Sunday, December 16, 2018
Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people -- and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.
Director: James Wan
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman
Release Date: December 14, 2018
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Runtime: 2h 23 min
Aquaman is one of those properties that could have gone off the rails fairly easily much like Marvel’s Thor. The best thing DC did was nail the casting much like they did with Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Jason Momoa has great screen presence and he never takes himself overly serious. He’s had a trial run with him making an impressive debut in Justice League and he proves that he’s more than capable of carrying his own film here. The combination of James Wan and Jason Momoa make for an incredibly fun film which has a massive scope but it never loses its focus even as it becomes more and more ridiculous. Wan does a healthy bit of world building delivering some incredibly impressive visual set pieces and action sequences. After a bit of a slow start the film revs up and never let’s down, its energy is palpable through out even at nearly two in half hours. The supporting cast rounds out the film with Amber Heard leaving the biggest impression with Nichole Kidman coming in a strong second. It’s a testament to how well crafted the film is that you can overlook a few missteps like a bland villain, Black Manta would have worked better as the primary baddie, and some formulaic story beats. Even so Aquaman is a superhero film that’s sure to please nearly everyone especially long suffering DC fans.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world.
Director: Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., Rodney Rothman
Cast: Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna
Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber
Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild
Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure
Runtime: 1h 57min
Spiderman into the Spiderverse is one of those animated films that is instantly striking due to it’s visual style and energy. The visual style is so striking that it takes a little while to adjust to it in action. Once you settle into it it’s a cornucopia of visual delights. The character designs and lush backgrounds make for a beautifully vivid film. Thankfully the story is just as strong as the visual. The story is a fun superhero tome filled with great messages for kids and adults alike. The voice cast all fit their characters perfectly with Shameik Moore and Jake Johnson sharing great chemistry. Hailee Steinfeld as a SpiderGwen has spinoff written all over it but it’s not nearly as fun as John Mulany as Spider Ham and Nicholas Cage as Spiderman Noir. Ultimately, Spiderman into the Spiderverse is a fun film which offers a fresh version of animation which makes it pop.
Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl's past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, Andy García
Release Date: December 14, 2018
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Rated R for language throughout and brief sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 1h 56 min
The Mule is surprisingly funny, occasionally reflective entry into Clint Eastwood’s resume. Eastwood’s film is impressive for its measured approach at making an unlikable character incredibly likeable. Eastwood can be credited for this since he’s the star and director. His performance is heavy on grandpa-ism which makes Earl Stone easy to like. There are a few odd moments in the film where you get the feeling that Eastwood is trying to say something about race but he never really commits to that thread. As a self reflective film, you get the sense that this subject matter hits close to home for him. So much so that he beats you over the head with the “family is what matters” message. Still the film offers a bevy of strong performances from Eastwood and his supporting cast even if the story itself is a bit simplistic.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. Charlie, on the brink of turning 18 years old and trying to find her place in the world, soon discovers the battle-scarred and broken Bumblebee. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns that this is no ordinary yellow Volkswagen.
Director: Travis Knight
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Dylan O'Brien
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 1h 53min
The Transformers movie series was in need of jump start since The Last Knight was easily the worst of the Michael Bay’s run. Travis Knight takes the helm for this prequel/reboot and he does so with gusto. Knight clearly knows the 80s cartoon and finally delivers the kind of Transformers film that we fans have been asking for all along. Knight and his team redesign the Transformers removing a lot of the more insect like look of the Bay era with designs that look much closer to the original cartoon design. It’s a simple change but one that makes longtime hearts feel all warm and fuzzy. There is quite a bit of nostalgia mining going on but in doing so Knight never loses focus of what really matters, the actual characters. Bumblebee is front and center with Hailee Steinfeld making for a likable lead. At its base it’s a simpler story, one that isn’t overly busy which is a welcome change of pace from the hectic Bayhem we’ve come to expect from these films. The story shares a lot with The Iron Giant which is a good thing. The villains of the pieces are slightly underwhelming since they’re fairly non descript and unmemorable. It’s a shame since they cast Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux. Still, this film is just what the franchise needed in order to make fans happy, hopefully it’s a sign of better films to come.