One of the year’s most anticipated blockbusters, “Justice League,” opens this weekend, but that’s not the only movie coming out. In theaters, we have Stephen Chbosky’s “Wonder,” Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Star,” Dan Gilroy’s sophomore feature “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” Netflix is also releasing festival favorite from director Dee Rees, “Mudbound.” So let’s go more in depth with each new release.
“Justice League,” dir. Zack Snyder
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.
Warner Brothers and their DC Universe have had a rough road so far as their first three features, “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “Suicide Squad,” all garnered mixed-to-negative word of mouth from both audiences and critics. However, hope began to shine this past summer with “Wonder Woman,” a film that wasn’t just a box office smash but was universally loved. That being said, director Zack Snyder suffered an unfathomable family tragedy shortly after production on this film wrapped and stepped away from the project, with Joss Whedon of “Avengers” fame stepping in for reshoots and post-production duties.
Currently, there is a review embargo in place until 2:50am EST early tomorrow morning, but social media reactions for “Justice League” have been mostly positive. I myself will be seeing the film tonight and will have my full review as soon as that embargo lifts. My expectations going in aren’t too high, but the reactions so far have been encouraging. As long as this isn’t a disaster on the level of “Batman v Superman,” I’ll be satisfied. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“The Star,” dir. Timothy Reckart
A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.
Whenever I see a piece of marketing for “The Star,” I get the impression that I’m seeing something for some straight-to-Netflix animated movie. For the most part, I actually find a lot of Sony Pictures Animation’s films to be charming and fun, this year’s “The Emoji Movie” not withstanding. That being said, nothing about this movie looks fresh or interesting. No reviews are out for this one, which is especially a bad sign for an animated film, so safe to say this won’t make much of a dent. I’ll just wait to see “Coco” next week.
“Wonder,” dir. Stephen Chbosky
Based on the New York Times bestseller, “Wonder” tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Jacob Tremblay blew everyone away a couple years ago with his terrific performance in “Room.” Now, he’s back again in another film that’s sure to pull on the heartstrings. Reviews so far have been mixed to positive with a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 62 on Metacritic. I’m not in a rush to see it myself, but it seems like it’s something that will make for an enjoyable time at the movies.
“Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” dir. 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 Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. Colin Farrell costars as the monied, cutthroat lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.
“Nightcrawler” was a big surprise back in 2014. Director Dan Gilroy delivered a tense, engaging, thought-provoking directorial debut that many considered to be one of that year’s best films. So I was extremely excited to hear that he was directing another film, this time with the great Denzel Washington. However when I covered this film back when I was at TIFF this year, I was thoroughly disappointed. “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” lacks the energy and intensity that “Nightcrawler” had but beyond that, the story is just not at all compelling. Even Washington’s performance felt uninspired. As it stands, the film sits at a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 64 on Metacritic so most critics are mixed on it. Personally, I say skip it entirely.
“Mudbound,” dir. Dee Rees
Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.
This is one that I unfortunately missed at both TIFF and NYFF, but I’ve been very excited to see it. With a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 81 on Metacritic, critics have been raving about this. I’ve purposefully stayed away from watching any of the promotional material and even though it hits Netflix this Friday, I’ll definitely be checking this out in a theater this weekend.
So that’s all the films we got coming out this weekend. Will you be seeing any of the other films outside of “Justice League?” Have you been a fan of all the films in the DCEU? Will you be near one of the few theaters playing “Mudbound” this weekend or will you watch that on Netflix? Let me know in the comment section below.
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Thanks for reading!