Filmmaker Mike Flanagan has blazed a trail unmatched by most other filmmakers since 2016. From Hush to Doctor Sleep and the two Haunting series, Flanagan has become a household name in the horror genre. But with the release of Midnight Mass this weekend, the 43-year-old has now cemented himself as one of the absolute best filmmakers in the entire industry right now. No one can question that statement after viewing all seven episodes of Midnight Mass, which is a methodically captivating horror story and arguably Flanagan’s best work to date. Anyone ready to be converted to the House of Flanagan and his mastery of character studies, exploration of themes, and expertly crafted horror settings should join him in his service that is Midnight Mass.
The lyrics, beats, dance routines, and messages put together in musicals have created some of the most memorable movies in cinematic history. However, musicals don’t work if more than one of these components fail to hit a high note. And in the case of Dear Evan Hansen, almost everything, aside from some of the music, just flat out doesn’t work or even make a case for having made this Broadway-hit into a movie. When you mix together the cast led by a poorly miscast titular character, complex messaging and offbeat pacing, it makes for just an oddly-made movie that’s more head-scratching than inspiring.
One of the most promising things when it comes to film right now is the idea of “spiritual sequels” to successful horror movies from decades ago. This first started with 2018’s Halloween, which turned out to be a Grade-A sequel to the 1978 classic. Last month, it was announced that Universal Pictures was making a spiritual sequel to the mega-hit 1973 horror film The Exorcist that will star Leslie Odom Jr; this too can be great given the right script and direction. Right now, Universal is the only studio to go down this path of reintroducing horror icons years and years later. I love the concept of bringing these franchises to the present with the mythology intact because there’s so much you can do. And now, we are presented with another spiritual sequel in the form of a Jordan Peele-produced (and co-written) sequel to 1992’s Candyman. Unfortunately, however, this Candyman is anything but thrilling or buzzworthy.
The partnership between film distributor LionsGate and production company Millennium Media has been shaky as far as their output in the action movie genre is concerned; for every box office success like The Hitman’s Bodyguard and The Expendables franchise, there’s an underwhelming disappointment like the 2019 Hellboy reboot and Angel Has Fallen. Thankfully, their latest collaboration, The Protégé, is on the former side of the spectrum thanks to strong direction from Martin Campbell, entertaining action sequences, and solid performances from Michael Keaton and Maggie Q. Read more
I think we can all agree that job interviews are among the most stressful things we encounter in life, right? Whatever your goal, you want to nail it. During the time leading up to job interviews, the nerves and anxiety reach all sorts of emotional points. And then, to make matters worse, once an interview is over, the anxiety over how you did begins. Did you do well? Did you answer everything correctly? What more could you have done? Granted, not everyone who goes through interviews experiences all these emotions. Some handle interviews better than others. All of this plays out on the big screen in the thought-provoking Nine Days. However, its subject material is not about a job interview; it’s related to souls interviewing to be given life on earth. Interviewing in the “great beyond” sounds more stressful than your typical job interview process, doesn’t it?
If you’ve seen a preview for Stillwater, then you’ve certainly noticed (and possibly were taken aback by) Matt Damon sporting a goatee. Then you may find out by watching the preview (or doing a Google search) that the title of the movie comes from the name of a town in Oklahoma. So, things might be starting to add up in your head about what type of guy Damon is playing, right? At least for me, I was immediately interested in the A-list actor’s role in this Tom McCarthy project. And if you read the plot description, the movie certainly sounds like a riff on the Taken franchise. (And Matt Damon recently discussed this on a podcast hosted by Marc Maron.) However, there is much more underneath the surface of Stillwater, and the result is a mostly character-driven drama that exceeds expectations.
Nicolas Cage, for all his up-and-down performances over the years, is still one of the most prolific actors in the business today. Sure, he’s had more duds than you might think and churns those out quite often, even as recently as earlier this year with Willy’s Wonderland. But then you take a look at his other movies, especially in the past couple of years, like Color Out of Space and Mandy, and they are great. Anytime Cage has a new movie, for all intents and purposes, it always grabs you. And so when a movie called Pig starring an actor like him arrives, it certainly will get your attention. However, Pig is not what you’re expecting. And that’s more than fine, thanks to Cage’s performance and the film’s subject material we see play out over its 90-minute runtime. Read more
Most would say that Natasha Romanoff was long overdue for her solo movie. Better late than never, right Marvel Studios? Either way, Black Widow officially hits theaters next week and many have wondered how it would stack up against other films in the MCU. Sure, there is a lot to unpack. But overall, Black Widow is a fun movie that’s a solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Read more
Even without the title of this review, I probably don’t have to spew more than a few words into this piece before you, the reader, will know that The Mitchells vs.The Machines is another good animated movie from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I mean, seriously. Anytime Lord and Miller have explored animated movies, they’ve struck gold. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—all three of these are delightful in their own ways and are arguably some of the best animated movies from the past 15 years, so I had little fear their new feature debuting on Netflix tomorrow would disappoint. It didn’t and the results deliver an intelligent, often hilarious, animated movie that is both relevant and telling when it comes to how most people have become more than dependent on technology these days.
If there’s one area that Netflix has shifted a bit of its focus to for original content in recent years, it’s the animation department. While some of their animated shows have been great, none of their animated movies has been knock-out-of-the-park material or memorable (if memory serves right) for this critic. And while I liked Netflix’s Over the Moon, released last year (and is now nominated for Best Animated Film at the upcoming Oscars), I wasn’t over the moon (insert chuckle here) about it. However, Netflix has a gem with Arlo the Alligator Boy, which drops on Netflix tomorrow. This sweet, wonderful 2D animated tale is a must-see for families and animated film lovers alike. Filled with great original songs and a message that should resonate with all, Arlo the Alligator Boy is an animated musical we’ll be talking about for the rest of the year.
The path to the epic showdown between Godzilla and Kong in this MonsterVerse has not exactly been the smoothest road. All three movies leading up to this point have dealt with issues within the asphalt of said road. Godzilla didn’t show enough of everyone’s favorite lizard, Kong: Skull Island was not seen in the same light as Peter Jackson’s take on the giant ape (though I beg to differ), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters showed too much fighting in the dark, making it difficult to see exactly what was happening. Let’s also not forget that all three of these movies to varying degrees had human character problems due to script issues. And coming into Godzilla vs. Kong, I had some reservations considering how disappointed I was with King of the Monsters and how this film was being directed by someone who has made two of the worst movies I’ve seen in the past five years (one of which you can read about here). However, despite all this, Godzilla vs. Kong shows us what we’ve all been waiting for leading up to this film. While the human character issues remain a problem, when the two titans collide, it’s shown in such grand fashion that it causes pure excitement, and that alone is worth the price of admission rather than merely watching it from the comfort of your home.
I’ll be honest: faith-based movies usually fall at the bottom of the totem pole or desire for me to watch. It’s only because these faith-based movies are typically low on production values coupled with very, very bad acting. And I get it: most faith-based movies rely on low budgets to be successful (like most horror movies) these days. But they’re never my cup of tea. However, Netflix has invested seemingly more money in A Week Away than any faith-based movie I can recall in some time. The results? Well, story-wise, it’s predictable with a High School Musical spinoff vibe where religion plays a role. However, some of the musical numbers shown are entertaining and show how talented some of the young cast members are, which bodes well for their futures.
If you’ve seen a trailer for Nobody, I’m sure you’ve already thought, “This looks just like John Wick.” And you would be right, to an extent, and you’ll likely see the comparisons in other reviews of the movie. Sure, there are a handful of John Wick-esque action sequences and plenty of mystery unfolds regarding just who the main character is in this action flick. But make no mistake: the two action entries, this being just one (for now), and the John Wick franchise are still completely different animals in their own respects. Where the John Wick franchise is all about a man who turned out to be part of a group of skilled assassins, Nobody feels isolated to just one man with some sort of violent past (at least in this entry). And isolated is exactly what the doctor ordered thanks to Bob Odenkirk, who needs no assistance star-wise when it comes to delivering brute force and making Nobody an enjoyable thrill ride up until the credits roll.
In today’s age of television, there are so many options available to choose from on several streaming services and network channels. And when a new television show makes its debut, I have to decide whether I’m going to add it to the ever-growing catalogue of my entertainment menu. For me, at least, with television, since there is so much to choose from, the first episode of any television show must hook me right away to keep me invested. I get that some shows have this thing where, they seem to be saying, “Just watch a few episodes and then it really gets going.” However, with so much to see in so little time, I have to be reeled in by the time the credits roll at the end of the first episode. And not only did the first episode of Amazon’s Invincible meet this criteria, I had to watch the other two episodes I received immediately afterwards. After watching the first three episodes of Invincible, I think it’s already 2021’s best new television show of the year (so far).