movies

REVIEW: “Captain Marvel”

captain marvel_1I have had a lot of mixed feelings about the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None of them are bad or anything, but I don’t feel like most of them are particularly great. With a few exceptions, most Marvel movies seem to live in this realm of utter mediocrity. They follow the same formula each and every time, with frequently underdeveloped villains, weak third-acts, and humor that tends to undercut the more serious moments. Recent Marvel films have continued to find themselves unable to buck this trend – even some films, like Black Panther, that have managed to have well-developed villains, still can’t quite get the other elements right. So, my expectations for Captain Marvel were pretty low. After all, it’s a film that takes place prior to all of the events in the MCU, existing only to introduce a hero who will, presumably, be important in Avengers: Endgame, but with a plot that takes place so far in the past that it can’t possibly connect to the overarching MCU storyline in any meaningful way. To be honest, the part of the film I was most looking forward to was the opportunity to see Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in a role that was larger than a glorified cameo. I wasn’t particularly interested in or excited by anything else about the movie. So, with all of that baggage, how is Captain Marvel? Well, it’s another bog-standard Marvel film that has some really nice moments, but ultimately falls victim to many of the problems most Marvel movies exhibit. (There will be spoilers for Captain Marvel in this review.)

Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel (Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (with additional writing by Geneva Robertson-Dworet) is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.

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REVIEW: “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”

BM_Bandersnatch_Vertical-Main_PRE_RGBChoose-Your-Own-Adventures books are always a lot of fun. You’re able to explore multiple different endings to a story, some ridiculous, some serious, and you’re able to replay that story countless times to explore each different branch of the story. It’s a method of storytelling that’s never really been tried in film or TV before. Before Bandersnatch, that is. Bandersnatch is the first film in the Black Mirror series. Written by Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, Bandersnatch is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure film that allows audiences to choose how the story of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) plays out. It’s a whole lot of fun and genuinely impressive to watch (and participate in). (NOTE: There will be spoilers for Bandersnatch. I will try to keep them minor, but it’s hard to talk about this film without spoiling some things.)

In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge.

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REVIEW: “Mary Poppins Returns”

mary poppins returnsposterMary Poppins is one of Disney’s best live-action musicals. It jump-started the film career of Julie Andrews and provided audiences with some of the best known Disney songs. With that in mind, how does one make a sequel to such a classic, beloved film? According to Rob Marshall (director of Mary Poppins Returns) and David Magee (writer of Mary Poppins Returns), the best way to make a sequel is to essentially remake the original film, using a similar (but less interesting) plot and far less memorable songs.

In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

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REVIEW: “Aquaman”

aquaman posterI’m not afraid to admit that Aquaman was one of my least anticipated films of 2018. It’s a movie about a character I’ve never been interested who was also deeply uninteresting in his previous big-screen appearance in last year’s Justice League. None of the trailers released for the film ever looked particularly good. The visuals were incredible, but the acting from Jason Mamoa (Aquaman) and Amber Heard (Mera) was wooden and boring to watch. So, to say I wasn’t excited about the film would be an understatement, but I love DC and I want the DC movies to succeed and to be good, so, I still saw the movie. And, to be honest, my initial impression was correct. For as innovative as the visuals were, the storytelling and acting were not. (Mild spoilers may follow) 

From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, “Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime–one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be… a king.

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A Second Chance for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

crimes of grindelwald screenplayWhen I first saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald last week, I had some mixed feelings about it. The film had too many characters it was trying to follow and the whole thing felt like more of an in-between film whose sole purpose was to set up the following film instead of something that could stand on its own. Since that first viewing, I’ve read the published screenplay, listened to about two hours of the Audible documentary Makers, Mysteries, and Magic, and seen the film a second time. While I still have the same problems with the film I previously did, I liked it a whole lot more on my second viewing. I think it’s down to the fact that I’ve started to appreciate the film for what it is; it’s not trying to be a stand-alone movie, rather, it’s trying to, essentially, be part 2 of a five-part story. It’s chapter 2 of a five chapter book. The film isn’t really meant to be viewed on its own but in the context of that larger story. The problem that we as critics face is: how do we evaluate a story that is, by nature, not actually completed by the end of the film? I think the best thing to do is to examine what the film does have instead of what it doesn’t(There will be full spoilers for the film ahead!)

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REVIEW – “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

cog-posterI loved the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I thought it was one of the best, if not the best, movies in the Wizarding World franchise. It definitely helped that that movie wasn’t, strictly speaking, based on any preexisting story and could really be its own thing. It introduced a lot of new and interesting characters and opened the Wizarding World up in new and exciting ways. Plus it set up a pretty cool plotline for a series of films: the rise and fall of Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), the big, evil wizard before Voldemort was the big, evil wizard. So, naturally, I’ve been pretty excited for this film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, to come out. The big question is: could it live up to two years worth of hype and excitement? The answer is: yes, and no. (There will be mild spoilers for the film in this review.)

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

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REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

mv5bndg2njixmduynf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzeznte1ntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006291000_al_I adore Queen. I’ve loved them since I first discovered them in middle school and I adore them to this day. They were a band that, in many ways, was ahead of its time. While all of them brought different strengths to the table, I think it’s fair to say that the band is most remembered for the vocal talents of its late lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Freddie had a voice that has yet to be topped and had a personality that was as large as his vocal range. But he was also a very private man and kept much from the limelight. It was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about him and about his time in Queen and that’s exactly what Bohemian Rhapsody is. While it’s more about Queen than about Freddie, Bohemian Rhapsody, written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Bryan Singer (with Dexter Fletcher completing the film after the firing of Singer), tells the story of Freddie and Queen, from their beginnings in the early 1970s through their monumental performance at Live Aid in 1985. It’s an enjoyable film, though one that never really explores its subject as deeply as you’d like it to.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie, surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.

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REVIEW: “You Might Be The Killer”

You Might Be The KillerWho doesn’t love a good scary movie around Halloween? I’m a bit of a wuss, so I like my scary movies to not be too scary. I enjoy being spooked but not being scared so far out of my wits that it’s unpleasant. Because of that, it’s often hard for me to find good, new scary movies to watch since so many modern horror movies rely on jump scares that just make me anxious to a degree that’s entirely unenjoyable. Then along comes You Might Be The Killer, written by Brett Simmons, Thomas P. Vitale, and Covis Berzoyne and directed by Brett Simmons. Based on a viral twitter thread from authors Chuck Wendig and Sam SykesYou Might Be the Killer is a horror-comedy where Sam (Fran Kranz) finds himself trapped at a summer camp, being hunted by a masked killer, and calls his friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) for help.

A camp counselor suffering from blackouts finds himself surrounded by murder victims. He turns to his horror movie enthusiast friend for advice, and to contend with the idea he may be the killer.

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“Christopher Robin” is super cute and enjoyable, though not particularly memorable.

christopher robin posterWhen I heard that Disney was gonna make a live-action version of Winnie-the-Pooh with a grown-up Christopher Robin, I was a bit skeptical. Was that something anybody wanted to see? Didn’t it sound a bit too much like Hook? Would it be good? Then Ewan McGregor was cast as Christopher Robin and I was intrigued. Then the first teaser trailer came out and it looked somewhat generic, but still really cute. Then the second trailer came out and I was totally sold. Every piece of promotional material since then has just made me more and more interested in and excited about the movie. The big question is: is the movie actually good? The short answer is: yeah, it’s alright. Written by Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison Schroeder (from a story by Greg Brooker and Mark Steven Johnson) and directed by Marc Foster, Christopher Robin tells the story of a grown-up Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) as he deals with work and familial problems.

In the heatwarming live action adventure “Disney’s Christopher Robin,” the young boy who loved embarking on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a band of spirited and loveable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.

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The New “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Trailer is Beyond Exciting

DipbR_SXcAETQLXToday was the Warner Brothers panel at Comic-Con and the first thing they did was debut a new trailer for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s our first look at the film since the teaser trailer was released back in March. This trailer is nearly double the length of the first one and features a whole lot of new footage and much better look at both the tone and content of the film. Written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It continues the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he is tasked by Dumbledore (Jude Law) to help track down and defeat wizard terrorist Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). It is due to be released on November 16, 2018, and also stars Katherine Waterstone as Tina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, Ezra Miller Credence Barebone, Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, Brontis Jodorowsky as Nicolas Flamel, and Claudia Kim as a currently unnamed Maledictus.

At the end of the first film, the powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise wizards and witches up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

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