Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Tabletop RPGs and I; we just don’t get along. I guess I just grew up with video games that integrated the mechanics of RPGs in a way that didn’t require math or looking up obscure text in a dictionary-sized player’s manual, and the few experiences I’ve had with them were rocky at best. Still, there’s no denying that Dungeons & Dragons is second only to Tolkien as far as influence in the fantasy genre, and while the last attempt at a film adaptation didn’t fare too well, there are enough unique ideas and creative settings for a truly great movie to base itself around. Does this latest attempt at bringing the tabletop game to life leave us with an exemplar of the genre or was this campaign doomed from the start? Let’s find out!!
Our fantasy hero for this epic tale is the bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) who has been locked up for several years after a regrettable crime and wishes for nothing more than to pay his debt to society and reunite with his daughter (Chloe Coleman)! Well at least that’s the story he wants you to believe when in actuality he’s a thief who got himself and his partner Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) locked up after a botched robbery, and instead of paying his debt to society he’s just gonna break himself and Holga out of there to reunite with his daughter who has been under the care of another member of their crew who managed to escape. Said escapee is Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) who I’m sure you are shocked to learn maybe had something to do with those two getting caught in the first place, and while he has been taking care of Edgin’s daughter, he’s also been cavorting with a red wizard (Daisy Head) and, worst of all, has gone into politics to become the Lord of Neverwinter! With Forge intent on keeping his power and the red wizard Sofina looking to advance her own agenda, Edgin and Holga are forced to go on the run and find a way to stop them; most likely by pulling off a heist because that’s what they’re good at. To help with this task they recruit another former associate, the young wizard Simon (Justice Smith), as well as a tiefling druid named Doric (Sophia Lillis) who has her own reasons for wanting to bring down the current Neverwinter administration. Along the way, they’ll find themselves in perilous situations, fighting red wizard minions, and facing tough emotional conflicts; quipping their way through it all because this crew is on the chaotic side of the alignment and are at least a little flexible on the good and evil axis. Can a band of such disparate misfits hope to pull off this heist against a stronger and more ambitious foe? What lessons must be learned for them to come together as a team and fight for the greater good? Can they maybe fight for the neutral good or semi-good? I mean being a hero doesn’t pay the bills, right?
Gretel & Hansel and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Oz Perkins
Sigh… a gritty reboot of the Hansel & Gretel? Did you happened to catch that tagline; A GRIM Fairy Tale? Yeah, something tells me this isn’t going to be good, AND YET there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding this which surprised the heck out of me! It’s not like February has a much better reputation for movies than January does, especially when it comes to horror, so if they really did have something here wouldn’t they have saved it for a better time? I don’t know, maybe studios think that Get Out being the exception to this rule means it’s the new strategic time slot for quick horror bucks. In any case, is this the surprise gem that people having been saying it is, or is this yet another chance for me to be a Grumpy Gus at a mediocre horror film? Let’s find out!!
You know the story of Hansel & Gretel? Well then you know the story of Gretel & Hansel! Two kids are kicked out of their home because medieval times sucked for the working class and they get taken in by a witch who gives them food but has a hidden agenda. Naturally there’s more to it, but it’s all about adding details than going off and doing its own thing as Gretel (Sophia Lillis) is the older sister taking care of her younger brother (Sam Leakey) and the witch (Alice Krige) is a more complicated presence in the movie. At first she appears to be benevolent if a bit cagey as she not only feeds the kids bellies but their minds as well with meaningful chores, games of chess, and even teaching the little boy how to sharpen an axe so he can live out his dream of being a woodcutter. Hey, at least it’s better than being a YouTuber or god help us a Twitch Streamer! As the two stay at the house and learn more about her as well as the history of this house, things might just be going in a sinister direction that will force them to flee for their lives or perhaps it’s all a giant misunderstanding and they will end up being the aggressors in this story against an innocent and charitable older woman. Will Gretel and Hansel become victims of a scheme that the witch is COOKING up for them? Will Gretel perhaps be tempted down a dark path by the small TASTE of magic that the witch offers to her from time to time? Do I have THYME to do OLIVE the food puns in the world before I get to the TOAST POINT!?
IT Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Alright, so we’re all in agreement that the first film was amazing, right? I mean it had a few issues here and there, but dang it if Chapter One wasn’t a horror masterpiece with great performances, a terrifying villain, and the brilliant idea of taking the GOOD parts of a Stephen King book and leaving out all the stuff that doesn’t work. Heck, I’m pretty sure the last time that happened was when Kubrick made The Shining which Stephen King really doesn’t like for some reason. Now we’ve got the sequel which has the neigh impossible task of capturing lightening in a bottle twice; especially since most of what made the first one so memorable will necessarily have to be either absent or pushed to the side. Can the filmmakers pull off the impossible by making the notoriously unworkable ending to the book into something not just comprehensible but just as good as the film that came before it? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up twenty seven years after the events of the first film where the mysterious murders in Derry have started up once again and Michael (Isaiah Mustafa) as the only member of the Losers Club left in town has to bring the gang back together to fight the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again. Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, and Stanley (James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean) have all gone their separate ways and can’t even seem to remember their time in Derry or the monster they fought all those years ago, but after a phone call from Mike they all start to remember (some take the news harder than others) and travel back home to take care of what IT is once and for all. In the process they will have to confront their pasts, face their fears, and do all sorts of weird stuff in the vein attempt of trying to destroy a monster that has lived for hundreds of years while they’re a bunch of middle aged writers, comedians, and risk analysists, who might be able to throw a punch but not much else. Can the monster known alternatively as IT, Pennywise, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!? be defeated by these friends brought together once again by the pact they made long ago? What is the clown planning for them as revenge for the defeat that he suffered back in the eighties? Maybe he can defeat them by trying to explain the ending of the book and just wait until their brains explode.
IT and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
MAN this one takes me back! I still have my grandfather’s copy of the book that I read in middle school; torn to shreds naturally considering how much I carried it around. I’ve read a few Stephen King books here and there and I tend to like his style overall, but his movies are some of the most hit and miss films you could imagine; ranging from critically acclaimed masterpieces like The Shining to garbage you’ve never even heard of like Riding the Bullet. IT is one of the weird ones as its one of the most definitive King books out there (not just in popularity but in terms of content as well) but it’s honestly… a little bit… weak. Not saying it’s BAD, but there’ just SO much going on in there that it feels like several novels fighting for control of the narrative. Heck, if The Dark Tower didn’t LITERALLY do this, I’d say it’s almost akin to mashup of everything King had done up to that point only without a single shred of restraint to keep the whole thing manageable; hence why the damn thing is so thick you could beat a man to death with it. Still, we already got one adaptation of this story that everyone seems to like which means that someone EVENTUALLY had to take another crack at it for BRAND NAME RECOGNITION, but they at least had the foresight to make it a hard R movie instead of a PG-13 which works for SOME movies, but not for a story like IT. Will this be the new standard for Stephen King adaptations, or will this be like The Dark Tower where I’m the only one out there who actually enjoyed it? Let’s find out!!
The story of IT is set in the town of Derry (zero points if you can guess what state it’s in) where there’s been an unusual uptick in missing kid reports which has most of the town on edge; especially the kids themselves who fear they’ll be next. We know what’s up though! The first thing we see in the movie is little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) falling victim to the supernatural menace that has been picking off kids left and right while taking the form of a really creepy looking clown known simply as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Everyone believes little Georgie to be dead, but his brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is convinced that he’s still out there and plans to find him by any means possible; including going into the spooky sewers that may be full of waste but could ALSO be full of answers! His friends Richie, Stan, and Eddie (Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, and Jack Dylan Grazer) are helping him despite their better judgement and this circle of friends increases to include Mike, Ben and Beverly (Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray, and Sophia Lillis); all of whom are outcasts in one way or another and seem to be the only ones even TRYING to figure out what’s going on in their small town. Will they find the answers they seek the further they delve into the town’s cryptic history? What will Pennywise the clown do once he realizes these kids are onto him, and is there more to him than meets the eye? How the heck are they gonna do in two hours what a TV movie couldn’t do in less than three!? AND THEY HAD TIM CURRY TO HELP WITH THAT ONE!!