Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Joachim Rønning
If I was reviewing movies when the first Maleficient came out, it probably would have been in my top ten of that year; THAT’S how much I genuinely loved that movie, and I don’t think I’m in TOO big of a minority on this one! It didn’t get the BEST reviews, but I think it still managed to connect with a lot of people and certainly made quite a bit of money even with its enormous budget. Doing a sequel though, eh… that doesn’t sound like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but I’m willing to throw myself into it and hope for the best considering how good the first one was and Jolie’s continued involvement with the series since she was the best thing about that movie. Do they find an interesting way to continue the story after its revisionist Happily Ever After, or should they have left well enough alone after managing to catch lightening in a bottle already? Let’s find out!!
Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) has been running the magic forest known as The Moors since her adoptive mother killed her biological father in the first movie. It’s cool though; the dude was a HUGE jerk and was played by Sharlto Copley, so he pretty much HAD to die! Someone who DIDN’T die though was Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) who’s been dating Aurora for some time now (ACTUALLY dating; not rescuing her from a castle and getting a bride as a reward), but now is the time for him to pop the question and join their kingdoms under one big happy family. This is cause for celebration for just about everyone in The Moors… except for one woman who finds this arrangement utterly dreadful. Actually two women, but we’ll get to that soon enough; we’re of course talking about Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) at the moment who has obvious reservations because of the whole Sharlto Copley thing, but agrees meet Phillips parents for dinner which will SURELY go off without a hitch, right!? Well… that OTHER woman who’s not too please about all this is Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has a clear bias against all things magical and is not about to let those ghastly creatures crash on her kingdom’s metaphorical couch, and so she sets into motion her diabolical scheme to ruin the forest and turn Maleficent into a fearsome monster once again. At first it seems to succeed as Maleficent is more or less banished from the kingdom after being a particularly unpleasant dinner guest, but things take an unexpected turn when she learns that there are OTHER creatures just like her that call themselves Dark Feys and have lived in hiding all this time, but Queen Ingrith’s plans may just put an end to all that. Will Maleficent unmask Queen Ingrith’s evil plans and restore her place as a good guy once more, or will she embrace her outsider status and become the worst nightmare that Ingrith and the rest of the humans could ever face? What will the Dark Fey do to protect themselves, and will it be in the best interest of everyone else in this conflict; even Maleficent herself? Can we maybe get a movie where Queen Ingrith meets Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman? I’m pretty sure that the combined efforts of Jolie and Thor wouldn’t be able to overcome THAT level of concentrated ham-tastic villainy.
Free Fire and all the images you see in this review are owned by StudioCanal UK
Directed by Ben Wheatley
I honestly don’t get excited to see movies all that often. For one, I’m gonna see the damn movies whether or not they’re any good, and on top of that the only movies that seem to get a big marketing push nowadays are big franchise pictures like the MCU, the DCCU, and even The Fast and the Furious. This movie however was the exception to that rule as I caught the trailer a few times and fell in love with the concept right away. A real time gun fight set in the seventies with Sharlto Freaking Copley in it!? Damn! That’s almost too good to even show up in my local theater, which… spoiler alert: it didn’t and I had to drive to the one forty minutes away. See, while everyone was gushing over The Nice Guys last year, it just didn’t quite do it for me as much as it did for everyone else, and this seems like the kind of thing that was not only going for that kind of look and feel but was much more in my wheelhouse as far as the overall tone and the central conceit. Needless to say that this has been a long day coming and I’m hoping for the best while bracing myself for… well not the WORST as the trailers showed way too much promise for THAT to be the case, but at the very least I hope it’s better than mediocre. Does this manage to live up to my rarely lifted expectations, or am I doomed to be disappointed by a film that showed a whole lot of promise? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with essentially two groups of colorful people in the gaudiest seventies fashion meeting in a warehouse to broker a gun deal. One side is led by Chris (Cillian Murphy) and a few Irish gangsters (Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, and Enzo Cilenti) while the other side is led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his associates (Babou Ceesay, Jack Reynor, and Noah Taylor). In the middle are Justine and Ord (Brie Larson and Armie Hammer) who seem to have brokered the deal between the two sides and therefore probably have the most investment in everything going smoothly. Of course, we wouldn’t have a movie if everything was hunky dory, and eventually bullets start flying after a few altercations and outburst from some of the less professional individuals on each side. That’s it. The rest of the movie is watching to see who gets killed next as they trade bullets and yell insults at each other for the next eighty minutes, and it’s pretty damn awesome! Does anyone manage to make it out of this factory alive? Was there a more sinister plot in play than anyone on either side realized before they started shooting at each other? Can we please get Sharlto Copley a Marvel movie or something!? He’s like the new Nicolas Cage and I want to see him in everything!!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and Screen Gems
Directed by Burr Steers
As much as camp and shtick have grown in popularity in the last decade (coinciding with the rise of the internet as a daily tool for the masses), it’s still not something that’s easily recreated and more often than not happened by accident. That’s why films like this one annoy me right off the bat. You can spend a million dollars trying to recreate a Big Mac perfectly, but that time would have been better spent making something good. The flashy visuals, confident swagger, and knowing winks to the audience tend to makers of a terrible film covering up its faults than a genuine fun throwback to exploitation films of yore. Still, that’s just the vibe I’m getting from the trailers and trailers have a tendency to be misleading; just look at the ones for Hail Caesar. Can this movie succeed at being fun trash, or will it be the cinematic equivalent of dumpster diving? Let’s find out!!
The movie essentially follows the story of Pride and Prejudice, in that it follows Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) on her journey about navigating the British upper class, the relationship she eventually forges with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), and the choices her sisters make that affect her family. It starts with her sister Jane (Bella Heathcote) and Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) falling in love during a party at the Bingley estate where Elizabeth first meets Mr. Darcy and immediately finds him to be an unpleasant and haughty ass. Over a series of weeks and months, things only become more strained as they run into each other quite often due to Mr. Darcy’s friendship with Mr. Bingley as he and Jane continue their courtship. Oh, and this all takes place after the zombie apocalypse where all of Britain (though I have no idea if this has spread to the rest of the world) is under threat from the undead masses. Their numbers grow so large that they basically make that city from Attack on Titan, i.e. they big a giant wall to keep everything else out. Despite the protection afforded to them by their isolation, the threat of the outside world constantly looms and the entire Bennet family has been trained in some form of martial arts, as has Mr. Darcy and I believe Mr. Bingley. I think the idea is that EVERYONE in the upper class knows how to fight, but we never really see that many people clash with the zombies and instead just run away. None of this though seems to have much impact on the story at hand which is about Elizabeth constantly fighting against the wishes of her mother to settle down with whatever lout with have her, including her own cousin Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) and her steadfast refusal to agree to marriage for anything less than love. Will she and Mr. Darcy eventually find out that they’re perfect for each other… for some reason? Will they be able to stop the zombies from getting any closer to wiping out all of Britain? Couldn’t we have just ended this shtick with the one about Lincoln?