The original “Barbershop” from Tim Story and Ice Cube was a very good and entertaining albeit imperfect drama comedy about family, and community. It had a lot more going for it than didn’t, thankfully proving to be anything but a fluke. Kevin Sullivan carries on the down to earth tone with “Barbershop 2.” While it is just as imperfect as the original, it’s also a very good extension of the first film, continuing the storylines of the characters we grew to know and engage with. Thankfully everyone pretty much returns for the second go around, and they’re all about the same people we remember, except older.
Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.
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.”
It’s never been more popular than to be an anime fan, as now it’s been widely accepted and has become pretty much a mainstream fixture. What was once a niche genre on the fringes, is now something everyone can get in on. Whether it’s PG rated fun, or more complex adult entertainment, it’s there for the taking. Mill Creek repackages some of their anime titles from Sony’s library from 2012 for a 3 DVD series collection of some of the more notable anime series to come out of the gates.
How do you top one of the most influential and punk rock horror movies of the eighties? You—uh—follow it up with a sequel that repeats everything we saw from the first film. It’s as if someone said “Let’s make “Return of the Living Dead” again, but crappy this time.” To say “Return of the Living Dead II” is bad is pretty much an understatement as it’s only mostly acknowledged for being the poorer brother to the highly superior and excellent original. That’s ironically also part of its appeal, too, as it takes some twists and turns that’ll leave you laughing in disbelief and confusion.
I can safely say that among the long running action franchises out there, “Mission Impossible” might just be my favorite. Not only has the series managed to re-invent itself time and time again, but Tom Cruise continues to impress and compel as series hero Ethan Hunt. He is a classic hero, a man who is bound to his work, or else the world literally falls apart at the seams. He’s a daring, bold, and clever force of nature, but he’s also one chained forever to the IMF, forced to confront not only terrorist threats, but the fall out of his past enemies that have come back to finally haunt him.
The Wasp is one of the oldest, most important Marvel characters of all time (she was one of the original five Avengers), and she’s also someone who has been waiting in the wings for far too long. In “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” the heroine finally gets her due in a movie that’s about her legacy as much as it is about the Avengers, and Ant-Man, overall. After the two heavy meals that were “Black Panther” and “Infinity War,” Peyton Reed’s return to “Ant Man and the Wasp” is like a nice light after dinner sorbet. It’s a palate cleanser, it’s simple, and it’s quite good.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about Lowell Dean’s follow up to 2014’s “WolfCop,” and while I did love the original movie for its balls and unique premise, I can’t say I loved “Another…” Is it a poor follow up to the original? Absolutely not, but with the bigger budget and massive acclaim, it feels more like Dean forced a lot of the cult aspects, and has a tough time progressing the narrative of his hero Lou Garou. That said, “Another WolfCop” is still a fun cult movie romp that gets a nice blu-ray treatment for fans.