We're nearing the end of 2022, but we have one more big week of releases to get through before we can celebrate the holidays.
Here's a smattering of offers that the movie theaters are serving up this Holiday/Christmas Weekend 2022, along with a few movies that we would like to point you to below:
(We previously posted FULL reviews of the following):
"Avatar: The Way of Water" - Full Review (currently in theaters)
"Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" - Full Review (now streaming on Netflix)
"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" - Full Review (streaming on Netflix 12/23)
Read on for more blurb reviews of new releases this weekend:
"Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"
A vast improvement over the first one, "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" is a surprisingly deep and heartfelt adventure about living life to the fullest. It also shows that there are so many more corners to explore within the SCU (The Shrek Cinematic Universe!).
Antonio Banderas returns to voice our swash-buckling hero, now down to his last life (as common knowledge, we all know that cats have nine lives). A bounty-hunter, a menacing version of The Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura) is tracking Puss like the Grim Reaper tracks his next soul, represents Puss's past catching up with him, and the cold fact that we all must face: Our own death.
But it's a kids movie, I swear! Laughs are plenty and often, with the help of a new friend, the stray dog, Perro ("What We Do In the Shadows" star, Harvey Guillen) and an old one (Salma Hayek is back voicing Kitty Softpaws). Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and her three ruthless bear companions (Samson Kayo as Baby, Olivia Colman as Mama and Ray Winstone as Papa) are a gang-on-the-run also mixed into the fun. And John Mulaney's all-grown-up, pie-in-thumb nursery-rhyme character, Jack Horner, is the main antagonist (and needless to say, those pie-eating days of his youth have left him a bit mentally unstable as an adult).
The animation is gorgeous, and the story has depth without ever getting dark. This is how you should treat a sequel to an existing property: When there is something new to say about the characters.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
Starring (voices of): Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillen, Florence Pugh, Wagner Moura, John Mulaney, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, Olivia Colman.
Directed by Joel Crawford ("The Croods: A New Age") and Januel Mercado (feature directorial debut).
"Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" is in theaters as of Wednesday, December 21st, 2022.
Now I know what it must feel like to have director worship. I've seen it - inexplicably in my eyes - with the likes of Wes Anderson, or PT Anderson and others, where with some film lovers, these directors can do no wrong. Well Damien Chazelle has yet to lead me astray. "Whiplash." "La La Land." "First Man." All three are incredible movies, with the first two landing on my Top Films of the Decade List ("La La Land" being number one).
Needless to say, I'm a fan of Chazelle, and "Babylon" is one of the most shocking, vile, wild, outrageous and ambitious movies I've ever laid eyes on. It grabs you and shakes you out of your comfort zone and your normal expectations for what a movie is. It destroys your romantic vision of Old Hollywood and the revered stars of the past. It knocks your socks off, then lights fire to them and throws them into a crowd.
"Babylon" is "Singin' in the Rain" if directed by Cocaine Bear.
Chazelle takes an untethered look at what life was really like (?) in early Hollywood...as the industry transitioned from silent films to "talkies," and as stars went from glamour to garbage nearly overnight. Our entry point to the madness is an aspiring movie-lover, Manny Torres (a stellar break-out star, Diego Calva), who happens upon Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), who has zero Effs left to give on her rise to the top of the industry. Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) is the top Hollywood star, whose light will soon begin to fade. The movies will invite you in, eat you up and spit you out, but man, the taste left in your mouth is soooooo worth it.
"Babylon" has a lot to say amidst the chaos...chaos that is at times so off-putting that this film is destined to be deeply hated just as much as it is loved and praised. The excess is the point, and "Babylon" would not be nearly as effective without the kinetic energy that Chazelle creates and maintains throughout.
It's a masterpiece...a messy, eye-opening, gross, massive masterpiece. It's hard to believe that the same guy who imagined "La La Land" would show us his take of the same town in the form of "Babylon." But "Babylon" is beautiful for its ugliness, and its one of the best films of the year.
Starring: Diego Calva, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, Flea.
Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash," "La La Land," "First Man").
"Babylon" is in theaters on Friday, December 23rd, 2022.
"The Pale Blue Eye"
"The Pale Blue Eye" is a fictional tale that plays like an episode of "Law & Order" that was set in the 1830s. What makes it interesting (besides the devoted-as-usual performance by Christian Bale) is that it is an imagined origin story of the mysterious, iconic author, Edgar Allen Poe.
Based on the novel by Louis Bayard, a retired detective, Augustus Landor (Bale), who is battling some personal demons of his own, is summoned to an unexplained murder case at the military academy at West Point. A cadet was found hung by the neck, but his heart had also been surgically removed from his body. Young Cadet Edgar Allen Poe (a convincing Harry Melling) takes a dark interest in the murder and joins with Landor to help him solve the case.
The cold, desaturated look of the film is fitting, but it also makes it hard for audience's to latch on in any real emotional way. Still, it works as a good detective story, with more than a few false endings, as things get stranger and stranger...and more and more is revealed about the killer and those hunting him/her.
Genre: Crime, Horror, Mystery.
Run Time: 2 hours 8 minutes.
Starring: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Fred Hechinger, Gillian Anderson, Robert Duvall, Toby Jones, Timothy Spall, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Adapted and Directed by Scott Cooper ("Antlers," "Black Mass," "Out of the Furnace," "Crazy Heart").
"The Pale Blue Eye" is in limited theatrical release on Friday, December 23rd, 2022 and streaming on Netflix on January 6th, 2023.
"Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
This movie was not reviewed. If/when it is, the review will appear here.
Genre: Music, Biography, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours 26 minutes.
Starring: Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders, Clarke Peters, Nafessa Williams, Tamara Tunie, Bria Danielle Singleton.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons ("Harriet," "Black Nativity," "Talk to Me").
All of the above films are available this weekend, in theaters and/or streaming.
Looking for a specific movie or review?