Car Chase Karaoke
A year before his breakout hit Shaun of the Dead was released in 2004, Edgar Wright directed a music video for the group Mint Royale and their song “Blue Song”. The video featured getaway driver lip-synching and dancing along with the tunes in his car while waiting for his crew to rob a bank. With his new film Baby Driver, Wright has taken that brief concept—reenacted in the movie’s opening scene—and turned it into a hip thrill ride of a motion picture that should pump some gas into the summer movie season.
Follow the Plan
Director Colin Trevorrow followed up his delightful, shoestring-budgeted 2012 debut Safety Not Guaranteed with the slightly bigger budgeted Jurassic World in 2015. That blockbuster shattered box-office records on its way to becoming the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time. Following that success, Trevorrow surely could have lived in the blockbuster franchise realm—he will return to that stratosphere with 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX—but instead he returned to less extravagant fare for his next film with The Book of Henry, a story of a single mother and her two young boys.
Evil Has Arrived
A few weeks ago, the new film version of The Mummy was just another Tom Cruise action movie that did not seem to be generating much interest. Then Universal announced that the movie would actually be the first in what they are calling the “Dark Universe,” a Marvel-like movie universe that would be shared by some of their most iconic movie monsters, including the likes of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Invisible Man. Depending on who you are, this announcement either meant nothing or it generated a whole new level of interest in the movie. For me, it was the latter; maybe not an increased level of excitement, but it certainly made the film that much more intriguing. Shared film universes are tricky, but when they work, they add an entirely new layer to the movie-going experience.
Falls Just Shy of Wonderful
There has never been a better time for female action stars in Hollywood than right now. Each of the last two Star Wars movies featured a female protagonist, Charlize Theron stole Mad Max: Fury Road right out from under Tom Hardy, and although she has always been a supporting character, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow continues to be a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It all adds up to a perfect moment in film history for DC Comics to bring out the big guns with a big-budget cinematic adaptation of one of their most treasured properties: Wonder Woman.
Ironically, a Movie that Needs to Trim the Fat
If the current Hollywood motto is not officially “everything old is new again,” then it probably should be. Having already essentially exhausted the available television shows and movies from the 1980s, Hollywood is now looking to the 1990s to find material ripe for a remake, update, or long-overdue sequel. The most recent example is Baywatch, a hard R adaptation of the 1990s series best known for its pretty people in swimsuits running on the beach in slow-motion.
Have a Raunchy Mother’s Day
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, the holiday intended as a celebration of mothers and motherhood. Typically, the day is celebrated by children of all ages sending their mothers cards, flowers, gifts, or maybe even taking them out to dinner. But maybe your mother is tired of the same old thing every year and is looking for something different. Fortunately for you, 2017 offers up an alternative: a raunchy cinematic comedy called Snatched. Schumer and Hawn have good chemistry and, especially with their matching golden locks, are incredibly believable as daughter and mother. It is especially nice to see Goldie Hawn on the big screen again, or any screen for that matter.
Saving the Galaxy One Classic Tune at a Time
When the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was released in 2014, it was a huge gamble. Sure, it was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which had been lighting up the box office ever since Iron Man kicked things off in 2008, but none of the Avengers would appear in the movie. The characters picked to be featured in the movie were so obscure that few people outside of comics aficionados probably realize that the characters who make up the Guardians in the movie—Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot—are not even the original Guardians in the comics. They are obscure characters from an already obscure comic. And yet, the movie became a monstrous hit thanks to its charming lead characters, brilliant comedic flourishes, and glorious soundtrack. Fortunately, all of those elements are back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, another space adventure that is just plain fun.
Percival of Bolivia
With so much of today’s cinematic efforts being put towards fictional superheroes, there seem to be fewer and fewer movies made about real human heroes from history. Now, there would be those who might balk at calling soldier-turned-explorer Percy Fawcett a hero—after all, his belief that he had found the remains of the lost city of El Dorado was met mostly with ridicule until recently—but his story is an important one in history and has served as an inspiration for many. With Fawcett being something of a real-life Indiana Jones, it is also a story that seemed destined to be a movie and that movie has now arrived in the form of The Lost City of Z.
Welcome to the Ricochet Party
Action movies set in singular locations have been popular since Die Hard established the framework for it back in 1988. Since then, there have been dozens movies that could be described as “Die Hard on a (fill in the blank).” Popular examples include “Die Hard on a boat” (Under Siege) and “Die Hard on a bus” (Speed). The new action comedy Free Fire also takes place in one location, but this time it would be difficult to compare it to Die Hard, because there is no one worth rooting for this time around. Just a lot of criminals with a lot of guns in a confined space.
Are You Not Entertained?
To attempt to write a critical review of a Fast and the Furious movie is something of a fool’s errand. Perhaps there is no more critic-proof franchise in the history of movies. Like Russell Crowe yelling out in Gladiator, the only real way to judge these movies is to ask, “Are you not entertained?” And they are often very successful at being that. A franchise that seemed to have run its course after the first three movies suddenly found new life with the fourth entry and has since continued to get bigger and louder with each entry trying to outdo the last when it comes to large, elaborate, and unbelievable action-set pieces, while at the same time focusing on the bond of its central “family.” The latest entry, The Fate of the Furious, does all of that, but by this point the formula is really beginning to feel as if it has run its course.
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