Downsizing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alexander Payne
Every year, there’s usually one movie that starts off getting quite a bit of Awards buzz (mostly due to its cast and filmmakers) that eventually pivots all the way back to being an absolute train wreck once the critics get a chance to see it, and it’s usually not due to a genuine lack of talent on anyone’s part. More often than not, it’s misguided or something happened in the production that forced corners to be cut, so the badness of these kind of movies tend to be UNIQUE compared to the drivel that usually comes out during the rest of the year. Last year the winner of this prize was Collateral Beauty that tried SO hard to be a heartfelt and charming tale despite ostensibly being about people acting like total monsters towards someone with emotional issues, and word has been circulating that this is gonna be that film for 2017. I thought the trailers looked good as does its interesting premise, but I’ve been burned by good trailers before (*cough* Mother *cough*), so I’m hoping for the best but will keep my guard up just in case. Are the critics right about this film being wholly unable to live up to its lofty ambitions, or is this one of those few instances where the popular consensus will shift once it gets screened for the masses? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Paul (Matt Damon) who’s a simple man with a ho-hum job living a ho-hum life with his ho-hum wife (Kristen Wiig) in his ho-hum town of Nowhere-ville. He’s looking for something to spice up his life and to give him a renewed sense of meaning (by which I mean he wants to buy more stuff), so he starts to entertain the idea of him and his wife Downsizing. What is Downsizing you may ask? Well it’s a process by which a human can be permanently shrunken down to a fraction of their normal height and then move to a community of similarly shrunken people. Since things cost less when they are smaller, that means that Paul’s meager life savings can let them live as kings for the rest of their lives in one of these communities, so he eventually makes the leap. However, his wife doesn’t go with him (balking at the last second) and he’s basically back where he was before; miserable and looking for ways to be happy. Through his ongoing life in Tiny Town (also known as Leisureland) he meets with a goods trader Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) as well as a Vietnamese protestor who was Downsized against her will named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau) that seem to be much happier than him and might just hold the secrets to helping Paul find what he’s been looking for. Can Paul find a shred of happiness in his sad pathetic life? What doors with Dusan and even Ngoc open for Paul that will help him on his journey? Wait, so we have this HUGE premise about people being shrunk down and living in corporate run micro-communities… and we’re focusing on some sad white dude the whole time!?
Thor: Ragnarok and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
After the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World (HOW DO YOU WASTE THE BEST DOCTOR WHO IN SUCH A BLAND VILLAIN ROLE!?) I wasn’t really looking forward to what they’d do with this character in his solo films and was more interested to see if he’d show up in a bunch of the other movies instead. Once those initial trailers hit with the heavy emphasis on fantastical Jack Kirby inspired designs and the rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack, there seemed to be hope in this franchise digging itself out of the pit the sequel left it in. At the very least, it LOOKED a lot pretty with much more vibrant colors, and it even manages to drag Jeff Goldblum into the MCU which in and of itself would make this movie worthy of existing even if everything else ends up being awful. Does Thor’s third chance at the plate end up being one of the best films in the entire MCU, or did they just throw a lot of flash and money at a franchise that is just unable to find its place after telling the origin story? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to find out what the heck Ragnarok is which was hinted at ALL the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Remember when he left the team to take a bath and saw some visions? Yeah, apparently it was all foreshadowing of the destruction of Asgard in a calamity known as Ragnarok, so Thor is basically trying to find a way to stop it… whatever it may be. In the meantime though, he manages to find out that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is actually alright as Loki basically stuck his ass in a retirement home on Earth, but when Thor goes down there to bring him back to the throne it turns out that he’s all out of time and disappears in a cloud of energy or something. If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the things he was doing when he was alive was keeping a hereto unknown daughter of his named Hela (Cate Blanchett) in some sort of magic prison which breaks as soon as he’s dead and so she’s come back for revenge against her family and all of Asgard. Both Loki and Thor are dealt with rather quickly with the latter losing his famed hammer Mjolnir and landing on some mystery planet where he is captured by a mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) and dragged to the planet’s ruler known as THE GRANDMASTER (Jeff Goldblum). The once mighty God of Thunder and son of Odin is now put in chains and is forced to fight in gladiatorial matches in order to somehow earn his freedom and eventually find his way back home before Hela puts it inextricably under her vengeful thumb. Can Thor find a way to escape the barbaric society run by the most fabulous of dictators? What familiar faces will he find on this planet that can hopefully help him on his journey home? How the heck is Thor gonna get around now that he doesn’t have his magic propeller hammer!?
“THE GOD OF THUNDER DOESN’T NEED A HAMMER! I JUST NEED TO FLAP MY ARMS REALLY FAST!!” “Okay… well good luck with that!”
Suburbicon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by George Clooney
Now this film kind of came out of nowhere for me as I’ve only been seeing the trailers for maybe a month leading up to its release. I guess that’s not too surprising as George Clooney films, good or bad, rarely make a whole lot of money so there’s not much point in advertising it to the movie going masses; especially when the film in question looks pretty dark and super weird. I mean that makes sense considering it’s from a script The Coen Brothers wrote back in the eighties, but that little factoid not only explains why this movie has been rather low key despite its wide release, it also raises some red flags. Is this a cinematic masterpiece that was just too good to be made in its time, or did the Coen Brother put this in a draw for so long for a really good reason? Let’s find out!!
The movie is basically split into two stories; the first being about Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) who’s family suffers a horrible tragedy, and The Mayers (Karimah Westbrook, Leith M Burke, and Tony Espinosa) who have just moved into the idyllic neighborhood known as Suburbia and have the dubious honor of being the first black family in town. With The Mayers moving into town and bringing out the worst in the neighborhood just for simply being there, there isn’t a whole lot of attention paid to Gardner and what seems to be some very shady stuff going on with him. For starters, the death of his wife Rose (Julianne Moore) by some bad men who broke into the house seems to have not been as random an act of violence as it appears to be on the surface, yet no one is picking up on this than Gardner’s son Nicky (Noah Jupe) who’s the only one really looking for answers. Throw in some possible mob connections, Nicky’s aunt Margaret (Julianne Moore as well) who’s working a bit too hard to fill in the motherly figure role, and a suspicious insurance claims adjuster (Oscar Isaac), and you have the makings for a classic noir thriller set against the backdrop of the super repressed and overtly racist fifties! Will Nicky find the answers he’s looking for and will he be happy with what he finds? What is Gardner have up his sleeve that’s making him act so inexplicably after the murder? Does anyone in this movie REALLY have any idea what they’re doing!?
“NO NO NO NO NO!! THIS ISN’T HOW IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT IN THE MOVIES!!”
The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right? Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience. Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China. Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China. This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers. Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself! Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it. Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists. Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it. Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well. This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han). Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think? He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long. So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands! Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled. Will they make the right choice in the end? What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat? How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in? A hundred million? Two hundred million?
The Martian and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Ridley Scott
Oh yay! Another Ridley Scott film, because the last one was so good. Well despite his shaky track record as of late, there’s no denying that the man is one of our greatest living directors and a movie like this is right in his wheelhouse while also being an original science fiction property as opposed to going back to the Alien well. Can he manage to make a great movie with so many excellent resources at his disposal, or will he still manage to screw it up like he did with Exodus and Robin Hood? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is part of the Ares III manned mission to Mars. While on the planet’s surface, the crew gets word of a big ass storm coming their way so they have to leave the mission early, and by early I mean RIGHT THE FRAK NOW!! Apparently they didn’t see it coming until five minutes before it hits. The astronauts on the planet (including Mark) try to make it to their recon ship in the midst of the downpour of… whatever the hell it is Mars starts raining down in a storm (rocks I think).
“I think I’ve got a rock in my shoe.” “DEAL WITH IT!!!”