As evidenced by The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow is no stranger to tense movies. While Detroit is another rigid movie from the Oscar-winning director, this depiction of the racially-charged events that transpired in Motown 50 years ago is her most unsettling movie yet. First and foremost, you should know this movie is not an easy watch; while this movie is meant to start discussions, there is no happy ending here. If you see Detroit, you’re likely to leave the movie angry. Even though Bigelow does not hold back when it comes to telling this story, it is also jagged and in need of editing. If you were to cut 40 minutes from Detroit, you would have yourself a harrowing American classic; I would even say it would be a front-runner for Best Picture at next year’s Oscars. But that’s not the case here. Despite Detroit’s issues, it’s still a captivating movie with a gut-wrenching story worth your attention. Read more
In one scene plastered all over the marketing for Wonder Woman, we see the female heroine step onto the battlefield, alone, to try and take out the German forces. This action-packed scene and what follows immediately after it combine to deliver not only one of the best action sequences in a superhero movie of all-time, but it is also a testament to just how crowd-pleasing the movie is as a whole. Wonder Woman is a bold, confident movie with as much heart as it has soul. Wonder Woman is not only a groundbreaking achievement, but also a movie that inspires much-needed hope in dark times like this. And given how crazy things are around the world, Wonder Woman is exactly the type of hero we need right now.
Three years after coming out of left field and becoming everyone’s favorite group of superheroes overnight, the A-holes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The first entries in these superhero outings from Marvel Studios are usually “fairly good.” But that was not the case with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which is arguably one of the very best movies to date in the MCU. So, going into Vol. 2, the expectations are fairly high. Vol. 2 hits all the right notes as a sequel; it’s bigger in every aspect – from scope to characters and action. Bigger can be better in many cases, but Vol. 2’s plot keeps those bigger things rather slender and rangy at times. But still, director James Gunn’s usage of these characters we’ve all come to know and love help propel this robust, entertaining sequel.
If you grew up in the 90s like I did, then you were either a fan of the Power Rangers or were aware of their towering existence in both television and merchandise. Even though the Power Rangers have been on television since 1993, the Power Rangers are back on the big screen for the first time since 1997. In this big budget reboot, Power Rangers focuses on the story of the original Power Rangers television series characters from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (who also graced us with the classic 1995 movie). When Power Rangers hones in on its moments that bring out nostalgia, it’s a blast. And if you grew up watching this superhero team fight and make “whoosh” noises, you’ll appreciate the subtle nods that bring out undeniable glee. Read more
The last time we saw the Caped Crusader on the big screen, he was in the hotly-debated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Hey, I liked it, so sue me). In a dour mood and off on a killing spree, some cried that it wasn’t the Batman they grew up with while others said it fit more closely with his comic book iteration. Either way, Batman v. Superman found the Dark Knight in a tight spot and in the middle of countless debates/arguments between critics and fans of comic book characters that almost sent film Twitter into flames. Luckily, Batman is back to provide some fun in the form of Legos. The Lego Batman Movie is a spin-off from the hugely successful The Lego Movie, which featured an “all-too-serious-but-trying-to-look-cool” Batman voiced by the wonderful Will Arnett (Arrested Development). Embracing the masked vigilante’s nostalgia from his past iterations along with the Lego universe’s nonsensical humor, The Lego Batman Movie is a hysterical, absolute blast from start to finish.
I have not liked an M. Night Shyamalan movie since The Village and that came out 13 years ago. Since then, Shyamalan has made a string of awful, degrading movies. His most recent movie, The Visit, had an interesting concept (like all of his movies), but nothing stuck in the overall scheme of things. And I never made it past 15 minutes into some of his other recent movies (Devil, After Earth), because I knew I was in for another headache. Shyamalan has been in my dog house for a while now, but when the previews for Split first appeared, I was initially curious. Was Shyamalan onto something? Was he finally back? As it turns out, absolutely yes, is the answer to both of these questions. Split is an expertly-crafted psychological horror movie and a return to form for Shyamalan, whose twistingly-good storytelling was sorely missed.
Given director Martin Scorsese’s film background, which mostly consists of stories centered around crime and gang violence, it comes as a surprise that Silence has been his passion project for 30 years. After numerous legal battles over the years, Scorsese was finally able to make Silence happen. At two hours and 40 minutes, however, Silence is a lot to digest. And while the journey itself is long and tiresome at times, it’s message, told with a great script spoken by an exceptional ensemble cast, makes it feel significant. Though sometimes brutal, Silence paints a beautiful picture of a clash between culture and religion, where characters question the sacrifices they are willing make to keep their faith and driven to the point of expulsion.
If you’re going to drop a sci-fi movie in late December and it’s directed by the guy who made The Imitation Game and stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), you would expect a lot, right? I mean, I certainly would. On paper, Passengers has all the makings of a star-powered vehicle that would cash in around the holidays and even generate some awards buzz. Unfortunately, for Passengers, they didn’t show this movie on paper, because none of the playbook meshes together on screen, and the result is tedious and melodramatic. Read more
On Wednesday, Warner Brothers dropped the official trailer for Dunkirk, director Christopher Nolan’s next movie. While it showed plenty of drama and action sequences around the historic evacuation, it didn’t necessarily give anything away (not shocking considering it’s coming from Nolan, who is all about teases). Personally, I think the trailer is great, but I’ve talked to more than a handful of people who came away unimpressed with the first full trailer.
As evidenced by last year’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the galaxy, “far, far away,” reigns supreme over pop culture once again. But the next release in the Star Wars universe proves to be a rather different, and somewhat challenging, sell for audiences: a spin-off set between episodes three and four of the intergalactic saga. Without the Skywalker family or lightsabers (mostly) as the main focus, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a view of the inner workings of both sides of the all-out war between the Rebellion and the Empire. Rogue One could have easily been just a “cash grab” simply by inserting the words “Star Wars” to its title, but luckily, for the most part, it isn’t. Despite some issues, Rogue One is a fine expedition filled with new characters on both sides of the conflict that feel somewhat meaningful to the Star Wars universe.
“Here’s to the fools who dream.”
We’re all reliant on our dreams, whether they are big or small. We set ourselves up for achieving what we want most. And along the way, we encounter risk, reward, sacrifice, emotion, and what it means to live. Director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) exemplifies all of these in La La Land, a musical about two people who cross paths and fall in love while they both aspire to be somebody in the City of Angels. They certainly don’t make movies like La La Land anymore, which is understandable considering how hard they are to pull off in this day and age. But La La Land feels like something brought back from the old Hollywood for a new generation to appreciate. Set to the beat of a startlingly vibrant musical tone, La La Land is a masterwork in showing us what it means to follow our dreams.
Leave it to Disney to help alleviate some of the turmoil felt throughout America since the Election Day results with an animated sea-journeying epic. Moana has all the makings of a classic 90s animated Disney movie – it includes a wonderful coming-of-age story, heartfelt characters, beautiful animation, and a memorable original soundtrack. If you’re looking for a two-hour escape with the family to try and get away from all the outside noise from the past couple of strenuous weeks, look no further. Family movies don’t get any better than Moana, which is easily the best family movie of the year. Read more
For nearly two decades, J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world has been a force to be reckoned with, first in bookstores and then in movie theaters. Rowling herself is due all the credit for creating the magical universe inhabited by memorable characters centered on Harry Potter and his friends. Now, Rowling is back with her first screenplay, which expands a short story previously mentioned in the Potter series – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The short story itself may only be 126 pages, but the possibilities for expanding this briefly-mentioned story within the Rowling universe into a whole new franchise are endless–if done correctly. Despite a fairly straightforward plot, Rowling offers more than enough to invest in a new spin-off franchise, which features new charming characters, impressive, visually-rendered magical beasts, and a story that, while simplistic, offers up a likable, leading wizard in Newt Scamander, who warrants further character exploration. Read more
Marvel Studios’ ever-growing cinematic universe continues to impress. After introducing audiences to The Avengers, the studio started to venture into the lesser-known territory of their comic book catalogue in hopes of reaching more than just fans of the superhero genre. Most recently, they won over general audiences with movies such as a space opera that featured a gun-toting, talking raccoon and a comedic heist with a man in a suit that could reduce him to the size of an ant. Now, Marvel Studios goes further down the rabbit hole with Doctor Strange, which introduces magic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) leading the way as the Sorcerer Supreme, not only is Doctor Strange a dazzling psychedelic journey, but it is also the best Marvel Studios origin story since Iron Man.