Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Once Upon A Deadpool (Opens Wednesday) – No, this isn’t a third Deadpool movie technically because it’s a re-edit of the R rated sequel to bring it down to a PG13 for the holiday season. Oh, and it also has a Princess Bride-like main subplot that has Deadpool reading the story to a bed snuggled Fred Savage, just like in the classic Rob Reiner film. What can we expect from this one? I think that is a tough question because Ryan Reynolds always delivers with this character, aside from the Wolverine: Origins debacle, and I’ve loved everything so far, including the incredible ad campaign of both movies. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – If you’ve seen any trailers for this movie you know how astoundingly original the animation looks in this one and how comic book really it feels. That said, this is shaping up to be the greatest Spider-Man film ever made, bringing all the different comic iterations of the web-slinger. How is this possible? Well, it’s something called the Spider-verse, something well established in the comics but maybe a little tough for non-fans to get a grip on. What I can say is that this might be the best family film of the year, one that will have everyone coming out of the theater with wide-eyed wonder and excitement. This is one of those must-sees.

The Mule – Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this film about a ninety-year-old war vet who has an insanely dangerous way to make money: trafficking cocaine for a Mexican cartel. The trailer looks intense and nerve-racking with Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne playing the DEA agents looking for the prominent mule in the area, putting Eastwood’s character in a precarious balance between the law and the brutal enforcers that the cartel employs. Oddly enough, Warner isn’t shipping this one around for award season and isn’t even prescreening it which is never a good sign. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

Mortal Engines – Peter Jackson steps on board to produce this epic film, one that the trailer almost acts as he directed. The film is about a dystopian future where humanity has mobilized their cities by mounting them on to giant wheeled vehicles to keep them moving at all times. The idea is totally inventive and absolutely intriguing but everything I’ve seen about this movie makes it look like a giant mess to me. To much uncanny CGI, making the actors look awkward against it, but I really want to believe in Peter Jackson’s control on this even though The Hobbit trilogy was a bit of a mess itself.

Mary Queen Of Scots – Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie will not only battle for the united kingdom but probably awards as well this year in this film about the warring cousins Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. Coming from first time director Josie Rourke, this movie is going to be all about the powerful performances of these two incredible actresses but, for me, it’s all about art direction and costume design, two categories that I’m sure will clean up at the Oscars. This will probably be a bit dull for some audiences but I loved the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movies so I’m excited about this one. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blaze – Ethan Hawke steps behind the camera for his second feature, a music biopic about a folk-country singer named Blaze Foley, a talent snuffed out before he could make his legacy mark. Hawke presents this story in three ways that co-mingle; the story of his burgeoning love story with the love of his life, his drunken and volatile meandering after the dissolution of that relationship and his bandmates telling the story of their fallen friend, years after his popularity had faded from recent memory. The music feels real and authentic with musician Ben Dickey taking on the role of Foley but his inexperience is really felt in the more dramatic scenes. This is probably the weakest part of the film. (Opening in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Blu-ray:

The Equalizer 2 – Denzel Washington reprises his role of Robert McCall from four years ago, one made famous by Edward Woodward on television, in his first ever sequel. Teaming again with director Antoine Fuqua, this story gets personal with McCall avenging the murder of one of his closest friends, something that he feels he brought directly to her doorstep. I enjoyed the first movie with some minor gripes but this one feels a bit stale and almost unnecessary story wise. A rare misfire with an actor who has enough gravitas to make pretty much anything work.

Peppermint – Jennifer Garner rechannels her Alias and Elektra experience for this revenge action thriller, playing a mother and wife who wreaks bloody vengeance after her husband and daughter are gunned down. The reviews on this film are definitely not good so you kind of going into this one with a very low bar. Hopefully, the saving grace of this movie could be it’s action scenes as the director is responsible for Taken and District 13. Being an action guy I have some invested interest in that.

Colette – Keira Knightley gives a solid performance and is the ultimate draw in this biopic about Gabrielle Sidonie Colette, a writer who made a mark in Paris by creating a bestselling series of books but the pen name was that of her husband. As her husband was celebrated for her talents, Colette began to discover who she was emotionally and sexually, eventually pushing her to fight for the ownership of her art. The film is driven fully by the strength of Knightley’s fire but unfortunately hasn’t really been proven memorable this award season.

Smallfoot – I really wish I had gotten the chance to check out this adorable little film in theatres because it’s fun and actually has some really nice original musical and, yes, I still hate musicals. Channing Tatum voices Migo, a yeti, the next in line to be an important part of the yeti society, ringing the gong to signal the morning. After a misfire in a gong ringing practice run, Migo comes across a human being, or smallfoot, whose existence would go against everything the yeti folk believe in. The combination of a great cast with a pretty funny script makes this one a winner, although so of the more overarching themes seem very heavy handed.

Lizzie – The story of Lizzie Borden and what may have happened in the time leading up to the brutal murder of her parents, this one has been done a few times already. Stepping into that lead role is Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart playing the housekeeper Bridget Sullivan opposite her and, while the acting from the two is good, the movie feels a bit dull coming off as a period drama more than a thriller.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero – In a low key animated feature, this is the true story of a stray dog who ended up joining the allied forces along with his new owner in World War I. Although it’s kind of a direct to video type deal, only receiving an extremely limited run, this movie has some notables in it’s cast including Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu. Even with that being the case, this one most likely won’t stick around in your brain long.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – This is the fourth “Chainsaw” film ever and was the film debut for Renee Zellweger as well as an early role of Matthew McConaughey. Is this movie any good? Well, in terms of the original series, no, it’s probably the worst one. Now, f you compare it to some of the more recent sequels then it ages like a fine wine and Shout Factory has such a great respect for all these horror films. The special features are always solid too, this one including all new retrospectives, behind the scenes, interviews and both theatrical and director’s cuts.

Nathan For You: Complete Series – This box set is a goldmine of hilariously awkward moments through comedian Nathan Fielder’s need to help your business. I’m totally late to this party but I laughed my ass off and found myself plunging through the first season very quickly. As Nathan makes his pitches for odd things at businesses or has a job interview with a kindergartener in an earbud feeding him answers I found myself increasingly fascinated with this show.

Instinct: Season 1 – Based on a James Patterson book called Murder Games, Alan Cumming stars in this procedural about a former CIA paramilitary officer, novelist and current university prof Dr. Dylan Reinhart who is brought back to law enforcement when a serial killer starts using his works as a sort of playbook of murder. Although it uses the usual tropes of these kinds of shows to play more of a long con, the fundamentals of liking it are still based on if you’re able to find enough interest in Cumming as a lead star. I genuinely enjoy him but I feel he had so much more as a supporting player in The Good Wife. I’m definitely not in the bag after the first episode.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

Candyman – Shout Factory released his gothic Clive Barker horror film that freaked the hell out of a young Steve. Tony Todd made himself unforgettable in the title role, a character that would cause any horror fan to think about him anytime they saw a mirror. Presented in a two-disc set with a theatrical and unrated cut, the special features are deep with three separate commentary tracks over a brand new restored picture, so many production featurettes, retrospectives and interviews, it’s a treasure trove if you love this movie. This film garnered a bit of a fan following but only did three movies, a bit reserved by usual horror standards. That said, it is getting the reboot treatment but it is produced by Jordan Peele.

Urban Legend – A movie that came out near the end of the nineties slasher run, who knew that this film had a future Oscar winner in it with Jared Leto? Well, to be honest, the movie isn’t amazing but Aussie director Jamie Blanks has a lot of style to his films and the layout of this story is original and I like the look of the killer in the parka. Again gifting horror fans, Shout Factory jam packs more special features in this two-disc collector’s edition like two audio commentaries, a whole bunch of cast and crew interviews and new never before seen behind the scenes footage.

Urban Legend: Final Cut – Producers tried to follow the success of Urban Legends with this sequel which just pulls up short in every way. The cast was largely unproven, usual Bryan Singer editor and composer John Ottman was making his feature directorial debut and the fencing mask has nothing on the parka. I will give this film that some of the kills are nice and the blu-ray has commentary with Ottman, deleted scenes and interviews including Rebecca Gayheart from the first movie.

Special VOD:

The House That Jack Built – Lars Von Trier is in a league of his own. He is uncompromising, wholly self-indulgent and is fully willing to cross any line morally, ethically and existentially. This is definitely true with this new film which has Matt Dillon playing a serial killer exploring the five pivotal murders or incidents in his killing spree that makes the legacy of his legend. This is a movie that will push you as a viewer with things I have never seen done before and a lot I wouldn’t care to see again, Still, this is one of those memorable cinematic pieces for 2018 and a film I will never shake for the rest of my life.

Netflix:

Roma – You might as well get on seeing this one now because it is going to get some large buzz as awards season builds after New Year’s. Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron is back with this slice of Mexico City life in the early 1970s following Cleo, a housekeeper for a couple and their four children. Her employer’s marriage starts to crumble at the same time Cleo is forced with a life changer, making the two women’s bond closer and closer. Cuaron’s autobiographical connection to this film adds to the heart of it combining with the technical brilliance in its construction and cinematography. I spent many a moment slack-jawed over beautiful dolly shots, framing and use of reflection. This one is very special.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale – It’s only been a few weeks since the first season of this show debuted on Netflix but now we get a Christmas special to tide over those who have quickly made their way through all the episodes and are salivating for more. To be honest, I haven’t even got started on the series so I may try to catch up with it in time for a Christmas viewing of this special.

Cuckoo: Season 4 – This series is an odd one, commissioned by the BBC and starring Andy Samberg before he was unable to return to film the show due to a massive slate of projects and was replaced by Taylor Lautner, which is bizarre casting in my opinion. The show is about a British family who must welcome their new son in law from hell, played by Samberg/Lautner, an American “free spirit”. I really liked the first season but haven’t seen Lautner’s take on the character.

Fuller House: Season 4 – This is basically on here as a plea to the audience because I have no idea why this show is still being made. Is the nostalgia that prolonged or is this show’s appeal beyond just that? Is this show good? Let me know. That said, this show would probably have more appeal to me with John Stamos, Dave Colier and Bob Sagat as the leading guys again but I only really like the original for kitsch value and the childhood staple it was.

The Fix – Being a huge fan of British panel talk shows, this series hosted by Jimmy Carr is totally up my alley. Featuring guests like Ron Funches, D.L. Hughley and Fortune Feimster, they band together to solve world issues like conservative politics, gender pay gaps and, the best one, social media. This will be a really easy binge for me but will it survive? Talk shows do not have a good Netflix track record.

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