Back in 1996, a little movie called Space Jam was released. Not only did it define the 90s, but many people who grew up in that era fondly remember it as a nostalgic fever dream that had no right to be as popular as it should have been. Now, 25 years later, a sequel has finally been released. Known simply as A New Legacy and starring LeBron James in place of Michael Jordan. Much like the original, A New Legacy combines animation with live-action, albeit with some updates to place itself in the annals of modern films. All in all, it is merely a shameless, self-aware exercise to see how many IPs can be in one film (It worked with Ralph Breaks the Internet and Ready Player One, so why not this?); some funny, some distracting, all just there for viewers to point and say “Oh, look who it is.”
The original Mortal Kombat from 1995 was as decent of a video game adaptation as one could be. Sure, it was cheesy and the effects have not aged well in recent years, but one thing it had was a sense of self-awareness; it relished in those corny effects and dusty atmosphere, making it feel like the video game that it was based on. The only thing it was missing, however, was enough bloodshed and brutal fatalities to give it the R-rating it so desperately needed. When the original game was released, it caused controversy among parents and politicians for its use of graphic violence, causing the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to come up with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to ensure that what children were playing was or was not appropriate for them. Now, after twenty-six years, we finally get a live-action Mortal Kombat movie with all the gore, profanity, and crudeness that make for an R-rated extravaganza!
After 59 years, two of the biggest titans have come together for the ultimate rematch to prove who is truly the king of the monsters in Godzilla Vs. Kong; the fourth installment of Legendary’s Monsterverse, spanning nearly a decade, starting with 2014’s Godzilla, followed by 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, along with 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, ultimately culminating to Godzilla Vs. Kong. Like most movies from the past year, Godzilla Vs. Kong was pushed back due to the pandemic with a release date set for 2021. Now the wait is over, and we get to see these two in action yet again. The cheesy effects and rubber suits of yesteryear have been improved with technology that not only makes these two monsters feel real, but are bigger in scale, leading to a path of destruction and high stakes.
In troubling times like these, we need a movie like Minari to get us through the bad patches. Lee Isaac Chung’s film is a series of emotions, ranging from humorous to touching, with a dose of hardship as we watch a Korean family struggle to make it in a new state with the resources they can. At its heart is a story about family, and it is that family that propels its emotional heft. Either way, you are going to be moved with a possible new perception of life as you leave the theater (Assuming yours is still open and this movie just happens to be showing for Oscar Season); It is the feeling I had when watching Minari as I assume the audience I was with had felt.
After years of campaigning, begging and pleading from the fans who were disappointed in the 2017 theatrical release of Justice League, Zack Snyder seemed to hear the cries of the many and went back to business to make his vision a reality. Zack Snyder’s Justice League was promised to be a darker, grander, more epic version of what could have been had Snyder not abandoned the project due to personal issues (Can you blame him for what happened?). While Joss Whedon stepped in and tried his best to deliver a quippier, lighter, and more colorful take akin to his work on The Avengers, it still felt like something was missing, and 2017’s Justice League eventually got buried in the pile of mediocre DC films. Now, in 2021, the groans of disgust have now become tears of joy, as Snyder’s cut finally got a release on HBO Max.
When I first took Film as Literature in high school, back in 2010, one of the films our teacher made us watch was Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. While I am sure it resonated well with most of my classmates, I found it to be the most irritating, ridiculous, poorly-made film I had seen. Needless to say, I hated it with the utmost passion I had felt for any movie. For almost eleven years, I have written it off as a terrible movie that I could never bring myself to watch again. However, thanks to a good friend of mine who loves discussing movies with me (and a scratch-off list of the 100 Must-See Cult Movies), I brought myself to watch it again, with the help of my fiancee, who absolutely loves this movie more than I ever could, and a trip to her parents’ house to borrow the DVD, as to appease my friend and see what was under that opaque substance I was eager to reveal with my dime. I fully expected it to be a torturous slag of an experience with no merit, except to waste two hours of my life, what I witnessed upon this particular viewing surprised me more than any movie ever could.
As I was watching a series of 90’s science-fiction blueprints grace the screen with rapid-fire quickness, a feeling had indeed changed inside me. The dreaded disgust and annoyance that once seemed to exist no longer vacated the soul within me. Instead, what creeped in was a light of calm and contentment as I soaked in every ridiculous, goofy moment that came my way. I kept thinking that this particular feeling was only temporary, and the rotten taste would return eventually. Yet as Besson’s film was coming to an end, I had noticed that what I was feeling never left like I thought it would, then the sign became clear. Here was a movie that made such a bad impression on me as a young aspiring film critic that I dare even look its way, only for it to finally win me over with its bright visual flair and sense of humor. There was no denying it, I may have been a bit too harsh on this movie, and I knew it (I was young and cynical then).
It has been a while since I have seen Carey Mulligan in anything. I remember seeing her in films like An Education, Drive, and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby, but I do not recall anything else of memory. Here, in Promising Young Woman, she may be at the top of her game. If you did not know who this actress was then, you will definitely know her in this! Mulligan’s performance has been making rounds as one of the best that 2020 had to offer, and for good reason. Her character, Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas is clever, conniving, sympathetic, and deliciously wicked all in one package. Here is a woman who has a way of getting back at men who use their statuses to take advantage of the vulnerability of women as well as take down those who are oblivious, albeit ignorant, to the injustices that women face at the hands of men. Promising Young Woman is a revenge tale that the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements have been waiting for.
After thirty years, Eddie Murphy has returned as one of his most iconic characters in comedy history, Prince Akeem Joffer in Coming 2 America, the long awaited sequel to one of the funniest comedies of the eighties. In Coming 2 America, Akeem has been crowned King of Zamunda by his dying father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), and is ruling with his Queen, Lisa (Shari Headley), who Akeem has met and fell in love with while on his trip to Queens in the first film. Blessed with three daughters (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love), Akeem eventually learns that he also has a son and must set out with his best friend and royal aide, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) back to America and seek him out.
Just when I never thought it would never see the light of day, out comes The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, just in time for the latest streaming service, Paramount+, to be released. With movie theaters in America being limited due to the ongoing pandemic, streaming has been the savior of many movies for those still not willing to go to a theater and catching the COVID virus; many of Warner Bros. films have been slated to release on HBO Max simultaneously with a theatrical release, while Disney+ has been trying to add premier access with films like Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon. The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water has only found a theatrical release in the international market during the past summer, though I am not sure how well it did. I doubt it will even find an audience, with the amount of streaming services competing against each other. Only those who are true Spongebob fans, like myself, will even bother to give Paramount+ a shot just for 91 minutes of Spongebob and his friends.
Tom and Jerry, the world famous cat and mouse from Hanna and Barbera, return to the big (and small) screen in a live-action/CG-animated hybrid film, which has the same humor you come to expect from the duo, but the dullness of a modern children’s comedy trying so hard to be funny, yet will only appeal to the youngest of kids. The good thing I can say about this mediocre mess of a film is that, unlike the previous animated film from 1992, the cat and mouse do not talk. As you can expect, they fight, slap, chase, pull, prod, and many other things, yet while all the action is happening, we have to sit through a story concerning human characters that we end up caring little about, making us wish we had better things to do.