2018 Anticipated Movies

Introduction:

Typically, I end up seeing about one movie a month. Looks like we might be off to a slow start in 2018. That said, there are quite a few movies I really want to see this year. Here they are roughly in release order.

 

Black Panther:

Release Date Feb 16, 2018

In recent years, Marvel has done a great job of fleshing out a lot of the characters I’d never heard of because I’m not a huge comic book fan. I read a few Star Wars comics as a kid, but never subscribed to any particular series. Marvel Studios spinoff stories have been well told, well acted, and all around superbly played. That’s why it made my list.

 

Tomb Raider:

Release Date: March 16, 2018

I’m pretty sure this is a reboot based on the excellent video game, Rise of the Tomb Raider. I loved that game. Still do. It provided a cool backstory to how Lara ended up becoming an adventurer. Video game movies in general often leave much to be desired, but I’m going in with the perspective that the movie is going to be its own thing with only vague things like the game. The franchise has usually come through in terms of providing a nice action flick.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

Release Date: May 4, 2018

Looks amazing. I’m a tad nervous about how they can pull off a good movie with so many characters to give screentime to. How do you balance a thing like that. I’m pretty sure from that trailer there are over a dozen Marvel characters teaming up this round.

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

Release Date: May 25, 2018

Not sure I believe this release date. It will make a longer wait for the 9th episode of Star Wars but it’ll be way shorter a wait to get to this movie. This one, to me, will be the true test of whether or not Disney can make a viable spinoff Star Wars movie. Rogue One was excellent, but it also fit in very nicely with the established storylines. Here, they’re venturing into a previously unexplored backstory. Should be fun, but I have my reservations.

 

The Incredibles 2:

Release Date: June 15, 2018

It’s been ages since I saw the first movie, but I remember liking it. Sequels tend not to be as good as the original, but since it’s probably been over a decade since the first one, the franchise probably had a chance to reset.

 

Robin Hood:

Release Date: September 21, 2018

Heard it’s darker than most Robin Hood tales, but it still looks like a good time. People have always taken weird angles with the outlaw. I loved the BBC’s latest TV series on the subject. I guess I’m more curious about this one than truly excited.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Release Date: November 2, 2018

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t kept up with the entire X-men franchise. I think I missed most of the first movies. Might try to do some catchup, but regardless, the last few have been decent movies. They’re decent scifi action.

 

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Release Date: November 21, 2018

The first Wreck it Ralph movie was a good time that harkened back to the beginning days of video games. It struck that rare balance between being a cool kids movie and having enough video game lore to intrigue young adults who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s where video games had some booming years.

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Couldn’t find any great promo pictures. Might be too early?

Release Date: December 14, 2018

Arguably the stupidest sounding title on my list, this one looks like a great movie. (Not a fan of the multiple hyphens.) Most fans will agree that the Spiderman movies have successfully entered a new era with Tom Holland in the spidey suit.

 

Conclusion:

I’m optimistic about the year’s choices of big screen movies. Should at least make the AMC stubs plan worth it. Usually, I see Star Wars first on principle, but this year, I’m breaking tradition and going to see Jumanji on Jan 1.

What are you looking forward to seeing in theaters?

 

 

 


Recap 2017 Movies

Introduction:

I didn’t do as well as I usually do keeping all the movie stubs this year, but I’ll look at a list of 2017 movies and let you know what I got to see. These mini-reviews are as spoiler-free as I can get them, but no absolute promises something won’t slip by.

 

Rogue One

Dates Seen: 1/2/17, 1/3/17, 1/4/17, 1/10/17 (and another 4 times in 2016)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Comments: Okay, so anybody looking at those dates would see that I really enjoyed Rogue One. Hadn’t planned to see it 3 consecutive days, but I remember the one on the 2nd was because I wanted it to be the first movie I saw in 2017, the Tuesday one happened because the theater had $5 tickets on Tuesday, and the Wednesday one happened because I had AMC credit and wanted to see what the hype was about the Dolby digital sound.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story satisfied most of the fan base. It brought to light the grittier side of the Rebellion against the evil Empire. War is messy. I also think it did a nice job with fleshing out some of the political maneuvering going on as moffs tried to please the emperor. The rather large cast of new characters integrated well with the old favorites.

 

Lego Batman

Date Seen: 2/20/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: A decent Lego movie that didn’t hesitate to poke fun at the long and varied history of Batman movies. Surprisingly, it also showed some character growth for our dark knight. I did end up seeing it again as a dvd, but it’s not the sort of movie I could take on loop.

Logan

Date Seen: 4/10/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: I had some time to kill in New York City, so I caught this movie I’d intended to see but hadn’t gotten to before. It’s enjoyable. There’s decent action. I liked the new kid and her story. They integrated the program thing well. I’m sort of a sucker for this type of secret government experiments scifi.

 

Born in China

Date Seen: 4/22/17

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Comments: Beautiful music. Nice for a nature oriented documentary. Not sure it’s one that needs to be seen on a big screen, but it’s worth watching.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Date Seen: 5/6/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: One of those rare sequels that comes off just as enjoyable as the first. The first may still be slightly better, but this one had all the same hallmarks: snarky humor, cool fights, weird scifi.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Date Seen: 5/27/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: A worthy successor to the Pirates saga. Like any 4th or 5th (this is the 5th right?) movie, it’s not quite as good as the first. The first movie was downright awesome, but the sequels have always fallen short of it. This particular one takes place a long time after the first few, so it’s sort of a reboot of the series. Disney’s trying to breathe new life into the franchise, and they mostly succeed.

Wonder Woman:

Dates Seen: June-ish 2017 (pretty sure I saw this one twice)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It’s one I’d consider adding to a personal dvd/bluray collection. I haven’t yet, but maybe someday I’ll remember that at an opportune time. The movie has quite a bit of setup, but I enjoyed all that because I’m not familiar with the Wonder Woman lore. They even managed to throw in some character development, some humor, and a heck of a lot of action.

 

Spider-Man Homecoming:

Date Seen: June-ish 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: Think I missed one of the reboot series for Spiderman. I don’t think I saw the ones with Andrew Garfield in the red tights. Anyway, this reboot works. I pity the poor props person who had to rebuild the Death Star they had to drop in the movie. The movie focused on Peter Parker trying to muddle his way through high school and being a superhero. Mr. Stark treats him like a kid, which has him terribly frustrated.

 

Dunkirk

Date Seen: July-ish 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: This is definitely a movie enhanced by seeing on a big screen. There are very few lines of dialogue throughout this whole movie. It does a decent job showing the struggle to survive, and the desperation of the moment. War is messy.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dates Seen: 12/15/17, 12/17/17, 12/28/17

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Comments: As the middle of a trilogy, it’s probably going to have the least closure of the new Star Wars movies. When people asked how many times I will see it, I’ve been answering that it’s likely to fall in between Rogue One (8) and The Force Awakens (14). The Last Jedi will likely stay in theaters longer than Rogue One, but I doubt I’ll be inclined to see this one 14 times in theaters.

I’ll definitely buy the dvd and watch it a few more times, but it doesn’t have quite as much closure as I like in stories. Note, this is the same reason Empire was never my favorite. That shocks a lot of hard core Star Wars fans. The porgs are useless but amazingly cute. The story development is intriguing. It’s definitely a Disneyfied version of Star Wars, but it’s still very good.

 

Conclusion:

I feel like the year’s movie selection held a good number of gems. Did you see any of these? What did you think?


Spoiler Talk Review for Star Wars Ep VIII: The Last Jedi

Once again, I don’t own the pic. Found it on Google. Pretty sure it’s one of the standard ones Disney released to promo the movie.

Introduction:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Jedi, but being the middle of a trilogy, it’s not likely to be my favorite Star Wars movie of all time. I’ll definitely see it again, but I’m still not sure if it’ll make me get out to theaters as much as The Force Awakens. (Saw that 14 times during it’s run, though to be fair it was in theaters until like March.) It’s definitely the sort of movie that’s worth seeing in theaters a few times.

Things I picked up only on the second time through:

– Luke’s fight with Kylo on the salt planet. He doesn’t leave footprints. I don’t think their lightsabers strike each other either. I think Luke dodges the whole time. Didn’t pick up on that the first time.

– The elevator conversation between Kylo Ren and Rey. They’re technically both correct.

Epic Moments:

– When Kylo Ren pulls Rey’s lightsaber toward himself and Rey and she reaches up and snatches it out of the air.

– When the Resistance ship slices through Snoke’s ship.

– Poe clearing out the surface canons on the dreadnaught.

– Luke becoming one with the Force.

Moments I could have done without:

I think it’s worth saying that the movie wasn’t perfect. The story wasn’t perfect.

– Luke getting milk.

– Rey and the mirror within mirrors. There’s probably really deep meaning in that scene, but I still find it annoying.

 

Funny Moments:

– Chewie’s dinner with a Porg audience.

– When Rey takes out the stone pillar and it tumbles down the hill, destroying the caretaker’s cart in the process.

– Poe ignoring General Hux while stalling for time.

– Yoda’s Force Ghost vs the tree on the sacred island.

 

Favorite Moments:

(There’s going to be some overlap here, but there are also some small moments that I really enjoyed that might not be tops of everybody’s picks.)

– Chewie’s dinner with a Porg audience.

– When Rey takes out the stone pillar and it tumbles down the hill, destroying the caretaker’s cart in the process.

– When Rey’s coffin-like pod from the Falcon gets dropped off in space.

– When the Resistance ship slices through Snoke’s ship.

– Porg vs Falcon window.

– Rey and Kylo Ren vs the Praetorian Guards. I especially like the last moment of that fight.

– BB-8 vs the cops on the casino planet (after being in the casino a while and having drunk patrons fill him with coins.)

– Rey lifting rocks at the end. It’s such an inglorious task but it’s exactly what the heroes needed at that moment.

 

Quotes and Exchanges:

(Only saw it twice, some of these are paraphrases.)

Luke: “Where are you from?”

Rey: “Nowhere.”

Luke: “Noone’s from nowhere.”

Rey: “Jakuu.”

Luke: “Okay, that’s pretty much nowhere.”

 

Luke: “There’s nothing you can say that can make me change my mind.”

R2D2: *Plays the recording of Princess Leia begging Obi-Wan Kenobi for help.*

Luke: “That was a cheap move.”

 

Poe: “‘Finn. Naked. Bag leaking.’ What? Did you fry a chip?”

 

 


Spoiler-Free Review of Star Wars Ep VIII: The Last Jedi

I do not own the picture…found it on Google. Thought it was pretty.

Summary:

Rey tries to enlist Luke Skywalker’s help while the Resistance fights for survival.

Additional Comments:

– As with The Force Awakens, there are about four main, interwoven threads to the story, focusing on Poe and the Resistance, Rey and Luke, Finn and Rose, and Kylo Ren. The editing is fairly decent in terms of balancing how much screen-time each major thread gets.

– Porgs = useless but absolutely adorable.

– The franchise has definitely been Disney-fied. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, just a way of life.

– I enjoyed the movie a lot, though probably not quite so much as The Force Awakens. The main turn-off for me is simply it being the middle of a trilogy. There are a lot of open threads at the end of this story. As a huge fan of closure, that’s annoying to me.

Conclusion:

I probably won’t see it quite so many times as I saw The Force Awakens (14), but I will definitely watch it a few more times in theaters and buy the Blu-ray when it’s available.

I’ll have a spoiler-talk review up soon too since I’m assuming most of the die-hards have seen it already.

Aside:

I’m not sure if I’ll read the book or listen to the audiobook. I think the book has a lot of potential to expand on things, but I did not enjoy their last pick for an author to do the novelization. This round should be better, but I’m just hesitant.

Come back for the spoiler talk…

 


2016 Movie Mini-Reviews

*Note: I’m an Amazon reviewer, I’m just used to a 5 star system*

*The dates I saw the movie are in parentheses.*

*As usual, I don’t own any of the images. I got them via google searches.*

As much as possible, I will try to keep these mini-reviews spoiler-free, but no firm promises. Most of these films have long-since left theaters and been picked apart every which way by critics and movie lovers alike.

tfa-lego

Star Wars Ep VII: The Force Awakens

(1/2; 1/5; 1/12; 1/19; 1/26; 2/2; 2/16; 2/22; 2/29; 3/7/16)
5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A Stormtrooper and a scavenger team up with an adorable orange droid to bring the Rebellion vital information. Judging by the amount of times I saw this movie in theaters, I’d say I loved it. It’s kid-friendly. Yes, it’s very reminiscent of Star Wars Ep IV: A New Hope, but in good ways. The new characters: Rey, Finn, BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren are largely hits. The comic relief is handled with a deft hand. There’s a struggle and both a tired Rebellion and New Order ready to deal each other what death blows they can.

 zootopia

Zootopia

(3/15/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A bunny cop takes on stereotypes to expose an evil plot to set Zootopian society on its ear. It’s a solidly good movie, but there seemed to be hidden agendas that were about as subtle as a neon sign. I typically try to overlook such things and just sit back and enjoy, but this movie sort of kept throwing it in your face. It’s not a bad message, but I go to the movies for entertainment not moral postulating.

 bm v superm.jpg

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

(4/1/16)
3/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Batman and Superman are pitted against each other by someone with a twisted mind. It’s okay. I honestly don’t remember all that much about it. I enjoyed it while in the theater, but I didn’t run home to Batman or Superman toys, not that I’d do that anyway.

 Jungle bk.jpg

The Jungle Book

(4/19/16)
4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A boy raised by wolves makes dangerous enemies simply by being human. A beautiful return to a classic cartoon. I kind of think I liked the cartoon version a bit better, but this stays true to much of that classic.

hm winter's war.jpg

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

(4/26/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The Huntsman returns to battle the Ice Queen. I’m probably in the minority here in actually liking this movie. It’s not a super-deep thinker. The fight scenes are decent. The comic relief falls a little flat, but overall, it’s a worthy follow up to The Huntsman. Fantasy movies are almost as hard as video game movies to get right. (Unless it’s Harry Potter, then it’ll make money anyway.)

civil war.jpg

Captain America: Civil War

(5/10; 5/17/16)
4.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Captain America and crew are sharply divided when the world turns against heroes and a council hands down some pretty strict oversight rules. Although not as good as the first, it’s an interesting sequel. Marvel does a nice job of weaving in a large cast of beloved characters and making them relevant. The action sequences are great and the plot has a few layers.

id-resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

(7/2/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The aliens Earth sent packing 25 years ago are back with a vengeance. Suffers from being a sequel, but stays true to the original in key ways. Cast is very good. The mythology expands a little. Not sure it made enough movie for them to attempt making it a trilogy, but it took a few decades to get a sequel so you never know.

secret-life

The Secret Life of Pets

(7/16/16)

3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Privileged animal companions end up in quite a scrap when they become lost in NYC. I appreciate this more having seen it while actually in New York City. Entertaining but not memorable. For some reason (maybe I’m just old??), the new animated films don’t have quite the sticking power with me as the old school ones. I think Frozen is the last one I can think of that really stuck out as fantastic.

moana 

Moana (12/27/16)

4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A chieftain’s daughter embarks on a grand adventure to write some mythical proportion wrongs brought about by one demi-god’s misdeed generations ago. Amusing. Beautiful. The songs are lovely but not the sort you’ll find yourself humming in the shower. The comic relief is a tad forced but it works. The chicken is hilarious.

RO title.jpg 

Rogue One (12/16; 12/17; 12/19; 12/30/16)

5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A band of Rebels go on a desperate mission to give the galaxy hope once again. I have determined to make this the last movie I see of 2016, so I’ll include it last even though that means some of this will be out of order. Somewhat unfairly, I think people are naturally going to compare this to The Force Awakens and find Rogue One slightly wanting. While in a straight up duel between the two I might be tempted to side with TFA too, the comparison’s not exactly fair. The movies fulfill different purposes. TFA expands on Star Wars mythology and gives the Star Wars fans hope that our beloved saga will continue on in steady hands with Disney at the helm. Rogue One is a backstory. It tells a tale we’ve long known had to be out there and answers some deep, burning questions that could crop up during Ep IV: A New Hope. I don’t think it will have as long of a run in theaters as TFA because it’s really a film aimed at the massive amounts of adult fans. TFA fulfills that role (aimed at fans) as well as has a general audience appeal. Rogue One is way more violent. That said, I loved it. I loved it differently than I did TFA, but once again, I will be spending quite a few afternoons in theaters immersed in a galaxy far, far away.

Conclusion:

It’s been a pretty good year for movies. What’d you think?

What movies in 2017 are you looking forward to?
Of course, I’m interested in the new Star Wars movie, but I’m also sort of interested in Hidden Figures, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Logan, Lego Batman, and The Boss Baby (though I’m not sure about seeing that one in theaters).

 

Spoiler-Filled Review of Rogue One

*Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. And once again, I own nothing of the pictures.*

BTW, this movie is definitely better without spoilers. Go watch it first, then look for the discussions.

Introduction:

I love this movie. I’m a little baffled as to why people keep trying to compare it to The Force Awakens. They’re completely separate entities and fulfill different functions within the Star Wars canon as re-imagined by Disney. It definitely deserves its PG-13 rating. It’s a movie about war during the height of the Empire.

Discussion of the Character Arcs:

They did a very nice job with the character development of Jyn Erso. They took her from innocent kid pretty much orphaned by war, raised by a radical, emotionally wounded by being abandoned a second time by Saw Gerrera when she was 16 … in short, hardened by life … and gave her a cause to fight for. The more times I watch the movie, the more I pick up on in terms of the connections and turning points in some of the characters, especially Jyn. This is what I meant by replay value in my spoiler-free review. I’ve seen this movie 3 times to date and will likely see it a few more times.

Jyn Erso

When we first meet her, Jyn’s a criminal imprisoned for possessing illegal weapons, resisting arrest, etc. She’s got this flippant shell around her emotions that gets blasted to pieces when she sees her father’s hologram message. I’d say that’s the first real turning point for her. The second major turning point happens on Eadu when her father dies in her arms, killed by Alliance bombs. I’m surprised she can push that aside and focus on the mission her father basically hands to her, undoing his life’s work. She returns to Yavin 4 to convince the Rebel Alliance to go to Scarif for the Death Star plans, which will allow them to exploit the weakness her father put in the system. And fails. But she convinces the right people who go rogue with her, breaking away from the Alliance long enough to steal the Imperial shuttle acquired on Eadu and dash off to Scarif. I think the last major shift in her attitude takes place when she realizes they’re trapped but the mission’s only really half completed at that point. They don’t even have the plans secured. Staring at the end flying her way along with Cassian, you get the sense that she’s accepted it and made peace with the fact that others will have to carry on the war from here.

felicity-jones-jyn-erso-and-diego-luna-s

Cassian Andor

We don’t learn all the much about this guy’s background. He’s a captain in Rebel Alliance intelligence. He’s done things he regrets in the name of the cause. And he says he’s been in this fight since he was 6. The viewer gets the sense he’s got a ship’s load of tragedy in his past. Throughout the story, his attitude toward Jyn changes. At first, she’s just a pawn to be used to approach Saw Gerrera without getting killed. He doesn’t trust her, and he certainly doesn’t trust her father. I think the first turning point for him is when he sees her fighting when they’re in the streets of Jedha. It probably helps that at one point she jumps in front of K2SO—Cassian’s droid buddy—to protect him. His second turning point is when he’s staring down the barrel of his sniper rifle ready to take out Jyn’s father. Cassian hesitates and ultimately disobeys General Draven’s orders. Another turning point happens when he realizes she wants to fight despite the Council’s decision. He’s been in the fight long enough to be able to predict the outcome of the political machine. The last turning point comes when he pulls her back from going after Krennic. I think they both knew they were doomed at that point.

Galen Erso

The more I see the movie, the more I love this guy. All the actors and actresses did a splendid job, but the character of Galen Erso is awesomely tragic. He’s the kind of misunderstood figure whose name gets lost to time. Is he a hero or a villain? That depends on the point of view you’re seeing the situation from. He’s a brilliant scientist forced to work on a project that scars his conscience. Collaborator – certainly. Double-agent – apparently. He loses his wife and his daughter in one fell swoop, one to death, one to inevitable separation. (There are still some big leaps of logic one has to nod and smile at in order to enjoy without questioning it too much.)

K2SO

K2SO joins a long list of lovable droids. He tends to say whatever comes into his circuits. The interactions he has with Jyn and Cassian are great. Pretty much everything he says is funny. He’s reminiscent of HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic. The sassy droid seems to love what he does.

Bohdi Rook

We don’t get to learn much about his backstory. But somewhere along the way, he interacted with Galen Erso who basically told him to follow his heart, which led him to the Rebellion.

 

Baze Malbus

Once a devoted guardian of the Whills. He seems a little cynical, but he’s devoted to his blind friend. I love his machine gun blaster. The dude wears a backpack tank thing that must have a lot of fuel in it because he mows down opposition.

Baze and Chirrut.jpg

Chirrut Imwe

He’s blind, yet he sees much in the Force. This might be the first time we see a cool action sequence of this nature without a lightsaber involved.

orson-krennic
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) Ph: Jonathan Olley �Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

Director Orson Krennic

In some ways, you want to feel bad for this guy. He’s a bureaucrat who’s devoted his life to making the ultimate superweapon in the galaxy only to have a pen-pushing psychopath who happens to have more favor with the Emperor to usurp control at the last second. Ouch.

War is Messy:

Good guys being bad; bad guys being good. The movie portrays the blurred lines of morality in war very well. Some examples include: Cassian shooting the informant who tells him about the Imperial defector, Galen Erso’s revenge in the design of the original Death Star, and Saw Gerrera’s rebels relying on terrorist tactics in their quest to rescue the Kyber crystals.

Things that they could have cut or modified:

The tentacle creature Saw uses to probe Bohdi’s mind. I get it; it’s Star Wars, they want to include some weird stuff, but I think it would make more sense to have him using an Imperial probe droid or something. Make it so he’s using a weapon of his enemy against the defector. His suspicion comes through clearly enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the end, but there could have been one survivor. I will say that the end gives new depth and menace to the way Tarkin calculates things

Reaction to the End:

I had zero expectations going in. Not sure what it says about me, but I find the ending beautiful and powerful and, of course, very, very sad. It brings new meaning to the simple words from the opening crawl of A New Hope where we learn that the Rebels have finally struck a decent blow to the Empire by stealing the Death Star plans. Typically, I’m a happy-ending sort of girl, so the fact that I love this movie despite its tragic ending says a lot.

I’m definitely game to see it again. (I’m up to 3 times vs The Force Awakens 14, but hey, it’s early in the run.)

rogue-one-blog-1