After The Credits: Late Night

Nuanced writing & commentary aside, Late Night was not the movie that I was expecting. It’s not as funny as I was expecting, though, it’s much more self-aware than I expected. While it is a comedy, there is more substance than just slapping your shoulder.

Katherine Newbury (played by Emma Thompson) is a late-night talk show host, who’s struggling with low ratings, old fasioned sensibilities & zero black or person of color writers. Just like real-life, Newbury comes up a plethora of excuses to justify how not inclusive she is, since, she is a person who just doesn’t want to get it, since, she feels her experience will lead her show back on top. However, an aspiring writer who used to work at a chemical planet, Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), will push Katherine’s all-white writers room to its limits & question Newbury’s liberal sensibilities.

Initially, coming in, I had zero expectations coming into this movie, because having read certain articles about it, the whole production felt utopian to me. You know, the whole “one human race” egalitarian principle that we all would like to live up to. While there are certain moments, where this movie can feel above it all (also, some of the writing can feel performative), I did like that the movie didn’t run from the fact that the late-night product is a very middle-america, upscale product, that’s prodominantly white male. Director Nisha Ganatra does a good job here for all of us to watch. Kaling aside from being second lead here, did a solid job writing this movie. Despite it trying to be deep in spots, the writing has good inflections & deep within the subject matter of the movie. It’s subtle when it needs to be subtle, which allows for the nuances of the film to be there.

Overall, Late Night is a really good film that could get lost in a summer of tentpole films, but what’s here is worthwhile

Good: Solid writing, strong performances, subject matter

Bad: Can be heavy-handed in spots

4 out of 5

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After The Credits: Avengers: Endgame

On paper, movies like Endgame & its hearbreaking predecessor, Infinity War shouldn’t have worked. Too many heroes, villains, storylines, etc, etc. Granted , comic book movies before the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a struggle attempting to juggle these things. Earlier movies in the MCU, indeed, had certain hurdles to cross, with certain storytelling elements. What Avengers: Endgame (and its Avengers predecessor, Infinity War) shouldn’t work on paper. Lots of characters, stories, villains, tying up every film in the MCU & closure. Yet, the Russo Brothers & writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely encompass a journey that is action-packed, but in many ways, personal to fans of these films dating back to the very first Iron Man.

While Endgame is set in the present, there’s a five year jump, which takes us to how Thanos REALLY changed the Avengers, as well as the landscape of civilization. Thanos achieved his goal of killing half of humanity, succeeding in making a more balanced world for the greater good & retiring in a cottage to himself. While, the Avengers did kill Thanos five years prior, it did nothing for the team to gain back what they already lost during the events of Infinity War. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Scott Lang is able to get out of the Quantum Realm (with the aid of a rat) & realizes that the way to bring everyone back is through an alternate timeline; a time before Thanos, if it were. That, along with various twist & turns sets up the compelling three hour journey of Endgame.

Comic Book movies don’t get a lot of credit for their stories, because many of the MCU’s stories aren’t just stories that deal with World Domination or Destruction in a major metropolis. Endgame’s story encompasses things like loss, guilt, redemption & hope in a way that isn’t one-dimensional. Where as Infinity War was a story of how heroes fall, this was a story of how our heroes bounce back, but at what cost? It answers that question, immensely & then some. For example, while I like Scarlett Johanssen role as Black Widow, I didn’t feel her character didn’t have that important arc compared to that of her male counterparts, who round out the original Avengers, her story is important here & does throwback to other films involving her in these films, including 2015’s Age of Ultron. Even tertiary characters matter, like Ant-Man, giving this movie as many characters to have his or her moment. Yet, at its core, this is the final journey of the original six Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye & Thor. Chris Evans & Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo & the aforementioned Johanssen have their moments here, but, this was truly the swan song for one Robert Downey Jr’s arc as Iron Man. Even as I write this review months after the film’s April release, I’m still floored by how of all the Avengers, he grows the most out of the six. The journey still sticks to him, even as it focuses on other characters, throughout. Again, it’s a testament to the Russos & the writing duo of McFeely & Markus.

Josh Brolin has been nothing short of spectacular during his run as Thanos. While he had roles in the first Guardians of the Galaxy & a mid-credits cameo in Age of Ultron, it wasn’t that he didn’t matter or anything, he was always a means to an end, it was just a matter of when he was going to be the nightmare for Earth’s Mightest Heroes. I don’t think anyone could’ve played this role, especially, from a vocal standpoint, as Brolin conveys terror so chilling, that his film adaptation is among some of the most iconic in cinema history. Anyone who has grips with the villains of the MCU, might want to reconsider their thoughts about that.

The rousing score from Alan Silvestri set a very volitale tone like Infinity War with memorable compositions. Also, it looks fantastic. There are some very miniscule CGI drops, yet, from character to environment, it all looks wonderfyl. It might be a bit crazy for a movie like this to get Oscar nominations, but why not? For every high of action, comedy & suspense, the film does manage to even tug on the heart strings. Is it not just the most compelling three hours in a comic book film, but also in the annals of cinema & I loved every second of it.

Good: Gripping story, characters & score. Incredible CGI & colors

Bad: Even though the three hours breezes by, it’s still three hours, so prepare accordingly

5 out of 5

After The Credits – Chrstopher Robin

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One of the welcoming things about Christopher Robin, isn’t so much it’s a film made for children, but it’s a movie that adults can relate to. Dealing with work, never having time for yourself or family & rekindling things from childhood. The film, essentially, is how can you attempt to make time for yourself, in a world, where your time is regulated by things out of your control. Ewan McGregor does a really of illustrating Robin’s inability to find the joy that he lost, going to boarding school as a teen and becoming a grown man selling suitcases. Hayley Atwell is good as his Evelyn, trying to get him to spend time with his family. Voice-acting is solid as well, with Jim Cummings reprising his roles as Winnie The Pooh & Tigger (in which, he hasn’t lost a step vocalizing those characters) & Brad Garrett playing Eeyore. The film looks nice, has a nice use light & dark. Marc Forester, also, does a good of conveying each character. The film doesn’t have any significant flaws I can think of, other than just, it “feels” over before it ever began. It’s only an hour and forty-four minutes &, a part of wondered, as the climax was approaching, if this film was ending & I checked my phone and was surprised. If you need to see a solid movie, this week, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Robin. 

4 out of 5

Good: Very good acting, relatable story

Bad: Feels short

 

After The Credits – The Hurricane Heist

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Look, I know The Hurricane Heist is bad, like really bad. The special effects are bad, the acting is bad & the direction is awful…..but I was entertained from start to finish. Rather than bore you with what the overall film is about, the regular moviegoer knows what the movie is about. Also, I’m not going to give a film like this a traditional score. Again, I know it’s bad, but this genre of film is one of my guilty pleasures & I don’t have a clever name to refer to it as, other than “bad/good”. People died in the most unrealistic ways in Hurricane Heist. Hubcaps, bad psychics, convoluted good/bad-ish cop vs bad guy standoff, you name it. There are a variety of ways that stuff happens & none of it makes logical sense.

The Hurricanes don’t even act like regular hurricanes. I mean, they tear stuff up like a regular hurricane, they’re just beyond what we envision what they are. Here, they’re like the crew & director Rob Cohen was like, “These are Hurricanes on HGH”. They’re not suppose to look like that, but, they went with it. It’s a crazy film that plays around with its ridiculousness at a high rate of speed.

Yes, the acting. Oh lord, the acting. Toby Kebbell playing an Alabamian Doppler chasing hurricane with a forced southern accent is too much. Maggie Grace is OK as Casey, who keeps watch of the money. Ryan Kwanten plays Breeze. However, none of these leads did nothing for me, which wasn’t their sole purpose. My favorite actor was Ralph Ineson, who’s best known for his roles in Harry Potter & Game of Thrones. He was acting so malevolent in his role as Perkins, I was laughing at how much he put into this. You can also hear a bit of the British coming out of him during points of the movie. What else needs to be said, he was entertaining as hell.

If you do plan on seeing The Hurricane Heist, don’t treat it seriously. Just don’t. You’ll just hate it. Have a good time, just make sure you find matinee tickets for it, though.

Good: It embraces the ridiculousness.

Bad: You’ll hate it, if you take this crazy film seriously.

After The Credits – The Outsider

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Before I get into the very tenets on The Outsider, I have to say this very thing: What is it with Jared Leto’s role selection, lately? Ever since winning his Academy Award for 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, he’s doubled down on his version of method acting. His take on The Joker wasn’t good (neither was pranking his fellow actors) in Suicide Squad & Blade Runner 2049 performance, while not bad, was nothing to write home about.

The Outsider is set years after World War II. Nick Lowell (Leto) is the only American in an Osaka prison. He meets a guy with the Yakuza named Kiyoshi from being hung to death. Nick saves him from being killed & then is given a job as a thank you, courtesy of the Yakuza. He eventually joins them for accomplishing his assignments with them.

I really didn’t like the fact that Leto was in this film, not just because it’s another white guy in these films that deal in politics opposite of American ideals, it’s the way every shot of Leto is shot to sympathize with him, even though, we have no reason to care for him. To me, this is a movie that should’ve been done without Jared, but because he’s the central focus, it messes up the film. I feel if the film didn’t have to put these American actors as a focus, and put Tadanobu Asano (He plays Kiyoshi in the film), I’d feel it’d be a better film, because the Asian leads are infinitely more interesting than Leto’s role.

Director Martin Zandvilet spends a lot of time giving us to care about Nick’s role with Yakuza, it just drags the whole movie down. Also, I didn’t like the way the film looked, with the reliance on dark & grainy scenes. The action is fine, but, it’s nothing special. Good luck trying to find some good here, because I couldn’t. It’s really boring to watch, as well, even though it’s a 2 hour film. In my opinion, even though it’s on Netflix, keep scrolling away to other items. Matter of fact, just watch The Cloverfield Paradox again.

Good: The action’s decent

Bad: Jared Leto’s the focus, forgettable story, dreary looking film, boring

1.5 out of 5

After The Credits: IT (2017)

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I remember watching the original IT miniseries when I was younger. Tim Curry was terrifying & charming as Pennywise, dealing with The Losers Club & the other lost children in Derry. Actors like John Ritter, Tim Reid, Annette ‘O Toole & others played prominent roles in the 3 hour film. What makes the film adaptation such a joy, is that it’s pacing is better than the original. Not to say that the original TV version was no slouch, though, things here make the original look like a Educational Informational program for kids.

The big difference from the miniseries to this version, is, for me, the portrayal of Pennywise, played creepily by Bill Skarsgard. Skarsgard’s way more expressive with his facial & bodily movements than Curry was. Curry could pull off creepy with his voice and certain clown mannerisms, Skarsgard has some things that not even his predecessor could pull off. The core of the film is the same as the miniseries, however, this time, we only get everything from the perspective, exclusively, from the children. I like that because it allows us to bond with the characters as children, rather than do dual roles like in the original.

Speaking of Children, I really liked the teen actors who were in The Losers Club. My favorite was Richie, played by Finn Wolfhard. He was the smartest of the group, but he had some of the funniest liners in the film, which to the movie’s, helps even the dark tone of the film, itself. A lot of them act beyond their years & have a bright future in the film industry. Having not seen these actors in other roles before, I was blown away by their screen presence. They were that good. Other standouts in the group was Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben) & Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie). The only female character, Beverly (played by Sophia Lills), was solid.

Visually, I did have a few hangups with some of the CGI, as some of it looked out of focus with some of those setpieces with Pennywise. Near the end of the movie, he’s in some Jack in a Box contraption dancing, which looked jerky, but that’s a slight nitpick on a very entertaining and fun horror film. Cinematography & direction, while nothing trend setting, is solid through and through. We get nice shots of Derry & the house of Pennywise is pretty terrifying, too. Also, despite being over two hours, I never felt the film’s pacing wavered.

Initially, I wasn’t going to like this  film, not because of Stephen King’s subpar box office record or my objections over an IT reboot, I just wasn’t going to appreciate it, at first. Glad to be wrong.

Good: Great terror moments, Pennywise is terrifying, The Losers Club has many great moments

Bad: Some jerky CGI &  “damsel” tropes with Beverly

4.5 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Box Office 2017 in Review

Compared to past summers, while I liked the variety of tentpole & indie films, I did feel like this batch of films lacked something of prior years. Mostly, big films released around the summer time have been spreaded around throughout the year, rather than put out during this part of the Summer. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Dunkirk, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Girls Trip & War for the Planet of the Apes held my interest, there was lots of underwhelming (It Comes at Night & Alien: Covenant) & just plain bad (Rough Night & Valerian). After Dunkirk & Girls Trip were released on July 21st, I honestly thought those were the last great films of this summer, because after that, studios released their weak films in August. Rarely do you see killer-apps in August (Though, the first Guardians was an exception in 2014, released in August).

Studios know it’s finite near the end, so the final leg of the summer feels like a mini dump schedule. Studios used to be willing to put a film, but with competition via Streaming & spreading your tent-pole films throughout the year, things aren’t what used to be for a once anticipated part of the movie year. Initially, I had some newer reviews to write up for The Film Wanderer, but, unfortunately, with my attentions to my main personal job, reviews for Dunkirk, Girls Trip, Lady Macbeth & The Hitman’s Bodyguard had to be scrapped, due to my tardiness. Good news is, I’ll mention them in someway during this summer recap. Most of these won’t be long, because I already wrote them or for brevity purposes. Each list will be in four separate categories (Great, Good, Mediocre & Bad). Some might surprise you, while others might have you scratching your head.

The Great:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2:

While it’s story isn’t as tight as its predecessor, there’s no denying how GOTGV2 will make you feel. Pretty much every character has their own separate arc which makes a simple film like this all the more compelling. It’s funny as it is fun & it’s downright emotional when it needs to be. A top-tier Marvel Studios film, indeed.

Dunkirk:

I’m disappointed that I never got the opportunity to write a review for Dunkirk, just ran out of time, but Christopher Nolan can add this film to an already sterling career. There’s not much dialogue, as the film’s score & direction are unique cues for what happens. It was an interesting way to watch this film. Time plays a key role, scene for scene, be it linear or non-linear. The perspective from air, sea & land Fionn Whitehead is great here & a big shoutout to One Direction Harry Styles, as he puts in a great performance here. While it can lag a bit, it makes up for it with great filmmaking. It also looked great in IMAX. Not my favorite Nolan film (Interstellar’s my favorite), but it gets the job done.

Spider-Man Homecoming:

Amazing Spider-Man, as a franchise, wasn’t meant to be, considering the five year gap between the third Raimi film & the first Amazing film. Those films never got their due, because the timing was bad & they basically did an origin story that did improve upon the original series. So when Spider-Man was going to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it finally felt the character was going to get the respect it deserve & it didn’t disappoint. He’s a freshmen in high school & we finally get to see this character more vulnerable, strong & struggle, where Andrew Garfield & Sadface Tobey Maguire simply imitated one. Tom Holland got ALL of the character. Michael Keaton was superb as Vulture/Adrian Tooms. He’s one of the best villains in the MCU to date. This entire film was awesome.

War for the Planet for the Apes:

A fitting end to a superb prequel series. I knew the ending was coming but it still hurt anyway. A great allegory on racism & slavery. The mo-cap actors, especially Andy Serkis, need to get an Oscar nomination. It’s that good.

Girls Trip:

This comedy was so good, I nearly got in trouble with some audience members for laughing so loud. Blame Tiffany Haddish for a good time. Alsoi, it’s worth noting that this film was the first comedy that I saw four black women be leads in a film. A long-time coming too.

Wonder Woman:

If the DCEU needed a critically acclaimed & financial win, Wonder Woman really saved their ass. While I still liked Man of Steel, that films biggest problem, is, at times, the movie lacks subtlety, because Zack Snyder has a problem being to nail the little things in his films, so he tends to overdue narration, it didn’t hurt the film for me, but I get those who had a problem with it. Patty Jenkins, not only nails it, she is able to get more of her film than prior DCEU directors, including David Ayer. Gal Gadot nails all of the aspects of Wonder Woman. Her naivety, strength, compassion & will absolutely are what make that film great. Chris Pine is great as Steve Trevor & doesn’t take over the film like other films that meant to have a female lead. This is about Wonder Woman, through & through, not Trevor. I don’t know what the future holds for this struggling universe, but it was great to see it on a good track.

Baby Driver:

Edgar Wright couldn’t make Ant-Man work for his vision, so he went back to basics & proceeded to make this movie. I nearly put this in the “good” category, because I felt it was a bit overrated with the praise being “it’s original” for some critics, but I decided to put it here, because it was a lot of fun. Great chase scenes, great script & casting, and solid direction. Edgar Wright gives you what you want every time & Baby Driver didn’t disappoint.

The Good

Lady MacBeth:

I went into seeing this with little to no information possible. I saw a preview of this, while Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled was out in theaters (more on that later). My Shakespeare knowledge isn’t good, but you didn’t need any background to know that MacBeth, at least in this portrayal, wasn’t a good person & movie never backed down from that. She was rightfully vindictive when she needed to be, yet wrong for hurt those who didn’t abuse her. With this being Florence Pugh’s first role, she has great screen presence and is a good actress. I don’t think this film reinvented the female role, but hopefully, women like Pugh get more roles. It was a solid film all around.

The Big Sick:

Judd Apatow isn’t on my good list, as of late. The way he’s passive on race & how he depicts his characters can annoy me sometimes. However, his film track record is solid, for the most part & he can add The Big Sick into that category. The film is based off the life of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon. Their road towards getting to a loving relationship wasn’t easy, as Emily was ill with Still disease (I don’t know her actual illness in real-life, since her disease isn’t disclosed, so don’t rely on this written article). Kumail bombed his comedy bits while dealing with Emily being on the mend. During some point of the film, they are separated, due to Emily not wanting to be committed to the relationship. Eventually, it all gets solved. Not a favorite of mine for the year, but a solid film.

The Mediocre

Baywatch:

This was a difficult one, as I did enjoy Baywatch, but overtime, I realized, it’s an OK comedy, at best. The Rock & Zack Efron have good chemistry, Hannibal Buress is funny for the short amount of time he’s on-screen, but that’s about it for me. While their lines & jokes landed, the movie went with it’s motions. Yes, I did give it three stars, but I didn’t think it was a good movie by any means. Hell, David Hasselhoff’s here with a forgettable cameo. It would’ve been funnier if this film parodied Baywatch Nights, too; cuz, that was a laughably bad show. Priyanka Chopra is film villain, but I wasn’t intimidated by her. The film could’ve been better, but it’s decent, if not good.

Alien: Covenant:

Sigh. Ridley Scott is probably the biggest fake deep director not named Wes Anderson. Sure he directed great films like the original Alien, Blade Runner & Gladiator, but do you notice that those two are heavily promoted as “from the director of Alien & Gladiator” over & over again? Covenant isn’t a good film, yet the only way I enjoyed it, was what I typically do with films like this: don’t take it seriously. I didn’t care for these characters, expect for David & Walter (both played by Michael Fassbender). Even the way they played their exploration was reckless (where the hell is your space gear or hazmat suit?). From that point, I smiled at the stupidity of humanity & it was incredible. Seeing those rapidly produced Xenomorphs destroy humans had me losing it in utter hilarity. I’m still laughing at the idiotic decision making. In all seriousness, though, if FOX, wants to save this once proud franchise, let go of Ridley. Let. Him. Go. Start a journey with this series & get a new visionary.

Lucky Logan:

Hoped for good things with this film, but I ultimately got bored with this movie. There’s nothing significantly wrong with it & it’s about white dudes planing a heist at NASCAR’s Coke Cola 600, and as a fan of stock car racing it should’ve been up my alley. I might revisit it see why I didn’t enjoy it, but for now, it’s mediocre.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard:

Without Ryan Reynolds & Samuel L Jackson, this is a subpar film, at best. They’re funny & are a cool pairing, just, ultimately, I forgot about it, after the last motherfucker was uttered in the film.

Transformers 5:

Why is it on the list with the mediocre film, even though I know it’s bad? Simple, I accepted that it was bad, like Alien: Covenant, enjoyed it. Sure hope Sir Anthony Hopkins enjoyed that Michael Bay cash, because he was awful.

Detroit:

Gritty, harsh & unapologetic. Unfortunately, Kathryn Bigalow made some questionable decisions here, especially, with certain characters & historic moments that let you know a white woman directed this from her perspective. I honestly think if Mark Boal wasn’t the writer on this project & a black person wrote it, this could’ve been better, in my opinion. Will Poulter played a racist cop that wasn’t sugar coated. Glad they didn’t hold back on the police corruption, it just tries to hard, at times, to showcase how “in your face” it is.

The Bad

The Beguiled

Read my review. Ranting about it here would rob me of my soul. It’s historically tone deaf & milquetoast as fuck.

King Arthur

Worst Guy Richie film ever. It didn’t need to happen. And they tried to go crossfit Arthur with Charlie Hunnam. C’mon, WB. Should’ve put some of that $175M to give Wonder Woman a better final fight.

It Comes At Night

Yeah, I still don’t know what this film is ultimately about. So many good performances wasted on a copout.

After The Credits: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Marvel Studios is so unfair. As they attempt to acquire the rights to all of their properties from rival studios, the one with Sony appears to be academic with Marvel/Disney teaming up with one another to do Homecoming. Since Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony has found many ways to screw up their opportunities with scenarios involving The Sinister Six, Venom or Aunt May (Yes, they were going to make THAT film). Even after the domestic success of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002 (Made $420M in the US alone), each film after it, the grosses got smaller.

While I enjoyed The Amazing movies & the individual performances by Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone, there was a something missing during those movies. It wasn’t heart, but it did involve not being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, certain story threads felt forced with Peter dealing with how depressing it is to have the responsibility to be a hero, deaths in the family, etc. What makes Homecoming such an impressive feat, is that we finally get a Peter Parker learning to be a hero for the better & worse of his adventures. We hardly got that in the original trilogy & the Amazing films. Tom Holland, in a word, is spectacular. He is the Spider-Man we’ve been awaiting for 5 movies & while Garfield was the closest to getting the character right, Holland capture the fun of playing the character, allowing us to buy into him. It’s a connection that this franchise has needed for quite sometime, to be honest.

Michael Keaton is perfect as Adrian Tooms/Vulture. Keaton’s so good, that I thought they would do a certain cheesy thing with Vulture, pertaining to his age by giving him a potion, like in the old 1990s Spider-Man cartoon. Not the case. Tooms is a blue collar-ish guy who invests in the scrapes from the Chitauri, post-Battle of New York incident to take on Superheroes or steal other material. Not only is he a good villain, but he’s a character with a lot of depth in ways we haven’t seen in the MCU. Now, I’m not one of those “MCU has a villain problem”, however, they do have those “villain wants to destroy the world” plots too often. And as much as I enjoyed Ultron & Loki, Zemo & Tooms are villains that the universe could use more of. They’re bad guys, yes, but their agenda is subtle, which, in a way, makes them way more scarier than the bigger threats. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) plays more of a dad who gives out tough love to Peter. While he’s not in the movie that much, his appearance is timed right.

I really enjoyed Laura Harrier has Peter’s love interest, she’s really good, poised & has great chemistry with Holland. Marisa Tomei speeds right through Rosemary Harris & Sally Field as the best Aunt May ever, she’s great; though, I wish she & Downey Jr had a scene or two. Other supporting roles like Bokeem Woodbine, Jon Favreau & Donald Glover shine in their own ways & add more to an already great film.

Not even a question, this is the definitive Spider-Man movie of all-time. After 5 films, 2 Thirty-something actors trying to be teenagers & Behind-the-Scenes politics, this is basically what we’ve wanted for so long. While Sony played somewhat of a role in getting us this, thank Marvel Studios. They simply took a floundering franchise & gave it new life.

5 out of 5

Good: Tom Holland’s embrace of Spider-Man, Michael Keaton’s compelling, very funny, solid supporting cast.

Bad: Possible Spider-Man fatigue.

After The Credits: Baby Driver

Usually when I go to the movies, I like to know as little as possible, so I can tap the enjoyment in full. Same goes for Edgar Wright films. There isn’t a bad movie in his resume &, even though, him not sticking through Ant-Man (admittedly, it was for the best, in retrospect) he brushed himself off and sticks to what he & a lot of indie-esque directors are good at: Passion Projects. Baby Driver is 22 years in the making from Wright. He eventually put the idea to work in a 3 1/2 minute music video that he directed for the group Mint Royale called “Blue Song” in 2009 and the concept stayed dormant until it finally came to be.

Baby (Ansel Elgort), is a driver for bank robbers taking them around Atlanta, GA taking money from as many banks as possible. When he was a child, he suffered from a ringing in his ear from a car accident. The symptom is tinnitus. In order to get that pesky ring out of his ear, he listens to music to quiet the sounds. He has tons of iPods for each day of the week, his mood & personality. Basically, his life is an assorted music video while driving dangerously. He only does this to pay off Doc (Kevin Spacey) for wrecking one of his cars awhile back. Baby works alongside his main crew of misfits: Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm) & Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) for the duration of his tasks. He befriends a girl named Debora (Lily James) at a diner & start to hit it off. But with his grueling job as a “chauffeur” he has a hard time trying to start a love life.

Music plays a major role here, because the tracks are used as narrative cues to drive the plot forward. It can get annoying, because it feels like overkill to give artist royalty fees after every lyric is sung scene-by-scene, but with the way the movie flows, it actually benefits the movie quite well. The songs are mostly from the 70s with other songs sporadically sprinkled in from other eras. Each song has a character, bullet, line, beginning, middle & end of its own. Some may get irritated of the themes, but it’s well-done.

The acting is first-rate by all of the players, including Elgort, Spacey & Hamm who eat up the scenery during each scene. Ansel’s is charming & fun, while Hamm plays his unconventional role with ease. Spacey’s is basically textbook Kevin Spacey, deadpan & ruthless. James is really good but there’s an argument to be had that she didn’t get more screen time, as well Gonzalez’s Darling who could’ve used more. Foxx is just crazy good in his role, being a relentless man dedicated to doing this job right.

Edgar Wright continues his streak of very good to great films by sticking with his eclectic brand of filmmaking. Baby Driver isn’t the most heist/driving of all-time, yet, it does add something refreshing to it. It’s just a fun time at the movies.

4.5 out of 5

Good: Great acting, action, narration & pace; unique use of music

Bad: The unique use of music may not be for everyone

After The Credits: The Beguiled

A feminist social commentary during the Civil War is a novel concept, if only, it was in a more modern era. The biggest problem with The Beguiled, is that what Sofia Coppola is trying to tell is hollow. During her interviews for the film, Sofia’s angle for the film is to focus on the male & female dynamics in the 1860s. All that’s well & good, until you get to the underlying truth about the Civil War: The South wasn’t shit & mainly wanted to own slaves, defying the demands of the union. (the word Confederate isn’t even used in this film once.) It’s like the whole movie sidesteps history in avoidance to hurt the feelings of white people. 

The acting is fine & it looks good, but what’s the point of having a battle of the sexes-style movie, where its own director won’t acknowledge historical context? Honestly, because the movie feels so bare, the selling point is meaningless. There weren’t good white men & women during that time, so why sugar coat if the purpose is to coddle hurt feelings? It’s not just bad filmmaking, it’s downright cowardice. 

Also, the movie was marketed like a horror film, yet hardly anything hair-raising happens (save for a compound fracture & the ending). So even that feels false. If anything, the film’s one big fake. Aside from seduction & other miscellaneous items that happen, it’s more like The Bemilded than anything else. 

Good: Solid acting & cinematography 

Bad: Risk-averse, very revisionary, main commentary is hollow, weak characters & story

1.5 out of 5