The fact that a superhero movie about a man given a suit that makes him the size of an ant and allows him to control ants made its way to the cineplex three years ago still amazes me. The finished product of Ant-Man was surprising, as it gave us a likeable superhero in Scott Lang (played greatly by Paul Rudd) and something a little different (in a good way) for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Fast forward three years and now we have its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is one of the best sequels to follow an MCU superhero’s first solo outing. On par with its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp is another good entry in the MCU, thanks to its small-scale stakes (ha), action, humor, and most importantly Evangeline Lilly, who ultimately takes the reigns of the movie as the Wasp.
Three years after the smashing success of Jurassic World (the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to Isla Nublar for another popcorn blockbuster adventure featuring everyone’s favorite group of reptile offerings. But unlike Jurassic World where we saw mostly one dinosaur creating most of the mayhem on the island, Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to the island where new dangers arise not only from the dinosaurs, but also from other parties. As the story plays out, it becomes obvious that Fallen Kingdom serves as a reinvention of the franchise. But luckily, the end results are roaring, which make it superior to its predecessor and take the franchise in a bold, new direction. Credit for that goes to director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage), who delivers another fun-filled dinosaur adventure full of dazzling action and nightmarish scares that make Fallen Kingdom the best Jurassic Park movie since the original.
If there’s one sequel audiences have been clamoring for years, it’s one for 2004’s The Incredibles. Regarded as one of Pixar’s best films, it was met with high praise for its animation, story, and cast of memorable superheroes; it also happened to come out before the current, golden age of film superheroes. Fast forward 14 years (and the release of a behemoth of superhero movies) and the Incredibles are back in action. With a wait this long and anticipation growing with every passing year, the expectations for director Brad Bird and company to deliver another memorable animated film about everyone’s favorite superhero family were astronomically high. Thankfully however, Incredibles 2 meets expectations and is almost on par with its predecessor, becoming one of the best sequels, both animated and superhero, to come out in recent memory.
The famed smuggler, scoundrel and hero Han Solo once said long ago in a galaxy far away to, “Never tell me the odds.” I can only imagine that was the same thing director Ron Howard kept telling himself when he was brought on board for Solo: A Star Wars Story after Lucasfilm fired directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who had almost finished shooting the entire movie when Howard replaced them. With less than a year until the movie’s release and nearly three quarters of the movie scraped and needing reshoots, the task to deliver another entertaining (and successful) Star Wars movie seemed daunting. However, with veteran and acclaimed director Ron Howard steering the ship (or Millennium Falcon, in this case), the latest standalone Star Wars project is another mostly entertaining entry in the intergalactic saga. While Solo is far from perfect, this origin story about the original space cowboy is full of fun moments for both new and older audiences looking to whet their appetite during summer blockbuster season.
Ten years and 18 movies later have led to Avengers: Infinity War, the movie that changes everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And with Thanos, the evil-lurking presence teased over the years in various MCU films, finally coming out from the shadows, the significant ramifications viewers will witness at the hands of the intergalactic despot in Infinity War are sure to cause a stir of emotion with fans who have followed these superheroes over the last decade. When you bring together the original Avengers mixed with new Avengers (Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man) and the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down the biggest threat the universe has ever seen, on paper, it might feel a little overwhelming to pack this many superheroes into one two and a half hour movie. However, with the Russo Brothers, the directing duo behind the two best movies in the MCU (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), overseeing the biggest ever ensemble of superheroes assembled on screen, rest assured they manage to give balance to all these characters we have come to know for the entire duration of Infinity War. The result is equally thrilling, captivating, emotional, and, not so shockingly, epic all at once.
One could make the argument that Blumhouse is the hottest production company in Hollywood these days. Coming closely on the heels of three huge hits including Split, Get Out, and Happy Death Day, Blumhouse certainly has struck chord with audiences seeking mayhem and horror over the last year. And later this year, they plan to release a sequel to Halloween, which is one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time. All of that being said, however, production companies are not perfect and are expected to have blunders: Case in point with Truth or Dare, the latest horror movie from Blumhouse. Unfortunately, Truth or Dare is one of the company’s most forgettable titles to date and fumbles a great concept, and the result in a silly, PG-13 rated melodrama horror audiences are likely to forget within hours of seeing it.
No one in Hollywood has crafted more memorable blockbusters than Steven Spielberg, the most famous director the world has ever seen. And while Spielberg has strayed from the familiar path in recent years and focused more so on dramas, Ready Player One is right in his wheelhouse. Ready Player One’s storytelling and character development do not reach levels high enough for those looking for some kind of depth in this 140-minute virtual reality journey. But when it comes to the movie’s action sequences and visual effects, Spielberg delivers to the max in spectacular fashion, which should please both regular movie goers and fans of 80s pop culture familiar with characters from movies, television, and video games over the years. Of course, Ready Player One plays out just like a video game, but that’s what makes it such an entertaining blockbuster and more of what we have come to love about Spielberg in years past; he transports audiences to new, exciting worlds we’d love to be part of. And with this ridiculous, filled-to-the-brim nostalgic blast, he’s done it again.
When you buy a ticket for The Commuter, you know exactly what you’re paying for. You’re paying not just for an action movie, but a Liam Neeson action movie. You’re paying for a movie released during one of the slowest months of the year during one of the coldest months of the year. Yes, you’ve probably seen half a dozen iterations of The Commuter before, but with different settings, scenarios, and action sequences. That being said, the B-action movie is a quintessential genre for certain movie goers, and The Commuter easily fits into that niche for that particular audience. Sure, you might forget about The Commuter two months from now, but it’s still a fun time to be had if you’re looking for something new at the theater and something that’s not an awards contender (which is when a number of awards-contending movies start rolling out nationwide).
After seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I’m not surprised Lucasfilm is giving director Rian Johnson the keys to a new Star Wars trilogy after Episode XI; in fact, Rian Johnson’s now further involvement has me actually excited for the next Star Wars trilogy (and I’m not even a Star Wars fan). While The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie, it also at times feels unlike any other Star Wars movie you’ve seen before. With that said, however, The Last Jedi is still a Star Wars movie through and through, and is filled with crowd-pleasing moments that should delight fans of the franchise. From the story and its gratifying twists and turns, to character developments for both new and old characters in the saga, to the movie’s dazzling action and visual effects, The Last Jedi is everything you could hope for in a grade-A blockbuster, and is easily one of the absolute best Star Wars movies in the franchise.
Heroes come from all sorts of places and some of them come from the field of journalism, where reporters and various employees at media outlets seek to bring the truth to light and give their audiences the information they need. And given the current state of the country, we could certainly benefit from members of the media giving us a clearer picture of everything. History tends to repeat itself, and from time to time, freedom of the press has come under assault. That being said, who better in Hollywood than acclaimed director Steven Spielberg could show audiences a time in history where the fourth estate was under fire. Spielberg’s latest movie, The Post, looks at the release of the Pentagon Papers in the early 70s. No question the year’s most timely movie, The Post is a stirring, race-against-the-clock drama that is among the best movies of the year.
2017 certainly has been a down year for animated movies. While there have been a number of animated movies released throughout the year, quantity has far outweighed quality. As such, it’s certainly shown in diminishing box office numbers for almost all the animated movies released this year (minus Despicable Me 3). Luckily however, as far as animated movies are concerned, 2017 is going out on a high note with Coco, the latest offering from Pixar Studios. After three straight lower caliber movies (The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, Cars 3) from the well-respected animation studio, Coco is more of what we’ve come to expect from Pixar over the years. Thanks to the movie’s uniquely told story, respect to culture, beautiful animation, and catchy, original music, Coco is another noteworthy winner from Pixar.
The road to Justice League, which brings together some of DC Comics’ most iconic superheroes, has not been without its share of debate or controversy. Up until this summer’s crowd-pleasing Wonder Woman, the three previous entries in the DC Extended Universe (which include Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad) were hotly debated amongst both fans and critics for their movie’s storytelling decisions and character developments that showed DC Comics’ characters in different lights. While each of them was a box office success, it was apparent that it wasn’t enough to win over audiences. Fast forward to today and Justice League is viewed as a course correction for Warner Brothers’ DCEU going forward. While Justice League certainly has its issues and isn’t exactly coherent at times, each of the movie’s superhero characters are more than satisfying and help make the superhero team up an enjoyable action romp.
With comedy sequels, the cast is usually bigger, and the gag jokes try to go even further; and, of course, Daddy’s Home 2 accomplishes both of those things, but with bad results. Personally, I enjoyed Daddy’s Home. It wasn’t the best comedy, but it was certainly one of Will Ferrell’s funniest movies in recent years. And when I heard that Mel Gibson and John Lithgow joined the cast for Daddy’s Home 2, my anticipation went from nonexistent to moderately excited. However, Daddy’s Home 2 is another swing and miss from Ferrell (and Mark Wahlberg to a slight extent), whose spiraling downward trend of bad comedies is on the same trajectory as Adam Sandler’s (yeah, I went there).
If you ask anyone (like me) who has seen the previous 16 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a good number of them will tell you that both Thor movies are among their least favorite. It’s not to say they’re bad, but they’re easily forgettable compared to the other superhero outings we’ve seen from the MCU. But finally, the god of thunder gets his justice with Thor: Ragnarok, a memorable, rickrolling good time that emphasizes the word “comic” for comic book movies. Easily surpassing the previous two Thor outings, Ragnarok’s intrepid attitude and overzealous moments make it not only the best Marvel Studios release of the year, but also arguably the funniest Marvel Studios movie to date. With the latest Thor sure to Ragnarok you like a hurricane, strap yourselves in for a fun time at the theaters this weekend.