IT Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Alright, so we’re all in agreement that the first film was amazing, right? I mean it had a few issues here and there, but dang it if Chapter One wasn’t a horror masterpiece with great performances, a terrifying villain, and the brilliant idea of taking the GOOD parts of a Stephen King book and leaving out all the stuff that doesn’t work. Heck, I’m pretty sure the last time that happened was when Kubrick made The Shining which Stephen King really doesn’t like for some reason. Now we’ve got the sequel which has the neigh impossible task of capturing lightening in a bottle twice; especially since most of what made the first one so memorable will necessarily have to be either absent or pushed to the side. Can the filmmakers pull off the impossible by making the notoriously unworkable ending to the book into something not just comprehensible but just as good as the film that came before it? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up twenty seven years after the events of the first film where the mysterious murders in Derry have started up once again and Michael (Isaiah Mustafa) as the only member of the Losers Club left in town has to bring the gang back together to fight the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again. Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, and Stanley (James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean) have all gone their separate ways and can’t even seem to remember their time in Derry or the monster they fought all those years ago, but after a phone call from Mike they all start to remember (some take the news harder than others) and travel back home to take care of what IT is once and for all. In the process they will have to confront their pasts, face their fears, and do all sorts of weird stuff in the vein attempt of trying to destroy a monster that has lived for hundreds of years while they’re a bunch of middle aged writers, comedians, and risk analysists, who might be able to throw a punch but not much else. Can the monster known alternatively as IT, Pennywise, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!? be defeated by these friends brought together once again by the pact they made long ago? What is the clown planning for them as revenge for the defeat that he suffered back in the eighties? Maybe he can defeat them by trying to explain the ending of the book and just wait until their brains explode.
Slender Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Sylvain White
I mean we’re already getting a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie with Christopher Columbus of all people putting their weight behind it. Why WOULDN’T there be even more horror movies based on memes? I fully expect someone to announce an Until Dawn or a Layers of Fear television series by the end of this week if this movie manages to make its budget back, but dubious starting points aside there are PLENTY of horror movies out there that have ridiculous premises yet still manage to be either genuinely chilling or a lot of fun to sit through. Can the Slender Man mythos manage to make for an entertaining feature film, or was this story best left on the internet to fade into further obscurity? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a group of friends Wren, Hallie, Chloe, and Katie (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso) who have a sleepover one night and decide to look up this whole “Slender Man” thing, whatever that is! They manage to find their way to a video (presumably right next to the one from The Ring) where they follow the instructions in it and then… nothing happens. Well nothing happens at first, but they start to have nightmares about the dapper monster and Katie even seems to be engaging with the mythos on their own until they eventually disappear during a school field trip. Wren, Hallie, and Chloe, eventually find her laptop and see all the Slender Man related things she was looking into including some sort of ritual that should supposedly bring her back if they follow the steps correctly. Of course they mess it up and under Demon/Human contract law, if you make a mistake, that’s your ass! And so the three of them are slowly but surely either driven mad by the creature or just taken away as he seems to have the ability to do whatever he wants with no real way for them to stop him, and he even starts to look towards some new victims that only makes it that much more urgent that they find a way to either stop him or at least appease him enough to have him decide to stop on his own. Can the girls survive this onslaught of psychological horror and monster attacks to discover the secrets of what this creature really is? What is it that Slender Man is after, and is there a way to give him what he wants before he takes everything from him? Did anyone check to see if he was just mad about the script? If I was him, I’d be doing this just because of how awful the script is.
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!
Alien: Covenant and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Ridley Scott
Before I get into the review proper, I feel it might be worth discussing my thoughts on the series as a whole in order to provide the proper context for everything else I’m about to say. Ridley Scott’s original film from 1979 probably holds up the best; even more so than James Cameron’s Aliens from 1986 which is still a VERY fun action film and one of the few BIGGER IS BETTER sequels out there (matched only by his own Terminator 2 in 1991). I give the edge to the original because it’s a straight up horror film and those tend to hold up better than shoot-em-action flicks (the quality of special effects changes rather quickly while what scares us transcends generations), but both are damn near the pinnacles of their respective genres. Alien 3… not so much. Oh sure, there’s PLENTY of aspects in it that are outright brilliant and awe inspiring (as well as bone chilling and utterly haunting), but they’re all wasted on a portentous and sluggish script that’s too impressed with its own sense of self-importance to pace itself properly, and yes I’m referring to the Assembly Cut which has most of the stuff that David Fincher wanted in it. The one thing this movie DIDN’T need was to be over two freaking hours (also, killing the most interesting new character off halfway through didn’t help things either). That said I would watch that movie TWICE if it meant I never had to watch Resurrection again. Good GRIEF is that a monstrous product of its time! I don’t think I’ve seen a franchise so thoroughly 90s-ified in the worst ways imaginable outside of that Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie! Needless to say that the franchise needed a fresh start in order to get things back on track; and it wasn’t gonna be with those FREAKING Alien vs Predator movies! I REALLY enjoyed Prometheus which seems to be a minority opinion for some reason, and I’m not sure why. No matter how “scientifically minded” you are, there is always gonna be things you didn’t expect when traveling to ANOTHER FREAKING PLANET and people are gonna make mistakes! Honestly, it seems less like a true critical consensus (film stands at a solid 72% on Rotten Tomatoes) than some inexplicable backlash due to it… not being completely scientifically accurate I guess? What was your first clue? Was it the giant humanoid albino dudes or the baby alien growing in that one person’s stomach? Now I didn’t know ANYTHING about Alien: Covenant walking into it other than it was Ridley Scott directing and that it will indeed have Xenomorphs throughout, but considering how much I liked Prometheus I was hopeful that some of the cool stuff Ridley was working with in that movie would find its way into this seemingly straightforward Alien creature feature. Does Ridley Scott succeed in his true return to the franchise he started all those years ago, or it time to end this bug hunt once and for all? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the crew of the Covenant, a spaceship with thousands of cryogenically frozen humans and almost as many frozen embryos, being violently woken up due to some sort of science catastrophe. Now normally the crew is left to sleep with the passengers, all of whom are headed to a new planet to colonize it, while their Synthetic buddy Walter (Michael Fassbender) takes care of everything, but with this… solar flare or something? I don’t know, let’s just go with that. With this solar flare causing havoc on the ship, all of them need to be woken up and at their posts to avert disaster. Most of them are fine, but sadly enough the captain (James Franco in a very brief and crispy cameo) gets burned alive in the chaos; leaving the second in command Chris Oram (Billy Crudup) in charge. So already things are going pear shaped on this trip that’s gonna take another seven years to complete, but they just so happen to pick up a strange signal that might be the answer to their problems. The signal traces back to a rather close planet which they scan and find to be very hospitable to their needs, even more so than the planet they were heading to in the first place! Despite the protestations of one the scientists Danny Branson (Katherine Waterston), Chris decides to at least investigate the place and see if they can locate the source of the strange signal as well as check if the planet really is as good as their scans indicate it to be. Of course it’s not. You KNOW it’s not. This movie isn’t called Pleasant Space Cruise; it’s called ALIEN COVENANT! The question isn’t IF they’re gonna get killed by monsters; it’s HOW MANY of them will! Aside from the obvious revelations, does the crew of the Covenant find something unexpected on this seemingly perfect planet? What was the source of that strange signal to begin with? Maybe it’s someone from one of the other films who’s playing someone new in this movie!?