Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Captain Marvel – It feels like forever since a large part of the Marvel universe got dusted at the end of Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos and now, after so many long months of waiting, we get the main to piece to the Mad Titan’s defeat. Battling trolls even before she battles Skrulls in the movie, people already are throwing shade at star Brie Larson but I think she is perfectly suited to play the strongest character in the MCU. I also love that this story takes place in the mid-nineties and has a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg plus the villain is played by a great villain actor, Ben Mendelsohn. I am so freaking hyped for this movie.

Blu-Ray:

Creed II – Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago. Hey, what can I say? I’m an 80s action film kid so of course, I’m a Stallone fan. I’m game anytime they bring Rocky out and this film does not disappoint. Sure, it misses the touch of Ryan Coogler but the fight scenes are fantastic, seeing the continuing love story between Donny and Bianca is so great and the return of Dolph Lundgren to the Drago role is an experience I didn’t know I had been waiting for until it was upon me. This movie kicks some serious ass.

The Favourite – Director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to astound after The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and The Lobster, this time directing a film that he had no hand in writing at all. The movie has The Crown actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Anne, frail and descending into madness during the 18th century. Her closest friend, played by Rachel Weisz, dotes on her constantly and handles the business portion of her rule but things are put to the test when a new servant arrives in the form of Oscar-winner Emma Stone and a jealous battle ensues. This film is absolutely amazing, like a dark comedy version of Stanley Kubrick’s Bary Lyndon, and deserves all the accolades it is getting. All three women are incredible but Colman is the focus and will now break through to the A-list after winning both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. This is my number one for 2018, more because I didn’t see Suspiria until this year but I still let it stand in that spot.

Instant Family – A couple find themselves in over their heads when they adopt three children, a teen, a preteen and a six-year-old. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, this film is actually based on the experience of the writer and director Sean Anders, who Wahlberg made both of the Daddy’s Home movies with. This movie is a really weird mix bag of odd dramatic choices with corny music, moments that felt like an infomercial for adoption and a smattering of funny moments. Both the lead stars are charming either on their own or together but it really isn’t enough to save the film for me. I’m baffled to why the Rotten Tomatoes score is so high and certified.

Ben Is Back – Whoever is managing actor Lucas Hedges career is seriously as gifted as this young star is because he is making all the right moves in Hollywood. Look at his resume and you’ll see. This time around he plays a young man returning home from rehab to his loving mother played by Julia Roberts. His addiction and actions before going away caused a deep rift between mother and son but, wanting to make up for his past, he ends up falling back down the path which almost destroyed him to get final closure. I’m not usually a big Julia Roberts fan but the story of this film has me very interested as well as the always stellar work Hedges brings to his performances.

Vox Lux – This film almost looks like the story of a Lady Gaga style pop singer, played by Natalie Portman in a performance that is getting some notoriety with critics. The film is written and directed by actor Brady Corbet who, in his second feature, is hitting some grand scale filmmaking here with some absolutely gorgeous art direction and visuals. My issue with the film is that after it’s violently shocking opening, the film never seems to achieve any other grand scale, aside from a scene in a diner with Portman’s Celeste character and her daughter and the final concert scene which features music by written by Sia. I also think the choice of having Raffey Cassidy play both the younger version of Celeste and her daughter was a little confusing and offputting.

Free Solo – Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. This movie made me say “nope” almost like a mantra but I was so happy to see this film win the best documentary Oscar, especially since my favorite docs of the year, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers weren’t even nominated. This movie will test you though and Alex’s final ascent to the top will keep you gripping your seat in the sheer terror of that notion of falling into nothingness. As a man with a severe fear of heights, this one damn near gave me an anxiety attack.

Don’t Go – A new mystery thriller starring Stephen Dorff and phenomenal Aussie actress Melissa George, this film is about two parents grieving the loss of their young daughter in a freak accident on the beach. Dorff’s character keeps having vivid dreams about the day she died and believes it is a conduit to the other side and that he can pull his daughter back through to the land of the living. Unfortunately, from what I’m reading, the movie focuses on the moroseness from both characters rather than thrills and intrigue.

The Mercy – A true story from a director well versed in bringing these stories to the big screen, Oscar winners Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz star in this film about amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who tried to sail the world by himself. This looks like an enduring film about perseverance against the elements of the sea and the emotional connection to his family back home. I’m interested in hearing one of the final film scores from Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away at the beginning of 2018, and the cinematography from the eye being Into The Wild and The Motorcycle Diaries’ Eric Gautier.

The Vanishing – This movie looks really great, bout three lighthouse keepers who find themselves in possession of a chest full of gold with the prospects of some really bad men coming after it. The film stars Gerard Butler and Children of Men’s Peter Mullan but I find the filmmaker behind it interesting as he directed many episodes of Tom Hardy’s series Taboo and the Danish version of The Killing. Also having it lensed by the guy behind the fantastic Mads Mikkelsen film Flame & Citron is awesome as well.

Welcome Home – Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski star in this dopey little thriller about a couple that head out to a remote air BNB in Italy, trying to recoup the relationship after an affair almost broke them up. Too bad this house is filled with cameras for the creepy neighbor to spy on them. Beyond the initial premise of this movie, there is not a single interesting thing to be had in this movie. Both Paul and Ratajkowski might as well be playing themselves in their own wardrobes it looks like and it all seems to be a ploy just to see the former model naked as much as possible. This is not some to satiate us until the Breaking Bad movie, Jessie!

Liz And The Blue Bird – With all the different things Shout Factory has been sending me, one thing I’ve been trying out is anime and I’m not sure that it’s a fit for me. Take this film for example, it’s not totally fantasy or sci-fi driven but is about two girls joining together to earn a prestigious music scholarship but also running alongside the story in a connected but parallel existence that I can’t explain due to utter confusion is Liz and the Blue Bird, based on a German fairy tale. This is the thing about anime that makes me stop wanting to continue. The convoluted stories, loose plot and high pitched and annoying voice over. Pass on this one.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Four Weddings And A Funeral – Another addition to the Shout Select series, this is the movie that pushed Hugh Grant into the international spotlight and made Andie MacDowell the “it” girl for a while. I believe this is also the first big theatrical hit for Richard Curtis as well. The movie is pretty simple, about a bachelor that falls in love over the course of five big events, well, that are told to you in the title. This is definitely a Brit classic and a worthy one at that.

The Poison Ivy Collection – Four steamy thrillers starring four separate actresses in the manipulative lead roles with Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Jamie Pressly and Miriam McDonald in each respective film, although I couldn’t tell you who that last one is other than she is Canadian. Shout Factory has gifted me this set of films that I assume will go from bad to worse but the first two hold that special place as they were released in an era that I wasn’t allowed to watch them being taboo at my age. It is not well known that the first two films were directed by women and the one who started it all, Katt Shea, provides commentary on each movie.

Waterworld – This epic movie that was the most expensive movie of its time gets another chance to shine again as it deserved with this brand new limited edition which includes a longer version only seen in Europe called the “Ulysses Cut”. This movie, I thought, was unfairly maligned and was actually pretty groundbreaking for an epic film in the mid-nineties, one I remember seeing in theaters and absolutely loving. It created it’s own rich world, a post-apocalypse we’ve never seen before complete with a tested hero in Kevin Costner and a formidable villain in the amazing Dennis Hopper. This one still holds up too.

Netflix:

After Life: Season 1 – Whenever I hear the name Ricky Gervais I am automatically interested, especially in series form, as this is the man who brought us The Office, Extras and Derek, plus the countless other things he has been a part of. This series looks so great, although it looks like it will play on some heavier themes like his last one. The series follows a man that goes from Mr. Nice Guy to social terror with a don’t give a shit attitude when his wife dies. A good cast around Gervais with The Strain’s David Bradley playing his father, It’s All Gone Pete Tong’s Paul Kaye and his Extras co-star Ashley Jensen.

The Order: Season 1 – This one looks like it could go one of two ways, cool or super cornball. It is a supernatural mystery series about a college student who finds himself trapped in an eternal war between werewolves and warlocks after his mother, the only one protecting him, is murdered. The trailer makes me think it has a built-in audience on Netflix with those who have binged Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Magicians and it really made me laugh to see that the headquarters for the main characters is Riverview in Coquitlam, B.C.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Definitely, one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s this Jason Segal movie will always have a place in my heart. The story is about Peter, a guy who just went through the most brutal break up with the supposed love of his life. To try and get over it he goes on a solo vacation to Hawaii only to find out that his ex is there with her new boyfriend Aldus Snow played by the insane Russell Brand in the first role I ever saw him in. If you haven’t seen this one yet you have to change that immediately.

Happy Gilmore – An absolute Sandler classic, you know, back when his movies were hilarious and the juvenile nature of his movies was charming. He stars as a hockey player booted out of the sport for his temper who puts his skills to use playing golf in order to save his grandmother’s house. This culminates in him defeating the great Shooter McGavin, played fantastically by Christopher McDonald. You know, the guy who eats pieces of shit for breakfast.

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