The month of November is here and the movie season is back in full swing! The next few months will rival the summer blockbuster period and most of the action begins this Friday. So get ready for our trademark preview series, known as the Monthly Media Roundup, featuring the most intriguing options coming to your local cinema in the next four weeks. Enjoy!
A Bad Moms Christmas
Stars: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Justin Hartley, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn’t hard enough, they have to do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers.
By the end of the journey, our moms will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers.
The first movie was an unexpected hit, however this sequel is flying well below the radar. After the success of Girl’s Trip and the end of the month release of Daddy’s Home 2, it’s curious this doesn’t have more buzz, or at least marketing. It will be interesting to see how the counter-programming against Thor: Ragnarok works out for the new release. We will find out Monday morning…
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban
Director: Taika Waititi
In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!
Judging from the early word, Thor: Ragnarok is Christmas come early for Marvel fans. The irreverent, yet relevant, third chapter of the Thor saga looks to give the franchise a makeover with eccentric filmmaker Taika Waititi at the helm. Getting to see Thor, Hulk, and even some surprise MCU characters in the same movie is like a Saturday morning cartoon dream made in reality. The entire industry will also be watching the unspoken showdown with DC Films’ Justice League which should add to intrigue of the release. This will be such fun!
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Bill Pullman, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Rob Reiner
After powerful Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (Woody Harrelson) loses the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination to Senator John F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan), he agrees to be his young rival’s running mate. But once they win the election, despite his extensive legislative experience and shrewd political instincts, Johnson finds himself sidelined in the role of vice president. That all changes on Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy is assassinated and Johnson, with his devoted wife Lady Bird (Jennifer Jason Leigh) by his side, is suddenly thrust into the presidency. As the nation mourns, Johnson must contend with longtime adversary Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David) and one-time mentor Georgia Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins) as he seeks to honor JFK’s legacy by championing the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.
2017 has taught us a lot of lessons about leadership, abuse of power, and the current state of race relations. Reiner is not a shrinking violet when it comes to his political leanings, so it will be interesting to see what his film has to say about the presidency. Woody Harrelson has long been one of my favorite actors and watching him disappear into the role of Lyndon B. Johnson is a solid dramatic ticket to balance out the whimsy of Thor: Ragnarok.
Last Flag Flying
Stars: Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Richard Linklater
In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with ex-Marine Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire. Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms with shared memories of the war that continues to shape their lives.
Linklater has been known for making nostalgic movies about growing up and capturing the feeling of historical eras. However, with his latest effort he is dealing with the inherent sadness and bonds that come from old age. The cast is beyond impressive, so it’s hard to imagine how this won’t be the perfect drama for a mellow night.
Murder On the Orient Express
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena, Judi Dench, Tom Bateman, Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.
It’s hard to dismiss or ignore Murder on the Orient Express’ star power and I am never too good for an old-fashioned caper flick. The first trailer left a lot to be desired, however the latest looks have shown enough of the story and action to get me all into the mystery. Let’s see if there is enough steam behind this freight train of a movie.
Daddy’s Home 2
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, John Cena
Director: Sean Anders
In the sequel to the 2015 global smash, father and stepfather, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) have joined forces to provide their kids with the perfect Christmas. Their newfound partnership is put to the test when Dusty’s old-school, macho Dad (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s ultra-affectionate and emotional Dad (John Lithgow) arrive just in time to throw the holiday into complete chaos.
It’s rare when I get more enthusiastic about a comedy sequel than the original, however the casting of the Daddy’s Home 2 has me eagerly awaiting the upcoming follow-up. The trailer made me laugh out loud and watching Mel Gibson be a jerk…is well…perfect. The premise is standard 80’s fare, but it’s hard to imagine the film not being worth the price of admission.
Stars: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard
Director: Zack Snyder (w/Joss Whedon)
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
This is the movie that will decide the entire future of the DC Films…so how could I not be there to find out for myself opening night. I unabashedly like the ambition of the flawed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and I’m eager to see what the Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon have come up with. Behind-the-scenes it will be interesting to see if the two directors have combined their powers to create an unexpected movie. Regardless, the kid in me who watched reruns of Superfriends and the Justice League cartoon can’t wait to see the team realized on the big screen.
Roman J. Israel
Stars: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo
Director: Dan Gilroy
“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell costars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.
The premise of the movie speaks to my inner social activist and Denzel is one of the best in the biz. But for some reason the trailer for this doesn’t quite do it for me. However, it’s hard to imagine a bad flick from Mr. Washington and this seems like a movie with the right thing to say for today.
Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Sofia Espinosa, Luis Valdez, Edward James Olmos, Selena Luna
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
The new upcoming flick, Coco, hasn’t all gotten a ton of advanced hype, however there is little reason for concern. Pixar rarely fails (The Good Dinosaur aside) and is probably the most reliable studio in the entire film industry. Add to the fact that it’s been a slow year for animation along with the colorful Latin flavor and this should be a solid family watch.