I’ll say it – I’m not the biggest fan of Melissa McCarthy. Though I like her physicality and fearlessness, for me, she can come off as stubbornly obnoxious and loud, which can become grating, especially when she forces her brand to extreme heights. What helps keep everything balanced is a good supporting cast. When everyone around her is just like her, things can go off the rails real quick; when they are the complete opposite, or more subtle and subdued, it allows the audience a chance to breathe every once in a while. It’s sometimes easy to see which category the cast will fall based on the trailer, but other times, it’s not so clear, so I always keep my hopes on the lower end of the spectrum whenever going into one of her films. Luckily, McCarthy chose to tone everything around her down in Life of the Party, her newest team-up with director/husband Ben Falcone, making what could have been an insufferable noise fest into a sweet, funny slice-of-life comedy. Read Full Review
One player does not a team make.
But one player can have a major effect on the moral of a team, and for the 2011 Iowa City West High School volleyball team, that person was Caroline “Line” Found. When I first saw the previews for the The Miracle Season, I couldn’t help but think back to We Are Marshall, another inspirational sports film that saw a team and a community rise up among a major tragedy. The difference is that with Marshall, almost the entire starting lineup of the school’s football team perished in a place crash, so it would seem it would take a lot more to find the strength to rebuild a successful team than it would had only one player died. However, according to director Sean McNamara, Line was a spark plug — someone who lived life with no regrets and no filter; a young girl that had an amazing life ahead of her only to be cut short because of one simple mistake. It doesn’t matter that she was a single person, her presence alone elevated everyone around her, so when an accident took her away from those who looked to her for light, for them that was all it took to slip into darkness. Read Full Review
I’ve never read Ready Player One, the pop-culture-heavy book written by Ernest Cline (who shares credit on the screenplay with Zak Penn) for which the film is based, but when it was announced that Steven Spielberg would helm the big-budget adaptation, excitement hit 88 miles per hour. In most people’s minds (and hearts), Spielberg is the quintessential sc-fi/fantasy director of the eighties, so to have him direct a movie that would incorporate so many beloved references — a lot of which he himself had a hand in bringing to life — was a film lover’s dream come true. As time passed, though, and the anticipation wore off, some began to wonder: could Spielberg, who had grown more accustomed to heavy adult material in the past two decades (and failed to deliver on his fantasy adaptation of the beloved children’s story, The BFG) pull off the same magic he was able to deliver back in the heyday of what this respectable critic deems the best era of film, music and gaming? The answer to that question has been answered, and I’m happy to say it is a resounding — Yes he can. Read Full Review
When I initially heard about Midnight Sun, the first thing that came to mind was last year’s Everything, Everything, which also included a young teenage girl trapped in her house because of some rare disease. One major difference between the two films is that in the latter film, the main character couldn’t step outside at all due to a failed immune system, whereas in the former, Katie (Bella Thorne) can go outside, but only at night, since any contact with the sun will basically kill her. Both films dissect the idea of how much a life a person can actually have when they’re all but trapped in their home, and wrap that idea around a convenient love story, in which the girl falls in love with the cutest guy on the block, who just so happens to find them to be beautifully captivating. Read Full Review
Art in all of its forms has the ability to invoke emotion, transport you to a different time and of course inspire. But art is also subjective; not everything is going to affect the same audience in the same way, and not all artists will find an audience at all. Yet, no matter how many people tell someone to give up, a true artist — one who believes in their work and in the message they are trying to convey through their art — will never let anyone keep them from speaking their mind or pursuing their dreams. As an artist myself, I know my passion isn’t about fame, money or power; it’s about speaking a truth among a sea of voices reaching out to convey their own truths — their own souls. I also know that it only takes one moment, one song, one book, one movie to pull you from obscurity and into the public consciousness.
For Mercy Me, one of the most famous Christian rock bands of the 21st Century, that song was lead singer Bart Millard’s “I Can Only Imagine,” which took not only Christian radio by storm, but the world with its honest, inspiring lyrics, opening doors for the band that had all but been closed to them before. Read Full Review
Sometimes I feel guilty when a movie comes out and I haven’t read the book it’s based on; sort of like a kid in school forgoing the book to watch the movie for a book report. Sometimes it can be better not to have read the book first, as the book is almost always “better” than the movie. Not only do books allow for deeper exploration into why and how characters do what they do and the environments that surround them, but what’s produced on screen usually can’t compare to what you imagined on your own. At the same time, films can wind up being just as entertaining as their written counterparts, even as they alter or cut elements for time. In the case of A Wrinkle In Time, Disney’s new adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastical book, having seen the movie without having read the book somehow makes me feel I’m missing something — as if there’s a secret in the book that didn’t transfer to the big screen. Read Full Review
The Academy Awards will celebrate their 90th year this year. What does that mean? Not much. It’s just an interesting little factoid. Come back to me when the show turns 100, and then we’ll talk. Until then, awards will continue to be handed out, there will be some welcome surprises (and at least one shocker that no one sees coming), a lot of annoying political talk, and of course some predictable antics among several highly paid, talented people patting themselves on the back for over three hours.
And I can’t get enough of it!
With it all comes my predictions for this year’s main categories, as well as a few of my own special awards for those who should be recognized in categories meant more for the MTV Movie Awards than the great, prestige of the Oscars. Who Will Win?
The fear for any new comedy opening in multiplexes these days is the question of whether the trailer revealed too much — especially when it comes to the comedy itself. A lot of times you’ll hear someone say all the best jokes were in the trailer, which is understandable, because studios want to draw people in, so they have to put their best foot forward. But if all the best humor is in the trailer, it means the film as a whole can’t be very good, since there’s no substance left to keep you interested. The greatest achievement a broad comedy can have is to keep you laughing and smiling as you leave the theater because the elements in the trailer were no match for the stuff that wasn’t. Game Night sits on the fence between these two extremes; though most of the really good stuff is in the trailer, there’s still plenty of laughs to keep you smiling past the end credits. Read Full Review
Bilbo Baggins, meet the man behind your nemisis, Gollum!
That’s what I kept thinking when CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman, first introduced in Captain America: Civil War) bags the nefarious Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, last seen tormenting the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron). This time around, Ross goes undercover to purchase an artifact made of Vibranium (the storngest metal in the world, found only in the African nation of Wakanda) to lure Klaue into the open. But what’s that lurking in the shadows? Why, it’s T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), crowned king of Wakanda after the death of his father in a massive explosion at the U.N., who’s also out to stop Klaue once and for all. Both men want him for different reasons (Ross because he’s a federal criminal; T’Challa because he stole several pounds of Vibranium), and neither wants to give him up. What they don’t know is there’s a third player in the mix who also wants Klaue for his own purposes. Who will triumph? Read Full Review
Clint Eastwood has been a Hollywood icon for a very long time. I can’t say I’m a big fan of his older material (or his acting, in general – I know; blasphemous, right!), but I am a fan of his directing, especially in the past decade or so. Eastwood has the ability to find the richness, compassion and fear of everyday life without coming off preachy, tedious or boring, allowing the characters and the journeys he develops to be relatable in a small, subtle way. Which is why his newest film, The 15:17 To Paris, is so disappointing. The true story behind the film is a testament to our everyday heroes — those who find the courage to do what’s necessary in a moment when most would run and hide — however, Eastwood can’t seem to find a way to tell the story with enough power to imbue the audience with the power necessary to care. Read Full Review