Review of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – A Suprisingly Fun Sequel

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby

Check out the trailer!

While it’s sometimes hard to remember in this age where movies are almost expected to have multiple sequels to be successful, there used to be a time when the vast majority were made to be stand alone ventures only. These movies had to get it right the first time, because that’s all there was. 1995’s Jumanji is one of those movies that got it right. It’s a unique and fascinating movie that everyone fortunate enough to have seen it, looks back on with fond memories. It’s also one of the movies that comes to mind when remembering the incredible career of the late Robin Williams.

So when a sequel was announced over 20 years later, it caused more than a little anxiety among fans. However, while it’s not a perfect sequel, it is far better than expected…and a lot of fun. The movie doesn’t officially release until December 20th, but I had a chance to see it a couple weeks early at a special screening for Amazon Prime members.

The same game, updated for a new generation

There are some noticeable changes this time around. The movie is much lighter and has more comedy than the original. Also, instead of the world of Jumanji escaping out of the game, we get to see what happens when players get transported into Jumanji.

When I first saw the trailer, I was annoyed that the movie had moved away from the classic board game, to a more modern video game. Seeing it play out on screen, however, it actually works fairly well. Jumanji taking the form of whatever is most likely to be played in a given time period actually makes the game feel more sinister.

Something else worth noting is the commendable way they worked in elements from the original movie, such as the rhyming directions of the game, as well as the important life lessons the kids learn through playing a game of Jumanji. It helps to make the change of game style believable and consistent with the original.

Choose your characters

Bobby Cannavale plays the villain this time around, and is basically an updated version of Hunter Van Pelt from the original. Overall, the character is boring and forgettable, and has nothing in common with the original Van Pelt other than the name. He does have an useful ability but is still your average, run of the mill baddie who spends the movie yelling things like “Get them!” or “Nowhere left to run!” He is the worst thing about the movie, which is good because he doesn’t have a ton of screen time.

The movie is at its best when it focuses on the unique humor centered around how a group of teenagers would react to being trapped inside a videogame, possessing the avatar bodies of the game’s heroes. The actual teenagers are fairly forgettable, however watching the actors who play the kids in the game avatars is where the fun is.

It’s actually refreshing and entertaining to finally see a Dwayne Johnson who is unsure of himself as a hero. Jack Black is absolutely hilarious as a teenage girl trapped inside of a much older, male professor. Karen Gillan looks fantastic, but correctly takes jabs at the absurdity of the majority of female outfits in video games. Kevin Hart is funny, but makes the same types of jokes he always does. And finally, Nick Jonas works well enough as a teenager trapped inside the pilot character in Jumanji.

I won’t spoil it here but the movie pays a nice homage to Robin Williams as well.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a hilariously fun romp through the jungle of Jumanji. It certainly has several flaws, but if you can enjoy it for what it is, you’ll see it’s just about the best sequel to the original classic we are going to get…and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle gets a score of 8.5 bannana leaves out of 10.

The Force is Strong at The Last Jedi World Premiere

In news that makes me extremely jealous, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was shown for the first time to the public last night at the movie’s packed world premiere event in LA. Check out some pictures here.

There is a review embargo in place until December 12th, however that didn’t stop several attendees of the premiere from posting what they thought of the movie via Twitter.

The reactions from the vast majority have been nothing short of raving; many touting Last Jedi as being just as good or even better than Empire Strikes Back, considered by most to be the best movie in the franchise. Several warned to stay clear of spoilers as the story has some unexpected, yet excellent twists. Director Rian Johnson is also being highly praised for his work on the film, which is a good thing considering he’ll be in charge of creating a brand new trilogy after Episode IX.

Check out some of the reactions below. The Last Jedi opens officially this Friday…I cannot wait to see it and let you know what I think.

https://twitter.com/graedrake/status/939737539392315392

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer “Spares No Expense”

The wait is over and the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kindom has dropped. Owen and Claire are this time going back to the island to save the dinosaurs from a volcano eruption. While there’s sure to be more going on with Dr. Wu on the loose from the last movie, the surface story of returning to a fallen, dino-controlled island seems to be at least somewhat reminiscent of the sequel to the original movie: The Lost World.

Fallen Kingdom definitely gets an action packed trailer here, promising some intense moments. I’m not sure I buy that Owen and Claire would risk going back to Isla Nublar at this point, but at the end of the day it’s a movie about people doing stupid things and then running to avoid becoming a dinosaur meal. If they can deliver on that, which the trailer implies it will, then mission accomplished.

It’s also great to see Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Malcom return to the franchise, even if its most likely only a cameo appearance…here’s hoping for an appearance from Sam Neil and Laura Dern.

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom rampages into theaters June 22nd, 2018.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to let me know below!

Geek to the Future’s Official Marvel Cinematic Universe Viewing Guide

Avengers: Infinity War will be, without a doubt, the biggest cinematic event of 2018. The entire Marvel franchise has been building to this moment almost from its beginning. With that in mind, this post will be geared mostly towards those movie goers who are interested in seeing Infinity War, but maybe haven’t had a chance to watch the entire MCU line up and want to catch up before May. Even if you’re a veteran, you might want a refresher. With 18 movies spanning over the last decade, it can be confusing to know where to start or what order.

Below is my guide for the recommended viewing order for the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe up until this point. Because each movie builds on the last (similar to a series of comic books) the best method is to watch in the order they were released. Of course, if you want to get the absolute most out of Infinity War, I would recommend watching every movie (except maybe The Incredible Hulk).

That being said, not everyone will want to sit through roughly 36 hours of movies before May, so I’ve also ranked each movie by how necessary it is in relation to the Infinity War story. If you’re looking for a “bare bones” crash course through the MCU, just hit the essential movies. Be warned though, Marvel is famous for adding easter eggs and references from previous movies so the more you watch, the more you’ll catch and enjoy.

Also, just to be clear, these rankings have nothing to do with movie quality, only relevance to Infinity War. Virtually all of the MCU is fantastic and worth your time.

Here are the ranking definitions:

“Essential”: The bread and butter of the MCU and a must watch. These movies deliver key back story elements that build up to Infinity War (9 movies total).

“Important”: Try to fit these in if you have time. They will give you a more well-rounded understanding of the back story going into Infinity War, but you’ll still be fine without them (2 movies total).

“Not Necessary”: While great additions to the franchise, these movies are not a prerequisite for Infinity War. Watch them to learn more about each specific movie’s characters (6 movies total).

“Don’t Bother”: This rank is awarded to only one movie in the MCU. Watch if you want to say you’ve seen them all.

One final piece of information if you’re new to watching Marvel movies: make sure you sit through the credits. Every Marvel movie has at least one after credits scene and they usually give nuggets of info that build the franchise further. Ok, let’s get to it!

Phase One

1. Iron Man (2008)

Rank: Essential

Why: While this movie was too early on to set up anything for Infinity War, it is the movie that kicked off the MCU and should be watched for that reason alone.

2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Rank: Don’t Bother

Why: Marvel was still working out the kinks with its movie strategy. Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner before being recast by Mark Ruffalo, and you can see why…this movie is a mess. Watch only if you really want to see every movie in the MCU. By the way, don’t confuse this movie with the older Hulk movie with Eric Bana…it’s even worse.

3. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Rank: Essential

Why: Full introduction into the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the start of Nick Fury’s “Avenger Initiative.” We also get to see the origin of War Machine.

4. Thor (2011)

Rank: Important

Why: The Thor movies are the least necessary to watch in regard to Infinity War. However, you should at the very least watch the first one to have a basic understanding of the characters.

5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Rank: Essential

Why: The Captain America movies are some of the most important movies to understanding the MCU. This is Cap’s origin story and helps to set up the plot of Avengers, including what will be the first Infinity Stone.

6. Avengers (2012)

Rank: Essential

Why: Here we have the first look at Thanos, as well as the first Avengers team up. The story has a large impact on future movies.

Phase 2

7. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: This movie is important to Tony’s story arc post Avengers but is not vital in regards to Infinity War.

8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: This movie introduces a power source called the Aether which is only significant because it will become another Infinity Stone. Watch if you want more back story on Thor, or to watch him battle space-elves.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Rank: Essential

Why: First appearance of Winter Soldier, and the story has a large impact on the MCU going forward.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Rank: Essential

Why: Introduction to the Guardians and another Infinity stone. Also, surprisingly this movie is where we have learned the most about Thanos and the history of the stones so far.

11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Rank: Essential

Why: Introduction of new characters that will be in Infinity War and events will have impact on the MCU going forward.

12. Ant Man (2015)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: Intro to Ant Man and short glance at a younger S.H.I.E.L.D. Knowing that Paul Rudd plays a wise cracking criminal-turned hero, and can shrink to the size of a…well…ant is enough to get you by if you’re trying to shave off a few movies.

Phase 3

13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Rank: Essential

Why: The fallout of this superhero showdown has a tremendous impact on setting up Infinity War. Also we get a small Spider Man introduction.

14. Doctor Strange (2016)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: Introduction to Doctor Strange and another Infinity stone. This movie was a little too Strange for some moviegoers. Knowing he uses magic and has an Infinity Stone is enough to get you by if the Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t interest you.

15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: A great movie that furthers the Guardians’s story but not essential to the overall MCU leading up to May. The character Mantis is introduced who will be in Infinity War. Other than that they’re still funny and still hate Thanos.

16. Spider Man: Homecoming (2017)

Rank: Not Necessary

Why: The full introduction to Marvel’s friendly, neighborhood…well you know. A fantastic movie but knowing that Spidey is the rookie of the group and Iron Man has taken on the role of mentor is enough to get you by.

17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Rank: Important

Why: Ragnarok was a huge success this year and due to some major turn of events it’s important to know where Hulk, Thor and Loki will be at the beginning of Infinity War.

18. Black Panther

Release Date: February 16th, 2018

Rank: Essential

Why: Already introduced in Civil War, Black Panther / T’Challa is the King of Wakanda and will play a large role in Infinity War. My guess is that this will be the location of the final Infinity Stone…

19. Avengers: Infinity War

Release Date: May 4th, 2018!

Congratulations! You’re now ready for Thanos. It’s all led up to this!

Marvel Proves That While Infinity War May Turn The MCU Upside Down, They Have No Intentions of Slowing Down Any Time Soon

As you have undoubtedly seen and heard by now, the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War dropped this week, which will bring together every hero we’ve seen in the MCU so far:

In 24 hours it received over 230 million views, making it the “most viewed trailer of all time.”

In the blink of an eye, the argument about whether or not Justice League is a good movie lost importance. No one cares anymore. Hell, I’ve been fighting for that movie ever since it came out and I don’t care anymore. Marvel Studios has shown once again why they are currently the undeniable king of superhero movies.

Led by Kevin Feige, the studio has taken its time over the last 10 years to carefully craft a complex and interconnected universe. They are proof of what happens when you put character development and storytelling ahead of simply wanting to make a truckload of money…you end up making 10 truckloads. Each movie in this universe tells it’s own story, however they also contain pieces of a larger arc, and it has all been leading up to Infinity War.

The trailer itself (including Cap’s epic beard) is glorious. I’ve literally watched it around 20 to 30 times myself. It perfectly sets up the dire situation the Avengers will find themselves in: Over the last 20 movies, the characters have one by one discovered the 6 mysterious power gems called Infinity Stones. Any one of these stones has almost immeasurable power, and unknown to the majority of our heroes “the Mad Titan”, Thanos (first seen in 2012’s Avengers) is searching for them.

Thanos is one of Marvel’s most powerful villians. He has something called the Infinity Gauntlet, which will allow him to harness the power of all 6 stones at once. The only thing he is obsessed with more than power is death, and judging from the trailer, there will be plenty of death. This will be an epic all out war, which will take 2 movies to resolve. The title for the next Avengers movie after Infinity War has still not been revealed due to spoilers, and is so far just being referred to as Avengers 4.

Recently, Vanity Fair published an insightful article that celebrates the last decade of Marvel movies, but also sheds at least a little light on this 4th Avengers film. While, I highly recommend putting in the time to read it, as there’s some fascinating stories of the studio’s behind the scenes history as well as a cool photo shoot with every major character; there are also some small spoilers revealed:

”After Avengers 4, an ambitious multi-franchise crossover movie slated for release in 2019, at least some of the original characters who sit at the center of the billion-dollar Avengers team will be hanging up their capes and shields…[Feige] promise[d] a definitive end to the franchise that built Marvel. Avengers 4, he said, will “bring things you’ve never seen in superhero films: a finale.”

This is huge news. Whether they are killed or simply retire, some of the Avengers (most likely Evans and/ or Downey included) will end their roles. Not only will their contracts be up, but Marvel understands that in order to stay on top, they have to constantly grow and evolve their strategy. While it’s difficult to imagine the Avengers without the current key players, Feige is pulling from the same playbook as the comics, with heroes dying or for various reasons deciding it’s time to stop. Could we see the Winter Soldier or Falcon taking over the mantle of Captain America? Maybe Tony will retire from hero work, and become a full time superhero mentor? The possibilities are exciting, because while Avengers 4 will mark an end to the overall infinity stone/Thanos story arc, there will be more stories for Marvel to tell:

“Marvel is “22 movies in, and we’ve got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that’s come before—intentionally.”

No matter what happens in Avengers 4, it looks like we are still only in the middle of the MCU’s lifespan, with numerous new characters and stories to tell. For now, the Infinity War trailer is one of many examples of how Marvel has crafted a complex movie universe that so many people, comic and non comic readers alike, are deeply invested in.

Excelsior!

Murder on the Orient Express Review: A Fun Remake of the Classic Story

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Leslie Odom Jr. Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Penélope Cruz

Release date: Nov 10, 2017

Watch the Trailer HERE

With recently returning from my wedding and honeymoon, the approaching holidays, and other movies like Thor and Justice League higher on my must see list, it took me a couple of weeks to find time to see Murder on the Orient Express. Having never read the popular Agatha Christie novel, nor seen the 1974 movie adaptation, I went into the theater with almost zero expectations.

Director Kenneth Branagh also stars as the legendary detective Hercule Poirot. Set in 1934, Hercule is reminiscent of an obsessive compulsive Sherlock Holmes, who finds himself hoping for a few days rest as he travels by train to his next case. Of course, there would be no story if he was able to actually rest, and he finds himself in the middle of troubling murder mystery: the culprit being one of the passengers on the train.

murder-on-the-orient-express-LST267348

Branagh does an exceptional job making Hercule fun to watch. The detective’ s peculiar personality makes for some humorous moments. While he isn’t wrong, he is extremely arrogant in his ability. He tells everyone more than once that he is the best detective in the world. Hercule’s mustache also has to be one of the best in the world. It’s definitely on the top ten list of epic movie facial hair. The only problem is it is noticeably fake as the gray and white coloring shifts throughout the movie. In a movie of stellar casting, Branagh’s character is the most fun to watch.

Speaking of the cast, Barnagh has indeed assembled a fantastic cast. Each get a fair amount of time to shine, as they are interrogated one by one as suspects. It’s a great way to learn their back-stories and possible motivations for the murder; succeeding at fitting in everything you need to know in the time allotted. It’s difficult to pinpoint performances that stand out from the rest, as they are all great for the most part. Rather, it’s easier to notice the ones that aren’t given much to do, such as the retired military commander played by Derek Jacobi and Judy Dench’s assistant played by Olivia Coleman.

MOTOE-Trailer-release-website

Coming into the movie, not knowing the story or how it ends, it was refreshing to not have everything figured out until the end. It is a great story with twists that go the opposite way you expect. This is a different type of movie than modern movie goers are used to. It’s a trip down cinema history to a time where movies focused primarily on character dialogue and development rather than tons of action and explosions. As a result, the movie may feel slow at times for some moviegoers. However, it’s a story that’s worth taking the time to sit through.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

The cinematography is gorgeous. No matter whether its picturesque views of the train traveling through snow-covered mountains to its destination, or watching the characters interact inside the compartments of the Orient Express itself, every shot is unique and fantastic.

Murder on the Orient Express is a fantastic mystery that will make you laugh as much as it will make you think. By the end, you’ll want to see the humorous yet masterful Hercule Poirot solve another case in the sequel that is teased.

Final Verdict: 

9 epic mustaches out of 10.

Justice League Poster Now Includes Superman

Remember that cool Justice League poster that was inspired by the work of iconic artist Alex Ross?

Well it was updated today on the movie’s Facebook and Twitter page, along with the official website…and Henry Cavill’s Superman is finally included:

Damn, this looks good. I understand the reasoning behind why they didn’t publicize Superman is in the movie, but that was a huge mistake. It’s not the Justice League without Superman and re-releasing the poster nails that point home.

As I said in my review, you should definitely go see Justice League in the theater. It’s a fantastic and historic movie, bringing the members of the JL together for the first time on screen.

And in case you were wondering, here is the artwork that the studio drew it’s inspiration from. Alex Ross is without a doubt one of my favorite artists. You should check out his other work if you haven’t heard of him.