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 Is this the start of Scooby-Doo’s resurgence to the peak of popular culture, or will the concepts prove to outdated for modern audiences to latch onto outside of Saturday morning cartoon reruns?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!
Ready Player One and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Oh! Do I finally get a chance to see this darn movie!? I swear; it feels like EVERY OTHER CRITIC IN THE WORLD got an invite to an early premiere of this while I’m sitting over here waiting for its ACTUAL release date like a total chump! Now I haven’t read the book so I won’t be going into this with much in terms of expectations, but the premise is on that could really get out of hand quickly if it’s not in the hands of the right director. Just imagine how bad Scott Pilgrim would have been if it wasn’t in the hands of Edgar Wright, or if say Adam Sandler somehow managed to make a movie about classic video games attacking us in the real world. GOOD THING THAT NEVER HAPPENED, AM I RIGHT!? Was Steven Spielberg the right one to adapt this material, or will this be a larger misstep for the venerable director than The Lost World: Jurassic Park? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place in the year 2045 where society hasn’t really COLLAPSED, so much as it’s gotten really apathetic and there’s a whole bunch of trash everywhere. For most people, they’re way of dealing with it is to go into the most EXPANSIVE AND BAD ASS online video game ever made (right after Second Life) called THE OASIS! One such denizen of this virtual world is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who lives in one of the slums of Columbus Ohio (they literally just started stacking trailer homes on top of each other) but he has big dreams for the future that will get him out of his boring miserable life! Okay, it mostly involves playing games in THE OASIS as his in-game character Parzival, but that’s proving to be more and more of a viable career path; provided he doesn’t start shouting racial slurs. Like in real life though, he’s kind of stuck at the lower tier of THE OASIS hierarchy and spends most of his time either hanging out with his friend Aech (Lena Waithe) or re-reading the history of the inventor of THE OASIS James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who died about a decade ago. Said creator by the way has stuck three hidden keys within the game that if found will get TOTAL control of his Chocolate Factory… I mean software company, but no one has been able to find even one of them so far; not even the EVIL corporation called Innovative Online Industries (IOI) which is head up by the EVIL Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) that plan to do EVIL things if they get control of the company! So Wade/Parzival is just going along his day to day routine… that is until he meets Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) who is one of the top players in the game, and their chance encounter ALSO leads to him figuring out the first clue that James Halliday left behind which leads him directly to the first key! Now the guy is on EVERYONE’S radar! Art3mis is trying to find the keys for herself and wants Parzival’s help doing it, Aech is stoked that they get all the cool gear that comes with finding that first key, and of course the EVIL IOI is after him to either convince him to join them or DESTROY HIM UTTERLY! Will Wade be able to resist the allures of corporate culture and embark on this noble quest to honor the memory of the greatest game developer of all time? What reasons could Art3mis have for needing to find the keys, and does it have anything to do with IOI’s EVIL schemes? Will Wade get the validation in the virtual world that he so desperate craves in his own life!? THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS, RIGHT!?
I, Tonya and all the images you see in this review are owned by Neon
Directed by Craig Gillespie
We can’t have an Oscar Season without at least ONE off the wall biopic, right!? Sure, you’ve got the more straightforward historical dramas like The Post and Darkest Hour, but despite Scorsese striking out with The Wolf of Wall Street at The Oscars, it still made a huge impact and many have tried to recreate its success since then. Not only that, but the fact we’re starting to look back at the nineties in a historical context with at least two recent OJ Simpson projects getting a huge amount of critical praise, it’s no wonder that right after him we get to the other big crime story of that decade; the assault on Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding’s possible involvement with it. Does this reexamination of one of the biggest names in nineties pop culture end up being a phenomenal look at her life and the decade around it, or is this a cynical cash grab trying to get a jump start on Gen X and Millennial nostalgia? Let’s find out!!
Back in the early nineties, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was one of the most prominent names in Women’s Figure Skating; having come from a very poor background and taking a lot of her social upbringing into her performances. Despite Figure Skating being a sport that prizes tradition and perfection in its (none of that uncouth “rock and roll” music!), they could not ignore Harding who was a natural on the ice and the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel (a feat accomplished by Midori Ito and Mao Asada from Japan a few years earlier). Still, it wasn’t an easy road as she had to deal with her abusive mother LaVona Fay Golden (Allison Janney) and her just as abusive husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan); both of whom seemed hell bent on making her life miserable despite swearing they were only looking out for her best interests. Things get complicated though when Tonya’s anxiety and even paranoia start to get to her as the weight of her modest celebrity as well as the skills of other skaters made her quite distressed. From here, we start to get speculative about what happened, but the general idea is that one of Jeff’s friends Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) has a friend of his attack one of Tonya’s rivals Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver) and the big mystery surrounding it is just how much did Tonya know about what was happening. Did she orchestrate the attack herself? Was she aware that it was going to happen but said nothing to stop it? The movie addresses these questions and more as this dramatized retelling of her story gives us not only a look at the facts as we know them of the case, but the media circus that built up around it and the… interesting characters that were involved. Oh, and there are a few skate numbers as well!
Gifted and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Marc Webb
Has anyone else notice that Marc Webb now has four movies in a row with Superheroes in them? Sure the Amazing Spider-Man movie are obvious, but 500 Days of Summer had Joseph Gordon-Levitt (AKA Robin) and now he’s directing Captain America in a movie about a girl genius! Hell, if he can get back on track now that he isn’t weighed down by Sony’s super petty pet projects, maybe he’ll be the one to finally get Hugh Jackman that Oscar in some heartfelt indie drama or something! Speaking of which, the indie vibe is certainly strong with this one which I don’t particularly begrudge the guy for considering he spent the last five years on terrible films. If he needs a film to rediscover his roots and remind us all why he was such a promising up and coming director, I’m more than fine with it! Does this manage to be the movie that resuscitate his fledgling directorial career, or will this prove once and for that he’s not that strong of a director even when he doesn’t have a giant studio breathing down his neck? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins on the first day of school for Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) who’s been home schooled by her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) up until now, but he’s determined for her to have a normal childhood which includes interacting with other children instead of just grownups like him and their helpful neighbor Roberta (Octavia Spencer). Of course, Mary isn’t exactly a normal girl as she has SUPER impressive math skills which doesn’t go unnoticed by her teacher Miss Stevenson (Jenny Slate) or anyone else in the school which unfortunately leads to Mary’s grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) finally tracking the two of them down. So why is this bad thing? Well since Mary isn’t technically Frank’s daughter (her mother is his sister and Evelyn’s daughter who died some time ago), she feels she can get a court to give her full custody of Mary and make sure that her brain is put to good use; mainly studying advanced calculus every day with college professors instead of going to grade school. Fair enough I guess. I mean, it’s not like she’s getting THAT much out of the first grade curriculum. Then again, as we learn more about Evelyn and ESPECIALLY her relationship to Mary’s mother, things get a bit less clear cut and Frank is certainly not about to back down on trying to give Mary a normal life. Will Frank get to keep Mary from a sheltered academic life, or is he simply holding her back from reaching her true potential. What exactly happened that led to Frank having Mary in the first place? Does anything from this movie look familiar to anyone else?