Dora and the Lost City of Gold and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by James Bobin
You know that they already did an aged up Dora series? Sure she was only ten years old in that one instead of going to high school, but she moved to the city and made some human friends instead of talking to a monkey all day. That’s… about all I know about Dora the Explorer outside of it being… a thing for a while there. Well that’s a bit dismissive; it was actually a HUGE success for Nickelodeon and was broadcast worldwide in various languages, so I guess there HAS to be a market out there for more Dora stuff which is why we’re getting this film in the first place; though not as a straight up adaptation of the material but instead as a reimagining of the concept. Less Spanish lessons and more Bowie knives if the trailer is anything to go by, which at least caught my and many others’ attention a few months ago. Can this spin on the beloved children’s character become a cross generational hit that will keep Dora in the public consciousness for decades to come, or will this be as bad a miscalculation as that M Night version of The Last Airbender? Let’s find out!!
Dora (Isabela Moner), whose last name has been lost to time, is your typical teenaged jungle explorer. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything that could kill her in there, she’s made friends with the native animals including a monkey named Boots, and she can apparently fall from great heights without breaking any of her bones! Truly a Lara Croft in the making as long as she gets her gun permit, but her parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) have other plans for her. See, they’re about to go on a trip to find THE LOST CITY OF PARAPATA (which is apparently full of gold), but instead of taking their highly competent and well trained daughter with them, they’re gonna send her to “the city” to stay with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and attend the most fearsome jungle of them all; HIGH SCHOOL!! Like most cartoon characters brought to life, her biggest problem is that she’s just too earnest for this cynical world which wants to sap all the idealism right out of her, but darn it she won’t be deterred! She does end up being a bit of a laughing stock though for… being nice I think, and she’s ends up hanging out with the other nobodies at the school; her cousin Diego for some reason, the class president (Madeleine Madden) for some reason, and the local nerd (Nicholas Coombe) for pretty obvious reasons. If only there was a way for her to show everyone that she’s ACTUALLY an awesome Indiana Jones knock off instead of some geek who likes to carry water purifies wherever she goes. Well she gets her monkey’s paw wish when during a field trip she and her “not friends” all get captured by mercenaries who take her back to “The Jungle” and demand she help them find her parents who have gone missing in search of that city full of gold. Fortunately a friend of her parents Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) springs them free and wants to help them find her parents, so now it’s a race against time as Dora and her not so enthusiastic explorers have to track down her parents before the team of mercenaries (including Swiper the Fox for some reason) can hunt them down, take the gold, and gut them all like fish. Can Dora teach her friends to survive in such a harsh environment and gain their respect in the process? Why did her parents go missing in the first place, and is the lost city gold so hard to find for a very good reason? I wonder if this adventure will look good on their college applications…
“If we can make it through this cave, we’ll finally be in Paraparta!” “Good. At least I’ll finally be able to afford Harvard after this.” “We really shouldn’t take the gold.” “And I really shouldn’t be paying fifty grand a semester, yet here we are!”
Sicario: Day of the Soldado and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Stefano Sollima
You know what I thought when I got out of the first movie? This is PRIME material for a franchise! Yeah, the first Sicario was a dark journey through the worst aspects of the War on Drugs which felt REALLY complete as a story, but after it made a boat load at the box office the studio couldn’t help itself from squeezing as much money out of this cash cow as they could which HOPEFULLY means we’ll get a crossover with The Fast and the Furious franchise, but until then we’ll have to get stuck with more straightforward entries of vastly diminishing returns. Okay, that’s a little unfair. After all, it’s not like you COULDN’T make another movie with this cast, and the premise seems like a great starting point to bring up issues surrounding immigration and border patrol that have only become more exacerbated since the last film came out! Wishful thinking I suppose, but you’ve gotta have SOME amount of hope, right!? Will this be a great and topical sequel to an already fantastic movie, or was this project doomed long before it had a chance to say something important about our current political climate? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Matt Graver and Alejandro Gillick (Josh Brolin and Bencio del Toro) seem to have parted ways at least for the time being as the former is still running operations at the border while the latter is waiting for another chance to hit hard against the Cartel. The good news is that such an opportunity has presented itself and will lead to their most drastic and bloody mission yet! The bad news though is that said chance only happened because terrorist blew up a grocery store in Kansas City where at least one of them seems to have gotten into the country illegally from the border (ugh…) and might have even gotten a bit of help from the Cartel. With a blank check from the government to mess things up in Mexico, Matt decides to kidnap the daughter of one of the Cartel bosses down there (Isabela Moner) and then blame it on one of the other Cartel bosses; causing a civil war within the country that will decimate their stranglehold on the area. Things SORT of go off without a hitch, but once it’s time for them to return the girl under the guise of “finding her” across the border, things go sideways as Matt and Alejandro’s crew is ambushed and the girl runs off into the desert. Alejandro goes for the girl while Matt and the rest head back to base in Texas, but all is well as the ambush has made things more complicated than they should be and it’ll be that much harder for Matt and Alejandro to find a way to resolve this without stabbing each other, the US government, or anyone else, directly in the back. Can Alejandro not only find this girl but find a way to keep her safe from those who wish her harm? Just how far will Matt go for Alejandro, and will he be forced to choose between his friend and his duty? Wait, how are we supposed to be rooting for these guys now!? You SAW what they did in the last film, right!?
Transformers: The Last Knight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Michael Bay
Good ol’ Patron Saint of all things wrong with cinema, Michael “The Boom Master” Bay! For a lot of film critics, he’s become something of a symbol for the worst that summer blockbusters have become even if that characterization is somewhat unfair. Heck, even I’m guilty of generalizing the dude to an extent as I’ve only managed to sit all the way through two of the Transformers movies (Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction; neither of which were the least bit tolerable) and I do genuinely like a few of his films such as Pain and Gain as well as The Rock. This is gonna be the first film of his that I will review for the site, so I don’t just want to parrot my usual talking points about Transformers being THE WORST THING EVAR (even if it’s probably true) and am gonna try to go into this with an open mind as well as a critical eye. Is there SOMETHING in this latest entry of the series that will be worth talking about and even appreciating, or are here to say the same shit for a franchise that makes too much money to ever need to change? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) landing back on Cybertron (I think) where he meets the creator of all Transformers (I think) known as Quintessa (Gemma Chan) who… wants to destroy Earth I think? I don’t know, but that’s where we start and we’ll get back to that eventually. From there, we find out that the humans no longer trust the Transformers (again) and have set up the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) to hunt down any remaining Autobots and Decepticons which usually isn’t a great idea, but whatever. The few remaining Autobots from the last movie (including a few Dinobots) are being protected by Cade Yeager from Age of Extinction (Mark Whalberg) who’s now a fugitive from the law despite having a very visible base of operations in a junk yard. Anyway, he’s being chased by the humans as well as Megatron (Frank Welker) but during an admittedly decent action scene where the three factions come to a head, a strange human sized robot named Cogman (Jim Carter) informs Cade that an artifact he found holds the key to saving the world or whatever and jets him off to the UK along with Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl) to meet with his master Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). The dude informs Cade that he’s got a destiny much bigger than his own, there’s a professor named Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock) who ALSO has a destiny much bigger than her own, and there’s a Cybertron MacGuffin somewhere that they need to find in order to fight off the impending doom brought about by Quintessa and a brainwashed Optimus Prime. Can Cade and his gang of rascally robot friend find the MacGuffin of Ultimate Destiny before it’s too late? Can Optimus Prime be brought back to his senses before he does something he’ll truly regret? WHY IS IT So HARD TO DESCRIBE THE PLOT TO A MOVIE ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS!?