My Review of Alien: Covenant

 A solid movie you will enjoy if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise or typical sci fi horror plots.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson, Noomi Rapace, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, James Franco

Rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity

Run time: 2hr. 1 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston is just like it’s predecessor, Prometheus, in that it will go down as a controversial movie for fans. Some seem to have really enjoyed this movie as a “return to form” in the series and some not so much. Covenant acts as both the sequel to Prometheus and also the prequel to 1979’s Alien. (there is also talk of a third movie in the works). This movie is essentially the story of how the aliens, also called xenomorph’s, came into being. This is the main point of contention with some fans. At the center is the colony ship “Covenant” which runs into trouble (of course) along the way to their destination and are lured to a different planet where things really start to hit the fan.

It’s extremely risky doing an origin story with such a beloved and popular franchise. Even more so with Aliens, because the xenomorph’s specific origin source has always been largely a mystery until now. You almost have a “no win” scenario as fans have had decades to create their own ideas and theories. It’s almost impossible not to judge such a movie by these preconceived expectations, and in that regard Covenant gets an unfair handicap. If you can go in with minimal expectations, the movie is a very fun, horror movie. Is it a groundbreaking movie that enriches the lore as a whole? No, not really; but as someone who grew up watching the series, I thought it was a solid addition to the franchise.

As to be expected with Ridley Scott as director, the cinematography is incredible. It’s one of the best things about the movie. Shot after shot is filmed at the perfect angle and just looks incredible. There’s one scene that stands out in particular for me of a spaceship entering a planet’s atmosphere: cutting through the clouds, flying through a mountain range…it’s gorgeous. One thing the movie does extremely well is mix these beautiful landscapes and sci-fi set pieces with grizzly death and darkness of a classic space horror. These elements are perfectly woven together which creates a sense of realism to the story.

The cast is almost entirely forgettable. You can tell from the very beginning they are there for one purpose only: to be brutally terrorized and massacred. The problem is that you don’t really care that they die; there’s no investment in the characters at all. Since this is a colony mission, everyone has a partner which helps to foster more of a sense of loss but it’s not quite enough. A couple promotional prologue clips were released on YouTube that serve to help flesh out the characters. It’s a shame that these scenes weren’t actually in the movie as they would have helped to add weight to the situation the characters find themselves in.

There were really only 3 standouts: “Daniels,” played by Katherine Waterston, “Tennessee,” played by Danny Mcbride, and the synthetics “David” and “Walter,” both played by Michael Fassbender.

The best of the three is easily Fassbender, playing both android personalities flawlessly. They are by far the most interesting element of the entire movie (besides the aliens, of course). It’s also a testament to how advanced CGI has become, as whenever Fassbender was standing beside himself as the two characters, it was 100% believable. Waterston’s “Daniels” fills in the slot of the strong female lead that Sigourney Weaver started in the original movies, and while she doesn’t quite measure up, she does a respectable job. Danny Mcbride did a surprisingly fantastic job as the ship’s pilot; proving he can handle more serious roles as an actor. He was the only supporting character that was remotely interesting.

Covenant has different tones during the movie. It starts as a continuation of Prometheus, but then it shifts from sequel to prequel mode and becomes very similar in nature to the original horror film. As I said the movie doesn’t really take any risks; it just recycles ideas from the previous films…which it does very well at least. I personally enjoyed it as that is all I was expecting, however if you were looking for something different you may be disappointed.

It’s also worth noting that the story takes a turn near the end that you will see coming from a mile away. It is literally so obvious that it’s frustrating that not one of the main cast picks up on it.

Final Verdict:

7 alien back-bursts out of 10.

The bottom line is Alien: Covenant sticks to the horror movie stereotypes of it’s genre and hits much of the same beats as its predecessors. Whether that works for you or not will depend entirely on what your expectations are going in. Is this the best movie in the Alien series? Not even close. But it is a solid and fun addition that will entertain and leave you with several questions that will hopefully be answered in the next movie.

 

SPOILERS SECTION BELOW!!

Go watch the movie then come back.

One James Franco Cameo, Well Done.

I want to know how much James Franco was paid for his 60 seconds of acting for this movie. Seriously. After watching “The Last Supper” prologue on YouTube I was interested to see how Franco would do in an Alien movie, especially as the critical role of captain. I knew he would die a horrible death, but I figured he’d last at least a little longer. In the clip he even mentioned not feeling well…an attempt at misdirecting viewers into suspecting he might have had a run-in with a face hugger and we’d get to see an alien pop out of his chest at some point.

Instead, barely two mins into the film we see his life support pod burst into flames from the inside, roasting Franco to a crisp. He appears later in the film as Daniels looks back at an old video recording of him. His death was a great way to explain why the crew would make the decision to investigate the mystery planet: the captain’s successor was an imbecile. Franco isn’t the highest paid actor to be sure, but it is curious why they would waste such a small role on one of the most well known actors in the movie?

Grade A Science Fiction Gore

Like any good horror movie, there is a substantial amount of gruesome gore in this movie. However, the gore in Covenant is executed intelligently. While people died horrible deaths from unrealistic causes (like aliens bursting out of their bodies), most of the gore is crafted and carried out in a way that it stays within the realm of believable medicine and science, giving the illusion of realism.

Fassbender’s Walter and David: They don’t make them like they used to.

While there were some weird moments, enough can’t be said about Fassbender’s performance. I don’t think I’ve seen an actor play multiple characters in the same movie outside of the comedy genre and he nails it. The way both characters talk, move, and act are flawless. You will believe that they are androids.

I did think it was extremely awkward that David went on a kissing spree in the third act of the movie, first with Walter and again during his fight with Daniels. Maybe that was the point, but it just took me out of the movie. Maybe if this was David’s first human contact, but he spent all of Prometheus with human beings.

I also think there should have been more details explained about Elizabeth Shaw’s fate from Prometheus. Clearly David killed her in his experimentation perfecting the xenomorphs, but why did she play such an important role? And for that matter, why is Daniels so important to his experiments: he told her he was going to do the same thing to her. Maybe these questions will be answered in the next installment.

The Xenomorph Birds and the Bees

This is the part of the movie that has drawn the most controversy. We learn in Covenant that the origin of the Alien species as we know it is due to genetic experimentation by the insane synthetic David. On it’s surface, it is a somewhat boring explanation to a species that’s been held in such mystery and fascination for decades. The xenomorph’s lose some of their intrigue, and it focus shifts more to an android who struggles with existential questions. Xenomorphs have always been depicted as a force of nature that can’t be contained, not obedient children to their “puppet master” creator. The best way to course correct in the next movie would be to have the aliens rise up against their creator and take back control of their own evolution.

Plot Twist: The Character’s Are Dumber Than You Thought

How is it possible that Daniels and Tennessee can’t see that David is pretending to be Walter?! It couldn’t be more obvious. There’s a comment Walter makes about the newer line of androids being able to self heal and that David being an older model, cannot. At the end of the movie we see Daniels stapling the gash in Walter’s face. That should have been it, right there.

But to be fair, the crew of the Covenant are not very smart in general. While it’s true that the characters of most horror movies make dumb decisions; these characters make such terrible decisions that it’s beyond ridiculous.

-Strange transmission coming from unknown planet? We should risk the lives of 2000 colonists and investigate.

-Dark creepy place with aliens outside? I should go off on my own and let my guard down so I can clean up.

-Creepy android gets upset when you kill an alien? I should follow him to a chamber filled with some type of pods and stick my face over top of it as it opens up.

My Review of King Arthur: Legend of The Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language

Run time: 2hr. 6 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starring Charlie Hunnam and directed by Guy Ritchie is essentially a high octane retelling of how Arthur became King Arthur. The movie also stars Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, and randomly enough British soccer icon David Beckham.

I absolutely love the fantasy genre. Ever since I was a kid; give me a story with knights, magic, heroes, and monsters and I’m happy. This movie did a great job of retelling a story that everyone has heard several times, and still managing to make it feel fresh and entertaining. Part of that is due to the directing style of Guy Ritchie. He has a characteristic cinematic style running through most of his movies which includes high energy action scenes and fast paced quick cut sequences. This movie had plenty of both.

These quick cuts are montages that show multiple scenes in rapid succession. These scenes serve to share plot information with viewers in a compressed and stylized sequence. There are a couple of these sequences throughout the movie, and are a lot of fun to watch. The only downside was that one scene in particular, which I’ll talk about in the spoiler section, was a little too abridged. While it served it’s purpose effectively, it was an interesting part of the movie and I think worth exploring further. There are actually a few scenes that leave you wanting more, and I think most movie goers wouldn’t have complained about an extra 30 min run time to go into them more…I know I wouldn’t.

Charlie Hunnam’s performance was surprisingly decent. He brings a “bad boy” vibe to the character which fits the style of the movie, while also driving women crazy. He’s not known for being the best actor, but he was a convincing Arthur and looked very capable during fight scenes. For the most part he felt like a good choice for the part and fit the style of the movie well. The biggest negative, and also an interesting topic in and of itself, is his accent.

Hunnam is originally from the UK, however listening to his lines, he sounds like an American failing miserably at faking an English accent. After a little research I discovered that the reason for this is he’s lived in the States for so long that he’s lost any trace of his accent. He even hired a coach to help him dial in a proper accent for the movie [1].

Jude Law’s performance had a lot of depth and was fun to watch. While his character’s motivations as the movie’s villain were typical and unoriginal, his methods to achieve his goals felt fresh. His need to maintain his power and control drive him to make some ruthless decisions.

The rest of the cast had solid performances. Watching Djimon Hounsou, known most recently for his roles in The Fate of The Furious and the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I realized this might be the first movie I’ve seen him play a good guy instead of a villain. Aiden Gillen, better known as “Littlefinger” on the HBO show Game of Thrones, played “Goosefat Bill.” Maybe he likes playing characters with unusual names? This time around he’s an archer with skills that would put Robin Hood to shame. David Beckham surprisingly has a short cameo as a soldier in the scene where Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. He doesn’t have many lines so it’s hard to judge how he did…I didn’t realize it was him at first and thought he did fine at playing an asshole guard.

The CGI effects were great for the most part, but there were a couple scenes that were noticeably sub par. One fight scene in particular comes to mind with Arthur vs the king’s guard. There were times Hunnam was completely CGI and there’s no other way to say it: it looked bad.

The ending definitely leaves room for a sequel, and I think it deserves one. I genuinely had fun throughout the entire movie and want to see more adventures in this world. The movie was also entertaining enough for multiple viewings, so I will definitely be buying a copy on bluray. Hopefully the movie will make enough money to green light it. Early projections are not looking good for Warner Bros to recoup the pricey $175 million production cost.

 

 

 

SPOILERS SECTION BELOW!!

Go watch the movie then come back.

Magic and Monsters

One thing that wasn’t really overtly advertised about this movie is how much magic plays a role in the movie. Which, on one hand should be obvious given the story, however there have been attempts to make more realistic versions of King Arthur in the past. I loved it and thought it was incorporated well. There’s so many creatures and monsters in this movie that aren’t really explained; they are just there. More background information would have rounded out the world even more. Another thing is I don’t remember Excalibur having quite the level of magical ability as it does in this movie, but it worked. Arthur can’t even control it fully until later on in the movie, but when he does he wreaks some serious havoc.

CGI: Hit or Miss But Still A Great Time

The CGI effects for this movie were hit or miss. I would say the majority of the time they were a hit, but the one or two misses stand out like a sore thumb. The best scene would be the opening battle scene, which makes sense. The opening scene needs to be the best to pull your audience in. There were giant elephants causing massive destruction that make the ones from Lord of the Rings look like chumps. Soldiers were getting vaporized by magic…it was a grand time. This was your standard fantasy movie battle scene and I loved it.

Eric Bana, who plays Arthur’s father, King Uther was a bad ass in his own right, making his way through the enemy ranks all the way to the evil sorcerer with a funny hat. There’s a great moment that’s easy to miss where The King and the sorcerer are starring each other down and you see the kings armor start to glow red; exactly what happened to a group of soldiers earlier before they were vaporized with magic. Bana raises Excalibur, his eyes turn blue from the magic of the sword, and the red glow disappears. It’s a great unspoken “I don’t think so” moment. I do feel, to keep the movie on schedule, Bana took the sorcerer out way too easily, even with Excalibur. Great scene though.

The absolute worst CGI scene was much later into the movie. Arthur has finally learned to control Excalibur’s magic and he’s taking on a group of guards. Basically whenever Arthur uses both hands on the hilt of the sword he gains heightened senses; he can move and think faster than his opponents which basically makes him untouchable to the everyday foe. If you grew up watching the cartoon He-man, it’s a similar concept. When Arthur starts laying waste to the army are when things get bad. Hunnam is 100% CGI through most of the scene and he looks horrible. It kind of ruins the moment because it’s all you can pay attention to. It reminded me of the second Matrix movie when Neo fights the copies of agent Smith. Yup. That bad. The problem is at least the Matrix came out around a decade ago. CGI is much more advanced now. This must have been a scene that was constructed towards the end of the movie’s budget, as there were other, more complex scenes, that looked much better. The final battle in the movie looks fantastic, so at least they were strategic: if the last fight had looked as bad as the earlier one, it would leave a bad taste coming out of the movie. This is quickly forgotten, however.

The Final Boss Battle

I loved the final battle between Vortegern and Arthur. It felt very much like a boss battle in a video game. Again Hunnam goes all CGI, however it looks much better this time. Vortegern’s double scythe weapon looks brutal: his entire super charged design is menacingly perfect. Again, it could have been a little longer and would have been fine. However, as fantasy magic final confrontations go, it was great.

Quick Cut Sequences

As I mentioned above, one of Guy Ritchie’s signatures are quick cut sequences and this movie has two or three. The most entertaining of these sequences is when Arthur has to travel through the “darklands” on a quest to touch Excalibur to a tomb. Why? No one knows. It’s magic, don’t ask questions. What follows is a montage of Arthur encountering various monsters, most of which kick his ass. It’s a fun scene to watch, and for the gamers out there, it was similar to what happens in an RPG if you enter a section of the game with enemies at a much higher skill level than you are. It’s a great scene that balances themes of action, adventure, and humor well. The only downside is that I wanted a much longer cut of this sequence: extended fight scenes with the creatures Arthur encountered.

Jude Law’s Evil King Jerk: Vortegern

I found Vortegern to be an interesting villain, even if his motivation is not. Vortegern is brother to the rightful King (Eric Bana). His entire arc revolves around killing his brother to become king and then doing whatever is necessary to maintain his power. This guy, like any evil king worth his salt, really gets off on the power. There’s even a moment when he says that knowing that people fear you is the best feeling anyone can know. This dude is sadistic, which is awesome for the movie. He also has a weird fetish for slicing the throats of Arthur’s friends in front of him.

One of the most interesting things about Vortegern is the utterly heartless deal he makes with the octopus ladies that live in the water surrounding the castle. In exchange for killing “someone he loves” and floating their body in the water for the octopus ladies to take, they grant him the power to turn into a mix between Skelator and that guy from Willow with the skull mask. He doesn’t just get muscles though. He also is granted some degree of magical ability – although it’s never really expounded upon.

There are so many questions left unanswered in this arrangement: Who are the “octo-ladies”? Why does he have to kill someone he loves? What’s done with the bodies? Where do they get the power to turn Vortegern into the Hulk with a skull mask? Why is the transformation temporary? I wish these scenes had been extended a little more to answer these questions. I did like that he was hesitant (a little) to kill his wife and daughter, and that he screamed out loud after killing his daughter. It helped to make the situation more believable and that he was torn between his family and his love of power. Regardless, it’s brutal imagery that show’s Vortegern won’t let anyone or anything stand in his way of keeping control.

Arthur’s Band of Merry Men…And a Mage

The group of supporting cast around Arthur are fine. They serve the role they are supposed to effectively, but I wanted more background. A few of them die along the way, and even though you know that these people mean something to Arthur, they don’t really matter to you, the viewer. We never even find out the mage’s name, only that the call her “The Mage.” Most of these characters are from the original stories, so it’s not like they are throw away characters. Maybe it’s a clever way to try to get people to go read a book?

Ending and Sequel Setup

The movie ends with Arthur newly crowned as king. He’s making changes immediately including the knighting of his companions in arms and construction of the famous round table. Thus King Arthur and his knights of the round table are born,

There is also a scene with vikings which are seen earlier in the movie. They request Arthur to deliver on the cruel agreement they made with his uncle and Arthur makes it very clear his reign will be much different. He basically gives the vikings an ultimatum to either kneel in allegiance or suffer the consequences. They all take a knee and then Arthur says essentially Good. “Now let’s eat.” I thought this was an interesting attitude. I was actually waiting for Arthur to throw the group out.

Final Verdict:

8 Guy Ritchie montages out of 10.

This movie needs an extended cut, as there are several scenes that leave you wanting more. I would say an extra 30-45mins overall would be perfect. This movie is far from perfect, but I would argue it’s the type of movie that you don’t expect to be perfect and that’s ok. It succeeds at being a fun and entertaining ride.

[1]: Contact Music Article

My List of Most Anticipated Summer Movies for 2017

We have transformers, superheroes, knights, mummies, assassins, and soldiers…and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. There is, what seems like, an endless stream of great movies being released this year. Here is what I’m excited for through the end of summer and why. Let me know which movies have peaked your interest in the comments!

May 12

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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Summary from IMDB: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language

Run time: 2hr. 6 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

First, the trailer for this movie really catches your attention with its over the top style and the stringing together of one intense action shot after another. It looks very much like a Guy Ritchie film; which can be hard to put into words what that looks like, but is ultimately a good thing in my opinion. He was behind the excellent Sherlock Holmes movies from a few years back: whom Jude Law was apart of as well. If this movie is anything similar, it should be fun and entertaining to watch. Audiences will forgive a movie for most of it’s shortfalls if at its core it is entertaining throughout.

Charlie Hunnam, best known for Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim, will have the title role of Arthur. Hunnam is honestly not the greatest actor. His acting always comes across as rigid and monotone in range to me. While he’s decent in action roles, there are plenty of other actors who are better, frankly. He’s passable. Satisfactory. Judging from the trailer, that is exactly how he comes across as Arthur: not spectacular, but passable. But again, if the trailer is any indication, it should be at least a fun movie to watch. I’m a huge fan of the “medievel/fantasy” genre, so I’m interested to see what they do with it.

 

May 19

Alien: Covenant

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Summary from IMDB: Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in ALIEN with Alien: Covenant, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with Prometheus — and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Watterson, Noomi Rapace, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, James Franco

Rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity

Run time: 2hr. 1 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

I have fond memories as a kid of being scared out of my freaking mind watching the first and second Alien movies. The original was an intelligent mixture of suspense and terror, holding your attention throughout. Aliens, the second movie in the series was still terrifying, but it focused more on action. Covenant looks to be more of a return to the suspenseful roots of the original film. It acts as both a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and a prequel to the original Alien…similar to how Rogue One fits into the Star Wars timeline between episodes 3 and 4.

There are some beautiful sci-fi set pieces in the trailer, and the stark contrast between beauty and gore, discovery and death is a very satisfying balance if done correctly. Ridley Scott, the director behind both the original Alien and Prometheus returns with Covenant. This will be the first of two of his movies released this year: the second being Blade Runner 2049 which will out this fall. Both are continuations from two of his most beloved series. I think a lot of fans were disappointed that Prometheus never showed off any real xenomorph action. Covenant looks to fix that and return the series back to level Ridley Scott is known for.

May25

Baywatch

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Summary from IMDB: Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

Director: Seth Gordon

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario

Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity

Run time: 1hr. 59min.

Trailer: Click Here!

Who didn’t watch Baywatch, when it was on TV? (Stop lying, yes you did…and it wasn’t for the incredible story either). This movie makes the list for the nostalgia factor alone. The cast and story look fun, and seems to imitate the original show’s blurring between life guard and cop drama. I do have some mixed feelings about it. There is a trend in the movie industry right now to reboot classic movies and TV shows and mold them into “dumb” comedies: even when the original properties were not. They did it with Chips, and they seem to be doing it with Jumanji and now Baywatch. Don’t get me wrong, I love stupid humor, but it has it’s place. Growing up watching these movies and shows and then seeing the tone being completely changed for the reboots just feels out of place to me.

Hopefully this is just an over analysis on my part and Baywatch will be a fun movie to watch… If all else fails I’m sure there will be plenty of slow motion running.

May 26

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Summary from IMDB: Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow with Geoffrey Rush back on board as Barbossa, Orlando Bloom resurfacing as Will Turner, and a terrifying new adversary, Captain Salazar, played by Javier Bardem, in the mix.

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Cast: Johnny Depp, Kiera Knightly, Orlando Bloom, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence, and some suggestive content

Run time: 2hr. 15 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

Another Pirates movie? While this is actually the fifth movie in the series, it feels like there has been many more (somewhere around 10). Similarly to the Transformers franchise: the number of movies doesn’t necessarily equal quality as it does the amount of money made. As long as Disney keeps making money, they will keep making new movies.

That doesn’t mean the movies are horrible; they just aren’t as fresh as they once were. There will be plenty of action and swashbuckling adventure. Johnny Depp’s Sparrow is always fun and I am excited to see Bloom and Knightly back for one more go. If you’re looking for something drastically different than previous installments you will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, if you can be satisfied with a return to more of the same Pirate’s action and story, this popcorn flick should be fun.

June 2

Wonder Woman

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Summary from IMDB: Raised on the mythical island of Themyscira and trained by Amazonian warriors, a young woman named Diana fulfills a destiny long ago bestowed on her by the Gods when her home and the world at large is threatened, she must leave and travel to the outside world for the first time. In doing so she will take the first steps to becoming the hero that is Wonder Woman.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content

Trailer: Click Here!

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is near, if not at the top of my list for must see movies this year. The Israeli model turned actress has already played the Amazon princess in Batman v Superman, and was easily one of the best parts of the movie. There were some doubts that Gal was the right choice for the role but I think she looks perfect as Diana and did well holding her own in the action scenes. Now, this stand-alone movie is a prequel that depicts the origins of her character. Since she doesn’t age as fast as humans, this prequel becomes a period film, and holds striking similarities in setting with the first of Marvel’s Captain America movies. I do think they made the right choice going with WWI era, rather than WWII as we saw in Captain America. While it’s still similar, the more direct comparisons to both films’ depiction of WWII would have hurt Wonder Woman in the end.

Watching the trailer, there seems to be plenty of action along with a generous dose of humor mixed in. The two main settings offer a nice contrast with the bright and beautiful Amazon island of Themysciria along with the dark and dirty city of London. Hopefully they will use that contrast as a way to describe Diana’s inner conflict of leaving her “perfect” island to become entangled in the affairs of mankind. The main villain also appears to be a woman, however there are rumors of a surprise appearance from Aries, the god of war. This movie is promising to be an awesome full cinematic debut for Wonder Woman.

June 9

The Mummy

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Summary from IMDB: Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Director: Alex Kurtzman

Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson

Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity.

Trailer: Click Here!

What a surprise; it’s another remake of a movie from my childhood (sarcasm in case you couldn’t tell). This Mummy, unlike the original, actually looks like it could be scary. While it is yet another remake, at least they are starting over completely with a new story and characters. Another reason to be excited about this movie is that Universal is trying to mimic the huge success of Marvel’s cinematic universe with one of their own. They are looking to create a “movie monster cinematic universe” that includes Dracula, the Wolfman, and more. This is exciting news to me, as I grew up watching all of the classic monster movies as a kid. The Mummy has promise, however time will tell if this is a quality remake or a cheap attempt to cash in on the Marvel movie formula.
June 16

Cars 3 (Honorable Mention)

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Summary from IMDB: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician with her own plan to win, inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage.

Director: Brian Fee

Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Armie Hammer, Cristela Alonzo

Rated G for general audiences

Trailer: Click Here!

While I doubt I will see this in the theater, I do think Cars 3 will be entertaining and worth a watch. The first trailer with McQueen crashing across the track was pretty intense for a Pixar movie, and definitely seemed to get everyone’s attention. Speaking of Pixar, the only travesty with this movie is that we will soon live in a world with 3 Cars movies, but only 1 Incredibles movie. Get with it Pixar! Where is my super suit!?

Pixar is still in the business of making quality animated films, and I don’t think Cars 3 will be any different.

June 21

Transformers: The Last Knight

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Summary from IMDB: The Last Knight shatters the core myths of the Transformers franchise, and redefines what it means to be a hero. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg); Bumblebee; an English Lord (Sir Anthony Hopkins); and an Oxford Professor (Laura Haddock).

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Jerrod Carmichael, Isabela Moner

Run time: 2hr. 6 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

As I stated earlier, the Transformers franchise is similar to the Pirates franchise, in that they keep making money, so more movies keep getting churned out. The Last Knight seems to be trying to shake things up though, with an apocalyptic setting, knights of the round table, and Optimus Prime apparently turning on his Autobots (although I’m sure that won’t last). I am also excited to see Anthony Hopkins added to the lineup with Mark Whalberg reprising his role from the previous film.

There seems to be all of the signature explosions and destruction we’ve come to expect in a Michael Bay Transformers movie; which is usually part of the problem. Honestly, except for one or two stand out moments, the explosions are all I can remember from these movies. The plot and any important character development is lost as it all turns into one giant “Bay-splosion.” I don’t think I could remember what happened in the previous film if my life depended on it, much less a couple back. I still want to see The Last Knight, and think it will be a fun time as long as viewers keep their expectations in perspective. It will ultimately be more of the same: a solid summer popcorn flick: light on any type of compelling story and heavy on the explosions, destruction and unrealistically hot women. Maybe I’m being too harsh. It is a movie about giant alien robots after all.

July 7

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Summary from IMDB: A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton

Trailer: Click Here!

Tom Holland is the 3rd actor to play Spider-Man on the big screen. However, there is a special reason the web-head is being rebooted again. Until now, the rights to making Spider-Man movies has been owned exclusively by Sony. However, due to the unstoppable success of the Marvel cinematic universe and the lackluster performance of Sony’s “Amazing Spider-Man” franchise, Sony and Marvel Studios have worked out a deal that grants joint custody to the web slinger’s movie rights. Marvel Studios will finally get a crack at making a movie with their own character.

The movie’s title, “Homecoming”: therefore has special significance. Tom Holland has already passed the first test, appearing in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. If you haven’t seen that movie you should first examine your life’s priorities and then check it out. Tom does a great job of capturing the essence of Spider-Man; how does a high school kid balance everyday teenage life while also secretly being a superhero?

I’m really intrigued by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the villain, Vulture as well. It seems like a new and interesting take. Keaton has been making a movie comeback lately and I can’t wait to see how he does as The Vulture. I think Homecoming will prove once and for all that the only company that should be making movies with Marvel characters is Marvel.

July 14

War For The Planet of The Apes

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Summary from IMDB: In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel.

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Gabriel Chavarria, Chad Rook, Judy Greer

Trailer: Click Here!

Woody Harrelson vs Ceasar? Come on. That’s as crazy as it gets. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea. Ceasar actually looks like he’s the “level-headed” one in this matchup. “Verses” movies are always appealing to me: superheroes vs superheroes, giant robots vs giant monsters, and this: genius killer apes vs the last remnant of the human race lead by a crazy man. When you can take that conflict and also blur the lines between “good and bad” to the point where viewers sympathize with both sides: that’s when you have a captivating story that people remember.

Andy Serkis is a genius with motion capture, and there isn’t any role he can’t tackle. I’m not sure if this movie is suppose to be a finale, but the series has really hit it’s stride with the last two movies. Hopefully “War” will continue that streak.

July 21

Dunkirk

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Summary from IMDB: Miraculous evacuation of Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain and France, who were cut off and surrounded by the German army from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, between May 27- June 04, 1940, during Battle of France in Word War II.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Aneurin Barnard

Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language

Trailer: Click Here!

Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors. He’s the guy behind fantastic movies like The Prestige, The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar. I don’t think there is a single movie he’s been a part of that I haven’t enjoyed. His movies are always thought provoking, dramatic, and the cinematography is spectacular.

Dunkirk looks to be no different. I’ve honestly never heard of the events that take place in this movie, but one viewing of the trailer and you can feel the emotion of the events that took place. This movie is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat and I can’t wait to see Nolan’s portrayal of it.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Summary from IMDB: Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe.

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen, Herbie Hancock, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna

Trailer: Click Here!

I first found out about this movie at New York Comic Con last year. It came out of the gates strong, advertising it was directed by the same guy behind The Fifth Element. It also credited Lucy, which many people enjoyed, even though I myself thought it was boring. I do love The Fifth Element, however. It’s one of those cult classics that you have to pull off the shelf and watch every now and then, so it was smart advertising in my opinion.

Valerian is also based on a graphic novel, which I haven’t read unfortunately. I may read it if the movie turns out to be solid. The CGI seems to be very well done, and the world rich with depth. The Fifth Element also did a fantastic job of creating a complex universe, full of multiple races of people and aliens, each with their own culture, history, personality, and language. Valerian looks to try to capture a similar feel. It’s a bit of “wild card” for me and could go either direction as far as quality.

July 28

Atomic Blonde

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Summary from IMDB: A thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with a revolution and double crossing hives of traitors.

Director: David Leitch

Cast: James McAvoy, Charlize Theron, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella

Trailer: Click Here! (Red Band)

Again, we have a movie based on a comic that most people have never heard of. To say Atomic Blonde’s trailer is over the top is the understatement of the year. There’s an interesting use of bright vs dark colors that adds a flair to the movie. Charlize is equal parts seductive and bad ass. The fight choreography feels gritty and well grounded, but also flamboyant as well. Charlize takes on multiple guys throughout the trailer, and you can see the physical toll it takes on her body. She reminds me of a female mix of James Bond and John Wick. There’s also a bit of comedy scattered throughout. If the movie can keep up the pace of the trailer, it should be a wild ride.
August 4

The Dark Tower

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Summary from IMDB: Gunslinger Roland Deschain roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the dark tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world.

Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Abbey Lee, Tom Taylor, Jackie Earle Haley

Trailer: Click Here!

Dark Tower is the movie adaption of Stephen King’s famous series of novels. The first trailer was recently released, and so far it has great promise. Idris looks like a natural as the gunslinger; it actually makes me want to see him in a full fledged western. The only problem I see for this movie is with die hard fans if the plot deviates too far from the source material. The series is held in very high regard which means the movie will be scrutinized heavily. Regardless, so far it looks good.
August 18

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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Summary from IMDB: An action comedy about the world’s top protection agent (Reynolds) and his new client: a notorious hitman who came in from the cold (Jackson).

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout

Trailer: Click Here! (Red Band)

This movie looks HILARIOUS. Seriously. Reynolds and Jackson are an interesting pair, and at least from the trailer, it looks like they play well off of each other with their dueling sarcastic personalities. My fiancé noticed right away that the movie’s title and basic plot is a spoof on The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Huston. Compare the posters and you will see it immediately. Whitney Huston’s signature song matched with the screaming and profanity is a hilarious combination. There’s also few other high caliber stars: namely Salma Hayek and Gary Oldman. This will hopefully a comedy that will have me in tears laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 REVIEW 

Release Date: May 5th, 2017

Directed by: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Batista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillian, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell.
Rating: PG-13: There is a little language and some crude jokes

Trailer 1 / Trailer 2 Trailer 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sequel to the 2014 Marvel blockbuster. The first thing that I noticed about this movie is that it is even more gorgeous to watch than the original. The shots of outer space, on the various planets, even the action scenes are detailed, colorful, and beautiful. While I did not see a 3D showing, that is undoubtedly the intended format.

The movie picks up 3 months after the events of the first movie, with the group taking on jobs from whomever will pay. This is a common “space pirate” theme. The opening credits scene will have a familiar feel if you’ve seen the first movie, and is equally, if not more so entertaining.

Vol. 2 focuses a lot more time than the previous film fleshing out most of the main characters, and you learn a lot of their motivations that shaped them into who they are. Of course, the most time is spent on Peter (Chris Pratt) and his relationship with his dad, Ego, played perfectly by Kurt Russell.  The definition of “family” is the main theme running throughout the movie.

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Kurt Russell plays Peter’s father, Ego.

There’s a new race introduced that act as one of the antagonists, called the Sovereign. They serve their purpose decently enough, but are easily the most forgettable part of the movie. This movie takes a slight departure from having a villain who is simply “evil for the sake of being evil” that happens so often in comic books and it works well.

If you want just a straight up action movie, you may leave a little disappointed as there is much more character development this time around. However, I thought it was great. These characters, while in the same universe, are not as well known as Ironman, Thor, Captain America, and the rest of the Marvel crew. If you’re a movie or comic nerd like me, you already know the Guardians will be teaming up with the Avengers in Infinity War, so it was a smart move investing time now to dive into their past and motivations. While the Guardians are still that wacky team of space pirates that make a lot of jokes, this movie does a great job of expanding them beyond that to characters who have just as much depth and importance as Marvel’s main superheroes.

Something that came to mind while watching this movie is how far the acceptance and enjoyment of comic book movies have come since I was a kid. It use to be that if a movie studio wanted to make a movie based on a comic book (and also make money), they would have to leave out or change parts of the original story to make the movie marketable to the widest audience possible. Fast forward to May 5th, 2017 and we have a movie that will undoubtedly make a shit ton of money with an insane cast that includes a talking, walking, dancing baby tree, a smartass raccoon with a tendency to steal for no reason, a cyborg, and a god/living planet. Marvel has become the masters of making any of their characters fun and enjoyable for almost anyone to watch.

This movie is definitely funnier than the first movie. Baby Groot steals the show with his cute innocence (dumb baby). Drax actually has most of the jokes this time around. The fact that his race doesn’t understand metaphors and are “completely literal” is pushed to the limit. I had tears laughing at some of his lines.

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Mantis is a new character and fits in well with the rest of the Guardians.

There are some great cameos in this movie. Stan Lee’s cameo is a cool nod to a popular fan theory relating to him being The Watcher (if you’re not sure who that is, it’s interesting to look up). If you’ve seen any of the Marvel movies you know to stick around after the credits, and this one is no exception with 5 scenes that take place throughout the credits sequence. I won’t spoil it, but one of the scenes introduces a new character from the comics that will surely be in future movies. The credits themselves are fun to watch as well and are filled with several tiny easter eggs.

Final Verdict:

9.5 dance-off’s out of 10

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great follow up to the 2014 original. More laughs, more character development, and much more baby Groot…and who can be upset about more baby Groot?