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Big Friendly Family Fun
Author Roald Dahl published his children’s novel The BFG in 1982, the same year filmmaker Steven Spielberg released his classic film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Now thirty-four years later, those two powerhouses combine for the movie version of The BFG. Spielberg is directing from a script by the late Melissa Mathison, her first produced script in nearly twenty years. Mathison, by the way, wrote the script for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Not so Legendary
The saying goes that “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” We all know the legend of author Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan novels, about the boy raised in the jungle by gorillas. The new film adaptation, The Legend of Tarzan, opens after the legend has already been printed and now the character must return to the jungle and re-establish the fact. Whether or not he will be able to do that is never really in doubt.
A Movie Worth Finding
Unless they star a toy cowboy and his space ranger pal, sequels to Pixar movies have been somewhat underwhelming. Cars 2 and Monsters University were both moderately entertaining, but neither of them came close to approximating the magic of their respective originals. Now the animation giant is revisiting one of their most beloved movies, Finding Nemo. Although it has been a full thirteen years since that movie first hit theaters in 2003, and Finding Dory may be late to the party, it is well worth the wait.
A Black Comedy
Hollywood veteran Shane Black got his start writing the screenplays for the Lethal Weapon movies in the eighties and nineties before finally directing his first feature with 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He then joined that movie’s star Robert Downey Jr. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by writing and directing Iron Man 3, one of the franchise’s most contentious entries to date. His new movie, The Nice Guys, is a return to the buddy-cop action comedy genre in which he first made his name.
Earlier this summer, movie audiences were treated to a long-awaited superhero matchup with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie which felt a lot like a desperate attempt by Warner Bros. to quickly catch the DC Comics movie universe up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The result was a movie that was almost universally panned by critics and—despite decent box office—audiences. As if that weren’t enough, here comes Marvel’s new movie, also featuring a matchup between two of its main heroes: Iron Man and Captain America. With the two movies having a surprising amount of plot elements in common, Captain America: Civil War feels as if it is Marvel slapping DC right across the face, because everything DC got wrong, Marvel gets oh-so-right.
Where’s the Cat?
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have already had a success on the small screen with their sketch comedy show, but now that their television show has ended they have set their sights on the big screen. Their first effort is a pseudo-parody of the Keanu Reeves action movie John Wick that they named after that film’s star. Although the title Keanu is obviously a nod to the actor, in the movie it is the name of the film’s true star: pretty much the cutest kitten you have ever seen in your life.
Mowgli’s Live-Action Adventures
Disney’s new live-action version of The Jungle Book says that it is based on the Mowgli stories written by Rudyard Kipling, but let’s be honest: it is really a remake of the company’s own animated version from 1967. For the most part, it has the same characters—no more, no less—and follows a similar path through scenes that will seem very familiar to fans of the animated film. The movie is enjoyable, for sure, but mostly in the way it makes you nostalgic for the movie and characters you grew up with, rather than for being anything special or unique in its own right.
Bringing Down the House
Director Jean-Marc Vallee has been on a roll when it comes to getting his actors to the Academy Awards. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both took home awards for their performances under his guidance in Dallas Buyers Club and the next year the director’s Wild earned Reese Witherspoon a nomination. For his next film, Demolition, the director cast one of the best actors going at the moment and while the movie may not hit the mark in the same way his previous films did, it does offer up another terrific performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.
A Spielbergian Sci-Fi Chase
Writer/Director Jeff Nichols has been making some of the most interesting independent films over the past few years. Take Shelter and Mud were both critical favorites, but neither really found a wide audience. While the director’s latest movie, Midnight Special, maintains the unique, personal feel of his previous films, it comes in a more blockbuster-friendly package. As described by the director himself, the movie is a “sci-fi chase film.” Whether the movie finds a wide audience or not will largely depend on how much good word-of-mouth the movie gets, but one thing is for sure, it certainly deserves some.
Dawn of a Cinematic Universe
Perhaps a more appropriate subtitle for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be “Dawn of a Cinematic Universe.” Although it is technically preceded by 2013’s Man of Steel, this movie is designed to be the launching point for a DC Comics shared universe that Warner Bros. hopes can rival that of Disney’s Marvel franchise. The subtitle, of course, refers to The Justice League, which is DC’s version of The Avengers. The movie is a big risk for Warner Bros. as they try to run before they can walk, as opposed to the Marvel approach which started with 2008’s Iron Man and slowly learned to crawl and then walk before finally running full speed in 2012’s The Avengers. Do they pull it off? Yes and no.
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