Category Archives: Movies

ICYMI | Marvel Studios ETERNALS are Coming!

Set for a theatrical release later this year Marvel Studios releases more information about its upcoming newest release ETERNALS which features a star-studded cast that includes Angelina Jolie and Kit Harrington!

This is going to be a very big year for Marvel Studios even though Avengers: Endgame is still very much on the minds (and hearts) of the cinematic universe’s fans, the studio is showing no signs of slowing itself down and preparing for the next big event that is certain to inspire an eager movie audience to fill those seats at the multiplex. Even with the launch of the recent subscription service Disney+ promising its own round of Marvel-based Original Series, the blockbusters are lining up and packing a punch!

The cast of the upcoming film assembled at Comic Con for the first time.

The most anticipated film in the roster of upcoming releases is Marvel Studios Eternals which will feature an impressive gathering of A-list names among its cast of mostly obscure characters from the pages of Marvel’s comic book history. The epic tale of aliens and mythological themes was created by Jack “The King” Kirby and are very similar to the DC Comics “New Gods” which are also a race of otherworldly beings with powers far beyond those of mortal men. The Eternals are an alien civilization that has millions of years old and have lived in secret among humans.

As the newly released synopsis for the upcoming film suggests the all-powerful Eternals, an immortal race created by the Celestials, have been living on Earth, hiding in plain sight, but after the near-cataclysmic events of Avengers: Endgame an ancient enemy of theirs The Deviants have decided now is the perfect time for them to strike and resume an age-old confrontation that will have lasting repercussions throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the universe an open playing field and the Earth just a piece upon it, it is a prize many will seek to possess.

A page from THE ETERNALS comic book as depicted by Jack Kirby and appearing in Marvel Comics.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Though the Eternals may not be as familiar to mainstream audiences as the Avengers, several Eternals have actually (over the years in the comics) appeared on the group’s roster of active members, including Sersi (played by Gemma Chan in the film) and Gilgamesh (Don Lee). Both are card-carrying Avengers and have been called to duty in the team’s own darkest hours. With the threat of Thanos and his Infinity Stones taken care of, could the arrival of Eternals herald an entirely new intergalactic adversary that would bring all the cinematic heroes together?

The Eternals enemies are known as The Deviants, a monstrous-looking “offshoot” race that is ruled by its thirst for tyranny and chaos. As the synopsis for Eternals suggests, a “death” among the Eternals brings the castes together, and it signals the coming of a dangerous enemy that will descend upon the Earth. After the “endgame” events, the Avengers are still licking their wounds, Spider-Man is far from making his way home, and Doctor Strange has his own crisis to deal with in the multiverse (has that film found its new director, by the way).

Given the successful run of the first decade of the Marvel Studios films under Kevin Feige, confidence is still at an all-time high with the direction the next decade is taking. Feige may be spreading the wealth among his team as he turns his attention to a new Star Wars film trilogy also for the parent company Disney, but there are still plenty of returning favorites on the horizon, including a new Spider-Man film, a sequel to the hit Black Panther and of course the stand-alone feature starring Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow out soon.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly proving eternal!

Marvel Studios ETERNALS starring Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, and Kumail Nanjiani is directed by Chloé Zhao and will be released in theaters worldwide on November 6, 2020.

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iReview | STAR WARS The Rise of Skywalker

Promising to wrap up 40 years of storytelling, the latest episode is filled with startling revelations, larger than could be imagined space battles, travels to distant planets and beyond, ending with the return of a major villain determined to tip the scales of good versus evil!

Here we are! Some several generations later, after redefining the movie-going experience (not to mention the merchandising of a viable narrative) we’ve reached what the filmmakers are promising is the final, final arc one of the cinemas most long-running franchises. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker carries the epitomes privilege of chronicling itself as “Episode IX” of the story first realized on the screen in writer/director George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope. Released in 1977 to a throng of fans that would sell out multiplexes and line-up for hours just for the opportunity to be transported to a galaxy far, far away.

According to Lucas, the cinematic saga was always meant to focus on the legacy of the Skywalker family. The Original Trilogy centered on the redemption of Darth Vader, whose son, Luke Skywalker (a farm boy turned legendary knight) never gave up on the good in his father, Anakin before becoming the evil Sith Lord Vader. The prequels, released near the start of the new millennium, would narrate the fall of Anakin, from wide-eyed youth through his early years as a hero of a galactic war, and 40 years later, the final trilogy would complete the circle. After having defeated the Empire, a new evil has risen to spread tyranny on a fragile republic, and once again the will of Skywalker is called upon.

Movie fans, especially fans of the established canon, had been convinced the story had been told. Even with the connective franchise supplementary series that surfaced including the animated Clone Wars and eventual Rebels stories, the tale of the heroes at the conclusion of Episode VI Return of the Jedi appeared to have come to its natural conclusion. George Lucas himself had even said that there would be “no” Episodes VII-IX. After Disney acquired Lucasfilm and in effect everything related to Star Wars the fate of the future of the film franchises was tossed asunder. Under the new management of longtime colleague Kathleen Kennedy, Star Wars would return.

Spoiler Alert!

So, you’ve been warned! This review will discuss some key moments of the latest addition Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  After the tumultuous critical response of Episode VIII The Last Jedi the ringmaster responsible for re-energizing the “revival” with Episode VII The Force Awakens J. J. Abrams was brought in to practically retcon the entirety of that feature which was helmed by Rian Johnson. When Kennedy brought Johnson in for Episode VIII the filmmaker had looked at the notes provided by Abrams, and he asked if he could vier in a slightly different direction. With Kennedy’s blessing, the result was perhaps the most un-Star Wars movie of the entire series.

Not that there was anything wrong with that. Johnson introduced some very interesting ideas in The Last Jedi: a duplicitous third party that was possibly playing both sides of the fence, supplying weapons to the tyrannical First Order and the fledgling Resistance army battling the good fight. It also tore the new trilogy’s trinity into three separate storylines apart from one another, and the worse of it (by many fan standards) it turned Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into an aging hermit; a cynic who was once considered the only hope left in the galaxy had run out of it entirely. In his place, the new Jedi apprentice Rey (Daisy Ridley) was set adrift on a course of uncertainty. 

In this Age of Immediacy, with the internet and social networking dominating the attention spans of the general  [buying] audience, especially the rabid fandom that has risen to inherit this franchise, there is something that becomes undoubtedly compromised. One of the benefits of the original trilogy was the natural evolution of the main trio of characters at the center of the narrative that is allowed to evolve. Luke, Leia, and Han are brought together in the first film and share in the adventure, eventually destroying the Empire’s ultimate weapon. In the sequel, the trio all start together but are set on separate paths that ultimately lead them to a dark place.

Cut to Episode IX, the trinity is seen united on screen sharing in an adventure for the first time; in the previous installments Rey, Finn and Poe are fighting their adversaries or are facing their challenge on separate fronts, but all on a trajectory heading in a similar direction. The first half of Episode IX feels the most nostalgic because its reminiscent of the bond that is built by the original heroes and is solidified as legendary by the time Luke, Leia and Lando infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine to rescue the carbon encased Han Solo. They’re a band of heroes — a family — formidable and aware. They are a force to be reckoned with and the audience is happy to see them all together.

In Episode iX when Poe, Finn, and Rey follow the trail of the film’s MacGuffin — a “Wayfinder” a mystic device that will lead them straight to their force-sensitive quarry — the chemistry among them is evident, but it’s fair to understand that they hardly have known one another. These three young people that have faced crisis after crisis since embarking on freeing the galaxy from evil and teamed up with the Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) but haven’t the band of the original film’s paragons. It’s deficient, to say the least especially when the audience must have an investment in their journey.

As the adventure begins, the trio learns they must travel to a new planet in search of a prize. It’s a running gag through the scene. Finn (John Boyega) and Rey are caught completely unaware of Poe’s shady affairs before becoming an able fighter pilot in the Resistance, and Poe (Oscar Isaacs) is not comfortable with the intimate shorthand between Finn and Rey, or the possibility that they may be keeping secrets from him. It’s an interestingly different dynamic, and would have probably worked well in a “middle act” of a trilogy, but “Rise” is the conclusion of the story. This is the end of the line for our heroes and they are coming to the final moments of their journey together.

It’s a thrill to see them working together especially when they are forced to confront the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his gang of thugs (that’s how I’ll describe) The Knights of Ren. Kylo reveals to Rey that she has a greater purpose to fulfill, and Rey isn’t prepared to listen until she unpredictably unleashes a new power that proves deadly. There is a very familiar enemy among them, one that may hold the key to Rey’s past — it would seem that the power-hungry Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is still pulling the strings in the balance of the force, and it’s no surprise that he’s set his claws into Rey and Ren.

Return, Revenge, Rise, Rehash?

There is a nostalgic thrill and wonder in the return to Lucas’ galaxy. It hardly feels like we’ve left, especially given how there have been expanded escapades to this universe throughout its 40-year history, whether we’re discussing the prequels, animated adventures or the newly minted Original Series that are surfacing on Disney+. With every visit, the mythology has had an opportunity to grow and fire our imaginations. With the advent of the prequels, Lucas was able to complete (and in some cases begin) the journey of many of his original characters. Where these sequels have failed is in validating that the story wasn’t already come full circle.

Obviously, with Disney’s purchase of the Lucasfilm franchise, it needed to come out of the ballpark swinging, and the powers that be believed that the best way to capitalize on Star Wars was to give the fandom a continuation of the Skywalker legacy. If that was the case, then perhaps a little more time and care should have been devoted to bringing that idea to life, in much the same way that the other big Disney franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had shown great restraint in elaborating on its shared universe of Marvel superheroes in its decade of box office dominance. It feels especially with The Rise of Skywalker that the filmmakers [Kennedy, Abrams] just hit on the “beats”.

The tactic was extremely beneficial to audiences coming into The Force Awakens easing them back into a cinematic universe that they hadn’t been to in over 3 decades, but it was hardly necessary and oft time predictably executed. By the time that Kennedy recruited Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi that director appeared determined to upset the apple cart at whatever the cost, but with even less care for consequence. The divergent tactic of that installment threw everyone for a loop, and when Abrams was brought back into the fold, clearly in an effort to clean up the mess, it may have been a lot more sense to have put the pieces back together much slowly and not with due haste.

Star Wars | Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker feels like it was rushed, pieced together and not methodically thought out. Narratively there are many very interesting points, that had Abrams and his team focused on not tying up could have instead set in motion the next generation of characters that we’ve hardly gotten the time to know. Instead, the feature digs into “what has worked before” and played to those key points, checking off the boxes as we went. If George Lucas proved anything with his original saga and prequels, it’s that sometimes the unpredictable is far more interesting especially when it’s given to the telling from a certain point of view.

Rise is a rollercoaster — the kind that you’ve been on before and doesn’t recognize immediately, but when you realize that it’s just been refurbished and slightly retooled to freshen it up — it’s too late! You’ve committed and been exhilarated as if for the first time! You can recall what made the journey fun the first time and again you succumb to the nostalgia.

Star Wars | Episode IX | The Rise of Skywalker starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaacs and John Boyega directed by JJ Abrams is in theaters now. 

Trailer | WONDER WOMAN 1984

After much anticipation audiences are getting their first look at next summer’s blockbuster WONDER WOMAN 1984 and the Amazing Amazon is riding the storm the bring her fans all-new excitement!

<span class=“dropcap”>S</span>he’s back! After making an indelible debut in the controversially charged Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice it appeared that movie audiences were intrigued enough to make 2017’s Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot a hit, proving that superhero movies featuring leading ladies are just as bankable at the box-office as their juiced-up muscle bound male counterparts — if their down right! The first solo outing for the Amazing Amazon proved a winner especially with acclaimed filmmaker Patty Jenkins at the helm.

Armored up! If the new gold suit is throwing you off, it makes quite the impression, giving “Wonder Woman 1984” a look all of its own.

Which is no surprise that when the discussions began about the follow-up, Warner Bros. didn’t hesitate to reach out to Jenkins who had moved into an exceptionally good position as the movie continued to set records around the world. It helped that WW also received a very positive critical reception and its star, Gadot, appeared unscathed from the dismally reviewed next appearance of her character when she fought along the rest of the assembled team in the epic failure Justice League which reunited the trinity including Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.

Almost immediately the fandom soared when the first images emerged of the sequel in production and featured not only the star and director hard at work, but also included Chris Pine whose character, Diana’s love interest, Steve Trevor had apparently perished. Jenkins had always said, that if there was a way, they would bring Pine back, and although there is plenty of skepticism around whether he is reprising the role of Trevor, or perhaps playing an ancestor of the Air Force captain, it doesn’t matter because the trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 is just that good!

Back to the Future…A New Era!

The movie is a period piece and finds Diana (Gadot) looking as glorious as ever in the decadent age of over-indulgence that was the benchmark of the 1980s. Diana has been keeping a very low profile (and as we also learned from the contemporarily placed Justice League) she went into hiding for most of her life following her emergence into Man’s World. Whether it was because of a broken heart or something else, we don’t know, at least not yet, but it’s possible that she will divulge some more secrets of her time away from paradise.

Joining the cast is actress Kristen Wiig who is often most commonly known for her comedic skills in such hits as Bridesmaids and the Ghostbusters revival, stepping into the role of Barbara Anne Minerva who is most commonly known to fans as Wonder Woman’s arch nemesis, The Cheetah. Also appearing in the film is PR agent and power broker Max Lord who will be portrayed by Pedro Pascal the star of the Disney+ Original Series The Mandalorian (which is set in the Star Wars universe) and was also featured in HBO’s hit Game of Thrones.

Wonder Woman 1984 starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and directed by Patty Jenkins arrives in theaters June 5, 2020 and is being released by Warner Bros. Pictures.

First Look | Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as BLACK ADAM

Lightning strikes from the heavens and after much anticipation, the first images of action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reveal how he will look like the DC anti-hero BLACK ADAM!

Thunder rumbles in the distant heavens. The DC cinematic universe has been teasing the introduction of this particular character from their pantheon for some time, and now the first illustrated image of what action-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will look like as the anti-hero Black Adam a feature film of which is set to premiere in theaters December 2021. It’ll be paving the way for what is certain to be an inevitable showdown between two of DC Comics’ most powerful beings!

After the success of the recent action-comedy Shazam! which brought the publishing giant’s Most Powerful Mortal to the big screen, rumors had started to circulate that Johnson would be brought into the franchise as the hero’s greatest adversary. It is now being reported that Black Adam starring Johnson will go begin production summer of 2020, and the production has released the first images of Johnson as the title character in artwork from BossLogic and DC legend Jim Lee. Johnson excitedly shared the image across social networking.

Johnson has been expressing his interest in bringing this titan to the bog screen for some time, and especially not shying away from his enthusiasm about joining the DC Cinematic Universe. The film’s producer Hiram Garcia has also revealed the depths of which they intend to dive into, by realizing Black Adam’s origins in an entirely new and textured fashion. The character was introduced as a villainous foil to Shazam!, but has become entirely something else in contemporary publications.

Dwayne Johnson as he might appear as the titular anti-hero starring in “Black Adam” set for release 2021.

How the character will evolve into a film will be very carefully watched, given the critical reception most DC properties (outside of Batman) experience in the cinematic market. Successes are few and far between for Warner Bros the studio that owns the properties, unlike the competitor’s record, which is, well, marvelous! Recent releases beginning with Wonder Woman, followed by Aquaman and the recent critical and lucrative success of Todd Phillips Joker means that perhaps lightning may strike again — for Black Adam.

Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson is scheduled for theatrical release December 2021

ICYMI | “Twilight Saga” Star is Confirmed as Dark Knight

Robert Pattison has been cast to assume the long coveted role of the Caped Crusader in Matt Reeves upcoming The Batman which has also been confirmed as a new trilogy!

After much speculation and commentary from the peanut gallery, it has been officially revealed that actor Robert Pattison best known for his roles in the Harry Potter movies and his lead turn in “The Twilight Saga” will be assuming the cape and cowl of Gotham City’s defender in director Matt Reeves upcoming The Batman which is also confirmed will be a trilogy of films. The director was originally set to work on this feature with Ben Affleck who had been the most recent actor to step into the famous kevlar armor.

Photo by Rob Latour/Deadline/REX/Shutterstock (9188809n)
Matt Reeves
20th Century Fox ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ panel, THE CONTENDERS 2017, Los Angeles, USA – 04 Nov 2017

Reeves has been tooling away on the script for his interpretation of the Dark Knight’s mythology which he has promised will focus more on the character’s skills as a detective and an emerging vigilante, fighting crime in Gotham City. Affleck had expressed an interest in working with Reeves on this project, but the actor and the studio keep coming to odds with one another on creative and scheduling of the feature. Affleck has since let his contract lapse with the studio, and Warner Bros. decided that perhaps the tone for Reeves’ story would benefit from a fresher look.

The decision came down to casting the perfect new Bruce Wayne. The film will follow the earlier career of The Batman, with all the bruises, mistakes and mishaps that will undoubtedly come from become the Dark Knight. Pattison’s name had been on a short list of actors considered for the part, and now it can be confirmed that the young leading man will indeed be moving into the manor and inhabiting the Batcave. Pattison had been screen testing for the part, and one would assume that would have included the actor stepping into the suit and cape.

He must have impressed the lot of executives at Warner Bros. which also announced that Reeves’ films would be a trilogy and Pattison would be its star. Another actor that had been batted around to assume the role was Nicolas Hoult who will soon be appearing in X-Men: Dark Phoenix reprising his role as Henry McCoy, The Beast. Now any assumptions that Pattison’s Batman will be connected to Affleck’s hero who moved on to join the Justice League, can be put to rest. The studio confirmed this is a fresh new take, not restrained to previously established continuity.

Affleck portrayed billionaire Bruce Wayne aka Batman for the recent series of “extended cinematic universe” feature films which culminated in the team movie Justice League. Although the film had a modest box office take-home, the reception among fans was less than stellar. Most agreed that the actor had done a wonderful job inheriting the role for director Zack Snyder’s darker and moodier take on the character, but Warner Bros. perhaps after losing Henry Cavill who has starred opposite Affleck as Superman, decided it was time for a “reboot”.

With the exception of Gal Gadot and Jason Mamoa, who will both reprise their roles in upcoming sequels of Wonder Woman and Aquaman the remaining members of the Justice League have also allowed their contracts to lax which frees the studio to recast the roles of Cyborg and The Flash for any future big screen films. Certainly the announcement of Pattison’s casting and Reeves’ new trilogy will take center stage at this year’s upcoming San Diego Comic-Con event. Fans will be anxiously awaiting the formal introduction of the pair at the infamous venue stages.

The Batman starring Robert Pattison and directed by Matt Reeves will be the first in a new trilogy of films based on the DC character and is set to hit theaters on June 25, 2021.

iReview | GODZILLA: King of the Monsters

The monster movie is alive and well and takes a bite out of the Summer Blockbuster season as the latest installment in the Godzilla franchise proves it’s a heavy weight!

It’s apparent that Hollywood is taking baby steps to keep audiences engaged when it comes to its slate of summer movies. This is the time of year when all the studios steadily pursue their most viable franchises to perpetuate big-ticket sales, bring folks in from the maddening heat and fill air-conditioned multiplexes. With home theater system and the wide-screen 4K revolution becoming more and more common, it’s becoming difficult to keep pace with the comfort of one’s own living room. If you’re going to sub the couch for a concession stand, that movie better be big, and I mean really really big!

You can’t get much bigger than Godzilla! Since the classic Japanese movie monster’s reintroduction in the 2014 “reboot” that established the atomically charged giant lizard as a bonafide franchise cash cow. Warner Bros. immediately went to work to craft a cinematic universe that would also encompass another movie monster legend: King Kong. That was achieved with 2017s Kong: Skull Island which firmly puts the two creatures in the crosshairs of the scientific organization called Monarch. The group’s purpose is to protect the rising “Titans” and find a means in which to establish a balance between man and beast.

In Godzilla: King of the Monsters the arrival of the creatures, especially the coming of Godzilla is perceived as the means by which the planet seeks to replenish itself again the scourge of man who has devastated Earth’s resources through centuries of abuse, and war and overpopulation. Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) has developed a means to communicate with the monsters. When the device proves a success, first tested on a giant caterpillar-like creature, it draws the attention of an ecoterrorist group that are intent on releasing all the “Titans”, and one in particular — a three-headed dragon that’s been trapped in ice!

King of the Monsters

The team at Monarch become concerned when Emma along with her daughter Madison (Stranger Things Millie Bobby Brown) are abducted by the terrorist group. Their use of the device that speaks to the monsters has made them restless, particular Godzilla, and when they awaken Ghidorah, freeing the dragon from the ice — all hell breaks loose! Director Michael Dougherty has his work cut out for him, attempting to maintain a level amount of narrative amidst a canvas that is only interested in watching big monsters go at one another, all the while decimating major cities one after another.

As far as blockbusters go, this illustrates in spades what audiences have come to expect about the summer theatrical experience. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is loud, bombastic and visually spectacular. It’s exactly what the title suggests: a disaster movie of titanic proportions. Farmiga isn’t the only big star floating within the devastation. Kyle Chandler plays her husband and Bradley Whitford is another agent of Monarch. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins reprise their roles from Godzilla confirming the context that this is a proper sequel and headed into “extended cinematic universe” territory.

Purest will appreciate how much the monsters resemble their original incarnations, but through the magic of CGI the technology has moved so quickly and steadily, that these behemoths are far more threatening than any of their previous big screens looks. Be warned that the film is loud — it won’t win any awards for sound design, especially because everything feels like it was EQ’d to shock and awe the audience to the core, and that may be the only way to indulge in a feature of these seismic proportions. The king has arrived and the summer movie blockbuster has just gone nuclear. Godzilla is leaving a mark and taking a bite out of the box office bank!

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now playing in theaters, directed by Michael Dougherty and starring Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, and Millie Bobby Brown | Rated PG-13 | Warner Bros. Pictures