"Cars" is probably the most unpopular arm of the Pixar universe. The first film was only moderately well-received, the sequel was the first eligible Pixar film not to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and the two "Planes" spinoffs (which are from a non-Pixar branch of Disney) are direct-to-DVD-quality garbage. To be clear, I liked the first two "Cars" movies and I don't think Pixar has ever made a "bad" movie, but I don't know why they're dead-set on expending this franchise when they keep hitting a wall with anthropomorphic vehicles.
"The Mummy" is the first official entry in the "Dark Universe," a franchise where Universal aims to revive its classic movie monsters and have them mingle. Think of it as a variation on the Marvel and DC Extended Universes. I have to wonder if The Mummy as a character is the best entry point for this series. Isn't The Mummy kind of low-tier for this big of a role? Probably the only reason we're getting The Mummy instead of power players like Dracula or Frankenstein's Monster is that "Dracula Untold" and "Victor Frankenstein" flopped so badly.
It was a poorly-kept secret that Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was going to be a part of last year's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." That didn't stop her from getting a huge reaction when she finally appeared. It wasn't even that the movie used her well, people just loved "that moment when Wonder Woman showed up." Demand for Wonder Woman was high, as if people already knew she had more to offer than the current incarnations of Batman or Superman. That demand was well-founded, because Wonder Woman's story is easily the best of the widely-disliked DC Extended Universe.
I've found that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies benefit from low expectations. Take the original, "Curse of the Black Pearl" from 2003. At first, it seemed like a bad idea to invest so heavily in a pirate movie (two words: "Cutthroat Island") based on a Disney theme park ride (three words: "The Country Bears"). But the movie pulled a huge upset and proved the naysayers wrong: it was funny, it was exciting, Johnny Depp got an Oscar nomination for playing the mischievous Captain Jack Sparrow, and it made a ton of money.
I've never been the biggest fan of the "Alien" franchise, including the original film from 1979. Maybe it's because I've been raised on movies that rip it off, or maybe it's because that big surprise scare was spoiled for me long before I saw it, but I see it as little more than characters skulking around a spaceship waiting to be picked off like in any number of unimaginative horror movies. So I'm probably not the best candidate for "Alien: Covenant," which, after the misguided highbrow affair that was 2012's "Prometheus," gets the franchise back to its glorified-slasher-movie roots.
"Snatched" has a script credited to Katie Dippold, but she clearly didn't write much of her characters' dialogue. This is one of those comedies where the actors are told to ad lib ad nauseam. There are a few cases where this strategy works, when the actors have good chemistry and the director doesn't settle for just any old take. There are many more cases where this strategy doesn't work because the actors don't know what to do and it throws off the pacing of the movie.
In amongst the jokes and the cheesy 80's soundtrack, a theme of redemption ran throughout 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy." The team was comprised of various lowlifes who finally got a chance to do something decent and found out that they actually liked it because they're all big softies at heart. Now comes the sequel that figures that since the five main characters found their redemption in the first movie, it's someone else's turn to be redeemed.
By Bob Garver
For the second week in a row, I'm surprised by which movie I'm reviewing. The social media thriller "The Circle" was supposed to be the biggest hit among new releases at the weekend box office. That film boasted big stars in Emma Watsonand Tom Hanks and a release on over 3,000 screens. But not only did the film lose the weekend to "How to Be a Latin Lover" on just over 1,000 screens, it lost to the Indian epic "Baahubali 2" on less than 500. The former film did the best out of the three with an estimated $12 million, so it gets the review.
By Bob Garver
By Bob Garver
For over a decade, you knew exactly what you were getting with a "Fast & Furious" movie. You went to see one of these movies, you got fast cars, gratuitous shots of women, dumb one-liners, ruminations on family during the slow parts, and completely implausible action sequences. The movies were fun if you were in the right mood and grating if you weren't, but they never aspired to be anything more.