Wreck it Ralph – Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Disney has embraced the edgy animated movies that Dreamworks ushered in. Wreck it Ralph was one of those entries that really surprised in its performance. Of course a sequel was announced, but it is strange that it took six years to be made. It is awesome to see John C. Reilly getting work all over the place (he’s set to star in a new Laurel and Hardy movie titled Stan & Ollie). This movie sees Sarah Silverman returning as Vanellopek, Ed O’Neill as Mr. Litwak, and Jane Lynch as Calhoun.

Disney has pulled in a lot of star power to guarantee the success of this movie. Perhaps they’re feeling the pinch of Star Wars not succeeding and don’t want to take any chances. At any rate, Gal Gadot is leading that way as the new Villain turn Hero, Shank. She is joined by multiple Disney Princesses. To name a few, Kristin Bell as Anna from Frozen, Idina Menzel as Elsa from Frozen, Anika Noni Rose as Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Mandy Moore as Rapunzel from Tangled, Ming-Na Wen as Mulan from Mulan and Auli’i Cravalho as Moana from Moana.

Expect this movie to be sweet and also have a message. Classic Disney staples. If you liked the first one, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I did and I expect to.

Captain Marvel – Is She Enough?

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

We know that this movie takes place in the 90s. We know that Nick Fury has two eyes, but what don’t we know?

Did you know that she was once upon a time called Ms. Marvel? Her predecessor was called Captain Marvel and she fought alongside the Avengers. Remember Rogue from The X-Men? Well did you know that she got her powers from Ms. Marvel? Rogue had the ability to siphon other people’s energy and powers. Rogue was misguided and had teamed with some bad people and when helping them with a job, Ms. Marvel intervened. Rogue was tasked with distraction and grabbed Marvel and siphoned her powers.

Well she ended up hanging on a little too long and put Ms. Marvel into a coma, and gained the abilities that once belonged to Ms. Marvel. I always thought that was a neat origin. This movie will probably not delve into that story at all and will focus mostly in space. I wonder how much retroactive continuity (retcon) will take place in order to fit her into the story? Either way, the hype train is officially rolling and I am fully on board.

 

Mary Poppins Returns – Is it too late?

Mary Poppins Returns

Forty four years after the first movie, Mary Poppins is set to return. She is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.

If you watched Saving Mr. Banks, then you know that P.L. Travers did not like what Disney did with her story. But here they are again, trying to capture lightning in a bottle. And it will probably work. They are taking no chances, and it shows with their casting decisions. Along with Blunt and Miranda, we have Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, and Dick Van Dyke.

Disney knows the formula for success and very rarely strays from it. Expect this movie to be a send up to the original, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s hope it can capture the charm that the first one has carried for almost 50 years.

 

Searching – How well do we really know anyone?

Searching

WOW

What an exceptional performance by John Cho! Oh my, director Aneesh Chaganty captures the internet and related sensibilities so well. Lastly, why has no film before been able to capture the relevance and relatability of the internet and how it can be both meaningful and so utterly useless at the same time?

This film is a must see for any parent with a teenager, as long as you don’t mind leaving the theatre with your anxiety increased pondering “do I know my son/daughter?” Those without children will surely still connect with the familiar missing person story where father David Kim (John Cho) works closely with FBI Detective Vick (Debra Messing) to find his missing daughter Margot (Michelle La). A thriller with more twists and turns than I anticipated, the film easily captivates viewers while still remaining casually relatable. Characters in the movie serve to illustrate common themes within both tragedies and internet, from the obsessed parent to the acquaintance turned attention grabbing best friend.

The performances in the film not only anchor the plot, they strengthen the film’s credibility. Even if Margot happens to have previously seen her onscreen Dad in a silly little venture like Harold and Kumar…, she’ll still take him seriously due to this grounded and emotional performance.

The director does an excellent job in playing out the film through an internet screen. Instead of coming across as dull, he uses the medium to communicate present day relatable environments and causes audiences to question our involvement in this medium. If you text, mail, watch or post videos or login to any social media platform, you need to watch this movie.

The Predator – or is it Sportsman?

The Predator (2018)

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter, and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

That’s the way the studio describes it and it’s not much more than that. But you know what? It works. I went in not knowing what type of movie it wanted to be. Was I going to get straight action? Straight gore? I wasn’t sure, but the movie decided what it wanted to be pretty quickly, which was FANTASTIC!

Olivia Munn is spunky and Sterling K. Brown is hard to hate as the villain, but it’s the ragtag Group 2 that steals the show. When we first meet them on the bus, we’re not sure what to think. But as time goes on, they grow on you. Keegan-Michael Key does a great job, once again. He can really make a role his own. It was great to see Thomas Jane back on screen. And I swear the line uttered by Key to Jane, “welcome back”, has got to be a nod to The Punisher, a role Jane played in 2004.

Trevante Rhodes was great as Nebraska. He has a lot of charisma on screen. Alfie Allen, I felt, was a little wasted in this role, but maybe he’s trying to avoid being typecast as the villain. Augusto Aguilera was fantastic as Nettles. And of course, our lead, Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna rounds out the Group. He was good, not great, but it was enough. And the fact that he was surrounded by a great cast that had excellent chemistry with each definitely helped.

Jacob Tremblay does a good job in the role of Rory McKenna and I feel like he’ll continue to hone the acting craft as he does more movies.  And how about Yvonne Strahovski making an appearance! I was surprised to see her in a role that wasn’t all glammed up or having her act like a complete and total hard ass. Hopefully she’ll be given more of these types of roles. I was a big fan of this entry into the Predator catalog and I hope to see more. And if the before credits, after movie, scene is any indication, we may just have another franchise on our hands.

Adrift – Do not let this movie drift by

Adrift

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. This is a famous old saying, particularly true, for an amazingly resourceful girl Tami Oldham played by the beautiful and talented Shailene Woodley. A woman at the center of a survival story is a rarity that immediately grabs you in “Adrift”. Playing the role of her partner, her captain, and lover is Sam Claflin as Richard Sharp. Only an adventure junkie can follow through on an adventurous film structure where the film begins after the disaster has happened and then the film cuts back to past where we learn more about the characters, this is a consistent theme for this film’s structure up until the point where the two storylines meet. I imagine sticking to this structure would’ve been risky but it was executed superbly by the adventurous Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (The man who, while shooting “Everest”, climbed 24,000ft to scout for locations which explains why the visuals in this film were so wonderful).

Adrift starts with a scene where a young and bloodied woman, who is barely conscious, is suddenly woken up by jolts. She (Tami Oldham) is below deck in a boat, which is filling up with water fast; the sound of her vessel creaking and groaning ominously all around her can be heard. She does eventually fight her way out of this non-metaphorical sunken place and into the sunlight – at which point the camera continues pulling further and further back, revealing that not only is this unlucky sailor alone on a wrecked ship, but the ship itself is merely a fragment in a vast, empty ocean with nothing but water all around her. It is at this point where we get our first of many cutback scenes to see that Tami Oldham was just another fresh-faced, free-spirit schooner-hopper who landed in Tahiti, merely skipping from one maritime gig to the next, no end destination and no grand plan in mind. She is content with doing odd jobs until she meets Richard (Claflin). The story progresses and the two take to the open water like a pair of porpoises in love. All is going well for the couple until a hurricane blows them 1,500 square miles off course, wrecks the boat, knocks Richard overboard, and strands Tami without an engine or a radio. They are so far from their destination that if they drift any farther, the next stop is Japan.

Holding the helm when the sea is most definitely not calm is what Woodley does so well and in this process you get to see an acting masterclass. She is a mesmerizing powerhouse in the lead role, with that raw quality to her performance that instantly gets you to buy into whatever she is selling. Paired with great visuals, this film is an excellent watch.

Kin – James Franco and Not Much Else

Kin

Twin-brother directors Josh and Jonathan Baker don’t seem to know whether they are making a sci-fi, action or drama flick, but what they are sure of is that good acting will help audiences enjoy the ride. While you might come to see the disparate melding of genres, you’ll be glad you stayed for James Franco’s devilishly cheeky grin and the surprisingly refreshing performances by Jack Reynor (Jimmy) and newcomer Myles Truitt (Eli). Playing into some tight family dynamics throughout the movie, both actors inspire confidence, in scenes alone and together. Reynor’s eyes encourage sympathy and Truitt shines in a subtly strong and well-written performance. Zoe Kravitz also appears as a bright spot in the film, though underused considering her talent.

While the movie has some UFO-sized plot holes, a very well hidden cameo and surprise reveal toward the end almost makes up for it. I felt some of the setup for a sequel, or just a poor way to end a one-off franchise, came a bit too late, you should still see the movie for the excitement generated near the end. Some events in the movie are less realistic, and I’m not referring to the science fiction elements here; and, entirely way too much time is spent focusing on one specific weapon. Yet, I was so psyched at what Eli might have in store for him, in both his fictional life and possibly a sequel, that I would go see it – and before summer officially ends so as to save yourself any spoilers!

Chappaquiddick – A Greek Tragedy in Modern American Times

Chappaquiddick

There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” And this was certainly true for Ted Kennedy played by the talented Jason Clarke during the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident. The movie has a lot of firepower in its roster with the lovely Kate Mara playing Mary Jo Kopechne, while the versatile Ed Helms plays Joe Gargan. “Chappaquiddick” is directed by John Curran from a script by the first-timers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. The trio did an excellent job of telling the story of what happened on Friday, July 18, 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island. But I feel I must add this point that exactly what happened remains unknown, gaps and ambiguities in what is known provides the filmmakers with room for speculation, which they use very well.

The movie starts off with a scene where U.S. Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy gives an interview, where he is questioned about standing in the shadow of his late brothers, John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. This question remains a theme throughout for Ted Kennedy. After the interview, he calls his cousin and chief fixer, Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) to arrange for hotel rooms on Martha’s Vineyard for the Boiler Room Girls who were group of young women who were given this nickname when they worked on the 1968 campaign of the Senator’s late brother Bobby (Robert Kennedy), who had been assassinated the previous year.  Kennedy arrives to Chappaquiddick Island, where he, Joe, and US Attorney for Massachusetts Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan) try to win a sail race. After losing the race, Kennedy goes to the party at a beach house with his friends and the Boiler Room Girls. The married, 37-year-old senator (Ted) is relaxing on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard, he leaves the private party a little early with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne—one of the Boiler Room Girls. Kopechne leaves her basket-shaped handbag on the table at the party, a small wrenching detail. Then the accident happens where clearly a drunk Ted accidentally drove his car off the one-lane bridge and into the tide-swept Poucha Pond. For ten hours Ted Kennedy failed to report the accident, during which time Kopechne suffocated inside the submerged vehicle. In the aftermath of this event Ted and his team try to clean the mess caused by this accident in such a way that it does not sabotage Ted’s political career.

This movie was a brilliant blend of good story telling mixed with top notch acting. Jason Clarke portrayed Ted Kennedy so well that on one hand you’re disgusted by his actions, but on the other hand you feel sympathy for the man who was left to carry the staggering legacies of his brothers John and Bobby.

31 August – 2 September (2018) Weekend Box Office

                                         Weekend Gross           Total to Date

1   Crazy Rich Asians                                   $22,100,000                $110,826,388

2   The Meg                                                    $10,540,000                $120,526,416

3   Mission: Impossible – Fallout               $7,035,000                  $204,381,529

4   Searching                                                 $6,070,000                   $6,569,480

5   Operation Finale                                    $6,019,000                   $7,746,095

6   Disney’s Christopher Robin                 $5,178,000                   $85,586,868

7   Alpha                                                        $4,530,000                   $27,452,220

8   The Happytime Murders                      $4,410,000                   $17,025,694

9   BlacKkKlansman                                   $4,175,000                   $38,368,825

10  Mile 22                                                    $3,580,000                   $31,776,334

 

Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg are both from Warner Brothers, so they are enjoying a nice ride right now. The Meg had a $130 Million budget so they haven’t made their money back yet, but Crazy Rich Asians is more than making up for it with their $30 Million budget. MI: Fallout is still performing strong, it just boasted a $77 Million opening in China. Mile 22 ($50 Million budget) continues to struggle and puts STX Studios in a bind with two back to back bombs. They are also responsible for Happy Time Murders, which had a budget of $40 Million and hasn’t cracked half that. BlaKkKlansman and Crazy Rich Asians were the surprise hits of the summer. Both movies featured diverse casts with non-typical stories. Hollywood normally leans on A-List actors for success, but these movies are proving the opposite.

Crazy Rich Asians – Crazy Fun Movie

Crazy Rich Asians

Let me start off by saying that this movie is fun. Has the story been told before? Yes. Has it been told with this diverse of a cast? Not likely. It really brings home that no matter the culture, or where you’re from, parents want largely the same things for their children. Sure, there are differences among our beliefs, but when you boil it down to its essence. We just want better for our children than we had. This is on amazing display in Crazy Rich Asians.

This movie, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a professor of Economics, to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. Her boyfriend is Nick Young (Henry Golding), whose family is one of the richest families in Singapore. He is a year overdue coming home to take over the family business and his mother (Michelle Yeoh) is not happy about his new guest.

The movie is certainly cliché at times, but it makes up for it in wholesome charm. It knows what type of movie it wants to be and nails it. It’s a pretty good adaptation of the book, and considering how well it is doing at the box office, we may just see a sequel or two.

Overall this movie is definitely worth seeing. Is it worth today’s ticket prices? Probably not. But if you have a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), then you ought not wait too long. See it as soon as you can. Then you can play chicken with your friends on who saw it first. Bock Bock.