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!?
The Addams Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan
I’ve actually been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. Not in a BIG way, but everything I saw at first was very promising. The new designs were quite good and the initial teaser seemed to have the right tone that retained what worked about these characters in the first place while making something that worked in a modern context. After that though, once we got the trailers with more of the plot (and those terrifying human characters), the skepticism started to creep in and my enthusiasm waned as my attention turned elsewhere (*cough* Maleficient 2 *cough*) in the last month or so. Still, a mediocre trailer is hardly a good barometer to how a movie will ultimately turn out (especially with so much of the marketing knocking it out of the preceding months), so were my negative feelings ultimately unfounded or did something go horribly wrong (and not in the good way) with this latest Addams Family venture? Let’s find out!!
The Addams Family are a bunch of wealthy eccentrics who basically act like spooky monsters year round instead of just on Halloween. The family consists of Patriarch Gomez (Oscar Isaac), possible vampire queen Mortitia (Charlize Theron), their daughter Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), their son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), Gomez’s mother (Bette Midler), the zombie butler who is IN NO WAY of any actionable resemblance to Boris Karloff known as Lurch (Conrad Vernon), and… I guess their OTHER butler who is just a hand called Thing. Are they goths? Murderous blue bloods? If they were made in the mid nineties, would they all be Juggalos? These are questions we may never get the answer to, but rest assured that whatever box they would most comfortably fit in, it’s one that will freak out the normies of the world whenever they happen to come in contact with them. Said normies by the way are a bunch of nameless and nearly faceless upper middle class yuppies that built a community around the Addams family mansion and are just now realizing that there’s a spooky castle full of weirdos on top of the conspicuously nearby hill, and the head of the yuppies named Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is none to please about it. While this little pot of… I don’t know, spooky-phobia I guess, is brewing outside of the house, the Addams family itself is having a bit of tension as well as Gomez is trying to teach Pugsly a sacred family ritual known as The Mazurka but Puglsy seems to have no gift for it, and Morticia is trying to keep young Wednesday from falling into the wrong crowd; the kind that embraces unicorns, the color pink, and young pop stars. Can the family stick together through these trying times both inside and out of the house? Just how far will Margaux go to keep her little community nice and conformed now that this family has thrown a wrench in those plans? Will The Addams family adjust to their new surrounds and join the rest of us in the living nightmare we all must suffer through under late stage Capitalism, or is that the wrong kind of terrifying for them?
Child’s Play and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Lars Klevberg
I’m gonna say it right now. Even though the movie gets quite a bit of praise, Child’s Play is still underrated. It’s one of those series where the later films defined the look and tone that stuck in the popular consciousness to the point that the merits of the original can still be somewhat overlooked. It’s a lot like with the first Friday the 13th which is mostly known for the non-Jason killer and the sorta-Jason jump scare. The first Child’s Play really does have a lot going for it even if the more recognizable elements like the campiness and Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany are absent. In a way that kind of makes it perfect for a remake as the finer points of the original can feel fresh to newer audiences who only know of the franchise in the broadest of terms. Then again, turning Chucky from a possessed doll to a bad robot doesn’t feel particularly inspired, but I guess we can’t begrudge a remake for trying something new, right? Does this manage to capture the spirit of the original film while telling it in a new and interesting way, or is this yet another mess of a movie to throw on the pile with The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, The Black Christmas remake, and whatever the heck that Rings movie was supposed to be? Let’s find out!!
Andy Barclay and his mother Karen (Gabriel Bateman and Aubrey Plaza) have just moved to the city and are trying to start fresh with a new life, yet neither one of them seem to be doing a great job of it. Karen is in a relationship with a huge jerk named Shane (David Lewis), Andy isn’t making any friends with the kids in his building, and to make matters worse Karen has to work the return desk at a department store which means she has to deal with angry jerks ALL day long. You’d think she’d recognize the jerk-gene in her boyfriend considering how many of them visit her on a daily basis, but regardless of that, Andy’s birthday is coming up and she’s got nothing for him. I mean I guess she COULD buy him a Cabbage Patch knockoff doll, but considering it’s not the late eighties and he’s thirteen, it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Maybe she’ll “procure” one of those Buddi Dolls that one of the customers returned which I GUESS is supposed to be an A.I. assistant only MORE anthropomorphic since it’s housed inside a creepy looking robot doll. Hey, it’s cheaper than a new phone! Karen takes it home and Andy, while initially resistant, ends up finding a soft spot for the little bugger named Chucky (Mark Hamill), but not everything is as it should be because Chucky is not just an A.I.; it’s a LEARNING A.I. who observes things around it and jumps to the conclusion that murder might just might be the best way to solve Andy’s problems, and unfortunately for Andy this isn’t a problem that can be solved by turning it off and turning it back on again. Can Andy teach Chucky the ways of peace before he starts leaving a lot of bloody messes in his wake? Just how far will Chucky’s programming go to ensure Andy’s “happiness” at the exclusion of everything else? Couldn’t we let Mark Hamill use his Joker voice and just say Andy downloaded a custom speech pack from the cloud!?
Booksmart and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and Annapurna Pictures
Directed by Olivia Wilde
I probably should keep tabs on some of the more interesting films being made, particularly those by studios other than Disney, because this one flew COMPLETELY under my radar and I’ve only just now started hearing about it despite getting rave reviews and being directed by an actor I actually like! I watched every season of house, yet I didn’t know that Thirteen had directed a movie!? I mean at least it means that I can go into a movie with few preconceptions on what it will be, but it also means that unless it comes to the big local theater I’m likely to miss it; particularly this year where I can barely keep up with the big releases, let alone the smaller stuff. Thankfully this one is getting enough buzz that even my regular theater has screenings of it, but will it manage to live up to the hype or will I once again have to be rather nonplussed about a critical darling? Let’s find out!!
Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) are the best of friends who are about to graduate from high school as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian and have big plans for the future which include both of them going to Standford, graduating first in their classes, and probably being President and Vice President one day. Who knows!? THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! Sure, being such bookworms and ONLY focusing on getting good grades and doing activities that will look good on a college resume has left them as something of outsiders (which I found a bit odd considering the top kids in MY class at least were the popular ones as well, but whatever), and as their last day of high school approaches, they come to realize that MAYBE all that studying left them with no real life experience to carry with them to college and that they should break loose on the night before graduation by going to Nick’s party (Mason Gooding) where all the popular kids are having fun! Well okay, it’s MOSTLY Molly saying this, but Amy wants to be supportive and hesitantly agrees to go along with this and might even talk to the cute girl she’s had a crush on for some time (Victoria Ruesga). Sadly, no one bothered to give them the address before this huge revelation since… well they’ve never gone to one of their parties before so why would they now, and this means that they have to find someone who knows where it is and get the information out of them by whatever means necessary! Can Molly and Amy find the party of their dreams and survive whatever wacky hijinks are waiting for them out in the real world? Will this experience challenge their friendship like never before; possibly revealing longstanding issues that they’ve never allowed to bubble to the surface? Is it just me, or do movies like this make you realize how much you wasted your own high school years? And college years?
And most of your twenties? Okay, maybe it’s just me.
The Hustle and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and MGM
Directed by Chris Addison
Whether or not it’s a particularly successful tactic (particularly when the audience for blockbusters is only growing larger and larger), counter programming is still a thing in the industry and I’d wager that it’s the main reason this movie is being sandwiched between so many big named blockbusters. I certainly thought the trailers for this looked quite good and I like the casting quite a bit, but being put in theaters now when Avengers and Detective Pikachu are still tearing it up at the box office is either a sign of great insight for the studios to fill a gap in the viewing audience or total hubris that will spell doom for what seems to be a fun little crime film. Is this film a big time hustler elbowing its way to the forefront against such big titans of the cinema, or is this a small time crook that’s way in over its head? Let’s find out!!
Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a con artist working in the city running scams on dating sites which are actually quite effective, but end up garnering a significant amount of heat on her and so she’s forced to take her game elsewhere. Said elsewhere turns out to be the stomping grounds of another con artist Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) who’s set up her base of operations in a ritzy French tourist trap which is never short of gullible dudes just itching to be separated from their valuables, but a wild card like Penny could throw a wrench her in perfectly laid out plans if left to her own devices. Initially she tries to fool her into leaving of her own accord, but by her own wits and a bit of luck, Penny becomes wise to Josephine’s game and wants in on the action; a proposition Josephine is initially resistant towards but figures that keeping Penny happy and useful is better than risking her going to the authorities with what she now knows. At first it seems to be going just fine as Penny trains in the arts of manipulation with the help of Josephine’s assistants Brigitte and Alfred (Ingrid Oliver and Nicholas Woodeson), and they even pull of this brilliant little scheme that’s never really come together until Penny entered the picture, but all is not sunshine and roses in the world of professional scamming, and so the student must eventually face the master in a game of wits, ingenuity, and even a bit of outright cruelty, to prove once and for all if Penny’s brash resourcefulness is truly a match for Josephine’s refined expertise. Will Penny and Josephine’s ultimate challenge bring out the best in both of them, or will they lose everything to their overblown egos? Can they ever come to a mutual understanding given how different their backgrounds are and how cutthroat their line of work is? Is it just me, or is one of them at a distinct advantage considering they’ve already played a diamond thief in a previous movie, and that’s ASIDE from them already having played Catwoman!
Missing Link and all the images you see in this review are owned by Laika and United Artists Releasing
Directed by Chris Butler
I feel like I should be a hundred times more supportive of Laika and their filmography; especially considering how they can use all the help they can get. It’s not that I’ve disliked any of the movies I’ve seen (Coraline, Kubo, and now this), just that despite every they get right they’ve never quite managed to be the best animated films of their respective years and end up feeling like a second tier studio when they are clearly aspiring for the very best; kind of like a Studio Ghibli where they aren’t as prolific or well known as the Disneys and Dreamworks of the world, but have garnered massive respect and influence. Perhaps they will get there one and (some would say that they are already there) and their latest movie might just be what they need to make that dream that much more within their reach. Is this yet another masterpiece from one of the most creative animation studios working today or is this a misfire for a studio that can’t afford to have one of those right now? Let’s find out!!
The movie is set in the late nineteenth century and Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is the world’s premiere Cryptozoologist before that was a thing as he hunts down mythical creatures like The Loch Ness monster and fails to take decent pictures of them every single time. It’s a shame because the guy is a certifiable badass, but his deeds fall on less than enthusiastic ears as none believe his wild tales of mythical creatures; least of all the members of the Great Men society who snub his work and laugh behind his back. Frost is not one to give up however and after receiving a letter telling him that he can find the mysterious Sasquatch in the woods of Washington, he makes a bet with the society’s stuff leader Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) that he will gain acceptance into the organization if he can bring back proof of the creature! Sure enough, he does manage to find the legendary beast, but the plot starts to thicken as it turns out that Sasquatch can not only talk (Zack Galifianakis) but was also the one who wrote the letter. You see, he’s the last of his species up here in the Washington forest (I guess the others were all killed in some sort of massacre?) and wants to find safe passage to the Himalayas where he hears that similar creatures known as Yetis have lived for thousands of years, and he can definitely use a few more friends. Frost agrees to exchange evidence of the creature’s existence in exchange for taking him to his family and dubs him Mr. Link for the rest of the journey, and first mission is that Frost needs a map that is currently being held by an old friend of his Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) and she’s not about to give it up unless she gets to go on the journey too. However, Lord Piggot-Dunceby is getting REAL sick of Frost’s buffoonery and decides to hire a hitman (Timothy Olyphant) to kill him whether or not he finds the beast, so that’s something ELSE they’ll have to deal with on top of Mr. Link’s awkward and clumsy behavior as well as the treachery of traveling that far in this day and age. Will Mr. Link finally be reunited with his own kind and will Frost get the recognition he so desperately craves? What further challenges await them on their way to the Himalayas, and can their budding friendship endure such hardships? Seriously, this proper English explorer is traveling with this guy for weeks and he couldn’t spend an hour getting him a PROPER fitted suit!?
Fighting with My Family and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Stephen Merchant
There really should be more wrestling movies! Not movies starring wrestlers because… well after forty years we’ve managed about three good actors out of it, but movies ABOUT wrestling! Beyond the Mat? Good documentary! The Wrestler? Great movie! With those two examples, I rest my case! In the hopes of rectifying this situation, we’ve got WWE Studios along with Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson producing a biopic of sorts that tells the life story of one of its more recent superstars Saraya-Jade Bevis, known by her ring name Paige! Can the combined efforts of The WWE, Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, and even the talents of Stephen Merchant who they roped in to write and direct this thing, bring us an entertaining and heartfelt movie about one of the world’s most popular sports, or are we in for another low rent outing from the studio known for mediocre horror movies, straight to DVD action flicks, and Hannah-Barbara crossovers? Let’s find out!!
Saraya (Florence Pugh) is your typical teenager girl in your typical wrestling family. Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) have trained her to be an in-ring superstar and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is training to be a superstar in his own right. The family owns a rather notable indie wrestling promotion in England known as the World Association of Wrestling, but even with their comparatively high profile as a company they’re still struggling in a country that doesn’t seem to care much for independent wrestling promotions. That’s why Saraya and Zak have been training in the hopes of getting the attention of the WWE which will not only propel them to the levels of fame and adulation that they’ve always wanted but will also give them a few bucks to send back home whenever WAW ticket sales fall short. Their chance does eventually come when the WWE and NXT (the training program for potential wrestlers) visit England to put on a show and field some new talent; all of whom will be tested by one of their most seasoned trainers (Vince Vaughn) to see if they have what it takes. The good news is that Saraya does indeed have what it takes! The bad news is that Zak does not and so she has to leave her family behind to pursue her dreams while has to stay behind and fail to live out his. Can Saraya survive the harsh challenges of the NXT boot camp and keep her head on straight despite being so far from home? What will Zak do now that he’s failed at the one thing he’s been training his whole life for? How intense do family dinners get when you know everyone there can power bomb you into the mashed potatoes?