Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Honestly this whole “Oscar Season” thing has felt rather muted this year as I really haven’t seen that many movies that would fit the archetype we often associate with them. Other than Welcome to Marwen, the holiday season has been just an extension of summer with huge blockbusters coming out back to back with three presumed major money makers (Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, and Aquaman) fighting over a single weekend right before Christmas. However out of all those movies that we’re getting right now, the one that really caught my attention was this film; not because I had any particular reason to think it would be great (though I do certainly hope that’s the case!) but because it looked so much different than everything else. An animated film with a unique art style about Spider-Man characters other than Spider-Man? Heck, that’s PRACTICALLY Venom considering how much CG they used, and that wasn’t TOO bad! Can the cinematic debut of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, and… others I guess, manage to be up there with the best that Disney can put out, or is this only gonna look good in comparison to Sony’s other recent Spider-Man efforts? Let’s find out!!
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is your typical Marvel nobody; slightly smarter than everyone else, painfully insecure, and doesn’t realize how good his life is until some tragedy will inevitably strike it after they get super powers! For now though, he’s just bummed about having to go to a fancy new school that his parents (Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez) want him to attend while all he wants to do is be with his friends and hang out with his uncle (Mahershala Ali) who understands him a heck of a lot more than his parents do. During one such hang out session where he and his uncle tag a wall in an abandoned subway tunnel, Miles gets bit by a radioactive spider and goes through the typical Spider-Man first day of school; make a fool of yourself, stick to things, and eventually realize how awesome these powers are! Then again, there’s already a Spider-Man roaming the streets (Chris Pine) so it’s not like he needs to get himself involved in Super Hero shenanigans, right? Oh wait, Spider-Man’s dead. Huh. Didn’t see that coming (especially if you don’t know anything about Miles Morales already) and not only that, the big Super Villain plot he failed to stop is some sort of interdimensional portal gun thingy that The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is making and is merging alternate realties into this one. It makes a lot more sense when you see in the movie. Trust me on that. ANYWAY! One of the alternate dimensions has spout out Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson) who is like this universe’s Peter only a lot less dead and a lot less competent, and he and Miles end up crossing paths through even more convoluted shenanigans. So now that we’re up to TWO only somewhat competent Spider-People, they can do what the actually GOOD Spider-Man couldn’t, right? Eh… maybe, but let’s see if we can find a few more Else Worlds Spiders like Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Bot (Kimiko Gleen), and Spider-Pig (John Mulaney) before storming The Kingpin’s castle. I’m sure they’re around here somewhere! Will Miles learn how to use his powers for good and accept the responsibility that comes with them? Can the other Spider-People not only show him what it means to be a hero, but stop The Kingpin before their universe’s become endangered as well? Can we somehow find a way to go to an alternate dimension where this film is ALSO part of the MCU!?
Tag and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jeff Tomsic
I don’t know about you, but I really liked the trailer to this when it started to go around! It was a clever enough premise to be sure, and there’s a really decent cast behind it; particularly Jeremy Renner who may have gotten screwed out of Infinity War but at least gets a nice juicy starring role here! Does Benedict Cumberbatch get as much screen time in that movie as he’ll get here? I sure as heck doubt it!! In a year that’s certainly had its ups and downs as far as comedies (Blockers on the high end, Gringo on the low), will this be another standout to tip the year in to the GOOD side, or will this fail to live up to the expectations we got from such a good trailer? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Hogan, bob, Randy, and Kevin (Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress) who are four lifelong friends that have managed to stay close over the last thirty years by playing tag for the entire month of May with the man left as IT at the end of the month being saddled with shame for the rest of the year. Oh, but it’s all in good fun, right!? Well, there’s actually one more friend in the group named Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who’s NEVER been tagged in all the years they’ve played the game; to the point that it’s downright scary. Dude has Sherlock Holmes powers where he can see everything go in slow motion, and he has the cat like reflexes of a superhero that might be popular but expendable enough that they won’t call him EVERY time the group assembles. To make matters worse, it seems that Jerry plans on retiring at the end of this season and Hogan is more determined than ever to finally lay his hand upon his friend and confer the status of IT to him once and for all; breaking his streak and proving himself to be the best tag player of them all! However, Jerry has thrown a clever little wrench into Hogan’s plans by putting his own wedding right at the end of the month which will hopefully deter the crew from their mad pursuit; at least long enough to not ruin the big day for his fiancée (Leslie Bibb) and make it THAT much easier for him to retain the title. Will Hogan and his heroes (along with his wife played by Isla Fisher) manage to stop the reign of Jerry once and for all? Just how far will they go to tag him, and how far will Jerry go to NOT be tagged? If any of this is supposedly based on a true story, how are NONE of these people dead!?
So if you read my review of the movie, you’ll know that I consider this one of the rare films that you can legitimately classify as So Bad It’s Good, but what does that even mean? First of all, it’s one of the hardest things for any filmmaker to do as these kinds of movies live on a precarious balance of context that informs whether the flaws in place are enjoyable or not. For example, The Room is one of the gold standards when it comes to this kind of movie due to the inexplicable nature of… well, EVERYTHING in the film. HOWEVER, that context only works when you’re under the assumption that Tommy Wiseau had no understanding of what he was doing which, if you watch the movie again, isn’t really the case. I don’t know the guy personally, but if you take another look at the movie from the perspective of a misogynist, what with the story being about a man scorned by an inexplicably evil woman who’s ruined his life to the point of him committing suicide (the movie even makes a point of putting ALL blame for the affair on Johnny’s girlfriend while framing Mark as sympathetic)… yeah, it kind of loses a lot of its charm; throwing off that perfect balance between being awful and being delightfully so about it. Now on the other side of the coin, is it possible for this kind of balance to be reverse engineered? Eh… I wouldn’t say it’s IMPOSSIBLE but other than MAYBE Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I’m hard pressed to think of one that didn’t happen NATURALLY. It’s lightening in a bottle plain and simple, and while there’s the rare filmmaker out there who can wrangle it themselves (I truly believe Werner Herzog to be a deity among mere mortals), we’ve gotten enough failed attempts from the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Quinten Tarantino (though Grindhouse is still a pretty high bar for intentional attempts at bad movies) to realize that trying to force this kind of movie isn’t something worth attempting and why it’s so great whenever we get another one to enjoy. Now to celebrate this movie being added to the pantheon of Horribly Watchable Films, I’m gonna give you the top ten WTF moments in this utter disaster that’s landed in theaters! Needless to say that I will be spoiling EVERYTHING about the movie so be wary if you want to experience it yourself.
10) Necronomicon Ex Mortis – A random reference to the Brenden Fraser film
When Tom Cruise’s character Nick is brought to Prodigium for the first time, there are a few quick references to other monster movies such as Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as one reference to the 1999 Mummy film. The big MacGuffin of that one was the Book of the Dead that ended up reviving Imhotep after Evelyn opens it up and reads from it, and in THIS movie the book is at Prodigum and gets a nice long close up before being forgotten about completely. Fair enough I guess as it serves its purpose of being a cute little call back, but doesn’t it seem like kind of a waste? I mean, I don’t remember EVERYTHING that it did in that first movie, but surely they could have at least cracked it open to see if there’s a BANISH EVIL MUMMY LADY spell or something; ESPECIALLY considering they don’t really have a plan to stop her in the first place! I don’t know, maybe they lost that weird key thing or something!
The Mummy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
For every good idea out there, we’ll inevitably get a bucket load of copy cats and knock offs to try and cash in on what made the original incarnation so successful. True, Universal Monster movies were in SOME way connected (mostly because they were all done by the same people) and they eventually did a few versus movies that are fondly remembered, but those weren’t the films they were looking at when they decided to move ahead with their Dark Universe. Marvel’s got it in the bag, DC’s been fumbling like crazy, and it’s still a bit too early to tell if the Kaiju Universe is gonna pay off. Now with Universal’s attempt to do the same for its catalog of legendary monsters hitting theaters, will it manage to pull off what Marvel’s imitators have failed to do thus far, or is Universal just not equipped to take the crown back Disney and Captain America? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a prologue letting us know that the titular mummy this time around is NOT Imhotep as it was in the other Universal Mummy movies but is instead a new character named Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boultella) who sold her soul to Set (wasn’t that the dude Gerard Butler played n Gods of Egypt?) in order to wrest control of the throne from her father and her baby brother. Oh, and I guess she also wanted to release Set into this world by… cutting someone open while having sex with them? I don’t know, but either way she’s captured soon after her murder spree and is mummified alive before being dropped off in some tomb. Cut to modern day and we meet Nick and Chris (Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson) who are two fun loving soldiers who are ALSO grave robbers and stumble upon the lost tomb of Princess Ahmanet which they explore along with an archeologist… I think, called Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis). Needless to say that the mummy resurrects, she starts hunting people down, and our heroes have to find a way to stop her. Oh right! But before we can get through that story, we ALSO have to get Prodigium involved! What is Prodigium? It’s basically S.H.I.E.L.D. for monsters and it’s head up by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). They don’t DO much, but the movie wants you to be VERY aware that these people are around and might just be fighting other monsters in the future! Anyway, the Mummy plans to take over the world by finding a MacGuffin (a special knife) and cutting open Tom Cruise who is her NEW Chosen One so that she can release Set upon the world! Will Tom Cruise manage to save the day once again by running really fast at things? Is Universal satisfied with the amount of world building that was shoved into this thing? CAN WE PLEASE GET BRENDAN FRASER BACK!? I know that last mummy movie wasn’t very good, but still!
Smurfs: The Lost Village and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation
Directed by Kelly Asbury
Considering how the LAST two Smurfs movies turned out, this really doesn’t have to do all that much to be a massive improvement, does it? To be fair, it DOES look like the new direction their going in is the right move for this franchise as it looks much more like the original series, and we’re also not going to the real world this time around which shows some signs that Sony realized where they screwed up and are trying to make it better. Plus, they also got Jack McBrayer which is you all need to get my ass into a theater! Does this manage to win back the fans it lost with the last two cynical features, or did they manage to screw it up again even with two perfect examples of how NOT to make a Smurfs movie to go by? Let’s find out!
The movie starts in Smurf village where all the little Smurfs are Smurfing about doing their Smurfy thing. All except for Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who may have golden locks to die for but isn’t sure what else a Smurfette is supposed to do. Oh sure, it’s easy for Police Smurf and Saxophone Smurf who’s occupations are spelled out for them like a Cutie Mark in My Little Pony, but what about her!? Is being the one and only female Smurf the ONLY thing she’s good at!? Well… maybe not as she soon discovers another Smurf while Smurf-boarding in the forest, but before she can ask any questions or even get a good look at them, they run off into the FORBIDDEN FOREST which I can only assume is the same one from Harry Potter. Smurfette wants to find this new Smurf as well as the village they came from (perhaps a LOST village of Smurfs!?) but Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) forbids her to go into the FORBIDDEN FOREST because… well, it’s FORBIDDEN! Despite his warnings not to go out there, she sneaks off into the middle of the night to go searching the FORBIDDEN FOREST and ends up having a few tag-alongs who were following her in the form of Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer) and Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi); all of whom are sure to bring their unique brand of Smurf Shenanigans to this adventure! Oh, and of course the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) gets wind of this lost village, so they have to contend with him stomping through the forest as well; hoping to find these new Smurfs and using them to become the world’s most powerful wizard by smooshing them in some sort of magic juicer! Can the Smurfs find The Lost Village and warn them of Gargamel before it’s too late? Will Smurfette finally find out what her true purpose is on this epic quest? Just who are these new Smurfs that they’re looking for, and are they even blue!? What if… WHAT IF THEY’RE SNORKS!?
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jake Szymanski
We all love Zac Efron, right? Sure there was a point where everyone inexplicably hated him the same way that everyone hated DiCaprio after Titanic, but the guy is just bursting with charisma when he’s not merely bursting out of his clothes. Still, he’s hit a bit of a rut recently where he’s either in an awful movie or he’s in a decent enough movie but isn’t asked to stretch very far, and I fear this might continue for a while considering how badly his sincere low budget drama We Are Your Friends ended up being received by everyone other than me. This one looks to be a continuation of that trend where he’s playing yet another dumb guy with a stupidly hot bod, though maybe they can manage to do something interesting with that character rather than just regurgitate jokes we’ve seen him do for the last five years? Yeah, I don’t have much hope either, but you never know! Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Mike and Dave (Zac Efron and Adam Devine); two brothers who may as well be spin-off characters from the Neighbors movies as both are in total broski mode as they are PROBABLY in their thirties by now (their age isn’t specified) yet are still trying to live life like they’re college douche bags. They’re liquor salesmen but as far as I can tell they only have one client who buys their whiskey out of pity, and their apartment looks like the jock-pocalypse took place, what with the empty pizza boxes and indoor basketball hoop. Their bubble is about to burst though, at least somewhat, they are confronted by their parents and younger sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) who’s wedding is coming up and all of them, including the fiancé Eric (Sam Richardson), want them to shape up and act like adults rather than party animals. How exactly do they expect these two knuckleheads to pull this off? By getting dates of course! Through a whole bunch of convoluted means, they end up meeting Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza), who are pretending to be nice and stable girls so they can bum a free vacation off of these two as the wedding will take place in Hawaii; a destination I’m sure was chosen for its natural beauty and rich culture and wasn’t an excuse for the actors to take a vacation (a well-known Hollywood scam known as An Adam Sandler Movie). Of course, the bad girls can’t keep up the act for long which only leads to Mike and Dave getting all riled up and chaos eventually ensues! Can everyone manage to keep their shit together, at least until after the two get married? Will these four people thrown together through luck and manipulation manage to find… true love? Why would the supposedly reasonable people ever think that this plan would work out?