I have never read a single Agatha Christie book, nor could I recall having I seen a single movie or T.V. show based on her work until I started doing supplementary research on this movie (call me unenlightened). This is a shocking statement, I know, but it gave me the advantage of reviewing this film tabula rasa, unencumbered by preconceived notions or expectations from the books or previous adaptations. My resulting enlightenment resonated with the sentiment, “Meh…not bad.” The story follows one Hercule Poirot, a world-famous detective who is well into his career and now looking for some rest and relaxation. Despite Poirot’s best efforts, he becomes embroiled in perhaps his most difficult case yet, confined to the snowbound Orient Express.
Weekend Box Office Results for December 8-December 10, 2017 via Box Office Mojo. Box Office Results will be displayed on the "Feed" Tab until the next weekend, where the old box office results will be moved to the "Old News" Tab.
Since Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, Pixar films have played it safe by focusing on sequels rather than creating original stories. Remember, the films Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up were in development before Pixar’s acquisition. This is not to say that there haven’t been excellent, original Pixar stories like Inside Out, but otherwise, Pixar’s filmography has been filled with sequels and average original stories likeThe Good Dinosaur. Famed animator and one of Pixar’s decorated leaders, John Lasseter, took a recent six-month leave of absence due to sexual assault accusations. Some Mexican people were upset that Disney had tried to trademark their revered cultural holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), in order to sell merchandise and others still were upset that the film seemed to rip off The Book of Life. The stage was set for Coco to fail spectacularly, but the film succeeds with its vibrant visuals, strong emotional core, and fantastical adventure to the Land of the Dead.
The original Thor was a decent movie that was personally annoying to me for its overuse of dutch angles. Its sequel, Thor: The Dark World, was legitimately terrible; an idiotic movie with a boring villain that is better off left to the dustbin. Thus, the timing was perfect for a different take on the Thor series, and Marvel hit this one out of the park. Thor: Ragnarok is an irreverent superhero adventure comedy that manages to tell a cohesive story despite a never-ending cavalcade of jokes.
After seeing A Bad Moms Christmas, I didn’t think that a bad, lazy, blatant money grab movie could get any worse, or more obvious, for that matter. My God, was I wrong. Daddy’s Home 2 is somehow even worse than A Bad Moms Christmas. Using the same stale and wholly generic formula of the Christmas themed sequel, Daddy’s Home 2: The Christmas Special is a cynical attempt to part you from your money under the guise of holiday cheer. Returning leads Marky Mark and Will Ferrell are back but this time their dads (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow) are coming too!
A Bad Moms Christmas is the sequel to the original Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn as the three leads. I remember liking the first Bad Moms, so why does this sequel make me regret those kind words? A Bad Moms Christmas is a lazy sequel designed solely to profit from the goodwill of patrons to its predecessor and the holiday season.
I was dreading my review of Wonder, the film adaptation of R. J. Palacio's novel by the same name, because I hate “feel good” movies. That is to say, I hate movies that use cheap, exploitative techniques to elicit emotions of sympathy, sentimentality, and superficial satisfaction from their audience. These films make me want to shoot myself because their premises rely on unbelievable or unrealistic events, cartoonish caricatures, and saccharine endings that leave me feeling nauseous rather than good. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Wonder, despite relying heavily on such sentimentality, is a character-driven drama that is well worth the price of admission. Wonder focuses on one pivotal year in the life of one August “Auggie” Pullman, a ten year old boy who suffers from Treacher Collins syndrome, and his relationship with his immediate family and friends as he attends public school for the first time in his life.
Sequels in Hollywood tend to follow the tried and true formula of being “the same, but different.” Kingsman: The Secret Service was a violent breath of fresh air for the spy genre, harkening back to the older, ridiculous Bond films, while having nothing but contempt for the more recent grim iterations starring Daniel Craig. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is, unfortunately, the bad type of sequel; the kind that self indulgently wallows in its predecessor’s footsteps, while only introducing stale ideas and underdeveloped characters. The Golden Circle attempts to mask its flaws with its action and crude humor, but ultimately is a poor, bloated imitation of Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen every Saw movie made and have enjoyed more of them than I’ve hated. I liked this spinoff sequel, but it’s not exactly good. If you’ve seen one Saw movie you have seen them all. Police attempt to stop the “Jigsaw Killer” or his copycat, while a game goes on in which seemingly random people are tortured to teach each of them a lesson. The police are blundering buffoons and the characters are selfish morons who the killer, or killers, are playing the entire time. The movie ends with a nice twist that ties everything up in a neat bow. Jigsaw, the newest entry in the Saw series, sticks to its franchise formula to a tee.
Do you remember the disaster movies 2012 or San Andreas? I think I remember The Day After Tomorrow but that’s only because of the hilarious South Park television spoof that followed it. I definitely remember Armageddon because the film is so charmingly bad it's amazing. My point is, if you see Geostorm, you’re going to regret it and forget it. Geostorm is a retread of all the “extreme weather” disaster movies that you’ve already seen time and time again. The only difference being that Geostorm is worse, far worse. It’s a sci-fi, mystery, action-disaster movie that just ends up a disaster.
What comes to mind when you think of the 1950s? The Cold War, Sputnik, McCarthyism, post-war prosperity? Cheerful suburban home life following white flight from America’s cities, white picket fences, housewives with towering hairdos, and friendly neighbors? Or maybe we have come to see through the facade of an all-inclusive, welcoming community; a fragile edifice pitched during a time when racism, segregation, and housing district redlining were still running rampant. Suburbicon attempts to tackle these romantic anachronisms of the mid-20th century to reveal the violent torrent of racism and paranoia that lurked underneath, threatening to explode into chaos and social upheaval. Unfortunately, the movie is a god-awful mess that fails to provide any of these topics proper examination.
After the success of Die Hard, many film studios wanted to recreate the movie’s formula but in a different setting. Thus, we had Die Hard on a bus (Speed), or on a plane (Air Force One). Happy Death Day, much like the fantastic Edge of Tomorrow, similarly opts to mimic the formula of Groundhog Day explicitly and with great relish. Happy Death Day is a slasher flick reminiscent of Scream, with the iconography of Sorority Row or Mean Girls. Jessica Rothe stars as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman, a young woman trapped in a time loop, cursed to repeat her birthday over and over again, having been murdered at the end of that day. Happy Death Day is a fun romp that balances its comedic tone and thriller elements.
The Foreigner is adapted from English author Stephen Leather’s The Chinaman,which he wrote while working for The Times during an IRA bombing campaign. The director, Martin Campbell, a veteran filmmaker, wastes little time getting going, and I appreciated it. We’re introduced to Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan) and his daughter Fan (Katie Leung) and not 10 minutes go by before the shop Fan enters explodes, killing her instantly. A grief-stricken Quan languishes about his home and business in a daze before leaving his friends behind and vowing to find and punish the people responsible for Fan’s death.
Taylor Sheridan is on a roll. Fresh from writing back-to-back stellar films, Sicarioand Hell or High Water, Sheridan gives us another gem with Wind River. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen respectively star in Wind River as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife tracker and an FBI agent. They are tasked with tracking a murderer in this meditative thriller set on the frozen landscape of Wyoming.
The Snowman is a thriller with a stellar cast and proudly boasts production by film great Martin Scorsese. Michael Fassbender leads an ensemble cast as detective Harry Hole. Harry grapples with alcoholism and struggles to catch a serial killer across frozen Norway. If you read that and thought, “Hey that sounds like it might be good!” You’re wrong, dead wrong. It's terrible.
The Accountant is basically Rain Man crossed with a Bourne film, taken to its extreme. Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, a high-functioning autistic accountant extraordinaire who deals with some of the most dangerous people on the planet. Unfortunately, The Accountant is a very uneven film, with a solid cast and exciting action sequences, but a clumsy and uneven narrative.
The Deepwater Horizon was a deepwater offshore oil-drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that experienced a complete catastrophic blowout on April 20th, 2010. This blowout led to one of the worst environmental disasters in human history, and the largest oil spills in United States’ history. Deepwater Horizon is not concerned with analyzing the aftermath of the blowout, the closing of the sea floor oil gusher, or the environmental damage of the oil spill. Deepwater Horizon is a terrific disaster film that focuses on the human element of the people trapped on the Horizon that fateful day. The film also doubles as a scathing indictment of BP and their policies.
The Girl on the Train (2016) is a simple mystery movie based on a book by the same name, both centering on the lives and extramarital affairs of three women and two men in Westchester County, New York. Rachael, (one of the aforementioned women) a divorced and lonely alcoholic, fantasizes about a gorgeous couple she sees while riding the train every day. The woman of that fantasy couple, Megan Hipwell, ends up missing. Amid her drunken blackouts and emotional frailties, Rachael ends up caught in a web of lies and illicit affairs as she struggles to find out the truth of Megan's disappearance.
Robinson Crusoe is a classic literary work written by Daniel Defoe in the early 18th century. The story involves the titular character spending thirty years stranded on a deserted island and has since been adapted dozens of times into other media. The Wild Life is an animated film adapted from Robinson Crusoe, unfortunately, it’s god-awful. The film probably hoped to slip under the radar of late summer releases that generally bomb or go unnoticed by the masses. The Wild Life is a Belgian-French film translated into English and released upon a naive and unsuspecting audience. I, unfortunately, paid good money to see this garbage. You should not.
Would you, Nerve queries, watch as people did stupid and dangerous things for money? Better yet, would you do stupid and dangerous things for money and notoriety? Obviously. Youtube, WorldStarHipHop, Tosh.0, and Ridiculousness are all testament to humanity’s willingness to endanger their own lives for fleeting moments of fame and fortune as well as the insatiable need of others to watch it happen. Nerve combines this dark facet of human nature with portable technology to create the titular game, Nerve, in which players record themselves doing stupid things for money, and watchers pay to watch and dare players to do said stupid things. Nerve has a refreshingly original concept but the movie is kept from being great by several glaring flaws.
Lights Out is another in a series of refreshing horror movies that have been released this year. Lights Out revolves around a dysfunctional family haunted by a malevolent spirit who cannot come into contact with light of any kind. That simple explanation doesn’t do the film justice. While the film isn’t as original as it thinks (see Darkness Falls, a terrible movie), it is a surprisingly good low budget horror film relying on the old ‘stay out of the dark’ trope.
Boy, I bet the creators of Don’t Breathe are kicking themselves that they didn’t get the rights to the nameLights Out, the summer’s other surprisingly good horror/thriller. Still, Don’t Breathe is a simple and evocative title that matches the excellent trailer for the film. Don’t Breathe has a fairly original premise for the home invasion sub-genre: three idiots decide to rob a blind guy, thinking he’ll be easy prey. They quickly realize they messed with the wrong damn blind guy. The tables quickly turn on the idiot thieves and they become trapped The Blind Man’s home while he stalks them. Desperate to survive and escape the prison of their own making, the thieves uncover even more horrifying and disturbing details, while their psychotic blind captor hunts them down.
When I told my friends the latest movie I saw was Morgan, they each responded the same way. “Morgan? What’s that about? I haven’t heard or seen anything about it?” It seems as though Morgan failed in the advertising department which is a shame since more people won’t know how bad this movie was. Morgan is a film about bioengineering a being for less than noble means and SURPRISE, SURPRISE, that turns out to be a pretty terrible idea for everyone involved. Created destroys creator, blah, blah, blah, this movie sucks.
Todd Phillips knows how to make a comedy about man-children who are unwilling or unable to grow up. Old School, The Hangover, and Due Date are all testament to Phillip’s uncanny ability to explore this arrested development. In War Dogs, Phillips attempts to move on to more serious fare, yet he can’t seem to leave behind the comfort of his comedic roots. As a result, War Dogs is a half comedy, and half Lord of War ripoff fused together into something that is neither wholly compelling, nor all that horrible either.
Is there anything Bryan Cranston can’t do? I mean seriously, after appearing as everyone’s favorite meth kingpin, he’s been given a blank check to do whatever he wants. He’s generally starred in terrible dreck the past couple of years like Red Tails, John Carter, Rock of Ages, Total Recall, Godzilla, and Madagascar 3 but everyone gave these a pass; because come on! He is the one who knocks! Besides, he paid his dues for years with Malcolm in the Middle, and all it takes is just one Trumbo to remind us who we’re dealing with. Having said all that Cranston is one of the few good things about The Infiltrator, a boring, clichéd, undercover drug drama.
Kubo and the Two Strings is the fourth picture that stop-motion powerhouse Laika has produced (Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls). While I haven’t seen Coraline, Laika’s past two films were dark tales that pushed the boundaries of what a traditional animated (i.e. a film for children) feature should do. In addition, each was a unique look at vastly different societies and cultural history. ParaNorman masterfully skewed New England culture, history, and folklore, while The Boxtrolls took aim at the extremely different classes in old English society. Kubo and the Two Strings is another fantastic animated feature from the studio. Unlike the last two pictures the film isn’t as dark, but it is a sorrowful adventure tale with an uplifting ending about the power of love, family, and memory.
The Legend of Tarzan is, along with The Shallows, another surprisingly good film of 2016 (and forget what the Tomatometer says). I went into this film with extremely low expectations and The Legend of Tarzan exceeded all of them. That’s not to say that the film is great or even very good, no it's far from it. But The Legend of Tarzan isn’t a terrible either. It's an epic reimagining of Tarzan that stumbles but succeeds in being a satisfying adventure film.
The Purge has always been an extremely in your face franchise. The first Purge, to paraphrase MovieBob, was a brilliant idea that was utterly wasted on a silly home invasion movie. It’s sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, (remember Yahtzee’s formula fromIndependence Day: Regurgence) took the basic idea and setting and turned it into a graphic, intense, revenge action flick. Frank Grillo starred as Sergeant Leo Barnes, part Urban Rambo part Charles Bronson- Death Wish style baby. It was a massive improvement over the original, and par for the course was extremely over the top with its themes and graphic violence. The third sequel, The Purge: Election Year, wisely follows in its predecessor's footsteps by continuing to focus on Leo Barnes and using the extremely tense current (2016) election year as its political backdrop.
One of my favorite critics, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, once described a formula for making a good sequel. He said, “A good sequel is one that uses the original as a jumping off point for a whole new story with whole new technology. While a bad sequel merely wallows in the original like a hippo in a vat of liquidized children.” Croshaw was talking about video games, but this formula can be applied to Independence Day: Resurgence and is helpful when explaining why it's a horrific disaster. The film certainly showcases new technology both in the film, and in terms of CGI since the original, and that’s about it. Independence Day: Interstellar Regrets is a terrible travesty.