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Category: Movies

2 Aug

August Movie Preview

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I’ll be honest, my initial look at August was pretty weak, but after further review there are some quality films coming out! Oddly, no big-budget blockbusters though (even DARK TOWER cost under $100 mil). So there’s still lots to check this month!

  1. LOGAN LUCKY – Aug. 18. For a guy who said he was retiring from movies, Steven Soderbergh has been pretty busy. This looks delightfully insane, with a killer cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and “introducing” Daniel Craig. Initial reviews have been pretty soft, but it’s still a new Soderbergh film dangnabbit!
  2. DETROIT – Aug. 4. Kathryn Bigelow is finally getting her due as a filmmaker thanks to the massive success of THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY, and she’s going dark again with this story of the Detroit riots of 1967. With the current racial climate in America, this is a tough story to tell but with John Boyega (THE FORCE AWAKENS) and Anthony Mackie (HURT LOCKER, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER) toplining it’s a great cast and creative crew. Still seems like a fall movie though, it’s tough to get folks to think hard during the summer.
  3. THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD – Aug. 18. Speaking of dumb fun, hey, let’s throw Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson together and see what happens! What’s that, it’s a foul-mouthed action comedy? What a shock! Unfortunately the creative side hasn’t made much other than EXPENDABLES III, but the trailer looks pretty good. Expect the actors’ charm to carry the whole film.
  4. WIND RIVER – Aug. 11. A thriller from the writer of the brilliant SICARIO. Jeremy Renner plays a “veteran game tracker” working on an Indian reservation who discovers a murdered woman and has to solve the crime with an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who’s out of her element. Hey, it’s that Hawkeye/ Scarlet Witch crossover you’ve been waiting for! Looks tight.
  5. BIRTH OF THE DRAGON – Aug. 25. The writer/director of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU tells the true tale of Bruce Lee’s fight with a Kung Fu master that put him on the path to greatness. An early cut was shown at TIFF last year to unanimous hatred, since it inexplicably focused on a white dude who’s caught up in Lee’s life. How that ever seemed like a good idea is beyond me, and it led to an assault on the IMDB page for the film. Nolfi hasn’t admitted to recutting it but one article online talked about seeing a very different cut last month, and the trailer now shows very little of the white boy. So at least based on the trailer, this looks pretty good.
  6. GLASS CASTLE – Aug. 11. Before winning an Oscar for ROOM, Brie Larson starred in Destin Daniel Cretton’s SHORT TERM 12 to rave reviews, and they’re reteaming for this one. Brie plays the older version of Woody Harrelson’s daughter, part of a nomad family roaming across the states, evading the tax-man. He paints their life as one of absolute freedom, which she recognizes as a lie as she gets older. Can she reconcile her yuppie adult life with her literally carefree parents? Again, looks like a fall film but it’ll be a tough ride.
  7. THE DARK TOWER – Aug. 4. I read the first few books in the series, which was one of the first “meta” constructs where elements of unconnected Stephen King books suddenly started appearing together in an exhilarating mix. When they announced a big screen/tv crossover project I was excited! A real attempt to do justice to an amazing series! Then, the worst possible name was uttered: Akiva Fucking Goldsman. Write. Off. The review embargo lifts tonight, so we’ll see what the critics think, but for now King himself seems happy, though I’m sure he’s got a strong financial investment in its success. The box office tracking is very low, so we may not see more anyway. It’s a shame, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey look great in the trailer.
  8. ANNABELLE: CREATION – Aug. 11. The prequel to the spinoff of THE CONJURING. Director David F. Sandberg’s LIGHTS OUT was a lot of fun, and Miranda Otto (THE TWO TOWERS) is here, but overall, meh. More creepy doll shit.
  9. KIDNAP – Aug. 4. Look, just don’t take Halle Berry’s son, okay? If you do, lots of people are going to die. By the trailer, probably a dozen or so people die in traffic accidents she causes. All because she doesn’t trust the cops to do their jobs. I’m sure lots of folks will get off on the idea of becoming a vigilante, doling out bowls of rich, creamy justice to kidnappers. GIVE ME BACK MY SON!
  10. THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE – Aug. 11, RealD3D. Hey, it’s the only 3D movie this month! And it’s a shitty sequel to a disposable kid’s movie! The first one was surprisingly successful, so hey, why not make another? It’s a mash up of, well, the first movie, and THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS, only this time it’s a cute lil’ mouse voiced by Jackie Friggin’ Chan. Whatever.
  11. ALL SAINTS – Aug. 25. I’m harsh on Christian films. But dangit, they’re just so lame! Dry, predictable, unchallenging, and preaching to the choir. This one’s about a church that’s scheduled for closure that sees a resurgence thanks to an influx of refugees who help turn the valuable land into *gasp* farmland! How dare this charismatic priest go against the wishes of the… diocese? Well, whatever organization runs things for this branch. It’ll be interesting to see how southerners take the message of bringing in refugees to shore up failing church numbers.

So there’s more than expected for August! Not nearly as big as years past, but maybe that’s for the best. September has some great films in the wings, so get ready for that in, oh, four weeks or so.

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7 Jul

July Movie Preview

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July! Summer is in full swing, with lots of blockbusters clogging up the theatre! It’s been a pretty rough summer overall, with lots of franchises sputtering and dying, but cheer up, quality films are here in spades! Let’s break it down.

  1. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – July 7, RealD3D, IMAX3D. The hype is real: this is the best Spider-Man film yet, and maybe the best comic book film to boot. Peter Parker is a nerdy teen, as he should be! No more 30 year olds trying to look young, Tom Holland is the real deal. This is more comedy than action, with young Spidey throwing lots of zingers but the rest of the cast has their moments too. An absolute must see.
  2. VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS – July 21, RealD3D. Luc Besson is back with what’s basically a thematic followup to THE FIFTH ELEMENT, an insane sci-fi adventure through the crazy lens of French Bande Desinee. In a summer full of cries for something original, this is the real deal, jammed with stuff you’ve never seen before. It’s a shame there’s not an IMAX release for something on this scale, but be sure to see it on the big screen or you’ll be kicking yourself later when you catch it on Netflix.
  3. DUNKIRK – July 21, IMAX 70mm! Christopher Nolan is easily IMAX’s biggest champion, and he shot the bulk of this WWII thriller in native 70mm IMAX film. The only locations in the GTA that will show it intact are the Colossus in Vaughn and Square One in Mississauga, but both screens are smaller than the Scotiabank downtown, which will show it in nearly-as-good IMAX Laser. Varsity with have a traditional 70mm print. I’ll be checking it out at the Colossus as well as the Scotiabank for a proper comparison. Oh, right, the film itself. It looks intense, a real “war is hell” story where you’re right in the thick of it.
  4. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – July 14, RealD3D. The trilogy wraps up in a gritty battle between the apes and the last of humanity, but they’re dicks, so it looks like we’re rooting for the apes. Advance word is extremely positive, and the first two were phenomenal, so it’s good to know they’re sticking the landing.
  5. THE BIG SICK – July 15. Kumail Nanjiani (SILICON VALLEY) stars in what is basically the true story of how he and his wife got together. It’s a fantastic romantic comedy with deeper levels, specifically about race and how mixed relationships work in our modern world. Funny and sweet, a great date film that deserves all the praise it’s getting.
  6. ATOMIC BLONDE – July 28. Charlize Theron gets all JOHN WICK on your ass. Unfortunately the reviews from festival screenings say it’s more style than substance, but it should still be entertaining as hell.
  7. WISH UPON – July 14. If you need a horror fix, this one from the director of ANNABELLE looks pretty good. A bullied teenager finds a box that grants seven wishes, but uh-oh, things are not what they seem.
  8. GIRLS TRIP – July 21. Four best friends travel to N’Awlins for some debauchery. R-rated comedies have had a rough go recently at the box office, but urban films are doing gangbusters. I wouldn’t expect it to change the game, but it’s nice to see Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith on the big screen.
  9. THE EMOJI MOVIE – July 28. Jesus wept.

That’s July! I’m not gonna lie, August looks like shit with one glowing exception, but we’ll leave that for next month. Get to the movies!

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5 Jun

Andrew interviews Ron Perlman, Martin Starr, and John Francis Daley

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As mentioned in this week’s podcast, here are links for two of the panels I moderated at Motor City Comic Con.

Martin Starr and John Francis Daley via Detroit Free Press Co-stars of FREAKS AND GEEKS, Martin Starr also stars in SILICON VALLEY and PARTY DOWN, John is in 5-25-77 and is the co-writer of SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING.

Ron Perlman via Facebook Live Ron is best known as HELLBOY as well as SONS OF ANARCHY and from the brilliant BEAUTY AND THE BEAST show from 1987.

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2 Jun

New Movies for June 2017

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June! The summer movie season is in full swing. This month, every weekend has a potential $100m opening, but there’s blood in the water. Not everything will succeed, but what will be worth your hard-earned cashola? Let’s take a look.

  1. BABY DRIVER – June 28. Edgar Wright is a cinematic treasure. Everything he does is touched by genius, box office be damned. The praise for his latest is through the roof, a killer action-comedy with inventive car chases that are basically choreographed with great pop tunes. An absolute must see.
  2. WONDER WOMAN – June 2, RealD3D, IMAX3D. They finally did it. DC made a great superhero flick, starring and directed by ladies. Reviews are super positive, some are putting it ahead of ALL of Marvel’s films, but there’s a lot of hopes and dreams resting on this one. Thankfully it delivers.
  3. THE MUMMY – June 9, RealD3D, IMAX3D. I don’t know how Universal got Tom Cruise to be the first headliner for their new rebooted classic horror series, but this looks utterly bananas. Should be a fun night at the movies though.
  4. IT COMES AT NIGHT – June 9. One of three horror films this month, this post-apocalyptic cabin in the woods story looks pretty damn intense, featuring the always dependable Joel Edgerton as a man trying to protect his family during an unknown society-breaking event.
  5. THE HOUSE – June 30. Someone finally put Will Farrell and Amy Pohler in a movie together! They’re parents struggling for cash to put their kid through college and decide to open an underground casino in their house. Directed by the writer of NEIGHBORS, so it’s got a good chance at success.
  6. DESPICABLE ME 3 – June 30, RealD3D, IMAX3D. Gru’s back, and he’s got a twin brother with hair. I guess that’s the hook. Trey Parker plays an 80s themed villain too, which is cool. I enjoyed the other two, so I’m sure this will be just fine.
  7. ROUGH NIGHT – June 16. Scarlett Johannson and the girls get wild and a stripper gets killed in the process. Written and directed from one of the minds behind BROAD CITY, so it’ll be dirty as hell. Always nice to see Kate McKinnon on the big screen too.
  8. CARS 3 – June 16, RealD3D, IMAX. Lightning McQueen is facing retirement, but wants one more shot at glory. Basically ROCKY IV, which is kind of fascinating. We’ll see. The IMAX release is only 2D, and it’s limited at that thanks to a jam-packed release schedule.
  9. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT – June 21, RealD3D, IMAX3D. I mean, Jesus. Come on. I just keep going back like a beaten stepchild, hoping for one glorious shot that makes it all worthwhile, but my god these films are bad. This one looks more insane than all the others put together, and it features (what looks like) Unicron, so dammit, I’m going back for more. Ugh. But he’s shot it in native IMAX3D so that part should be interesting.
  10. MEGAN LEAVEY – June 9. Pretty ballsy title for a film about a marine and her attempts to adopt her K-9 comrade after a bomb disposal goes bad. It’s actually a solid portrayal of PTSD though, but it’ll get swamped by the megafilms at the theatres, and the title says nothing about the film. Should have held off until the fall. I love Kate Mara though.
  11. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE – June 2. The popular kid’s book comes to life in all its doodie-laden glory. It’s not for me, but it delivers the goods for kids 8-12. Surprisingly positive reviews!
  12. 47 METERS DOWN – June 16. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt are trapped in a shark cage that’s just shy of fifty meters under water. And there’s some big sharks between them and the sweet, sweet air on the surface. You already know if you want to see this.
  13. ALL EYEZ ON ME – June 16. The story of Tupac! This year’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. Or not. I’m sure it’s just fine.
  14. AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING – June 30. This has been in the can for over FIVE YEARS. That is never a good sign. Expect nothing.

 

So lots to choose from this month! But oh doctor, does July have some big titles. See you in a few!

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5 May

New Movies for May 2017

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MAY! IT’S MAY! SUMMER MOVIE SEASON IS HERE! And what better way to kick it off than a sequel to Marvel’s biggest surprise hit? Not much counter-programming this year, so there’s only eight movies on the list this month! Let’s take a look.

  1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 – May 5, RealD3D, IMAX3D. It’s damn near perfect. Surprisingly emotional, loaded with fun and humor, great action, just about anything you’d ever want from a theatrical experience. Benchmark stuff.
  2. ALIEN: COVENANT – May 19, IMAX. PROMETHEUS was frustrating at best, and hopefully Ridley Scott learned his lesson. Early word is positive, so it should deliver the goods. Hell of a cast here.
  3. KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – May 12, RealD3D. Guy Ritchie has basically made LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO BLOODY SWORDS. I want to give him credit for trying something different with the Arthurian legend but it kind of looks like a mess. Hopefully it’s a fun mess.
  4. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES – May 26, RealD3D, IMAX3D. The fourth film was a disaster, but this looks like a return to form, and they’re selling it as the last one. It looks like a mashup of all the elements from the original trilogy, but it’s hard to get excited about this.
  5. BAYWATCH – May 24. It’s nice to see a proper starring comedic vehicle for Dwayne Johnson, and Zac Efron has definitely matured into a decent actor, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this one. It wants to be 21 JUMP STREET soooo bad but it’s missing the brilliant touch of Lord & Miller.
  6. SNATCHED – May 12. Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn seem like a no-brainer teamup, and writer Katie Dippold wrote THE HEAT and GHOSTBUSTERS, but the trailers seem a bit lacking. I think audiences may be burned out on Schumer, though it’ll be nice to see Goldie in action again.
  7. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL – May 19. This is the fourth WIMPY film, but the first in five years. New family, same chaos. This series is aimed squarely at nine year old boys so don’t expect much from this one.
  8. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING – May 19. A teenage girl is trapped in her hermetically sealed house due to her immune deficiency, but hormones cause her to rebel and escape with the pretty boy next door. It’s hard not to think about America’s health care debate and how much her inevitable hospital stay would have cost, let alone the cost of maintaining the house, but hey, the heart wants what it wants, right? Better to live one day in the real world than live a life in a prison. Until your lungs fill with fluid and you can’t breathe, then that prison seems pretty swell. Wow, this got dark. Anyway, I guess it was inevitable that Nicholas Sparks clones would start appearing by now, hooray for doomed romances!

So that’s May for you. June has a megafilm every week, it’s gonna be a bloodbath. See you then!

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7 Apr

April Movie Preview

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April! The appetizer to the Summer madness. This year, we’ve got another entry in a megafranchise to set the tone for the coming season, with some nice sides to go with it. Let’s take a look.

  1. FREE FIRE – April 21. Ben Wheatley is one of the UK’s best filmmakers, and this might finally be his first big box-office hit following the great KILL LIST and HIGH RISE. This is a great action/comedy set in the 70s with a killer cast featuring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, and Sharlto Copley. Total madness, and you NEED to see it with a crowd.
  2. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS – April 14, IMAX. Here we are, the EIGHTH film in the franchise no one saw coming. They’ve been one-upping themselves with each of the last four, and this doesn’t stop the formula, throwing in a friggin’ submarine fight. Just bananas. Does anyone really think Dominic Toretto is really a bad guy now? Regardless, it’ll be over two hours of mindless fun.
  3. THE CIRCLE – April 28. Tom Hanks is evil Steve Jobs! What else do you need? Well, Emma Watson is the central character, a new hire with a global social media phenomenon which might be more evil than it lets on. Should be a good thriller, writer/director James Ponsoldt made THE SPECTACULAR NOW and SMASHED, two criminally underseen films.
  4. PHOENIX FORGOTTEN – April 21. Another found footage horror film, but with a real UFO sighting thrown in, and this one’s produced by Ridley Scott! The writer also wrote PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING, so let’s hope this is a good step, since his MAZE RUNNER adaptations have been a bit thin.
  5. SLEIGHT – April 28. A young street magician’s brother is kidnapped by drug dealers, so he’s got to use his abilities to save him. But does he have more power than he lets on? It’s being described as “CHRONICLE meets IRON MAN”, so that sounds promising. Could be a sleeper.
  6. THE PROMISE – April 21. Any discussion of the Armenian Genocide is always controversial, so when a major film finally gets produced expect loads of conversation. Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale topline it, and it’s made by the writer/director of HOTEL RWANDA, but will it get any traction theatrically? Is April a good time to release something this powerful? Is it being dumped? Does it really have a chance?
  7. GIFTED – April 7 limited, 14 wide. Chris Evans takes up the mantle of raising his brother’s orphaned daughter, and it turns out she’s, well, gifted. He wants to let her have a normal childhood but her grandmother wants her to be placed in an environment more suited to her gifts, and they go head to head to determine the kid’s future. Reviews say it’s a perfectly cromulent drama, but is it worth hitting the theatre for? Probably not.
  8. BORN IN CHINA – April 21. Disney Nature’s latest big-screen eco-doc is focused on pandas. Who doesn’t love pandas? You? Get the hell out of here.
  9. GOING IN STYLE – April 7. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin decide they should rob the banks that ruined their retirement fund. Sure, why not. Oh, Zach Braff is directing? Hmm.
  10. UNFORGETTABLE – April 21. Time for another feminism setback! Thrillers about crazy women tearing families apart tend to do really well, so casting the largely hated Katherine Heigl as the evil woman makes total sense. She’s the ex pretending to play nice while scheming to destroy the new wife (Rosario Dawson). Successful producer Denise Di Novi makes her directorial debut, so expect lots of studio support, meaning a massive ad blitz.
  11. HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER – April 28. An aging lothario who’s been coasting on his charm is sent packing and needs to re-examine his life, but you know, comically. Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez has been recognized as the most influential Hispanic male in the world, but white people probably won’t know him. Will this be his breakout role? Actor Ken Marino makes his feature directorial debut here, and he’s one of my faves, but it seems pretty hammy overall. He’s got most of CHILDRENS’ HOSPITAL here as support, plus Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe, and Salma Hayek. I’d love for him to get a hit, but this doesn’t look like one.
  12. SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE – April 7, RealD3D. Finally free of the shackles of the real world, the Smurfs are where they belong: fully animated. They’ve also aimed this one squarely at very young children, so aside from playing “I know that voice” there’s nothing here for adults bringing their kids out.

Aaaaand that’s it. So be sure to catch FREE FIRE in theatres to support great filmmaking and great theatrical experiences. See you in May!

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10 Mar

New Movies for March 10, 2017

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Just two new releases this week, but one is a… MONSTER

KONG: SKULL ISLAND – Solid big-screen epic entertainment. Easily the largest version of the classic creature, and he’s got lots of terrifying friends to throw down with, not to mention an incredible cast of humans. Definitely a must-see in IMAX3D.

BALLERINA – This was called LEAP! in the rest of the world, not sure why they had to change it here. What makes this stand out is the setting in fin-de-siecle Paris. The trailer I watched seemed to be more focused on the boy inventor rather than the, well, ballerina, but I’m sure it’s a delight. For your kids. Not you. Well, maybe.

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3 Mar

March Movie Preview

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Ever since 300 debuted to big numbers back in 2006, March has gotten Summer-level respect from the big boys, and we’ve got some monster releases to prove it. Let’s dig in!

  1. KONG: SKULL ISLAND – March 10, RealD3D, IMAX 3D. Reviews are out, and they’re super positive! This builds on the Kaijuverse that started with GODZILLA, bringing more massive mayhem starring the granddaddy of them all. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know it’s not just Kong stomping around Skull Island, there’s a whole host of colossal terrors, and it’s up to Loki and Captain Marvel to save us! Throw in Sam Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly and you’ve got one hell of a cast. A must see in IMAX3D!
  2. GHOST IN THE SHELL – March 31, RealD3D, IMAX 3D. I’m a sucker for sci-fi, and this could be something special. As all nerds know, it’s based on the legendary anime, and despite claims of whitewashing, the creator himself has signed off on Scarlett Johansson playing Major. So we’re left with a stunning tour de force in future Tokyo with cutting edge visuals. Hopefully they didn’t mess with the core story too much.
  3. T2 TRAINSPOTTING – March 17. Irvine Welch’s own sequel PORNO came out years ago, and somehow Danny Boyle has got the band back together for more mature mayhem. Thankfully, it’s a worthy endeavour and has already been a big hit back in Britain, so sit back and enjoy more creepy robot babies (nah not really)
  4. THE BELKO EXPERIMENT – March 17. James Gunn wrote this bit of madness. Corporate employees are forced to fight for their survival BATTLE ROYALE style. Get ready to let your imagination run wild. How would you deal with it? Me, I’d be the one trying to get everyone to work together only to get shot from behind in the middle of a rousing speech. Absolutely worth seeing with a crowd.
  5. LOGAN – March 3, IMAX. Yeah, it’s low. Sure, the reviews are super positive, but dammit, this series is just pissing me off. Normally I’d be all over this but with all the reboots and side stories, it’s hard to just look at this as its own thing. Regardless, it’s Wolverine with a Hard “R”, “X-MEN directed by Sam Peckinpah”. Also, the IMAX version is 2D!
  6. LIFE – March 24. For a movie starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, this one’s surprisingly under hyped, though they did spring for a Super Bowl ad. An international team discovers alien life, but it might not be as benign as it seems. Director Daniel Espinosa’s output has been pretty mediocre with SAFE HOUSE and CHILD 44, though the script is from the duo that brought us ZOMBIELAND and DEADPOOL. Here’s hoping the reviews are strong!
  7. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – March 10, RealD3D, IMAX3D. The latest Disney live-action remake should be a monster. Looks like a shot-for-shot remake of the animated classic, with a killer cast.
  8. BEFORE I FALL – March 3. GROUNDHOG DAY, reimagined as a CW thriller. The most interesting thing is the star Zoe Deutch, who happens to be Lea Thompson’s daughter!
  9. CHIPS – March 24. Yet another comedy reboot of a beloved cheesy series. I love Michael Pena and Dax Shepard, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this one, especially with the bulk of the first trailer dedicated to gay panic jokes. Shepard wrote and directed the film, for better or for worse. I hope I’m wrong about it.
  10. THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE – March 31. Jessica Chastain is the titular character, who hides Jewish children in Poland during the war. It’s hard not to look at a film like this as Oscar bait, but you just don’t release Oscar bait in March. No idea what they’re thinking, but it looks, well, intense? Serious? About what you’d expect?
  11. BOSS BABY – March 31. Alec Baldwin voices a baby who’s, um, the boss. No idea what the hell is going on story wise, but a young boy determines that his new baby brother isn’t as innocent as his parents believe. Looks cute, but not exceptional by any means.
  12. POWER RANGERS – March 24. Hey look, a gritty reboot of a kid’s series! I guess they didn’t catch Joseph Kahn’s awesome tongue-in-cheek version with James Van Der Beek and Katie Sackhoff. It still might be decent, but I imagine it’ll be mostly training montages with five minutes of Megazord action at the end.
  13. THE SHACK – March 3. Sam Worthington plays a dad whose young daughter is abducted and found dead in, well, a shack. He doesn’t deal with it very well, but eventually finds solace thanks to, um, God. Hold on, let me check. Yeah, God, represented as the actual, literal, Trinity. Who show him that life is worth living since he still has FOUR OTHER KIDS AND A WIFE. Also, they magically solve his daughter’s murder. Because if you believe in God, justice will be served! Look, I know I’m hard on these evangelical films, but if they were good movies, I’d support them. They can’t just look and feel like a good movie.

So basically, you should be in a movie theatre pretty much every week this month. April, on the other hand…

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17 Feb

New Movies for February 17, 2017

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This week’s releases were so close to being good, but all of them (save one) are lacking something important. Still lots to see though!

PATERSON – Jim Jarmusch is a national treasure, and his works should always be celebrated. His latest stars Adam Driver as, um, a bus driver, just gettin’ through the day. It’s actually a very quiet film, a meditation on how folks with medial jobs can still find joy in the little things. Maybe we all need a story like this right now.

THE GREAT WALL – The massive Chinese experiment finally hits North American cinemas. Can a Chinese production gain a worldwide audience? What if Matt Damon is the star, even though he’s really not? What if the film is mediocre? I’d say if you’re interested at all, see it in IMAX3D, there are supposed to be some spectacular moments but not enough to really warrant a viewing.

FIST FIGHT – It’s Charlie Day VS Ice Cube! A meek teacher gets a disciplinarian fired, and they’re gonna settle it outside! It looked terrible, but it’s better than it looks, though still not worth your money.

A CURE FOR WELLNESS – A young man goes looking for his missing boss, last seen at a sanitarium where the treatments are… DEADLY. Gore Verbinski’s latest is frustrating, since it looks amazing but it’s all style, no substance, and it’s TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG.

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10 Feb

New Movies for February 10, 2017

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I realized while writing this that though I did make that preview for ALLLL of 2017, I didn’t actually make a preview for February. Meh, most of the good films are out this week anyway, so you’ll have to make do with the weekly previews. I’ll try to get the others up on Thursday though. Regardless, here’s a look at your Valentine’s Day options!

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 – The first film was a revelation. Keanu was already skilled in Martial Arts, and he went hard to become a master of tactical gunplay as well. Here all those abilities come to fruition with the continuing story of a retired assassin getting pulled back into the game. Jamie’s already seen it and was utterly blown away by the action, so yeah, you’re gonna get your money’s worth. Go see it on the big screen this time to help make sure we get another trip to The Continental.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE – THE LEGO MOVIE was a surprise critical and commercial hit, and one of the best elements was Will Arnett’s Batman. Now he has his own film, complete with pretty much every character ever created in the Batman comics. It’s funny as hell and a visual delight to boot. Oddly enough the IMAX version seems to be 2D, so no glasses this time!

FIFTY SHADES DARKER – Blander than the first. Unless you’re a real fan of the series, a completely underwhelming night at the movies.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US –  A young man secretly born on Mars (!) sneaks back to Earth to meet a girl he likes. Basically Nicholas Sparks’ version of THE MARTIAN. This opened last weekend with a resounding thud, thanks to a lame screenplay and lack of chemistry. But hey, Gary Oldman!

RINGS – Yeah, it’s another RING movie, this time without bringing anything new to the table. Meh, dammit, meh!

 

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8 Feb

Remembering Richard Hatch

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I got to meet Richard Hatch at Toronto ComicCon 2011 when I moderated his Q&A. I excitedly combed through his IMDB to grill him about his other, non-Battlestar Galactica roles but when the time came, he said he’d run the show himself, which was fine. I still got to help steer him back to questions the fans were asking. I wasn’t sure what to expect with him. He was one of the first actors to really embrace cons, which I admit felt a bit desperate. Why wouldn’t an actor just act? Is he a has-been, pining for the old days, just looking for a paycheck? Or just a devoted actor, invested in his biggest role and looking to thank fans personally? Obviously the truth was somewhere in between.

Richard got his start in the legendary soap “All My Children”, and appeared on several TV shows throughout his career. His big break was a blessing and a curse, when he replaced Michael Douglas on “The Streets of San Francisco”. Imagine being compared to a force of nature like Douglas. It’s tough for any show to survive losing a big star, and it was a losing battle, ending after a single season. Even Battlestar was never a big success, only lasting one season. His IMDB list is impressive in its breadth if not depth, he played three different roles on both “The Love Boat” and “Hotel”, a testament to his ability to lose himself in a character, and also unfortunately to his lack of star power.

He seemed to be always hawking a new book, movie, or TV show that was poised to be the next big thing, but invariably it was another high-concept low-budget sci-fi misfire. He obviously always wanted to continue BSG, and was initially combative about the reboot, until they asked him to come on board in a new role. When I was in San Diego in 2013 he ran the panel for the 35th anniversary of BSG, and showed a clip from his attempted continuation of the series, which looked, well, cheap, but it’s understandable that he felt ignored after spending decades trying to bring the show back. When he wasn’t pursuing that, he ran acting workshops out of LA and was running a website with his son, “Who The Frak”, billed as “The World’s First Social Network Reality Drama!” He also made a whole lot of terrible short films, but I have to believe he was just helping out up-and-coming actors and filmmakers, using his name to give them a little boost. After his panel, I walked him back to his booth, and we talked a bit about his projects and life in general. A big part of his workshop is about life lessons, and I got the feeling he really wanted to be a motivational speaker, since it came to him very easily. Hell, after ten minutes I felt like I could make my own megaseries.

It’s so easy to dismiss Hatch as a one-hit wonder, but who can say what’s been made by those he inspired? In the end, most will remember him for a TV series he made, but for those of us who met him, we’ll remember his passion for what he loved, as well as his amazing warmth and friendliness.

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2 Feb

2017 Movie Outlook! The Whole Year!

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I’m going to be blunt here; 2017 is shaping up to be an all-timer. There are some massive films coming out, several in rapid succession, and the creatives are running the show. Many filmmaking geniuses have been given the budgets they need to bring their visions to life in as spectacular fashion as they can imagine, and I’m friggin’ stoked. So I made a list of 25 big-ass films that are coming this year that you should get excited over.

  1. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – Dec. 15. Duh, right? Of course STAR WARS is on here. But it would be lower if it weren’t for the fact that Rian Johnson is directing. Here’s a guy who cut his teeth on great low-budget noir thrillers and amazing TV shows, and wham, he’s got one of the biggest films of all time. I’m extremely excited to see what he brings to the franchise.
  2. BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Oct. 6. Ridley Scott is on this list as well, but I’m far, far more excited about the return to the BLADE RUNNER universe, especially with the brilliant Denis Villeneuve behind the camera, whose hit ARRIVAL was one of the best of 2016, and SICARIO one of the best of 2015. Ryan Gosling looks perfect in the teaser.
  3. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 – May 5. Many expected the GUARDIANS to be Marvel’s first flop, instead it was a revelation, turning Chris Pratt into a megastar. James Gunn promises that this one is bigger and better in every way, and I have no doubt that’s true.
  4. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – July 7. Our extended introduction to the new Peter Parker in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR set expectations very, very high for the proper Marvel debut for Spidey, and the first trailer is crackin’. But will there be too much Tony Stark? I doubt it. Director Jon Watts has never done anything close to this scale, but his comedic chops will help immensely.
  5. THOR: RAGNAROK – Nov. 3. Yeah yeah, the three Marvel releases are all together, bite me. But I’m almost equally excited for all of them. Bringing in Taika Waititi to direct was a huge gamble, but between WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE I expect nothing but greatness from this. And this is basically a Thor/Hulk team-up film!
  6. BABY DRIVER – Aug. 11. Likely the lowest budgeted film on the list, but it’s the latest from Edgar Wright, so you bet your ass I’m excited. This follows a young getaway driver who uses music to help him escape pursuit, so it should be a lot of fun.
  7. KONG: SKULL ISLAND – March 10. Legendary Films established a new Monsterverse with GODZILLA, and this continues the epic insanity with an incredible cast squaring off with the King of Skull Island, home of hellish creatures that only Kong can keep under control. I was a huge fan of the new GODZILLA and this looks to up the ante.
  8. JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 – Feb. 10. The first film was a revelation, with the best action scenes put to film in North America. Reeves was basically perfect, and the promise of a return to The Continental makes me incredibly happy.
  9. VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS – June 21. Luc Besson’s THE FIFTH ELEMENT was an all-timer, and this one could be even bigger. The French have been making massive scale Sci-Fi for decades, at least in print, but no one has been able to capture the magic on screen, until now! We hope. I’m still worried this will all go right over the heads of American audiences, but with the global box office counting for more and more, that might not be an issue.
  10. KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE – Oct. 6. Matthew Vaughn’s awesome spy flick was a surprise hit, and Eggsy is back for more, and he’s bringing, um, everyone. Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, hell, even Elton John is in it. The only problem is that it opens the same day as BLADE RUNNER (and, uh, MY LITTLE PONY), so I hope there’s enough goodwill to go around.
  11. WONDER WOMAN – June 2. WB’s third attempt to win back the nerds’ good graces after the execrable BATMAN V SUPERMAN COLON DAWN OF JUSTICE and SUICIDE SQUAD has a legit shot at pulling it off. The first trailer was magnificent, and it would be nice for the first female driven comic book film to be a big hit, but there are rumors that the film is in trouble. Hopefully they’ll pull it off.
  12. JUSTICE LEAGUE – Nov. 17. Zack Snyder swears that he’s learned his lesson and that this will be, above all, fun! Lord knows WB has pretty much everything riding on it. Don’t expect to see Superman in this until the end, since he’s dead. Or resting. It’ll still be a hell of a ride.
  13. DUNKIRK – Jun. 21. Christopher Nolan loves him some IMAX, and if you saw ROGUE ONE in IMAX you saw what’s in store. Most of the film was shot in native IMAX and should be pretty overwhelming.
  14. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – July 14. This series was a surprise hit from the beginning, and the stakes are higher than ever. Woody Harrelson takes on the damn, dirty apes in this one, and he looks like he’s right off the set of APOCALYPSE NOW. Should be a hell of a thing.
  15. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE – Feb. 10. THE LEGO MOVIE shocked everyone by being amazing, thanks to Chris Miller and Phil Lord. They’re not directly involved in this one, but their magic touch should carry over, especially with director Chris MacKay, best known for ROBOT CHICKEN and the short lived classic TITAN MAXIMUM. Will Arnett returns as the voice of Batman, easily the best since Kevin Conroy.
  16. ALIEN: COVENANT – May 19. Ridley is back, but let’s be honest, PROMETHEUS was, um, flawed, to say the least. Hopefully he learned his lesson, and at a glance this looks a lot closer to ALIENS than anything. This would be higher if not for that other movie.
  17. THE DARK TOWER – July 18. Hard to believe this is finally happening, but it looks pretty good. Idris Elba is inspired casting for Roland, and Matthew McConaughey should make a hell of a man in black. Unfortunately writing credit is still given to Akiva Fucking Goldsman, but hopefully most of his work has been overwritten by the other writers. Director Nikolaj Arcel has never tackled anything on this scale, so on the whole the endeavour is risky, but the rewards could be amazing since the source material is phenomenal.
  18. GHOST IN THE SHELL – March 31. The original film was an anime classic, so this one’s got a high target. The first trailer suggests it might just hit the mark. ScarJo looks great, despite seeming like a whitewashing of an Asian character. The original creator seems to be fine with it though, so play ball! Director Rupert Sanders’ only credit of note was the lukewarm SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, so hopefully he’s game for this.
  19. LOGAN – March 3. I’m just not excited for another alternate future Wolverine story, but hey, it does look good. I’m still smarting from the disappointing third act of THE WOLVERINE, to say nothing of the terrible X:MEN: APOCALYPSE, but this is basically a standalone film, which honestly just confuses the timeline even more. Whatever, I’m sure it will still deliver the goods.
  20. FATE OF THE FURIOUS – April 14. This franchise has gotta be running out of steam. Making Vin the villain seems like a good idea, but no one buys that he’s really turned on his team. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous, here comes Charlize Theron in a nuclear submarine. Still a hell of a lot of fun though.
  21. THE MUMMY – June 9. Universal is making a shared universe out of their classic monsters, and this is the foundation. Somehow they got Tom Cruise involved. It’s basically MISSION: UNDEAD, with insanely expensive set-piece action sequences. Pretty spectacular though.
  22. GEOSTORM – Oct. 20. Roland Emmerich is trashing the planet once again, with Gerard Butler as the saviour. Get this: Climate controlling satellites are out of control! While a heroic astronaut tries to deal with that, his brother learns of a plot to kill the president! Because one thing wasn’t enough. No one kills millions as spectacularly as Emmerich, and I love me some disaster porn.
  23. KING ARTHUR – May 12. Guy Ritchie is an exciting filmmaker, but this looks like a mashup of EXCALIBUR, LORD OF THE RINGS, and, well, LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS. Like many other films this year, this could be either genius or disaster, but this is supposed to be the start of a series, so they’ve got big plans.
  24. POWER RANGERS – March 24. Who ordered the gritty reboot of the beloved children’s show? This is picking up some steam as we get closer to release. The most recent trailer looked a lot better, and hopefully most of the film isn’t just an origin story, but hey, megazord! Somehow Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, and Bill Hader are also involved, so how bad could it be?
  25. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT – June 23. Oh, Michael Bay. Why do you keep making these movies? Shouldn’t it be out of your system by now? This is his fifth kick at the can, and Paramount is expanding the universe with spinoff films starting next year. Now it looks like he’s finally bringing Unicron into live action, and Prime kills Bumblebee. Maybe. I don’t know. All I know is that I keep coming back like a beaten mule. I’m always hopeful that he’s found the right path with these films, but I really doubt this will fix everything, especially with Bay bringing massive explosion-based action into Arthurian times.

And there you have it! This pretty much covers the big-budget action for the year, but there’s definitely lots more great films in the pipeline that won’t be on the radar for months, so think of this as an amuse-bouche. Keep checking in for your monthly and weekly looks as well.

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