The Hitman’s Bodyguard and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Okay, so MAYBE Atomic Blonde didn’t turn out to be everything I was hoping for, but that’s not the ONLY move I was looking forward to this year! Who DOESN’T want to see two of the best action/comedy actors of the modern age bounce off of each other in an over the top buddy shoot’em up!? That’s at least what we were promised in the trailers, but if there’s one thing that Atomic Blonde (and admittedly lots of other movies) has taught me, it’s that trailers aren’t always the best at telling you what a movie will ACTUALLY be about. I know; SHOCKING revelation there! Does the team up between these two titans of Hollywood blockbusters manage to work even better together than they do as individuals, or was this a team up worse than when Pouty Superman fought with Even Poutier Batman for no reason whatsoever? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is a TOP NOTCH bodyguard with his own security company that’s apparently richer than half their clients considering how styling him and his crew are, but his idyllic life of protecting the rich and powerful is abruptly brought to an end when someone he’s supposed to be protecting gets shot right the head by an unknown sniper. He spends the next few years stewing in his own self-loathing and is stuck protecting losers and drug addicted lawyers as he tries to climb his way back to the top. An opportunity presents itself though when super hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) is to be brought before an international court to testify against the Belarusian Dictator (Gary Oldman) who everyone seems to know committed NUMEROUS war crimes, but only Kincaid has the evidence… for some reason. Michael is given a chance to possibly redeem himself if he can get Darius to The Netherlands in one piece as the Belarusian Dictator is sending out a lot of hired goons to put him in a body bag before he can testify. That’s not the REAL problem though. No, what’s REALLY gonna make this the mission from hell is that Darius is a TOTAL asshole who likes to do things dirty which clashes with Michael’s preference of being clean and professional about everything he does. It’s like The Odd Couple, but with guns and a lot more swearing! I don’t recall Walter Matthau calling people mother fucker before shooting them in the head! Can these two get along JUST long enough for Darius to testify and put that dictator behind bars once and for all? Will Michael finally redeem himself and get his life back on track after delivering Darius to the international authorities, or will he end up shooting him in the head out of sheer frustration before that? Seriously, does Samuel L Jackson own the rights to the words mother fucker? He HAS to be getting royalties considering how much he says that!
Kong: Skull Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Truth be told I’ve always been more of a Godzilla fan, and while the recent Shin Godzilla was pretty good (if a bit disjointed and tonally uneven) the American film with Gareth Edwards wasn’t so much. Now Warner Bros is trying to create yet another Expanded Cinematic Universe (because the DCCU is working out SO well for them) and this is in some ways a sequel… or prequel I guess… to the 2014 Godzilla film. Does this manage to make up for the mistakes of that film while setting the groundwork for future monster movies to come, or are we much better off watching that 1962 film where the two of them duked it out and threw rocks at each other? Admittedly that wouldn’t be the WORST thing to do as it’s still pretty freaking awesome, but let’s find out!!
The movie starts by introducing us to Bill Randa (John Goodman) who is the head of Monarch; an organization that is hell bent on proving the existence of monsters. They’ve hit a rough patch, mostly due to them never finding any monsters, but 1973 just might be the year they turn things around! They have some satellite images of a heretofore unknown island which may or may not contain resources that the government can use in their fight against the Russians, and Monarch wants to tag along with another organization already headed there for some basic geological research. Actually, all Bill wants to do is find monsters, but the US government gives them the go ahead to tag along and to also bring a military squadron who JUST SO HAPPEN to be one day away from heading back home from Vietnam. Of course the commander Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is thrilled at the opportunity as he doesn’t seem too interested in leaving the war, but those under his command which includes Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell) are less so. Still, they follow the orders that are given to them and they are even joined by former British SAS bad ass James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) who’s supposed to be an expert tracker and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who somehow manages to be a part of this expedition as well. The crew packs up, they fly to the mysterious island that is colorfully known as Skull Island, and IMMEDIATLEY get their asses kicked by Kong who mows down all their helicopters; leaving all of the name actors but only a handful of army and scientist extras. Along their travels, they run into even MORE monsters, find a World War 2 fighter pilot who’s been trapped on the island for almost two decades (John C Reilly), and ultimately have to come up with a way to escape the island before their one chance of rescue passes them by. Can the remaining survivors make it off the island before they become monster food, or will some of them refuse to leave until Kong is dead? Just what is Kong fighting on this island when he’s not swatting down humans? Most importantly, WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET A NEW GODZILLA VS KING KONG MOVIE!?
xXx: Return of Xander Cage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by DJ Caruso
I know I’ve SEEN the first xXx movie, but the only things I can recall are a fake diner, non-lethal bullets with fake blood in them, and a bunch of scientist being killed by the bad guys because reasons. Needless to say that it didn’t leave much of an impression on me considering how poorly I can recall it as well as the fact that I never felt the need to go back and rewatch it. Still, what with The Fast and the Furious becoming the most popular international franchise outside of Marvel, they obviously had to milk this franchise again; something that didn’t seem to go well the last time they did it with Ice Cube, but I guess now that XANDER CAGE is back, we can take one more swing at it! Does the return of Vin Diesel breathe new life into a franchise that’s been comatose for over a decade, or is this just one big Weekend at Bernie’s scheme gone even worse than any of us could imagine? Let’s find out!!
The movie opens up with NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), who I guess was in the first movie, trying to recruit some football player (as in Soccer) to be a member of xXx, though I’m not sure if that’s a title, the name of the organization, or both. It doesn’t really matter though because both he and the football player (Neymar) are killed by a satellite that drops out of the sky. Normally these burn up on reentry LONG before they could really cause THAT kind of damage on the ground, but this is no the movie to be asking those kinds of questions in. The more important question is… WHO’S RESPONSIBLE!? Well, government operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) seems to have an idea of HOW if not exactly WHO as the government JUST SO HAPPENS to have some sort of box that serves NO OTHER PURPOSE than to drop satellites from the sky. Okay… well the box is stolen by a bunch of badasses (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) which means the government has to find an EQUALLY badass person to hunt them down; namely Xander Cage (Vin Diesel). It doesn’t take long for Jane to recruit him for the mission, and he brings along a crew of people with a certain set of skills to help him out. Adele the sniper (Ruby Rose), Tennyson the stunt driver (Rory McCann),a nd of course Nicks the DJ (Kris Wu) because apparently you need one of those for this kind of mission. Can this rag tag crew of Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes save the world before the OTHER Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes destroy it? What was the government planning to do with that ridiculously specific doomsday device anyway? Most importantly, does Vin Diesel look cool in this?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Tim Burton
I mean… if we’re still gonna get YA films THIS late into the game; at least we’ve got an ACTUAL director behind it unlike say… The 5th Wave which, as far as I can tell, was directed by the Film-O-Tron 9000. Still, the real life director they got here happens to be one that’s been on a downward slide for quite some time now, so while this looks like the perfect film for him to make, the circumstances don’t inspire a lot of confidence. Does Burton manage to shake off his slump with this adaptation of a book that apparently a lot of people have read, or will this come and go like so many other films in this over saturated genre? Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Jake (Asa Butterfield) who’s living his boring everyday life in boring everyday Florida where things that are boring happen every day. That is… until the incident! One day he arrives at his Grandpa’s place and finds that he’s been dragged out into the woods and had his eyes gouged out by something. The police think it was dogs, but Jake saw something out there in those woods, and it wasn’t a dog! Not even Cujo is THAT precise with his killings! Anyway, Jake finds some information in a book his grandfather gave him that points to a bunch of stories he was told as a kid about peculiar children living in a home in some English village, and he feels that he should go there to see if the stories were true. If nothing else, it might give a bit of closure for him which convinces his dad to begrudgingly take him, out there. Naturally his dad is a bit of dip shit and loses track of Jake almost immediately. Well… it’s not ENTIRELY his fault considering the island has some sort of dimensional time portal or something… I don’t know. Just think of it like that scene in James and the Giant Peach where he crawls into the peach and turns into a stop motion character. On the other side of this portal thingy, he finds the children from his grandfather’s stories as well as Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) who watches over them and is chock full of information that she’ll doll out to Jake throughout the course of the film involving his grandfather, their time portal thingy, and the bad guys chasing them led by Mr. Barron (Samuel L Jackson). Will Jake find a new lease on life and be able to work through the grief of his grandfather’s death by spending time with these Peculiar kids? What does Mr. Barron plan to do if he ever finds out where Miss Peregrine is hiding all these kids? What the heck do they do all day in this little pocket dimension anyway?
The Legend of Tarzan and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
I had no idea this movie was even coming out until maybe a month or two ago, and it seems like the studio wants it that way. They’ve been trying to get a live action Tarzan movie out since AT LEAST 2003 (probably to capitalize on the Disney film) and you can really tell that this shit was cobbled together from a production that’s been willed into existence by sheer stubbornness at the refusal to let a bad idea (or at least a good idea with no good way to bring it to life) just go away and to work on something else. Still, the Disney movie WAS pretty good and he’s a character that’s endured for over a hundred years now as he was a creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs; the king of badass genre stories. Do they manage to eke out an enjoyable action flick from this timeless source material, or will this suffer the same fate as the Conan remake and John Carter which were the last two Burroughs adaptations? Let’s find out!!
A quick refresher on the story of Tarzan that we all know (as told by Phil Collins). AHEM! A paradise untouched by man; a simple life, the apes lived in peace. But dangers are in fact no stranger here! The son of man known as Tarzan is taken in by the apes after his parents are killed, but in this version it’s actually the apes that killed his dad… so I guess that makes things a bit awkward here. Despite that; the power to be strong, the wisdom to be wise, all these things came to him in time during his journey from boy to man! But in time he ALSO wanted to know about these strangers like him. One stranger in particular was Jane Porter whose every gesture and every move she made in turn made Tarzan feel like never before, and soon he had this growing need to be beside her. Now if you only know the story from the Disney Movie (pretty much anyone born after 1990 and are HOPEFULLY getting all these clever jokes I’m making), you all know that his story ends with Jane staying with him in the jungle. Not true here (and in pretty much every other version of the story from my understanding) as he goes to some other world far beyond that place; namely England. Thankfully this brings me to the ACTUAL movie I’m talking about (also meaning I can stop quoting Phil Collins lyrics) which involves a domesticated Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) who’s being asked by the British government to go to back to his home (The Congo) for… some reason. Actually, I’m not sure why Jim Broadbent (playing A British PersonTM) wants him there so badly, but I do get why Samuel L Jackson wants him there who’s playing George Washington Williams; an ambassador for the US who wants to see if the rumors about the Belgians enslaving people in their colony is actually true so he can report it back to his government. Tarzan (also known as John Clayton) begrudgingly accepts the assignment and also begrudgingly accepts that Jane (Margot Robbie) is gonna go along with him. Waiting for him in The Congo though is Christoph Waltz playing Captain Léon Rom who is assigned by the King of Belgium to get some damn diamonds out of that colony by any means necessary, and Tarzan is the key to getting them. How? Well there’s a tribe there whose leader is SUPER pissed at Tarzan and has agreed to help Waltz get the diamonds if he will deliver Tarzan. Needless to say that Rom goes about this in the most dickish way possible which includes kidnapping Jane, and so Tarzan must go after them to save his wife and stop them from doing any more evil shit in his home country; all of this with the help of Samuel L Jackson of course. Can the two find out what Léon Rom is up to and save Jane before it’s too late? Just what is Christoph Waltz up to other than to pillage the country of all its natural resources? Wait, this movie is somehow less than two hours!? Well it certainly FEELS a lot longer, that’s for sure.
The Hateful Eight and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Like the rising of the tides, the phases of the moon, and the DiCaprio Oscar denial, Tarantino comes back once again to give us a well written update of one his favorite films as a kid. Now Django Unchained was a REALLY good movie, but it was weighed down by some less than stellar decisions throughout like the excessive use of… that one word, and how little Django got to do in his own movie before the third act. Oh, and let’s not forget the baffling inclusion of horse tricks at the end and the terrible acting chops of Quintin himself. Still, this movie seems to be much smaller in scope and looks to be much more focused on being an ensemble piece than any one person’s movie which gives Tarantino plenty of opportunities to fill his scenes with his trademark dialogue (and fill these bodies with his trademark amounts of excess blood and gore). Is this going to be a step up for the iconic director, or is this the sign of a trend towards being an ALMOST amazing director instead of an amazing one? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) being begrudgingly picked up of the side of the road by John Ruth (Kurt Russel) who’s also a bounty hunter and is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang in a nearby town of Red Rock for her crimes. Unfortunately, there’s a blizzard coming and the driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks) isn’t inclined to risk it, so they head to a nearby waystation that’s delightfully called Minnie’s Haberdashery, though they find another straggler in the snowy wasteland along the way in the form of Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. Once they arrive, they find Oswald Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gag (Michael Madsen), former Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) as well as Bob (Demián Bichir) who’s running the place in Minnie’s absence. Now John Ruth doesn’t trust any of these mother fuckers and none of them seem to be good wholesome people in the first place, but there’s nothing John can do with the blizzard blocking all means of travel, so they have to share this tiny space until it clears up. Will this be a peaceful affair as these nine strangers (yes, there’s nine instead of eight of them) get to know each other, or will things erupt into a cacophony of violence, blood, and racial epithets? Well I’m sure you can guess which route this movie takes, but is it at least super captivating to watch, right!?
Oh goody! We’re getting another Quinten Tarantino film! Who wants to bet that it’ll be a very well made throwback to films from his youth that will get half the critics to praise him unendingly and the other half to dismiss him as a stunted artist that’s gotten quite long in the tooth? Personally, I tend to fall into the former category, but I can understand the latter’s frustration with the guy’s output recently. I wouldn’t mind if he goes ahead and does something RADICALLY different from what he’s been doing so far but even if he sticks to the same old tricks, he’s still the undisputed champ of these kinds of films. So with that said, what can we gleam from the first trailer of his latest magnum opus? Let’s find out!!
The trailer begins with Samuel L Jackson sitting on a pile of bodies in the middle of a snowy road as Kurt Russel’s stagecoach approaches, and I guess he joins Kurt Russel for… some reason. They’re both bounty hunters and Kurt Russell has his latest perp handcuffed to him in the form of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s charged with murder and will hang once she’s delivered. From there, the plot isn’t TOO hard to guess, but the trailer makes it kind of hard to understand what is going on. I’m assuming the hateful eight will consist of Kurt Russell (playing John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth), Samuel L Jackson (playing Major Marquis Warren), and the remaining character actors who show up in the trailer, and they’ll all be waiting out a terrible blizzard in this one building. However, Kurt Russell knows for sure that one of them is actually a traitor and is after something (most likely Daisy), so the film will be about praying on one’s paranoia with the characters constantly checking over their shoulders and looking for the rat in the midst.