Justice League 2017 & Justice League 2021 as well as all the images you see are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Both films directed by Zack Snyder
I can’t say I was ever looking forward to this day as I was one of the people who actually LIKED the original cut of Justice League and then spent the last four years seeing people opine (and worse) for a movie that they already got; not to mention the awful news that broke about how the reshoots went for Ray Fisher. Still, Warner Bros is looking for ANY sort of cash cow to make their HBO Max service a success, so they threw a bunch of money at Zack Snyder and company to make an extended version of the movie they already made and feed into the LOST SNYDER CUT narrative that has been stuck with us for so long. Now that the movie is finally out, was it worth all the hype and can it possibly justify the ridiculous over the top actions its most ardent supporters took? Well obviously not, but instead of just doing a straight up review as the films are very similar in a lot of ways, I think it’d be much more interesting to take a look at what this new version gets right as well as where it falls short of the original cut. Let’s get started, and beware of Spoilers ahead!!
Something Good: The colors make more sense
The drastic change in pallets between the early trailers and the later ones was a definite sign that things were changing significantly and a lot of scenes in the movie ended up suffering for it. Batman in particular always looked like an overstuffed sausage in bat-pants stuffed with pudding (which isn’t COMPLETELY gone but is much less prominent now), and there was a garishness to certain scenes where they pushed the colors up just a little bit too high. The corrections here definitely fit more with what was being filmed and the pallet fits well with the new tone of the movie.
Something Bad: The colors are more boring
And yet I just couldn’t get behind it. Sure the colors didn’t always WORK, but for the most part they were bright and colorful which added a much needed cheeriness to a franchise that until then was stuck in its own morose grander. Thankfully later movies like Shazam, Aquaman, and arguably even Wonder Woman 1984 built a brighter look from the ground up and the aesthetic fits better with those movies, but going back to this kind of look after those films is just deflating; even if it’s more competently done. And I’m also going to throw this in here, I just don’t get why they insisted on using an IMAX aspect ratio for a moving going to a streaming service. It’s distracting the whole way through and I never felt like it added anything.
Scoob! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Tony Cervone
With releases being what they are and LIFE being what it is, I’ve certainly fallen into a bit of a funk lately which is perhaps the biggest reason I was really looking forward to this movie; something that I can put on my calendar and look forward to instead of just the endless pile of stuff that’s already here but I couldn’t muster up the energy to work on. Now Warner Bros’ recent output of the Hanna-Barbara licenses has certainly been interesting to see, particularly those comic books they released a few years back, and so bringing Scooby-Doo back to the big screen in the midst of all this… shall we say CREATIVITY, does have a certain amount of appeal. I don’t know how popular it is right now, but the Scooby franchise has proven to be remarkably resilient and is in constant flux with new and drastically different series coming out every few years, so perhaps with such a rock-solid property to work with, Warner Bros can do something truly unique! Is this the start of Scooby-Doo’s resurgence to the peak of popular culture, or will the concepts prove to outdated for modern audiences to latch onto outside of Saturday morning cartoon reruns? Let’s find out!!
Shaggy Rogers (Iain Armitage and Will Forte) is a lonely kid with no friends… for some reason, until he finds a stray dog who can talk but no one seems to have much of a problem with. He names the dog Scooby (Frank Welker) and eventually meets three other kids named Fred, Daphne, and Velma (Pierce Gagnon and Zac Efron, Mckenna Grace and Amanda Seyfried, and Ariana Greenblatt and Gina Rodriguez) who by happenstance they end up solving a mystery with. And thus the origin story has been told, in less than ten minutes! What do they fill the remaining eighty with? Well it turns out that The Blue Falcon, or at least his son Brian (Mark Wahlberg) is trying to stop the evil Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) from doing… something, and it somehow involves Scooby (presumably because he’s SUCH a good boy) which means he snatches Shaggy and Scooby away from whatever it was they were doing and are now sidekicks on a superhero adventure! Blue Falcon is helped by his female pilot Dee Dee (Kiersey Clemons) and his dad’s robot dog Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) who are basically the two keeping this operation afloat while Brian stumbles his way through the adventure, and with the help of Scooby being… so very important I guess, they will race Dick Dastardly across the globe from collecting the Magical MacGuffins that will spell doom for the world! Meanwhile, Fred, Daphne, and Velma are wondering why they aren’t a part of this movie and so try to “solve the mystery” of where Scooby and Shaggy went, only to wind up in a larger than life adventure far beyond investigating a ghost who’ll end up being a guy in a Halloween mask! Will our heroes overcome the pure malevolent evil of a man named Dick with a beautiful mustache? Will Scooby’s new status as BEST DOG EVER make Shaggy into a jealous jerk for half the movie for extremely petty reasons? If we’re gonna do this cinematic universe stuff with Hanna-Barbera, can we at least put Harvey Birdman into it? Better yet, Phil Ken Sebben! At least that would be SOMETHING about this movie worth talking about!
Flatliners and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
There are several movies a year that for whatever reason has trailers that will not stop playing in front of EVERYTHING I go to see. I remember Our Brand is Crisis being one of them, The Fate of the Furious played pretty constantly, even Snatched was one that was hard to avoid! This movie is certainly the latest to have that problem as I swear it was in front of every movie I’ve seen for the past three months and I’m finally happy for it to be released for no other reason than to stop seeing that trailer. I’d never seen the original film until very recently, and while the premise itself seems strong enough to support at least too movies, the trailers didn’t fill me with much hope; not just because they played them ALL THE TIME, but because I couldn’t really wrap my head around what exactly it was that they were being haunted by. I mean… I get it NOW since I watched the original, but with lines like “I did not know that the side effects would show up and start hunting us down”… yeah, it just felt like I was in for an uphill battle. Still, remakes are a great opportunity to try something new (*cough* IT *cough*), so maybe there’s a chance that this will turn out just fine! Will this manage to be just as good if not better than the original, or was this film… dead on arrival!?
Sorry. Let’s uh… let’s find out.
The titular Flatliners of the film are a group of medical students who doing some messed up experiments in the basement in the hope of finding out the secrets of the afterlife. The procedure which was concocted by Dr Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) involves stopping someone’s heart (i.e. a flatline on an EKG machine) and letting them stay dead for a few minutes before reviving them. Initially with the uncertain help of Sophia and Jamie (Kiersey Clemons and James Norton) the group eventually grows to include Marlo and Ray (Nina Dobrev and Diego Luna) and most of them end up doing it themselves as well. At first it seems awesome as coming back from the dead apparently makes your brain SUPER strong, but eventually the SIDE EFFECTS start to kick in which complicates things for them. They start to see things that aren’t really there (OR ARE THEY!?) and it eventually becomes nearly impossible to separate fantasy from reality. Will the Flatliners find a way to stop whatever it is that’s haunting them? Is there something in their past that is the key to doing so? Seriously, why are they making it THIS easy for everyone to do the “dead on arrival” joke!?
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
They just couldn’t resist the urge, could they? I guess there was just too much money lying on the table to NOT make another one of these. Sequels to unexpected hits (especially comedies) are almost always underwhelming as it’s like trying to capture lightening in a bottle twice. Caddyshack 2, Ghostbusters 2, Horrible Bosses 2, you could make a neigh infinite list of them. Now the first film was a pretty solid movie that had a bit more to it than you would expect from a movie that’s essentially a prank war. Not only that, but they’re coming into this one with a decent enough idea in regards to how Sororities are viewed by the education system, even if it is a bit ridiculous that the SAME THING happens to these people twice in a row. Can this manage to be the few comedy sequels to NOT be the worst thing imaginable, or is this movie destined to be the worst thing imaginable? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins a few years after the first one ended with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) still wasting his life away but now doing so as Pete’s roommate (Dave Franco) and Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) planning to sell their house so that they can move to the suburb. There’s a small roadblock though to their plan which is that they ALREADY bought the house in the suburb, but the house they just sold is in escrow which the movie thankfully explains is a thirty day waiting period where the buyers can back out of the deal if something were to change. That couldn’t POSSIBLY happen though, right? Well back on the college campus (what college is it anyway?) the new female freshmen are trying to get into Sorrorities, but three of them (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Feldstein) find the guidelines about not being able to party too restrictive, so they decide to start their own independent Sorority. Well SURELY they won’t end up at the EXACT same house that Teddy’s frat was at, right? Well speaking of Teddy, Pete just got engaged so Teddy has to move out which means he’s lost once again and needs to find not only a new place to stay, but some meaning in his life. Oh look! The house he used to live at! And look! The girls are touring it to see if it works for their needs! An unholy (and tenuous) alliance is born between the girls of the new Sorority (Kappa Nu) and the frat boy looking to relive his glory day, so they rent out the house to the terror of Mac and Kelly who just want to sell their place and move on with their lives. And so the war is on once again as the girls refuse to keep things quite for thirty days and the old people try to keep them from exercising their right to party! Can Mac and Kelly once again destroy the young people who are trying to fuck up their lives? Will the sisters fail in their endeavor to bring about a new kind of Sorority that’s empowering those who want to have fun but don’t want to be objectified? Things can’t get any crazier here than they did in the LAST movie… right?
Dope and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
We are smack dab in the middle of the summer blockbuster boom-a-thon where you can’t chuck a rock without it exploding and narrowly avoiding a recognizable character from a long running franchise. Who knows? Maybe the movie going public is ready for something other than dinosaurs and superheroes for about a week or so and this might just fill that necessary niche. No wait, they released it the same day as Inside Out. You’re telling me that this movie, from the director of a Carlos Mencia vehicle (Our Family Wedding), is trying to go up against a Pixar film!? If ANY movie had the balls to go up against the Mouse House, then this is either a film they just want to dump in theaters to get it over with, or something REALLY special that they are confident everyone will take notice of. Before my pessimism overwhelms you all, it might just fall into the latter category considering the very solid trailers and the fact that it was produced by Forest Whitaker (who was actually in Our Family Wedding) and Pharrell Williams who was also responsible for the soundtrack. Well it HAS to be better than Mac and Devin go to High School at least… right? Anyway, the movie is primary about Malcolm who is a high school student in Los Angeles with a 4.0 GPA and wants to get into Harvard. Not only that, but he’s also a huge nerd for nineties hip-hop and its aesthetic (just look at his flat top) which makes him an even more obvious target for bullying. One day, he ends up going to a drug dealer’s party which gets raided by the cops and he barely manages to escape with his friends and the love interest he was chasing after in the party. The next day at school though, he finds that the drug dealer managed to sneak a big ol’ bag of dope into his back pack and he has a bunch of angry mother fuckers looking for it. As circumstances begin to snowball, he and friends try to do whatever they can to get rid of the drugs without getting shot or thrown in jail.