ALNM Rating: 4.5/5
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy
Available to watch: At home
Review: Dunkirk is an incredible feat of visual storytelling. I'm sure it was even more of a masterpiece in theaters. I understand why some people considered it on the slow side, but this was a war movie built on small moments of humanity rather than action and explosions. This is the type of movie you hold up as an example when you want to talk about well-crafted films. There was not a weak performance in a cast of award winning veterans, like Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance, and promising newcomers, like Fionn Whitehead. Definitely a must watch.
What is it: In the third try for a successful Spider-Man movie, Tom Holland (The Impossible, Billy Elliot) steps into Spidey’s blue and red tights as 15-year-old Peter Parker. The story picks up directly after the introduction of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Fast forward two months and Peter is back in New York living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, The Big Short, Crazy Stupid Love) and working nights as Spider-Man, calling it an internship with Tony Stark. With the help of his best friend, Ned (newcomer Jacob Batalon), Peter must take on the evil Vulture (Michael Keaton, Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Batman) as well as the trials and tribulations of being a freshman in high school with a massive crush on the most popular girl in school.
My experience: I was lucky enough to be able to see this movie with two best friends, once in 3D and once in regular format. As I am not a fan of 3D, I enjoyed the regular format much better and was able to catch more things the second time around. Tom Holland gave a convincing performance as the youngest Peter Parker onscreen, but my favorite was Donald Glover who played Aaron Davis, the uncle of future Spider-Man, Miles Morales. His comedic timing and love of his nephew really add some great moments to the movie, despite the fact that he has such a small part. I am hoping that he will play a bigger role in future films.
Why you should see it: This movie has been out for awhile. In fact, if you’ve been listening to our podcasts, Christina has been bugging me to finish this movie review for about two months now. If you haven’t already seen the movie, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. However, it is coming to DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital HD very soon and if you missed it, I suggest you see it right away! Definitely a summer movie that should not be missed.
The future: There is already a sequel set for 2019 with Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, and Zendaya attached. In the meantime, you can catch Tom Holland in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War alongside Homecoming castmates Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. Michael Keaton will be starring in 2019’s live-action version of Disney’s Dumbo as V.A. Vandermere and Donald Glover has two huge roles in the next few years, first playing the young Lando Calrissian in 2018’s A Star Wars Story: Han Solo and then Simba in Disney’s live-action version of The Lion King set for 2019. Don’t worry, there will be lots more from all of these actors in the future!
What Is It: The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 western starring Yul Brynner and Steven McQueen, which itself was a remake of the 1954 Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai. These seven are an updated multiracial cast for a modern America, lead by Denzel Washington and directed by Antoine Fuqua. The basic premise of seven guns for hire coming together to protect a town remains the same.
My Experience: I have been anxiously awaiting this movie since it was announced way back with a completely different cast. I love the original film and even the two season television series on CBS very few of you probably watched. I love westerns. However, this was the first western I had seen in theaters and was a little startled by the audience being a much older demographic than I'm used to. The movie had technical issues to begin, so we were treated to a trailer for Deepwater Horizon with audio from an ad for the Metropolitan Opera. But the action sequences on the big screen were definitely worth the wait.
Why You Should See It: If you like westerns, this will not disappoint you. There isn't a complicated plot or a ton of character development, but it's fun. The characters are mostly likeable and all interesting. Chris Pratt of course rides in with swagger and charisma to spare. It really plays out like a superhero film set in the old west with a good and a bad side fighting it out in one big battle. The stunts are something to behold though. The entire film is visual eye candy.
The Future: The original The Magnificent Seven film inspired some awful sequels, but there's been no word yet on whether Sony will be taking the same route with this one. Hopefully it does inspire a resurgence of the Western genre.
On April 14th, I saw a smart, well crafted, action packed movie that delved into the practical and moral complications of increased government oversight. Also crucial to the film was the storyline of a war hero attempting to protect his best friend from those who want to punished him for acts committed while he was a tortured and brainwashed prisoner of war.
Oh yeah, and there were superpowers.
Captain America: Civil War is a great film. I’m not sure how big a grain of salt you should take that with considering I am a completely unabashed Captain America fan. But judging by the reactions of the audience in my theater, Marvel has a huge hit on their hangs. It’s a movie with a plot rooted so firmly in basic human emotion that it could work without all the enhanced beings. But because it is these superheroes we have grown to care about since Robert Downey Jr. made his debut as Iron Man in 2008, the emotional punches the movie throws have even more of an impact. The movie counts on you caring about Captain America not because he’s an icon, but because he’s a human being you can relate to and have been relating to for years.
STAR WARS - EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (SPOILER-FREE) REVIEW....and yes, we promise it's SPOILER-FREE
What Is It: The Force Awakens is the seventh film in the ongoing Star Wars saga. It picks up 30 years after the events of 1983's Return of the Jedi where the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker has gone missing and the First Order has taken over and they are desperate to find and destroy him. General Leia Organa has the help of the Republic behind her as she sends her best pilot to the desert planet of Jakku in search of her missing brother.
My experience: Yes, I'm one of those people who saw this movie in costume on opening night and I had been waiting for this momentous occasion for years. In case you haven't already guessed from our entire episode devoted to Star Wars, it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Seeing this movie opening night with all the fans is truly an experience that cannot be described. From cheering filling the theatre at the sight of the opening logos to the genius music of John Williams and the opening crawl, excitement never dwindled. There were cheers for the return of old characters like Han Solo and Chewbacca as well as excitement for the new characters like Rey, Poe, Finn, and little BB-8. By the time the climax of the movie happened, the entire theatre was at the edge of their seats, anxious to see what would happen next. And, of course, when the film finally ended, no one wanted it to. Now we just can't wait for the next one.
Why You Should See It: The Force Awakens is already smashing box office records: most tickets sold on Fandango ever, biggest opening night, fastest from $100M to $200M, and, of course, highest grossing opening weekend. It blew the record previously held by this summer's Jurassic World out of the water and is now poised to be the highest grossing movie of all time. It has currently made $238 million in the US alone and $517 million worldwide. If that's not impressive enough, just talk to your friends, co-workers, and fellow nerds and they are sure to tell you that it will not disappoint. The Force Awakens had so many hopes riding on it and in my personal opinion, J.J. Abrams did his best to please the fans and it has been well-received. We were not only flocking to the theatre this weekend, but some of us are already going back for our second, third, and even FOURTH viewings of the movie. Suffice it to say that this holiday season, this is the movie that everyone at your family dinner will be talking about. If you haven't seen it yet, you're bound to get it spoiled or be shunned at family dinners.
The Future: Disney has really taken the Star Wars franchise and run with it, promising to release a new adventure every year until at least 2019. The first spin-off film Star Wars: Rogue One is due out next year on December 16, 2016. It is directed by Godzilla director Gareth Edwards and stars Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), and Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler). And in only 521 days, Star Wars: Episode VIII will be released on the 40th anniversary of the release of A New Hope. It will be written and directed by Looper's Rian Johnson. We wish him the best of luck. J.J. Abrams really hit it out of the park. We can also look forward to Episode XI and a Han Solo origin story already in the works.
What Is It: Spectre is the twenty-fourth James Bond film from Eon Productions and the fourth with Daniel Craig in the title role. Returning characters include Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw), and M (Ralph Fiennes). The plot is driven by Bond attempting to determine the secrets behind an unknown organization with a sinister agenda while M struggles with keeping MI6 relevant in the modern age of drones and cyber warfare.
My Experience: I can honestly say I haven't been in a theater that crowded probably since I saw the midnight showing of Star Trek: Into Darkness. It was the opening weekend and the theater was nearly packed. The average age of the crowd skewed a bit older than most of the movies I see, but that's to be expected of a James Bond film. Most of the jokes seemed to land, which was something else I haven't seen in the theater in a while, and the audience appeared appropriately awed by the admittedly impressive cinematography. I didn't feel much of a draw to any of the new characters, but the returning characters from previous films came back stronger than ever. Unfortunately for me I wasn't impressed by Christoph Waltz's villain. The relationship between Bond and Léa Seydoux's Dr. Madeleine Swann also felt forced in most of the film.
Why You Should See It: One of the best compliments I can give the film is that, despite being two and a half hours, it never felt long. I'm sure there were some harsh editing choices that could have been made, but I was completely fine with the length of the film. It was an enjoyable outing by Bond even if it wasn't as game-changing or well formed as its predecessor Skyfall. Daniel Craig finally getting to embrace some of the more comedic parts of Bond and the expanded role of Q were particular high points for me.
The Future: What we know is the franchise will continue and development on the next film will begin early next year. Whether Daniel Craig will be returning and what the film will be about is still up in the air.
What Is It: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the final installment of the wildly successful Hunger Games franchise. Picking up moments after Part 1 ended, this final installment shows the rebels of Panem continuing to fight for their freedom from the ruling fist of The Capitol. Katniss Everdeen (Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence) and her team, including Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Cressida (Natalie Dormer), and a recovering Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) set off for The Capitol in order to take down President Snow (legendary actor Donald Sutherland) and finally have the freedom that the Districts deserve, but in doing so, they find that The Capitol has set up a whole new version of The Hunger Games where everyone must play and fight for their lives.
My Experience: I saw this movie last night in the brand-new reclining seats at our local movie theatre, my first real outing since my recent stint in the hospital and it was such a great reason to go out. Yes, there were some obnoxious high school kids in the audience, but you could tell that everyone in the theatre was a true fan of the series and was genuinely excited to see this movie. The new reclining seats, by the way? Totally amazing, baller-status, first class seats. You should definitely try those out at your local movie theatre.
Why You Should See It: This is by far one of the more exciting installments of the series where everyone's acting is on point and every cast member gives amazing performances. It is bittersweet to see the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his final portrayal as Game Maker Plutarch Heavensbee and you can't help but wonder if that final scene where he was mentioned was after the actor was already gone. If you're a fan of The Hunger Games series, this is definitely a movie not to be missed.
The Future: This may be the final installment of The Hunger Games series, but this is not the last you'll see of this all-star cast. Jennifer Lawrence can next be seen in another David O. Russell film with Bradley Cooper entitled Joy which is due out at the end of the year and next year you can see her as Mystique/Raven Darkholme in X-Men: Apocalypse. Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson will re-team next year for a film called By Way of Helena and Hemsworth is currently filming Independence Day: Resurgence. Woody Harrelson can be seen next year in Now You See Me: The Second Act, the follow-up to the magic spectacle from 2013 of the same name. Sam Claflin will be reprising his role as William in The Huntsman Winter's War next year while his District 4 fellow Victor, Jena Malone will be trying her and at superhero movies in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Finally, Stanley Tucci will be playing the Cadenza in the highly-anticipated live-action version of Beauty and the Beast alongside Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, and Kevin Kline, just to name a few. May the odds be ever in their favor!
Many apologies, but I actually wrote this review about two months ago and never got around to posting it in the mayhem that was CHOC Walk and real life. But the movie is coming out on DVD next week. Think of this as your prep to decide if you're going to rent it or not.
What Is It: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is based on the 1960s NBC television series staring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. The character of Napoleon Solo (played by Vaughn in the television series and Henry Cavill in this adaptation) was conceived by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Another fun fact? The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is technically a sequel to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, as U.N.C.L.E.'s arch-nemesis (T.H.R.U.S.H.) was founded by Sebastian Moran following the death of Professor Moriarty.
This film works as the origin story for both U.N.C.L.E. and the partnership of CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (portrayed by David McCallum on television and Armie Hammer in the film). The rights to the film were initially purchased in 1993, but passed through the hands of many directors and screenwriters before ending up in the care of Guy Ritchie. It was finally released on August 14, 2015.
My Experience: I saw it in a relatively empty theater (are theaters ever full aside from midnight showings anymore?). Often to my embarrassment, some of the comedic moments didn't quite land with the other people I was sharing the theater with. I did find the experience enjoyable overall. The film was entertaining with bright pleasing visuals. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer both have charisma to spare and their easy chemistry makes up for anything lacking when it comes to plot lines.
Why You Should See It: While most films of the spy genre have gone the way of over the top action sequences and dark intellectual back stories, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. embraces the cheesiness of the genre it comes from. It sticks to the original 1960s setting. In the way few can do, Guy Ritchie is able to make the setting feel modernly retro rather than just old. Even Cavill's American accent seems drawn mostly from 60s television. It's a fun film and definitely a good way to spend an evening.
The Future: All involved in the film definitely appear eager to turn the film into a franchise, but whether or not this happens remains up in the air. Next year we will see Guy Ritchie's version of the King Arthur legend on the big screen. Armie Hammer has three films coming up (The Birth of a Nation, Free Fire, and Nocturnal Animals). Henry Cavill will be appearing on the big screen next in a little film called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You might have heard of it.
What Is It: The Scorch Trials is the exciting sequel to last year's surprise hit The Maze Runner. The story follows the Gladers who escaped from The Maze: Thomas, Newt, Minho, Winston, Frypan, and Teresa as they are taken to what they think is a safe house where they meet other kids who were also a part of different Mazes including one named Aris. He explains to the Gladers that every night Mr. Janson (Game of Thrones' Aiden Gillen) comes into their dining hall and calls out a group of kids names. Those kids are taken to their "new lives", but no one really knows what that means until one night when Thomas (Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien) and Aris (Jacob Lofland) break their way into a lab where they are harvesting something from the children that they have taken, including Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). When Thomas tells the other Gladers what they saw, the boys don't believe him at first, but Newt (Game of Thrones' Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Ki Hong Lee) stand behind their friend and together, they find a way out of the compound and into the treacherous Scorch where they must find their way to the mountains while battling Cranks, sand storms, and other humans that stand in their way.
My experience: I saw this movie last night at one of the first showings in my local movie theatre. After having seen the first movie, I was excited to see the second as well. This movie was very different from the first with a lot more action, more characters, and Cranks popping out at you in every which way. While it was slightly scary for me, who is a total chicken, it was a great movie and all the young actors were bringing their A-game against the successful adult actors: Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon A Time, Revolution), Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile, Easy A), and Alan Tudyk (Serenity, Frozen). Also, who doesn't love some hero!Dylan O'Brien?
Why You Should See It: If you haven't read the books, like me, you might be a little lost initially, but getting into the action of the movie and the minds of the characters makes this movie so enjoyable. It's fast-paced and fun and you never feel like it's lagging. It's definitely a movie that's not to be missed. Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster make a great team and you can really feel that their real-life friendship has translated to the bond the Gladers share with each other in the film.
The Future: This movie is just hitting theatres today, so make sure you check it out! The dark movie theatre is the perfect way to beat the heat. You can also look forward to its third installment, The Maze Runner: Death Cure hitting theatres on February 17, 2017. The young stars of this film have so much ahead of them. Starting in January, you can see Dylan O'Brien as fan-favorite goofy sidekick Stiles Stilinski on Season 5B of MTV's Teen Wolf . In 2017, Kaya Scodelario will not only reprise her role as Teresa in Death Cure, but she will also take on the female lead in Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales. You can also catch Aiden Gillen as Petyr Baelish/Littlefinger on HBO's hit Game of Thrones. Perhaps most notably, Alan Tudyk will be a part of three upcoming films from Disney Studios in 2016: Zootopia, Moana, and Star Wars: Rogue One.
What Is It: Fantastic Four is a reboot of the 2005 film of the same name and a reboot of the Marvel comic by Sony Studios in order to retain their rights to the superhero foursome. In this version, it told the story of Reed Richards (Whiplash's Miles Teller) who, at a young age, had a dream to build a teleportation device back in the fifth grade. Reed, along with his friend Ben Grimm (played by Billy Elliott himself, Jamie Bell) achieve that dream and gain the attention of Dr. Storm and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara, House of Cards). Dr. Storm recruits Reed to the Baxter Foundation where he can complete his work on what will be known as the Quantum Gate, allowing teleportation to another dimension. After a successful trial on a primate test subject, Reed, Ben, boy genius Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbel) and Sue's brother Johnny Storm (played by That Awkward Moment's Michael B. Jordan) use themselves as the first human test subjects, resulting in catastrophe for Reed, Ben, Sue, Johnny, and Victor.
My experience: I decided to see this movie on a whim this weekend and was pleasantly surprised by it. After hearing some pretty terrible reviews of the film, I had resigned myself to seeing it at the local dollar theatre, but when a friend and I needed a way to beat the Sunday heat, we chose this film and both of us found it fun and exciting. I honestly did not think that I would enjoy it as much as I did.
Why You Should See It: Yes, the first attempt that this franchise was campy and, even originally, didn't do as well as one might have hoped, but you have to remember, this was before the Age of Iron-Man where Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of a Marvel B-Team character revolutionized the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Phases One and Two of Marvel movies under our belts, this seemed like a good time to bring back the Fantastic Four. Perhaps the best thing about this reboot was that it truly was about an origin story. It started with Ben and Reed as young fifth graders with a dream and developed into them being courageous college students who were just trying to figure out how to make the best out of the situation that they found themselves in. Perhaps the best part of this reboot was the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the brother to Kate Mara's Sue Storm. When his involvement in the film was first announced over two years ago, many people were skeptical. Originally, Johnny Storm was played by Chris Evans, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man and now Michael B. Jordan, a younger, black man was stepping into the role while Kate Mara played his blonde-haired, blue-eyed sister. But let's face it, everyone: this is 2015. Interracial families are pretty common at this point. Why wouldn't they be superheroes together? I have to say, Michael B. Jordan (and his existing friendship with Miles Teller) was probably my favorite part of the movie. It's about time we be color-blind when casting and start giving everyone the opportunity to play the superheroes they dreamed of being as children.
The Future: While this film only made about $60 million in its opening weekend, a sequel is set for 2017, but we'll have to wait and see if it actually happens. Until then, this film has just been released and you should catch it while it's in theatres. You won't regret it. It's the type of fun, exciting film that's the perfect way to beat the heat. However, for all your hardcore Marvel-moviegoers, be aware, this is an incomplete Marvel film with no end credits scene and no Stan Lee cameo. Looking into the future of the film, the Fantastic Four will be integrated into future films of its fellow Sony-owned Marvel friends, the X-Men. You can catch Miles Teller reprising his role as Peter in the Divergent series' final films Allegiant Parts 1&2 due out in 2016 and 2017, respectively. You can also see Jamie Bell reprising his role as Tintin in The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun, the sequel to his 2011 computer-animated adaptation of the classic story. Probably most nerdy of all, Toby Kebbell will play the role of Durotan in 2016's highly anticipated Warcraft film, based on the wildly-successful MMORPG World of Warcraft.