Summer Movie Season Preview

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  blasting its way into theaters this weekend, the Summer Movie Season will officially begin. For all of us moviegoers, we should be in store for a plethora of solid Summer entertainment to get us through these heated months. We have our usual sequels headlining, a Rock-solid comedy on a 90’s staple television show, some family entertainment, and the returns of Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan to the silver screen.

There are so many movies that I’m excited about that it’s hard to narrow them all down. But I have finally gotten this done! So here are the top ten anticipated movies to corral audiences into those air-conditioned theaters:

10) Cars 3 – June 16

I’ll admit that I’ve never had the chance to watch either of the previous movies in the Cars franchise, despite the fact that I love most of the films out of the Disney/Pixar factory. While the last outing didn’t fair well with critics or fans, there is enough story to add another entry for this animated racing movie. This time out, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) will face the future as a new generation of blazing-fast racers, led by Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer). After an accident, McQueen will have to prove to not only his fans, but himself, that he’s still the best racer in the world.

9) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – May 26

Captain Jack Sparrow sets sail again! For the fifth time, Johnny Depp puts on his pirates hat as Captain Jack Sparrow sets off to find the legendary Trident of Poseidon. As always, it wouldn’t be Jack to not step on a few toes along the way. The deadly ghost pirate, Captain Salazar (Javiar Bardem) seeks to kill every pirate at sea…including Sparrow, who he ran across years before. I wasn’t a big fan of On Stranger Tides and thought that the franchise could have ended after the third entry, At World’s End. Captain Jack Sparrow seems to have more adventure in him and he could have some old friends joining him as Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom return to the franchise.

8) BaywatchMay 24

“Hollywood-Viagra” superstar Dwayne Johnson is back again, looking to claim the summer early in May by giving an old television series an R-rated facelift. Johnson plays Baywatch legend Mitch Buchanan who butts heads with a brash new recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron). While trying to rebuild the Baywatch name, the duo uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the beach. Of course, it wouldn’t be Baywatch without the lovely women of the beach: Alexandra Daddario, ABC’s Quantico star Priyanka Chopra, model Kelly Rohrbach, and Llfenesh Hadera head up the female contingent of the team. Beaches ain’t ready for what The Rock will bring.

7) Alien: Covenant – May 19

Lately, I’ve caught up with the Alien franchise, starting with the first two movies. I’ve seen Prometheus, the start of the prequel series to this franchise. All of them have been brilliant science fiction works from the mind of Ridley Scott. Scott returns to direct the next installment in the prequel trilogy. Picking up ten years after the events of Prometheus, the crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far end of the galaxy to colonize, discover a threat beyond imagination and must attempt a harrowing escape from this uncharted paradise. Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocolypse) returns as the android David and joined by Katherine Waterson (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride (HBO’s Vice Principals). When are we going to learn to stop going to planets outside of our solar system?
6) Detroit – August 4

This movie caught me off-guard but once I saw the preview, I was on board. Directed by Oscar-winning Director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), this film documents a police raid in Detroit in 1967 that results in the one of the largest citizen uprisings in United States history. This film boasts a solid cast with John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Jacob Latimore, John Krasinski,  Kaitlyn Dever, and Jason Mitchell leading the cast. Kathryn Bigelow could become a three-time Oscar nominee with this film that has the potential of being an early Oscar favorite.

5) Wonder Woman – June 2

After many delays, script rewrites, a revolving door of directors, and other roadblocks, the Amazon Princess will be making her solo movie debut. This origin film tells the story of Diana (Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons and trained warrior. When pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of the conflict in the outside world, Diana leaves home to fight in the war, discovering her full powers and true destiny. Gal Gadot did a wonderful job in her introduction during Dawn of Justice and deserves her chance to shine on her own. If this film can be a success, DC’s Cinematic Universe can get a leg up on Marvel.

4) Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7

After his long-awaited appearance in the MCU during Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man will get another reboot under the Marvel Studios banner. Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker as he attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinger, Spider-Man. Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark will also play a role but I hope that it’s not dominant, only appearing when he needs to. Spidey will have his hands full, battling Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Let’s see how Marvel Studios handles one of the greatest and relatable heroes of all time.

3) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – May 5

Like there was any doubt that this would make my list. Marvel Studios’ favorite team of A-holes are back to take us on another ride on the Milano. Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and three months after the first film, this film continues the team’s adventures throughout the cosmos as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Along with the main players from Volume 1, Kurt Russell joins the cast as Ego, Pom Klementieff as the empathic Mantis, and Elizabeth Debicki as High Priestess Ayesha. With an stellar soundtrack and James Gunn’s direction, this film should be a joy for all Marvel Studios fans. My review for this film will be posted as soon as tomorrow.

2) Baby Driver – June 28

If you are not a fan of Edgar Wright or seen any of his films such as Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, you have time to catch up. Returning to write and direct for the first time since 2013, Edgar Wright helms this film about a young getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) and finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. If you need any indication that this film could be amazing, it currently holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and was originally scheduled for release on August 11, but moved up to June 28. After watching the trailer, all I can say is buckle your seatbelts.

1) Dunkirk – July 21

And speaking of returning writer/directors, Christopher Nolan returns after three years to bring audiences another epic film. This war epic tells the story of Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. This is based upon a true story during the Battle of France between May 26 to June 4, 1940. Christopher Nolan has always been able to tell a great story and this film looks no different. In case you need any more convincing, here is the most recent trailer for Dunkirk.

What movies are you looking forward to watching this summer? Are there any that have not made my list? Either way, I hope you all enjoy your time at the theaters.

Top 10 Anticipated Film of 2017

After much thought and taking a glance at what we have coming down the line for this year, we could be in for an entertaining time at the theater this year. We have the DCEU finally picking up steam with two anticipated films that may finally satisfy fans. An original war film, a superhero homecoming and a intergalactic band of misfits returns, and then there are sequels, sequels, and sequels. Did I forget to mention sequels?

10) Justice League – November 17th

The DCEU got there a little faster than Marvel, but a moment fans young and old have been looking forward to has finally arrived. We’re getting a Justice League Movie! DC’s Gods Among Us will take center stage as Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) assemble a team of metahumans to face the threat of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and the Parademons, who are on the hunt for the three Mother Boxes on Earth. The team consists of Cyborg (Ray Fisher), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). The obvious question is: how will Superman (Henry Cavill) return and will he join the team?  The other supporting cast members from the previous movies will also be making cameos in this ensemble film. Considering the mediocre success of Batman v Superman, this is DC’s chance to really right the ship. They will have an earlier opportunity in the summer, but this could be their second chance.

9) Kingsman: The Golden Circle – October 6th

In 2014, the British-spy action film Kingsman: The Secret Service surprised everyone. The fresh storyline, comedy, and stylized action scenes (remember that church scene?) made the film one of the top grossing films of that year. It only made sense that a sequel would be made. Now, we’re finally being treated to one. Taron Egerton returns as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin as an attack on the Kingsman Headquarters forces him, Merlin (Marc Strong), and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) to head to the United States and join forces with Statesman, their American Counterpart, to take on a new enemy called Poppy (Julianne Moore). I, for one, am looking forward to this film after having so much fun watching the first. New cast members include Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges to represent the Statesman but the big question is how Colin Firth’s Harry Hart will make his return after presumably killed in the first film.

8) The Fate of the Furious – April 14, 2017

‘Family No More’ seems to be the tag line for this installment in the high-speed series and, after the first trailer, it’s very appropriate. Dom (Vin Diesel) and the crew, despite being exonerated after the events of Furious 7, are still up to their old tricks and found some semblance of normal lives. When a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) corrupts Dom into betraying his family and into a world of crime he cannot escape. They each will face trials that will test them like never before. Vin Diesel returns along with series veterans like Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, returning characters played by Kurt Russell and new players like Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren will be joining the cast. Since the original cast has returned, the series has truly evolved past its street racing beginnings. Despite the tragic loss of Paul Walker, the Fast and the Furious continues to run. Let’s see where this direction takes them in the final trilogy of the Fast and Furious film series.

7) Blade Runner 2049 – October 6, 2017

An unexpected cult classic is FINALLY getting a sequel. After languishing in developmental hell, going through changes to the script, writers, and all the stalling, Blade Runner returns. Picking up thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. Since it seems like Harrison Ford is returning to past role that made him a star and we have seen Han Solo’s end, who knows what the fate of Deckard will be? I’m looking forward to seeing Blade Runner’s sequel will translate with the masses.

6) Wonder Woman – June 2, 2017

Before the Justice League finally assembles in DC’s biggest film yet, one of the founding members and iconic heroes of all time will, at last, get her own solo movie. Gal Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in this origin story set in the early 20th century, finding the Amazon princess of Themyscira meeting American military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) when he washes ashore. After learning about the outside world embroiled in World War I, Diana leaves the island to bring an early end to the war. A film about the iconic comic book hero has been long discussed and teased that we never thought it would happen. Now, it looks like DC might get a chance to one-up Marvel Studios with the first solo film for a female superhero.

5) Dunkirk – July 21, 2017

Christopher Nolan returns to the director’s chair this summer to deliver a war epic that could be an earlier front-runner to win the summer and possibly an Oscar nomination. This film concerns the Dunkirk evacuation during the Second World War, where Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German Army on the beaches of Dunkirk and evacuated in Operation Dynamo. Starring a stellar cast that contains Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and introducing Harry Styles, this film could be very strong. We’ve never seen a movie cover the early years of World War II, but if there is one director who can do that film justice, it is Christopher Nolan.

4) Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017

After an original trilogy and a reboot under the Sony banner, Sony finally struck a deal with Marvel to bring the web-slinger home. This second reboot of the Spider-Man film series and the sixteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe follows the events after Captain America: Civil War, finding Peter Parker (Tom Holland) trying to find a balance in his life as an ordinary high school student with fighting crime as his superhero alter-ego, Spider-Man, along with the help of his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) as a new threat emerges in the Vulture (Michael Keaton). I was very impressed by Tom Holland during Civil War and it will be amazing to see how he stands on his own and interacts with this established universe and all its amazing characters. Welcome home, Spidey.

3) Beauty and the Beast – March 17, 2017

One of my all-time favorite Disney movies and one of my favorites of all time is getting the live-action treatment. This movie doesn’t need to be changed or modified in any way. It just needs to be done right. Belle (Emma Watson) is a young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast (Dan Stevens) in his castle in exchange for her father’s (Kevin Kline) freedom. Despite her initial fears, she comes to befriend the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s physical appearance to recognize the true heart and soul of the human prince inside as a hunter, Gaston (Luke Evans), is on the loose to take Belle for himself and kill the Beast at any cost. Disney could not find a better cast to be a part of this film with the talents of Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, and Josh Gad. This film deserves to be one of the most anticipated of this year.

2) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017

Marvel’s intergalactic band of misfits are back! The sequel to the surprise hit of 2014 finds James Gunn returning to the helm the new adventure with its cast of colorful characters. Set two months after the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy travel throughout the cosmos and struggle to keep their new family together, while helping Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) learn about his true parentage. Featuring the returning cast members of Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker along with new members like Kurt Russell along with what is sure to be an amazing soundtrack (like the first film), this film could be out of this world.

1) Star Wars: Episode VIII – December 15, 2017

In what seems to be the start of a holiday trend, a new Star Wars movie will blast into theaters in December. The second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy following The Force Awakens, finished filming in July 2016. Little is known about the film that will pick up after the events of the previous episode. Star Wars veterans Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher in her final role before her untimely death as General Leia return to team up with returning new cast members Daisey Ridley as Force-sensitive Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Issac as Poe Dameron, and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. I cannot wait to see the first preview for this film, knowing that this film is the top of the anticipated movie list for many entertainment forums.

What’s your most anticipated film for this year? Did any of them show up on my list? Let me know!

Here’s to a great year of movies!

My Top Ten Films of 2016

Hello, everyone! I’m so sorry that this post is coming up late. I have a few more reviews to complete and post so I appreciate your patience. Even through 2016 has ended and we have opened a new book for the year of 2017. Looking back to last year, there have been good and bad films; there have even been those terrible films that audiences still enjoyed (Here’s looking at you, Ghostbusters!) Looking over the list of films that I have had the pleasure of watching and enjoying in 2016, I have narrowed down my list to ten.

10) Captain America: Civil War

This year, audiences were forced to choose a side in the superhero universe with two different films: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. If you read my reviews of both films, you know where I side. Marvel Studios split the Avengers into two separate factions as Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr) battled over their morals and accountability of their actions in the third Cap film. Marvel’s resident director duo, the Russo Brothers, did a wonderful job of balancing the action and not losing the story or the characters in the shuffle. It’s another Marvel film that you can watch again and again.

9) The Jungle Book

This has definitely been a powerhouse year for Disney. With the Marvel franchise continuing its dominance, a slew of animated films, and Star Wars’ resurgence in pop cultures, the Mouse House is the place to be for films. It’s almost easy to forget the re-imagining of their animated classics. The story of Mowgli and his jungle adventures thrilled audiences this year, both young and old. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) did a masterful job of translating this classic into live-action with the help of a stellar voice cast and classic Disney magic, making it one of the better remakes out of this run to reintroduce classic characters to new audiences. This does up the anticipation for Favreau to help the sequel and one of Disney’s next live-action remakes, The Lion King.

8) Zootopia

I wasn’t sure about Zootopia when it first came out, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. It is a film not just for children, but it also speaks to adults. The story about how we shouldn’t let the fear of diversity, whether by our gender, race, or in this film’s case, type of animal, hold us back from embracing one another despite our differences. There is even a joke about a sloth working at the DMV! Considering this film won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, it’s a must-see and earned a place on my list. 

7) The Edge of Seventeen

An total indie darling of a film, I had to give this film recognition for its relatable story of surving high school. Hailee Steinfeld’s Nadine is a hilariously misunderstood protagonist in the high school setting: having the support of her best friend, finally talking to the guy she has starry eyes for, and just surviving high school, The teacher-turned-mentor role was commanded with comedic timing by Woody Harrelson. What made this film great was that it isn’t a typical teenage movie; while some of the elements (beach time, underage drinking, etc) were there, it didn’t take over the movie and the commanding performances of Steinfeld and Harrelson playing off each other was a bright spot to garner this spot.

6) The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a summer comedy? Who would have thought that would be as successful as it was? Written and directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), the 1970’s detective comedy had a special energy to it and helped reinvigorate the buddy cop comedy that has gotten a little stale in recent years. There is a lot of violence, 70’s porn and language that will probably tick some people off, but it is still funny. The chemistry of Crowe and Gosling and their comfort in the roles helps make the film be entertaining and a surprise for audiences. 

5) Loving

If there was ever a film that was needed in these uncertain times we live in, Loving fits the bill. Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1950’s Virginia, it depicts the challenges they faced from their community. Back then, interracial marriage was still illegal in 24 state, Virginia being one of them. This story and the Surpreme Court case that sprung from it should be discussed or taught in public schools. Not many people are aware of this story and they should be. Interracial marriages are still somewhat frowned upon now, but the discussion is not as loud as it was back then. Witnessing the love and vulnerabilities of the characters through the actors truly makes audiences feel for the Lovings as they became activists in their own way. This movie shows that the strength of love knows no limits. 

4) Hacksaw Ridge

Directed by Mel Gibson (Braveheart), this movie surprised me because it was a story that I didn’t know about and unsure about how it would translate onto film. The film tells the tale of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. Andrew Garfield was the true surprise for me because I had only known him for playing the wall-crawler in The Amazing Spider-Man. This film is just as courageous as its subject and also as violent as the war it covers. This film is very much a film of two halves; the first part introducing us to Doss, exploring his personal life, beliefs, and how they are challenged. The true challenge came from the Battle of Okinawa, where on the battlefield, Doss tries to stay true to his faith and convictions as he faces the horrors of war.  Not all warm films get the recognition that they deserve, but this film earned its place as one of the best in recent memory and a welcome back to Mel Gibson in the director’s chair. 

3) Hell or High Water

This contemporary heist film was another surprise recommendation from a friend that I enjoyed. Chris Pine and Ben Foster hatch a scheme to save their family’s ranch. This gritty crime drama is wonderfully original and a film that should have earned more time in the theaters. This movie separates itself from the mainstream of remakes, sequels, and superhero films (which I usually like as well) by being intelligent and character-driven. The reality of this film and acting of this modern-day western makes this film very entertaining and should be a recommendation to anyone who is seeking originality in their movies. This movie will be a serious contender in the awards season. 

2) Kubo and the Two Strings

While Disney has been dominant, there is this little company called Laika that has brought out films such as Coraline and ParaNorman. There is a story that is running with originality and the adventure is fun to watch. The themes of the value of memories and how we can never forget people that we lose is something everyone should keep in mind as we go through life. These mature themes are handled with creativity and tact; the delivery surprises audiences and while the film is hard to really describe, it does a wonderful job of reminding audiences that there are other options outside of the Disney factory. 

1) Fences

I’m sure I would have put La La Land (Review coming soon) at the top of this list, but I saw this film before I thought about the musical and with good reason. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both give possibly the best commanding performances of their careers. Washington’s acting and directing is a tour-de-force that is sure to entertain audiences. This is an engaging film that grips audiences with its power and delivery. While I haven’t disliked any of Denzel’s characters since Training Day, his “Troy” is like Washington put on a well-fitted tuxedo and walked down the red carpet at an award show, but it was Davis’ powerful and emotional performance that really took the film to a new level as the wife of a man who is coming to terms with his life. I would put this film as recommended viewing for anyone who has seen the play or loves to see these two actors work. 

My Top 10 Fall/Winter Movies

With the U.S. release of Marvel’s next film, Doctor Strange, coming into theaters this Friday, we officially enter the fall movie season. This season will also go into the Winter; also known as the “Oscar bait” season to me. I have seen some of the previous movies in the earlier part of the fall (which I’ll put up reviews soon). On this list, I do have a few suggestions that will be in major Oscar conversation but I think they will all be solid movies for everyone to see. 

From the mystical Marvel movie, a prequel for the Harry Potter universe, and a new Star Wars story to an ensemble drama starring Will Smith and a throwback to the musicals of a generation ago, this season will have something for everyone. 
10) The Edge of Seventeen – November 18
This coming-of-age comedy has received critical acclaim from the film festivals this film has been seen at. Hailee Steinfield stars as Nadine, an awkward high school junior, who feels more alone when her popular brother starts to date her best friend. But an unexpected friendship with an awkward boy (Hayden Szeto) gives her hope. The film co-stars Woody Harrelson as Nadine’s history teacher, who acts as her mentor. 
9) Fences – December 25
One of the many movies coming out on Christmas day could prove to be a dark horse in the Oscars race. Directed and starring Denzel Washington and co-starring Viola Davis, this adaptation of the play is set in 1950s Pittsburgh, a former Negro Baseball player (Washington), now working as a waste collector, struggles to provide for his family and comes to terms with the events of his life. 
8) Fantastic Beasts – November 18
Director David Yates and author J.K. Rowling have reunited to provide a new era of the Wizarding World before Harry Potter. Set in 1926 New York, magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives to research and rescue magical creatures. However, a No-Maj (American English for Muggles) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) has inadvertently opened Scamander’s case and letting the beasts loose on a wizarding community already on edge. Co-starring Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, and Katherine Waterson, prepare to return to the magical world in this extension of the Harry Potter franchise.
7) Moana – November 23
Disney looks to bring another animated classic to audiences with this film. On a mystical island of Polynesia, the young princess of the tribe, Moana (newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) from Motunui Island, is a born navigator who sets sail in search of a fabled island of mysterious secrets. Along the way, she teams up with her hero and legendary demigod, Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson). With the musical assistance of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this film will definitely make a beautiful splash in the box office. 
6) Loving – November 4
This historical drama is coming out at a great time in my opinion, given the current racial climate. This film follows the courtship and marriage of Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga), a black woman, and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white man.They are arrested and sent to prison in Virginia in 1958, because their interracial marriage is in violation of the state’s anti-miscegenation laws. Exciled to Washington, D.C., the couple sues the state of Virginia which leads to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Loving v. Virginia. This movie will show that love truly conquers all. 
5) Doctor Strange – November 4
You know that I couldn’t leave out Marvel’s next film in Phase 3 of their expanding universe. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Dr. Stephen Strange, an acclaimed neurosurgeon until he loses the use of his hands due to a car accident. He goes off in search of unconventional ways to repair his hands. The journey leads him to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who teaches Strange the mystic arts, just in time to defeat dark sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson). 
4) Rogue One – December 16
We return to the galaxy far, far away during the time of the early dominance of the Galactic Empire’s rule. The Rebel Alliance recruits Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to work with Rebel pilot Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to lead a motley crew to steal the plans to the Death Star. Disney has followed the same strategy they set with The Force Awakens trailers and that is to reveal as little as possible. They set up the basic them of the story and don’t reveal anything else for the audience. But from the previews, we are guaranteed one person: The Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader!
3) Passengers – December 21
This romantic science fiction tale has been kept under wraps for quite some time, floating around Hollywood for years since 2007. Now, it has been greenlit and ready to be consumed by audiences. The story tells the tale of Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), two people who are traveling on the starship Avalon, being awoken early during the 120-year journey while everyone else sleeps in suspended animation. When the ship begins to malfunction, it is up to the duo to solve the problems, while also falling in love in the process. To me, it looks like Titanic in space but that’s my early assumption. From the initial trailer, this film looks as though it’ll be quite the journey. And having two of the hottest stars in Hollywood today isn’t too bad either. 
2) Collateral Beauty – December 16
Another one of Hollywood’s mystery projects that audiences did not know much about, this film just screams potential. When a successful New York ad exec (Will Smith) suffers a great tragedy in his life, he retreats from it. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Death, Love, and Time. But it’s not until his notes are unexpectedly answered through personal responses that he begins to understand that these constants interlock into a life fully lived, and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty. This film also stars Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris, and Kate Winslet, it’s guaranteed to touch everyone in the audience in one way or another. 
1) La La Land – December 9
This movie, I can guarantee that you will hear about when the Oscar nominations are announced. In the heart of Los Angeles, aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions. Jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) plays in dingy bars just to get by. The two meet and fall in love, but, as success mounts, the dreams they worked so hard to maintain threaten to tear them apart. From the trailer, this film looks to be a throwback to the romantic musicals of the ’50s, ’60s, and sometimes, ’70s. I love watching old classic films so I think if you love a good story, musical, or you are just a movie fan, I would recommend this movie. 
So what are the movies that you are looking forward to? I hope you take some of these movies under advisement to watch as the weather gets colder!
Until next time, movie fans!

Summer’s Most Anticipated

This Friday, May 6, 2016, officially begins the Summer Movie Season with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes battling each other in Captain America: Civil War (#TeamCap!). This superhero ensemble film will begin the summer movie season with a bang as the heroes work out their issues. That seems to be a running theme in some of the other high-profile movies of the summer with Matt Damon raging again as Jason Bourne, Idris Elba unleashes fury on the Enterprise  in Star Trek Beyond, the Suicide Squad’s anger issues, and some nasty ghouls challenging Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig in Ghostbusters. Thankfully, this summer is also packing plenty of joy and magic, too.

So here is my list of the 10 most anticipated films of this summer.

10) Central Intelligence – June 17

Movie Megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been making a lot of noise in recent years in Hollywood, becoming one of its most bankable stars. Teaming up with one of the funniest men on the planet will seriously test his comedic chops in this action-comedy. Bob Stone (Johnson), a one-time bullied, overweight geek has grown up to be a lethal CIA agent enlists the help of the former “big man on campus” Calvin (Hart), now an accountant who misses his glory days when they attend their high school reunion that turns into more either of them bargained for. No doubt this movie will be an enjoyable laugh-riot of a film.

9) The BFG – July 1

The first theatrical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel is directed by Steven Spielberg (E.T., The Adventures of Tintin, Jurassic Park) and tells the tale of a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who befriends a friendly giant named the BFG (Mark Rylance) as they set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world. This is a return to audiences seeing the childlike imagination of Spielberg and giving children not familiar with his earlier works a showing of the wonders in magic, fantasy, and imagination.

8) Star Trek Beyond – July 22

Justin Lin (Fast and Furious 3-6) assumes the director role of the third installment of the Star Trek reboot series. Little has been revealed about the third film but from the initial teaser trailer, Idris Elba’s big bad Krall is going to take it to the crew of the Enterprise and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) like no one has before. The Enterprise herself looks to face certain doom and the crew seems to be stranded on a planet where they will have to fight to survive. Let’s hope another trailer will come out between now and then.

7) Ghostbusters – July 15

Another reboot is set to launch this summer and…I’m still on the fence about it, personally. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) are Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, two women who co-authored the book about the paranormal but are laughed at for their belief. When ghosts attack Manhattan (gotta love New York!), the two team with a nuclear engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and a subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), to save the world. I already know that this will be held to the standard of the original Ghostbusters, fair or not, so I might go into this with level expectations.

6) X-Men: Apocalypse – May 27

I should have put this in my top five and I honestly considered it but I tried not to have a competition in judging these films. The X-men film series is one of the most successful film franchises and I have a deep soft spot for these mutants since I was a child. The reboot series has renewed my faith in how 20th Century Fox is handling these Marvel Comics pillars. Now, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrenece, in her final X-men film) will lead a young team of fan favorite characters against the greatest and most powerful mutant of all, Apocalypse (Oscar Issac), and must contend with his “four horsemen”, including an all-powerful Magneto (Michael Fassbender). I hope this movie continues to build on the success the reboot series has already made.

5) Finding Dory – June 17

In 2003, Disney/Pixar released a film about a lost clown fish called Finding Nemo. The film became critically acclaimed and a fan favorite with children and adults (speaking personally). It also gave birth to a fan favorite character named Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres). Thirteen years later, DeGeneres reprises her role of the forgetful blue fish in this sequel. Set six months after Finding Nemo, Dory suddenly recalls her childhood memories and sets out to find her family. Albert Brooks reprises his role as the father clown fish, Marlin, who joins his friend along with his son, Nemo. I’m unsure if this movie will meet the same success as its predecessor, but it’s sure sure to be another classic for children and adults to enjoy this summer.

4) Independence Day: Resurgence – June 24

 Speaking of long awaited sequels, it seems as though a generation has waited for this one to finally arrive. In 1996, the world witnessed the box office hit, Independence Day. It set the bar for global disaster films to follow and made sci-fi cool again. After languishing in developmental hell in Hollywood for twenty years, we finally see the world after the defeat of the aliens. The Earth is more united and has a global defense force using weapons reverse-engineered from the remains of the alien forces from the previous film. While we had twenty years to prepare, the aliens did as well. And they return to Earth looking for payback with a larger and more powerful battle fleet. The sequel features returning stars Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Vivica A. Fox. It welcomes Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games film series), Sela Ward (The Day After Tomorrow, CSI: NY), and newcomer Jessie Usher (Starz TV series Survivor’s Remorse) as the adult stepson of Will Smith’s character. This film will most likely be a financial success and while it would have been great to have Will Smith return, I doubt he’s worried since his summer movie slate is already covered.

3) Suicide Squad – August 5

DC Comics is really getting traction on its DC Extended Universe and, depending on how this film goes, it could really get going. Despite how some comic book fans and critics think, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a financial success. Suicide Squad seeks to build on that. A secret government agency, led by Amanda Waller (ABC How to Get Away with Murder’s Viola Davis), assembles Task Force X by recruiting imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops in exchange for clemency and saving the world from an unknown but powerful threat. The trailer has not revealed this threat but we do know the team runs into a lot a danger on this mission. It’s still unknown the purpose that the Joker (Jared Leto) will play but I’m sure it’ll be prominent, especially with Batman (Ben Affleck) making a cameo. The trailers remind me of Marvel’s successful Guardians of the Galaxy whenever I watch it, especially with the music selection. Let’s see if this film, starring a cast that includes Will Smith and Margot Robbie, will be as popular.

2) Jason Bourne – July 29

The name of the movie says it all. After nine years away, Matt Damon reprises his role as the dangerous spy, Jason Bourne. From the first trailer, Bourne has been in hiding since the events of Ultimatum but something bring him out and Jason seems to be as dangerous as ever. The world Bourne is entering is not the one he remembers as the world is faced with unprecedented instability. In my opinion, this world is coming at an excellent time as far as how the society we live in now can affect a person. Julia Stiles returns with Damon and they are joined by an all-star cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, and Academy Award winning Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl). At first, Damon wasn’t going to make a return without Greengrass and a good script but Greengrass returning as director, I doubt this film will disappoint.

1) Captain America: Civil War – May 6

No surprise here, right? In my opinion, the number one movie of this summer is four days away on May 6. The thirteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, third in the Captain America film series (potentially final), and the beginning Phase Three of this film franchise finds the heroes facing a surprising enemy: themselves. After the events of Age of Ultron, Captain America (Chris Evans) and his team of New Avengers face a government-issued registration act that fractures the team into opposing factions: one being led by Steve Rogers against the act, another led by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) for the act. The trailers have been action packed, showing the standpoint of the two heroes and how we need to prepare of an amazing story of accountability, right and wrong, and friendships, and family. The Avengers, for all intents and purposes, are a family so this will be one reunion that will leave a lasting impression on the Universe. No matter the outcome, I doubt the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be the same ever again.

I hope you all go out to see these movies this summer. If there are any I missed, and I’m sure there are more than a few, please share them in the comments.

Enjoy, moviegoers!

My Top 10 Anticipated Films of 2016

Good morning and Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays with your friends and families. As everyone in the movie community knows, we are getting deeply entrenched in awards season as nominations are released for the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, and Oscars. All of the “Oscar Bait” movies are streaming through theaters while Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to dominate. We’ll see who is left standing with the top four awards on Oscars Night.

With a new year is a new crop of films to help thrill audiences and bring in new ones into established franchises, new prequels, and sequels, this year could be filled with amazing moments caught on film. So here we go!

10) The Jungle Book

Continuing with the trend of live-action remakes of classic Disney animation movies, The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a boy raised by the Indian wolves. When the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens his life, he is forced to leave his jungle home. From there, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, guided by the black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo the bear (Bill Murray); all the while, he encounters jungle creatures and threats he has never seen before.

The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Christopher Walken. The Jungle Book will be released on April 15, 2016.

9) Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the rebooted Star Trek series, the first not to be directed by J.J. Abrams, who has stayed on as producer. From what has been shown in the short and, somewhat, disappointing teaser, the crew of the USS Enterprise, led by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), is attacked by a swarm of aliens, destroying the Federation starship, leaving them stranded on a new planet and in conflict with a ruthless alien (Idris Elba), while finding a way off of the planet.

The film will reunite cast members Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg (also a co-writer), John Cho, and Anton Yelchin. It’s scheduled for release on July 22, 2016 in celebration of the Star Trek franchise’s 50th anniversary.

8) The Legend of Tarzan

Another classic fictional character returns to the silver screen in this adaptation. Alexander Skarsgard takes over the human gorilla, Tarzan, who has left the jungles of Africa behind years ago for a life in London as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) at his side. He has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by a corrupt Belgian Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz).

The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, and John Hurt. I wouldn’t consider this film before until I saw this trailer, looked at the cast, and the film is directed by David Yates, director of the latter Harry Potter films. The Legend of Tarzan is set to be released on July 1, 2016.

7) X-Men: Apocalypse 

X-Men: Apocalypse is the latest installment in the X-Men film series and the sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past. This time, the mutant family must go against the first and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Issac). Along with the fact that Apocalypse is immortal, invincible, and worshipped as a god, he has assembled his own team in the four horsemen, that includes a stronger Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It is up to Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) to join forces and lead a team of young X-men to save humanity.

The film stars series newcomers Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn, and Kodi Smit-McPhee along with returning members Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till. Apocalypse rises on May 27, 2016.

6) Finding Dory

It’s been 13 years since audiences went on an underwater journey, Finding Nemo. The sequel will pick up six months after those events. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) suddenly recalls her childhood memories, remembering something about “the jewel of Monterey, California”, Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) accompany their friend as Dory sets out to find her family. I’m considering this movie highly because it’s a Disney-Pixar classic for those that started with Finding Nemo and a new generation that is taking the journey for the very first time. Similar to Toy Story 3, I expect the majority of the audience to be in their 20’s.

The film also stars Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Willem Dafoe, and Ty Burrell. Dive into the ocean on June 17, 2016.

5) Independence Day: Resurgence 

This year must be the year where past films make their returns to bring in new audiences and inform those who watched the original films an update of characters they have forgotten. Roland Emmerich returns to the director’s chair for this sequel to the 1996 film. It has been 20 years since the aliens came to Earth and a small band of survivors drove them back. The international community recovers and builds up Earth’s defenses using technology salvaged from remains of the alien forces, with some military forces assembled on the Moon. However, the aliens were able to send a distress signal before their final defeat while others went into hiding elsewhere around the world. The aliens in deep space receive the signal and threaten the human race once more with a new, larger and more powerful battle fleet.

The film features the return of originals Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner and features newcomers Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, Sela Ward, and William Fichtner. Independence Day: Resurgence lands on June 24, 2016.

4) Untitled Jason Bourne Project

There has been a lot of secrecy around the fifth installment in the Jason Bourne film franchise, featuring the return of Matt Damon to the amnesiac agent. Damon’s last performance was 12 years ago with The Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne disappeared after those events. The only thing that has been revealed is the world that Jason will be inhabiting, one that is not dissimilar to our own. There has been the financial collapse, the great recession, along with cyber warfare and civil liberties; all of this has left Jason in a dark, tortured place. It’s interesting to see how Bourne will contend with the world around him.

The film also features the return of Julia Stiles and introduces Tommy Lee Jones into the franchise. The project, currently titled Bourne 5, is set to release on July 29, 2016.

3) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I’m still on the fence about this film, especially after the most recent trailer and its big reveals. There is no doubt that this will be a big movie for a major fanbase. After the events of Man of Steel, Superman (Henry Cavill) is brought before Congress to answer for the destruction he caused. They aren’t the only one he must answer to as Gotham City-based vigilante Batman (Ben Affleck) travels to Metropolis to confront the God-like hero. While the Dark Knight and Man of Steel battle, another threat endangers mankind. This film is set to jumpstart the DC Extended Universe with shared DC Films in the universe, presenting itself as a backdoor pilot for the upcoming Justice League movie so this is a risk for the media franchise to catch up with the standard that Marvel and the MCU has set.

The film also features Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Man of Steel cast members Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Amy Adams, and introducing Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Reports also confirmed that Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller will star as Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash respectively. Not sure how big their roles will be but it confirms that the Justice League will be on the fast track, the two-part ensemble film already scheduled for release in 2017. The two legendary heroes will collide on March 25, 2016.

2) Captain America: Civil War

Another superhero clash is set to happen to start the summer season with Captain America: Civil War, the third installment in the Captain America trilogy. This installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, finding Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in another international incident. As a result, the government form a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to call the heroes. This decision fractures the team, one faction led by Captain America (Chris Evans), who is against government supervision, and another led by Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr), in support of the accords. These two factions of friends and comrades in arms will battle out their differences while protecting the world from a new enemy.

The film also features MCU veterans Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, and Paul Bettany. Newcomers include Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man. Much has been kept secret about the roles of the new heroes, especially Spider-Man but, knowing Marvel’s current track record, fans will not be disappointed. I thought about adding Doctor Strange and it is not to be overlooked, but this clash of the heroes and one-time allies will be epic. The soldier out of time and the iron playboy will meet on May 6, 2016.

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This first film in the planned Star Wars Anthology series, a collection of stand-alone stories set in the Star Wars universe, is planning on capitalizing on the success of The Force Awakens. How well these stand-alone stories will fare in comparison to the original series remains to be seen. The official premise of the upcoming epic space opera states the film: “Following the foundation of the Galactic Empire, where a wayward band of Rebel fighters come together to carry out a desperate mission: to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be used to enforce the Emperor’s rule.”

The film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, and Alan Tudyk. The Galaxy far, far away returns to theaters on December 16, 2016.

That fills out my top ten for 2016. Whether I am right or wrong is another matter but I hope you all enjoy these films. If you have any comments, please leave them on the page! I greatly appreciate them!

My Top 10 of 2015

Another year is coming to a close and it has been a highly successful year for movies, especially going into the latter half of this year. From a kinky BDSM novel adaptation, a fairy tale brought to life, and a high-octane series saying goodbye to a series regular to the twenty-fourth Bond adventure, the park reopened, and audiences returned to a galaxy far, far away. Of course, there was a Marvel movie involved as well.

Out of all of those films, I’ve narrowed it all down to a top 10 list for this year:

10) Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s A-Team of superheroes reunited again with reinforcements to battle a villainous artificial intelligence program from ending the world. While it wasn’t as good as the first Avengers film, it held its own with amazing special effects and giving each hero screen time. Another great installment in the successful Marvel Franchise with the ending result having a major ripple effect on the established world, setting the stage for Captain America: Civil War.

9) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games film series took up the mantle left behind by Harry Potter as a successful adaptation of young adult novels that reaches far behind its intended audience. The final film brought an epic conclusion to the series as Katniss took on the Captiol, seeking to bring change to the world of Panem. As a fan of the novel, I was impressed with the movies than the novel (which was the weakest of the three). While I didn’t think the novel, which is the same length as the other two, it proved to be beneficial in providing a satisfying end to the film series that launched Jennifer Lawrence into the stratosphere.

8) Spectre

A lot has been said about the role of James Bond as Daniel Craig prepared for the release of his fourth outing as the secret agent. From media reports, the spectrum has run from Craig saying he isn’t done to him saying that he was exhausted and tired of the role. With the future of 007 and Craig’s status left unknown, I would say that he left the franchise better than when he found it with Spectre. A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a mission to uncover a sinister organization that holds ties to him while M (Ralph Fiennes) battles to keep the secret service alive. With amazing action, stunts, a soulful theme performed by Sam Smith, and anchored by a strong performance by Craig, Spectre is another strong installment in the James Bond franchise while we await to see if Daniel Craig will suit up for a fifth run.

7) Straight Outta Compton

If there was one surprise that I had this year, it was this film. Usually, biofilms about music stars don’t fair well in the box office. They don’t seem fit to last but this one goes against the norm. The engaging performance by a solid cast of newcomers channeling the energy of the infamous rap group from Compton, N.W.A., helped carry the film to the top of the box office in August. Produced about Ice Cube and Dr. Dre,, who provided their expertise because they lived the events, and directed by F. Gary Gray, the ups and downs of the group and richly observed, enjoyed by audiences.

6) Creed

Now this one gave me a bit of trouble in my top 10. Not that it wouldn’t make the list but where to place it! But considering the rest of my list, this is as high as I could go. In my review, I labeled Creed as Rocky 7. I still stick with that statement but it doesn’t take away from the power of the film. Creed chronicled the young underdog Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of former world champion and Rocky’s rival, Apollo Creed. This film is not only about Johnson’s personal journey but Rocky Balboa’s (Slyvester Stallone) as well. Michael B. Jordan gave a commanding performance as the young Creed, fighting his way out of the shadow of his father and Stallone’s performance was inspiring, just enough to earn him a Golden Globe nomination and possibly an Oscar nomination. I definitely recommend this film to any fan of the previous Rocky films or wanting to bring new fans to the series with a gritty film.

5) Mad Max: Fury Road

We get to the top five now! The last Mad Max film premiered 30 years ago in 1985. The fourth film has sat in “developmental hell” since then and it didn’t seem like it would see the light of the camera again. This year, we were treated to a new film. Fury Road follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) as he joined forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to take on the cult of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). It has been named one of the best movies of the year by critics and publications. With exhilarating action and praise for acting, screenplay, stunts, and humor, Mad Max: Fury Road is an impressive installment in the Mad Max franchise. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait 30 years for the next installment.

4) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The current box office king had to end up on my top 10 list. I remember watching the re-release for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope during its 20th anniversary. I fell in love with that universe, and while I wasn’t really impressed with the prequel trilogy, I was so excited when I heard about Episode VII. Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, a new band of heroes join forces with the original heroes to take one a new dark force in the galaxy. Audiences young and old, fans of the films and newcomers will be astonished by the work done by J.J. Abrams. It was like greeting old friends and bringing new ones into a family that we haven’t seen for years. This film continues to shatter box office records even now so I suggest everyone get on board.

3) Jurassic World

The park is open. 22 years after the first Jurassic Park film, the park on the island of Isla Nublar has been open to the public and audiences returned to the land of genetically created dinosaurs. Chris Pratt joined the franchise as Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer at the park who helps out Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, the park’s operations manager when her nephews go missing in the park and a hybrid dinosaur escapes from its prison. The score, acting, along with the direction of Colin Trevorrow helped carry this film, which broke records as well before The Force Awakens came around. An exciting summer flick that has complete rewatchability.

2) The Martian

I’ve read the novel so I had to see the movie. Once again, the world had to go save Matt Damon and got a huge payday out of it. The Ridley Scott-directed science fiction film is based on the novel, where Damon stars as Mark Watney, an astronaut who is mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars, learning how to survive while rescue attempts are made to bring him home. The film is funny and thrilling, having a “last man on Earth” feel to it. I can tell that NASA had a huge involvement and real science seemed very involved in making this film. It makes attempts to be realistic and a real human story of survival on a barren planet. If you are looking for a true science fiction film that you can watch again and again and a real human story that the science is supporting, here it is.

1) Kingsman: The Secret Service

Talk about rewatchability! This amazing movie surprised a lot of audiences early this year, bringing some fun to the spy genre. This British-American spy film is stylish and, overall, just pure fun. Starring Colin Firth as a member of a spy organization who recruits a young juvenile with promise into the group and at the right time in order to stop Samuel L. Jackson’s tech villain. It’s better when it doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t stop Kingsman from being enjoyable. The overall favorite scene is the wonderfully choreographed church scene. Overall, I felt like this film was the best of this year.

I hope you all have seen these movies at least once (or many times!) but if not, this is a list of films you could watch as the new year comes. I’ll be putting out a list of my top 10 for 2016 soon!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Top 10 Disney Movies

I’ve thought a lot about this adding this topic to my blog but it is a broad subject (and somewhat of a controversial one among my friends). It’s one that a lot of millennials think about these days now that the animated films we grew up are aging but like a fine wine because they are still talked about today.

With the recent release of Aladdin, I’m upgrading all of my movies in my Disney animated collection to Blu-Ray and it got me to thinking what I considered to be my top 10 Disney movies. Every list varies depending on what era of Disney you grew up with and if you have seen any of the older, original films. I grew up mainly in the Disney Renaissance during the 90’s but did watch some of the older films and the addition of Pixar does blur the line of what is Disney now but it’s all animation.

Here we go!

10) The Lady and the Tramp (1955)

The tale of a loved house dog getting lost named Lady who gets lost in the streets and falls in love with a stray dog named Tramp. This story is the classic “rich versus poor” tale with a little bit of Disney magic added in. This film is heralded as the one of Disney’s greatest love stories that possibly rivals Beauty and the Beast. Not many animated filmed have aged as gracefully as Lady and the Tramp which helps attest the placement on this list. Plus no one can forget one of the greatest scenes in romantic movies, whether animated or live-action, of the two main characters who share spaghetti, eventually leading to a kiss.

9) Sleeping Beauty (1959)

There is little reason why this classic is not on anyone’s top Disney movie list. Sleeping Beauty is one of the few widely told fairy tales and when it is mentioned, your mind almost instantly think Disney.  Disney has the greatest known version of Aurora and Maleficent. The animation is very striking and helps amplify the story of fantasy. It’s about as magical as Disney can get. The climatic battle between Prince Philip and the dragon form of Maleficent is epic, stunning, and as action-packed as any live-action film today. Sleeping Beauty is one of Disney’s greatest pieces of art ever.

8) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

This Disney classic has the unique placement of being a generational movie. It can relate to at least one part of everyone’s childhood in one way or another. The imagination, nostalgia, and emotion of The classic explores the simplicity and innocence of being a child, something that most adults forget and need a reminder of. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh gives its viewers of a sense of belonging in a world where we are misinterpreted everyday as we learn and grow. It’s a movie that can be a favorite of both grandparents, adults, young adults, and children all.

7) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a child of the Disney Renaissance and one of their darker efforts during the 90’s. That might be the reason that people still like it. The usual Disney formula is in place as always, The Hunchback of Notre Dame feels like a breath of fresh air. It holds nothing back and provides us a truly evil villain that doesn’t rely on humorous song. This film truly explores the human soul as far as what makes us good or bad, no matter what is on the outside. The protagonist, Quasimodo (who bears society’s most taunts due to his deformity), doesn’t get the girl in the end but gains something more in the end. Definitely one of the more underrated movies in Disney’s collection.

6) Peter Pan (1953)

Here is another film about the wonders of childhood that reaches across generations. The reason Peter Pan works so well and lasted so long is not just because of the quality and art, but it’s because it’s about a character who appeals to everyone who wishes they can just stop life and escape reality for a short time. After all, escapism is one of the most attractive qualities about movies. Peter Pan embodies Disney’s entire idea with its films, shows, and theme parks as far as its popularity with people of all ages. It allows them to take a few minutes from the stresses of the real world and school and enjoy something positive, freeing, and uplifting. Peter Pan is a mascot for hope that things always get better.

5) The Little Mermaid (1989)

Disney was going through a dark period following a change of management and their films did not perform well commercially, leaving the animation department in jeopardy. The Little Mermaid was a revitalization of the Disney brand and led the way for the Renaissance. Without the wonderful music of the mermaid who wanted to break free from the suffering chains of her father’s concerned limits, I, along with many other children born in the late 80’s and 90’s, would not have the movies we enjoyed growing up. The soundtrack rivaled the animation and showed us how big the characters would mark their place in Disney history. Bottom line: The Little Mermaid saved Disney.

4) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

In this sort of list, you cannot forget the film that started it all. In 1937, Walt Disney realized his dream of releasing a full-length animated feature film. Snow White set the standard for everything Disney has become and has influenced so many other studios that choose to venture into animation. This classic made it into the top four because it is the foundation for all the stories we enjoy today. It goes without saying that Snow White started something massive and is a milestone in cinema all together.

3) Aladdin (1992)

The films I have listed here have done a great job withstanding the test of time over the years. They have outdone and elevated the standard that was set by predecessors before them. Aladdin is one film that has done both of these things. This magical story of rags to riches is an instant classic, spawning two direct-to-video sequels, an animated television series, and a Broadway play. The soundtrack shoots off one hit after another, full of energy and life. You have to sing along anytime an Aladdin song comes on! The greatest characteristic of this film is Robin Williams’ performance as the infinite Genie, in which there is no limit to the dreams he can make come true. Along with a devilish villain and the electric animation, Aladdin is one of the few Disney movies where everything is on point.

2) The Lion King

This is the Shakespeare of Disney and one of the first films I remember as a child that made me fall in love of movies. This epic has a powerful story and holds its place as an undisputed classic and serves as one of the finest pieces of filmmaking in history, animated or not. A tale of maturity, responsibility, loss, and destiny, The Lion King reaches deeper than the drama of Simba, the abandoned prince and protagonist. It discusses our nature as humans by using metaphors of tyranny and rebellion to describe a fable of social order, legacy, and lust for power. Hakuna Matata – which means no worries – that the bad is in the past, an exciting and swinging hit, and a comfortable motto in relation to the film’s inner-antagonist. The Lion King is a phenomenon that transcends its legacy, going from sequels (and half-sequels) to television to theme parks to the Broadway stage. Walt Disney would be proud of this film as well as the one I have crowned as number one…

1) Beauty and the Beast (1991)

With 52 films and seven and a half decades of animated films, Beauty and the Beast can be argued as the pinnacle of Disney animation. It combines the best of the past with the present. A Broadway musical rendered for the big screen, reaching out to an audience of all ages. The film moves like animated poetry, wrapping up turmoil and triumph in a blanket of emotional passion and covered in a rich sauce of majestic grandeur. Beauty and the Beast qualifies as a masterpiece not just in animation, but in cinema. It is the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar; some still argue that it should have won that year. The story of Belle and the Beast is one that resonates with all ages. We learn that love is not the physical or material offerings of an individual, but who the person is inside their heart and soul. It’s what makes them a person, not just in terms of personality but also in their ability to grow and change to make themselves better people. It might be mushy but Disney seems to run on it so it works. This film embodies the essence and elements of Disney animation, giving us a tale that is truly as old as time and won’t be forgotten.

So what movies are in your Disney Top 10?

Fall Movie Preview Top 10

With the summer drawing to a close, everyone can take see the change of the seasons. The leaves in the trees are changing, sweater weather is in full effect as it gets colder, and seasoned drinks are sold in coffee shops. This is also the time where dark horses are released for limited release and deep-cut dramas make their bids for the upcoming Oscar race.

This upcoming fall season will have more of the same. Audiences will also see Jennifer Lawrence take flight in the final Hunger Games, Johnny Depp will go gangster in Black Mass, and Daniel Craig shows his license to kill for the fourth time in Spectre. We’ll also return to a galaxy far, far away with old friends and new comrades to battle a galactic evil.

Here is my top 10 films for the fall season:

10 – The Intern: September 25

Starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway

70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back into the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Hathaway). Ostin is balancing a lot in her life but she finds an amazing support from the life-seasoned Whittaker.

9 – Crimson Peak: October 16

Starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author (Wasikowska) is torn between love for her childhood friend (Hunnam) and the temptation of a mysterious outsider (Hiddleston). Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers with its own form of ghosts.

8 – Black Mass: September 18

Starring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton.

The bio-film is the true story of Whitey Bulger (Depp), the brother of a state senator (Cumberbatch) and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

7 – Bridge of Spies: October 16

Starring: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, and Mark Rylance

An American lawyer (Hanks) is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot (Rylance) detained in the Soviet Union. This film marks Steven Spielberg’s 29th feature film as a director, his fourth with Hanks. With the history tag team of Hanks and Spielberg together, this film has a lot of potential of being a dark horse in my eyes for the Oscar race on some level.

6 – Creed: November 25

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

No, it’s not another Rocky film so we don’t have to worry about Stallone stepping into the ring again. This is a spinoff in the same universe which sees the former World Heavyweight Champion Balboa (Stallone) serve as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Creed (Jordan), the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. Despite Jordan’s first box office failure this summer with the Fantastic Four reboot, I think this vehicle could help the Fruitvale Station star into a legitimate star.

5 – The Martian: October 2

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Sebastian Stan

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself straded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit, and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal Earth that he is alive.

4 – Spectre: November 6

Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, and Lea Seydoux

A cryptic message from Bond’s (Craig) past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M (Fiennes) battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

3 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Woody Harrelson

After being symbolized as the “Mockingjay” for the rebellion, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol. This film is four years in the making as one of the most successful film franchises of this generation comes to an end. I will definitely be there on opening night to join the rebellion.

2 – Joy: December 25

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Edgar Ramirez, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro

Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman (Lawrence) who rises to become founder and matriarch of a power family business dynasty. This film pairs David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle) back together with Academy Award Winner Lawrence and fellow Russell alumni Cooper and De Niro. I think this film could seriously be up for a Best Picture nomination and could get Lawrence her third Best Actress nomination when the Oscar night arrives.

1 – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens: December 18

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley.

A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Not much has been revealed about the overall plot of the movie but if you have been keeping track of the recent pictures, it looks as though the galaxy is back in chaos by a new threat known as the First Order and a union of fighters known as the Resistance. Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia return along with new comrades Rey (Daisy Ridley) and runaway stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega).

The original trilogy made a tremendous impression on my life and made me fall in love with movies. As a fan, I cannot wait to see what director J.J. Abrams has done and the direction he is leading the universe that George Lucas created many years ago.

My Special Top 15 anticipated films of 2015

     Happy New Year! As we begin the anew with 2015, it’s time to look forward to the upcoming films that are sure to thrill us throughout this year. While my list might not compare to others, we all can’t agree, can we?


     15) Chappie – March 6

     It seems like artificial intelligence might be a trend this year in science fiction films this year. First up is Chappie. At first, he is engineered as a security drone for Johannesburg’s police force in a crumbling, not-too-distant future South Africa. He is rebooted by a scientist to think and feel for itself but he is kidnapped by local gangsters for their own gains. This movie is from the director of District 9 and stars Sharlto Copley from the same film. Based on how successful District 9 was, this could be a sleeper pick for the new year.

     14) The Divergent Series – Insurgent – March 20

     Society is going to war as we pick up with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) on the run and forming the resistance against the corrupt government, led by Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Jeanine seeks to stop Tris and her friends as they seek to disturb the peace that Jeanine created. We’ll see how far the film will go away from the source material. Woodley has said that the plot will turn away from author’s Veronica Roth’s book. Whether this will be a good thing or hurt the movie will be determined when released. One thing is for sure: this series will be increase in popularity.

     13) Focus – February 27

     Will Smith has not had a good film, or at least a decent film, in a while. With him being announced to wear Deadshot’s eye-patch in 2016’s Suicide Squad, Smith needs a good film to head into that superhero flick. Part romantic-comedy and part crime-saga, Will Smith plays seasoned con-man Nicky Spurgeon who takes on an apprentice in Jess Barrett (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie) who fall for each other while committing their frauds but everything is not as it seems for this couple. Emotions are exploited and shows that love is not a part of a good con-game.

     12) Mad Max: Fury Road – May 15

     A franchise gets a reboot facelift as Tom Hardy takes over the role of Mad Max. In an post-apocalyptic wasteland, Max (Hardy) meets Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who seeks to cross the desert but things aren’t that easy in a land of lawlessness as the duo comes across a common enemy in a warlord (Nicholas Hoult’s Nux is a devotee). We’ll see who comes out of this battle for survival.

     11) Pan – July 24

     Hollywood takes another voyage to Neverland with this origin story. Peter (Levi Miller) and Hook (Garrett Hedlund) appear to be partners who, along with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), try to escape the clutches of legendary pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Hook is not a villain in this film but that doesn’t mean that his other qualities are not apparent. Let’s just say that I’m “hooked” to this return to Neverland.

     10) Ted 2 – June 26

     That’s right. Everyone’s foul-mouthed teddy bear is back in action! Seth MacFarlane has not revealed any plot details but the casting news has certainly kept us interested. Mark Wahlberg returns as John Bennett and Amanda Seyfried has joined the cast as Samantha Jackson, Bennett’s new love interest with Mila Kunis’ not making a return. One great thing is that there will be no other talking toys to join the bear. Newcomers to the cast include Liam Nesson, Morgan Freeman, David Hasselhoff, and TOM BRADY (really?). Given how popular the original film was, Ted 2 has the potential to be just as exciting.

     9) The Walk – October 2

     I’ve been a fan of the multi-talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt. From his foundation of his online production company hitRECord in 2004 and his own TV Series, HitRECord on TV in 2014 to his directorial debut with the sleeper hit Don Jon in 2013. His next feature film, The Walk, will see Levitt go to new heights (literally) as he stars as Philippe Petit, the French high-wire-walking daredevil who strung a cable between the two World Trade Center’s 110-story skyscrapers in 1974 and walked across it. You can be assured that the visual aspects of the film will be epic in scale as Robert Zemeckis (Director of Forrest Gump, Flight, and Back to the Future) will add a human factor to this film.

     8) Jurassic World – June 15

     Set 22 years after Steven Spielberg’s original classic, Isla Nublar finally features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park. It’s a thriving attraction but in an effort to create more buzz, the island’s scientists create a ferocious hybrid dinosaur who, of course, breaks out and brings death and destruction to the island and its human visitors. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) is Owen, part of the park’s on-site staff, who teams up with the park’s operations manager (Bryce Dallas Howard) to stop the giant man-made creation.

      7) Tomorrowland – May 22

     In this film directed by Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), George Clooney stars as Frank who, along with Casey (Britt Robertson) travel to a hidden place in space and time only known as Tomorrowland where their actions have a direct affect on the world and themselves. Other reports state that Frank is an exile of Tomorrowland and acts as a guide for Casey but why this world has been kept a secret and why Frank is on the outside of that world will definitely help support this smart movie.

     6) Furious 7 – April 3

     I’m sure everyone has seen the first preview for this sequel for the fast-paced series. Taking place after Fast and Furious 6, Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), and their crew are back in the United States and returning to their normal lives (causing trouble like always). Owen Shaw’s older brother, Ian (Jason Statham), is seeking revenge against Dominic. After Han’s death, Dominic and his crew go on their own path of vengeance against the older Shaw, taking the franchise down a darker road.

     5) Terminator Genisys – July 1

     The future has been reset in this sequel, prequel, and reboot of the Terminator franchise. John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) into the past to help protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Sounds exactly like the original film, right? It’s not. Sarah isn’t the scared woman we remember. The original past has changed where Sarah was orphaned at nine years old and brought up by another T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who trains her for her destiny. Now Kyle and Sarah must go up against a T-1000 to save the future.

     4) Spectre – November 6

     007 makes his return in his 24th film and Daniel Craig’s fourth outing. A cryptic message sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) into the layers of a sinister organization known as SPECTRE. While M fights political pressure that threaten the future of MI6, Bond gets closer to uncovering a hidden truth that threatens to destroy everything he has sought to protect. The return of SPECTRE to the current James Bond timeline is a spectacular decision and could help build on the success brought on by Skyfall.

     3) Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1

     Earth’s Mightest Heroes return to defend our world against a threat of their own creation, or more of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr) creation. With S.H.I.E.L.D. destroyed and the Avengers needing a break from stopping threats around the world, Tony Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program with Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence. When Ultron decides that humans are the main enemy and seeks to eliminate the human race. Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and the rest of the Avengers, along with the support of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seek to stop the Ultron. Along the way, our heroes encounter the miracle twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) and the familiar Vision (Paul Bettany). Looking at the trailer, this film has a certain Empire Strikes Back feel to it and that’s not a bad thing at all.

     2) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – November 20

     The Hunger Games film saga comes to an end with Mockingjay Part II. Mockingjay – Part I did a great job, setting the stage for the conclusion. After being officially symbolized as the “Mockingjay”, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), her friends, and District 13 wage an all-out revolution against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. Where Mockingjay – Part 1 ended, I’m interested to see how they will end the series and how close to author’s Suzanne Collins book the film will stay.

     1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens – December 18

     It was close but the return of Star Wars tops the list. The film is set thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi. We’ve all seen the preview by now and seeing two of the possible new three leads (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Issac) who will join the returning characters from the original trilogy. I’m looking forward to seeing the next preview, hoping for a glimpse of Han, Leia, or Luke. We’re promised stormtroopers, a return to Tattooine, and the Millennium Falcon takes flight again…and let’s not forget that red badass lightsaber wielded by Sith Lord Kylo Ren. May the Force be with You!

Happy New Year again and Happy Movie Going!

Honorable Mentions: