What a unique and joyous film this is! I wasn't that aware of La La Land until the first trailer came out a few months ago, but I was instantly intrigued by the concept. It's been a long time since we've seen an original musical made for the big screen, and with these two fantastic leads (both of whom shined in 2011's Crazy, Stupid, Love) I knew it had the potential to be something special. Throw into that mix Damien Chazelle's directorial follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Whiplash, and it was clear that this had Oscar contender written all over it. So does it live up to this tremendous potential?
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Everyone who knows me could tell you that I'm a HUGE fan of Star Wars. If you need proof, just check out the reviews I've done for the prequels. Even a lot of Star Wars fans don't like those films. So it was surprising to me when I was making my list of most anticipated films of 2016 last year that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story wasn't at the #1 spot. I mean, I had just seen The Force Awakens and was on possibly an all-time high in my fandom for the property. However, perhaps due to its exclusion from the saga storyline (at least in name), I wasn't finding myself as hyped for it as previous Star Wars films. Don't get me wrong, I purchased my opening night tickets as soon as they were available, and even purchased the collectible metal popcorn bucket with the Death Trooper and AT-ACT walkers on it. As the release date came closer and closer, I started to get more and more excited... but was that anticipation rewarded with a satisfying experience?
Monday, December 19, 2016
We're back with the Star Wars saga, and though Rogue One is already in theaters, I couldn't review it without first talking about the most underrated film in the franchise, Revenge of the Sith. This was the first Star Wars movie that I was old enough to buy my own ticket, drive myself to the theater, and even skip a day of school to wait in line on opening night. I had seen every trailer, TV spot, and featurette that had been released, and I was beyond ready to see how the prequel films would be able to tie into the original trilogy. Beyond that, however, my curiosity was at its peak for Anakin's turn to the dark side, which was promised by the film's title.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
I'm back with another Star Wars review in anticipation of this week's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As I stated in my review of The Phantom Menace, I am one of the defenders of these prequel films... but I can still recognize the obvious problems. However, I do feel that the rhetoric on these movies has gotten way out of hand over the last ten or so years, so hopefully I can provide some semblance of balance to this predominantly one-sided argument. After what felt like an eternity following the exhilaration of seeing Episode I in theaters, I was dying to see how this story would progress in the next film. Seeing an older Anakin Skywalker, some mysterious Mandalorian (which means he looks like Boba Fett), and a title like Attack of the Clones in the trailer, I found myself itching to see what would happen in the continuation of the Star Wars saga.
Friday, December 2, 2016
Welcome back to FlashBack Friday! Yes, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a couple of weeks from debuting, and I cannot wait! I've wanted to review the Star Wars films ever since I started this blog six years ago (I can't believe it's been that long!), and I even tried and failed to do so last year for The Force Awakens. I'm still planning to get all of these reviews out in the next couple of months, they may just be released in a rapid-fire manner. Like the Indiana Jones movies, no other film franchise was as influential to my childhood as Star Wars. If you've read my brief bio on the right side of this page, you know that I would intentionally stay home from school pretending to be sick so I could re-watch The Empire Strikes Back for a fiftieth time. In short, these movies are VERY important to me!
Friday, November 18, 2016
Here's another film that was on my most anticipated list for 2016, and I'm happy to say that I am not embarrassed by that decision like I am with a few of my other choices (ahem, Independence Day: Resurgence...). I don't know how to address the magnitude of my fandom for the Harry Potter universe, except that it's 2nd only to my love for Star Wars. I've read the books more times than I care to admit, and I was able to watch every one of the films during their opening weekend of release (except for Order of the Phoenix, but I was out of the country). With that in mind, I was a bit reticent to jump fully on board with this idea when it was first announced, and it was only after watching the teaser trailer that I began to imagine how fun another entry into the Harry Potter series could be.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
There's a lot going on in the world right now, so let's focus on something fantastical and imaginative to distract us! Marvel has continually risen the bar for superhero movies, integrating sub-genres into their films that keep their formula as fresh as possible throughout the last 8 years. I've been looking forward to this movie ever since it was announced, though I was a bit disheartened when I first saw how some of the imagery looked so similar to my all-time favorite film, Inception. Still, the other trailers seemed to emphasize the mystical nature of the story rather than the mind-bending aspects, and my anticipation and expectation for the movie rose steadily as a result. After so many traditional superhero films from the prolific studio, I was ready for something completely different. Some might even say strange... Can I get away with that?
Friday, November 4, 2016
What a fun movie this turned out to be! I'm not gonna lie, I was a little worried about going back to the theater to see a Western movie. Historically, the last couple of big-budget Westerns haven't turned out to be all that great (The Lone Ranger and Cowboys & Aliens), though I kind of enjoyed them at the time. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have seen this movie at all if it hadn't been for the intriguing casting of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt; both actors I don't usually associate with the Western genre. I've personally never been a huge fan of Westerns, and have always been more drawn to the idea of the sci-fi/Western mashups (though they rarely pan out). However, with such a likable cast, I felt this would be worth my time despite my aversion to the genre.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Time for some catch-up reviews. A live-action version of Pete's Dragon was never something I was dying to see, and not being a huge fan of the original, I wasn't really even planning on seeing this in theaters. However, at the behest of my lovely wife, we decided to go see this film at our local theater a couple of weeks after it opened (yeah, it's been a while). The reviews were generally favorable, and from what I remembered of the film, it seemed like it would be an enjoyable enough time. To put it more bluntly, I wasn't expecting much from this film, and I would say that it pretty much met my expectations.
Friday, August 5, 2016
What a strange year this has been for movies. Somehow DC has simultaneously been on a hot streak in terms of the quality of their product, but also on a bizarre down slope when it comes to the critical reception of their films. Luckily, both movies will make enough money that it doesn't make any difference. The fan reaction has been much kinder than the questionable critical consensus, and it seems that audiences are starting to take the Rotten Tomatoes score less and less seriously these days... which is how it should be. Personally, I've been really excited for this film ever since it was announced, and particularly after Batman v Superman I was desperate for anything DC related. With a very promising cast and a tremendous marketing campaign, I had a feeling this might take a lot of people by surprise.
Of all the franchise movies coming out this summer, this is definitely the one I was least convinced would actually happen. For years now we've been hearing about how Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass have been trying to work out a story for the 4th film in the Bourne series, since apparently neither would return without the other. Even one of my favorite screenwriters, Jonathan Nolan, did a pass on a potential story and wasn't able to come up with anything he was satisfied with. So when it was finally announced that the pair was reuniting for a sequel to Bourne Ultimatum, I couldn't have been more excited. One day I'll have to review the Bourne series, but as I stated in my review of The Bourne Legacy, I am a huge fan of this franchise. With a great deal of optimism (tempered slightly by some mixed early reviews), I went into my screening last week anxious to see what the team had come up with over the last nine years.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
After loving the first two films in this rebooted Star Trek universe (or the Kelvin-verse, as I hear it's called), I was surprisingly not that excited about this movie. A lot of that has to do with the really abysmal trailer that was released earlier this year featuring the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and making it seem like another installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise with the cast of Star Trek in the lead roles. As we'll get into, there's a reason why that song was played over that first trailer, though I'm not sure that justifies its inclusion... Once the positive reviews started rolling in, however, I had a renewed optimism that Beyond could live up the first two films, despite the departure of J.J. Abrams from his directorial duties.
I was a HUGE fan of the original Independence Day as a kid, and so even with full awareness of the absence of Will Smith from this cast, I still couldn't stop myself from being excited to see Independence Day: Resurgence. The trailers looked pretty good, promising the return of Jeff Goldblum while playing on the nostalgia of President Whitmore's now iconic speech to perfection. The space battles and worldwide destruction looked pretty incredible as well, so I went into my viewing with the slightest glimmer of hope, regardless of the already scathing reviews that had shown up the day before its release.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
This review was supposed to come out weeks ago, but alas... sometimes life gets busy. Anyway, Pixar has been notorious for their brilliant original films, while slightly criticized for their underwhelming sequels. I, for one, really loved recent works without any previously existing source material (Inside Out, Brave, etc.), and was lukewarm or negative on some of their sequels (Cars 2 being irrefutably the worst of the bunch). Finding Nemo is probably one of my top 3 Pixar films, so I was a little nervous about what a sequel to the beloved 2003 movie would bring. It didn't help that the trailers failed to show me anything I hadn't seen before in the fist film, and I was nervous this would fall into the category of unfulfilling cash-grabs that Pixar has unfortunately fallen into of late. As a result, I went into my showing of Finding Dory with a bit of trepidation, even though the early critical response was through the roof.
Believe it or not, this is actually a film I've been looking forward to for a while, ever since I saw the first trailer for it several months back. I'm a bit of a romantic at heart, so I thought it might be fun to go see this movie with my lovely wife on a date night. She isn't always as excited as I am for the films we typically see, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to see a film we were both anticipating. However (and she'll probably be mad at me for divulging this), she had the nerve to go see this with her sister while I was taking an exam. Of course, I may have committed a similar offense in the past... but never mind that. The point is, we eventually did get around to seeing this together in the theaters the next day, and while I hadn't read the book like my wife did, I still had a pretty good idea of what I was in for when the lights went down in the theater.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Man, this summer has been a really weird one for blockbuster movies. Not only have the critics and fans been at odds for many of them, but reviews have been coming out weeks before the film's actual release. Case in point, I heard about the lackluster reception of X-Men: Apocalypse weeks ago. While that was certainly disappointing to hear, the recent trend of allowing critics access to these movies so far in advance has killed a little of my anticipation for them. I therefore had a surprisingly difficult time getting excited for this film, even though it was one of my top 5 anticipated films of the year. However, I was such a fan of 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, that I had enough faith in director Bryan Singer and the stellar cast to produce something enjoyable.
Monday, May 23, 2016
After weeks of having to avoid spoilers from critics who saw the movie weeks before the rest of us had a chance to see it, I finally watched Captain America: Civil War! I actually saw this two weeks ago when it was first released, but I've been out of town and was unable to write this review until now. I've been looking forward to this film for a long time, really ever since I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and heard that the Russo brothers were returning to direct the sequel two years later. As that was probably my favorite Marvel film to date, I had some high expectations for this film, let alone the hype coming from the online community prior to its release. It took a lot of self control to try to manage my expectations so that I wouldn't be disappointed, regardless of how good it was. I'll keep this spoiler-free, as I know a lot of people still haven't had a chance to see this movie, but let me begin with a brief plot introduction.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Lately Disney has been releasing their movies to critics so far in advance, that it's impossible to avoid the critical buzz entirely. It's particularly annoying with next month's Captain America: Civil War, which I am dying to see, but the overwhelmingly positive response still may have had a slightly negative impact on my opinion of The Jungle Book. I've been fairly hyped for this film for a while now, with the early claims that this is perhaps the most technologically-advanced movie ever made. With a director whom I generally like in Jon Favreau (known primarily for Iron Man), and a voice cast overflowing with talent, I had a feeling Disney's retelling of the 1967 classic cartoon could be something truly special. The only thing I wasn't sure about was how they would tell the story. So with that, let's get into the plot.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
There is so much controversy surrounding this movie that I was a little nervous to actually see it for myself. Not because I believed the undeserved critical lambasting that was going on, but because I knew it was bound to be polarizing. All films with genuine ambition tend to bifurcate critics and audiences, especially when it comes to the DC extended universe. Before I even get into my review, I would recommend everyone who hasn't seen Man of Steel in a while to go re-watch it prior to seeing Batman v Superman, as it serves as a perfect set up to the entire story that plays out in this film. Having Man of Steel fresh in my mind definitely got me more invested in what director Zack Snyder was aiming to do, and from the get-go he follows up on what we saw back in 2013 in epic fashion. I've heard so many complaints about this film that it's tempting to just address each of them in this review, but I'll leave that duty to someone else. Instead, I'm going to discuss this film openly and honestly without getting into spoilers. Now that I've had some time to process this film, I feel like I can adequately tell what works and doesn't work without the haze of fanboy hype or the taint of critical hate. With that, let's get into the plot.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Yeah, you didn't know I could rate a film so low, did you? Well, we're breaking all kinds of ground with this movie, as it's the first film I've ever reviewed starring a childhood favorite of mine, Chris O'Donnell. I'm totally kidding. No one's favorite actor has ever been Chris O'Donnell. Funnily enough, this movie was actually on heavy rotation in my family's VHS player. I wish I could blame that on someone else, but it was completely my doing. In my defense, I was about 10 years old at the time and had a soft spot for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still, I probably should have known better even back then. Ever since YouTube and social media exploded with film pundits, this movie has been beaten to a pulp in every way one could possibly imagine... and, unfortunately, I'm not about to stop that trend.
Friday, March 18, 2016
It's FlashBack Friday (for real this time)! Today I'm continuing my series of Batman films in preparation for next week's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by reviewing the third theatrical outing for our hero, Batman Forever. Oddly enough (particularly given my history with the first two films), this is the very first Batman movie that I saw in theaters, and I watched it many times at home when it came out on VHS. However, there was a period of my life where I didn't really watch any Batman movies, which allowed me to more or less forget about the details of Batman Forever until this viewing. What led to my hiatus from watching Batman? We'll get to that next time. What do I think of this movie after over a decade away from it? Let's get into it!
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Back again with another FlashBack Friday entry not being released on a Friday! This time I'm reviewing the sequel to the highest grossing film of 1989, Batman Returns. After the original film made bank at the box office, it seemed inevitable that a sequel would be made. Fans were already calling for Penguin to be the villain, with Danny DeVito even being rumored to star. However, Tim Burton's return didn't bring with it the family-friendly entertainment that Warner Bros was expecting. In fact, they were hard-pressed to find any merchandising opportunities, and the even darker tone made it difficult to convince parents to bring their children to the theaters in 1992. As for me, if Batman was forbidden for me to see as a child, then Batman Returns was downright contraband in my house. Of course, this made it even more appealing to me, and I spent a fair amount of time trying to sneak into the room whenever my older siblings would watch it after I went to bed. Just like with Batman, however, I surprisingly didn't see this movie in its entirety until much later, and I only fully paid attention to it during this viewing. So what was it that made my parents so apprehensive for me to see this film? Let's get into the plot.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Welcome back to another FlashBack Friday (a day early)! I know, I still haven't caught up with my Star Wars reviews... but I'll get to them eventually. For now, I have another massive blockbuster to build towards. You may have heard of it... So, with the anticipation of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hitting critical levels, I felt I needed to go back and fill in the gaps of Batman films I haven't yet covered. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to experience the hype for the first ever theatrical Batman film. Not only was I far too young to see it when it was released in theaters, but my mom wasn't entirely keen on me watching what was then considered to be a dark, gritty version of the caped crusader for quite some time after it was released on home video. Ever since it came out on VHS, I developed a fascination with this movie, trying to piece together the mysterious story from video games and re-tellings of the more famous plot points from friends who had already seen it. Because of that, I don't remember the first time I properly sat down to watch this from beginning to end, but I feel I've forever missed out on the experience of those who saw the film while it was a pop-culture phenomenon. So with that introduction, let's get into the plot.
Monday, February 22, 2016
I can't believe it's taken me this long to see this movie. Believe it or not, I was following the production of this film for quite some time, particularly once the incredibly talented Tom Hardy got involved. After being blown away by the trailers when Mad Max: Fury Road was being marketed a year ago, I definitely wanted to see it... but at the same time, having never seen any other Mad Max films, it wasn't quite enough to get me into theaters during it's original run. Indeed, it took a long flight across the country to finally convince me to spend some time (if not money) watching the movie that had already been nominated for Best Picture. Given that the awards show is less than a week away, not to mention its strong popularity, I figured it was about time that I officially delivered my verdict on Mad Max: Fury Road.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Though I usually try to catch up on all of the Oscar-nominated films each year, I had to more or less be dragged to see Room. In my defense, I just wanted to go see Star Wars again... I feel like that's a pretty good excuse... But after my wife insisted that we go see this movie, I geared myself up for a pretentious indie film that was sure to be overrated. Things weren't looking up when the trailers showed me nothing but my worst fears of what Room would be, a shallow concept that has nothing else to offer beyond its initial premise. Not only that, but some idiot decided to bring his five year-old son to this R-rated movie, which led to 2 hours of non-stop questions from the confused child who probably just wanted to see Kung Fu Panda 3 in the neighboring theater. Anyway, as you can see from my star rating, I realized my fears were entirely unfounded once this movie got going. This is a hard one to discuss without talking about specific plot points, so SPOILER ALERT from here on out.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Welcome to 2016 everyone! There are a TON of exciting movies coming out this year, and not nearly enough spaces on my top 10 list to accommodate them all. Keep in mind, this is not a list of what films I think are going to be the best, just which ones I'm looking forward to the most. It's always interesting at the end of the year to compare my most anticipated list with my best films list to see which ones panned out. I wasn't very accurate last year, so (to avoid further embarrassment) I truly hope all of these films end up being amazing. To name just a few films I'm excited for but that didn't make my honorable mentions include: Ghostbusters (a reboot of the 1984 film with an all female cast), Zootopia (a Disney animated film featuring a world of anthropomorphic animals living in a human-like society), Star Trek: Beyond (a sequel to 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness), and Warcraft (a live-action adaptation of the most popular online RPG out there). So with those out of the way, let's get into my honorable mentions and then my most anticipated films of 2016!