Somewhere along the line, the "Kingsman" films stopped being fun.
When "Kingsman: The Secret Service" debuted in 2015, it was one of my favorite films of that year. It was a vibrant comic-book movie (of which it is based), but one meant for adults. It was surprising, violent, funny and cool...a spy-action-thriller that wandered close to satire, walking a line between James Bond danger and Austin Powers buffoonery. It kicked-ass. And its director, Matthew Vaughn (who ironically directed "Kick-Ass") was on a roll, having also hit a home run with "X-Men: First Class."
The sequel was inevitable, and when "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" came in 2017, I called it a "soul-crushingly disappointing sequel." It was not good...not good at all. It starred Elton John , which should pretty much cue you in.
Even still, I was cautiously optimistic for "The King's Man," a film promised as a prequel to the original movie. It was long-delayed, first scheduled to hit theaters in November of 2019 before being pushed back due to the pandemic and a bevy of other reasons. Over two years later, it's finally here, but this is one that should have been kept permanently on the shelf.
With great power (i.e. advanced knowledge of what happens) comes great responsibility (like not to reveal even the slightest spoiler).
Here's what I CAN say: "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is finally hitting theaters...it is the third full-length Spider-Man film featuring Tom Holland as Peter Parker...and it picks up where things left off at the very end of "Spider-Man: Far From Home," with the world discovering the real identity of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
***NO SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW, OTHER THAN WHAT IS SHOWN IN THE ALREADY RELEASED TRAILERS FOR THE FILM***
"Encanto" is Disney's 60th full-length animated feature, and one of the only ones to not feature a typical "villain." It works, instead centering on the idea of family and community, drawing its drama out of a young girl's inward exploration of how exactly she fits into her eccentric family.
Anyone with a family (dysfunctional or functional) will relate to the themes of "Encanto," and while it feels different than most other Disney animated films, it's another successful entry into the studio's massive canon of films that will appeal to the young and old alike...and is also a wondrous celebration of Colombian culture.
More of a remix than a reboot, "Ghostbuster: Afterlife" definitely taps into the correct vein that made the original 1984 "Ghostbusters" such a roaring success, and such a beloved movie. It opens up the franchise for a new generation of kids, while simultaneously offering plenty for parents and old-school fans to chew on.
But while nostalgia alone might be enough for many who call themselves fans of "Ghostbusters," this latest effort is just another unfortunate reminder that, seemingly, there are no new ideas left in Hollywood. They've resorted to attempting to resurrect intellectual properties that are clearly dead and gone, literally relying on ghosts of the past to fuel their financial futures. In that spirit (pun intended), "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is running on fumes and is to the original "Ghostbusters" what "The Force Awakens" is to the original "Star Wars" film: A new cake baked from the same old ingredients.
(Minor spoilers to follow...minor! Promise!)
Movie reviews for films like "Clifford the Big Red Dog" are a bit pointless...like, who is this for? The target audience for the movie (children under the age of six or Guantanamo Bay prisoners) are not going to be checking RottenTomatoes to see if this is a film worth checking out. Is a negative or (gasp!) a positive review of this film going to deter parents from taking their young ones to the movie? Most likely no. So for real...what's the point?
If you're a parent, you likely have more access and insight to "kids movies" than the average movie-goer who only gets to see what comes to multiplexes...most of those without children have never experienced or explored the depth of the unlimited amount of movies aimed at young children that can be found in the dark abyss of streaming sites like Disney+ or Paramount+. So there is a BIG difference between a "good" kids movie and a terrible one...we've all seen both. The best kid movies are able to keep the attention of a young child, and at best, offer a valuable life lesson about friendship, family, teamwork, compassion or love. At worst, this kind of film is still watchable by children, but will make parents want to gouge their eyes out. Because let's face it: Children will watch almost anything, especially with a bag of popcorn and some candy on their laps.
It was considered an odd choice by many, when director Chloé Zhao named "Eternals" her follow-up to her 2020 Best Picture Oscar winner, "Nomadland." Zhao - up until now - had only dealt in small, character-driven movies, so helming a massive Marvel movie didn't seem like the right fit. After watching "Eternals," you can definitely understand what drew Zhao to the film, but her lofty ambitions to bring truth and humanity to the sheer enormity of a comic book movie such as this ends up being a fool's errand.
"Eternals" is the largest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film to date in scope and aspiration, and that's why its failure on several fronts feels like such a colossal belly-flop.
Talk about a sight for sore eyes. "No Time to Die" - the 25th overall James Bond film and the fifth (and final) one starring Daniel Craig as 007, was originally slated for theatrical release nearly two years ago, back in November of 2019. It was delayed into February of 2020 and then into April...and on and on, finally landing in theaters this weekend.
The film was delayed for so long, that some of the in-movie product placements had to be updated...you can't have Bond traipsing along using outdated tech, can you? But now that it's finally here, we're reminded of the charm and the allure of this character, that has persevered for nearly 60 years on the big-screen. He's a timeless hero, tweaked for the times.
"No Time to Die" has an epic feel to it, with some stellar action sequences, gadgets and thrills like we've come to expect from the franchise. It has its shortcomings for sure, but by and large, this is a Bond film that was worth the wait.
Of the many Marvel properties that have been translated into movies, Venom has by far been the worst adaptation. His cool look jumps off of the page, but on screen - when added with his ridiculous voice - Venom has thus far been a mess. He's neither funny nor scary, and he's one of the least compelling comic book characters going.
Suffice it to say, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is a catastrophe from head-to-toe...it's a tonal nightmare featuring characters with very little depth and given very little to do. The first "Venom" film was a success (the comic book character, created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie, is among the most popular of all the Marvel characters since first appearing in 1988), which means that this sequel was inevitable, but "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to "superhero" movies, let alone Marvel films.
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.
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