2017 Summer Movie Preview: August

This is it! It’s officially August, which means the summer movie season is about to come to a close. This also means this is the last time I’ll talk about what has yet to come out during the summer until next year. Unsurprisingly, this has been a pretty decent summer for movies. I might not have seen every single one of them, but there have been some fantastic ones (War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk), some bad ones (The Mummy, Okja), and ones I’m glad I skipped. Without further ado, let’s talk about the movies that are coming out in the slowest month of the summer.

August 4

dark_tower_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Dark Tower – Based on a fantasy series by the marvelous Stephen King, this movie stars two talented actors—Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Elba’s Gunslinger must prevent McConaughey’s Man in Black from the Dark Tower, hoping to save mankind. This has been in the works for a while. J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard considered to direct the continuation of King’s series before Nikolaj Arcel (writer and director of The Royal Affair, and writer of the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) took over. This might be okay if it was much longer than 95 minutes, so—the audience can discover the world Stephen King created. I’m skeptical with this one.

detroit_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Detroit – Kathryn Bigelow has come a long way from directing the awesome 1990s action film Point Break. Now—she joins the likes of Paul Greengrass and Peter Berg with work on the gritty realism of the Iraq war in The Hurt Locker. She beat her ex-husband James Cameron for winning Best Picture and becoming the first woman to win Best Director. Bigelow continues her route with Zero Dark Thirty, the true story of the NAVY seals killing Osama bin Laden. With Detroit, she—along with writer Mark Boal—depict the miserable riots of the city that happened fifty years ago. From the looks of this, I see some powerful stuff. Will this be an Oscar contender? I’ll just have to wait and see.

kidnap_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Kidnap – Halle Berry’s career has gone downhill after Oscar win for Monster’s Ball. Not to my surprise, this looks like a generic action thriller about a mother trying to save her son from getting kidnapped. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hardly makes any money at all. Moving right along.

wind_river_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Wind River –Taylor Sheridan has crafted one of the best screenplays of last year with Hell or High Water. It features sheer intensity and characters with a razor-sharp wit. Wind River is his directorial debut; receiving positive reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen star as two agents investigating a murder of a Native-American girl in the most remote area in the United States—Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. Co-starring Gil Birmingham (who also starred in Hell or High Water and—yes—as Jacob’s father from the Twilight saga), I cannot wait for some end-of-summer thrills.

August 11

annabelle_creation_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Annabelle: Creation – The popular Conjuring franchise opened up with an eerie scene where two girls are being interviewed about their Annabelle doll being possessed by a spirit. Following a terrible prequel/spin-off featuring the ventriloquist doll and a fantastic sequel to The Conjuring, Lights Out director David F. Sandberg brings the audience back how Annabelle actually came to be. This is the Annabelle spinoff everyone might be asking for! None of that cheap crap! Just pure atmosphere!

nut_job_two_nutty_by_nature_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature – I haven’t seen the first film, and have no interest in seeing that or the sequel. Next!

glass_castle_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Glass Castle – Brie Larson is becoming one of the best actresses working today. From winning an Oscar for the emotionally powerful Room, letting bullets fly in Free Fire, and about to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel, is there anything she can’t do? Star in another (seemingly) powerful indie drama, alongside Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson, based on the bestselling memoir of Jeannette Walls, growing up with three other siblings in and out of poverty.

only_living_boy_in_new_york_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Only Living Boy in New York – While this might have a great cast (Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Cynthia Nixon, and Pierce Brosnan) and a talented filmmaker (Marc Webb) attached to it, but I felt absolutely nothing watching the trailer. It might go the same route as this year’s Gifted. Pretentious and manipulative. I’m skipping this one.

trip_to_spain_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Trip to Spain – Following The Trip and The Trip to Italy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back for yet another hilarious trek through Spain. While I haven’t seen the other two films, the trailer for this one made me laugh quite a bit. I might give these films a shot.

August 18

hitmans_bodyguard_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – How can one not love Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson? Even if they star in an action-comedy together? Being in the middle of car chases and shootouts as they defeat a dictator, played by no other than Gary Oldman? I’m hoping this will be a good laugh-out-loud, shoot-‘em-up thrill ride.

logan_lucky_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh is back in the director’s chair four years after Side Effects and Behind the Candelabra. He has brought back his roots of Ocean’s Eleven in this heist movie about two brothers pulling a heist during a NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has a talented cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, and Daniel Craig. While he’s no 007, it looks like Craig is having a blast here, along with his cast-mates. Definitely looking forward to this one!

patti_cakes_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Patti Cake$ – This…looks…like it would be pretty good. I’m not the biggest fan of rap music, but I do enjoy movies having to do with rap music, such as 8 Mile and Straight Outta Compton. I have vaguely heard of it when it premiered at Sundance. This seems to be another movie about chasing one’s dreams, a theme in which I have come to admire during the past year. So—I’m in for Patti Cake$.

August 25

tulip_fever_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Tulip Fever – This movie been pushed back from July 15 of last year to the last week of August. I was interested in seeing it, due to the brilliant cast including Academy-Award winners Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz. But now—I couldn’t care less. It just looks so dull and barely any flavor.

bushwick_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Bushwick – Another film coming straight from Sundance. The awesome Dave Bautista stars in this futuristic tale as a war veteran joining sides with a Brooklyn resident (Brittany Snow, Hairspray and Pitch Perfect) to take down militia units. Why? Because Texas to secede from the Union and claim New York City as a negotiation tool. While the concept is intriguing enough and it looks intense, but it looks standard—more or less.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Annabelle: Creation, Detroit, The Glass Castle, Logan Lucky, Wind River

Least Anticipated: All Saints, Kidnap, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, The Only Living Boy in New York, Tulip Fever

I hope enjoyed reading my thoughts on what has yet to come out in the month of August. Please feel free to leave a comment on what your most anticipated movies for this month are. I appreciate each and every one of you reading my thoughts on the biggest summer blockbusters as well as some independent films. I’ll definitely do this next year. Stay tuned for that, as well as other content on this blog.

 

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Movie Review: The Conjuring

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Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) notices something going bump in the night in James Wan’s 2013 successful horror film The Conjuring.

Horror seems to be getting tiresome nowadays. They rely more on cheap scares and gore instead of an eerie atmosphere. Enter James Wan. Two years after directing the sleeper hit Insidious (made on a $1.5 million budget), he uses his tricks to tell the true story of a haunting in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Seeing The Conjuring two years ago in theaters (and again just recently on DVD), this is what horror movies are all about.

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are two of the most well-known paranormal investigators in the world. In 1971, before tackling the horrors in Amityville and Southington, Connecticut, they hear about bizarre occurrences in Harrisville witnessed by Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lily Taylor) and their five daughters—Andrea (Shanley Caswell), April (Kyla Deaver), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and Nancy (Hayley McFarland). The terror includes the clocks stopping exactly at 3:07 every morning, Carolyn waking up with bruises, and Christine feeling her legs being tugged. The Warrens agree to help the family to get rid of this entity. However, this investigation might require an exorcism.

It’s rare for the MPAA to give a horror movie an R-rating for being scary as hell. Yes, it does have the horror clichés such as a family moving into a house where evil lives and seeing things that nobody else sees. Wan knows how to conjure up each scene—pun intended—with just enough tension and atmosphere with his use of point-of-view shots, brief tracking shots, and little to no CGI whatsoever.

With a good cast, Farmiga and Wilson’s portrayal of the Warrens are the heart and soul of the movie. Lorraine has a gifted power to see what she can only see. In one scene, Carolyn is putting up one of her family photos. Lorraine gets her hand on the frame and sees an image of the family spending the day at the beach. “It’s an insight…it’s like a peek through the curtain into another person’s life,” she says to Carolyn as to wondering how she knew. It’s as if God brought the couple together for a reason, as Lorraine says to her husband.

As surprisingly touching as The Conjuring is, it also has a lot of creepy images. The movie opens up with the 1968 investigation of the Annabelle doll. Even though she’s a Raggedy Ann doll in real life, she’s a ventriloquist doll in the movie (one of James Wan’s horror trademarks since Dead Silence). Two young women keep seeing a message saying “Miss me?” written with a red crayon. It’s impossible not to get shivers sent down your spine. It’s a shame that the scary doll made an appearance in a disappointing spin-off. There’s also a dead body hanging herself on a tree, a maid with her wrists slit (“Look what she made me do.”), and Lorraine making her investigation in the basement. This movie is nothing but good old-fashioned horror; a breath of fresh air. This is a franchise to pay attention to for years.

4/4

Top 5 Worst Movies of 2014

Better late than never.

Another year has come and gone. It’s time to share my picks for the best and worst movies of 2014. This past year was a strong year for movies. It had its fair share of surprises and disappointments. However, I haven’t seen a lot of bad movies, so movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction and Into the Storm won’t be on this list. But there were only five of them that I wasted two hours from my life. Let’s get started at the bottom of the barrel.

But first, some dishonorable mentions:
The Judge
Lucy
Unbroken

Dumb-and-Dumber-To-2-Brady-Bluhm-Billy-4C5. Dumb and Dumber To – I’m glad Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels came back playing the two dimwitted friends going on another misadventure. The previews made it look like it would be good for a few laughs. The first twenty minutes or so were really funny, but it started to go downhill from there with too much toilet humor and not much heart. Some of the things that Harry and Lloyd do are quite mean. For instance, pushing strangers into a bush. This is much better than the Farrelly brothers’ atrocity known as Movie 43.

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4. Hercules (the version starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Brett Ratner) – It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. There is some fun in this movie. The action is not bad. Dwayne Johnson does put a lot of muscle into the title role. Brett Ratner does a lousy job giving lame one-liners, horrible effects, and ridiculously forced flashbacks involving the murder of Hercules’ wife and children. For those who have sacrificed their time with The Legend of Hercules, I think you’re better off watching this version, despite the fact that it’s not very good.

jack-ryan-motorcycle3. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Remember this movie from January of last year? It was originally going to come out on Christmas of 2013, but it got pushed back a few weeks so it wouldn’t interfere with the release of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. I like Chris Pine. I like Kenneth Branagh. But this is a waste opportunity of being an origin story of Jack Ryan. Riddled with plot holes, shaky action sequences, and Pine playing a clumsy hero, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is forgettable.

annabelle_12. Annabelle – For someone who thought The Conjuring was the best horror film in recent memory, I was looking forward to seeing how one creepy doll terrorized a happy family. When James Wan introduced Annabelle in that movie, I knew I was in for a scary good time at the theater. I thought if there would be a movie featuring this creepy ventriloquist doll. When you hire the director of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation putting his hands on this project, do you think this will be any good?

Absolutely not!

Even though there are some eerie moments in the film, it focused on way too many jump scares. Almost to the point where it becomes silly. This is the biggest disappointment of 2014, but it’s not worse than #1.

Sums up how I feel about this movie.

Sums up how I feel about this movie.

1. A Million Ways to Die in the West – If there is a scene involving one of the characters taking a dump in someone’s hat before a gunfight, you know this Western satire won’t turn out to be any good. From Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, Ted), A Million Ways to Die in the West is an unpleasant cinematic experience on every level. With an all-star cast featuring Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, and Liam Neeson, it feels like the movie is written by a teenager trapped in a man’s body. Everyone in this movie is vulgar and stupid, the jokes aren’t funny, the violence is surprisingly graphic (i.e. a man getting crushed by a big block of ice – YUCK!), and the heart is nowhere in site. I rather watch Blazing Saddles than this pile of garbage.

I hope you like my picks. Feel free to leave any comments on what are some of the worst movies you’ve seen in 2014. Stay tuned for my list of the ten best films of 2014. Take care.

Movie Review: Annabelle

Annabelle

Mia (Annabelle Wallis) hears something going bump in the night in “Annabelle”, the cash-grab prequel to “The Conjuring”

In honor of Halloween, I’m going to review Annabelle, which I finally got the chance to see in theaters.

For someone who thought The Conjuring was a breath of fresh air, I wanted the prequel to be as good. James Wan did a terrific job setting up a horror tale that had old-fashioned scares, an eerie atmosphere, and a story that looks realistic. When he introduced Annabelle, the creepy ventriloquist doll, I knew I was in for something frighteningly good. I wished for a spin-off on the doll.

The movie got made, and unfortunately, it gets everything wrong that The Conjuring got right.

John and Mia (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis) are a happy couple living in Santa Monica. They are expecting their first child. John gives Mia a doll to fit in with the rest of her collection. One night, Mia wakes up and hear a scream from next door. After calling the police, their home gets invaded by two people who are part of a satanic cult. They summon an entity named Annabelle that starts to drive the family bonkers.

I have to admit that Annabelle has very few eerie sequences. Including one where Mia walks up the staircase to find drawings, which she assumed it was by some child. However, as she keeps walking up the stairs, she sees something frightening about them. They consist of her seeing her baby in the baby carriage getting run over by a garbage truck. It conjures up some effective foreshadowing. Other than that, it relies way too much on jump scares than the overall atmosphere. It gets annoying to the point of being funny.

I just want to ask: Why would someone leave a creepy doll in a room where the baby is going to sleep? What a disappointment on every level!

1/4

Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies For the Rest of 2014

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Although it’s a shame that summer is almost over, I couldn’t get more excited about the fall. Leaves starting to change, starting a new chapter in life, and looking forward to seeing some movies that might get Oscar nominations. This summer managed to meet and exceed audience’s expectations. I’m hoping 2014 will end on a high note. Here’s my list of my top 20 most anticipated movies for the rest of the year:

The Hobbit 3

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, and Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by Peter Jackson
Opens December 17

Gone Girl

2. Gone Girl
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosmund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry
Directed by David Fincher
Opens October 3

Interstellar

3. Interstellar
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Opens November 7

Foxcatcher

4. Foxcatcher
Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Michael Hall
Directed by Bennett Miller
Opens in selected theaters November 14

Nightcrawler

5. Nightcrawler
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Ann Cusack, and Bill Paxton
Directed by Dan Gilroy
Opens October 31

rosewater

6. Rosewater
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Kim Bodnia, and Jason Jones
Directed by Jon Stewart
Opens November 7

Birdman

7. The Birdman
Starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, and Naomi Watts
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Opens in selected theaters October 17

The Judge

8. The Judge
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, and Billy Bob Thorton
Directed by David Dobkin
Opens October 10

Unbroken

9. Unbroken
Starring Jack O’Connell, Jai Courtney, Garrett Hedlund, and Alex Russell
Directed by Angelina Jolie
Opens Christmas Day

The Equalizer

10. The Equalizer
Starring Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas, and Bill Paxton
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Opens September 26

Winter Sleep (Kis Uykusu)

11. Winter Sleep (in Turkish: Kis Uykusu)
Starring Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sozen, Demet Akbag, and Serhat Mustafa Kilic
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Opens in selected theaters December 19

The Skeleton Twins

12. Skeleton Twins
Starring Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ty Burrell, and Luke Wilson
Directed by Craig Johnson
Opens September 12

Big Eyes

Tim Burton directing his latest biopic “Big Eyes”

13. Big Eyes
Starring Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Terence Stamp, and Jason Schwartzman
Directed by Tim Burton
Opens Christmas Day

Wild

14. Wild
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gabby Hoffmann, and Michiel Huisman
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee
Opens in selected theaters December 5

Fury

15. Fury
Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Scott Eastwood, and Shia LaBeouf
Directed by David Ayer
Opens October 17

Bradley Cooper American Sniper

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper”

16. American Sniper
Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, and Kyle Gallner
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Opens in selected theaters Christmas Day; everywhere January 16, 2015

Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice"

Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”

17. Inherent Vice
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, and Owen Wilson
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Opens in selected theaters December 12; everywhere January 9, 2015

The Theory of Everything

18. The Theory of Everything
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson, and David Thewlis
Directed by James Marsh
Opens November 7

Annabelle

19. Annabelle
Starring Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodward, and Eric Ladin
Directed John R. Leonetti
Opens October 3

Exodus - Gods and Kings

20. Exodus: Gods and Kings
Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley
Directed by Ridley Scott
Opens December 12

There you have it. I hope you enjoy my picks. Leave comments below on what movies you’re looking forward to this fall.