Saturday, September 23, 2017
With the success of "The LEGO Movie" and "The LEGO Batman Movie," it didn't take too much convincing for me to be excited about "Ninjago." Ninjas are cool, I guess. I like the cast in the movie. And the trailers were fun. So why not? Let's just trust in Warner Bros. and jump right in! The problem here for me was that "The LEGO Movie" was made for people who love LEGOs and "The LEGO Batman Movie" was made for people who love Batman. I am definitely deep into both those crowds. "Ninjago" was a completely unknown entity for me. Since the announcement and trailers for "Ninjago," I learned there's a popular kids TV show called "Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu" that aired its seventh season earlier this year that has also sparked (or perhaps vice-versa?) a whole brand of Ninjago LEGO sets that are some of LEGO's most popular sets. So I suppose it makes sense. But who's the audience here? How are they going to make this movie appeal to adults and kids this time around when most adults probably aren't super aware of "Ninjago" unless they have kids who love the series and the LEGO sets? Or have they decided to just ignore the adult crowd this time around and make a LEGO Movie specifically for the kids?
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense as to why this story is just a mess. And even though I know nothing about "Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu," I got the premonitions after watching this that the movie had absolutely nothing to do with the TV show. After reading a brief few things from a few people, I think my premonitions might be right and thus it's possible that your kids who love that show might walk away a bit confused as to what in the heck they just watched and why it has nothing to do with their TV show outside outside character names and character designs. That's all I'll say about that, given my limited knowledge of the show. Just a potential fair warning there. What we do have is a story that you can predict from the second you watch the trailers and a movie that thinks it's as smart as "The LEGO Movie" but really just had me bewildered as to how off it was. Kinda like the young 10-year-old kid who is confidently trying to sound as smart as his older brother, but is really just pulling at straws with no one wanting to be brave enough to tell him that all the knowledge he's spouting off is completely wrong. That's how "Ninjago" felt to me. The confident, yet clueless little brother to "The LEGO Movie." Thus I walked out of the theater really disappointed.
As far as specifics go, I do feel the need to talk about two plot points. Both were featured highly in the trailers and neither are actually spoilers. However, if you've read enough from this review and/or you haven't seen the trailers, you don't have to proceed if you don't want me talking about plot points. If you don't mind, then allow me to continue. Our main story arc in this movie follows a young teenage kid named Lloyd, whose secret identity is one of the Ninjas protecting the city. His father is the evil Lord Garmadon who daily attacks the city. Getting Luke/Darth Vader vibes just by me saying that? Yeah, we'll get to that. The other major plot point is that of a cat attacking the city. That I actually thought was a spoiler, thus I wasn't going to mention it in this review. But as it turns out, the whole father/son thing is more of a spoiler than the cat. Yes, it's a giant, live action cat that has seemingly jumped onto the LEGO set and started to play with the buildings, not helped by the fact that Lord Gardadon has a laser pointer that the cat loves playing with. Yeah, this is kind of a funny gag that had me laughing. However, I thought that this cat duel was going to be the final boss fight for our ninjas. No. The cat shows up at the beginning and is the main conflict throughout the movie.
I suppose there's enough fun to be had in this movie that it's a passable film, especially for younger kids that are dying to see another new movie since it's been a couple months. In comparing this movie to the likes of "Cars 3" or "Despicable Me 3," I was certainly a lot less frustrated this time around. I didn't hate life and I wasn't completely bored to tears. The cat stuff is fun for a while and the adventures that the group of ninjas go on, led by Jackie Chan's Master Wu as their teacher, were decent. There were a few fun LEGO ninja fights. But the movie was also trying way too hard to be as clever as "The LEGO Movie" instead of doing its own thing. Lloyd was too much like Emmet. Lord Garmadon was too much like Lord Business. The message was fine and you got a few feel goods, but it also mirrored "The LEGO Movie" quite a bit. There was even a live action element to the movie that starts this film off and feels completely forced and unnecessary this time around. If your kids were looking forward to this movie, you should take them if you have the time and money because they'll probably enjoy it. But if you can convince them to wait until the DVD release, that might be best. My grade for "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" is a 7/10 and even that feels a bit too nice.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Yet another slight problem with this movie is the title. "Detriot" is super vague. I thought about telling my facebook friends that I'm going to Detroit. And I'm sure many of them may have thought that I had found a job in Detroit and decided to move there, because back in August I hadn't quite yet figured out my housing situation. That would've been funny. But it proves a point. Vague title. If you don't look at any of the posters or watch any of the trailers, you'll have no clue as to what this will be about or what genre it is. Maybe that was even a part of the problem when it actually came to theaters. Casual audiences come to the theater and see "Detroit" on the box office ticker, get confused and buy a ticket for something else, like "Spider-Man: Homecoming" or "Dunkirk." So what part of the city of Detroit is this about and in what time period? Well, this has certainly nothing to do with the Detroit Lions of the NFL, even though I'm ironically watching the Lions play right now as I type this review. This movie is about the Detroit riots that happened back in the 1960's. Specifically this is about an isolated incident in the midst of those riots at a place called the Algiers Motel. In fact, if I had a say in things, I would've titled this movie "The Algiers Motel."
It's safe to say that life in the 1960's was tough if you were black. Racism was practically at an all-time high and tensions around the country were crazy as America tried to integrate the Civil Rights movement by integrating our country and getting rid of racism, which caused a lot of opposition from opponents of integration. And while we mostly focus on the south when it comes to movies like this, showing other parts of the country during times like this was really interesting to me, especially since Detroit currently is still one of the most violent, crime-ridden cities in the country. I can't imagine what it was to live there as a black person during the 60's. It must've been super rough. Thus as we went through this movie, I became increasingly nervous about the safety of our main characters. They did a great job of setting them up as great people who really did nothing wrong that were caught up in an awful city with awful things happening. I really wanted them to make it out safe and alive, but when the police stormed in, I had no idea if they were. In fact, I was pretty sure that I was in for an unhappy ending, which just ripped my heart to shreds. How is it that such awful things like this event could've actually happened in this country? It's a real shame that racism was once this bad.
Yeah. I'm sure you know where I'm now going to take this review. There are a lot of times with cinema where you watch something and are ashamed that certain events actually happened in this country. I love this country, but I'd be lying if I were to claim there were no dark moments in our history. The Civil Rights movement certainly had a lot of these moments with how blacks were treated and this movie definitely made me sad and ashamed. But then I turn on the news. Yeah, it's still happening. And despite me not liking the August release for this movie, it's really interesting that this came out at almost the exact same time as the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. And it's insane how closely this movie parallels those events. So much that you can say that "Detroit" is probably the most relevant movie out at this point. I mean, you can totally understand why the police reacted the way they did. They heard gunfire and they thought they were being shot at. But in my opinion, despite this proper motivation for raiding the place, they crossed so many lines and it was horrific seeing the events unfold and thus the police were totally in the wrong. Imagine if the president at the time came out and said there was fault on both sides. Catch my vibe?
The other person that has to get a ton of credit for this movie is Will Poulter. He plays the main police officer who is leading this raid and man is he good at being the most despicable human being. I won't say what he does, but he spent the whole movie filling me with unbearable rage. Like, I look at his picture right now and my blood just boils. I have to remind myself that in real life he's probably a really nice kid. But he's certainly really good at playing the annoying pest in the movie, as was also evident with him perfectly portraying Eustace in the third "Chronicles of Narnia" movie. Now Eustace is all grown up and deserves an Oscar nomination due to how successfully evil he was in this movie. Too bad Annapurna dropped the ball big time with this movie, making it so he probably won't get one. But it's deserving. And in fact, a question arose as to who should play the Joker in the upcoming Joker spin-off movie that DC announced that is apparently disconnected with the DCEU as a whole and will not bring back Jared Leto's Joker. I don't get what's happening with DC, but that's a conversation for another day. But if we're going to do that, then Will Poulter deserves to be cast as the Joker, because if he's as evil in that movie as he was in this one, he would make for one dang good Joker.
Again, I apologize for not doing my part by seeing this movie earlier and getting my review out when this movie was still in theaters. But as I have made up for my mistake by finally writing this review, you should also make up for your mistake if you were one who decided to skip this movie. It needs to be seen. It's well directed. It's super intense. It's the most relevant film you'll see all year. The only issue I had with the movie is that it probably should've ended before it actually did. In a super non-spoilerific, vague way, I think after certain things happened, certain other things should've been told by giving us some text to read instead of spending the time to detail it out in the movie. I don't normally say that. In fact, in some instances it's the exact opposite. But after such a crazy, intense ride throughout, it did deflate things a bit. But that's all I have to say negative about this. This deserves to be a best picture nominee. Bigelow deserves a nod for best director. Poulter deserves a best actor nomination. But sadly that may not happen. But regardless of all the politics that may surround the Oscars, this deserves your time and your money. I spent the whole movie on the edge of my seat and given the timing, this movie made a big impact on me. Thus I'm going to give "Detroit" a 9/10.
Friday, September 15, 2017
First of all, I want to make it very clear as to what this movie is NOT. After watching the trailers, I had the feeling that Aronofsky was planning on making this crazy horror/thriller and I was very intrigued by this home invasion horror film that I thought was being advertised and those trailers were so mysterious and intriguing that I decided to not read any reviews or reaction before heading in because I wanted to be surprised by this crazy thriller without getting any hints as to what this movie was about or what the crazy twist at the end was that I thought was going to be heading my way. If you want to have the same experience as I did and go in blind, I highly recommend that. This is divisive and crazy enough that it's probably better to go in without any preconceived notions and just experience this for yourself. So I would recommend to close this review and go watch it. Then come back and discuss with me after finishing this review. I'm not going to dive into spoilers, but I do want to give my thoughts and that's going to require me to do a little more hinting at what this movie is actually about. But just note this. This is not a horror movie. And it's not a thriller. Yes, the trailers are extremely deceiving. So don't go in expecting one or you're going to be disappointed.
I almost want to compare this to "2001: A Space Odyssey," which, historically speaking, was a movie that was so crazy and insane, that critics of the time, who were required to throw out an opinion right away, gave very negative reviews to. Over time, though, after years and decades of deep analysis, the movie has been rightfully enshrined as one of the greatest movies ever made. I don't know what the reputation of "mother!" will end up as and I'm not going to predict that it will end up that way, but I think "mother!" parallels that in the sense that this is a very strange movie that requires a lot of thought and discussion to rightfully unpack everything that it has to say. If you try to make it a simplistic film with one black and white message that Aronofsky is trying to get across, then I think you might be missing the mark here. Same thing goes with "2001." I know people who watched it once, thought it was awful and didn't want to think any more about it. And that's perfectly alright. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Everyone has different reasons for watching movies that come with different expectations. Strange and weird with lots of metaphorical commentary packed into one film is certainly not for everyone and I won't blame you if you hate this film.
Plot-wise, this seems very simple. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem live together as husband and wife in a quiet, country home away from most of society. Bardem is a writer and poet who's going through huge writer's block while Lawrence has spent most of her time fixing this home up because it has been in very rough condition. Then they get a visitor in the form of Ed Harris, who is a doctor that thought this was a simple bead and breakfast. He stays the night and shortly after, his wife also shows up. Then more people show up. Then things happen. And if you saw the trailers, that's exactly what you expected to happen. But each individual in this story represents something or someone. Each event that happens represents something that is happening in the real world today. Or perhaps in the past. Or maybe both. Then after we get through that initial premise is when things start to get really weird. Then the weirdness increases exponentially to the point where I had no idea what any of this meant or why it was happening. I've since pondered on it and had my initial thoughts. I've also read and listened to a lot of other people giving their thoughts. And the big thing that I've concluded is that I'm not sure there is one right or wrong answer. I personally find that fascinating.
This whole thing really fascinates me. I love a movie that can spark discussion. I love a movie that it vague and mysterious enough that two people can have two completely different takes on it and both potentially be right. Granted, there's a balance with movies like this. If you go too off the deep end, you might lose your audience. And perhaps that's happened with some people here. If it's not your cup of tea, that's fine. But I personally think Aronofsky found the right balance. This is obviously not the first time Aronofsky has used a film to express his thoughts and opinions on the world. In fact, he's done that with all the films I've watched of his. And yes, with "Noah," I have been on the negative end of Aronofsky's political and social commentary. I thought it was the wrong platform to use the story of Noah in the Bible to vent about Aronofsky's environmentalism views, especially with how much he twisted the story into near blasphemy. So if "mother!" is your "Noah," I understand. But it worked for me this time. I saw a man concerned about the state of society who decided to use this crazy story about a husband and wife living in this secluded country home to express all of his frustrations about the world in a fascinatingly complex, allegorical story.
If I were to pick out one major negative about the film, it's that I'm not sure the movie had quite the impact on me as Aronofsky was probably hoping for. Given that I watched "Requiem for a Dream," "Black Swan" and "mother!" for the first time all in one week, I will say that the former two are weighing a lot heavier on my mind than "mother!" currently is. Those two feel more impactful and important. But we'll see what happens when the dust settle. I will definitely say this movie is very gripping and mesmerizing. We have unique camera work with Jennifer Lawrence being front and center for most of the film while the camera follows her as if this were a third person video game point of view. We have great sound design and visuals, as are present in all of Aronofsky's films. And the whole cast are very committed to their performances with Jennifer Lawrence especially going all in on whatever the heck Aronofsky told her to. If this gives her yet another Oscar nomination, this just might be the most deserving of the bunch. But again, how this movie ends up playing out in my mind for the future is uncertain, thus it feels unfair to give it a grade at the moment, but it currently has my stamp of approval and I'd say it feels right to give it an 8/10.
Friday, September 8, 2017
That aside, with all the hype that "IT" has been getting and the huge money totals it's about to take in, is it worth it? Should you drop all you are doing and go see the latest iteration of Pennywise the dancing clown terrorize a new group of young kids? If you are a horror fan and/or you loved Stephen King's novel along with the 1990 TV mini-series, then the answer is yes. Or at least make this a priority at some point during this Halloween season, because I'm sure this will be sticking around throughout the season. Speaking of the novel and mini-series, though, let's talk about those first. Being straight up, I have not read the novel and I did not grow up with the nostalgia of the mini-series. But I made sure to watch the mini-series before seeing this movie. Or at least the first half with them as kids, because that's what the movie is all about. I meant to see the second half with them as adults, but didn't get around to it. That first half, though, I found fascinating. I thought "IT" was all about a killer clown terrorizing people, but there's a lot more depth and psychological aspects to it than I was expecting. There was also a lot of mystery and intrigue to this thing that was haunting them. And I can totally see how it traumatized everyone's childhoods.
As far as the horror elements of the movie, I really like the character of Pennywise. Having not finished the mini-series, nor read the novel, I actually don't yet know all the secrets behind what or who he really is. I just know that he is some sort of demonic clown. What makes him a lot more interesting than your typical demonic presence haunting people is that he preys on the fears of each individual kid and he does so in a way that makes each kid believe that Pennywise is only haunting him or her. Both in the mini-series and in the movie you have the scene with the girl in the bathroom where everything gets covered in blood, and when the father walks in it is obvious that he can't see any of it. Thus the haunting is personal. It's secretive. And it's different for every kid. One kid might be afraid of blood. Another clowns. Another is haunted by a traumatic event in the past. One is afraid of disease. And they all get their time alone in the movie where, out of nowhere, this greatest fear of theirs is brought to life in the most horrific way and is followed up by Pennywise coming out of the haunting, showing that he is boss, that he is responsible and that he is out to get them. And we don't hold back either as Pennywise shows he's not afraid to attack and kill the kids.
In terms of the level of terror, while I found the mini-series fascinating, certain elements of it were a bit outdated and cheesy watching it in 2017. Thus it wasn't as scary to me. I can totally understand how it terrified people back in the day, especially when they were young when they watched it. But I was more fascinated by the angle it took with the horror rather than the horror itself. The movie adaptation was NOT that way. Yes, the angle it took is equally as fascinating, but each sequence of haunting is absolutely terrifying. I've watched enough horror films that I don't get scared at each jump scare or scary image. Thus I almost challenge a movie to actually scare me while doing a great job of making a movie. But this movie got me. Quite a bit. The horror sequences are horror done right. We focus on the lighting and the setup. The score plays a huge role when things are about to get serious. Then we have lots of creepy imagery followed up by Pennywise showing up without you expecting it and either jumping right out and you are chasing you through whatever place you're in. It made for quite the exhilarating thrill ride throughout the whole movie that never lets up. When you're not being flat out terrified, you are nervously anticipating the next time Pennywise shows up.
I think the only minor thing holding this movie back from me giving it an even higher score than you'll see me give it is that this is very much a conventional horror movie. And that's not a knock on the movie. In fact, I'd say it makes it more accessible to general audiences than some other stuff. But I personally find myself gravitating towards the unconventional horror films when it comes to horror films that absolutely blow my mind. Recent horror films that I have given super high praise to include "The Babadook," "The Witch" and "It Comes at Night," all of which are the unconventional route. You know, the type or horror films that me and the critics love while general audiences seem to hate. But that's more of personal preference. "IT" is your typical haunted house type of horror film that most audiences expect and want from a horror movie. Thus it's not going to be as high on my list of horror films as some. But I have to give credit where credit is due and "IT" plays all those typical conventions to perfection, thus I can honestly see this movie becoming a seasonal Halloween classic for many that will definitely ruin the careers of all of the clowns around the world. They might as well just get a new job because no one will want them around. My grade for "IT" is a 9/10.
Monday, September 4, 2017
"Wind River" starts out with a bang as we see a modern Native American girl running bare foot across miles of snow with a rather chilling monologue being repeated as she runs. Around the time the monologue finishes, she collapses in the snow, having reached the limit with whatever she was running from. From that point on, you know you are in for quite the ride. And it's certainly an intense ride that you get, albeit one that takes it's time in setting the scene and building the characters involved in this bleak, depressing tale. Shortly after the girl collapses, we are introduced to our main character of the film, that of Jeremy Renner, who plays a hunter on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. While out on the job, he runs into the body of this now dead Native American girl and thus we embark on this murder mystery thriller in the Wind River Reservation, which proves rather difficult given the scarcity of the police force in the area. They simply don't have the manpower to conduct the type of investigation necessary to easily solve this type of case on the level that us Caucasians do in a typical U.S. city. The best help they get is that of Elizabeth Olsen, the lone FBI agent called from out of town to help work on the case.
Perhaps I'm biased, but I would really love it if Jeremy Renner managed to get an Oscar nomination. I interviewed Jeremy Renner leading up to the movie "Arrival" last year for my internship, which is a fun experience that I enjoy bragging about to my friends. Hence the bias. But I honestly think he does a phenomenal job in this movie. Both him and Elizabeth Olsen. They did such a good job of becoming these characters and bringing the depth and emotion required to pull this off. Despite their extreme recognizability in Hollywood, it didn't even dawn on my until the end of the movie that we were watching Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch from "The Avengers" solve a murder mystery on a Native American reservation. I saw them as these characters in this film and I was fully invested in wanting them to succeed. When popular, recognizable actors can manage to disappear into their roles and make you see them as a character and not an actor, I think that's worthy of high praise. While Renner and Olsen are the leads in this movie, there are plenty of Native American characters in supporting roles who all do a fantastic job of setting the scene for the story that's being told. Simply put, without them there is no movie. You really feel for all them.
I don't really want to say too much about modern Native American culture since I know close to nothing about it. I have no idea if this movie is an accurate portrayal of the type of lifestyle these people go through or not. The struggles that the black community have faced and are still faced is well-reported and documented, which is why the social commentary in movies such as "Get Out" and "Moonlight" is so powerful. I think it's possible that "Wind River" provides similar social commentary for the Native American community, so I think it's possible that this could be an important movie to see, but I simply don't know enough one way or the other. At the very least, this movie gave me a desire to learn more about this culture and what life is like for these people. The awful treatment of the Native Americans back in the early days of this country are certainly well-documented. But how is life like for them now? One of the themes of the movie is that not many of us today are aware of what's going on in their lives on these reservations, which is why this movie made me curious to know more. I imagine life is not super ideal and thus if something awful like a murder of an 18-year-old girl were to happen, it would probably hurt even more.
It's fair to note that "Wind River" won't be for everyone. There are certain scenes that might be too much to handle for some, especially in the final act. But if you love yourself a good crime thriller, this is the movie this year that you need to show up for. There's a lot of build up to set the stage for what's happening. This could bore some. For me I really appreciated how it took the time to build the characters and make you truly care for them and what they are going through. Without all of that, I don't think the finale would be as rewarding as it is. I'm not going to talk spoilers about the final act. That would require a lot more explaining about the plot, anyways. But needless to say there is a moment in the end that punches you in the gut and sends you reeling. It's a very rewarding finale to a rather excellent film that I have to say is held together quite well by the score of the film as well as the beautiful cinematography and landscapes of Park City, Utah, which is right around the corner from where I live. The goal with all of that is to make you feel cold and it worked. I almost wanted to put on a coat in the theater and it was hot outside when I saw the movie. But yeah, don't miss this movie if thrillers are your thing. It's a highlight of 2017. I'm going to give "Wind River" a strong 9/10.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
If I'm being completely up front about this, "Leap!" is kind of a dumb movie. Hence is why it's in the 30 percent range on Rotten Tomatoes. I get it. But in this specific instance you'll notice that I'm going to be a heck of a lot more forgiving towards this movie than I have other animated movies this summer like "Cars 3," "Despicable Me 3" and "The Emoji Movie" because I think context and target audience is extremely important here. "Leap!" is not a movie intended to be a best picture nominee that will blow the minds of every adult who sees it. In fact, it's not targeted at all towards all of those grumpy adults giving it bad reviews. This is a movie that is specifically aimed at five-year-old girls and I am absolutely confident that those five-year-old girls who see it will totally love it and it may even inspire them to start dancing or have a goal to be a ballerina. And if I'm right on that and the movie accomplishes this, then I think it's a huge win. That's the beauty of cinema. Hundreds of movies come out each year and if you look hard enough then you will find something for everyone. "Leap!" happens to be the movie for five-year-old girls and I think that's fantastic. If you watch the trailer and decide that this isn't for you, then that's perfectly fine. Find something right for you.
The other thing that stood out to me right away was that it felt like it was a French movie that had been poorly dubbed over into English. Given that this is a French film, had that been the case it wouldn't have been super surprising. Foreign animation films usually have a dubbing and a subtitles version of their movies. I always prefer subtitles because I like hearing the original voices and I don't mind reading the subtitles. After 10-15 minutes, my brain adjusts to it and I feel it's not much different than watching a movie in English. But in the case of "Leap!," after my own investigation of the matter, it appears that this was initially released in English. In looking at the animation itself, it appears that their mouths are speaking English words and not French words dubbed into English. And I can't find anywhere that reveals a French version of the cast. So then my next conclusion is that perhaps this was just miscast. Elle Fanning, 19, and Dane DeHaan, 31, are voicing our two 11-year-old main characters. Carly Rae Jepsen, 31, is voicing the older former ballerina while Maddie Ziegler, 14, is voicing the rival girl Camille. Maddie is the only one that seems on point. The others do fine, I just think maybe they should've picked voices closer to the characters' actual ages?
The other problems that I'm sure others will point out is that the animation isn't quite up to par when you compare it to other animated films from big studios and of course the story is as by the numbers as you can get. But do you know what? I think this movie had enough heart in it. I think it teaches positive messages about dreaming big and following those dreams. Along with that, it teaches that you need to work hard to achieve your dreams and if you do things that aren't morally right or if you slack off and just expect everything to fall to you, there will be negative consequences. But yet despite mistakes that may be made, these obstacles can be overcome. People can change and do things the right way. Are these lessons that have been taught in movies before? Absolutely. But again, target audience. While us adults may have seen these things plenty of times in movies, there's a chance that young girls watching this movie might not have seen it as much as us adults and this is a movie that can inspire them to dream big. It hits all the notes you think it will. But it hits them right and has enough likable characters and plot points that I gave it a pass. Plus, the little girl sitting close to me in the theater seemed to be loving life. That has to count for something, right?
For some final thoughts on this review, there are a few other moments that I legitimately loved. You could perhaps trash the story all you want, but there's a lot of animated dance choreography in this movie that is legitimately well done and the soundtrack is spot on. There's even one moment where Felicie and Camille have a dance off to Demi Lovato's "Confident" and I was really entertained. Maybe the voice acting was a bit off, but the characters were likable enough. You're rooting for Felicie and Victor to succeed in their endeavors and even though the story is super familiar as you could come up with a lot of different movies that it seems to follow, it's a charming enough journey along the way with a positive message for young girls that will teach them to dream big and to work hard to follow their dreams. This is not an easy journey for Felicie and not everything just magically falls into her laps and there are times where she wants to give up. But through persistence, she is able to overcome the challenges facing her. So if you are a parent with young girls, you should go take them to see this one. Or you can wait and rent it when it comes to DVD or play it if it shows up on Netflix. It's a charming little film that I'm going to award a 7/10.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
September 1st - 4th-
September 8th - 10th-
Those not in the mood to be terrorized by Pennywise the clown have the option of settling down with the romantic comedy Home Again. This stars the 41-year-old Reese Witherspoon look as young as ever, playing a 40-year-old single mother who, through a series of unexpected events, ends up allowing three young men in their 20's to move in with her while her ex-husband, played by the 48-year-old Michael Sheen, wants to make his way back into her life. Even though he is much closer to Reese in age, this might make for some purposefully awkward laughs as his "competition" for Reese are young enough to be his children. "Home Again" is the directorial debut for Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the daughter of popular filmmaker Nancy Meyers, known for films such as the 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap," "What Women Want," "Something's Gotta Give" and "It's Complicated." "Home Again" will determine if Hallie has the same knack for romantic comedies as her mother Nancy, while Nancy has been on the crew as producer, helping her daughter out.
September 15th - 17th-
The second movie of the week is the return of acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky with mother! Aronofsky has been absent since 2014's controversial outing in "Noah" and mostly likely hopes to return to form after being most well-known for 2000's "Requiem for a Dream" and 2010's "Black Swan," the latter of which was nominated for five Oscars, which included a best picture nomination, a best director nomination for Aronofsky and a best leading actress win for Natalie Portman. Can "mother!" bring Aronofsky back into Academy relevance? It's had the early pre-release buzz, but that's mainly because it's Aronofsky teamed up with Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Pfiefer and others in a movie released in the fall. In reality, "mother!" might not be the type of movie that the Academy goes for as it's more of a mysterious horror/thriller where Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a couple who start getting visits from strange guests that keep coming and coming. Thus if this is going for a horror vibe like the trailers make it out to be, releasing it the weekend after "It" might prove to be a bit questionable in terms of timing and Oscar nominations might simply be reserved for acting categories.
The final release of the weekend may end up becoming a small release with a wide expansion later, but we'll talk about it here anyways. This movie is All I See is You. If this does end up as a normal wide release this weekend, mid-September thrillers have a history of performing well. Although usually it's with Screen Gems and has a predominately black cast ala "When the Bough Breaks," "The Perfect Guy" and "No Good Deed" from the last three consecutive years. Screen Gems has their own horror film towards the end of the month that breaks this trend a bit, but we'll get to that. "All I See is You" is directed by Marc Forster, director of "Finding Neverland," "Stranger than Fiction," "Quantum of Solace" and "World War Z," and stars Blake Lively and Jason Clarke as a couple whose relationship changes drastically once Blake Lively, who was blind, receives her sight and discovers disturbing details about their relationship. The movie debuted last September at TIFF to mixed reviews. Open Roads are probably hoping that general audiences react a little better than the festival audience did.
September 22nd - 24th-
The other movie opening alongside "Kingsman" will be The LEGO Ninjago Movie. The "LEGO" franchise is building themselves quite the brand in the animation realm as this is the second "LEGO" movie to come out this year following "The LEGO Batman Movie," both of which are building off the major surprise success that was "The LEGO Movie" in 2014, which many people mistakenly thought would be awful. "Ninjago" is a natural direction for LEGO to go with their next movie as the Ninjago series has been one of LEGO's most popular series with a ton of various LEGO Ninjago sets that have come into popularity due to the "Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu" TV show that began in 2011 and recently aired its seventh season earlier this year on Cartoon Network. While the movie does feature the same characters as the TV show, the movie is not a continuation of the TV show and has a different voice cast than TV show. Thus being caught up with the TV show is not a requirement for this movie. That said, "Ninjago" hits more of a niche crowd than that of "The LEGO Movie" and "The LEGO Batman Movie," so naturally this should have more of a dip financially from the previous two, although the lack of competition at the moment should be a major advantage.
Finally for this fourth weekend, we have another thriller. That being Friend Request. With this being potentially the fourth horror/thriller of the month, we can definitely tell that studios are doing their best to take advantage of the Halloween season as this influx of horrors will continue in October with the likes of "Happy Death Day" and "Jigsaw." Naturally, too many movies of the same genre at the same time is a problem, thus not all of these movies can make money. With "It" and "mother!" likely being the horror/thriller hits of the month, "Friend Request" is likely to fall by the wayside along with "All I See is You" and the two that I'm about to get to in the final weekend of September. As you can guess by the title, this is another Facebook horror movie. A certain college girl unfriends this mysterious girl and starts being haunted by this girl because of it. If it sounds like something you've heard of recently, that's because in April of 2015 we had a similar movie called "Unfriended" that had a similar premise. That movie had an opening weekend of $15.8 million and went onto make $32.5 million domestically and $64.1 million worldwide. Pretty good for a $1 million production budget. "Friend Request" will be lucky if its final total equaled that movie's opening weekend.
September 29th - October 1st-
Five weekends in September. Why not five horror/thrillers as Flatliners joins the market. This here will be our annual September Screen Gems thriller, although it bucks their trend a bit as the previous three Septembers saw Screen Gems release a thriller in early- to mid-September, all with a predominately black cast. This is late September and is not really the same type of thriller as their previous three. "Flatliners" is actually a sequel to the 1990 film of the same name. Yes, sequel. Not reboot. The original was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon among others and was about five medical students experimenting on near death experiences that end up having dark consequences. Cut and paste the premise this time around, most likely 30 some odd years later, with Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev this time around highlighting our main crew of medical students. The 1990 "Flatliners" debuted to $10 million and grossed $61.5 million total. This 2017 sequel might get a similar opening weekend, although 27 years later the ticket price inflation makes that less impressive and I'd be shocked if this matches that movie's final total.