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: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Dark times. The Resistance is hanging by a thread. The loss of the Republic has General Leia’s band of fighters in a corner and with limited resources and allies beyond reach, hope is dwindling.

Despite the destruction of Starkiller Base, the First Order is poised to seize military control of the galaxy and they are hot on the Resistance’s heels ready to snuff them out. General Leia’s last hope is the return of her brother, Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi, to spark hope renewed and unite the galaxy against Snoke’s tyrannical rule.

Rey finally meets the legendary Jedi Master face-to-face, resolute to urge him back into the fight but her first encounter with Skywalker results in a door slammed in her face. Rey must convince Luke that the Jedi are not meant to die out; Luke and the Jedi Order are needed in the galaxy now more than ever.

I’ve waited so long for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. I went into the theater with a clear and serious mind, free of expectation ready to take whatever writer/director Rian Johnson threw at me. This was hands down, the best Star Wars movie I’ve ever seen!


Image by LucasFilm

Johnson promised to take this franchise in a direction that has never been explored, used techniques that have never been seen, turn the franchise to a very dark and somber place while still retaining the delight and wonders a galaxy far, far away had to offer and Johnson hit a grand slam! (Most of) The questions I had after watching The Force Awakens, were answered in this film, we saw the young trope of characters including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren take their own journeys to become characters to take over for the old guard of Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Han Solo, some of the events that took place in the film stretched credulity but it’s Star Wars! This franchise was built on stretching the imagination and showing audiences the world over ideas and concepts that have never been seen before! I was immersed in everything this film had to show me and it was an emotional ride!

After seeing this film, my excitement for Rian Johnson’s standalone Star Wars trilogy was not only reinvigorated but heightened! Disney and LucasFilm assuredly put their faith in the right man, regardless of what he intends to do with these movies. He did a stupendous job writing and directing The Last Jedi!

We saw the characters of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suotamo, Jimmy Vee evolve to become stronger, more anchoring figures in the Star Wars franchise, essentially carrying the torch that was passed down to them from Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones and so on, and players such as Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Frank Oz and Lupita Nyong’o make their mark on this franchise, the performances in total were very good.

The visual effects were outstanding, John Williams’ score and composition for this movie? What more can I say about Williams’ legendary career and the mark he has made on these films? Steve Yedlin’s cinematography was awesome, Bob Ducsay’s editing did a grand job at piecing this film together although, it did feel elongated in the final act, Rich Heinrichs’ production design was gorgeous, the art direction was superb and the set decoration courtesy of Richard Roberts was on point, Michael Kaplan’s costume design and the makeup department did a superb job!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was a remarkable achievement. It put your emotions through the ringer, it messed with your mind in parts, it answered some questions, it was an amazing adventure, it allowed audiences to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, it brought hope to the future and if the opportunity presented itself, I would see it again just for the sheer pleasure of it all!

Now, the ball is back in J.J. Abrams’ court. How, oh how is he going to bring this new trilogy full circle with Episode IX?🤔

Movie of the Week: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

My most anticipated film of the year arrives in theaters this week and all I can do to contain my excitement is breathe. Just breathe. The First Order and the Resistance have sustained heavy losses in the aftermath of The Force Awakens but Rey has gained a major victory. The scavenger from Jakku has taken her first steps into a larger world and she is on her way to continue down her path, which leads her to the mythic Luke Skywalker himself. The battle between the light and darkness wages on and Rey must pull Luke out of the shadows and into the light, both figuratively and literally. This is the movie the entire galaxy has waited for. This is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Director: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Jimmy Vee and Lupita Nyong’o.

What am I expecting to see?: Where to start? The Star Wars franchise holds a significant and special place in my heart but writer/director Rian Johnson promises that this film will forever change everything we think we know about Star Wars and take the franchise in a direction that has never been ventured before. I don’t even know if I’m ready for what’s coming but I am certain that whatever will come, The Last Jedi will shake me to the core.

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.

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.


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.