The Jaeger Uprising Is About to Begin!

The crew of Gypsy Danger thought they sealed the breach from where the creatures known as Kaiju came once and for all. The world prayed that they had seen the last of the monsters, who rose from deep in the Pacific, laying waste to their cities. It was believed that the world no longer needed Jaegers or coastal walls to protect what was left of their civilization. Those thoughts, prayers and believes? Shattered. The demons from the deep have returned and they are bigger, stronger and more dangerous than ever. A new generation of Jaegers and pilots is needed now more than ever. The son of Stacker Pentecost must rally mankind to rise against the coming storm. This is the first look of Pacific Rim: Uprising.

Steven S. DeKnight will take over directorial duties from Guillermo Del Toro, who directed the first Pacific Rim feature. DeKnight also co-wrote the film with T.S. Nowlin. Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi and Burn Gorman will return for the sequel and they will be joined by John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Tian Jing, Dustin Clare, Daniel Feuerriegel, Nick E. Tarrabay, Levi Meaden and Adria Ajorna. The follow-up to Pacific Rim will rise in theaters on March 23, 2018.

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Review: Detroit

Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s newest picture, or should I dub it a docudrama, is a hard-hitting take on the events that transpired in the Motor City in 1967. Detroit follows the individuals and actions that lead to the horrible shootout that took place at the Algiers Motel, where the police shot and killed three African-American boys suspected of firing shots at National Guardsman and the aftermath of their actions.

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Image by Annapurna Pictures

Detroit is a culmination of three subplots carried by a security guard named Melvin Dismukes, a Detroit police officer named Krauss and an aspiring Motown lead singer named Larry and his friend Fred. Each of them are eventually drawn to the Algiers where bedlam, fear and senseless violence take place after the police arrive and take drastic and dangerous steps to determine who fired the suspected gun.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have worked together to deliver two of the hardest hitting dramas echoing current cultural and societal issues. Detroit is no exception to the standard as it definitely packs an impact upon viewing it, but unlike The Hurt Locker and unlike Zero Dark Thirty, I found Detroit a mess.

I couldn’t get past the constant shaky Steadicam work. The cinematography of Barry Ackroyd was very unsteady to watch; I get that Bigelow wanted to go for authenticity and I respect for that but the camerawork was so over the top, I couldn’t find a way to settle.

I also found flaws in how this was written. Mark Boal is talented but I can’t help but think that he may have overdone it; especially after the film concluded and Bigelow wrote in a statement stating that a lot of the information about the events of this movie was incomplete. I understand how filmmakers can take certain liberties to enhance the appeal of a film, especially if they are based on true events but it just raises the questions how much of this film was influenced by the modern day news stories about black men killed by police for little to no reason at all.

Also I found that the script left some things unresolved by some of their characters like Dismukes, Krauss, Greene and whoever else was involved in this ordeal and managed to survive; this movie, felt incomplete primarily because of how it was written.

Bigelow made her intentions clear in Detroit and I can definitely see why she was drawn to make this movie; the problems relating to race and police violence are just as relevant and important today as they were back then and the system has not made a difference. The problem is that this film has problems and those problems dragged this film down; the writing muddles the impact and the camerawork hinders the editing of William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon, which felt very sloppy transitioning between Dismukes, Krauss, Larry and the guests at the hotel for a while.

What I can’t say is that the cast and the acting were not a problem. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Nathan Davis Jr., Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever and Jason Mitchell all do a fine job with their roles.

James Newton Howard’s music was fine, Jeremy Hindle’s production design was bold, the set decoration by Dennis Colvin and Kathy Lucas was sharp, the art direction by Greg Barry and Jim Wallis was good, the make-up and sound effects was top notch and the costume design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck was very precise.

There were times where I tried to force myself to pay attention to this movie and that has never happened to me before with a Kathryn Bigelow movie. Detroit is an impactful film, it is, and it is worth seeing because it has relevance but it also has problems that are difficult to ignore and ultimately, it is disappointing.

Movie of the Week: Detroit

The tandem of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have delivered compelling cinema over the past few years. The Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker was an intense examination of how war can be addictive to man. Zero Dark Thirty was a relentless depiction on the manhunt for the world’s most infamous terrorist and now the two are ready to take audiences back in time to one of the most recent darkest chapters in American history. In 1967, one of America’s most prominent cities was ready to explode due to racial tensions and hostilities toward the police and the incidents which occurred at the Algiers Motel, may as well lit the fuse on those tensions. It’s time to go to Detroit.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenwriter: Mark Boal

Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Lattimore, John Krasinski, Kaitlyn Dever and Hannah Murray.

What am I expecting to see?: From what I’ve heard going in, this movie is very polarizing; either people will enjoy it or people will see it as a mess, which is strange considering Bigelow and Boal crafted it. The subject itself is tantalizing considering how societally relevant it seems but even the great ones can make mistakes. I’m looking forward to being enlighted, educated and entertained by Detroit considering how much I enjoyed Bigelow’s last two features but I’m bracing myself for the worst all the same.

It’s time for the Jedi…to end?! The Last Jedi trailer

The next chapter of a new generation is on the horizon. When last we left the Star Wars universe, the scavenger Rey was swept up into the fray between the First Order and the Resistance and at the center of this conflict was one individual: Luke Skywalker. The legendary Jedi Knight, who once proved pivotal in the overthrow of the sinister Galactic Empire, suddenly vanished in the galaxy’s most turbulent hour and the quest to locate him has delivered gains and losses on both sides. At the conclusion of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rey made her way to come face-to-face with the mythic Skywalker and where this encounter goes from where the last film left off, forebodes a grim outcome. This is the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Jimmy Vee, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Laura Dern, Benecio Del Toro, Billie Lourd, Gwendoline Christie and the late Carrie Fisher. The fate of the galaxy will be revealed on December 15, 2017.

Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi

Two years ago, a the Star Wars universe introduced a new generation of characters into an already iconic legacy. Picking up 30 years later from where the original trilogy ended, director J.J. Abrams helmed one of the most successful films of all time in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, where the crux of the plot focused on question related to one particular individual: Where is Luke Skywalker? The Force Awakens answered that question at the end of the film where the character Rey, found Luke on a secluded planet and presented him with his father’s lightsaber in the hopes of bringing Luke back into the forefront of the fight between the Resistance and The First Order.

Today, a major announcement has been made regarding where the events of The Force Awakens will go next. Director Rian Johnson will step in to direct Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga and a title has been revealed and confirmed.

Coming into theaters on December 15, 2017 is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Johnson helms the screenplay and directorial duties and inherits the cast from The Force Awakens. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Oscar Isaac, Peter Mayhew, Billie Lourd, Anthony Daniels, the late Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will star in this highly anticipated blockbuster.

Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Image by LucasFilm

Allow me to start by saying that the Star Wars franchise will always hold a special place in my heart. A staple in my childhood memories were sitting in front of my television mesmerized by the original trilogy on VHS and as a film enthusiast, critic and lifelong fan of the Star Wars franchise, I could not pass up the opportunity to see a new generation take the controls of the Millennium Falcon and make their mark in a galaxy far, far away.

Essentially, the plot for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is relatively simple to follow. Thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire and while the Resistance fights to keep the ideals of the Old Republic alive, both sides are looking for a particular individual: Luke Skywalker.

Enrapt in the quest to find the last Jedi is a defecting Storm Trooper named Finn, a droid named BB-8, Poe Dameron, one of the Resistance’s most talented pilots, a scavenger named Rey, legends Han Solo and his Wookie BFF Chewbacca, and Luke’s sister, Princess-turned-General Leia Organa all representing the light side of the Force. The Dark Side also searches for Skywalker spearheaded by Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma and Supreme Leader Snoke orchestrating everything from behind the scenes.

Image By David Shankbone (flickr), via Wikimedia Commons

Certainly writers Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt and director J.J. Abrams wielded a fine and exciting installment to the Star Wars legacy but ultimately I left with more questions than I came in with. The Force Awakens was unnecessary; there was no need to make this movie and the upcoming sequels that will follow because the central plot for Star Wars involving Anakin Skywalker and his ultimate Sith-destroying destiny is finished but leave it to Disney to simply wring every dime out of any property they get their hands on.

From all of the details, promos, trailers, and pressers I’ve gleaned from The Force Awakens I had questions going in like how did Anakin’s lightsaber get to (wherever you will find out about in this movie [I’m not spoiling a damn thing so find out when you see it]) from the depths of Bespin, why didn’t the Rebellion move quickly to reestablish the Republic, how is Supreme Leader Snoke associated with the Dark Side of the Force, where has Luke been all this time? Some questions were answered, and a surprise or two was thrown in but at the end of the film I had more questions like what is (a particular character)’s connection to the Force and Kylo Ren, is (another character) going to be okay, what happened to Captain Phasma, did Hux and Kylo survive? I saw a lot of plotholes in this movie.

I think this was a typical blockbuster designed to dazzle fans of the franchise with as many X-Wings, aliens, lightspeed sequences, lightsaber duels as possible to appease their cinematic Star Wars fixes but the central plot lacked an anchor; I could say that the central point of the film is to find Luke but by introducing the new members of the cast and reintroducing the old guard, it felt as though The Force Awakens took every scenic route on the map to get to its destination.

I definitely got a kick out of seeing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels back as Luke, Han, Chewy, Leia, C3Po and R2-D2 again and I thought the new additions to the Star Wars family including John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o and Max von Sydow did a good job considering the material they were given. I felt that the script was a little unfair to some of the characters though like Christie’s Captain Phasma, Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Nyongo’s Maz Kanata.

Daniel Mindel’s cinematography, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey’s editing, Rick Carter and Darren Gilford’s production design, the art direction, Michael Kaplan’s costume designs; everything technical about this film were all crafted to make this as much Star Wars as possible with the cherries on top being the beautiful visual effects and John Williams’ iconic score.

I will be frank: I liked Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I truly did enjoy it, but the only things I took into the theater with me is my curiosity and questions. The curiosity about how J.J. Abrams could add to George Lucas’ signature legacy was sated but ultimately I still had questions that I would have liked to see answered before the credits started rolling and my mind shifted to Episode VIII and the first chapter of the Anthology series titled Rogue One.

I liked The Force Awakens but it wasn’t strong enough by my standards, still I would encourage others to see it.

Movie of the Week: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The time has come. 2015’s most anticipated feature is set to arrive in theaters this Friday and as a fan of the franchise that is set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” there is no way I’m missing it. Taking place three decades after the final installment of the original trilogy, a new generation has risen to take on a legendary legacy. Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess General Leia, C3PO, R2D2 and Luke Skywalker, wherever he is, will join forces with new faces named Finn, Rey, BB-8 and Poe Dameron to carry on the good fight against the new agents of evil led by General Hux, Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. The time has come for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

What am I expecting to see?: Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, but I don’t think this movie and the movies to follow should be happening; the story behind Star Wars is over but somehow screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt and director J.J. Abrams managed to concoct new concepts to add to the franchise so since I’ve seen the other films so I might as well see these movies too, starting with this one. It will be great to see Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Mark Hamill return to these iconic characters again and I’m looking forward to see the new members of the Star Wars family including John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver and Andy Serkis as well. This may be the blockbuster to bust all blockbusters.