Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New releases:

Escape Room – The next film from horror director Adam Robitel, who made The Taking of Deborah Logan, a really great possession movie, comes this Saw mystery style horror film based on the very popular fad that has been going on for years. The cast looks good, including Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine but there has been a precedence set where the first studio release of the year usually is a horror film and it is usually absolutely terrible. I want to believe this could be a cool flick but the curse is very real. January is the month movies come to die.

On The Basis Of Sex – The Oscar-bait movie is definitely this one, following Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her struggle against her own peer equality to fight for equal rights culminating in her first fight in the Supreme Court. This film is punctuated by great performances from Felicity Jones as RBG and Armie Hammer as her husband Martin but it feels like the script and the direction where what kept this one from connecting with me. The Hollywood gloss was felt over and over, giving it a whimsical and very formulaic feeling. I may be on the minority thumbs down side of this but I just wanted more, especially after the stellar RBG documentary earlier this year. (Opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Blu-ray:

Night School – Now, I’m definitely not really all that excited by a new Kevin Hart movie but the simple fact that this has Tiffany Haddish in it has me intrigued to watch this as she is one of my favorite newcomers to comedy. The movie has Hart playing a man desperate to get his GED to take advantage of a new business opportunity. He joins a night school with a bunch of oddballs taught by Haddish’s character and I’m sure a lot of Kevin Hart mugging occurs. I know it feels like I’m ripping on him in a more focused manner but the guy has a cookie cutter in comedy already. I’m very on the fence with this one.

Bad Times At El Royale – This one was high on my list of anticipated films in 2018 as it’s Drew Goddard’s follow up to the incredible Cabin In The Woods. Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, John Hamm and Chris Hemsworth star in this deeply twist-filled mystery set in 1969 at a Lake Tahoe hotel which is on the dividing line between Nevada and California. A hotel that was once a prestigious and beautiful landmark, it is now rundown, seedy and off the beaten path meaning that anyone coming there did not mean well. This movie has so many game-changing moments that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout, I had so much fun with it.

A.X.L. – In a “where the hell did this movie come from?” sort of way, this is a family film about a teen and his robot dog, you know, that age-old story. The reason this one is most likely new to you is that there was zero ad campaign for it and it played in limited theaters from probably two weeks tops. Starring Colony’s Alex Neustaedter and Becky G, the Yellow Ranger from the recent Power Rangers movie, I wouldn’t actively recommend this to anyone unless they wanted to occupy a few preteens for an hour and a half.

Netflix:

Lionheart – A feature film from Nigeria, this drama is about the headstrong daughter of a business CEO who has to hold his company together after he takes ill. When her father decides to bring her uncle to run the place, she must fight against the male-driven world and country to correct the mistakes the men are too naive to see. The film did well on the festival market, including TIFF, and the one review I’ve found for it calls it uplifting without the cheese factor.

A Quiet Place – Capitalizing on all of those subscribers who were let down by Bird Box by adding a creature feature film that John Krasinski absolutely nailed in every single way, this is a Netflix apology that we can immediately accept. On my top ten of best movies of the year, this is not only one of the most original horror films of recent years but it operates with the most limited of sound and dialogue making it pretty groundbreaking.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3 – The time for this Vancouver made adaptation of the Lemony Snicket series is coming to an end as the third season marks the final one. I was always a big fan of the original movie with Jim Carrey and was pretty skeptical when it was announced that Netflix had commisioned a series. Neil Patrick Harris is perfect as Count Olaf though and the series was able to expand on the large ground the books had provided, doing it the ultimate justice. It’s great to see this series come to its natural conclusion.

Across The Universe – This is a very special film to me and my Beatles obsessed family but this is such a love letter to the fab four from Julie Taymor, an incredibly visual director who gets the feel and atmosphere of their legendary music in a story that feels very familiar to the fans. This is without a doubt a total comfort film with a soundtrack that’s great on its own. This is also another sneaky way to get me loving a musical.

Adrift – I didn’t get to check out this true story survival drama in theaters and I kind of wish I had because director Baltasar Kormakur and legendary cinematographer Robert Richardson infuse this film with great atmosphere. The film is about Tami Oldham and her fiance Richard Sharp who are stranded in the middle of the ocean on a destroyed yacht after a massive hurricane. The film is gripping with great performances from Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

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