An assassin with a heart of gold (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has less than 24 hours to live, so she uses her finite time on the planet to take down as many of her enemies as she can.
That's the elevator pitch for "Kate," and despite some stylish action, this is an all-too-familiar thrill ride devoid of any real thrills...a film that will remind you of other films but that doesn't quite rise above any of them.
Since "Avengers: End Game" in 2019 and the pandemic that would follow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been mostly a slow-burn...much of the excitement has shifted away from cinemas to at-home Disney+ series like "WandaVision," "Falcon & The Winter Soldier" and "Loki," with the MCU having started to set the stage for its "Phase Four." The only theatrical MCU film since "End Game" has been "Black Widow," a movie that chronologically took place back following the events of "Captain America: Civil War," so it feels like forever since the movies have actually propelled us forward in any major way towards whatever the MCU might have in store upcoming.
With "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," the Marvel origin-story formula is palpable, but while it fails to launch us forward into the teased "multi-verse" that we know is around the corner, it introduces one of the coolest, original characters the MCU has seen in quite a while: Shang-Chi. Unlike the TV shows that have introduced possible "new" versions of The Falcon, Captain America and Loki, Shang-Chi and the artifacts known as the "Ten Rings" feel fresh, and they open up new possibilities for the MCU at large.
Are there any comedies that movie studios are willing to green-light anymore, that don't star Ryan Reynolds?
Since his starring role in 2016's "Deadpool," Reynolds has been one of the hottest comedic commodities in Hollywood. But is the Ryan Reyn-aissance starting to over stay its welcome? One might begin to think so, judging by his latest romp.
"Free Guy" is part "The Truman Show," part "The Matrix" and part "Groundhog Day," with not even one pixel of the same creative spark or ingenuity of any of these films. It aims low and succeeds in hitting its target, I guess, but with a little care, "Free Guy" could have been so much more.
The DC Comics Cinematic Universe (DCCU) is always playing catch-up to its way cooler, much more interesting big brother, The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thus far, it's been a dark and dreary go: Films from "Man of Steel" all the way through the ludicrously loud and over-saturated "Wonder Woman 1984" have experimented with different tones and angles, and none have really worked all that well in crafting a cohesive universe.
So instead of re-inventing the wheel, writer/director James Gunn takes a previous formula and shakes it up a bit, and it's a pretty delicious concoction. While the new "The Suicide Squad" shares a name with the 2016 "Suicide Squad" film, it is actually a closer spiritual cousin to "The Guardians of the Galaxy" films...films that Gunn knows all too well, since he wrote and directed both of them.
In making "The Suicide Squad," its inhabitants and the universe they exist in way less serious than most every other DCCU movie to date, he basically creates a bloodier, more comically violent anti-version of "The Guardians of the Galaxy" films, and in doing so, he brings something to the DCCU that it has yet to experience: A sense of FUN.
If you are already predisposed to hate Disney and all that the mega-conglomerate stands for, the new "Jungle Cruise" is bound to rub you the wrong way. It's an over-stuffed, over-produced chaotic romp, that just seems to be full of excess (and CG) around every corner. However, with Emily Blunt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at the center of the mess, their friendly chemistry is just barely able to keep "Jungle Cruise" from straying completely off-course.
If you don't know your Flints from your Dukes, your Scarletts from your Lady Jayes, or your Snow Jobs from your Beach Heads, then you might overlook "Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins" as just another throw-away action-franchise wanna-be. But for fans of the original "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" cartoon series, this new film is packed full of content that will have you brimming with nostalgia-fueled joy.
Yes, despite the cold critical response it's received thus far, "Snake Eyes" could very well be the start of something special: A cinematic universe that at least has the depth of characters and storylines to eventually go toe-to-toe with Marvel, with albeit a smaller but much more fervent fan-base.
The first "Escape Room" film dropped with little fanfare back in January of 2019. But the low-budget teen-friendly horror film - capitalizing on the growing popularity of "escape rooms" across the country - was a modest hit, grossing over 150 million worldwide, having been made for under 10 million.
It's star, Taylor Russell, was relatively unknown - and she still is - but Russell is an absolute A-list star in-the-making (mark my words). Her likability and talents raised that first film above other throw-away teen horror films, and her continued presence in this sequel has elevated "Escape Room" to one of the most unlikely, yet entertaining, original IP franchises-in-the-making in recent years.
Finally, a movie that actually IS cool, instead of one that keeps desperately insisting so.
"Gunpowder Milkshake" is not without misfires, but it creates one hell of an explosion of fun.
It's not all "Black Widow"'s fault. This long-awaited Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) feature film was supposed to have reached theaters back in May of 2020, but well...you know. Had there not been a pandemic, this movie would have seen release just under one year after the Phase Three final chapter, "Avengers: Endgame." And while the additional year of waiting has perhaps allowed us to enjoy the Marvel Disney+ TV shows a bit more ("WandaVision," "The Falcon and Winter Soldier" and nearly all of "Loki"), most Marvel fans are getting increasingly impatient as they await some forward traction with the over-arching story.
And while "Black Widow" is supposedly the first feature-film of Marvel's Phase Four, it doesn't feel like it. It does finally give Scarlett Johansson's beloved Black Widow character time to shine, a scene-stealer who has to this point just been a team player, appearing throughout other hero's films as one of two (along with Hawkeye) human Avenger members. But her new stand-alone film feels like it could have been released five, or seven years ago...a good but not great Marvel film that feels disappointing only because fans - I'm assuming - are chomping at the bit for things to move on from "Endgame."
"The Forever Purge" is the fifth and supposedly final chapter in the Purge franchise, and it has a lot of big ideas it looks to tackle. The saga has expanded its world since the first 2013 film, which took place all at one house. In subsequent chapters, we got to see a wider perspective of the annual 12-hour killing holiday known as "The Purge," where all crime - including murder - is made legal, an outlet which has apparently made America a better place.
The scariest part about "The Forever Purge" is how it tackles some real-world issues, albeit clumsily, presenting a dystopian version of our country that - in the wake of the 1/6 insurrection - doesn't seem all that far-fetched. For the first time in the saga, the events depicted feel like something that could actually happen...it's too bad that the film didn't take a smarter overall approach.
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