Friday, December 1, 2017

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In December (2017)

According to: Cat

20 – Pitch Perfect 3 (12/22) 

Tag Line: Last Call, Pitches
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Gold Circle Entertainment, Brownstone Productions
Director: Trish Sie
Writer: Kay Cannon
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, John Lithgow, DJ Khaled , Hana Mae Lee, Ruby Rose, Elizabeth Banks, Ester Dean, Matt Lanter, John Michael Higgins
Genre: Comedy, Music
Rated: PG-13
Length: 93 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices.

Have I beat the dead horse enough times in explaining that I love musicals or music-centric movies? Well, here's once more for good measure! My choral singing background just makes me squee whenever there are movies out that play around that theme - especially acapella vocals. (It means voices without instrumental background music.)

Before I launch into a tangent there, the bottom line is that these movies are always fun. I think the twist here of transitioning to USO performances and competition with a band using instrumentals makes things a bit more interesting than a cut & paste singing competition plot more resembling the first two movies of this trilogy.

19 – Fullmetal Alchemist (12/1) 

Tag Line: None
Production Companies:  Oxybot, Square Enix Company, Warner Bros
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Writer: Hiromu Arakawa
Actors: Ryôsuke Yamada, Atom Mizuishi, Tsubasa Honda, Dean Fujioka, Ryûta Satô, Misako Renbutsu, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Kanata Hongô, Natsuna
Genre: Action
Rated: Unrated
Length: 135 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Two alchemist brothers go on a quest for the Philosopher's Stone after an attempt to revive their dead mother goes horribly wrong.

I am over the moon about this movie. I'm skeptical when live-action movies are made based on an animated property. This is doubly so when I am a fan of a particular animated source. I adore the Fullmetal Alchemist series in its various incarnations. Needless to say, it had me worried.

What I've seen from the trailer and other promotional materials I could find tells me that the production team did a really good job in bringing the vision from the animated series to the screen. They paid fairly good attention to detail - especially with such things as Al's armor and some of the other effects, like the homunculi.

This December release date is for Japan, but I'm pretty sure it will be available to watch here in the states soon, if not already. Of course, it's subtitled, but that's never stopped an anime fan before, right?!

18 – Love Beats Rhymes (12/1) 

Tag Line: Let no one hold you back.
Production Companies:  Codeblack Films, Lionsgate, Spoken Productions
Director: RZA
Writer:  Nicole Jefferson Asher
Actors: Azealia Banks, Jill Scott, Lucien Laviscount, Lorraine Toussaint, Hana Mae Lee, Common , Method Man , John David Washington
Genre: Drama, Musical
Rated: R
Length: 106 minutes

IMDb Blurb:  When struggling rapper Coco enrolls in a poetry class, she thinks her rhymes will impress her teacher, Professor Dixon. Instead, Dixon challenges Coco to seek real meaning in her lyrics, setting her on a journey of discovery that takes her through rap clubs and poetry slams, leading her to find her true voice - and true love.

This movie comes across to me as a bit of Dangerous Minds (1995) meets 8 Mile (2002). Isn't a poetry slam somewhat like a rap battle? I like the 'stay in school' vibe mixed with the hip hop culture and the liberal measure of poetry. This looks like it will appeal to a wide range of audience demographics.

The movie looks well crafted, from what I could tell from the trailer. It's this 'low' on my list only because of personal preference. I am not the biggest rap fan. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, it's just not entirely my cup of tea. I'm sure I'll be watching this all the same because my husband is a fan.

17 – The Disaster Artist (12/8) 

Tag Line: None
Production Companies: RatPac-Dune Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Good Universe, Rabbit Bandini Productions, A24
Director: James Franco
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell
Actors: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Judd Apatow, Hannibal Buress, Jerrod Carmichael, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 103 minutes

IMDb Blurb: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

I can give you 3 reasons to watch this movie. First, it's one of the few movies where brothers James Franco (Lovelace, Queen of the Desert, Alien: Covenant) and Dave Franco (Fright Night, Nerve, The Little Hours) get to share screen time together. Their dynamic is so interesting, and their connection elevates the work.

Secondly, when James Franco and Seth Rogen (Monsters vs. Aliens, 50/50, Steve Jobs) get togther on a project, it ends up being absolutely insane. It's usually worth a watch just to see what they've put together.

Last but not least, the trailer was hilarious.

16 – Slumber (12/1) 

Tag Line: Welcome to the Original Nightmare
Production Companies:  Tea Shop & Film Company, Goldcrest Films International
Director: Jonathan Hopkins
Writers:  Richard Hobley, Jonathan Hopkins
Actors: Maggie Q, Kristen Bush, Sam Troughton, Will Kemp, William Hope, Sylvester McCoy, Honor Kneafsey,
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 84 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A sleep doctor tries to protect a family from a demon that feeds on people in their nightmares.

If you're tired from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and want a break from all of the festive decorations and seasonal themes, there are several horror movies coming out this month that definitely would provide a change of pace. This, of course, is one of them.

There have been several horror movies in recent years that have dealt with sleep paralysis or sleeping issues at the center of something sinister or paranormal. This follows in that vein, but rather than having a single victim within a family, it's something that impacts all of them.

The trailer seems to point to the supernatural big bad as something that might have come out of folklore. I'm interested in watching to see if this story might have some roots along those lines. Otherwise, I'm generally intrigued.

15 – All the Money in the World (12/22) 

Tag Line: J. Paul Getty had a fortune. Everyone else paid the price.
Production Companies: Scott Free Productions, Generator Entertainment, Reprisal Films, Imperative Entertainment, RedRum Films
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: David Scarpa, John Pearson
Actors: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Charlie Plummer, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Shotwell
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: N/A

IMDb Blurb: The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.

This looks like it will be a pretty intense drama - all the more impactful because it's based on a true story.

There's a seriously heavy-hitting cast involved with oscar-winner Christopher Plummer (9, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Star), as well as the oscar nominated Mark Wahlberg (We Own the Night, 2 Guns, Patriots Day) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, Wonderstruck).

Plummer wasn't the first in the role of J. Paul Getty, but took on the role late in production due to a scandal ousting the original actor. Watching the trailer, though, I can't imagine anyone else in the part and I'm excited that he was able to add his talent to the movie.

14 – Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1 (12/1) 

Tag Line: Control Your Fear
Production Company: Syrreal Entertainment
Director: Christian Pasquariello
Writers: Christian Pasquariello,  Gabrielle Pfeiffer
Actors: Iwan Rheon, André Hennicke, Rainer Werner, Zoe Grisedale, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Tim Williams
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 92 minutes

IMDb Blurb: An aggressive race of aliens took over Planet Earth and humanity's at its end, living in giant bunkers below ground. Young Military rookie S.U.M.1 is sent to the surface to save a group of unprotected survivors.

There are several really interesting Sci-Fi movies hitting the big screen this month. One common factor that they all share is absolutely stunning visuals.

The character aesthetics are stark and interesting, especially when paired with the lead character played by Iwan Rheon (Residue, Charlotte's Song, Daisy Winters). So many love to hate on the guy after his performance on Game of Thrones (2011-), but that's partially a product of him being so great in his role. I have to keep up the mantra 'the actor isn't the part, the actor isn't the part' so that I don't end up joining the booing masses.

I can't help but wonder what this bleak and future world holds for his character. It looks like it's a small cast psychological thriller at its core. I, for one, can't wait to see what surprises are in store. I just can't help but feel there's going to be a big twist.

13 – The Pirates of Somalia (12/8) 

Tag Line: None
Production Company: BCDF Pictures
Director: Bryan Buckley
Writers:  Jay Bahadur, Bryan Buckley
Actors: Evan Peters, Al Pacino, Barkhad Abdi, Melanie Griffith, Russell Posner, Philip Ettinger, Coral Pena, Aidan Whytock
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 116 minutes

IMDb Blurb: In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself among the pirates of Somalia. He ultimately succeeds in providing the first close-up look into who these men are, how they live, and the forces that drive them.

If one of the main characters from this movie looks familiar, it's because Somali actor Barkhad Abdi (Eye in the Sky, The Brothers Grimsby, Blade Runner 2049) actually played a Somalian pirate in the film Captain Phillips (2013), delivering one of the most quotable lines from that movie.

While I don't feel that this film is actually connected to his prior work on that movie, it's an interesting coincidence. I do believe that, as a native of Somalia, he'll be able to provide some extra depth and authenticity to his role.

Of course, then you have the legendary Al Pacino (Ocean's Thirteen, Stand Up Guys, Manglehorn) and the rising star of  Evan Peters (Never Back Down, One Tree Hill, Safelight), among others. I am really interested to see how their dynamic works in what seems like mentor and protegee roles.

12 – Beyond Skyline (12/15) 

Tag Line: None
Production Companies: Beyond The Mothership, Infinite Frameworks Pte. Ltd., Head Gear Films
Director: Liam O'Donnell
Writer: Liam O'Donnell
Actors: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Jonny Weston, Callan Mulvey, Antonio Fargas, Jacob Vargas, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 105 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

I am super excited about this Sci-Fi movie. The trailer blew me away with its visuals. Of course, that shouldn't be any surprise as writer/director Liam O'Donnell (Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Iron Man 2, The Bay) has an extensive visual effects background. In fact, this is his directorial debut.

O'Donnell wrote the story for the first Skyline (2010) movie, and collaborated on the screenplay. Rather than turn over the reins to someone else for this follow-up, he's taken the project head-on. I admire that and feel like we're going to see something a little more cohesive with this sequel than the original, since his vision won't be translated through the eyes of another director.

This doesn't appear to be a 'true sequel' due to the fact that cast are not returning from the first film, nor is the story something that seems to pick up where the other left off. Instead, this movie is set in the same timeframe with the same alien invasion as the first film. We get to see a different set of people and their fight for survival, vengeance, and protection of those they love.

I really enjoy Frank Grillo's (The Grey, Captain America: Civil War, Wheelman) action work. I think his intensity will really bring a lot to his role here, and I can't wait to check it out.

11 – Ferdinand (12/15) 

Tag Line: This Christmas, BULLieve.
Production Companies: 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writers: Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson, Ron Burch, David Kidd, Don Rhymer, Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland
Actors: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, David Tennant
Genre: Family, Animated, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 106 minutes

IMDb Blurb: After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.

This re-imagining of a classic cartoon story looks absolutely adorable. This one will be a great one to take the kids to, either as a break from holiday errands or a fun family outing while they're out of school for their holiday break.

The cast is packed with some amazing talent that will bring hilarity and interesting personality to the characters. This is, honestly, only this 'low' on my list because there were just too many great movies to choose from this month.

10 – Bright (12/22) 

Tag Line: From the director of Suicide Squad and End of Watch
Production Companies: Netflix, Clubhouse Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment
Director: David Ayer
Writer: Max Landis
Actors: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Crime, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: N/A

IMDb Blurb: Set in a world where mystical creatures live side by side with humans. A human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for.

Have I said before how much I love the fantasy genre? Fairies, elves, and orcs oh my! This Netflix Original movie takes the unlikely-partners recipe from crime procedurals and gives it an otherworldly spin. Then take into consideration some of the parallels in this story with events in the real world - there's a great potential for serious depth here.

One of the best things about this film is that since it's Netflix, there's no waiting in line, crowded theaters, or risking a sold out show to see it. You can bet I'll be streaming this from my couch as soon as it drops.

While this film looks like it might be at least moderately family friendly, I'd recommend taking it cautiously and regarding it with at minimum a PG-13 rating due to the presence of violence in this genre and from what is shown in the trailer. The film is currently unrated, however, and with the loose parameters on content Netflix is able to work with; it's possible that it might not be as geared to a younger audience. My recommendation? Parents, give it a watch through first before streaming it as a family.

9 – Hangman (12/22) 

Tag Line: None
Production Companies: Cheyenne Enterprises, Patriot Pictures
Director: Johnny Martin
Writers: Michael Caissie, Charles Huttinger, Phil Hawkins
Actors: Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow, Joe Anderson, Sarah Shahi, Steve Coulter, Chelle Ramos, Michael Rose
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Rated: R
Length: 98 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A homicide detective teams up with a criminal profiler to catch a serial killer whose crimes are inspired by the children's game Hangman.

The crime-thriller genre is full of movies where the killer likes to play games with the detectives hot on their trail. This movie doesn't seem to be an exception to that - aside from the fact that I haven't seen this particular game employed as a plot device before.

I'm curious how things play out, and the cast here is absolutely amazing.

8 – Just Getting Started (12/8) 

Tag Line: Chivalry Meets Rivalry
Production Companies: Gerber Pictures, Broad Green Pictures
Director: Ron Shelton
Writer: Ron Shelton
Actors: Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, Glenne Headly, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Elizabeth Ashley, George Wallace
Genre: Comedy, Action
Rated: PG-13
Length: 90 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A two-hander action comedy in the vein of Midnight Run (1988), about an ex-F.B.I. Agent and an ex-mob lawyer in the Witness Protection Program having to put aside their petty rivalry on the golf course to fend off a mob hit.

I almost did a spit-take from laughing while watching this movie's trailer. The back and forth between Morgan Freeman (RED, The Lego Movie, London Has Fallen) and Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men, Lincoln, Shock and Awe) is worth the ticket price alone.

They could spend the entire movie trying to one-up each other, as far as I'm concerned, and it'd be hilariously wonderful. When you add the action elements to the story, it just takes it to a whole new level.

7 – November Criminals (12/8) 

Tag Line: Inspired by the acclaimed novel.
Production Companies:  Black Bicycle Entertainment, Indian Paintbrush, Lotus Entertainment
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writers: Steven Knight, Sacha Gervasi, Sam Munson
Actors: Chloë Grace Moretz, Ansel Elgort, David Strathairn, Catherine Keener, Terry Kinney, Danny Flaherty, Victor Williams, Cory Hardrict
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A teenager takes on his own investigation of a murder in Washington D.C.

This movie looks like a powerful crime-drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are quite a few movies out there where teens take things into their own hands when it seems adults or authority fail to cut the muster. This, however, seems to take it to a different level.

Considering this movie is based on a book, I'm hoping that it does elevate the material as its brought to the big screen, and I might just go out to read this one for myself.

6 – Crooked House (12/22) 

Tag Line: Every family has a poisonous secret.
Production Companies:  Brilliant Films, Fred Films
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writers: Julian Fellowes, Agatha Christie, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Tim Rose Price
Actors: Christina Hendricks, Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Terence Stamp, Max Irons, Amanda Abbington, Julian Sands, Stefanie Martini
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 115 minutes

IMDb Blurb: In Agatha Christie's most twisted tale, a spy-turned-private-detective is lured by his former lover to catch her grandfather's murderer before Scotland Yard exposes dark family secrets.

As I was growing up, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)  was a household name. I watched a lot of PBS with my family and Masterpiece Theater (1971-), now called simply Masterpiece, showed quite a few works derived from her many mystery novels. Needless to say, at a young age, I was familiar with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. I love that her works are being introduced to a whole new generation with projects such as this one and Murder on the Orient Express (2017).

I have always enjoyed her stories and am excited to see this one come to the big screen. I haven't read this one before, so it will be an entirely fresh experience. I can't wait to watch as the layers of the mystery are peeled back until all is revealed.

5 – Downsizing (12/22) 

Tag Line: We are meant for something bigger.
Production Companies: Gran Via Productions, Paramount Pictures, Ad Hominem Enterprises, Groundswell Productions
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers:  Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Actors: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis, Udo Kier, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: Unrated
Length: 135 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.

At first, the concept for this movie seems a little silly. The more I think about it, though, it develops into something that seems plausible - even if still slightly ludicrous.

Shrinking people would, quite literally, shrink the population of the world.

Something tells me that it's not all its cracked up to be and I can't wait to see how this plays out for the couple in this movie that decides to take the plunge. The movie looks funny, as well as socially aware.

4 – The Shape of Water (12/8)

Tag Line: A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times
Production Companies: TSG Entertainment, Double Dare You
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Actors: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones, David Hewlett, Nick Searcy
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 123 minutes

IMDb Blurb: An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda discover a secret classified experiment.

Honestly, at first mention of Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Strain), I was on board.

Aside from del Toro's masterful storytelling driving this movie, the concept caught my imagination as well. This seems like it will be one to tug on the heartstrings, as all signs point to a tragic romance. Keep your tissues handy for this one - but definitely don't miss it.

3 – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (12/20) 

Tag Line: The game has evolved.
Production Companies: Matt Tolmach Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Radar Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Matt Tolmach
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Chris McKenna, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Erik Sommers, Chris Van Allsburg
Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Ser'Darius Blain, Madison Iseman
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Action
Rated: PG-13
Length: 118 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game's jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose.

When I heard that there was a sequel in the works for Jumanji (1995), I was initially a little upset. I didn't think it would be possible, or right, to do it after the passing of Robin Williams (Night at the Museum, Old Dogs, The Crazy Ones). He was so central and integral to the first movie that it felt like surely the sequel needed him in some way.

Well, they found a way to change my mind.

I am flat-out giddy about most of the cast choices here, and I love the way they've updated the game to 'evolve' to a more modern platform than the old-fashioned board game that appears in the original. The game avatars forcing change on the main characters is also a really interesting twist to the story.

I think this is going to be one of the mega blockbusters of this year's holiday season - so get your tickets in advance to avoid the lines.

2 – The Greatest Showman (12/20)

Tag Line: The impossible comes true.
Production Companies:  20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment, Laurence Mark Productions
Director: Michael Gracey
Writers: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya , Paul Sparks, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Natasha Liu Bordizzo
Genre: Biography, Historical Drama, Musical
Rated: PG
Length: 105 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

This movie is packed with stunning visuals and breathtaking performances - at least that's what I can see from the trailer. P.T. Barnum's groundbreaking work in the field of entertainment is definitely something to be celebrated. This cast and movie seem to do just that, with style and respect.

I really, sincerely, hope that this movie is as good as the trailers build it up to be.

1 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (12/15)

Tag Line: Hope is lost.
Production Companies: Lucasfilm Ltd., Ram Bergman Productions, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Rian Johnson
Writers:  Rian Johnson, George Lucas
Actors: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Billie Lourd, Gwendoline Christie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Benicio Del Toro, Domhnall Gleeson
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adventure
Rated: PG-13
Length: 152 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.

Do you have your tickets yet for this one? If not, go get them soon! I can bet you that on premiere day, they're going to be sold out.

This movie tops my list because it's Star Wars. That's really enough said. I've been in love with this franchise since I was in diapers. I'm not kidding.

I have so many questions following the cliffhanger ending of the last installment in the saga. The trailers tease that we may very well get some of the answers. Though, I know the way things work - for every answered question there will be two new ones to take its place.

Excited I am. See this in the theater I and my family will. Go, too, you should! (Help it, I could not.)

Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina

I, Tonya .20
Crooked House .19
The Greatest Showman .17
The Pirates of Somalia .16
All the Money in the World .15
Beyond Skyline .14
Just Getting Started .13
Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1 .12
November Criminals .11
Fullmetal Alchemist .10
Love Beats Rhymes .9
Bright .8
Pitch Perfect 3 .7
The Shape of Water .6
Ferdinand .5
Downsizing .4
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle .3
Star Wars: The Last Jedi .2
The Disaster Artist .1

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Last Heist (2016) - Through the Eyes of Cat

By Cat

Number Rolled: 50
Movie Name/Year: The Last Heist (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Benattar/Thomas Productions, Parkside Pictures, Tadross Media Group, DH Films
Producers: Rick Benattar, Courtney Compton, Chris Conover, Barry Gordon, Michael Meilander, Megan Melrose, Michael Aaron Milligan, Michael Radiloff, Michael Tadross Jr., Nigel Thomas, Damiano Tucci, Kaila York
Director: Mike Mendez
Writer: Guy Stevenson
Actors: Henry Rollins, Torrance Coombs, Victoria Pratt, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Michael Aaron Milligan, Camilla Jackson, Nick Principe, Mark Kelly
Stunt Doubles: Katelyn Brooke, James Logan, Michael Aaron Milligan, Terence J. Rotolo
Blurb from Netflix: A bank job descends into bloody chaos when professional robbers get trapped in the building with a bloodthirsty maniac who has an eyeball fetish.

Cat’s Point of View:

I’ve wanted to watch this movie since we came across it deliberating the Top 20 for the month it was released to theaters. The dice have been teasing us ever since the film came to Netflix – there have been some close calls where we just barely missed landing on it. I was patient. I held out so that my first watch-through was for the review.

I’m not sure why I did, but I’m glad I waited. I don’t believe I’m up for watching this one again, even if my husband asks. He’s a big fan of Henry Rollins (Sons of Anarchy, The Legend of Korra, Gutterdammerung), even more than I am.

Just to clear the air, I don’t feel that this movie was horrible – it just wasn’t as good as my expectations had built it up to be. That made it harder to get past some of its flaws, and there were a handful that weren’t subtle.

I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s look at the issues, first – that way I can end on a positive...ish note.

It seems that a large chunk of the cast were pulled from B-movie rotation. This isn’t something that should pigeon-hole an actor into a stereotype, but the experience and performance quality for some just wasn’t up to par with what I expected.

I must add that Victoria Pratt (Soda Springs, Death Valley, Heartland), however, didn’t fall into that trap. While her repertoire doesn’t necessarily include blockbusters, her performance here was sound for the most part and I really enjoyed her plucky and assertive character. The issues that surrounded her in the film were generally due to either writing or direction.

Another problem I had was with the effects. I’m not sure if they just didn’t have budget to create breakable props or what – but guns being fired willy-nilly around glass that doesn’t break is just odd and it took me out of what should have been harrowing scenes. We’re talking storm troopers would have had a better hit ratio than what was going on here.

There was also a matter of sound balance. The score in the background was just too loud at times, and people were speaking too softly. I had to lean in to my computer’s speakers and even turn the volume up in some places so I could hear what was being said. It left me scratching my head.

I am generally fond of Torrance Coombs (Reign, Drawing Home, The Originals) in the roles I’ve seen him in. I’m a bit on the fence about this film, however. I really enjoyed some of his scenes, and others just fell a bit flat to me or struck an odd cord. Again, some of this might be the writing or direction since it affected so many of the cast and not just him.

You might ask if I liked anything about this movie – the answer is yes. Henry Rollins is utterly terrifying as a villain; and specifically playing this role, his performance gave me goosebumps and a severe case of the creeps.

Unfortunately, Rollins alone wasn’t enough to save this one. There are better robbery-gone-awry movies out there. Though, if you want to give this one a shot anyway, it’s not a total waste of time. Just take it with a grain of salt. It did have some interesting moments.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English [CC], French, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 0%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –11%
Metascore - 28/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.5/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Moana (2016)

Number Rolled: 27
Movie Name/Year: Moana (2016)
Tagline: The ocean is calling.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Producer: Nicole P. Hearon, John Lasseter, Osnat Shurer
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writer: Jared Bush, Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell
Actors: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Knightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho, Louise Bush, Chris Jackson, Phillipa Soo
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Blurb from Netflix: A Polynesian girl destined to be her island’s chief makes a perilous trip with a boastful demigod to undo his mistake and save her people.

Selina’s Point of View:
The first time I saw this film was while on vacation with my husband. I loved it then, and I love it now.

As Disney goes, this is a relatively unique movie. There’s no love story at all. Not even on the sidelines. It’s all just about a girl on a mission to save the world. Sure, she does eventually work with a male god, but there’s absolutely no romance thrown in. Not even in a subtle way. It’s refreshing.

The characterizations are really well done and the voices fit perfectly.

I’m not even just saying that because I 100% love Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence, Baywatch, San Andreas). Though… I do. That guy could make a two-hour film just involving him eating a burger and I’d still see it. But, he certainly wasn’t the only star that made his character worth remembering.

I cannot believe this film was Auli’i Cravalho’s (Gone Fishing, Rise, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2) first film. Her voice was incredible for the title character. She was memorable, and the songs were the kind that could earworm you for weeks on end. A lot of that was due to her vocals.

The only issue I had was that some of the music got a touch repetitive. Not by much, though. It didn’t make the movie unwatchable or anything, it was just something I can’t help but notice when I watch. It may be a personal observation, though – not objective.

I do recommend watching this film. It’s going to be a classic just like the majority of these kind of Disney animation. It’s got an incredible amount of heart.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was very happy that we had Moana as this movie selection. My family and I watched this film sometime around its release, and we all loved it. My daughter was super excited that we were going to watch it again. It was a wonderful way to cap off her Thanksgiving break from school.

There are so many layers to this movie. You could watch the film several times and have a fresh take-away from each viewing.

I love that the writers and developers of this film visited Polynesian islands and spent several months researching so that they could respectfully represent the culture as accurately as possible. There’s such a rich vibrancy to the film that stems from that experience.

Moana delivers on everything you’d expect from a Disney Princess movie. There are animal sidekicks, musical numbers, Easter eggs galore, and an emotional journey of personal growth for the characters. There’s serious content, and some balancing comedy.

While this wasn’t the first animated rodeo for veteran actors Dwayne Johnson (The Other Guys, Snitch, Ballers) and Alan Tudyk (Trumbo, Rogue One, Star vs. the Forces of Evil); this was the debut performance for Auli'i Cravalho (Gone Fishing, Rise), who played Moana. I was seriously impressed – and her voice is gorgeous.

All told, this movie is definitely a fun experience for the whole family, and I would happily watch it again.

Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 89%
Metascore - 81/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.8/10
IMDB Score – 7.6/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5

P.S. Short scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer: