Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Suicide Squad

You know, I’ve never read—nor have I ever collected—the comic books from which this film is adapted.  Criticisms of the movie may have to be given to the writers of the comic book rather than the writers of this production.  However, to me, it’s up in the air and whomever the blame may lie upon, you can decide for yourselves.  What I do know is that this film takes place within the constructs of the DC cinematic universe, not only of all the latest DC films but also the ones that will be coming into fruition soon. 


With that said, I’d opted not to see this film when it was released in theaters this past summer.  It had been on my personal watch list, albeit not that high up where I’d really felt the need to see it.  I was hot-and-cold on the news of the production—I’d been excited to see Jared Leto’s own interpretation of The Joker, but the description of the story and what it entailed seemed a little lackluster.  Sure, the trailer showed us that Ben Affleck’s Batman would be making some sort of cameo, but I figured it’d be a very small part of the whole story (and I was right…spoiler alert), but that wasn’t enough to convince me.  Therefore, shortly after this film’s release, I’d made a conscious decision to wait for its distribution onto home media, forgetting about it until I’d seen its availability on Netflix a week ago.


Even as it appeared in my mailbox the other day, I had to push myself to pop it in the machine to finally see this film and decide on whether I’d liked it or not. 


So…did I?  Well…let me break down the synopsis of Suicide Squad first.


A secret government agency, run by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains—Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and Slipknot (Adam Beach)—led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and with minor help from Katana (Karen Fukuhara), to form a defensive task force.  Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse caused by The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).  All the while, The Joker (Jared Leto) thwarts the group every step of the way.


One thing that I’d wondered before seeing this, and while witnessing the first of a few trailers that had been released, was how these villains were going to be put in check and not run off when they were assembled for this group.  Seeing this movie the other night finally answered that speculation and just provoked disappointment from me rather than satisfying my inquisitorial thoughts.  Seems that the writers, producers, comic book authors—whomever—couldn’t think of a better way to solve this without ripping off the John Carpenter classic, Escape From New York.  Yes, the answer was to inject tiny explosive capsules into the necks of each villain—with an identical mechanical hypodermic to boot—and threaten them with the assurance that they’d be killed if they tried to cut and run.  I literally shook my head as this part of the film played out.


Let me go over this group of villains who are apparently needed to form this anti-hero heroic group.


Deadshot seems to be the main character of the group and his talent is that he’s a really good shot with firearms, able to hit the same exact target with micro-precision—we’re talking about hitting the same exact bullet hole over and over again.  He doesn’t have any super abilities, like strength or senses, just the capability to shoot a gun perfectly and accurately.  Deadshot does appear to have some sort of military background, definitely has some sort of combat experience, so he gets a pass on being needed for this team.


The requirement to have Harley Quinn as part of this group puzzled me throughout the whole movie.  She has no superpowers, she’s insane, she’s tied to the recently escaped Joker who’s still on the loose, so I don’t know why she’d be needed—let alone allowed—to be in this team.  Margot Robbie is definitely included here as eye candy for prepubescent boys who’ll undoubtedly be gaga over seeing her in this film, but it’s senseless to include her in this squad.


Diablo has some cool pyrotechnic powers, but reserves them until later, citing his vow to be peaceful and not to lose control due to him killing his wife and child a while back.  It was really getting on my nerves throughout the film when trouble would arise and he just stayed back, not helping the situation.


And speaking of keeping to the background without helping, Killer Croc does NOTHING except follow the group around until—lo and behold—the soldiers need to swim through the flooded sewers to get to the battle zone and he jumps in to show off his super swimming skills.  Sure, he fights here and there, but so do the no-name soldiers you see in these quick-cut scenes.


Captain Boomerang seems wasted as well, not really doing anything throughout this story.  Sure, he throws a few boomerangs, even has a boomerang drone (think of the physics and logistics of how that would work) that he uses to spy on the battle ahead, but besides a few one-liners that fall flat (in fact, ALL the one-liners you hear in this flick are not funny at all), Cap is wasted in this ensemble.


In charge of this group of desperados is Rick Flag, the military leader who keeps the villains in check with the threat of detonating the charges in their necks (which he demonstrates on one of the rogues who has the shortest screen time in superhero movie history).


Of all the characters mentioned, there is not one ounce of chemistry seen between any of them, making anything they say to one another seemed forced and unbelievable.  Some characters go from hating each other to suddenly having a comradery.  Case in point, at the beginning of the film, Deadshot tells Flag a few times that he’s going to kill him when he gets a chance, showing hatred and a determination in his words.  Yet, shortly after, the men are nearly sharing a bromance.  I really didn’t feel anything for these villains, yet I felt the soldiers and the government they’d worked for weren’t any better.  When there are no characters you care for or any heroes you can get behind, the movie usually falls flat…and that’s what happened here with Suicide Squad…at times.


Before seeing this movie, I’d hoped my intuition would’ve been wrong and that it was going to be better than I’d thought, but the film is just a rushed and thinly plotted story that didn’t make sense at times.  For example, Amanda Waller’s reasoning to put this group together was to thwart an attack of an evil entity of Superman’s ilk.   Meta-Humans like Enchantress made sense and so did Diablo, maybe even Killer Croc, but all the other rogues were just humans that wouldn’t stand a chance against something with Superman’s strength.  And wasn’t it a weird coincidence that Waller was pushing for this RIGHT BEFORE the shit hit the fan?  The biggest puzzlement of all—for me at least—was why Batman is nowhere to be seen when the shit goes down in this movie.  After seeing the involvement of Batman during some of the backstories, you’d think he’d be available to help solve this problem that has put the city’s population in danger.  But, no…I guess Batman’s on vacation.


Finally, I had such high hopes for Jared Leto’s Joker and looked forward to his inclusion most of all.  He definitely had some big shoes to fill as Heath Ledger raised the bar so high on that character that I really couldn’t see anybody ever playing the part again.  But The Joker is Batman’s biggest villain and he’d have to be included sooner or later, but Leto’s performance left me a bit flat.  Sure, there were some cool moments—making Alex Ross’s artwork come to life being one of them—but I can’t really accept this tattooed punk-rock star with silver fronts as the new Joker.  I’m sure Leto tried to veer away from Ledger’s performance, but I couldn’t help hear the same vibes and accents in the few scenes we see in this film.  Hopefully he’ll work out the kinks by the time we see him again, perhaps in the standalone Batman movie.


So…may final “bit” on Suicide Squad???


I’m sure on paper this seemed like a good idea—good, not great.  The acting throughout the production was nice and made it feel like it was a comic book come-to-life, especially from Smith, Robbie, and occasionally Courtney.  The stylized way it was produced and directed gave us that feeling as well, but I think all the effort was put into how this film was going to look rather than getting a good story together.  The plot was very thin and wasn’t a very good foundation to place this on top as it seemed like the studio was banking on a huge blockbuster.  Suicide Squad had its moments, but they were few and far between.  If you want to see Will Smith put on a cool costume and shoot guns or if you want to see Margot Robbie walk around in a skimpy outfit as she carried a baseball bat around or if you want to see a few cool special effects—both in CGI and practical—then you might like this movie.  It definitely kept my interest, for I’d wanted to see how it was all going to end, but it left me cold and I’m a little torn on whether I would recommend this movie or not.  I’ll leave you with this: if you want a mindless movie to sit back and eat some popcorn, maybe to keep on as background noise, this is the movie for you; if you want a really engaging film with an intriguing plot, I’d skip it. 


Here’s my bonus “bit” to Warner Bros. and DC Comics…


Warner Bros. and DC: if you’re listening (or reading), you better do something about the quality of these films in your so-called Cinematic Universe.  If Justice League doesn’t fair better, you’re going to have a mess on your hands…and from what I’ve seen of that released footage, it’s not looking too good.  Suicide Squad reminds me of the announcement from Sony a while back, saying they were going to release a Sinister Six film—a film about Spider-Man’s villains grouping together for a standalone movie.  They were smart enough not to do it, why weren’t you?  It just seems you’re trying to keep up with—or even trying to overtake—what Marvel Studios has already accomplished.  Forget them…take your time and do this right.  The more crap you put out, the fewer people you’ll get in the theater seats when you release the following movies of this DC filmic world.


For the rest of you, thanks for reading!


Cinema Bits is on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blair Witch

Towards the end of summer in 1999, a phenomenon hit theaters that featured a very crafty experiment, which became a horror and science fiction staple-subgenre of many movies to come.  The film I’m speaking of is The Blair Witch Project and it brought forth the popularity of the found footage category, becoming a press-stud of horror movies that continues to this day.  Sure, there are quite a few films that predate it which used the same type of classification, like Cannibal Holocaust or The Last Broadcast (which was released a year prior).  But 1999, by all intentions, should be considered the manifestation of the found footage subgenre.
Now, timing had a lot to do with the fame and reputation the film had gained.  In 1999, not everybody had a computer or easy access to the internet, not to mention that it wasn’t as expansive as it is today.  The directors of the film—Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez—used that to their advantage, knowing that they could use it to blow up the film and get the word out by creating a little fake backstory, getting the word out there that this was a true story and the last remaining days and hours of these victims were captured on film that had been recovered as featured in this movie.  Most people believed they were watching a documented film, seeing a snuff flick, witnessing the demise of these three kids…and it was brilliant.  The film—made for around $60,000—reaped nearly $250,000,000 in the box office!  Recalling the release of this film, so many people told me about how frightening it was and how these kids in the film were real people that had gone missing…I admit, I’d believed the story and thought it fascinating, so I was very excited to see it.  However, days before going to see the film, I’d heard it was fake…but it wasn’t a deterrent in the least.
All things considered, I’d hazard a guess to say that this technique wouldn’t work today.  Too many people have technology right at their fingertips…if it was tried today, The Blair Witch Project wouldn’t work...but that’s just a changing of the times…and, of course, my opinion.
One thing that had always bothered me is that the filmmakers never tried to make a direct sequel to the 1999 film to follow up on the made-up story.  Sure, a sequel was released called Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, but that story just dismissed the 1999 film as fiction, using the movie-within-the-movie method; it wasn’t a good film, seemed pretty confusing at times, and is very forgettable.  Now, however, 18 years later, it was finally decided to make a direct sequel to that first film…but before I get into it, let me break down the synopsis of…Blair Witch.
After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James (James Allen McCune ) and a group of friends—Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid), and Peter (Brandon Scott)—head to the forest near the town of Burkittsville.  On the way there, they stop to see the guy who had found the video to get directions to the whereabouts of where he had discovered it.  But the local named Lane (Wes Robinson), gives the condition that he and his girlfriend, Talia (Valorie Curry), must go with them or he won’t give the location.  James agrees and the group soon finds out about the ominous legend of the Blair Witch.
Written by Simon Barrett and directed by Adam Wingard (both of VHS and You’re Next fame), they brought forth a more frightening film than we’d seen in the original.  Yet, the only reason this film can be considered a sequel is because of the reason the group of kids decide to go into the woods—to find his sister Heather, one of the three kids from the original movie.  That’s it…that’s the only tie to the first film.
Now, I’d read that one difference this film has from the original is that it’s totally scripted, meaning the words written on page are what we’re getting from the actors in this flick, and it shows.  The original had quite a bit of realism and that’s because the directors basically told the three kids to go into the woods and improvise their discussions, debates, and dialogues (sorry for the alliteration) with each other.  They were left to their devices at hand while the directors set up situations ahead of time for which the actors would react.  Here, in Blair Witch, you can tell the dialogue was written ahead of time and it really feels like you’re watching a made up movie in comparison.  For example, the surplus of battery power is emphasized quite a bit.  Even my wife—who doesn’t enjoy horror movies and usually reads a book off to the side when I’m watching one—caught that bit of dialogue in this film and called it out right away.
To show off how ahead the world has gotten in technology, the devices used in this new film are way more advanced.  Instead of just a camcorder and camera with film, each friend has a small camera fitted to the side of their heads much like Blue Toothes, they have multiple memory cards to continuously switch them out, and they also have a drone that can hover around to help them get a sense of their direction within the woods.
What’s different about this film compared to its predecessor?  There are some nice special effects that maybe take up a few frames of film here and there with some ideas that have a creep factor of ten.  Will you get to see a witch this time?  I think so…you get to see something, but it’s so quick and shaky that you really don’t know what you’re seeing.  I think it may have been explored in the first film, but in Blair Witch time is messed with and it definitely conveys a sense of hopelessness for the characters.  It even goes as far as dividing some of them, giving some a sense of minutes passing, with others having weeks passing—I thought that was well done.
What’s the same?  Just about everything else.  I mean, you have a group of kids going into the woods and documenting everything with video, they get lost and go in circles, they’re being terrorized by some unseen force, and they end up exactly the same way as the kids in the original film…in the same place and in the same manner.  I would’ve liked some resolution or maybe see the kids get the upper hand on the witch or at least a bit of fight…not the exact same outcome.  I felt it was a bit of a cheat.
If there’s anything that was left with me after viewing this was one plot thread that really never amounted to anything and that was when one of the girls, Ashley, had gotten a big gash on the bottom of her foot when they had to remove their shoes and socks to cross a creek.  After it was bandaged up and the girl regained the ability to keep moving, later we see that she’s wracked with pain every few steps and we hear the sound of some strange crack or something when she uses that foot.  Late in the film, we see the boyfriend unwrapping the foot to check it out and sees it’s clearly infected.  But a quick shot of this shows the wound twitching like there’s some sort of animation going on.  The implication is that the witch had something to do with it, that the girl is becoming infected with some sort of paranormal disease, even seeming like she’s turning into a zombie or something.  However, it all goes nowhere and her demise has nothing to do with the foot’s ailment…in fact, she seems to regain a bit of energy later in the film as she’s able to run and climb a tree.  Nonetheless, this whole plot point went nowhere and left me confused.
Anyway…my final “bit” on Blair Witch?
As a standalone movie, the story is frightening and well done.  The actors and actresses (just a small ensemble of six characters) perform their parts well, giving us a sense of believability even though their dialogue is obviously formulated ahead of time, but the bottom line is that they’re all likable and you’ll end up caring what happens to all of them.   For all intents and purposes, this is a remake of the original film, made a bit better and obviously with a slightly bigger budget.  The new viewers—who’ve never seen the original or who’d thought it was boring—will enjoy this flick; the fans of the original will see it for what it is—a complete reboot of the franchise that’s giving us the same situation and the same (spoiler alert) outcome.  But…it’s still entertaining, will give you some good scares, and it’ll definitely make you think twice about camping out in the woods…again.  I recommend it.
Thanks for reading!
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It’s been a year and true to Disney’s word, we’d gotten our first taste of a movie-a-year after The Force Awakens.  Their claim to release a Star Wars movie each and every year into the foreseeable future has really started this year with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I really can’t wait to get into what I had witnessed this past weekend. 

Now, I had been excited before and while watching The Force Awakens last year, wanting so badly to see what has transpired in the time since we’d seen our favorite characters in the original Star Wars trilogy.  Although there were many characters introduced into this continuing cinematic universe, we were still able to catch up with our favorites interspersed throughout that story and that’s what made that movie special.  Also, the special effects were so much better and not overbearing as how they had been in the prequels of Episodes I, II, and III.  I really hadn’t thought that any of these one-offs I’d heard about would do any better or would interest me, but I knew I’d see them nevertheless.

When word had gotten around about the story of how the group of Rebels was able to steal the Death Star plans and deliver them to Princess Leia, basically the one or two sentences from the opening crawl of Star Wars: A New Hope, I thought it was genius!  Yes!  That’s what they should do!  Tell the stories of what is mentioned in these opening crawls!  Right away, I knew they had a hit on their hands.  If done right, and without George Lucas’s need to overbear the audience’s senses with hordes and hordes of special effects, this film could be a great intro to the original 1977 film!

Were they able to accomplish that?  Well…let’s get into it with a plot breakdown…

A defected Imperial scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), is brought back to The Empire after being in hiding to help engineer a weaponized space station called the Death Star—an intergalactic armament powerful enough to destroy a planet.  Imperial death troopers led by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), force Galen to come back after his wife, Lyra (Valene Kane) is killed by them.  With Galen’s daughter, Jyn (Beau Gadsdon), hiding, then left to be raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), he ends up with The Empire and is forced to work on their dreaded weapon.  Years later, with the help of an adult Jyn (Felicity Jones), a rogue team from the Rebel Alliance—Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) with his reprogrammed Imperial droid, K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), the blind combatant Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his comrade Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), along with others—fight to find and steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Right from the start, I’ve heard and read mixed reviews about this story, although most of them have been positive, and I’ll say that this review will be on the upper end of the positive spectrum.  What director Gareth Edwards did here was brilliant and meticulously done, giving us something on the level of the original trilogy.  Yet, Rogue One was not designed to gel seamlessly with the other movies much like The Force Awakens had done, but something Edwards can boast as creating something very standalone-ish. 

What was different than your typical Star Wars movie?  Well, just like The Force Awakens you’ll notice that there is no 20th Century Fox fanfare that plays and shows before we see the text, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” but that’s just because of the ownership switching from that studio to Disney Studios.  Actually, that wasn’t very noticeable.  What was very obvious here was that after that text shows up, we don’t hear the John Williams score we’re so used to hearing in the beginning of every episodic film we’ve seen so far.  No, in Rogue One, we go from that simple blue text into the movie—no trumpet-blasting heroic music, not even an opening crawl to explain what has happened since Episode III.  Since John Williams was not involved with this film, it’s understandable and I can commend Edwards and the actual composer of this film, Michael Giacchino, for going against the predictable way of just reusing the themes from Williams (although there are a few cues here and there) and composing his own motifs throughout.  The music is very fitting and exciting at times; I can almost say that I’m glad they decided to go with a different composer on this film.

With The Force Awakens, the one complaint I’d heard many people make was that the story was just a retread of A New Hope and I can see the points that some people had made.  I can also side with J.J. Abrams on how they’d played it safe to get the franchise back on track, having faith that they’ll give us something great when they continue the saga with Episode VIII.  Here, however, the story is very original (although already given to us in a few lines of text in A New Hope’s opening crawl) and energetic, giving us a story we can follow along and see where it’s going.  If you’re a big Star Wars fan, you may be able to guess how it’ll all end, but it’s epically told and brings you to the edge of your seat, wondering how it’ll all come together.

As you may have heard, you’re going to see a lot of very familiar faces—some blended into the story perfectly, one or two forced in just for the nostalgia—and that’s what makes this a Star Wars movie and one that sets a feeling of familiarity once it starts.  Although the Episode I through III trilogy had familiar characters that were known in the Star Wars canon, it was set a bit too far back in time, leaving you guessing if the characters you were seeing were actually the ones you were familiar with.  In Rogue One, you know who you were seeing, whether you knew the names or not, because this story literally takes place right before A New Hope and characters you see here will be the exact same ones you’ll see in the 1977 film.  Some of them—or one in particular—was brought in painstakingly and it works so well (not going to spoil it).

Let’s be honest, the acting in this film will not gain any attention from the Academy, but it’s all believable enough that you’ll really feel like you’re going through the turmoil they’re all facing.  You’ll feel their adventure as they travel throughout these different worlds and be pleased or saddened by what ensues in their journey.  Identifying with their characters felt straightforward because each one has their own persona and identities, both in their ways and their looks.  The main group of our heroes is very diverse and it helps us recognize them when they’re on screen.

Here, in this film and out of all the Star Wars films, you’ll see the most realistic action out of all the films in the cinematic franchise.  Unlike the other films, where there are some storm troopers that get shot up quickly and the heroes move on, the battles here take time but are action-filled.  You really get a sense that the heroes are having a hard time with their quest and you may even feel some doubt that they’re going to succeed.  For the first time, you really get a true sense of the Death Star’s power, up close and personal, seeing it from the victims’ perspective.  Instead of seeing the space station sending a large laser blast to blow up a planet, you actually see what everyone on the planet is seeing or even an overhead close-up of the destruction.  All in all, this film may be a little more violent with a lot of lives lost and devastation seen all around.

I can’t help but go over this as a big Star Wars fan, but I can see how this would play out to the casual viewer if they watch Rogue One as a standalone movie.  It definitely can work that way as well as a way to introduce anyone who hasn’t seen the original trilogy (though, I can’t believe no one has ever seen them). 

Now, I’d mentioned a bit about what we see with the Death Star’s capability for destruction, but that’s not where the awesome visuals stop.  All throughout this film, you’re going to see giant spectacles, great use of motion capture technology (Tudyk’s K-2SO was magnificent) , X-wing and tie-fighter battles like never before…there is so much digital eye candy in this film, you’ll have to see it a second time just to take it all in.  We’re also introduced to a few new worlds, as well as some familiar ones, and it’s just a great sight to see.  Where George Lucas failed—forcing in the obvious CGI-laden worlds that ended up looking so distracting—Disney, with the help of Gareth Edwards, prevailed. 

One semi-spoiler—but if you’ve seen the trailers, you’re aware of this already—is that the inclusion of Darth Vader was amazing and really made up for his weak appearance in Revenge of the Sith.  Oh, he’s evil here…bad ass and scary, making you fear for the fate of anyone who goes up against him. 

I can go on and on about this film, but let me just give you my final “bit” on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

As a preface to my whole opinion—it is a must for you to watch this film before viewing A New Hope.  After watching this film, I believe the episodes should be renumbered—this movie being Episode IV, A New Hope as V, Empire Strikes Back as VI, Return of the Jedi as VII and The Force Awakens as Episode VIII…that’s how well Rogue One fits into the whole series.  All the characters are likable and create such great chemistry together; it’s hard to believe, especially seeing as how they don’t have much time in the story to connect.  Overall, I was amazed and enthralled, and I can’t wait to see this again.  I highly recommend that you all see this, Star Wars fan or not.

Thanks for reading!

Cinema Bits is on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coming Attractions of 2017

Coming Attractions of 2017

As we near the end of 2016, per tradition, I usually check out the exquisite internet web site of IMDb.com to peruse the upcoming films that are slated for the forthcoming year.  So, going down the list, I’d noticed that we’ve got some exciting titles that have many people chomping at the bit, others that I personally want to see, and further films that will leave you impartial in your feelings.

To clarify, some of these movies on the list are surprising to me and leave me doubtful that they’re actually going to be released on the date listed, just for the fact that we haven’t seen a trailer or any news regarding its production or release.  But I’ll make sure to indicate those films when I get to them.

So without further ado, let’s get right into this long list.

1. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Release date: 01/27/2017)

Now, this franchise has seemed to be an unrelenting series of films and I don’t know if I can take the title of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter seriously.  Is it going to be just like the earlier Friday the 13th franchise or the more recent Saw series, where they announce a finality only to continue at a later date?  Time will tell, but I’ll tell you right here and now that I’ll probably skip this one and wait for it to show up on DVD.  I really haven’t been impressed with any of the sequels that followed the excellent first film and I think this will just fall in line with what we’ve seen already.

2. Rings (Release date: 02/03/2017)

I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth that had been the sequel to the original The Ring movie.  That film should’ve been the death of the franchise, yet here we are a few months away from Rings.  A reboot…? Sequel…?  Prequel…?  The trailer didn’t thrill me, the idea isn’t exciting, and I really have no desire to see this when it arrives in theaters come February of 2017.  But we’ll see…maybe it’ll reap some rave reviews and I’ll give it a looksee.

3. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Release date: 02/10/2017)

Okay, so here we are with the first film on this list that I’m excited to see—John Wick: Chapter 2.  John Wick was a pretty impressive movie that through me for a loop, due to the title and the star of the film not rousing any interest from me.  After seeing it on home media, I’d really wished I had witnessed this in a movie theater with loud sounds and a huge screen to catch all the action.  I’m looking forward to seeing Keanu Reeves kick some ass in this next chapter.

4. Logan (03/03/2017)

Well, this is going to be a record set where I don’t think any other actor will break any time soon.  Hugh Jackman will play the character of Wolverine for a ninth and final time (so he says—but I’m thinking he’d love to go toe-to-toe with Deadpool if asked to do so).  A lot of comic book geeks (such as myself) were waiting for a Wolverine film such as this one—an R-rated no-holds-barred depiction of the comic book character based on a successful comic book run.  If done right, this could be Jackman’s swan song of the Wolverine character, having him go out perfectly and retiring him for good.  The trailer shown and the production photos posted by the director (James Mangold) are great works of art…let’s hope the film will be as awesome as it’s boasted to become.

5. Kong: Skull Island (03/10/2017)

Continuing the rebooting trend we’ve been witnessing for years, Kong: Skull Island is just around the corner and is another film I’m patiently waiting for its release.  A couple of years back it was announced that we are going to see the pitting of two monumental monsters on screen—Godzilla and King Kong.  After the success of 2014’s Godzilla, proclamation of a versus-type film came to be and it was exciting at first.  But then many fans began asking the question whether this would be a fair fight.  Godzilla, in the 2014 American film, is approximately 350 feet tall; the last depiction of King Kong had him at around 50 feet tall.  Knowing that was going to be problematic for the upcoming versus film, this film was made to show him as a taller—yet still smaller than Godzilla—incarnation of the King Kong legend.  The trailer, to me, seems like a modern telling of the story, much like the 1976 film, but I think we’re going to get something pretty terrific here.  I’m stoked for this one.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (05/05/2017)

The surprise hit of all the Marvel Studios movies was one that I hadn’t thought much about until I finally saw it in 2014.  I wasn’t familiar with the source material and had thought it was a weird choice to continue on with the universe that had been going on with the run of superhero movies that led to The Avengers.  Someone knew what they were doing—maybe Joss Whedon displaying some of his pull with the studio execs—but that movie was a major hit and I’d agreed wholeheartedly.  I’m looking forward to seeing what other adventures these misfits find themselves in and how it might fit into the whole string of films we’ve seen so far.  Nevertheless, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is looking to be a big hit for the blockbuster season of 2017.

7. Alien: Covenant (05/19/2017)

Though I wasn’t too thrilled with 2012’s Prometheus, I’ll give the sequel, Alien: Covenant, a chance.  Whereas Prometheus seemed to be a standalone movie by Ridley Scott (up until the end anyway), the sequel looks to welcome the tie into the Alien world.  I’m very curious to see what had happened after the events of the last movie and where it goes from here.

8. Wonder Woman (06/02/2017)

Let’s be honest, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was sort of a disappointment, right?  All the hype that we’d heard and seen from Zack Snyder—the leaked photos especially—made all the fanboys drool in anticipation only for it to be sort of a downer (with or without the extended edition cut of the film).  But there were some winning aspects of the film—two to be exact—and that was Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman and the inclusion of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.  She seemed to have a lot of fun with the character and it was nice to see the character finally making it to the big screen, but it’ll be even better to see her in the standalone film, Wonder Woman.  I’m just wondering if anyone will refer to her by that moniker.

9. The Mummy (06/09/2017)

As I write this, the world has already been treated to a teaser trailer of The Mummy just a couple of weeks ago.  I can’t help but think of how the last franchise went, sadly ending with the terrible The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, so seeing another film being made doesn’t really float my boat.  Even with the presence of Tom Cruise in this film, I don’t think it helps much.  The trailer actually feels more like a Mission: Impossible film than a classic horror remake, with Cruise inexplicitly surviving a plane crash waking up in a morgue…weird.  But Cruise usually can’t do wrong in the parts that he chooses to play, so I’ll probably take a chance on this.

10. World War Z 2 (06/09/2017)

Now we haven’t heard much about this film and, at this point, I’m not sure if this is a solid date for World War Z 2.  No doubt, they’re going to make this film as the first one was quite successful and left open for a sequel (as most zombie films are apt to do), but I’m just a little leery as to the date posted in IMDb.com.  With only Brad Pitt listed in the cast and seeing that there hasn’t been a teaser trailer or production news posted about this film, I’m thinking we’re going to be waiting a little longer for this sequel.

11. Spider-Man: Homecoming (07/07/2017)

Without hesitation, I can say that this is the film I’m most pumped about!  Being a lifelong fan of all things Spidey, I’ll always slap down my money to see a live-action movie based on my favorite comic book hero.  Although I’d hated the two Andrew Garfield turns as the wall crawler, Sony made things right by making a deal with Marvel Studios to share the character in upcoming films.  Now, the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming was pretty cool, giving us some awesome moments and heroic imagery, but it doesn’t give too much detail on what the plot is going to be about—but that’s okay, I want to have some surprises given to me when I go see this.  Already teasing that they’re going to be doing some special tweaks to the character (the webbing that attaches from his arms to his sides), I’m just hoping we’ll get an entertaining film this summer.

12. War for the Planet of the Apes (07/14/2017)

I’ve always been somewhat of a fan of the whole Planet of the Apes franchise.  I love the first film—even as it’s reaching 50 years old—as well as its sequels, and even enjoyed the critically panned Tim Burton film.  I had my doubts when they’d announced (sometime in ’08 or ’09) that they were going to start up the franchise again but would only be using CGI apes rendered with motion capture technology.  However, the final product in 2011 that was given to us was superb, the sequel released in 2014 was exciting, and now I’m looking forward to the continuation of the series with War for the Planet of the Apes!  The trailer, just released not long ago, shows us just enough to get excited and the ape rendering is even more detailed than before.  This film is definitely on the top of my list of films I am going to see in 2017.

13. The Dark Tower (07/28/2017)

Since high school, I have been an avid reader of Stephen King books, buying every paperback and hardcover I can get my hands on.  Even before that, I’d been aware of—and had seen—many films based on King’s works.  Myself, I have a large collection of films adapted from his books on DVD and Blu-Ray and will always watch anything new in theaters, television, or straight-to-home-media.  One journey I had taken a few years ago was reading “The Dark Tower” series of books which had five books published when I started and had two more published while I was into it.  There has been an eighth book published since then and I’ve yet to crack open that one…but I will.  I’ve always thought the story would be tough to get on screen as a movie since it’s such a long story, but it looks like it’s going to finally happen next summer with The Dark Tower.  With the interesting casting choice of Idris Elba to play “The Gunslinger” and Matthew McConaughey as “The Man in Black,” I’ll be right there ready to take that journey all over again.

14. Annabelle 2 (08/11/2017)

All these haunted horror movies that seem to blend all into each other (this film with the Insidious and The Conjuring franchises) don’t really thrill me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some entertainment value to them and a few scares here and there, but for the most part…eh.  I’d just finished The Conjuring 2 a few weeks ago and it left me blank, not really moving me or scaring me.  Usually a movie based on true events might freak me out a bit, but from what I’d read about the real story, sounds like it was a proven hoax.  Hollywood, however, will film it anyway, adding crazy special effects and insane situations that’ll earn the film some high ratings and garner quite a bankroll.  So it’s no surprise that we’re getting the sequel, Annabelle 2, next August.  Though I probably won’t see this in theaters, I’m sure this film will bring in the teens to see it to try and get a good fright.

15. It (09/08/2017)

The other Stephen King adaptation is actually a remake of sorts.  With the original film being a 1990 TV movie that cut back on gore and violence, only leaving it implied as the film cut away from it, was still a creepy showing that earned Tim Curry horror movie fame as Pennywise the Clown.  The new reboot, It, is looking good however, already posting the first image of the new Pennywise as a gangly creepy clown.  Though we’ve yet to see a trailer as I write this, the movie’s already looking to be scary…man, I hope so.

16. Friday the 13th (10/13/2017)

I can easily say that the Friday the 13th franchise is my favorite horror movie series of films.  At the commencement of every summer season, I watch every single film in the series as a way to celebrate the warming weather.  Seeing as that the films take place around a summer camp or vacation spot, I find they’re the perfect films to watch on a warm night.  So here they are again, looking to reboot the franchise once more.  I’m hoping they get it right…even if they don’t, I’ll be right there trying to enjoy it.

17. Insidious: Chapter 4 (10/20/2017)

I won’t say much about the release of Insidious: Chapter 4 except to say that my views of Annabelle 2 are just about the same as this one.  The first, second and third one didn’t do anything for me so I don’t see myself heading out to the theater for this one.  Eventually I’ll see it…but in the comfort of my own home.

18. Saw: Legacy (10/27/2017)

Well, this is not surprising at all…the only thing surprising about Saw: Legacy is that it took this long to get right back into another movie.  If horror movie history has taught us anything is that any movie that has “the final chapter” in the title will definitely continue in sequels sooner or later.  It’s hard to believe that nearly seven years have passed since we’ve seen a Saw film.  Not much has been said about this upcoming flick—no plot synopsis, no confirmed cast list, no poster art…nothing.  But guess what?  I’ll venture out for this one…I’m sure there’s more story to tell.

19. Thor: Ragnarok (11/03/2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is a movie I’m exciting about.  But…I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled with the two Thor films we’d gotten before this one.  I’m not a fan of the mythical aspect of the character and his world, nor had I been a collector of the comic books that the franchise is based upon.  The one aspect of this upcoming movie is the fact that it’s going to be a team-up of Thor and Hulk.  To add to that, there may be some elements of “Planet Hulk” within this film, so that’s an exciting possibility if you’re a comic book geek like me.  Yes, this is a big one, folks, so make sure you’re all caught up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe before going out to see this one.

20. Justice League (11/17/2017)

Finally, we have Justice League slated to be released in mid-November.  Though an official trailer hasn’t been released, from what I see—only a small sizzle reel that was put together for the San Diego Comic Con—I’m not impressed with it.  Ben Affleck’s interaction with Jason Mamoa seems dumb, even the little jokey scenes with Gal Gadot seems forced, the only saving grace is the part we see when Affleck’s character of Bruce Wayne meets Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) for the first time.  All of it, however, seems silly and I’ll have to reserve my judgment to when I finally see the finished product on screen.  But I’m not impressed.

Well, that’s the twenty upcoming films of 2017 I’ve decided to comment and give my views on, based on their trailers and/or hype.  I'm sure there are some I'd missed, namely the newest trailer for Bladerunner 2049 which looks pretty awesome.  I’ll be sure to return here to give my views when I finally see the official releases in theaters or on home media.

Thanks for reading!

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