A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.
Annihilation is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film stars Natalie Portman as biologist and former soldier Lena. Her Army Special Forces husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) mysteriously returns home after having gone missing during a mission nearly a year before. Soon afterwards he becomes violently ill and slips into a coma. They are taken by government forces to the secretive Area X, which studies a shimmering electromagnetic field that has engulfed a wide area of land after an object from outer-space struck land. Lena finds out that this is where Kane disappeared and joins an expedition team led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), along with paramedic Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), physicist Josie Radeck (Tessa Thompson), and anthropologist Cass Sheppard (Tuba Novotny), into “the Shimmer” to find answers.Read More »
A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.
The Ritual is a 2017 horror film directed by David Bruckner and based on a novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. The film stars Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton. Originally released in the UK in October 2017, it was widely released on Netflix on February 9, 2018. Though I knew little about the novel other than a passing awareness, I did pick up on some buzz for this film that got me very curious. A group of friends getting lost while hiking in a spooky forest is hardly a new idea for a horror film, but I’m always up for a familiar premise executed well or uniquely. This was something the film looked like it had the potential to deliver upon.Read More »
T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.
Black Panther is the eighteenth film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the second film featuring the character since his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War back in 2016. The film is directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. Going in I found it interesting to consider it as a follow-up to Civil War in the same way that Spider-Man: Homecoming was; the respective characters both debuted in that film and the events of it directly affect their first feature. Black Panther was in a unique situation, however, as his origin has not been explored in depth on screen before. To many movie-goes he’s a rather new character. Though excited regardless, I was curious to see how they would craft an accessible first film while building off of the character’s first appearance.Read More »
At a top-secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy drama directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a mute custodian who communicates through sign language. Her condition is possibly related to the mysterious scars on her neck she has had since infancy. The film apparently drew a lot of inspiration from del Toro’s childhood memories of seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon and wishing the creature’s romantic interest in co-star Julie Adams’s character worked out.
I had been wanting to see this movie for a while. It’s been out since late last year, yet it has only just gotten distribution in my neck of the woods due to a limited release. Perhaps it thanks to all the Oscar buzz the film is now getting that it came out here. Regardless I was grateful to finally be able to watch it. I was drawn in by its openly weird premise and how promising it looked. I didn’t just perceive it as a film about a woman falling in love with a fish-man, but a good film about a woman falling in love with a fish-man. With del Toro at the helm as director, writer, and producer I had a good feeling it wouldn’t disappoint.Read More »
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League is the fifth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), following the release of Wonder Woman this past summer. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. I didn’t have much hype for this movie going in; it felt more like an obligatory viewing. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the DCEU has had a hard time, with films produced that had some interesting ideas and performances, but ultimately fell flat in a lot of ways. I was also skeptical of how well this film could be pulled off without the lead-up that The Avengers got. Fairly recently someone made the point that just because that’s one way of going about it successfully doesn’t mean that’s the only way of doing it, however, which opened my mind up a little.Read More »
Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.
Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the third Thor film. Released November 3, 2017 and directed by Taika Waititi, the film stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Cate Blanchett as Hela. I’m fairly certain an MCU film has never failed to capture my interest so far, but there was something particular about the direction Ragnarok seemed to going in that held me a little more. Though typically a more fantastical Avenger, with funny moments thanks to him often being a fish out of water, Thor had usually been a rather self-serious character before now. With this sequel they were definitely going for a more swashbuckling tone, which had me optimistic, but with the baggage of two prior films I wondered how things would work out.Read More »
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, 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, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
Blade Runner 2049 is a newly released neo-noir science fiction film, directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Ryan Gosling as Officer K and Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard from the original 1982 film. I’ve grown to enjoy and appreciate the original Blade Runner in my adult life more and more, so the idea of a sequel coming out left me instantly curious, yet cautious. On the one hand, the idea of a new sequel to a popular or well-known film long after the original frequently doesn’t bode well. I could not help but think that the decision was motivated by “brand recognition.” On the other hand, I do have a hard time imagining the general movie-going public clamouring at the mere notion of a sequel to this particular film — reactions not being something I usually go out of my way to look for lately, so I hadn’t seen this either.Read More »
Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.
It is a 2017 supernatural horror film directed by Andy Muschietti, adapting the well-known Stephen King novel of the same name. While It could be an intimidating tome to even an avid reader, the book was also adapted back in 1990 into a miniseries starring Tim Curry as the titular creature, which cemented the story further into popular culture. The 2017 film is the first time I’ve actually experienced any version of the story for myself, yet going in I had a firm understanding of it through osmosis. It’s a tale that’s hung around the periphery of my life ever since I noticed the massive hardcover on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a child.Read More »
Spoiler Warning: I do reveal some key plot points in as vague a way as I can. I normally would work to avoid this more, but in this case, I needed to bring these things up.
The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
The Dark Tower, directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, is an American science fantasy Western based on the novel series of the same name by Stephen King. The film stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain of Gilead, the last gunslinger, Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers, and Matthew McConaughey as Walter aka The Man in Black. This is a film I have been highly anticipating for the last year. I’d been a Dark Tower fan for a number of years, but in the summer of 2016, when I was only halfway through the series, I resolved to finish it before this film released. In April of this year I completed The Dark Tower, my resolution completed. For a lot of personal build up it amounted to something sadly anti-climactic.Read More »
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a 2017 French science fiction action/adventure film, written and directed by Luc Besson. It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline. It is based on the French comic book series Valérian and Laureline, which was first published in 1967, with a final installment released in 2010. A decorated and influential series in European pop culture, its impact can be felt here as well, where echoes of the series’ ideas can apparently be found in other science fiction films and franchises such as Star Wars.Read More »