The Suicide Squad Adds Peter Capaldi

Wait, Who? (Get it? Who?)

Recent Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi has been added to the cast of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. At this point, we should just be discussing who in Hollywood won’t be in the film, for timing.

There’s been no word from Warner Bros. on the casting, and no indication has been given for which character Capaldi would play, but the production has also been eyeing Pete Davidson of SNL fame.

I was listening to the argument made for stunt casting, and it made a lot of sense. There’s a lot of added talent for this sequel, and it would make sense that some of it is indeed stunt casting. Bring in a big talent who dies in Act I. The Suicide Squad, as a property, has an ever-evolving and changing crew, and the idea of a lot of death and destruction isn’t new, but imagine introducing tons of stars and then picking off a lot of them, or as I like to call it, the Game of Thrones treatment.

So who would Capaldi play? Who?

Who do you think Peter Capaldi will play? Will he be a member of the squad or perhaps a villain? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

It (2017)

Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard

Screenplay: Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman

135 mins. Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.

 

It seemed like It was never going to get the new adaptation fans have been clamoring for. The project had Cary Joji Fukunaga and Will Poulter originally in place after several unsuccessful attempts, and then Fukunaga left the project and Poulter was replaced. Then, director Andy Muscietti (Mama) surfaced to lead the project, something I was so sure about. I liked Mama, but it was a smaller, more intimate tale, and It is a big booming horror epic. As pics started to drop from the production, I’ll admit that I was unimpressed, and it was only after seeing the film that I realized how wrong I was.

It’s the summer of 1989, and the small town of Derry has been ravaged by a string of disappearances involving children, but Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher, St. Vincent, The Book of Henry) isn’t willing to accept that his younger brother Georgie is gone, and he routinely brings his friends, Richie (Finn Wolfhard, Dog Days, TV’s Stranger Things), Eddie, and Stan, down to the Barrens, a marshy area where the sewers empty out, to look for his body. As the summer goes on, the group adds Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor, 42, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween), Beverly (Sophia Lillis, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, TV’s Sharp Objects), and Mike, and each of them is plagued by a strange manifestation they call It, a creature that regularly takes the shape of a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård, Deadpool 2, Assassination Nation).

The studio envisioned It as a two-part adaptation of the weighty tome that Stephen King wrote in the 1980s, and this film is an adaption of roughly half of the novel, which jumps back and forth in time seeing the Losers Club as children and adults returning to Derry to finish what they started. For the film, this time as children is the entire focus of the film, a move I actually believe helped the organization of the story much better than jamming the whole book in and trying to do it justice. This is a case of a two-part film that actually needs it.

Each of the kids does a tremendous job in the film at developing a character amidst all the goings on with It, with particular emphasis given to Sophia Lillis as Beverly and Finn Wolfhard as Richie. Lillis gives a nuanced and layered performance as the only female member of the Losers Club, and her collaboration with Muscietti creates a well-dimensioned girl who is dealing with a lot. Beverly was always the best character in the book, too, so it’s great to see her given justice here.

In that same way, I was surprised by how good Finn Wolfhard is as Richie. Wolfhard is of course known for Stranger Things, a series that takes a lot of influence from Stephen King and, at times, It, so I was worried that Wolfhard’s character would be too close to what we see in Stranger Things, but he plays Richie so well as such a different character. Richie is the goofball with the nasty speech and a whole lot of fear, and Finn does him justice.

All that aside, the other tough role to fill here is Pennywise. Coming off the miniseries, Tim Curry’s take on Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the best piece of the puzzle, so finding someone who can give a new take on the creepy clown is a tough sell. I was actually all for Will Poulter, and I was pretty irked when he ended up not getting the part, but Skarsgård just knocks it out of the park. He plays Pennywise with the understanding that this is just one form of It, a very old and very powerful entity, and Pennywise comes across as a favorite form but also as a skin worn by a creature. When he shows his endless rows of teeth, Pennywise’s eyes kind of slough away like they were a snakeskin coming undone. It’s a horrible-looking fantastically-performed boogeyman.

For a lengthy film like this, it’s rather forgotten how smoothly the movie runs. Every time I watch it, I don’t realize the two-hour-plus runtime moving along at a juggernaut pace. There’s so much to cover that it never gets boring. In fact, the screenplay does a solid job at adapting the spirit of the source material instead of just being a carbon-copy of the book set to film. There are major differences about the individual fears that each of the Losers Club have, and the changes are made for a variety of different wholly-understandable reasons. Some of them would’ve been very tough to put to film in a workable way, and others were of the specific time period of the novel (the Losers are in the 50s in the book), and some were cut or rearranged for timing. Now, as much as I loved the werewolf sequences of the book, I understand that the film is not the book, and it’s respectable in that way.

There is a significant flaw for me, though, and it’s this: It wasn’t scary. It pains me to say it, but I wasn’t scared at all. I really thought this would be the one to get me, but it didn’t. There’s some spooky individual moments (watch the librarian in the early scene with Ben), but overall it didn’t give me that shiver-myself-to-sleep vibe I was really hoping for. It’s still more than entertaining for its tale of childhood friendships and monsters and grief, but I just wanted it to be scary.

It is a fantastic adaptation of half of Stephen King’s source material. For a film that had some laughable early production stills, Andy Muschietti really pulled it off and I’m all the more excited for It: Chapter Two. This was a well-constructed story of friendship akin to other classics of the genre like Stand by Me, and apart from lacking in the scares for this writer, it is a wonderfully entertaining thrill-ride.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (2019)

Director: Benjamin Berman

Cast: The Amazing Johnathan, Eric Andre, Benjamin Berman

Screenplay: Benjamin Berman

91 mins. Not Rated.

 

I’ve been a big fan of The Amazing Johnathan for years, ever since catching a small set of his on Comedy Central back when Comedy Central showed standup. When I heard that he had become very ill and only given a year to live, it made me incredibly sad, and I recently discovered a documentary from director Benjamin Berman (TV’s Comedy Bang! Bang!) that chronicles his time spent with The Amazing Johnathan as the performer prepared to return to the stage several years after being originally diagnosed. I almost can’t describe it any more than that.

The Amazing Johnathan was given a year to live, and he’s been alive far longer than expected, and filmmaker Benjamin Berman is here to document the artist’s current living situation, but in the process of telling Johnathan’s story, Berman discovers that he is not the only documentarian currently working on The Amazing Johnathan’s life, and as a mystery surrounding this other documentary unfolds, Berman finds the lines between reality and fantasy blurring, leading on a strange odyssey that will make him question everything.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is head-scratchingly odd. It’s a film that questions the very nature of documentary filmmaking itself as this head-trip unfolds before the audience. With multiple filmmakers each taking a stab at the story of the famed comedian, lies that he made begin to unravel and a confusingly convoluted narrative takes shape, one that asks questions about life and death and the human fascination with both.

You have to see the film for yourself, and I was equal parts hating and loving it in all its frustrating layers. What I can tell you is this: you won’t believe what’s going on, and you probably shouldn’t believe everything you see. It’s a meth-fueled journey into madness. As I said before, I really hated it. I also really loved it. I’m still not sure how I came out the other end feeling, and I recommend you see it for yourself.

 

3.5/5 (tentatively)

-Kyle A. Goethe

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (2019)

Director: Daniel Gray Longino

Cast: David Harbour, Kate Berlant, Alex Ozerov, Mary Woronov, Alfred Molina, Heather Lawless, Marion Van Cuyck

Screenplay: John Levenstein

32 mins. Rated TV-14.

 

I came across Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein on Netflix during a random searching, and I had to watch it. I’m a sucker for mockumentaries and short form comedy, so this was an easy choice.

David Harbour III (a fictional version of David Harbour of Revolutionary Road and Hellboy) is on the search to discover the mystery behind his father, David Harbour Jr., and the play that obsessed him. That play is Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein. By recreating his father’s office and visiting with his father’s agent and the play’s producer, David deconstructs the convoluted and extremely confusing video footage of the play while attempting not to drive himself insane in the process.

The short film is made by David Harbour’s performance. He plays a fictionalized version of himself as well as playing his father, in an Orson Welles-esque role, and the film works because of him. There’s a lot of strange comedy to the film, and that comes from a bonkers screenplay from John Levenstein (Illegally Yours, TV’s Kroll Show).

It’s simple to say that I’ve watched this short twice and still couldn’t completely unravel the confusion in its many layers, from the confusion between who is playing Dr. Frankenstein and who is playing the Monster in the play, to which lines in the play are actually in the play versus which lines are monologues about acting forcibly added in to elevate his father’s pride. It’s watching the story and letting yourself by unraveled by it that makes it funny, though not something that I would call classically comical. It’s a stupid short film but it is worth watching at least once.

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein is not great cinema, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. I enjoyed it for what it was and I think the run time is perfect as it would have made a terrible feature, but I cannot begin to explain how it all fits together, and that’s kind of the point. Give it a try yourself and see what you can make of it.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)

or “Trust me, poster. I won’t laugh.”

Director: Chris Renaud

Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Burress, Bobby Moynihan

Screenplay: Brian Lynch

86 mins. Rated PG for some action and rude humor.

 

I didn’t much care for The Secret Life of Pets. In fact, I felt that the trailer for the film was better than the whole movie. The film had sold itself on the idea that our pets are doing their own crazy thing as soon as their humans left the house, but it never really was about that. The finished product was a standard “new brother” scenario but for dogs. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t interesting. Well, I’m here today to report that the sequel…is not much better.

Sometime after the first film, Max (Patton Oswalt, Young Adult, TV’s A.P. Bio) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet, The Loft, TV’s Modern Family) have a good thing going with owner Katie (Ellie Kemper, Bridesmaids, TV’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). That is, until she gets married and has a baby. After the initial frustrations of getting to know the child, Liam, Max sees protection as his new role in the family. The problem is that all the dangerous situations Liam gets into are giving Max some heavy anxiety. When the family goes on a road trip out of town, Max meets Rooster (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner 2049), a sheepdog who teaches Max how to deal with his new role. Also, all the other animals get into shenanigans with an illegal white tiger named Hu.

I don’t know that I’ve been more bored in a theater in 2019 than when I was watching The Secret Life of Pets 2, and don’t tell me that it’s a kids movie and my enjoyment doesn’t matter because plenty of films intended for younger audiences are good enough for adults to enjoy, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 is just a slogging bore. To be fair, I would rate it higher than the first film because it at least tries to stick to the central premise that the first film sold us on, being about pets when their owners are away. This one gets closer to that idea before being way too weighed down by all these plot threads that could not keep my interest at all.

The voice cast all does fine work, and I didn’t find it all that tough to adjust to Patton Oswalt as Max after Louis C.K. was let go. I enjoyed Harrison Ford playing a dog version of Harrison Ford. I liked their banter for what it was. This was the plotline the film should have gone with, but there’s this shift in focus when the narrative heads over the white tiger story that all-around did not work for me.

There’s just so many things about the film that feel very cringeworthy, from the way Max’s owner treats him and Duke after having a baby to the really weird way they are played as parents who seemingly have no idea what’s going on with their child and where he is at any given time. Katie is a bad parents and a bad pet owner in the film and it made me really not like any scene with her involved.

Overall, The Secret Life of Pets 2 was slightly better than the first film, but it just didn’t work for me at all. There’s a technical side of things that is well-done in the film, but everything from the plot to the characters just doesn’t land. This is one franchise that doesn’t need a third installment so that these voice actors can go on to better properties.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Anthony Michael Hall Joins Halloween Kills as…Tommy Doyle?

Anthony Michael Hall, most well-known for appearing in The Dark Knight and The Breakfast Club, has joined the cast of the upcoming Halloween Kills.

As reported by Variety, Hall will be playing Tommy Doyle, a character known to fans of the original 1978 Halloween. Tommy Doyle was the boy Laurie Strode was babysitting on that horrific night when Michael Myers went on his killing spree. The last we saw of the character was in the now-decanonized Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, where he was portrayed as an adult by Paul Rudd.

As of right now, Hall is only listed as appearing in Halloween Kills, which is a smart move, considering this is a slasher series and not much is known about the size of the role. Personally, I see Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends as being a two-parter where Kills will end with some sort of a shock or a cliffhanger. For me, the death of Tommy Doyle could be that cliffhanger. That could be what sets in motion the events of this purported final chapter, and not knowing if he’ll be in the final film leaves him in danger for the film. I really hope more unique and interesting casting announcements continue to drop for Halloween Kills, and I hope that none of them list casting for Halloween Ends until after Kills comes out.

So what do you think? Is casting Anthony Michael Hall a good choice for Tommy Doyle in Halloween Kills? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo

Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rey Howery, Micah Stock

Screenplay: Paul Downs Colaizzo

103 mins. Rated R for language throughout, sexuality and some drug material.

 

While at a Q&A following my screening of Brittany Runs a Marathon, writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo said that he wanted audiences to spend the first act of the film thinking “I know that girl,” the second act thinking “I am that girl,” and the third act thinking “I want to be that girl.” In this way, Brittany Runs a Marathon is an absolute success.

Brittany (Jillian Bell, 22 Jump Street, TV’s Super Mansion) is almost thirty, and she’s having trouble sleeping. Her doctor explains that it might be her weight that is causing her sleep problems, but Brittany’s lifestyle of drinking, partying, eating, and not caring probably have something to do with it as well. She realizes that she isn’t really moving forward in life and decides to finally do something about it. She wants to run a block, and that block turns into 2 miles and then a 5k. Now, Brittany sets her sights upon something bigger: the New York City Marathon. She has less than a year, but with her new running friends Catherine (Michaela Watkins, Wanderlust, Good Boys) and Seth (Micah Stock, Life Itself, TV’s Bonding), Brittany believes that she can achieve this almost impossible goal, but there’s only one problem standing in her way: herself.

Paul Downs Colaizzo’s debut film is a very tight character study loosely based on a friend, and his collaboration with Jillian Bell (who lived the character’s struggle in losing 40 pounds herself) in creating the film’s version of Brittany is terrific. Together, they crafted a wholly relatable and flawed human being who thinks she knows what will fix everything in her life. The depiction of the classic hero’s journey here is spot-on, and it’s anchored by a well-written screenplay and well-performed cast of supporting players. I particularly loved Bell’s chemistry with running friend Seth, played by relative newcomer Micah Stock.

What’s so great about the film is that each of the secondary characters has an important role in advancing Brittany’s arc and servicing the story. Brittany’s roommate Gretchen is similar to Brittany in that she seemingly has everything she wants in life but still isn’t a happy and good person. Her coworker Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar, Pitch Perfect, TV’s Harvey Girls Forever!) is someone who has goals in life but doesn’t really move forward in them, very similar to how Brittany’s journey begins. She is faced with all these possible versions of herself throughout the film as she is forced to confront the person she wants to be.

Brittany Runs a Marathon isn’t splashy or visually stunning. It’s a character piece, and a very inspiring story that made me want to run out and sign up for a 5k (baby steps). It’s headlined by a star-making performance from Jillian Bell and an all-around well-picked supporting cast. Colaizzo’s strongest asset is his excellent character work and story structure, and it’s on full-display here. Outside of a few nitpicks throughout, Brittany Runs a Marathon comes highly recommended.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kevin Feige Twists the Knife: “It Was Never Meant to Last Forever”

Kevin Feige has further broken our hearts on this Spider-Man situation, stating that he is glad for what Disney and Sony were able to do with Spider-Man but that “it was never meant to last forever.”

Early last week, it was Deadline that reported talking breaking down to continue the deal for Spider-Man in the MCU. The biggest detail that Deadline has repeatedly stuck to is that Disney wanted a 50/50 deal for co-financing the next several films with Spider-Man, something that Sony was smart to reject.

Feige’s stance on this seems to be coming from a place of covering for Disney’s overly-aggressive negotiations, and I can respect that, but it just seems to solidify that, at least for now, the deal will not be reached. It’s saddening because I’ve really enjoyed the flavor that Spider-Man and Tom Holland have brought to the MCU and I cannot wait to see where it goes next.

But I don’t think that this spells the end for Spider-Man in the MCU. I guarantee that this deal, which has been very lucrative for both companies, will not find some way to continue, even if that continuation is not immediate or takes longer than it already has. Not to mention, I don’t think that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker will be rebooted again, especially after Spider-Man: Far From Home became the highest-grossing Spider-Man film and the highest-grossing film in Sony’s history. There’s some spoilery places that Far From Home goes, and I think Sony will continue on with that story without the MCU. In fact, there’s already kind of a good setup for Spider-Man not being in the MCU within the finale of Far From Home.

So, no. I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of Tom Holland’s MCU appearances or his take on Spider-Man, but it does hurt that, at least for the moment, it seems like negotiations have completely stopped. Here’s hoping one day they can make his deal work for both parties again.

So what do you think? Is Spider-Man better off outside the MCU, and do you think we will see Tom Holland as Peter Parker again? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Box Office Report] Angel Has Fallen Hits #1 But Good Boys Holds On Strong

Angel Has Fallen has delivered a #1 debut, bringing in about $21.25 million. This is an impressive opening weekend haul for the third installment of this franchise, landing just behind the opening weekend of London Has Fallen. If you’ve read my review, you’ll know that I felt that Angel Has Fallen dropped significantly in its quality over the previous film, and I didn’t have a lot of faith, but this franchise is like the little engine that could. It also seems to be hitting with fans, as both CinemaScore and Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes are quite high.

Coming in second this weekend is Good Boys, the R-Rated comedy taking in $11.75 million, which isn’t too bad of a second-weekend dropoff. For me, Good Boys having this strong of a second weekend isn’t all that shocking, as the film managed to actually give a fun and funny film in a year that hasn’t seen much from that genre. As we’re seeing, this weekend was led by some strong adult fare.

Third place this weekend belonged to the religious and uplifting drama Overcomer (with perhaps the worst title of the year) raking in a surprisingly high $8.2 million. This one, like Angel Has Fallen, is seemingly performing well with its core audience after netting a A+ CinemaScore. I’ve been particularly judgmental about religious cinema, noting that I’ve never seen very strong characters or dialogue in this genre, but I cannot speak for Overcomer as I have not caught it in theaters yet.

The Lion King is sticking out in in theaters as I expected it would, netting $8.2 million. The remake now stands at $1.5 billion at the box office, a number I didn’t expect to see given it’s mixed critical response. While I enjoyed the remake, I wasn’t sure how it would hold, but Jon Favreau has seemingly won another battle for Disney.

Lastly, Hobbs & Shaw placed fifth with $8.1 million. This is another one that I enjoyed, though not as much as I would have hoped, and I wasn’t sure how strong it would hold. I’m happy that it is winning over audiences because I think the pairing of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham could do some serious damage in a sequel and I want to see where they take a follow-up.

Other releases this weekend included Ready or Not ($7.55 million) and The Peanut Butter Falcon ($3 million). Hopefully more people come out to catch Ready or Not. The bonkers horror/comedy/action film was just a joy in theaters and I want to see it make a splash after Fox/Disney buried the marketing.

So there you have it. This weekend’s Top 5 was mostly aimed toward the heavy-hitting adult fare like Angel Has Fallen, Good Boys, and Hobbs & Shaw, but more family-friendly fare like Overcomer and The Lion King mixed it up a bit. What did you see this weekend? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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