Eagan at the Movies

Reviewing movies because we care.

Reviews for Current Films, Classics, Video Games and Lots of Other Cool Stuff For Parents and Children

In Theaters: Skyscraper, Hotel Transylvania 3, Sorry to Bother You, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The First Purge, Uncle Drew, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2, Tag, Superfly, Hotel Artemis, Hereditary, Ocean's 8, Adrift, Action Point, Upgrade, First Reformed, Solo

Coming Soon: The Equalizer 2, Mama Mia 2, Unfriended 2, Mission Impossible 6, Teen Titans Go!, The Darkest Minds, Christopher Robin, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Searching, The Meg, Dog Days, Alpha, Mile 22

Rating system:

★★★★: Classic  

★★★½: Very Good   

★★★: Good  

★★½ : Eh

★★: Could've Been Worse, Could've Been Better  

★½: Is It Too Late To Get A Refund?  

: Hope You Have A Good Date  

½: Little To No Redeeming Value

No Stars: Rethink Your Life Choices

Skyscraper                                                                  by James Eagan                                          ★★★ out of ★★★★

Image result for skyscraper movieImage: C'mon little guy! You can do it!

 Another day, another "Die Hard" clone, another Dwayne Johnson action movie. It's the combination that we've been expecting to come into reality for years. You know the drill! Let's do this!

 "Skyscraper" follows former FBI agent, "Will Sawyer" (Dwayne "Is he still the Rock?" Johnson), who retired from that line of work after a hostage situation went horribly wrong, resulting in him losing his leg and getting a prosthetic leg. Will has settled down with his wife, "Sarah" (Neve Campbell), who he met after the accident, along with his kids, "Georgia" (McKenna Roberts) and "Henry" (Noah Cottrell). The family has currently been staying in the residential area of a massive, thousand foot story, super building in Hong Kong, known as "The Pearl", where Will works as a security supervisor. The developer of the building, "Zhao Long Ji" (Chin Han), who assures Will that nothing bad could possibly ever happen in the history of ever. (Have you ever seen an action movie? This was never going to end well.) With aid from Will's traitorous friend, "Ben" (Pablo Schreiber), a group of terrorists attack, led by the violent "Kores Botha" (Roland Møller).

 The villains set a floor on the building on fire, arranging for Botha's pretty henchwoman, "Xia" (Hannah Quinlivan) to steal a tablet from Will, which gives her complete control over the security to the Pearl. Zhao and his assistants are all trapped inside the building, including the obviously, totally not evil, "Mr. Pierce" (Noah Taylor), along with Will's family. Now believed by the cops to be part of the terrorist group, Will has to avoid the police and make his way up into the Pearl, in spectacularly ridiculous fashion, dodging evil villains, explosions, and all kinds of video game-esque obstacles, in an attempt to save his family. Eventually, Will discovers what the bad guys are after, along with their plans for Zhao, resulting in him becoming that badass superhero we would all wish we could be in a situation like this. (To be honest, I'd fall to my death 10 minutes in. Very anti-climatic.)

 From the director of "We're the Millers" and "Central Intelligence", Rawson Marshall Thurber (I'll admit, not a bad first action movie outing), "Skyscraper" is the silly, big budgeted action movie you would expect  it to be. (And honestly, want it to be) So really, there isn't much to complain about. It's a movie that's exactly what's advertised to you, without too many surprises, but also nothing so outlandish that it completely ruins the ridiculous amount of fun the movie has to offer. Solid visuals and despite it's rehashed plot, the film's action scenes are certainly original. Preying off the audience's fear of heights (Realistically, everyone should be afraid on heights. Falling from thousands of stories? How is that not terrifying?), the movie is surprisingly suspenseful, with a few moments that will likely have you on the edge of your seat. Even when the film goes down the predictable route, you feel oddly invested, mostly because our heroes are very likable, very relatable, and even in the most preposterous of situations, come across fairly realistic. (Well, as realistic as you could possibly be in a movie like this.) 

 Dwayne Johnson can carry a movie like this without even trying, but one thing I've learned about him as of late, is that he will give it his all regardless of what the movie is. Neve Campbell also gives capable performance, getting way more to do than your average damsel in distress. (In fact, she handles herself very well and rarely needs to actually get saved.) Chin Han pretty much just has the same, stoned face expression the entire film. Our villains are as over the top as they can possibly be in the best way possible, with Roland Møller being a capable threat, Hannah Quinlivan being cutely evil and shooting people for no reason (That's absolutely a thing), and the still obviously, totally not evil Noah Taylor smarming the crap out of his role. On the downside, our police characters (As usual) are as stupid as ever. (At what point did Will look like he was one of the bad guys? I get the whole "He's returning to the scene of the crime" mentality, but he's literally jumping head first into it. He's obviously not one of them!)

 "Skyscraper" is cartoonish as Hell, Then again, what did you expect? It's supposed to be. It's also a ton of fun, with some original action set pieces that are the right amount of dumb and the right amount of exhilarating. It's not as good (Or as intelligent) as action movies can aspire to be, but it's got a hero that's easy to root for (Who also keeps his humanity in tact, even when performing crazy, unrealistic stunts) and enough thrills to make for a quick, competently made, undemanding sit. 3 stars. Rated PG-13 For Violence, Blood, And Death From Fall/Exploding At The Same Time. (Come On, You Know That Was Awesome.)    

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation                                       by James Eagan                                 ★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

 Related image

Image: "I promise I'll stop sucking this time!"

 Everyone should know I've never been much of a fan of the "Hotel Transylvania" franchise, with it seeming like another vehicle for Adam Sandler and his buddies to just hang out and phone it in, with an overly in your face, obnoxious nature (Both figuratively and literally). The first one, while not the absolute worst, was just annoying, with limited plot and the second one was just, well, the worst. Yet, they had a fanbase and a big one at that, with the series making piles upon piles of money. It's funny though, while the fans seem to be considering this latest entry to be the weakest out of all of them, with too much frenetic humor and little story. Did you guys....Did you guys see the others? That's right! I still don't get it, but I oddly somewhat, awkwardly recommend it! 

 "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" sees the return of all those monsters voiced by comedians with little shame. Hotel owner, "Count Dracula" (Adam Sandler) is lonely, not having been on a date since the death of his wife. To get him out of his rut, Dracula's daughter, "Mavis" (Selena Gomez) decides he needs a vacation. Arranging for a cruise, Mavis brings Dracula, along with all their friends, including her still dangerously stupid husband, "Johnny" (Andy Samberg), "Frank the Frankenstein" (Kevin James), and his loud wife "Eunice" (Fran Drescher), "Wayne the Werewolf" (Steve Buscemi) and his wife, "Wanda" (Molly Shannon), "Murray the Mummy" (Keegan-Michael Key), "Griffin, the Invisible Man" (David Spade), Dracula's dad, "Vlad" (Mel Brooks), and uh, well, the rest. (There are way too many characters in this series)

 While on the cruise, Dracula meets the captain, "Ericka" (Kathryn Hahn) and immediately falls in love with her, or "Zinged" as the characters say. (Stop trying to make that a catchphrase. It's never gonna be one! Never!) Little do Dracula and his buddies know however, Ericka is the great, granddaughter of famed monster hunter, "Abraham Van Helsing" (Jim Gaffigan), who is so old, he is basically just a head and arms connected to robotic parts. Van Helsing has a plan to kill all the monsters and finally get his revenge on Dracula, with Ericka being part of his grand scheme. Ericka sets out to finish the job herself, with the love-struck Dracula desperately trying to woo her. 

 Once again directed by critically acclaimed animator (And a guy way too talented for this), Genndy Tartakovsky (Creator of "Samurai Jack", "Dexter's Laboratory", and that "Clone Wars" cartoon that's no longer canon), "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" seems somewhat different from the other movies in the series. Everything feels much calmer, less sporadic, and most importantly, there's an actual plot this time! Yeah, it's a simple, fairly predictable one. However, the movie seems much more focused than before and while there is still some filler here and there, the movie never loses sight of what actually works and leaves behind (Or at least limits) what doesn't. It probably helps that Tartakovsky also wrote the script this time, which doesn't have many big laughs, but at least offers plenty of chuckles and clever moments. (Such as an Airline run completely by Gremlins, or a giant monster puppy named "Tinkles", who is the one of the cutest animated characters I've ever seen.)

 Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, and all their pals are all basically just here to play exaggerated, animated monster versions of themselves once more. Hands down, the most enjoyable one of the group being Steve Buscemi (And Molly Shannon, actually getting something to do for once). We get a few funny lines from the still underutilized, but always welcome, Mel Brooks and Chris Parnell (as "Stan", a fishman, whose only human part is his giant feet). The new additions are easily some of the best, with Kathryn Hahn and Jim Gaffigan perfectly cast as our villains, who are both a delight. The real star here is the animation, with the lively world and characters, which was always impressive regardless of the quality of the actual films themselves. It's very bouncy, wiggly, and constantly moving like a Looney Tunes cartoon, but for the first time in this entire series, the film realizes that it needs to take a chill pill and just let a slow moment happen. (The kids will remain focused. Don't worry.)

 I'm not going to say I like this franchise now, because it's obviously still not too much different from the others. It's still occasionally loud, too many characters with little to do for all of them, and a big dance party finale (Why was the "Macarena" a thing?). With that said, "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" tones down those annoyances, showing off some genuine charm and cleverness, along with positive messages about prejudice that were only hinted upon in previous movies. It's just a nice little kids movie that doesn't treat them like idiots, but instead just plays itself in a safe, though sweet way. See? I've just been incredibly fair to what is yet another obvious Sandler cash grab. That....That wasn't easy for me. 2 1/2 stars. Rated PG For Goofy Humor And Shapely, Animated Derrieres. (Seriously, What Is With Animated Movies And Booty Lately?)

Sorry to Bother You                                            by James Eagan                                        ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for sorry to bother you movieImage: "I'm just going to put you on hold for 12 minutes....Or so."

 Another movie I had no intention of originally writing a full review for. I only have so much time on my hands. I work, I provide (For my cat), I am constantly seeing movies, and sometimes, some smaller films have to be left out mostly because I don't have the time for it. (Also, typing so much hurts my fingers.) Then like "First Reformed", you get a movie that leaves you so awestruck by insanity, that you just gotta talk about it. Sure, I gotta be vague, but I have to say something. 

 Set in some surreal, alternate version of preset day Oakland, "Sorry to Bother You" follows "Cassius "Cash" Green" (Lakeith Stanfield) who, despite having a pretty, artistic girlfriend, "Detroit" (Tess Thompson), lives a poor, difficult life. Living in a garage belonging to his uncle, "Sergio" (Terry Crews), Cash can't seem to find a job, until he finds a position as a telemarketer for a company known as "RegalView". Having some difficulty getting people to listen to him over the phone, Cash is suggested to by a co-worker, "Langston" (Danny Glover) to instead use his "White Voice", while on the phone with people. Soon, Cash's white voice (Which is dubbed over with David Cross) begins to help him shoot up the telemarketing hierarchy, all the way to the fabled superior position known as "Power Caller", while his friends/co-workers, "Salvador" (Jermaine Fowler) and "Squeeze" (Steven Yeun) fight for better working conditions.

 When Cash starts to getting buddy buddy with the um, interestingly named boss, "Mr. _______" (Played in person by Omari Hardwick, with his white voice dubbed by Patton Oswalt), eventually leading to Cash meeting the eccentric CEO of a exploitative, nearly world dominating corporation, "Steve Lift" (Armie Hammer). I'm gonna stop right here in terms of detailing an actual synopsis. So here's the quick rundown. Cash becomes more successful at the expense of those around him, slowly losing himself and then things get freakin crazy in unimaginable ways. That's all you need to know. 

 From Writer, Director, Rapper, Producer (He does it all), Boots Riley, "Sorry to Bother You" is a bizarre piece of satirical filmmaking unlike any film you'll ever come across in your life. When it starts, you think you're in the real world, then next thing you know, our main character is being hoisted into the same room as the person he is on the phone with. You get out of nowhere cutaway gags, strange imagery and apparel, and all kinds of things I can't talk about without spoiling where it all goes. It's a sporadically directed film, that actually benefits from it. You're supposed to feel off throughout the movie, while laughing hysterically in an uncomfortable manner, and getting a few concepts and ideas explained in a complex, but crazy way that you would never think you'd see in the same film.

 Lakeith Stanfield, known for his memorable part in "Get Out" and was probably the best part of the live action version of "Death Note", gets to completely take over the spotlight. He carries the film with charm, personality, and tons of star power, with some hilarious reactions to the insanity and plenty of likability. Tessa Thompson is all kinds of awesome, with some funny moments from Jermaine Fowler, Kate Berlant (as "Diana DeBauchery", the middle manager who is way too horny), and Omari Hardwick. There are some fun small parts from Danny Glover and Steven Yuen, along with David Cross' voice being both awkwardly off putting and funny. (Not to mention a few unexpected surprises that you need to stick around during the credits to see). Then there's an absolutely riotous Armie Hammer, whose honestly pretty brilliant here. It's a flawlessly deranged caricature of the worst kind of rich white dude you can possibly imagine. (Then again, these days you swear those kinds of people exist.)

 "Sorry to Bother You" is what I assume it's like to be on drugs. (Only going on assumption here.) It's full of wacky visual symbolism (And sometimes things that are just weird for the sake of being weird.), some great characters, and some laugh out loud dialogue. It's a bit sloppy at times (Some characters just sort of fade into the background or straight up vanish), but the film's main focus remains on the point. We get discussion about police brutality, corporate greed, worker conditions, artistic integrity, our current politic environment, and minority representation. It's crazy good satire at it's best. And straight up trippy. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Language, Adult Content, And Horse Penis. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp                                        by James Eagan                                       ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for antman and the wasp movieImage: The insects are huge in this building.

 We all needed this. After getting our hearts brutally ripped out of our bodies by Thanos earlier this year with "Avengers: Infinity War", witnessing beloved heroes just fading from existence, with little to no hope remaining in the power of good being able to triumph over the ultimate evil......We needed to see a human sized ant play some drums. 

 "Ant-Man and the Wasp" starts with former criminal, "Scott Lang/Ant-Man" (Paul Rudd), forced to remain under house arrest for two years following the events of "Captain America: Civil War" (Where everyone beat each other up). He is unable to have contact with the original Ant-Man, "Dr. Hank Pym" (Michael Douglas) and his daughter/Scott's love interest, "Hope/The Wasp" (Evangeline Lily), who are currently in hiding and pissed off about it. While Pym and Hope work on finding a way into the microscopic quantum realm, where Pym's missing wife/the original Wasp, "Janet" (Michelle Pfeiffer) may still be alive within, Scott spends his time hanging out with his daughter, "Cassie" (Abby Ryder Forston). Scott has a dream where he sees Janet within the quantum realm (Which is where he went to during the first film), calling Pym, who sneaks Scott out of his house to get his help in finding a way inside.

 The trio work within a portal lab (Which can be shrunken down into a suitcase), but end up losing the lab after getting double crossed by southern black market dealer, "Sonny Burch" (Walton Goggins). The lab ends up in the hands of the mysterious "Ghost" (Hannah John-Kamen), who has the ability to faze in and out of reality. Ghost has a personal grudge against Pym and plans to use the lab for her own goals, with Scott, Hope, and Pym, with some help from Scott's talkative friend, "Luis" (Michael Peña) are on a mission to track Ghost down and get the lab back. This all leads to a series of chases, narrow escapes, lots of shrinking and growing, all while Scott pretends to still be home, avoiding FBI agent "Jimmy Woo" (Randall Park). 

 The 20th entry into the still expanding, still strong Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a light hearted romp that's definitely necessary after the dark, powerful ending to "Infinity War" (Still having trouble recovering here.). Once again directed by Peyton Reed, the movie is full of laughs and charm, with enough cleverness to overcome the simplistic, but still very effective plot. It's one of the more straight up comedies to come out of the MCU, which works in part to it's cast, but also to the smart script (Which Paul Rudd is credited as one of the Co-Writers). Even with all the humor, it's still a superhero flick, so you get plenty of action, which plays with the constant size changing, making it all the more exciting than you would expect. (The big car chase at the climax is one of the most original action scenes to come out of the entire film universe, and is a highlight.)

 Paul Rudd is essentially the perfect choice for this character, remaining lovable, funny, and serving as probably one of the most normal superheroes in film. (He's really just some guy who got caught up in everything.) Evangeline Lily is totally badass, getting her time to shine, even when sharing the limelight with Rudd. Michael Douglas brings his A game, getting to have fun and deliver some of the more serious moments, along with Laurence Fishburne (as "Bill Foster", an old friend of Pym before a falling out), who seems to have left DC for the winning team. (Seriously though. DC, step up your game!) Some of the funniest moments come from out supporting characters, like Tip "T.I." Harris and David Dastmalchian (as "Dave" and "Kurt", Luis and Scott's bumbling partners), Randall Park, and the once again, absolutely hilarious Michael Peña. Michelle Pfieffer (Though she appears briefly) is great, Abby Ryder Fortson is a little ball of personality, and Walton Goggins, who may or may not even need to be here, but is always welcome and is a delight as always. Our villain (If you would even completely consider her one), Hannah John-Kamen gets a bit more complexity than most antagonists in superhero movies, with a motivation and backstory that make you understand her character's situation and sympathize with her. 

 For something that could of just simply been a throwaway sequel, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" delivers on plenty of comedy, insanely clever action, and even a few heartwarming moments, which make for a tamer, but still plenty fun Marvel outing. (And yes, there is a tie in to "Infinity War" during the post credits scene, and yes, it may serve as an explanation for what is to come.) It goes to show that Marvel just has this whole thing down, and even when they're not going for anything grand, I just can't see anyone logically disliking it. It's smaller in scale (See what I did there?), but big on what we already love about Marvel. 3 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Humor, Ant Warfare, And Size Comparisons. 

The First Purge                                                        by James Eagan                                      ★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Related imageImage: Not real life....Not real life.

 I'm gonna admit to everyone, I get a little disappointment when we go a year without a "Purge" movie. Yeah, it's silly, overly violent, and lacking in any subtlety whatsoever. But there is something to them that just fills me with a bizarre sense of joy. You get craziness, some solid creep factors, and even with in your face politics, there are points to be made. Trump just said Putin was fine! Just great! The real world doesn't make sense anyway anymore!!!  

 Taking place years before the first "Purge" movie, "The First Purge" (The fourth in the series, that comes before the other three, but is labeled as the first due to continuity. The Fourth, But First Purge.) opens with America getting a new leadership in the form of the "NFFA" (New Founding Fathers of America). Naive (To put it in nice terms) psychologist, "Dr. May Updale" (Marisa Tomei) suggests a strange social experiment, which will require people to let out all their hate, rage, and aggression for one full 12 hour night, which would be later referred to as "The Purge". Containing the event to Staten Island, the night is closing in with many of the civilians either preparing to go nuts or simply preparing for the worst. Beloved community, uh, drug dealer, "Dimitri" (Y'Lan Noel) is more concerned about keeping the people he cares about safe, along with his ex, "Nya" (Lex Scott Davis), who is worried for her brother, "Isaiah" (Jovian Wade), and heavily protests the Purge.

 Isaiah meanwhile, gets cut by psychopathic addict, "Skeletor" (Rotimi Paul), who is hungry to purge, kill, and just plain do whatever he wants, prompting Isaiah to remain on the island when the Purge commences for a little revenge. Soon the night gets underway, with people looting, having wild parties, and all kinds of crazy debauchery. Of course, the slimy Chief of Staff, "Arlo Sabian" (Patch Darragh) is completely with the NFFA's true intentions, which is to take care of the supposed overpopulation problem. (Which means, send in Nazis, rednecks, KKK members, and mercenaries to kill poor minorities.) Chaos reigns, the bodies begin to pile up, and eventually, the people start to fight back. 

 "The First Purge" continues the series' streak of hypocritical celebration of guns and violence, while also telling everyone how bad this all is. It's full of blood and gore, with people dying in over the top, exploitative fashion. The premise is as silly and possibly unrealistic as ever, but there's some solid world building, expanding and elaborating on what led up to how the series began. There are a few extra bits of information that may not be entirely necessary. However, they feel very much welcome, such as the fact when the actual "Purge" starts, people are instead partying in the streets, having orgies, an stealing stuff, while the killing itself escalates until later in the night. (Which feels a bit more realistic. Never understood why killing was the go to activity for this thing.) 

 While the script relies more on the trashy side, which constant swears and goofy dialogue, the cast itself is more solid than probably needed. Y'Lan Noel (Whose character of drug dealer looking for redemption....through vigilantism is a bit odd.), Lex Scott Davis, and Jovian Wade all do some good work here, actually taking the ridiculousness seriously and selling it. We get some random moments of sass from Mugga (as "Dolores", the big, sassy wisecracking lady), and Rotimi Paul just lets it all out in glorious, cartoon villain fashion, with eyes bulging, teeth rotting, and mad cackles. (Gotta love "Purge" villains) On the down side, Marisa Tomei (Who is still doing a fine enough job for what she has to do), makes for possibly the dumbest character I've seen in a long time. Seriously, how did you not see any of this evil crap coming? You suggested a night of free crime! How are you shocked by the outcome? 

 "The First Purge" is a glorified exploitation film, which is what the series always has been. The violence is constant, with how extreme it all goes leading to some questionable material that probably shouldn't be as successful as it is. With that said, there is some suspense, some creepy masks and costumes, fine performances, and political commentary that might seem heavy handed, but with the current state of politics (And what people in politics feel content saying), it's all fair game. (Although that mid-credits scene, which was just a TV spot for the upcoming TV series was stupid and kind of pathetic really) It's a series that remains enjoyable in spite of it's in your face attitude, and actually even seems to have evolved a little from where it began. Can't we all just evolve? 2 1/2 stars. Rated R For Bloody Violence Involving Knives, Guns, Explosives, And Political Subtext.

Uncle Drew                                                                by James Eagan                                       ★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for uncle drew movieImage:  The Dream Team?

 I'm a complete nerd in a lot of things. "Star Wars", DC Comics (And a few Marvel ones), pointless facts to geeky related stuff. But sports, everything involved with them, completely goes over my head. Football, Baseball, Basketball, all the balls. Don't get any of it. Never played them. Never had any interest in them. Never really thought much about them. Unless it's in a movie. I'm a dork okay. You guys should know this by now. Enjoy your Hockey, or Soccer, or whatever. To each his own. But, of course I'm rooting for the U.S.A. in soccer's World Cup....Wait, really? 

 "Uncle Drew" opens with down on his luck hero, "Dax" (Lil Rel Howery) losing his life savings trying to get a team together for the big Rucker Class street ball tournament, with his star player, "Casper" (Aaron Gordon) and his selfish girlfriend, "Jess" (Tiffany Haddish) to his longtime, somewhat crazy rival, "Mookie" (Nick Kroll). Looking for a replacement team for the tournament, he comes across an old, legendary Basketball player, "Uncle Drew" (Kyrie Irving, in old man makeup). Seeing that the old fart still has skill, Dax gets Uncle Drew to be a part of his new team, so long as Drew gets to get his old crew back together. The duo sets out to gather the old squad, consisting actual players in old people makeup, including "Big Fella" (Shaquille O'Neal), who isn't on speaking terms with Uncle Drew anymore, "Lights" (Reggie Miller), who is legally blind, "Preacher" (Chris Webber), who is forced to flee from his crazy wife, "Betty Lou" (Lisa Leslie), and the handicapped "Boots" (Nate Robinson), who also brings along his granddaughter/Dax's new love interest, "Maya" (Erica Ash). This new squad has a goal of proving that they can still play the game, prove those naysayers wrong, and mostly just confuse a guy like me with all those Basketball terms. I don't understand any of it! 

 Apparently based on some "Pepsi Max" advertisements that were a thing at one point (I had no idea what that was till I looked it up.), "Uncle Drew" is the ultimate case of getting exactly what you pay for. It's a goofy, predictable, fairly cheap cheesefest that does deliver on some silly laughs and a sense of endearment, that doesn't have a mean spirited, cynical bone in it's body. Directed by Charles Stone III (A name so awesome, you gotta have it three times), the film is nothing spectacular by any means, and the direction is basic, by the book, along with the plot itself, which goes through every point you would expect it to go. However, that's basically the point of it all. The film is meant to be a weird little throwback to 90s era crowdpleasers that shouldn't have any trouble finding an audience. 

 Lil Rel Howery (Previously seen stealing the show in last year's "Get Out") once again shows how funny and likable an actor he can be, easily holding the film together with his personality and charm alone. The true life Basketball players, consisting of Kyrie Irving, former NBA stars Chris Webber, Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and former WNBA legend Lisa Leslie aren't necessarily the best actors, but have plenty of star power and screen presence to make what's given work for what it is. (Not to mention the makeup is actually not bad at all. It's not award worthy or anything, but we've all seen worse.) Erica Ash does nothing other but play the typical love interest, Tiffany Haddish plays her usual wacky self and gets plenty of laughs doing it, and Nick Kroll is at his most bonkers, clearly having the absolute time of his life here. 

 "Uncle Drew" is pure formula, and it will probably leave your mind not too long after seeing it. It just so happens to have a few funny moments sprinkled throughout and a good heart, with the best of intentions. It's certainly better than any movie apparently produced by freakin' Pepsi has any right to be. 2 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Content And Shaq Ass. 

Sicario: Day of the Soldado                          by James Eagan                                          ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Related imageImage: I think he is displeased with you.

 Sometimes we just didn't realize how much we wanted a sequel. The first "Sicario", directed by acclaimed Director Denis Villeneuve (Who also did "Arrival", "Prisoners", and "Blade Runner 2049") gave us a tense, morally complex, thought provoking, and thoroughly uncompromising thriller that didn't quite get the recognition it deserved. (No Oscar nomination for Benicio del Toro? Come on!) It's ending was enough to satisfy and could see it as a standalone film. However, aside from, you know, money, people saw that you could have something here. Something dark, dramatic, and just plain brutal. 

 "Sicario: Day of Soldado" opens with a few suicide bombers, who appear to have been snuggled across the United States Border, causing the deaths of some innocent civilians. The Secretary of Defense, "James Riley" (Matthew Modine) and CIA Deputy Director, "Cynthia Foards" (Catherine Keener) send in "Matt Graver" (Josh Brolin) to go down to Mexico and take control of the situation, which might lead to getting the Mexican cartels added to the Terrorist Watch List. Matt brings in his mysterious, undercover operative, "Alejandro Gillick" (Benicio del Toro) once again to handle the mission. After killing a high profile lawyer for the cartel, they set out to kidnap "Isabela Reyes" (Isabela Moner), the daughter of the one of the drug lords who arranged previously for the death of Alejandro's family, and blame it on a rival cartel in hopes of starting a war between the various cartels.

 Next, the plan is to arrange for Isabela to be sent back, only for the whole thing to go south. Alejandro and Isabela are stranded, with Matt being ordered to "Fix the problem", which means Isabela needs to be gone. Alejandro, despite his ruthlessness, has no intention of following that order, intending to get Isabela and himself to safety, with everyone now after them. Meanwhile, we also follow a young kid, "Miguel" (Elijah Rodriguez), who has his own subplot, becoming involved with the drug running and people smuggling from Mexico, which will eventually play a part in the overall story.  

 Much like the first film, "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" is full of haunting imagery, nightmarish sequences of violence and death, that the film basically forces the images into the minds of audience, making sure that they remember them once the film ends. Directed this time by Stefano Sollima (Mostly known for Italian films that I've never heard of.), the film is a slow burn, with stunning cinematography, always keeping the suspense amped up. It all usually escalating into a fiery action set piece that's savagely, but realistically violent. It's also helped by the calm, but effectively frightening score by Hildur Guðnadóttir, replacing the Oscar nominated/sadly deceased composer from the previously film, Jóhann Jóhannsson. (It's not quite same person as the last film, but we still do get that one epic music cue from the first every now and then.)

 Benicio del Toro (This time serving as our main character), is once again brilliant. He's a scary, compelling, complicated character that shows himself to be very human, even though he is basically a monster who kills without remorse. Previously robbed of an Oscar nomination before, lets see if he gets one this time around. Josh Brolin (Who continues to have one Hell of a year with this, along with "Deadpool 2" and "Avengers: Infinity War") continues to shine, with a charismatic performance. Isabela Moner (Last seen in the unspeakable horror that was "Transformers: The Last Knight") is terrific, with even her character coming across as morally intricate. (This little girl knows damn well what her dad does and uses that to her advantage!) We get excellent small parts from Catherine Keener, a really slimy Matthew Modine, Jeffrey Donovan (as "Steve", one of Matt's men) getting a few quips occasionally, among others. (It seems even quick parts have a role in where the film all goes.)

 Written once again by the great Taylor Sheridan ("Wind River", "Hell or High Water"), "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" mixes in complicated characterizations, with hard, unrelenting drama, and moments of humor (Or moments of the characters injecting it to lighten the mood), to tell a bleak story. One could make the argument that a sequel wasn't asked for and the film somewhat falters towards the end when it seemingly sets itself up for another one. (And there is also something that happens towards the end that may or may not be realistic. Not sure if bullets and headshots work that way.) There also seems to be a bit of a narrative that the film will give people the wrong idea that all Mexicans are all violent drug dealers. (Look, if you think that after watching this movie, you're either already racist or incredibly stupid.) However, one can't possibly deny the powerful impact of the film's dark messages, that will either leave you depressed and wanting to get away from it as fast as possible, or will have you captivated and compelled to see where it all goes next. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Realistic Violence, Strong Language, And Horrifying Acts By Both Terrorists And The Supposed "Good Guys". 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom                                                 by James Eagan                                        ★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for jurassic world fallen kingdomImage: "Cute little pooch....Maybe I've got a milk bone!"

 Franchises change over the years. Sometimes for the better (Such as "The Fast and the Furious", "Mission Impossible", and arguable to some, the "Star Wars" series). Sometimes for the worse (Such as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, or even the "Transformers" series. Granted, those were never good anyway). Then sometimes they just sort of....change, and your enjoyment is mostly based on if you're okay with that or not. That's where "Jurassic Park" falls into. (See how I didn't use the word "Evolve" once? Trust me, it was hard not using that pun.)

 "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" follows the events with the last film, where it's revealed that "Isla Nublar" (The island where this whole cloned Dino ordeal began/current site of the now closed "Jurassic World" theme park) is in danger of being destroyed by a volcano, which will also wipe out all the poor Dinosaurs still living there.This sparks a debate on whether humanity should rescue the trapped animals, or do what "Dr. Ian Malcolm" (Jeff Goldblum) says and "Let them, uh, die.". A former manager at Jurassic World, "Claire Dearing" (Bryce Dallas Howard), feeling guilty about her role in the previous incident, has become a rights activist for Dinosaurs, is contacted by "Benjamin Lockwood" (James Cromwell), former partner to the deceased "John Hammond" (Previously played by Richard Attenborough). Lockwood and his "Obviously not evil" aide, "Eli Mills" (Rafe Spall) arrange for Claire to be a part of an expedition back to the island to rescue as many of the trapped Dinosaurs as possible, most importantly the super intelligent Velociraptor, "Blue". This means Claire has to get the help of her ex, "Owen Grady" (Chris Pratt) who after some convincing, joins the expedition.

 The team arrives on the island, led mean mercenary, "Ken Wheatley" (Ted Levine), eventually tracking down Blue.....only for Wheatley's team to betray Owen and Claire because Mills is evil! (Well he is played by Rafe Spall. Who what did you expect?) The island explodes, with it being revealed that Mills, who is going behind Lockwood's back, wants the captured Dinosaurs to be sold off in an auction, run by "Gunnar Eversol" (Toby Jones). Meanwhile Blue, along with a tooth from that monster Dinosaur from the last movie, is used to lead to the creation of more Franken-Dinos by the traitorous, "Dr. Henry Wu" (B. D. Wong), which results in the creation of the monstrous (And surprisingly sadistic) "Indoraptor". Following the villains back to Lockwood's estate, Owen, Claire, along with their comic relief buddies, "Franklin" (Justice Smith) and "Zia" (Daniella Pineda), go to shut down the auction, and hopefully prevent the creation of more monster Dinosaurs, which also includes a little mystery involving Lockwood's granddaughter, "Maisie" (Isabella Sermon).  

 It's funny to mention the "Fast and Furious" franchise, because that's essentially what "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is like. It's become so ridiculous, and unapologetically dumb that you're either going to be on board for the wild ride or you're just going to wish you had gotten off long ago. (Really though, the franchise stopped being the same one four movies ago.) The Science Fiction elements have become more absurd, with silly plot points and a few sloppy moments. However, the film is never dull, is always filled with visual wonder and spectacle, and is certainly unpredictable, which is mostly thanks to Director J. A. Bayona ("A Monster Calls", "The Impossible").. He constructs an exciting, action packed blockbuster, with excellent special effects (Despite a few weak points. Still can't beat the original there either.), and even when the film gets dumb, it's competently made popcorn munching entertainment. 

 Chris Pratt has become reliable in these kinds of roles, and is generally good enough to carry a film like this, along with the impossible cuteness of Bryce Dallas Howard. Rafe Spall shows up to do what he does best, which is be an evil weasel, while Justice Smith (Who has probably the most realistic reactions to everything that happens here) and Daniella Pineda are just here for comedic effect, but serve their purpose well. We get some small parts from James Cromwell, the always delightful Toby Jones, and the always great (And always underutilized) B. D. Wong, along with Ted Levine getting probably the most memorable sequence in the film. Not to mention our Jeff Goldblum cameo, which is a nice addition regardless of how important it actually was. There are some plot elements and reveals involving Isabella Sermon that are, lets just say, questionable and a little weird, but is mostly saved by the fact that she's a solid young actress and sells the various emotions of terror well. (Honestly, they should of just committed to it all.)

 The real scene stealers here are the Dinosaurs themselves. I give credit to the film actually addressing the fact tht these are animals, that have personalities, which makes the debate of saving them at least plausible. (They're not too different from anything we have now. They're just bigger, stronger, and smarter. And we all need to eat you know). While the CGI varies at times, it still makes for some awesome set pieces, giving audiences that sick thrill of Dinosaurs munching down on people in crazy fashion. Blue is oddly adorable for a creature that can rip you in half with her clawed foot, while I will never get tired of seeing old Rexy (The returning T-Rex from the original film) roar triumphantly. The new Indoraptor makes for a nonsensical story due to typical Science Fiction mumbo jumbo. However, the creature is undeniably terrifying, menacing as Hell, and because of the odd evil grins it makes throughout, is just pretty cool looking. (It's essentially a serial killer in Dinosaur form.)

 It's all silly stuff, leading to an ending that will either have you tilting your head in confusion or having you cheering at the sheer sight of the film's last shots. (Or both actually. You can do both.) "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" will test your endurance for ludicrousness, and I doubt we will ever see anything that matches the original majesty of the original 1993 Spielberg film. There is still some heart and humor, with some fun horror elements mixed in and enough excitement that will make for a fun (And of course, profitable) big, summer blockbuster. 2 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Scary Images, Dino Violence, And Moral Repercussions That Could Destroy The Normality Of All Life On This Planet....Seriously....  

INCREDIBLEs 2                                                             by James Eagan                                          ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

 Image result for incredibles 2

Image: We all know who wears the latex in this family.

 14 years.....14 years!!!!......14 YEARS! We were babies...er, we were little! We were so full of wonder and innocence back then. Now we're cynical, old-ish, we all realized Elastigirl is pretty hot, etc. Bottom line, we changed. Thankfully, Disney, Pixar, and returning Director Brad Bird (Who also gave us "Ratatouille", "The Iron Giant", "Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol") heard our cries, pleas, and knowing the internet, rants, and gave us what we wanted. 

 "Incredibles 2" picks up literally seconds after the first one, with the beloved super powered Parr family, taking on the over the top supervillain, "The Underminer" (John "Pixar's Good Luck Charm" Ratzenberger). The family, consisting of the super strong father, "Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible" (Craig T. Nelson), the super stretchy, "Helen Parr/Elastigirl" (Holly Hunter), along with their kids, the speedy "Dash" (Huck Milner), the daughter, "Violet" (Sarah Vowell), who has the power of invisibility, and their baby "Jack Jack" (Who nobody realizes has powers), still having to deal with the fact that superheroes (Or "Supers", as they're referred to) are still outlawed. The damage caused by the battle with the Underminer, results in the family being forced to relocate to a hotel, with their government agent ally, "Rick Dicker" (Jonathan Banks) no longer being able to provide for them.

Their luck changes when Bob's ice powered best buddy, "Lucius Best/Frozone" (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces him and Helen to rich superhero fanboy, "Wiston Deaver" (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech savvy sister, "Evelyn" (Catherine Keener), who wish to make Supers legal again, with Elastigirl being seen as the best one suited to convincing the masses due to how less destructive she is than the others. So with the mother gone, Bob is forced to become a stay at home dad, having to deal with Dash's confusing schoolwork, Violet's boyfriend issues, and the fact that Jack Jack not only has powers, but he has a dangerous amount of them. Meanwhile, Elastigirl sets out to save civilians and prove to the world that they need Supers back, all while coming across a new, mind controlling villain known as "The Screenslaver" (Bill Wise).

 Lets refrain from using the word "Incredible" at all when talking about this movie. "Incredibles 2" doesn't set out to repeat, but instead continue what was shown previously and expand. It's pretty brilliant how the film flows from the last one, not just in terms of story and character, but also in how stunning the animation has gotten, despite the original being a Pixar best at the time in terms of that. The animated on the characters is lively, mixing well with the incre...awesome action sequences, that are on the same standard with most live-action superhero movies. Not to mention the great score by Michael Giacchino ("Star Trek", "Up", "War for the Planet of the Apes", the first "The Incredibles", and many more), which fits with the old fashioned 60s era setting (That does still somehow have futuristic technology), adding to the epic scope of it all. 

 Holly Hunter, who is more in the forefront this time around, is perfectly cast, with an instantly lovable voice, working well as the technical main character. However, none of the family gets less time than any of the others, with the film keeping the family dynamic (Which is one of the best parts of the last movie) perfectly intact, with the characters developing further. Craig T. Nelson's voice is just instantly funny, with his storyline adding in plenty of laughs and heart. Sarah Vowell and Huck Milner (Replacing the actor from the last movie, due to kids aging over 14 years.) both have their roles, with Jack Jack stealing the show as the most adorably, chaotic baby you'll ever see (Well, next to my little sister). Samuel L. Jackson is great as usual, Bob Odenkirk sounds like he's having the time of his life, Sophia Bush (as "Voyd", a young super/fangirl of Elastigirl) pops up to sound cute, but ends up having a bit more to do later, and of course, the entire audience applauded at the appearance of eccentric, tiny fashion designer, "Edna Mode" (Once again voiced by Brad Bird), getting one of the funniest sequences in the movie. The only real downside is that the villain this time feels a bit weak (Mostly if you compare her to Jason Lee's hilarious/menacing "Syndrome" from the last movie), with the plotline being fairly easy to predict. Still, the character is certainly a threat, and overall has a reason behind the villainy.

 Where the film shines most is just how funny it is, making "Incredibles 2" just as good as the first one. (Actually this movie might even be a little funnier than the original.) The script and dialogue is laugh out loud, also having been written by Brad Bird (Which will get kids, adults, and the many man babies going to see this to burst out with laughter). There is still a heartwarming, and slightly mature factor that makes this another Pixar movie for everyone. You get your comedy, your superhero action, some family drama, all put together in beautiful animation. Perfect for the whole family, and an incredible good time....Darn it. Couldn't make it through the whole....incredible review. 3 1/2 stars. Rated PG For Violence, Some Adult Content, A Little Language, And Baby On Raccoon Violence. 

Tag                     by James Eagan              ★★★ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for tag movie

Image: I'll tag Isla Fisher. 

 Well, I've heard stranger things before. To be honest, Tag is one of those games that really is pretty timeless. Anyone can play, at any point, you get some much needed exercise while doing it, and it usually results in someone getting hurt in hilarious fashion. Classic! 

 Based-ish on a true-ish story, "Tag" follows a group of friends, "Hoagie" (Ed Helms), "Jerry" (Jeremy Renner), "Bob" (John Hamm), "Chilli" (Jake Johnson), and "Kevin" (Hannibal Buress), who since they were nine, having been playing the same game of "Tag", throughout the month of May ever since. Hoagie gets word that Jerry is getting married to "Susan" (Leslie Bibb), and will be retiring from the game, since ever since they began playing, Jerry has never actually been tagged. Hoagie, along with his over competitive wife, "Anna" (Isla Fisher) gather the group together, along with a journalist, "Rebecca" (Annabelle Wallis), who takes a weird interest in the game (Mostly because of how freakin stupid it all is), and decides to write a story on it. The old gang gathers at Jerry's wedding, hoping to finally tag him, coming up with all kinds of crazy schemes, while getting caught up in Jerry's somewhat twisted attempts to avoid getting tagged. 

 "Tag" is silly and plays out like a cartoon, with outrageous sequences of slapstick and pure ridiculousness. (A scene in particular in the woods, involving an onslaught of traps makes for one of the memorable scenes.) It's so stupid, but the film knows it's stupid, and it's hard not to get more than a few chuckles, or even some genuine laugh out loud moments, out of it all. Competently and simply directed by Jeff Tomsic (In his directorial debut), with a script that doesn't rely too heavily on the actors to ad lib. Tomsic just lets them play their parts and be funny naturally, instead of trying to force it. 

 The solid cast gives at least our main stars enough screentime so that none of them feel shortchanged, consisting of Ed Helms, John Hamm (Who actually gets something to do and looks like he's having fun doing it), Jake Johnson, the hilariously deadpan Hannibal Buress, with Jeremy Renner, along with his CGI arms (Long story short. He got injured, so they did that.), just going full blown nuts, showing once again what an underappreciated actor he is. The adorable Isla Fisher actually gets to get just as crazy as the guys, if not maybe a little crazier and Annabelle Wallis does show some actual personality compared to the other movies she's been in. Sadly, Leslie Bibb and Rashida Jones (as "Cherl", a girl who both Chilli and Bob used to fight over) mostly just get to look pretty, but not much else.

 Not sure it all happened like portrayed here (Although, there is real footage of the actual friends doing all kinds of goofy crap. So maybe it did.), "Tag" isn't without cheap laughs. But even so, they're still laughs, and there are plenty of them. Then the film, lets just say, takes a pretty dark turn. It ends on a surprisingly bittersweet note that, while heartfelt, is kind of unexpected and leaves a couple questions that need answering. Still, we need more good natured comedies that set out just to make you laugh, and though it's not as good as some of the others we've had this year (Like "Game Night" or "Blockers"), is a fun time for those not wanting to get quite as exhausted as playing an actual game of Tag.....Although, come to think of it. I kind of want to play now. Need to find some willing participants first. You're it. 3 stars. Rated R For Language And Childish Behavior. 

Superfly               by James Eagan             ★★ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for superfly movieImage: Cool as the other side of the pillow.

 This movie here is an interesting idea to say the least. Making a gritty, crime thriller out of a rather silly, old (Somewhat classic?) Blaxploitation with allegories to current, important issues facing those in the African American community is....Well.....It's an idea I never would of thought of. Not to mention, there's less funky music this time. 

 "Superfly" follows a young, Atlanta drug dealer, "Priest" (Tervor Jackson), who has become a bit of a legend in the city.. He's rich, honorable (Other than the drug dealer part), has two girlfriends (We're rethinking the honorable part), "Georgia" (Lex Scott Davis) and "Cyntia" (Andrea Londo), and is respected by pretty much everyone. The only exception being "Juju" (Kaalan Walker), the always angry member of a gang called "Snow Patrol", run by human snowball, "Q" (Big Bank Black). After almost getting shot by Juju, who just doesn't like him, Priest decides he wants out of the game and works out to plan one final score with his gambling brother, "Eddie" (Jason Mitchell), who also sends out the appropriately named "Fat Freddy" (Jacob Ming-Trent) to gun down some of Juj's guys because he's an idiot.

 First, Priest tries to get some help from his old mentor, "Scatter" (Michael K. Williams), who declines to give Priest a bigger cut of the offerings. Deciding to work around Scatter, arranging for a deal with the ambitious cartel boss, "Adalberto Gonzalez" (Esai Morales), Priest has a plan to smuggle lots of those drugs like the lovable, good natured hero he is, while trying to avoid people finding out he is trying to get out of the business. Too bad he has to deal with Juju and Q coming back for revenge, and some corrupt cops "Mason" (Jennifer Morrison) and "Turk" (Brian F. Durkin) trying to get in on it all. 

 Directed by.....uh, Director X (Gonna go out on a limb and assume that isn't his real name), "Superfly" is an awkward little movie, that feels more experimental than cohesively structured together. It's stylish, shot like a music video, with flashy images and some well choreographed fights. The film is also kind of cheap looking, with a few weird, out of place shots, and an over the top script to go with it's over the top story, complete with well, over the top characters. It's all goofy, and feels disjointed when the film tries to be culturally important. When the movie incorporates topics such as police brutality, corruption, and how people of color are treated and represented, it's so cartoonish that it doesn't resonate. 

 Trevor Jackson (And his amazing hair) is actually very charismatic, and does make some of the silly dialogue somewhat cool. The film establishes early on how capable he is with his words, which gives a reason why his character is respected, even by some of the villains. Jason Mitchell also shows a ton of personality with his morally questionable character. Michael K. Williams is underused, but dominates what few scenes he's in. Kaalan Walker and Big Bank Black are meh villains, whose motivations come across as silly. (Really, there wasn't much reason for this conflict to even be in the movie.) There are few too many characters, without many identifiable traits, with subplots introduced late and most of which don't amount to much. Lets also not get into the female characters because they're not important to the film makers. They're just.....there. 

 "Superfly" is a little all over the place, with a few memorable moments (Both good and bad), and it isn't without a few capable actors. However, the film is excessively excessive, with a preposterous, cheesy script and on occasion, a bit of a straight to DVD feel. With a nearly two hour runtime, that feels longer, even when the film once in a while finds it's footing and shows that the people behind it are in fact fairly talented, you're left thinking your time could be better spent elsewhere. Like with actual exploitation films. Apparently they're not that hard to find. 2 stars. Rated R For Drugs, Language, Violence, Sex, More Drugs, More Language, More Violence, More Sex. All That. 

Hotel Artemis                                                           by James Eagan                                     ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Related imageImage: "Uh...Uh...Hello. This...Uh...Is ...Uh...Jeff Goldblum."

 Not sure if this was meant to be a throwback to those exciting, sometimes gleefully violent, more character driven movies from the 90s (Some of which I grew up with), or it just feels like one. Taking an idea that we've only glanced at and turning it into it's own original sounding premise is, well, an interesting premise., And even though it's mostly seen as middle of the road for most critics, I see it gaining a quick cult following. That means it won't make any profit until, say, 2027. 

 "Hotel Artemis" takes place at some point in the slight future (Like "Upgrade", its the same. But with more dirty future stuff.), where there is a hotel in Las Angelas, known as the "Hotel Artemis", run by a mysterious woman known to everyone simply as "The Nurse" (Jodie Foster).The Nurse keeps the hotel together with a long list of rules. On a night of a chaotic riot, where two bank robber brothers, "Walkiki" (Sterling K. Brown) and "Honolulu" (Brian Tyree Henry), who has been seriously wounded, arrive to escape the police. They are forced to stay in the hotel along with beautiful, dangerous assassin, "Nice" (Sofia Boutella) and weaselly arms dealer, "Acapulco" (Charlie Day), while the Nurse's assistant/security, "Everest" (Dave Bautista) keeps them in line.

 The night gets more complicated when The Nurse gets a call from "Crosby" (Zachary Quinto), the whiny son of the man who runs everything and everyone, "The Wolf King" (Jeff Goldblum), demanding that the Nurse drop everything to provide his father needed medical attention. Things get even worse, with Walkiki realizing that Honolulu accidentally stole something from the Wolf King that he shouldn't of, Nice revealing to have ulterior motives of her own, Acapulco being an obnoxious jackass to everyone, and to top it all of, a cop named "Morgan" (Jenny Slate), who the Nurse has a connection with, arriving in need of medical attention too. It all ends up becoming one insane, Hell of a night. 

"Hotel Artemis" is a first time directorial debut from Drew Pearce (Known for his work in terms of writing and story for "Iron Man 3" and "Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation"), and while the film isn't one for story (At all really), it's directed with a lot of flair and charm to liven up the film. Pearce also serves as the film's writer, where he shows the most promise, filling the film with interesting and morally complicated characters, whose backstories are mostly alluded to, and plenty of dark humor to go with the gritty violence. The film sets up an interesting world that is set in the future, but isn't too far removed from the reality, with only hints at the larger, more expansive outside world, leaving things to your own interpretation. 

  The cast of characters all their roles in the film, carrying the movie's plot along that is a bit sloppy, but fits for the kind of movie it is. Jodie Foster is awesome in this, as a complex character who is likable and can be seen as one of the more honorable ones in a film filled with questionable morality. Sterling K. Brown is also great, along with Sofia Boutella, showing just how badass she can actually be. Jeff Goldblum makes the most of his somewhat brief, but memorable appearance, with Charlie Day having a lot of fun as the kind of guy who just won't keep his mouth shut and Dave Bautista, proving once again to have some real acting chops on him, aside from being a hulking amount of muscle. (It really looks like it hurts to get punched by him.) Jenny Slate has a small, but fairly important role and Zachary Quinto is at least supposed to be annoying, with that said, his plotline really doesn't amount to much. 

 There is this certain level of coolness to "Hotel Artemis", which doesn't rely heavily on action (Though there is an excellent hallway fight scene towards the end) and relies more on it's characters and the world they live in. From a storytelling point of view, it's not much and will probably leave some audiences wanting a bit more than they actually get. However, it's smart, unique, and a ton of fun, that I do think could (And really should) gather a rather sizable fanbase. Still better than a Motel 6. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Violence, Language, And Lousy Role Models.

Hereditary                                                                  by James Eagan                                         ★★★★ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for hereditary movieImage: Something bad is going to happen. Or, maybe everything will be fine.

 Horror is a genre that has continued to grow over the years, moving past the days of lazy jump scares and pointless gore in favor of old fashioned scary stories that make frightening things you either maybe never actually thought you would be scared of. Sometimes thinking can be the scariest thing to some people, and this movie right here made for quite possibly the most unsettling, horrifying experience I've ever had at the movies, leaving my mind filled with nightmarish images that I doubt I will ever be able to forget. I may have even peed myself just writing about it. Sounds like a good time for the family right? 

 Lets keep this as vague as possible to avoid spoilers and to give time for the movie to properly shock you. "Hereditary" opens with "Annie" (Toni Collette) and "Steve" (Gabriel Byrne), attending the funeral of Annie's estranged mother, "Ellen", along with their teenage son, "Peter" (Alex Wolff) and their strange daughter, "Charlie" (Milly Shapiro). Annie is having difficulty finding a way to feel about her mother's death, considering the bizarre relationship they had, which consisted of death, weird rituals, and mental disorders. There is unease within the family, which further escalates in a horrifying tragedy. Grief strikes every member of the family in different ways, resulting in Annie taking an interest in the supernatural. Things get more eerie, unsettling, and eventually horrifying as whatever has been haunting not just the family, but seemingly was passed down from Annie's mother, reveals it's true purpose, with nightmarish consequences. 

 From "A24" (Known for more artistic films, including their almost as freaky horror flick, "The Witch"), and first time Director Ari Aster, "Hereditary" embraces the dread and terror that can come from unexpected places and is shot like a demented dollhouse. The film is overall about family, grief, and guilt, which all culminate in the kind of story you tell to your friends to terrify the crap out of them. It's just as unsettling to listen to as it is to witness with your own eyes. The script (Also by Ari Aster) is calm and collected at first, further escalating into madness, much like what happens with it's characters. Backstories are established through dialogue or simply implied, but the implications of what were hear is thoroughly upsetting in a way that puts you on edge to where you don't really want to think about it too much. However you can't help it, and when you see what it all means by the end, it makes the whole experience just so wrong to the point you question if you should be allowed to be watching a movie like this in a theater filled with people. 

 Toni Collette gives a mesmerizing performance, that's emotionally powerful, complicated, and completely frightening. You empathize with her, even when you start to see more of her personal issues (Which are mostly left implied, but that somehow makes it even more unnerving). I think it's an Oscar worthy performance,(That will likely get ignored further showing why the Academy is full of stupid people.) While she dominates the film, the others have their moments, with Alex Wolff coming across as a little whiny at first, but it comes into play later and makes sense why he is acting like this, along with Gabriel Byrne being the one attempting to find logic in the situation (As someone would do realistically), and Milly Shapiro having an interesting presence that sticks with you. Not to forget Ann Dowd (as "Joan", a woman who befriends Annie a little too quickly), showing up to inject a different kind of creep factor. (There are some people who are just almost uncomfortably and suspiciously nice.) 

 "Hereditary" is being considered by most to be one of the scariest movies they've ever seen, and that has of course sparked people setting out to disprove that. (It did get a "D+" on Cinemascore, which is a place known for quality....Like giving "Boo 2! A Madea Halloween" an "A-".) I just want to prepare for people that it's a different kind of horror. You're not going to be scared in the traditionally sense, but more in the idea of feeling unclean after you watch it. It can be seen as a tense family drama, with imagery and dialogue that will make you sick to your stomach. The film is not exploitave or excessive. It's more in the sense that you choose not to think about these things. You think you're safe with family, even with the possible issues that people will generally keep to themselves. This movie uses that brilliantly, forcing you to feel on edge throughout until the almost outrageous ending that will leave you with our jaw completely dropped. You may not appear to quite get it at first, though you will have those images in your head, unable to forget what you saw and heard, and just plain freaking you the Hell out. (Some viewers may be driven to insanity.) I have no intention of seeing "Hereditary"ever again and I felt wrong watching it in the first place. With that said, I think it's the best horror film I've seen in theaters. It's okay, I don't need to sleep again. That's overrated. 4 stars. Rated R For......Ughhhhh......You Don't Want To Know. 

Ocean's 8                                                                        by James Eagan                                             ★★★ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for ocean's 8Image: "Wow, James said we were all terrific. We should thank him in person."

 Guys, you better get used to it now. "Ghostbusters" may not of turned out so well in terms of financial success. (It was perfectly alright if you ask me. But that's just me.), but more and more all female led films (Or possible reboots) are coming. This new "Ocean's" movie is just fine and there's nothing you can possibly do about it aside from complain and bully. So sit back, relax, and appreciate we live in a society that celebrates diversity and chances given to people are only now getting what we guys tend to always get. If not that, just....just look at the pretty and talented actresses. Seriously, it's a win win guys. I see no bad side here. 

 "Ocean's 8" opens with the prison release of "Debbie Ocean" (Sandra Bullock), the sister of the recently deceased "Danny Ocean" (Formerly played by George Clooney.) Much like her estranged brother, Debbie is a con artist, who really just can't seem to help herself. First thing Debbie does is organize a scheme to pull off the ultimate heist at the upcoming New York Meta Gala, where she can arrange for shallow celebrity, "Daphne Kluger" (Anne Hathaway) to wear a priceless diamond necklace to steal.

 A crew is gathered, consisting of "Lou" (Cate Blanchett), Debbie's best friend,  "Amita" (Mindy Kaling), a jewelry maker living with her mother, "Tammy" (Sarah Paulson), a mom who also happens to profiteer, "Constance" (Awkwafina), a remarkably skilled thief, "Nine Ball" (Rihanna), a hacker, and "Rose Weil" (Helena Bonham Carter), a struggling fashion designer. This odd crew has to plan out for every possible mistake to get away with millions, without getting caught or hitting any possible bumps, such as the coincidental appearances of Debbie's art dealer ex, "Claude" (Richard Armitage), who is the one responsible for Debbie's imprisonment and "John Frazier" (James Corden), an insurance investigator who knows the Ocean family too well. 

 "Ocean's 8" pretty much plays out like any other film in the series. However, despite the only major change being that the main stars are women this time, the film mostly distinguishes itself by being a well made, funny, and thoroughly exciting heist movie that doesn't so much change the game, but more or less simply doesn't a great job at playing it. Directed by Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit" and the first "The Hunger Games" movie), there is a sense of professionalism to help carry the film through it's fairly predictable beats and obligatory tropes. The film is also helped along with a slick enough script with likable characters (Even if they are crooks), who are fantastically portrayed by the cast. 

 Our characters aren't exactly deep, but they have plenty of personality to spare and each have their role in the film (Much like they have their role in the heist itself). Sandra Bullock is excellent here bringing everyone together, with Cate Blanchett getting plenty of scenery to chew. (They are both pretty hot too. I could watch them steal a cookie from a jar and it would still be sexy. But that's besides the point.) Some of the best laughs come from Helena Bonham Carter (Having an absolute ball), Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina, while Sarah Paulson and surprisingly Rihanna (Showing that she is much more capable here than in something like "Battleship") get some of the most memorable moments in the film. The real scene stealer is Anne Hathaway (Also very lovely. Simple man here.), who gets the most hilarious moments, playing against type and eventually having a bigger role than at first expected. (Well, for some maybe. I see a lot of movies. Takes a lot to surprise me.) Some aspects don't quite work, with the whole plotline with Richard Armitage not quite feeling particularly real and James Corden, who is hilarious when he finally arrives into the plot, doesn't actually come in till the last act. 

 "Ocean's 8" doesn't stand out in the long list of heist comedies, with a few (But expected) twists and turns that are at least cleverly worked in, even when you can figure them out quickly. You get to see some good actresses have some fun, while doing their jobs as skillfully as possible, with some humor, and just enough flair and intrigue to elevate the film up. It all makes for a damn good time for the guys, just as much as the ladies. 3 stars, Rated PG-13 For Adult Content and Questionable Morality. 

Adrift                  by James Eagan             ★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for adrift movieImage: In the movies, always take the train.

 Hard to talk about and recommend (Or not recommend) a movie that just lands right in the middle. Not so much a typical it's not bad or good type of thing, but instead more of it's a movie that doesn't give someone like me much to talk about. Did you already see it this weekend? Then it's for you. If not? You're not gonna see it.    

 Based on true events, "Adrift" follows the first meeting and romance between "Tami Oldham" (Shailene Woodley) and sailor, "Richard Sharp" (Sam Claflin). Their relationship grows, becoming more serious, especially when Richard is offered a chance to sail across the ocean, convincing Tami to go with him, where Richard just so happens to propose to her. Unfortunately for the couple, they just so happen to be sailing directly into a extremely powerful, category 4 hurricane, which results in Tami being stranded alone at sea. While she eventually finds Richard, he's too injured to do anything, forcing Tami to take control of the situation and find a way to survive such a bleak, almost hopeless situation. 

 Directed by Baltasar Kormákur ("2 Guns" and "Everest"), "Adrift" is visually stunning to look at with some absolutely beautiful cinematography, during any sequence on the ocean, which are grand and take up the entire screen. It's too bad the film's narrative is unnecessarily told out of order, getting in the way of an actually compelling story and romance. Granted, I can see why the filmmakers went this route, considering most of the last half of the film would of been just two people stranded at sea, but I've seen films that still find ways to make scenes like those captivating. 

 Shailene Woodley,(Having escaped the "Divergent" series for good), reminds us that she is a terrific actress and can carry a movie on her own, which she has to here during a large portion of it. She does have good chemistry with Sam Claflin, who just tends to be really likable, despite the fact the way the narrative is presented constantly gets in the way. There is also a big twist, which is only apparent to those not knowing how this story actually went, that seems at first to be unneeded and might even be seen as offensive to some. I think it makes more sense in context and actually makes for an emotional scene that further elevates the overall message of our main character's survival and will to do so. 

 "Adrift" doesn't have much impact and just feels like another movie I had to review to get through the weekend. Probably won't remember and aside from a choppy story that didn't have to be so, the film isn't without emotion and heart, with Shailene Woodley giving it her all, and an interesting enough true story that likely brought a few people to tears this last weekend. It did it's job, and I did mine. 2 1/2 stars. Rated PG-13 For Adult Content And Frightening Watery Imagery.

Action Point                                                             by James Eagan                                           ★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for action point movie

Image: "It's for you, Fozzie...Waka Waka Waka! 

 Is it weird to be disappointed by a movie brought to us by the guys behind "Jackass" and "Bad Grandpa"? I would say it really isn't. Usually well liked critically and commercially, they were generally seen as dumb, stupid, but good natured humor that just sets out to make you laugh, which is what's most important, even if we're laughing at their pain. This movie doesn't seem to have many laughs in it because, and this is the shocking part, there's.....too much plot. And not enough hits to the crotch. 

 "Action Point" starts with old man, "D.C." (Johnny Knoxville), recounting a story to his granddaughter about when he owned the most out of control, poorly constructed amusement park known as "Action Point", which doesn't care about little things such as safety. Around when his estranged teenage daughter, "Boogie" (Eleanor Worthington Cox), comes to visit, the snobby corporate villain, "Knoblach" (Dan Bakkedahl), arrives to buy the land in favor of a more successful, mainstream park (That come to think of it, we never actually see.) D.C. has no intention of losing his park, along with his strained relationship with his daughter, so he gathers all his wacky buddies to go all out in making the park even more outrageous and less safe (Which is horrible, in an totally awesome kind of way), in hopes of saving the park.......Yeah, that's really all you need to know. 

 Loosely based on an actual place called "Action Park" (Which was known for it's unsafe reputation), you'll notice that "Action Point" weirdly doesn't actually have much to it in terms of it's plot when you describe it. However, the film spends more time on it than anything else. The basic setup is solid, and one paper could make for some good laughs. The film doesn't seem to have much of any though, mostly because of it's generic and predictable story that takes up most of the short runtime. There are long sequences without laughs or even chuckles, with the jokes either falling flat or seemingly just missing altogether. While you do get an occasional funny stunt, they're mostly just the ones you saw in the trailer. 

 The needlessly large cast of goofy, one note supporting characters don't resonate in the slightest, with most of them just fading into the background. The best part is easily Johnny Knoxville himself, who gets some of the only funny lines and performs the more amusing stunts. He also does show that he is actually pretty solid actor, carrying what little there is to offer, even in an out of place serious moment that he does sell rather professionally. Eleanor Worthington Cox is trying, but gets a bland character without much to her, along with Dan Bakkedahl playing a typical dick-ish villain. I do give credit to the make up department for the scenes where Knoxville is an old man. (It honestly looks too good for a movie like this.)  

 Despite the raunchiness and senseless debauchery, "Action Point" feels uncharacteristically (And a little ironically) safe and just leaves you bored. I get where the filmmakers were going, and understand that they were trying to inject an actually well meaning story behind the silliness. Sadly, if your comedy doesn't have many actual jokes and lacks any real fun, it just makes the whole ride kind of pointless. It's harmless, but instantly forgettable. And in times when people need some cheap laughs, it makes it kind of depressing when you can't even seem to provide that. 1 1/2 stars. Rated R For Language, An Alcoholic Bear, Adult Content, And Of Course, A Total Disregard For Safety.  

Upgrade                                                                       by James Eagan                                         ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Related imageImage: Upgrades, now on Amazon, for only $29.99 with yearly membership.

 An apparent SXSW (South by Southwest) favorite that opened to solid critical buzz and some high praise to the audiences lucky enough to see it early (Because guys like me can try their absolute damnedest, only to fail miserably), we got ourselves a new, original, and thoroughly impressive small budget little surprise that you can just see becoming an instant hipster favorite. It's also jam packed with a good amount of crazy to separate it from any other movie you'll likely come across this year. 

 "Upgrade" opens in a futuristic world, though with the changes mostly being minor (Such as self driving cars, surveillance drones, and other gadgets.), with stay at home mechanic, "Grey" (Logan Marshall-Green) living a nice, normal life with his wife, "Asha" (Melanie Vallejo), who works for a powerful tech company. Grey fixes a car for an eccentric, tech weirdo, "Eron Keen" (Harrison Gibertson), who Grey introduces Asha to. Eron also reveals his special little project, called "STEM", which is meant to connect to anything to make better in any way. On their way home, Grey and Asha get into an accident, only to be attacked by some ruthless hunter, with their leader, "Fisk" (Benedict Hardie) killing Asha and leaving Grey paralyzed due to an injury in his spinal column. Despite "Detective Cortez" (Betty Gabriel) assuring Grey that she will find the men responsible, nothing seems to get done, with Grey contemplating suicide.

 Some time later, Grey is met by Eron, who offers him a way to walk again, which means using him the first test subject for STEM. STEM is attached to Grey, after signing a non-disclosure agreement (Because this is obviously illegal), gaining the ability to walk once more. Almost immediately, Grey notices something strange, especially when STEM (Now voiced by Simon Maiden) starts talking to him. STEM is able to deduce who the killers were (And that they've been cybernetically enhanced with shotguns in their arms) and where one of them lives. Grey goes to confront the killers, when he also learns what else STEM is capable of, such as taking control of Grey's body and turning him into an unstoppable killing machine. 

 "Upgrade" at first seemingly appears to be taking a predictable route, with a fairly basic premise you've seen many times before, but takes some surprising turns that you wouldn't quite expect to be done so intelligently. Distributed by Blumhouse Pictures (Mostly known for horror films) and directed/written by Leigh Whannell (Who was one of the creators of the "Saw" franchise.), the movie utilizes it's small by comparison budget to embrace it's dark, dirty atmosphere, packed with visually impressive, constantly moving, and amazingly choreographed action that will make you not want to blink out of fear that you might miss something. It's dark and brutal, with an insane amount of gore that doesn't feel excessive (Though the faint of heart probably should pass on this one or just close their eyes the entire time), and does serve some purpose when the film drives home our main character's realistic reactions to his newfound capabilities. (It's a sort of mix of horror, shock, and a little jokey) The film's script provides a very dark, pitch black sense of humor to go with the bleak story, which provides a shocking amount of laugh out loud moments and even when the film gets serious, it takes a deep turn you would never expect, giving you a little more extra to think about once you leave the movie.

 Logan Marshall-Green (Known as either "The Other Tom Hardy" or "The Shocker #1") shows that he can really carry a film, mostly on his own. He's likable and grounded, doing an excellent job in the action portions of the film, along with some solid timing when it comes to more humorous scenes. He also sells the more dramatic ones, feeling like a real person, which is important for a film that ends up diving a little into the idea of "Upgrading" humanity. Harrison Gilbertson is enjoyably awkward, while Betty Gabriel ends up having more of a purpose than what you at first expect. Benedict Hardie is one of the stranger movie villains you'll come across, which weirdly fits well into the story, and Simon Maiden's voice work has a lot of personality despite being nothing more than a computer, whose true motivations keep you guessing till the end. 

 "Upgrade" is another film that shows how to do proper world building, without seemingly having the intent of making an actual franchise out of itself. It's a small, quick sit, that provides some clever storytelling and a little extra depth to go with it's insane amount of action and violence, along with some great character to further integrate the viewer into the experience. Even for those of us who are perfectly great the way we are and DON'T need an upgrade. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Gorey Violence, Both Jaw Dropping, And Jaw-Breaking. (You'll See What I Mean.)

First Reformed                                                        by James Eagan                                      ★★★½ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for first reformed movieImage: Ethan Hawke dejectedly realizes he was scammed on his discounted cruise ship ticket.  

 I see a lot of movies and I write full reviews for most of them. It's more often than not that I do. However, a guy can only type so much in a certain amount of time, or will see things so long after their release that it wouldn't really matter. Much of these smaller films, despite many ranging from good to excellent (Though there are the occasionally stinkers, just like the mainstream ones), I usually neglect to write a full review for. This one is an exception, not simply because it's a film that I do in fact highly recommend, but I really, really just want to talk about how absolutely crazy it is. 

 "First Reformed" follows "Reverend Toller" (Ethan Hawke), a former military chaplin, who is racked with guilt over encouraging his son to join the armed forces, which eventually led to his death. He meets "Mary" (Amanda Seyfried), who is an avid churchgoer, who wants Toller to speak to her depressed, radical environmentalist husband, "Michael" (Phillip Ettinger). Mary is pregnant and Michael is filled with fear over bringing a baby into what he considers to be a doomed planet that humanity appears to have given up on. Toller's talk with Michael forces him to question ideals of his own, wondering if humanity can be saved and should be forgiven for what they have done to God's creation. Toller's newfound beliefs put him at odds with his superior at the mega-church, "Jeffers" (Cedric Kyles, aka Cedric the Entertainer) and the industrialist elitists who seem to have say in pretty much everything. Then.....Things get.....Weird. Lets just say, if I were to tell you how this movie ends, you would never believe it's the same movie we previously began. 

 Directed by Paul Schrader, known mostly for writing a few of Martin Scorsese's movies (Such as "Taxi Driver" and "The Last Temptation of Christ") aside from a decent sized filmography of ones he's directed (Like "American Gigolo" and "Hardcore"), "First Reformed" mixes some elements and subject matter that you would not at first consider all too similar. Its funny because after seeing the film, I can't necessarily imagine how I never noticed it before. Combining some religious morality with the need to save the planet and it's ecosystem should in fact coincide with one another. There are also topics of grief, anxiety, the fear of what's coming or what's out of your control, and the hypocrisy of some people claiming to truly follow the word of God though seemingly ignoring what they preach. Schrader's direction is rather cold, slow, and filled with imagery that ranges from beautiful to thoroughly disturbing. And the film's use of box-like aspect ratio actually adds to the film's suspenseful sense of dread and gloom, were the sun only shines every once in a while. (That's not a metaphor. The sun rarely shines in this movie!)

 Ethan Hawke gives a probable early Oscar worthy performance (With all the praise he's already been getting, I would actually be shocked if he didn't.), who brings humanity to a character going through many mixed emotions that further escalate into something more as the film progresses. You see where this character starts and understand just how far he goes, with his questions about how humanity treats the environment and how it really does apply to a biblical belief of how God wants us to treat it. (Shouldn't all people of God technically be environmentalists? I mean, we are meant to be protecting his creation right?) Amanda Seyfried is perfectly cast as the (Literally) wide eyed voice of reason, who has some excellent chemistry with Ethan Hawke. Cedric the Entertain....er, I mean, Cedric Kyles shows off more acting range than what I'm used to seeing from him, coming across as realistically hypocritical, with a few funny moments. The movie shockingly has some humor here and there, sprinkled throughout, which helps convey the satire that the film is presenting. 

 "First Reformed" appears to be jumping the shark by the end, but the more you think about it, the more you realize how everything was escalating so much by this point. It's darkly beautiful, awkwardly humorous, and calmly insane, done skillfully in a slow, atmospheric manner. It's a film that won't sit right with everyone and might just leave some completely confused. But man will it certainly make for a good conversation. 3 1/2 stars. Rated R For Language, Horrifying Imagery, And That Ethan Hawke/Amanda Seyfried Flying Bit. (It Makes Sense In Context. I Think.)

Solo: A Star Wars Story                                      by James Eagan                                           ★★★ OUT OF ★★★★

Image result for solo a star wars story chewbaccaImage: "You said it, Chewie".

 People are still currently in recovery from the last "Star Wars" film, "The Last Jedi". I'm rarely right in predicting how people would react to a film, but while I expected the film's unexpected and unconventional twists, turns, and reveals would piss some fans off, I didn't predict that bloodthirsty of a reaction. Personally, I thought it was awesome and unlike anything we'd previously seen, and everyone should just get over it. (Hey, I'm sorry your favorite fan theory didn't come true.) Either way, it is pretty fitting that "Lucasfilm" decided to play it safe this time around with "Solo", for the most part. One could argue it might be too safe, but I'm pretty sure a bunch of nerds, with slightly sexist tendencies in a comments section will appreciate the effort......Well I appreciate it anyway.  

 "Solo: A Star Wars Story" opens long before he shot first (Because he did. You're not fooling anyone George), with the younger "Han" (Alden Ehrenreich) and his childhood friend/girlfriend, "Qi'ra" (Emilia Clarke), on the run from criminals, planning to get a ship and run away together. Things take a turn, resulting Qi'ra getting left behind and Han joining the Imperial Navy in hopes of becoming a pilot and returning for her. Years later, Han (Having acquired the last name "Solo" from a silly Easter egg), is nowhere close to accomplishing his goal, but finds a friend in a certain lovable furball wookie, "Chewbacca" (Joonas Suotamo), and comes across a famous criminal, "Tobias Beckett" (Woody Harrelson). Han convinces Beckett to let Chewie  join his crew, consisting of "Val" (Thandie Newton) and multiple armed alien, "Rio Durant" (Voiced by Jon Favreau) on a mission to obtain a very rare, very powerful source of fuel for a powerful crime organization known as "Crimson Dawn".

 After a run in with the mysterious, masked, "Enfys Nest", the crew is forced to report back with nothing to their scarred employer, "Dryden Vos" (Paul Bettany), who Qi'ra now just so happens to be working for. After some smooth talking, Vos is convinced that Beckett's team can bring him the fuel source he wants, which requires them to steal it from the mines of "Kessel" (Sound Familair?). The team finds themselves a ship called "The Millennium Falcon", belonging to the charismatic and shady smuggler, "Lando Calrissian" (Donald Glover) and his activist droid, "L3-37" (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and they are set on their way to pull off the heist, while Han gets closer to his own destiny. 

 "Solo: A Star Wars Story", much like the previous entry into his new Anthology series, 2016's "Rogue One", suffered from some production problems, with the previous directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("The Lego Movie", "21 Jump Street")  let go due to too much improvisation, in favor of the more acclaimed, Ron Howard. The lingering effects are somewhat noticeable, with some minor messy moments in the plot. However, once the film gets going,  it delivers on exactly what's promised, while taking a less predictable route for a story that could be considered completely unnecessary. Ron Howard is a pro and handles the film nicely, giving it a dirty look to match the criminal aspect of the film. The script by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan offers some great new additions to the "Star Wars" mythology, with some beautiful special effects work (Which is to be expected) and a few pretty badass action scenes, showing much more time and effort was putting into the film, which was at first mostly just seen as a cash grab. 

 The biggest distraction for most people would be Aldren Ehrenreich and while it's understandable to a certain point, but really doesn't have much to do with the film as a whole.( Look, he's not Harrison Ford. But neither am I, and neither are you.) There's only one Harrison Ford, and thankfully Ehrenreich doesn't try to pull off an imitation in favor of making it his own. He's still excellent in the film, injecting the character with plenty of charm, some snappy dialogue, and plenty of human moments that remind us of the beloved hero he will eventually become. Woody Harrelson is basically just playing, uh, Woody Harrelson, which is something he's fantastic at, and the film does provide a nice twist on the typical mentor character. Emilia Clarke, while at first appearing to be playing the basic love interest role, ends up getting a bit more depth than expected. (She' also really, really, really cute.)

 Donald Glover, gets to play a character that never nearly got enough attention in the previous films, and steals whatever scene he's in, along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who gets a few memorable sequences. (Personally, already love these two together in the expanded material released before the film. You guys know I'm a total geek!). Paul Bettany, while not getting enough screentime, looks like he's having a great time as a complete slimeball. Chewbacca himself, brought to life by Joonas Suotamo (Filling in for Peter Mayhew), remains the heart of the film, and his relationship with Han is undeniably sweet and will certainly fill any "Star Wars" fan with the feels. 

 Not much of a game changer, and it does feel like a bit of a step backwards from "The Last Jedi", which appeared as set up for a future away from the original saga, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" makes up for it's somewhat disjointed shortcomings with a solid cast of characters, plenty of humor, and some surprises that could set up for more future installments. (One moment in particular might be a bit divisive. This is why you watch the expanded material like a true fan!) The film is quick, fun, and while the question of how important it truly is in the long run is going to be up in the air for a while, the film finds it's own identity and embraces it. It's just a likable adventure, and if this is the worst that these new "Star Wars" films have to offer, it still shows that we're in capable hands. 3 stars. Rated PG-13 For Sci-Fi Violence, Droid SJWs, And For Scruffy-Looking, Nerf-Herders. 

Show Dogs                  by James Eagan            ½ OUT OF ★★★★

Related imageImage: "You know what your breath smells like, right?"

 Ever seen a movie that just won't shut the Hell up? Like, it just keeps making noise and noise, with characters spouting out words. Not dialogue, just words. Screaming and yelling, with the score constantly and obnoxiously blasting just in case the three little kids who were likely only brought here because the parents either couldn't find a babysitter to see "Deadpool 2", or just didn't respect their kids enough to take them to see "Isle of Dogs", "Sgt. Stubby", or even "Avengers: Infinity War". Maybe they just wanted to scare them straight. 

 "Show Dogs" takes place in the uh, real-ish world, with temperamental Rottweiler police dog, "Max" (Voiced by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) failing to rescue a stolen CGI baby panda, ruining the rescue attempt by FBI agent, "Frank" (Will Arnett). Because of this, Max is partnered up with Frank and head over to Vegas infiltrate a dog show, which may be a front for an animal smuggling plot. Of course, Max and Frank don't get along, with Frank being stupid and Max being a dick for no reason. Max enlists the help of a former dog show winner, "Philippe" (Voiced by Stanley Tucci), while Frank tries to charm the nice pretty girl, "Mattie" (Natasha Lyonne), while eventually learning to work together to find out who is smuggling the rare animals.  While I'm just confused as to why I still do what I do despite not gaining much in the process. In fact I'm losing time watching this film. The universe's most precious resource. Ugh...

 Directed by Raja "How do I keep getting work?" Gosnell (Both "The Smurfs" movies and both "Scooby-Doo" movies), "Show Dogs" has no business being in a movie theater, obviously. It's just nothing, piled upon laziness and a script that mostly consists of catchphrases and puns, without any laughs to make up for the most predictable of plots. Not to mention the horrifyingly dated, poorly rendered effects work that will more likely terrify children, rather than delight them. To say the movie is "At least okay for kids" should be more of an insult to the kids, who really deserve so much better, and so do the poor, innocent film critics who undeservedly were forced to sit through this.

 To look for actual positives in something with so little given to it and so little time that was obviously put into making the film. Gotta' give credit to a few actors, who come in to do their jobs to their best ability regardless of the material, with Will Arnett, Ludacris, and Stanley Tucci at least trying to make something out of nothing. Natasha Lyone is plenty adorable, but is just there to be the love interest. (Which doesn't even need to be here.) The rest of the voice cast, which includes Jordan Sparks (as "Daisy", Max's love interest), Gabriel Inglesias (as "Sprinkles", a pug obsessed with Max), Shaquille O'Neal (as "Karma", a Komodor with words of wisdom), and others, just appear sporadically, with them mostly either raising their voices, exaggerating them, or just doing accents for the sake of doing accents. The dogs themselves are cute, except for when their CGI mouths are moving around like the stuff of nightmares.

 "Show Dogs" is what happens when nobody sits anyone with money and connections in Hollywood down and tells them "No!". It's honestly a bit hard to fully talk about, but mostly because there just isn't much in this movie. It's paced quickly to the point you aren't given enough time to process anything, not even how truly horrible the punny jokes are. Everything feels cobbled together simply to stretch out it's already short runtime and go through the checklist of family movie plot points. The movie is just.....Nothing. It's just there to take up time, without providing anything of value for you or your kids. It's a very, very bad boy. 1/2 star. Rated PG For Fart Jokes, Obnoxious Yelling, And Ball Fondling.  

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