It is the end of an era or so they say! But can it really be the final film of the Resident Evil franchise? According to the star Milla Jovovich and her hubby director, Paul W.S. Anderson, it is the final chapter.
It is the conclusion for the highest grossing film franchise based on a video game of all time. It all started back in 2002 with the original release of Resident Evil. Back then the boy band NSYCN was still together! Words cannot express how epic these six films have been. They are groundbreaking in that they have a strong female lead in a time before zombies were all the rage. This franchise also could boast it had the highest grossing movie of all time based on a video game until that record was broken by last year's release of Warcraft (which need I remind you sucked!). These films aren't always loved by critics, but the audience adores them.
For this last one, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Paul W.S. Anderson is back to direct his fourth film in this six film franchise. This time he's actually making it a family affair with his daughter and wife, Milla Jovovich, returning as heroine Alice. Picking up right where Resident Evil: Retribution left off, Alice is still in DC, in a post-apocalyptic world, reminiscent of Mad Max, when she is stalked by the Red Queen. Alice is told that she needs to save humanity and has only 48 hours to do so. So, she must return to Raccoon City and to The Hive in order to release the anti-virus and save the world from the Umbrella Corporation. On her way to Raccoon City, she faces Dr. Isaac. She battles him in the hive for humanity before learning the truth about her own identity and origin. (#BigPlotTwist #TheTrifectaOfBitches) While on Alice's journey, she is joined by returning Ali Larter (love her) and newcomer Ruby Rose.
The film does a good job of explaining the backstory of Alice for those who are not familiar with the franchise, but even better is that this movie really excels with action. Filled with kick-ass action for days, this exit story provides lots of crazy creatures and zombies that will give you the creeps. Likewise the film has done a really good job of giving you a strong female character without making that the point of the story. There's a lot to like about this film; however, it has become too Hollywood. With a plot that is filled with holes or simple fixes that can be corny at times, it seems that the franchise has left behind its meager origins to become a big Hollywood film series right down to Milla's hair being perfectly quaffed every time she leaves a battle. In a lot of ways I wish Paul W.S. Anderson would have taken a cue from director James Mangold from the upcoming release Logan, where the idea that getting bigger isn't always better. But the thing that really ruins this film is the last five minutes. The film seems to end too abruptly in a prepackaged recycled “been there/ done that” pink rainbow. Oh and not to mention, it's also left open-ended just in case Hollywood wants to call Milla back for one more time, despite them saying that this is the final chapter. All I gotta say is how can that ending be the final chapter?
Don't let the movie poster or trailer for Gold fool you. Yes, Matthew McConaughey looks more like a guy who has had a lot of hard days than a movie star, but that is what McConaughey is going for with the character of Kenny Wells. Clearly the film is a passion project for McConaughey who takes on double duties with the film, not only starring in it, but producing it as well. The film would probably have been considered as an Oscar contender if it wasn't for its late release date of January 27th 2017.
Directed by Stephen Gaghan, who wrote Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, Gold is a Hollywood telling of the real life Indonesian gold mining scandal. In the film, McConaughey's Kenny Wells is a balding, overweight, “drinks too much/smokes too much,” life is a gamble, down on his luck businessman. Hoping to strike it rich by finding gold in the Indonesian jungle, Kenny partners with geologist Michael Acosta played by Edgar Ramirez.
Though it's difficult to get used to McConaughey's shocking appearance, it's clear to see what drew him to the role. Wells boils over with hope, optimism, enthusiasm, drive and love. So, it's hard not to root for such a endearing character, especially when he is out of his league on Wall Street. Wells infectious heart and optimism shines despite the awful fashions and hair of the film's time period. Wells just might be the world's greatest boss if he wasn't broke 90% of the time.
Bryce Dallas Howard, as Kenny’s love interest, rounds out the cast in a role that is simple and at times slightly hard to believe. McConaughey and Ramirez chemistry is undeniable in a film that is compelling, packs a lot of heart, hopes and dreams tied up nicely with lovely surprise ending. One could pick a bone with the film's Hollywood happy ending, but given Kenny’s well documented struggle it's hard not to be happy for him and wish him the best. Who doesn't want to wish the best for a man who has a heart of gold?
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester By the Sea
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Best Supporting- Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Best Supporting- Actor
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Arrival -- Denis Villeneuve
Hacksaw Ridge -- Mel Gibson
La La Land -- Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea -- Kenneth Lonergan
Moonlight -- Barry Jenkins
Let's be real, M. Night Shyamalan hasn't had a good film since The Sixth Sense and that was 18 years ago. Audiences have been made to suffer through his films like After Earth, The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Village and Signs. Films that were well-intentioned and entertaining at times, but like french fries with way too much salt, leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Split is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, which he not only directs, but also writes. Hitting theaters on January 20th 2017, James McAvoy stars as Kevin, a man with 23 distinct personalities hinging on possibly an evil 24th. The film begins with Kevin snatching three girls in a parking lot and keeping them captive as he bounces from one personality to another. The role of Kevin, which was originally going to be played by Joaquin Phoenix, must have been a real fun treat for McAvoy to play. McAvoy as Kevin shifts between personalities like Barry to Hedwig as he interacts with his captives, who struggle for their freedom.
The film does a really good job of questioning the power of the human mind, whether it is split or not, as well as the strength of the human soul. McAvoy along with Anya Tayler-Joy can't help, but pull you into a tale that is entertaining, haunting, nail biting, infectious, funny and sad. Some scenes in the film will leave you giggling, while others will leave you gasping in shock and suspense, and still others will leave you cringing from it's creepiness. Yes, the movie does have its corny moments, come on this is an M Night Shyamalan’s film, but none of those moments, unlike his other films, derail it. Certainly scenes with wall crawling (Come on this isn't a Marvel movie) and absurd dancing and kissing might leave you wincing, but they don't take away from the characters nor the simple, but intriguing plot.
So the verdict is that this is the best M Night Shyamalan film in years. It's way better than expected. M. Night Shyamalan is back with a vengeance and possibly building a universe of characters, given the unexpected return of one of his most iconic characters at the end of this movie.
Wait Xander Cage is back? I thought he was dead? In some pure ‘daytime soap opera magic,’ despite what Ice Cube said in 2005's xXx: State of the Union, Xander Cage is not dead, but back and ready for action.
For the latest installment of the xXx franchise, Vin Diesel returns to his roots in xXx: Return of Xander Cage which hits theaters January 20th, 2017. The film, which is directed by Johnny DJ Caruso Jr. (Disturbia, I Am Number Four and Eagle Eye), tells the story of Cage as he enlists a team of hardcore rejects to help him take on the bad guys, who plan to use a deadly weapon known as Pandora's Box. The film boasts an international cast tapping Hong Kong action star, fresh off of his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story run, Donnie Yen along with India's megastar Deepika Padukone. Toni Collette, Ruby Rose and a returning Samuel L. Jackson add their talents to the film. Michael Roof, xXx's ‘gadget nerd’ go-to-guy, is replaced by the character Becky played by Nina Dobrev, since Roof passed away in 2009.
Clearly not striving for an Oscar, the plot is cheesy and thin and downright absurd at times. Even the film's characters are flat and shallow and the dialogue can mirror more of a corny comedy than an action film. However, the film wholeheartedly seeks to entertain and leave moviegoers with a sense of fun, which it does. If you're looking for a kick-ass, adrenaline rush of action then xXx: Return of Xander is for you. If you're a fan of the franchise, you'll love the surprise ending along with the many Xander-ism. Also, you'll probably appreciate the amped-up steroid version of this xXx with its stunts. For this go-round, it's almost as if Vin Diesel took the nitric oxide from the Fast & Furious franchise and infused it into xXx. The film is not full on "action porn" as Furious 7 because it strives for a coherent plot, but it's more amped than the previous films in the frachise making xXx: Return of Xander the best xXx film thus far. If you're a fan of these films you will not be disappointed with this fun and funny thrill ride that doesn't take itself too seriously. Watch out James Bond.
Leave it to Hollywood to try to tap into a subculture, i.e. street racing with the Fast & Furious franchise or Point Breakfor those who love extreme sports, and then put it up on the big screen in hopes of bringing fans to theaters. This time the culture that they've chosen is monster trucks. Oh and because monster trucks are for all ages, we're going to make it a kid's film.
Monster Trucks is directed by Ice Age, Robots and Epic director, Chris Wedges. Wedges knows a thing about being cute and goofy since he's been a producer on all the Ice Age films and even Oscar nominated for Best Animated Feature. Lucas Till stars in the lead role, as a teenager seeking to get away from his life in a small town. So, he builds a monster truck that somehow becomes inhabited by a subterranean creature that he names Creech. Danny Glover and Rob Lowe also star in this film.
In a nutshell, this film mixes too many concepts and ends up being absurd. It struggles to serve too many masters and ends up serving none. Even the elevator pitch must have sounded absurd: "a creature feature that's a kid’s flick in a monster truck movie." Don't get me wrong, I love the creature, Creech. He's super cute, funny and adorable. I would probably watch him in a kid’s film, just not this one. Come on, poor Creech is stuck under a bus, sorry a truck, driving a teenager around town. #LAME And he's the only good part in this film. Sadly, this film is on par with George Lucas is kid-friendly animated awful disaster known as Strange Magic. I refuse to let movies that are less-than-smart in concept and super corny, get a pass just because they are considered family friendly entertainment. Disney and Pixar have both proven that family friendly films can be great movies that don’t suck, unlike Monster Trucks.