Tuesday, January 23, 2018

DrogeMiester's Top 10 WORST Movies of 2017

At the beginning of this past weekend, I posted my list of favorite movies of 2017. Now it's time to finish 2017 off with my list of least favorite movies of 2017. I briefly mentioned in my favorite movies of 2017 list that I didn't see every movie in 2017. That is especially true with this list. There's a lot of really bad movies that I simply chose not to see and I don't feel bad about it. Yet as I skim over the movies that I skipped, most of them include raunchy comedies that no liked that I have zero interest in subjecting myself to ("CHiPs," "Snatched," "Baywatch," "Rough Night"), low-budget horror movies that no one liked, made solely to earn a few bucks ("The Bye Bye Man," "Rings," "Wish Upon," "Flatliners," "Jigsaw") or sequels in franchises that I have less than zero interest in ("Underworld: Blood Wars," "Resident Evil: Final Chapter," "Fifty Shades Darker," "Smurfs: The Lost Village," "Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature," "Pitch Perfect 3"). So the following is a fairly accurate list of the worst movies of the year out of the ones I decided to give a chance to. But if you want to simply call it "10 bad movies that Adam saw this year," then I'm cool with that. I do think that 2017 was a good year for the most part. But here are the highlights of the stumbling blocks that we had to get through along the way.

10- Transformers: The Last Knight

The fifth Transformers movie was Michael Bay's "screw you" to the world. I'm sure he knows exactly why everyone hates his movies, but the previous two movies, "Dark of the Moon" and "Age of Extinction," both made over $1 billion worldwide, so I honestly think Michael Bay just didn't give a crap about what people thought because his horrific movie-making formula was consistently bringing in the big bucks. So is it surprising that "The Last Knight" delivers the exact same pile of stinky, rotten crap that everyone has been complaining about with this franchise in the last 10 years? No, it's not. Because Michael Bay doesn't care. I just gain comfort in knowing that Michael Bay's plan backfired this time around as the world witnessed this movie and said "screw you" right back to Michael Bay as "The Last Knight" made far less money than the previous two, getting only $130 million domestically and $605 million worldwide. And if this team continues to make no effort in improving this franchise, those numbers will continue to fall. The only reasons why "The Last Knight" isn't higher on this list is that it's better than "Age of Extinction," even though that's not saying much, and I wasn't angry at it after watching due to me not expecting anything from it.

9- The Greatest Showman

It's been a long time since I've had this strong of a disconnect with ALL my friends and family. I promise I'm not trying to purposely be controversial here. I genuinely hated this movie. It's one of the worst musicals in recent memory. Not only does the storyline manage to be extremely generic and cliche, but it also goes in a thousand different directions as it lacks any sort of focus or coherency. How do they manage to tape this mess of a story together? With music. The music in a musical is supposed to enhance your experience. That doesn't happen here. Instead the music is used to bandage everything together as every song takes you from Point A to Point Z. I felt cheated. My music blog forced me to revisit the most popular songs from the musical when they showed up on the Billboard Hot 100 and, in addition to said songs being used poorly, they are all generic and meaningless, highlighted by the worst of the bunch, "This is Me," which is a generic empowerment anthem written by two privileged white guys who have never been oppressed in their lives. The lyrics definitely show. Top all of that off with the fact that the movie is a complete and utter lie when it comes to the actual story of P.T. Barnum, which I could've forgiven if the movie itself was worth anything.

8- The Boss Baby

One thing that definitely stood out to me when it comes to the worst of 2017 was the extreme lack of quality when it came to animated movies. There were obvious exceptions to that, like "Coco," "Your Name." and "The LEGO Batman Movie," but "The Boss Baby" is the first of THREE animated movies on this list. And that's with me leaving off "Despicable Me 3," "Cars 3" and "The LEGO Ninjago Movie," all of which were worthy contenders. When it comes to DreamWorks Animation, they've always been hit and miss for me, but rarely have they had as big of a miss as "The Boss Baby." In trying to cleverly answer the question of where babies come from, we have what ends up being "Baby Geniuses" meets a painfully obvious rip-off of "Toy Story," all of which seems like it was written by a group of 7-year-olds with a plot that somehow manages to be extremely confusing and super cliche. The trailers looked awful. I almost skipped the movie altogether, only seeing it because it made a ton of money. I was embarrassed to asked for a ticket. And I wanted to walk out while watching because I was writhing in pain the entire time. It made the kids in my theater laugh, but half of that was because of all of the butt, poop and fart jokes littered throughout. 

7- The Circle

Sometimes I watch a movie and become baffled as to how such highly talented actors can look at a script for a movie and agree to be a part of it anyways, despite it being painfully obvious that there was never anything here to begin with. Sure, I suppose it's a decent idea to have a movie that showcases the potential hazards of social media and the internet, but it would have to be executed perfectly because we've had movies about the dangers of modern technology practically ever since they started making movies. It appears that this idea for "The Circle" never even translated to a decent screenplay because there is nothing here. The movie is as boring as tar. Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega do the best with what they were given, outside Emma Watson proving yet again that she should just stop trying to pull off an American accent. But again, they were given nothing to work with. Nothing happens. I felt like I was being forced to tag along with this group as they moved forward with a boring day at a boring job for this stupid company that was obviously trying to replicate a modern social media, but failed to have any sort believability. These three certainly weren't in need of a quick paycheck, so why'd they take it? Did they all lose a bet? 

6- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Or, as I like to call it, "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Jar Jars." Director Luc Besson has a decently impressive filmography, so it's typically not hard to get me excited for one of his films, at least when it comes to his directing credits. And I was intrigued by the idea that he'd wanted to do a Valerian movie for a long time as he grew up reading the French comics "Valerian and Laureline," which were released initially in 1968. But my conclusions here are that he loved those comics so much that instead of picking one of them to adapt, he chose ALL of them as we get a plot that goes in a thousand different directions with way too many subplots and a run time of 137 minutes that literally felt 45 minutes too long. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne have zero chemistry, creating one of the most awkward romances I've witnessed recently. And of course we have my adjusted title because we have so many different space creatures crammed in, all of which annoyed the crap out of me like Jar Jar did for most people in the prequels. The one thing everyone else seemed to agree on were the stunning visual effects. I don't know. Maybe my theater showed a different version of the movie because I thought the movie looked and felt like a really bad video game.

5- The Star

Next up we have our second animated movie of this list, and the first of two animated movies from Sony Pictures Animation. Now I don't necessarily mind there being yet another movie telling the story of the Nativity. It's a story I enjoy that I obviously think has a great message behind it. But yet we've had so many movies about various parts of Christ's life that I often wonder why we're getting yet another one when something like this shows up on the schedule. But it's whatever. If they do a good job telling the story, then I can give it a pass. And that's the problem with "The Star." Did anyone on Earth really want a movie about the Nativity from the perspective of the animals? Even though unique perspectives of the Nativity have worked in the past, I really have no idea what Sony was thinking with this one or how this specific screenplay even passed the board room meetings. Not only does the movie completely twist the story of the Nativity itself, but every time we switched to the animals in the movie, which happened to be most of the movie, they successfully drove me completely crazy. I wanted all of the animals to be captured by the bad guys and served up for Christmas dinner. Not something I should ever desire out of my main characters.

4- A Cure for Wellness 

Here's a movie that came out in mid-February that most people have completely forgotten about. And rightfully so. It's final box office total came in at just $8 million domestically and $26 million worldwide. The only reason why I saw it was for the off chance it happened to end up like "Shutter Island," a movie it was obviously trying to replicate as both are mystery thrillers where someone goes to investigate a mysterious place isolated from the rest of the world. And despite a good score and good cinematography, "A Cure for Wellness" fails on every level. It's not very mysterious as you have this place figured out as well as our villains fairly quickly into the movie. The thrills in the movie aren't very exciting either. But where this movie really rubbed me the wrong way was when we revealed the secrets of this place. And as a warning, I'm going to spoil this. Long story short, a guy falls in love with and marries his sister, potentially against her will. She's infertile, but he gets her pregnant through various experiments, but is found out and the sister is burned alive. But the fetus somehow survives, so the dude spends the next 200 years figuring out how to extend life and attempts to marry and rape this daughter when she finally comes of age before being stopped by Dane DeHaan. It's all disgusting and disturbing. I really don't know what Gore Verbinski was thinking here.

3- Daddy's Home 2

I spent two years avoiding this franchise after "Daddy's Home" came out at the same time as "The Force Awakens" and I just didn't care enough to go see it. But the franchise was haunting me ever since, so I watched both of them back to back when "Daddy's Home 2" was released and both of them have similar problems. They can't decide if they want to be family comedies or adult comedies, so instead this hits the awkward PG-13 comedy status that's too raunchy for kids, but too juvenile for adults. They also can't decide if they want to be a serious drama or an over-the-top slapstick comedy, so the movies end up being both and thus subsequently neither. Watching both of these movies back to back gave me a huge headache due to the overdose of unintelligent filmmaking. Specifically with "Daddy's Home 2," since sequels always have to be bigger and better, instead of simply following the Mark Wahlberg vs. Will Farrell arc of the first, we introduce the dads of both, adding in Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Thus we have double the dads, double the plot lines and double the headaches for me as this movie had absolutely no idea who or what to focus on in this extremely unfunny, confusing movie that doesn't know who the target audience is or what tone to take the movie. And all the jokes from the first, which weren't funny to begin with, are lazily copied and pasted.

2- The Snowman 

I honestly think "The Snowman" is a modern marvel of a film. For all the wrong reasons. As in I truly marvel about how this final product came to be. The movie is based on a very popular series of murder mystery thrillers. We have a top-notch director in Tomas Alfredson and a top-notch executive producer in Martin Scorsese who wanted to direct this initially. We have a very talented cast, led by Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson. We also have a top-notch crew all around with the editors, cinematographer and composer. There was no reason to believe this wasn't going to at least be a decent thriller. But not only is this a bad movie, this is an unfinished movie. After this movie was released and universally panned, Alfredson came out and said that they never even filmed 10-15 percent of this movie. How do you let that happen? And what were you filming instead? I heard about that before going in, but after watching this, I feel that he lowballed that estimate as it feels like only 10-15 percent of the movie was even filmed and that small amount of content somehow got stretched into two hours. I was stunned and left speechless after finishing this movie that I was really excited for and concluded that this was a cinematic disaster on the level of 2015's "Fant4stic."   

1- The Emoji Movie 

If you've followed this blog or talked to me at all this year, this selection should be the most unsurprising choice to you. I left "The Emoji Movie" feeling like it was the epitome of everything wrong with Hollywood in 2017. Sony has dipped so low into the pool of ideas that they made a movie based on the emojis in your phone. Sony got so desperate to follow current trends that they tried to set up a Smartphone Cinematic Universe. The world of this movie is called Textopolis and the plot is the most disgustingly obvious ripoff of "Wreck-It Ralph" and "Inside Out," but does absolutely nothing right. The movie is not funny. The movie has no depth. The movie has no redeemable characters. The movie is loaded with poop jokes and puns. The movie teaches the message that texting is better than talking to someone in person. Like, seriously. I did not laugh once. Nothing moved me. Nothing entertained me. I hated every minute of this movie and am beyond furious that this embarrassment of a film exists in our world. And to top everything off, the movie was unable to entertain its target audience of young kids. I have not talked to one young kid who enjoyed it and I have never been to a kids movie where the kids in the screening seemed more bored.

Friday, January 19, 2018

DrogeMiester's Top 10 BEST Movies of 2017

Every year I have a lot of fun watching and reviewing as many new movies as I can and it all builds to this point. The end of year list. My favorite post of the year. 2017 was a unique year in that there really wasn't the one or two movies that rose to the top as the favorite. That's really apparent when I look at all the other lists and notice that most people have a different No. 1. Most of the awards shows are also favoring different movies. It's exciting. That holds true with me as well as there wasn't a super obvious choice for movie of the year like "La La Land" in 2016. The other thing that made 2017 unique is that there seemed to be a higher percentage of good movies than there normally is, which made this list really tricky to make because I think there's more than 25 movies that belong in this top 10. I had to make a lot of surprising cuts that made me sad and might shock you. But after much thought I feel comfortable with these 10 in this order. A few quick notes. No, I didn't see every movie this year. And that's OK. And yes, I completely ignored the scores I gave in my reviews when ranking these movies as well as my mid-year list. If you keep track of either of those, you might be ever more surprised, which should make this fun. So let's begin!

10- Wind River

Taylor Sheridan made my 2016 list as a writer for "Hell or High Water" and could've easily done the same in 2015 as the writer for "Sicario," even though that one missed the cut. In 2017 he stepped into the director's chair for "Wind River" and hit yet another home run. "Wind River" can best be described as a bone-chilling thriller. I saw this movie during the summer when it was warm outside, but yet I wanted to put on my coat in the theater. It's set on a modern-day Native American reservation during the winter, thus the characters were walking around in the snow the whole movie, so it literally looked cold. But also thematically this is dark and chilling as this is a crime thriller where Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are there trying to solve a murder case where a Native American girl wound up dead in the middle of the snow, miles away from any of the residences. The movie sends the message that there are shockingly high number of murder cases on the reservations that go unsolved, which I find devastating. The movie builds slow, but is never dull as it builds to a final act that is absolutely phenomenal and is carried by career performances from both Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. Taylor Sheridan, you definitely have my attention.

9- Wonder Woman

I have no idea what the current state of the DCEU is. After the failure of "Justice League" and the rumored departure of Ben Affleck as Batman, they look like they are in all-out panic mode as they are on the verge of everything exploding in their face. Regardless of what happens, though, at least we can rest at ease knowing that we were able to receive a proper Wonder Woman film. It's also a sign to DC that if they get their act together, audiences will gladly forgive them for past failures as "Wonder Woman" not only ended up as the highest grossing superhero movie of the year, but the fifth highest of all-time domestically as well as being the highest-grossing origin story. And I think it's absolutely fantastic that girls around the world now have a superhero that they can look up to. The sheer volume of Wonder Woman costumes during Halloween is a sign of how big of a cultural phenomenon this movie became. This because the movie was fantastic. I had goosebumps all over and a giant lump in my throat while watching this for the first time because I was just so happy that I was finally watching a classic DC film in theaters. I like Marvel a lot, but DC is closer to my heart, so seeing this movie done so well by Patty Jenkins was essentially a dream come true.

8- Baby Driver

What happens when you combine "The Fast and the Furious" (car chase scenes), "Ocean's Eleven" (heist film), "Goodfellas" (gangster movie), "Guardians of the Galaxy" (clever use of music) and "Cinderella" (romance + Lily James), all brought together while the magical touch of Edgar Wright? You get "Baby Driver." This is a movie where you might not walk out reflecting on the meaning of life, but if you don't walk out with a huge smile on your face, there might be something seriously wrong with you because this is definitely the most fun I had in theaters all year. If you look at this concept on paper, you might be legitimately concerned with how much is going on and how many genres they're trying to shove into one movie, but that's why Edgar Wright is a genius because this works perfectly. I'm glad he finally got the recognition he deserved after all his previous films have to be given the label of cult classics. I mean, for a director who's done "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "The World's End," you would think he's had more success outside the U.K. Crazy thing is, despite how much I love "Baby Driver," I look at these five films and I'm not sure "Baby Driver" is my favorite. In fact, you could claim it's the fifth best and I couldn't argue with you.

7- I, Tonya

The story of Tonya Harding isn't one that I was super familiar with as I was only five years old when Nancy Kerrigan got her knee bashed in, causing a lifetime ban from figure skating for Tonya Harding and 20 years worth of being the butt of every joke. Thus I was excited to learn about all of this when I went into this movie. What I wasn't expecting was to get a movie-going experience that could very well stay with me my whole life. The movie is told mockumentary style and does a lot of fourth-wall breaking. There's a moment when Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding looks out at the audiences and says, "You are all my attackers." That cut me deep. I may have been too young to know about Tonya Harding, but how many other athletes, celebrities or other people have I simply read a story about in the news and made an immediate judgment of how awful a person they are without even stopping to think about their background, their history or why they may have made certain decisions? Way too many. And now I feel awful for doing so. It's not too often that a movie completely changes my perspective on things, but "I, Tonya" did just that. The only disadvantage this movie has is that I just saw this like a week ago. This could end up even higher in the future.

6- A Ghost Story

This movie wins the award for the movie that stuck with me the longest. When I first saw it in theaters, it absolutely mesmerized me. I went home and gave it a good review. Then I moved on with life and saw many more movies in theaters as the weeks and months went by, but this movie never left my head. It stayed at the top of my head the whole entire year and I almost literally couldn't stop thinking about it. When it came time to put this list together, I told myself that this had to be on here because no movie this year had the same impact as this one did. In typical A24 fashion, this is a very unconventional film, so there's a chance that you could watch it and think I'm crazy. All we have going on is a man who dies and comes back as a ghost where he is forced to watch his now widowed wife live life without him. That's it. A simple premise to a simple movie. Yet it's hauntingly devastating. The most famous scene is simply one long shot (nearly five minutes) of the wife sitting on the floor eating a pie. Yet it's the most uncomfortably, fascinatingly honest scene in film all year when it comes to dealing with the death of a loved one. I was near tears re-watching this movie the other night. It has now shown up on Amazon Prime, so go give it a chance.

5- Logan

We live in a day where there's an over-saturation of superhero movies thanks to the enormous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has them giving us three movies a year and every other studio desperately trying to catch up with them. The winner of all of this is definitely all of us comic book fans as we're living in a golden age of comic book movies. I'll be honest and say that I still really enjoy all of these movies. It doesn't take a whole lot to entertain me, especially when the quality is consistently high. But I'll also be honest and say that because we've had such an overabundance of these movies, they aren't the ones that rise to the top for me when I create my end of year lists. You have to do a bit more to truly blow me away. And that's why I love "Logan." This doesn't feel like a comic book movie at all. This feels like an independent film following the lives of two aging superheroes. The emotion is sky high throughout the whole movie as it's devastating watching Professor X in such bad health as well as old man Wolverine having seemingly given up. We can thank "Deadpool" for opening the door for this movie to be made as we all finally got the Wolverine movie we deserve. The final result is the best superhero movie since "The Dark Knight."

4- Split

As I've read through and watched all of the end of year lists this season, I feel like a lot of people have forgotten about this movie because it came out a year ago in January 2017. I definitely didn't, though. I actually purchased it brand new, which is something I don't usually do, and have watched it on multiple occasions throughout the year, including re-watching it again yesterday in preparation for this list. "Split" marks the triumphant return of M. Night Shyamalan. This is a man who roared onto the scene in the late 90's and early 2000's with movies like "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable" and "Signs." People were calling him the next Spielberg. But then he spent the next decade as a laughing stock because he forgot how to make movies. But now he's back with perhaps his best movie yet. I'd say calling him the next Spielberg was erroneous. The correct comparison would be calling him the next Hitchcock as Shyamalan is great with his thrillers and "Split," in my opinion, is a modern-day "Psycho" as we follow a villain suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, just like Norman Bates. Unlike Norman, Kevin Crumb has 23 different personalities instead of just two and I get more fascinated with his character the more I watch. The twist ending is also so fantastic.

3- War for the Planet of the Apes

I think there's a lot of people who don't fully comprehend what it is we've received with this new Planet of the Apes trilogy. I will step on my pedestal and boldly declare to the world that this is one of the best trilogies ever made. Yet this beautiful finale that is perhaps the best movie of the trilogy got far less attention than it deserved. I blame Fox for sandwiching it right in between "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and "Dunkirk." And perhaps the filmmakers for giving it the wrong title. If you saw "War" in the title and were expecting "Helms Deep: The Movie," you might have walked out disappointed. Because this was not a war movie or an action movie. This is a drama following Caesar the ape, who goes on a revenge tour after his family gets killed, making a lot of bad decisions on the way, causing the apes to get trapped in a concentration camp where we then meet the evil Woody Harrelson. But is Woody really that evil? He's just trying to help the human race survive and things are getting desperate. This movie beautifully runs into the original Charlton Heston film, proving that it's actually possible to make a really good prequel trilogy and even improve on the original.

2- Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

You're either going to love me or hate me for this one, but so be it. Rian Johnson is a director who has built a career on taking risks with his filmmaking and that's exactly what he decided to do when he was given the key to the car here. He just may have not completely understood what the consequences would be to taking said risks with such a beloved franchise as a lot of Star Wars fans were unhappy with the decisions that he made. He had my full support, though, as I genuinely think that he crafted one of the most powerful Star Wars films to date that is second only to "The Empire Strikes Back" when it comes to quality Star Wars films. What they did with Luke Skywalker was the absolute perfect way to complete his story, even though it wasn't the ending we thought we'd get. And what they set up with Rey and Kylo Ren was cinematically poetic. I even had a lot of fun with the space battles and I don't hate Finn and Rose, even though Canto Bight won't go down in history as my favorite Star Wars planet, if you know what I mean. If you hated it, then it's whatever. I'll just take comfort in knowing "The Empire Strikes Back" also received mixed reaction initially due to how bold it was. Difference there is social media didn't exist back in 1980 when "Empire" was released.

1- Lady Bird

We had two truly epic franchise entries in "War for the Planet of the Apes" and "The Last Jedi," yet "Lady Bird" managed to top both of them? I know, I'm impressed, too. The more I thought about this movie, though, the more I felt this was the right decision. I reflect back to when I was in the theater and mentally I was ready to watch these characters for the next 10 hours. When the credits rolled, I was upset because I wanted more. As I was driving home, I was powerfully overcome with feelings of homesickness. I missed my parents. I missed my family. I missed my high school friends. I missed the hometown I grew up in. The more I thought about the movie, the more I realized that Lady Bird was the character that I felt the strongest connection with this year. I want to go hang out with her and be her friend. Give her a huge when things are going wrong. Celebrate with her when things are going right. I also realized upon reflection that I can't find a single flaw with this movie. Greta Gerwig as a director perfectly captured what it's like to transition from an adolescent to an adult. "Lady Bird" serves as a perfect companion piece to "Boyhood." Given that "Boyhood" ended up as my favorite movie of 2014, it's only fitting that "Lady Bird" end up as my favorite movie of 2017.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Post Review

Here we have my final movie review before I dive into my top 10 favorite movies of 2017, which I will then follow up with my top 10 least favorite movies of 2017. Now, to be clear, this isn't the last 2017 movie I'll be watching and reviewing. I'll be spending part of February catching up on some final Oscar contenders that I haven't yet seen that should be expanding once the nominations come out and I'll give you those reviews as I see fit. However, every year there's usually at least one or two movies that play the limited release game towards the end of the year and expand in January that I tell myself I need to see before I do my end of year lists. Thus instead of getting my end of year lists out in late December or early January, mine usually come out in mid to late January. "The Post" is this year's movie that I told myself that I absolutely needed to wait for. I wasn't sure if it would make my list, but I at least needed to see it in order to give it the proper opportunity. The obvious reason for this is that this is a Steven Spielberg movie starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Enough said there, right? The other reason is that this is a journalism movie and since that's kinda my thing, I was rather excited because I was hoping that it would be this year's "Spotlight."

The movie is based on the true story of the Pentagon Papers back in the 1970's. The subject of said Pentagon Papers was the Vietnam War, which goes without saying that it was one of the more controversial wars that we got involved in during our nation's history. Not many people were a fan of that war and for good reasons. But here we are in 1971 and the Washington Post is trying very hard to keep up with the New York Times when the Times seemingly gets even further ahead by publishing a story based on some secret government documents that essentially state that the United States government has been lying to the American public for the last four presidents about what has actually happened over in Vietnam. They kept saying that everything is going great when everything was not going great. And perhaps 70 percent of why they hadn't pulled out and decided to lie to the public was to avoid public humiliation? Say, what? So yeah, the Times jumped on this story, which caused the government to not be happy, so they made an attempt to shut down the Times and stop them from publishing. Amidst all this drama with the Times and the government, the Washington Post manages to get their hands on those same documents, giving them a tough decision to make.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that I'm an expert in all things journalism, but in case you didn't know, that is my degree that I graduated with fairly recently. I did quite a bit of journalism work during my time with this major, which included an internship at Deseret News in Salt Lake City where I got to interview all sorts of cool people, thus I was able to get a good taste of what it's like in the newsroom. Because of this, I usually have a blast with movies that take us to the newsroom and that's where most of this movie took place. In the newsroom of the Washington Post or in the homes of the people in charge of the Post. Thus I felt at home because it reminded me of my time in the newsroom at Deseret News and also gave me a peek at what life could be like once I get back to another newsroom. Being that this is 1971, I also enjoyed the peek at what it was like at a major news corporation in the 70's, so there's a bit of journalism history in this movie as well. If you are a fellow journalist like myself or are an aspiring journalist, which might be a better way of describing my current situation, then I probably don't need to tell you to go see this movie, but I'm going to say it anyways. You should go see this movie because of the atmosphere and the history provided.

Whether or not journalism is your thing, I'd hope that this is movie you'd be interested because all of us read the news. Or all of us should, anyways. I think it's important to take a look at what happens behind the scenes of a newsroom. What is it that goes behind the publishing of a major article? What emotions are present and what might the discussions be like? Maybe it's the journalist in me speaking, but I think one can have more empathy for journalists if one takes the time to see what it's like in their shoes instead of writing everyone off as horribly biased journalists with these awful agendas when an article is published that you happen to disagree with. The role of a journalist is to be a watch dog. Keep the American public and the government in check. Inform people of the truth that's going on. And that's easier said than done at times. Here we have a really tough situation where the Post had the opportunity to publish the truth about what was happening in Vietnam, but was it the right thing to do? Do they risk losing all their credibility or their status in the journalism world if what they do ends up being unethical? Is it worth risking going to prison in order to get the truth out about something or is it better to sit back and wait for a better time?

These are all themes and situations presented in this movie. The U.S. government is claiming it's illegal to publish their government secrets because it could do damage to the country as a whole, but the Post and the Times feel this information needs to get out so we can be transparent to the country as a whole. While this movie is focusing specifically on what was happening during the Vietnam War, similar situations can be applied today in situations of the media vs. the country. One immediate situation I thought of was the Edward Snowden situation where he felt it was necessary to reveal these secrets so that the public can be aware of, but many people in the government felt that revealing those secrets could be damaging. And that's definitely not the only situation like that. Thus this is one thing that I really appreciated about "The Post" as it gave us a look at what it's like for members of the media in trying to find that balance between acting as the watch dog to inform people of the truth, but also doing so in smart ways that won't jeopardize your business or the country itself. The whole movie managed to be successfully intense as this journalism team was working hard to meet deadlines that were quickly approaching while also decided whether or not to publish.

Thus a lot of praise has to be dished out to this team. Spielberg obviously knows what he's doing as a director and he does a fantastic job at setting everything up and crafting the narrative. As a director Spielberg hasn't always been at the top of his game recently like he was back in the 80's and 90's. The very average turn in "The BFG" is a good example of that. But I think he scored pretty big here. We also have a huge team of actors that come together to make this work. The standout to me was Tom Hanks. He finds himself in quite the stressed situation as the guy who's essentially leading this specific team and is fighting hard to get everything published. He's not the one writing the stories, but he's the boss here and he does such a good job. Meryl Streep is the one playing the owner of the Post, so all the final decisions have to run through her. When things get super heated, she also excels as always as you can feel how stressed she is in making the final decisions. I do get slightly weary of Streep getting nominated every year as sometimes we nominate her just because her name is Meryl Streep. I don't think this is necessarily one of her best roles, but she does good enough that I wouldn't complain at all if she gets another nomination even though Hanks I feel is more deserving this time around.

A lot of attention is rightfully being focused on Hanks and Streep during this awards season, but there is a long list of supporting actors and actresses that deserve credit. I personally liked our "Breaking Bad" reunion with Bob Odenkirk and Jesse Plemons getting plenty of screen time, Odenkirk as one of the main reporters who played a key role in the Post obtaining these papers and Plemons playing one of the legal people trying to keep everyone in check so no one gets arrested. There's even a few moments with Odenkirk and Plemons together, with one specific confrontation between the two being a rather excellent scene. We also have Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Zach Woods, Michael Stuhlbarg and many, many more who all come together to play their individual roles. I don't know if any of them necessarily stand out of the crowd and scream the necessity of them being nominated, but they all contribute their own individual piece to the puzzle that make this a pretty good film overall that at least deserves a mention when we start listing off all of the good films Spielberg has made over his career and if this does get a best picture nomination, I won't be upset.

The only thing that causes me to hesitate in declaring this a great movie is that it doesn't necessarily leave a lasting impact and that specifically has to do with the subject matter at hand. They chose to focus on a subject that I feel everyone knows about. I'm far from what you would call an expert on the Vietnam War, but I do know that it was one of the more embarrassing chapters in our country's history and thus the idea that the government kept secrets from the public isn't surprising and given how it all turned out, I don't think it's a surprise as to how this movie will turn out. And that has nothing to do with the filmmaking or the acting itself. It's the subject matter that they chose to make a movie about. No surprises will be had in this movie. There's not any twists and turns that will catch you off guard. When it ends, instead of being shocked and amazed, you'll instead say to yourself that, yes, that's exactly how this story ended. That's the danger when you choose a well-known subject to turn into a movie as opposed to something more low key that we didn't know about. When I watched "Spotlight," my jaw dropped so hard that it hit the ground. I walked out of "The Post" saying that was a good journalism movie, but nothing great. Thus my grade is an 8/10.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I, Tonya Review

Here in mid-January we are thick into the Awards season as the Golden Globes and other award shows are behind us. Even though this has been a crazy year where no movie has risen above the rest to be a front runner for the best picture award at the Oscars, we have a general idea of what the major contenders will be. Looking over all of those, I have covered most of them on this blog already. The two major ones that I haven't yet covered are "I, Tonya" and "The Post." Right now we are knocking one of those two out with this review of "I, Tonya." I'll get to "The Post" next week as it just barely had it's nationwide expansion this weekend and I haven't yet had the opportunity to see it. There's a lot of the fence-sitters that I haven't had the opportunity to see, specifically "Call Me By Your Name," "Darkest Hour," "Phantom Thread," "Molly's Game" and "The Florida Project." Oscar nomination morning will tell me which of those I need to make a priority and I'll get around to said movies before the Oscars, but "I, Tonya" and "The Post" also stand as the final two movies that I've told myself I need to see before I make my end of year list of favorite movies. So it's these two movies, then onto that list. Get excited for that! But for now let's dive into the very fascinating "I, Tonya."

While I won't label this review as a spoiler review, I'm going to give you the warning right now that I'm going to dive more into the details of this movie than I normally do for a non-spoiler review of a biopic, so if you honestly would rather know nothing about this story going in, feel free to close this review and come back later after you've seen it. However, keep in mind that this is one of the rare situations where you will benefited by knowing more about this story surrounding Tonya Harding, which is why I feel comfortable giving more of the details about what happened because the movie itself actually expects you to know what happened and I need to talk about said events in order to explain why I became so fascinated with this movie. So you've officially been warned. "I, Tonya" is the story of Tonya Harding, an Olympics figure skater who rose to popularity in the late 80's and early 90's as in Fall 1991 she became the first American woman to attempt and land the triple axel at an international event. In 1994 she became the subject of controversy when she was involved in a scandal where an individual was hired to break her competitor Nancy Kerrigan's leg. Three people served jail time because of this while Tonya Harding herself was banned for life from figure skating.

Since I was only five years old when that happened, I wasn't one who knew about it right away and I don't follow figure skating enough to be super well educated on its history, but I do love the Olympics and I've also been a huge sports fan in general my whole life, so a movie about a controversial sporting event grabbed my attention right away, especially with how much positive buzz it's received throughout the festival season and on into awards season. So when it finally expanded last weekend into enough theaters where I was able to drive out and see it, I made that a priority because this seemed like it was right down my wheelhouse. I'm glad I did because this hit me on so many different levels as a sports fan, a movie fan and as a human being in general who does his best to not judge people so harshly. In terms of a sports movie, this is a uniquely complex underdog tale that manages to take your mind in so many different directions even though you know exactly where the movie is going. In terms of a movie, this is crafted in such a unique, unconventional way and has some powerful themes that should cause fans of film to sit down and spend hours discussing. And this will definitely make you feel bad for immediately judging someone you've never met.

I went into this movie expecting a typical biopic. And I was excited. I love a well-done biopic, even if it follows a typical biopic formula. And even if we went down the route of typical sports movie, I was excited for that, too, because it doesn't take too much for me to enjoy a good sports movie. However, right when the movie started, I was immediately shocked because it was obvious from the opening scene that this was not going the direction I thought it was going. The more we dove into it, the more I became uniquely fascinating in the way they chose to tell this narrative. It took me a while to figure out exactly what the appropriate way to describe this was, but I now feel comfortable in describing this as a fourth-wall-breaking, mockumentary-style, sports biopic. That's a bit of a mouthful, but it's appropriate. The reason why they did it this way was because when screenwriter Steve Rodgers interviewed both Tonya Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, he got two completely different stories about what happened, so there was a complex puzzle that they needed to put together and the way they decided to put this together was a very creative decision. Tell the story using both perspectives and let the audience decide.

How do they do this? Well, this is where the mockumentary element comes in. We don't start the movie in 90's with the incident or when Tonya was a child. We start the movie in the present day with Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney dressed up as their respective characters, Tonya Harding, Jeff Gillooly and Tonya's mother LaVona Golden, as if they are being interviewed by the filmmakers to tell the story. As they are telling their stories to the camera, the movie then goes back in time so that we as an audience can visualize what they are talking about. But we frequently cut back and forth to our characters being interviewed and our story being shown to us as the characters will have commentary on what you're about to see, sometimes being one of the people claiming that everything we are about to see is completely false while the other claims it's true. Thus when we see the moment, we have to often take it with a grain of salt because the characters informed us that it may be false. Usually biopics will fictionalize certain events for their movie, but this movie has the self-awareness to inform the audience that there is a disconnect here that may be impossible to determine who is right and who is wrong instead of coming up with something on their own.

This made for an interesting narrative because the movie forces the viewer to decide on their own what to make of this whole thing. Was Tonya Harding a victim of her mother, her boyfriend, the Olympic committee, the media and the general public? Or was she a cunning con-artist who deserved all the scrutiny and punishment she got? Honestly I can see two different people walking out of this movie with either opinion and you couldn't say definitively that one opinion is wrong and one is right. The whole thing is very complex and ambiguous. Given that there is no consensus on certain details, I think this was the right way to go because it makes the movie itself very layered and complex instead of being a simple movie that attempts to portray our characters in one specific way in order to push forward their agenda. Instead the filmmakers let Tonya Harding tell her story from her perspective while letting the audience decide what type of person she is while also doing the same thing for her ex-husband and mother, as well as some other minor characters including various journalists and friends of both. I loved the idea that I had to think about everything to develop my opinion instead of having a filmmaker's opinion spoon-fed to me.

What I personally came up with was a strong reminder to not be so quick to pass judgment on an individual without carefully considering who they are or what they've been through. I will admit that I have seen the story of an athlete or a celebrity who's done something negative and without question I will jump to the conclusion that they are a horrible human being and move on with my life. And I'm positive that that's what many people did in 1994 when it was reported that Tonya Harding's boyfriend hired someone to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg and that Tonya was being banned for life because a judge ruled that she was well aware of what was happening and may have even been a major part of this. What a horrible human being! Right? Did people consider Tonya's background? Did people know that she had an abusive mother and an abusive husband? Did people consider that she was raised much differently than others and that certain things were all she knew? Did people consider the frustration she may have gone through when she consistently outperformed her competitors on the ice, but was given lower scores because she wasn't the golden girl they wanted to represent America? Did people consider that the judge's ruling may have been wrong?

I'm not necessarily saying that everything that Tonya did was good and right. In fact, I think she made a lot of poor decisions that led to these unfortunate consequences. Do I think her punishment was too harsh? Absolutely. There's definitely favoritism that goes on in professional sports, which has especially been apparent to me when I watch figure skating and gymnastics in the Olympics among other subjectively graded sports. But that doesn't mean I think Tonya didn't deserve some punishment. However, what really struck me was the idea that we often don't consider everything that leads up to these events and scandals. WHY did a player or celebrity act the way they did? What have the experienced in their lives? What is their family like? What was their upbringing? We often forget that everyone has a story and a reason for who they are as a human being. Before we judge them, can we instead take the time to consider their story? Put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective? And this doesn't even have to only apply to athletes and celebrities. You can easily apply this to your friends, your family, your coworkers and various acquaintances or strangers that come across your path throughout the day? What is their story? Why do they do what they do?

These are all of the thoughts that have gone through my head since seeing this movie a few days ago. Yes, this was a movie about a figure skater who got banned for life after her ex-boyfriend hired someone to break her competitor's leg. But this was a film that went beyond being simply a film to watch and either enjoy or be educated. This taught me a great life lesson and is thus a movie that I will remember for a very long time. I mentioned forth-wall-breaking happens in the movie. It's implemented quite cleverly. There's one specific moment where Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding looks at the audience and says we are all her attackers. That cut me deep. I realized that she was right. And not necessarily just when it comes to her, but with everyone around me who I may have unfairly judged or treated poorly. And moving forward it's something that I'm going to make a sincere effort to change. So I'd like to thank these filmmakers for this incredible film that they've delivered in the way they delivered it. I'd also like to thank all of the actors who put their heart and soul into becoming these people who were able to collectively teach me an important lesson about life as well as the actual people themselves for helping me learn not to have such harsh judgments.

You can tell this is a movie I really liked based on the fact that this is a super long review and I haven't even gotten to all I wanted to say. There's just so much depth to this story. So many layers to peel apart that it's been a daunting task approaching this review. I hope that reading this has helped you gain a sense of why this is such a special film, so I'll wrap this up without going much further, but before I leave you, I need to mention all the acting. Margot Robbie is absolutely phenomenal. She's able to perfectly encapsulate Tonya Harding and make you care for her despite the fact that she's been a punchline for the last 20 years. And she did most of her own skating, minus the more difficult stuff. Allison Janney is also getting a lot of attention and that's well-deserved as she does a perfect job at playing the angry, abusive mother. The other performances that are getting less attention that I would like to point out are Mckenna Grace and Sebastian Stan. Mckenna doesn't get much screen time, but she makes the best out of what she gets as young Tonya and is a young girl that continues to blow me away. And Sebastian Stan deserves a best supporting actor nod for his role as the abusive, yet complex husband who is equally as fascinating for different reasons.

I do feel bad giving you an 11-paragraph review for this movie. I usually like to keep it three or four paragraphs shorter. And I almost went back to re-write or edit this down to make it normal length, but I couldn't. There's just so much that I felt needed to be said in order to do this review justice. Even with all that said, there's still a lot that I haven't covered, but I'll call this good for now. In summary, I think the mockumentary style was perfect for this story. With Tonya and Jeff giving completely different perspectives as to the specific details, having the filmmakers decide to tell both sides of the story while letting the audience decide what is real and what isn't was genius because otherwise it would've been slightly less interesting had they picked a side and spoon-fed their opinion. It made for a lot of depth and a lot of layers with the audience having to figure things out for themselves. I loved the narrative. I loved all the acting. I loved the themes of the movie. I loved it when the characters would break the fourth wall because oftentimes those were the most poignant moments of the film. I don't even know what the appropriate score is for this movie. A number doesn't do this justice, but this obviously deserves to be pretty high, so for now I'm going to settle with a 9.5/10.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

All the Money in the World Review

I found my trip to the ticket office with this movie rather amusing. The nice lady at the ticket booth asked me what I wanted and I replied that I wanted all the money in the world. That would be nice, right? I could put all that money in my bank account and become a full-time blogger! Unfortunately the box office lady didn't honor my request of giving me all the money in the world. Instead she simply printed off a movie ticket, so I begrudgingly accepted that as a consolation prize and went into my screening since I had paid $5 for that ticket. This is a movie where the story behind the making of the movie is probably more interesting than the movie itself. In fact, that's exactly why I went and saw it as soon as could. Not because I was super interested in the story they were telling, but because I was interested to see how this turned out since they did extensive reshoots of this movie just a month before the movie was set to be released. Most studios would choose to postpone the movie for at least a few months if they were to do something like that last minute. But this team choose to be extremely ambitious instead. This risk could've easily blown up in their face, but the most surprising aspect of this is that they somehow managed to end up with a pretty dang good film!

Before I dive into the details of this production and tell you why the final product is so impressive with all things considered, let's quickly talk about what this movie is actually about. "All the Money in the World" tells the true story of J. Paul Getty, who founded in the Getty Oil Company in 1942 and in 1957 was named the richest living American. In 1966, the Guinness Book of World Records named him as the world's richest private citizen. In 1996, he was ranked as the 67th richest American to ever live. At the time of his death, he was worth approximately $6 billion, which is equivalent to $18 billion in today's money. So yeah, he was a very rich man. However, the movie isn't a biopic of his whole life. We specifically hone in on one major event that happened in 1973. The kidnapping of Getty's grandson, John Paul Getty III. Paul III was abducted in Italy at the age of 16 and held at a ransom of $17 million for his return, a sum that would've been easy for Getty to pay, but yet the billionaire refused, putting Paul III's mother, the ex-daughter-in-law of Getty, in quite the horrible predicament because she wants nothing to do with her ex-husband's father or his fortune because he's not such a nice man. But now she has to deal with the kidnapping of her son.

The thing that makes this so fascinating is that Getty is played by Christopher Plummer. Not Kevin Spacey. Apparently director Ridley Scott wanted Plummer to play the role, but Spacey was cast instead because he's more of a household name. But as has been very well publicized, Spacey's career is probably now over with his reputation permanently damaged. And rightfully so. Beginning in October of 2017, upwards of 15-20 people have come forward with sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against Spacey stemming as early as the 1980's and as recent as on set of his hit series "House of Cards." Essentially we are learning that he is a horrible human being and a sexual predator who has previously been able to get away with anything just because he's a famous Hollywood actor. But no longer will he be able to get away with these things because in 2017 we put our foot down against sexual harassment and sexual assault. The "Me Too" movement has emboldened millions of men and women across the country to stand up against these injustices and now 2017 has become the time where we've started to separate the wheat from the tares, so to speak, ending the careers of sexual predators such as Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Andy Signore and more.

I absolutely love this movement. The idea that these monsters in the form of famous Hollywood figures can get away with anything is horrific. It's about time that the world stood up against these people and replaced them with good, wholesome human beings who actually deserve the spotlight. And if you haven't heard the speech from Oprah at the Globes on Sunday, you need to go listen to it right now. She hits an absolute grand slam as she drives this whole thing home. When these allegations came out against Spacey, he was dropped from everything, which left the filmmakers of "All the Money in the World" in a predicament because Spacey was the star of the movie. With all of these allegations, no one was going to see this movie. So on November 8, reshoots of the film were commissioned with Plummer being recast as Getty. All the scenes involving Getty were to be reshot with Plummer instead of Spacey. This was crazy because the movie was scheduled to have its premier at the AFI Fest on November 16 with its nationwide theatrical debut on December 25. It's showing at the AFI Fest was cancelled and reshoots began on November 20, ending on November 29. All the re-editing and other post production was finished in time for its December 25 release.

That timeline is insane. Often post-production can take months and it should because that means the filmmakers have enough time to get the proper cut of the film done. No one would've blamed these people at all if they had decided to postpone the movie until sometime next year so that they could get it right. Doing major reshoots this late in production while keeping your original release date could severely impact the quality of your film. Thus when I went into this movie, I went in with a very critical, investigative eye to see if I could see a difference between the original scenes and the reshoots and I was absolutely blown away because the movie is seamless. In fact, I'm confident that people who don't follow movie news as much as I do and thus never heard about this recasting will go into this movie and come out with no clues at all that a different man was initially cast in the lead role. Whenever you have any sort of production complications, the eventual goal is to make audiences believe that those issues never occurred with your final product. Now I don't think we should make a habit out of reshooting movies this late and keeping the same release date, but the fact that they did it and pulled off a nearly perfect final product is extremely impressive.

This also makes this movie a very timely movie. With all the sexual assault allegations and the "Me Too" movement fresh on people's minds, the fact that this movie got rid of Spacey and replaced him with Plummer while still making the awards season deadline means that this is the perfect movie for these awards ceremonies to back as this stands as a strong statement that we will not tolerate sexual misconduct in the workplace, regardless of how popular or famous you are. Thus Plummer should be a shoe-in to at least get nominated for best supporting actor in these awards races and rightfully has been. The Oscar nominations come out soon and I hope we hear his name. On that note, you might give a counterargument that you should be nominated for your acting performance and not just because you did a good thing. And that's an excellent point. So to that point, it's also impressive that Plummer absolutely owns this role. It seems like he was the perfect person to play J. Paul Getty as he does excellent at portraying this complex old man whose fame and riches has completely drowned him out and destroyed him. I can't imagine anyone else in this role. Even if none of this drama happened, I still think he'd be worthy of a nomination.

What about the rest of the movie, though? Well, as I said earlier, the story behind the making of this movie is more interesting than the movie itself, which is why I've spent most of my time on the former rather than the latter. We have on our hands a pretty basic kidnapping movie that has you on the edge of your seat at times, but never quite hits the level of intensity that it's building up to, thus leaving me relaxing in my seat more than I probably should've been in a movie of this type. But I do like the themes presented in this movie as Plummer's Getty is a very rich man, yet not a very happy man. It's very true that riches can destroy a human being if they don't keep themselves in check. In contrast, Michelle Williams, who also does a great job in this movie, plays a character who has every opportunity to inherit the riches from her father-in-law, but specifically chooses to only take what she needs to survive as she rejects the lavish lifestyle of her father-in-law that also ends up destroying her husband as well, causing the divorce. Through it all, she seems a lot happier and is able to make the more logical, reasonable decisions when this kidnapping situation comes about, thus teaching us that all the money in the world doesn't guarantee you'll live a happy life.

Overall, I give this movie a standing ovation in terms of how the filmmakers chose to handle the Kevin Spacey situation. Men and women who have been oppressed and shunned after being sexually harassed and assaulted (yes, it happens to men, too -- let's not forget that) deserve to be heard and believed. We also need to be careful of false accusations because it would be unfortunate for careers to be ruined after said person didn't actually do anything wrong, so there's a balance that needs to be had, but the balance has been skewed too far in the wrong direction for so long that many people have been scared to stand up for themselves when they have been mistreated and I'm glad that "All the Money in the World" stands as an example of filmmakers who made the right decision and refused to tolerate the actions of Kevin Spacey by removing him from their movie despite them only being weeks away from their release. I can't praise that enough. They may not make their $50 million budget back, but as this movie itself teaches, money isn't everything. If I'm being an honest critic, the movie itself isn't as intense or powerful as it could've been, but there's enough here for me to give it a good recommendation anyways. My grade for the movie is an 8/10.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Movie Preview: January 2018

Last week I previewed the entire year with my annual yearly preview. This week it's time to look specifically at January. This month is always a mixed big. On the one hand, the holiday holdovers always play a big role in January numbers, which will be the case this January, specifically for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle." On the other hand, January is a good month to start expanding the Oscar contenders as the Oscar nominations will be announced in the second half of the month. Thus we should see movies like "The Post," "Molly's Game," "I, Tonya," "The Shape of Water," "Darkest Hour," "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and "Lady Bird" make a bit of an impact. But in terms of brand new releases, not expanding movies or holiday holdovers, this month is often seen as a dumping ground as studios throw out some movies they don't care as much for while saving their big releases for later. While there will definitely be some worthwhile crowd pleasers sprinkled in the mix, most of these new releases will be under that latter category, making it a slightly less interesting month for moviegoers when it comes to these new releases. But bad or good, let's dive in and explore all these new releases anyways!

January 5th - 7th-

The first weekend of January will see the holiday holdovers playing the biggest role. Poised to take the top spot will actually be "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," ending the three week reign of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" as "Jumanji" has started to overcome "The Last Jedi" throughout the week. While critics of "The Last Jedi" may see this and laugh, it's worth noting that a film as highly anticipated as "The Last Jedi" is usually very front-loaded, which was the case here as became the top grossing movie of 2017 domestically in just three weeks, nearing $600 million at this point, while already having passed the $1 billion mark worldwide. "Jumanji," on the other hand, was a sequel that many were dreading. Yet as strong reviews and positive word of mouth got out that this was actually a movie worth seeing, fans of the original who initially planning on skipping the sequel have started to show in in droves, making "Jumanji" a lot more back-loaded than normal. After strong reviews, "Molly's Game" will be expanding into about 1,500 theaters while "I, Tonya," "Darkest Hour" and "The Shape of Water" may also be expanding. Check out my December preview to learn more about most of those (I never covered "Darkest Hour" -- the others I did).

The lone new release that will be adding its name to the game is the latest chapter in the "Insidious" franchise, Insidious: The Last Key. In general, horror films in January are especially notorious for being panned by nearly everyone, critics and audiences alike. And a fourth movie in a horror franchise usually isn't a good sign in terms of quality. However, this opening weekend of January has been a great weekend for these poorly reviewed horror movies in terms of box office as the previous six years have all seen January open with a horror movie and those six movies have averaged an opening weekend total of $19.2 million, with 2012's "The Devil Inside" coming in at the high end with $33.7 million and 2016's "The Forest" coming in at the low end with $12.7 million. The "Insidious" franchise has been popular enough that this fourth movie should fit in perfectly in that range. The first "Insidious" was a sleeper hit in 2011, which caused "Insidious Chapter 2" to open to $40.3 million on its way to $83.6 million. "Insidious Chapter 3" then opened to $22.7 million on its way to $52.2 million. Continued diminished returns are expected for "The Last Key," but considering the small budget of these films, it won't take much for this to be considered a success.

January 12th - 15th-

With New Year's falling on a Monday this year, that means Martin Luther King Jr. Day also comes earlier than normal, this year on January 15. The extended four-day weekend should be very crowded as "Jumanji" and "The Last Jedi" should both play well yet again. The weekend also sees the expansion of Steven Spielberg's "The Post," which could come earn $20 million and challenge for the weekend win. Again, check out my December preview for more on "The Post." We also have four new wide releases, which will be led by the U.S. release of Paddington 2. The first "Paddington" wasn't supposed to be a January release initially, but was rescheduled due to high competition that Christmas season and ended up doing quite well in January 2015. So for the sequel, they went ahead and confidently placed it in January again, making it a bit of an anomaly when it comes to your typical January release. But everyone's favorite marmalade-loving bear is first and foremost a British comedy. As such, they got first stab at this sequel starting in early November and it's already made the U.S. equivalent of $50.8 million over there and was received just as strongly, if not better, than the original. As such, it's U.S. release is less significant, but the well reception over in the U.K. is a great sign for the American fan base who should also enjoy this sequel.

Next up is a movie that may be more of your typical January affair in terms of quality, but may do well at the box office after a strong marketing campaign and that is Proud Mary. Taraji P. Henson had a successful turn last year at this time with the sleeper hit "Hidden Figures" as that film, which initially snuck under people's radar, ended up having a huge box office run which was capped off with a best picture nomination. This year Henson gets to test her chops as an action star as she plays a hitwoman named Mary who is working for an organized crime family in Boston. Things will take a bit of a turn for her when a professional hit goes awry and she meets a little boy that she has caused to be orphaned. Co-starring with Henson will be Neal McDonough and Danny Glover, with Jahi Di'Allo Winston playing the young boy. The January release date along with the fact that this comes from director Babak Najafi, director of the poorly received 2016 action flick "London Has Fallen" are two major factors that cause there to not be a lot of confidence in this project.

The third wide release of the weekend will probably cause a lot of people to see Liam Neeson starring in this January action flick and immediately think that The Commuter is trying to be another "Taken" movie, but a closer look will reveal a more appropriate comparison. "The Commuter" sees Liam Neeson star as a normal businessman who gets caught up in a mysterious, dark conspiracy after a person on his train ride home approaches him and offers him $100,000 if he can identify a hidden passenger on the train. With that premise in mind, the more apt comparison comes with looking at the director of the film, which is Jaume Collet-Serra, the director of the 2014 film "Non-Stop," which was a whodunit mystery thriller starring Liam Neeson as an air marshal on a plane who receives a mystery serious of text messages saying he needs to deposit $150 million into an off-shore account or people on the plane will start dying. So, "The Commuter" is very similar to "Non-Stop," but is set on a train instead of a plane. This is also the third train-themed mystery/thriller to come out recently following "The Girl on the Train" and "Murder on the Orient Express." With "The 15:17 to Paris" coming out next month, it means there's a curious train movie trend happening in Hollywood right now.

The final release of the weekend will be the first animated movie of the year and that is Condorito: La Pelicula. As you could probably guess by that title, this is a Spanish animated movie. "Condorito" translates to "little condor" in Spanish and is thus about a little anthropomorphic condor living in the fictitious town of Pelotillehue. "Condorito" is based on a Chilean comic book and comic strip that has been around since 1949, so the obvious target audience here is the Latino community with this film adaptation of the popular comic strip character. The movie has already been released in several Spanish-speaking countries including Mexico and several Latin American countries and the troubling aspect of this is that the movie doesn't seem to be getting the best reception. Despite being released back in October in those countries, the movie has only made just under $8 million internationally and seems to have gotten mixed reviews at best. So the poor box office performance and mixed reviews from its target audience doesn't bode well for its U.S. release as this is probably the type of movie that has a hard time crossing $10 million overall in it's domestic run.

January 19th - 21st-

There's three new wide releases in the third weekend of January, but there's really only one of them that's set to make an impact and that is 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers. That long subtitle does a great job of describing what this movie is about. The movie is based on Doug Stanton's book "Horse Soldiers," which tells the true story of the CIA paramilitary officers and the U.S. Special Forces who were sent to Afghanistan immediately after the September 11 attacks to fight the Taliban forces in a bit of unconventional warfare. The obvious comparison here based on title, theme and release date is the 2016 January war film "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi," which opened to $16.6 million on its way to a domestic total of $52.9 million, numbers that seem like a fair bar for "12 Strong" to hit. And even though January isn't the best month for movies, the war film genre seems to be the one genre that consistently performs well AND gives quality content in the month with recent movies such as "American Sniper" and "Lone Survivor" being additional examples of this along with "13 Hours." Starring in "12 Strong" is Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, William Fichtner, Taylor Sheridan and Michael Pena.

The first of two other movies this weekend that probably won't make much of an impact is Den of Thieves, a gritty crime drama that pits an elite Los Angeles Sheriff's department against a team of well-trained outlaws who are addicted to bank heists. In this movie, this team of outlaws attempts a heist on the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Los Angeles. Leading this team of potentially corrupt cops who seem bent on killing all of the outlaws instead of bringing them into custody is Gerard Butler, who is rather famous for his long streak of B-movie action flicks which has recently included "Geostorm," "Gods of Egypt," "London Has Fallen" and "Olympus Has Fallen." Butler's most famous role of this sort came in 2006 when he starred in the popular Zack Snyder film "300" as King Leonidas of Sparta. Either Butler has owned up to this type of role or he just has a lot of bad luck. Pick your choice. Leading the team of outlaws in "Den of Thieves" is Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, and O'Shea Jackson Jr., a continually rising star and son of famous rapper Ice Cube. "Den of Thieves" has the potential to hit it's niche target audience, but isn't likely to make a huge dent with general audiences.

Last and possibly least on this weekend will be the romance drama Forever My Girl. While "Den of Thieves" will be aiming for the male audience who love the intense, gritty action films, "Forever My Girl" will hope to mainly attract the teenage girl crowd as the movie is about a fictional country star Liam Page who previously left his girl behind in pursuit of a music career. As it turns out, his girl found out she was pregnant just a couple of weeks after what was supposed to be their wedding day, after Liam had abandoned her. But now Liam learns for the first time that he now has a seven-year-old daughter that his girl never told him about and so he wants to come back and be a part of their lives. You could probably predict exactly what's going to happen with that premise and the target audience will want nothing less than to see those events unfold, so this could hit well. The biggest red flag for me is that this is distributed by Roadside Attractions, whose largest opening weekend ever came in 2011 when "The Conspirator" opened to $3.5 million. They've never opened a movie in more than 813 theaters as they rely on small releases with positive word of mouth to drive their films. So don't look for this to be a very huge release at all. At least not initially.

January 26th - 28th-

The final weekend of January only has one new wide release and that's a movie that could've played well had not extenuating circumstances forced the movie to be postponed. We're of course talking about Maze Runner: The Death Cure. This final chapter of the "Maze Runner" trilogy was supposed to come out in February 2017, but after principal photography began in March 2016, lead star Dylan O'Brien was severely injured on set and hospitalized after a stunt gone wrong left him with a concussion, a facial fracture, severe brain trauma and possibly more that postponed filming for an entire year while he recovered. The injury nearly ended his acting career, but luckily he has made a full recovery and is back in front of the camera. The unfortunate consequences for the franchise, though, is that it's now been nearly three years since "The Scorch Trials" came out in September 2015, which was a movie that wasn't well-liked in the first place. Since then, the genre has been completely run into the ground as "The Hunger Games" finale under-performed and "The Divergent" series completely imploded as the second to last movie performed so poorly that the final movie never even happened. Do people really care about the "Maze Runner" franchise anymore? Is there anyone even remotely interested in the genre as a whole? Probably not.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movies of 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe

The year is coming to a close and while it makes sense to reflect on 2017 before looking forward to 2018, I do things a bit backwards on this blog because January is right around the corner and I want to get this yearly preview out before our first slate of January releases come in. Meanwhile, before I give you my favorite and least favorite movies of 2017, I'm holding out for a few final movies to see that opened in limited release in December and are expanding in January. So I do it this way. I've done a yearly movie preview every year on this blog because it's fun to do, but this specific format of "The Good, the Bad and the Maybe" I've been doing since 2014. I tried it out that year and found it to be a fun way to talk about a whole bunch of movies in the upcoming year, so I've doing it ever since. It's fairly self-explanatory, but I have this separated into three categories: "The Good," the movies I'm excited for; "The Bad," the movies I'm dreading; and "The Maybe," the movies that I'm on the fence about. The order I put them in is by release date, not by most anticipated or least anticipated. The dates listed are the current release dates as of the publishing of this post, which could change as the year goes on. So without further ado, let's dive in and explore the movies of 2018!


The Good:




Paddington 2 - January 12
I absolutely adored "Paddington" when it came out two years ago. I proudly own the movie on DVD. So I'd be excited for this movie even if I hadn't already known the reaction to this sequel. Being that this is a primarily British property, they got first crack at it as it was released in the U.K. in early November. And they all loved it. Some have told me that this "Paddington" franchise is quickly turning into one of the best family film franchises, so I have every reason to believe that I will also love this sequel.

Untitled Cloverfield Movie - February 2
The "Cloverfield" franchise has always been shrouded in secrecy when it comes to the making of the movies. I remember not including "10 Cloverfield Lane" in my 2016 yearly preview because I didn't know the movie existed when I typed that. And neither did anyone else until the trailer dropped in January. But that was a March release. This movie is scheduled for a month from now and we've not even heard anything. No poster. No trailer. No official title (even though it's been rumored for a while that this could be "Cloverfield: God Particle"). Either they're going to have to postpone it again or they're going to have to give us SOMETHING here soon. Right? They can't just drop this is in theaters without giving us any trailers. Or could they? That would totally be a "Cloverfield" thing to do. But whenever we get it, I'm excited. 

The 15:17 to Paris - February 9
The movie about those three Americans a couple of years ago who stopped a terrorist attack on a Paris train. Starring the actual three Americans as themselves. Directed by Clint Eastwood. They've got my attention.

Black Panther - February 16
"Black Panther" has the opportunity to be as culturally significant to the superhero genre as "Wonder Woman" was last year. We've had black superheroes before and we've had huge blockbusters that have included black superheroes in them. But have we had a major superhero movie dedicated to a black superhero with a predominately black cast to go along with it? Certainly not to this scale. So that's significant. Even if this wasn't a potentially culturally significant movie and we had done that before, I'd still be super excited because Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther was amazing in "Civil War" and I've been highly anticipating his solo adventure ever since. And there's a pretty dang good supporting cast that includes Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown as well as our non-black characters played by Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.

Annihilation - February 23
They had me at "from the writer and director of Ex Machina." If you haven't seen "Ex Machina," you need to because it's mind-blowing. I'm excited to see what this guy has up his sleeve next. Even without the connection, the trailers are really intriguing.

Pacific Rim Uprising - March 23
Listen. "Pacific Rim" is a really dumb movie. But it's also an amazing movie. Perhaps the best dumb movie that's ever been made. And they intentionally did it that way. Which is why is was so great. Just by watching the trailers for "Uprising," I'm extremely excited to again embrace my inner 9-year-old by watching more giant robots fight even bigger giant monsters. I'm ready to embrace the major stupidity of this franchise once again.

Isle of Dogs - March 23
It's Wes Anderson. Enough said. He's the director of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Moonrise Kingdom." Or in this case, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" because he's gone back to animation. If you think this looks weird and goofy, well, that's kinda the point. It's Wes Anderson. I could see this a serious contender to win the best animated feature at the Oscars in 2019. And that's with "Incredibles 2" and "Wreck-It Ralph 2" in the mix. I mean, they nominated "The Grand Budapest Hotel" for best picture. And it wasn't far off from winning.

Paul, Apostle of Christ - March 28
We have a handful of Easter movies on the schedule this year and most of them are showing up in different sections, because, well, I'll get to that. This one looks like the one worth seeing as it feels like it has a similar, serious tone to "The Bible" series. Even though this is separate from those people, who also put together "Son of God," it feels like it came from them. Who this does come from is Affirm Films, who notable did "Risen," "Heaven is for Real" and "Miracles from Heaven," all of which I really enjoyed. Paul's story is also one that's great for cinema as he was a great apostle who began a persecutor of Christians, thus is a more relatable to the general public than other prophets or apostles seem to always have been super holy and righteous. Based on trailers and other promotional videos, I have confident that they are doing his story justice.

Ready Player One - March 30
All I'm looking for with this movie is a fun ride at the movies and I think I'm going to get that. Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors ever and even though he hasn't quite been on his game in recent years like he was in the 80's and 90's (with some major exceptions, of course), but this feels like classic Spielberg and that has me excited. I'm ready to experience a whole bunch of nostalgia vomit like I did with "Stranger Things," but I do think I'm also going to get more than that as this is based on a book that a lot of people love.

A Quiet Place - April 6
I underestimated "Get Out" on last year's list and that ended up being great, so I'm going to put my faith in John Krasinski and say that he's going to pull off a Jordan Peele by going from comedian/actor to excellent horror director. You wouldn't think that Jim from "The Office" would go from that to horror director, but it also seemed strange that one half of the Key & Peele duo would also do the same. "A Quiet Place" obviously won't have the social commentary that caused people to love "Get Out" so much, but I think this will continue our trend of solid horror films that we got from last year that included "Get Out," "It Comes at Night" and "It." At the very least this is a dang good trailer.

The New Mutants - April 16
Speaking of horror films, we're getting an X-Men horror film? When I initially saw this premise, I wanted to facepalm at the fact that we're getting yet another introduction to a group of new mutants because Fox seems more interested in interested in introducing new groups of X-Men than actually continuing their arcs. But then the trailer dropped and I was stunned. Because, yeah. This is a horror film. Thus Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Witch," "Split") and Charlie Heaton ("Stranger Things") are perfectly cast. I commend Fox for continually taking risks after "Deadpool" and "Logan" worked out beautifully. The mid-April release date here is a curious one as this doesn't look like it will be a money maker being so close to "Infinity War." But they'll get my opening weekend ticket.

Avengers: Infinity War - May 4
Speaking of "Infinity War," of course this is my most anticipated movie of 2018. This is what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building towards ever since they dropped the Thanos tease during the credits of "The Avengers" in 2012. That's a five year build-up to one single story arc. And boy I can watch that trailer all day. I practically did when it first came out. Even if this movie ends up as another "Age of Ultron," which I don't think it will, I can at least commend them for making one of the best trailers in recent memory. What I'm most excited for is the epic scale of superhero movie that it looks like this movie has as well as the fact that I don't think this is going to end well. Remember that this was initially titled "Infinity Part 1." They smartly dropped the Part 1 and Part 2 from both films. But that now untitled fourth Avengers movie is still coming out May 2019 that I'm pretty sure will conclude this two part story. Thus I think with this movie, Thanos is going to come in and annihilate the Avengers, leaving us on a somber note that we rarely get in an MCU movie, before Adam Warlock (who was teased at the end of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2") comes in and saves the day in "Avengers 4" in 2019. Thus this could be "The Empire Strikes Back" of the Avengers movies.

Deadpool 2 - June 1
I unashamedly loved "Deadpool," which might be strange to some of you given that the raunchy comedy isn't usually my style. But it wasn't the raunchiness of "Deadpool" that I loved. It was the fourth-wall breaking humor and the absolutely hilarious portrayal of the our famous merc with the mouth by Ryan Reynolds who born to play this character and it was great that they got it right after botching the character in epically horrific fashion in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." I had some minor issues with "Deadpool" that I attribute to origin-story-itis, but now with the origin story out of the way, we have the ability to go all out in this sequel. I'm just mildly nervous that we have the director of "Atomic Blonde" on board here as he proved there that he was the lesser of the "John Wick" directors.

Incredibles 2 - June 15
The one sequel that everyone wanted from Pixar is finally here. Yes, Pixar normally does a lot better when they stick to originals, as they proved once again in 2017 when "Coco" astonished everyone soon after "Cars 3" became their second lowest grossing movie ever, ahead of only "The Good Dinosaur." But, I mean, come on. "The Incredibles" is the type of movie that leaves you wanting more, as is the case with most superhero movies. Yet it took 14 years for Pixar to FINALLY give us that second helping we've all been begging for? Yes, by the time this comes out in June it will have been that long since the original came in 2004. It's about time.

Ant-Man and the Wasp - July 6
I think I was the one person that was on board with "Ant-Man" from day one. Everyone else thought it was a stupid idea, especially when they saw the trailer. I was different. I thought it was a great idea, especially since Ant-Man was one of the founding members of the Avengers. And I thought the trailers were brilliant. People finally jumped on board with me when they went to the movie and found out that it was one of Marvel's funniest films. It was also a low-scale heist film, which was unique for Marvel. And now I hear "Ant-Man and the Wasp" might be a romcom? That's a gutsy move. But I'm excited for it. I'm guessing we'll get our first teaser during the Super Bowl or in front of "Black Panther."

Mission: Impossible 6 - July 27
Sometimes when you get to a sixth film in a franchise, you have franchise fatigue and the quality starts going down. Not here. They keeping upping their game with the M:I franchise and Tom Cruise keeps proving he's ageless as he gets crazier and crazier with these films and the stunts that he does all himself. This was proven in "Rogue Nation" when he ACTUALLY hung off the side of that airplane when it took off. Speaking of "Rogue Nation," which I think was the best film of the franchise - I don't often say that for a fifth film, Christopher McQuarrie from that movie is back on to direct M:I 6, so I have all the confidence in the world for this film. I'm also guessing that this is another Super Bowl trailer that we'll get.

Christopher Robin - August 3
I'm not sure if this will be the official title of this movie, but this seems like the most logical one. Disney has a lot of unique movies coming out this year and I'm not 100 percent confident in all of them, but this one seems like a huge winner. Ewan McGregor will be playing an adult Christopher Robin with Hayley Atwell as his wife. And this kinda sounds like "Hook" in the sense that he's grown up and lost all of his imagination. But then he meets Winnie the Pooh again who will help him rediscover the joy in life. Doesn't that just sound like a huge winner?

Goosebumps 2 - September 21 
I was rather entertained by our first "Goosebumps" movie. It was a fun, nostalgic trip that brought the "Goosebumps" franchise back to the modern day. Given how many books there are, there's a lot of directions they can take this sequel. I'm excited to see which one they take. I just hope they can improve upon the CGI in the first film.

First Man - October 12
I might be biased here because I interviewed Damien Chazelle during my Deseret News internship while they were promoting "La La Land" to the world. But this guy has now made two movies in "Whiplash" and "La La Land" that I own and love that I would confidently declare as masterpieces. It's unfair to expect perfection from every movie Chazelle directs, but I have enough confidence in his abilities as a filmmaker to say that this Neil Armstrong biopic is probably going to turn out to be a good movie. He's got Ryan Gosling with him again playing Neil Armstrong with Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin. That's solid casting there. And we also have Claire Foy, Jon Bernthal and Jason Clarke along for the ride, too.

Mowgli - October 19
I know a lot of people are going to be confused as to why we're getting another "Jungle Book" movie when this movie starts being advertised, which makes me feel really bad for Andy Serkis because he had great ideas for a groundbreaking film in terms of motion capture and visual effects that make you excited coming from the master of motion capture himself. But then Disney stole his thunder with Jon Favreau's live-action remake of "The Jungle Book," which was both very good AND made nearly $1 billion worldwide. Yet I'm still curious as to what Andy Serkis has up his sleeve and I also think it was smart for Warner Bros. to rename this movie "Mowgli" instead of "Jungle Book" or "Jungle Book: Origins" because at least that sets itself aside when it comes to the title. As far as cast goes, we have Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Andy Serkis as Baloo and Cate Blanchett as Kaa. That should get people excited, right?

Mulan - November 2
Disney is going to be doing live-action remakes of everything until they stop making money. Being that "Beauty and the Beast" made $1.2 billion worldwide in 2017 after "The Jungle Book" made $966 million in 2016, they're not going to slow down anytime soon, so we might as well brace for it and hope they do well. "Aladdin," "The Lion King" and "Dumbo" are all coming in 2019 after Disney's interesting slate in 2018. Out of all of these announcements of live action remakes of their classic animated films, "Mulan" is the one that makes the most sense because the whole point of her character was to prove that a society can break tradition and culture by giving females the empowerment they deserve. That was a powerful message back in 1998 that I think will be even more powerful 20 years later as "Mulan" stands the test of time as one of Disney's most relevant films. And it looks like Disney is planning on doing this right by casting Chinese actress Yifei Liu as Mulan. We also have Niki Caro, director of "McFarfland, USA" and "The Zookeeper's Wife," two very underrated films, on to direct.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - November 16
What I love most about the "Fantastic Beasts" movie franchise is that there's no source material for Harry Potter fans to compare it to. I think the Harry Potter movies were mostly all really good, but they were heavily criticized by many who upset that the movies didn't play out quite like they had imagined in their heads. Now all of that is off the table as there's nothing to compare this to, meaning they have the freedom to do what they wish. It's like reading the books all over again because we don't know what's coming next. The first "Fantastic Beasts" was a solid intro to this new spin-off universe and this sequel has a title that just sounds awesome. I'm excited to see Jude Law as our young Dumbledore and I have confidence in Johnny Depp as Grindelwald.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 - November 21 
Did you know that Disney's main branch of animation is fairly new to the game when it comes to sequels of their classic films? And before you freak out at me and name off the thousands of horrible sequels that they've come up with, those were all DisneyToon, their straight-to-DVD branch. The only real sequel that their main branch of animation has done (not counting "Fantasia 2000" or the 2011 "Winnie the Pooh" because those weren't really sequels) was "Rescuers Down Under," which was arguably better than the original. So breathe easy. Disney has this under control. As a fan of the old arcade-style of video games, I thought "Wreck-It Ralph" was genius. Having him run around the internet in the sequel also sounds genius. And if that isn't a good enough selling point, this movie will include every single Disney princess in it, from Snow White to Moana, with most of the original voice actresses who are alive and able to reprise their role. If that doesn't at least have you intrigued, you might be a lost cause.

Aquaman - December 21
I'm giving DC the benefit of the doubt here. With how big of a financial disappointment "Justice League" was, they are in all-out panic mode right now and I don't even think they know what the future of the DCEU looks like, which is why they really need a win for "Aquaman" like they got in 2017 with "Wonder Woman" before "Justice League" blew up in their face. But do you know what? I enjoyed "Justice League." It was a solidly entertaining movie with great character moments and fun action sequences, despite its lack of an interesting story. "Justice League" also introduced us to Jason Momoa's Aquaman and I think Momoa blew it out of the park. I'm excited to see what they have in store. And I think James Wan is a more than capable director who proved with "Furious 7" that he's more than just a horror director as he has the versatility to pull something like this off.

Bohemian Rhapsody - December 25
We don't know what Oscar season is going to look like in 2018. We get a taste with the Sundance Film Festival in January and the Cannes Film Festival in May as to what might be contenders, but it's really not until the major festival season in September and October that we get to see what the real contenders are. I had no idea last year at this time that "Three Billboards," "Lady Bird" or "The Shape of Water" were even a thing. But I'd say there's a decent chance that this Freddie Mercury biopic is a player. And if not, I'm sure that general audiences who are fans of Freddie Mercury and Queen will at least be stoked. I know I'll be one of the first in line to see this. If not on Christmas itself, then shortly thereafter. And if you don't know Rami Malek's name at this point from the acclaimed TV series "Mr. Robot," you'll know his name next Christmas as he's the one playing Mercury.

The Bad:


Insidious: The Last Key - January 5
I watched the first "Insidious" movie a couple of months ago for the first time. I thought it was a really entertaining comedy. The problem is that it was supposed to be a horror film, not a comedy. I have not cared to check out either of the two sequels that have an even worse critic score than that awful original. So why would I be excited about a fourth film that is in the January slot? We're going to find out awfully quick here if I'm right, but I'm predicting that this movie gets universally panned as the trailers make it look awful.

Proud Mary - January 12
Listen, I'm not opposed to a female-led action movie. I embrace that as I really enjoyed "Lucy" and I tried my hardest to enjoy "Atomic Blonde," even though the latter failed miserably. And I like Taraji P. Henson, so I would love it if I was wrong and this movie was epic. But the trailers for this movie make it look like a train wreck. And it has the January release date that gives me no confidence. There's a couple of movies in January that I have hope for, but a lot more that look like they were dumping ground candidates. You hope for the best, but when in doubt just assume a January release is going to be bad. And this coming from the director of "London Has Fallen" gives me even less confidence.

Fifty Shades Freed - February 9
There is one good thing about this movie being released. Once we officially have this out of the way, the "Fifty Shades" trilogy will be officially in the rear view mirror. I know I haven't seen the previous two movies and I'm not planning on seeing this final chapter, so maybe it sounds like I'm ignorantly bashing something I haven't seen, but it's OK to use common sense in certain areas, I think. And I did watch the first 30 minutes of the first movie online before we got to all the sex and nudity, which apparently isn't the least bit sexy, and I already had a really awful taste in my mouth with how horrible the premise, the setup, the acting and the characters all were. And I've read and watched plenty of reviews on both movies to know that those 30 minutes were plenty for me as it apparently only got worse. So let's make this franchise die and burn in Hades.

Peter Rabbit - February 9
From the animation team that brought us "Smurfs: The Lost Village," "The Emoji Movie" and "The Star" in 2017 comes a live action adaptation of something that shares the name with a popular property, but looks like Sony Animation has no idea what or who Peter Rabbit is. I don't even have a strong childhood attachment to this character, but those trailers make me want to get up and take a bathroom break every time they show up in theaters. I feel really bad for those who actually do care about this character.

Tomb Raider - March 16
I want to be excited for this movie and I love Alicia Vikander. But my first thought when I heard about this movie was why are we getting another "Tomb Raider" movie? Video game movies never work anyways and this didn't work the first time around. So why try again? But I did my due diligence and waited for the trailer. And when it came, it did absolutely nothing for me. So again, why are we getting this movie? Are we just planning on turning Alicia Vikander into eye candy like we did for Angelina Jolie? Because my girl Alicia deserves a lot better than that.

Sherlock Gnomes - March 23
The lowest form of humor when it comes to kids movies, or any movie in general, are the poop, butt and fart jokes. It'll make your three-year-old laugh and that's it. And we really should have more wholesome humor for those young kids to laugh at. Yet I watch this trailer and that's literally all this movie has in terms of humor. Endless butt and fart jokes. It makes me cringe. I already want to erase this movie from existence and it hasn't even been released yet. Which is a shame because a Sherlock Holmes movie for kids is a great idea that SHOULD be a lot of fun. This instead looks like a bit disaster.

God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness - March 30
I promise I'm not a grumpy anti-Christian. But I HATED both of these movies with a fiery passion. "God's Not Dead 2" topped my list of worst movies of 2016. Why? Because they're offensively bad. They portray every non-Christian as an evil human being that is going straight to Hell. It's the type of frustratingly horrific arrogance that will and has pushed away non-Christians. Because why in the name of everything good and holy would you want to join a religion full of arrogant idiots who are that hateful towards non-believers? As a strong Christian myself, I hide in shame when it comes to these movies while begging everyone, Christian or not, to avoid these movies like the plague because true Christians do not, I repeat, DO NOT, or at least SHOULD NOT, act the way that they do in these movies or the way that these filmmakers apparently do. These movies are an outright atrocious embarrassment to Christianity and all involved should be ashamed of themselves. That and their storytelling ability is really embarrassing. But that's beside the point.

Mary Magdalene - March 30
On the flip side of things, here's a movie on the opposite side of the spectrum that looks like it comes from a Hollywood director trying to take a Biblical story and turning it into a Hollywood drama that throws all religious elements out the window. I got a "Noah" vibe or even "The Da Vinci Code" vibe. Hollywood productions touching religious subjects that are just off. I hope I'm wrong, but the trailers promised "the untold story of Mary Magdalene." I don't want the "untold" story of Mary Magdalene. I'd rather have the real one. And I don't want Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. That's just weird. This comes from the director of "Lion," though, which I really loved. So I'm hoping it was just a really bad trailer.

Rampage - April 20
Dwayne Johnson fighting giant gorillas, giant wolves and giant crocodiles in a movie based on an 80's arcade game with those giant monsters attacking buildings. From the director of "San Andreas," a movie that I thought was fun because it really didn't take itself too seriously and was amazing in IMAX. This movie looks like it's taking itself way too seriously, especially for a movie based on a silly arcade game with little plot. I want to be excited for this in the same way I'm excited for "Pacific Rim Uprising." But I'm not. And the late April release date says to me that the studio has no confidence in this movie. So why should I have confidence?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - June 22
"Jurassic Park" is one of my favorite childhood movies that got even better when the older I got. I need to refresh myself on "Lost World" and "Jurassic Park III," but I remember enjoying the former and hating the latter. "Jurassic World," though, was a movie that I thought was entertaining, but was more of a dumb action movie with dumb humans doing dumb things in order for us to get mindless dinosaur action. "Mindless" isn't an adjective that should describe the "Jurassic" franchise. And the movie made about $1 billion more than it deserved. Like, seriously. The movie made $650 million domestically and $1.6 billion worldwide. Based on quality, it deserved about $200 million domestically and $500 million worldwide. And that's me feeling generous. Thus I naturally came in skeptic about "Fallen Kingdom." And I'm sorry, I watched the trailer and it did nothing for me. My excitement level for this is at zero. I think it's a giant cash grab that will probably be another dumb, mindless dinosaur movie.

The Purge: The Island - July 4
We didn't get our annual "Purge" movie in 2017 and I wasn't upset at that. When they start reeling out low-budget horror movies likes this on a nearly yearly basis, that's a bad idea that shows their only motivation here is to earn a quick buck rather than make a movie that people might actually care about.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation - July 13
This is a popular franchise for many and I hate to be a downer, but I thought the first movie was very juvenile and uninteresting. If you are an adult and you enjoyed it, I honestly mean no offense. But I felt like it was a movie geared only to kids that I just didn't get. But it's the sequel that really bothered me. It started off with a fantastic message that was very relevant to today, but didn't have the guts to follow through and completely botched it, making me angry. And it also become a cheap copy of "The Incredibles." Enter movie three. And this just looks dumb. Does Sony Animation even have the ability to make a good animated movie anymore?

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - July 20
I know fans of "Mamma Mia!" that are even confused about this sequel. But it'll take you a bit of searching to actually find those fans because it seemed like most people were disappointed in the movie adaptation. So it totally makes sense to give us a sequel a decade later that no one wanted in the first place. At least the original movie was based on something. A really popular Broadway musical. There is no second Broadway musical, so this movie is based on, well, nothing. And that's one of the many major red flags here.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies - July 27 
This title alone makes me want to punch someone in the face. Title aside, I really don't know why we need a theatrical movie of this. The animated "Teen Titans Go!" is popular enough among it's target audience. Can't we just keep it that?

The Equalizer 2 - August 3
Maybe it's a bit harsh of me to include this sequel in this section. "The Equalizer" is an action movie that a lot of people enjoyed and we have the same cast and crew back for this sequel. So maybe this is an action movie that fans of the original will enjoy. But I'm naturally skeptic about sequels these days, especially ones that I'm not sure the world really needed.

The Predator - August 3
I'm mildly intrigued by the fact that Shane Black is directing this remake. He generally makes good movies. But I was also mildly intrigued at Ridley Scott returning to make a couple more "Alien" movies and we all know how that turned out. "Prometheus" was pretty bad and "Alien: Covenant" wasn't that much better. So after failing to milk the "Alien" franchise, Hollywood is returning to "The Predator" franchise. Because we can't just come up with new ideas.

Barbie - August 8
Do I need to even say anything here? They've been trying to do this movie for quite some time now and I have no idea why. And in case you didn't know, this is indeed a live-action "Barbie" movie. It got all sorts of negative controversy when Amy Schumer almost played the lead role. Now we have Anne Hathaway as Barbie and even though that's better, I still think this is a movie that they should just give up on and drop.

Scarface - August 10
I know the popular 1983 "Scarface" was also a remake. But why can't we be satisfied with the movies we have? We do we have to remake everything? Let's leave "Scarface" alone. As well as everything else in the 80's.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls - September 21
What in the heck is this, you might ask? It's definitely a title that grabs your attention. But I'm putting this on here because it's Eli Roth directing. He's obsessed with his gross, unnecessary gore-fests. Eli Roth should just stop directing movies.

Robin Hood - September 21
No one cares about Robin Hood anymore, just like no one cared when Guy Ritchie tried to make King Arthur a thing in 2017. We have too many versions of Robin Hood and we don't need anymore. I don't even care that Taron Edgerton is starring. He's a great actor who should make better decisions than agreeing to be in our upteenth Robin Hood movie.

Smallfoot - September 28
2017 was a really bad year for animated movies. Sure, we did get "Coco" and "The LEGO Batman Movie," but for every one good animated movie in 2017, we seemed to get three more that were trash. So excuse me for being bitter towards these animated movies where I watch the trailer and it just looks like it is only capable of being enjoyed by a 3-year-old.

Halloween - October 19
I actually reviewed the original "Halloween" on my blog in 2017. It's a solidly entertaining horror film that creeps me out more than most horror films. But the franchise as a whole was partially responsible for the annoying trend of making endless horror sequels even when people stopped caring. And with this franchise, people haven't given a crap for nearly 30 years, but for some reason Hollywood keeps going. Because it's easy to make a few quick bucks by making a horror movie with a title people recognize. Now I'm sure this remake will do a better job than Rob Zombie's unwatchable remake, but that's not saying much. I wish this franchise could die and that we could instead come up with more original horror movies.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch - November 9
I'm sure this will be another wtf moment of 2018. Everyone loves the story of the Grinch. Classic Christmas tale from Dr. Seuss that became a great little animated special back in the day. And on record, Ron Howard's 2000 live action movie starring Jim Carrey has always been a personal favorite. I watched it on Netflix on Christmas this year and again loved it. It totally holds up as not only a hilarious Grinch movie, but also has a lot of heart and depth to it with a powerful Christmas message. So why can't we be happy with what we have? Illumination is on a solid streak financially, but their quality of film is extremely spotty, thus I'm going to be the Grinch when it comes to this latest remake of this story unless they can somehow justify this movie's existence. Because at this point I seen no reason for this movie.

Holmes & Watson - November 9
This is the second Sherlock Holmes movie that has found its way on this portion of this list. This time around it's because we have Will Ferrell playing Sherlock Holmes and John C. Reilly playing Watson. What in the frack are they planning here? This just sounds like a bad Sherlock comedy that should never happen. But maybe with the right director? Yeah, looking up the director is what convinced me to move this from the maybe section to the bad section. This comes from Etan Cohen. No, not Ethan Coen from the Coen Brothers. Etan Cohen. The director of the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy "Get Hard" that absolutely no one liked.

Bumblebee - December 21
One of the things that made me really happy about 2017 was that we collectively rejected the "Transformers" franchise. The second "Transformers" movie, "Revenge of the Fallen," made $402 million domestically. Even though three and four digressed in the U.S., they still made over $1 billion worldwide. The most recent one from 2017, "The Last Knight"? It only made $130 million domestically and $605 million worldwide. That proves to Michael Bay that the world actually can reject this franchise if no effort is made into putting together a decent movie. But Paramount is going to keep trying, anyways. I say Paramount in this instance because this "Bumblebee" spin-off will be the first of the recent "Transformers" movie NOT directed by Michael Bay. It's directed by the dude who did "Kubo and the Two Strings." So maybe this can be good? I'm not crossing my fingers, though. Until proven otherwise, all "Transformers" movies go in this section.


The Maybe:




The Commuter - January 12
We have an odd trend recently where train movies are becoming popular. In 2016 we had "The Girl on the Train" and in 2017 we had "Murder on the Orient Express." In 2018, we start out with two train movies at the beginning of the year. "The 15:17 to Paris" in February and "The Commuter" in a week. "The Commuter" stars Liam Neeson trying to deal with some conflict on a train. Immediately my brain went to "Taken" and I was nervous. But then my brain corrected itself. This is from the director of "Non-Stop," the 2014 Liam Neeson whodunit mystery movie on a plane. With that in context, "The Commuter" looks like "Non-Stop," but on a train instead of a plane. And that makes me kinda excited.

12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers - January 19
War movies in January have been a really popular thing recently. "Lone Survivor," "American Sniper" and "13 Hours" all did well in January. "12 Strong" looks to continue that trend and it has a premise that is intriguing enough that it could work. Although I'm playing the wait and see game, just because it is January and "13 Hours," while decent, didn't necessarily blow me away and "American Sniper" I was very mixed on. And this is January, so...

Maze Runner: The Death Cure - January 26
I really feel bad for the "Maze Runner" franchise. The first two movies came out in consecutive years, 2014 and 2015. The finale really should've come out in 2016 or 2017 at latest in order for people to still care. But star Dylan O'Brien got hurt on the set of "The Death Cure," which postponed this movie for like a whole year. That was something tragic that's completely out of their control, but the unfortunate consequence is that I don't think anyone cares anymore. But they're going to try to salvage this anyways. We'll see how it goes. I enjoyed most of the first movie, but not the ending. And I didn't care for "The Scorch Trials."

Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built - February 2
It makes me nervous putting horror movies in the good section because it's often hard to predict which ones are going to be good and which ones are going to be complete crap. I took a gamble with "A Quiet Place" and "The New Mutants," but I'm slightly less confident in this "Winchester" movie. It claims to be a movie based on the most haunted house ever and it has a really good trailer, so I'm hoping we go "The Conjuring" route with this, but I realize that this could also go the cliche haunted house route as well.

Samson - February 16
Out of all the Biblical characters to make a movie out of, Samson makes the most sense as his story is rather intriguing. And this does come from a Christian studio, so I'm not worried about it being too weird. But the specific studio here is Pure Flix and I'm not sure I completely trust their judgment. I'm more excited about "Paul, The Apostle of Christ" and certainly less excited about "Mary Magdalene" and "God's Not Dead 3." With this one I'm planning on playing it by ear. The trailers looked really bad, but maybe they're just not good at putting together trailers.

Game Night - February 23
The trailers for this movie look absolutely hilarious, reminding me of "The Man Who Knew Too Little" with this group of people who think they are enjoying a harmless game night rather than the serious situation that they're actually in. But I'm not letting myself be totally sold by the trailers John Francis Daley and Johnathan Goldstein who did the recent "Vacation" movie that few people liked and got fired from (or chose to leave?) "Spider-Man: Homecoming." So this could be a really bad comedy with a great trailer. I hope not, though. I want this to work.

Alpha - March 2
I first saw this trailer when I went to see "The Last Jedi." And I saw it both other times that I also saw "The Last Jedi." Each time I watched it, I had completely forgotten what the movie was even called. It's a survival movie with primitive people 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. So it seems like a forgettable movie. But it seemed like a mildly interesting enough movie to include on this list, even if we might forget about it shortly after.

Red Sparrow - March 2
I want this movie to be a good action thriller, much like I wanted "Atomic Blonde" to be a good action thriller. From the trailer, it looks like it could go in that direction and I really like Jennifer Lawrence, so I'm holding out hope that this could be a good female led thriller, but I'm also not 100 percent convinced, especially because it could end up like what "Atomic Blonde" ended up as. I also hope they don't push the sexual angle too heavily because I want J-Law to be a good female character, not an empty, sexualized piece of eye candy.

A Wrinkle in Time - March 9
A put "Christopher Robin" and "Mulan" in the good section of my list because I'm confident that those will be good live-action movies from Disney. There's three others that I'm putting in this maybe section, with this being the first of three. Personally I just don't know enough about "A Wrinkle in Time" to be excited about the fact that this is being made and I don't know enough to know if the trailers are doing it justice or not. I'm just looking at this from a casual perspective and this looks like a super trippy movie. I just don't know if that's a good trippy or a bad trippy. The trailers are super effective, but that's also because of the song "Sweet Dreams are Made of This" is perfectly incorporated. So I'm playing the wait and see game.

Chappaquiddick - April 6
I think I put this movie here just because of the title. I've also seen this movie floating around the release schedule for a while now and I've never been sure when it will land. It seems like they're committing to this April release date, which makes me feel less confident because an April release date says that the studio isn't confident enough to give this a proper Oscar push, which seems like the place a Ted Kennedy biopic should belong. Maybe this will come and go without any people realizing, but I'm still mildly intrigued, especially with the huge cast.

Slenderman - May 18
I fully realize that this could be a really bad horror movie, but I am extremely amused by the fact that we are actually getting a Slenderman movie. I'm not angry or excited. Just amused.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - May 25
Well this is a weird spot to put a Star Wars movie, especially after I've become a non-stop, extremely vocal supporter of "The Last Jedi" being one of the best Star Wars movie. But I think it's safe to say that the whole world is currently in a state of skepticism and have been ever since this was announced. The fact that the fired the directors towards the end of production and hired Ron Howard to redo the thing, keeping their May release date, has me more nervous. Lots of drama on set. And not enough time to make a proper movie with a rushed release date? I would've been fine if they postponed it to December in order to get it right. Then there is the initial issue of everyone being nervous about Han Solo being played by someone other than Harrison Ford. In the history of cinema, there may never be bigger shoes to fill. We'll see if Alden Ehrenreich is up to the challenge. If not, he can go talk to Hayden Christensen about what it's like to move forward with life after disappointing Star Wars fans by not properly portraying an iconic Star Wars character in a prequel movie. This is a Lawrence Kasdan script and it seems like Kasdan fought hard to make sure his movie was done right. I just hope the final result is satisfactory. If not, this movie could be in trouble.

Ocean's 8 - June 8
I'm not a fan of being politically correct just for the sake of being politically correct. The only reason why this movie, as well as the 2016 "Ghostbusters" remake, was made is to push a feminist movement. That's not necessarily a bad thing because I'm certainly a fan of having more female representation in major Hollywood roles. I'm just concerned about the overall quality of films and if your main motivation is to push a political movement forward rather than making a solid movie, you could sacrifice the quality of the movie and thus fail in your final goal. The reason why "Wonder Woman" ended up being a culturally significant movie in 2017 was that their main goal was to make a good movie that happened to have a female lead and thus they ended up with an iconic film that entertained audiences and gave millions of girls around the world a hero to look up to. Our female "Ghostbusters" will end up as a forgotten movie because, while not as bad as many expected, they didn't spend enough time making a good movie and spent to much time on pushing the feminist movement. If that makes sense. So what are we going to get with "Ocean's 8"? Are we going to get another "Wonder Woman" or are we going to get another "Ghostbusters"?

Sicario 2: Soldado - June 29
"Sicario" is a fantastic film that is intense and dark. One of Denis Villeneuve's many great films. It's not the type of movie that really lends itself to a sequence and is not the type of movie that you would expect to get a sequel. Now if Denis Villeneuve said that he had more story that he wanted to tell here, then I would put my full trust in him because he hasn't disappointed me yet. But this is not him directing this movie, so it has me nervous. It's Stefano Sollima instead, who I've never hear of. Was this a situation where the filmmakers decided there was more to tell or was this the studio demanding more. Luckily we do have Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the screenplay to "Sicario," back writing this movie. So maybe it was his idea that sparked this sequel and they just couldn't get Denis on board for whatever reason.

The Nun - July 13
"The Conjuring" cinematic universe expands. We've had two Conjuring movies, two Annabelle movies and now we get "The Nun," which is a spin-off based on that creepy Nun character from "The Conjuring 2." I do think both Conjuring films are enjoyable, even though I was upset at them pushing the true story angle as hard as they did because none of this was actually a true story and they should just own up to that and make a good film. I have not seen "Annabelle," but I really enjoyed "Annabelle: Creation," so I'm mostly on board with this universe. As long as we get an effectively creepy movie about this Nun, I will be satisfied. That's not asking too much, is it?

Alita: Battle Angel - July 20
I don't really know much about "Alita" outside the fact that I was looking at the summer schedule a month ago and was wondering what the heck this movie was, only to have it drop during "The Last Jedi." Then I was like, oh. That's what that is. A James Cameron screenplay that's produced by Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Based on the graphic novel manga series "Gunnm." Sounds like we're trying to cash in on the "Ghost in the Shell" success here with another cyborg-led movie in a post-apocalyptic world. I didn't hate "Ghost in the Shell" as much as some people did, even though it wasn't even close to even being on the same level as the source material. So I'm not upset at this, nor am I super excited.

The Meg - August 10
We've had two shark movies recently that both surprised me with "The Shallows" and "47 Meters Down." I read the premise for this one and I just beamed with dumb excitement because this latest shark movie stars Jason Statham. Jason Statham fighting a giant shark sounds like it could be an entertainingly dumb movie worth seeing.

A Star is Born - October 5
I know I've been rightfully harsh on remakes in this list, which is why this isn't good in the good category, but I am optimistically curious about this one. "A Star is Born" was a successful 1937 movie musical that was remade in 1957 with Judy Garland and remade again with Barbara Streisand in 1976. And now we're going for our third remake. Instead of going for my normal statement by saying why don't we watch the others and be happy with that, I'm instead noticing that this is the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper. Great actors turning into directors intrigues, even though it equates to various levels of success. In addition to also starring Bradley Cooper, this stars Sam Elliott, Bonnie Somerville, Anthony Ramos, Lady Gaga and Dave Chappelle. So I'm curious to see what Bradley Cooper has up his sleeve.

Venom - October 5
I really have no idea what Sony is doing with their "Spider-Man" franchise and I'll say that again here in a bit. But thanks to Marvel's help, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" really worked out and we're getting that movie's sequel in 2019. So why is Sony trying to be smart by breaking off and doing their own thing with their other Spider-Man properties. I want to see Venom show up in one of the "Spider-Man: Homecoming" sequels as a proper villain/anti-hero that "Spider-Man 3" really botched. I'm less interested is seeing him in his own thing that is separate from Spider-Man. But this does have Tom Hardy as Venom and I'm pretty sure the movie will also include Carnage. So maybe this will work out. But I'd still rather see Venom and Carnage in a Spider-Man movie and I don't think that Sony is planning on that.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix - November 2 
I thought we already did this story arc. And it successfully killed the initial X-Men franchise, causing them to start over with "X-Men: First Class." Yes, I'm talking about X3, which I think I was one of four people on earth who actually enjoyed. But still. Why are we doing this again? Is the idea to do it properly this time around? After they fell flat on their face with "Apocalypse," I'm not so sure "Dark Phoenix" is a great idea. Maybe it'll fail enough that it'll kill the X-Men franchise again, setting the stage for Marvel to completely press the reset button when they are officially ready to take over the X-Men and implement them into the MCU.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - November 2
The second Disney live-action movie that I'm not completely sold on. Much like "A Wrinkle in Time," I also don't know much about "The Nutcracker" outside loving the music, so this seemed like an odd thing to adapt. But hey, maybe there's a goldmine waiting to be discovered here. Or maybe it'll be another "Alice in Wonderland" like many that many are worried it'll become. Personally I'm more nervous about the line in the trailer "the legend you know has a dark side." Or something like that. Trying to put dark twists on known stories doesn't usually work out. Just stick to telling the story that we, or other people more familiar with this, already know. But hey, that trailer version of the song "The Dance of the Sugarplum Faries" was awesome. So at least there's that.

Widows - November 16
I don't know enough about this movie to determine if it's an actual Oscar contender or not. I just noticed it's from director Steve McQueen, who won best picture with his movie "12 Years a Slave." So maybe he'll be back in the race this year? Starring is Elizabeth Debicki, Jon Bernthal, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall and Viola Davis. That's seems like good enough ammunition.

Mortal Engines - December 14
Peter Jackson has officially come out of hiding after his awful Hobbit trilogy that partially damaged his legacy as he's no longer just the man known for "The Lord of the Rings." But he's also the man who stretched a single prequel book into three unnecessarily long movies. And he hasn't done anything since. And he's not directing "Mortal Engines," but he is on as producer. We already have a teaser trailer despite it being a year out and it looks... really strange. A post-apocalyptic world with cities on wheels rushing around attacking other cities.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - December 14
Back to Sony. This is their animated Spider-Man movie that I've always seen as their back-up plan in case their third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise also failed. Well, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" worked, thanks to Marvel. But Sony is still moving forward with this solo Spider-Man adventure where we finally introduce Miles Morales, the black Spider-Man people have been wanting for a long time. And a lot of other Spider-Mans? Because this is based on a Spider-Man story arc where a lot of people wear the Spider-Man outfit. I don't know, we still have DC doing their animated Batman movies, so I guess I'm not opposed to this. But I don't know the necessity of this movie and it also has the Sony Animation Studios label behind. Do I need to remind you what that studio has done recently?

Mary Poppins Returns - December 25 
Our final Disney live action movie in this maybe section. This one I'm actually more optimistic about because I'm very well-versed on my Mary Poppins. That's one of my favorite musicals. I don't know if I should admit that I put this in here to balance things out so that we have an equal number of movies in each category. But maybe I should instead say that I'm not sure we necessarily need Mary Poppins to return when we can go back and watch the lovely original or even "Saving Mr. Banks," the movie about the making of Mary Poppins. And I'm glad this is a sequel and not a remake. But are they going to be able to conjure up a new Mary Poppins musical with songs that match the old ones, which I might add are pretty darn iconic. I legitimately question that. But Emily Blunt is a great choice for Mary Poppins. And Dick Van Dyke will be back in the movie. So lets' hope Disney has some magic up their sleeve.