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You’ve Got Mail **1/2


One Liner Review:

Cutesy and light-hearted, without being especially smart or funny, this movie is okay, but far from anything special.

Brief Review:

This is an okay romantic comedy where the plot is incredibly thin and yet there still manages to be some funny moments and situations from time to time. The premise is that two characters are having an email correspondence with each other despite never having met face to face, and not really knowing who the other one is. They met in a chat room, struck up a connection, and now continue to chat online. Meanwhile, in the world of face to face interactions, they also know each other and are actually in competition against each other. Only they don’t know that the person they are in competition with is the very same person they are emailing with. So basically the entire movie is based around one single secret. Talk about thin. And yet they manage to get some good things out of this one, every once in a while. Chalk that up to the natural chemistry and charm between these two actors. It’s not enough to save the movie, but at least it sometimes gives us moments to smile or chuckle about.


You’ve Got Mail is a very simple and basic romantic comedy, based on the classic Jimmy Stewart 1940s movie,  The Shop Around the Corner. The premise is that two characters who have had a mail correspondence with each other, and are friends through mail, also meet in real life. Only they don’t realize that the person they are meeting is the same person they are talking to through mail. And so, in a sense two different relationships form and play out throughout the movie. The one by mail, and the one in person. And the one in person, interacting with each other face to face, involves the two characters disliking each other until they eventually fall for each other, just like any romantic comedy. So it’s a decent premise, and might be a nice one for a short story, but for an entire feature length movie, it ends up being kind of thin.

In the Jimmy Stewart movie, the characters wrote letters to each other and sent them through the mail. They also worked together at the same store. In the Tom Hanks – Meg Ryan remake, the premise is basically the same, but some key elements have changed. The characters use America Online to communicate, one of the first email platforms in the early days of the internet. And even more importantly, there’s the competition involving their line of business. Instead of having them work in the same store, here they are against each other, and competing in business.

Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) is the owner of a small children’s book store. It’s the kind of place that sells rare, expensive, hand-crafted books and does things like afternoon story time where kids can just come in, sit down on the rug, and listen to a story. Joe Fox, (Hanks,) meanwhile, is the owner of a huge book store company that opens up new mega stores left and right, called Fox Books. It’s basically a version of the Barnes and Noble book chain. The problem starts when it is announced that there will be a new Fox Books store opening just a few blocks away from The Shop Around the Corner (the name of Kathleen’s store.)

Both Kathleen and Joe are in serious relationships. Kathleen’s is with Frank (Greg Kinnear,) a newspaper writer who writes articles that champion the underdogs in situations like this. Joe is with Patricia (Parker Posey,) an always busy, always in a hurry, executive. Patricia and Joe don’t seem to have much chemistry, other than that they both live a sort of elite, exclusive lifestyle. But Joe is deeper and more calm, and generally has the time to hear what people have to say, whereas Patricia does not. Frank and Kathleen, meanwhile, have more in common. In fact, at one point, Frank even champions Kathleen’s book store and writes about it in his magazine.

Kathleen and Joe meet in person for the first time when Joe arrives at her book store with two children. The children are his half brother and his aunt. Now, this story element is pretty dopey. All of the side characters are pretty bad in this movie, but the idea that Joe has these two kids to pal around with, and their strange relationship to him, takes the cake. One of the kids is the son of Joe’s father, who has just remarried. The other one is the daughter of Joe’s grandfather. And she’s just a small kid. What is the point of all this? It’s beyond confusing to figure out why the movie is doing it. Why not just have these be Joe’s kids from a previous marriage? Or if you absolutely have to make one his half-brother, why not make them both from this? It’s not a major point of the movie or anything, but the two kids do appear in multiple scenes, and making one the daughter of his grandfather is more disturbing than it is cute, which I suppose is what the movie was going for.


But this brings up a bigger problem. The side characters. Starting with Frank and Patricia, but then branching out to nearly every side character in the movie, they pretty much don’t work. And the movie just keeps giving us more of them. In fact, it is because the plot is so thin, and there really isn’t a whole lot going on in the story, that the movie decides to give us as many side characters as possible. That includes three different other characters who work at Kathleen’s store. There are two younger characters,  a woman and a man (played by Steve Zahn,) and then there’s an older woman who was the sister of Kathleen’s mom. The reason why that’s especially relevant is because Kathleen’s mom owned the store before she passed away, and this is the story of the store closing.


Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t do a whole lot with this. It isn’t interested in being deep or sad in any way, and instead prefers to be light hearted, whimsical, and cute at all times. And that’s a problem, because there is very little funny here. The only scenes that hold up are the ones between Hanks and Ryan, and even those are hit and miss. There are story punchlines here and there that become the highlights of the movie, but even these aren’t anything special. The first of these highlights comes when Joe and those kids visit Kathleen’s store and Kathleen talks to Joe about how horrible it is that a Fox bookstore is opening up right near them. Watching Joe take this in, that this woman hates him so much, without actually knowing that he’s the one opening the store is kind of fun. And the movie even comes up with a clever little gimmick about it, having the boy know how to spell Fox – F -O – X, but not any other words. And Kathleen tests him on different animals.


The next of these story punchlines comes when Kathleen learns that the man she met at the store that day is in fact Joe Fox, the owner of the Fox Books store that is opening up. This happens at a party that the two are both attending, and when Kathleen finds out, she doesn’t hesitate to go right up to Joe and call him out. She accuses him of going into her store as a spy that day, and thinks he is just the most awful person in the world. So does Frank, who comes over to them and quickly learns from the conversation exactly who Joe is. Only Frank’s opinion quickly changes when Joe compliments him on one of his articles. That’s one of the few comical moments in the movie that actually does work.

The next big story punchline comes when Joe learns that Kathleen is the person he is been corresponding with through email. This happens when the two email friends decide to finally meet and the way they will recognize each other at the table is by having a certain flower in front of them. Joe walks over to the meeting place, a bakery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, accompanied by his friend,  Kevin (Dave Chapelle.) Kevin doesn’t appear in the story much, but he actually happens to be one of the few decent side characters here, and that’s probably just because he’s Dave Chapelle, so he is just naturally funny (he was even great in A Star is Born, playing a more serous role.) Now, Joe goes up to the window of the bakery, looks in, sees Kathleen with the flower in front of her, and realizes who she is. And then he goes in.


The movie does do some smart things from time to time, centering around these plot points. One is that it has one of two character learn the secret of who they are corresponding with, at the halfway point of the movie. Movies that wait until the very end to let something like this out generally tend to feel like a big build up for something that wasn’t really worth the wait. But when a movie unleashes a major revelation like this in the middle of the film, it’s an interesting move because it leaves the audience wondering what will happen next, and how they will make the story work for another full half of the film, now that the secret is already out of the bag. Another cool move is that instead of just seeing Kathleen in the window and turning away to leave, Joe actually goes into the restaurant and pretends like his running into her there is just a coincidence. That’s another example of the movie going for the more clever and challenging move. So the movie definitely has some things going for it, but the problem is that everything that works is between Hanks and Ryan. The scenes between them. And there are only a handful of those sprinkled throughout the film. Most everything else, from the side characters to the relationships that fall apart in order for these two to finally get together, are pretty dull. And all of that fluff and filler that is not the two stars on screen together leads to the movie being just okay.


2016, Mid Year Roundup


July 2016

Six months in, and this is a less than flattering year so far. It seems like many years are like that, with the real heavy hitters coming out in the later portion of the calendar year, just in time for the Oscar nominations. Still, when there have been four superhero movies, and two of them were real stinkers, and then there are still two more on the way, something just doesn’t sound right. Is there superhero fatigue? You better believe it. And also superhero stupidity on the part of the studios to not spread these movies out.

These superhero movies of 2016 are Deadpool and Captain America Civil War, (the good ones,) Batman V Superman and X-Men Appocalypse (the bad ones,) and Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange (the question marks.) The biggest crime of these is Batman Vs Superman which really should have been better on so many levels.

While the list of good movies seen so far this year is pretty limited to include only Deadpool, Captain America Civil War, Everybody Wants Some, and The Jungle Book, there are also plenty of movies that have been released to positive word of mouth, which still need to be seen. These are the movies missed, which have real potential. The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Eye in the Sky, The Witch, and Hail Caesar. Then there are two animated films which are also supposed to be very good… Finding Dory and Zootopia.

And there are also a handful of movies that look decent and are still coming out. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Star Trek Beyond, Inferno, Jason Bourne, Sausage Party, The Birth of a Nation, The Magnificent Seven, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Passengers, and Sully. Who knows, maybe even Ghostbusters will somehow be good. I’m sure rooting for it, considering that the director is Paul Feig, and he’s been all hits and success so far. But with this as our upcoming slate and nothing new from The Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Tarantino, or anyone else of note, it’s not exactly looking to be all that promising.

The State of Superhero Movies


Superhero Movies. It’s a genre that has taken over. Now, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive side of it, we now get a whole lot of options and a whole lot to choose from. Characters who we never thought we’d see brought to the big screen, (Ant Man,) are now getting their own films.

On the negative side of things, with everyone trying to cash in on the craze, plenty of products that are being turned out are not very good. The Amazing Spider Man 2 screwed up in all kinds of ways, starting with the trailer. The Josh Trank directed Fantastic Four film was also a mess, and that one was due to a studio that had no faith in its director. Finally, there is Batman Vs Superman, which might or might not be good. I’m hoping for the best, but the latest trailer, which shows both Doomsday and Wonder Woman at the end, really gives away too much. Have we learned nothing from that Amazing Spider Man 2 trailer, where the Rhino was featured front and center? He turned out to be the very last scene of the film. Talk about giving away too much.

Looking ahead, this year, 2016, will bring us a lot of superhero movies. 7 to be exact. The following year, by comparison, only has 6, and then the year after that, 2018, only has 4. I’m sure some of the 2017 films will be good, and some won’t. Hopefully the ones that don’t rely on effects so much that whole characters are computerized (like Ultron was in Avengers: Age of Ultron,) will be the better films. My guess is that Gambit will be the weakest of the bunch, but it might get some competition from X-Men Appocalypse or Batman V Superman. I am also predicting that Captain America: Civil War is the best of the group and then Suicide Squad and Deadpool are right behind. That leaves out Doctor Strange, and until we get a first trailer, and actually see the look of the film, it’s really hard to make any guesses about that one.

One thing I don’t love about the 2016 lineup is that there are two movies being released in May, and then none in June or July. Summer is the time for these movies. It’s Superhero movie season. Marvel knows that, which is why they always claim the first weekend of May. Then, they don’t want to give that first film of theirs competition, so they space out and tend to give us something in July or August (in the past, these movies have been Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man.) Marvel’s lineup from the past two years had Captain America: Civil War in April / May, then Guardians in August. Avengers: Age of Ultron in May, then Ant Man in July. But in 2016, it looks like the summer months aren’t being used very well. Nothing in June or July and two movies in May? Ridiculous.

Luckily, the following year looks to be doing things a little better. That year, 2017, there is a superhero movie coming out in May, June, and July. Now that’s more like it.

Here is the lineup of Superhero films coming out in 2016.



Deadpool   (February 12)

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)

Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)

X-Men Appocalypse (May 27th)

Suicide Squad (August 5th)

Doctor Strange (November 4th)



Wolverine (March 3rd, 2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5th, 2017)

Wonder Woman (June 23rd, 2017)

Spider Man (July 7th, 2017)

Fox / Marvel Movie – Gambit or Deadpool 2? (Oct 2017)

Thor: Ragnorak (Nov 3rd, 2017)

Justice League: Part 1 (Nov 17, 2017)



Black Panther (Feb 2018)

Fox / Marvel Movie – Gambit or Deadpool 2? (March 2, 2018)

The Flash (March 16, 2018)

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 (May 4th, 2018)

X-Men: New Mutants (June 29, 2018)

Ant Man and The Wasp (July 6th, 2018)

Aquaman (July 27, 2018)

The Batman (Oct 5, 2018)



Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019)

Shazam (April 5, 2019)

Avengers Infinity War: Part 2 (May 3, 2019)

Justice League Part 2 (June 14, 2019)

Suicide Squad 2 (Nov 2019)



Most Anticipated Movies of 2016



So Many movies to look forward to.

Here are my top most anticipated films as of now.

1.) Captain America: Civil War

2.) Suicide Squad

3.) Ghostbusters

4.) Dr. Strange

5.) Deadpool

6.) Batman Vs. Superman

7.) X-Men Appocalypse

8.) Jason Bourne

9.) Star Wars: Rogue One

10.) Assassins Creed

Here’s a little bit about each of these films, and why I am looking forward to them. First of all, as of this moment, in March, I have already seen Deadpool. It was a February release, and quite a good film. I was excited for the movie because of its R rating and promise to be something different in the superhero genre. This was the movie that took on the genre and made fun of it, and was filled with graphic humor and violence, both at the same time. It’s the kind of film I enjoyed, but did not love, and can already tell that I can’t wait to see again. That’s because there were tons of jokes that flew by so fast, I didn’t even have the chance to catch them. Looking forward to giving a closer listen on a second viewing.

Now for the nine other movies on the list, none of which I have yet to see. Captain America: Civil War. This movie looks incredible. The Marvel movies are the most bankable films out there, in the world of Superhero movies. From Iron Man to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at least half of them, (like the first Avengers movie,) are great. Captain America: Civil War definitely looks like it will be another one to add to the list.

From there, we have Suicide Squad. This is a superhero movie presented in dark and disturbing undertones. David Ayer, the man behind most cop dramas, is directing. This is the guy who masterminded everything from Training Day to Dark Blue. Sure, not all of his films are great, (did anyone see Harsh Times?), but overall he’s pretty talented. And Suicide Squad looks about as dark as it needs to be. With great villains, (including the Joker,) and a promise to have Batman in the movie as well, this should be a fun time.

Ghostbusters is next. Some people are down on the movie based on the first trailer. Not me. I have no problems with that trailer and in fact, think it is pretty funny. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are falling right into their usual stride, and that’s exactly what you want. The same can be said of Leslie Jones. It’s Kate McKinnon who is the wild card. Either way, the movie is directed by Paul Feig, and that’s a name that deserves lots of considerable attention. Feig has not let me down yet. He is the man who made Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. All Melissa McCarthy movies, and in fact, all of them her best movies. She hasn’t made a good movie without Feig, and Feig hasn’t made any movie without her. The two of them are perfect together. There’s just one caveat. All of their movies have been rated R. Now Ghostbusters hasn’t been rated yet, but I’m guessing with the name brand and all, it will be PG-13. So the only question is, can Feig and McCarthy do it again, only this time without the R? I’m betting they can.

Next up is Doctor Strange. It’s a Marvel movie. That should be enough said right there. After all, look at Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man. These guys do not screw up. Especially not when they are giving a character an origin film. And on top of that, the cast looks stellar. You’ve got Benedict Cumberbatch playing Strange, and he looks perfect in the role. Then you’ve got Tilda Swinton playing an androgenous spirit character, and also Chiwetel Ejiofor. The director is the man who made a bunch of horror films, like the sinister movies. That’s the only point I’m not sure about. This director. Then again, I wasn’t sure about James Gunn before he made Guardians or Peyton Reed before he made Ant Man, and look how both of those turned out. I’m sure it will be fantastic.

Batman V Superman is the movie I’m really hoping is good. It’s just such a great concept, and I love the cast and director. Zach Snyder is a man with a vision. From 300 to Watchmen, to his breakout film, The Dawn of the Dead remake, Snyder is nealy always on top of his game. He had one screwup with Sucker Punch, but other than that, he’s been flawless. What he did with Man of Steel was pretty cool. Too dark for some, but incredibly interesting, nonetheless. I expect Batman V Superman to be even better. It’s not only got those two, but also Lex Luthor and Wonderwoman and Doomsday. In fact, it might have too much. I sure hope this movie isn’t overpacked, or that they haven’t shown us too much already in the trailers the way that The Amazing Spider Man 2 did.

X-Men Appocalypse is a movie that doesn’t look especially good, but it’s got something pretty major on its side. Every X-Men movie has been worthwhile. Even the bad ones. On the list of lousy X-Men movies, you’ve got to have X-Men III, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine. And while those three films are all flawed, they also have plenty of redeeming qualities. There’s also something else to note about X-Men Appocalypse. It is by the same director who has made most of the X-Men films, Bryan Singer, and yet he isn’t the one behind any of those crappy ones. In other words, of all the great X-Men movies, Singer has made all of them except for one (X-Men First Class.) He is a man who knows what to do with this universe, and has shown us that with every one of his new entries. Appocalypse is a cool villain and Oscar Issac is a great actor to portray him. My concern is that the movie will be too heavy on CGI effects, but even if it is, if the story is good, and the action is fun, that’s really all that matters.

Jason Bourne. It’s about time. Matt Damon is back. So is director Paul Greengrass. These guys made the second and third Bourne movies together. For me, personally, I like the first Bourne movie the best, and so I would really be the most excited if Doug Liman (the guy who made that film, and also Swingers and Edge of Tomorrow,) was coming back. But this is the next best thing. Greengrass is a very talented director who gives an aura of seriousness and drama to his films. He also makes them dark and gritty as hell. Both of his Matt Damon Bourne movies were good, and I expect this one to be the same. It’s really Damon who is the selling point on this one. He is so right for the character and series, and without him it all falls apart. They tried doing that with the Jeremy Renner version, The Bourne Legacy, and it sucked. It’s good to have Damon back in the title role.

Star Wars: Rogue One. So this movie is a prequel to the original Star Wars movie. It actually takes place in between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope (between episodes III and IV.) Amazing that they are able to do that with this series. Make prequels that actually fit in right in the middle of the timeline. There are so many films here, in all kinds of fractured order, that they can’t even do numbers anymore. If they did, I suppose this one would be episode 3 and 1/2. What I’m really looking forward to is how closely it connects to A New Hope. It’s about the rebels stealing the Death Star plans. The movie is directed by Gareth Edwards, who is a decent filmmaker. I didn’t really care for his big budget Godzilla film, but when he went at it with a smaller scale, to make the movie Monsters, he turned out a pretty excellent picture. Clearly the man has talent. I look forward to seeing what he does with this one.

Lastly, there’s Assassins Creed. It stars Michael Fasbender, an excellent actor, and is videogame adaptation. I believe if there’s any movie that can pull off a good videogame adaptation, it’s this one. The movie has a classic film director, this guy who made Macbeth with Fasbender and Marion Cotilard. They are both in Assassins Creed. So there’s already a working relationship, and on top of that, word has it they are going for a Par Cour look to the stuntwork, which means real people jumping around in amazing ways, as opposed to all computer effects. Think the opening scene of Casino Royale at the construction site meets the movie District B-13. If they do this right, it should be pretty cool.




Christmas Movies

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Christmas is a great time for movies. It’s the single holiday that gets two days, (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,) that acts as another birthday for anyone who celebrates it, (presents, all around,) and that has tons of atmosphere surrounding it. Whether it’s the lights and decorations, the music, or the movies and tv episodes, this is the biggest holiday in America, and for good reason.


This Christmas I decided to do three nights of movies (leading up to Christmas Eve.) It worked out pretty well, and next year I might just do the same. Different movies, of course. This years plate included A Christmas Story, Love Actually, and Scrooged. One of those movies, Scrooged, is absolutely my favorite Christmas film. It’s a modern take on A Christmas Carol, the classic Charles Dickens story, and it’s both a funny and scary film. It’s the kind of movie that is so outrageous, (The Scrooge promo that is all about death, the action packed opening scene at the North Pole,) that you can’t help but smile. And Bill Murray carries the entire thing on his shoulders in a way that nobody else could.


This is also the first year that I really got into A Christmas Story. I’ve seen it before and in fact, I tend to watch the beginning of the movie every year, but then fall asleep somewhere in the second half. This is the first year where I really worked hard to watch the entire thing, and it turns out to be a pretty great film. It’s funny and smart, and very much about being a kid and taking on the adults around Christmas time. Not in any kind of violent way (we’ve got Home Alone for that,) but more of a mental challenge kind of way. It’s about a boy named Ralphie who is trying to outsmart his parents in order to get them to buy him a certain toy for Christmas.


And then there’s Love Actually, the classic short story shakeup, filled with interweaving and connections, that all unfold around Christmastime. This is the English movie that is filled with great actors (from Hugh Grant to Alan Rickman to Liam Neeson, to Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley.) There are tons of stories here, and just about all of them are great. My favorite is the story that sort of carries the movie, about an aging pop singer who has hit it big on the charts, once again, and is now finding real love for the very first time. This man, played by Bill Nighy, is so raw and unabashedly funny, that he and his storyline can be thrown in at any moment in the film, and it always gets a laugh. Aside from his story, however, there are tons of great ones, including Colin, the boy who goes to America looking for women who will appreciate him, and two stand-ins on a movie set who are used to having their clothes off around each other.


So it was a pretty good lineup this year. Next year I might try to throw in an oldie (It’s A Wonderful Life,) as well as Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. After all, there should be one version or telling of that Dickens story ever year, one way or another.


A Winter Worth Watching


This might be the best upcoming Winter of movies in ages. I’m specifically talking about the end of November through December. Just slightly over a month, and so much going on. In that time, there are a number of movies that look fantastic, then others that look very good, and still a few more that have some real potential.


Of course, the two big ones are Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Hateful 8. Those movies are both poised to be tremendous. For me, it’s a tough call regarding which one I am more excited for. If the Star Wars movie wasn’t directed by JJ Abrahms, than I would easily side with The Hateful 8. And that of course would be mainly due to Quentin Tarantino. But Abrahms is so good at what he does, and everything about Star Wars looks great, that it’s nearly impossible to pick one movie over the other. Especially since The Hateful 8 looks so intriguing.


In the case of both of these movies, it’s about the filmmaker more than anything else. There are plenty of bonuses, of course, such as the way The Hateful 8 all takes place in one cabin where the characters are trapped together after being snowed in. With Star Wars, the bonus is getting the original cast back together. But it’s the filmmakers and their proven track records which really show that these movies will be made with great quality and intelligence.


Now that’s just the first two movies. There are two others that look very good, and then two more that have some real potential. The two that look like they should be a lot of fun are The Night Before and Sisters. The Night Before is a Seth Rogen comedy about three buddies hanging out for one night at Christmastime. It looks like a wild, one night, letting loose on the streets of New York City, kind of movie. Like the previously mentioned films, this one is all about one name. Rogen. He has a proven track record as well. Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, This is the End, Neighbors, and the Interview. Of those movies, the only ones Rogen didn’t write were Knocked Up and Neighbors. And even with those, Rogen was able to insert his own brand of humor. The guy is super talented, and The Night Before looks right up his alley.


With Sisters, I’m a little more skeptical, only because I didn’t love the last Tina Fey – Amy Poehler movie, Baby Mama. The difference here, is that Sisters is rated R (Baby Mama was PG-13.) As such, perhaps they are going more for the Bridesmaids / Trainwreck level of humor, which is definitely a good thing. It’s the go-for-broke, holding nothing back when it comes to being funny,  element, that was originally introduced to us by Judd Apatow movies (both Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, and also all of those Rogen movies were Apatow produced.) And Sisters  looks like it should be pretty funny. The premise about these girls moving back in with their parents and throwing a massive party sounds like it should be good for a whole bunch of laughs. It also sounds a little like Step Brothers, and that movie was pretty good.


The two other movies worth mentioning are Creed and Crampus. Something tells me I can wait for both of those to see on DVD. Not that I think they will be bad or anything, but I just don’t know if they will be must sees in theaters, like the other four most likely are. Creed in particular, I am not as into as I thought I would be. That’s probably because the promotion and buzz around it haven’t been great. Then again, the critics reviews are pretty good. It’s more of the lack of momentum than anything else. Is this being promoted as a Rocky movie or as something else? I’m not even sure that the people behind the movie have a clear answer to that. Still, it definitely looks interesting, and to see Stallone back in that role, only playing a side character, definitely seems like the way to go. If this were another Rocky movie with Stallone as the star, I would have no interest at all. Doing it this way, featuring Michael B. Jordan up front, very well might be the best approach.


With Crampus, I’m not sure what exactly it is, but I like the energy and spirit I see in the trailer. First of all, we always need a good Christmas movie. This Christmas we are being given both Krampus and The Night Before. And like The Hateful 8, Krampus is about characters who are snowed in and confined to a single house. It’s a sort of horror-Christmas movie, and that’s fine, but what I’m really curious about is what tone the movie will have. I’m hoping for some humor and campiness. Something like the Evil Dead 2. With a cast that includes Adam Scott, Tony Collette, and David Koechner, you would think it has to be a comedy. I certainly hope so.


Lastly, there’s the Revenant. This is a movie that looks more artsy and Terrence Malick-like than anything else. It’s directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iniritu, (the director who made Birdman last year.) People are really excited about this movie because it is Iniritu and because it stars Leonardo Dicaprio. With me, I just don’t know. It might be a little too slow and artistic, much like the way that Malick’s films are. Sure, Birdman was good, but other than that, this director hasn’t done much. His most known movies are Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros. Not exactly a stellar resume. And Dicaprio is a good actor, but it seems like he’s had luck on his side based on the filmmakers he’s been working with, more than anything else. With The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorcese), and Django Unchained (Tarantino,) I give the directors more credit for how those films turned out, than I give to Dicaprio. So The Revenant could really go either way.


So there you have it. Two Christmas movies. Two movies about being snowed in and stuck in one location. Two straight up comedies, featuring either Apatow players or SNL players. An action movie that is incredibly promising (Star Wars), A possible throwback movie to the Rocky series, and a possible horror-comedy. And all of this is not even mentioning the surefire Oscar bait that will be released that month. Movies like Carol (about a lesbian couple, featuring Cate Blanchet,) The Danish Girl (about a transgender male, featuring Eddie Redmayne,)  and Trumbo, (about the blacklisted screenwriter during the McCarthy era, featuring Bryan Cranston.) Lots of good movies to look forward to in just a small amount of time.


Nov 28th – update 1:

So far, just saw Creed and it was pretty good. A definite crowd pleaser. This movie had just the right amount of Rocky, which means he was hardly the star, but was featured quite a lot. And it also made a bunch of references to the Rocky series, while at the same time really feeling like a spin-off and like its own thing. I have to say, I’m impressed. Nothing felt cliched or ridiculous, and instead, we got a pretty thrilling film. The boxing scenes, in particular were incredibly well-filmed.


Dec 20th, update 2:

As of now, I have only seen two of the movies mentioned. Creed and The Night Before. Of those two, Creed was the better one. The Night Before was just okay. Some of it was funny, but it wasn’t one of Rogen’s better films. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out, and I plan to see that real soon. Sisters is getting bad reviews. Crampus did well, but I think I’ll wait for that one to come to video. The Revenant I’m still very undecided about. And then there’s the Hateful Eight. That and Star Wars are the movies I just have to see! I can’t wait!


2015 So Far (Jan-Aug)



The year is already three quarters in, but considering what the Fall and Winter usually mean for quality films, the best just might be yet to come. Let’s hope so, because there have been a whole lot of okay films, but very few that are actually great. From the first four months or so, there was really only one good film. Kingsmen. It’s a Matthew Vaughn movie, which means you know it’s got to be good, but how long can this guys track record last? It’s him Tarantino and the Coen Brothers on the list of diectors who can do no wrong. Even guys like Wes Anderson and David Fincher have had misfires. The same goes for Paul Thomas Anderson and Danny Boyle. But Vaughn is a rare talent and he has yet to disappoint. Kingsmen is the one movie that made it out of those first few months without barely a scratch.

After that, the other great movies were Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ant Man, and Jurassic World. If there was a number five movie it would have to be Avengers: Age of Ultron. Oh, and of course, there’s Burnt, (which won’t actually be released until the Fall), the Bradley Cooper, chef in London flick. That might actually be my favorite movie of the year so far. It’s definitely up there.

Another movie that’s got a spot on the list, as of now. The movie Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy. That Paul Feig is another director who really seems to be able to do no wrong. His movie Bridesmaids was in my top three of the year 2011, and then his film The Heat made my top ten of 2013. Spy is not quite as good as either of those films, but it is still a lot of fun.

And then there’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie that I didn’t love the first time, but definitely appreciated. This is a movie that I absolutely want to see again and dig into a little more. It’s a movie that will hold a place on my list for now and very likely will end up there, maybe even in a better position on the list, by years end.

That makes eight films already. Now, of the eight, none are terrific. Even still, it’s nice to have a jumping off point, going into the fall and winter seasons.


Here’s the list as it stands right now….


1) Burnt

2)  Kingsmen: The Secret Service

3) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

4) Straight Outta Compton

5) Ant Man

6) Spy

7) Jurassic World

8) The Avengers: Age of Ultron

9) Mad Max: Fury Road


By years end, I don’t expect Spy, the Avengers movie, or even Jurassic World to still be on the list. Instead, you can bet The Hateful Eight has a good chance of being on there. Other than Deathproof, I don’t think there’s ever been a year when a Tarantino movie didn’t make the list. And then there’s the new Bond movie, Spectre, which just might be pretty great, considering it was directed by Sam Mendes (the same guy who made Skyfall, which was also great.)

Now, regarding what the year looks like from a financial point of view, so far Jurassic World is the big winner (it is actually the third highest grossing film of all time.) There’s a sequel on the way. Other success stories that already have sequels in the works from this year include The Equalizer and Kingsmen. The Equalizer and Inside Out are both movies that were good, but not great. These are the kinds of movies (and Trainwreck too, I suppose) that were enjoyable, but far from anything that would earn a place on the years top ten list.

Another movie I expect to see on the list by years end is the new Star Wars film, the Force Awakens. As directed by JJ Abrahms, this film looks superb. Abrahms seems to be doing everything right, using practical effects wherever possible, and really trying to capture the spirit of the original trilogy. He is a great filmmaker who has never made a bad film (Star Trek Into Darkness is his weakest, and it’s still pretty good.) Something tells me that his forray into Star Wars will be great!


Movies Missed:



Ex Machina

Get Hard

The Gift




Spy Movie Franchises

Something really interesting happened over the past year or so. The spy movie came back. In a major way. The one series that’s been kicking around the longest has been James Bond. That goes all the way back to Sean Connerey in the sixites, and never really went away. But right now we’ve also got the Mission Impossible films and the Bourne movies, and they all seem to be doing remarkably well.
This past weekend, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the series, opened, and it was great. Not only that, but it came in ahead of schedule (it was slated to hit theaters in December and instead got moved up to the first weekend of August,) and achieved instant critical as well as public acclaim. The movie is quite good and is doing very nicely at the box office. So much so, that they are already at work on the next film in the series, which will probably start production next year.
All of that with the newest Bond movie coming out this Fall. And that’s on the heels of the last Bond movie, Skyfall, which made the most money of any film in the series to date. This was such a huge milestone that they got the same director back, which is almost unheard of for these kinds of movies. But Sam Mendes is super talented and what he did with Skyfall was very impressive.
And then there’s the Bourne movies, and a lot can be determined from looking at what’s happening with that series. Matt Damon had walked away from it after completing his trilogy. Every one of those movies was good, but he had just had enough. The fans and public disagreed. They wanted him back. And with that kind of demand, he is now coming back. There is a new Bourne film in production right now, to be released next year. The movie has just cast Tommy Lee Jones as the man who will most likely be hunting our guy down. The director is returning favorite Paul Greengrass (who helmed the last two Bourne movies.)
Now, it’s not all glitter and gold for these films. The Jeremy Renner Bourne spinoff film, The Bourne Legacy, was not very well liked. And that’s partially what brought Matt Damon back into the mix. But people tend to like Renner over all, based on the projects he picks (he is a major player in both the Mission Impossible univers as well as the Avengers films.) And now, what we are looking at in the future, is a crossover in the Bourne universe. My guess regarding this series is that after the new movie with Damon and Tommy Lee Jones, the next one features both Matt Damon and Renner. And if that does well, who knows, maybe Renner gets another shot at his own version and the series keeps going with both Damon and Renner headlining their own films.
There are many questions that reamin up in the air about all this, such as how long will Daniel Craig continue to play Bond (hopefully as long as possible,) and who will direct the new Mission Impossible movie that they begin working on next year. There’s been talk of getting director Christopher McQuarrie back, the man who directed this last film Rogue Nation, but I’m not in favor of that idea. Granted Rogue Nation was pretty great, but even still a trademark of the series has been that they get a new director for every movie, and I would love to see that keep going. There are two directors who I think should strongly be considered.
Those directors are Doug Liman and Bryan Singer. Liman recently worked with Tom Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow, which was great. It didn’t do very well at the box office, but word of mouth has been huge on this thing, and it is still generating buzz and catching on with the public. Even though it didn’t make much money, the movie is known to be so good and so well-liked that they are actually talking about making a sequel. So Liman, who is a good filmmaker (Swingers, Go), would be a nice addition.
The other one is Bryan Singer. This is the guy behind nearly all of the X-Men movies (4 of the 6.) He’s the guy who directed The Usual Suspects (while Christopher McQuarrie wrote it.) Singer has worked with Cruise before on the movie Valkyrie. Now, that’s important because it seems like Cruise wants to work with directors that he has had experience with in the past. Cruise is the producer of the series, and his trust in the filmmaker is very important. The list movie, Rogue Nation, was by McQuarrie, who Cruise had just worked with in Jack Reacher. And the last point for Singer is that he needs to do something besides X-Men that catches the publics attention. His other attempts (Superman Returns, Jack the Giant Slayer) have not done very well. Still, my money is on Liman, because of how well-regarded Edge of Tomorrow is. Not only by the public, but also, and more importantly, by Cruise.
It’s a very interesting time we are in right now with these spy movies. Of course we will never see a crossover between the main characters, and that’s probably a good thing. As long as they keep expanding their universes on their own, and as long as the movies keep coming out great, then the more movies they make, the better. That being said, there probably is no room for any new series to enter into the mix. This summer gives us a movie called The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is in the same kind of genre, and I doubt it will do very well. But what those other movies are doing is tremendous. The Mission Impossible films keep adding a new character to the mix with every film (first Ving Rhames, then Simon Pegg, then Jeremy Renner, and now Alec Baldwin.) Based on how good these films have been, how great Skyfall was, and how the Bourne movies are getting back in the saddle with Matt Damon, there are more promising things to come.

Comic Con 2015 (July 2015)


Disney Panel: Star Wars, The Force Awakens

Comic Con 2015

This year was an interesting Comic Con. It was the first year since the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, back in 2007, that Marvel decided not to show up. That’s kind of crazy, considering that the Iron Man panel from that year basically launched Comic Con into the home for superhero movies, and also that the Iron Man panel was so instrumental to the success of the Iron Man movie, as well as all of the MCU films that followed it. Still, despite Marvel not being present at Comic Con in any way this year (not even to promote Ant Man which was a little surprising), the weekend event was still a major success. Chalk that up to the two other studios making comic book films, Warner Brothers and Fox, really picking up the slack to make up for it.
The event began on Thursday with a panel for the new and final Hunger Games movie, but the real fun didn’t start until Friday when the cast of the new Star Wars film took the stage. They were accompanied by director J.J. Abrahms, writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote some of the original three films), and producer Kathleen Kennedy. First, the new cast came out, including Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac. Then the original three came out. Mark Hammil (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), and finally Harrison Ford (Han Solo.) They fielded questions from the audience, and then a four minute reel was shown that contained footage from the new film, behind the scenes filming, and interviews.
Saturday brought on even more. This was the big comic book movie day. Warner Brothers took the stage first to promot their D.C. cinematic universe. There are two big films being filmed right now at this studio. The first is Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. The entire cast took the stage for that one, including Ben Affleck as Batman and director Zack Snyder. They answered questions and then showed a lenghty new trailer for their movie. This trailer, just like the Star Wars footage, came in at nearly four minutes, and it explained a lot, including the connection between Bruce Wayne and the events from the end of Man of Steel.
The other big D.C. movie is Suicide Squad, and that also got a full panel with the entire cast. Director David Ayer stepped up to the plate challenging Marvel and explaining why the D.C. universe is better. This cast didn’t really answer questions, but they did bring a trailer for their film, and unlike the previous panels, this was the first time we were ever seeing footage from the movie. The trailer ended with Jared Leto’s Joker doing his maniac laughs and spouting a few lines.
The other studio with it’s hand in the comic book movie world is Fox, and they had two panels as well. The first was for the upcoming film Fantastic Four, directed by Josh Trank. That movie is being released in a few weeks and by all accounts should not be very good. This comes based on all of the news about problems on the set and the director being fired from a Star Wars spinoff project. Then again World War Z was riddled with on set problems and that turned out to be pretty good, so who knows.
The second panel by Fox was for X-Men Appocalypse, the new X-Men movie that will be released next year and the final film of this prequel trilogy which was started with Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. Director Bryan Singer and the cast was on the stage showing concept art of Appcalypse and I believe some footage as well which has yet to be released to the publc. The same can be said of the Deadpool panel that followed. This one featured Ryan Reynolds, Morena Bacano, T.J. Miller, and other members of the cast as well as the director. They showed their first trailer.
So there were six panels that really blew the roof off of Hall H. The Star Wars, Batman Vs Superman, and Suicide Squad panels, as well as the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool panels. Now, on a negative note, there were no major announcements here. That means nothing about who Chris Pine is playing in a DC universe film (Green Lantern or someone in the Wonderwoman movie), nothing about Tyrese (also rumored for that Green Lantern), nothing about Ben Affleck directing the first new Batman movie (news of that broke about a week after), and no Justice League lineup panel. And that’s all from D.C. I’m not sure what Fox could have broke regarding news, other than maybe a Fantastic Four – X-Men crossover film, and it’s too bad they didn’t do that, because it would have been great promotion for people to go out and see this new Fantastic Four movie. Still, with all the new footage, the lack of announcements was not such a big deal. Hats off to both Warner Brothers and Fox for stepping up to the plate in Marvel’s absense. Can’t wait to see how all of these films turn out.



Sequels and Remakes News (June 2014)

A new round of sequels and remakes news has really popped up in this past month. That’s not too surprising since by now, mid-June, we are firmly in the middle of the summer movie season and seeing which films are doing well enough to get sequels or determine trends.
Right now the biggest hits of the summer have been The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Jurassic World. There will most likely be sequels to all three of these movies (obviously we already know about what’s coming next for the Avengers, with next years Captain America: Civil War looking a lot like another Avengers film itself.) The other big movies so far have been San Andreas and Pitch Perfect 2. And then there’s the movie that is the biggest loser so far, regarding the box office, and that would be Tomorrowland. Apparently Disney has already lost so much money from this film, that they pulled the plug on a third Tron movie that was in the works, because it would have been similar.
The recent sequel and remake news starts with the Rock announcing that he will be making a Big Trouble in Little China remake. There’s a good deal of backlash here, since that movie clearly doesn’t need to be remade and will never be able to capture the same eighties-B movie, John Carpenter-Kurt Russell, bad special effects, feel again. To help smooth things over, The Rock has publicly stated that he wants to get Carpenter back, either directing or producing. This all came out right after The Rock’s film, San Andreas, made a ton of money.
Other news is that Joe Carnahan might be directing Bad Boys 3. It will have the same cast, of course, and I like Carnahan stepping in as the director. This is the guy who made Narc and The Grey. He also made some lousy movies, including Smoking Aces and The A Team. Basically, when he stays on a smaller scale and goes for darker, grittier films, he is at his best. I’m just happy that the director won’t be Michael Bay. It’s about time they pump some new blood into these movies, and change up the style a little.
The Paul Feig Ghostbusters reboot also has some news. This is the new Paul Feig – Melissa McCarthy project. They also have a movie out this summer which is doing well and is supposedly pretty good. This summer the actor-director duo have given us Spy, a sort of spoof on the James Bond – Mission Impossible franchises. With Ghostbusters, we have known that the four members were Kristin Wiig, McCarthy, Kate Mckinnon, and Leslie Jones. Those later two actresses are in the current Saturday Night Live cast. Wiig was a former member. And now we learn that Cecily Strong will also be in the movie (another current member of SNL.) It seems like a little too much taken from the same pool.
That being said, we also learned recently that Emma Stone was indeed offered a role in the Ghostbusters remake and turned it down. That makes me feel a little better about the SNL cast being chosen, because it means they went to the right people first and didn’t just jump in bed with SNL. Stone should have done it and would have been perfect. Still, with Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy, it’s gotta be pretty good. These two have had success in all three movies they did together… Bridesmaids, The Heat, and now Spy.
The Ghostbusters remake still has other casting news, which is that Chris Hemsworth (Thor) has joined the cast to play the secretary. In the original films it was always a team of guys with a female secretary (Annie Potts playing Janine.) Now, it will be an all female team with a male secretary.
Finally, there is the Netflix / Marvel news that John Berenthal (Shane on The Walking Dead,) will be in the new Daredevil season, playing The Punisher. Daredevil had a tremendous season 1 and really got the public’s attention. It got people in Hollywood talking to the point where Tom Hardy started saying he’d like to play the Punisher (he probably meant on the big screen, and not on Netflix,) and the Jason Statham got into talks about playing the villain Bulls-Eye fro the Netflix show. That deal fell through, and Berenthal stepped up. This guy was great on the Walking Dead and in the Wolf of Wall Street, and I hear he is pretty awesome in Fury tos.