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?
“All I’m saying is that Halloween Havoc isn’t as bad as people say it is.” “What about the flash paper!?” “WHAT IF I STAB THESE CHOPSTICKS IN YOUR EYES AND SHOVE EGGROLLS DOWN YOUR THROAT!?” “Honey, I think we should probably have this discussion elsewhere. THE LIVING ROOM IN FIVE MINUTES!! IT’LL ALL BE SETTLED ONCE AND FOR ALL!!”
Santa’s Little Helper and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios and 20th Century Fox
Directed by Gil Junger
We’re back with another Christmas Tale brought to us by the WWE and oddly enough it not only stars The Miz once again but has the same director from Christmas Bounty! Apparently someone saw that first movie and thought that these two should ABSOLUTELY work together again which is certainly not the call that I would have made (mine would have involved an iron maiden to start with), but I guess that’s why I’m not making creative decisions for everyone’s favorite supporter of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family! Will they be able to pull off something halfway decent this time around, or was Christmas Bounty just the warning shot for something even far worse to come!? Let’s find out!!
Right off the bat, this movie is LEAGUES better than Christmas Bounty, and not just because they have a slightly improved font! First, The Miz is the star and not playing a supporting part which means we get to see him right away and all throughout the movie. Second, he is ACTUALLY really good in the role here which is basically yet another riff on the Scrooge archetype and fits in perfectly with his in-ring persona as a guy so smug you want to punch him in the face. He’s some dude who I GUESS works at a mortgage company and is working on this Rec Center the company wants to foreclose on for… reasons. Apparently the director of the Rec Center ran off with all their money and The Miz, who is called Dax Hardwick in this, is personally visiting the place to rub it in everyone’s faces that they’re gonna take it out from under them and bulldoze it to the ground! Damn! We’re up to Grinch levels of evil already!
Christmas Bounty and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios and Warner Bros Television
Directed by Gil Junger
What, you thought I was gonna stop talking about WWE movies in October! Oh HECK no! Their film studio pumps out PLENTY of stuff including two Christmas movies which we’ll be looking at this December and, oddly enough, both star one of the GREATEST wrestlers in their stable; Mike THE MIZ Mizanin! The dude is one of the best heels WWE has working for them who knows how to work the ring and also has some phenominal mic skills. Too often heels can fall into the trap of either being too good to root against or too bad to be taken seriously. Mike finds the perfect balance where he can back up his cockiness and with a strong show of genuine skill while also seeming petty and goofy which lets us keep hating him for being a jerk; though I still like him either way. What can I say? He’s a charming guy! Will he be able to translate those skills to a made for TV Christmas film? Let’s find out!!
Things start off less than ideal as the movie begins with a terrible Christmas pop song and some pretty cheap looking titles. If you’re post production work is something that I of all people could plausibly pull off, then you MIGHT want to throw an extra few bucks at the editor; at least to get some original fonts!
Papyrus! When Arial and Times New Roman are a little TOO obvious!
See No Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate Films and WWE Studios
Directed by Gregory Dark
We’re back with another SPOOKY movie that only exists because of Vince McMahon’s absurd little empire, and in this case the connection is much more direct than with DOOM. See, even though DOOM starred Dwayne “We’re still only crediting him as The Rock” Johnson it TECHNICALLY wasn’t a WWE film as that particular offshoot of the brand had barely come into existence at the time having only been second or third tier production house on bigger studio’s films and Big Boy Vince didn’t even have a hand in producing it. DOOM was a Hollywood movie through and through, but the landscape was about to change as the very next year WWE Studios (then known as WWE Films) were set to release their first three feature films under their banner with this being one of them. Seems like a simple enough premise to be sure, stick one of your monster men in a slasher film, and they certainly knew what the hell they were doing when they made The Marine the same year which is one of the most gloriously over the top action films ever made, so will this be an underrated gem in the genre or are we in for the cinematic equivalent of Halloween Havoc 1998; i.e. one long string of mediocrity followed by a jaw dropping botched shit show at the end!? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a prologue where two cops enter a rundown house presumably on some sort of tip or a report of a disturbance. Needless to say that what they find inside is more than just a mere disturbance as the place has clearly been modeled after the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and they find a woman who is still alive, but has had her eyeballs plucked out. The mother plucker by the way is in the other room and manages to take out one of the cops but can only manage to take an arm off the cop who kind of looks like Aaron Eckhart. Like Chris Hemseworth, our rather inefficient slasher learns that you should REALLY go for the head as the cop manages to pop off a shot at HIS head with his good arm.
Birth of the Dragon and all the images you see in this review are owned by BH Tilt and WWE Studios
Directed by George Nolfi
Now I’ve always been more of a Jackie Chan guy myself (sorry, but the guy has a much larger filmography and basically reinvented the genre by incorporating vaudevillian slapstick into the martial arts) but Bruce Lee is a dude who earned all the respect that he gets by being the first big Asian star in cinema and defining a genre of film for generations to come. There have been plenty of Bruce Lee films since his death in 1973, almost all of which were in pretty poor taste, but there hasn’t been one in quite some time so maybe now is the time to remind everyone just how awesome and badass he was with a brand new and super slick Hollywood production… or at least something approaching that. Can this film bring the man back to the forefront of action filmmaking one more time, or is this yet another example of how to pay tribute to him in the worst way possible? Let’s find out!!
The story begins in 1960s San Francisco where Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) hasn’t quite made it as a star but is certainly building up a following as the country’s greatest martial artist and a potential star of the silver screen. Of course, with this brazen attitude and willingness to teach anyone of any race the secrets of Eastern martial arts had gotten the ire of some of the more traditional masters back in China; including Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) who’s come to San Francisco as some sort of journey of self-discovery and repentance for his own misdeeds. One of Lee’s students Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) goes to greet Wong Jack Man at the port and they soon form something resembling a friendship with the latter still not happy with what Lee has been teaching to people like Steve which has always been a sacred practice as well as Chinese one. Eventually Lee’s pride and arrogance (and to a certain extent Wong Jack Man’s as well) leads the two to eventually meet and have a rather public standoff that may someday lead to the fight to end all fights. Oh, and there are Chinese gangsters in this movie somewhere because what kind of martial arts movie would this be if there WEREN’T Chinese gangsters hanging around? Will Bruce and Wong find a way to hash out their differences, even if they have to face each other in combat to do so? Will Steve be able to save his girlfriend from those Chinese Gangsters we were talking about because OF COURSE that subplot has to be in here somewhere? Is it just me, or does the guy in this movie look more like Moe Howard than Bruce Lee?
Sleight and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures
Directed by JD Dillard
If I ever decide to write a screenplay, I have two ideas. One of them I’m still gonna keep to myself, but the other was a fake-documentary about a street magician who ACTUALLY had magic powers. I hadn’t really thought of it past that point (no idea what the conflict would be), but when I saw the trailer to Sleight it looked like someone had made a much better version of my idea and I couldn’t wait to see it. That kind of magic (or should I say MAGIC!) has always been of great interest to me, whether it’s Penn & Teller’s unique brand of magic comedy, the soft spot I have for at least the second Now You See Me movie, or even Zatanna from DC Comics who is one of my favorite super heroes of all time. Mixing that with a sort of low key X-Men origin story seemed like the kind of movie that would easily be one of my favorites of the year, and that’s saying something considering how good the movies have been so far! Does this manage to exceed my expectations as a pseudo-superhero movie with card tricks and drug dealers, or does this all devolve into a mess of poorly thought out ideas and wasted potential? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Bo (Jacob Latimore); a mild mannered young man with a little sister Tina (Storm Reid), a penchant for magic tricks, and a side job selling drugs to keep a roof over their heads. Now that last thing might sound rather risky to be doing, even if he doesn’t have much of a choice (both his parents are dead), but then again… who else would be better at hiding drugs than a master of sleight of hand!? Well I can think of at least ONE kind of person who’d be better! A master of sleight of hand who ALSO has super powers! Now he doesn’t make his powers obvious, but he clearly is using some sort of subtle manipulation of objects around him that no actual magician would have, so on top of being bad ass with a deck of cards he can ALSO avoid police suspicion with the way he can hide his products. This has led to him being a rather good dealer which is good news for his supplier Angelo (Dulé Hill) who wants to bring Bo deeper into his organization. On top of dealing with that and his kid sister, he also manages to meet a nice girl named Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) who he wants to be there for as well but Angelo pulling him closer keeps pushing him further away from them. Eventually things come to a head with Angelo and Bo has to find a way to get out from under his thumb once and for all, even if it means doing something he’s never wanted to do with the gifts he’s been given. Will BO be able to protect everyone he loves before Angelo takes everything away from him? What exactly is the nature of his powers and how did he get them? I wonder what his magician name would be. Bo the Benevolent?
“With great power comes great responsibility. Now what Spider-Man never got is that that responsibility can take many forms! He chose to save people, which is nice, but not for me. Instead, I’ve decided to BLOW THEIR MINDS!!”
Incarnate and all the images you see in this review are owned by Blumhouse Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures
Directed by Brad Peyton
I go to see a lot of movies, and I don’t think I saw a single trailer for this at any of them; not even other horror films or Blumhouse productions. That seems pretty strange though considering they’ve got a well-known actor in here with Aaron Eckhart who may not be quite A list, but should be enough to sell a movie like this, and yet it seems to have slipped completely under the radar. That’s usually a bad sign, but it’s not always the case as films like last year’s We Are Your Friends was a movie I never heard of until I went to the theater to see it, and that turned out to be pretty solid; especially compared to other Zac Effron outings like Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Maybe the same is true for this little horror flick. I mean… it’s possible… right? Either way, let’s find out!!
The movie begins as most demon possession movies do with a young child getting his soul hijacked from some horrifying hell spawn with the victim here being Cameron (David Mazouz) who seems to catch it from this homeless woman as the demons here apparently jump from host to host. Naturally, the Vatican is all over this and sends out one of their representatives (Catalina Sandino Moreno) to keep an eye on things, but it soon becomes clear that conventional methods are gonna take care of it this time. Instead, she calls upon… Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart)! Who is he? Well he’s some guy who looks to have watched Inception a few too many times and has come up with a new exorcism technique where he goes into the mind of those possessed and convince their subconscious or whatever to reject the monster that is feeding off of their soul. Of course, Dr. Ember isn’t some bright eyed idealist who’s doing this for the good of mankind! He has a DARK PAST full of TRAGEDY and WOE, and the techniques he’s developed were all in service of killing ONE DEMON SPECIFICALLY who has something to do with said tragic past. Of course, it JUST SO HAPPENS (or maybe not?) that the kid is being possessed by that ONE SPECIFIC DEMON, so Dr. Ember begrudgingly takes the case along with his two hipster tech brats Riley and Oliver (Emily Jackson and Keir O’Donnell). Will Dr. Ember finally gets the vengeance that has eluded him all these years? Will he be able to save Cameron in the process, or will Ember see him as expendable in the pursuit of a greater goal? What… exactly did I just sit though?
“Maybe I will do that I, Frankenstein sequel after all. It wasn’t THAT bad, was it?”