which can be a bad sign for any biopic. Does this manage to be a fascinating examination of America’s scariest musicians, or will it be an endless parade of self-congratulations for a bunch of guys who have long outlived their relevance? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with our three principal players Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr) living their lives in Compton California and writing music whenever they have some free time. After one of their songs hits it big on the local stations, they get the attention of a music manager (Jerry Heller played by Paul Giamatti) who puts them on the fast track to stardom and we watch the rise of one of America’s most notorious musical acts become legendary and the behind the scenes conflicts that eventually led to their downfall.
“We’ll start with a cover of Staying Alive, and then we can do that police song if we have time afterwards.”