Top Gun: Maverick and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
It’s true that I’m getting to this one pretty late, but it’s also true that the darn thing is still the biggest movie at the moment so I guess I can still call this review somewhat relevant. I guess it’s no surprise that one of the most enduring classics of the eighties finally getting the sequel everyone always wanted would hit like a meteor full of money, but it’s still pretty surprising just how much this has eclipsed everything else around it. Even MCU movies which are supposedly so ubiquitous that we should all be sick of them don’t manage to have the kind of staying power that this movie has! So what is the secret formula that turned this into a license to print money? Is it actually as good as its box office would suggest, or has nostalgia once again suckered us all into giving money to a movie that was better off being remembered than revived? Let’s find out!!
Captain Pete Mitchell, better known as Maverick (Tom Cruise), has been bumming around the Navy since the glory days of Eddie Money and Leisure suits, and it’s landed him a gig as a test pilot for experimental aircraft. Of course, Maverick being Maverick, he manages to screw that up by ticking off Admiral Ed Harris and is only saved from a dishonorable discharge by his old friend Admiral Tom Kazansky who was once known as Iceman (Val Kilmer). Instead, he gets sent to teach the next generation of hot shot pilots which just so happens to include Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose who died while flying with Maverick back in the first movie. His assignment, should he choose to accept it, is to get these Millennials in tip-top fighting shape for a ridiculously complicated and ludicrously dangerous bombing run to destroy a uranium enrichment facility, and there’s no one better than Maverick for making the impossible merely improbable! Can Maverick finally put his ego in check and be the teacher that these pilots need? What happened between him and Bradley that left him feeling so bitter, and is this Maverick’s last chance to make things right? Was waiting nearly forty years to make a sequel just a flex on Tom Cruise’s part to show how little he’s aged since then?
Bad Times at the El Royale and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Drew Goddard
Oh hey! I know this guy! Yeah, didn’t he do that movie that everyone else liked but I was pretty nonplussed about? Okay, probably have to be more specific there. This is the guy who made The Cabin in the Woods (no not that guy, the guy who ACTUALLY directed it) which was an interesting idea but for me it suffered from a somewhat oblivious tone and an ending that soured me from ever really enjoying the film again. Well after a few years doing quite a bit of writing, he’s back in the director’s chair with this film that looks to be a mishmash of noir tropes as opposed to horror ones, though he managed to keep Chris Hemsworth around. Will this be the movie that sells me on the brilliance of this director after a somewhat disappointing opening salvo, or is this another guy who I’m just not gonna get and be a sourpuss about while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Let’s find out!!
The El Royale is a hotel on the border between Nevada and California, once a hotbed of celebrity debauchery but now a shell of its former self; handing out cheap rooms to unscrupulous and impoverished characters who aren’t really here for the ambiance. On the fateful day that this movie starts, there JUST SO HAPPENS to be quite a few people there who may or may not have nefarious schemes in mind, including the vacuum salesman Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), the kindly Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), and the mystery woman who signs the guestbook with an obscenity (Dakota Johnson). Now normally they would just go their separate ways and not bother one another no matter what bad stuff they’re into, but what the concierge Miles (Lewis Pullman) isn’t telling them is that this place isn’t simply a rundown hotel; rather it’s a rundown hotel WITH A SPYING ROOM! As each one of them goes about their business, things start to unravel as some discover this place and see what the others are up to which inevitably causes their stories to intertwine in ways that will either lead to fair and equitable compromises or an utter bloodbath; especially with the Mystery Woman having some serious baggage in the form of another mystery woman with her (Cailee Spaeny) and some dude who just might be looking for them (Chris Hemsworth). Will these lovely guests manage to finish what they came here to do with all their limbs still attached? What is each one of them hiding, and how important will it be to the other people there? How the heck did hotel stay open this long!? They’ve got ONE guy running the darn place!!
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!?
Baby Driver and all the images you see in this review are owned by TriStar Pictures
Directed by Edgar Wright
Summer is in full swing and they’re bringing out the big guns! No, not Transformers surprisingly enough which is floundering at the box office. We’re talking about this latest Edgar Wright feature that every film critic has been waiting for! Everything about this movie looks great, from the trailers and casting all the way down to the soundtrack that brings to mind Scott Pilgrim in how it’s integrated into the narrative. Does this manage to be yet another entry in Wright’s sterling career, or is this car chase film a huge wreck waiting to happen? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the titular Baby (Ansel Elgort) waiting in a car and listening to his music while three bandits named Buddy, Griff, and Darling (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) are robbing a bank. Once the trio get back to the car, Baby proceeds to put The Transporter to shame by driving with as much skill and wacky collateral damage as the Blues Brothers could in their heyday; somehow managing to avoid the cops and get away scot free! It turns out that Baby’s been doing these kind of jobs for a while now as he’s under the thumb of a local mobster named Doc (Kevin Spacey) who recognized the kid’s skills and has been putting them to good use for some time now. Luckily for Baby, he’s just about to pay off whatever debt he owes to Doc and is ready to start his new life that will be free of crime and will hopefully involve a waitress at a local diner named Debora (Lily James) who he’s had his eye on for a while. Of course, nothing goes as well as Baby hopes it does and his chance to get out ends up digging himself even further in doing more jobs with even more erratic and dangerous criminals such as Bats (Jamie Foxx) who has it out for Baby right from the start. Can Baby find a way to break free whatever it is that Doc is continuing to hold over him? Will this next heist be the one that breaks his perfect driving record? Wait, did I just hear Handsome Boy Modeling School!?
Keeping Up with the Joneses and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Greg Mottola
Are you SURE I didn’t see this last month? I’m just getting the weirdest sense of déjà vu right now… Well either way, we’re stuck with another Zach Galifianakis comedy to throw on the pile, and the Unique Selling Point here is that it’s a spy movie. Sigh… Really? We just got a dumb criminal movie; now we’ve got him dicking around in the most overplayed genre of the year!? Well, who knows? Central Intelligence managed to be good despite its rather weak spy angle, and while Masterminds had a pretty strong cast as well, THIS one has sexiest man alive who’s named after food, Jon Hamm, as it’s costar! Maybe this could end up being really good! Right? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the Typical American Suburban CoupleTM made up of Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) who are living out what some dumbass Hollywood executives must believe are the normal lives of middle class white people. Jeff works at some defense company as the Human Resources manager which means he basically wastes people’s time and lets them use his computer for personal stuff. Basically he’s a doormat that’s merely tolerated by his peers, but he’s perfectly happy to live this life of quiet desperation for some reason and will probably be behind his crappy little desk until the day he keels over and dies. Those plans start to change though as the cul-de-sac gets new neighbors in the form of Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) who are pretty bad at their jobs as they are OBVIOUSLY spies. In fact, they are so unsubtle about this that Karen picks up on it immediately and it doesn’t take long for her suspicious to be confirmed. By the time this happens though, both she and Jeff have already been dragged into some sort national security operation to prevent some sort of black market sale that was happening right under Jeff’s nose as SOMEONE who’s been using his computer was setting it all up from there! Now the two couples have to work together to save the world or something, and I’m SURE Jeff and Karen are gonna pull their weight in this situation and not be total albatrosses hanging around the necks of these two professional spies who ACTUALLY know what the hell they’re doing. Who is the person setting up the sale that will threaten national security, and why did they have to be a dick about it by using Jeff’s computer? The Joneses may seem like the perfect power couple, but are there issues that they aren’t addressing? Was anyone looking forward to this? Like… at all?