Movies of the Week: Pacific Rim Uprising & Isle of Dogs

It’s double feature Friday this week! This first film on this weekend’s double bill, is a return to a world at war between the monsters that rose from the sea and the monsters mankind created to stop them. Five years ago, Guillermo Del Toro delivered a dazzling smack down spectacle between terrifying demons from another world dubbed Kaiju and mankind’s monolithic response to the Kaiju threat called Jaegers. The war between them was thought to be over when the heroic feats of the Gypsy Danger crew sealed the breach to the Kaiju’s universe but the war is reignited, the Kaiju are stronger than ever and the son of the fallen Jaeger Marshall Stacker Pentecost is ready to pick up where his dad and the first generation of Jaeger pilots left off in Pacific Rim Uprising.

Director: Steven S. DeKnight

Written by: Emily Carmichael, Steven S. DeKnight, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin

Starring: John Boyega, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Adria Ajorna, Tian Jing, Dustin Clare, Karan Brar, Nick E. Tarabay and Daniel Feuerriegel

What am I expecting to see?: Honestly, I’m trying to go into this picture as objectively as possible but I can’t help but wonder why? Why are we getting a sequel to Pacific Rim? The way the first film ended, ended the story just fine but I can’t find a rational reason why the studios would make this movie aside from the fact that because they can! I’m trying to be open minded when it comes to this film but I don’t believe this sequel will be as entertaining as its predecessor. Best case scenario? This movie exceeds my expectations but I’m doubtful.

The second film on this weekend’s double feature? The second animated venture from the man behind The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Two decades into the future, an outbreak of a rampant disease sends shockwaves throughout Japan and in effect, an island made of garbage becomes an internment camp for canines afflicted by this illness but a young boy travels to the island to be reunited with his canine companion and allies himself with five dogs to track his dog’s location. Wes Anderson’s newest feature is Isle of Dogs.

Director: Wes Anderson

Written by: Wes Anderson

Featuring the voices of: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schrieber, Greta Gerwig, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Kietel, Frances McDormand, Koyu Rankin, Ken Watanabe, Courtney B. Vance, Bob Balaban and Yoko Ono.

What am I expecting to see?: I think this is going to be a real treat! One of the first films I’ve seen from Wes Anderson was Fantastic Mr. Fox and I was awestruck by how the stop-motion animation worked wondrously well with Anderson’s prowess as a storyteller and I think Isle of Dogs is poised to follow suit as a film brimming with impeccable imagination, attention to detail and a story that is both heartwarming and unafraid to go to very dark places. I think this is a film that will set the mark very high for the animated features to come this year.


Review: Tomb Raider

I was going into this movie with low to no expectations whatsoever. I’m putting that on record.

A reboot, a film based on a video game, a director I’ve never heard of; films with these labels attached to them tend to require an open mind and since this incarnation of Tomb Raider falls under all three categories, I went in not expecting much.


Image by Warner Bros. and MGM

Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft as her origins are explored by director Roar Uthaug and writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons. Young Lady Croft discovers a clue to the reason behind her father’s disappearance seven years ago and sets out to find answers only to find trouble in the form of the menacing Mathias Vogel, whose ambitions to open a mythic tomb could put the entire world in peril.

I cannot say that this movie is perfect. Far from it; it is a run-of-the-mill action flick with the usual twists and turns one might expect to see from an origin story. Simultaneously, even though this movie features tropes and clichés that you may see, this movie did hold my attention from start to finish. I’m in the camp that says Tomb Raider is pretty fun; not spectacular but safe and fun.

Ultimately, Vikander is this film’s biggest attraction and her performance demonstrates that she was 100% committed to the role of Lara Croft. She definitely delivered a physical performance that honored the spirit of the renowned video game character; I’m willing to go as far as say that Vikander made a badass Lara Croft.

Suffice to say that the rest of the players of the picture don’t exactly amount to much. Walton Goggins did alright as the antagonist, Dominic West is okay as Lara’s dad, Daniel Wu is relegated to something of a sidekick for Lara, Kristen Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Hannah John-Kamen, Alexandre Williaume and the rest of the cast are extras who are reduced to the point of practical nonexistence.

Ultimately, the fault in this movie lies with the screenplay. It does enough to honor the spirit the video games and the character but it doesn’t do or offer anything else and in effect, everything about the film is weighed down.

What’s more is that everything that went into the production of this film was very bland. Junkie XL’s score, George Richmond’s cinematography, the editing of Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read and Michael Tronick, Gary Freeman’s production design, Colleen Atwood and Timothy A. Wosnik’s costumes, the art direction, the set decoration courtesy of Raffaella Giovannetti and Maria Labuschagne and even the visual effects were pretty meh.

Tomb Raider may not be spectacular but it is gritty and has the clout to be a fun film if you go in with a clear head. In fact, the framework is there for a potential sequel and if a sequel does happen, with the right writing and director, Vikander can allow this character, whom she has really dedicated her time and energy into a rock-solid portrayal, to truly reach her full potential. It’s not the greatest adventure you will have at the movies but I was entertained by the presence of a strong and grounded female protagonist.

Danny Boyle has the License to Film Bond 25!


Image by Maximilian Bühn, CC-BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After weeks of negotiation, the status of who will be directing the 25th film of the James Bond franchise has been confirmed. Oscar-winner Danny Boyle has officially been named as director of the next James Bond feature staring Daniel Craig, who will be returning to the role of Bond for the fifth and final time.

Boyle and his Trainspotting collaborator John Hodge are also crafting a script for the follow-up to Spectre.

We are working on a script right now. And it all depends on that really. I am working on a Richard Curtis script at the moment. We hope to start shooting that in 6 or 7 weeks. Then Bond would be right at the end of the year. But we are working on them both right now.

The ball is officially rolling for this picture and I am very interested now that Boyle is on board. I’m convinced that the man who directed Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Steve Jobs, 28 Days Later and the architect behind the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is certainly up to the task of directing a James Bond flick and perhaps send Daniel Craig out on a high note if he elects to truly walk away from Bond after this film. Eagerly awaiting to see what’s in store for this!

Movie of the Week: Tomb Raider

The iconic video game character takes another stab at making her mark on the big screen. Seven years after her father’s disappearance, the young, ambitious and independent Lara Croft embarks on a perilous journey to finally find the answers she seeks. Her father was last seen on an island a few miles off the coast of Japan, so Lara follows in his footsteps to find him, but getting to the island is only half as dangerous as what lies in store when she washes ashore. Oscar winner Alicia Vikander steps into the skin of Lara Croft in this updated reboot of Tomb Raider.

Director: Roar Uthaug

Written by: Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Hannah John-Kamen, Billy Postlethwaite, Michael Obiora, Josef Altin and Alexandre Willaume

What am I expecting to see?: Honestly, I’m not getting my hopes up for this reboot of Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie made this role famous almost 20 years ago and while I’m fascinated to see the Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander broaden her horizons and dabble in an action role, I just can’t certainly say that this will be a success considering the track record of video games attempting to make it on the big screen. If this has a compelling story and solid action, I may call this a win but no promises.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time

Madeline L’Engle’s beloved story is adapted to the screen at the hands of another prominent storyteller in Ava DuVernay. A Wrinkle in Time has been celebrated for decades in print and like so many great literary works, it finally made its way onto the big screen.


Image by Disney

In DuVernay’s adaptation, the heroine is Meg Murray, played by the very strong newcomer in Storm Reid, the daughter of two brilliant and respected NASA scientists. Meg is still reeling from the disappearance of her father, played by Chris Pine, who was on the verge of discovering a means of faster than light travel before his sudden disappearance.

Meg is approached by three celestial beings named The Mrs., Which, Whatzit and Who, and inform her that her father is in a distant region of the universe and may be in grave danger. Meg, her classmate Calvin, and her adopted brother Charles Wallace must venture out into the universe to find her father before an evil force finds him first.

I found A Wrinkle in Time, tedious, uncomfortable and sloppy and in my disappointment, I remembered that directors like Ava DuVernay are human; for every great movie like Selma, there is a movie in a director’s body of work that just doesn’t work and A Wrinkle in Time is a movie that just doesn’t work.

Visually, this is a very pretty movie but the plot is a lot to wrap your head around; these concepts of warriors of light, “The It”, tessering, it just doesn’t mesh well with the aesthetic of this picture and it doesn’t flow seamlessly like in other fantasy adventures like The Chronicles of Narnia for example. Ava DuVernay wanted this movie to feel like a labor of love, but in reality, this movie is just a haphazard mess once the inciting incident occurs.

Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell wrote this movie for the screen and it was difficult to follow. The plot and the pacing felt drawn out, devoid of wonder and I wasn’t enthralled by what was going on.

The cast of the film was decent enough. I liked Storm Reid, Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kahling, Zach Galifianakis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Others like Deric McCabe, Levi Miller and Michael Peña left me very underwhelmed and other actors like André Holland, David Oyelowo, Belamy Young, Rowan Blanchard and Conrad Roberts, I felt as though were wasted.

On a technical level, this movie is its own worst enemy with so many factors that went into its production as positives were zeroed out by the negatives. The positives include the films visual effects, Paco Delgado’s costumes, Naomi Shohan’s production design, the art and set decoration and the makeup and hairstyling team.

The negatives? Oh boy! The cinematography and camerawork courtesy of Tobias A. Schliessler felt awkward and discomforting, Spencer Averick’s editing was more miss than hit as the film felt difficult to keep up with, Ramin Djwadi’s music and the soundtrack of the film was too heavy throughout and it felt like it was there just because of want more than need and didn’t enhance the quality of the picture.

A Wrinkle in Time is a story that was designed to take its audience away to new worlds and was set up to be this grand adventure about a battle between light and darkness. Unfortunately, it falls short of both taking audiences away and it was more misadventure and a losing battle. I felt as though my time was wasted more than wrinkled.

Movie of the Week: A Wrinkle in Time

A scientist on the verge of an epic discovery that could dramatically alter the rules of space and time, vanishes. This scientist left behind a daughter named Meg, who is approached by three individuals who believe that she is the key to finding him before a calamity occurs. Ava DuVernay’s new film is adapted from Madeline L’Engle’s beloved novel and is my featured film for this week. March at the movies begins with A Wrinkle in Time.

Director: Ava DuVernay

Written by: Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell

Starring: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, André Holland and David Oyelowo

What am I expecting to see?: My expectation for A Wrinkle in Time is to be a visually dazzling experience with a rousing and adventurous plot that truly honors the source material. A Wrinkle in Time promises to be a grand, sweeping adventure with fascinating characters and I have confidence in Ava DuVernay to truly do right by L’Engle’s book and characters and bring them to vivid and vibrant life.

Awards Season 2018 is officially in the books!

We came, we saw and I for one came in knowing what was coming based on what we saw! Now let’s take a moment to recap what happened shall we?

  • Surprise! There wasn’t any!-This entire Awards Season was consistent to say the least. From the jump, there was simply clear winners throughout the respective fields be it, Best Picture, the acting categories, cinematography, costume design, production design, animation; the awards went to who was expected to get them and that’s what happened leading up to the Oscars. That’s not to say that this year for film was bad, but who stood out among these guilds and branches was pretty cut and dry to say the least!
  • Momentum could not be stopped-Going into the Oscars, I predicted that The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney were going to walk away with the top honors but I still held out hope for some of the nominees such as Sally Hawkins for Best Actress and Laurie Metcalf for Best Supporting Actress; either one of them would have made a welcome upset but alas, there was just too much momentum to slow the winners down. I’m not saying that they were unworthy but some in certain categories were better in my eyes.
  • The Shape of Water had worthy competition throughout-Even though Hollywood’s top honor went to The Shape of Water, in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, many of the nominees for Best Picture put up a worthy challenge. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, Lady Bird and Phantom Thread all earned worthy and prestigious honors and each did make compelling arguments to be considered the Best Picture of 2017. These movies put up quite a fight leading up to Oscar night and the studios and artists behind them should be proud of what they accomplished.
  • Still, there were many firsts-Despite a predictable outcome, there were many first time accomplishes met at the Oscars and throughout awards season. Longtime veterans in their respective fields such as Gary Oldman and Roger Deakins finally took home an Oscar for their works, Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the Oscar-winning song for Coco, was the first person to pull off an EGOT twice, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award for his short film, Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win Best Original Screenplay for Get Out; this was a year for milestones regardless of whether there was any surprises or not.

With that, we can finally close the books on 2017. We’re already well underway into 2018 and I for one have a lot to be happy about because I know that there are many exciting and revelatory films are on the horizon. See you at the movies!