Monday, September 18, 2017

mother! - Movie Review

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig and Stephen McHattie.
Written & Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

★★★★

This is a balls-to-the-wall tour-de-force by Darren Aronofsky. He had a vision and he dives right in.

We know something wild's going to happen because we see the movie start with a woman on fire. It zooms back to a burned house being restored, until everything is pristine, and then Jennifer Lawrence wakes from her bed to go make her husband (Javier Bardem) breakfast. Surely this will be a lovely day. Then strangers show up unannounced. Her husband just lets them in, lets them stay, and she's too polite a hostess to say anything, but why exactly are they here?

No one is ever given a name in this movie. In the credits she is referred to as "mother" and Bardem as "Him." The movie drops several clues where it's going, and I just watched with a giant grin when the action amps up to its psychotic, Biblical, uncompromising conclusion.

I'd say more than half the people in our audience hated it. When I started explaining to some people, I could tell their enjoyment increased. (Except for one guy, who tried to argue Appeal to Authority to me because he works in TV.) I think it's best an experience knowing as little as possible, and it's one I love debating and discussing with people.

**

**SPOILER SECTION**

**

This is what I believe the movie meant.

It reimagines God as a selfish male deity who creates life for his own ego. The beginning shows the ending of a cycle. The female deity/Gaia/Mother Earth destroys herself, and when all is renewed, she comes back with no memory and in the form of Jennifer Lawrence.

She serves him, and he is a poet, an artist who can't think of what next to create. Then the man (Ed Harris) shows up. He has nowhere to go. He has a rib injury. He's Adam. He goes to see Bardem's den, his place for creation. He shows him a molten rock that he keeps on display, the soul surviving item from the previous fire. It is forbidden fruit that Adam may not touch. Then the man's wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up. She wants to see the rock more than Adam does. She finally touches it and accidentally breaks it. Bardem banishes them from the den and boards it up so no one may re-enter. (Cherubim and a flaming sword.)

Later the couple's two sons show up, arguing over a will. They fight, and the older brother kills the younger one. Cain and Abel. The older one even winds up with a mark on his forehead after the fight. Then dozens of people show up to mourn with the grieving parents. Bardem just lets them all in, and naturally, since they all seem to be familiar with his poetry and sing his praises. The more people that come, the ruder and more entitled they get. They also keep sitting on a sink until it bursts from the wall and floods the kitchen. This gives Lawrence the courage to yell "Get out!" and all of the people leave. Noah's flood. The humans are gone. She can now repair the damage done.

They fight and then have sex. She wakes up in the morning and knows she's pregnant. She's delighted. This inspires Him to write. He writes something beautiful. Scripture. People come from far and wide to hear and read his words. They come too quickly. They come with zealotry. He eats up the praise. She can't believe he keeps letting all of these people in. They start destroying the house. She goes into labor, and with each labor pang, the whole house shakes. The house is Earth, and she is tied to the Earth in ways He is not.

The baby is Jesus, and he wants to show the baby to the world, but she does not. She refuses to let Him hold the baby. She tries staying awake, but as soon as she nods off, her baby is gone. The houseguests carry the baby like a rock star over the crowd but someone accidentally kills him. Jesus is dead. Then they rip the baby apart and eat of his flesh. This is the sacrament of communion. The people start putting ashes on their foreheads to mark their devotion.

The movie speeds ahead until we finally get to the Book of Revelation. The apocalypse. She cleanses the earth with fire, killing everyone. In the end, only He and she remain. She's given everything. He wants the last drop of love in her. In the end, she's Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. She gives the last part of her existence to him. Her heart. He pulls it from her ribcage. It looks exactly like the molten rock we saw at the beginning. We gets all of the opening imagery again. The burning woman. The rock on a pedestal. The house being renewed. A different young woman waking up in bed. The cycle has started over.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It Movie Breaks September's Box Office Record


For the weekend of September 8-10, 2017, It had the third-highest opening of the year. It shattered box office records for September (previous record was Hotel Transylvania 2 at $48 million). and is the highest opening ever for a Stephen King adaptation. It also has the chance of breaking The Exorcist's record of highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time.

(Would now be a good time for a Killer Klowns from Outer Space reboot?)

The other new wide release was Home Again, a rom-com paycheck for Reese Witherspoon. It's the lowest opening for her since 2010's How Do You Know.



Opens September 15
MOTHER! with Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN with Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch and Sanaa Lathan.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

It - Movie Review

Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.

★★★

It's tempting to say It reminded me of Stranger Things, but really, Stranger Things reminded me of It. Stephen King's classic 1986 novel remains one of his best, and the influence of King is felt everywhere.

It's an emormous feat to adapt an 1138-page book to the screen, but the first smart step was to cut focus only on the half that deals with the seven protagonists as kids. So you've pared it down to 569 pages. Still quite a task. (It 2 about the adults will surely come out in 2019.)

They've streamlined the book, left a lot out, changed a lot, but it's still true to the heart of the story. Seven 12-year-olds come together, known as the Losers Club. Their leader is stuttering Bill (St. Vincent's Jaeden Lieberher), whose younger brother is the first victim of It. He's joined by loudmouth Richie (Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard), sickly Eddie (Me Myself & I's Jack Dylan Grazer), ostracized Beverly, fat kid Ben, worrying Stan, and parentless Mike. Each of them is visited in one way or another by It, usually in the creepy form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, played with unsettling menace by Bill Skarsgard (son of Stellan, brother of Alexander).

The strongest parts of the movie are when the seven are just hanging out. It's about comraderie and community, and there's not a weak link in the performances.

I'd say it was a little funnier than I thought it would be, it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be (though it does have a couple really good ones), and it was a satisfying fun summer movie that just happened to open in September.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Logan Lucky - Movie Review

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Dwight Yoakum, Jon Eyez, Macon Blair, Farrah Mackenzie and David Denman.
Written by Rebecca Blunt.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

★★★½

This isn't as glitzy as Soderbergh's Ocean's 11 movies, but it's definitely better than the Ocean's sequels. By setting it in West Virginia instead of Vegas, it feels like the stakes are more real. These people actually need the money.

Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a blue-collar worker who can't seem to get ahead. "Logan lucky" refers to how unlucky his family is. He and his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) decide to rob a NASCAR event. They enlist their sister (Riley Keough) for help, and the plan grows from there.

There is such an ease to the flow of a Soderbergh movie. Throwaway scenes in any other film feel new here. he plays with timelines in a way that doesn't feel like cheating. There's also something about watching Daniel Craig let loose as a Southern safecracker. I can't remember the last time he looked like he was having this much fun onscreen.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day Box Office Lowest in 12 Years

For the weekend of September 1-3, 2017, it was the worst Labor Day weekend in 12 years, and this is after doing surprisingly better than last week's record low. No new movies cracked the top ten, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind re-release did better than any of them. The winner would still be The Hitman's Bodyguard, actually being profitable due to lack of competition.

The box office just seems on hold until Stephen King's It opens next week.

The IMAX release of the first episode of ABC's Inhumans had the highest per-screen average in the top thirty.

Tulip Fever bombed. Alicia Vikander has chosen it after her Oscar win for The Danish Girl, but Oscar dust did not sprinkle over the project, even with fellow winners Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench in the cast.



Opens September 8
IT with Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer.
HOME AGAIN with Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Lake Bell and Nat Wolff.

Atomic Blonde - Movie Review

Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, Til Schweiger and Bill Skarsgard.
Written by Kurt Johnstad.
Directed by David Leitch.

★★★

There is a fight scene in a stairway that lasts for over ten minutes, and it's all in one take. That alone is worth the price of admission.

This feels like a crime thriller that could have been a bad John Le Carre adaptation, but it's been amped up with stunts and swagger. Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent sent to Berlin during the week in 1989 that the Wall is expected to fall. She needs to track down a spy who supposedly has a list of double-agents, and that could be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands.

The soundtrack's full of 1980's goodness, and Theron knows how to combine sensuality and martial artistry. James McAvoy also has a good time in his very non-Professor X role as her contact in Berlin who may or may not be looking for an opportunity to betray her.

It's from the co-director of John Wick, and it shows.

The Mummy - Movie Review

Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance and Marwan Kenzari.
Written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet.
Directed by Alex Kurtzman.

★½

This is the first movie in a planned Dark Universe franchise. Their first priority should have been to just make a good movie that can stand on its own. All it needed to do was be better than the Brendan Fraser version, and this is not.

Tom Cruise plays Nick, a soldier who happens to steal ancient artifacts in the Middle East. He and his buddy (Jake Johnson) are fleeing some insurgents when they stumble upon the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an evil ancient Egyptian princess who was buried 1000 miles away from home.

This movie isn't sure what it is. Is it horror? Is it action? What is its aim here? Nick is supposed to be this selfish weasel, and it's the first time I feel like the 55-year-old Cruise has been miscast. 39-year-old Jake Johnson as Nick would have been more like it.

Russell Crowe shows up as Dr. Jekyll, and the Oscar winner did not elevate the material. This is just a confused project that in trying to be many things winds up being nothing.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes - Movie Review

Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Gabriel Chavarria, Toby Kebbel and Sara Canning.
Written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves.
Directed by Matt Reeves.

★★★

Andy Serkis & company do a wonderful job in the motion-capture performance area, the special effects are top-notch, and Matt Reeves has made another movie, as the first two, that follows but could still stand on its own.

Caeser and his apes are still dealing with the betrayal of Koba, the ape that set off the chain reaction meant war between apes and humans. The main threat these days are a base of soldiers in northern California being led by a maniac. Woody Harrelson has a lot of fun playing a Col. Kurtz type in charge of these soldiers (and in case you miss the reference, there's "Ape-ocalpyse Now" graffiti in a tunnel).

I liked it, but I have to address five problems I had with this movie:

1. This conclusion to the prequel trilogy to Planet of the Apes isn't just about how the smart humans were wiped out. This movie is designed for you to root for the extermination of the human race. That may be why there were hardly any black or female soldiers. Easier to root for white US soldiers acting like Nazis toward the apes. There is one Hispanic soldier sent up to be somewhat sympathetic, but that's it. If A.I. ever rises up and wipes out humans, I blame this movie more than The Matrix.

2. Where are the females? Among the humans and apes, they were over 90% male. Is the next movie going to be Planet of the Dolphins because the other smart races went extinct over having so few females?

3. A little girl walks through the middle of a prison camp of soldiers on high alert, and they even have spotlights shine over her, and yet no one notices? These soldiers are terrrrible.

4. They say the simian flu, the disease that's robbing humans of speech and intelligence, is dormant in everyone, but the triggering of it is highly contagious. That felt like a yada-yada explanation hat-tipping the Walking Dead's logic.

5. Why at this point is Caeser the only ape who can talk in complete, unawkward sentences? Almost all of the apes stick to sign language. Didn't more apes speak in the last movie?

The Hitman's Bodyguard is #1

For the weekend of August 18-20, 2017, The Hitman's Bodyguard was the last hurrah for summer. The reviews weren't great, but the trailer was funny enough that the star power of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson helped this movie find an audience.

Logan Lucky had better reviews, but the marketing never quite crackled. I hope it finds an audience. It's a fun heist movie.

Notable was the expansion of Wind River, the next crime drama from Taylor Sheridan, who wrote last year's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water.


Opens August 25
LEAP! with the voices of Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan and Carly Rae Jepsen.
BIRTH OF THE DRAGON with Philip Ng, Terry Chen and Billy Magnussen.
ALL SAINTS with John Corbett, Cara Buono and Barry Corbin.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Annabelle 2 is #1


For the weekend of August 11-13, 2017, Annabelle: Creation was the big winner. Horror has been underperforming all summer, but when a good one finally came along (RottenTomatoes at 69%), it was rewarded. It's the fourth movie in the Conjuring universe, and it's another profitable chapter. The fifth one comes out next summer and will center on the Nun character from Conjuring 2.

The Nut Job 2 was probably the least anticipated animated sequel since Hoodwinked 2, and it should disappear quickly.

The Glass Castle never could find a way to capitalize it being based on a best-seller and starring recent Oscar winner Brie Larson.


Opens August 18
THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD with Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman.
LOGAN LUCKY with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig and Hilary Swank.
(exp) WIND RIVER with Jeremy Renner, Elisabeth Olsen and Martin Sensmeier.

The Beguiled - Movie Review

Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke and Emma Howard.
Written & Directed by Sofia Coppola.

★★½

I never did see the Clint Eastwood original, but I can't help but believe there was more to it than what we get here.

Coppola sets up a dreamy plantation-style school in the middle of Civil War-torn Virginia. The fighting is never seen, just the occasional gunfire in the distance, beyond the trees. One day a wounded Union soldier names McBurney winds up at their doorstep. The school is run by two teachers (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst), and they only have five students. There's a one-sentence reference to the slaves having left.

Colin Farrell is McBurney, and there's some instant amusement from the ladies' swirling hormones when a wounded gentleman is now in their care.

There's a gentle dreaminess to Coppola's movies, and also a delecate portrayal of sheltered women that tends to keep some of them from breaking out. I see a lot of similarities here to Somewhere, a movie where Elle Fanning bounced from hotel to hotel with her dad without much happening. Here the women and girls don't really leave the house, and they don't really know how to cope whne a man shows up.

The movie takes a darker turn in the third act, when McBurney's true nature is revealed. Once it was all over, it felt like another movie with little consequence or lasting impression. At least it wasn't long enough to get boring. What do I still think about? Those trees.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Detroit - Movie Review

Starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Jack Reynor, Kaitlyn Dever, John Krasinski, Ben O'Toole, Nathan Davis Jr. and Laz Alonzo.
Written by Mark Boal.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

★★★

The point of this movie isn't to entertain you while you watch. It's to punish you and then make that feeling linger long after it's over.

This has a docudrama feel to it, especially in the beginning, going through the history that led to the Detroit riots of 1967, and then we settle into what will be the main plot, the incident at the Algiers Hotel. Once we start meeting the characters that will be pivotal, it has the trappings of a horror movie. This is a home invasion horror flick where we watch six black men and two white women be terrorized for a solid 75 minutes with no reprieve and no room to breathe, and by the end of that 75 minutes, three unarmed black men will be dead.

The third act is courtroom drama, and it feel simultaneously rushed and extemporaneous. The Office's John Krasinski shows up as the cops' defense attorney and it feels like he's doing a Dwight impression.

The Force Awakens' John Boyega is our portal into watching this, a security guard who's just trying to keep everyone alive but naive as to how to keep things from escalating. He really isn't given much to do and doesn't leave much of an impression. The standouts are Will Poulter, as one scary casually racist cop who doesn't seem to register the whole "innocent until proven guilty" part of the law; and Algee Smith, lead singer in an R&B group who must deal with his PTSD after this horrific ordeal.

This might be better to watch at home, where you can take a break; but then again, if you need a break, you might not ever watch the rest.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Dark Tower is #1 in slow week


For the weekend of August 4-6, 2017, The Dark Tower was #1 in the worst box office week of the summer. The first weekend in August is usually a very reliable springboard for box office success. Suicide Squad opened with $133 million here last year.

Detroit opened wide, and it was supposed to be Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-buzz movie this year, but the studio Annapurna didn't seem to know how to handle the backlash of the true-life portrait of a group of black men being brutalized by white cops in 1967. The good reviews couldn't save it.

Kidnap was filmed almost three years and was finally dumped into theaters. At this point, $10 million seems good.

This is good news for Annabelle: Creation. With a bad week overall and summer not over yet, filmgoers may be poised to give a horror flick a chance. Previous attempts (It Comes at Night, Wish Upon) just didn't click.



Opens August 11
ANNABELLE: CREATION with Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia and Alicia Vela-Bailey.
THE GLASS CASTLE with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts.
THE NUT JOB 2 with the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dunkirk - Movie Review

Starring Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, James D'Arcy, Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan.
Written & Directed by Christopher Nolan.

★★★½

Nolan's WWII movie doesn't have a signature battle scene. It has men just trying to escape. We never see a Nazi's face. We just get the you-are-there experience of soldiers stranded on a beach, trying to survive from being sitting ducks.

Nolan has made an ensemble, but he's given the main roles to relative unknowns. Harry Styles is pretty famous, but this is his first real acting job, and he's very good at it. The kid has a future. The Jim Caviezel breakout here is Fionn Whitehead as Tommy. It's through his eyes we see the bleakness.

Some of Nolan's ensemble show up for support. Tom Hardy once again spends most of his screentime with his face covered like he did as Bane. Cillian Murphy shows up as a shellshocked soldier, a lone survivor of a sunken ship. Michael Caine's voice makes a cameo. Kenneth Branagh (Conspiracy, Valkyrie) plays a composite character, the admiral in charge, there on the beach with everyone else. Oscar winner Mark Rylance is one of the British citizens with small boats who sail across the channel to rescue however many they can.

The dialogue is sparse. I saw this in IMAX, the way it's meant to be seen, and it is an immersive experience. The viewer is there, standing on the beach, or flying in the plane, or sailing on the ship, or whereever Nolan takes us. He also does an interesting non-linear experiment with time. The Whitehead-led beach scenes take place over a several days. The Rylance-led boat scenes take place over a one day. The Hardy-led aerial scenes take place over an hour. It can create some confusion but all of the timelines meet in the end.

This approach also prevents it from becoming a masterpiece. Other than the flawed bookend Spielberg tacked on Saving Private Ryan, that's a classic that will survive for decades more to come. Nolan sacrifices narrative for immersion, and if he'd managed to throw in some better storytelling on top of everything else he'd provided, that could have been his best film to date. As is, I'd still put Memento, The Dark Knight, and Inception ahead of it.

I also like how Nolan kept it PG-13 so I could take my sons to it.

The Big Sick - Movie Review

Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff.
Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani.
Directed by Michael Showalter.

★★★½

This semi-autobiographical tale was written by real-life husband and wife Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon. Kumail plays himself in the movie, and Zoe Kazan plays Emily. We see he's a stand-up comedian/Uber driver, and she's a therapist. They meet cute, they date, they break up, and then she gets a serious illness that puts her in a coma.

For much of the movie, we watch Kumail fall back in love with Emily while getting to know her parents (Holly Hunter, Ray Romano) at the hospital. It's certainly an awkward way for them to meet.

The movie also explores a lot of Kumail's Pakistani background, and how his own parents keep trying to set him up with a nice Pakistani girl. He can't bring himself to let them know he's fallen for a white girl.

The movie has plenty of laughs, a lot of heart, and it's nice to watch a movie that provides the perspective we don't often get to see in cinema.

Dunkirk is #1 at box office


For the weekend of July 21-23, 2017, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk was the big hit. Nolan is still one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood, and he has made another critical and commercial success. The WWII drama, which is really about the largest evacuation effort of the war, managed to bring people in despite not having any stars in the main roles.

A notable success in its own right was second-place's Girls Trip. It may have looked like a similar effort to summer's earlier flop Rough Night, but reviews were much kinder and this one didn't have the twist of the girls accidentally killing a guy.

Valerian & the City of 1000 Planets is a bomb in the US. With a production budget exceeding $200 million, it'll need to be a massive overseas hit if it wants to make its money back. Personally I think Luc Besson should have tried to find someone more recognizable than Dane DeHaan in the title role.

Wonder Woman is now officially the domestic winner of summer. It'll pass $400 million soon, and it's been made official that the sequel will arrive in December 2019.



Opens July 28
THE EMOJI MOVIE with the voices of James Corden, TJ Miller and Patrick Stewart.
ATOMIC BLONDE with Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman.

Monday, July 17, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes is #1


For the weekend of July 14-16, 2017, War for the Planet of the Apes was the big winner, able to take first place from Spider-Man. it was a slightly better opening than Rise of POTA but not as well as Dawn of POTA.

The other new wide release was Wish Upon, a forgettable low-budget horror movie that will appear on some streaming service in a few months.

The staying power of Wonder Woman is the story of the summer. It's on pace to pass Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I don't see Spider-Man: Homecoming catching it.



Opens July 21
DUNKIRK with Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance.
VALERIAN with Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevinge, Ethan Hawke and Clive Owen.
GIRLS TRIP with Regina Hall, Jada Pinckett Smith, Queen Latifah and Larenz Tate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Movie Review

Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Martin Starr, Martin Chernus, Abraham Attah, Michael Mando, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Logan Marshall-Green, Tony Revolori, Garcelle Beauvais, Chris Evans and the voice of Jennifer Connelly.
Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.
Directed by Jon Watts.

★★★½

Tom Holland is the third actor in less than ten years to play Spider-Man. He's also the youngest, and that's a good thing. This felt like a high school movie that happened to be a superhero movie too. There's a breezy fun to everything going on.

Fortunately since we've already met this Peter Parker during Captain America: Civil War, we don't have to go through his origin story again. I don't need to see Uncle Ben get killed anymore than I need to see Batman's parents gunned down again.

Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) does a good job of weaving together all of the character relationships, and while there isn't too much action compared to most other superhero movies, the giant set pieces he does have, he handles well. The ferry splitting in half scene in particular.

Michael Keaton's blue-collar Vulture has an understandable POV, as he and his crew go from legitimate demolition workers to underground traffickers of alien technology to get ahead. The arrogance of billionaire Tony Stark lingers over everything, and Stark's in this movie almost as much as he was in Captain America: Civil War.

My favorite scene is one in the car. You've seen the clip in the trailer of Keaton in the driver's seat looking back at Holland, but the way that whole scene plays just crackles. Keaton doesn't go for scenery-chewing; he goes for much more subtle menace. And hey, he has a family, so he can be reasoned with.

Hoping somewhere down the road we can get a Spider-Man/Ant-Man buddy movie.

P.S. Favorite Easter egg is Jennifer Connelly voicing an A.I., following in the footsteps of her husband Paul Bettany who voiced Jarvis for a few movies before he became Vision.

---

Also saw in 2017:

THE LOST CITY OF Z (★★½)
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfayden and Ian McDiarmid.
Written & directed by James Gray.

This old-fashioned "By Jove!" colonial travelogue of a movie tells the true story of Percy Fawcett, a man commissioned to help map the Amazon River in South America before and after World War I and came across what he believed was evidence of a lost city, an ancient civilized city. I liked some of the supporting work from Robert Pattinson (Twilight) and Angus Macfayden (Braveheart), but it ultimately got too repetitive.

IT COMES AT NIGHT (★★½)
Starring Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough.
Written & Directed by Trey Stults.

This post-apocalyptic domestic thriller was marketed as a horror movie, and while it does have some horrifying things, it doesn't go in predictable directions. It raises more questions than it has answers for, and ultimately I felt hollow when it was over. It does a good job playing off of paranoia and suspicion, but it's also a cautionary tale on just how tribal people can still be.