January 26, 2018

Critical Capsule: Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle

I know a lot of people had very strong feelings about the prospect of a Jumanji remake. I was not one of them, sure I enjoyed the movie, but I cannot say I had any particular attachment to it. That said, I initially thought this new edition looked pretty bad. I was wrong. No, it is not a great movie by any stretch, but it is a lot of fun and I liked the use of the video game elements throughout. Beyond that, the cast had great chemistry and Jack Black, in particular was quite well cast and had a rather strong character arc. Likewise, I actually didn’t mind Kevin Hart here, I am not usually a fan of his. Then we have the Rock, who was great as usual. Finally what can be said about Karen Gillan? Overall, this was a fun addition to the Jumanji-verse, not sure I need anymore but this is an easy one to recommend for a little fun in the theater.

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January 25, 2018

Critical Capsule: Justice League

Justice league, what else is left to be said? Probably nothing. I did enjoy the film, but I did not love. I felt that Steppenwolf was a weak villain and the plot felt like a mash of Avengers and Lord of the Rings. A lot of the comedic moments fell flat, especially when they were centered on Batman; however, Flash was pretty fantastic. I thought most of the heroes were handled well, Wonder Woman continues to shine and Cyborg was a lot better than I was expecting. I would :d[ watch this one again and feel it currently is the second best of the DCEU, behind Wonder Woman. I do feel this universe has been rushed but there is always time to save, unlike Universal’s Dark Universe debacle.

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January 23, 2018

Movie Review: The Disaster Artist

The Room is, hands down, one of the worst movies ever made. The funny thing is that we are here talking about it years after its release, which was really no more than a blip. Why? Why are we still talking about this awful movie? Let’s take that a step further, why are theaters having midnight screenings? Why do these screenings sell out? Why? Why? Why? The only thing that I can surmise is that we, as a collective, are attracted to crap. Seriously. I admit it, I have seen The Room and would likely watch it again. I must be some sort of masochist. Now, we have reached the ultimate in our collective love for bad filmmaking, a movie made by bi Hollywood names attempting to find the source of enjoyment of this terrible movie and deeper than that, an understanding the enigmatic figure at the center of it all.

January 22, 2018

Critical Capsule: A Bad Moms Christmas

Last year, Bad Moms proved to be a bit of a surprise hit. You know what that means! Let's rush out a sequel! That brings us A Bad Moms Christmas. The main cast returns and adds a number of notable names to play the mom’s moms. Well, I am happy to report that while this has very little plot, it still maintains the vulgar charms of the first and is quite enjoyable. It is by no means great, but is a fun R rated holiday romp and the additions of the mom's worked out quite well. I wonder what could be next? I don't really see this as a long running franchise, but I would not be against another go around with these put upon mom's just trying to do the best they can for their families. Perhaps unrealistic, but certainly relatable.

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January 16, 2018

Critical Capsule: Transformers - The Last Knight

So, I was watching the latest Transformers movie and I think it has finally happened, I just don't care about these movies anymore. This outing is just another incomprehensible mess filled with pretty explosions, lame jokes, and devoid of anything resembling a soul. I had no idea what was going on, nor did I care. It was also pretty clear that Anthony Hopkins was just there for a paycheck. I will admit, it looks real slick and no one sets off an explosion like Michael Bay. I just wish there was something to home onto, some sort of emotional investment. I guess it is a plus that we don't have to listen to Shia Lebeouf whine. I actually would not mind a complete reboot of the franchise, hopefully creating the mythology first, not messing with it every time out. I will also say that it has more energy than the last Pirates of the Caribbean debacle, but that's not saying much. If another in this series comes along it will be too soon. Sadly, I will probably find myself watching that to. Avoid this mess if you can.

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January 15, 2018

Movie Review: Leatherface (2017)

Is there a movie series with as convoluted a timeline as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? I am not sure there is. You have the original film, two sequels that are not directly connected to the original, a fourth that is just sort of there, a remake, a prequel to the remake, a direct sequel to the original, and now this, a supposed prequel to the original. For the most part, it is probably better not to think of any supposed connection between them, especially when it comes to this movie. Coming into my viewing, I had heard everything from it being pretty good to avoid it like the plague. Now, clearly being me, I was no going to pass this movie up. The only question that really remained was going to be what my reaction was.

January 14, 2018

Critical Capsule: Coco

It is nice to see Pixar back in form. I have to be honest, with films like the Cars trilogy and Monsters University, I was beginning to lose faith. Then Coco comes around, I swear, by the end I was doing all I could to keep from sobbing. The movie is funny, intelligent, with a huge heart and one back of an emotional investment. It also gives an interesting look into the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. The story of Miguel going against his family to follow his dream only to find that dream to be the one thing that can bring his family together is very sweet. This is a beautifully told tale of family and discovery, that is jaw droppingly gorgeous to look at, the animation is incredible. This is not a movie to be missed.

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January 13, 2018

Movie Review: The Commuter

What is it about Liam Neeson that makes him such an effective badass/everyman? Is it that voice? His imposing stature? Maybe it’s the way he can go from being a kind fatherly type, to a cold blooded killer, to a rage filled man out for justice in the blink of an eye? Whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter how familiar the movie feels, he always brings a certain class and charisma to the screen. It should come as no surprise, then, to find The Commuter is an easy to watch and entertaining film, even being as predictable and flawed as it is. I just seem to really like him in these increasingly familiar. Something akin to a manufactured Bronson type, aging star appearing in crazy action films. No, he is no Bronson, but you can see where the comparison comes from, right?

January 9, 2018

Trailer Park: Paddington 2

Three years ago a live action adaptation of Paddington Bear reached the big screen, and despite a rather rocky ad campaign, it became a modest success and, as it turns out, it was enough to spawn a sequel. I remember those early commercials and trailers and how they focused on the stupid and the slapstick. I remember actually dreading sitting through it. Fortunately, the movie turned out to be really good and really sweet and just what family entertainment needed. Now, here I am hoping that this second go around delivers the goods and lives up to its predecessor. Get ready for Paddington 2.

2017: Favorite First-Timers, Non-New Release

I watched a lot of movies in 2017. For reasons I am not going to go into here, I had a lot of time on my hands to watch movies. I watched more in this calendar year than I ever have before. Of course, I also saw my writing output drop, my percentage of first time watches drop, and probably the overall quality of movie watched drop. So, I had a lot of us and downs. Fortunately, I still managed to make some good choices and many of my first time watches were quite good. Below, I highlight the top five watches from that list. They do not include any 2017 narrative features.

January 8, 2018

Trailer Park: The Commuter

It is amazing to see how an actor seems to completely reinvent themselves. Liam Neeson, I always looked at as that respectable drama actor type, but then something changed. Liam became the ultimate cinematic badass, the likes we haven’t seen since Charles Bronson’s heyday. Well, that may take it a bit too far, Neeson is no Bronson, but there is no denying the string of action/thrillers that he has put out over the past decade or so and the entertainment they have delivered. Yes, the Taken films have run out of steam, but now we have another Taken-style thriller. Will it deliver the goods? One can hope.

2017: Top 5 New Releases Not Seen Theatrically

For the bulk of the year, I tried to keep track of the 2017 movie releases that I did not see in a theater, or bypassed theaters altogether. This would include DVD and Blu-ray releases of movies that went through theaters, films that went directly to video and those that were Netflix originals and the like. Granted a lot of these turned out to not really be worth the time, but there are always a few that slip past the guards and actually prove to be good movies. Below are my 5 favorite movies from 2017 that I did not see in a theater:

January 7, 2018

Trailer Park:Proud Mary

I know a lot of people who just don’t care for modern movies. I can understand the frustration that comes from, but I like to think a good number of movies have some sort of positive element to them. This lets me have the feeling of excitement while watching trailers and coming across one for a project I was completely unfamiliar with. There is nothing quite like sitting in that theater and seeing something that makes you sit up and pay attention. Proud Mary is one of those trailers that made my take notice, make me really look forward to seeing it.

2017: Worst 5 Suffered Theatrically

What would a top ten list be without a corresponding worst list? I think I did a mostly all right job of avoiding the bad movies, but some I cannot avoid and others are just lapses in judgment. Considering how relatively few new releases I saw during the year, I am going to limit this list to a total of five. I think that’s a fair number, right? Who wants to dwell on the crap? Well, I think a lot of us do, but that’s another discussion. Without further ado, here are my bottom five new releases witnessed in a theater:

January 6, 2018

Trailer Park: Blumhouse's Truth or Dare?

So, I was at the movies to see the latest Insidious installment. Why? I like the series that’s why. Anyway, I was watching the trailers, and, as expected, a mainstream horror film was preceded by a succession of other mainstream horror fare. Granted, there is not much to like about mainstream horror, but occasionally you find stuff that works (ahem, Insidious, cough), well one of the trailers caught my eye and not really for the right reason. It looked a lot like everything else, which isn’t good, it also reminded me of another horror franchise that I have some affection for, but still there was something about it.

January 3, 2018

Top 10 of 2017 - Theatrically Seen

It’s that time of year, when everyone begins posting their best of the year lists. Each of which is sure to spark arguments among even the closest of friends. For what it’s worth, this is likely to be the leas definitive list that I have ever thrown together. For being the year in which I watched more movies than any other, it is also the year that I saw the fewest new releases theatrically, than I have ever seen before. Still, I did manage to see some really good movies and I suspect a lot of them would have made this list regardless of how many I’d seen. So, I am not offering much in the way notes for each each title, just know that I highly recommend each one. Below are the top 10, although I would be happy with the top 20, but I considered that to be a bit much, as I’v only see 45 eligible film.