Atomic Blonde and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by David Leitch
Holy crap! The day has FINALLY come, hasn’t it!? There are usually a handful of movies that I genuinely look forward to each year and for most of 2017 the big one was this Charlize Theron spy thriller with a lot of bloodshed and a lot more attitude! The trailers looked phenomenal with Theron putting her heart into this John Wick knock off (it even has one of that movie’s directors) and James McAvoy being… well James McAvoy, but that’s why we go to see him in movies! Still, a trailer isn’t always true to what a movie will ultimately be about and while I certainly have high hopes for this, I should PROBABLY temper them lest my expectations get too astronomical and I end up setting myself up for disappointment. But still! CHARLIZE THERON PUNCHING DUDES IN THE FACE! How COULD it go wrong!? Well if it does, we’ll certainly find out!!
The movie begins with the death of an MI6 agent (Sam Hargrave) in East Germany right at the tail end of the Cold War, and the British Government are in desperate need of someone to clean up the mess the poor bastard left behind. Enter Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who given two objectives to complete once she gets there; find THE LIST that the MI6 agent had secured before getting a bullet in the head (you know, that list of EVERY SPY EVER that’s in EVERY SPY MOVIE EVER) and find a double agent known simple as Satchel who is more than likely responsible for this whole mess. Her only contact in the country is MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who’s gone DEEP undercover in the Berlin punk scene but has more knowledge of the country’s inner workings than anyone else. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems as there’s a French agent rather conspicuously following them around (Sofia Boutella), there’s like five different German/Nazi dudes who hate punk music trying to find her, and she keeps getting stymied at every turn presumably to the machinations of that darn double agent! Will Lorraine find this list that could CHANGE THE TIDE OF THE WAR before it falls into the wrong hands? Who is this mysterious double agent, and could they be closer than she dares to believe? How is it that all the hired goons keep finding her so easily!? Is it the hair? It’s probably the hair.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp
Directed by Luc Besson
As much as I would like a new Sci-Fi franchise to bring a bit of variety and challenge the Disney Monolith, I just couldn’t see this movie as anything more than a REALLY expensive mistake. Maybe that’s more of a commentary on the current state of Blockbuster Cinema than an observation of the movie itself (though the ho-hum trailers certainly didn’t help), but a movie THIS expensive looking based around a series of graphic novels that (as far as I can tell) didn’t end up having THAT much reach outside of its native France looked like the kind of disaster that can only be made by people REALLY passionate about what they’re doing. Now sometimes China can pick up the slack like it did with Pacific Rim which was a GOOD movie, but then other times not even they can save a doomed production like John Carter. Still, that’s all secondary when talking about whether a movie is good or not, and while the trailers didn’t really impressive me, there were certainly glimpses of something that could be great if the filmmaker knew how to take advantage of it. Does this movie manage to be a science fiction classic despite its box office prospects, or was everyone asleep at the wheel while Luc Besson spent an untold fortune bringing this comic book to life? Let’s find out!!
Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) are two space agents working for the Human government who are basically paid to be bad asses across the galaxy and supposedly have the ability to travel through time which I guess we’ll have to wait to see in the sequel. Anyway, Valerian is having dreams about some lost civilization whose planet was destroyed but he has no idea if these are premonitions of the future or something that happened long ago. Either way, his latest mission with Laureline JUST SO HAPPENS to converge with these mysterious dreams as there are a band of terrorists of sorts from an unknown race (I BET VALERIAN KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!) that are trying to get their hands on a rare MacGuffin Creature that Laureline is protecting as well as the current military leader of the Human government General Arün Filitt (Clive Owen). They manage to get the latter, but the former is still safely tucked away and both Valerian and Laureline, despite the protestations of their new commanding officer (Sam Spruell) try to chase them down. Valerian gets lost in the chase as do the terrorists, and so Laureline has to find him and then the both of them can these aliens who kidnapped the general… unless of course shenanigans with other aliens happen along the way, but that could NEVER happen in the city of a thousand planets, right!? Will Valerian and Laureline stop this new threat before it’s too late!? What is their ultimate goal once they have both the general and the MacGuffin Creature? Will Valerian be the next ACTION STAR to dominate the silver screen!? Well… probably not, but can he and Laureline STILL save the City of a Thousand Planets!?
“Before I pull this trigger, you’ve gotta ask yourself one thing. ‘Does this guy look silly in these glasses?’ Well? DOES he, punk!?”
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!?
Kong: Skull Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Truth be told I’ve always been more of a Godzilla fan, and while the recent Shin Godzilla was pretty good (if a bit disjointed and tonally uneven) the American film with Gareth Edwards wasn’t so much. Now Warner Bros is trying to create yet another Expanded Cinematic Universe (because the DCCU is working out SO well for them) and this is in some ways a sequel… or prequel I guess… to the 2014 Godzilla film. Does this manage to make up for the mistakes of that film while setting the groundwork for future monster movies to come, or are we much better off watching that 1962 film where the two of them duked it out and threw rocks at each other? Admittedly that wouldn’t be the WORST thing to do as it’s still pretty freaking awesome, but let’s find out!!
The movie starts by introducing us to Bill Randa (John Goodman) who is the head of Monarch; an organization that is hell bent on proving the existence of monsters. They’ve hit a rough patch, mostly due to them never finding any monsters, but 1973 just might be the year they turn things around! They have some satellite images of a heretofore unknown island which may or may not contain resources that the government can use in their fight against the Russians, and Monarch wants to tag along with another organization already headed there for some basic geological research. Actually, all Bill wants to do is find monsters, but the US government gives them the go ahead to tag along and to also bring a military squadron who JUST SO HAPPEN to be one day away from heading back home from Vietnam. Of course the commander Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is thrilled at the opportunity as he doesn’t seem too interested in leaving the war, but those under his command which includes Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell) are less so. Still, they follow the orders that are given to them and they are even joined by former British SAS bad ass James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) who’s supposed to be an expert tracker and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who somehow manages to be a part of this expedition as well. The crew packs up, they fly to the mysterious island that is colorfully known as Skull Island, and IMMEDIATLEY get their asses kicked by Kong who mows down all their helicopters; leaving all of the name actors but only a handful of army and scientist extras. Along their travels, they run into even MORE monsters, find a World War 2 fighter pilot who’s been trapped on the island for almost two decades (John C Reilly), and ultimately have to come up with a way to escape the island before their one chance of rescue passes them by. Can the remaining survivors make it off the island before they become monster food, or will some of them refuse to leave until Kong is dead? Just what is Kong fighting on this island when he’s not swatting down humans? Most importantly, WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET A NEW GODZILLA VS KING KONG MOVIE!?
“This guy doesn’t have thermonuclear breath, right?” “No, but he can still throw stuff at us.”
Ratchet & Clank and all the images you see in this review are owned by Gramercy Pictures and Focus Features
Directed by Jericca Cleland and Kevin Munroe
Well THIS certainly is a unique specimen! I mean… it IS for another two weeks until Angry Birds comes out (ugh). What we have here is the first CG animated film that has gotten a wide release in US theaters! You’d think SOMEONE would have thought to do this by now considering how many of the pre-generation seven game heroes were aimed at children and some variation of a loveable animal character. While Uwe Bowl was fucking around with Alone in the Dark and Postal, no one was willing to give Sonic the Hedgehog or Megaman a shot? Well that all ends HERE with this movie based on the iconic video game series AND the added bonus of Insomniac games being a part of the production to make sure it’s done justice! Do they succeed in making the first CG animated video game movie, or is this one big glorified cut scene that wouldn’t have passed muster in 2002? Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor); a cat like creature who lives a Tatooine knock off and spends his time poorly repairing hovercrafts by adding (presumably illegal) modifications that no one asked for and no one would find useful. Oh well, at least he has heart, and dreams, and… probably other stuff too that the movie doesn’t really get into. He’s THE HERO’S JOURNEY writ large and he’s got a call to action lined up for him! Apparently some bad guys are blowing up planets for reasons (probably because their dicks) and so the team that defends the WHOLE galaxy has decided to increase their ranks from four… to FIVE!! Okay… well the group, known as the Galactic Rangers, are holding tryouts to find this fifth member (there isn’t already a training program or an academy or something?) which Ratchet participates in, but fails miserably; probably due to his extensive arrest record. Things may look grim for Ratchet who’s still stuck on this dirt planet, but salvation arrives in the form of a little robot who crash lands near the garage Ratchet works at, and he rushes to save him! The little robot seems to know something about the villain’s evil plan and must get to the Galactic Rangers to warn them. Ratchet agrees to help, gives the little guy the name Clank (David Kaye), and they’re off to save the Rangers and the Galaxy as they know it! Can they manage to stop the bad guys from blowing up the rest of the galaxy? Will the Galactic Rangers accept them as one of their own? Did… did anyone actually sit down to watch this before shoving it into theaters?
“PLEASE! MAKE IT STOP!!” “It’s too late Qwark! We’ve already sequel baited!” “NOOO!!”
10 Cloverfield Lane and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Look, I barely remember the original Cloverfield, so I’m not gonna have a clue if this has any connection to it other than if the monster itself shows up for a cameo. That seems to be working in my favor though because the movie is not being sold as a direct sequel (some are calling it a “blood relative” of the original) and it also means I won’t be distracted by looking for connections or hidden Easter Eggs while watching it. Besides, who needs ANY of that giant monster stuff when the real monster is… man? Yeah, it seems to be one of those movies (aggressively small cast in a claustrophobic environment) which can be REALLY compelling if all the pieces come together correctly; leaving very little room for error considering how sparse the resources they have to work with are. Is this going to be an amazingly taut thriller for the modern day, or will this be a simple cash grab for a studio that didn’t have faith in a bottle film making enough money without attaching it to a completely unrelated movie? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaving her husband for unknown reasons and eventually getting into a car crash on her way to… somewhere. That’s not too important though as she wakes up to find herself in a small cell; shackled to the wall like a prisoner of some kind. It doesn’t take long for her captor to reveal himself (Howard played by John Goodman) and inform her that the world has more or less ended while she was unconscious, and that he’s taken her to his fallout shelter to ride out the apocalypse. In the bunker as well is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) who doesn’t seem to be thrilled sharing a space with Howard, but somehow finagled his way in as a way to survive whatever it is that’s going on outside. Without any real information to go on, Michelle eventually capitulates into staying with Howard and Emmett for the time being, but also seems cautious of Howard who is clearly a psychological mess, and extremely dangerous. Can the three of them survive whatever is going on outside by staying in this bunker together, or will they all kill each other in the process? What exactly IS lurking out there that they need to be protected from? Will Howard at any point take a chill pill!?
“So Howard. You know any good knock knock jokes?” “Shut the fuck up Emmett.” “I’m sensing a lot of hostility right now.” “Yeah, I’ve got your hostility right here. Keep at it bucko.”
Love the Coopers and all the images you see in this review are owned by CBS Films and Lionsgate
Directed by Jessie Nelson
‘Tis the season for the bold and foolhardy to try and make films that will enter into the catalog of class Christmas movies! Probably the last one to make the leap to big leagues in regard to enduring Christmas Classics is Love Actually from 2003, but that hasn’t stopped film makers from trying to break into that market which brings us to today’s feature. Will this movie face this challenge head on and make it through the neigh impossible glass ceiling of beloved Christmas films, or will this be yet another failed attempt to recreate that Christmas magic and will be doomed to the same fate as Four Christmases, Deck the Halls, or god forbid Christmas with the Cranks? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the misadventures of several members of the Cooper family on Christmas Eve as everyone is trying to get ready for the family dinner that is to take place later that night. At the head of the family is Sam and Charlotte Cooper (John Goodman and Diane Keaton) who are trying to keep it together long enough for them to have a happy holiday with the family despite the fact that they plan to get divorced soon after the season ends. We also have Charlotte’s sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) who’s just a bitter jerk during the holidays (think Marie Schrader from Breaking Bad) and gets caught shoplifting which means she has to get out of it while being driven to the police station by a cop played by Anthony Mackie. Charlotte and Sam’s kids are Hank and Eleanor (Ed Helms and Olivia Wilde) who have their own problems to deal with as the former just recently got divorced and then fired from his job while the later… just doesn’t like coming home for the holidays and is procrastinating in an airport with a solider she just met (Jake Lacy). There are other members of the family such as, Bucky Cooper (Alan Arkin) who’s hanging around the fringe of everyone’s story but also has his own thing going on with a waitress in a diner played by Amanda Seyfried, and Aunt Fishy (June Squibb) who’s basically playing a female version of Grandpa Simpson. With all these characters dealing with their problems during the most stressful time of the year, will they somehow manage to have a happy Christmas, or will this end in total disaster? Can this movie manage to juggle all these subplots without feeling like a poorly paced mess? Okay, seriously. Can’t we just watch Love Actually instead?
“We’re gonna get through this. Just grin and bear it for a little bit longer.”