Earlier this summer, movie audiences were treated to a long-awaited superhero matchup with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie which felt a lot like a desperate attempt by Warner Bros. to quickly catch the DC Comics movie universe up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The result was a movie that was almost universally panned by critics and—despite decent box office—audiences. As if that weren’t enough, here comes Marvel’s new movie, also featuring a matchup between two of its main heroes: Iron Man and Captain America. With the two movies having a surprising amount of plot elements in common, Captain America: Civil War feels as if it is Marvel slapping DC right across the face, because everything DC got wrong, Marvel gets oh-so-right.
Where’s the Cat?
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have already had a success on the small screen with their sketch comedy show, but now that their television show has ended they have set their sights on the big screen. Their first effort is a pseudo-parody of the Keanu Reeves action movie John Wick that they named after that film’s star. Although the title Keanu is obviously a nod to the actor, in the movie it is the name of the film’s true star: pretty much the cutest kitten you have ever seen in your life.
Mowgli’s Live-Action Adventures
Disney’s new live-action version of The Jungle Book says that it is based on the Mowgli stories written by Rudyard Kipling, but let’s be honest: it is really a remake of the company’s own animated version from 1967. For the most part, it has the same characters—no more, no less—and follows a similar path through scenes that will seem very familiar to fans of the animated film. The movie is enjoyable, for sure, but mostly in the way it makes you nostalgic for the movie and characters you grew up with, rather than for being anything special or unique in its own right.
Bringing Down the House
Director Jean-Marc Vallee has been on a roll when it comes to getting his actors to the Academy Awards. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both took home awards for their performances under his guidance in Dallas Buyers Club and the next year the director’s Wild earned Reese Witherspoon a nomination. For his next film, Demolition, the director cast one of the best actors going at the moment and while the movie may not hit the mark in the same way his previous films did, it does offer up another terrific performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.
A Spielbergian Sci-Fi Chase
Writer/Director Jeff Nichols has been making some of the most interesting independent films over the past few years. Take Shelter and Mud were both critical favorites, but neither really found a wide audience. While the director’s latest movie, Midnight Special, maintains the unique, personal feel of his previous films, it comes in a more blockbuster-friendly package. As described by the director himself, the movie is a “sci-fi chase film.” Whether the movie finds a wide audience or not will largely depend on how much good word-of-mouth the movie gets, but one thing is for sure, it certainly deserves some.
Dawn of a Cinematic Universe
Perhaps a more appropriate subtitle for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be “Dawn of a Cinematic Universe.” Although it is technically preceded by 2013’s Man of Steel, this movie is designed to be the launching point for a DC Comics shared universe that Warner Bros. hopes can rival that of Disney’s Marvel franchise. The subtitle, of course, refers to The Justice League, which is DC’s version of The Avengers. The movie is a big risk for Warner Bros. as they try to run before they can walk, as opposed to the Marvel approach which started with 2008’s Iron Man and slowly learned to crawl and then walk before finally running full speed in 2012’s The Avengers. Do they pull it off? Yes and no.
Tina Fey Goes to War
Actress and writer Tina Fey has already achieved great success on the small screen thanks to her wonderful work on Saturday Night Live as well as being the writer, creator, and star of the hit comedy 30 Rock. Although she’s had a few successes on the big screen, her work in cinema has not quite reached the level of her work in television. That could change with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a war comedy that that is the perfect vehicle for the actress, while also giving her the opportunity to show off her talent for drama.
Cops and Crooks
It features a star-studded cast that includes Casey Affleck, involves a heist, and has a number in the title, but by no means should you walk into Triple 9 expecting another Ocean’s Eleven. Whereas Ocean’s was light and breezy, Triple 9 is about as dark and gritty as movies come. There are few—if any—characters worth rooting for in this drama, but the action scenes do make it worth a look.
The Coens Visit Old Hollywood
No director(s) in Hollywood so easily transition from drama to comedy and back again as the Coen Brothers. The writing and directing duo take on old Hollywood in their latest comedy entitled Hail, Caesar! It is a fascinating concept and there are individual scenes throughout the movie that are fantastic on their own, but the whole, unfortunately, does not quite live up to the sum of its parts. Even though it falls a little short of its promise upon initial viewing, however, I look forward to revisiting it in the future.
High Seas Rescue
Less than a month into 2016 and we have already gotten two movies with the word “hours” in the title that each tell stories about men who put their own lives in danger to save the lives of others. The first was Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, which told the story of the men who defended a U.S. Diplomatic Mission when it was attacked in Benghazi. The Finest Hours goes back further in time to tell the story that to this day is considered the greatest small-boat rescue in United States Coast Guard history. Again, you will find yourself having great respect for these men who voluntarily endanger their lives just by going to work.
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