“Marshall” stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell. Released on October 13, 2017, the film focuses on Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, and his attempt to defend a man who is accused of rape and attempted murder.
The film is directed by Reginald Hudlin, who also directed films such as House Party, Boomerang, The Ladies Man, and Serving Sara. This next film on my list takes us back into the world of history as it chronicles one of Thurgood Marshall’s first cases in his career as well as its timely racial themes. Now this isn’t the first time that Chadwick Boseman gets to portray an African-American icon. In 2013, he portrayed Jackie Robinson in the baseball biopic, 42 (which I loved very much), and the year after that, he played the “Godfather of Soul” himself, James Brown, in Get on Up (which I liked). You’re seeing a pattern to this, right? So now we have Boseman portraying an African-American Court Justice in the one type of genre that I haven’t got into that much besides romance: courtroom dramas. But will this one be able to change my mind? More importantly, will Boseman be able to impress me in a biopic for a third time?
If there’s one thing you should know about courtroom dramas, it’s that they’re filled with conversations. Conversations that are worth paying attention to in order for the audience to figure out the real truth. This film is no different. I guess my only concern going into “Marshall” is how they’re going to make it engaging for their target audience as well as those outside of it. After watching it for myself, I believe they have found a simple answer: by pairing the master of African-American celebrity portrayals with the guy who voiced a talking snowman in a Disney movie. Actually, it’s much more than that. The film offers a few things that'll make it worth your time, even if you’re not a huge fan of courtroom dramas. First off is the cast. Ranging from Boseman as the title character to Sterling K. Brown as Joseph Spell to James Cromwell as the Judge, these actors did a great job at maintaining the realism of an actual court ruling. Once again, Chadwick Boseman proved to me that he can make any nonfictional character he portrays both entertaining and bold. From what I saw, Thurgood Marshall is the type of guy who’s not afraid to take risks when it comes to the film’s subject matter, and Boseman did an excellent job at portraying these motives. Josh Gad delivered what is arguably one of the best performances in his acting career as Sam Friedman, an insurance lawyer who teams up with Marshall to win the case. Whenever Boseman and Gad appear onscreen together, I was immediately attached to them from start to finish due to their irresistible chemistry. Another thing is the film’s pacing. At first, I was a bit worried at how the film paces in terms of the genre, but Reginald Hudlin managed to find a way to keep things moving without losing his sense of understanding towards its racial themes and the event that was showcased. The screenplay by Michael and Jacob Koskoff was quite effective in some moments, but it didn’t quite know how to keep the film’s emotional connection consistent.
Overall, “Marshall” is the type of legal drama that’s well-acted, consistently riveting, and effectively written. It doesn’t quite top 42 as my favorite Boseman film due to its troublesome emotional connection in certain scenes, but for a film that showcases one of Marshall’s early cases, it’s worthy enough to be found “not guilty”. I would gladly recommend this film to those who are into courtroom dramas and those who enjoyed Boseman in 42 and Get on Up.
“The Foreigner” stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy, Michael McElhatton, and Liu Tao. Released on October 13, 2017, the film is about a London businessman who goes on a revenge-filled quest to search for the terrorists responsible for killing his teenage daughter.
The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed films such as GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale, and Green Lantern. It is based on the 1992 novel, The Chinaman, by Stephen Leather. Ah, yes, the Great Jackie Chan. The man who’s not afraid to take risks and perform his own stunts. Words cannot describe how talented and awesome he is whenever he appears in a film. Ranging from international action films to the occasional family films like Kung Fu Panda and last month’s The Lego Ninjago Movie, Jackie Chan can do pretty much anything, making him one of my favorite action stars working in Hollywood today. For this film, he’s taking a much different approach in terms of his performance, while director Martin Campbell is looking for some sort of redemption since his failed attempt at bringing Green Lantern to the big screen. The sooner we stop talking about Ryan Reynolds’ animated suit, the better. This is Campbell’s first film as a director in six years, so it would be interesting to see if he still got his usual action thriller instincts.
The film’s story is basically your typical by-the-numbers revenge thriller with some familiar revenge tropes. If this is what you’re expecting from this film, then you’re going to have a swell time watching it. If you’re expecting anything new from this type of plot, chances are you’ll be disappointed. While the film fails to offer any huge surprises, it does include plenty of interesting elements that kept me engaged to the story, including the characters and its “thriller” moments, which were nicely directed by Campbell. My personal highlight of the film was Jackie Chan’s grounded performance as Ngoc Minh Quan. I usually see Chan’s performance in certain films as lighthearted and full of energy, but in this film, it’s more dramatic and serious as he portrays a person who will stop at nothing to bring the murderers to justice. Even his fighting skills were a bit different than usual. This is definitely something that I haven’t seen before when it comes to Jackie Chan, and boy, was it something? Pierce Brosnan also turned in a solid performance as Liam Hennessy, an Irish deputy minister who was a former leader of the terrorist group that Quan is after. Like every Jackie Chan film, the film has a few action sequences that has Chan kicking some serious butt, and they were immensely entertaining. While all of these sequences were shown in the trailers, it doesn’t really affect my experience as a whole.
Overall, “The Foreigner” offers very little to its usual “revenge thriller” formula, but Jackie Chan’s undeniable performance and Campbell’s solid direction were enough to deliver a satisfying thrill ride for adults. This is one of those films where an actor does something completely different compared to their familiar routines, and does it flawlessly. So, hopefully it would inspire other celebrities to offer something that people haven’t seen before. If you’re a fan of Chan’s other films, I can assure you that this film will not disappoint you.
“The Mountain Between Us” stars Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Dermot Mulroney, and Beau Bridges. Released on October 6, 2017, the film is about a surgeon and a photojournalist who must rely on one another to survive when they wind up stranded in the wilderness together.
The film is directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who also directed films such as Paradise Now, The Courier, and The Idol. It is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Charles Martin. The reason why I was saving this film for last is because I wanted to make sure that my mother watched it with me. Why? Because she knows romance better than I do. Plus, she likes Idris Elba. I mean, you can’t go wrong with Idris Elba, especially when he’s in a survival film like this. There were plenty of survival-type films that were either loved or hated by critics and audiences (mostly loved), so where does this one land in terms of its execution? Somewhere close to the middle.
If you’re going into this film expecting a straight-up survival story, well, let’s just say that you’ll get plenty of that in the first half. The second half transitions it into more of a survival love story about trust and how their lives are seen before and after the event. If you read the book, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, then oops, spoiler alert! In terms of Abu-Assad’s direction, the first half was pretty engaging and the cinematography was well-handled for its snowy sceneries and the plane crash sequence. Not to mention the chemistry between Elba and Winslet was simply captivating from start to finish. When the second half starts, however, the film started to struggle a little bit due to its usual romance elements and its troublesome emotional depth, but it didn’t bring the film down that much for me. Although, I would say that people who aren’t into the romance genre, like myself, might not be able to care that much about the romance between the two main characters. The film’s running time wasn’t that much of an issue as it clocks in at around an hour and 50 minutes, but its third act did feel like it was a bit overlong.
Overall, “The Mountain Between Us” may leave non-romance followers with cold feet, but its engaging leads and gorgeous sceneries are enough to brace through the harsh wintery flaws. It’s a decent watch for what it is, even though it doesn’t reach the same levels as Cast Away or 127 Hours. As for my mother, she happens to like it more than I did because, again, she knows a lot more about romance films than I do. If you’re in a mood for a good love story, I would say that this one is for you.
“My Little Pony: The Movie” stars Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck. Released on October 6, 2017, the film has Twilight Sparkle and her friends attempting to save Equestria from a powerful new threat.
The film is directed by Jayson Thiessen. It is based on the 2010 television show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, developed by Lauren Faust, which is also based on Hasbro’s My Little Pony toy line. Let me remind you guys that just because I’m seeing this film does not make me a “bronie”. I’m seeing it because it looks cute from the trailers. Plus, we haven’t seen a fully 2D animated film in a long time. The recent My Little Pony show, Friendship is Magic, has reintroduced the toy line in a magical way, forming an unusual fan base that consists of young kids and older people who call themselves the “bronies”. My experience with My Little Pony was pretty minimal. I’ve only seen one or two episodes of Friendship is Magic, and to my surprise, I managed to watch its spin-off, Equestria Girls, which I thought was pretty darn enjoyable. With how popular the show is, it’s no surprise that they wanted to create a big-screen adventure for the Mane 6. I mean, who doesn’t want to see magical ponies kick some bad guy butt for more than an hour and a half? From the looks of the marketing, the film did do a decent job at capturing the spirit of the show in terms of the animation and its concept, but its biggest test is to impress those who have no experience with the brand whatsoever.
To bring you up to speed, the recent My Little Pony show focuses on a unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle as she teams up with five other ponies to solve problems and help others around the world of Equestria while also learning about friendship along the way. An obvious reason why the show is called “Friendship is Magic”. The film continues the ponies’ never-ending quest as they face off against two new antagonists who will stop at nothing to destroy Equestria. This is pretty much like every other film adaptation of an animated children’s show, with the plot having a much more cinematic appeal as well as having some much higher stakes for the main characters to face. As a regular animated film, the story offers plenty of predictable and goofy moments that are aimed towards a younger audience. As a My Little Pony film, it’s an enjoyable ride that respects the show’s central theme, which is friendship. Yeah, you read that right. I actually enjoyed watching it despite its easy-to-spot flaws. Much of the main cast from the show reprised their roles as the Mane 6, such as Tara Strong as Twilight Sparkle and Cathy Weseluck as Twilight’s assistant dragon, Spike. All of the main actors did a pretty good job at bringing these enjoyable characters to life. The film also introduced a new set of characters, including the Storm King (Liev Schreiber), Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt), the Storm King’s second-in-command, and Captain Celaeno (Zoe Saldana). I like the fact that most of the new characters offer some sort of purpose to the plot, except for Songbird Serenade (voiced by Sia). She’s just there because…well, she’s the My Little Pony version of Sia. I mean, kids love Sia, right? The Storm King is one of those types of antagonists who try to have a certain balance between being menacing and being funny. To me, this guy doesn’t have that right amount of balance. I know that it’s supposed to be made for kids, but at some points, the Storm King is a bit too goofy to be taken seriously. Out of all of the new characters that were in the film, I think I found Tempest to be the most interesting. She’s the type of character who doesn’t classify herself as a typical bad guy, but rather a misguided soul that doesn’t know the true meaning of friendship. I thought the filmmakers did a very nice job at developing Tempest as well as Emily Blunt for providing her voice. While the characters were fun to hang out with, especially the Mane 6, there was one specific character that can get on someone’s nerves, and that’s Pinkie Pie. Let’s just say if you don’t like her in the show or have a very low tolerability level, I’m pretty sure that you won’t like her in the movie because her personality can be quite obnoxious from time to time. The film represents the same style of animation as the show, which is traditional animation, as well as incorporating some of the 3D modeling to increase its cinematic feel. So, it’s basically a huge theatrical-like My Little Pony special. While it’s not in the same veins as Disney or Pixar, the animation did its part in capturing the style and colorfulness just like the show, and it did so with ease. Like the show, the movie is a musical with five new songs performed by the main cast and one original song performed by Sia. They’re quite catchy, to be honest, but if the filmmakers are attempting to go down the Disney musical route, it’s probably best if they leave that stuff to the pros. I’m not saying that they’re entirely bad, I’m saying that neither one of these songs stand out as memorable. The Sia song was good, though. No doubt about that.
Overall, “My Little Pony: The Movie” is a magical and respectable big-screen adaptation of the My Little Pony brand. With its enjoyable characters, colorful animation, and a decent, yet predictable, story that fully respects the central theme of friendship, the film should please plenty of fans of the source material as well as young kids who happen to like magical ponies. As a person who has only seen a couple of episodes of the My Little Pony show, I actually thought it was a nice watch. It’s not “best animated feature” material and it’s definitely not for people who aren’t familiar with the show, but for what it is, it’s pretty enjoyable.
“Blade Runner 2049” stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, and Jared Leto. Released on October 6, 2017, the film is about a new Blade Runner who discovers a terrifying secret that could bring the end of humanity.
The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who also directed films such as Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival. It is a sequel to the 1982 science fiction classic, Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is considered by many as one of the best sci-fi films of all time due to its visuals and themes. Despite its issues with the pacing, the film went on to inspire many different types of media, such as video games, anime, and many other science fiction films that came after it. One of this weekend’s newest releases is attempting to bring the world of “Blade Runner” back to the big screen, but not as a remake. Instead, we are getting a follow-up that expands the “Blade Runner” universe as well as introducing old and new characters. Throughout his career as a director, Denis Villeneuve has been known for directing original content, so now his biggest challenge is directing a sequel to a critically-acclaimed science fiction film. Based on what I’ve seen so far in the marketing, it looks like he may have accomplished that challenge without any problems. The big question is, how good is it?
The film takes place thirty years after the events of the first film. We are introduced to a new Blade Runner named K, played by Gosling, whose job is to…you guessed it, “retire” bioengineered androids known as replicants. His new mission leads him to several clues that involve replicant reproduction, including the former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, who has been missing for…oh, I don’t know, about thirty years! Like its predecessor, “Blade Runner 2049” is a dialogue-driven, neo-noir science fiction film with a story that’s heavy on the interrogation and light on the R-rated violence. In other words, don’t expect it to be an action-filled blockbuster. My only concern going into this film was its running time, which clocks in at around two hours and 40 minutes, and its pacing. The slow pacing was one of the main issues that the first movie encountered when it was released 35 years ago, and the sequel itself was around 40 to 50 minutes longer than its predecessor. So I was a bit skeptical about how it would turn out. Thankfully, I went out of the film feeling both impressed and relieved. Yes, it was slow at some parts, which might put some viewers to sleep, but like Villeneuve’s other films, he was able to make its slow moments, and its plot, engaging as well as visually appealing. I did feel that the film was unnecessarily overlong, but everything that surrounds it was enough to keep me distracted from looking at my watch, including its rich futuristic locations and some interesting new characters. Not only did Ryan Gosling offer a splendid performance as K, but he also gave his character a bit more depth than what I expected. Harrison Ford was also great as Deckard despite the fact that he doesn’t appear until the third act of the movie. Even though he’s not in the film that much, Jared Leto was very impressive as Niander Wallace, a replicant manufacturer who wants to uncover the secrets of replicant reproduction so he can boost his business. One of the main aspects of “Blade Runner” is the film’s setting, which is a grim and realistic dystopian future. With Villeneuve taking charge, he was able to recapture that same atmospheric setting that Ridley Scott introduced and made it just as captivating and immersive as the original. From its breathtaking visuals to its incredible cinematography by Roger Deakins, the world of “Blade Runner 2049” is like reliving the theatrical experience of the first movie, but surprisingly better. Even the musical score by Hans Zimmer was marvelous in enhancing the film’s retro setting.
Overall, “Blade Runner 2049” successfully expands the world of “Blade Runner” by understanding the materials that were introduced in the first film as well as providing a much more interesting story for old fans and newcomers alike. Not only did I like it more than the original, but its technical achievements are some of the most incredible qualities that I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie. I won’t be surprised if this film gets some awards recognition for its visuals and production design. However, I will be surprised if Villeneuve doesn’t get another nomination for his direction. This is a worthy recommendation to those who enjoyed the first film and Villeneuve’s filmography.