Jordan Peele’s first effort as a writer/director fairly simmers with rage – not at the clichéd southern-fried racist rednecks of most horror movies that have discrimination at their root, but at white liberals who have all the right friends and say all the right things (or what they think are the right things).
Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall is the first Chinese big budget movie that is targeted at a global audience. It has a number of Chinese stars and one major American star and tells a story that brings East and West cultures together in an uncomfortable co-operation against a foe that, should it feed enough, could put the entire world at risk.
With The Great Wall Zhang Yimou has become, in essence, the Chinese Cecil B. DeMille. He’s constructed an epic adventure with a cast of thousands. If the plot and dialogue aren’t always brilliant, the scale of the story and the action definitely make up for that – and it looks amazing!
Almost thirty years ago, there was a sleeper comedy hit called, Three O’Clock High, in which a nerd named Jerry Mitchell got himself in hot water with the school’s behemoth of a bully and found himself challenged to a fight after school. It was pretty good.
Fist Fight is essentially the same film only with potty-mouthed teachers and played for R-rated comedy. It’s not quite as good, but after an extensive set-up, it builds into an explosive, hilarious Big Finish.
I Am Jane Doe is the documentary that follows the efforts of the parents of survivors of child sex trafficking in America to take down the men who facilitated that trafficking via the website Backpage.com by hiding behind a law meant to help the internet grow.
In and of itself, I Am Jane Doe is a horrifying film because it points out, rightly, that child sex trafficking is a huge business in America. It’s the story of the efforts of the parents of three survivors of the trade to find justice – and the way that the men responsible for their ordeals could hide behind a section of the innocuous sounding Communications Decency Act.
The LEGO Movie was original, inventive, witty and stylish. Batman was used as punctuation – injected a bit of pompous self-congratulation while saving a few lives.
The LEGO Batman Movie takes those few moments and puffs them up into a 104-minute excursion into the EGO part of The LEGO Batman. By the time he decides that he can’t do it all alone, the film’s relentless barrage of witless gags, unsubtle digs and brilliantly animated but repetitive sight gags have pretty much put its audience over the age of 5, to sleep (I heard no laughter during the screening I attended).
The first John Wick film was one of the rare action flicks to actually warrant the title film. It was mad crazy in terms of action and remarkably thorough at sketching out the world in which the characters lived and worked.
John Wick Chapter 2 expands that world in fun, messy ways and is even more propulsive than the first. I would say that it’s the rare sequel that is even better (if only marginally) than the original – it deepens every aspect of its world and character.
Talk about an awkward teen romance!
Gardner Eliot is the first true Martian – born there in 2018 – and the first true Martian orphan (his mother died in childbirth). When he meets Tulsa, another orphan, via the Internet (by 2034 we have instantaneous internet connections between Earth and Mars!), he falls in love.
Milla Jovovich’s Alice is back to put an end to Umbrella corp. and its hideous creations once and for all.
In a movie that’s the diametric opposite end of the spectrum from the charming hokum of A Dog’s Purpose, the one thing RE6 has in common with that good natured effort is dogs – in this case, zombie dogs! (Yes, the zombie dogs are back!)
Based on a novel by W. Bruce Cameron (who co-wrote the script), A Dog’s Purpose is at least a three-hankie film. Heartstrings are plucked and the story of a reincarnating dog comes full circle for an old-fashioned Hollywood happy ending – and despite being hokum, it works beautifully.
It’s just a shame that the trailers contain a lot of the film’s most important moments – including one of the big ones in the final moments.
John Michael McDonagh’s third film War on Everyone – on iTunes and VOD on February 3rd – isn’t quite as sharp as his previous features, but it’s still a fast-paced bit of lunatic fun.
The film follows two corrupt detectives out to frame and blackmail every crook they can – until they encounter someone who might be more dangerous than them.
Xander Cage rises from the dead after fifteen years to save the world again in the sequel no one in particular asked for – so the surprise is that it’s good-natured ‘90s fun with today’s technology.
xXx3 opens with Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) pitching the Triple X program to football (soccer to you) star Neymar Jr (himself) – just before a satellite crashes and they are seemingly consumed by flames.