To say that the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" film is the best video game movie of all-time might seem slight...after all, movies based on video games have not exactly had a great track record (only five of the 49 video game films ranked on RottenTomatoes have a "Fresh" rating, and even those are questionable choices). But it actually was a surprisingly delightful film, made even more saleable with the pitch-perfect casting choice of Jim Carrey as the evil Dr. Robotnik.
We all went into the first Sonic film with the lowest of low expectations...not just because it was another video game movie, but there was the whole backlash over how the original version of Sonic was rendered (when an image was released, fans revolted, and Paramount Pictures went back and redesigned Sonic as the version we have now). But it not only was a - dare I say - GOOD family adventure, with some heart to boot, it was a tremendous box office success, grossing nearly 320 million bucks worldwide and setting up the inevitable sequel, which we are getting now.
Sadly, all momentum that the first film created comes to a screeching, disappointing halt in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." Instead of feeling like a real box office underdog - "the little hedgehog that could" - the sequel comes in full of itself, with an unearned confidence, and dying on the hill that somehow "more is more." At an incredibly baffling 2 hours and 2 minutes, a bevy of new, uninteresting characters and a some unfathomably lame subplots, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" carries the weight of the franchise on its shoulders, and is crushed beneath the burden.
Originally slated to hit theaters in July of 2020, the pandemic had other plans for "Morbius." Nearly two years and several more schedule-shifts later, and the newest Marvel movie has finally arrived, but with more of a thud than many were hoping for.
Using a similar animation technique that he did on some of past films (like "Waking Life" and "A Scanner Darkly"), Richard Linklater takes us on a nostalgia-fueled trip down memory lane, in one of the best films of this young year, "Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood."
It masquerades as a story about the moon landing, but it's really a celebration of a different time, back when the future looked hopeful, and a child's mind - as well as an adult's - could still be filled with wonder.
The totality of the new pandemic comedy, "The Bubble," reminded me of a scene from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." When Clark Griswold excitedly goes to plug in the electric cord that will turn his home into a spectacle of lights, nothing happens. The switch is off, and he can't seem to figure out why all of his hard work wasn't paying off, and why the lights weren't firing on.
That's "The Bubble" in a nutshell: All the lights are in place, there seems to be an impressive display on the horizon, but just nothing turns on. Nothing works. There are jokes, a fantastic ensemble and clever set-ups, yet the laugh switch rests firmly in the "off" position.
The race to create a viable vaccine for COVID-19 takes center-stage in the new HBO documentary, "How To Survive A Pandemic," a film that champions science and those that champion it.
"The Slap Heard Around The World" is all that anyone is talking about (rightly so) or will remember from the 2022 Academy Awards. But it was bad even before that moment, dubbed on Twitter afterwards by Mark Hamill as "#UgliestOscarMoment_Ever."
3 hour and 42 minute run-time, after all the hoopla surrounding the decision to move and minimize eight of the awards to the pre-show? "The Army of the Dead" is the "fan-favorite" movie of 2021? The most cheer-worthy movie moment - IN THE HISTORY OF MOVIES - is..."The Flash enters The Speed Force"? Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are brought on-stage to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "The Godfather," despite the fact that Robert De Niro was not in that film?
WTF is going on?
"The Lost City" is the sort of romantic-adventure-comedy that seems to have been missing from the movie landscape in recent years. Movies like "Romancing the Stone," "Jewel of the Nile" and the "Allan Quatermain" films of the 1980s are channeled for "The Lost City," a movie that just barely works, powered by a star firing on all of her charismatic cylinders.
The 94th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner, airing this Sunday, March 27th at 8pm (EST) on ABC. Though ratings have been down across the board for ALL awards shows since the pandemic, this year's Oscars are trying hard to bring in more overall viewership with a few new twists (some a bit controversial) and some special treats for their movie-loving audience.
Musical performances from Billy Eilish & Finneas, Beyoncé, Reba McEntire and Sebastian Yatra have already been announced, as have a list of presenters including Dj Khaled, Jennifer Garner, Bill Murray, Tony Hawk, H.E.R., Shawn Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Tyler Perry, Woody Harrelson, Mila Kunis and John Travolta, to name a few. It was also recently announced that Rachel Zegler, the 20-year-old star of the Oscar-nominated "West Side Story," will also be a presenter, after an online campaign went viral when she revealed that she was not invited to attend the Oscars. The Oscars will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, and it's the first time the Oscars have gone with a host since Jimmy Kimmel hosted in 2017 and 2018.
There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the Oscars, especially in our divided times (I urge you to read a fantastic article where two opposing film lovers - one very pro-Oscars and one very, very against them by clicking here). But with the theme of the show this year being "Movie Lovers Unite" (#MovieLoversUnite), the Oscars are hoping to get people more involved than ever, having added a "fan favorite" vote-in category as well as having average folks vote for their favorite movie scene of all-time.
Predicting what will happen at the Oscars this year, how many people will watch (or not watch) and who will win is all part of the fun. In that spirit, here are my best predictions in all 23 categories for this year's 94th Academy Awards (full disclaimer: Yes I have seen all entries and these opinions are made without any inside knowledge, and represent who I THINK will win, and not necessarily who I would WANT to see win):
The pandemic had much more of an impact on the movie industry than just at the box office. You can sort of tell the kind of film that was made during lockdown: Small, character-driven dramas or thrillers that utilize very few locations and minimal casts.
This weekend there is an example of how to accomplish this effectively (see "The Outfit"), and how difficult it can be. With "Windfall" (on Netflix Friday 3/18), we're happy that the cast and crew got out there and made a movie, but the result is a banal so-called "thriller" that's so minimal you'll nearly forget it's even there.
Mark Rylance is a national treasure. He delivers an astounding performance as a tailor - no a "cutter" - in the surprisingly effective gangster drama, "The Outfit." It's a clever play on words representing not only the main character's profession, but the slang descriptive title of the underground, organized crime syndicate that formed all over America in the mid-20th century.
It features a great ensemble, led by Rylance, and is easily one of the best films of the year thus far, even if its third act prevents it from achieving greatness.
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