Holmes & Watson (2018) Review

A SKETCH COMEDY DISASTER


 

The game is afoot” is the classic moniker catchphrase that’s accompany with the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes. Created by Sir Author Conan Doyle, the character of Sherlock Holmes (and his residence 221B Baker Street in London, England) has enchanted readers and viewers alike, following the clever English detective (usually set in the Victorian era) as he solves cases and mysterious. The character has plenty of other friends and enemies along the way, including Dr. John Watson (Sherlock’s faithful companion assistant), his brother Mycroft, and Scotland yard’s Inspector Lestrad, Sherlock’s landlord Mrs. Hudson, and his longtime rival Professor James Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes has become a classic literary character for decades, translating beyond the writing page as been feature in other mediums and facets, including the realm of TV and movies like 1939’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1959’s The Hound of Baskerville, 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes, 1986’s The Great Mouse Detective, 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, BBC’s crime drama TV show Sherlock (2010 to present), and (most recently from the time of this post) 2018’s Sherlock Gnomes. Now, Sony / Columbia Pictures and director Etan Cohen present the latest cinematic iteration of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes with the comedy film Holmes & Watson. Does this find movie “follow the clues” to comedic gold or does get lost within its own mystery and paradoxical conundrum laziness? Read more

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Review

A WORTHY “CYBERSPACE” SEQUEL


 

In 2012, Disney, after coming off the success of 2010’s Tangled and the mediocre release of 2011’s Winnie the Pooh, released their 52nd animated feature film titled Wreck-It Ralph. Directed by Rich Moore, the film, which starred the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, and Alan Tudyk, tells the story of Ralph, a video game villain, who rebels against his “bad guy” preset role and dreams of being the “hero of the game”; setting in motion an adventure of discovering more about himself and the lives of others around him. Filled with colorful characters and classic video game arcade nostalgia, Wreck-It Ralph was critical and commercial success, with the feature grossing $471 million at the box office (against its $165 million production budget. Along with its monetary success, the movie won an Annie Award for Best Animated Feature as well as received nominations for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for Best Lively Feature. Given how well-received the movie was, it was almost a forgone conclusion that a sequel would materialize on the horizon. Unfortunately, Disney then proceeded to produce other animated features following Wreck-It Ralph’s release, including Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana. Now, six years after its release, Walt Disney studios and directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston presents the long-awaited sequel to Wreck-It Ralph with Disney’s 57th animated feature Ralph Breaks the Internet (originally titled Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2). Does this second installment find its “connection” with its users (moviegoers) or does it get lost within its own digital database of internet / social media nuances? Read more

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Review

INTO SPIDER-VERSE WE GO!!!


 

The cinematic road for Spider-Man has been a bit of a rocky one, beginning first with the original Spider-Man trilogy, featuring actor Toby Maguire playing the title character as well as Kristen Dunst as Mary Jane and actor James Franco as Harry Osborne. The first cinematic iteration (released on 2002) of the so-called “Dawn of the superhero genre” we all know of today), received positive reviews and was highly successful at the box office (making $820 million globally), which green-lit the studio to churn out two more follow-up sequels with 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 2007’s Spider-Man 3. After that, Sony / Columbia Pictures (the man studio behind this trilogy) went silent with the character of Spider-Man, observing (and watching) as the now popular juggernaut MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) began to grow and dominate the box office; amassing comic books rights for their films and gaining a steady incline of movie fandom. After sometime, Sony Pictures returned to the superhero genre by “rebooting” their Spider-Man franchise from scratch and released The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, with actor Andrew Garfield playing the role of Peter Parker / Spider-Man and actress Emma Stone playing his love interest of Gwen Stacey. The film did make splash with critics and fans alike and did gain a profitable return (over $750 million at the global box office), which prompted the studio make a sequel with 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After that, however, Sony Pictures had several ideas planned for Spider-Man (i.e. another sequel, spin-offs, and even a possible reboot franchise), but nothing ever materialized as Marvel’s MCU, which was under the control of parent company Disney, continued to flourish and expand. Eventually, many rumors and speculation, Sony / Columbia Pictures and Disney finally came to an agreement with the rights of Spider-Man, allowing the character to appear in the MCU franchise and did so in superhero ensembles films 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War as well 2017’s feature film Spider-Man: Homecoming, with actor Tom Holland playing the role of Spider-Man / Peter Parker in all three movies. The inclusion of Spider-Man in the MCU has brought a joyous celebration, with many praising Holland’s performance as the new younger Spider-Man as well as the character finally appearing alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and other popular MCU superheroes. Now, Sony / Columbia Pictures (as well as Sony Pictures Animation) and directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman present the latest cinematic iteration of Spider-Man with the animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Does this cartoon feature film bring its own heart and web-slinging fun to the proceedings or is it just a disappointing spin-off / off-shoot from Sony Pictures who’s desperately trying to find a seat at the superhero film genre? Read more

Aquaman (2018) Review

THE HERO OF THE DCEU


 

It goes without saying that Marvel’s cinematic universe of superheroes (i.e. the “MCU”) has proven to be a juggernaut franchise force, producing connected shared universe of superheroes feature films since 2008. Thus, in an attempt to show their superhero determination in Hollywood, Warner Bros. Pictures produced the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), utilizing the superheroes characters from DC Comics in a way to combat the Marvel’s cinematic universe. Beginning back in 2013 with their initial first film release Man of Steel, the DCEU has (unfortunately) had a bumpy road in producing a solid foundation to build upon. While Man of Steel showcased the grandeur superhero purpose and ambition of what the studio wanted to showcases for their own shared universe of comic book heroes and villains, their follow-up sequels Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad (both released in 2016), while were considered financially successful, were received with heavy scrutiny, criticism, and division amongst critics as well as moviegoers. A year later, 2017’s Wonder Woman provided the DCEU with a proper footing, with the film reaching critical acclaim, receiving largely positive reviews and having an incredible lucrative run at the box office during its theatrical release. However, just as Wonder Woman set up the proper stage for the DCEU to be successful, Justice League (the DCEU’s first large ensemble superhero team up feature) was released during the latter months of 2017 and was heavy criticized by critics and fans as well as underperforming at the box office with the franchise’s lowest number. Thus, with the failed prospects of the Justice League not reaching its intended goal, the lingering shadow of doubt has been cast upon the DCEU, spelling out an uncertain future for this once potential superhero shared universe. Now, a year after the release of Justice League, Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan present the next installment in the DCEU with the superhero movie Aquaman. Can this cinematic undersea adventure rise to the occasion of being the “shining beacon” for the DCEU or is it the final nail in the coffin for this shared comic book universe? Read more

Robin Hood (2018) Review

MISSES THE TARGET


 

The man, the myth, the legend of Robin Hood. Derived from English folklore (most notably in the Late Middle Ages), Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw from literature, who (as the story goes) was from noble birth and fought during the Crusades before returning to England to find his lands taken by the sheriff, which made him turn against the greedy aristocracy of England and “rob from the rich and give to the poor”. It has also been said that he is highly skilled archer and a swordsman as well as being traditionally depicted in green garb. In addition, through its countless retellings and variations, familiar additions have been added to the Robin Hood lore, including a love interest with the fair lady Maid Marian, his band of outlaws “The Merry Men” (who live in Sherwood Forest), and his main antagonist the Sheriff of Nottingham or even sometimes in association with Prince John (in usurping the rightful but absent King of England (King Richard III), to whom Robin Hood remains loyal. While some tales are more extravagant than others, the common theme that runs through all is the character of Robin Hood is a sort of “champion” of the common people, fighting against the “injustice” in England, while remaining loyal to its rightful ruler. Thus, given his popularity in folklore and in the literary world, it came as no surprise that Hollywood would want to delve in the Robin Hood myth and project that image onto the silver screen. Throughout the years, there have been many adaptations (both live-action and cartoon series meant for the big and small screen, including 1943’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (starring Errol Flynn), Disney 1973’s animated feature Robin Hood, 1991’s Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves (starring Kevin Costner, Alan Rickman, and Morgan Freeman), Mel Brook’s comedic representation in 1993’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the BBC’s TV series Robin Hood (2006-2009), and Ridley Scott’s 2010 epic prequel Robin Hood, and many others. Now, Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate) and director Otto Bathurst present the newest cinematic iteration of the folklore outlaw hero with the 2018 movie titled Robin Hood. Does this movie add a new layer to the every-growing Robin Hood myth or does it completely flounder and miss its intended target? Read more

Pokemon the Movie: The Power of Us (2018) Review

THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP


 

In 2017, the Japanese anime film Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! was released, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the popular “pocket monster” franchise. The movie, which was directed by Pokémon movie director veteran / anime director Kunihiko Yuyama followed the adventures of young Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum, Pikachu (Ash’s first Pokémon), and the adventures they have and share together; meeting new friends, enemies, and learning about the legend of legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh. I Choose You! is the first of new line of Pokémon movies, setting up an alternative continuity timeline to the main series and acts as a very loose retelling of the original Kanto League (Indigo League) saga of the series / show. The movie was released in Japan during the summer of 2017 and (partnering up with The Pokémon Company International and Fathom Events) received a limited theatrical special engagement screening across the US in November 2017 as well as be released in other international territories (UK, Australia, and France) following the US release. The film was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans / moviegoers, with many torn about the idea of the feature’s setting placed outside the already established Pokémon TV series timeline, while other praise the film’s nostalgia of the classic Generation I Pokémon (of which populate majority of the film). In the end, I Choose You! was able to profit from its theatrical release, making $38 million at the box office worldwide. Now, a year later, OLM / Wit Studio and director Tetuso Yajima present the next chapter in the super popular Japanese anime franchise with the movie Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us. Does this Pokémon movie find its stride or does it fail to find a “connection” in the popular franchise? Read more

The Hate U Give (2018) Review

A DEFINING CINEMATIC MOMENT

OF TODAY’S AMERICA


 

In 2018, the filmmaking engine of Hollywood has seeing plenty of “page to screen” adaptations; finding big studio precuring (and producing) these “book to film” endeavors in an attempt to find cinematic success within a literary popular / bestselling novel. Within this category are several feature films that have been adapted from the YA / teen genre Already, moviegoers have several feature films examining the angst, troubles, and triumphs of adolescent youths on a variety of theatrical motion pictures. This includes the dystopian sci-fi features of Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The Darkest Minds, and the upcoming Mortal Engines, to fantasy adventure of A Wrinkle in Time, to the more romance dramas Love, Simon, Midnight Sun, and Every Day. These movies, which are based upon the novelization of its literary source material, show the trials and tribulations that young people might face…. whether that be finding tragic true love, discovering oneself, or saving the people from an oppressive government rule, while tacking on the narrative threads of youthful melodrama within its plot. Now, 20th Century Fox (as well as State Street Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment) and director George Tillman Jr. present the latest teen book-to-film adaptation with the movie The Hate U Give; based on the book of the same name by Angie Thomas. Does this latest cinematic endeavor succeed in its theatrical translation or does something get lost in the story’s jump to the silver screen? Read more

Uncle Drew (2018) Review

A FUN “PAINT-BY-NUMBERS”

UNDERDOG FEATURE


 

Sports movies are a “dime a dozen”, usually presenting a sort of “underdog” tale of overcoming the odds and adversity in order to project type of inspirational feeling and/ or a “glimpse” into the sometimes-hidden world of that particular sport (i.e. beyond what commonly known). While there has been a variety of sports depicted in feature films, including football, soccer, rugby, baseball, tales that revolve around the sport of basketball have been around for quite some time, spinning narratives that are both familiar of a player / team coming together to beat the odds or to triumph on their own personal merits from both on and off the court. This includes films like 1992’s White Men Can’t Jump, 1996’s Space Jam, 1998’s He Got Game, 2005’s Coach Carter, and 2006’s Glory Road just to name a few that have presented a cinematic tale to the sport of basketball. Now, Summit Entertainment (A Lionsgate company) and director Charles Stone III present the latest basketball themed movie with the film Uncle Drew. Does this latest sport-themed endeavor make the winning shot or does it completely miss its mark? Read more

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