In The Heights and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
Things are finally opening back up and I’m so glad that we finally get to see movies in theaters again (remember to get vaccinated before you go!), but I’ll admit that I’m also still glad that Warner Bros is still releasing movies on HBO Max the same day as theaters. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly return to my old routine of going to the theater two to three times a week, but if I’m going to get ANYWHERE close to that I’ll need to make the transition slowly, so being able to sit on my couch and catch up on the latest releases without having to worry about show times or theater prices is a genuine relief to me. Perhaps a big lavish musical like this is something that SHOULD be seen in the theater, but I saw Hamilton for the first time on a TV and it blew me away then so hopefully Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical can hit home the same way whether it’s seen in the most ideal conditions or not. Is this adaptation of the Broadway show as magical as you would hope from the names behind it, or was it a stretch to hope that Hamilton’s success would mean all of Miranda’s works were worth bringing into people’s homes? Let’s find out!!
Washington Heights is a predominantly Latino community in New York City where Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) whiles away the days working in his bodega and fondly remembering of his childhood in the Dominican Republic. He has always dreamed of returning there one day and when an opportunity to leave all of this behind and return to his home country, he seizes upon it and plans to leave the community in just a few days’ time. While trying to tie up his loose ends, we learn more about the people of Washington Heights, their struggles, and the many characters who fill out the rest of the story including Nina (Leslie Grace) who’s back from her first year at Stanford but may not be able to return, Melissa (Vanessa Morales) an aspiring fashion designer who can’t catch a break, Claudia (Olga Merediz) who everyone in the community loves but has some deep pain that she’s pushing deep down to try and be the matriarch of the community that everyone needs, and even good ol’ Benny (Corey Hawkins) who dreams of pulling himself up by his boot straps and making something of himself in the world of business. As these stories interweave and Usnavi’s flight out of the country gets closer and closer, more secrets are revealed, more heartbreak is had, and more than enough excuses to dance are made to make the days go by with a smile on everyone’s faces and joy in their hearts! Will Usnavi’s final days in Washington Heights change the way he sees himself, his dreams, and the people around him? What hardships will the people in this community face, and will they be able to overcome them with strength and pride? Is there any other neighborhood with THIS density of amazing dancers, because I’m pretty sure Time Square’s got NOTHING on this!
Crazy Rich Asians and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
Do you remember the last time an Asian man or an Asian women were the protagonist or even the romantic interest in a Romantic Comedy? The last one I can think of was Hayden Szeto in The Edge of Seventeen, and even then the role was rather tertiary. Thankfully we have the director of Jem and the Holograms (ugh…) making a movie that not only centers Asian actors in the leading roles, but is filled to the brim with Asian actors the same way… well ninety-four percent of films are with white actors. Does this Romantic Comedy turn out to be one of the better examples of the genre on top of being a huge boon for representation in Hollywood, or is this a great opportunity that is ultimately squandered by a less than stellar outing from Jon M Chu? Let’s find out!!
Rachel and Nick (Constance Wu and Henry Golding) have been going out for some time now and are enjoying their pretty average life in New York City with her being a College Professor of Economics and him… actually I’m not sure what he does, but they’re just great together and Rachel couldn’t be happier! All that changes however when Nick tells her that his best friend Colin (Chris Pang) is getting married in Singapore, which is where his family JUST SO HAPPENS to live, and that it’d be great if she would go with him. On top of that, Rachel’s college friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) lives in Singapore too and she’s been meaning to visit, so why the heck not? It’d be nice to meet his family, right? WRONG!! As it turns out, Nick is SUPER rich and comes from a wealthy as heck family which comes as a surprise for Rachel, so now she has to deal with Rich People Problems and being looking down upon for being a lowly… professor. Hey, when you’re as rich as Nick’s family is, being a professor might as well earn you minimum wage! And so Rachel’s vacation/torture begins as she gets to experience the opulence of Nick’s life while also fending off his controlling mother (Michelle Yeoh), a jealous ex-girlfriend (Jing Lusi), and anything else this new world wants to throw at her! Will she be able to make it through the weekend with her mental health and dignity in tact? What does it mean for her relationship with Nick if this is the family that she’d be a part of? How the heck did the guy behind Jem and the Holograms turn out to be THIS talented!? Why did that even happen if he’s capable of doing something like this!?
Now You See Me 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Jon M Chu
I didn’t HATE the first movie, but I wasn’t really a fan of it. While the magic performances as well as that one Dave Franco action scene were a lot of fun, the glue holding everything together was far from compelling and the twist at the end was MONUMENTALLY stupid; not just because it’s… well stupid, but also because of how it completely poisons the idea of repeat viewings as its one of those twists that unravels everything we saw and robs the story of any sort of tension. That said I wasn’t opposed to the idea of a sequel, especially once it was revealed that they got Daniel Radcliffe to be in it! Sure, the twist at the end of the first one kinda ruins THAT movie, but maybe they’ll build off of this one in an interesting and novel way! Does this manage to continue the trend of sequels this year being better than the original, or is this movie trying to pull a fast one on all of us? Let’s find out!! Oh, and we’ll be going into spoilers for the last film, so just a heads up.
After the events of the last movie where the Four Horsemen who are composed of Danny (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco), and Henley (Isla Fisher, or Sir Not Appearing In This Film) fulfilled the mission given to them by The Eye, they are now members of the secret organization under the watchful… well EYE, of Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who was the FBI agent chasing them throughout the first one; the big twist of that film being that he was in on it the entire time! MAGIC SHOCK! So after robbing Insurance Mogul Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) of his fortune and getting Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to take the fall for it, the Horsemen have spent the last year in hiding; waiting around for a sequel… I mean mission, from The Eye. Henley gave up after a while and went off to do her own thing (what exactly that is, I’m not sure considering she’s still wanted… I think) and Daniel is about to do the same if they aren’t given something to do, or at least get a chance to MEET this organization they’re supposedly working for with their only connection to them being Agent Rhodes. The day FINALLY comes though as they get a new member Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to join The Horsemen and they plan to crash a part announcing the release of the next iPhone knockoff which supposedly has a chip in it that will steal ALL the users’ data so they can sell it. I don’t know why this is a job for The Horsemen considering that shit would get discovered and jailbroken within fifteen minutes of its release, but whatever. The plan doesn’t go as… well planned, as their party crashing is interrupted by ANOTHER party crasher who reveals that Jack is STILL alive (he was presumed dead after the events of the last film) and that Agent Rhodes is actually working with them! Not only that, but during The Horsemen’s escape, they somehow find themselves ALL the way in China where some sniveling jackass named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) reveals that he’s the one behind all of this and will get The Horsemen out of trouble (apparently he can do that) if they do a heist for him. While all this is going on, Agent Rhodes is still in the US trying to evade law enforcement and is trying to piece everything together as to whom else could have been in on this plot against them, and his focus invariably shifts right to Thaddeus Bradley who is loving every moment of this. Will The Horsemen be able to steal what Walter wants them to, and can he be trusted to keep up his end of the bargain? How exactly will Agent Rhodes manage to get the truth out of Thaddeus about his involvement in all of this, and does this have anything to do with his past? Look over there! Now here! Was THIS your card!?
Jem and the Holograms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
We all saw the trailer and most of us had one reaction which was to try and repress our gag reflexes. It just seemed like a really poor adaptation of a cartoon that probably means a lot for many people and a much lesser version of what we’re currently getting from the IDW comics. Still, trailers aren’t always accurate in showing what a movie will ultimately be, and the director is someone I think has quite a bit of talent. Can they manage to make something at least half way decent of a series that’s ripe for an updated adaptation? Yeah… no. It’s not good at all. Just how bad did they screw this up? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) who lives with her aunt (Molly Ringwald), her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott), and her two foster sisters Shana and Aja (Aurora Perrineau and Hayley Kiyoko). Her father died some time ago which is why she and Kimberly are living with Claire Standish and her the other two and the only thing he seems to have left (the guy most not have had insurance) is a non-functioning robot he made and a pair of ear rings that sadly don’t do what you think they should do. All is not good at the house Pretty in Pink bought however, because the bank is foreclosing on them for… some reason, and Jerrica finds out about it. In what I guess is either a despite move to get internet famous or an outlet of her frustration, she puts on a bunch of make, hides in the shadows, and films herself singing a song she wrote. She’s too afraid to post it online because they had to put in at least SOMETHING Jem related (Jerrica’s fear of performing) but Kimber ends up getting a hold of it puts it online. Sure enough, a poorly filmed video of a girl singing while strumming an acoustic guitar becomes the next big YouTube sensation and everyone is instantly in love with whoever this Jem is. In comes the EVIL head of Starlight Records Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis playing a gender swapped version of Eric Raymond) to offer Jem a deal with her label. She eventually agrees, gets her siblings to go along with her (not the Aunt because who needs adult supervision these days?) and they begin their journey to super stardom with all its ups and downs, betrayals and reconciliations, romances with hot dudes, and everything else you’ve seen before. Oh, and the robot’s name is Synergy and it’s doing… something. Whatever. OH! And Rio is actually Erica’s son. Because why not.