Rss

  • linkedin

Archives for : Universal Pictures

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.

Share

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

Image result for despicable me 3

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.

Share

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

Image result for the mummy 2017 poster

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.

Related image

“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.

Share

Movie Review: “The Fate of the Furious” Surprisingly Entertains

Image result for the fate of the furious poster

For many of you, it’s no surprise that the 8th installment of the Fast and Furious franchise is actually a fun watch. However, since I haven’t enjoyed these films since the first one, “Fate of the Furious” was oddly refreshing.

In comparison to “Furious 7”, this sequel has a more focused plot, better humor, and more jaw-dropping special effects.

“The Fate of the Furious” reunites the films’ core crew of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, and later additions Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. And even though Paul Walker is no longer with us, he is still recognized and even honored in this movie.

Without giving too much away, “The Fate of the Furious” continues with the theme of the family. This time with an expansion of family. This is very clear after the first sequence in which Dom (Diesel) beats a random guy in a car race and a street full of kids begin to surround them and cheer him on. In the midst of the praises, Letty (Rodriguez) notices a couple with a baby and then turns to Dom, asking him if he’s thought about having kids. Next, is a scene with Hobbs (Johnson) and his daughter, and so on…We see what the film is trying to relay here.

One day while Dom is walking on his way home, he runs into cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) who blackmails him into her latest mission, forcing him to turn on his crew. His team and the entire audience is bewildered by his betrayal, which leads to one ridiculous car crash after another as they hunt down Dom from places like New York to Berlin.

Like every Fast and Furious film there are flaws. As predicted, there are numerous unrealistic car chases. It’s mind-boggling how everyone can just jump out of an insanely fast car with no more than a scratch. And of course, there’s also the painfully cheesy one-liners which have lessened this time around, more so due to the fact that Vin Diesel has been given less dialogue.  Wise choice on the screenwriter’s part since Diesel is the weakest actor of the bunch and shines much more when he’s just looking tough or angry, or basically not speaking at all.

On the other hand, Diesel’s costar’s Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are much better performers and steal the show with their love/hate banter. And as silly as Theron’s hair may look, it doesn’t take away from her role as a truly heartless and conniving villain.

So, yes, as expected there is plenty to laugh and roll your eyes at in this film. But there is also a lot to be in awe of, mainly the incredibly entertaining action sequences and the few twists and turns that go along with it.

“The Fate of the Furious” has its speed bumps, but stays on a fun track.

Rating: 3/5

“The Fate of the Furious” opens in theaters April 14.

Share

Movie Review: “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” Entertains but Fails to Charm

MBFGW2_27x40_1Sheet_FRM.indd

Fourteen years ago “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was the word-of-mouth hit that surprised everyone with its slow success.  Such a simple plot, with lovable characters.  The simplicity is why the film was so great.  Writer and star, Nia Vardalos who play Toula, took the time to not only write a thought-out plot, but also give proper character development to both the lead and supporting cast.  Which is why we cared so much about each and every person in the movie.

Now, the Portokalos has returned and expanded.  Toula (Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) have a 17 year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), whose just about had it with her smothering Greek family.  As she begins to apply for college she must decide between a school near by or out of state, adding worry to her already troubled parents.  But this is not the only story-line.  You see in this sequel we are given multiple plots that are somewhat interesting.

While trying to find out if Alexander the Great is one of his ancestors, Gus (Michael Constantine), discovers that his marriage license was not signed by the priest, meaning him and Maria (Lainie Kazan) were never officially married.  This is where the wedding part comes in.  Maria demands a “real” proposal and “real” wedding…que the cliche montage of the quirky wedding preparations.  All the while, Toula is so busy trying to fix her parent’s marriage, that she is neglecting her own.

Yes, there is a lot going on in this film.  Luckily, its not so much that you can’t follow the story.  It’s just hard to care about so many different plots.  It would have been nicer, if “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” followed its predecessor’s formula and stuck to one central focus.

I do admire the film for at least attempting an original story instead of recycling from the previous film.  And even though the movie wasn’t anything special, it was still enjoyable.  Luckily, we had the pleasure of knowing all these characters in a better setting, so regardless of the subpar premise, I was still happy to see their current situations.

Ultimately, the greatest factor of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was the merging of two different cultures and how though it can involve a lot of hilarious obstacles, there is a genuine and heart-warming quality about seeing two different people accepting each other and their families.  “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” just didn’t have that kind of heart to it.

That being said “My Big fat Greek Wedding 2” is still worth a watch.  Fans will get enough laughs out of the jokes and be happy to see the entire cast reunited again.

Rating: 3/5

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” opens in theaters March 25.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Get On Up”- Chadwick Boseman Fires Up the Screen as James Brown

Get On Up may confuse with it’s non-linear timeline, but there is no misunderstanding the brilliance of Chadwick Boseman.

In last year’s 42, Boseman played baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a man suppressing his pride and bottling up his anger.  It was a strong breakout performance by an actor we knew we’d be seeing again very soon.  He then made a small appearance in the underrated Draft Day, as hopeful pick for the NFL draft.  In Get On Up, Boseman gets the chance to let loose in a firehouse of passion, funk, and intense ferocity.

The story itself may not have audiences captivated, as the constant back and forth jump from one year to the next tends to scramble the brain.  I understand not wanting to follow they typical bio-pic formula but in an attempt to be different, they might have lost track of what is more effective to moviegoers.  Getting emotionally wrapped up in one scene only to be abruptly pulled away to a moment that occurs 5 years later is not only frustrating, but it is distracting.  You don’t want to to forget what you just saw because you know they will be coming back at some point to finish the scenes they just started (confusing, I know).   So instead of concentrating on the current sequence, you are bookmarking everything you watch.  Luckily, this film isn’t about the story, it’s about the performances.

Chadwick Boseman’s phenomenal portrayal as James Brown and his A-list supporting cast is all you need to remember about this movie.   The Help alums: Octavia Spencer, who plays Brown’s brothel-owning aunt, and Viola Davis, who plays Brown’s neglectful mother, slides in for the film’s most emotional scene.  But it is Nelsan Ellis, who plays Bobby Bryd-Brown’s loyal best friend, that proves once again, he is more than the flamboyant comic relief as seen on True Blood every week.  Boseman and Ellis share great chemistry on screen and complement each other extremely well.

In comparison to the recent bio-pic/musical, Jersey Boys, Get On Up wins by a landslide.  The acting, the story, and most importantly the ability to have us care for the characters.  Had the story just been slightly more chronological I would have given the film a much higher rating, but none of the faults in Get On Up deteriorates from the sensation that is Chadwick Boseman.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Get On Up” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Neighbors” is One of the Most Hilarious Comedies of the Year

It is Rogen verses Efron.  And in this battle, we, the audience are the winners.

After his let down performance in That Awkward Moment, I was a bit wary when walking into this film.  I wasn’t sure if Efron could compete with Rogen in the “real” battle at hand.  Which star can generate more laughs?  And would Zac Efron offer more to the story than just his chiseled abs and deep blue eyes?  Well folks, I’m here to tell you that Zac Efron not only proves himself as a genuine comedic actor, he is also able to hold his own against Seth Rogen.  At times, he is even funnier than the Knocked Up star himself.

The more I think about this movie, the more I appreciate the whole premise.  Such a simple idea/nightmare has made for a truly fantastic laugh out loud comedy.

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have just moved into the perfect home with their beautiful new born baby.  Kelly is a stay at home mom who gets to spend all day with baby Stella.  Mac works a 9-5 desk job that he tries to endure with a little bit of help from “Mary Jane.”  Their days are starting to feel routine, and they are unable to go out because of the baby.  It’s beginning to feel stagnant for the new parents.  But all that changes when we hear the sound of the boisterous fraternity that has moved in next door.  In hopes of keeping this a quiet neighborhood for their little girl, the couple head to the frat’s first rowdy party.  What was supposed to be a quick noise complaint visit turned into a refreshing night out for Mac and Kelly.  And after having what will probably be remembered as the best debate over “who is Batman,” Teddy and Mac form a bond and an understanding of trust is made.  Unfortunately that trust is broken within 24 hours, and leads to an epic war between the two houses.

It is hard to even pick a side because both leaders of the house are written as such likeable characters.  On one hand, you have a new father trying to prove to his wife and himself that he can handle being the responsible one, while still being cool.  Then you have the devoted frat president who spends way too much time partying, and caring about the mark he leaves behind in his brotherhood rather than thinking about the real world that is ahead of him.

Neighbors is not just carried by their two stars.  This film has a strong supporting comedic cast filled with even better cameos.  Rose Byrne is the perfect mix of wit and wholesome beauty.  Dave Franco plays Teddy’s Vice President, Pete, and shares great chemistry with his fraternity brother.  Young Franco is easily following in the footsteps of his talented, successful older brother; and I look forward to seeing him in many more projects, hopefully in leading roles.   A shout out also goes to The Mindy Project’s co-writer and cast member, Ike Barinholtz.  Like on his sitcom, Barinholtz’s role as Rogen’s best friend may not be huge, but produces enough chuckles to make him memorable.

What is most satisfying about Neighbors is how it is more than just a hilarious slapstick comedy.  There is heart and a sense of authenticity.  A lot of us are afraid to grow up. It can feel as though we will be missing out on “the party,” when in reality, your life and how you choose to live it can be the most legendary party that never ends.

Rating: 4/5

Neighbors hits theaters May 9.

Neighbors Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com