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!?
The Addams Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan
I’ve actually been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. Not in a BIG way, but everything I saw at first was very promising. The new designs were quite good and the initial teaser seemed to have the right tone that retained what worked about these characters in the first place while making something that worked in a modern context. After that though, once we got the trailers with more of the plot (and those terrifying human characters), the skepticism started to creep in and my enthusiasm waned as my attention turned elsewhere (*cough* Maleficient 2 *cough*) in the last month or so. Still, a mediocre trailer is hardly a good barometer to how a movie will ultimately turn out (especially with so much of the marketing knocking it out of the preceding months), so were my negative feelings ultimately unfounded or did something go horribly wrong (and not in the good way) with this latest Addams Family venture? Let’s find out!!
The Addams Family are a bunch of wealthy eccentrics who basically act like spooky monsters year round instead of just on Halloween. The family consists of Patriarch Gomez (Oscar Isaac), possible vampire queen Mortitia (Charlize Theron), their daughter Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), their son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), Gomez’s mother (Bette Midler), the zombie butler who is IN NO WAY of any actionable resemblance to Boris Karloff known as Lurch (Conrad Vernon), and… I guess their OTHER butler who is just a hand called Thing. Are they goths? Murderous blue bloods? If they were made in the mid nineties, would they all be Juggalos? These are questions we may never get the answer to, but rest assured that whatever box they would most comfortably fit in, it’s one that will freak out the normies of the world whenever they happen to come in contact with them. Said normies by the way are a bunch of nameless and nearly faceless upper middle class yuppies that built a community around the Addams family mansion and are just now realizing that there’s a spooky castle full of weirdos on top of the conspicuously nearby hill, and the head of the yuppies named Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is none to please about it. While this little pot of… I don’t know, spooky-phobia I guess, is brewing outside of the house, the Addams family itself is having a bit of tension as well as Gomez is trying to teach Pugsly a sacred family ritual known as The Mazurka but Puglsy seems to have no gift for it, and Morticia is trying to keep young Wednesday from falling into the wrong crowd; the kind that embraces unicorns, the color pink, and young pop stars. Can the family stick together through these trying times both inside and out of the house? Just how far will Margaux go to keep her little community nice and conformed now that this family has thrown a wrench in those plans? Will The Addams family adjust to their new surrounds and join the rest of us in the living nightmare we all must suffer through under late stage Capitalism, or is that the wrong kind of terrifying for them?
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Honestly this whole “Oscar Season” thing has felt rather muted this year as I really haven’t seen that many movies that would fit the archetype we often associate with them. Other than Welcome to Marwen, the holiday season has been just an extension of summer with huge blockbusters coming out back to back with three presumed major money makers (Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, and Aquaman) fighting over a single weekend right before Christmas. However out of all those movies that we’re getting right now, the one that really caught my attention was this film; not because I had any particular reason to think it would be great (though I do certainly hope that’s the case!) but because it looked so much different than everything else. An animated film with a unique art style about Spider-Man characters other than Spider-Man? Heck, that’s PRACTICALLY Venom considering how much CG they used, and that wasn’t TOO bad! Can the cinematic debut of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, and… others I guess, manage to be up there with the best that Disney can put out, or is this only gonna look good in comparison to Sony’s other recent Spider-Man efforts? Let’s find out!!
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is your typical Marvel nobody; slightly smarter than everyone else, painfully insecure, and doesn’t realize how good his life is until some tragedy will inevitably strike it after they get super powers! For now though, he’s just bummed about having to go to a fancy new school that his parents (Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez) want him to attend while all he wants to do is be with his friends and hang out with his uncle (Mahershala Ali) who understands him a heck of a lot more than his parents do. During one such hang out session where he and his uncle tag a wall in an abandoned subway tunnel, Miles gets bit by a radioactive spider and goes through the typical Spider-Man first day of school; make a fool of yourself, stick to things, and eventually realize how awesome these powers are! Then again, there’s already a Spider-Man roaming the streets (Chris Pine) so it’s not like he needs to get himself involved in Super Hero shenanigans, right? Oh wait, Spider-Man’s dead. Huh. Didn’t see that coming (especially if you don’t know anything about Miles Morales already) and not only that, the big Super Villain plot he failed to stop is some sort of interdimensional portal gun thingy that The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is making and is merging alternate realties into this one. It makes a lot more sense when you see in the movie. Trust me on that. ANYWAY! One of the alternate dimensions has spout out Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson) who is like this universe’s Peter only a lot less dead and a lot less competent, and he and Miles end up crossing paths through even more convoluted shenanigans. So now that we’re up to TWO only somewhat competent Spider-People, they can do what the actually GOOD Spider-Man couldn’t, right? Eh… maybe, but let’s see if we can find a few more Else Worlds Spiders like Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Bot (Kimiko Gleen), and Spider-Pig (John Mulaney) before storming The Kingpin’s castle. I’m sure they’re around here somewhere! Will Miles learn how to use his powers for good and accept the responsibility that comes with them? Can the other Spider-People not only show him what it means to be a hero, but stop The Kingpin before their universe’s become endangered as well? Can we somehow find a way to go to an alternate dimension where this film is ALSO part of the MCU!?
Operation Finale and all the images you see in this review are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Directed by Chris Weitz
Now that I think of it, when was the last time we got a World War 2 movie that actually tackled the events and consequences of the war? I mean we had Dunkirk which was one big battle scene more or less divorced from the ideological conflict of the war itself, and I never got around to seeing The Darkest Hour. Heck, the last World War 2 movie I remember before that is Allied, and I’m pretty sure that comment right there makes me the only person who’s brought it up in over a year! Needless to say that with the current political landscape being what it is, we could probably use another World War 2 movie that actually mentions The Holocaust; especially with what we’re learning about full US citizens in Texas being denied passports due to the color of their skin which is hardly a far cry from what happened to German Jews as the Nazi party was taking over. Does this mean that we have a fantastic film on our hands right at the start of Oscar season (I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying that for like a month now), or is this a disappointing retread of far better movies that have come before? Let’s find out!!
The movie is a dramatization of the capture of Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) in Argentina by Israeli spies, which I don’t THINK was actually named Operation Finale, but for the purposes of this film that’s what they’re going with. If you don’t know already, Eichmann was one of Hitler’s top official who basically orchestrated The Final Solution; organizing the prisoners, making sure the trains run on time, and ensuring there’s enough gas, bullets, and graves to go around so that the genocide of millions can be done as efficiently as possible. Needless to say he’s not a nice dude, and our head spy Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) can’t wait to bring him to justice, even though he’s a loose cannon that messed up his last mission, but darn it! He’s the best they’ve got! The mission itself is fairly simple where Peter and a few members of his team will snatch the guy, drive him back to the safe house, and have their anesthetic specialist Hanna (Mélanie Laurent) put him to sleep so they can sneak him past Argentinian airport security and put him on a plane back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. Things go FAIRLY well at first, but problems start to build up and they team is basically stuck with a Nazi jerk in a house located in what seems to be the epicenter of Nazi activity in Argentina, and a rather long time to wait until they get a proper escape plan in place once the initial one goes up in smoke. Can everyone who’s stuck in that house keep their heads down long enough for them to escape with their a Nazi war criminal AND their lives? What will Peter do when he’s finally alone with the man responsible for not just millions of deaths, but the deaths of people very close to him whose faces still haunt him to this day? Is it just me, or has Oscar Isaac been fighting A LOT of fascists?
Annihilation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alex Garland
So apparently Paramount wanted to bury this thing for some reason? I mean… I guess it WORKED considered I never heard of this until the week before it came out. I go to movies all the time, and I never saw ONE trailer for this thing despite starring some PRETTY big names right now! Now this is hardly the first time that a studio had lost complete faith in the movie they had made, and it’s not always a sign that the movie is bad (*cough* Brazil *cough*), but it STILL is a bit worrying as studios are loath to just throw money away; especially on projects that seem to have had THIS much star power both in front of and behind the camera. Does this offbeat science fiction film manage to shine through despite the studio doing everything it could to keep it out of the public eye, or was Paramount trying to save us from something that we were better off just forgetting it even existed? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of Lena (Natalie Portman), told slightly out of order, where she went head first into a unique biome of alien origin that I like to call The Rainbow World and tried to reach its center to destroy it from within! Okay, now that I’m writing this down, it’s possible that a bit more context is needed. To rewind a bit here, about three years before the movie starts a meteorite smashes into a small coastal town and starts doing… something. It basically creates its own isolated environment with a clear delineation between EARTH WORLD and ALIEN WORLD in the form of a shimmer; almost like an opaque curtain in the shape of a dome. The US government seems to have gotten there right away and have been sending people into the strange place to find out what is going on, but no one has ever returned… until now! Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is a military Black Ops guy (I think) and was sent on a MYSTERIOUS mission about a year ago and suddenly returns home right as the movie starts; albeit looking rather disheveled and coughing up a worrisome amount of blood. The government weren’t too far behind him though and put him in a quarantine to study what’s happened to his physiology after being exposed to the alien biome, but they’re probably gonna have to work fast; lest this become an autopsy because his condition is getting worse. Lena is brought into the loop at this point and is told about THE SHIMMER (I still think it looks more like a Rainbow World); promting her to suit up, grab a gun, and join the next expedition which is in less than a week. Now if that sounds a bit silly, don’t worry! She was in the military as well, so she knows how to handle herself and use a gun. In fact, compared to the rest of the crew which includes a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez), a geologist (Tuva Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), she’s practically a god send as I doubt the rest of them would last a full day in there without her. So the day is set, the inexplicable rag tag crew gathers their courage, and they walk into THE SHIMMER with one goal in mind; get to the center and destroy whatever it is that’s causing this. Will Lena survive the harsh environment that nearly took her husband’s life, and will the secret to his illness lie within? What is motivating the rest of these women to go into this place that even trained soldiers couldn’t manage to overcome? Was this really the best we could muster after three years of failed attempts? They couldn’t even be given gas masks or motor bikes?
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!?
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!?
X-Men: Apocalypse and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Bryan Singer
It’s that time again for another X-Men movie to try and prove its relevance in a post MCU world! So far, I think they’ve been doing a fairly good job of keeping this series humming along since Mathew Vaughn kicked the franchise back to life again five years ago. The post First Class movies haven’t been perfect, but the second shot at a Wolverine solo picture and the one that brought Brian Singer back to the franchise were both fine enough films, and now that Deadpool is kinda sorta in the mix, there may be hope yet that this franchise can make that leap to the big leagues instead of sitting comfortably as the acceptable knock off. Is this movie the start of that transition, or is this series just gonna keep spinning its wheels until another X3 disaster kills it off for good? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up about ten years after Days of Future Past which is still about twenty years before the original X-Men, which I THINK is still in continuity (only X3 is the one we know for sure got blinked out of existence). In the intervening time, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has finally set up his school, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding and now has a family in Poland, and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)… well she’s basically doing the same thing as she as in the last movie, only now she’s a symbol of peace rather than a violent radical after she had saved the president from Magneto. Things seem to be at a tentative state of peace with the humans being somewhat okay with mutants and Erik more or less retiring Magento so he can live a normal life. We don’t come to an X-Men movie to see people be happy though! What’s gonna screw it up for everyone!? Well two things really. First is that Erik suffers a tragedy that throws him back into his anti-human hobby, and second is that there is a millennia old mutant calling himself, among other names, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) that just so happened to wake up from his deep slumber and is ready to take over the world (presumably after getting a shower and a bite to eat). It doesn’t take long for him to make his presence known so the X-Men must reunite and get some of the new students to fight the greatest threat to all of humanity… at least now that the Sentinels aren’t gonna be a thing anymore. Can Charles and Mystique whip these newbies into tip top shape to fight the new bad guy and save the world? What exactly will Erik do now that he’s given up on ever finding peace for himself? How many times are they gonna blow up the damn school!?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by JJ Abrams
Alright, look. This review is going to have spoilers and if you’re worried about that, then here are my thoughts real quick.
The movie is fantastic. The bad guy stuff is the best, the good guy stuff is bogged down a bit by the references they’re trying to fit in, but overall it’s a fun ride and a worthy successor to the original trilogy.
You got that? Okay, here comes the rest of the review.
The movie starts off with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) getting a sci-fi USB stick that contains the location of Luke Skywalker who has been missing for a very long time. Before he can take the flash drive to The Resistance however, the village he’s in gets raided by the new bad guys named The First Order who are the Empire in all but name. Kind of like how Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC. Nothing’s changed, but now they have a less obviously evil/unhealthy name. Anyway, Poe gets captured by Darth Vader 2.0, also known as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) but not before Poe gives the USB stick to R2-D2 2.0, also known as BB-8. The droid makes his way to a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who takes it in while simultaneously A Storm Trooper named FN-2187 (John Boyega) breaks out Poe from the evil starship. Their escape is cut short when they get shot out of space and crash land on the planet below (the one BB-8 and Rey are on) and FN-2187 (also known as Finn) is the sole survivor. His deal is that he wants to get as far away from The First Order as quickly as possible, but now that he’s on the dirt planet he doesn’t really have a way to do that. Fortunately, he eventually finds the droid and Rey, poses as a Resistance fighter, and convinces them to help him escape the planet and drop off the droid (with him escaping to wherever the hell he wants to in the process). Can these two make it to The Resistance before The First Order can capture them? Will Finn step up to the plate when the time comes, or will his self-preservation instincts kick in before he has a chance to play the hero? Is Rey more than what she appears to be and is the she the key to stopping The First Order once and for all? WHERE’S HAN SOLO!?!? Oh wait, there he is.