Even in this day and age, 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” remains the definitive iteration of Bill Finger’s Batman. Combining all of the best elements from past Batman lore, Bruce Timm’s iconic animated series is a mature, often compelling take on the Dark Knight that’s action packed enough for children, but sophisticated enough for older audiences to appreciate. Timm approaches the Batman with enough care and delicate creativity to allow the character to flourish in a contemporary setting, embracing the fantasy elements of the character as well as basing a lot of the aspects of the character and his background in reality as much as possible.
Over the years, Hollywood has been trying to increase the demand for more female oriented movies by re-conditioning franchises that have been gestating or thought long dead. After the disastrous “Ghostbusters” retread I was very worried about a female oriented version of “Ocean’s Eleven.” After barely finishing “Ocean’s Twelve,” and skipping “Ocean’s Thirteen” altogether, I had no confidence in “Ocean’s 8,” no matter how many fine actresses were assembled. Thankfully “Ocean’s 8” is proof that these series can be altered to fit the female dynamic and reach a brand new section of movie goers without feeling like pointless pandering, a la (sigh) 2016’s“Ghostbusters.”
Director Brian Henson explained in an interview that he hopes the wrong audience doesn’t accidentally see “The Happytime Murders.” So I have to ask: Who is “The Happytime Murders” meant for? Who is the target audience here? It certainly has aroused the ire and vitriol of Muppets fans, horror fans mostly dislike it, and it has inspired nothing but groans and eye rolls from comedy movie buffs, so who is this movie for, anyway? Despite Henson’s best efforts to pad the wet thud that is “The Happytime Murders” by labeling it a “guilty pleasure,” you’d have a much better time putting socks on your hands and barking random expletives to yourself.
I’ve seen the frame work for “Rear Window” tacked on to a lot of genres, from murder mysteries, vampire movies, werewolf movies, Bigfoot movies, and so much more. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” turned in to a gangster thriller before. Director Nosipho Dumisa definitely has her eyes aimed at Alfred Hitchcock’s murder mystery masterpiece, but thankfully while the film is pretty much an homage (or remake, perhaps?), “Number 37” definitely manages to stand on its own as a stellar thriller in its own right.
I’m a big fan of Dwayne Johnson. What ever he’s in, I’m automatically going to watch no matter what as he packs a star quality that’s been missing in movies for fifteen years. I guess with every action star, it’s an oath they take that they must have their own “Die Hard” in their repertoire, and “Skyscraper” is that inevitable point in Dwayne Johnson’s career as a big screen hero prone to playing men staring down impossible odds. I’m sad to see that “Skyscraper” is about as bland and forgettable a vehicle as it gets, which is a shame since the premise has at least some potential to be quite an exciting twist on a creaky, worn formula turned sub-genre.
If anything, “Gotti” will go down as one of the most infamous movies of 2018. It’s a movie was in development hell for years, snuck up on audiences, and garnered a ton of bad reviews. And it responded by insulting critics and talking down to its audience. Make no mistake though, “Gotti” is bad. It’s very bad. It’s pure Oscar bait, with a director who realty wants his film to be “Goodfellas,” and a leading star who is so completely out of his lane it’s kind of sad to watch. Here John Travolta doesn’t seem to be acting, so much as competing for an Oscar nod, and it’s an endurance test from beginning to end.
Whether you know it as “Léon,” or “Lionheart,” or “Wrong Bet,” or “Full Contact,” or “AWOL,” or “Lion,” it’s tough to argue that this is one of Van Damme’s sillier roles. And this is a man who once played twins in an action movie vehicle (“Double Impact” is the best Van Damme movie ever made, I’ll argue that until I’m blue in the face). “Lionheart” is such an odd movie that I fondly remember loving back in 1990, but now in both versions, it’s kind of a weird movie that skips through various sub-genres of action cinema that feel awkward. At one point it even feels kind of like a “Rocky” wannabe.
The problem with prequels is that you already know what you’re getting, because you already know what’s going to happen to certain characters within the canon, so, “Solo” doesn’t pack much surprises. I will say though for arguably safe genre entertainment, it’s exciting and also delivers some well timed twists within its narrative. After the much ballyhooed problems during the making of the film, “Solo” ends up being a surprisingly competent popcorn movie that keeps a brisk pace, and channels the original tone of the episodes IV-VI better than the previous prequels/mid-quels (?).