Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Honestly this whole “Oscar Season” thing has felt rather muted this year as I really haven’t seen that many movies that would fit the archetype we often associate with them. Other than Welcome to Marwen, the holiday season has been just an extension of summer with huge blockbusters coming out back to back with three presumed major money makers (Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, and Aquaman) fighting over a single weekend right before Christmas. However out of all those movies that we’re getting right now, the one that really caught my attention was this film; not because I had any particular reason to think it would be great (though I do certainly hope that’s the case!) but because it looked so much different than everything else. An animated film with a unique art style about Spider-Man characters other than Spider-Man? Heck, that’s PRACTICALLY Venom considering how much CG they used, and that wasn’t TOO bad! Can the cinematic debut of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, and… others I guess, manage to be up there with the best that Disney can put out, or is this only gonna look good in comparison to Sony’s other recent Spider-Man efforts? Let’s find out!!
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is your typical Marvel nobody; slightly smarter than everyone else, painfully insecure, and doesn’t realize how good his life is until some tragedy will inevitably strike it after they get super powers! For now though, he’s just bummed about having to go to a fancy new school that his parents (Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez) want him to attend while all he wants to do is be with his friends and hang out with his uncle (Mahershala Ali) who understands him a heck of a lot more than his parents do. During one such hang out session where he and his uncle tag a wall in an abandoned subway tunnel, Miles gets bit by a radioactive spider and goes through the typical Spider-Man first day of school; make a fool of yourself, stick to things, and eventually realize how awesome these powers are! Then again, there’s already a Spider-Man roaming the streets (Chris Pine) so it’s not like he needs to get himself involved in Super Hero shenanigans, right? Oh wait, Spider-Man’s dead. Huh. Didn’t see that coming (especially if you don’t know anything about Miles Morales already) and not only that, the big Super Villain plot he failed to stop is some sort of interdimensional portal gun thingy that The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is making and is merging alternate realties into this one. It makes a lot more sense when you see in the movie. Trust me on that. ANYWAY! One of the alternate dimensions has spout out Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson) who is like this universe’s Peter only a lot less dead and a lot less competent, and he and Miles end up crossing paths through even more convoluted shenanigans. So now that we’re up to TWO only somewhat competent Spider-People, they can do what the actually GOOD Spider-Man couldn’t, right? Eh… maybe, but let’s see if we can find a few more Else Worlds Spiders like Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Bot (Kimiko Gleen), and Spider-Pig (John Mulaney) before storming The Kingpin’s castle. I’m sure they’re around here somewhere! Will Miles learn how to use his powers for good and accept the responsibility that comes with them? Can the other Spider-People not only show him what it means to be a hero, but stop The Kingpin before their universe’s become endangered as well? Can we somehow find a way to go to an alternate dimension where this film is ALSO part of the MCU!?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
There are a lot of ways that you can mess up a sequel, but the most disappointing is when the film doesn’t just IGNORE the problems of the first film but actively builds off of them as if they were what we came there to see in the first place. It happened to The last Exorcism (no one cared about the Satanic Cult!), it happened with… well basically EVERY Hellraiser movie (the Cenobites shouldn’t be the main characters!), and it looks like that’s what’s happening with this film; a sequel to a film I enjoyed the heck out of but ended on… that note, and that’s the direction we’re going with. Sigh… I don’t know, maybe there’ll still be enough of the first movie’s cast to keep this form being utterly sunk by the presence of… that guy, but then again I can’t imagine how good the judgement of anyone involved with this could be if this is the guy they want to star in their lynchpin movie to an entire Harry Potter universe. Does this manage to eke out a bit of fun despite being in such poor taste right out the gate, or is it time for someone else to take a crack at the Wizarding World before the original creators cause even MORE damage to the franchise? Let’s find out!!
After the events of the last film, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been under in a magical US detention center and the Ministry of Magic in… I guess the UK (did they ever establish if the ministry in the books was just London, the United Kingdom, or something equivalent to the European Union?) has decided to move him back to London so he can stand trial. Of course they have a very convoluted and whimsical way of transporting this suspected murderer and terrorist which means that he ends up escaping and fleeing to France to I guess gather power and execute the next step in his overly convoluted scheme. If only there was someone powerful enough to hunt him down and bring him to justice! Sadly there isn’t, but Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is still bumming around England after the first movie, so I guess he’ll have to do! He’s been having trouble with his work since the Ministry put a travel ban on him after the events in New York (for reasons I guess?) and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) is trying to help him within his power as an Auror, but Newt’s not much for shady deals and compromises, so he rejects any offer that they give him to… I think join the Ministry or something. Anyway, all this bureaucratic nonsense won’t keep Newt from starring in this movie, especially since Dumbledore (Jude Law) is giving him Main Character Tips and explicitly wants him to fix everything! I think the plan is that if Newt could somehow get to France then he can find Credence (Ezra Miller) from the first movie who by the way is still alive and important for some reason, and only Newt can do this because… reasons. Oh, but Newt needs more than just saving the world from tyranny as a motivation! Maybe if we could throw in some of the characters from the previous movies, we could get this ball rolling. Oh look! Jacob and Queenie (Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol) are back together and he knows about magic again, but Tina (Katherine Waterston) is in France to try and find Credence for the US Ministry, and now Newt’s super into her which is something I really didn’t get from the first movie, but whatever. Newt heads to France to find Tina and I guess Credence, Queenie fights with Jacob and tries to find Tina, and Jacob goes with Newt to find Queenie. There are also subplots involving Newt’s ex-girlfriend and Theseus’s current fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Dumbledore being under strict watch by… someone at the Ministry, Credence and his new buddy Nagini (Claudia Kim) who gets maybe three lines trying to find his birth mother, and probably a few other things that just whizzed past me as I was watching this. Can Newt find Tina and Queenie and Credence and Grendlewald and maybe a few Fantastic Beasts before the running time threatens to suck up every remaining moment of my life!? Why the heck did they get Jude Law to play Dumbledore just to lock him in a castle for two hours!? WHO THE HECK THOUGHT ANY OF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?
KIN and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker
Oh goody! Another film I literally knew nothing about before I went to go see it! It doesn’t necessarily bode well that I had never even seen a poster for it, let alone a trailer, before heading to the theater to see it, but I like being surprised by something that I have no expectations for going in. It doesn’t ALWAYS work out as the recent Alpha and A.X.L have proven, but a kid with a space gun sounds like a great place to start; especially if this is gonna be anything like Laser Blast from 1978! Admittedly there’s not much chance that a movie like THAT would be made nowadays (especially starring a kid) or given a wide release, but I can dream, right!? Does this manage to be an excellent gem that no one bothered to give the time of day, or was this ultimately buried in late August for a darn good reason? Let’s find out!!
Elijah Solinski (Myles Truitt) is your average fourteen year old boy stuck in a crappy situation. His mom’s dead, his brother’s in jail, and he lives in Detroit with no Robocop in sight to make things better. Well at least one of those things is about to change (no, not Robocop) as his brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) has been released from prison and is gonna stay with him and their dad (Dennis Quaid) until he can find a stable job and get his life back on track. This is proving to be a very difficult thing however as he apparently owes sixty thousand dollars to a local gangster (James Franco) for protecting him while in jail and he wants the money back NOW. He doesn’t wait until Jimmy can get a decent job to garnish his salary, he doesn’t even have some dangerous job for him to do as a way of paying down the debt. He expects Jimmy to pull 60K out of his behind right away, which I guess makes James Franco “quirky” instead of “very bad at his job”. Despite how foolish his business model is, Jimmy DOES actually pull through for the guy as the two of them along with Franco’s brother (no, not Dave) rob the safe at his father’s construction site. As fate would have it though, dear old dad walks in on the crime and gets killed by Franco which means that Jimmy in turn kills his brother and runs to find Elijah alone in the car. Thinking fast, Jimmy spins a tale about a road trip where their dad will meet them later and the two of them rush off with whatever money Jimmy could scrounge up and not much more than the clothes on their backs. Needless to say that Franco is a bit peeved about the whole “you murdered my brother” thing, and so he follows in hot pursuit looking for Jimmy and the one thing left in his life that he cares about. Oh! I almost forgot! Apparently Elijah found a space rife or something and is carrying it around in secret while aliens in Space Marine armor are trying to find it. For some reason the SPACE GUN managed to get kind of lost in the shuffle here. ANYWAY, will Jimmy and Elijah be able to start a new life together and escape the wrath of James Franco? How long can Jimmy keep up this ruse and what’s his plan once they DO find a place to settle down? Seriously, HOW DO YOU MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT A SPACE GUN THAT’S ABOUT ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE EXCEPT THE SPACE GUN!?
Rough Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Lucia Aniello
Out of all the movies to come out this year… this is certainly one of them. Honestly, I think I only saw one trailer for this thing and it seemed just fine, but nothing all that inspired. Sure, the cast is REALLY solid with a bunch of extremely talented comedians, but we just go through Baywatch which no one but me liked and honestly Raunchy comedies WITHOUT such a high concept as a beach movie starring God’s Gift to Humanity (we mortals have deemed him THE ROCK) aren’t usually my cup of tea as they tend to prefer pushing buttons than be genuinely funny. Does this movie manage to be an exception to the rule when it comes to telling dirty jokes, or are we in for a long night of sub par genital jokes and bottom of the barrel toilet humor? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the exploits of five friends who are Jess (Scarlett Johnansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), Blair (Zoë Kravitz), and the relative newcomer to the group Pippa (Kate McKinnon). The first four were all friends in college but have started to drift apart now that life and responsibilities keep getting in the way and are off to reconnect in Miami, along with Pippa who met Jess in Australia, for a bachelorette party. Jess, the bride to be, is hesitant at first but gets into the spirt of things… right at the point where a stripper they hired (a SUSPICIOUS looking stripper!) is accidently murdered by Alice. With so much going on in their lives none of them can afford to go to jail, so they start coming up with increasingly ridiculous and desperate ways to get rid of the body and try to forget this whole thing ever happened. Will these five friends find some way to heal the rift that has built up between them despite there being a dead body in the room? What will Jess’s soon to be husband Peter (Paul W Downs) think when he gets a panicked phone call that doesn’t explain what’s going on? Will this AT LEAST be better than the Hangover sequels!?
The Lego Batman Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Chris McKay
Let’s see… you take something awesome like The LEGO Movie, and you add more Will Arnett. How could this POSSIBLY fail!? I mean granted, adding Will Arnett to ANYTHING is an automatic improvement (unless it’s Bojack Horseman), but considering what we’ve gotten from the DC canon since Nolan’s second movie, how could we NOT be excited when one of those movies isn’t fraught with astounding mismanagement and crushing solemnity!? Does this offshoot of The LEGO movie prove to be a success while laying the groundwork for other LEGO based offshoots, or has Warner Bros utter mismanagement of the DC licenses somehow managed to spread to this colorful and vibrant take on the characters? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Batman being Batman and everyone getting really sick about it, and I can certainly relate to that. More specifically, Batman (Will Arnett) has just locked away a whole bunch of villains for what has to be the millionth time, but something’s a little bit different. While The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) managed to escape like he usually does, Batman managed to hurt his feelings by claiming he’s NOT his arch-enemy, so now he’s got a NEW axe to grind with the caped crusader. On top of that, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) has just become the new commissioner and is somewhat skeptical about letting some sociopath with silly ears and a cape beating up poor people and other weirdos in the streets of Gotham which makes SENSE but isn’t all that comforting to Batman who’s already having enough trouble finding things to do in what little spare time he has NOW; let alone how much he’d have if the police department started doing their jobs right under Barbara’s new rule. To cap things off, he JUST SO HAPPENS to adopt a young boy named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) which you’d THINK would require just a LITTLE bit of paperwork, but I guess the Orphanage could use the extra bed; especially considering how many kids they have to take in considering how many supervillains are blowing shit up around the city. ANYWAY! Batman, who’s been avoiding his feelings all this time by punching baddies in the face now has to deal with that one thing we all fear… CHANGE! Will he be able to keep his cool now that the status quo has been upended? Just what does The Joker have planned now that he’s even MORE pissed at Batman than usual? Is it too soon to reboot the DC films and just make them all based on toys?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
Well DC certainly isn’t about to keep Warner Bros solvent for years to come, so it’s time to dip back into the Harry Potter well and Accio them some of that sweet franchise cash! Now despite the somewhat desperate circumstances surrounding the studio behind this film, there is a lot of potential here as JK Rowling wrote the script for it and David Yates has returned once again to direct. Then again… neither one of them has had much luck with their creative endeavors since the last Potter film, particular David Yates whose Legend of Tarzan earlier this year is one of the many domestic flops Warner Bros has had to deal with in the last few years. Huh. Well I’m SURE none of that is important when it comes to this film which promises to get us all back to waving overpriced wands and repurchasing the book sets once again! Does this latest entry in the Potter Franchise manage to inject some new life to build a new slate of films from, or is this a desperate cash grab form a lot of people who haven’t found a way to move on from this series? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in New York City with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his TARDIS like suitcase full of magical creatures. He’s come to the US in search of yet another magical creature to further his research, yet things start to go sideways once his suitcase’s latch starts malfunctioning which gives some of the more rascally creatures a chance to escape. You’d think that tying a belt around it would solve the issue, but maybe he would need a MAGIC belt and simply didn’t have one available at the time. Anyway, one of the creatures does get loose which is quickly retrieved, but not before a No-maj (the American word for Muggle) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) sees too much as well as Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) who seems to work for the US Ministry of Magic and wants to bring Newt in for questioning. Sadly for all involved, shenanigans ensue and Newt’s suitcase is broken wide open for even MORE creatures to escape which means that he must roam the streets of New York looking for them with Tina and Jacob in tow in an attempt to keep things nice and quiet as well as avoid jail time for all three of them. Of course, that’s not ALL that’s going on here as there seem to be some deeper intrigue involving a REALLY on the nose religious group known as the New Salem Church (subtle) being led by some zealot (Samantha Morton) and there might even be some traitorous players in the US Ministry of Magic that are helping them in their goals of hunting down magic users. Will Newt manage to get his creatures back before animal control either kills them or gets eaten themselves? What exactly is the New Salem church after, as well as those inside the wizarding world who are VERY closely looking at their activities? How the hell did Newt even get mixed up in all this!? HE JUST WANTED TO BUY SOMETHING!!