First Glance: “Midsommar”

MIDsommar

Writer-director Ari Aster grabbed a ton of attention following his fine feature film debut “Hereditary”. It was a stunning jolt of energy for the horror genre. Now we get his much anticipated follow-up and it looks just as creepy but in a much different way. The movie is called “Midsommar” and its full of eerie imagery and a skin-crawling vibe.

The first good move Aster makes is casting the fabulous Florence Pugh. She plays a a young woman named Dani who shares a troubled relationship with her boyfriend played by Jack Reynor. We get hints of mental illness, something “Hereditary” explored deeply. Dani travels with her boyfriend and his loud-mouthed friends to Sweden to attend a folksy, flower-power festival that happens once every 90 years. As you can guess things get pretty….macabre.

“Midsommar” hits theaters July 3rd. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or giving it a pass.

First Glance: “Crawl”

Crawl

Storms are bad. Don’t believe me, just look to Hollywood who over the past couple of years has given us such storm-related terrors as “Geostorm” and “Hurricane Heist”. And one thing these two films proved is that storm-centered movies can be bad for both the characters and the audiences.

Well now there’s a new storm a brewing and it looks like it has stirred up the alligator population in southern Florida. That seems to be the basic premise of “Crawl”, a disaster horror film that I instantly dismissed until I saw Sam Raimi’s name attached. It seems he is serving as a producer for this goofy but potentially fun woman vs. nature thriller. The trailer is out and so far….I’m kinda onboard.

“Crawl” hits theaters on July 12th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or giving it a pass.

First Glance: “The Farewell”

FAREWELL

Personally speaking, everything about the new trailer for “The Farewell” screams must-see. The film is written and directed by Lulu Wang and is based on a deeply personal story about her grandmother’s illness. The movie showed at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and the buzz that followed has me pretty exciting.

The film stars Awkwafina who I admit wasn’t my favorite thing about the mega-hit “Crazy Rich Asians”. But just from the trailer we get to see her showcase some real acting chops and a range I genuinely wasn’t expecting. I can’t wait to see how she does in this emotional story of family, grief, and juggling the balance between Eastern versus Western culture.

“The Farewell” hits theaters July 12th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or giving it a pass.

First Glance: “Ophelia”

OPHELIA

“Vengeance, madness, a kingdom lost”. There is certainly enough there to make for a solid Shakespearean period drama. But the question is can Australian director Claire McCarthy deliver in a satisfying way? I’m anxious to give her new film “Ophelia” a shot.

For me the cast is the main attraction. Daisy Ridley steps away from “Star Wars” to play the title character. We also get Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, and George MacKay as Hamlet taking somewhat of a back seat. The new trailer offers up some striking imagery and hints at a potentially good retelling.

“Ophelia” lands in American theaters on June 28th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or give it a pass.

RIP Peter Mayhew…

CHEWIEMAYHEW

Sad news broke yesterday following the death of Peter Mayhew. Fans of Star Wars know the name well. Mayhew played the lovable, loyal Chewbacca and his passing is truly heartbreaking. The 7-foot 3-inch Englishman portrayed the Wookie from Kashyyyk throughout the original trilogy, briefly in “Revenge of the Sith” and finally in “The Force Awakens”.

Several of Mayhew’s co-stars took time to share their thoughts.

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And these wonderful words from Harrison Ford:

HAN

This one stings. Mayhew’s Chewbacca was a big part of my childhood and still dear to the heart of this huge Star Wars fan. Chewie lives on in the films, but Mayhew’s contributions to this beloved franchise and character will always be remembered and his loss felt for a long, long time.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spoiler Alert: 10 Thoughts on “Avengers: Endgame”

SPOILER ALERT

I think it’s safe to say “Avengers: Endgame” is officially a global phenomenon. With a $1.2 billion opening the movie has shattered more records than I could possibly list. It turned out to be a fitting and incredibly satisfying final chapter to a decade-long MCU adventure.

A movie of its enormous size and scope certainly has given fans a ton to think about and discuss. Monday I posted my spoiler-free review praising the film as a major cinematic accomplishment while criticizing its handling of some pretty major characters. But now I’ve seen it a second time and some of my earlier issues aren’t as big now while others still stand out. 

Avengers

So how about some SPOILER TALK. It’s where I make 10 observations about some of the film’s biggest shocks and surprises.

LAST WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

1. Where the heck is Mjolnir? Cap took it with him when returning the Infinity Stones. I think the assumption is he made a quick stop in Asgard to return it. You would think they might mention that though. I would like to think the Thor from the past is still roaming around Asgard looking for his hammer? If so I bet he’s blaming Loki.

2. Speaking of Loki, where did the god of mischief disappear to? Him taking off through time is an absolutely brilliant twist and probably sets up his upcoming Disney streaming service television series. More Loki, more Hiddleston…I’m in!

3. Nick Fury only gets one scene in the entire film? A five second shot with no dialogue and no interaction with other characters. This is the guy who put together the Avengers. He was the glue and often the brains. It was Fury who first went to Tony Stark in the 2008 “Iron Man” film. He also worked side-by-side for so long with Black Widow. I know there have been some tension between Nick and some Avengers, but I can’t help feeling he deserved a bigger moment.

4. Of all the people to shoot into space to get the Soul Stone from Vormir they send the two with no super powers, power armor, etc. out of the group. Really? Doesn’t seem like the smartest decision to me. Obviously it’s needed for storytelling reasons but in terms of common sense, not so much. With all of those great minds no one thought about that?

5. It’s been interesting to see how many interpret the ‘Fat Thor’ gag. While I was initially really put off by it, a second viewing made it a little easier to digest. Still he feels terribly inconsistent. Many have defended it a serious representation of depression. I could buy that if he wasn’t also a punchline in numerous scenes. The film wants us to sympathize with him in one scene only to poke fun at him, his weight, his appearance, his alcoholism the next. A deeper look at depression would have been fascinating, but apparently the “Ragnarok” allure was too strong.

6. What the heck were those lazy men doing during that big ‘women of the MCU’ moment? Now before you jump down my throat, I do think it’s a cool scene featuring female characters some of which are among my very favorites in the MCU. But it was pretty on-the-nose. Even my daughter asked “Did all the guys just take a break?”

7. So I guess killing your past self doesn’t wipe out your future self? That sure wasn’t the case for Nebula but you would think it would be. This time travel stuff is fun but so confusing.

8. So Bruce Banner has figured out how to coexist with Hulk. And how do we find out? Do we get to see this major character development? Nope. Instead it’s relayed through a couple of lines of dialogue. I wanted HULK. In “Endgame” (aside from one big scene) he’s basically reserved for quoting scientific equations and holding up debris in the final battle. The ONLY possible way any of it works for me is if this is the end of his story arc. But even then he should have had more impact in the finale.

9. At the very end did you notice how the time machine didn’t pull Steve back on the platform? Instead he was sitting on a bench by the lake. Probably want to get that fixed. Wouldn’t want to drop people off at some truly terrible location – the middle of New York City traffic, on a train track, at a Justin Bieber concert. Jokes aside, it didn’t actually pull him back at all though, right?

10. Before Cap takes off through time it’s clear to me that he told Bucky he would be staying with Peggy. Watching a second time made it crystal clear. The exchange between Bucky and Steve was telling but watching his reactions when Cap didn’t reappear drove it home. Bucky knew and its great that the long-time friends shared such a special moment like that even if it was off camera.