Godzilla: King of the Monsters

GodzillaKOTM

Directed By: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B

When his ex-wife and daughter are kidnapped while researching a way to control the Titans studied by the group Monarch, Dr. Mark Russell agrees to rejoin the group in order to spearhead the search for them. Soon learning that his ex-wife and daughter, Emma and Maddie, went willingly, and are plotting to wake all of the Titans from their hibernation, he begins to search for a way to help Monarch stop Emma and the mercenary she’s joined forces with from activation all of the Titans around the globe. However, when Ghidorah, one of the Titans awakened, accelerates the plan to release the others, Monarch must call upon Godzilla to defeat him and rein in the other Titans that have been unleashed.

The third movie in Warner Bros. renewed MonsterVerse, King of the Monsters brings one of Godzilla’s more well-known foes, Ghidorah, to the screen. While the plot itself is somewhat uninspired, it does get some points for attempting originality. If they had really wanted something original, they could have had the monsters mysteriously waking on their own, instead of the somewhat tired “mankind is the real monster” plot that was present in Kong: Skull Island, and nearly every other monster movie in existence. That said, it’s still a fun movie to watch, and the actors all work well together. Charles Dance does surprisingly well as a slightly menacing, apathetic bad guy.

The special effects are excellent in quality, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who enjoyed 2014’s Godzilla or Kong: Skull Island should enjoy this installment as well. Those looking for action-packed monster movie so they can turn their brain off for a couple hours should like it, too. The plot is simple enough to follow that it doesn’t require express attention, and it’s interesting enough that it shouldn’t become too boring on rewatch.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is currently only available free to stream if you have HBO, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line/digital retailer.

 

I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Kin

Kin

Directed By: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker
Starring: Miles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Dennis Quaid, Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Carrie Coon, Ian Matthews, Gavin Fox, Lily Gao, Michael B. Jordan, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B

Desperate to help his dad make some extra money, 14-year-old Eli Solinski sneaks onto the site of an abandoned building hoping to find something he can salvage. When he gets there, he finds dead bodies and strange weapon. Startled when someone dressed like one of the bodies approaches him, Eli steals the gun and heads home to find his adoptive brother, Jimmy, has been released from prison early. After Jimmy discovers that he owes a gangster $60,000 for protection while he was in jail, he attempts to ask his father, Hal, for the money. When Hal refuses and kicks him out, Jimmy decides to take the money from the safe at his father’s construction business, but they are soon discovered, and gunfight ensues, killing Hal and the gangster’s brother. Scared, Jimmy takes Eli on the run across the country, where they’re pursued by gangster, as well as the mysterious figures from the warehouse, who are looking for the gun Eli stole.

Despite the muddled, slightly confused storytelling, this movie isn’t actually half bad. At times, it almost feels like an origin story for a dystopian YA novel, while at others, it’s simply a cross-country caper with a sprinkling of science fiction spread throughout. While it’s unlikely to ever garner a sequel, this movie feels incomplete, like it cut off right as the real story was emerging. I’m actually insanely curious as to what the rest of the story is; however, that could just be my inner nerd rearing its ugly head. The acting isn’t fantastic, but it’s not terrible either. James Franco chews on scenery most of the time he’s on screen, and Zoë Kravitz’s character seems to have been shoehorned in to appeal to teen boys, since she serves no real purpose until the very end.

The special effects look pretty good, and the background filler isn’t really noticeable.

Anyone who doesn’t mind a little sci-fi mixed into their action/thrillers (or vice-versa) should enjoy this movie. As stated before, it’s not actually that bad, when viewed as part of the larger picture it seems the writer/directors were trying to paint. Though, at times, the sci-fi angle seems like a bit of an afterthought. Perhaps it would have been better-received if they’d simply chosen a genre and ran with it, instead of throwing the two into a blender and making the most of what came out.

Kin is currently only available free to stream if you have HBO, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

The Shallows

TheShallows

Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Sallas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Struggling med student Nancy goes on a surf trip to Mexico to find a beach her mother also surfed on. While there, she surfs a few waves with some locals, but wanting to catch more waves, stays after they leave for the day. After swimming further out to open water, she stumbles upon a shark feeding off a whale carcass and finds herself being targeted by it. After tending to her injuries, Nancy finds herself running out of time as she desperately tries to alert anyone she can to her presence, and also keep them from being attacked by the increasingly aggressive shark stalking her.

As far as ticking-clock thrillers go, this is one of the better ones made in recent years. The plot is well-paced, and Blake Lively, who is on screen for pretty much the entire movie, does well with the material. Shark attack movies are usually a dime a dozen, so finding one that stands out is a rare occurrence. The limited number of people in danger likely helps with this, as the survival of the main character is what makes the movie one of either tragic loss or triumphant survival. It’s also not entirely outside possibility that a shark would target a single wounded person who encroached on their territory, and ultimately the most unrealistic plot point is that Nancy doesn’t lose her leg.

The special effects are fairly well done, with the shark looking mostly realistic, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action/thriller fans should enjoy this movie, though those with a fear of sharks probably won’t. With a decent script and real consequences, this is one of the better shark attack movies that have been made somewhat recently, and it’s even worth spending the money on a purchase for future watching, as it seems like a good movie to rewatch when you’re bored.

The Shallows is not available free to stream at the moment, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Bushwick

Bushwick

Directed By: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Starring: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Alex Breaux, Arturo Castro, et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Grade: C+

Grad student Sophie and her boyfriend get off the subway in her neighborhood to visit her family, and they find themselves in a literal war zone. When her boyfriend is killed, Sophie attempts to make her way to her grandmother’s house only a few blocks away. After a run-in with some local thugs, Sophie meets Stupe, a retired veteran trying to make it to his family in Hoboken, and begs him to accompany her to find her family. Finding her grandmother dead, Sophie heads to her sisters, where they manage to capture and interrogate one of the invading militia men, who tells them that several of the US states have declared their intention to secede from the Union, and that the attack on Bushwick was meant to soft-target invasion to pressure the president to sign the secession papers. Armed with this information, Sophie, her sister, and Stupe attempt to gather a group of people to fight back and make their way to a safe evacuation point at a nearby park.

When taken at face value, this isn’t a bad movie. It was a relatively low-budget feature, and they did the best they could with what they had, though you get the sense that with a proper budget, they could have made a fantastic cautionary tale. Bautista and Snow make the most of what they’re given to work with, which sadly isn’t much. The two have a decent chemistry nonetheless, and work well together. One fun fact: a majority of the movie takes place in one long shot (or at least is edited to give the appearance that it does).

The special effects are okay, and from what I could tell, the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action fans with 90 minutes to spare should enjoy this. The plot isn’t overly complicated, and as long as you don’t mind a melancholy ending, it’s actually a somewhat enjoyable popcorn flick. Despite the nature of the film, there isn’t much blood or gore, and it mostly gets its rating from language and one suggestive scene, so it should probably be okay for kids to watch along with their parents.

Bushwick is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Beyond Skyline

BeyondSkyline

Directed By: Liam O’Donnell
Starring: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Jonny Weston, Callan Mulvaney, Antonio Fargas, Pamelyn Chee, Yayan Ruhian, Jacob Vargas, Iko Uwais, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

After bailing his son out of jail, police officer Mark Corley must lead a group of people to safety after an alien invasion begins. After Mark, his son Trent, subway conductor Audrey, and blind, homeless veteran Sarge are captured by the aliens, Mark looks for a way to free his new friends and finds a young pregnant woman named Elaine, who tells him that one of the soldiers has the mind of her boyfriend, Jarrod, and that he is different than the other soldiers. When she dies after Mark helps her give birth to her daughter, he takes the child and he and Jarrod find a way to bring down the alien ship. After the crash, Mark and his friends take the child off the ship and find out that they crashed in Indonesia, where they attempt to find a way to fight back against the alien invaders who have come looking for Elaine’s child.

A sequel to the 2010 movie Skyline, this movie is as surprisingly enjoyable as that one was. In fact, knowing this movie exists might make the original slightly more enjoyable, as that one had a strange ending that, at the time, I felt was odd and slightly out of tune with the rest of an otherwise decent movie. This sequel doesn’t suffer from the same off-step ending its predecessor did. The storyline as whole was slightly more interesting, and is a decent sci-fi/alien invasion movie. The actors all work well together and the locations in Indonesia are beautiful.

The special effects are fairly well done, especially given the smaller budget, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who enjoyed the original, or is just looking for a decent alien invasion movie should enjoy this. The movie is good enough that it shouldn’t start to grate after only one or two views, and it’s easy enough to follow that you don’t need to devote all of your attention to it while it’s on.

Beyond Skyline is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Shazam!

Shazam

Directed By: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

When 14 year old foster kid Billy Batson defends one of his foster siblings from bullies, he finds himself transported into a cavern, where a dying wizard bestows a gift upon him that gives him the appearance of 30-something superhero. Pursued by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, a rejected candidate for the powers Billy now possesses, Billy enlists the help of his foster brother, Freddy, to figure out not only what his abilities are, but also how to use them. After Sivana, aided by physical manifestations of the Seven Deadly Sins, figures out Billy’s identity and threatens his new family, Billy bands together with his siblings to stop Sivana and keep their family safe.

Another one of DC’s side properties that they made in an attempt to diversify their Extended Universe (DCEU), Shazam is well-made and entertaining. Lighter in tone than most of DC’s other current films, it’s another step in the right direction to create a diversified universe, much like the one Marvel offers. The actors all work well together, and Levi, who plays Billy’s superhero persona, has the right personality to play a teen that looks like an adult. Strong, who plays Sivana, lets his natural accent slip through occasionally, but for the most part he seems to be able to keep control of it.

The special effects are all very well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of the movies based on DC comics, and maybe most fans of comic book movies in general, should enjoy this. It’s fun and light-hearted, and while it doesn’t necessarily add to the Justice League spectrum, it’s still a good movie to watch, and it’s fun enough that it shouldn’t grate on rewatching. There are just enough references to past DC movies to remind you that they’re set in the same universe.

Shazam! isn’t currently available free to stream at the moment, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Captain Marvel

CaptainMarvel

Directed By: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Mendelsohn, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

When Kree Starforce officer Vers is taken by Skrull operatives and has her memories searched, she is shown events she can’t recall living through. After escaping, she crash lands on Earth, where she meets Agent Nick Fury. Coming to a truce of sorts, Fury agrees to help her get information about Dr. Wendy Lawson, one of the people in the memories that were searched, who was working on an experimental engine that the Skrulls were looking for. As she spends more time on Earth, she eventually learns that her name is actually Captain Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who went missing after the experimental craft she was test piloting crashed and killed Dr. Lawson. No longer certain of who she can and can’t trust, Carol joins forces with Fury in an effort to unravel the mystery behind her missing memories and the source of the extraordinary powers she possesses.

Captain Marvel is the 21st movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and is the first one to center on a female superhero. The introduction of Captain Marvel was long-awaited, and planned as far back as the first Avengers movie in 2012. The movie itself is very good, but falls a little short of amazing. Many fans have been critical of Marvel for ensuring they had a profitable idea before venturing into diversifying their leads, but wait was mostly worth it. It was interesting to see a couple of fan-favorite characters before the “official” start of the MCU, though the CGI de-aging was a bit disconcerting at times. The new characters introduced all fit into the established universe well, and Marvel continues to stock their roster of A-List actors in their movies. The storyline itself is fairly easy to follow, and while the twist near the end may not be jaw-dropping, it’s nice to see that they’re still trying to keep fans on their toes after 10+ years.

The special effects are all very well done, as is the case with nearly every Marvel movie, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of the MCU, as well as anyone looking for a movie starring a kick-ass heroine, should enjoy this movie. Since it’s an origin story, you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the rest of the MCU movies in order to understand what’s going on. Young girls in particular will probably like a movie with a strong female lead, which, while there are more movies with them being made, there’s still a serious lack positive role models and women carrying movies.

Captain Marvel is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Assassin’s Creed

AssassinsCreed

Directed By: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendon Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Dennis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

As a child, Cal Lynch watched his father murder his mother only moments before their home is invaded by unknown assailants. In the years that followed, Cal himself turned to a life of crime, eventually being executed for killing several people. When he wakes up after his execution, Cal is told by Dr. Sophia Rikkin that he is legally dead, she and her fellow scientists have brought him to their facility for an experiment. Cal eventually learns that he the last in a line of ‘Assassins’, and ancient order that has vowed to protect the Apple of Eden, and that Sophia and the other Abstergo people are descended from the Knights Templar, who have been searching for the Apple for centuries.

I’m going to start by saying I never played the video games this movie is adapted from, though I was vaguely aware of them. From my outsider’s perspective, the movie isn’t that bad. I’m sure there were some nods to the game that went over my head, but since I didn’t know to be looking for them, I can’t say whether they added to of detracted from the experience. The actors all do well with the material, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without hearing Fassbender’s attempt at a southern accent (it’s not terrible, it’s just generally off-putting when someone considers his natural Irish one). Marion Cotillard seems a bit out of place in the movie, considering the kinds of movies she usually appears in, though she does well with the material, and her chemistry with Fassbender is spot-on. The story itself is easy to follow (a little research tells me it’s very close to the story of the original video game), and doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

While die-hard fans of the video game series may not enjoy this movie, anyone else who likes action and/or fantasy probably will. As stated before, the storyline is easy to follow, and while it may take a minute to get used to the way the flashbacks are handled, the movie itself is easily rewatchable and probably worth the couple of bucks it would cost to rent.

Assassin’s Creed is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.