THESE ARE TROUBLED TIMES
(AND THE LAST KNIGHT PROVES THAT)
Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise has been many things, including loud, boisterous, silly, excessive, slightly racist / stereotyping, nonsensical, mind-numbing frustrating, etc. However, despite these numerous problems (it might vary from viewer to viewer), the films have never been boring, creating a visual spectacle that’s worthy of the very definition of a summer “popcorn” blockbuster. Based on the super popular Hasbro toy franchise, 2007’s Transformers (the first installment in this live-action franchise) was met with scrutiny and criticism from both critics and moviegoers, but garnished the most positive acceptance from its viewers and did score big at the worldwide box office. Naturally, this action prompted the studio heads to green light future installment, further continuing the adventures of the Autobots, the Decepticon and their alien conflict battle on our planet. While many have praised the first film, which found a balance between large action and exposition (laying the foundation for a creative sci-fi cinematic tale of giant alien robots with their “war” brought to Earth), the Transformer sequels misses their mark, with franchise director Michael Bay helming each installment and ultimately pulling the saga down with his signature barrage of explosions and action and other senseless elements and nuances. On the other hand, each sequel film did make a substantial return at the box office, with the lasts film Transformers: Age of Extinction crossing the billion-dollar mark (the only 2014 movie to do so that year). Thus, despite majority opinion, the Transformers cinematic franchise is a financial success for the studio (and those other involved). Now, three years since Age of Extinction came out, Paramount Pictures and director Michael Bay returns to the world of Autobots and Decepticons with the film Transformers: The Last Knight. Does this fifth chapter in the franchise find “greatness” or is it just another haphazard blockbuster that’s plagued with MBF (Michael Bay Fatigue)? Read more
ZOE LISTER JONES’S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT: “BAND-AID” IS LIGHT, BREEZY AND A LOT OF FUN TOO!
“Band-Aid” was another audience favorite at Sundance this year and so naturally, it was quickly added to my watch-list following it’s World Premiere screening at the festival. Since then, the film has now been released into US theatres and on Select VOD platforms following a short but equally well received festival run and thanks to the folks at IFC Films – I got my chance to check it out recently. So, what did I think?
Before I dive in with my full Review, here’s the plot… Read more
NOT DEEP ENOUGH
Sharks. There’s something about them that both terrifies and fascinates a person’s mind about this carnivorous sea creatures. From their outward appearance and portrayal in both real life and in pop culture refences, these cold-blooded creatures have existed since the pre-historic era and have diversified into over 500 species, including some common types of sharks such as Great White Sharks, Whale Sharks, and Hammerhead Sharks. In the realm of Hollywood, several features films have been dedicated its main narrative to being on and / or about sharks, including the most iconic one of all Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws. Others noteworthy films include Deep Blue Sea, The Reef, Open Water, and The Shallows. Now, curtailing to the allure of these sea-dwelling predators, Entertainment Studios and director Johannes Roberts present the survival film 47 Meters Down. Does this movie captivate its viewers with its tale or is its mindless dribble? Read more
BRYAN CRANSTON DELIVERS ANOTHER GREAT PERFOMANCE IN THIS THOUGHT-PROVOKING, POETIC AND REALLY ENGAGING DRAMA
After witnessing the absolute masterpiece which was: “Breaking Bad” – I’ll gladly watch any film or TV series that features Bryan Cranston in it with absolutely no questions asked. He’s quickly become of the best actors of his generation and of all time in my eyes and so when I first discovered that a movie called: “Wakefield” *based on by E. L. Doctorow’s acclaimed short story of the same name* was in development – all it took was Bryan Cranston’s name in the news article for my interest to be peaked. I had never read the source material but I didn’t care – I was intrigued none-the-less.
Then, in the following months, I saw a trailer for the film and my interest only grew farther as I discovered what the film would actually be about. The premise was great and this movie looked like it had the potential to be one of 2017’s greats and it quickly rose on my Summer ’17 watch-list as a must-see film.
Well, I finally got to see the film this week and as you can see from the headline of this review – I really enjoyed it.
Before we dive in further though, here’s a brief synopsis of the plot… Read more
A FAITHFUL AND REALLY FUN ADAPTATION
OF THE WIDELY POPULAR BOOK SERIES
Well, It’s arrived, and while it’s here a few years later than anyone expected it to be, it’s here none-the-less. We finally have a “Captain Underpants” movie in theatres and much to my surprise, it’s not half bad either. First printed in 1997 by author: Dav Pilkey and the popular US book distributor: Scholastic – this series of graphic novels were widely popular in North American elementary schools for years. Full of exciting adventures and loads of toilet humor – the majority of kids of that era (like myself) were hooked for many of their Elementary school years and for good reason too. These books were really fun and super easy to read and our parents and teachers didn’t mind all that much as they were just happy to see us kids reading and having fun while doing so. They rarely complained much despite the overload of silliness and low-brow humor which we were exposing ourselves to. Read more
One word…Baywatch. The show, which was created back in 1989 by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann, follows a team of Los Angeles County Lifeguards (led by David Hasselhoff’s Mitch Buchannon) as they patrol their shores of Emerald Bay (and later Hawaii) from natural disasters, shark attacks, serial killers, and saving lives in the process. Originally, the show only ran for one season (being cancelled by its original backer NBC) before being picked up again, running for another nine more seasons and spanning the entire length of the 90s era of television, with additional material added with a spin-off show (Baywatch Nights) and three movies. Now, almost sixteen years after the show ended, Paramount Pictures and director Seth Gordon revamp this once popular TV show series with the film Baywatch. Is this film worth seeing or does it drowning underneath its own insurmountable follies? Read more
WONDER WOMAN SHINES IN THE DCEU
The DCEU (DC’s Extended Universe has had a bit of a rocky road. Much like its comic book counterpart rival Marvel, DC has established its own shared cinematic universe, showcasing their popular and iconic superheroes for the big screen. Unfortunately, while Marvel, for the most part, has succeed in this endeavor with its ever-growing MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), DC has faltered in this challenge. Beginning with 2013’s Man of Steel (a rebooted Superman origin story), the DCEU showed the grandeur and blockbuster thrills that can be achieved with their shared universe. However, Man of Steel, despite make money at the box office, was met with mixed reviews from both critics and fans. In 2016, DC, desperately trying to compete with the highly successful MCU, released two more movies underneath the DCEU, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Much like Man of Steel, both films did produce at very hefty dollar amount at the worldwide box office, but were once again faced with mixed reviews (ranging from mediocre to negative criticism from moviegoers and critics). Now, in their fourth attempt, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Studios and director Patty Jenkins present the newest film in the DCEU with the movie Wonder Woman. Does this latest comic book feature finally deliver critical win for DC’s shared cinematic universe or is it another “swing and a miss” for their superhero endeavors? Read more
AT LEAST IT’S BETTER THAN
ON STRANGER TIDES
Swashbuckling adventure on the high seas, villainous pirates, courageous young people, and the comedic misadventures of the infamous pirate Jack Sparrow. Yes, I’m talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Beginning back in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl, this franchise, which was based off of the famous Disney ride, kicked off the adventure, introducing viewers to the characters of Will Tuner, Elizabeth Swan, and “Captain” Jack Sparrow and their adventures against murderous pirates and a cursed treasure. The Curse of the Black Pearl was met with popularity from its viewers and critics, spawning two more installments with 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest and 2007’s World’s End. After World’s End, many believe that the franchise would end, capping off its third installment as a planned trilogy and wrapping up the adventures of Elizabeth and Will Turner. However, the film series returned several years later with 2011’s On Stranger Tides and further continuing the adventure with Jack Sparrow. Unfortunately, while it made an adsorbent amount of money at the box office, On Stranger Tides was met with harsh criticism from critics and moviegoers, being criticized as the weakest installment in the franchise. Now, after six years since On Stranger Tides, Walt Disney Pictures and directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg present the next chapter in this cinematic saga with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tale. Does this fifth installment in the Pirates franchise “rule the seas” or is it time to retire the character of Jack Sparrow and this film saga? Read more
THE PATH TO PARADISE BEGINS IN HELL
Back in 2012, director Ridley Scott returned to the Alien franchise with the film Prometheus. Set as a prequel installment to his 1979’s iconic Alien movie, Prometheus followed the story of the crew of the spaceship Prometheus and their expeditionary adventure to LV-223, a far-off distant moon that, through a shared connection in various ancient civilizations on Earth, are believed to be the home of humanity’s creators (or Engineers). Unfortunately, horrific dangers and hidden agendas waiting them on LV-223, with the movie’s final shot showing a very primitive-looking Xenomorph alien (the iconic alien from the Alien franchise). While Prometheus did make its money back at the box office, gaining $405 million against its $130 production budget, the movie was faced with heavy scrutiny and criticism from critics, fans, and moviegoers, finding this prequel chapter to be riddled with problems. Now, after five years since Prometheus’s release, 20th Century Fox and director Ridley Scott return back to Alien franchise with the film titled Alien: Covenant. Is this newest prequel stronger than Prometheus or does it fall into the same problematic chasm of its predecessor? Read more
A UNDERWHELMING COMEDY ADVENTURE
Back in 2015, female stand-up comedian Amy Schumer made her starring lead role debut in the comedy film Trainwreck. With the screenplay written by her and guided by well-known raunchy comedy director Judd Apatow, Trainwreck was a standout comedy film of 2015, especially in Schumer’s performance, which found her to be hilarious and heartbreaking as well as demonstrating the acting range. In addition, Schumer was surrounded by Trainwreck’s supporting cast members, including Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Colin Quinn, Brie Larson, and several others in either comedy and / or slightly comedy-drama performances. In the end, Trainwreck, while not an ultra-smash hit at the box office that year, did make its money back; grossing roughly $140 million against its production budget of $35 million. After Trainwreck, Schumer returned to stand-up comedy gigs, briefly making appearances on TV commercials and doing voicework in several animated television shows. Now, after two years, 20th Century Fox and director Jonathan Levine help bring comedian Amy Schumer back to the big screen with the movie Snatched. With a two-year gap between this movie and Trainwreck, does Schumer’s raunchy comedic timing still ring true or has the current moviegoer audience lost an interest in her? Read more