Category Archives: Animated

“Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” Movie Review

I write this review with the full knowledge that not many of my readers will actually care about Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. I can live with that. This 3D computer-animated family comedy was released on June 2nd, 2017, where it grossed over $77 million against a $38 million budget. This makes this film the lowest budget animation from Dreamworks in the studio’s history. It also marks the second directorial effort of animator David Soren. Based on the long-running and recently-ended series of children’s novels by Dav Pilkey, best friends George and Harold, voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch, are a pair of prankster elementary school students who love writing comic books and stories. One day, they accidentally hypnotize their mean-spirited principal Mr. Krupp, voiced by Ed Helms. They then convince him that he is Captain Underpants, the hero of their comic books, and things don’t quite go as expected for them. I remember reading some of the books in this series when I was younger and enjoying them. I wasn’t immensely impressed, but it was still fun reading. And when I heard that they were adapting it into an 89-minute feature film, my reaction was something of passable trepidation. But then, I saw on Rotten Tomatoes (A website that isn’t always accurate) the film got moderately positive reviews, and so I actually spent $11 to see this in my nearby theater. And I walked out feeling the same way as I did with the books: not particularly impressed, but still rather pleased and entertained. Kevin Hart continues his streak of family-friendly animation from last year’s The Secret Life of Pets here, which is actually surprising considering how adult-oriented his stand-up routines usually are. He and Thomas Middleditch share some nice chemistry, as their youthful voices sell the ideas that these two have been best friends since the 5th grade. Some of the pranks they pulled had me in stitches, while others felt like they were trying a bit too hard. Ed Helms more or less plays an animated version of his character Andy Bernard from The Office, as both Captian Underpants and Principal Krupp are total idiots. Thankfully, he’s able to switch between the two of them relatively easily. One’s an angry but misunderstood school supervisor, the other’s a fictional superhero who introduces himself by singing, “Tra-la-laaa!!” In the world where superheroes have brooding catchphrases like “I’m Batman” or “In brightest day, in blackest night,” it is nice to listen to something a little more lighthearted. Nick Kroll and Jordan Peele both voice the respective bad guys in the film, albeit very different ones. Peele voices the arch-nemesis of George and Harold, a child prodigy obsessed with grades. Kroll shines as a German, humor-hating science professor with a very embarrassing last name. Both are good and play fair to the stereotypes they’re with. That being said, the sense of humor found in Captain Underpants is very juvenile. Similar to the source material, several of the jokes are specifically centered around toilets and farting kids. But the main characters frequently break the fourth wall to address this to the audience, adding a great feeling of self-awareness to the overall package. Potty humor is the lowest form of wit on this Earth, and they’ll either fully embrace it or poke fun at it. Occasionally they do both at the same time. In fact, the final act of the rather short 89-minute picture is centered around the idea that the antagonist is trying to rid the world of humor and laughter from children. The way he does it? A scanning laser from atop a massively enlargened, toxic toilet. Obviously, this isn’t going to be competing with any of Pixar Animation’s finest achievements over the years in terms of visual storytelling. But when it comes to the visuals alone, Captain Underpants is pretty damn impressive. The character models are shaped and animated just as they were in the books, faithful in at least its visual adaptation. All of the animation, in general, is smooth and crisp at 24 frames-per-second. Similar to 2015’s The Peanuts Movie, the creators managed to inventively bring a two-dimensional cartoon strip series into glorious 3D computer animation with imaginative flair. So if for nothing else, give them props for that. Ultimately, though, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie doesn’t do quite enough to completely justify its cinematic existence. The humor is mostly low-brow, the voice acting is good but not award-worthy, and the storyline is as predictable as a kids movie can get. But the still gets in some good laughs in amidst nice animation. It’s great that it remains aware of what it is. If it tried to have some sort of higher meaning then it would just be too awkward. But thankfully, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a fittingly absurd round of family-friendly fun that never really impresses.

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“The Lego Batman Movie” Movie Review

There is a common belief in the world of cinema that if you put Batman into anything, then it’s bound to be good. That is a completely correct statement, and movies like this are why. This animated superhero action-comedy was released on February 10th, 2017, grossing over $90 million in the first weekend alone. With the unexpected success of 2014’s The Lego Movie, Waner Bros. quickly announced its plans for an expanded franchise of films set in this buildable universe, including The Lego Ninjago Movie, which is set for a release in September. Set 3 years after the adventures of Emmet Brickowsky wrapped up, the titular hero returns to Gotham City. After their latest battle against one another, his greatest enemy The Joker is heartbroken when he realizes that Batman doesn’t think much of him- or anyone, for that matter. So he formulates a plan to take the Dark Knight, and his sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder, down in a blaze of glory. When I first saw the trailer for The Lego Batman Movie, I didn’t know what to think of it, primarily because spin-offs that focus on supporting characters have had a bad track record.. However, that fear was completely gone during the first 5-10 minutes of this movie, when I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard. It set the tone for the rest of the movie, and for the remainder of its 104 minute-long runtime, it’s line after line and quip after quip of Batman spoof comedy. I’m telling you, it was exhausting. Though it does take a slight dip about halfway through, finally giving audience members time to catch a breath. It’s at that point when we start to see the family dynamic flourish, which really works for the title character’s nature. And in the lead role, Will Arnett is brilliant and hilarious in his voice role. Mimicking the rough, throat cancer-laden voice of Christian Bale from the Dark Knight trilogy, this is perhaps my second favorite on-screen portrayal of the character. Let’s be honest: There was a point where Batman could not be taken seriously anymore. *cough Save Martha cough cough* And considering the extensive lore from both the comic books and movies, there’s a lot of material to draw from and parody regarding this character. Opposite him, Zach Galifianakis brings his awkward nature to The Joker. He’s not up in the annals with Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, but he is a perfect villain for what they were going for. It’s just so fun to watch him unfold his master plan, regardless of what media he’s in, and The Lego Batman Movie is no exception. He takes the help from a multitude of villains from the Batman rogues gallery. From Harvey Two-Face and Bane to Z-List villains like The Condiment Man and Mr. Pokadot, (Who, to my everlasting shame, do actually exist) chances are every Batman bad guy you can imagine is here. In the supporting cast, all the actors and actresses seem to indulge themselves in their roles. Ralph Fiennes as a wise, loyal and somewhat sarcastic butler father figure in Alfred Pennyworth, Michael Cerra reunites with his Arrested Development co-star as orphan Robin/Dick Grayson, Rosario Dawson is the strong-willed Barabara Gordon, Channing Tatum as Kryptonian goody two-shoes Superman, and Jonah Hill as the impeccably dumb guardian Green Lantern/Hal Jordan. Even without a microphone, there are still probably a dozen cameos in this film. Not just limited other DC properties like the Justice League, The Lego Batman Movie incorporates characters from all sorts of different media franchises, mostly those owned or distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. This includes Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Godzilla, and The Matrix references any fan is sure to have a field day watching. So seeing Batman and Robin throw down with multiple clones of Agent Smith while the Eye of Sauron tracks their every move is one of many scenes that is impossible not to smile at. I have to give the studio credit because it just feels like something special when they can be willing to let filmmakers make fun of their franchises, especially with all the rewrites, reshoots, and other things we’re dealing with in the DC Extended Universe. Although I probably won’t be clamoring to Best Buy to purchase the soundtrack, Lorne Balfe’s musical score is exciting and matches perfectly for the action sequences. Like The Lego Movie, the soundtrack also contains at least one original song that will keep infecting your brain and keep your foot tapping fo a while. They’re not as political as “Everything is Awesome,” but they’re definitely memorable. Overall, while it may not be as surprising or ambitious as the original, The Lego Batman Movie is still a wicked-fast and hilarious superhero romp that the genre needed like last year’s Deadpool. Like it’s predecessor, it’s beautiful and original style of computer animation, matched with a top-notch voice cast and awesome action, make it a family-friendly blockbuster adventure for all ages- something that seems too rare these days. The fact that this had a stronger opening than Fifty Shades Darker restores my faith in humanity just a little bit.

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Retrospective: Best Films of 2016

The year has drawn to a close, and there were lots of movies to see. 2016 was perhaps the most divisive and unique year so far this decade, in terms of cinema. To select the singular best movie of the year is no easy task for a reviewer such as myself. I could have easily made a list of the Top 20 or Top 15 movies of 2016, but in the end, I had to cut it down to just 10 feature films. As I always remind my Followers, only films I actually did see this year are in the running. There were probably at least 20 movies I wanted to see that came out, but this is what I have. So here’s a list of honorable mentions of films I really wanted to see this year, or just didn’t quite make the final cut. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Movies of 2016.

Honorable Mentions:

Hacksaw Ridge, Doctor Strange, Moonlight, Hidden Figures, The Jungle Book, Lion, Captain America: Civil War, The Edge of Seventeen, Moana, Zootopia, Finding Dory, Fences, Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Paterson, Green Room, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Sing Street, The Witch, The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, Sausage Party, Star Trek Beyond 

10. “Kubo and the Two Strings”

Thought that Disney would get a spot on this list? Well, they’ll have their obligatory place soon enough, but no animation was quite as incredible as this Laika production. Beautiful animation mixed with a bravely original and melancholy story bring this to new heights. Not only that, but the world-building brilliantly establishes a mountain’s worth of rich lore to get invested in. Plus, Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron’s voice performances add a sense of sincerity and humanity to animals. That says something.

9. “10 Cloverfield Lane”

My goodness, wasn’t this an intense film? Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut stayed completely secret and unknown until just 2 months before release. May Elizabeth Winestead shines as the beautiful, yet determined and intelligent protagonist. But John Goodman totally steals the show from right under her, as he’s the one thing scarier than anything outside the bunker. Though it virtually has nothing to do with the original Cloverfield, the story and characters will keep you up at night for a few days afterward. Proof that excellent movies can indeed take place in one place for 2 hours.

8. “Jackie”

A fascinating portrait of one of the 20th century’s most scrutinized figures, Jackie serves as a brilliant reminder of the short yet memorable term of JFK. The first of 2 movies on this list that almost made me cry, at the forefront is Natalie Portman’s powerful performance as the titular First Lady. And given the recent happenings in the United States, this story seems very timely. A strong tour-de-force for acting, this is a heartbreaking biopic worth watching at least once.

7. “Hell or High Water”

One of the more overlooked films of the year, Hell or High Water concerns the dilemma of 2 brothers who begin robbing a string of banks and the Texas Ranger hot on their trail. The original screenplay flows along with complete confidence in the pacing of director David Mackenzie. While the 2 brothers are fabulous in their roles, it’s Jeff Bridges’ scene-stealing turn as the Ranger that makes this story so satisfying to watch. Hell or High Water is truly a neo-Western in every sense of the word.

6. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

No “Best of the Year” list would be complete without an entry in the Star Wars franchise. The first entry in the newly planned Anthology series, Rogue One concerns a group of Rebels who have to steal valuable information in order to defeat the Galactic Empire. Aside, from the great performances and stunning visual effects from ILM, this movie also helped clear up one of the biggest plot holes from the original Star Wars movie in 1977. A rare spin-off that stands on its own while tying previous elements together.

5. “Silence”

This has to be Martin Scorsese’s best film he’s made since Goodfellas, 26 years ago. A passion project that took decades to get off the ground, Silence follows a group of Jesuit priests who go to 17th century Japan to save their disgraced mentor. While some people may find this film frustrating and unsatisfying, the themes of holding onto your beliefs and what truly constitutes faith can resonate with damn near anyone. A beautifully filmed and acted movie, Silence may fly under your radar, but at least give it a shot.

4. “Deadpool”

We moviegoers had a bevy of comic book superhero movies to salivate over in 2016. But none of them made me laugh my ass off harder than Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds was born to play a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed costumed crime-fighter, in a role that completely washes the bad taste from Green Lantern and Xmen Origins: Wolverine from our mouths as early as the opening credits. It may not be one to watch with your children, but damn if it isn’t so fun and hilarious.

3. “The Nice Guys”

Writer-director proves to us that buddy-action comedy mysteries are far from dead with The Nice Guys. Lost in the superhero shuffle of mid-May, this sharply written story about an enforcer and a private investigator is deliciously funny and intriguing. The two leads, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, are endlessly watchable in their banter and interactions. It’s a bummer not many people saw this picture, but that just adds even more reason as to why you should watch it.

2. “La La Land”

The most important thing we take away from this movie? Musicals can still be made in this day and age. Damien Chazelle channels his passion for jazz and classic Gene Kelly productions with La La Land. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as 2 aspiring stars in modern-day Los Angeles, every musical number is catchy and keeps your foot tapping throughout. The gorgeous costumes and seamless cinematography help pull together La La Land into a heartwarming story about following your dreams, no matter what. A colorful, poignant masterpiece paying tribute to a bygone genre.

1. “Arrival”

After well-deserved acclaim for Prisoners and Sicario, Denis Villeneuve rounds out this list with a breathtaking piece of science-fiction. After UFOs land on Earth, a linguist played by Amy Adams is recruited to communicate with the aliens. Not only is it a showcase of beautiful visual effects and haunting performances, but what truly sets Arrival apart from other counterparts is the concept of how language is so important to human culture. There are many layered metaphors that are best seen in the theater. Heavy on speculative ideas, and a poetic “what-if” story, Arrival is not only the best movie of the year, but also arguably one of the best movies of the decade so far.

Do you agree with my list? What was your favorite movie of 2016? Be sure to let me know in the Comments, and be sure to Like this Post and Follow my blog for interesting content like you see here.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” Movie Review

Alright, here are the facts: I have been very busy as the school year started up again. And in the last few weeks, I have seen three movies in theaters. So now, I owe you three reviews, starting with this surprising one. This 3-D stop-motion fantasy adventure debuted on August 19th, 2016, grossing just under $42 million at the international box office. A directorial debut from Travis Knight, this is the fourth feature-length stop-motion picture from Laika Entertainment. What’s it about? That’s actually kind of tough. In a spoiler-free, long-story-short version, it centers on a kid named Kubo who lost his left eye at a very young age. After his tragic past catches up to him, he must now go on a quest to find a set of impenetrable armor to protect and arm himself against those who would wish to manipulate him for evil purposes. Along the way, he is accompanied by two anthropomorphic animal companions: Monkey and Beetle. Now we have ourselves arguably the closest thing we will ever get to a good Legend of Zelda movie. I was admittedly hesitant about this film. The marketing material didn’t particularly grab me, and I’m always weary of stop-motion animation. The best one to date was Fantastic Mr. Fox. A Wes Anderson comedy in the form of talking animals? That was rad. Luckily, Kubo and the Two Strings is pretty cool. Let’s get started with the voice cast. Game of Thrones alumni Art Parkinson owns the title role. He’s relatable, fun-loving, and almost always puts others before himself. It’s interesting to see him go from this timid, quiet storyteller in his village to a heroic adventurer. Furthermore, you get to witness more and more of his powers and abilities over the course of the plot. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. What kind of blog do you think this is? Charlize Theron shines as Monkey, who is a complete badass on this quest. At least three separate times during their adventure, I witnessed her going into action to defend the members of her party. It took me a little while to figure it out, but the character Beetle was voiced by Mathew McConaughey. I couldn’t detect a trace of his Southern twang or hear him say, “Alright, Alright, Alright.” Doesn’t matter though, because he killed it as well, delivering his lines with natural fluidity and comedic timing. I also love how the screenwriters, Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, were able to inject so much mythology into a 102-minute long feature film. Obviously influenced by East Asian culture and legends, it’s very interesting to watch all of the lore and backstory of the world unfold on-screen. The bummer is that I don’t think that it shows enough. I really want to see more of the mythology in a possible franchise. Let’s take a brief moment to talk about the villains that Kubo and Company have to face. I says villains because there are really two main antagonists presented. They had some menace and mystique surrounding them, but over all I didn’t find them very compelling. However, the voice performances, by Rooney Mara and Ralph Fiennes, respectively, were very captivating to listen to. The musical score by Dario Marianelli was an even more captivating joy to the ears. Primarily consisting of Chinese Sitars, violins, and other major string instruments, the score perfectly reflects emotional sadness in one instant and then a grand adventure in the next one. During the credits, there’s even a cover of the Beatles’ famous song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Lastly, the animation is gorgeous. The blending of stop-motion and computer-generated effects is both seamless and beautiful. The use of stop-motion allows for a certain physicality of the characters, while the CG gives the world and magic a lot of room to flourish. Kubo and The Two Strings surprised me this fall. Great animations, fun action, and a decidedly melancholy story elevate this Laika production to one of the best animated pictures of the year. Why I didn’t see this movie and review it much earlier, I will never ever know.

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“Sausage Party” Movie Review

CG-animation, the cast of This is The End, and sexual jokes. Gotta admit: you’re a bit intrigued. This computer-animated comedy was released on August 12th,  2016, raking in $46 million against a $19 million budget. This film has had a tumultuous pre-production, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg trying to sell the spec script to different studios for over 10 years. But now it’s here in theaters, awaiting my objective response. The story follows the various food products in a supermarket who believe that getting chosen by human shoppers is like the Gods bringing them into heaven. The main character, a hot dog sausage named Frank, decides to go on a quest to uncover the truth about their beliefs, soon discovering that everything they’ve ever known is a lie. Now Frank has to move to save his friends. In all honesty, I was laughing really hard for the majority of the film’s runtime. First of all, the voice cast is all great. Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig lead the charge as Frank and his love interest, Brenda. Behind them is an ensemble that includes Edward Norton as a Brooklynesque bagel, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as Frank’s two best friends who are also hot dogs, Salma Hayek as a lustful taco, James Franco as a druggie (who would’ve guessed), and Nick Kroll as a villainous douche. That’s not metaphorical whatsoever. The primary villain in this movie is an actual douche. Talk about taking things in a literal way. Michael Cera stands out from the crowd with his role as Barry. He’s always a funny actor, but his turn as a deformed yet lovable hot dog friend of Frank is easily the best part of the movie. As for the overall sense of humor, that can all be summed up in one word: offensive. Holding nothing back, the screenwriters took their sweet time in the 88-minute feature to exploit every single social and political stereotype in the book. From Nazis hunting the Juice section to street-talking chips, they certainly leave no group of people out of this equation. One minute, you could be laughing your ass off to a specific stereotype. The next, you could be taken aback by how offended a scene left you feeling. And yes, since this is a Seth Rogen movie, there is bound to be some gratuitous nudity. In fact, for a large portion of the running time, I thought, “It’s going to happen soon, and I’m not looking forward to it.” But it turned out to be a mass food orgy. Even though it was animated, it had to be one of the most graphic sex scenes I’ve seen in any movie to date. I looked over to my friend, and they were just gaping in disbelief and disgust. Oh, and in case it hasn’t been made obvious by this point, Sausage Party deserves every aspect of its R-Rating. So please do not see this movie with your children, your younger siblings, parents, or anyone you may feel uncomfortable with. For the rest of you, you are assured to have a damn funny time with this innovative and unforgettable animated comedy.

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“Finding Dory” Movie Review

Let’s be honest with ourselves. There was a time when a sequel to any Pixar movie was considered a gamble, and overall just a waste of time. However, after seeing Finding Dory, I would beg to differ. This aquatic-based computer-animated comedy released on June 17th, 2016, where it broke opening weekend box office numbers for an animated movie. Picking up a year after the previous Finding Nemo, we follow the forgetful blue regal tang fish, Dory, when one day, she remembers her old family. So now she makes her way to the Jewel of Morro Bay, California. All the while, the clown fish Marlin is reluctant to go out into the sea once more after having previously lost his son Nemo. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their roles from the first movie and haven’t a single ounce of their touch. In fact, they sound so unchanged, you could swear they made this film over ten years ago. Ellen is hilarious as Dory and was really able to bring something to the character. I mean, a person (or animal, in this case) that can’t remember anything within an hour’s worth of time? That should be really annoying, and yet DeGeneres kept her interesting and endearing. Along with the three returning main characters, there is a whole new array of supporting characters to become involved with. But the movie primarily focuses on the relationship between Dory and the octopus Hank. Bitter after losing one of his tentacles in the open ocean, Hank agrees to help Dory only in exchange for a one-way trip to an aquarium in Cleveland. Late-night sitcom veteran Ed O’Neill does a fantastic job voicing the character, projecting a strong comedic timing mirroring a cynicism that can only be cured by the optimism of “just keep swimming.” Ty Burell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, and Idris Elba also provide their voices for a variety of aquatic animals in the Marine Life Institute. Elba, (in like his 5th movie this year) a snarky sea lion, only appears a few times in the movie, but the moments he was on screen were really funny, almost as if he’s a natural at voice acting. And of course, we have to talk about the computer animation by Pixar Animation Studios. As with every Pixar movie released, the animations and art design of Finding Dory are absolutely beautiful. There is not a single frame devoid of bright or flamboyant colors, from the Marine Life Institute to Marlin and Nemo’s home coral. Each scene looks smooth and crisp in both framerate and lighting. And also like all other Pixar movies, there’s the soundtrack to praise as well. Thomas Newman’s score in Finding Nemo was excellent, and it’s no different in this sequel. Such soothing and sweeping instrumental tracks perfectly exemplify the natural beauty and scope and depth of the ocean in which the main protagonists must travel across in order to make it to their destinations. But that doesn’t detract from tracks for exciting and intense moments, like when the trio are down in a ship wreckage and desperately try to escape the wrath of a squid. Despite all of the praise of which I have just heaped upon the movie, it still cannot reach the level of emotional appeal as the first. I mean to stress, it’s quite funny and touching at the right times, but it never made choke up or well out any tears like Finding Nemo did. Whether that makes this movie a failure, that’s entirely subjective to the viewer’s opinion. But in a sense of objectivity, Finding Dory can still be qualified as yet another fulfilling entry into Pixar’s extensive catalog. The voice acting is great, the attention to detail is phenomenal, the characters are all hilarious, and the premise is executed very well. I would say that it was worth waiting nearly 13 years for a sequel, no matter how skeptical we all may have been. And yes, the animated short at the very beginning was nothing short of ADORABLE.

Most Anticipated Movies Summer 2016

According to social media, you wanted to hear what I’m most excited about this summer. Also according to social media, no one gives a crap about Ratchet and Clank: The Movie. 2016 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years in cinema history. Over 30 long-awaited movies are releasing during the 3 month-long period, but only 10 are appearing. At the end, I’ll add a list of Honorable Mentions that are still on my radar. But the following are the 10 movies receiving a theatrical release between May and Early August.

10. Warcraft: The Beginning (June 10th) 

It has been rare, I’m talking trinkets in the desert, that a video game adaptation has been good. Best ones  have been Mortal Kombat and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. This one looks like it can save video game movies and prove that they can tell compelling stories. Co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, the film stars an ensemble cast as humans and orcs. Both races hate each other with flaming passions, but the key to survival is ultimately working together, creating tensions. From what the trailers have shown, it looks like it’ll to focus on both sides of the conflict, equally showing their views and struggles like  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I’m crossing my fingers for both this and the Michael Fassbender-led Assassin’s Creed movie, but if both fail to resonate, then Hollywood should just stop trying with video game to film adaptations.

9. Ghostbusters (July 15th)

What? How could this be up on your list, Cade? Simple, because I love the original movie from 1984 and no matter what, I’m going to see this movie. I didn’t like the trailer that much, but I wasn’t up in arms over the fact that there are women taking over the franchise for geeks. From what I understand, Bill Murray, who will be making a cameo, has handpicked many of the cast members such as Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones. I’ve seen some skits of theirs on Saturday Night Live, and I think that there will be better comedy than screaming that “the power of Patty compels you!” It also has Chris Hemsworth as the team’s secretary and Charles Dance cast in an undisclosed role. I hope it can get me to laugh hard at least once.

8. The Legend of Tarzan (July 1st)

After the massive success of the Jungle Book, this feels like more of a victory lap. Directed by David Yates, maker of the last three Harry Potter films, this reboot-sequel hybrid focuses on John Clayton III after he had left the jungle and become a successful Lord and husband in England. Don’t worry though, as he’s soon drawn into a deadly plot that forces him to embrace his past and become one with the jungle once more. Alexander Skarsgard leads the pack as the titular hero, along with a star-studded cast that includes Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and even Samuel L “The Mofo” Jackson. Top that off with a musical score by Hans Zimmer, and this has the potential to be an epic and emotional tribute to an iconic character.

7. Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24th)

To be honest, I’m not as pumped for this movie as other people I know that are. But that doesn’t change the fact that it still looks pretty cool. Taking place 20 years after the original movie, this sequel sees the return of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Vivica A. Fox reprising their roles in a future where mankind has adapted the technology of their former alien invaders and set defense systems on the Moon. Sadly, Will Smith will not be returning as Capt. Steven Hiller, as he was committed to another role to appear later on this list. But it does show off some cool CGI action scenes and may finally explain why the aliens invaded us in the first place. That is all assuming they’ve updated their technology to withstand being infiltrated by something as meager as Windows 95.

6. Finding Dory (June 17th) 

As if Disney couldn’t leave us this year with just one great animated picture. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks return as Dory and Marlin in a new adventure of when Dory suddenly remembers a part of her past and sets out to find her family. In this reviewer’s personal opinion, Finding Nemo was one of the most definitive computer-animated films of the past decade. Based solely on the trailers and marketing, this sequel looks like it can recapture all the lightning-in-a-bottle its predecessor once had. The animation effects look gorgeous, some of the jokes have me laughing, and there is bound to be some sort of unifying theme somewhere in the story. That’s how it will be.

5. Xmen: Apocalypse (May 27th)

3 whole months after Deadpool left me laughing my ass off, 20th Century Fox provides us with another film in their ever-growing franchise. Concluding the trilogy arc set up by First Class and Days of Future Past, audiences will be introduced to the new villain Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant in existence. Pretty much everything mankind has learned about gods and deities up to this point, including the Holy Bible, came from this being. He even has the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding along, which are essentially mutants who have been enhanced with special powers to fight with and defend the titular villain. With Oscar Isaac tapped to take on the role, it appears that he is starting to take over Hollywood.

4. Suicide Squad (August 5th) 

Following the mixed/poor reception of DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. is looking to close out the summer in style. Featuring a range of iconic Batman villains, the story follows a group of super-criminals who are temporarily busted out of jail by Amanda Waller, played Viola Davis. She offers amnesty if they can pull off a dirty assignment for the government, and if anything goes wrong, Waller has plausible deniability to blame them. Unlike the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, which show likable, straight-arrow superheroes willing to save the day, this movie makes the bold move of focusing on an ensemble of quirky, unpredictable psychopaths whose motivations can change on a dime, and can die at any moment. Think of a DC version of Game of Thrones, but instead with a large cast consisting of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, and Jared Leto as The Joker.

3. Jason Bourne (July 29th) 

This feels like a long time coming, as it has been almost 9 years since the last installment. Yes, 9 years; Legacy with Jeremy Renner doesn’t count, damn it. Director Paul Greengrass and lead actor Matt Damon reunite for the 4th time in a co-written script about the titular spy, who has seemingly regained all of his memory and manuevers through a world that is particularly unstable. When I first heard about this sequel I was skeptical, but after the trailer, I may have changed my mind. Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed, and Alicia Vikander have joined the cast as the new CIA operatives attempting to track down the rogue special agent. Better get ready for another round of super shaky, handheld camera angles and intense fighting sequences.

2. The Nice Guys (May 20th)

After a wave of sequels, spinoffs, and reboots galore, here we come to an original movie, and just misses out on the top spot. Starring Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe, the story is set in 1970’s Los Angeles and follows a down-on-his-luck private eye and a lethal hired enforcer who work together on a case revolving around a young missing girl. Their investigation supposedly leads into a larger criminal conspiracy. Director Shane Black is delivering us a buddy-cop dark comedy that can hopefully pay homage to classic buddy-cop movies, including Crowe’s own L.A. Confidential. In a world full of high-octane blockbusters and CGI showcases, it’s nice to see someone going back to a movie genre that has been all but forgotten.

1. Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)

Honestly, anything with the word “Marvel” slapped in front of it, we nerds are bound to get pumped about it. But there is a particularly high amount of anticipation for the first movie in Phase Three of the M.C.U. Based in part on the commercially successful yet controversial comic book of the same name, Iron Man and Captain America go to war with each other when the government issues an accord that all super-humans register their true identities in case of collateral damage. Similar to Warcraft, it appears that this movie is going to attempt to examine both sides of the argument. It also marks the cinematic debut of the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, as well as Tom Holland as Spider Man crossing over into the M.C.U. Pick what team you’re on, because we the audience are in for the biggest all-star rumble in history.

So what movies are you most excited for? Which ones are you concerned or don’t care about? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to Like and Follow my Blog for more awesome content like you see here.