Trolls World Tour and all the images you see in this review are owned by DreamWorks and Universal Pictures
Directed by David SF Wilson
I know I’m a week late on this, but even with the convince of being able to watch this one at home (and let’s be frank here, I’m not spending THAT much more money than I would at the theater), I just couldn’t be asked when it actually came out and frankly I had better things to do like play that Final Fantasy VII remake than watch a sequel to an animated film I didn’t like all that much. But even if we do have the perfect excuse to sit around and do nothing as it is now the socially conscionable thing to do, I still need to maintain SOME sort of routine to not go stir crazy in here, so fine. Let’s buckle down and watch yet another toy commercial dance around for an hour and a half while playing all the songs your parents used to like! Does it manage to somehow surpass the low expectations that its predecessor had set, or are we in for a LONG bout of isolation if this is the bets that studios can give us in these tumultuous times? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is living out her fantabulous troll life singing songs, performing dance numbers, and being worshiped by her beloved subjects. Her best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) seems a bit more uneasy about the idyllic life but he puts up with it in the hope getting out of the friend zone (ugh…) to either spend the rest of his life with the troll he loves or this is some elaborate power play to become KING OF THE TROLLS! Of course it’s not the latter (that would be far too interesting), but instead the conflict ends up being a group of ROCK TROLLS led by Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) who is traveling across the land attacking similarly music-themed tribes to steal their magical music strings that the former King Peppy (Walt Dohrn) failed to clue Poppy in about during her Queen initiation. Apparently each tribe of musical trolls (the trolls we know are known as the Pop trolls) has a magical string that signifies their music, and does… something. I’m not exactly sure what, but if Barb gets all six of them, puts them on her super awesome guitar, and plays some tasty licks with them, it’ll turn all the trolls into Rock trolls which will unify the troll kingdoms which will accomplish… something. In any case, Poppy wants to try and negotiate with Barb to see if they can unify peacefully, but it becomes clear that she’s more about taking everything over than working together, and so she and Branch along with Biggie (James Corden) have to travel the land and try to get the other tribes to work together to stop Barb from fulfilling her dastardly destiny. Will Poppy be able to convince any of the other tribes that working together is better than falling apart? Is there more to the history of the strings and these tribes than Poppy knows, and will that play a key role in defining the course of this current crisis? Do you think Justin Timberlake ever wonders why he’s not in better movies or has he just resigned himself to mid-level animated shlock?
Bloodshot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David SF Wilson
Is it just me, or did anyone else think this movie was about a vampire? I mean it’s not like BLOODSHOT is some sort of household name to rival that of Iron Man and Thor, and with a name like that I’d have pegged them as a Blade knock off more than anything else! Well whatever this movie is about (a ROBOT vampire maybe?), it’s yet another vehicle for Vin Diesel who’s really had a bad luck streak in recent years as he’s been trying so hard to escape the Fast franchise to do his own thing but to no avail, and now he has to pretend that John Cena is his brother or whatever the heck is going on in that move that we won’t be seeing for another year. Just when he thought he was out, THEY PULL HIM RIGHT BACK IN!! Is this the one that will be the new franchise starter that he needs to escape the shadow of the Fast and Furious franchise? I mean… probably not, but let’s find out!!
Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is your typical action movie hero. He works for a SUPER SECRET SEAL TEAM SIX type outfit for the US military, and he’s covered in all sorts of scars that his beautiful wife (Talulah Riley) lovingly caresses whenever he returns from another world saving mission. Sounds about right for a typical action flick, but where’s the motivation for vengeance? WHERE’S THE INCITING INCIDENT THAT CALLS OUR HERO TO VIOLENCE!? Oh wait, there it is! Some dude (Toby Kebbell) kidnaps him and his wife looking for information, but when Ray doesn’t have the answers he’s looking for he kills the wife and puts a bullet in Ray’s head; an act that would kill a lesser man, but Vin Diesel isn’t about to be put down by a small amount of lead to the cranium! Instead, he manages to survive the shooting and his body Is recovered… somehow by SUPER SCIENTISTS working for Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) where it’s brought to his SUPER SCIENCE company and is fixed up good as new by basically turning him into Million Ants Man; only instead of ants it’s NANOBOTS!! With this new power he can recover from ANY damage, can punch things REALLY hard, is able to connect to basically any computer… BUT WILL THAT HEAL THE HOLE THAT IS LEFT IN HIS HEART!? Of course not, so almost immediately he starts to search for the man who killed his wife and plots his revenge despite the consternation of Dr. Harting and his rag tag group of cyborg buddies including Katie (Eiza González) who has a robo-lung and seems to be hiding more than just her giant chest mounted ventilation system. Will Ray find the man responsible and bring him to justice in a very violent fashion? Why did he kidnap Ray and his wife in the first place considering he didn’t have any information to give him, and is there more to this horrific act of violence than Ray initially suspects? Why the heck is even called Bloodshot!? Is it REALLY just because he has red eyes sometimes?
Fantasy Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
The only thing I know about the TV show is that it had Khan from Star Trek and Nick Nack from The Man with the Golden Gun, but even still turning it into a horror film seems like a dubious prospect at best. What, there weren’t enough Twilight Zone episodes to adapt or Creepshow sequels to pump out that we have to now start reaching for non-horror properties to try and squeeze out yet another February horror film? I mean I guess it COULD be good! Stranger things have happened, certainly. Is this brilliant reinterpretation of a classic seventies television show, or were we better off with Wild Wild West being the most embarrassing remake of a TV series from that era? Let’s find out!!
Gwen, Patrick, JD, Brax, and Melanie (Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O Yang, and Lucy Hale) have all won a free trip to the mysterious FANTASY ISLAND which is run by the equally mysterious Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who is known for his also equally mysterious ability to grant your greatest fantasy while visiting the island! For JD and Brax, they want to party like rock stars, for Gwen she wants to get back what she’s lost, for Patrick he wants to be a solider, and for Melanie she wants to get revenge on her school bully. All of which are simple enough to fulfill for the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, but as the fantasies come to fruition there are monkey paw style twists and turns that make their visit not quite as spectacular as they had hoped they would be; particularly when spooky and outright dangerous stuff begins to happen. They must somehow work through their own turbulent fantasies and eventually with each other to stop whatever dark fate is expected to befall them and to find out the secret of the island as well as Mr. Roarke’s uncanny power. Can this rag tag group of nobodies who may or may not have some sort of dark past figure out a way to escape the island in one piece? What exactly is Mr. Roarke’s end goal here, and are there some dark secrets in his closet as well? If my fantasy was to have unlimited fantasies, would he have to find a way to make that work?
Bad Boys for Life and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
As I’m sure is true for many film fans out there, Michael Bay and I have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, being upset at the Michael Bay Aesthetic and the crappy Transformers movies has become kind of passé and is better left to the Cinema Sins and Razzie hacks of the world. Not only that, he’s more than capable of making REALLY great movies that are unique to his sensibilities; particularly Pain and Gain which is clearly his best film by a wide margin. Then again, he’s also the guy who indulges in racist and sexist caricatures in the service of crass humor, and his disdain for the audience and basically all of humanity may be an asset in some films but is also reflected in just how shoddily some of them are put together; incoherent plotting, choppy editing, and an oblivious tone on top of being unfunny and tasteless. I had never seen the Bad Boys movies until very recently and solely in preparation for this new one, and sure enough they contain everything I don’t like about the guy even if they are somewhat more tolerable than some of his later work; presumably due to Bruckheimer being the bigger name at the time which meant he could reign in some of Bay’s worst tendencies. Now all that said, we are going Bayless for this one as he doesn’t even have a producing credit on here, so at least there’s hope that these filmmakers with a fresh perspective can take what elements DID work in the originals while taking out some of their more pernicious aspects to send this franchise off right. Can we close this trilogy on a high note instead of get more of the same nonsense? Let’s find out!!
Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith) are still Miami cops doing their Bad Boys shtick, and while it’s been a fun ride for both of them, Marcus is starting to look towards the back half of his life and doesn’t want it to be filled with more violence, rough schedules, and close calls. Mike on the other hand isn’t even SEEING this as the back half of his life and is trying harder than ever to stay fit, stay alert, and stay young despite the gray hairs showing in his beard. One fateful night while partying with the other cops including good ol’ Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano, a.k.a. JOEY PANTS!) Mike gets the biggest reality check of his life as some masked assassin tries to shoot him to death and almost succeeds. Marcus takes this as a sign to finally retire while Mike can only think of vengeance and wants his help in finding the person who did this to him, but perhaps Mike will have to go it alone. Even worse, he may have to try and find this person with the help of the youngsters at the station who are in some sort of advanced CSI crew named AMMO led up by Mike’s ex-girlfriend Rita (Paola Núñez) who isn’t thrilled about working with the guy either given his history of blowing things up and how personal this case is to him. Will Mike’s quest for vengeance end in him triumphing once again like he did so many times in the old days? Will Marcus stay true to his retirement and be there for his family, or is his bond with his best friend enough to get him on board for one last ride? Is it just me or is this like ten times more interesting than whatever was going on in the other films?
The Grudge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Nicolas Pesce
In the great debate that I ASSUME exists, I was always more of a The Ring guy than a Grudge fellow; mostly because I’ve actually SEEN the Ring movies (at least the Western ones) and haven’t seen any of the Grudge movies (not even the Western ones). Things might change however as The Ring had its chance to reassert its relevance, but instead completely missed the mark with the awful Rings, and if nothing else this one looks to be trying to build a stronger and more intense atmosphere than the cheap cash in nature of Sadako’s most recent Western adventure. Is this the movie that will finally get those of us to jump on the Grudge train, or is this the perfect illustration of why we never bothered with it in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) has just arrived in town and is still reeling from the death of her husband, but is managing to eek out a somewhat stable life with her son Burk (John J Hansen) with her new job at the local police station. Her partner Detective Goodman (Demián Bichir) has some clear baggage from something that Muldoon hasn’t sussed out yet, but when a body shows up with an address to the nearby spooky house, it’s time for her to uncover whatever secrets are being hidden from her. It turns out that the first owners of the House, The Landers (Tara Westwood, David Lawrence, and Zoe Fish), were all murdered by the wife. The realtors who were trying to sell the house for them (John Cho and Betty Gilpin) ALSO wound up dead under similarly grim circumstances. There were other occupants who arrived after them, you can probably guess how they ended up, and now Muldoon is sniffing around the place which will no doubt attract the attention of whatever ghost, curse, or GRUDGE as it were, that is affecting the people who get near this place. Will Muldoon not only uncover the secret of all these mysterious deaths but also stop the bloodshed once and for all? What is the entity that is behind all of this, and what is after aside from endless slaughter and mayhem? Is it just me or did they seriously oversell John Cho’s presence in the trailers? I’m getting flashbacks to that Godzilla movie that had Bryan Cranston in it for like twenty minutes!
Jumanji: The Next Level and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Two years after the Jumanji reboot and I still think it’s a pretty good movie! I’ve had to of seen it at least twice since seeing it in theaters, and it still holds up pretty well; especially with such a fun and talented cast that could have phoned it in and let the special effects do all the work but instead elevated the material to something far more watchable than you’d expect at first glance! Now it’s time for a sequel, and… well I don’t know about you but I’d have rather seen a sequel to Baywatch than watch them try to recreate what made that reboot so good. Seems like a bit of a long shot that we’ll get something halfway decent out of this, but hey! I was saying the same thing about that first movie before it came out, and look what we got! Can we go back to the well one more time without the formula feeling stale and apathetic? Let’s find out!!
After Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) had defeated the mysterious Jumanji video game and smashed it to bits with a bowling ball, we pick up on their lives a year or so later where everyone is off doing their own thing but still manage to stay in touch as they even plan on meeting up during the winter break. However, only three of them show up to the meeting spot so they go to check on Spencer and find that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) hasn’t seen him since last night, though he hasn’t been paying much attention this morning as he has an unexpected house guest in the form of his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) who Eddie’s been avoiding for over a decade now due to some conflict that broke them apart and I’m sure will be resolved before the end of the movie. Anyway, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany go to the basement to find that Spencer not only took the Jumanji pieces home with them but repaired them to the best of his abilities (I don’t know how many MAGIC retro console repair tutorial are on YouTube but I’m pretty sure it’s more than zero) and has managed to get himself back into the game. With their friend’s life (as well as contractual obligations) hanging over our heroes’ heads, they head back into the game once more time. However, things don’t go as planned as only Fridge and Martha wake up inside, and while Martha is still in the body of Karen Gillan, Fridge is now in the body of Jack Black. The ones filling the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shaped meat sacks turn out to be Eddie and Milo respectively who have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to disturbed by it; assuming they just died or something. With only half their team, a brand new game scenario involving some dude named JURGEN THE BRUTAL (Rory McCann), and even some new mechanics including magic fruit and a body switching liquid, can this rag tag group of tired pros and retired noobs find Spencer and beat the game before everyone dies a miserable and painful death? What will Spencer have to say for himself once they find him and start demanding answers as to why he’s here in the first place? Will Eddie and Milo be able to resolve their decade’s long rivalry, and will it be half as compelling as the Sunny episode Frank’s Brother!?
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Marielle Heller
I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever actually sat through an entire episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and if I had it was WAY too long ago for me to remember, so while the guy has always been a presence in my life simply by way of cultural osmosis, I never really got to experience him the way that many other people did. The impact was always felt, especially when PBS and public television were still things before the rise of YouTube and streaming services, but what made the show work so well and what made Mr. Rogers such an enigmatic figure for many generations? Well I guess if I wanted to know the answer to those questions then there wouldn’t be a better time to do it then this brand new biopic, right? Well actually the documentary from last year would probably be the best bet which I still need to see at some point, but this movie is a decent runner up! Does it
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this movie is mostly about Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), but ACTUALLY the movie is primarily focused with Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys); a writer for Esquire Magazine who’s been assigned to cover Mr. Rogers for a piece about heroes right at the time he’s dealing with some serious issues in his personal life. You see, Lloyd has spent the better part of his life avoiding his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) who did some really awful stuff in the past that Lloyd has had no reason to forgive, and yet his sister (Tammy Blanchard) gives him an opening back into their lives at her wedding which eventually leads to Lloyd’s wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) wanting to make inroads with his as well; a movie that utterly baffles Lloyd and puts a serious strain on their relationship which was already under a great deal of stress as they just had a baby. All this is swirling around in his head which isn’t helping his lack of enthusiasm for writing a puff piece about a children’s entertainer, and yet something about Fred Rogers intrigues Lloyd; particularly the utter sincerity with which he approaches everything and everyone around him which is either a genuine extension of himself or possibly a mask for something much darker than anyone would have assumed from such a sweet man they see on television. Is there truly something there for Lloyd to uncover behind the kind face and the red sweaters? Will these interviews with such a noble seeming man perhaps give him some perspective on his own issues and how he’s been handling them up to this point? Most importantly of all, do we get any juicy behind the scene details on the set of the show!? Probably not, but we can always dream, right?
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
I really didn’t want to see this movie. In fact, if ANYTHING else had bothered to come out this weekend I would have seen that instead, but nope! Everyone had to make way for this film so I guess I have to try and be professional! I don’t know, with everything we’ve heard about Tarantino recently it’s just hard for me to get excited to see his movie’s again; let alone support a new one. Cancelled or not, I just personally feel very much deflated thinking about him and going to see his latest movie just felt like even more of a somber experience. Still, while acknowledging the very real and very important context of the artist behind the art, is there a good movie to be found here? I guess we might as well find out…
Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor struggling to find steady work in the hectic world of late sixties Hollywood after a rather unsuccessful string of movies following a decent television career playing the lead role on a western. His stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has stuck with Rick all this time since he’s had trouble finding work elsewhere and seems to have accepted his lot in life even if he’s basically Rick’s assistant at this point. Fortunately for Rick, he’s got a decent gig lined up playing the bad guy in some TV pilot which will hopefully get him some attention (otherwise he’ll end up doing Spaghetti Westerns which I guess weren’t good things to be in at the time) and this also means that Cliff has the day to himself which he uses to pick up a hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) who wants to introduce him to her buddy Charlie who’s got a bunch of followers out in the desert. Oh, and on top of that Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is Rick’s next door neighbor, and she’s doing stuff as well like… seeing movies and dancing around the house. Can Rick nail this latest role that may be his last chance to stay relevant? What will Cliff find at the compound the hitchhiker is taking him too, and will he be able to leave if things get out of hand? Is it just me, or is Tarantino trying a bit too hard here? Or perhaps not hard enough?