Category Archives: Post-Apocalyptic

“Logan” Movie Review

Franchisees should end more often these days. This comic book superhero drama was released on March 3rd, 2017, following its critically successful debut at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in late February. It has since grossed over $250 million worldwide against its $97 million budget, becoming the 2nd biggest opening for an R-rated film screened in IMAX theaters. And I’ll touch on that in a second, but let’s get to the plot. Set in the dystopian-like future 2029, most of the mutants, including the X-Men have been wiped out for some amount of time. The superhero the Wolverine, who now goes by Logan, (or James Howlett, as he tells several humans) is living in a desperate state of old age and financial strain. His quiet life is interrupted when a little girl named Laura comes knocking at his door, begging for protection from a group of shadowy corporate lackeys wanting her for medical experiments. I want to make this clear from the get-go: Logan is not just a superhero movie. This is the fist film of the genre I’ve seen in many years that actually compares with The Dark Knight. With that one, it was a fantastic epic crime saga and psychological dissection of intriguing characters that just happened to have comic book names in it. It’s almost the same case with Logan. This one feels more like an old Western tale, specifically that of George Stevens’ 1953 Technicolor classic, Shane. In fact, director James Mangold borrows some of the same aspects of that film- a gruff cowboy trying to hang up his guns who keeps getting pursued by trouble -in this movie’s narrative to great effect. In the title role, Hugh Jackman is absolutely stunning as Logan/Wolverine. His “I’m-no-hero” demeanor is perfect for the bleak and desolate environment of this future setting he’s in. Laying beside him in his electric wheelchair is Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, who is nothing short of marvelous here. Allow me to put some minds at ease: for those of you who saw him drop the F-bomb in the red band trailer, it’s okay. It totally works for the context of everything in the story’s progression. Meanwhile, Boyd Holbrook, star of the acclaimed Netflix drama Narcos, is convincing as the main villain Donald Pierce. A cyborg security director, he sets himself apart from other supervillains due to his refusal to become over-the-top evil and wry sense of humor. He’s a mutant-hating mercenary, for sure, but he just has a fun personality that makes you both like him and long for Logan to murder him when the opportunity presents itself. Other supporting players include Eriq La Salle and Elise Neal are nurturing parents on a farm, Elizabeth Rodriguez as a fearful surrogate mother and medical doctor, Richard E. Grant was methodical and calculating as the head of a shadowy corporation, and Stephen Merchant as the senile yet endearing albino Caliban. They’re all given enough to say and do to add something different to the film as a whole. But in terms of scene-stealing talent, newcomer Dafne Keen is positively brilliant as Laura. Even though she’s barely a teenager, she proves that she can hold her own against older acting veterans. This is especially impressive considering her character has very few lines of spoken dialogue; most of her screentime is spent scowling at either the enemies or her mutant guardians. Technically speaking, it’s very impressive. The sound design is well mixed in every scene, even during the quieter moments. From the crunching of bones to the gushing of blood to the sound of nature, the audience can hear damn near everything that happens. Meanwhile, the camera work from John Mathieson is equally visceral. The contrast in colors like red and green feels like a perfect opponent to the grim reality of the world built within. And while yes, it does move into the cliches of comic book film with shaky movements and quick action cuts, these moments are thankfully sparse throughout the 137 minute-long runtime. Marco Beltrami, who previously collaborated with Mangold on 3:10 to Yuma and The Wolverine, composes the film’s score. It foregoes the bombastic, orchestral battle tracks of previous films, and instead uses influences of horror and Western movies. Various motifs and minimalist instruments are used throughout and fit perfectly for the tone and story. And now we get to the much-hyped  R-rating. Dear God, isn’t it completely warranted and justified? It had been apparently clear from minute-2 alone that this was going to be a very different kind of superhero movie. One that is brimming with chopped limbs, excessive swearing, gushing blood, and disturbing skin/body damage. I urge you not to take your little kids or your grandparents to see Logan, as they will probably walk out when it all goes down. Even without all that, the story is still very dark, grim, mature, and not very uplifting. Just look at Jackman and Stewart for further proof. You’d think after playing these roles for 17 years, they’d be exactly what you expected them to be. But they are old, weathered down, exhausted, and rather pessimistic on life. Even Wolverine is like a 60-year-old man, because of something I have to tell you. It’s a very minor spoiler and isn’t THE THING in the movie. With his constant drinking, his adamantium bone structure is deteriorating, poisoning his healing factor. That really makes the audience think, “Dude… give it up man. It’s okay.” But that just demands further praise for Jackman’s acting, which many speculate could earn him nominations in the coming award season. Logan is not only, the best Xmen movie to date, but it’s also one of the best superhero films ever made. This is the most perfect, poignant, and beautiful sendoff Hugh Jackman could have possibly gotten. It sounds like I’m being a fanboy, but the fact remains- I kid not -Logan almost made me cry.

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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.

“Meet The Blacks” Movie Review

Why can’t spoof movies just die? Seriously, they’re dead, or at least they should be. This zany attempt at spoof comedy co-written and directed by Deon Taylor saw a wide release over April Fools’ weekend, where it earned ten times its $900,000 budget. This could be typical for cheap horror films, but the fact that this is a spoof makes its success even more surprising, and almost perplexing. Stand-up comedian Mike Epps plays a down-on-his-luck dad, Carl Black, who has recently his family moved from Chicago to Beverly Hills. On the day they move in, The Purge begins, where all crime is legal for an entire night. This is the movie which is being spoofed. And to its credit… no, it just failed. To give you some perspective, I laughed harder and more often during the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie than I did here. To start off, Mike Epps is just not a very funny actor. He had no charisma or proper comedic timing whatsoever, which compromised his ability to carry this movie on his shoulders. He and his family members have absolutely zero chemistry throughout the entirety of the runtime. Zulay Henao is perfectly functional as the protagonist’s wife, though she could have been played by literally anyone who was offered the role. On the other hand, Bresha Webb and Alex Henderson, playing the son and daughter, respectively, annoyed me to no end. To be fair, they’re young and this arguably not a good showcase for their potential, but their characters are just so unlikable I can’t stand them even in one scene. The script is where everything falls flat. One of the many problems it suffers from is that several scenes felt as though they were created just to tell a single, isolated joke. Sometimes, it will play it extremely safe and take the easiest possible joke for the scenario. Other times, it will try way too hard, either to take itself seriously or hitting multiple jokes at once. I wonder if the writers had based the jokes and screenplay on their shared experiences watching films centered entirely around sex and toilet humor. Surprisingly, there’s a great deal of talent in the supporting cast and behind the scenes. The soundtrack, composed by East Coast rap legend, RZA, is filled primarily with modern hip-hop or R&B songs, which admittedly fit well with the setting of Central California. Onscreen, comedic actors such as Gary Owen, Charlie Murphy, Lil Duval, DeRay Davis, George Lopez, and even cameos from retired fighter Mike Tyson and rapper Snoop Dogg, are reserved in the sidelines. In a way, they all manage to outshine the main star of the movie, and some of them only have about 20 minutes of screentime. A couple of them do seem to have fun with their roles. But the ratio is very unbalanced. I have to believe that the filmmakers kidnapped their families and forced them to take the paycheck. Also, (like the actual movie, The Purge) it became evident at a point that the Purge is meaningless in this movie. The fact that some rich white neighbors of theirs want to break into their house and kill them is just like any other home invasion you’ve seen. A few alterations in the script and that entire circumstance didn’t need to happen. If anything, it’s just background noise, which becomes apparent when you hear a gunshot or explosion sound effect now and then. In all honesty, there were a couple of moments that made me chuckle and one in particular where I nearly died laughing. To save the torture, I’ll just tell you right now. Vine legend King Bach made a cameo appearance in the first 45 minutes as the daughter’s boyfriend, and when The Purge starts he starts a murderous rampage in the house. That was actually pretty funny. For the rest of it, however, Meet The Blacks is a boring comedic mess from top to bottom, and one of the worst movies released this year. If this had come out on straight-to-DVD, it would make sense, but the fact that it was released theatrically just makes it more painful to bear. One last side story that you might find both interesting and pitiful: Here in Texas, it is currently Cram Week, where we have to get in some last minute studying for the Final Exams. However, I absorbed 1 hour and 33 minutes of my life to set aside my assignments to watch Meet The Blacks on Netflix. So for those of you who say that I have absurdly stupid, jacked up priorities… Congratulations, you’ve guessed correctly.

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“Logan” Trailer Analysis and Speculation

Does it seem a bit late and irrelevant? Absolutely not. Even though it was released 3 weeks ago, the first official trailer for Logan is still getting people excited, and for good reason. After watching the 107 second-long trailer for 20th Century Fox’s Logan nearly a hundred times, I’m ready to give my opinion. It begins with Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine conversing about how the world is not the same as it was, and most of the mutants, including the Xmen, are gone now. This makes me question what exactly made that happen. Most likely, it could be a deadly pathogen that the Essex Corporation released. But it also appears that the film will at least be partially based on Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan. And in it, Wolverine is manipulated by a supervillain to kill the entire team, which causes him to goes into self-imposed exile. Exactly how close the movie will stay to the comics is still a mystery, but given the fact that it’s rated R, that would be a bold move on the part of the filmmakers. But you can tell that both Xavier and Wolverine are the people that they once were. They both look old, scarred, (both literally and mentally) and haunted by years of withering and loneliness. But there’s this little girl that they find and you hear Charles Xavier say, “She’s like you, Logan. Very much like you.” That more or less confirms that Dafne Keen is playing X-23. I had read somewhere that no matter who they would recast as younger Wolverine, the one character that can truly replace him would be his cloned daughter, X-23. Other than that, this trailer… it doesn’t make Logan feel or look like a comic book superhero movie. There are no CGI explosions, no bits of random humor, no over-the-top villains who look like a physical version of God. With its desolate setting and harsh, bleak tone, Logan seems to have the makings of a neo-western tragedy. All of this is amplified by the choice of the trailer song. Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt,” perfectly establishes the mood of the film. The director James Mangold also helmed the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, and spoke that the origins of this cover are similar to the story of Wolverine. It was so popular that many YouTubers began a succession of cutting together different blockbuster movies, including Mad Max: Fury Road and Lord of the Rings, in the same style as this trailer. Granted, you could take the worst movie ever made, cut it together with a good song, and it can still look good. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The international trailer is slightly more graphic in violence with one money shot. I’m just saying; one scene makes all the difference. And can we just address the fact that this feels like a movie adaptation for The Last of Us? Seriously, that last shot of Laura and Wolverine holding hands and standing over what appears to be a grave reminded so much of Joel and Ellie. In that, this could be the best movie version of The Last of Us that we’re probably ever going to get. In short, the first official trailer for Logan is one of the best movie trailers I have seen in a long time. If the movie delivers on the tone and quality that it shows us in the trailer, Hugh Jackman will get the sendoff he deserves, and I will cry when I leave the theatre because his time as the Wolverine will be over. Let me know what you think of the trailer in the comments, or what other crazy theories you may have about Logan. Be sure Like this post and if you want to see more, Follow my blog for more awesome content.

“The Walking Dead” Season 7 Premiere Reaction

Yeah… so THAT happened. Before I begin, I’m going to start off by giving a major spoiler warning about what happened on Sunday night. If you think it’s okay to read this because you don’t get what the deal was over what happened on the Season 7 premiere, get catch up on the show. For the rest of you, let’s gather to try and cope with the rapture of the shit that went down a few nights ago. I wasn’t even going to do a post on this episode. I thought everyone online would be fine and anxiously await next week’s episode as always. But nope, they had to pull the rug from under us and reduce us viewers to sniffling little creature! *Sigh* Sorry about that. I’m just still reeling. Right after it aired, I figured I should do a reaction post. Okay, so what happened? At the very end of last Season, Rick, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Aaron, and Carl were all trying to get a sick Maggie over to the Hilltop Colony to get her pregnancy checked out. But on their way, they are abruptly stopped by a small army of survivors called the Saviors, who gather them and all of the other group members, with the exceptions of Morgan and Carol, in front of their leader, Negan. After giving a speech about the new world order, Negan plays a sadistic game of eeny, meany, miny, moe to randomly select a group member to viciously kill with Lucille, his baseball bat wrapped in barb-wire. And… that was it. Fans all theorized about who it could be over the summer, but now we know. However, the majority of this premiere was Rick and Negan riding around the woods, with Negan trying to get it to Rick that he owns him. It wasn’t until after the second commercial break that we discovered who won the game of eeny, meany, miny, moe… it was Abraham. It was a particularly gruesome affair, but stubborn as always, his last words were, “Suck my nuts.” And Negan bashed his little brain bits into the gravel even after his death. Right now, I will praise the makeup and design crew. Each week they impress me more, but this one particularly was standout. Now for a brief moment, we all believe that we’re safe. But then Daryl Dixon stands up and decks him in the jaw out of anger. Even though Dwight seems determined on killing him, I knew that Daryl dies, we riot. Negan reiterates that he will shut that shit down, no exceptions. And as camera tilts to the right you think you can tell who will get punished. He then turns right around and pummels Glenn with Lucille. He’s in terrible shape afterwards. Blood is trickling down from skull, his left eye is popped out. He tries saying something, but can only make out,  “Maggie, I’ll find you.” And with a few more blows, the would-be father is killed off like he’s nothing more than an insect to be crushed. That is the reason why I made this post. I jumped from my seat when this happened onscreen. In the comics, Glenn is the one who gets killed in the sadistic game, but the fact that both he and Abraham got killed shows me one thing: no one is safe. I know that sounds like a cliché but honestly there hasn’t been an original cast member killed off for a few seasons now. Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz will be fine and have good careers. It’s been a fun run with you guys, and it won’t be the same without you. This is looking like only the start of potentially the darkest season of The Walking Dead yet. Jeffrey Dean Morgan absolutely slays his role of Negan, and I can’t wait to see him more over the show. If you like what you see here, please leave a comment and be sure to Follow my blog for more awesome content.

 

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.

“Beasts of No Nation” Movie Review

*Please note when a movie airs on Netflix, it may slip under my radar. And if it’s in select theaters it can only be within 50 miles of my home. So thank you for withholding comments that I’m an ignorant racist. I appreciate it.*

Not going to lie. That was rough, and I’m speechless. The first theatrical movie ever produced by Netflix, this chilling war drama premiered on the aforementioned streaming service on October 16, 2015, as well as select theaters. Writer-director Cary Fukunaga faithfully adapts the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala, in what would have easily made my best of the year list. We follow the dark and intense story of Agu, a young boy from Western Africa that first-hand experiences the horrors of civil war. Eventually, he himself gets pulled into the conflict as a soldier. And while he is a gentle boy at heart, he found that was capable of truly terrible acts. Agu is played by newcomer Abraham Attah, and as I was watching this movie I thought to myself, “Why don’t I or anyone else know anything about this kid?” That’s the beauty of these gems, that they might reveal someone with absurdly great acting abilities. You understand the struggles that this child is going through, physically, mentally, and emotionally. At a certain point in the narrative, there is an absolute moment where he believes that this war is his way of life now. You see it on his face. Throughout the 137 minute-long picture, he is narrating as a way of “talking to God,” or anyone who will listen to his prayers. It straight up reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road, when the concubines were praying to anyone who would listen. He starts taking various drugs and alcohol as a form of coping with his manic-depressive side and to illustrate his gradual loss of innocence. Obviously, this film has many social undertones and implications. For example, one of the only friends that Agu makes during the civil war is Strika, a mute boy no older than Agu himself. He cares for him in bad situations, teaches basic methods of survival and warfare, and plays games with him to cheer Agu up. It opens up the argument that as far as child soldiers go, he wasn’t that bad of a person. But then there’s the flip-side of it where as far as child soldiers go, he was still a child soldier. That is probably the most accurate depiction of the mental situation many of these people have to go through in real life. Other characters in this film, however, are just completely apathetic psychopaths, such as Idris Elba as the Commandant, leader of the rebel forces. The man keeps impressing me with each performance he gives, killing it in every role he demonstrates. There will be at least a few actors who get more work; Idris Elba is definitely going to be one of them. The Commandant is violent, he’s sadistic, he’s unpredictable; he just loves causing fear and pain to others. There a few scenes he shares with Agu where you are just baffled at the things he says and does, like when he invites Agu into his bedroom for a secret encounter. Again, the movie is so realistic and brutal and never apologizes for demonstrating it. And the film looks great as well. The cinematography captures both the gorgeous and horrific aspects of the African jungles, where a large portion of the story takes place. During some intense moments or drug-induced episodes, the film tint is altered to feel more thematic. If I haven’t professed it already, Beasts of No Nation is a very emotional, sometimes sad movie. I don’t think I have cried so openly during a movie in quite a long time, yet another attribute to it’s power and delivery. If I were to compare films together, then Beasts of No Nation is like the Schindler’s List of genocide in Africa. Now if I told you that this movie was an easy experience, that would a be bold-faced, B.S. lie. It is hard and painful to watch. But I will profess that Beasts of No Nation is absolutely worth watching, dare I say necessary. Exploring potent themes of cruelty, innocence, faith, hope, and the line between Good and Evil, this is one film that I and many other people will be thinking about for a very long time. Although way too upsetting to watch more than once the type of film where after you finish watching it, you just sit on your couch or chair or any comfortable spot in dead silence for several minutes.