2016 Summer Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan

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Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) and George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) go out to rescue Jane in David Yates’ The Legend of Tarzan.

When someone brings up Tarzan, you might think of the original book by Edgar Rice Burroughs from 1900s. Maybe you have seen the films starring Johnny Weissmuller from the 1930s with his famous cry, or—for millennials; myself included—have grown up with the 1999 Disney animated film with Phil Collins providing the soundtrack.

David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) brings back the familiar face in The Legend of Tarzan. It’s not just an origin story. Compared to other versions, it follows closely to Burroughs’ source material. Yates puts some serious effort into this grand adventure for a modern audience, but it left me wanting more.

Years after living in the African jungles for most of his life, John Clayton III, or Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) leaves his gorilla family behind to live in a gorgeous estate in England with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). When they enter the Congo once again, they encounter Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), who works under King Leopold of Belgium. He comes up with a scheme to capture John and Jane to exchange for diamonds. With the help from George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), John swings into action to save his wife from Rom.

Yates brings his magnificent vision that made his final two Harry Potter films such an epic conclusion. The panoramic shots of Africa (featuring realistic computer-generated animals) give the feeling that the audience is in for quite an adventure. While the movie is visually stunning, most of its narrative takes itself way too seriously; not to mention Tarzan’s origins feeling a bit rushed.

With Skarsgård leading a solid cast with his massive physique and warm emotion, they aren’t put in a lot of depth. Waltz’s portrayal of Rom is nothing but your stereotypical villain. Robbie’s Jane is more independent than in the other versions. As real-life George Washington Williams, Jackson provides the film’s wit and energy that most of the film lacks. Nevertheless, thanks to its nifty visuals, heart-pounding action, and sheer beauty, The Legend of Tarzan is a good attempt bringing the rope-swinging hero back to the silver screen.

2.5/4

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2016 Summer Movie Preview: July

The Fourth of July is almost here (I have yet to see the new Independence Day sequel, despite the negative reception). Anyhow, I forgot to give my thoughts on two movies that came out last month–Genius, starring Jude Law as Thomas Wolfe and Colin Firth as his editor Max Perkins. I have heard some not-so-good reception. With them leading a great cast, however, it seems something I would like to see. The other is Hunting for the Wilderpeople, which premiered at this year’s Sundance with positive feedback. Nothing much too say but…it looks funny as hell.

July seems to be a month of reboots, sequels, and book adaptations. Unfortunately, there is not much to look forward to. Here are my thoughts on what has yet to come out.

July 1

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The BFG – I think I’m in for a treat right here! Steven Spielberg is back to direct a family film after 25 years. Reuniting with the writer and producer of E.T.—the recently deceased Melissa Matheson and Frank Marshall—they bring Roald Dahl’s beloved 1982 novel to pure life. It follows a girl carried away by a giant to a world unlike she has ever seen before. To her surprise, he happens to be a Big Friendly Giant (hence the title). Fresh from winning an Oscar for his brilliant turn in Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance plays the title character through motion capture. He is nothing short of perfect!

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The Legend of Tarzan – Everyone has heard of Tarzan; from the films starring Johnny Weissmuller to the 1999 Disney animated classic (which I’m a big fan of). Alexander Skarsgård is the first Tarzan to wear cargo shorts instead of his trademark “special underwear”. He leads a stellar cast including Margot Robbie as Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, and Christoph Waltz. Directed by David Yates (director of the final four Harry Potter films and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), this seems to be more than just another origin story. Even though it hasn’t been getting good reception so far, it might be fun.

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The Purge: Election Year – Seriously!? Another one!? Of course, having avoided the previous two films (the first one starring Ethan Hawke), I’m going to avoid this film. Same goes with the future ones—if they are made.

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Our Kind of Traitor – A couple vacationing in Morocco soon go head-to-head between the Russian mafia and the British Secret Service when asked to give evidence about an MI6 agent. This sounds like your standard thriller. It’s hard not to appreciate the cast—Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris (Moneypenny!), Stellan Skarsgård, Damien Lewis. Then again, it relies on dialogue than action to carry through the thrills.

July 8

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The Secret Life of Pets – I guarantee this will make a lot of money, receive positive reception from critics and audiences alike, and become one of the most popular non-PIXAR animated movies of all-time. To me, I don’t care.

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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – Zac Efron cannot catch a break. Can he? After the catastrophic nightmare known as Dirty Grandpa, he reunites with co-star Aubrey Plaza to star in another seemingly unfunny comedy centering two immature brothers finding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii. How about using the money to take an actual vacation in Hawaii? Also, what the hell was Anna Kendrick thinking while she signed up to do a movie like this? Every time I see the previews, the pain ensues.

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Cell – John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson are back for another Stephen King adaptation, nine years after the underrated psychological horror film 1408. This time, they are saving the world from zombies caused from the viruses on people’s phones. I have heard nothing but horrible reception. Given that Stephen King was dropped out of completing the screenplay, it shows how awful this looks.

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Captain Fantastic – Ah…this is more like it! Known for starring in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and two masterful films by David Cronenberg—A History of Violence and Eastern Promises—Viggo Mortensen stars as a father of six children about to learn the responsibilities of parenting in the seemingly eccentric yet delightful Captain Fantastic. Shown at both Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals with warm reception, this looks something to behold.

July 15

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The Infiltrator (opens July 13) – From a loving father to a meth lab creator to a controversial screenwriter, Bryan Cranston can do no wrong. It looks he’s going to continue his streak in The Infiltrator, following a narcotics officer dealing with a money laundering scheme involving Pablo Escobar. This looks like one tense crime story.

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Ghostbusters – After years of rumors of a Ghostbusters III, Hollywood decided to reboot one of the greatest films from the 1980s with an all-female cast. It consists of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Along with Chris Hemsworth, they all appeared on Saturday Night Live. It looks nothing but a disgrace to the original film. This quote, said by Jones’ character Patty Tolan, sums up how I feel about this movie: “I don’t know if it was a race thing or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell.”

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Tulip Fever – Alicia Vikander had a great year last year. Ex Machina, Testament of Youth, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Danish Girl—in which she a well-deserved Oscar for. She’s becoming one of my favorite actresses, not to mention going to star as Lara Croft, the upcoming The Light Between Oceans, and one upcoming summer release I’ll talk about later. I honestly don’t know how I feel about the latest costume drama Tulip Fever. I have to admit the cast is superb—Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench, Dane DeHaan, and Zach Galafianakis (pretty odd, if I say so myself). A part of me thinks this will be complete trash, while another part say this might turn out as fantastic.

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Café Society – Continuing his streak of making one movie every year, Woody Allen goes back in time once again. This time, this is the 1930s in Hollywood where dreams may come true during the Great Depression. After the disappointing Irrational Man, Café Society looks like a pure delight and a breath of fresh air for Allen. It brings back the nostalgia, beauty and charm that made me love Midnight in Paris so much. Not to mention the fantastic cast—Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively. It’s time for another great Woody Allen picture.

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Equals – A future where everyone is forbidden from using any emotions at all? It doesn’t sound like my kind of movie.

July 22

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Star Trek Beyond – I was introduced to the world of Star Trek with the 2009 film directed by J.J. Abrams. It blew me away, both from a narrative and a visual standpoint. I didn’t have to watch the original show in order to get what’s going on (I will, one of these days; don’t worry). Despite its flaws, Star Trek into Darkness is a worthy sequel. And that was where my admiration for Benedict Cumberbatch began. With Justin Lin now taking Abrams’ place as director, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew return to boldly go where no man has gone before. I’m ready.

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Ice Age: Collision Course – How many of these movies are there? The only great Ice Age movie is the first one. Do we really need another one?

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Lights Out – Mostly everyone is afraid of the dark. In the new horror film Lights Out, it’s about an entity only shows up when the lights go out which leads to a connection to a family. Originally a short film, writer/director David F. Sandberg and producer James Wan (who directed two of the best horror films of the decade—The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2) expand this genuinely creepy into a feature-length film. Be prepared to be leaving your lights on after the movie.

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie – This looks far from fabulous. I have no knowledge of the television show. What I’ve seen from the trailer made me cringe. Nothing else to say but just downright embarrassing.

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Don’t Think Twice – Keegan-Michael Key is one of the best comedians working today. Being in the sketch series Key and Peele and recently in one of the funniest movies of the year Keanu, this looks like a poignant and funny film set in NYC about pursuing one’s dreams. I’m looking forward to this one.

July 29

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Nerve (opens July 27) – I’m not a big fan of Emma Roberts or Dave Franco. The concept is intriguing enough; a reality video game of “truth or dare” takes a turn for the worst. Based on a book by Jeanne Ryan, Nerve looks like another standard thriller aimed towards teenagers. The attempts at humor and suspense feel a bit forced.

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Jason Bourne – He’s back! HE’S BACK! It has been almost ten years since Jason Bourne has disappeared without a trace. Now, he wakes up remembering everything from his past. Or does he? Paul Greengrass returns to the director’s chair and, of course, Matt Damon returns as the spy. Joining him are Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, and Julia Stiles reprising her role of Nicky Parsons. It’s rare for a summer blockbuster to feature more practical effects than CGI, which is what Greengrass is known for. As well as the handheld camera work.

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Bad Moms – Three solid actresses—Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Christina Applegate––cannot seem to save, what it looks like to be, an unfunny comedy. The trailer was one of the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m skipping it for sure.

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Indignation – Logan Lerman has a long career ahead of him. Ever since his solid performance in Hoot, he has made a big name of himself in breakthrough roles such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Fury. In Indignation, another Sundance hit, Lerman plays a Jewish boy from New Jersey going to college in Ohio falling in love with his classmate in 1951. While clashing with the Dean, it puts him and his relationship to the test. I adore the old-fashioned feel of this movie. And the emotional tension seems unbearable. I cannot wait!

Recap:

Most Anticipated: The BFG, Café Society, Captain Fantastic, Indignation, Jason Bourne

Least Anticipated: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Bad Moms, Cell, Equals, Ghostbusters, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Purge: Election Year

I hope you all enjoyed what my thoughts on upcoming movies for July are. Please feel free to leave comments on what you are looking forward to this July. Stay tuned at the end of this month as I give my thoughts on what has yet to come in the month of August. Take care.

2016 Summer Movie Preview: June

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day; meeting with families and having a good barbecue. Like every summer, it is off to a good start. I have finished my second year of college almost a month ago. I am about to have one busy schedule. The month of June has a lot of movies to look forward to including one that looks completely bizarre yet I am dying to see something original. Here are my thoughts on what has yet to come out this month.

June 3

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – Michael Bay returns to produce the sequel to the 2014 hit film. Taking Jonathan Liebesman’s place as director is Dave Green (Earth to Echo). I am neither a TMNT fan nor have I seen the television show from the 1990s. Its predecessor looked, more or less, like a Transformers wannabe (not to mention Shredder looking more like a Decepticon). Like I said before two years ago, I would rather eat a whole pizza than wasting two hours of my life.

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Me Before You – Hyped up to be the summer’s biggest romance, Me Before You sounds like your typical tearjerker. A man who is paralyzed from a motorcycle accident falls in love with a woman. This might be the only time they will ever spend time together. From the trailer alone, it just oozes with sap. Who knows? Maybe this will come as a surprise. For now, I’ll just wait for to rent from Redbox. It’s great to see Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter) in it though.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – Andy Samberg can be really funny. He was one of SNL’s biggest standouts. Along with his Lonely Island co-members, he makes some really funny-as-hell songs (e.g. “Jizzed in My Pants”). But, this satire of the pop music industry doesn’t look funny at all. I can’t get the image of seeing a CGI baby playing the drums out of my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if this succeeds or fails in the box office.

June 10

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The Conjuring 2 The Conjuring was a breath of fresh air. James Wan brings the creepy atmosphere into the real-life story of the Warrens (played to perfection by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigating a haunting in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Any cheap scares? Not in that case.

Now, the Warrens go across the Atlantic Ocean to investigate a poltergeist in Enfield, England. It became the most famous case in paranormal history. I’m glad to hear early positive reception about the movie. I’m ready to have shivers sent down my spine and getting scared once again.

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Now You See Me 2 – I have never seen the first film. And I have zero interest seeing either of them. I prefer seeing practical magic tricks rather than rendered through CGI. The story of four illusionists pulling off a heist sounds ridiculous to the core. No, thank you!

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Warcraft – I am shocked to hear a lot of negative reception Warcraft received so far. Evem Alonso Duralde of TheWrap.com said, “Think Battlefield Earth without the verve, or the unintentional comedy” (ouch!). As a non-gamer like myself, the previews for this movie (based on the game Warcraft: Humans and Orcs) had the feeling of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (which are my all-time favorite movies). From what I’ve heard, a lot of video game movies of the past sucked big time (except Prince of Persia, which I thought it was okay). Given the fact it’s directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), I seriously want it to be good.

June 17

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Finding Dory – Ah, yes! The long-awaited sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo is finally hitting the silver screen! It looks like PIXAR is back in the mix of things after last year’s masterpiece Inside Out. This looks like another emotional roller coaster ride. I can’t wait for this as well as some others by PIXAR. I’m hoping a teaser for Coco will be attached with Finding Dory.

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Central Intelligence – As much as I love Dwayne Johnson and dislike Kevin Hart, I don’t know how I feel about this movie. There are some jokes in the preview that made me laugh, but others feel stale. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry about Dwayne Johnson in the fat suit.

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Clown – I understand how many people are truly terrified of clowns. I am not one of them. Seeing Eli Roth listed as one of the producers in the red band preview before The Witch back in February, this definitely looks like an Eli Roth movie, fair and square. Originally a fake horror trailer, Roth and its director Jon Watts extend the idea of a mythical clown suit that won’t come off once somebody puts in on. It actually sounds fascinating. It might pull off well.

June 24

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Independence Day: Resurgence – Twenty years ago, everyone fought a group of aliens trying to take over the Earth while on the verge of extinction. Not surprisingly, the aliens are back with a vengeance. Independence Day was the biggest box-office hit of 1996 and redefined the disaster genre. Roland Emmerich is returning to the director’s chair as well most of the original stars such as Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Bill Pullman. And also some newcomers including Liam Hemsworth. As much as I enjoyed the first film, this looks like it will just as fun. It’s a shame Will Smith is not in the sequel.

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Free State of Jones – Matthew McConaughey is one of my favorite actors. Free State of Jones looks like this will be another great performance to add in his repertoire. This brings the true story of a Mississippi farmer leading a rebellion against the Confederacy during America’s bloodiest war to life under the direction of Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games). This looks brutal as it is gorgeous.

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Swiss Army Man (in select theaters; expanding nationwide July 1) – Not only is this is my most anticipated movie of the summer, it’s also my most anticipated movie of the entire year! During its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a lot of people started walking out within the first twenty minutes of the movie. Perhaps they were not ready for a movie featuring a bizarre story following a castaway using a flatulent corpse as a survival tool (compared to a swiss army knife) including using it as a jet ski with the farts to be propelled forward. As a result, it became the festival’s most controversial film ever.

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are two of the best actors working today. They are about to be in a movie unlike anything they have ever been in before. Writing the screenplay in the Sundance lab, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (who are dubbed as “The Daniels”) put a lot of deep thought about farts. A24 is on a role here! I’ll be surprised if this movie gets a lot of attention from the Academy, even though this is one of those movies that a lot of people might walk out of. But, I think Adam Chitwood of the Collider said it best: “In a world filled with reboots, remakes, franchises, sequels, ‘interconnected universe’ movies, and even predictable dramas, it’s refreshing—almost overwhelmingly so—to see something so different.”

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The Neon Demon – Another movie I am mixed with. Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) creates this bizarre tale of modern-day fashion in Los Angeles. Elle Fanning has come a long way. This might be her most mature role yet. As gorgeous as this movie looks, I have a feeling this will turn to be garbage.

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The Shallows – This will make people think twice about going swimming into the ocean once again. Fresh from directing last year’s solid thriller Run All Night, Jaume Collet-Serra directs its main star Blake Lively struggling to survive on a rock close to shore while a great white shark circles around her. Of course, the shark is computer-generated, but it looks so real it’s scary. I’m thrilled to see this!

Recap:

Most Anticipated: The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory, Free State of Jones, The Shallows, Swiss Army Man, Warcraft

Least Anticipated: Now You See Me 2, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on several movies for the month of June. Tell me in the comments below on what your most anticipated movies are. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of July at the end of this month. Take care.

2016 Summer Movie Preview: May

Time to forget about the crazy weather Maine has had last week, and focus on the upcoming releases for the next three months.

Yes, May is officially here; which means the summer movie season starts tomorrow. Compared to every year, 2016 is off to a decent start for film despite some disasters. I have a feeling this summer is going to kick ass with all the big blockbusters (not to mention sequels) as well as small, independent films (most of which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival). I’m going to do the same thing as the last two years; talk about the ones that are getting a lot of attention and ones that look interesting to me. Without further ado, let’s get started with the films that are coming out this May.

May 6

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Captain America: Civil War It’s hard to believe it has already been eight years since the first Iron Man has released in theaters. With every major Marvel superhero—the Hulk, Thor, Captain America—getting their own movie (featuring some minor characters) before teaming up to save the world, everyone got hyped to find out that this is going to be a series. The MCU is now in its third phase. Captain America: Civil War introduces some of the same characters from the previous films as well as some new ones to the MCU (e.g. Spider-Man) is going to be more than just a superhero movie. Bring it on!

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A Bigger Splash (opened in limited theaters yesterday; expanding nationwide later this month) – Ralph Fiennes has had a ball this decade. From finishing the final two Harry Potter films as Lord Voldemort to becoming a charismatic concierge on a journey to prove his innocence in The Grand Budapest Hotel, he is going to have a blast here as a rock star on an Italian vacation in A Bigger Splash. I am down for something wild and thrilling.

May 13

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Money Monster – George Clooney, one of the highest-paid actors working today, plays a Wall Street expert whose live television show is interrupted by a broke investor (Unbroken’s Jack O’Connell, delivering his best “New Yawk” accent) who puts him and his producer (Julia Roberts) hostage in front of millions of viewers. It does sound intense enough. But with an all-star cast under the direction of Jodie Foster, this seems to be nothing but your standard thriller about the issues on Wall Street. I have a feeling this might perform poorly in the box office.

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The Darkness – I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Hell, most 21st century horror movies I’ve seen or heard about weren’t all that good, because of the over-reliance of gore and cheap scares. The Darkness has the potential of being good or bad. I will see anything starring Kevin Bacon, so maybe I’ll see it.

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The Lobster – This hit at last year’s Cannes Film Festival has one of the most oddly intriguing premises in recent years. Taking place in a futuristic society, people at a hotel must find love within 45 days. If that doesn’t happen, they turn into the spirit animal of their choice and released into the forest. An all-star cast featuring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, among others are the direction of Yorgos Lanthimos. With dark comedy involved, The Lobster is one strange love story I’m looking forward to see.

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Love and Friendship – For over a hundred years, Jane Austen’s work has been adapted into some of the best movies of all-time (e.g. the 1940 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice and the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility) and even parodied (this year’s guilty pleasure Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). One of Austen’s least popular stories—Lady Susan—becomes adapted into one of Sundance’s big hits, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. For someone who has never read any of Austen’s work but seen some of her movies, this looks like one hysterical comedy of manners with beautiful sets and costumes.

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High-Rise (expanding nationwide in June) – Known for playing Loki in Thor and The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston is one of the biggest international sex symbols of this decade. He can be as intimidating as he is charming (I can see him take over for Daniel Craig as James Bond). He stars in what looks like one of the most stylish and insane thrillers directed by Ben Wheatley—High-Rise.

May 20

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The Nice Guys – Now that’s what I’m talking about! A comedy-thriller directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) and starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two detectives investigating a murder of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. Then, crap ensues. I had never laughed so hard during a trailer in a long time. I’m ready!

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The Angry Birds Movie – Ah—a corporate sellout, yay. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids will fall in love with this movie based on the beloved game. I’m pretty sure adults will be bored to death. Just because it features a star-studded voice cast, doesn’t make the movie look good.

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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – Is this really necessary? For someone who kind of enjoyed the first Neighbors (despite the countless dick jokes), nobody asked for a second film. Instead of facing against a fraternity next door, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron battle a sorority. Skipping this one, for sure.

May 27

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X-Men: ApocalypseX-Men is one of my favorite superhero series. X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past both made up for the catastrophe known as The Last Stand by not only bringing back the mutants we know and love, but also introduce younger versions of them (except for Wolverine who is immortal). Bryan Singer returns the director’s chair to direct the younger mutants facing a new enemy. Please don’t be bad…please don’t be bad.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass – Yay, a sequel to the visually stunning yet disastrous 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland. Skip!

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Captain America: Civil War, High-Rise, The Lobster, Love and Friendship, The Nice Guys, X-Men: Apocalypse

Least Anticipated: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Angry Birds Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on several movies for the month of May. Tell me in the comments below on what your most anticipated movies are for the month of May. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of June after Memorial Day. Take care.