Review: A United Kingdom

Starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike

Review: The Great Wall

Starring Matt Damon, Andy Lau, and Jing Tian

Review: Fist Fight

Starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube

Review: A Cure for Wellness

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Review: In Dubious Battle

Directed by James Franco, Starring Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, and more

2/24/2017

Could We Finally See the Original Versions of The Star Wars Saga?


Grains of salt everywhere on this one, these rumors pop up almost as much as the debate on whether or not Han Shot First (he did). That being said the word is coming from MakingStarWars.net this time who have been a trusted source for all things Star Wars. Honestly, there's absolutely NO reason not to release something that the fans have been clamoring for now that Lucas is no longer the decision maker. When he headed up Lucasfilm I got it, he thought the new versions were superior, fans be damned. But now that Kathleen Kennedy is running things, and have thus far brought prestige back to the galaxy far, far, away it seems like a no-brainer to release the original cut. 

It was previously said that the "special editions" were done on the original print making a re-release of the film all but impossible (that in itself is stupid enough). Word has it that a 35mm print of the film has surfaced renewing the possibilities and being that the 40th anniversary of the original film is coming up in a few months the chances of a high def transfer of the unaltered trilogy is seeming more and more likely. 

If I'm being totally honest, I'd actually like to see a hybrid release. They original, un-altered films have been lauded as these impecable masterpieces but Lucas had the right idea with his updates, he just went a little...okay a lot too far. The lightsabers, blaster bolts, windows in cloud city, pretty much every special effect that was given an upgrade was warranted and improves the film, everything that was added Jabba in IV, that horrible dance number in Jedi, random creatures on Tattoine...that stuff is what ruined those films in the eyes of most fans. So touch up those bits and leave the rest in tact. 

Here's hoping there's some truth to this, I can't imagine there's not...that is, of course, unless Disney started disliking money. 

Hayao Miyazaki Ends Retirement, Has New Feature In The Works


The only solace we could take in Hayao Miyazaki retiring close to the same time that his longtime home Studio Ghibli shut down, was that neither seemed to be away for very long. Miyazaki began work on a short film soon thereafter, and various members of Ghibli went on to form Studio Ponoc. There have been rumblings that Miyazaki's retirement was shaky at best and that he had ideas for a new feature-length animated movie, and now those rumors have proven to be true.

In an interview with The Red Turtle producer Toshio Suzuki, he revealed that he is producing a new feature from Miyazaki. A report from Kyodo News adds that he's putting "all his effort" into getting the film done, hopefully before for the 2020 Olympics which are to be held in Japan. Studio Ghibli will be releasing it once completed, and yeah, it's probably a good idea to beat out the Olympics, which are sure to be quite the distraction.

This is obviously great news, and hopefully we'll start hearing details on what Miyazaki is working on soon.


Podcast: Cinema Royale (Badly) Predicts The 2017 Oscars!


There's no better way for a critic to thoroughly humiliate himself than with their Oscars picks. And that's what I've chosen to do on this episode of Cinema Royale. I'll put on my swamee hat and predict who the winners of the 2017 Academy Awards will be, and inevitably they will all be wrong, because that's just how it rolls. 
Tune in and find out if my picks match yours, and if they do consider changing them! 
Tune in and follow Cinema Royale on Blogtalkradio as part of Critical: The Movie Critics Network!

Review: 'As You Are' Starring Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, And Amandla Stenberg


For a movie literally named after a Nirvana track, you won't find a lot of Nirvana music in director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte's Sundance Award-winning drama, As You Are. Considering its Nirvana and the death of Kurt Cobain that severely affects the trajectory of three misfit teens in a small rural town, the effect is somewhat jarring, made worse by the non-descript score we're subjected to. But that's just one major hurdle for a labored murder mystery that plays at emotional authenticity on subjects such as bullying and repressed homosexuality, however its reliance on a cheap murder mystery plot reveals its true aims.

The gangly and doe-eyed Jack (Owen Campbell) meets and quickly befriends Mark (Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton) when Mark's rugged but seemingly nice father (Scott Cohen) begins dating Jack's mother (Mary Stuart Masterson, always a welcome presence). Normally the situation turns out different, but the boys bond over their love of music, specifically Nirvana, and the occasional toke of the blunt. They also find common ground in the general crappiness of their placement on the high school pecking order. While Mark may seem like a tough, confident kid, he gets bullied by bigger students just as much as Jack. Neither one can stand how phony everyone around them is, which makes their reliance on one another an oasis from all of their problems. Eventually they hook up, both literally and figuratively, with the pretty and like-minded Sarah (The Hunger Games' Amandla Stenberg). The trio form a strange sort of love triangle, but one where it seems Sarah is meant to dull the obvious attraction between Mark and Jack, who aren't ready to embrace that part of their identity just yet.

What follows is a Kings of Summer-esque series of montages where the outcasts regale in the freedom their friendship affords. We see them diving off cliff faces into shimmering pools, smoking weed and, ominously, learning to fire guns. Ominous because the movie begins in flash-forward with the haunting image of Mark and Jack walking deep into the forest, followed by the sound of gunshots. From there, scenes of the town's residents answering questions at a police station dominate, which puts us at a distance from the bond between the central characters. We're left to nit-pick over every statement, every action, as a clue to the violence we know is coming; when we should be left to ponder over the forces that brought these outsiders together. The film is at its undeniable best as the confused trio experience the wonders of youth together, argue over music (There are some legitimately great and genuine conversations they have on bands.), and try to figure out where they fit in this world. Ironically, As You Are isn't confident enough to just be what it is without compromise. I'm not sure Kurt Cobain would approve.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


The Magic Returns In New Trailer For Studio Ponoc's 'Mary And The Witch's Flower'


While it's sad that Studio Ghibli has closed, there's a lot of excitement around the opportunities this opens up for many of their employees. Studio vets Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiaki Nishimura and other prized animators went out and formed Studio Ponoc, and their first movie right out of the gate, Mary and the Witch's Flower, looks like it fits the Ghibli mold perfectly.

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who helmed Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie was There, the film is a retooled adaptation of Mary Stewart's book, The Little Broomstick. This trailer is different from the prior one in that we hear for the first time voicework from 19-year-old star, Hana Sugizaki.

It's probably a long way until we learn about U.S. localization, especially since it doesn't have distribution here yet. Within Ponoc they refer to the film as the "21st century edition of Kiki's Delivery Service", or at least that was their goal. Lofty expectations to be sure, but they seem to be in the right ballpark. Mary and the Witch's Flower opens in Japan this July, and hopefully we'll get it here soon after.


'Captain Fantastic' Director Matt Ross Plans 'Tomorrow And Tomorrow'


Actor-turned-writer/director Matt Ross surprised everyone with his debut feature, Captain Fantastic. The film, which ended up very high on my Best of 2016 list, is an Oscar sleeper and may find star Viggo Mortensen winning Best Actor. It's also opened up a wealth of new opportunities for Ross, and he's decided on what will be his next project, an adaptation of sci-fi novel, Tomorrow and Tomorrow.

Published in 2014, Tom Sweterlitsch’s book takes place years after Pittsburgh has been utterly destroyed by an explosion and a survivor has painstakingly recreated the city digitally. In the process of reliving his fondest memories of the city and his family who lived there, he uncovers a mystery that changes everything he thought he knew about the world he wants to revive.

A writer and cast still need to be found, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ross adapts it himself to speed things along. Ross still has a recurring role on HBO's Silicon Valley, and previously starred in Big Love for the network.

Seth Rogen Has A Crush On Charlize Theron In Rom-Com 'Flarsky'


The comedy duo you've been begging for is about to become a reality. Deadline reports Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron will team up for Flarsky, a rom-com that kinda sounds like it should belong to Kevin James.

On board to direct is Jonathan Levine, who worked with Rogen on 50/50 and The Night Before. He'll be working from a script by Dan Sterling (The Interview) that centers on a down-on-his-luck journalist who decides to overcome his depression by pursuing his lifelong crush and former babysitter, now one of the most powerful women in the world.

So dude with a dad bod scores a hot woman? Rogen had been responsible for this kind of lazy comedy in the past, but are we sure this wasn't written for Kevin James? It's more his speed. Anyway, filming on Flarsky begins in August.

2/23/2017

Official Trailer for 'Their Finest' starring Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin



If there's one subject that has dominated the last 60 years of cinema it's the World War 2 film. Usually gritty, somber and violent. This is not that war movie. Their Finest stars Gemma Arterton (swoon), Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy and follows a British film crew as they try and make a propaganda film to get spirits up after the Blitzkreig. Strangely enough...or perhaps planned well enough, their film is about the rescue at Dunkirk a subject that Chris Nolan is currently covering in a big budget epic. The trailer seems light enough to contain a few laughs but heavy enough to bring some real feels and honestly it feels as though it could be quite inspiring. It's very British in that way, the Brits have an amazing way to insert that humor into even the most serious films. Check out the trailer below and look for Their Finest in theaters April 7th.


Review: 'The Girl With All The Gifts' Starring Gemma Arterton, Sennia Nanua, And Glenn Close


Have you gotten tired of zombies yet? With so many movies on the undead and even a popular TV show in The Walking Dead, finding new ways to present the same material is paramount. Lately that's meant putting a comedic or romantic spin on the genre, and even that has run its course. What's so novel about The Girl with All the Gifts is that it doesn't change all that much from what we already expect, but instead takes the idea of a zombie outbreak to its furthest most logical extent. And in the process it asks and answers fundamental questions in a way that is compelling and very disturbing: What happens when the zombies evolve and form societies? And if that happens, what right does humanity have to wipe them out?


These are actually questions the great George Romero has tackled to a lesser extent in his earlier zombie movies, but director Colm McCarthy and writer Mike Carey (adapting his own book) take it further than we've ever seen. It's a film that combines scares, creepy visuals, and brains...the type that aren't getting devoured by mindless zombies. There's a real intelligence here, but what makes the film unique is its focus. While this is indeed a human story, something we've grown accustomed to on The Walking Dead every week; the character we are made to feel closest to isn't human. Or at least, the central question is whether she is human or not. It's fascinating to see this battle for two species' survival unfold through this special character's eyes.


That character is Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a seemingly normal 12-year-old girl. But we know something can't be right with her because every time we see her she's strapped into a wheelchair, arms, legs, and head bound tight. She's surrounded by anxious-looking guards with military-grade weapons. Some of them are terrified of her, others are disgusted. The only one who isn't is Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), a kind teacher who educates others in a similar position as Melanie. Dozens of them.


While Melanie looks normal, she's actually what they call a "hungry", which is someone infected with a fungus that turns them into rabid zombie-like creatures. When they catch a human scent it sets them on a feeding frenzy. But Melanie is different. She's smarter; more in control than the crazed hordes that wiped out most of the planet. So when a security breach destroys the facility where she's been imprisoned, Melanie is a key asset that must be protected. Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close), who is close to finding a cure for the outbreak, and soldier Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine), who holds a special dislike for the "hungries" because of something in his past.


The Girl with All the Gifts spins a smart tale of species survival, with enough horror elements to keep genre fans happy. However it's our emotional investment that it earns right away in the character of Melanie, who is bright, cheerful, and...oh yeah, she occasionally devours soldiers and sometimes even a housecat. We're made to see both sides of who she is because that is ultimately what the film is about. Is she a danger, and thus someone who needs to be exterminated? Or is she just a little girl who has been co-opted by the fungus? The answer to that question plays out in a finale that literally stunned me it was so surprising, but also made more sense than the ending of any zombie I've seen since 28 Days Later.


Working from a minimum of special effects, McCarthy conjures up an aura of decay and despair that more than makes up for the lack of action. When things get killed, they die for a reason, and they usually die horribly. You feel the impact of each loss thanks to great performances by the cast, with Arterton, Considine, and Close working with more nuance than these movies typically demand. In particular Considine's everyman mystique serves him well. We can see him as the dad from In America reluctantly being forced into this unthinkable situation where he must be a strong, fearless war hero. Nanua more than measures up to her more experienced co-stars in a role that requires a very delicate balance.


It's doubtful anything will return zombie movies to their popular heyday, but The Girl with All the Gifts shows us there are still great, high-quality stories to be told within the genre. Because let's face it; zombie movies are forever just like the undead, and we should support the ones that dare to be bold.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

A Nightwing Movie Is In The Works From 'The LEGO Batman Movie' Director


With Warner Bros. finally putting their issues on The Batman behind them with the signing of Matt Reeves, they must be feeling bullish on the Bat-Universe. THR reports that a new addition has been made to their superhero slate, and it's a Nightwing movie, which is interesting because there was a Nightwing TV series in the works at one point.

Anyway, at the helm will be The LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay, working from a script by Bil Dubuque (The Accountant). If you don't know who Nightwing is, basically he's the grown-up Robin, the Dick Grayson version. The O.G. Robin. After Batman dismisses him, Grayson gives up the Robin mantle and becomes Nightwing. He forms the super team known as the Titans, and don't be surprised if a movie based on them is announced at some point.on.

We've seen one dead Robin costume in the DCU already but I think most of us just assume that's Jason Todd, not Grayson. So there shouldn't be any continuity screwups going on here, I think.  Add this to a list of upcoming DCU flicks that includes Justice League, Gotham City Sirens, Cyborg, The Flash, Aquaman, Suicide Squad 2, Shazam, and Green Lantern Corps.