By Shane Sellar
Straight Outta Compton
Being a roadie for a rapper is easy because you only have to carry around a milk crate of old funk albums.
However, as per this biography, personal baggage counts as sound equipment.
In 1986 drug dealer Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) enter the studio of producer Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) who pairs them with DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.). They subsequently release a hit single under the acronym N.W.A.
But when Eazy-E hires businessman Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) to be their manager, his misappropriation of their revenue tears the group asunder.
Spanning the social and racial issues of the early ‘90s with great aplomb, this O.G. origin tale may whitewash some of the harsher realities of the real-life situation but is ultimately a well-acted, keenly directed hip-hop masterpiece.
However, not surprising is the fact that all East Coast film critics dissed this movie.
Jem and the Holograms
Holographic performers are only successful in hip hop because bullets faze right through them.
Unfortunately, the pop group in this drama is intangible only in name.
Sent to live with their aunt (Molly Ringwald) and foster cousins – Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau) – after their father dies, Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) and her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) find solace in music.
When an online video of her singing under the sobriquet Jem goes viral, Jerrica and her sisters are signed to Starlight records. However, producer Erica (Juliette Lewis) wants Jem to drop the Holograms, while her son Rio (Ryan Guzman) simple wants Jerrica.
More a follow-your-dreams commercial for the YouTube generation than an homage to the ‘80s cartoon, Jem manages to utilize the material but distorts it in a way that is unrecognizable to fans, and unexciting to newcomers.
And while Jerrica may secretly be Jem; Jem is actually Barbie with keytar.
Nowadays, most retirees have to return to the office in a janitorial position.
Thankfully, the widower in this comedy doesn’t have any dependents living in his basement.
Feeling obsolete since retiring from his job, former phone book publisher Ben (Robert De Niro) returns to the workplace as a senior intern for an online fashion house.
Assigned to the site’s workaholic founder Jules (Anne Hathaway), Ben quickly becomes an indispensable part of her life thanks to his sage wisdom.
But his ethics are tested when he learns a secret about Jules’ husband that could send her into a tailspin, and her website under.
In spite of its far-fetched premise, obvious plot points and sitcom-esque situations, this coming-of-old-age comedy is wryly writing and playfully acted by its charming leads, whose chemistry is awkwardly comforting.
Although, you do have to constantly reassure senior staff that women are allowed to wear pants to work.
To capitalize off inexperienced climbers, Nepal should really open a funeral parlor on the side of Everest.
Case in point, the imperilled alpinists in this fact based thriller.
When competing commercial climbing companies descend on the legendary summit in the spring of 1996, team leaders Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) and their clientele (Josh Brolin, Sam Worthington, John Hawkes) are not prepared for the storm that strands them on the slope sans oxygen.
Meanwhile, the wives of the marooned mountaineers (Robin Wright, Keira Knightley) await word of their rescue, expecting the worst.
While it’s hard to empathize with the willing participants and their death wishes, you can’t help but feel for their families, or deny the white-knuckle action or edge-of-your-seat excitement emanating from this ill-fated expedition.
On the bright side, at least the Yeti population now has a surplus of frozen meals for the week.
The best thing about commercial space travel is the black box is easy to find in the floating wreckage.
Fortunately, all the astronauts in this sci-fi movie made it back safely – save for one.
Believed killed in a Martian dust storm by his crewmates (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sebastian Stan) and left behind, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) must learn to survive on the inhabitable planet.
Once communications with Earth has been reestablished, NASA (Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor) begins work on retrieving Mark before his food supply runs out.
Rich in hard science and unique in its narrative, director Ridley Scott does an exceptional job of harmonizing the two. Damon’s lighthearted one-man performance deserves accolades as well.
However, these positives don’t make up for the film’s improbable premise.
Besides, NASA would only return for a marooned astronaut if they were impregnated with an alien.
Hotel Transylvania 2
The key to dating Dracula’s daughter is making sure to always wear a garlic-flavoured condom.
Unfortunately, the new dad in this animated movie didn’t heed that warning.
Unsure if his grandson Dennis will turn out to be a monster like his mother (Selena Gomez) or human like his father (Andy Samberg), Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his cronies (Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Kevin James, David Spade) take the tyke for the weekend.
But when his father (Mel Brooks) shows up unexpectedly, Drac must keep Dennis’ mixed bloodline a secret from the old orthodox bloodsucker.
The unwarranted sequel to the mediocre original, HT2 does an inadequate job of establishing any time has past with the newfound parents still resembling teenagers.
Furthermore, the jokes failed to have matured as well, making for a dismal revisit all-around.
Incidentally, the issue of human/monster hybrid fetuses is going to flip the abortion issue on its ear.
Twins make the worst paranormal victims because you have to haunt them twice as much as normal.
Which is why the ghost-children in this horror movie only torment one sibling.
Every night Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) is visited by a group of adolescent apparitions that haunt the abandoned farmhouse their mother (Shannyn Sossamon) moved him and his brother Zach (Dartanian Sloan) in to.
Jealous of his brother’s newfound friends, Zach attempts to gain their favour by abusing his brother and watching the horrifying home videos that his squeamish brother refuses to.
Meanwhile, an ex-deputy (James Ransone) with knowledge of the home’s history hopes to torch it and the sinister Super 8 reels inside.
Thanks to its untalented new cast and scream-free script, this slapdash sequel to the surprisingly disturbing original fails to capitalize off of its predecessor’s cult status.
Furthermore, who needs ghost-kids when twins are scary in and of themselves?
The scariest thing in the world to anyone over the age of 60 is the thought of having to use their telephone.
Thankfully, the seniors in this thriller have grandchildren to assist with voicemail.
Aspirant director Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and her brother (Ed Oxenbould) urge their single mom (Kathryn Hahn) to let them stay with their estranged grandparents (Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie) while she goes on vacation.
Over the course of their weeklong visit, the siblings experience several strange incidents involving Nana and Pop Pop’s behavior. As their visit concludes, their grandparents’ erratic conduct reaches its crescendo and their true nature is revealed.
While this found-footage fairy tale is a return to form for former wunderkind writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, its frightful formula, however, does grow increasingly less so as the timeworn twist ending unravels.
Either way, this movie isn’t as scary as listening to old people talk about other ethnicities.
The biggest importers of drugs across the Mexico/U.S. border are seniors on fixed incomes.
But as this crime-drama depicts, anything stronger than blood-pressure medication is moved by the Mexican cartels.
Asked to join a covert CIA task force after she uncovers a cartel graveyard on American soil, upright FBI agent Macer (Emily Blunt) finds her ethics compromised under the direction of her unlawful team leader Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).
Joining their manhunt for the drug lord responsible for the corpses is the enigmatic Gillick (Benicio del Toro), who has ulterior motives for tagging along.
Riddled with gritty performances from the entire cast and intense gunplay throughout, this brutal depiction of the drug war across the border and the questionable characters involved in its continuance, is as eye-opening as it is intriguing.
Hopefully all this bloodshed will end when Mexico finally builds a wall to keep out American law enforcement.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
The scariest thing in the world to the Boy Scouts of America is a gay man applying to be a Scout Leader.
The second scariest thing – as this horror movie surmises – is likely the undead.
When an infected janitor (Blake Anderson) escapes a laboratory, he contaminates the residents of a small town, including Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner).
When Rogers doesn’t show for their campout, mature Scouts Ben (Tye Sheridan) and Grant (Logan Miller) ditch their dutiful Scout friend Augie (Joey Morgan) for a senior party.
The troubled troupe – now including a shotgun-touting cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) – reunites to defeat the horde that has descended on the celebration.
Despite its wafer-thin set-up and horny teenage boy discourse, this campy addition to the genre manages to bring some genuine laughs and innovative zombie killing methods along.
In other news, the Boys Scouts of America now accepts transgender zombies.
If you string rope between any two objects in New York City it will become a clothesline in minutes.
That’s why the tightrope walker in this drama is so secretive about his latest stunt.
Tired of busking in Paris, street performer Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets his sights on New York’s Twin Towers.
With assistance from circus performer Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), Petit learns proper wire set-up and the proper mindset for the feat.
But securing the wire between the towers is only half the battle.
Based on events from 1973, director Robert Zemeckis attempts to make a man walking on a wire interesting – a feat he only half accomplishes.
While the final walk is heart pounding, the journey there is not so much, thanks in part to Gordon-Levitt’s authentic but annoying accent.
Incidentally, in New York, even on the high wire, there’s a good chance you could be hit by a cab.
He’s a Publicity Stuntman. He’s the…