Wednesday, February 28, 2018

If You Love 'Game Night' Stick Around for the Stinger

It is early into 2018, but Game Night is still one of the most delightful surprises of the year. It is the first genuinely funny comedy since last summer's The Big Sick. Unlike most of the dreadful comedies of the last several years, this one has likable characters, a cheerful spirit, and earns its emotional moments. It was nice to see a movie that avoided cynicism and actually has affection for its main characters.

Of course, I successfully covered all this in my review on this past Monday's The Movie Breakdown podcast episode. But my review did have one significant failing, I forgot to mention that the movie has a final scene after the end credits. I usually like to add to things in my review that I think will be helpful for listeners/readers like if a movie is worth being seen in 3D (this movie is happily only in 2D) and if there are any stingers (the name for the scenes that happen after the credits finish).

I forgot to mention the stinger in Game Night's, which is my latest reminder why I need to have notes during the show or why I need to push myself more to have my written review done before recording. It is a shame that I forgot to mention the stinger, because it is one of the better ones of the past several months.

If you dig the humour and tone of Game Night, then it is worth sticking around to the end of the credits. It has a pay-off to two of the movie's running gags and gives a scene to two of the minor characters. It is a fun and lighthearted scenes that delivers a final punchline to two of the movie's great long-running jokes. 

Definitely a comedy worth checking out in the theatre and make sure to stick around to acknowledge all the people that worked hard to actually deliver a funny movie and enjoy a stinger worthy of the movie. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Annihilation', 'Game Night', 'Mute', and 'Irreplaceable You'

The Movie Breakdown is rocking out four movie reviews for new 2018 releases. The big one is Alex Garland's follow-up to Ex Machina with his sci-fi thriller starring Natalie Portman in Annihilation. We also have our first theatrical comedy of the year in Game Night. From their we have Duncan Jones' latest sci-fi thriller in a movie he has been working on for over a decade in Mute. We also discuss the romance picture aiming for tears in Irreplaceable You. Then we look at the success of Black Panther and analyze what studios should learn from the picture being a huge hit. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to all big movie fans.
Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Movie Breakdown Outline:

1:14 Annihilation review
16:42 Mute review
33:33 Game Night review
50:46 Irreplaceable You review
1:01:00 What should studios learn Black Panther's box office success?  
1:18:10 Review Rundown

Movie Star Ratings:

Annihilation *** (CS)
Mute *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
Game Night ***½ (CS)
Irreplaceable You * (CS & SM)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri', 'The Return of the Living Dead', 'The Ritual', 'Love Per Square Foot', 'Seeing Allred'

It is a special mid-week episode of The Movie Breakdown, and we are serving up five new movie reviews. We dig deep into the vault as we review a movie that Scott has been hankering to discuss since we started the podcast in the very influential bloody zombie horror comedy, The Return of the Living Dead. We also review the Best Picture frontrunner, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Then we review three new Netflix originals including the stuck in the woods horror, The Ritual, an Indian romcom in Love Per Square Foot, and the documentary Seeing Allred. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Movie Breakdown Outline:

1:10 The Return of the Living Dead review
20:00 The Ritual review
30:22 Love Per Square Foot review
42:31 Discussion of Steven Seagal and his awful generic action movie titles
47:31 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review & Scott gets distracted by scouring for crap
1:02:06 Seeing Allred review
1:11:35 Review Rundown

Movie Ratings:

The Return of the Living Dead *** (CS & SM)
The Ritual ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
Love Per Square Foot **½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ***½ (CS)
Seeing Allred **½ (CS) & *** (SM)

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Black Panther', 'Early Man', 'The Cloverfield Paradox', 'When We First Met', and 'The Post'

It is a huge episode of The Movie Breakdown this week with a review of one of most anticipated movies of the year, Black Panther. This is a major movie for Marvel, and we have a lot to say about it. From there, we look at Aardman Animation's latest animated adventure, Early Man, plus the Best Picture nominee The Post. We also got two Netflix originals this week including the sci-fi thriller, The Cloverfield Paradox and the romantic comedy, When We First Met. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Movie Breakdown Outline:

01:37 Black Panther review
22:09 Early Man review
32:51 The Cloverfield Paradox review
47:21 When We First Met review
1:02:34 The Post review
1:17:19 Review Rundown

Review Rundown:

Black Panther ***½ (CS & SM)
Early Man *** (CS & SM)
The Cloverfield Paradox * (CS & SM)
When We First Met ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
The Post **** (CS)

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Breakdown of Romance - 'Roman Holiday', 'The Shape of Water,' Barefoot in the Park', 'Say Anything', 'On Body and Soul' Plus 'Winchester' and 'The 15:17 to Paris'

We have a jam-packed episode this week with a show that we are calling The Breakdown of Romance. In honour of Valentine's Day, we will be reviewing five romance pictures this week. We look at a classic and the film that introduced Audrey Hepburn to American audiences in Roman Holiday. It is long overdue but we will be finally reviewing the best picture nominee, The Shape of Water. We will also look at the adaptation of a Neil Simon play in Barefoot in the Park. From there we look at Cameron Crowe's directorial debut in the teen romance Say Anything. Finally, we review the Hungarian picture, On Body and Soul. It doesn't end there, as the January movies came a month late as we review new releases Winchester and The 15:17 to Paris. We also pay a quick tribute to composer, Johann Johannsson. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Movie Breakdown Outline:

01:06 Remembering Johann Johannson
06:56 Roman Holiday review
19:55 The Shape of Water review
31:16 Barefoot in the Park review
44:20 Say Anything review
57:45 On Body and Soul review
1:08:13 Winchester review
1:17:12 The 15:17 to Paris review
1:36:46 Why do critics who despise a franchise stick with it to the end?
1:39:18 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Roman Holiday ***½ (CS) & **** (SM)
The Shape of Water ***½ (CS)
Barefoot in the Park *** (CS & SM)
Say Anything ***½ (CS) & (SM)
On Body and Soul *** (CS & SM)
Winchester *½ (CS)
The 15:17 to Paris * (CS)

Friday, February 09, 2018

Movie Trailer Review Round-Up Featuring 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom', 'Deadpool 2', 'Venom' and Even More

I haven't done trailer reviews in a long while. I will not be able to say that tomorrow.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25/Wide):

I've had a shockingly low level of excitement for the latest Star Wars movie considering that I am a massive fan of this world and the last three movies have had prominent spots on my best of the year. Part of it is that I just don't think we need a Han Solo prequel, another is being bummed that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are no longer attached, and the other major things is the longer they held off that initial trailer then the more that I started to believe this movie was a disaster. Well, the trailer doesn't usher in the apocalypse, but it really felt flat. This looks like a science fiction adventure that would be an enjoyable summer movie time diversion that just so happens to have the Star Wars name. Except that name means that I don't expect a diversion but rather a jaw-dropping grand event picture. There are call-backs to the older Star Wars movies, but you erase those, nothing here looks especially spectacular or exciting. They are getting a crew together to pull off some kind of heist, which I've seen a million times before, except this time we get a giant space octopus too. Of course, I will still be there opening night, and one huge positive is that Donald Glover looks awesome as Lando Calrissian and I know he will be a scene stealer.

Deadpool 2 (May 18/Wide):

As expected, the marketing campaign for this has already been a blast. This trailer does a good job of being funny and entertaining but also capturing the tone and personality of the movie perfectly. Or what I assume will be the tone and personality judging off the first movie. I love that we have had a few ads already and none of the plot has been spoiled other than we know Cable is in it, and that was revealed in the original's stinger. Also excited to see Zazie Beetz get a big role as Domino, as I loved her in the very great FX series Atlanta (starring, written and directed by Donald Glover). It also has brought back everyone who was great and still alive from the first movie (including the very fun taxi driver), and it really does seem to have kept the energy and humour alive. I'm convinced that Deadpool will make my best of the year list for a second time. I also like that it seems to have gone bigger without feeling bloated and I trust the story will still remain intimate and personal rather than Deadpool saving the world.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22/ Wide):

If you want proof that studios' current obsession with franchises and knocking out sequels as quickly as possible is a problem then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the smoking gun. I'm satiated on my big dinosaur fix from the 2015 movie, which I liked but did not leave me hungering for a sequel. The story this time seems to be Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard returning to the island to rescue the dinosaurs while also needing to deal with a meddling, greedy corporation, which I can't shake as a plot echoing the awful The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The other big selling point is that the evil corporation has created their own monstrosity, except wasn't that already a major thing in the last movie? So, we are recycling stuff not just from the original trilogy but what we just saw in 2015. While I seem down on this movie, I will definitely be seeing it on the big screen and the visual do look spectacular. Any year is a good one for some big monster mayhem.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (July 27/Wide): 

Finally, we get a sneak peek at the movie that force Superman to have a CGIed upper lip. Considering how Justice League turned out and how consistent the Mission: Impossible franchise has become for over-the-top fun stunt-filled action, I would say it will be worth it. Tom Cruise is one of the biggest stars in the world and I would still claim he is underrated when it comes to what he brings to a movie and how much he throws himself into each role. Mission: Impossible has become such a great thrill ride because not only are their fun twists, a great dose of humour, but the action sequences stand out with stakes and are immersive. So many of the big event movies rely on CGI to pull of the massive action set pieces, and I know that still plays a part here, but so much of the action is exciting because it is practical and real stunts. On top of that, it is often Cruise throwing himself into these stunts. The action alone is enough to have me sold on this movie but the story is usually pretty fun too. It is great to see Rebecca Ferguson back and looks like we will have the mix of adversary and ally flip flopping between her and Ethan Hunt again. It is also really cool to see Michelle Monaghan return as she was a love interest in a few of the previous movies but disappeared in Rogue Nation. Of course, Angela Bassett will be awesome, and who doesn't want to see Superman vs. Hunt? Put this down as one of the movies that I am confident will deliver this summer.

Game Night (February 23/Wide):

Get ready for this. . . we have a mainstream comedy coming up and it looks like it might even deliver a few laughs. I honestly did not know that a comedy that make you laugh was still a thing that they did, so that is nice. It kind of reminds of a more comedic and violent version of David Fincher's The Game, except this time --- spoiler -- it looks like a real kidnapping or crime has been committed. Though a trailer would want me to think that, since the end of the movie reveal is more fun to find out when watching the actual movie. The movie's directors, t5gJohn Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, are the same duo that gave us the not very good Vacation remake, but they also wrote the script to the very fun, Spider-Man: Homecoming, so I'll be optimistic that they are improving. Plus having Rachel McAdams back in a comedy is golden and she plays off Jason Bateman in a funny but believable way.

Skyscraper (July 13/Wide)

It is Die Hard in a large building. . . oh wait. It is Die Hard in a large building that is on fire. Or Die Hard meets Towering Inferno, so it is copying hits from two different decades. So, it isn't an original idea but there is a reason why so many action movies copy the Die Hard formula, because it is one of the all-time classic action movies. When it is done well, it really works and it is a lot of fun. Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic stars in Hollywood, and he elevates almost anything he is in, unless it is called Baywatch. Luckily, this is called Skyscraper, and this looks like it is well-aware that it needs to be a big, over-the-top, goofy action movie. It looks like a pretty standard plot, but Johnson is having fun and a few of the action sequences provide chills.  There isn't enough one man must jump through flaming hoops and battle an army of goons to save his family movies, anymore, and so that glaring hole is filled this summer..

Mute (February 23/ Netflix):

This looks like a noirish, twisty, sci-fi thriller with a visual palette and skilled cinematography on par with Blade Runner 2049. This is exactly what I want from director Duncan Jones who made the fantastic Moon and Source Code, but had a giant misstep with the disaster that turned out to be the bloated and confusing WarcraftThe movie looks to be character driven and dripping with deep emotion with Leo the bartender trying to protect the girl that he loves from some unsavory types. It feels intimate but is also filled with interesting characters and well-choreographed action sequences. The type of sci-fi thriller geared towards adults that we would have got on the big screen 30 years ago, I also am intrigued by Paul Rudd who looks to be going against type by not being the comic relief but rather a complicated and darker character. I've heard rumblings of this movie for almost two years, and this movie along with Black Panther and Annihilation is making February a great month for sci-fi action.

Life of the Party (May 11/Wide):

I was pretty nervous about this, because I love Melissa McCarthy and she has been hilarious in Paul Feig helmed pictures like The Heat and Spy, but has mostly been irritating when she teams up with her husband, Ben Falcone. I am sure he means the best for his wife, but his writing and directing credits include Tammy and The Boss, movies that are unflattering to McCarthy. This time we get an updated version of Back to School with Melissa McCarthy replacing Rodney Dangerfield with that alone really changing up the style of humour and pace of the movie. I actually found myself laughing and enjoying this one. McCarthy had a few fun gags like her awkward interaction with her daughter's friends, talking to herself in the mirror and the introduction of her "Vagoogle." The slapstick here actually was well-timed too, so against my better judgement, I am looking forward to this one now. Will this be a year filled with comedies that make me laugh or am I setting myself up for harsh disappointment?

Venom (October 5/Wide):

There are fans whining that there was no appearance of Venom is this trailer. By now you should know my stance on that, trailers are to make you anticipate and get the appetite ready for the cinematic main course. If I had my way, we wouldn't see Venom until opening night, but that won't happen. This was just a teaser and he will likely be all over the second trailer. I do love that acting heavyweights like Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams bring their great skills to a comic book movie, but I really hope Williams gets to do more than worrying girlfriend. This movie is nowhere near my anticipation list and I am still not totally on board with Sony's attempts to create their own comic book universe. We get a Spider-Man villain without Spider-Man, which I still feel is pretty lame. I do look forward to being proven wrong and this winning Best Picture next year.

Monday, February 05, 2018

The In-Depth and Spoiler-Filled Breakdown of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

It is a special episode this week that we are calling An In-Depth and Spoiler-Filled Breakdown of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We plunge deep into analyzing The Last Jedi with major scenes and moments thoroughly discussed. We look at major things like the evolution of Luke Skywalker, the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, the implications for the next movie, the surprising death of major characters, and of course, the prominent fan backlash (spoiler: we think it is ridiculous). If you are a Star Wars fan then this is the show for you. A major warning though, as the title indicates, this episode is stuffed with spoilers and it is best if you have already seen the movie. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

An Optimistic Preview of February Theatrical Movie Releases

2018 at the movies has been a success so far, if judged by the low expectations in January. The month of February has some highly anticipated big pictures being helmed by very exciting filmmakers with Ryan Coogler's Black Panther and Alex Garland's Annihilation. While Paddington 2 was one of the most delightful and uplifting movies that I've seen in a long time, the high caliber of family entertainment may continue with the stop-motion animated feature, Early Man. There is a lot of reasons to expect 2018 to really be an exciting year at the movie theatres and February has several of them.

To keep that optimism alive, I am offering up a preview of all the big movies set to be released in February and offer up reason why to be excited for each one.

Winchester (Feb 2): It is a once in a lifetime experience being able to be Helen Mirren battle ghosts with the power of architecture.

A Fantastic Woman (Feb 2): An understated drama about love, loss and mistrust coming from the director who gave us the beautiful Gloria, which was Scott's number one movie of 2014.

15:17 to Paris (Feb 9): There is justified concern over how you make a movie out of a minute long moment of heroics, but it is coming from the director that gave us great movies like Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Pale Rider, plus there is the intrigue of the real life heroes playing themselves.

Fifty Shades Freed (Feb 9): This should be the last one.

Peter Rabbit (Feb 9): Paddington 2 was a terrific movie about a CGIed animal based on a children's book series, and this movie has a CGIed animal from a children's book series too.

Black Panther (Feb 16):The importance and progressive nature of this movie reminds me of last year's Wonder Woman, which turned out to be one of the best blockbusters of the year. Plus this also has an incredible cast that includes Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, and Forest Whitaker playing in a gorgeous new world directed by one of the most exciting new filmmakers, Ryan Coogler.

Early Man (Feb 16): Aardman Animation are established as one of top studios with their gorgeous stop motion clay animation. The usual charm, humour and adventure looks to be here in full force with the story of a tribe of cave people encountering an army from the Bronze Age City.

Samson (Feb 16): For two hours, there will be a decrease in links to Fox News articles posted on Facebook.

Annihilation (Feb 23): Alex Garland brought us the thought-provoking sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence taking on human form in Ex Machina and now he tells the story of Natalie Portman taking a team that consists of Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok and Creed) and Jennifer Jason Leigh into a land that defies the laws of nature and is full of big scary monsters. This looks to be the movie that I wanted from Alien: Covenant.

Every Day (Feb 23): The terrific Angourie Rice is being given a star vehicle.  Romance pictures have become a rare enough breed on the big screen that they now feel like fresh alternatives. This has a pretty unique concept of a teen girl falling in love with a being that transforms into a different person every day.

Game Night (Feb 23): We've all been there, a night of playing board games gets a little competitive leading to people getting killed. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star in a comedy that actually looks like it might earn a few big laughs.

January Defies Expectations of Being the Movie Dumping Ground Month

The long held belief of most movie critics and fans is that January is the month the big movie studios dump their trash. It is the month that has given us movies like Movie 43 and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. I feel the reputation of January is unfair as it is also the month we tend to get some more ambitious genre movies that get passed up the rest of year. We've also been given notable movies like Split and Kung Fu Panda 3. Unfortunately, it is also the month that I most often get at least two or three candidates for my worst of the year. Except this year, where I did not have to suffer through a single disaster on the big screen.

We even got a contender for the best of the year already, and even if it doesn't make my top 10 of 2018, it will remain as one of the most uplifting, funny, cheerful and energetic movies of the year in Paddington 2. It is a great kick off to the year when you have a wonderful movie for the whole family and it makes you want to dance your way out of the theatre.

In a low expectation month, it is a win when you can recommend a second movie and 12 Strong is a formulaic but strongly directed and acted war action movie. Chris Hemsworth proves he is a true movie star and has a great performance, and he is able to bring the emotional punch with his strong relationships and chemistry with Michael Pena and Navid Negahban. It is a movie that celebrates its war heroes and doesn't dig into deeper themes like a Platoon or Apocalypse Now, but as an uplifting action movie it is a solid time.

I couldn't full on recommend the other theatrical release this past month, but they all did decent jobs within their genre. Lin Shaye is a powerful lead in Insidious: The Last Key and the picture works as a nice bit of closure for its fans. Den of Thieves and Maze Runner: The Death Cure are over long, dragged down by clichés, and not as poignant as they believe, but both has some great action sequences. If you want some more ridiculous but fun over-the-top action then you'll be satisfied with The Commuter.

Unfortunately, movie watching wasn't as pleasant on the laptop as all the Netflix Originals missed the mark this month. Part of the problem was I had really high expectations for movies like The Polka King and A Stupid and Futile Gesture, but neither reached their potential. There was also a movie that delved into the awful with the unscary and convoluted horror movie, The Open House. The best of the Netflix bunch in January ended up being the cliché comedy that heavily borrows from many early 2000 movies but at least had some charm in Step Sisters.

One other noteworthy movie was not an official 2018 release but went wide this month in the directorial debut for Aaron Sorkin, Molly's Game. The script sizzles with smart dialogue and the story is really elevated with a fantastic performance by Jessica Chastain.

As a helpful guide, here are the January 2018 movies I reviewed along with their star rating and a link to my reviews.

1. Paddington 2 ***½
2. 12 Strong ***
3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure **½
4. Den of Thieves **½
5. Insidious: The Last Key **½
6. The Commuter **½
7. Step Sisters **½
8. A Futile and Stupid Gesture **
9. The Polka King **
10. Blockbuster **
11. The Open House ½*

I also reviewed a few movies from previous years.

1. Molly's Game ***
2. The Climb ***
3. Happy Hunting **

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Going to Grandma's House: Evidence that Danika and Everett are Very Different People

My two children are very different. Most readers could probably have figured that out for themselves considering Everett is a boy and Danika is a girl. Plus Everett is now six years old (slow down buddy!) and Danika is turning three in March. But the big differences are their personalities and how they handle situations. Danika is extremely outgoing, passionate in everything she does, and always tries to have cookie instead of dinner. Everett prefers one-on-one time, is self-reflective, and will try almost any food.

I could write a book on the differences in my children. I think one of the best examples is a weekly event that both my kids have experienced often: going to grandma's house. Before Everett started going to school, he would go to grandma's house once a week so I could get more writing done. Now, this is a regular ritual for Danika. It usually has worked with grandma coming to the house to pick them up, so I put in the car seat and buckle up the kids.

While I am eager to blow a kiss and say good-bye so I can get to work, I am also known to be "chatty' and will get distracted while talking about something with my mom. My kids on the other hand, are excited to get playing at grandma's house.

If I got talking too long with grandma while Everett waited in the car, he would usually look up at me and quietly ask a question.

"Why isn't grandma driving?"

This was his passive way of letting daddy know that it was time to stop talking and for grandma to take him to her house. I would usually chuckle and then off he would go.

Danika's approach has proven to be a bit different.

"Daddy! Stop talking!" This is followed with her hand being thrusted towards my face to make sure I know it is the moment to be silent. Then she shoots here arm towards grandma.

"Grandma! Drive!"

So, off they go. At least with Danika, I never have to guess what she is thinking or wants.