Posts Tagged Entertainment

Movie Mayhem – Brian Banks

Brian Banks — 2019; Directed by Tom Shadyac; Starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Melanie Liburd, Sherri Shepherd and Morgan Freeman

All you can control in life is how you respond to life.

Jerome Johnson (Morgan Freeman), from the film Brian Banks

The quote isn’t just a powerful message for the new inspirational sports drama, Brian Banks, but relates, on a much smaller scale, very well to this very review. Upon finishing my first draft, something happened and the entire review was wiped from existence. Like anyone else, I was angry at myself for not saving, and was angry at WordPress for not auto-saving and acting weird. The easy thing to do would have been to give up on the review altogether. Instead, I took a deep breath, recollected my thoughts and started anew. This has nothing on the major incidents of the film itself, however, it’s still relevant to the importance this movie’s overall message means for true happiness in life.

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Movie Mayhem – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — 2019; Directed by David Leitch; Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren

You can parachute cars out of a plane; you can have a chase sequence between a slew of supercharged cars and a submarine in an icy tundra; you can jump a sports car from one hundred-story tower to another; you can have a guy rip the cast off his arm with his bare hand; heck, you can even defy gravity to save someone’s life and no one would expect anything less. But introduce your audience to a transforming, self-driving motorcycle and you’ve suddenly gone too far.

Suspension of disbelief is a tricky thing. There are certain expectations that come along with being able to set reality aside and enjoy whatever is being thrown at you. Ever since The Fast and the Furious franchise veered off from centering around fast cars and hot women to becoming what amounts to an international spy series, you’d think the whole thing would have broke down on the side of the highway. Fact is, the franchise only became better as it became more and more absurd.

It only makes sense, then, that as the franchise grows more popular, producers would want to milk it for all its worth. Best way to do that? Spin characters off into their own wild and crazy franchises. The first choice, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, is the smartest choice, as it highlights two very bankable stars (and fan favorites since their respective introductions into the franchise) in an effort to see if this type of offshoot will work.

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Movie Mayhem – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — 2019; Directed by Quentin Tarantino; Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qualley, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell and Al Pacino

I am not much of a Quentin Tarantino fan. Of his nine films, I’ve only ever seen four of them, and by all accounts, that’s enough. Reservoir Dogs was okay, but I was not a fan of Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained. Tarantino has a very unique style, and his writing can definitely be sharp and witty, but it always felt to me that he can also be very overindulgent, an opinion that doesn’t end with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — even as his ninth film finally breaks through as one I can actually say I enjoyed, despite having no discernible plot.

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Movie Mayhem – The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King — 2019; Directed by Jon Favreau; Starring Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chietel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and James Earl Jones

Live-action remakes have been around for quite some time (Popeye, anyone), they’re just much more prevalent now with Disney’s recent onslaught of remaking all of their beloved animated classics into live-action properties. I don’t mind these upgrades; getting to see your favorite animated films with real people can be a lot of fun, especially when the updates add more to the story and help develop stronger characters. The issue with these updates comes when a film relies too much on their predecessor (because, you know, they were perfectly fine in animated form), making them feel a bit lazy and underwhelming.

This is what happens with The Lion King, which isn’t so much a remake as it is a facelift; many scenes, including the grand opening sequence, are nearly identical to the original. Beauty and the Beast was criticized by many for this reason, though I didn’t mind it as much because real actors carried the majority of the film. However, because The Lion King is nothing but animals (no humans were harmed in the production of this movie), it’s hard to distinguish this version as “live-action” because the majority is still animated, just in a different way.

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Movie Mayhem – Crawl

Crawl — 2019; Directed by Alexandre Aja; Starring Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper

Movies about alligators (or is it crocodiles?) attacking gorgeous teens aren’t quite as plentiful as movies about sharks attacking gorgeous teens, but there are still plenty of them crawling around out there. Sharks, on the surface, seem more deadly; they are after all out in the wide open spaces of the ocean, while gators are stuck mostly in marshy, humid areas where no one would want to camp or spend their holiday. But alligators can be just as deadly as sharks when they want to be, and Crawl proves that when a family of alligators attack a father and daughter during a major hurricane, begging the question, how many times can someone be bit by an alligator and survive?

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Movie Mayhem – Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man Far From Home — 2019; Directed by Jon Watts; Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Cobie Smulders and Jake Gyllenhaal

If you didn’t already know from the second trailer, the fallout from the events of Avengers: Endgame plays a large role in Spider-Man: Far From Home. So much, in fact, that it feels as if Robert Downey Jr. is somehow playing puppet master in the background of the entire film. But that isn’t to the detriment of Spider-Man’s newest solo outing; having Iron-Man’s presence be such a large part plays into the larger themes of the film and helps propel both the story within the film as well as the overarching story of the entire MCU forward into new and interesting places.

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Movie Mayhem – Annabelle Comes Home and Child’s Play (2019)

Annabelle Comes Home — 2019; Directed by Gary Dauberman; Starring Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Michael Simno, Vera Farmiga, and Patrick Wilson; Child’s Play — 2019; Directed by Lars Klevberg; Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson and Mark Hamill

Toys have taken over the cineplex. You’d think all of the colorful (and emotionally impactful) toys from Toy Story returning for some new adventures last week would be enough, but apparently, the studios didn’t think so. Taking their lead from miss Gabby Gabby, producers found a way to subvert the fact that it isn’t Halloween and return not one but two killer dolls back to big screens for another round of violent, scary mayhem to begin our long, hot summer — Chucky is back in a revamped Child’s Play, and Annabelle Comes Home to her cushy glass case. So, which one takes the crown as the most evil? Let’s find out.

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Movie Mayhem – Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 — 2019; Directed by Josh Cooley; Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Keanu Reeves

Whoa.

Not only is this expression oft-referenced by Keanu Reeves, who continues his “Keanussance” by joining the cast of Toy Story 4 as Duke Caboom, an Evil Knievel-style motorcycle stuntman who was tossed away because his real abilities didn’t match the magic of a commercial, perfectly utilized within the film, but it also beautifully sums up the prolific way Pixar has managed to once again match the fun, cleverness and emotional depth of its own groundbreaking, original computer-animated feature.

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Movie Mayhem – Men In Black: International

Men in Black: International — 2019; Directed by F. Gary Gray; Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, and Emma Thompson

It’s been seven years since Will Smith last put on the signature shades that made him look good; 19 years since Tommy Lee Jones dawned the last suit he’d ever wear; and 22 years since Barry Sonnenfeld first brought us into the world of intergalactic protection. Now, director F. Gary Gray takes us across the pond for Men In Black: International, a fun but ultimately wasted showcase for its new crop of agents as they try to protect the most dangerous weapon in the universe from getting into the hands of an evil alien race known as The Hive.

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Movie Mayhem – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters — 2019; Directed by Michael Dougherty; Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins Bradley Whitford, Ziyi Zhang and Millie Bobby Brown

Shared universes aren’t a new thing (Universal had one back in the 30s and 40s when they teamed up their monsters in several films), but they have recently become a much more accepted and desired route for every major studio. After Kevin Feige put his Midas touch on the Marvel superhero franchise, other studios hastily attempted to build their own shared universes. Jason Blum has found relative success in what’s now known as The Conjuring universe, and DC failed early in their attempt at creating a similar superhero universe, but the tide may be turning with recent critical and box-office hits like Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam!

Even Universal tried its hand at resurrecting their monster universe, but after two failed attempts (Dracula Untold and The Mummy), cracking the Marvel formula has been much harder than expected. And it’s not because of the monsters. If it wasn’t already apparent after watching the post-credit sequence on Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters makes it absolutely clear that Warner Bros. has slowly and quietly set in motion its own monster franchise.

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