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[Opinion] 2017 Summer Movie Predictions

You have in front of you the only summer movie prediction post guaranteed to get it all wrong. I’m not a Hollywood analyst out there tracking the interest of movie releases, nor am I an avid follower of the people that actually do that sort of thing. I’m just a dude who writes about beer and movie for fun that likes to swing wildly timely trends from time to time.

Today, it’s ranking this summer’s (2017 for all you futuristic hobos slummin it on the net) movie releases in order of how well I think they’ll do at the box office–just the top ten though. If you read last year’s you already know how comically misinformed this is about it get. Now that we know the game though, let’s just get this over with so I can get back to my case of beer, shall we?

(1) Spider-Man: Homecoming – With a trio of superhero tinged releases to pick from I am hedging my bets that people losing their sh*t at Spidey’s appearance in Civil War translates to big bucks this year. Or by the end of summer I’ll just go along ignoring how painfully wrong I always am and that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks. (more…)

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[Movie Review] ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is the Hilarious and Heartfelt Hero We Deserve

In 2016 we saw Batman twice in theaters and for most of us, we left those two encounters less than enthusiastic. With Warner Bros. flailing wildly in need of a hit, in steps some tiny plastic toys to save the day. Even with as good as The LEGO Batman Movie is, it also amplifies how inept Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were at the most fundamental level–being entertaining. In a way, the latest in the Batman universe acts as a sincere apology for the aforementioned disappointments.

To be fair The LEGO Batman Movie has the benefit of irreverent humor that leans heavily in meta territory. The film exists in a world where Gotham City and its citizens are kind of tired of Batman’s shenanigans. Years of fighting bad guys and yet crime rates are as high as ever. Even Batman’s greatest enemy, Joker, has decided that he must concoct a new scheme to get the Caped Crusader in touch with his emotions. With the help of a recently adopted orphan, Dick Grayson, and the city’s new commissioner, Barbara Gordon, Batman embarks on a mission to save his tarnished reputation and the city.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2, TMNT 2, and More!

It’s been a while and there are plenty of movies in my rear view so to conserve some space you can check out my reviews of some recently released flicks all in one place- as well as beer recommendations to go with. Read on to check out some reviews for the following: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Manson’s Lost Girls, and The Ones Below!

Warcraft

Zero. That is exactly the amount of not hours, not minutes, but seconds I’ve spent playing World of Warcraft. So what business have I to attempt to review a film that is so obvious in its attempts to please its fans? Technically none. As a fan of cinema and someone who tries to see anything and everything that I possibly can it behooves oneself to have a voice amongst those who are like me, but maybe are on the fence about spending money to see it.  (more…)

2015 Academy Award Predictions

81st Academy Awards® Press Kit ImagesThe two most telling things I can possible say to anyone getting ready to read my ramblings about the Oscars is that (1) as of writing this I haven’t seen all the movies nominated and therefore can’t accurately speak for many of the nominations those movies have gotten (but I will try), and (2) I don’t necessarily care about the Oscars. I know what movies I saw in 2014 that I loved and many of them would have never had a chance to even enter Oscar discussions. Therefore the Oscars are more of a “cherry on top” should any of the movies I loved actually get recognition- and I’m not that big a fan of cherries.

I will say I do enjoy watching the Oscars….some of the time. I feel like the ceremony is too long and there are too many categories I don’t really care that much about. However, I do enjoy watching seasoned actors giving their acceptance speeches, especially if I’m a big fan of said actor/actress. In the event any of my favorite movies, actors, actresses, scores, and writers get recognized for movies I enjoyed during the year I get a pretty satisfying rush even having not been involved in their success. But seeing as how I don’t really hold the Oscars near and dear to my heart it’s more of a momentary celebration than anything I remember long after its over. So…all that being said aren’t you pumped for my predictions now? (more…)

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

httyd2_posterIt’s been a long time since Hiccup and Toothless caught audiences and critics by surprise- just as long since they entered and stole our hearts. It was probably a little unnatural how much I loved HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, but fact of the matter is that there was nothing about the film that I didn’t love. So it only seems inevitable that the sequel can’t possibly live up to such a high bar right? Wrong. While HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 does feel a little less surprising, it feels like much more well-rounded film experience with even more of an emotional core.

Picking up where the first film left off the citizens of Berk are living harmoniously with their newfound fire breathing companions. It seems as though nothing could disrupt the utopia that Hiccup and Toothless helped build in the Viking village. That is until Hiccup stumbles upon a group of dragon trappers claiming a man by the name of Drago is amassing an army of dragons and it’s only a matter of time till Berk is in his crosshairs.

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Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

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How glorious was it to see those iconic Muppets back on the big screen a few years back? Well, I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but it was pretty glorious for me. When Rainbow Connection kicked in during the finale I could hardly hide the goosebumps. Very often these family movies really make me feel like the young at heart softy that I am, but every so often the old curmudgeon in me shines through. As much as I loved THE MUPPETS, it couldn’t stop me from being a little underwhelmed by MUPPETS MOST WANTED.

Maybe I loved the reboot a little too much that my expectations were too high? In any event, MUPPETS MOST WANTED finds the characters with a new tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who helps international criminal and Kermit doppelgänger (except for a mole hidden to conceal his real identity), Constantine, take Kermit’s place as the fearless leader of the Muppets. Meanwhile, Kermit is mistaken for Constantine and jailed. The Muppets continue their world tour while Badguy and Constantine attempt to pull off a legendary heist and Kermit attempts to escape incarceration before it’s too late. (more…)

Movie Review: Heaven Is For Real

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The circumstances in which you view a movie have more influence than you might realize on how you feel about the movie in general. There isn’t a one us that hasn’t lost someone close, granted it may not be fresh in your memory when you watch a movie like HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. In the interest of full disclosure, when I screened this film I was less than 24 hours in to losing something very close to me and my wife- our “furry child,” Cooper. In all honesty this was a film I had not expected to like in the slightest. However, it has hit me at a time of vulnerability and it’s impact could certainly be boosted by the circumstances.

This film is not about the loss of a family pet, but it is about loss, the fear of loss and the hope/fear that our loved ones are taken care of when they are then from us. Based on the true story of Todd Burpo (Gregg Kinnear) who comes as close as one can to losing his young son, Colton (Connor Corum). When Colton miraculously recovers Todd and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly) are relieved, until Colton starts to recount impossible details. What starts out as simply “lucky guesses” regarding how Todd and Sonja spent the time while Colton was under gets spooky when he is able to identify family he never knew that passed before him. Todd’s church is left reeling from the confusion and fear that comes from their faith as Todd himself tries to come to terms with what this experience truly means. (more…)

Movie Review: The Lego Movie

thelegomovie_posterThe dilemma for an aging movie lover is sometimes feeling like a creep seeing a kids movie in a theater and not having kids of your own, but also being enthralled by the very same movie intended for children. Personally, I don’t yet have that hangup because I love being transported into my own youth by these nostalgia projects and THE LEGO MOVE did nothing if not make me feel like a kid again. It’s early in the year, but if I see another film that had me grinning ear to ear from beginning to end, I’ll be shocked.

THE LEGO MOVIE brings the popular childhood figures to life with Emmett (Chris Pratt) as a plain faced conformist who wants nothing more in life but to fit in with everyone else. He meets Wild Syle (Elizabeth Banks) during a fall that lands him with a mysterious piece stuck to his back. As it turns out the piece is the key to foiling Lord Business’ plan to make every world in the LEGO universe stay the same forever- promptly putting an end to any and all building and imagination. (more…)

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

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From the get go I loved the concept of an animated movie about all the classic movie monsters together in a hotel and the puns/hijinx that would ensue. Read into it a little more and I saw Adam Sandler and the rest of his posse on board doing voices and my excitement dimmed considerably. If it was over a decade ago and I read some of the same names I may have been way more excited, but with the most recent filmography of those involved I had little hope. That being said, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA was far more enjoyable than my reservations painted it, even if it tends to pander to the audiences with extremely short attention spans.

As a kids film HOTEL TRANSLYVANIA has everything that keeps the kids glued to the screen- funny looking characters, slapstick comedy, fart jokes and plenty of vibrant colors. For the average adult sitting to watch it though I feel that it lacks a focused and consistent story aside from trying to pull at their parenting heartstrings.

Sandler voices Dracula who has chosen to build a hotel for all his supernatural friends to escape to while also raising his daughter to be weary of humans in the most protective ways possible. The older she gets the more curious she becomes to visit the outside world and take a chance amongst the humans. Unexpectedly, a human stumbles upon the hotel and Dracula does everything he can to disguise him as one of their own, which leads to the unintended consequence of the human falling for his daughter and vice versa.

The animation is a lot of fun and the environments have a lot of detail, though not as beautifully rendered as your typical Pixar affair. It’s the pacing and scattershot nature of all the jokes and visual gags that are to blame for a lot of the overall disconnect I personally had with the film. The script is next in line of complaints for too often using bland character jokes and rarely bringing anything really intriguing to the table- granted it works on a kids movie level, but lands more often than not on a thud when trying more adult related jokes.

I believe it should go without saying that I never expected HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA to shatter my expectations for animated features, so based on that alone it’s par for the course. The entire film is very inoffensive and in the spirit of fast moving fun entertainment it more than fits the bill. Being stamped with a label as shallow entertainment is usually less than flattering, but in the realm of movies targeted at kids HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA at least deserves to hold its head high as a piece of fluff cinema. There are no deep introspective themes to explore in any frame of this film, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Rating: B

Movie Review: Frankenweenie (2012)

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I, like most people longed for Tim Burton to return to his roots and do what he does best. After the woeful DARK SHADOWS I had lost all faith that Burton had any good ideas left in his arsenal until the trailer for FRANKENWEENIE gave me the slightest bit of hope. To some extent some of my favorite Burton-esque aspects are on full display in his latest film, but this is by no means the return form that I personally hoped for.

The film follows a young boy, Victor, whose beloved dog Sparky is tragically killed in an accident. With the inspiration from a teacher’s lesson Victor sets out to bring Sparky back to life all while his classmates are desperately searching for a science project that will blow people’s minds. When Victor’s experiment works there are a series of unintended consequences that threaten to destroy the community.

The most transparent thing about the film is how Burton intentionally plays with the vulnerabilities of pet owners. Being a pet owner myself there are parts of this movie that really did tug at my heartstrings, but begrudgingly so. When a film earns those more emotional beats its one thing, but when a filmmaker is intentionally exploiting those feelings and I’m aware of it, it’s far less effective. Sure there is a sweetness and innocence about the bond between Victor and Sparky, but given the more monster heavy finale I couldn’t help but feel that Burton was trying way too hard to force horror into a film that could have benefited from having less of it.

I really dig the black and white visual style and I even like a lot of the monster moments towards the end- but that doesn’t mean that I’m giving it a pass for trying to have its cake and eat it too. Had those horror elements been integrated into the majority of the film a little more as opposed to just the finale while also being able to deliver the more emotional resonant moments this would have really been something special. As it is, I give it props for the things I like about both, but the mixture of the two is missing a connective tissue to make it all work for me.

Maybe I’m nitpicking or I’m still a little shell-shocked by the terrible quality of Burton’s most recent efforts, but so much of this film stinks of everything I’ve hated about Burton of the past few years. The voice acting is uninspired and incredibly lackluster, there’s too much focus on gothic looking characters and the stop motion animation in and of itself is not entirely spectacular. In almost every way I found this to be vastly inferior to another stop motion film released the same year, PARANORMAN. In all fairness though, the films have different agendas, but FRANKENWEENIE still drops the ball more often than not.

When it comes down to it, FRANKENWEENIE for me is ultimately nothing more than a half complete experience. Half of it is comprised of things I dig about Burton as a filmmaker and others are things I’ve grown to dislike about him along with aspects that just didn’t reach their peak. FRANKENWEENIE is a film that I don’t think intentionally wasted my time, but it also doesn’t necessarily care that it kind of did.

Rating: C