Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by JJ Abrams
So here we are once again, though I guess things are a little bit different since we last got a Star Wars movie with a number at the end of it. Whatever problems you may personally have with The Last Jedi (I have my own as well!), it certainly didn’t justify whatever the Fandom Menace was and only ended up souring people on Star Wars rather than provide constructive criticism of it. Seriously, if you’ve made MULTIPLE hour long videos letting people know just how much you dislike a movie, there’s probably something else going on than just critical analysis. With all that negativity surrounding the trilogy’s middle entry (from I must stress a VERY small if VERY vocal minority of people), there was a lot of interesting energy going into this final film as Lucasfilm and Disney were either going to ignore the toxicity and continue with what Johnson started, or they were gonna thread the needled of appeasing those people while also not losing the overwhelming majority of the audience that understood and appreciated what Johnson was going for. Do they succeed in stitching this fandom back together (or better yet unambiguously denouncing and excising the toxic parts of) with one great movie to finish of the Saga of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo? Let’s find out!!
After narrowly escaping destruction in The Last Jedi, the Resistance has started to grow its ranks once again on a well-hidden planet where Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with Master Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is now Emperor of the First Order has been searching for Emperor Palaptine (Ian McDiarmid) ever since a mysterious broadcast from the dead guy went out across the galaxy, and he eventually succeeds in finding some sort of tracking beacon that leads him right to his mysterious and hard to reach planet. It seems that Palpatine is still somehow alive (I’ll say The Force did it) and has an unstoppable military force waiting to be unleashed on the galaxy that Kylo can control IF he brings him Rey. The Resistance learns of this overwhelming power that Palpatine has at the ready from a mission that Poe and Finn (Oscar Isaac and John Boyega) just barely manage to complete and survive so now there’s a clear ticking clock that the Resistance is working against in order to stop The First Order once and for all; get to Palpatine’s planet and destroy its fleet before it can leave port on Doom Planet. Rey, Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)take it upon themselves to search for one of those tracking beacons that Kylo Ren used to find Palpatine’s planet and start looking into The Resistance’s past as well as the Empire’s past in order to find it and maybe a few more answers along the way. Will our quartet of space heroes find a way to stop Palpatine once and for all; a task that as it turns out Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader weren’t up to? What will Kylo Ren do to stop them from finding the beacon, and what agendas does he have of his own? Will this movie FINALLY make those angry Star Wars fans finally happy? Well of course not, but will it make the other ninety-nine percent of Star Wars fans happy!?
Us and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jordan Peele
After Get Out, it was almost a certainty that Jordan Peele would become one of the predominate voices in the industry, but as is the case with any director who comes out the gate that strongly there’s always the question of how they’re gonna follow it up; hence the term Sophomore Slump. Michael Cimino, Richard Kelly, Joe Cornish, they’ve all had underwhelming second films and it’s not that hard to see why. Bigger budgets and more creative freedom means that a lot of filmmakers will pursue their passion project which may or may not appeal to as many people (or let’s be honest, aren’t as good ideas as they think they are) which rubs up against the very high expectations to follow up their first film with something even better. Will that be the fate of Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out, or is he destined to buck the trend and give us a new experience that’s just as fantastic? Let’s find out!!
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) is your average middle class woman with the perfect family consisting of her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and her children Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright and Evan Alex) who head to their summer home for a much needed vacation. Said vacation however is somewhat bittersweet as it used to belong to Adelaide’s mother before she died and on top of that Adelaide has some less than perfect memories of the place. You see, back when she was a child she and her parents took a visit to the boardwalk where she wandered off and ran into a little girl who looked EXACTLY like her. What happened next is something of a mystery, but the point is that it was a very traumatizing moment and the memory of it has put her on edge the entire time they’re there. It turns out she was RIGHT to be fearful however because in the middle of the night a family of four who look just like them (played by the same actors) and refer to themselves as THE TETHERED break in and start being SUPER creepy around the family with some sort of deadly scheme in mind. I think it goes Step 1: Murder, Step 2: … , and Step 3: Profit, but whatever the end goal may be the Wilson family is gonna need to find a way to fight back and survive this horrid night by any means necessary. Can Adelaide and face her greatest fear in the form of the doppelganger she saw so long ago? What exactly are THE TETHERED after, and do their ambitions extend beyond just torturing this one family for funsies? What if Thanos’s plan wasn’t just to wipe out half of humanity, but to replace them with evil versions of the other half!? JORDAN PEELE IS NOW CONFIRMED FOR THE MCU!!
Black Panther and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Ryan Coogler
It’s time once again for the Marvel Money Machine to give us all yet another excuse to give Disney ten more dollars of our hard earned cash to people with super powers in profoundly silly costumes punch each other between humorous quips and callbacks to previous films! The sooner we declare Marvel release dates to be national holidays the better off we’ll all be (who DOESN’T like getting a Friday off!?), but until then the film critics must continue to go to the multiplexes, sit for two and a half hours as the lights and sounds dazzle our senses, and then tell you what you already know; namely that these are still good and that you’ll spend your money on it no matter what! Now as cynical as this never ending cycle of unimaginable profits can seem, it STILL manages to keep its head above water at least with critics by having that one thing that many other blockbuster franchises DON’T have. What was it? Oh right! Talent. With pretty much every one of these films, Disney went the extra mile of hiring talented and sought after filmmakers to play around with their billion dollar toys, and so far we’ve had a near perfect success rate! Okay, Jon Favreau didn’t QUITE capture lightening in a bottle twice with Iron Man 2 and there was the whole Ant-Man debacle with Edgar Wright, but for the most part they’ve had a good eye for picking out talent; especially considering they got Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame to start his blockbuster career with them. Will this be a monumental addition to an already astronomically successful franchise, or… well okay, there’s no chance this is gonna be BAD, but will it be… MEDIOCRE!? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins not long after Captain America: Civil War (so… presumably BEFORE Spider-Man Homecoming?) where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning home to Wakanda to be crowned king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani). Here, we all the important people in his life including his mother (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his top general and most dependable ass kicker Okoye (Danai Gurira), and an accomplished spy for the Wakandan military Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Anyway, we spend some time with T’Challa as he’s getting used to the heavy burden bestowed upon him, but he doesn’t have much time to adjust as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from all the way back in Age of Ultron has resurfaced and is still on Wakanda’s shit list for stealing Vibranium like twenty years ago. With this chance at capturing one of Wakanda’s greatest enemies, T’Challa suits up to take the mantel of Black Panther once more and even takes Okoye and Nakia for backup. Things don’t go quite as planned however as the CIA operative from Civil War, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is onto Klaue as well, and Klaue seems to be working with a guy that REALLY has a grudge against Wakanda and is known simply as Killmonger (Michael B Jordan). Can T’Challa unravel the mysteries before him, and will he like the answers that he finds? What are these ruthless villains planning that could endanger Wakanda and the rest of the world with it? How exactly does he breathe in that thing if it doesn’t even have a mouth hole!?
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!?
Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Rian Johnson
Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi! Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens. Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!
Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice. Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show. Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting. Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation. The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing. While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about. At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.
The Jungle Book and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Jon Favreau
In the early and mid-2000s, we got a deluge of straight to video sequels to classic animated features in the Disney catalog. Almost NONE of them were any good, and they thankfully died off by 2007. Now we’re in a new age of cannibalizing those cartoons by making them into live action, albeit with better results. These include Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and now this with PLENTY more on the horizon. Can Disney continue to successfully rehash their older properties, or are we getting to the point of diminishing returns? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Mowgli (Neel Sethi); a young child who was abandoned in the jungle and raised by wolves. Most of the animals don’t have any real beef with him, so they coexist without much strife to speak of until the fierce (and apparently ONLY) tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) shows up and declares that the boy must be turned over to him for death, else he will wage war on the other animals; particularly the wolf pack Mowgli’s a part of that also seems to be the highest ranking species here… or something. Rather than have his pack go to war over him, he leaves them behind and goes with his panther friend Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) who’s gonna lead him back to the human village which is the one place he’ll be safe from Shere Khan’s anti-human wrath. Unfortunately, the two get separated along the way and Mowgli instead finds himself moving in with a bear named Baloo (Bill Murray) who will teach him about chillaxing and eating honey. Will Mowgli truly be safe in his new home? What will Shere Khan do once he learns that Mowgli is not dead? Does this have at least the Bare Necessities to make it a good film!?