Ad Astra and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by James Gray
We already sent Matt Damon into space and couldn’t get rid of him, so I guess its Brad Pitt’s turn on the intergalactic chopping block. Space movies, especially ones that try to reflect our current understanding of outer space and an approximation of our current technology have been a great way to explore our own humanity as well as the stars themselves with 2001: A Space Odyssey still being the gold standard that these kinds of films try to aspire to. Does this newest sci-fi drama about Brad Pitt IN SPACE prove to be a worthy contemporary of the genre, or will the only favorable comparisons be to Plan 9 From Outer Space? Let’s find out!!
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut in the near future where that’s back to being a viable career and NASA has morphed into the SpaceCom which has put bases on the moon, on Mars, and they even sent a space ship out to Neptune to look for life beyond what they can see back on Earth. That space ship was part of the “Lima Project” which was launched sixteen years ago with Roy’s dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) and hasn’t been heard from in years and is presumed lost forever. That is until weird electrical pulses start to reach Earth that knock out power in a lot of places and even causes a giant space antenna to come crashing down that Roy just so happened to be working on at the time, and SpaceCom thinks that it might be the… super science generator (something to do with dark matter maybe?) that they stuck on Clifford’s ship all those years ago. On the off chance that this is the case, they want Roy to get his butt to Mars and use their super science broadcasting antenna (basically pirate radio IN SPACE) to get a message out to Neptune and hopefully to his dad. Things get complicated right away however as there seems to be more going on than SpaceCom is telling him, and on top of that he’s got some unresolved issues with the old man, what with him leaving his family to never return, that may or may not complicate things even if they DO get a message to him. Will Roy come to terms with the decisions his father made as well as finally get the closure he’s looking for? What challenges will he face and what secrets will he uncover during the rather long voyage from Earth to Mars? How do you pack for kind of trip anyway? A lot of protein bars I guess?
Men in Black: International and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by F Gary Gray
As tacky as it may seem, I kind of want to see MORE studios blatantly try to pick at the MCU’s carcass by snatching up its major talent and putting them in new scenarios with similar dynamics. It’s kind of like the cinematic equivalent of an Elseworld’s tale or maybe even one of those bizarre crossover comics where the X-Men are on the Enterprise or Doctor Who has to fight the Cenobites or whatever. Picking up both Chris Hemsworth in full on Thor Swagger mode and Tessa Thompson at the height of her popularity is probably the best thing this film has going for it because it certainly isn’t the name brand recognition. The first Men in Black movie was good but is older than the target audience of this film, the sequel was utter dreck despite having my beloved Johnny Knoxville in a fun supporting role, and I never even bothered with the third movie that this thankfully doesn’t seem to be a direct sequel to. Still, the concept is at least unique enough that you could still salvage it given the right talent which looks to be the case with its cast as well as being directed by F Gary Gray. Can the MIB be brought back from the dead to be the next big cinematic franchise, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the late nineties and early 2000s over and over again
Molly (Tessa Thompson) has spent the last twenty years looking for the mysterious Men in Black organization which tried to capture an alien in her childhood home but failed to do so and also failed to neuralyse her like they did her parents. It was a pretty serendipitous event as well because Molly is a bit of a loner and cares more about unlocking the mysteries of the universe than having friends or forming genuine human relationships; a trait prided in members of the MIB! Because of this as well as her ability to eventually find them, the current head of the New York branch Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives her a shot with the new moniker Agent M and sends her to London for training where she runs into Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) who is a big shot hero from a few years ago but seems to be in a bit of a slump. He and the head of the London branch High T (Liam Neeson) once stopped an alien invasion with nothing but a couple of weapons and their wits, but when a protection operation H takes M along on goes completely awry, it could spell the end of not just their careers but the Earth itself. They must solve the mystery of who wanted to kill H’s alien buddy Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak) and whether or not there’s some greater conspiracy happening with the MIB that this is just a small part of. Oh yeah, and there’s a comic relief alien (Kumail Nanjiani) that does cute things and spouts sarcasm. Can M and H learn to work together and solve the mystery before MIB or something more dangerous catches up to them? Will the organization that prides itself on being secretive collapse into ruin due to the duplicitous nature of one of its own? Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly hard to believe that THIS many people and THIS much equipment are STILL a complete mystery to the undiscerning masses; all of whom have smart phones and social media accounts?
Criminal and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Ariel Vromen
While Michael Keaton is out there making his comeback off of Birdman and Spotlight, one of his leading man contemporaries of the nineties, Kevin Costner, is trying to rebuild Is career off of Superman cameos and sports movies. Sure, Michael Keaton was in the Need for Speed movie and the Robocop remake, but at least he’s spending his time in between cash-in movies doing Oscar caliber work to keep himself respected in the industry and not just relevant at the moment. Still, Costner has some serious talent and seems to be working towards artistic relevancy even if it hasn’t panned out so far so there’s hope yet that he can get back to or even surpass his peak relevance when Dances with Wolves was tearing up the Oscars. Will Criminal be the movie to bring Costner back to leading man status, or will this be yet another mistake to knock him down a peg toward total irrelevance? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with good ol’ Ryan Reynolds as a secret agent (again) who’s doing all sorts of spy things without any real context for the audience. He’s carrying around a bag of money with a passport inside, so clearly this is some sort of rainy day fund for either himself or for someone else. It’s clear that that rainy day has come however as he’s being tailed by a red headed bad guy (Antje Traue) who’s working for the main bad guy Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Mollà) and they’re trying to stop Ryan Reynolds from… doing whatever it is he’s doing. He does the best he can but I’m guessing the guy was shooting during his lunch breaks from Deadpool, so he gets caught and murdered by the bad guys within fifteen minutes of the film, though apparently without giving them the information they needed. The CIA, whom Ryan Reynolds was working for, is uber-pissed about all this and the head of this branch (Quaker Wells played by Gary Oldman) which for some reason is based out of the UK (okay…) needs whatever information Ryan Reynolds was hiding from the baddies. So what’s the BRILLIANT idea that he comes up with? Well… Get a world renown doctor in the field of memories (Dr. Franks played by Tommy Lee Jones) to do a SUPER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT where he essentially transfers the memories into another person. Who’s the vessel for these new memories though? Well for reasons (sciency reasons I’m sure), they need someone who’s frontal lobe isn’t working properly and the only person they could find is a psychotic and ultra-dangerous criminal by the name of Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to play along with their Frankenstein plan and not try to escape at the earliest opportunity. Oh wait. After the surgery he does just that. Whoopsie daisy. So now we got a career criminal with CIA memories, a bad guy looking to take over the world, and I think the Russians are in the mix as well; all of whom are gonna give the CIA and Gary Oldman a brain aneurysm before this day is over. Will the lost memories of Ryan Reynolds be enough to save the world from Xavier Heimdahl? Will Jericho get over his angst and brooding long enough to not let the world be destroyed? Who thought this was going to work? Like… at all?