Cruella and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Now I’m sure that 101 Dalmatians is a classic and that Cruella is a great villain in it, but the fact is that it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I just don’t have any attachment or fondness for it. What I DO have attachment and fondness for however is Maleficent which was a brilliant deconstruction of the fairy tale mythos and made an otherwise one note villain into a complex character with depth and pathos. It’s clear that this is the template that Disney is using for this reimagining of Cruella De Vil with a sprinkling of Joker throw in for good measure, and frankly that’s what got me interested in this movie more than whatever connection it has to the Disney classic. Does it manage to be another outside the box interpretation of the Disney formula, or are they scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to find anything else that people want to see again? Let’s find out!!
There once was a girl named Estella Miller who had really awesome black and white hair and she knew that one day she would become a world famous fashion designer! That or a professional MMA fighter because every day in school she was getting in fights with the boys and telling teachers off for being fools which eventually forced her beleaguered mother (Emily Beecham) to take her out of the countryside and to the town of London where she may find her place. Along the way however, her mother makes a stop at an old friend’s house, and… well this IS a Disney movie, so it’s not long before things spiral out of control there and Estella is left an orphan through rather ludicrous means. Without anywhere else to go, she heads to London and meets up with two street punks who take her in and as they survive the means streets of London by pick-pocketing for their bread; and this is BEFORE Thatcher’s Britain! As is wont to happen, Estelle does grow up into a bright young woman (Emma Stone) who gets a job working for the biggest fashion designer in the city simply known as The Baroness (Emma Thompson) and for reasons that I shan’t spoil here, Estelle gets VERY cross with The Baroness and decides to assume an alter ego as the Fashionista Cruella who will take London by storm at the expense of her current employer! With the help of her two ruffian friends Jasper and Horace (Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser), will she become the fashion icon that she always dreamed of with getting back at The Baroness as a fun bonus? Is this Estelle just lashing out at the unfairness of the world around her, or perhaps is Estelle the mask that Cruella has been forced to wear this whole time? Perhaps there’s a little Cruella in all of us; just yearning to tell the collective bosses of the world where to shove it!
1917 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Sam Mendes
Is it a 2019 movie or a 2020 movie? I mean I guess it’s the former as I doubt Universal wants to wait until NEXT February for it to win a bunch of Oscars, but while some critics may have gotten to see it back in December I only have the chance to see it now right alongside other sterling January releases like The Grudge and the upcoming Dolittle. Well now that they finally let the general public see this, does it live up to the hype it’s been building up over the last few weeks, or is there a reason they held it off until the dumping ground month despite the pedigree behind it? Let’s find out!!
Will Schofield and Tom Blake (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) are just two dudes in the British Army milling around France during World War I with the rest of their unit as they try to wait out the German army who are on the other side of No Man’s Land on whatever battlefield they’re on. That’s all about to change however as the general Colin Firth has given them a critical mission to deliver new battlefield orders to a company several miles away that as it turns out has Blake’s brother serving in it. It seems that recent changes in the German Army’s movements have given the impression that the company can secure victory with one final push that they’ve scheduled for the morning, but new information has confirmed this to be a trap that will no doubt lead to most if not all of the sixteen hundred men in that company to their untimely deaths. If these two can get this information to the commanding officer in time, the attack will be stooped and all those men will be saved (or at least die a much more timely death), but it is not an easy undertaking as German soldiers are still scattered across the region; not to mention the environmental hazards like traps, rain, mud, and both sunlight AND darkness coming with their own troubles as well. Can they makes it in time so that these soldiers can live to fight another day? What hardships will they encounter on this journey, and are both of them ultimately up to the task? Did Sam Mendes actually make a 007 prequel without telling us!? I mean they’re making a Kingsman prequel, so why not?
Shazam! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David F Sandberg
The slow course correction of the DCCU is perhaps not the most surprising thing in the world (you fail at something long enough, you might start to learn from those mistakes), but with Aquaman being a critical hit along with the… let’s say INTERESTING reactions to the Joker trailer, DCCU might just be on the upswing with this movie being the big test to see if this whole experiment can work now that we’re more or less in Phase Two. Not only is this a fresh start in terms of being the first one more or less completely separate from the Snyder version of the universe, it’s also the first one to FEEL different from all the other ones; same way that Guardians of the Galaxy was a shot in the arm for Marvel after a somewhat serious phase for them. Does this left turn into sunshine and happiness work turn out to fix many of the problems with the DCCU, or is Warner Bros beating a dead horse at this point? Let’s find out!!
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical teenager who loves to roam the streets of Philly looking for his mother who disappeared many years ago and is willing to any length to find her! Okay, maybe that’s not the typical teenage experience, but it’s Billy’s whole deal and the state is getting real tired of him running away from foster homes to search for a person that clearly doesn’t want to be found. Now they don’t want to just toss his butt into juvy just yet, so they’ve found ONE more family willing to take him in which includes Rosa and Victor as the parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews), a bunch of other kids (Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, and Pedro Peña), and his new roommate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who’s sassy, handicapable, and REALLY into superheroes. That last one wouldn’t be TOO bad if it weren’t for the fact that he likes Henry Cavell’s superman, but I guess those are the only toys he can get on clearance, so what are you gonna do? ANYWAY, while all this is going on (and for several decades prior) a wizard by the name of Shazam (Dijmon Hounsou) has been scouring the Earth for decades to find SOMEONE worthy of taking his power and being the new protector of the planet which depressingly is a much harder task than you’d imagine. Even with that caveat, I can’t say I’m too fond of his methods as he just pulls kids out of nowhere to give them a test and then send them back to reality when they fail to disappoint; especially when of these candidates is a young Thaddeus Sivanna (Ethan Pugitotto) who will one day grow up to be the ADULT (and doctor) Thaddeus Sivanna (Mark Strong) and is still obsessed with finding that weird dude who told him he wasn’t good enough to be a super hero. Thaddeus does get his… revenge I guess (perhaps more of a make-up test?) when he finds the secret to accessing this magic realm and steals the EVIL version of Shazam’s power for himself. Well darn it! Now that Shazam has plum run out of options, it’s time to just pick one before it’s too late, so Billy? It’s your lucky day! The wizard scoops him up, gives him his powers, and then kicks him back to reality as well only now he’s in the rockin’ bod of the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Can Billy learn how to use his powers and be the best superhero on Instagram, or was the wizard’s desperate Hail Mary ultimately a bad move? Will he be ready by the time Dr. Sivanna realizes the wizard’s champion has been chosen and goes after him to take his power as well? Be honest! If you got super powers, you’d be an obnoxious attention seeker as well!
Kingsman: The Golden Circle and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Kingsman kind of came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with just how big of a hit it became, but then again that’s kind of the most notable thing about Matthew Vaugh’s career so far. Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman were all movies that no one really expected to become huge hits, but he managed to turn all three into huge money makers and even garnered quite a bit of critical praise in the process! Now he’s attempting the one thing that so few directors have been able to pull off which is to make a successful sequel to one of his own films; something that even the best directors aren’t always able to pull off (*cough* The Lost World *cough*)! Will this be yet another unexpected hit from a director who’s known for making those, or is this a challenge that will prove insurmountable even for someone as talented as Matthew Vaughn!? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up some time after the ending of the first film where The Kingsman Organization is thriving under new leadership and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is living the super awesome secret agent life while also dating Princess Tildae (Hanna Alström) who was the princess he saved in his last adventure. Now obviously things can’t stay this way for long (lest this be a rather uneventful movie), as Eggsy’s past comes back to haunt him with the sudden reappearance of Kingsman dropout Charles (Edward Holcroft) who somehow survived the events of the last film and proceeds to set off a chain reaction of events that completely decimates the Kingsman Organization; even managing to kill agent Lancelot in the process (Sophie Cookson). With nothing left and the world facing an imminent threat from an organization known only as The Golden Circle, led up by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the remaining Kingsman members (pretty much just Eggsy and Merlin played by Mark Strong) must turn to their American Counterparts known as The Statesmen in order to fight against whatever nefarious schemes Poppy and Charles have planned. Can Eggsy save the world yet again despite having lost so much already? Can the Statesmen be trusted to work with the remaining Kingsman members, or do they have a secret agenda of their own? Seriously, how the hell do they write themselves out of a bullet to the head in order to bring back Collin Firth!?
Miss Sloane and all the images you see in this review are owned by EuropaCorp
Directed by John Madden
If you really take a look at Jessica Chastain’s acting career, it becomes clear that she’s truly one of the most versatile actors working today. Not only has she been in high caliber Oscar fare of multiple genres including The Martian, Zero Dark Thirty, and Tree of Life, but she’s also been fantastic in other places like The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Crimson Peak, and Lawless. Now she’s headlining a political thriller at right about the time that EVERYONE is not in the mood to even be thinking about politics. Well, I guess we can’t blame her or the director for that, and just because the world is going straight to hell doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy movies like this anymore, right? Can this new vehicle for Jessica Chastain turn out to be another high point in her illustrious career, or will her role in that Frozen knockoff with Chris Hemsworth turn out to be her highlight this year? I mean… that WAS a really solid movie that no one but me seems to appreciate, but even so! Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the greatest lobbyist ever, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) who’s faced with a crisis of… conscious maybe? Either conscious or competitive zeal; one of those two. Anyway, the crisis is that the lobbying firm she works for wants her to campaign against a bill that would restrict gun sales to criminals, those on the terror watch list, etc, and her boss (Sam Waterson) is being a REAL overbearing jerk about it. Not one to suffer fools lightly, Miss Sloane packs up her desks, grabs the best millennial interns under her command, and goes to work for Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) who is heading the Pro-Gun restriction effort. Of course, when you bargain with the devil (or in this case someone know what it takes to win) you get exactly what you pay for and Miss Sloane proves to be INCREDIBLY effective despite how uneasy some of her methods make some of her allies, particularly Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who experiences firsthand just how far Miss Sloane is willing to go to get what she needs. Will the best of the best be able to stand up against the most funded lobby to ever exist? What can all these starry-eyed liberal babies learn by watching Miss Sloane in action? What exactly led her to being like this? Personal tragedy? A drive to succeed? Rich relatives that changed her life for the better?
The Brothers Grimsby and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Louis Leterrier
It has not been a good year for comedies so far, has it? Even if you cut out bottom of the barrel garbage like Dirty Grandpa and Fifty Shades of Black, we’ve got Hail Caesar which was underwhelming (for a Coen Brothers film), Pride Prejudice and Zombies which was one joke told over and over again, and Gods of Egypt which wasn’t even SUPPOSED to be hilarious. What are we left with? Deadpool? Zootopia? We need a REAL comedy that’s all about telling jokes instead of mashing it together with super hero antics or civil rights messages delivered by way of Furries! Good thing Sacha Baron Cohen is still around to show the people what’s what… right? Honestly, I don’t have much hope for this from what I’ve seen in the trailers, but the guy is a damn good comedian and is responsible for some of the most transformative and influential works in that area in the last decade. Can he pull it off at least one more time? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the misadventures of Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Sebastian (Mark Strong); two brothers separated during their youth due to their parents dying and subsequently being adopted by different families. Sebastian grows up to be Not James Bond, while Nobby grows up to be a loser, though he seems pretty happy with his life overall; what with having eleven kids (at least) who all seem to love him and Rebel Wilson as his girlfriend who he’s madly in love with. Despite all the riches that life has bestowed upon Nobby though, he still has a hole in himself that Sabastian left when the two were separated. Well the good news is that the movie doesn’t take too long for the two of them to meet back up. The bad news is that, on top of being a loser, Nobby is a blithering idiot and fucks up Sebastian’s mission; causing him to become an internationally wanted man in the process. Now Sebastian has to clear his name, find out what the evil plot the Bad GuysTM are planning, and deal with his dumbass brother in the process. Nobby’s biggest concern on the other hand is to not miss the football game and try to make up for lost time with his brother. Can these two work together to save the world from the Bad GuysTM? Will the twenty eight years of separation prove to be too large a hurdle for them to overcome? Does Sacha Baron Cohen whip his dick out at least once!?