Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rian Johnson
And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding! Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS. Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down. Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard. Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship. While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it. Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions. Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order? Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times? Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?
“Do, or do not. There is no try.” “What do you mean there’s no try!?” “Huh. You know, I never really understood that part either.”
Snowden and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Oliver Stone
So first we got the Sully movie, and now THIS!? What’s other movies are we gonna get about things that just freaking happened? Has someone already polished off a treatment for the Charles Ramsey story!? Well at least as far as these recent OF THE MOMENT BIOPICS go, this one has some relevance outside of the one event it’s focused on; namely the current state of US (and global) surveillance programs. Does this manage to be an interesting and nuanced take on how all this information came to light, or is it a thinly veiled propaganda piece that no one bothered to make into a compelling film? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the career of Edward Snowden (Joseph-Gordon Levitt). Some guy you MIGHT have heard about a few years ago. Spoiler Alert! He stole documents from the NSA and revealed to the public the existence of certain programs they were using such as PRISM and XKeyscore. That’s towards the end of the story though. Where we start is with him being discharged from the army (broke both his legs) and instead choosing to serve his country by applying to the CIA and doing computer stuff for them. He barely manages to get the job and ends up soaring above his peers, going from job to job and always being at the best wherever he was (or at least that’s how the movie tells it). Unfortunately, he finds out the US security agencies are doing a bunch of shady shit, and he’s not only having to deal with the guilt of spying on US citizens in an unconstitutional manner, he’s also having to keep this secret from his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Will his sense of obligation to his fellow man be too strong for him to keep his head down!? Well we all know the answer to that, but how’s it gonna play out when ACADEMY AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR OLIVER STONE shows it to us!?
Chances are he’ll lose his freaking mind at some point.
The Night Before and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Is it too late to declare a war on Christmas? I don’t mind the holidays, but I’ve also worked in retail so I got a firsthand look at the Christmas calendar creep and how NO ONE likes to push this shit in October, let alone November. Thankfully they ALMOST waited until December to start throwing out holiday films with last week’s Love the Coopers and now The Night Before. Unlike that other film though, I was REALLY looking forward to seeing this because I love Seth Rogen and his particular brand of comedy. Not everything he’s been a part of has been great (I thought The Interview was pretty underwhelming), but I always like to see what he does next which this time seems to be pretending he’s in the same age group as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie. Wait a minute. HE’S THE YOUNGEST ONE OF THEM!? Huh. Learn something new every day. So will this be the kind of movie to bring out the holiday cheer and break out the eggnog, or will this make everyone feel even Grinch-ier than they already are at this time of the year? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Ethan, Isaac, and Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie) on their last big Christmas Eve together before ending their tradition. You see, about fifteen years ago Ethan’s parents were killed by a drunk driver right around Christmas time and so his friends decided that they will spend the holidays with him which soon became a tradition. What also became a tradition is that they would party their ASSES off because they were young when they started it so of course that’s what they ended up doing. However, it’s been going on for way too long and Isaac and Chris have their own things going on while Ethan is still stuck in place, unable to get his life going. Still, he agrees to this being the last time they make this a big party event and even has a surprise for his friends that will make this the best one of them all. There’s a super-secret party that takes place every year (the Nutcracker Ball) that they’ve never had a chance to go to because they could never find out where it was or how to get invitations. Through sheer luck, Ethan finds three tickets for the damn thing at his shitty job and steals them without a second thought so that he and his friends can have the greatest night of their lives! Will this final night be all it’s cracked up to be, or are they just too damn old to keep going the way they’ve been going even for one more night? Will they be able to salvage their friendship despite the changes in their lives that makes it harder for them to find the time? Wait, how fucking deep is this movie about taking drugs and Christmas shenanigans!?
The Walk and all the images you see in this review are owned by TriStar Pictures
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
I thought I was done with the biopics! HOW MANY MORE MUST I SIT THROUGH THIS YEAR!? Oh wait. This is based off the story that they did a really cool documentary of already? Wait, it’s also directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Well when you put it that way, this might end up being one of the better ones this year! Right up there with Straight Outta Compton if we’re lucky! If nothing else, every resource you can imagine to make this into a great film is there (great story, great director, great actor) and all they need to do is put it together into a strong and compelling narrative that gets across what made this story so fascinating to begin with. Can Zemeckis work his magic to give us yet another masterpiece to put alongside his other great films, or will this end up being a lesser version of the great documentary that we got less than a decade ago? Let’s find out!!
The movie is a dramatization of the events that led up to Philippe Petite and his friends tying a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center that he walked on for forty-five minutes in August of 1974. Along with the recreation of the night leading up to it and the day of the walk, we also get some backstory for Philippe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who started tightrope walking at a young age and eventually became a street performer in Paris. There’s not much of a revelation for this guy that led to him decoding to walk between the towers. He saw an article about its construction in a magazine (while waiting to see a dentist) and just decided that that would be a worthy challenge for his skills and would be a great artistic statement. This is no small endeavor mind you and Philippe doesn’t waste what time he has before the towers are complete. He goes back to his mentor Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) and learns as much as he can to perfect his craft as well as gathering accomplices to assist him in setting up the tightrope on the day they set the plan into motion. Will the group be able to get to the top of the tower and set everything up before they get caught by police? Will Philippe accomplish his dream which boarders on madness? Well this IS a true story so you may already know what happens… but can Robert Zemeckis make you care anyway!?