Must every intellectual-property (IP) succumb to the Marvel formula?
If you like your characters bland, your dialogue snarky and your battles meaningless, then you'll love "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," a movie that wants you to like it so bad, that it actually hurts.
Review: 'John Wick 4' a poetic, imperfect final chapter that goes down swinging for the fences
"John Wick" was the unlikeliest of box office successes when it hit theaters nearly a decade ago (2014). Since then, the franchise has become a beloved IP for Lionsgate, grossing nearly 600 million at the box office. "John Wick: Chapter 2" (2017) expanded the world of John Wick, with secret societies of assassins and some mythology to go along with its non-stop action. "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parrabellum" (2019) wasn't quite as interesting, but it delved into this universe even further.
Each chapter has nearly doubled the gross of the previous installment, and that brings us to the highly-anticipated "John Wick: Chapter 4," a movie that would feel like a fitting end to the saga, if we didn't already know that they're planning a "John Wick: Chapter 5" as well as a spin-off film, "Ballerina," and a live-action series based on the hitman hotel and safe-haven, "The Continental."
Amazingly, "John Wick: Chapter 4" in absolute ground-breaking achievement in action cinema, the most confident and gloriously-rendered installment yet. It has many, many problems, but the good outweighs the bad - perhaps just barely - and if you've followed John Wick this far, there's no way that you'll feel disappointed by his latest adventure.
If an AI ChatBot were to write and direct a superhero movie, I'd imagine it would turn out exactly like "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." A movie so generic, that it was actually painful to watch.
Director Guy Ritchie has made a career on style. His latest film, the full-titled version of which is "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre," has plenty of it...the problem is that the script is a complete dud. This renders its talented ensemble useless, each desperate to breathe life into this dead-on-arrival crime-comedy-thriller, but each - save Hugh Grant - being held back without ever getting a chance to shine.
The result is a movie that feels like it should be cool but isn't...a movie so high on its own supply that it becomes grating, not charismatic, the longer it slogs on.
Review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' an ambitious forward plunge for the MCU
Despite my first-ever job being in a comic book store, I am by no means a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) slappy. Don't believe me? I gave less-than stellar reviews of each of the last three installments - "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," "Thor: Love and Thunder" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."
And with "Ant-Man" in particular, I haven't necessarily been a fan (read my reviews of the first "Ant-Man" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp" here).
That's why I'm happy - more like pleasantly surprised - to report that I really liked "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," the 31st MCU film overall and the first of the so-called "Phase Five" of Marvel movies.
There has been a huge void in the "quality" department ever since "Avengers: End Game" wrapped up the Thanos saga in 2019. Sure, the pandemic had something to do with the MCU feeling completely stalled out in recent years, but it isn't an excuse that makes up for the mediocrity we've been served up - with a few exceptions - over the past few years.
And this newest movie is imperfect to be sure, but FINALLY - after years of subpar films and countless Marvel series on Disney+ since 2019 - the MCU finally gets some forward traction, with one of it's most compelling villains yet, Kang the Conqueror.
And suddenly, I'm interested again in where the MCU is headed.
***Mild Spoilers Ahead - Read With Caution!***
Review Round-up: Gerard Butler's 'Plane,' new documentary 'My Father Muhammad Ali'
This weekend, the big theatrical release is "Plane," starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter. Then available On Demand is the new documentary "My Father Muhammad Ali."
Read on for reviews of both new films!
It has finally arrived.
The long-awaited sequel to what had at one time been the #1 box office movie of all-time, Avatar, is now in theaters...and I'm happy to say that it's been worth the wait.
***MINOR PLOT SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***
It is completely possible to hold two thoughts in your head at the same time...a less-than-positive review of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" - which is forthcoming - does not take away one iota from the fact that the late Chadwick Boseman was and is one of the most iconic, talented cinematic presences of his generation. Nor should it take away the impact or the historic importance of the first "Black Panther" movie, and what it means to millions of its fans across the world.
The loss of Boseman is felt deeply, and in "Wakanda Forever," it resonates through to the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), who are mourning the loss of Boseman's character, Black Panther himself, the King of Wakanda, T'Challa.
But while the movie draws strength and motivation from his lasting legacy, it throws the amazing fictional nation of Wakanda under the bus, in an attempt to build up a new emerging (submerged?) nation, Talukon. The result is an over-serious, over-stuffed MCU film that never is quite able to sustain the emotional weight of its first 15 minutes.
If there was ever a stereotype for what a superhero comic book would be, there's a good chance that the word-bubbles with the sounds "Whiz!", "Bam!", and "Pow!" would be included in that cliché. And if there was ever a stereotype for what a superhero comic book MOVIE would be, just refer to "Black Adam," the latest swing-and-a-miss from the flailing DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU).
"Black Adam" does it all, in that it is definitely a superhero movie. It looks great, and contains plenty of slick CG, action and fighting. But sadly, it is as hollow as they come, a film where neither the protagonist or the antagonist is all that interesting. It's everything you think a superhero movie is, but in the day-and-age of Marvel movies (or even the stellar DCCU film from earlier this year, "The Batman"), audiences require - heck, deserve - more than what The Rock was cookin' with "Black Adam."
When did superhero movies stop being fun?
Review: 'Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank' a blazing samurai story puts Mel Brooks back in the saddle
If you don't already love Mel Brooks, first off, what the hell is wrong with you? I'm not sure we can even be friends. One of the few living legends of Hollywood, Mel Brooks is both featured and revered in the new absurd yet hilarious family animated offering, "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank." It's an absolute gas - especially for those that know and love Mel Brooks, specifically his iconic 1974 spoof, "Blazing Saddles," a movie that could never, ever be made today. Or if it was, it would end up looking a lot like "Paws of Fury."
The genius of "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank," is that the creators have managed to essentially remake what is now considered to be a "politically incorrect" classic, under the guise of a simple kiddie flick, and miraculously, it works for both children and adults alike. It's subversive, but comes with a positive message of inclusion. It's risky (trust me) but includes lots of laughs for young ones.
It's a surprise, but "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" is one of the funniest movies of the year, one of the best animated films of the year, and is one of the best new IPs (intellectual properties) that has come along in several years (considering the characters and the world that is created).
And oh yeah, it also features Mel Brooks who lends his voice to one of the characters.
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