Tag Archives: movie reviews

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

Paddington 2 (2018) Review

IF WE’RE KIND AND POLITE,

THE WORLD WILL BE RIGHT


 

Back at the beginning of 2015, during the same January opening weekend that Kevin Hart’s comedy film Wedding Ringer and Bradley Cooper’s bio-pic drama American Sniper were released, a little and polite bear made his first big-screen debut with the movie Paddington. First released in November of 2014 in the UK (before making his US debut a few months later), Paddington, which was based off of the book character of the same name from author Michael Bond, was directed by Paul King and the tale of a young polite bear named Paddington, who moved into the Brown family in London and learned what it meant to be a part of a family, while evading the grips of a villainous taxidermist. It was a whimsical film that featured childish fun and mischief, with the movie being targeted for the young “juice box” crowd”, but also presented a heartwarming tale of family and acceptance. Paddington went on gain mostly positive reviews from both critics and moviegoers everywhere and did gain a sizeable return on its investment, cultivating roughly $268 million against its production budget, which estimated around $50 million. This success proved strong enough for a follow-up adventure to be greenlit to be commissioned in sometime in the near future. Now, StudioCanal, Heday Films and director Paul King present the second chapter in the world’s most “polite” bear with the movie Paddington 2. Does this second installment shine bright as its predecessor or does it fail to impress and lack emotional heart and mischievous fun in this second helping of a feature? Read more

Creed II (2018) Review

DEFININIG A LEGACY


 

In 2015, moviegoers everywhere were introduced to the film Creed, which was set to act as a continuation to the Rocky movie franchise as a sort of “offshoot” to the boxing cinematic series. The film, which was directed by Ryan Coogler and starred Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, and Tessa Thompson, told the story of Adonis Creed (the wayward son of the late Apollo Creed) and he followed in his father’s footsteps into the boxing ringing (with Rocky in his corner training him). Creed, which is the seventh installment in the Rocky franchise, was met with generally positive reviews from both critics and moviegoers, finding the movie to generally solid (with its story being predictable) as well as strong performances from both Stallone and Jordan. During its theatrical run, Creed was able to cultivate a little bit over $173 million at the box office worldwide (against its $40 million production budget) and did receive several nominations during the award season, with Stallone winning the National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actor, Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Golden Globe Award for Best Support Actor for his role as Rocky in the movie. Given the popular reception that the movie had, a follow-up sequel film was soon greenlit in the continuation of Adonis Creed’s boxing career. Now, three years after Creed’s release, it’s time to step back into the ring with Adonis and Rocky as Warner Bros. Pictures (as well as MGM Pictures) and director Steven Caple Jr. present the feature film Creed II. Does this next chapter in this Rocky spin-off endeavor stand tall and proud (in the ringing) or does it go “down and out” in the first round? Read more

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018) Review

A LACKLUSTER CONTINUATIION /

REBOOT INSTALLMENT


The world Steig Larsson’s literary crime series Millennium universe (originally dubbed the “The Millennium trilogy”) has fascinated million of readers around the world, with each installment becoming a “must read” bestseller. Thus, given the fascination and allure of this international crime novel series, it was almost a forgone conclusion that a movie adaptation of the novels would soon materialize, which they did in 2009 with the release of not one, or two, but three theatrical films. Released in Swedish, the films, which starred a Swedish cast including actor Michael Nvqvist and actress Noomi Rapace as main character Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, received critical praise and told Larsson’s novels (those written at the time as the series continued on after in 2015) from beginning to end. Two years later (2011), Hollywood took an interest in Larsson as Sony Pictures released a US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the first installment in the series). While the movie, which was directed by David Fincher and starred Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the roles of Mikael and Lisbeth was well-received from critics and fans of Larsson’s novel, the movie itself did not perform well enough from what the studio expected it to be; grossing roughly $232 million at the box office against its $90 million production budget. It made its money back (and then some), but the film’s underwhelming performance at the box office put the follow-up sequel through development hell for years, with Sony Pictures mulling over the ideas of returning to the world of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander for some time. Seven years have passed since Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released and now Sony Pictures (i.e. Columbia Pictures) and director Fede Alvarez present the next American cinematic chapter of Larsson’s novel with the movie The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Does this latest installment (which does a double stance as a continuation and soft reboot) prove something worth seeing or is it a failed relaunch of the “The Girl” franchise? Read more

The Grinch (2018) Review

A CHARMING, MODERN

RETELLING OF A HOLIDAY CLASSIC


 

The stories and books of Dr. Seuss have enchanted readers around the world, seeing multiple generations enjoying the imaginative worlds that Seuss created and of its playful rhyming tales and colorful characters. Of the plethora of books that have been published by him, none is more famously known that Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since its initially publication release back in 1957, the children’s picture book has received critically praised from its readers, becoming one of the more beloved and recognizable books of Dr. Seuss’s catalogue. Additionally, the book (over the years) has received two adaptations in bringing to Seuss’s story of the Grinch and his wicked deed of stealing Christmas to a new media outlet. The first was the 1966 animated TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was directed by Chuck Jones, with narration by Boris Karloff and the first rendition of the now widely-recognizable “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” sung by Thurl Ravenscroft (with lyrics by Dr. Seuss himself). The second iteration of the Seuss’s book came in 2000 with the live-action adaptation titled How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was directed by Ron Howard and comedian actor Jim Carrey playing the role of the Grinch. The difference between the two iterations has been continuously debated with many favoring the 1966 TV special cartoon over the live-action theatrical motion picture, which did face mixed reviews from critics and moviegoers. Now, Illumination Entertainment (as well as Universal Pictures) and directors Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney present the third iteration of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the animated film The Grinch. Is it “third time’s a charm” for this well-known children’s story is it just simply a redundant holiday retread? Read more

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Review

DARKNESS RISES AND

THE LIGHT TO MEET IT


 

In 2016, five years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 concluded the “boy who lived” cinematic adventure saga of witches and wizards, J.K. Rowling returned to her magical “Wizarding World” for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel / spin-off endeavor to the eight-part Potter films. The feature, which was directed Harry Potter alum David Yates and starred Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler, Alison, Colin Farrell, and several others, focused the introverted protagonist character of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist wizard, who travels to New York City (circa 1926) and accidentally releases some of his creatures loose in the city, while stumble upon a larger threat that sees to expose the wizarding community to the non-magical (i.e. No-Maj). While they were some skeptics and critics out there, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ultimately was a success, finding its audience who enjoyed the feature (the movie was well-received positive reviews) and the film did collect $814 million at the worldwide box office against its $175 million production budget. The success of Fantastic Beasts proved that moviegoers (around the world) will still hungry for more adventures in this spin-off series in Rowling’s Wizarding World, with the studio (shortly after the film’s releases) expanded upon the idea of future installments from three Fantastic Beasts installments to five installments. Now, two years have passed and its time to return again to the Wizarding World as Warner Bros. Pictures and director David Yates presents the second chapter in the Fantastic Beasts saga with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Does this last adventure for Newt Scamander (and company) finds a cinematic narrative of entertainment or is it an uneven return to the Rowling world of witches and wizards? Read more

Hunter Killer (2018) Review

A ENTERTAINING AND LARGER-THAN-

LIFE SUBMARINE THRILLER


 

Military action movies have been a prime staple within the action film genre. Exploring various branches of the military (army, navy, air force, SEALS, etc.), these movies are primarily focused (much like the genre itself) on action premise, relying on tried and true aesthetics of military action / violence to showcase the film’s narrative. While some are a bit nonsensical (i.e. going with the flow of the film’s premise), stories of war, secret missions, occupation, and tension between nations are these movies “bread and buttered”, making the effort to show the grizzled action (on all forms of the military branches) as well the espionage side of opposing government / nations on matters of military strength (i.e. to defend, to invade, or to hold their ground) against warring enemies or rival team members. Additionally, military action features have also weaved into other genres (drama and sci-fi) in order to expand upon its storytelling. Some of the best and recognizable military action movies includes 1978’s Apocalypse Now, 1986’s Top Gun, 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, 1995’s Crimson Tide, 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 2002’s Black Hawk Down, 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, 2017’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and 2018’s 12 Strong. Now, Summit Entertainment (along with Original Film and Millennium Entertainment) and director Donovan Marsh present the latest military action thriller endeavor with the film Hunter Killer. Does the movie swim gracefully or does it sink laboriously fast? Read more

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) Review

A HOLLOW AND SUGAR-COATED

ENDEAVOR


 

It is a well-known fact that Disney has taken up the mantle of translating its legendary / timeless animated feature films into live-action remakes. While this staging might have had a sort of rocky start (i.e. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and 2014’s Maleficent), the “house of mouse” has mostly refined their cinematic tastes and nuances for high quality live-action movies along these lines, entertaining both critics and moviegoers with live-action films like 2015’s Cinderella, 2016’s The Jungle Book, and 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. However, while Disney continues this “live-action” trend of reimaging its animated tales (with plenty more planned on the horizon), the studio has also continued to provide live-action non-animated Disney movies to its catalogue, including 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, 2014’s Into the Woods, and 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time. Now, Walt Disney Studios and directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston embark upon the reimagined tale of the classic Nutcracker story with the movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Does this movie find its “magic” in its enchanted worlds or is it a visual hodgepodge mess of better similar endeavors? Read more

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Review

WHEN QUEEN WAS KING


 

Queen. The name speaks volumes to many and many know of what it means in the world of music entertainment. Whatever you may call them…. icons, legends, or celebrity rock stars, the British rock band known as Queen have become famous across the world, dating all the way back in the 1970s. For almost two decades, the band, which consisted of Freddie Mercury (vocal), Brian May (lead guitar), Roger Taylor (drums), and John Deacon (bass guitar), dominated radio waves, producing hit after hit and skyrocketing into universal acclaim in the world of music; winning awards, topping charts, and becoming one of the world’s best-selling musical artist. In the realm of filmmaking, Hollywood has also taken a particular shine towards Queen and their music, with many theatrical motion pictures that feature the band’s iconic songs, including 1982’s Wayne’s World (Bohemian Rhapsody), 1986’s Highlander (Who Wants to Live Forever), 1992’s Peter’s Friend (You’re My Best Friend), 1994’s D2: The Might Ducks (We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions), 2001’s Moulin Rouge! (The Show Must Go On), 2003’s Ella Enchanted (Somebody to Love), and many, many others. Now, 20th Century Fox (along with New Regency and GK Films) and director Bryan Singer (and Dexter Fletcher) presents Queen’s story underneath a cinematic guise with the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Does this latest biopic drama rise to its musical occasion or is it all sound and no theatrical storytelling to the infamous band’s tale? Read more

Indivisible (2018) Review

A STRONG AND SINCERE 

FAITH-BASED DRAMA


 

In the world of cinematic movies, films about war (and therein the military) are never subtle pieces, finding most to be steeped in gritty action and / or a barrage of realism. The affects of war from both soldiers and its casualties are also instrumental aspects in these movies as well, showcasing the hardships that it causes from both on “the actual battlefield” during the middle present of events and (in a more psychosis measure) “the battlefield of the mind” that lingers within the aftermath of the fight. While not necessarily a new subgenre, war films have been steadily on the rise, with many been produced in the attempt of shedding light on all fronts, including the warring of nations, the consciousness / morality of war itself, the physical endurance surviving wartimes, and overcoming challenges of war all that are ensnared by its horrific / destructive events. The same can be said about faith-based movies, which are not subtle either in presenting the religious beliefs in a feature length film. The ideas of a person (or group) facing adversity that challenges their beliefs as well as sometimes dealing with loss of faith or the discovering of one is also a palpable message for these types of movies to tackle. These, while usually can be a bit “on the nose” with its meaning, still finds its strides within its thematic presentation of discussing personal beliefs of faith and understanding. Now, Pure Flix, the WTA Group, and director David G. Evans present the movie that brings war and faith together with the film Indivisible. Does this marriage of two movie genres finds its voice (and meaning) in this cinematic telling or does it flounder in trying to find its message (point) across in a theatrical presentation? Read more

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