Fall 2017 Movie Preview: Action/Adventure

It’s that time of the year again when the leaves start to change color. Well, not for me. I live in Florida. For me, fall means that most of those big summer tent-pole blockbusters are reaching the end of their runs and we are getting closer to the crop of movies that traditionally fares better in the awards. This is my favorite season for movies. We generally get more dramas with impressive acting and striking cinematography. Not saying we don’t get awards movies during the rest of the year (Wind River is out right now and I think it is going to make a run). But, with so many movies preparing to hit theaters it can be overwhelming and I don’t want you to miss anything.

I’ve taken a look at all of the films coming before the end of the year and have divided them into 4 major categories: Action/Adventure, Drama, Comedy/Family, and Horror/Thriller. Not everything fits perfectly into these categories but it works to try to divide this up into manageable chunks.

First, I want to look at the larger releases which tend to be more action/adventure and sci-fi films. I’ll pick one or two from each month between now and 2018. Please let me know which film will have your butt in the theater with a bucket of popcorn in hand? I’ll tackle the other three categories in my next posts.

September

Kingsmen: Golden Circle – September 22nd

When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

So, if you liked the first one from 2014, you will probably like this one. The same cast returns (Taron Edgerton, Mark Strong, and even Colin Firth) plus they’re adding some new American blood in the form of Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum. It looks to be a lot of fun. Director Matthew Vaughn is back for this sequel and I think it could be the highest grossing film of the month if the reviews are favorable.

October

Blade Runner 2049 – October 6th

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

I’m super excited for this one! I love the first Blade Runner from Ridley Scott. I’m frankly happy that Scott is not returning to direct the sequel because his track record has not been the greatest lately and I’m stoked that Denis Villeneuve is at the helm. His previous films Sicario and Arrival were some of my favorites of their respective years and with Ryan Gosling in the lead and Harrison Ford returning to reboot yet another of his franchises I will be in the front row to see what gorgeous sci-fi adventure they have in store.

 

November

Thor: Ragnarok – November 3rd

Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok — the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization — at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger — the Incredible Hulk!

If you don’t know about this one, I think you’ve been hiding under a rock. I’m very excited to essentially see a buddy cop movie with two of the most powerful creatures in we universe, Thor and Hulk. They were curiously absent from Captain America: Civil War and now we get to find out what they’ve been up to. It’s being helmed by Taika Waititi (What We do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople). I’m excited to see how he brings his own brand of awkward comedy to play. But, that first trailer with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song still has me pumped. This this my most anticipated personally.

Justice League – November 17th

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

I was so happy to see D.C. have some success with Wonder Woman. I really hope that we get more of that quality of film and that we stay clear of Suicide Squad or Batman vs. Superman style that audiences are tired of seeing from D.C. I’m excited to see Ezra Miller’s take on the Flash and we can’t forget Jason Momoa’s Fish Whisperer. It will be interesting to see the team dynamics. This one will certainly make the most at the box office for the month as die hard D.C. fans have been panting for this movie that way that I was for the Avengers. It should be very exciting and I hope it does well. Which are you more excited about Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League?

December

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – December 15th

Having taken her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rey continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga.

For Star Wars fans there is nothing better to find underneath the Christmas tree than a great new installment in the ever expanding Star Wars Universe. We keep getting little hints from the promotional information, but I’m actively trying to avoid most of it. I hope that we rejoin Luke and Rey on that island immediately after the opening crawl and we get the answers to some of the questions we’ve all been asking. Who is the last Jedi? Who are Rey’s parents? Why has Luke been in hiding? I don’t think this will have quite as large of an opening as the Force Awakens just because that was the first after 30 years of silence, but regardless, there will be piles of geeks lining up for this one and I will be one of them. How about you?

Others to watch for:

American Assassin coming September 15. Twenty three-year-old Mitch (Dylan O’Brien) lost his parents to a tragic car accident at the age of fourteen, and his girlfriend to a terrorist attack just as they were engaged. Seeking revenge, he is enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy as a black ops recruit. Kennedy then assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) to train Mitch. Together they investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets. The discovery of a pattern in the violence leads them to a joint mission to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.

American Made coming September 29. Doug Liman (Bourne Trilogy and Edge of Tomorrow) directs Tom Cruise who stars as a pilot who lands work for the CIA and becomes a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.

The Foreigner coming on October 13th. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale and Mask of Zorro) presents the story of humble London businessman Quan (Jackie Chan), whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love – his teenage daughter – is taken from him in a senseless act of politically-motivated terrorism. In his relentless search for the identity of the terrorists, Quan is forced into a cat- and-mouse conflict with a British government official (Pierce Brosnan), whose own past may hold clues to the identities of the elusive killers.

Geostorm coming on October 20th. I’m really not sure what to make of this… It looks like it could be similar to 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow. We’re all in deep trouble after our weather tech starts malfunctioning and we need Gerard Butler to save the day. Ed Harris is in it so I’m going to guess right now that he’s the bad guy kind of like in The Rock. It will most likely fade into obscurity, but you never know with this kind of movie.

Thank You for Your Service coming on October 27th (Just in time for Veterans Day). This film follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. Starring an ensemble cast led by Miles Teller, the drama is based on the bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author David Finkel. Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay of American Sniper, makes his directorial debut and also serves as its screenwriter.

Death Wish coming on November 22nd. A remake of the original Taken franchise. We see a mild-mannered father (Bruce Willis) transformed into a killing machine after his family is torn apart by a violent act. I’m afraid we are all a bit too tired of this type of film where the washed up old guy goes out and kicks butt. However, you should never count out Bruce Willis. I’m afraid it will be lost in theaters since it is coming out the week after Justice League.

So, what’s on your radar? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. Check out the other sections of this preview below:

David Fincher – Invisible Details

When you look at the picture above, do you think computer enhanced visual effects? Probably not. But it is. That is a screenshot from David Fincher’s Zodiac. KaptainKristian goes in depth in the video essay below about how David Fincher’s films are filled with invisible effects that enrich the film without distracting.

If you like this type of video, I would encourage you to follow KaptainKristian on YouTube and potentially support him on Patreon. He posts some great content.

Weekend Outlook – Pirates of the Baywatch: Guardians of the Covenant

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody! So after you get done with your barbecue (which is really just burgers and hotdogs, or maybe brats if you’re fancy), then what are you going to do?

Maybe you’ll go shopping. I hear there are some good deals meant to lure you away from the simplicity of always paying less for things by shopping online. Perhaps you are thinking about visiting a theme park, but that’s expensive and you run the risk of dehydration. I guess you could watch any of the mediocre sporting events which will be on all weekend, you’ve got the Indy 500, the NBA conference finals, a whole bunch of baseball, or the carbonated poison water 600. But those all sound long, boring, and better watched in short clips on YouTube as a last resort of entertainment.

Why not hang out at the multiplex and catch up on those early Summer blockbusters that you have missed because you have been so busy catching up on your assignments from procrastination class or cramming for that test that you no longer remember because of sleep deprivation? It has been a relatively slow start to the summer movie season, but this long weekend should be the perfect time to catch that movie that has been calling you. We’ve got 3 sequels and an R-rated comedy TV adaptation to examine so buckle up!

If you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you might be a Mennonite (Note to self: find Mennonite comedian and pitch the idea of stealing Jeff Foxworthy’s signature bit). It has only been out since Cinco de Mayo and it has already made close to 3 quarters of a billion dollars worldwide! Guardians is a ton of fun and it is fairly kid friendly, so as long as your kid can dress themselves and no longer needs a high chair, they should be up for this adventure.

The premise is simple. We rejoin our lovable gang of space anti-heroes a little while after the first film ends (If you haven’t first Guardians of the Galaxy, then you should probably buy it on iTunes and catch up with the rest of civilization). Star Lord has daddy issues that he needs to work out and they do it in hilarious fashion. This is has more laughs per minute than the first film with more of the same character driven drama and amazing 80’s soundtrack. (I’m serious about the soundtrack! I literally just Googled “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. It will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week, just be prepared.) I’ll be honest, if you haven’t seen this one, and maybe even if you have, it is your best bet. The rest are likely going to be hit or miss.

I just saw Alien: Covenant last night and it was very good, but it kind of felt like it was struggling with what kind of movie it wanted to be. But what should we expect from the 3rd film from Ridley Scott in this franchise which he helped reboot back in 2012 with the prequel Prometheus. Covenant rides the line between the heady philosophical ramblings of Prometheus and the crap your pants scariness of Alien.

If Guardians was safe for kids that can ride a roller coaster then this one is only safe if you can drive a car (manual transmissions only, none of that wussy automatic garbage). I’m serious, there is blood everywhere in this, aliens bursting out of all kinds of cavities and orifices, not to mention the synthetic on synthetic porn that almost happens. I could hear the Fassboners rising in the theater. If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott and the franchise you won’t be disappointed, but it’s not his best work. I’m seriously hoping that Blade Runner 2049 is better.

I’ll be quite honest, the only thing that get’s me excited about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Longest movie name since Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood) is the inclusion of Javier Bardem as the baddie. If you’ve seen Skyfall or No Country for Old Men you know that he can be extremely creepy and intimidating, and that’s before he’s been all zombified. Even though it looks creepy, this is Disney we are talking about and I’m sure if your emo kids are into pirates then they would be okay going to this one too.

I know that this is a total cash grab on Disney’s part. They want to revive the franchise that has brought in $3.7 billion since 2003. I get it, but even Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley were smart enough to get out after three films and here Johnny Depp is riding into his fifth. He is simply the worst pirate that I’ve ever heard of, but I have heard of him so I’ll be checking this one out on Saturday, so stay tuned for my thoughts.

Finally, we have the R-rated 90’s TV adaptation that literally no one has ever been clamoring for. Baywatch hits theaters this weekend and I can only hope that they at least got Hasselhoff for a cameo, I mean he’s in Guardians so it’s not like he wasn’t available for filming. If they missed out on the Hoff, at least they have the ghost of Pam Anderson’s boobs, a.k.a. Alexandra Daddario. It looks like they are trying to go down the comedy parody road with this one and that would be great. But they have had me worried in a couple of trailers that they might try and take this straight, and if it takes itself too seriously it will be garbage.

The critical consensus is already that it is garbage (18% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I’m hoping that this could at least be as good as Central Intelligence. I’ve never been much of a fan of Zac Ephron, but I’m willing to give him a shot. This one is for adults only, the red band trailers have been bad enough that I had to watch them after my kids went to bed. I’ll be seeing this one next Wednesday so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for my full review.

The most important thing is for you to enjoy this weekend and remember those brave men and women who died so we can eat lots of expensive buttery popcorn and be entertained by the beautiful monkeys we pay to entertain us. Have a great weekend!

 

 

2003 Best Movie Bracket

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted. I want to get back on track with my Best Movie Bracket. 2003 was a bit of a weak year for film. There were some memorable gems which floated to the surface, but overall it left avoid that would be filled by a fantasy film. These films generally get very little credit, but 2003 was the perfect year for this film to take home far more awards than it normally would.

Before I can get to that film though, I need to let you know about my runners up.  Honorable mentions include Kill Bill: Volume 1, Oldboy (the good one in Korean), X2: X-Men United, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Dogville. With that being said, here is my top 3 of 2003. You may have others that you adore from this year that I left off the list. But that’s why it’s my list. I’d love to hear your opinions, and then I will tell you to go make your own site where your opinions can reign supreme.

#3 – Mystic River

Mystic River is a sad movie. It is about three boys who grow up to be damaged people. Jimmy (Sean Penn), who is a former convict, Sean (Kevin Bacon) who’s wife recently left him and Dave (Tim Robbins) who… Have you seen the film? I better keep my mouth shut about the plot.

The acting in this movie is phenomenal, especially from Tim Robbins who very much deserved his supporting actor Oscar. Sean Penn is fantastic as well in his very best performance. Kevin Bacon is also very good, though he does get overshadowed by the other two leads. They are flanked by a very capable supporting cast including Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and even Eli Wallach also shine in this movie.

The story is very well told, tense, and dramatic. The writing is very good as well. Brian Helgeland, who penned L.A. Confidential and A Knight’s Tale, elevates the novel by Dennis Lehane who is no stranger to film adaptations (Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and others). It also has great cinematography and excellent music. I haven’t even mentioned that it is directed by the inimitable Clint Eastwood. In fact, along with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, this may be Eastwood’s best directed movie.

If all of that is true, then why is this #3. It is my main problem with all of Dennis Lehane’s stories. I tend to figure out the ending before the big reveal. Maybe it is because I’ve seen so many movies, but I pretty much see it right away. Also, I like a little more ambiguity in my endings, so I wish the movie had ended about 10 minutes earlier. It’s not the ending is bad, it’s just if it had ended earlier, I just feel like it would have been more powerful.

#2 – Finding Nemo

Not since 1995 and Toy Story had Pixar done something so revolutionary. They tackled so much with the visual textures and light patterns that we only see underwater. This film was a visual feast, but it is also funny and emotionally rich. I also believe this film has the absolute best sound design of any Pixar film.

This film deserves acclaim for more than its audio visual achievements. Marlin (Albert Brooks) goes down in my book as one of the best fathers in cinematic history. I mean, they essentially stole the plot of this film to make the entire Taken series. Marlin traversed the oceans over thousands of miles filled with sharks, jellyfish, angler fish, and ravenous seagulls, battling all his own fears, just to rescue his son. His adventure is filled with some of the most memorable moments and quotable lines of any film I’ve seen, and I still love it to this day.

As a father myself with 2 sons, it teaches me the undying love a father will have for his son, and the distances he will go to ensure his utmost protection. It helps to understand just how much a father cares for his son, no matter how harsh he may seem to be. It just goes to show how universal Pixar films really are.

#1 – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Extended Edition)

As far as I’m concerned, Return of the King can be as long, as indulgent and end as many times as it wants to. It deserves it. This 263 minute monster of a film manages to round out an epic trilogy by bringing all the characters and plot lines to a gripping and joyful conclusion. It takes the emotional resonance of the first film and marries it to the epic warfare of the second. When all is said and done, we get something as close to perfect as a film can possibly get.

The scope of the film is staggering. Combining fantasy politics, multitudes of different species for our imaginations to go wild with and stunningly vast geography. This is an epic in every possible sense of the word. The assault on Minas Tirith and the ensuing Battle of Pelenor Fields is visceral action-cinema at its very pinnacle. It is very hard to find fault in this film because of my inability to criticize Tolkien’s phenomenal source material and because of the sheer spectacle of it all.

This is Jackson’s true labor of love, and you can tell that he’s poured his heart and soul into every second of it all. He has an evident adoration and respect for the story and characters. That is what marks Lord of the Rings out from the other blockbuster franchises as a true and heartfelt film that effortlessly elevates itself to legendary status.

You can tell that the actors are clearly in love with the material too. The relationship between Frodo and Sam, while undeniably sentimental, is always touching and pleasant without descending into obvious schmaltz. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are remarkable here, with Wood in particular maneuvering nicely out of the tricky spot of becoming evil while under the influence of the Ring. There’s some scene-stealing from John Noble as the emotionally-imbalanced Steward of Gondor, Denethor, while Theoden (Bernard Hill) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) make the most of their meaty inspirational speeches.

And as I said before, I don’t have any problem with the endings. Why would you not want to stretch out your goodbyes with the dense and lovable characters you’ve just spent 11 hours of your life with? There is no problem with how the trilogy closes, as every character is given their little moment to savor. It’s touching and a good way to close this series.

Alien Franchise Quiz

With Alien: Covenant coming out this weekend, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the adventures that we have had with the Xenomorphs. How’s your Alien franchise knowledge? Test yourself below!

Which one of these Directors did not direct an Aliens film?

The Dreamers of La La Land • Senses of Cinema

How do you make a happy movie in America without being jumped on? Either America has forgotten how to make uplifting films so deeply that a work like La La Land is, despite its uplifting façade, only a symptom of this malaise, or we have forgotten how to critically appraise such films without competing for the deepest and hardest cuts. Or maybe both.

Source: The Dreamers of La La Land • Senses of Cinema

2004 Best Movie Bracket

In 2004, we saw a number of successful sequels like Kill Bill: Volume 2, Before SunsetHarry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, The Bourne SupremacyShrek 2, and Oceans 12. We have been riding a sequel wave since then. I think, read hope, that this year the wave might have finally crashed. Any of the films that I mention in this write up are somewhere in the top 25 of the year, but there are only three on the top of that list.

Before I really get into it, I will note that I have not seen Before Sunset, Downfall, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, or Million Dollar Baby (gasp). I know that those four get a lot of respect. I have seen Before Sunrise, and I thought it was a good Richard Linklater film, just like I’m sure that Million Dollar Baby is a good Clint Eastwood film and Life Aquatic is a good Wes Anderson film. Sadly, I can’t judge films that I have not seen. Now, let’s get down to business.

Win – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry made his mark on Hollywood by directing this funny, quirky, touching film. He shaped a very malleable actor like Jim Carrey into a serious role that makes up for a half a dozen Ace Venturas. Kate Winslet in her multi-colored hair and perfect bi-polar personality. Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst having their crazy “memory erasing party” on top of Jim Carrey’s sedated body. It is a movie about love, fate and memory and it is still one of the most unique science fiction love stories you will ever see.

Place – The Incredibles

That’s right… I picked a Pixar animated film over the sexy choices like The Aviator, Hotel Rwanda, Layer Cake, or Collateral. I did it because Brad Bird was able to pull off a better superhero movie than Spider-Man 2, which is the best Spider-Man we have seen to date. He created a completely original and fully realized world of colorful superheroes, political realities, and family dynamics and made it accessible to anyone from five to 95. I don’t simply consider this the best Pixar movie to date, even with Marvel’s success, I would say that this is one of the best superhero films ever made. I know that they have finally announced a sequel to this beloved film. I’m happy for that, but I would also love to see him take the reins of a struggling property like the Fantastic Four and breathe some new life into them.

Show – Mean Girls

I was really close to giving Shaun of the Dead this spot, but I honestly like Hot Fuzz more and I cannot deny the cultural impact of Mean Girls. it is incredibly rewatchable, crazy quotable, and really well done.

Alright, I’ll stop trying to make fetch happen. I’m going to go shopping with Glen Coco, get in loser! No? Boo, you whore. It’s not my fault you’re like in love with me or something! It’s been fun looking back at 2004 with you. Don’t forget to wear your pink shirts on Wednesdays.

What do you think? Did I totally miss the mark somewhere? Is butter a carb? sound off in the comments below.

Everything I learned, I learned from the movies