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Review: Logan

Feb 17 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221303:43419:0[/embed] LoganDirector: James MangoldRelease Date: March 3, 2017Rating: R  Logan is both a sequel to 2013's The Wolverine and a ending to the entire X-Men franchise. In the far-ish future of 2029, we find Logan (Hugh Jackman) making his way across El Paso, driving a limo for money. It turns out mutants have essentially gone extinct, and he is only doing odd jobs in order to take care of the now dementia-suffering Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who's loss of control over his mind has made him a threat. But one day he's approached by a woman accompanied by a silent girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) who needs help getting to the Canadian border and some place they call an "Eden for mutants." Begrudgingly accepting the task when he sees Laura shares a few similarities with him, revelations come to light as Logan has to come to terms with the man he's become. Logan is dramatically different than the rest of the X-Men films, and that's notably due to its R rating.  While I was initially afraid Deadpool's R rated success would mean Logan was full of extraneous foul language and violence (but without the cheekiness), what is present feels incredibly natural. Like we're actually seeing Wolverine for who he is for the first time, making every other performance seem neutered in comparison. This Logan is older, broken, and incredibly violent. He brutalizes enemies, but it's never portrayed as monstrous as his attacks could be because Jackman fills the role with a much needed humanity. The film always makes a point to note that he never initiates the attacks (unlike the brash Logan seen in, say, the first X-Men). The added caveat of slowly losing his healing abilities also grounds this comic book film in an unprecedented way. For all intents and purposes, Logan is a lonely, introspective character drama. While the character work admittedly will be more effective if you've seen some of the other X-Men films (at least the first one to explain some of the world's elements), it's not completely necessary. The film opens with a scene heartily establishing everything you need to know about this character, and I'll go as far to say it's the best opening scene in the franchise to date.  Logan is full of outstanding performances. While some kitchy turns from Boyd Holbrook's Pierce (a mysterious guy in sunglasses who's chasing after Laura, but Logan's not about that so mentioning his role in the story seems unnecessary), Stephen Merchant's Caliban, and a villain revealed later in the film tend to remind you it's a comic book film, the three central cast members anchor Logan's harsh reality. Hugh Jackman, drawing on his years of experience with the character, puts forth a stellar performance. As mentioned earlier, with the amenities afforded by the film's R rating, Jackman's performance rings more palpable than ever. Like this is the character he's wanted to portray since he signed on to these films all those years ago. His rapport with the sickly Charles is one of the best features in the film as he and Patrick Stewart have developed a mentor/pupil-father/son relationship over the years. Or at least ably portrayed as such. Then there's the young Dafne Keen, who's Laura is defined entirely through her physicality and manages to carve a distinct presence between the two.  Now Logan isn't perfect. One of the film's overlying themes of fighting one's past becomes a little too literal, the tone is so well established the encroaching X-Men talk feels out of place, and some of the dialogue unfortunately I felt I had to forgive under the "comic book film" qualifier, but thinking back on it, these issues didn't bother me as much as I thought they would have. Logan's imperfections lend credibility to the central character's imperfections. The film's problems mirror Logan's distraught sense of self. Is he the colorful hero of years past? Is he the beaten down man who's lost his sense of purpose after years of struggle? There's a distinct push and pull between the two tones as they blend into something not seen before in the genre. In fact, it seems, dare I say realistic?  Above all else, Logan is a film of consequence. It's the first comic book film weighted with actual drama and character work. There's an overwhelming sense of finality and dread permeating throughout making every one of Logan's struggles more tense than the last. If you've followed Wolverine through every one of his adventures, you're sure to be satisfied with Logan. If you haven't, there's still enough tactile emotion here seeping through Logan's ever-worsening wounds to draw you in even slightly.  I don't need to see another X-Men film, or another comic book film ever again. Thanks to Logan, they've become irrelevant. 
Logan Review photo
Brutal, harsh, and absolutely glorious
Logan is a response to a litany of unprecedented events. Comic book films are more popular than ever, the X-Men series is still a viable franchise seventeen years later, Hugh Jackman is still in great health an...

Review: A Cure for Wellness

Feb 17 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221240:43388:0[/embed] A Cure for WellnessDirector: Gore VerbinskiRelease Date: February 17, 2017Rating: R Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young, successful businessman who's tasked by his company to retrieve an executive who's vacationed to a wellness center in the Swiss Alps. But when he shows up to the center, a castle on top of a hill, and meets the mysterious Hannah (Mia Goth) and Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) he discovers something's a miss in the Swiss. Especially when he's forcibly admitted to the asylum. A Cure for Wellness tests the limits of environmental characterization. It's almost as if it's a thesis statement positing how much a film's setting can balance out faults in its characters as long as its engagingly built. Wellness puts the bulk of its work behind building its central asylum, and thus every human character therein is overwhelmingly unlikable as a result. Lockhart's especially troublesome from the second he shows up on screen. While this is clearly an intentional choice, there's very little to invest in when you care so little about Lockhart's well being. Lockhart's put through the ringer, but the film never quite reaches a place where we care about anything happening to him. As he falls victim to various levels of body disfigurement and gross out torture, it becomes more about enjoying the visceral nature of its imagery rather than further the tension of Lockhart's situation. To slightly remedy this, Mia Goth's Hannah is this childlike sprite of a character who seems out of time and place. Every member of this asylum is an wealthy elderly individual leaving their life behind, but Hannah doesn't seem to have a life of her own. When Lockhart's goal transitions from escape to rescuing Hannah, there's a slight shift in his character but he's still very much irredeemable. Thankfully, Goth portrays the right sense of naivete but Hannah's characterization is all in the performance as the film gives her very little to work with.  The flat characters are only a reflection of the film's setting. But while the drab colors and muted tones do not do them any favors, it works wonderfully for the asylum. Verbinski, most likely culminating a career's worth of visual trickery, absolutely nails a creepy vibe. Stark whites (both in the asylum's outfits and staff) juxtaposed with slimy greens coupled with an overall sepia-toned frame to lock the asylum in a past time. Wellness also surprises with a couple of well composed shots (one of which can be sort of seen in the image below) that provide a welcome breather from the asylum's dank nature. This dankness elevates Verbinkski's eventual gross out, masturbatory thrills and truly reaches a point where it can get under your skin. It just never does. Despite this well crafted world, the narrative falls as flat as the characters. Wellness asks for a hefty amount of investment and forgiveness in order to truly enjoy it.  Due to the magical realism of the setting (where slightly mystical themes and subjects coexist with the modern world), and Lockhart's constantly medicated physiology, Wellness essentially follows an unreliable narrator. But this great idea is stifled by a core mystery that's solvable within the first quarter of the film. Which means, you're left with characters making dumb decisions and have overall less sense plodding through the film's run time. It's Verbinkski's recent editing folly that also gives way to six different climaxes. There was a scene about two hours in that would've been a perfect end, but then it just kept going. That's only one example of this too. There are several sequences that feel entirely unnecessary as they neither build character or flesh out the ickiness of the surroundings. Speaking of icky, the actual ending of the film crosses from cool gross out horror into sexual assault and reaches 'B' movie levels of cheese. It's an unfortunate break in tone from the film's build up, and weird to have it both played straight and ridiculed concurrently. It's kind of a kick in the teeth for those who might've enjoyed the rest of the film.  A Cure for Wellness is a "glass half full or glass half empty" situation. It all depends on your perspective of its waters. Half full of good ideas, but half is brought down by poor execution of those ideas. A film I'd slightly recommend as a cautionary tale for film school students or as some goofy entertainment you'd drink through the first half but pass out before the end.  Unfortunately, A Cure for Wellness isn't even a cure for boredom. 
Wellness Review  photo
Remove the cause but not the symptom
Gore Verbinski has always been a peculiar director. I've been a fan of his ever since he did remarkable work adapting the Japanese film Ringu into The Ring (a series that has not fared well in his absence), but choices in Pir...

Thor: Ragnarok photo
Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok concept art reveals Gladiator Hulk and new villain Hela


Some more Thor for your core
Feb 14
// Nick Valdez
It seems the Doctor Strange home video release is going to pack in quite a bit of goodies. Along with both "Team Thor" shorts, it's also sharing our first peek into Thor: Ragnarok. This concept art revealed during a video tea...
Team Thor photo
Team Thor

Thor reunites with his roommate Darryl in new Team Thor short


I've always been Team Thor's guns
Feb 14
// Nick Valdez
Thor: Ragnarok is one of Flixist's most anticipated films of 2017, and that's mainly because director Taika Waititi offers such a refreshing perspective. Capitalizing on Chris Hemsworth's natural humor and charm, this new "Te...

Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

Castlevania showrunner wants to do an R rated Power Rangers cartoon


Adi Shankar up to his old tricks
Feb 10
// Nick Valdez
Adi Shankar, who was recently revealed to be part of an animated Castlevania series on Netflix, is no stranger to weird, violent projects. Known in fan circles for his "Bootleg Universe," he's made fan films based on Venom, T...

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Feb 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221270:43398:0[/embed] The Lego Batman MovieDirector: Chris McKayRelease Date: February 10, 2017Rating: PG The Lego Batman Movie opening with Batman (Will Arnett) parodying traditional film credits and openings (narrating over the DC Comics logo, etc.) pretty much tells you all you need to know about the film. This is indeed a love letter to Batman's goofy past, and isn't afraid to openly mock the mistakes DC's live action films have made. In this film, Batman is happy being alone. He eats alone, laughs at romantic comedies, and groans when his butler/surrogate father Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) tells him what to do. Aping Batman's more childish tendencies this Batman ignores the help and warnings of others; especially the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). But when the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) kickstarts a plan to destroy Gotham City and prove to Batman that he's his number one enemy, Batman must learn to work together with his new makeshift family. Including a son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who Batman unwillingly adopts and brings along as his crime fighting partner.  Wearing its heart and fun on its sleeve, Lego Batman goes for a full-on kitchen sink approach. There's tons of fan service as it alludes to every iteration of the Batman, ranging from the 60's show to the famous animated series, and as much of its 78 year long comic history as it can. Villains like Condiment King and friggin' Orca, DC heroes like Apache Chief and even some pretty damn great surprises from its Warner Bros licensor pop up here. This stuff is certainly going to be great visual candy for its adult fan audience, and the voice cameos are great for everyone (Mariah Carey is the mayor, folks), but it's definitely going to fly over the heads of most of the audience. But there's so much going on at a time, Lego Batman feels too packed to work. It's literally bursting at the seams every scene with visual information packing every corner of the screen. It's so rife and busy with gags, it's tough to suss out what your eyes are supposed to focus on.  To make its visual matters worse, Lego Batman often features tons of rapid-fire jokes (sharing a problem with weaker animated films), and while some of the gags hit hard, a good amount of them are average. The film compounds its bad joke ratio by offering so many, and there were times where I wish it relaxed on them a bit more given how affecting its emotional core can be. The emotional core of Batman learning the meaning of ohana (and no one gets left behind) is drowned out by the chaos. It's even more of a bummer considering how great the film can be when it actually focuses for second. For example, the opening is fantastic as it provides a packed, yet focused narrative. Broken down it's basically: Joker and some villains attack Gotham with a bomb, Batman saves the day, and Batman goes home alone. Yet the opening features tons of characters, an original theme (with beat boxing and guitar solos), establishes its central conflict (as Batman refuses to let anyone into his life, even his most hated enemy). and wonderfully characterizes this Batman as a lonely, showboating blowhard. It's just a shame the film never reaches the same level of awesomeness as its opening twenty minutes.  The Lego Batman Movie's weakness are stemmed from trying to mine a narrative from a one-note character we've already seen the full extent of in another film. Will Arnett is great as a lead, but his performance reeks of diminishing returns. As his Batman constantly speaks, the blowhard nature of the character crosses over into annoying territory. Luckily, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes pick up the slack. Just as how Batman stole the show in The Lego Movie as a supporting character, however, Michael Cera's Robin is the clear standout in Lego Batman. His Dick Grayson is infectiously joyous, the character has a cute design (those bug-eyed glasses are inspired) thus amplifying the naivete Cera gives him, and Robin is tasked with driving the familial themes of the plot forward. He also gets the best running gag, constantly referring to Batman as various versions of "Papa," also. It's pretty funny to see Lego Batman showcasing someone other than its main character like its predecessor.  I've been trying my hardest not to compare The Lego Batman Movie to 2014's The Lego Movie, but it's hard not to when the films are ultimately similar. Aspects of the first film's production which worked so well for me before, just don't share the same level of finesse in its spin-off. The Lego Batman Movie works well as a loving parody of Batman fiction, but it's not going to carry as much weight to those who don't really know (or care) too much about it.  The Lego Batman Movie just isn't as complex as I had hoped it'd be. Sure it's nuts to ask a children's film to be complex, but after its predecessor balanced its audiences so well it stings to watch Batman Movie to go for such cheap gags and greatly limit its audience to a very distinct subset of viewers.  But at least it's not a gritty and mean Batman. Little victories. 
Lego Batman Review photo
Better than Batman v Superman anyway
The Lego Movie was my favorite animated film of 2014. It felt fresh, had a story and jokes fit for both children and their parents, and even managed to deliver a heartfelt message at the end. The big standout was Will Arnett ...

Fate of the SB spot photo
Fate of the SB spot

Fate of the Furious gets a furious Super Bowl spot


Furiously bad
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
Furious 7 was such a huge disappointment to me, I can't bear the thought of the series continuing further. I know some folks enjoyed it, and some are excited for the next film in the series but I'm kind of over it.  This...
Logan SB spot photo
Logan SB spot

Logan gets a damn good Super Bowl spot


A victory lap already
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
Logan has basically been a master class as to how to generate hype from trailers. Although we've seen most of the same footage -- this Super Bowl spot does include a few seconds of new stuff -- I'm pretty sure each time we see it it's been effective.  I'm seeing Logan in a few weeks, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  Logan opens March 3rd. 
Pirates 5 photo
Pirates 5

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Super Bowl spot tells some tales


Not a dead series though
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
I'm not sure who asked for another Pirates film, but I'm kind of glad they did? For some reason, it might be the Johnny Cash song in the trailer, but this Super Bowl spot really works for me.  I mean, until Orlando Bloom pops up anyway. No need to remind me he used to be in these movies.   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens May 26th. 
Galaxy Vol 2 SB Spot photo
Galaxy Vol 2 SB Spot

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Super Bowl spot promises more fun


Drax is the best though
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
If you needed any more convincing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2's awesomeness, this Super Bowl spot does the trick. I was a bit held off from it at first, but this is really all I needed to be happy with it. Bigger team, b...
Life photo
Life

Newest trailer and Super Bowl spot for Life looks pretty great


I don't want, your life
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
There haven't been enough sci-fi horror films lately, and this year's great because we're getting two! Along with Alien: Covenant (which will inevitably draw comparison to this) is Life, a film that's more likely going to be ...
Ghost in the Super Bowl photo
Ghost in the Super Bowl

Ghost in the Shell's Super Bowl spot serves good face


Super in the Bowl
Feb 05
// Nick Valdez
There's been a lot of back and forth over whether Ghost in the Shell, a film adapted from a famous manga and anime property, would work under Western direction. There's been even more of a fuss over the lack of a Japanese lea...
Trans-five-mers photo
Wahlburger with cheese
The first Transformers: The Last Knight trailer was a complete mess. Those hoping new footage would somehow make sense of it (me) are going to be gravely disappointed. The Super Bowl spot clears up one thing, Optimus is clear...

Flixist's Most Anticipated Films of 2017

Jan 27 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221225:43358:0[/embed] John Wick: Chapter 2Director: Chad StahelskiRelease Date: February 10, 2017 John Wick was the most surprising release of the last few years. I mean, out of nowhere Keanu Reeves literally declares that he's "thinking [he's] back" and it's the most awesome thing ever? Who would've guessed that? I don't really have any expectations for the sequel, other than hoping it's more awesomeness, but I'm looking forward to it all the same. We need more purely fun action films, and I'm sure Chapter 2 is going to deliver. Just seeing footage of Reeves practicing for the film's gunfights was enough to hook me. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43359:0[/embed] The LEGO Batman MovieDirector: Chris McKayRelease Date: February 10, 2017 No one either expected The LEGO Movie to be as good as it was nor did they expect its standout star, Batman, to get his own spin-off. With as seriously Warner Bros. has been taking Batman lately, every bit of footage from LEGO has been a welcome breath of fresh air. Instead of the gruff and grumbly loner, we have a goofy Batman realizing he actually wants friends? That's honestly the greatest thing since the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. I hope this succeeds for WB and we eventually get a LEGO Justice League to counteract what's going to happen in live-action. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43374:0[/embed] Get OutDirector: Jordan PeeleRelease Date: February 24, 2017 Jordan Peele is probably the last person I'd expect to make a horror film, but Get Out looks like a phenomenally creepy and paranoid movie. The trailer looks sort of like The Wicker Man but with racist suburban white people, using those horror conventions to explore deep-seated racial anxieties. (Even the elevator pitch is pretty awesome, right?) Get Out had a secret screening at Sundance this year and received some excellent reviews. -- Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43370:0[/embed] LoganDirector: James MangoldRelease Date: March 3, 2017 In what his purported last bow as the titular character that reinvented and reinvigorated superhero movies for the better part of two decades now, Hugh Jackman stars as a gritty, older, meaner Wolverine. So the last Wolverine flick squandered ninjas (and almost Yakuza); if the trailers are any indication, we're going to get the bloody mess (the good kind) we've been waiting for with this X-Men solo film. Look for murder, blood, guts, and swearing, for this film (taking a page from Deadpool), is rated R. Jackman has owned this role better than perhaps any other actor has a superhero, and I'm eager to see him go berserker style one more time (any duds in his time in the yellow spandex were no fault of his). -- Rick Lash [embed]221225:43360:0[/embed] Kong: Skull IslandDirector: Jordan Vogt-RobertsRelease Date: March 10, 2017 Recipe for a blockbuster: Take some of today's hottest actors (Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston) and pair them with veterans (John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, and the ever-flawless John C. Reilly). Mix in one giant ape and mix well. Garnish with an island full of monsters. Serves 50-100 million. -- Sean Walsh [embed]221225:43375:0[/embed] Raw (Grave)Director: Julia DucournauRelease Date: March 10, 2017 When Raw screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, there were reports of audience members fainting, vomiting, and rushing out in distress. Some of this may be pure hype, and some of it may be weak constitutions from the TIFF crowd. Julia Ducournau's cannibal coming-of-age/sexual awakening movie is sure to cause a lot of sensation and shrieking revulsion when it finally hits theaters. --Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43361:0[/embed] Beauty and the BeastDirector: Bill CondonRelease Date: March 17, 2017 Remaking all of their animated films seemed like a dumb idea at first, but after their string of successes, I no longer have any qualms with Disney's process. I've been pretty much turned into a sucker, so I'm hoping Beauty and the Beast can only continue the great trend set by its predecessors. It's hard to ruin a story like Beast's and the central cast looks great. Not sure about Dan Stevens' Beast since it looks friggin' weird, but Emma Watson is a darling and I can't wait to hear her sing and then everyone else sing and then oh my god the singing. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43372:0[/embed] The Belko ExperimentDirector: Greg McLeanRelease Date: March 17, 2017 As if a new Guardians wasn't enough this year, cinema god James Gunn penned this film that combines The Office and Battle Royale (two of my favorite things). Eighty white-collar works are ordered to murder each other or else in a twisted game. Featuring John Gallagher Jr. of 10 Cloverfield Lane and Dr. Cox himself, John C. McGinley, The Belko Experiment is designed to be this year's cult hit. -- Sean Walsh [embed]221225:43362:0[/embed] Power RangersDirector: Dean IsrealiteRelease Date: March 24, 2017 Everyone has the one fandom they'll fight for. Some have Star Wars, others have Doctor Who, but I have Power Rangers. I've meticulously examined every photo, every trailer, and every single bit of info I could get my hands on for this. Let's just say I'm glad this is coming out in March. If it were any later, I would've lost my damn mind over it. At this point, I'm so interested in this release I'm sick of it. I need it in my eyeballs already so I can move on with my life. Ugh, I hope this isn't my generation's Transformers.  -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43371:0[/embed] Ghost in the ShellDirector: Rupert SandersRelease Date: March 31, 2017 Anime is huge worldwide, but successfully transferring from cartoon to live action (and often condensing massively drawn out story arcs into singular multi-hour vehicles) has proven difficult, if not impossible to do (here's looking at you, Avatar: The Last Airbender). Based off what we've seen so far, this is an honest attempt to do so, and I believe the story of Ghost in the Shell serves the effort well; it's good source material to condense and create a wholistic story arc that will satisfy hungry viewers. Unfortunately, casting Scarlett Johansson in a role that would presumably go to someone of Asian heritage has already led to controversy and detracted from hype at what could be a kickass movie. -- Rick Lash [embed]221225:43376:0[/embed] ColossalDirector: Nacho VigalondoRelease Date: April 7, 2017 So, okay... Let me get this straight. Colossal is an oblique kaiju movie that's also a comedy about a woman's personal connection to a giant monster destroying South Korea? You had me at "hello". I can only assume that the monster is some psychic manifestation of existential despair and the uncertainties of life in the modern world. You know, the usual. --Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43377:0[/embed] Your Name (君の名は。, Kimi no Na wa)Director: Makoto ShinkaiRelease Date: April 7, 2017 Your Name has become the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history (worldwide box office) and the fourth-highest grossing film in Japan (domestic box office). It's been in Japanese theaters for 22 weeks, and it's finally coming to the United States in April. The coming-of-age film features time travel and body-swapping, and a pretty catchy tune in the trailer. Your Name is apparently an extremely emotional ride, and its animation looks crisp and beautiful as well. --Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43378:0[/embed] Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2Director: James GunnRelease Date: May 5, 2017 The first Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite MCU films since it does its own thing so well. And by that I mean it was The Goonies in space. Vol 2 looks like another jolly romp in far reaches of space, but this time with a baby Groot. My hope is the movie doesn't get too bogged down in setting up Avengers: Infinity War and just rollicks along on its own adventure. I also hope the second volume of the Awesome Mix is as good as the first. --Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43363:0[/embed] Alien: CovenantDirector: Ridley ScottRelease Date: May 19, 2017 I'm not the hugest fan of the Alien series, which was only made worse by Prometheus, but Covenant really made an impression on me. I know some found its trailer derivative, but I'm definitely looking forward to sci-fi horror. There just isn't enough of it anymore. I know it's yet another crew landing on a strange planet somewhere before xenomorphs attack, but whatever. 2016 majorly lacked good horror films, so 2017 already has to make up for it in spades. Pressure's on. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43364:0[/embed] Wonder WomanDirector: Patty Jenkins Release Date: June 2, 2017 Wonder Woman both fairly and unfairly has much riding on it to succeed. It's a blockbuster film directed by a woman (who should not be an outlier), it's the first superhero blockbuster with a woman in the lead, and it's the first superheroine getting her first film. I've been hyped for it based on existence alone, but it's been elevated by how great Gal Gadot was in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I'm still wary of her being able to lead a film, but I can't get over how great Diana looks motion. Wonder Woman is an outlier for many reasons, but I hope it's mainly for being the one good film DC Comics and Warner Bros can pull together. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43365:0[/embed] The MummyDirector: Alex KurtzmanRelease Date: June 9, 2017 When Universal announced plans for a culled together universe of all of their classic monster properties (beginning with the awful Dracula Untold), I didn't think much of it until the first trailer for The Mummy. Now if you would've told me that there's a potential universe of films where Tom Cruise fights classic monsters, I would've been sold day one. Cruise is the last of the classic Hollywood guys successfully pulling off action films, so he and old monster types go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Coupled with Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy and we could have a winner here. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221225:43366:0[/embed] Transformers: The Last KnightDirector: Michael BayRelease Date: June 23, 2017 The Transformers films have always been a special kind of terrible. They look fantastic, but are also a visual nightmare. The explosions are cool, but they're also so frequent you can't enjoy any of them. There's tons of fan service in the story, but the story makes no damn sense. I have no idea what's going with The Last Knight (the trailer didn't help matters, either), but I, for some reason, have a strong compulsion to see it. I've already invested so much of time into this god-forsaken junk heap that I can't really stop now. I'm in it till the world ends. -- Nick Valdez [embed]221107:43259:0[/embed] Spiderman: HomecomingDirector: Jon WattsRelease Date: July 17, 2017 I like the Marvel cinematic universe, but I don't love it. It's big. It's fun. Everything feels basically the same. (Everything is basically the same.) But with Spiderman: Homecoming, I think there's the potential for something really interesting. It's crazy to think that this is the third time we're seeing a new Spiderman saga unfold in just 15 years, but I'm particularly excited by this one. If his unnecessary-but-fantastic sequences in Civil War are any indication, Tom Holland is an excellent Peter Parker/Spiderman, and I'm oh-so glad that they're not doing an origin story this time. He's got the powers. That's what matters. Maybe we'll get a few flashbacks, but we're also getting a RDJ team-up, and, like, that's great.  The trailer looks fun and has a different type of drama. Lower stakes drama. Part of the problem with Marvel movies for me is just how high stakes they always have to be. While there's definitely some big stuff going down in Homecoming, it's also a high school drama. It's low-key, and I'm looking forward to that in and of itself. -- Alec Kubas-Meyer [embed]221225:43379:0[/embed] DunkirkDirector: Christopher NolanRelease Date: July 21, 2017 Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk looks like the prestige war film of the year, and probably the only movie I'm interested in seeing in IMAX upon release. I wonder how Nolan will chronicle this particular event from World War II, in which demoralized British and French troops evacuated Dunkirk, spared only by a halt order by the Nazis. Nolan's got a great ensemble cast to work with, including Kenneth Brannagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, and Cillian Murphy. --Hubert Vigilla [embed]221225:43380:0[/embed] Valerian and the City of a Thousand PlanetsDirector: Luc BessonRelease Date: July 21, 2017 It's been a long time since a Luc Besson movie has interested me. Leave it to Valerian to get me intrigued in Besson. Visually arresting and full of lush, vertiginous science fiction cityscapes, this looks like The Fifth Element writ large. The film is an adaption of the French comic book series Valerian and Laureline, which I really want to check out. There'll probably be a reprint omnibus closer to July to coincide with the film. --Hubert Vigilla The Dark TowerDirector: Nikolaj ArcelRelease Date: July 28, 2017 The Dark Tower is widely considered Stephen King's opus: a sprawling, seven-book, 4,250-word, 22-year and western-fantasy-horror genre-bending odyssey. Featuring the monster acting chops of  Idras Elba as Roland Deschain, aka the Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey (yes, post-True Detective, he has earned the accolade) as Walter Padick, aka the Man in Black, this one promises to have the potential to surprise and deliver. Director Nikolaj Arcel has said this is more of a sequel to the books than an adaptation, so even diehard fans will have new material to look forward to. -- Rick Lash [embed]221135:43281:0[/embed] Blade Runner 2049Director: Denis VilleneuveRelease Date: October 6, 2017 Sometimes, things are better left alone. A part of me feels like Blade Runner might be one ofthose cases. Of course, to actually make that argument, you'd have to think that the theatrical cut, marred by studio interference, was well enough to be left alone. Obviously, it wasn't, and it would be a very long time before there was a proper cut of what is objectively among the best science-fiction films of all time. But it doesn't really matter if the film "should" be left as its own thing, because we've got a sequel. And ya know what? I'm excited about it. Denis Villeneuve, as I say any chance I get, is among my favorite working directors, and there's not another director I would trust more to make a worthwhile follow-up to such a classic.  I mean... did you see that teaser? Oh my god I'm so hype. -- Alec Kubas-Meyer [embed]221225:43373:0[/embed] Thor: RagnarokDirector: Taika WaititiRelease Date: November 3, 2017 As if I wasn't already going to see Thor 3, Marvel went and tossed Hulk into the mix. A buddy movie set in space at least partially adapting Planet Hulk, Ragnarok will assuredly give us more intense universe-building action and fan-service as we race ever closer to Infinity War. And if that wasn't enough to sell you, Jeff Goldblum, will, uh, um, be playing The Grandmaster! -- Sean Walsh [embed]221225:43367:0[/embed] Justice LeagueDirector: Zack SnyderRelease Date: November 17, 2017 I hated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as much as the next guy, and the thought of another non-Wonder Woman film from DC is grating, but as with Transformers, I have to see this through. Like it or not, it's going to be the first time we ever see all of these superheroes in a film together and I really want it to succeed. Did Zack Snyder take all of the complaints into account? Probably not. He said he paid attention last time, but that only resulted in a vengeful, hateful Batman that Ben Affleck himself hates doing. So who really knows what's going to happen here? Well, whichever way this swings I'm here for it. -- Nick Valdez CocoDirector: Lee Unkrich Release Date: November 22, 2017 Latinx culture always gets the shaft when it comes to representation. Always relegated to some film fetishizing rather than celebrating, I've been eagerly awaiting a film to capture what makes the culture so special. While it's not handled by Latinx creators like the similar The Book of Life, I'm hoping Pixar's Coco can tell our story. Or, at the very least, make a film as lovable as ones they have done in the past. I'd enjoy seeing kids fall in love with characters of Mexican influence, and given our current political climate, that's needed now more than ever. -- Nick Valdez Star Wars: The Last JediDirector: Rian JohnsonRelease Date: December 15, 2017 While I generally enjoyed The Force Awakens, its second half was too slavishly anchored to the first Star Wars. I have high hopes for Rian Johnson's sequel, mainly because I think Johnson will get away from repeating too many beats from previous Star Wars films and just play Star Wars in a Star Wars movie. The title The Last Jedi is intriguing, though as many people have pointed out, “Jedi” is both singular and plural. On a more somber note, I wonder if the film will feature some sort of tribute to Carrie Fisher. May the force be with us all. --Hubert Vigilla OkjaDirector: Bong Joon-HoRelease Date: TBA  Bong Joon-Ho is the only Korean filmmaker I genuinely trust to make English-language films. I had my reservations about Snowpiercer (ones not necessarily shared with many of my peers), but it was a fascinating and solid outing, and the language barrier doesn't seem to have been the cause of any issues. So, if he wants to continue doing it? I'm all for it. Netflix is behind Okja, which is fascinating and exciting in and of itself. Their film hasn't been up to the level of their TV, but this could very well be the film to change it. If it's good and Netflix feels its success, it can only mean good things going forward. In that sense, there's a fair bit riding on the film. But I think it's a pretty good chance of pulling it off. I mean, it's got a hell of a cast and an extremely talented director putting it all together. What's not to be excited about? -- Alec Kubas-Meyer A Ghost StoryDirector: David LoweryRelease Date: TBA Recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the buzz around David Lowery's A Ghost Story has caught my attention. A love story starring Casey Affleck (as a ghost) and Rooney Mara (as a non-ghost), the film is chockablock with grief, longing, and metaphysical contemplation. And apparently there's some scene of Mara eating a pie people just won't shut up about. --Hubert Vigilla Wind RiverDirector: Taylor SheridanRelease Date: TBA  The man who wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water has directed a film that has been described as the spiritual successor to both. Since this is Taylor Sheridan's first time behind the camera, I'm expecting Wind River to be a little shaky, but I also expect it to have an extremely strong script that should support and technical weaknesses we may see. It also stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who are both excellent when given the opportunity. I don't know much about the film (intentional), but it's certainly piqued my interest out of Sundance, where it just premiered. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it for myself. -- Alec Kubas-Meyer Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion MovieDirector: Paul Thomas AndersonRelease Date: TBA A new film from Paul Thomas Anderson will always hold my attention. All I know about his newest project is that it's about the fashion industry in the 1950s and it will star Daniel Day-Lewis. I expect big things, and I expect broad things, and I expect some sort of memorable line about milkshakes. I also hope it will screen at this year's New York Film Festival like Inherent Vice a few years ago. --Hubert Vigilla
Most Anticipated 2017 photo
Some real gems this year...maybe
Now that we're finally through the cinematic winter wasteland of January, we can finally look forward to seeing some great, or interesting, films. But which ones are possibly worth our time and money? The Flixist staff was so...

Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Jan 27 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221227:43368:0[/embed] Resident Evil: The Final ChapterDirector: Paul W.S. AndersonRelease Date: January 27, 2017Rating: R Much like previous entries in this series (a technique unique to this and the Saw series, hilariously enough), Final Chapter begins immediately after the events of the previous film, 2012's Retribution. After a failed attack on the Umbrella Corporation in Washington D.C. -- causing the deaths of all but one of the remaining characters from the video game series -- leaves Alice (Milla Jovovich) alone and broken, she learns of a cure to the T-Virus locked within the corporation's base from the first film. But with only 48 hours until the last settlements of humanity are wiped out, Alice is forced to race against time and face villains from her past like Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) last seen in the third film, Extinction. Also Ali Larter shows up.  Final Chapter is an aggressively busy film. The camera is constantly in motion. Whether it's shaky cam during dialogue, quick cuts of the same fight scene from different angles, or zoom-ins to Jovovich's face, the camera is rarely still, if ever. Coupled with sound mixing making everything about ten times louder than it needs to be (making the numerous jump scares in the film's opening much more abrasive than they should be), and the film has a high barrier to entry to those outside of its fan base. Sure it may be ridiculous to assume a person would watch Final Chapter before any of the other films, but I could only assume those without background knowledge of the series would be completely lost. With only a brief primer outlining the series thus far at the opening, there's not much to latch onto since the story is too bare bones to stand out beyond its technical mayhem.  But while the film is a technical mess, and its story is spread too thin to work anywhere else, somehow Final Chapter's bits of awfulness coalesce into a workable package. It's the "so bad it's good" film conundrum the series has found itself in the past, and pockets of that occasionally pop up here. The film hits such a height of ridiculousness at certain points, I didn't really know how to react to it. While Final Chapter is indeed taking itself seriously, its punctuated by fun, action film choices. Triple barreled shotguns, rivers of fire, and even fan service like the return of the series famous laser grid. It may all be incredibly juvenile, but I still appreciate seeing Milla tear up the joint. This film reminded me how well the Resident Evil series has focused action films around a female lead, and how much better these films are when Jovovich is clearly enjoying her work.  As for everyone else involved, I couldn't say the same. While there are other actors in this film, I couldn't say there were any real characters. The Final Chapter has such a brisk pace, there's no room for development for other characters than Alice. The Alice-focused narrative works for Jovovich's performance, but lowers the film's stakes and tension. Characters fight and die, but there's little reason to care about any of it. The only performances worth noting beyond Jovovich are Ali Larter's and Iain Glen's because they've nailed down the strange seriousness they need to deliver their lines. And since I'll probably never get the chance to mention this again, I just want to declare how much I've missed Ali Larter. Seeing her in Final Chapter reminded me how much I loved seeing her on-screen. There may not be any more Resident Evil films in the works (presumably), but I hope she pops up somewhere. Same for Jovovich, too.  Your mileage will vary with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. If you've never seen the Resident Evil films, don't bother. If you're slightly interested in it because the newest Resident Evil game piqued you curiousity, don't bother. If you've watched the other films but only slightly curious to see how the series ends, you're better off waiting a while until you can watch it a home with a bunch of drinking buddies.  But for those of you who absolutely love the Resident Evil films, and there are some of you out there, you won't get a better ending than this. Final Chapter is passionately, crazily built for you, and you won't get the same care anywhere else.  Sadly, however, this film was released to everyone. 
RE Review photo
At least it's the last one
The Resident Evil films have always been a special kind of terrible. While not great films in their own right, each film is part of a larger ambitious tale further spurned on by both fan and creator devotion. Each one might n...

Nick's Top 15 Movies of 2016

Jan 24 // Nick Valdez
15. Shin Godzilla I've got to admit my major Godzilla bias helped it make the list, but I argue it's a great enough movie to belong here. Along with a fresh take on an old monster, Toei gave it a more pro-active Japan in the narrative. In films past when Godzilla attacked, the Japanese citizens were always just reacting to Godzilla or running from this nuclear fear. But in Shin Godzilla, it's the humans who are finally able to put him down. Through intelligent strategy (as it unfolds like a political thriller that also sneaks in some digs at the Western version of Godzilla) and science, the humans prove that there is hope in a hopeless situation. It's a far cry from where Toei started with this series. Couple the strong message with a fantastic monster suit, and Godzilla has never been better.  14. Morris From America What seemed to be a major theme in 2016 was youths growing up in an ever changing world. Quite a bit of films followed kids as they formed their own perspectives and found their voices. One of the more unique takes was Morris From America, which followed the young Morris (Markees Christmas, who is going to have a huge career ahead of him) and his father (Craig Robinson, who definitely should pursue more dramatic work) as they both tried to accept their new lives in Germany. Morris finding his way through rap lyrics, and then discovering that he shouldn't merely mirror the voices of others, was a journey we don't really see much in film. It's a nice slice of life about a kid just trying to be himself. That's always nice.  13. Hell or High Water In might be because I'm from Texas, so I'm willing to forgive a lot of its character faults because I know people like this, but Hell or High Water really struck a chord with me. It just seemed so unique. It's a film following two sets of characters as a string of robberies occur in bumblefuck Texas, but there's just so much said. It's all in the smaller moments such as when a jerk gets his face bashed in, or when Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham throw subtle, racist jabs at one another. Or when Ben Foster and Chris Pine's characters rob a bank and you have hilariously awkward dialogue between the two of them. Then it's all the more devastating when the film reminds you of the reality of these characters' situation. There's beauty in the film's gradual progression.  12. Fences Since Denzel Washington directed Fences, and helped get it to the big screen in the first place, it was touted as some kind of major performance from him, but he's honestly my least favorite part. It's everything around him that's fantastic. In fact, his overacted performance actually works in his favor since his overbearing father character is inherently flawed and unlikable. But you feel for his family, these characters, trapped in this continuously awful situation until Viola Davis just breaks down and brings in the most commanding performance of the year. It's a bit of a dense piece, but worth the watch completely.  11. 10 Cloverfield Lane This Cloverfield sequel was the first major surprise of 2016. Hitting theaters only two months after its sudden announcement, it was already in my good graces since I didn't really have any expectations for it. What we got was one of the more tense productions of the year with standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. In fact this film was so damn good, the thought of an entire Cloverfield extended universe doesn't seem too bad at all. It cemented Cloverfield's franchise status and gave us the kind of sci-fi horror we haven't seen in years.  10. Sing Street It might be unfair to compare two musicals, but after such a drought it seems apt. La La Land is going to get all of the attention (which is mostly deserves), but Sing Street was the musical that hit home for me. Kids forming a new wave band in 1980s Dublin might not seem like the most inclusive premise, but it's positivity makes it familiar. It's a nice musical about chasing your dreams, and it's got a killer soundtrack to boot. "Drive It Like You Stole It" was one of my favorite songs in film last year, and the final performance was one of my favorite moments of the year entirely. Sing Street is charming, quietly strong, and it's just a musical of pure fun.  9. Moana Disney always seems to find a way onto my end of year lists, and 2016 was no different. But while there were two strong offerings, Moana is leagues above Zootopia in its awesomeness. A princess film where a young girl learns not to just aim to help a man, but accomplish things her own damn self? It says more than Frozen ever did. While the soundtrack admittedly doesn't have the staying power of its more Broadway predecessor, the film makes up for it with a deep color palette, astounding animation, and awesome performances from its two leads. Auli'i Cravalho has a major career ahead of her, and I can't wait to see how far she'll go.  8. O.J.: Made in America You can argue the five hour O.J.: Made in America project isn't technically a film, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better documentary last year. A documentary somehow always finds a way on to my list each year, so I definitely felt I should include this seeing as how I watched all five hours of it in one sitting. The O.J. Simpson trial happened before I was conscientious of things happening in the world around me, so seeing it all laid bare is fascinating. An enthralling portrait of the figurehead Simpson had become through his trial and then cataloging his public descent into mediocre madness was honestly something you couldn't make up. "Stranger than fiction" has never been more appropriate.  7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople Taika Waititi has quickly become one of my favorite directors. After a strong showing in the surprising What We Do in the Shadows, and before seeing what he can do with Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is yet another home run for him. The story of a kid in New Zealand who's been bounced between foster homes and his adoptive father who couldn't give less of a damn about him running through the forest is one of the funniest films of the year. Like Shadows before it, it's a dialogue heavy comedy full of of awkwardness and charm from the young Julian Dennison.  6. The Jungle Book I can't believe Disney took a terrible sounding idea, remaking their animated films into live-action, and produced some of their best work from it. Maleficent, Cinderella, and now The Jungle Book. I've never been a fan of the original, but Favreau's take was fantastic. Stunningly animated animals, a great voice cast (with Walken's mob boss styled King Louie being an obvious stand out) , a tense story, and a great performance from the young Neel Sethi, who somehow was still believable while acting for a green screen. I watched this a number of times last year just to marvel at it, and I don't expect to stop anytime soon.  5. Moonlight The one major awards contender I'm rooting for is Moonlight. It's simply incredible. Watching the young, quiet Chiron grow, deal with his terrible home situation, struggle with his sexual identity, and survive in a world that wants to destroy is a phenomenal experience. Barry Jenkins' directorial strength comes through with his intimacy in heinous situations and finding the beauty in the mundane. A deep, bright color palette showing Miami in a light rarely seen in film, close face ups that linger on a character's internal pains, and strong central performances anchor the film's journey. It's not a film I can recommend for everyone, as my own sister exclaimed how boring she felt it was, but it's an experience you should have for yourself.  4. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping I've always taken The Lonely Island trio of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone for granted since I keep forgetting how much genius they share between them. Their last project, Hot Rod, is still a film I re-watch to this day, and Popstar dutifully continues that tradition. I've seen it four times since I first viewed it in theaters and, of course, I'll never stop never stop it. A hilarious script, charming performance from the trio, and original songs that oddly sound great enough to fit in with the pop scene. The genius is in how slightly off each of those songs are, to remind you of the parody. I mean, "Equal Rights" and "Finest Girl" are some of the most hilarious things I've heard in years.  3. Kubo and the Two Strings I was attached to Kubo from its very first trailer. Laika is one of the few studios keeping stop-motion animation alive, and luckily for all of us they're phenomenal at it. Kubo is their strongest offering to date with the story of the titular Kubo journeying across the world to find the pieces of a mystical suit of armor to fight the ghosts of his unknown past. It's got this mythical quality in its storytelling, so it's kind of like a new, yet familiar take on a fairy tale. Coupled with the previously mentioned crisp animation (which Laika makes more and more seamless with each film), great voice cast (including the likes of Rooney Mara and Charlize Theron), and stunning score. I've yet to hear a better version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." 2. The Nice Guys So this came out of nowhere, huh? Shane Black's unique perspective always yields a great film and The Nice Guys is no different. Ryan Gosling may get tons of attention for La La Land, but he had a much more nuanced performance in this film. He even seemed to have more fun bouncing off of Russell Crowe in Black's vibrant, violent version of the 1970s. This dark comedy was unique, full of tons of memorable scenes, and has my favorite finale of the year. That final shootout was fantastic. Black really has a handle on his scene geography so you never lose sight of where everyone is, yet there's still plenty of surprise. Too bad it's bound to ignored by virtually everyone.  1. Green Room For me, 2016 peaked early. Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room premiered in April and ever since then, I found myself watching films and thinking "Well that was good, but not as good as Green Room." It is just so f**king intense, man. The chilling, stoic viciousness of Patrick Stewart's performance, the unbelievably charming band, The Ain't Rights, at the center (with a fiery rendition of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," which is sadly needed now more than ever), and top tier performances from Imogen Poots and the late, too f**king great, Anton Yelchin. When the world came crumbling down around these characters, it was so tense my mouth was wide open the entire time. A brutal knuckle drag of a film with an unapologetic, highly intelligent narrative bound to make you hate Nazis even more (if that were even possible, to be honest).  Green Room is pure gold, and my favorite film of 2016. 
Nick's Top 15  photo
2016 was rough, but the movies were good
2016 was full of all sorts of losses for me. My life went through a few unwelcome changes, we've got a crazy President now, and the general air was full of strife. But at least there were some good movies last year. The year ...

Every Power Rangers Theme Song, Ranked

Jan 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221220:43333:0[/embed] 20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive (2007) Back when Disney owned the rights to Power Rangers, they made quite a bit of changes in order to reinvent it for their network. Punches and kicks were replaced by more lasers, explosions allegedly couldn't occur in front of the Rangers themselves, and they wanted to do a rap theme for some time. Unfortunately for all of us, their idea of rap was total garbage.  Highlighting the worst season of Power Rangers is faux-techno rap babble with the lyrics "There's treasures to be found, there's some lives to be saved, our planet to look after, there's a whole lot of space!" There's a whole lot of something, all right.  [embed]221220:43334:0[/embed] 19. Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers (1996)  I wasn't originally going to count this, as the Alien Rangers arc is the capper of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' final season and it's merely a copy of the OG theme with "alien rangers" in the lyrics, but you'll see in the next couple of entries this theme has a bit more effort in it than others.  I'm giving it credit for merely existing when it didn't need to. We didn't need a new theme, but it was nice to hear something different in preparation for the major reboot the series would go through a season later.  [embed]221220:43335:0[/embed] 18. Power Rangers Samurai (2011) / Power Rangers Super Samurai (2012) When Saban re-acquired the rights to Power Rangers (which fans have dubbed the "Neo-Saban"-era), they chose to reintroduce the series to kids on Nickelodeon with a remix of the show's original theme with the additional lyrics, "Rangers Together, Samurai Forever." But unlike the Alien Rangers theme, this remix is weak. I get the need to reintroduce the series' mythos to a new generation, but Saban missed the chance to highlight the show's obviously Japanese influences.  It's reflective of Saban's growing pains over the next few seasons that'll only get worse. Even worse is having the characters shout their names during the title sequence, treating kids like little idiots.  [embed]221220:43336:0[/embed] 17. Power Rangers Megaforce (2013) / Power Rangers Super Megaforce (2014) Megaforce was a worse season than Samurai in a lot of ways. Chiefly it's biggest disappointment was in how lazy of a show it was. It's exactly the same theme, complete with characters shouting their names during the credits, but it's just slightly better thanks to the first couple of seconds. With a season as lazy as this was, take what you can get.  [embed]221220:43337:0[/embed] 16. Power Rangers Mystic Force (2006) Just as Operation Overdrive somehow needed a rap in its theme song, Mystic Force was the first attempt at it. It's not a full-on trash rap, nor is it just a retread, but it's not an accomplishment by any means. This season was weak for a number of reasons, but the theme should've been the first indicator of its overall terribleness. [embed]221220:43354:0[/embed] 15. Power Rangers Jungle Fury (2008) Remember the band Metro Station? What about 3OH!3? Well, if either or those bands wrote a Power Rangers theme song it'd be whatever the hell this song is. Taking advantage of the faux-emo wave at the time is this piece of work which in no way suited a cool season of kung-fu Rangers.  Jungle Fury had a lot of great things going for it, but I could imagine this theme song turning kids away. It's just way too in your face with its awfulness.  [embed]221220:43338:0[/embed] 14. Power Rangers RPM (2009) Originally intended to be the final season of the series, as Disney got tired of spending money on it, RPM was a surprisingly mature story of the last bits of humanity fighting against machine apocalypse. Borrowing imagery from films like Mad Max and Terminator, this series was as awesome as Power Rangers has ever gotten...but the theme didn't tell you any of that. Other than some techno mess in the middle of it, this theme was a little too generic. All it's got to offer are a few "Power Rangers RPM, get in gear!" thrown in every now and again, and it's a letdown for what's arguably the best season of the series.  But it's not a rap song, so there's that.  [embed]221220:43341:0[/embed] 13. Power Rangers Wild Force (2002) Wild Force was basically a Power Rangers version of Captain Planet, as the Rangers fought against pollution and what not, so a boring season unfortunately got an equally boring theme song. There's nothing technically wrong with the song, it's just a little too loud and busy to really hit home. Accompanying animal roars, a tone that's constantly aggressive, with nothing sticking out to make it unique. The best seasons (as you'll read in a bit) have themes with distinguishing, memorable characteristics. Don't expect anyone to remember this.  [embed]221220:43340:0[/embed] 12. Power Rangers Ninja Storm (2003)  Ninja Storm's opening theme is about as forgettable as Wild Force's, but what makes it win over in the end is how unique it is. Matching its series' tone of extreme sports loving ninja masters is a chill rock song that helps play up the "Storm" in the series title. There still has yet to be a theme like it.  [embed]221220:43342:0[/embed] 11. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (1999) Since Lost Galaxy was the first self-contained season of the series, not continuing the story started in MMPR, it needed a theme that sounded wholly different than what had come before. And it got that...for the first thirty seconds or so. As the first opening theme of the series not composed by Ron Wasserman (who's credits include MMPR through In Space and the Mummies Alive! opening theme), it's different enough to stand out yet feels similar enough to themes before. But after the great "ahhhhhhhh," it starts feeling repetitive. Granted all of these themes are repetitive, but this one really lets down its grandiose beginning.  [embed]221220:43343:0[/embed] 10.  Power Rangers Ninja Steel (2017) Since this season just premiered it might be a bit too soon to have the opening theme crack the top ten, but it's pretty dang good. It's the opening few seconds that really drive the point home. While I'm not sure if the series will live up to the Asian influences the theme presents, it already seems much different than seasons before. Coupled with a remix of the original theme (in order to keep building the mythos, as mentioned) thrown in for good measure, and I'm pretty stricken with it.  [embed]221220:43344:0[/embed] 9. Power Rangers Turbo (1997) As the only season of the series to premiere with a movie, Turbo didn't have to do much. The season itself had a ton of problems, but its theme has the best final seconds of any season. While the full version of this theme breaches hilariously bad territory (complete with a car starting up for the first 20 seconds), the show's 30 second cut was amazing. It's surprising the series never returned to 30 second themes, but it at least helped Turbo.  [embed]221220:43346:0[/embed] 8. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000) I don't know why, but Lightspeed Rescue has the one theme I found myself singing the most as a kid. Like Lost Galaxy, the second half doesn't have as much to offer as the first but I prefer the lyrics here than in most of the other themes. It's goofy, but in a series about an emergency rescue team of Rangers, the lyrics "the signal is calling, our planet is falling, the danger will test you, better make it Lightspeed Rescue!" are just hype.  [embed]221220:43345:0[/embed] 7. Power Rangers Zeo (1996) Zeo marked a lot of first for the series. It was the first reboot, it was the first time the Rangers had wholly new suits and powers, and it was the first real season to change the theme. Thankfully, it delivered on everything it was supposed to. With lyrics like "stronger than before" and "powered up for more," mixed it with the standard "Go Go Power Rangers!" you really got the idea that these new powers were different, better maybe.  [embed]221220:43347:0[/embed] 6. Power Rangers Dino Charge (2015) / Power Rangers Dino Super Charge (2016) Speaking of remixes, Saban wouldn't get it right until much much later with Dino Charge. The first good season of the Neo-Saban era, Dino Charge burst out of the gate with a theme sounding like an original until it reminded you that it's a remix of the original song. If Power Rangers could've been reintroduced with this series, this opening theme, than it be a much bigger hit for Nickelodeon than it is now. There's something about dinosaur themes that really makes Power Rangers pop.  [embed]221220:43350:0[/embed] 5. Power Rangers In Space (1998) Just as how RPM was intended to be the final season of the series years later, In Space was initially planned to be the final season before doing well enough in the ratings thanks to its space opera narrative. This theme may have an atonal quality to its lyrics, but the opening countdown has always set it apart in my mind. As the final theme (at the time) composed by Ron Wasserman, it has a ton going for it. The final half, while admittedly as repetitive as other themes on this list, is too hype to pass up. I think the "go go go fly!" always does me in, haha.  [embed]221220:43352:0[/embed] 4. Power Rangers Time Force (2001)  Time Force was a much better season than it got credit for. It was right around the time less kids paid attention to it as we were all starting to grow out of waking up early on Saturdays, but it had so much good in it. The actors were all great (most of them having had experience in film and TV beforehand, which is sadly notable for this series), the premise was great (time patrollers fighting mutants), and it had a memorable theme song. The guitar solo here was the best in a long time and it's better than a lot that came after it. Just like how In Space has a line that does me in, here it's "timeless wonders, fire and thunder, all to save the world." It's goofy when written out, but trust me on this.  [embed]221220:43351:0[/embed] 3. Power Rangers Dino Thunder (2004) As I'm sure you've guessed, Power Rangers has gone through tons of reinventions and new beginnings in order to keep kids entertained. Disney bought the rights to the series mid-Wild Force, but it wasn't until after Ninja Storm that Disney had their own take on the series. To go along with another dinosaur themed team of Rangers, the series also tried to bring back old fans with Jason David Frank, an evil Ranger storyline, and most importantly, a kick-ass rock theme song. This theme is probably the closest to an actual "song" in the entire series, and it's the one theme that's most fit for a sing along. With the strongest lyrics of the entire series, this theme song is only beaten by musical greats. [embed]221220:43349:0[/embed] 2. Power Rangers S.P.D. (2005) Although Ron Wasserman composed a few demos during the Disney era, only one of them really made it to the actual show. Thankfully, it was the best one. The only theme on this list to highlight percussion rather than guitar riffs made it stand out for a number of reasons. It's entirely strong throughout with a kick-ass opening and a final ten seconds which elevate it over the other seasons' themes. It'd be the best overall if not for the final entry on this list.  [embed]221220:43353:0[/embed] 1. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1993-1995) C'mon, like I was going to put something else here. I'd be lying to myself, and you, if I didn't pay tribute to the original. It's the theme everyone remembers for a reason. With a harder rock composition than kids deserved, it treated this new series with an awesome reverence that would sadly never get matched again.   They just don't make theme songs like this for kids anymore. 
Power Rangers Themes photo
Go Go
Pop culture is full of different kinds of media, but the ones with the most lasting power all do a very important thing: build mythos. "Mythos" is essentially a group of ideas uniquely tied to a premise. Power Rangers has man...

Logan Trailer photo
I'm so ready for this
We were all stricken by the first Logan trailer for its gritty setting, somber tone, and older Logan, and it looks like the second trailer delivers that even more so. The third, and final, Wolverine film follows Logan as he s...

Power Rangers photo
Everything and the kitchen sink
This newest trailer for Power Rangers has everything, and I mean everything, you probably we wanted to see. We see the new Command Center, Zordon, Alpha, we see the suits in action, zords, Rita Repulsa, the Megazord, and pret...

Chips Trailer photo
Chips Trailer

First trailer for the CHiPs remake is pretty bad


Jump Street this isn't
Jan 12
// Nick Valdez
Joining shows getting remade for the screen like The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, and Baywatch, is CHiPs, a show practically everyone forgot about. And like 21 Jump Street, this new Chips is trying to be a goofy buddy comedy that ...
Justice League photo
Justice League

Newest Justice League photo shows off the team


Gal Gadot and a bunch of cosplayers
Jan 09
// Nick Valdez
Did anyone else forget Justice League was coming out this year? I totally did. 2016 was such a weird year, it feels like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released forever ago. But as teased in both BvS, Suicide Squad an...
Beauty and the Beast photo
Beauty and the Beast

Newest Beauty and the Beast clip finally features singing


All in
Jan 09
// Nick Valdez
I've been looking forward to Disney's live action Beauty and the Beast remake for a while now, and despite a funky looking Beast, every bit of footage we've seen has been fantastic. But Disney has smartly held off the film's ...

Here are your 2017 Golden Globes winners

Jan 09 // Nick Valdez
Best Supporting Actor in Any Motion Picture Mahershala Ali, MoonlightJeff Bridges, Hell or High WaterSimon Helberg, Florence Foster JenkinsDev Patel, LionAaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama Rami Malek, Mr. RobotBob Odenkirk, Better Call SaulMatthew Rhys, The AmericansLiev Schreiber, Ray DonovanBilly Bob Thornton, Goliath Best Actress in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-GirlfriendJulia Louis-Dreyfus, VeepSarah Jessica Parker, DivorceIssa Rae, InsecureGina Rodriguez, Jane the VirginTracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy AtlantaBlack-ishMozart in the JungleTransparentVeep Best Actress in a Limited Series  Felicity Huffman, American CrimeRiley Keough, The Girlfriend ExperienceSarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime StoryCharlotte Rampling, London SpyKerry Washington, Confirmation Best Limited Series American CrimeThe DresserThe Night ManagerThe Night OfThe People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime StoryHugh Laurie, The Night ManagerJohn Lithgow, The CrownChristian Slater, Mr. RobotJohn Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Best Original Score - Motion Picture MoonlightLa La LandArrivalLionHidden Figures Best Original Song - Motion Picture “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls“City of Stars,” La La Land“Faith,” Sing“Gold,” Gold“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Viola Davis, FencesNaomie Harris, MoonlightNicole Kidman, LionOctavia Spencer, Hidden FiguresMichelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series Olivia Colman, The Night ManagerLena Headey, Game of ThronesChrissy Metz, This Is UsMandy Moore, This Is UsThandie Newton, Westworld Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Colin Farrell, The LobsterRyan Gosling, La La LandHugh Grant, Florence Foster JenkinsJonah Hill, War DogsRyan Reynolds, Deadpool Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Damien Chazelle, La La LandTom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsBarry Jenkins, MoonlightKenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the SeaTaylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water Best Animated Picture Kubo and the Two StringsMoanaMy Life as a ZucchiniSingZootopia Best Foreign Language Picture Divines (France)ElleNerudaThe SalesmanToni Erdmann Best Actor in a Limited Series Riz Ahmed, The Night OfBryan Cranston, All the WayTom Hiddleston, The Night ManagerJohn Turturro, The Night OfCourtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama Caitriona Balfe, OutlanderClaire Foy, The CrownKeri Russell, The AmericansWinona Ryder, Stranger ThingsEvan Rachel Wood, Westworld Best TV Series - Drama The CrownGame of ThronesStranger ThingsThis Is UsWestworld Best Director - Motion Picture  Damien Chazelle, La La LandTom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMel Gibson, Hacksaw RidgeBarry Jenkins, MoonlightKenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea Best Actor in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy Anthony Anderson, Black-ishGael García Bernal, Mozart in the JungleDonald Glover, AtlantaNick Nolte, GravesJeffrey Tambor, Transparent Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Annette Bening, 20th Century WomenLily Collins, Rules Don’t ApplyHailee Steinfeld, The Edge of SeventeenEmma Stone, La La LandMeryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins Best Picture - Musical or Comedy 20th Century WomenDeadpoolFlorence Foster JenkinsLa La LandSing Street Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Casey Affleck, Manchester by the SeaJoel Edgerton, LovingAndrew Garfield, Hacksaw RidgeViggo Mortensen, Captain FantasticDenzel Washington, Fences Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Amy Adams, ArrivalJessica Chastain, Miss SloaneIsabelle Huppert, ElleRuth Negga, LovingNatalie Portman, Jackie Best Picture - Drama Hacksaw RidgeHell or High WaterLionManchester by the SeaMoonlight
Golden Globes 2017 photo
Queens, record breaks, and hidden fences
The Golden Globes were a weird sight last night. Technical flubs (which made Fallon awkwardly flail on stage until he mercifully shuffled away), Hidden Figures and Fences wrongly labeled as "Hidden Fences" (which reveals a wh...

Rings Trailer photo
Rings Trailer

Newest trailer for Rings reminds you it exists


'Cause I got a really big team'
Jan 05
// Nick Valdez
Naturally when a film gets hit with numerous delays it's easy to assume the final product is subpar. Couple that with a bump from last October to February, and Rings already has a lot working against it. It's a sequel no one ...
Child's Play photo
Child's Play

There's a new Child's Play in the works for some reason


For Blu-ray and DVD
Jan 05
// Nick Valdez
For those not too in the know, the Child's Play series has been keeping a single story alive for 30 years now. For some reason I don't completely comprehend, Chucky has been a horror icon to many and a joke to more. But regar...

Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Dec 25 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221155:43293:0[/embed] The Autopsy of Jane DoeDirector: André ØvredalRelease Date: December 21, 2016 (limited theaters and VOD) Rating: R The Autopsy of Jane Doe follows father and son pathologists, Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch) Tilden operating out of their family owned morgue. When the body of an unidentified young woman (Olwen Kelly) is found, the two must figure out the mysterious circumstances behind her death. But as the autopsy rolls on, strange things begin happening and the Tildens find themselves struggling to escape the mortuary with their lives. This simple premise is what makes Autopsy work as well as it does. It's a tightly focused feature never losing sight of its central mystery. I'm going to try my best not to divulge the film's mystery, but honestly, the film isn't even about the reveal. It's all in the build-up. The entire film is built around this idea of confinement, and that's reflected in the film's editing and set design.  From the opening, there's a keen sense of dread permeating throughout the film. The inspired choices like an aged mortuary building (enhanced by a lack of natural light thanks to Autopsy taking place late at night), to the casting of Jane Doe herself, help make the audience uncomfortable. Taking something as inherently disturbing as a medical procedure is made doubly so thanks to quick cuts to Jane's face every time one of the Tilden's makes an incision. Thanks to these close ups, the autopsy becomes more like a creepy surgery that permeates with dramatic irony as the audience becomes more suspicious of Jane than the characters. There's also a refreshing flow to how much of Jane's mystery is revealed at a time. By halfway through, you already know most of what is necessary to move the plot forward without going overboard. Unfortunately, since the film's effort is put into Jane Doe, the Tildens get less development as a result.  There are some hints of tension between Austin and his father, but that's more credited to Hirsch's and Cox's performances than to any character building. Due to the film's tight focus and short time, there isn't much room in the narrative for anything other than the mystery. Even as the Tildens fear for their lives, I found myself lacking the necessary wherewithal to care whether or not they actually survived. Because of this, the film lacks tension once Jane Doe's origins are revealed. Since so much effort is put into its buildup, there sadly isn't enough effort left over for the denouement. In fact, the finale even goes on for a bit longer than it should. There's a particular scene toward the end that would've made for a perfect finale, but seeing Autopsy go beyond it lessened my enjoyment overall. I guess it's more of a sense of disappointment given how well Autopsy had edited itself to that point. But on the other hand, I do appreciate the uniqueness of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. While there are some ideas I would've liked to see the film explore further (especially when it teases metaphysical horror, which is something lacking from most current offerings in the genre), and I would've appreciated a better grasp on character, the film sets out to tell a certain story and competently does it.  The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a focused, chilling thriller that you should check out before you start writing your end of the year lists. 
Jane Doe Review photo
Doe-n't miss this one
Every year I wind up missing a good deal of films as their advertising end up swallowed by the huge hype machines of bigger studio releases. But the true gems make themselves known somehow. Usually it's through word of mouth,...

Alien: Covenant photo
Uh...Merry Christmas?
If you can spare a few minutes away from your family today, you should check out the first Red Band trailer for Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott's Prometheus wasn't received too well, so it looks like Scott wants to rectify that...

Review: Assassin's Creed

Dec 21 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221143:43283:0[/embed] Assassin's CreedDirectors: Justin KurzelRelease Date: December 21, 2016Rating: PG-13 After being executed in a Texas prison, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is held under the control of the Abstergo Foundation, a company that wants to "end violence." His caretaker, Sofia (Marion Cotillard), explains one of his ancestors was an assassin in 1400s Spain (named Aguilar) and wants to use his memories to help Abstergo locate the Apple of Eden, a magical macguffin that would eliminate free will. Lynch is then plugged into the Animus, a machine that allows Lynch to live his ancestor Aguilar's life and gain his abilities. As more of Abstergo's plot comes to light, Lynch has to decide whether or not to carry on the creed of an ancient assassin's group and fight the coming evil.   As you can most likely gauge from the synopsis, there's a lot going on in Assassin's Creed. Like its smooth action scenes, the film's plot and premise move along with a breakneck pace. There's a bit of plot-specific terminology thrown into the film's dialogue, but it never rests enough within its character interactions for these terms to make sense. It's almost as if the film expects its audience to be familiar with the game series, so cool ideas like The Templars and the Creed don't have enough development. Despite the film running over two hours, things just kind of "happen" and often don't get enough follow through to make sense. Which is even more of a shame since the premise does inherently have a religion versus science debate in the root of it all.  But the film does succeed when it takes the time to develop its world.  If you're a fan of the videogame series, you'll be glad to know Assassin's Creed translates one of the series' core elements, the Animus, extremely well. Lynch plugging into the Animus leads to some of the coolest scenes in the film as the machine translates Aguilar's flashly assassin movements in real time. Cutting back to Lynch every few minutes during the film's well choreographed fights may get annoying later on as they take you out of the action, but it's still an initially intriguing and distinct look only capable here. That's also because the film took a moment to establish the Animus which is, as mentioned earlier, a luxury only briefly afforded. But although most of the story is a befuddling mess, it's visually appealing. Andalucia in 1492 is an incredible display of set and costume design, which makes its short time in the film even more egregious. When not covered in a notable amount in dust storms, Assassin's Creed spends the bulk of its time in yet another in a long line of plain, white science fiction sets.  Director Kurziel also films some impressive battle scenes. Although the point-of-view sometimes get lost in the fight choreography (as Kurziel at times can't fully grasp the geography of the setting), they flow well and incorporate many tactics and weapons (which is reminiscent of the game series, also). But Assassin's Creed doesn't have much going on for it beyond its look. Fassbender is, undoubtedly, the standout but even he struggles with the film's script. Failing to give Lynch's words the proper amount of weight as the film speeds on, Fassbender is just trying his best to push on. His scenes with Cotillard's Sofia are also a highlight, but that's only because he has Cotillard's near-deadpan delivery to bounce off of. In fact, you could've scrapped the bulk of Abstergo-set scenes altogether and the film would've been a triumph. Aguilar's romps through a mid-Inquisition Spain are the best the film has to offer, but there's never enough time to develop either Aguilar or Lynch to make any of this matter.  In a film where a man defies the laws of time and space, time is ironically Assassin's Creed's biggest enemy. A lack of time spent with its characters, lack of time spent with its ideas, and lack of follow through muddy the film's experience. In fact, the film seems to only want to translate the videogame series to film without caring whether or not it succeeds as a film. Much like direct to home video videogame adaptations like Dead or Alive and Tekken, Assassin's Creed captures the spirit of the videogame series but won't have the appeal for those outside of its fan base.  Assassin's Creed is such a good videogame adaptation, hilariously enough, it already expects to come back for yearly outings. 
Assassin's Creed Review photo
With flaws wide open
Assassin's Creed has been in the works for a long time. The videogame series' developer Ubisoft has been trying to get the project off the ground since 2011, but was marred with production and release date delays. When Michae...

Gotham City Sirens photo
Gotham City Sirens

Margot Robbie, Davie Ayer re-teaming for all female DC movie, Gotham City Sirens


Hope the Birds of Prey come along too
Dec 14
// Nick Valdez
We got wind of Margot Robbie spearheading a solo Harley Quinn film before Suicide Squad even hit theaters, but luckily for us that mess didn't hurt Robbie's chances. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Ayer will be pro...
Spider-Man Trailer photo
Here comes Marvel's Spider-Man
After his debut in Captain America: Civil War, we've all been itching to see more of Tom Holland's take on Spider-Man. Being an unprecedented co-operative effort from Sony and Marvel, we're finally going to see what Marvel wa...


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