The Summer blockbuster season continues to roll along this weekend with a few major releases, but it's a horror film that actually has everybody talking. Is "Hereditary" a new "classic" horror picture, and is Toni Colette's performance really award-worthy? Or should you focus your attention more on the two star-studded blockbusters, "Ocean's 8" and "Hotel Artemis"?
We'll answer those questions and more with our reviews of this weekend's new films, below:
It's been over a decade since the last "Ocean" movie, where George Clooney's Danny Ocean assembled an elite den of thieves to pull off the latest, seemingly-implausible heist. Of course, those movies (11, 12 and 13) themselves were a re-make of the 1960 rat-pack laced "Ocean's 11," with Clooney stepping into the shoes of Frank Sinatra's slick-talking crook. Flash-forward nearly 60 years after that original film, into the "#MeToo" era of Hollywood, and you'll find "Ocean's 8", a movie that is essentially an all-female take on the classic heist film.
This one centers on Deb Ocean (Sandra Bullock), long-lost sister to the now-deceased (or so we think?) Danny Ocean. She's just gotten out of prison, but reform wasn't quite on her mind while behind bars. With all that time on her hands, she was busy coming up with the perfect crime: Lifting a 150-million dollar necklace right off of celebrity actress Daphne Kluger's (Anne Hathaway) neck in the middle of the Met Gala.
As these films go, the first half is spent assembling the team needed to get the job done. Deb's old partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) reluctantly agrees to go along with Ocean, and they recruit master hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), jewel expert Amita (Mindy Kaling), the pick-pocket Constance (Awkwafina), the trafficker-mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and the fashion-designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). It doesn't take a mathematician to realize that this only adds up to seven, so you can be sure that there's at least one more in the mix.
And while "Ocean's 8" does nothing to mess with the structure of the films that have come before it, it doesn't possess the same "coolness" that the original or the re-makes did. Bullock's Deb Ocean is so laid-back and confident, she borders on bland. Only break-out star Awkwafina breathes any life into her character, and Hathaway perfectly nails the entitled starlet vibe, but the rest of this crew is interchangeable at best.
As with all of the "Ocean" films, the fun comes in seeing all of these superstars share the screen, and in the inventiveness and execution of their crazy plans. "Ocean's 8" checks all of these boxes, making it a worthy film in the series, but it's a bit disappointing that nothing is added to the franchise's legacy. It's a safe choice by the filmmakers, one that doesn't do justice for the characters in the film. If Deb or Danny Ocean were in charge of things, you can bet that they'd put a little more thought into the film's plan, a little more pizazz and showmanship. It took Deb over five years to plot out her heist, it seems the studio only spent about five minutes planning theirs.
Genre: Crime, Action, Comedy. Run Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage.
Co-Written and Directed by Gary Ross ("Free State of Jones," "The Hunger Games," "Pleasantville," "Seabiscuit").
If there was a TripAdvisor or Yelp review on the new film, "Hotel Artemis", you would see a one-star review and in big bold letters words like "DO NOT STAY HERE" or "AVOID AT ALL COSTS." Sadly for movie-goers, there is no protective consumer-based website that is going to guide you away from the multiplexes and as far from this film as possible, although if you do happen to find yourself watching this dreck, you'll wish there was.
"Hotel Artemis" wants to be a trendy crime-action film, in the vein of recent trendy crime-action films like "John Wick." But there's nothing worse than an uncool movie that thinks it's cool. For everyone involved, this will go down as their worst-career performance to date, and that's saying a lot for the talented comedian Charlie Day, who is coming off of his career-worst performance in "Pacific Rim: Uprising." But Day, or the rest of this star-studded cast is not to blame...they are trapped in a terribly written script about a secret hotel/hospital for criminals that low-life scum are literally dying to get into.
Jodie Foster is the unfortunate soul left to anchor this mess, and her 1930s-style dialogue and banter makes her performance cringe-worthy and nearly unwatchable. Her character runs the Hotel Artemis, where the simple rule "don't hurt or kill the other patients" has created somewhat of a safe-haven for the criminal underworld. She herself is housing some demons there, and her friendly giant security guard (Dave Bautista) is her only true ally. But when a valuable stolen artifact shows up in her hotel, a cast of characters (including Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum and Zachary Quinto) show up and wreak havoc.
The dialogue is painful, and the collective ensemble are now the clear front-runners to sweep this year's Razzie Awards in all categories. The action isn't all that interesting and the setting is so dark, drab and claustrophobic that it will make you long for the end credits. In an attempt to be positive, the cast isn't the real culprit here: That blame can go to writer/director Drew Pearce who gives them nearly no chance to succeed given the material they're working with.
Even if you're down and out, look elsewhere to rest your weary head. This place won't provide you with any peace. Sure, "Hotel Artemis" has all kind of vacancy: It's as empty as they come.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller. Run Time: 1 hour and 33 minutes.
Starring: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Zachary Quinto, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella.
Written and Directed by Drew Pearce (feature-film directorial debut).
The new horror film "Hereditary" is being hyped not only as the scariest movie in years, but as one of the best films of the year. No arguments here.
Toni Colette is wickedly brilliant as a mother dealing with some family tragedies, and we wouldn't dare spoil the story. But your patience through the first-half of the slow, deliberately-paced film will pay-off "bigly" by the time you reach the final scenes.
Gabriel Byrne is equally effective, in a more subdued and quiet way, and the great Ann Dowd is right in her wheel-house. But the real star here is first-time writer/director, Ari Aster, who creates the eerie mood with strange edits, odd camera angles and a sense of dread in nearly every frame. He's helped out greatly by the performances, but you could see this movie being more of a throw-away scare-fest in the hands of a lesser talent.
Bring an extra pair of pants if you plan to see "Hereditary," it's a film that is not easily forgotten.
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery. Run Time: 2 hours 7 minutes.
Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff.
Written and Directed by Ari Aster (feature-film directorial debut).
All of these movies open Friday, June 8th, 2018.
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