War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017)

Following the epic last battle from then leader, Koba, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes still remain fighting for their lives against the humans who want the apes extinct. The apes are now forced into a deadly conflict with a large, manipulated army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After Caeser suffers the tragic loss of his wife and son, vengeance is the only thing on his mind. While the rest of the apes seek to find a new home, Caesar sets out on his own mission to finish the colonel once and for all. Once Caesar finally meets the colonel, a whopping battle takes place to determine the fate of both of their species.

The Planet of the Apes trilogy that we have been watching for the past few years has only seemed to have gotten better and better. Rumor has it that War is going to be the last film that the franchise has to offer us. Well, at least, for now, that is the word on the street. Is this a happy conclusion to the franchise you may ask? No, but only because there still seems to be some life left in these films and it would be sad to see it all end, even if the three films have been perfect.

That said, War For The Planet Of The Apes may quite possibly be the best film of 2017 so far. If the rumors are true and this does happen to be the end of this incredible franchise, with almost no flaws from any of the movies, then job well done. Even with the incredibly amount of overwhelming scenes and dialogue, War provides enough action and smartness to capture the viewers attention throughout and is undoubtedly the best summer blockbuster that you will see this year. And a lot of that credit goes to Andy Serkis who has mastered this character.

Following the prior two films I was a tad bit worried that this was not even going to be remotely as good as the previous two, but War gave us a story that actually works, and works better than the first two films. Even though this franchise has made its fair share of money, it’s clear that director, Matt Reeves was not just in this for the money because he wanted to expand on the previous film and continue an awesome story. And that’s exactly what the audience gets with War. It’s exciting, fun and at often times a little tense.

Overall, War For The Planet Of The Apes is the summer blockbuster that people have been waiting for. It’s extremely emotional, exciting and an all-around fun ride. If this is truly the end of this heavily underrated franchise, the finish was well worth the wait.

5/5

 

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The Girl On The Train (2016)

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) rides on the train all day long to New York City and back. Rachel has a lot of time on her hands and she likes to spend all of her time pretty much just drinking herself to the point where she blacks out. While on the train she loves to stare at a couple, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans), outside the train window. Things start to get crazy when Rachel see’s Megan one day with another man who isn’t her husband. To make matters worse, Megan goes missing and it looks like Rachel may be the main suspect. Why is that? Well, because Rachel’s ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife live two doors down from Megan and Scott. Rachel constantly shows up drunk all the time and is extremely forgetful, so it’s easy for everybody to kind of point the finger.

When first hearing about this movie it seemed like it was going to be really cool and be an exciting thriller. Sadly, The Girl On The Train tries everything in its power to live up to the hype that 2014’s Gone Girl had. The problem with this movie is that it tried too hard to be the thriller that it was made out to be. The Girl On The Train was pretty much a disaster in my opinion. I thought the story just got way too goofy and it never really went anywhere. For most of the movie we are just seeing Rachel feel sorry for herself and make herself out to be an awful, drunken person. This movie just seemed way too desperate to actually be a solid film. For a majority of the film you pretty much just feel bored and check your watch, which is never a good thing.

The cast is actually really solid. I’ve always been a fan of the work that Emily Blunt does, but the problem here is that she should have not done this movie. Blunt was on-screen for pretty much 95 percent of the movie, but her character just became boring and nothing more. And she’s not the only one that’s the problem here. Actors like Luke Evans were even pretty bad in this. I think that’s another reason why this movie could not be saved. When hearing a movie has a solid cast I usually get very excited, like I was when I found out who was in this. The problem is that nobody could work well together and the chemistry was just not there with any of them. This is one that Blunt is going to have to put behind her career wise and move on to better things.

The whole entire time you’re watching this film and just waiting to see when something exciting is going to happen, but that moment never comes. Once you figure out the “crazy” twist that occurs, you kind of look around and say that was stupid. I thought for a while maybe if the film finished strongly then it could be a solid movie, but sadly this did not happen and we’re left with pretty much another crappy movie. Everything about this is way too dull. For a movie that comes off as such a strong thriller, there has to be some either suspenseful moments or moments that are super tense. The Girl On The Train provides none of that. This movie had a ton of promise, but fell very short of being anything that could even be memorable. This the problem when a movie tries to somewhat play copycat off a classic, like Gone Girl.

Overall, The Girl On The Train is not just a disaster from start to finish, but more importantly a waste of your time. Movies like this are one’s to avoid, and even with a solid cast this movie could not be saved. It has poor writing, directing and a storyline that never knows how to come together. This is easily one you can skip.

Grade: D

La La Land (2016)

Mia (Emma Stone) is working at a coffee shop in Warner Bros. Studios and is feeling like she is a failed actress. She constantly goes to different auditions and never receives a call back. All she is hoping for is that one big break so she can land a major role. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who’s only dream is to one day own his own jazz club. However, jazz music seems to be becoming less and less popular, so he is kind of out of luck with this one. Sebastian spends his time playing household tunes at a local restraint where he works for tips. While playing at a restraint, he catches the eyes of Mia and the two suddenly fall for one another. While Sebastian and Mia both have huge hopes and dreams, the longer they stay together, the more they begin to fade in different directions.

Usually when I find out I am going to see a movie that is a musical I get somewhat worried because they are either hit or miss. Luckily La La Land works in every way and is pretty much a perfect movie. It is the kind of movie that is not only fun and entertaining, but as soon as the singing and dancing stops and the people start talking it is just as entertaining and exciting. La La Land is just a very happy movie, and it’s as simple as that. It is the type of movie that does not come around all that often and there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a serious contender for best picture, if it not already has the award wrapped up.

There’s a lot more to La La Land then it just being your happy musical movie. This film shows you all of the great things the world has to offer you and also the hard realities that people sometimes have to face. After watching this movie you have a lot of hope with your future life endeavors. It’s movies like this that leave a special place in your heart because it makes you feel like you can do anything you want with your life and things will work out. Director, Damien Chazelle definitely loves his jazz music and we understood that when he made Whiplash, but he takes it to a whole different level here. And what you see from Stone and Gosling is pure magic. The chemistry these two actors have together is something that I can’t wait to see again. The way their characters intervened with each other and developed with one another is something that I love when watching a movie.

As mentioned above, there is no way this movie does not get loads of Oscar nominations because it’s already killing it with Golden Globe nominations. I would not be surprised if this wins everything that it is nominated for. This is the first movie of 2016 that I have seen where I can say it was perfect. Not to mention the scoring of this film is unbelievable. The choreography, cinematography and directing are just as superb as the acting. If you are a fan of film then you will love this movie. If you are a fan of film and not musicals, you will still love this movie. Everything that Chazelle did with La La Land all fell perfectly in place and works wonders for the audience. After much time and thought about this movie, I will be incredibly shocked if it does not win Best Picture.

Overall, La La Land is the type of movie that is a must see. It delivers on everything you would want to see form a movie. With great directing, superb acting, excellent writing, and exciting songs, La La Land works in every single way and is the perfect movie of 2016. Chazelle is at the top of his form with this one.

Grade: A

Blair Witch (2016)

Twenty years after Heather Donahue went missing in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, new video footage surfaced of her death. Her brother and his friends decide that they want to go do a little exploring in the woods to find out where this video was found, and also if there is a chance that Heather could still be alive. Not only are they interested in seeing if Heather is still alive, but they also would like to find out if this Blair Witch stuff is a bunch of hocus pocus or if the witch is real and does haunt those woods. After spending a few nights in the Burkittsville woods, they all eventually find out what it was they were really looking for.

The original Blair Witch Project is without-a-doubt one of the all-time classics of the horror genre and there is no way that is going to change. That is why when you hear they are doing some sort of remake with this movie you think that it will be a total disaster given the fact that this is just how these things work. Sadly, if you predicted this movie to be a disaster, then you are absolutely right. The Blair Witch Project introduced the found-footage idea for a movie and it really excelled at doing that. Unfortunately this is now becoming a very common thing with horror movies and after having the feeling that this has to go, Blair Witch really reassured me. Not to say that it has not worked in the past with horror movies, but enough is enough. This was one of the major issues I had with this film, but another one that I can’t wrap my mind around is why they decided to make this movie. The answer is simply to make money. People need to start understanding that you can still make a lot of money even if the movie is good.

Blair Witch seemed like it did not try hard at all to be a good film and it definitely showed. After the original film having such success, you would think that in order to make this movie it would have to be as good or almost as good. As predicted, it falls short of even coming close to the original. And also, horror movies can still be bad and have enough frights in it to really scare you, but that is another problem about this movie. It just is simply not all that scary. I think the entire film was predictable from beginning to end, especially the scares. You could see everything coming from a mile away and it really put a damper on the film. After a good while of knowing this movie was going to be made, I was really excited to see it. This is just one that you really should skip and never watch. It is one of those remakes that makes you wish the first film was nonexistent.

The major problem with this movie is that it was just completely unnecessary to make. I understand that these studios want to make money and all, but you’ve got to be kidding me with this one. This was nothing, but a poor excuse of a movie. Now I want to talk about the similarities between both films. Everything about this movie makes you feel like you are rewatching the original film, but the reboot is just terrible. They went for the exact same thing because they felt they needed this movie to be a crowd pleaser, which it was far from. You just feel like nothing is different with this movie and they never try anything new. How much longer are we really going to be able to put up with these crappy, horror remakes and reboots? It is the same song and dance with all of these movies and Blair Witch is another perfect example of why these kinds of movies never work well.

Overall, Blair Witch was only made with one intention in mind, which is try to make as much money as the studio can and not care if this is a terrible movie. That is all you see and get from this movie. Nothing about it is different or even scary for that matter. If you have already seen this film then you understand, but for those that haven’t, this is one you should absolutely skip.

Grade: D

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

After much speculation of the Amityville case being real or a hoax, people want to know if Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are really truthful paranormal investigators or if this is one big lie. After years of different cases, Ed and Lorraine decide that it may be nice to go into early retirement. Lorraine feels that everything she has done has really taken a toll on her and it is time for the both of them to stop. However, things immediately change when they hear the news of a family in England who is desperate for their help. This is something Lorraine did not want to do, but they feel they have an obligation to do this and it is the main reason they met in the first place. Ed and Lorraine may be up for their toughest and most frightening case yet and Lorraine seems to find her self battling with more evil spirits as the cases go on.

When you go back to 2013 and you think of the first Conjuring film the immediate response is that it was extremely frightening. The very first movie could arguably go down as the most scariest film ever made. Going into this film there was much speculation about whether or not they could actually pull off another good horror movie that not only just makes you jump, but actually makes you feel as if the people being haunted are you. Luckily for all horror fans The Conjuring 2 did everything in its power to try to be just as good as the first movie and really succeeded in doing so. Director, James Wan has pulled off another great horror film that will have people talking for years. I think Wan has really found his niche with horror films. After the original Insidious did so well, he figured it was time for better and scarier films, and he recently made two great one’s.

The main thing I love about this movie is that it stuck close to how the first one was told, but not the same type of story at all. The movie just gets more and more frightening by the scene. It is a constant buildup of horror and throughout the entire movie you cannot help but feel anxiety while in the theater. This is what really gets people with this movie because it really does a great job of the build-up. Wan does not just go for your simple jumpy scenes. There have only been two films I have seen in theaters that have actually flat-out bothered me after the movie and The Conjuring 2 is one of them. Another thing that is great about this movie is that James Wan proved with a different story and trying a different approach that he is not trying to do the same thing or shoot to make the same movie over and over again.

Another great thing about this movie is that everything that goes on is really unpredictable. There is never much that happens where you say that you knew that was coming because Wan will throw anything he can at you. Something else that makes this a really good film is that Wan focused on my favorite thing in a movie and that is character development. You really get a feel for who these people are and I think they did a great job with doing this. Even though the movie is a tad overlong, it is perfectly fine because I promise you will be scared throughout. If you are a fan of horror or just simply looking for a movie to see that will scare the hell out of you, then The Conjuring 2 is definitely your movie and I am not sure if we will ever see movies that are scarier than one’s like this.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 provides a movie going experience like none other. With an absolutely frightening film and a film that has a really good and interesting premise, The Conjuring 2 lives up to all the hype the first movie has and may be just as good if not better.

Grade: A

X – Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Quite a few years have passed since the Days Of Future Past era, the X – Men do not seem to have all that much going on. Going back many years ago, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the very first and most powerful mutant that has ever existed. Awakening after thousands of years, he sets out on a mission to recruit some of the other mutants including Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to create a whole entire new world order. As things appear to be really going well for Apocalypse and his crew, the other X – Men, like Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) are forming an alliance that will ultimately put an end to this new world order. What this means is that a huge battle between the good and bad mutants will now take place so the X – Men can try to stop Apocalypse from destroying all of mankind.

In the past few years we have been given three new X – Men films and after two movies that seemed as if the franchise was being revamped, it now almost makes perfect sense why the third movie was nothing besides a huge disappointment. After redeeming themselves from the Origins films, X – Men was now the new Marvel movies that had me incredibly excited. The sad thing about this is that Apocalypse is absolutely nothing to be excited about in the least bit. For starters, the movie is very overlong and nothing really seems to stick. This is not the first dull film that we have seen from X – Men, but it is definitely the first that director, Bryan Singer has given us. For what is supposed to be a really exciting movie with someone who seemed perfect to play the role of Apocalypse, the movie just falls short of everything you want out of an X – Men flick.

I would not say that the problem with this movie is the cast because we have already been shown twice that this cast can work tremendously together. All of the X – Men worked well together, but there was really something about Oscar Isaac that really did not impress me at all, which is really unusual because he had a very good year of acting in 2015. This is also what really surprises me about Bryan Singer. After seeing that this guy could really make these X – Men films one’s that are always exciting and a huge treat to see, he has finally made his dullest film of the franchise. The entire film just seemed like all Singer was doing was setting up for something bigger and better to come. One can really only hope that this is not wishful thinking for the next film, but we will see.

I don’t want to sit here and bash every ounce of this film because we do see some really good and exiting action, but because the movie is so mediocre it is hard to remember the good things about it. The whole entire plot just had so much going on that you never knew really who to look out for. The film had nobody that was really standing out because there is so many characters that none of them get to really show what their purpose was in this role. What saddens me the most about this film is that not even the impressive effects and action could save the movie. All you really get from this film when it is all said and done is nothing but a poor and mediocre approach at what should have been a movie that made an exciting experience to watch considering the previous two films were so impressive. This franchise has a lot to redeem itself with in the next film.

Overall, X – Men Apocalypse is clearly the weakest link out of Bryan Singer’s films. The next movie really desperately needs to save this one because the new X – Men films may become some movies that now people may begin to forget about. With an outstanding cast and some good action, it almost seems as if nothing can really save this movie. Singer… it’s time for you to go back to work.

Grade: D

Creed (2015)

If you thought the Rocky franchise would be ruined from this movie, think again!

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) has been someone who has been in and out of foster car throughout his entire life due to the fact he’s always been fighting with the other kids. One day, a woman who was the wife of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) shows up to adopt him and tells him the truth about who he really is. It turns out that Adonis is actually the son of Apollo. As Adonis grows up, he realizes that he wants to become a professional boxer just like his dad, but he wants to go under his name of “Johnson” because he wants to make his own name and doesn’t want people to think of him differently for the name “Creed.” Johnson travels to Philadelphia to track down Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). He wants Rocky to train him to become a professional fighter. Against his wishes, Rocky eventually gives in and helps train Johnson to become a professional boxer and travel to help him fight for the champion of the world.

Creed has been a movie that many people have been looking forward to for quite sometime, but there has been some doubts by a lot of people, including myself. Thank the lord I was wrong about this movie because what appeared to be a lousy, boring old boxing flick, turned out to be one of the more exciting and intriguing films you will see around this time of year. Obviously because I am from Philadelphia, there is a potential bias with the Rocky films, but even if you are not from Philadelphia, you will love this movie. Even though this is the seventh film that you will see in the Rocky franchise, Creed does nothing but excel as an exciting and unbelievable film. It is easy to make the argument that this movie is probably the best we have seen from the Rocky films ever since the release of the first movie.

The acting in Creed is pretty spectacular. Michael B. Jordan is great in pretty much everything he is in and I think we can all say that he is a young actor that everybody should look out for, even though he has done some great work, going all the way back to The Wire. In all of Jordan’s roles, you feel as if he really has a genuine interest in them and really cares about doing a good job. That is exactly what we see from him in Creed. Even though we have seen him in six prior movies, I think it needs to be said that Sylvester Stallone has given one of the best performances of his career, let alone out of the Rocky movies. He was easily the best in this movie and I am very happy about that. I have been overly worried about him lately because I have seen how the last five Rocky films have been. I am not only surprised, but I am thrilled he proved how awesome he can be.

Creed is a movie that is not only a movie that the people from Philadelphia have to see, but it is also a genuinely good sports flick. I really feel confident when I say that Creed was an outstanding sports film because it did absolutely nothing to make me think otherwise. Everything that Coogler did with this film worked and he succeeded at what he was doing. Rocky has always been a series of films that I have watched throughout my entire life, but if someone was to tell me I would enjoy this film as much as I did before seeing it, I probably would have laughed in your face. Fortunately for me and fans of film, Creed does everything in its power to intrigue, entertain and make you say, “that was awesome.” If you are a fan of the Rocky franchise, you’ll absolutely love this. If you are not and are just a fan of movies, you’ll love this just as much.

Overall, Creed will shock all of you by how good it actually is. With powerhouse performances and enough emotion and fight to make you love this film, Creed wins!

Grade: A