Everyday They Grow Stronger

I am not a tiny bit emotionally stable enough for the new Rogue One trailer. I’m sitting at my desk on the verge of tears after watching it again. (I watched it last night during the Olympics, but we were talking during it. Also Kristi was at my house! It was very fun!)

I had every intention of doing a Star Wars themed Cosplay corner this week, but my lap top decided not to work, so let’s just talk about the trailer.

It’s like, really good right? I love the tone that’s being set with this movie, I love the music, and I love this cast.

Oh, right, and Darth Vader, just chilling out.

I’m deeply excited for this movie, and thrilled to learn more about the inner workings of both the rebellion and the empire. A few months ago, maybe at Wizard World Philly, Kristi and I talked about how I’ve always been much more Rebellion focused than Jedi focused, so it seems that this the movie for me!

Also At-Ats! And Tie Fighters! PEW PEW PEW! WEEEEE!!!!!!!

Rogue One is going to top off Movie Season this year, because even though there will probably be other movies coming out after it, I’m going to want to see it a bunch of times…so…

That’s What Being A Part Of A Crew Means

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As I’ve (maybe?) talked about at length, until JJ Abrams Star Trek came out and I saw it with my college friends, I had next to no interest in the series. And I’ve yet t have my usual post Star Trek movie “what was wrong with this movie from a trek perspective” sit down with my old roommate Jen, so I’m just going to have to evaluate it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know enough about Star Trek to nit pick.

This is a fun, good movie. There are things about it that annoy me, a lot. (You damsled Uhura? Are you serious, Pegg?) But for the most part this is an exciting space adventure, that flirts with some serious thoughts about aging and priorities and legacy, but is mostly about bang bang explodey stuff.

3 years into their 5 year journey to go where no one has gone before, everyone, particularly Captain Kirk , are getting a little antsy. They miss home, and some of them families (Gay Sulu!). Kirk is ready to hand the Enterprise over to Spock, who is considering leaving Star Fleet entirely, wanting to take over the work that Spock Prime was doing. It’s quite touching how the movie memorializes Leonard Nimoy.

Anyway, all this ennui, gets pushed to the side when they’re sent on a rescue mission that goes wrong and are confronted with Idris Elba in a rubber mask, The Enterprise is destroyed and they have to find a way out of the mess. Revealing much more would drown us in spoilers so I won’t do that, but it’s all really fun.

The cast continues to shine, Chris Pine is aging into James Kirk better than anyone could have expected. John Cho and Zoe Saldana get a bit more to do this time around, though they still stay sidelined, Anton Yelchin’s youthful buzziness is going to be missed in this franchise. But as always, the stand outs are Simon Pegg’s Scotty, Zachary Quinto’s Spock and Karl Urban’s McCoy. The best parts of the movie are Spock and McCoy’s squabbles and Urban and Quinto play the parts perfectly. Scotty’s storyline with another stranded alien, Jayla is heartwarming and delightful. (Although she is really hot and Kirk spends exactly no time hitting on her. I find this disappointing. Not because I don’t love the progressiveness of that story choice, but because, I mean, it’s Captain Kirk…)

Add in a cool new location in the new Federation settlement Yorktown, and you’ve got yourself a rolicking space adventure with a good amount of heart.

Rankings:

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Ghostbusters
  4. Captain America: Civil War
  5. Star Trek Beyond
  6. X-Men: Apocalypse
  7. The Legend Of Tarzan
  8. Finding Dory
  9. Independence Day: Resurgence
  10. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

Jason Bourne: God, I just want this movie to come out so I can stop seeing this trailer.

Suicide Squad: I’m so excited I could take a giant mallet to everything! This movie just looks so freaking good. We’re two weeks away from it, and while I’m still bummed I won’t be able to hit opening night, it’s going to be great.

XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage: I mean, Vin Diesel has to do something between Fast And Furious and Guardians movies, but was anyone begging for this to come back?

 

 

Safety Lights Are For Dudes

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I was going to like Ghostbusters if it killed me.

OK, that’s not precisely true, but the only other movies I’ve gone into so aggressively hoping to like them were the Star Wars prequels and The Force Awakens, and Batman V Superman. Obviously, this does not always work out the way I hope it would.

But I did actually like Ghostbusters. I didn’t fall head over heels for it, but it’s charming, funny, makes excellent use of 3-D, and is definitely my favorite Paul Fieg movie. (I’m not crazy about Bridesmaids, I know, I KNOW OK?)

I can’t praise some of Feig’s instincts enough is this film. From focusing on Kate McKinnon, (she’s genius here) to figuring out a new way to use Leslie Jones’s schtick, to finally, finally showcasing the Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig as straight-women, to once again, the use of 3-D.

Rather than just using the technology to make the ghosts pop or add depth the world, Feig made the decision to use it as a gag. When a ghost ecto-vomits onto Wiig’s Erin Gilbert, it goes right at the audience. As the team fights a supernatural vortex, things fly at us. It’s goofy, old fashioned, and perfect.

The cast all acquit themselves well, but man is this a starmaking turn for McKinnon. Between this and the fact the she plays the Democratic Nominee on SNL, comedy nerds will look back on this as “the year of McKinnon.” (For The Record: I’m obsessed with her Hilary.) But the other three women in this cast should not be counted out, nor should their director, or their hunky, hunky costar. (This movie gives me DANCING HEMSWORTH, and it’s a delight.)

The original Ghostbusters shook the earth. This doesn’t, but it builds something new on those foundations. And I really appreciate that. I also really appreciate anything that gives funny women a shot.

Rankings!

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Ghostbusters
  4. Captain America: Civil War
  5. X-Men: Apocalypse
  6. The Legend Of Tarzan
  7. Finding Dory
  8. Independence Day: Resurgence
  9. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Comedy is kicking the butts of the superheroes this year. An interesting trend…

Trailers

Jason Bourne…again.

Nerve – I’ve seen this trailer a few times and always seem to forget about it before I write up. I think this movie looks vaguely interesting, and I’m always here for the Dave Franco. Less so for the Emma Roberts, but she’s good too.

 

My Husband Is Not An Ordinary Man

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The Legend Of Tarzan is the kind of movie that if video stores or cable actually still created second lives for movies, would get a second life. It reminds me of The Rocketeer in a really visceral way. It’s unapologeticly serious with a concept that’s at it’s heart, kind of silly.

The plot (such as it is) has John Clayton III, Lord of Greystoke, formerly known as Tarzan, drawn back to Africa, by anti slave activist George Washington Williams, specifically the Belgian Congo in 1890, to expose King Leopold’s reliance on the slave trade. Of course, bad guy Leon Rom, actually has a plan to catch and trade Tarzan to a rival tribe for diamond mining rights. Also Jane gets caught up in the crossfire.

Much like Fury Road,  the movie benefits from having a literal line to follow, Tarzan is trying to catch up with Rom, who is holding Jane hostage. So it’s an adventure. (It’s also not as good as Fury Road, but then again, nothing really is.) There are a few hazy flashbacks in case anyone doesn’t know Tarzan’s deal, (ship wrecked aristocratic parents, dead parents, raised by apes, found by pretty girl, goes on adventures) and they actually manage to both play down and play up the more outrageous elements of this story.

What makes the movie work at all is the precision of the casting. Margot Robbie proves why she’s the new It Girl with her spunky and determined Jane. Alexander Skaarsgard simply is tarzan, from his long flowing hair to his perfect intense brood. Christoph Waltz adds another creepy smiling bad guy to his ever growing arsenal. (The man is so so so good at this. Thank you Quentin Tarantino.) And of course Samuel L. Jackson does an excellent job as George Washington Williams, a part that sort of stands in for the modern audience, basically just shaking his head in disbelief at what’s going on around him.

Also I kept waiting for him to call someone a motherfucker. But he never did.

I also like how the movie was rooted in Tarzan and Jane’s relationship. Not their courtship, they’ve been married for years, but they’re not bored with each other, (though Jane hates England.) they love each other, and that love is physical and visceral.

Rankings:

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. X-Men: Apocalypse
  5. The Legend Of Tarzan
  6. Finding Dory
  7. Independence Day: Resurgence
  8. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

The Light Between The Oceans: God, I would watch Michael Fassbender do anything, but this is a period piece where he and Alicia Vikander find a baby and raise her as their own and if that’s not a Reenie movie, I don’t know what is.

Jason Bourne: OMG WE GET IT. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this trailer before EVER SINGLE MOVIE this summer. I kind of can’t wait for it to come out so the trailer can just go away already.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: I’m really excited about it. I know it’s probably not going to be the BEST THING EVER, but I’m just happy to be back in The Wizarding World for a little while.

Ghostbusters: WHO YOU GONNA CALL??? Seriously, though, I’m going to be in at rehearsal/in Atlanta for family stuff opening weekend so I NEED PEOPLE TO BUY TICKETS AND SUPPORT IT FOR ME. I’ll be going to see it Monday night.

 

 

There Will Be No Peace

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On their fantastic podcast Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period, W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery talk about certain movies being “Day Changers,” that is, even if you have other plans, or something you should be doing, if you find that movie on TV, your day changes so that you can sit for two hours and watch it.

Independence Day is a day changer movie for me. I love everything about it. I love that it’s completely cornball cheesy, I love the on point charismatic performances from the entire cast but especially Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith. I love how straightforward it is. I love that it’s an action movie dressed up like a Sci-Fi movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence is the opposite, it’s a Sci-Fi movie dressed as an action movie, which gives it a place among other sequels that have switched genres, like T2 or Aliens. Now, I’m not saying this is as good as those movies, it isn’t. But Independence Day isn’t as good as The Terminator or Alien, so of course it doesn’t reach those levels.

The movie picks up 20 years after the events of the first movie, and we see the sort of Utopic future that’s been born from the unity of the finale. Nothing is perfect, and it appears that there is some psychic damage from many who had close encounters with the aliens. When a new ship appears, which looks mysteriously like a symbol many victims have been scrawling (including President Thomas Whitmore, played in a kooky and wonderful performance by Bill Pullman!) everyone, including David Levinson (Goldblum) kind of freaks out.

The action is pulled off mostly by a young ensemble cast, lead by Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison and Jessie T. Usher as Dylan Hiller. It turns out when he’s not playing the most insufferable dude in Panem, I actually enjoy watching Liam. The fact that it takes five young actors to replace one Will Smith is telling though. The others are Maika Monroe, who is great, but who’s casting I really resented, as there was literally no reason to not bring Mae Whitman back to play Patricia Whitmore, Angelababy, who’s Chinese pilot was a refreshing bit of WOC diversity, even if it was probably done to pander to the Chinese market, rather than to improve the story, and Travis Tope.

Brent Spiner, Judd Hirsch and Vivica A. Fox are all back in small-ish parts (guess who’s is the smallest? I’m hoping it’s because she didn’t want a big role.) and Hirsch’s storyline is easily my favorite.

Overall I really enjoyed myself and Resurgence leaves itself very open for sequelization, so we’ll see what happens next.

Rankings:

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. X-Men: Apocalypse
  5. Finding Dory
  6. Independence Day: Resurgence
  7. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers:

Jason Bourne: Seriously, though, it looks so good. I really can’t wait for it.

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates: I feel like the marketing for this movie is holding me hostage. I’ll probably wind up liking it a lot, but UGH, I just don’t care and I’m sick of it.

The Legend of Tarzan: Looks pretty good. Tarzan has never really been in my box of toys, but I’ll certainly check it out.

Doctor Strange: FINE YOU WIN MARVEL. (You always win) I’ll go see the movie. I’ll probably love it. It will probably turn me around on Cumberbatch. FINE! FINE!

Just Keep Swimming

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Finding Dory is a highly anticipated sequel. I wish that was something that I could get more hyped for, but to be perfectly honest, it’s pretty rote.

But it’s always worth checking out what Pixar has brewing, knowing that even at their worst, they’re delivering streamlined, emotional, family entertainment.

Inside Out is probably my favorite Pixar movie, and it replaced Finding Nemo at the top. So, obviously, Finding Dory had a lot to deliver on. And it gets there, almost.

Focusing on Dory’s origin story was a good track to take, and learning that she came from an aquarium is a fun little twist. Meeting her parents, and learning that her memory problems have been an issue her whole life was an even better one. And of course, it really is incredible how perfectly Pixar has managed to create water environments, and we see some more new ones this time.

Ellen DeGeneres remains a treasure, and her performance as Dory perfectly heartwarming. I didn’t cry though, and all the greatest Pixar films must cause tears, which ranks this one lower than it should be from a technical standpoint. But like most Pixar films, totally worth checking out on it’s own merits. The new characters, a cantacterous octopus, a pair of friendly wales, and some lazy Sea Lions were also great.

The short, Piper was completely adorable and absolutely the most stunning animation from Pixar yet! It’s worth the price of admission.

Rankings!

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. X-Men: Apocalypse
  5. Finding Dory
  6. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

Pete’s Dragon : I was sobbing through this trailer. Just uncontrollable weeping as soon as Pete said, “I wasn’t alone. I had Elliot.” Ugh, gut punch.

Moana: The guys next to me whispered to his wife, “I know that voice.” “The Rock?” “No, the guy singing…” “Honey, that’s the guy from Hamilton.” “Oh right.” But in and of itself, even without the Lin-Manuel factor, it’s looks wonderful. Really looking forward to it.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life really seems to be climbing the list of must sees. So much of the trailer reminds me of the solid kids movies of the early 90’s, and I’m glad that scene is returning to cinemas.

 

You’re My Best Friend (Don’t Tell Owen)

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I’ve been under the spell of Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island for a very long time now. Ever since “Lazy Sunday” hit on SNL, it became very easy for me to understand what they were doing. But with each song it seemed like they weren’t ever going to become less funny.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping might be their most genius work yet. (Who am I kidding? “I Threw It On The Ground” exists. “I’M AN ADULT!”) The joke of Lonely Island might have gotten old over the course of an hour and a half, but instead, as the silliness escalates, we’re also treated to a heartfelt story about friendship and what really matters in life.

But there’s also a viking funeral for a turtle.

And a song about a woman who wants to be fucked like we fucked Bin Laden, whatever that means.

The basic conceit of the movie is that we’re watching a documentary about Conner, the lead singer of a Beastie Boys type group called “The Style Boys” who has now gone solo. He’s estranged from one of the older members and the other works as his DJ.

It’s a light but effective frame and Samberg sells the kind of willful arrogance required in the role. But the other guys run away with the movie. As does Tim Meadows as their long suffering manager. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Rankings

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. X-Men: Apocalypse
  5. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

Ghostbusters. We’re so close you guys. Seriously. I’m into it.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – I mean, it looks fine? I wish that cast were being used on something I had more interest in seeing…and that it was a musical. Seriously, I don’t know about Aubrey Plaza, but you’re giving me Zefron, Anna Kendrick and Adam Devine and it’s not a musical?

Sausage Party – While I love the conceit of taking the Pixar “everything is alive and has feelings” to it’s horrifying conclusion, it doesn’t quite feel like it’s enough to flesh out a full 90 minutes (or probably more…) it feels more like a sketch.

Jason Bourne – We’ve covered this. It looks pretty damn great.

You Call Me

SPECIAL SATURDAY POST!!!

The Nice Guys

I love Shane Black movies.

I love Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3, and I really, really love Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. So I expected to at the very least enjoy The Nice Guys.

I loved The Nice Guys. I loved Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in this movie. I loved the theme of kind of scummy dudes who have a mission statement to protect vulnerable young women. Given certain conversations this week, it felt nice and warm and good. It’s a little patronizing, but you know what? That’s fine, because the thought of Russell Crowe beating up dudes preying on teenage girls is a really comforting fantasy at the moment.

Anyway, as I sort of outlined, we get a traditional noir plot, set in the 70s, a porn actress dies in a car crash, and her elderly aunt hires PI Holland March (Gosling) to find out what actually happened. One of his leads is a woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who in turn hires enforcer Jackson Healey (Crowe) to get the people tailing her off her tail. Eventually, the two meet up, and realize there’s more going on and get to the bottom of it. They’re aided by March’s precocious teenage daughter Holly (A Superb Angourie Rice.) There’s a ton of great fight work, lots of quips and a butt load of heart. Just as you’d expect from Shane Black.

I feel like this movie is this years Fury Road, a sleeper hit that proves sometimes old fashioned movie making is the best kind.

Rankings!

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Captain America: Civil War
  3. X-Men: Apocalypse
  4. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

The Founder – This looks really good. But I’m here for the Ressurection of Michael Keaton in all cases, but it really does look stellar

War Dogs – Nope.

Jason Bourne – Yeah, still looks pretty great.

I don’t remember any of the others, but I wanted to see a couple of them.

6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

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Special Movie Season Saturday Post!

Before I full on review Alice Through The Looking Glass, I need to make it clear, Mia Wasikowska is a treasure, and we, the consumers of genre cinema, do not deserve her. We must strive to deserve her by all admitting that Crimson Peak is the best, and that she’s the one who holds this whole Alice business together and it has very little to do with Johnny Depp.

With that out of the way, Alice Through The Looking Glass is pretty good. It has a couple of conceits that are irresistable to me, time travel and punching the patriarchy in the dick, so you know, I was going to like it.

Alice has returned to England after exploring China as a ship’s captain, on The Wonder, which she inherited from her father. Once home she learns that her mother has sold her shares in her father’s company and they’re going to have to sell the boat to keep their house.

Because this is a stressful situation, Alice does that thing where she goes to Wonderland, or Underland as it’s called here. She then learns that The Mad Hatter is not doing well, due to realizing that his family, who he thought long dead, might not be after all, and this messing with his sense of self.

Alice steals a time machine from Time Himself (Sacha Baron Cohen, the best I’ve ever seen him.) and goes back, learns the origin of the conflict between the two queens and saves the Hatter’s family and then goes home and starts a new business with her mother, while laughing at the various bearded obnoxious men who try to stop them.

The movie is visually great, the performances are steady and the plot simple enough that the flights of fancy seem organic. Alice Through The Looking Glass isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s a nice pleasant glow. And that’s worth something.

Rankings!

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers:

Nine Lives: Nope. I will not be seeing this.

Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life: This I might see, on a slow weekend. It looks super cute. And it has a butt load of my favorite sitcom actors as the teachers.

Sing: Again, looks real cute.

Me Before You: It looks pandering and kind of annoying, but stars Khaleesi, Clara Oswald and Mr. Bates, so, I think I’m like required to see it. Also, I’m pretty sure Emilia Clarke smiles more in that trailer than she has in six years of Game of Thrones. 

Pete’s Dragon: *sings* I’ll be your candle on the water…my love for you will always burn…

I was disappointed that we didn’t get Beauty and The Beast, as I’d held off watching it on a computer to watch it on the big screen, I’ve now watched it. It’s perfect, it’s beyond perfect. It’s everything it possible could or should be. Just wow. Way to go.

“It Matters Most That We Stay Together”

Happy Movie Season 2016!!!!! As I move into my fourth summer here and my third official movie season (where does the time go?) it really couldn’t have kicked off better than with Captain America: Civil War.

Civil War

While Civil War doesn’t quite hit the highs of The Winter Soldier (to be honest it will be very hard for any movie to ever hit those highs again.) it’s a really worthy entry into the MCU and proof positive that these movies might be able to scale back their conflicts a little.

Yes, believe it or not a movie that features an epic 10 + minute long melee between 10 superheroes actually feels quite small, because that fight is not actually the climax of the movie. (Though it is awesome.) There are two conflicts throughout the film that eventually converge.

After the events of Age of Ultron The United Nations has drafted The Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under the jurisdiction of, well, now Secretary of State Thunder Bolt Ross. This splits the team in two, Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye and Scarlett Witch on one and Iron Man, Black Widow, War Machine and Vision on the other. Each team also recruits a bug themed guy. (Mans Ant and Spider respectively.)

The second conflict is of course, Bucky centric. Now living in hiding, a bombing during the finalization of the accords that kills the king of Wakanda is blamed on The Winter Soldier. So obviously, the prince of Wakanda T’Challa is out for revenge and Steve needs to deal with that.

There’s a conspiracy, there’s quips, and in my favorite moment, Steve and Sharon finally kiss. (With Bucky and Sam looking on and nodding approvingly.) But the real conflict is far more emotional, torn between his two friends, Steve has to choose and that emotion explodes in the punchy punchy finale. There’s a lot going on and I don’t want to spoil much of the plot which has some fun zig zag moments.

Rankings!

  1. Captain America: Civil War

Trailers!

X-Men: Apocalypse

YASSSS! EPICCCC!!!!! SOPHIE TURNER BEING A BADASS!!! OLIVIA MUNN BEING A BADASSS! OSCAR ISAAC STILL SEXY EVEN WHEN WEIRD AND BLUE!!!! STORM WITH MOHAWK!!!!

Jason Bourne

Julia Stiles is back in this one! I am overjoyed by that. I wish that Julia Stiles was in more movies. She’s great. Oh, also so much building jumping.

The Secret Life of Pets

I might be looking forward to this in ways I’m not looking forward to many of the action movies this year. It looks completely perfect and adorable.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It just looks so good you guys. So good, At-Ats! Just everywhere!