“Table 19” (2017)
The former maid of honor Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick) attends the wedding and assigned table 19 (the “random” table), alongside Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), Rezno Eckberg (Tony Revolori), and Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant). Ms. McGarry was ditched by the best man Teddy (Wyatt Russell) prior to the wedding. “Table 19” eliminates all the fun out of attending the wedding – tedious and awkwardly quirky. Meanwhile, attempts to be the unconventional independent and/or mainstream film (could not tell which one). Not even the delightful cast could rescue the special occasion. Just reply “Declines with Regret” on the invitation. C
“Before I Fall” (2017)
Based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver, “Before I Fall” chronicles Samantha Kingston (the mediocre Zoey Deutch) repeatedly reliving February 12. The initial sequence is repeated numerous times and thus, you do not miss much until the final twenty minutes. The extreme redundancy may allow a few catnaps during the film. Perhaps “Before I Fall” was attempting to be the Young Adult version of “The Age of Adaline” (2015)? If anything, “Before I Fall” provides the most wonderful catnap ever. C-
“The Shack” (2017)
Based on the novel of the same name by William P. Young, Missy Phillips (Amelie Eve) is kidnapped and abducted during the family camping trip. The mourning Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips” (Sam Worthington) receives the personal invitation to meet with God “Papa” (Octavia Spencer), Sarayu (Sumire Matsubara), and Jesus (Avraham Aviv Alush) at the Shack. The wife Nan (Radha Mitchell) and the children Kate and Josh (Megan Charpentier and Gage Munroe) mourn and support the husband and the father, respectively. The rather underwhelming performances and predictable screenplay are easy to ignore. Whereas PureFlix films are usually manipulative, “The Shack” provides the fresh and thought provoking perspective to the Christian audience – rarely calculating to the point where you question your faith. God finds the good in the evil and always comforts you in ways you couldn’t imagine. B
“Get Out” (2017)
Rooted in the current race relations, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out” knocked it out of the park – turning horror cliches into innovative satire. The photographer Chris Washington (the understated Daniel Kaluuya) meet the Caucasian girlfriend Rose Armitage’s (the rather mediocre Allison Williams) parents – Missy and Dean Armitage (the underwhelming Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) during the weekend. Yet, the family members behave strange and bizarre circumstances occur – the violence ensues without providing the spoilers. Believe the hype – “Get Out” is the first genuine surprise to be revealed during the 2017 (not counting M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback “Split”). The caveat is you either do or do not buy into the superficial menacing opening sequence – perfectly sets the tone, but I did not buy into it at all. “Get Out” is disturbingly relevant (scolds President Donald Trump for implementing the travel bans and the like); however, a step further, regarding the eerie tone would’ve completely fulfilled the genre requirement. B
“Rock Dog” (2017)
Based on “Tibetan Rock Dog” by Zheng Jun, the aspiring musician Bodi (voiced by Luke Wilson) pursues the dream – receiving guitar lessons via Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) in an unknown city. From the subpar animation and voices to the dull conclusion, “Rock Dog” is simple yet harmless family oriented counterprogramming. C
Some action films are able to produce the snoozefest rather quickly for this particular film critic. “Collide” joins the crowd, alongside “xXx: Return of the Xander Cage” and many others. Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult) accomplishes anything (drug smuggling, in this instance) to be able to afford Juliette Marne’s (Felicity Jones) liver transplant. Sure, Hoult is handsome and Jones is pretty – but “Collide” combines several previous action movies that you may receive déjà vu and thus, ponder – I am not missing much. You’re not missing much, indeed. D
“The LEGO Batman Movie” (2017)
Everything is awesome – Batman style! Bruce Wayne/Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) collaborate with the Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Rosario Dawson), the adoptive son Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), and Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) to destroy the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate). The LEGO Batman will remind you why you adore “The LEGO Movie” (2014): Innovative animation – creatively playing with the Lego toys, refreshing yet familiar narrative – Batman teaming up with the DC Comic characters – worlds magically collide – bam!, and irresistibly amusing without mocking Batman and the Lego toys. “The LEGO Batman Movie” puts the fun back into movies and yes, please count on additional sequels in the near future. Can Hollywood adapt all the live action films into the Lego movies? A-
“Fifty Shades Darker” (2017)
The fifty shades translates into too many mood swings. Based on the novel of the same name by E.L. James, Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) reunite the relationship and eventually engage in the marriage. “Fifty Shades Darker” is cheap porn – less narrative, more sexual encounters – punishment, kiss, punishment, kiss, rinse, and repeat. The darker equals the almost unbearable movie – but the women (i.e. this lady) discover Mr. Grey is surprisingly tolerable. Sure, invite me to witness “Fifty Shades Freed” (2018). And why didn’t I see “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015) in the first place?! See ya later, Ms. Steele and Mr. Grey. C-
“John Wick: Chapter Two” (2017)
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back in the house! Well, I am late to the party, alongside the Fifty Shades party. So, yes, apparently, I haven’t been missing much. “John Wick: Chapter Two” is the conventional actioner with incredible stunts and beautiful eye candy. Otherwise, Mr. Wick and Company is the snoozefest. What is the point of the unnecessary sequel? I would’ve died to see the LEGO John Wick. Regardless, I guess I am obliged to provide “John Wick: Chapter Three” a whirl within a year. Second time is the charm? We’ll have to see. C
“Live by Night” (2016)
Based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, the gangster Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) and others confront the Klu Klux Klan in Florida during the Prohibition era. “Live by Night” provides the tedious crime narrative that screams Ben Affleck is awesome – but the execution, on the other hand, is an embarrassing mess for everyone involved during the production. D
“Monster Trucks” (2016)
The high school senior Tripp (Lucas Till) and the friend Meredith (Jane Levy) construct trucks – utilizing demolished cars to rescue and transport the three monsters to their home. “Monster Trucks” appears to be written by the one year old toddler – believing the adult audience is foolish. The children may enjoy the film. Nonetheless, I would like to enjoy the Monster Truck carnival ride – haha – not. F
Vincent (Jamie Fox) seeks the nightclub to rescue the kidnapped son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson). “Sleepless” is the standard action romp – entertaining during the necessary moments yet thoroughly tolerable from start to finish. C
Review Structure Key
Regular reviews ~ Word count varies.
Mini reviews ~ Positives and negatives (+/-) analysis.
Brief reviews ~ One hundred words, more or less.
Thirty Second reviews ~ Multiple films will be reviewed all at once, hence the editions. One sentence to three sentences. Primarily utilized for when I have personal commitments (may or may not be stated).