Thor: Ragnarok and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
After the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World (HOW DO YOU WASTE THE BEST DOCTOR WHO IN SUCH A BLAND VILLAIN ROLE!?) I wasn’t really looking forward to what they’d do with this character in his solo films and was more interested to see if he’d show up in a bunch of the other movies instead. Once those initial trailers hit with the heavy emphasis on fantastical Jack Kirby inspired designs and the rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack, there seemed to be hope in this franchise digging itself out of the pit the sequel left it in. At the very least, it LOOKED a lot pretty with much more vibrant colors, and it even manages to drag Jeff Goldblum into the MCU which in and of itself would make this movie worthy of existing even if everything else ends up being awful. Does Thor’s third chance at the plate end up being one of the best films in the entire MCU, or did they just throw a lot of flash and money at a franchise that is just unable to find its place after telling the origin story? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to find out what the heck Ragnarok is which was hinted at ALL the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Remember when he left the team to take a bath and saw some visions? Yeah, apparently it was all foreshadowing of the destruction of Asgard in a calamity known as Ragnarok, so Thor is basically trying to find a way to stop it… whatever it may be. In the meantime though, he manages to find out that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is actually alright as Loki basically stuck his ass in a retirement home on Earth, but when Thor goes down there to bring him back to the throne it turns out that he’s all out of time and disappears in a cloud of energy or something. If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the things he was doing when he was alive was keeping a hereto unknown daughter of his named Hela (Cate Blanchett) in some sort of magic prison which breaks as soon as he’s dead and so she’s come back for revenge against her family and all of Asgard. Both Loki and Thor are dealt with rather quickly with the latter losing his famed hammer Mjolnir and landing on some mystery planet where he is captured by a mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) and dragged to the planet’s ruler known as THE GRANDMASTER (Jeff Goldblum). The once mighty God of Thunder and son of Odin is now put in chains and is forced to fight in gladiatorial matches in order to somehow earn his freedom and eventually find his way back home before Hela puts it inextricably under her vengeful thumb. Can Thor find a way to escape the barbaric society run by the most fabulous of dictators? What familiar faces will he find on this planet that can hopefully help him on his journey home? How the heck is Thor gonna get around now that he doesn’t have his magic propeller hammer!?
“THE GOD OF THUNDER DOESN’T NEED A HAMMER! I JUST NEED TO FLAP MY ARMS REALLY FAST!!” “Okay… well good luck with that!”
The Mountain Between Us and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Eh… you know I’m not really feeling this one. The trailer wasn’t QUITE as overplayed as the one for Flatliners (you already forgot that movie came out, didn’t you?) but I was sure getting sick of seeing it as we got closer to the release date. Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are stuck on a mountain which I imagine COULD be an interesting premise, but nothing about the trailer really stood out to me other than the casting which isn’t a good sign for a movie like this. Hopefully it was just a bad trailer and that the movie itself will be much better which has certainly been known to happen every once in a while, and even if the movie is bad… well it’s not like I haven’t enjoyed crappy Idris Elba films in the past! Does this manage to rise above the low expectations it has set for itself, or was that weak trailer right on the money and we’re stuck with a lame mountain survival film? Let’s find out!!
Super Surgeon Dr Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and Super photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) are trying to get back home but their flights are canceled at the last minute. Since both of them REALLY need to find a way out of the state as soon as possible, they manage to find dude (Beau Bridges) who’s unscrupulous enough to brave the incoming storm and fly them where they need to go for a nice stack of cash. Of course things go bad while in the air and not just because of the storm as their pilot keels over and dies of a stroke mid-flight; crashing the plane in the process. Ben seems to have come out of it alright, but Alex has an injured leg that makes it hard to move around which leaves Ben and the pilots dog as the only two who can try to find the supplies that fell out of the plane while also trying to set up a signal of some kind for whatever happens to pass by. No such luck though as days go by without a rescue and so Alex eventually convinces Ben that they need to start hiking their way across the mountain to try and find a semblance of civilization that can Uber them back to the city. Will the two manage to survive the harsh environment with the help of their wits, their warm jackets, and the super adorable dog? How will this unbelievable experience change them individually as well as their burgeoning friendship? Is this Idris Elba’s punishment for being in The Dark Tower!?
“Just ten more miles and a Nicholas Sparks movie before my slate is clean!”
The Dark Tower and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
2007. That’s when the first rumblings of this movie’s production started to surface which it’s been LANGUISHING in cinematic limbo for a decade now. Remember when Ron Howard was gonna turn the Dark Tower into a simultaneous Television/Film experience? I sure do! Now I love me some Stephen King, but The Dark Tower was one of those things that I just let pass me by and it seemed like for a while there that Hollywood was going to do the same, but Sony decided to take this ball and cross it over the finish line in whatever state it ultimately ended up in. With so much going against this movie, from the hit or miss nature of Stephen King films, the troubled production which included three directors working on this over its ten year gestation, to even the fact that releasing a high concept fantasy movie in the modern cinematic landscape that ISN’T tied to a comic book, video game, or eighties cartoon is pretty much flirting with disaster at this point, is it possible that a GOOD movie managed to come out of all that strife and discord? Let’s find out!!
Despite what the trailers may tell you, the movie is ACTUALLY about a boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) who’s waking up every morning in a cold sweat due to his recurring dream about a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) and his horrifying sciencey magical experiments on children in hopes of destroying some giant tower. A DARK tower, if you will! He’s drawing images of what he dreams about every day (presumably in hopes of winning an Eisner once he puts all the pieces together) which along with his less than stellar coping skills over the death of his father has made him somewhat ostracized at school and has his mother very concerned. Too bad for them that his stories about evil wizards, rat people wearing human skins, and dead children turn out to be COMPLETELY TRUE as he finds a portal to another world where all this very odd stuff is happening. Gee, a misunderstood creative type who gets proven right in a Stephen King story!? WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT!? Anyway, from there he meets up with the GOOD GUY in his graphic novel who is Roland; THE LAST GUNSLINGER (Idris Elba). Now Roland wants to put a few right between The Man in Black’s icy blues eyes (mostly due to the whole making him THE LAST GUNSLINGER thing)and this kid with seemingly psychic powers (where have seen THAT before in a Stephen King book) might just be the key to finding the sneaky bastard once and for all! Can these two unlikely allies manage to stop The Man in Black from his evil schemes before he destroys THE DARK TOWER and the universe along with it? What does The Man in Black have in store for them once they find his EVIL lair? Could Idris Elba look any more BAD ASS than he does in this movie!?
“Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun made out of Excalibur. Which is a thing, apparently!”
Star Trek Beyond and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Justin Lin
We’re once again invited to visit this new Star Trek universe, though it doesn’t quite have the same shine that it used to now that we saw the bafflingly mishandled Into Darkness, and even that really crappy video game that came out. Remember that? While we all may fondly remember the first reboot film in this series that kicked off this new universe, there’s no doubt that some damage has been done in the intervening years that it’s now up to this movie to start correcting. Do they manage to steer the ship back on course, or should we all start heading for the lifeboats before this whole franchise crashes and burns? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the crew of the USS Enterprise who are in the middle of their five year mission to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before. Of course, for some reason there’s a Federation space station in the middle of this supposed unknown, but whatever. They need to fuel up the tank every once in a while. Anyway, during their pit stop at the space station Yorktown, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is getting ready to give up his command of the Enterprise… for some reason, but can’t do it just yet as a distress ship manages to make it to Yorktown with an alien who’s begging Starfleet to help them out. Kirk agrees to get everyone back on board the Enterprise (probably pissing off a lot of the crew in the process) and heads to wherever this planet is which honestly doesn’t seem to be too far but there’s a giant nebula between Yorktown and this mystery planet so maybe it’s just that no one wanted to fly straight through that. Kirk does however, but once they make it to just outside the planet’s orbit, a fleet of a bajillion tiny ships tears the enterprise to shreds and the bad guy of this movie simply known as Krall (Idris Elba) JUST SO HAPPENS to find that the Enterprise is carrying the ONE piece of a superweapon that he’s been searching for all this time that’s only on the ship due to a fluke peace mission from some point during their five year mission. Luckily Kirk manages to hide it before the ship goes down in flames, but now the crew is completely separated and needs to find a way to get back together, defeat Krall, and get the hell off this planet. Spock and Bones McCoy (Zachary Quinto) are together constantly kvetching at each other, Scotty (Simon Pegg) ends up meeting a local alien trying to get herself off the planet too named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), Uhura and Sulu (Zoe Saldana and John Cho) are captured by the enemy along with most of the remaining crew, and Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) are left with the alien who initially sent them to this planet and are working together to find what remains of the enterprise. Can these heroes set aside their differences and work together so they can survive this mission? What is Krall planning to blow up with the super weapon once he finally gets the pieces together? Most importantly, just how grumpy can Bones get!?
“So what’s the plan again?” “You forgot already?” “Damn it Spock! I’m a doctor, not a-” “Alright fine! I’ll explain it again!” “Is he always like this?” “All the time.”
Finding Dory and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Well… I guess we’re back again. Pixar has gotten pretty passé for me recently and making a sequel to my least favorite of their movies that ISN’T a rip off of Maximum Overdrive is probably not gonna be what ends up turning them around for me. Still, the studio never makes a lazy movie (except for those G rated Christine films) so we can at least expect a certain level of quality from them, and maybe I’ll be a bit more receptive to their fish story this time around. Does it manage to bring back that Pixar magic that has gotten kinda dull and played out recently? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place a year after the events of the first one (which I guess means this takes place in in the heydays of George W Bush and Nickelback) and since then Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has been living with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). One day during their day to day life of… swimming I guess, Dory sees something that triggers a memory that had long been forgotten which is that she has parents and lost them many years ago; probably due to her short term memory condition. Now that she’s aware that her parents are out there somewhere, she manages to rope Marlin and Nemo into going with her to the last place she remembers being at before losing them forever which was somewhere in California. That somewhere just happens to be the Marine Life Institute which is a rescue center to provide care to, rehabilitate, and eventually release the sea creatures that they either catch or are sent to them for treatment. As you’d expect, Dory manages to separate herself from Marlin and Nemo who have to then FIND her, and while they’re doing that Dory meets up with an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) who is willing to help her find whatever exhibit her parents are in if she’ll do something for him. See, Dory was sent to the medical wing and immediately got a tag put on her to send her to the Cleveland Aquarium because… I actually don’t know why come to think of it. The tags are only placed on fish that are too sick to survive in the open ocean, so… is there gonna be a really sad third movie coming out in ten years? Anyway, Hank wants to go to the Cleveland Aquarium but isn’t sick enough for them to send him off, so he’ll take her tag in exchange for carrying her around until they find her parents. Oh, and they’re on a timer because the truck to Cleveland leaves in the morning so Hank is not in the mood to mosey about take their sweet time. Will Dory manage to find her parents in this place? What about Marlin and Nemo? Are they gonna find her before… I guess something bad happens? Will Pixar ever get to The Incredibles 2!?
“That’s where my parents are…” “Congratulations kid. You found them.” “Found what now?” “Ugh…”
The Jungle Book and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Jon Favreau
In the early and mid-2000s, we got a deluge of straight to video sequels to classic animated features in the Disney catalog. Almost NONE of them were any good, and they thankfully died off by 2007. Now we’re in a new age of cannibalizing those cartoons by making them into live action, albeit with better results. These include Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and now this with PLENTY more on the horizon. Can Disney continue to successfully rehash their older properties, or are we getting to the point of diminishing returns? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Mowgli (Neel Sethi); a young child who was abandoned in the jungle and raised by wolves. Most of the animals don’t have any real beef with him, so they coexist without much strife to speak of until the fierce (and apparently ONLY) tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) shows up and declares that the boy must be turned over to him for death, else he will wage war on the other animals; particularly the wolf pack Mowgli’s a part of that also seems to be the highest ranking species here… or something. Rather than have his pack go to war over him, he leaves them behind and goes with his panther friend Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) who’s gonna lead him back to the human village which is the one place he’ll be safe from Shere Khan’s anti-human wrath. Unfortunately, the two get separated along the way and Mowgli instead finds himself moving in with a bear named Baloo (Bill Murray) who will teach him about chillaxing and eating honey. Will Mowgli truly be safe in his new home? What will Shere Khan do once he learns that Mowgli is not dead? Does this have at least the Bare Necessities to make it a good film!?
“What have I told you TIME and TIME again?” “Don’t forget to take that left turn at Albuquerque?” “And did you?” “No. I’ll do better next time.”
Zootopia and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore
With Pixar not really living up to its namesake in the last couple of years (not the biggest fan of Inside Out), it’s interesting to see their decline coincide with Disney Animation Studio’s recent output steadily increase in quality. I didn’t see Big Hero Six, but Tangled, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph are all very strong features from a studio that had been relying on Pixar for some time to keep Disney’s theatrical output relevant and groundbreaking. Not only that, but they’ve done a good job of keeping their ideas interesting and relevant, from Frozen’s LGBT undertones, to Wreck-It Ralph’s use of new(ish) media to tell a classic Disney fable about a lost princess. Now they’re giving something that ALL internet users are at least passingly familiar with; FURRIES! Does this anthropomorphic animal tale manage to continue Disney Animation Studio’s valiant escape from the shadow of Pixar, or are we in for another bland kid’s movie that’ll only succeed due to the brand name recognition? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the trials and tribulations of one Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin); the first rabbit police in… the country? I don’t know the exact geography here, but her becoming a police officer (valedictorian at the academy) is such a big deal that she gets assigned to Zootopia; the most vibrant, diverse, and technologically advanced cities on Earth… or Animal Planet. Whatever. Unfortunately for our friend here, she’s relegated to menial tasks as the chief of police Bongo (Idris Elba) has no confidence in her abilities to perform in a job that is typically handled by much larger animals. When a case involving a series of missing animals (predators specifically) gets out of hand though, she has an opportunity to prove herself by tracking down an otter who was among those missing. However, because of the necessities of screenwriting conventions, Bongo somehow manages to turn this into an ego contest and has officer Hopps agree to quit the force if she doesn’t solve this case in forty-eight hours (I sense a reference there!) which you would think wouldn’t be something he can force her to do, but I guess she’s got something to prove and agrees to the wager. The only lead she has is a local fox who’s already been giving her grief named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who may have seen the otter and knows where he might have gone. After some underhanded tricks of her own (hey, the fox started it!) she finally convinces him to assist her in finding this otter and find out what it is that has caused these animals to go missing. Will they be able to solve the case within the arbitrary time limit? What secrets are there to uncover in the dark underbelly of this supposed utopian city? Wait, is this gonna be the most socially conscious movie about race relations this year!?
“They keep me on board so the administration doesn’t look anti-prey, yet I’m stuck in a boiler room. Progress, am I right?”