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Archives for : Universal Pictures

Movie Review: “Good Boys” Delivers More than a Good Time

Do you remember your best friends from elementary school? Maybe you’re still friends with them, or maybe the extent of that friendship has come down to rare Facebook notifications? Whatever it may be, those friendships probably still hold a special place in your heart. For most of us, it was a time of discovery, curiosity, and tears; which is exactly the kind of relationship we see in the new raunchy, tween comedy, “Good Boys”.

Three sixth grade boys from an Illinois suburb find themselves conflicted when they get invited to one of the cool kid’s kissing party. The problem is, none of them know how to kiss. Love-sick Max (Jacob Tremblay) wants his first kiss to be with his crush/supposed future wife, Brixlee (Millie Davis). Straight-laced Lucas (Keith L. Williams) wants to help Max, but is going through his own struggles at home. And musically inclined Thor (Brady Noon) wants so badly to impress the popular kids, even if it means skipping a desired musical audition.

After an unsuccessful attempt at trying to look up “how to kiss” on the internet, Max and his friends foolishly decide to use his dad’s (Will Forte) drone to spy on the girl next door in hopes that she will be kissing her boyfriend. Unfortunately, Hannah (Molly Gordon) is hanging with her best friend (Midori Francis) and they aren’t happy when they discover they are being spied on. This leads to a domino effect of one disaster after another.

“Good Boys” comes off as a junior version of “Superbad”. Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the two include the raunchy, laugh out loud comedy we’re so used to seeing. But their comedies always have something a little extra than just bathroom humor. They give their characters depth and relatability. Watching these three very innocent kids who have deemed themselves “The Bean Bag Boys” almost feels nostalgic. Whether they remind us of the short-term crushes, how naive we were to all sexual references, or how drinking a sip of beer was just about the wildest thing you could do; there’s something in this film that will be reminiscent of your childhood.

While the movie is 90 minutes of pure fun, there’s also the bittersweet reminder that friends can grow apart, especially when hitting a new stage in life (like middle school/high school). Different interests can lead you in new directions, and towards new friends that you have more in common with. It’s a harsh reality for “The Bean Bag Boys” face. Even if their friendship is short-lived, watching the bond between these boys is a joy that’s everlasting.

Rating: 4/5

“Good Boys” opens in theaters August 16.

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Movie Review: “Pet Sematary”

 

The horrors keep on coming! The past two months we’ve been treated to two highly anticipated “scary movies”. Pet Sematary that might have been better left dead, but there are still a few scares. Check out my ICTN review of the film, along with Jordan Peele’s box office smash, “Us”.

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Movie Review: “Us” Cuts Deep and Beyond the Superficial Scares

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Coming off of a critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated directorial debut (Get Out), Jordan Peele had a lot riding on his sophomore feature, Us. But let’s just get the question that’s on your mind out of the way now. Us is not better than Get Out, and don’t go into the movie expecting it will be. If you enter the theater with that mindset from the start, you’re more likely to enjoy this all new twisted, weekend getaway.

Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have taken their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) to their family beach house expecting to unplug and unwind. Still scared from events that happened at the Santa Cruz boardwalk when she was a child, Adelaide is on edge from every strange or coincidental occurrence. And as the day turns to night, Adelaide’s suspicions turn into reality when eerie, uninvited guests show up in their driveway. Here’s the kicker; they look exactly like Adelaide and her family. From then on, these doppelgangers have turned what was supposed to be a relaxing trip into a horrifying nightmare.

It comes as no surprise that the cast does an incredible job. Nyong’o impresses with versatility and standout performance. Duke shows off his comedic chops; and newcomers, Joseph and Alex, give breakout performances that will likely have them, once again, on our movie screens.

Us takes you on an intense, chaotic thrill ride that will keep you physically and emotionally on the edge of your seat till the very end. Compared to his previous movie, Peele cranks up the scares, the gore, and the humor. It’s a combination that absolutely delivers. His visual techniques and writing have the essence of a modern day Hitchcock, but Peele still stays true to his own unique style of film-making. However, after seeing Us, I think we might be looking at the new master of horror.

Just like one of the many themes in Us, with the good comes the bad. Unlike Get OutUs is not a “perfect” movie.  Besides the fact that it may run a tad longer than it should (this is forgivable), there is A LOT to take in at first viewing. Get Out was straightforward and easy to understand, even though it had a complex narrative. To call Us “complex” would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out all the hidden meanings behind this one.  There are many layers you will only be able to peel back through multiple viewings. I already plan to watch the movie again this weekend. That being said, there are elements you’ll probably be able to figure out after first watch. One very obvious one is in the title. There’s a reason why Us has the same initials as the United States. Peele might be trying to tell us how he feels about the current status of our country and the way society treats outsiders.

Us cuts deep and leads you down a rabbit hole of theories. What has the world come to?  Do we need a fresh start? Do I have an evil, dark side? Though the questions you might have could be overwhelming, there’s no denying that Us is a witty and wickedly, entertaining horror flick.

I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele has in store for us next!

Rating: 4.5/5

Us hits theaters March 22!

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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day 2U” isn’t a Film I’d Want to Relive Again

It sadness me to write this review, because I really loved the first “Happy Death Day”. It was such a pleasant surprise. It was reminiscent of the “Scream” era and provided the same kind of “whodunit” feel that kept you guessing till the very end.

In “Happy Death Day”, sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), wakes up hungover on her birthday in her nerdy classmate, Carter’s (Isreal Broussard) dorm room. We got a peek into her daily life and learned she ignored her father’s call, she was sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittled others. That night Tree was stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask. She then wakes up, and was forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way until she discovered who was trying to kill her.

In “Happy Death Day 2U” Jessica Rothe reprises her role as Tree for a second helping of death day cake only to have it spoiled. Tree believes she has finally broken the loops after killing the person who was trying to murder her.  She’s now a different person. A better person in fact. Unfortunately, she’s wrong. Her now boyfriend, Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu) has been working a college science project that was actually the cause of the repeated days. It’s even causing another loop into a parallel dimension. Tree gets sucked into that parallel world, and must relieve another murderous day until she discovers the new killer and the algorithm (will go right over your head) to get back to her original reality.

As I describe the premise, I’m already losing interest. The minute I saw this time machine, the exact thought that popped in my head was, “CRAP!” This sequel immediately feels more like a Disney Channel movie rather than a comedy/horror. All of the sudden we’re watching a cheesy comedy about girl deciding what’s more important, her boyfriend or her mom. And when the new killer is finally revealed, you could care less!  I honestly forgot about the killer because they become irrelevant. And the slapstick comedy is so cringe-worthy at times. Just look out for a scene with a fake blind girl and you’ll know what I mean.

At this point you might think I just hated the film all together, but there are some salvageable parts. Rothe is just as charismatic and enjoyable as she was the first time around. This girl really has a knack for comedy. And though I harped a little on it earlier, there are some mother/daughter sequences that hit you right in the feels.  Had the film gone in a different direction, I would have appreciated that story-line a lot more.

Yes, I would have been perfectly fine if they didn’t make “Happy Death Day 2U”, but they did. So should you see it? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sure…ONLY if you saw and liked its predecessor. It’s not a must watch, but there are some interesting developments. That being said, I would recommend you save your money and make this one a rental.

Rating: 2/5

“Happy Death Day 2 U” opens in theaters February 13.

Movie Review: “Glass” Might Not Have Been Worth the Wait

Before you read this review in disappointment, know that there are some moments of glimmer in Glass.

The end of Split (2016) left everyone in awe after realizing it was actually a long awaited sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000). This left us anxious to see the final chapter and how Kevin (James McAvoy), David (Bruce Willis), and Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) all tie together!

Glass takes place weeks after the events in Split. Kevin Crumb, a multiple-personality case nicknamed The Horde, remains on the loose with 20-something individuals living inside him. Among them: The Beast, a superhuman with an occasional taste for human flesh. He is continuing to kidnap teenage girls (this time cheerleaders), and introducing them to each persona before unleashing The Beast on them.

But he is now targeted by Unbreakable’s David Dunn. After being the sole survivor of a horrific train crash, David discovered he was indestructible and capable of absorbing memories of other people’s misdeeds at a touch. He’s a masked vigilante, who wears a hooded jacket and nicknamed The Overseer.

When David and Kevin come head to head, they are apprehended and sent to a mental hospital for the criminally insane. It’s there that we discover Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass, is being held at there as well. All three have been brought here to be treated by Dr. Staple (Sarah Paulson), who wants to cure them of their delusions of having superpowers. Meanwhile David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), Casey Cooke (Anya Talyor-Joy), the Horde captive who got away, and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) are trying to help their respective others. They each try to vouch for their loved ones.

Keep in mind Glass is 2 hours and 9 minutes long. A lot of that time will feel very dragged and wasted.  Sadly, the major downfall here is the weak script. Hyping this film as a project in the making for 19 years comes with high hopes. Unfortunately, it seems evident that Shyamalan had great idea with an interesting beginning, but might have lost his way towards the end.

There are some silver-linings, like the fact that James McAvoy is just incredible with his ability to abruptly change personalities and deliver such a captivating performance. Of the few that were given, there is also a solid twist in the film (The other twists are a bit of head scratchers).

Glass is hardly a film to write home about, and I can’t say it’s worth paying full price for in a theater. However, it is worth watching, if nothing more than to see the conclusion of this “interesting” trilogy.

Rating: 2.5

Glass opens in theaters January 18.

Movie Review: “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” – A Convoluted Plot, Scattered with a Few Scares

I’ll be honest; when I first saw the trailer for this film, I was immediately intrigued. Turning a game that I have loved playing with my friends since childhood into a horror flick sounded surprisingly clever. Think about it. The actual game of truth or dare is kind of scary. You could be forced to share secrets that would ruin friendships, or do things that could ruin you. With that thought in mind, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare had the potential to really shine. Unfortunately, the film is just a commercialized knock off of The Ring (2002) and Would You Rather (2012).

We first meet our protagonist, Olivia (Lucy Hale), while she is posting a video on social media about her Habitat for Humanity plans this spring break. But, those plans quickly change. Olivia’s best friend, Markie (Violett Beane), begs her to spend the break partying in Mexico instead of helping people in need of homes. After about five seconds of deliberation, Olivia agrees and the girls are off to Mexico with four other close friends.

Once they get to Mexico, we see a cliché montage of the group having fun, partying, and taking selfies. But of course, they couldn’t just leave it at that. Nope, the group foolishly decides to follow a stranger they met at the bar to “a fun place”. Yup, it was that easy. They are led to an abandoned church, and the mysterious new friend suggests they play truth or dare. They soon to come to find out that the game is haunted by a demon, and now they are forced to play the game forever or die.

As silly as the premise sounds, the film still manages to conjure up a few screams. The actual dares keep you on edge and can be a little gruesome at times. So in that sense the film is effective. But as a whole, the film flounders. The dialogue is cheesy, and feels more like a teen drama series. Dare I say like Pretty Little Liars? There is also way too much crammed into this movie. The few character backstories are rushed, and the journey to finding out how to the end the game is confusing.

The acting is decent; lots of controlled tear drops. There’s a ridiculous love triangle in there somewhere between Markie, her boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), and Olivia. But I chose not to put much thought into that because, clearly, the writers didn’t either. I blame most of my qualms on the script. These young actors are capable of giving better performances in a more solid film.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare may entertain its target teen audience with its attractive cast and tense moments, but their money might be better spent if they save this one for a rental.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” opens in theaters April 13.

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“Get Out” One Year Later – Free Screenings on President Day!

First-Come, First-Served Offer Valid at 55 AMC Theatres Nationwide to Guests of the 7:00 P.M. Screenings on Monday, February 19

Universal City, CA, February 13, 2018—Filmmaker Jordan Peele, in conjunction with Universal Pictures, today announced free screenings of Universal’s Get Out on Presidents’ Day, February 19, at 55 AMC locations nationwide.  Each guest who requests a ticket the day of the screening—at a participating location—will be given one free admission to the 7:00 p.m. showing, up to theatre capacity.

Since its release in theatres in February 2017, Get Out has been nominated for four Academy Awards®, while inspiring audiences and artists worldwide.  A compilation video was also released that showcases the artwork inspired by Get Out—featuring the hashtag #GetOutOneYearLater—to encourage audiences to share more of their artwork, experiences and discussions that were influenced by the movie.

The promotion will be available at each of the 55 AMC Theatres playing the special screening of Get Out at 7:00 p.m. on February 19.  Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may only be picked up at the AMC box office that day.  Each guest must present a valid ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each ID presented, while supplies last.  This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. showing of the film on February 19, only.

Markets that will playing Get Out on Presidents’ Day include ones in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh/Durham, NC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA; Seattle/Tacoma, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; and Washington, D.C.  To find out more information, visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.

“When Jordan approached us about a way to thank fans one year after the release of Get Out, we thought a Presidents’ Day screening during Black History Month would be a wonderful way to commemorate the film’s impact,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures.  “The success of his stunning vision would not have been possible without the audience’s passion for both Get Out’s groundbreaking storytelling and its deft use of art as society’s mirror.”

For more information and a list of theatres offering the special screenings, please visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.  Broadcast-quality clips from Get Out are available at www.epk.tv, and stills are available at www.image.net.

 

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Movie Review: “Happy Death Day” Delivers Laughs and Scares

“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in this surprisingly funny, mystery thriller.

Sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in a stranger’s (Isreal Broussard) bed. She discovers she stayed the night with nerdy classmate, Carter, and rudely exits his dorm room. Thus begins her rampage of being a narcissistic mean girl to everyone who crosses her path. As we get a peek into a day in the life of Tree, we learn she ignores her father’s call, she’s sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittles others. I know, hard to believe someone wants to kill her. As the night draws near, Tree heads to a party and is quickly stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask–oddly enough, that is the school’s mascot.  She then wakes up, and is forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way. As Tree grows weaker with each consecutive loop, she must unmask her murderer and stop them from finishing her off for good.

Writer Scott Lobell does a great job with this clever script, as he adds a lot of humor and makes the film self-aware to the fact that this is a cheesy horror. The self-awareness allows for the movie to go beyond cliché lines and really have fun with a decently, thought out mystery. At this point I’ve described more of a comedy, but director Christopher Landon achieves a handful of scares that will have audiences jumping in their chairs.

The film’s story is solid, but the key ingredient here is the engaging breakout performance by Jessica Rothe. She nails the strong bitchy exterior that actually allows us to not feel guilty when we laugh at her numerous deaths, yet still gains sympathy towards her hopeful victory. Rachel Matthews, who plays an even more awful sorority sister, might provide the most laugh out moments with her over the top bitchy lines.

Whatever “Happy Death Day” lacks in the horror, it makes up for it in its entertainment. Reminiscent of the “Scream” era, it provides the same kind of “whodunit” feel that keeps you guessing till the very end.

I can’t say that this film should be at the top of your must-see list, but if you are looking for a few scares and fun time during this Halloween season, then “Happy Death Day” is the perfect choice.

Rating: 3.75/5

“Happy Death Day” opens in theaters October 13.

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Movie Review: “Despicable Me 3” Entertains but Lacks Depth

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In the first “Despicable Me”, Gru (Steve Carell) discovered the meaning of fatherhood and how rewarding it was to care for three little girls who loved him back. In “Despicable Me 2”, Gru discovered love with his romantic interest, Lucy (Kristen Wiig). In “Despicable Me 3” Gru discovers a twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell), whom he never knew he had. And somewhere in all these films he takes down an evil villain more diabolical than him.

The franchise sticks with an adequate formula that entertains enough. But unfortunately with each passing sequel, the films seem to be loosing the heart of the story. “Despicable Me 3” begins with the introduction of a new villain, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who is a washed up 80’s child star that wants revenge on world that turned on him. After failing to take down Bratt during one of his heists, Gru and his now wife, Lucy, are fired from their jobs at the Anti-Villain League. In the midst, of trying to figure his next step, a strange man visits Gru to tell him about a twin brother he never knew he had who needs his help.

Once Gru, Lucy, and the girls arrive at Dru’s very rich mansion, they discover he is not exactly what they expected. For starters, he has a full head of blonde hair, he has an obsession with pigs, and he’s a clumsy, sweet guy who’s desperate to become a villain like his brother once was. While Gru attempts to reconnect to his old “bad guy” days, Lucy is busy trying to have some mother/daughter bonding time with the girls.

Though the twin brother story-line does offer longer legs for the film’s franchise, you have to wonder if it is worth the stretch marks the movies are beginning to show. The family relationships are excellent factors to “Despicable Me”, but it might be wise for the films to put a little more care and thought into their antagonists. At this point they are meaningless obstacles to whatever Gru is hoping to achieve.

Oh and you’re probably wondering about the minions. Yes, there is plenty of minions in this movie. I found there was a little too much of them. But if you love them as much as little kids do, you’re all set. The minions have their own mini adventure side story that you will either find adorable or an absolute waste of time.

“Despicable Me 3” is an overall enjoyable kids film. We’re given a handful of laughs and a decent amount of tender moments. However, for a film that had such a strong start, I had hoped this movie would leave me wanting more instead of worrying about what’s to come.

RATING: 3.5/5

“Despicable Me 3” opens in theaters June 30.

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Movie Review: “The Mummy” is a Mediocre Summer Blockbuster

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Just a heads up, this is NOT a reboot of the “The Mummy”(1999) film starring Brendan Fraser. Universal Pictures has relaunched classic monster movie characters as part of the Dark Universe franchise, beginning with “The Mummy” (2017).

Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a US soldier in Iraq who in his free time steals priceless antiquities with his reluctant partner in crime, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson).

During one of their “hunts for gold”, the two men and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) stumble upon the remains of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was entombed for eternity after her treacherous acts of evil five thousand years ago. By uncovering her remains they have also awakened her spirit, allowing Ahmanet to finally finish out her plan to rule the world.

Okay, so the plot is pretty thin and hardly original, but the movie does have it’s entertaining moments thanks to Cruise and Johnson’s comic relief and the constant action-packed sequences.

The film also eases us into another Dark Universe character, Dr. Henry Jekyll, adequately played by Russell Crowe. Though his character was there to study Ahmanet, and be another obstacle for Nick and his quest to escape the supernatural madness, somehow Dr. Jekyll felt forced in this story. However, the possibility for an interesting Dr. Jekyll is there and I’m looking forward to seeing Crowe as the lead in a Jekyll and Hyde origin film.

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“The Mummy” as a whole isn’t much to brag about. The entire cast does a decent job, and the story is very basic. What we currently have here is an average, but fun fantasy adventure that has gotten the ball rolling on what is suppose to compete against Marvel and DC movies. Luckily, “The Mummy” has set the bar real low for the future Dark Universe films.

This film will probably get a lot of negative reaction as it brings nothing fresh beyond some jokes and cool CGI. Yet, I can’t help but see potential in what’s to come. Once the franchise finds its footing and brings this world together in a more natural way, it could be something special? Or maybe I’m just being optimistic, who knows!

In a summer filled with anticipated blockbusters it’s hard to say that “The Mummy” will rise above movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Wonder Woman”. However, if you’ve already seen those two films and you’re looking for a quick thrill to satisfy you in theaters till “Spider-man: Homecoming” comes out, then “The Mummy” is worth a few bucks.

Rating: 3/5

“The Mummy” opens in theaters June 9.

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