Tag Archive: Emily Blunt


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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some movies are exactly as advertised.  Count Jungle Cruise in that category.  And yet–it’s bigger and bolder and braver than you might have guessed from its trailers.  Comparisons to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen are all completely warranted.  Jungle Cruise is a big, sweeping adventure–and visual amusement park ride–that draws out the best of stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.  First previewed in autumn 2019, it’s another pandemic delay that has the scope and spectacle that would have made it the perfect box office hit in a normal year.  But at least now audiences can see what they’ve been missing as Jungle Cruise arrived this past weekend on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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We’re finally connecting back with big movies first previewed in autumn 2019.  That includes Jungle Cruise (first previewed here), which looks like a take on Hepburn and Bogart’s African Queen, and a great set-up for a Disney franchise follow-up to its long-running Pirates of the Caribbean.  Eighteen months later and the second trailer is here.  The theme park ride turned big-screen adventure could hardly look more fun (except for some iffy CGI effects sequences).  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Mary Poppins Returns) seems to have walked right into a role written for Johnny Depp, as she teeters through a clever Rube Goldberg-inspired scene as Lily Houghton, a scientist embarking on a journey with her brother in the Amazon, via riverboat, where they meet an unusual ship captain.  It also feels a bit like the big adventure hit The Mummy, with Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser.  With Hollywood’s #1 box office draw Dwayne Johnson still entertaining us with his Jumanji jungle series and international tours in the Fast & Furious movies, there’s hardly a better person to cast with Blunt in this kind of new team-up. Check out the new trailer (and updated poster) below for Jungle Cruise.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s always a big surprise when the holiday episode of Doctor Who is a critical not-to-be-missed episode.  When we last saw the Doctor, she was trapped millions of light years away in an alien prison.  The New Year’s Day 2021 special Revolution of the Daleks is not a filler, out-of-continuity holiday showpiece, instead continuing after ten months have lapsed for the Doctor’s companions back on Earth, and after the Doctor has been imprisoned for years in that same relative time span.  If you missed this episode you missed: the return of John Barrowman’s universal fan-favorite character Captain Jack Harkness, another Law & Order/Law & Order UK crossover/reunion, the last we’ll see of some major characters, a new Prime Minister, a preview of a new companion, and one of the best Dalek episodes in the 57 years of the series.  As the studio releases word that Jodie Whittaker will be soon leaving the series, Revolution of the Daleks reflects that both her performance as the 13th Doctor and Chris Chibnall’s running of the series has finally arrived.  It’s a timeless story full of important, lovely emotional beats, fantastic new sci-fi special and visual effects, and a return to the classic framework and themes of the show’s past.

Let’s take a look at why this episode was superb and offer up some candidates for the 14th Doctor…

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Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

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Merry Christmas!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2020.  Are you going to see them all?  Heck no.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year–and they are only the films we know about so far.  We pulled 85 of the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production, slated for next year’s movie calendar.

What looks to top the list for most fanboys and fangirls?  Ghostbusters: Afterlife Scarlett Johannson solo in Black WidowA new James Bond movie, No Time to DieVin Diesel in Bloodshot and a new Fast & FuriousThe original Tom Clancy novel series is finally continuing with an adaptation of Without Remorse Comic book adaptations are in less supply in 2020, but look for Venom 2, Wonder Woman 1984, Eternals, The New Mutants, Morbius, Birds of Prey, The Old Guard, and did we mention Black WidowCompare the below list to our 2019 list and even the 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list, and your takeaway may be seeing the studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services.

Do you like sequels?  There are far less coming to theaters in 2020 than in 2019, but many more remakes of movies, books, and TV shows are on the way.  In fact, with all the blockbusters in 2019, 2020 looks pretty tame as the cinema marquee is concerned.  Some films don’t have locked in release dates yet: Amazon Studios and Netflix haven’t revealed dates for the following 2020 releases (those we know you’ll find on the calendar below):

  • 7500, a film about a highjacked airplane, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Amazon Studios)
  • The Dig, a film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan (Netflix)
  • Horse Girl, Alison Brie stars and directs this story about an awkward girl who fuses her dreams with reality (Netflix)
  • Jingle Jangle, an animated Christmas story with the voices of Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hugh Bonneville (Netflix)
  • Louis Wain, biopic of the 19th century artist starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, and Andrea Riseborough (Amazon Studios)
  • The Old Guard, adaptation of comic book story, starring Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Netflix)
  • Radioactive, a film about Marie Curie, starring Rosamund Pike and Anya Taylor-Joy (Amazon)
  • Rebecca, adaptation and remake of the Daphne Du Maurier classic novel, starring Lily James, Keely Hawes, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Armie Hammer (Netflix)
  • Welcome to Sudden Death, sequel to Jean-Claude van Damme 1995 movie starring Michael Jai White (Netflix)
  • The Willoughbys, animated adaptation of the Lois Lowry book, with voices of Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, and Jane Krakowski (Netflix)
  • Wonderland, murder conspiracy mystery starring Mark Wahlberg, Allan Arkin, and Colleen Camp (Netflix)

Some of these films will have revised release dates, or get pushed to 2021.

So grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2020 (and some you might not!):

January

The Informer – Thriller, starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Ana de Armas, Common, and Clive Owen – January 10.

Underwater – Thriller, stars Kristin Stewart in underwater horror story – January 10.

Dolittle – Family/Comedy, stars Robert Downey, Jr. in remake of the classic, with voices of Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Antonio Banderas, Ralph Fiennes, and Michael Sheen – January 17.

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It looks just like a remake and update of African Queen, and a great set-up for the next big Disney franchise follow-up to Pirates of the Caribbean.  The first trailer is out for Jungle Cruise, and the theme park ride turned big-screen adventure could hardly look more fun.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Mary Poppins Returns) seems to have walked right into a role written for Johnny Depp, as she teeters through a clever Rube Goldberg-inspired scene as we’re introduced to Lily Houghton, a scientist embarking on a journey with her brother in the Amazon, via riverboat, where they meet an unusual ship captain.

With Hollywood’s #1 box office draw Dwayne Johnson still entertaining us with his Jumanji jungle series and international tours in the Fast & Furious movies, there’s hardly a better person to cast with Blunt in this kind of new team-up, and possibly a new franchise.  Here he looks a lot more like Popeye than Humphrey Bogart.  Johnson has referred to Blunt’s character as “a female Indiana Jones.”  For most of the world–who haven’t ever been to a Disney theme park–it may help to know the movie Jungle Cruise is based on a theme park ride like Pirates of the Caribbean.  As much as the latter began as what seemed like a Disney attempt to make some more money off its theme park intellectual property in a new venue, the Pirates films ultimately were a big hit with audiences and a treasure trove for Disney.  Will Jungle Cruise find Disney’s next pot of gold?

The great Paul Giamatti (Lodge 49, American Splendor, Paycheck) co-stars with Black Mirror’s Jesse Plemons, with a rousing score by composer James Newton Howard (Dave, Waterworld, The Postman, The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, Snow White and the Huntsman).  Check out this trailer for what could be a fun amusement park ride of a movie, Jungle Cruise:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year’s winner for most surprising film to be discussing at the water cooler was A Quiet Place, a uniquely quiet but suspenseful horror thriller that held back the true nature of the threat in its previews similar to Midnight Special, Signs, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.  And as with those films we’re definitely looking at an otherworldly threat for the film’s protagonists.  Critics and audiences seemed to go for this mix of sci-fi and horror, possibly out of an affinity for director and co-star John Krasinski (The Office, Jack Ryan) and his on and off-camera wife, co-star Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, The Adjustment Bureau, Edge of Tomorrow).  It’s now streaming on most major platforms, including Amazon Prime, Vudu, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play, and Fandango, as well as Blu-ray, 4K, and DVD.

Few movies were hyped in 2018 as much as A Quiet Place, although come awards season it only received a nomination for best sound editing and Emily Blunt took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for supporting actress, despite her clearly starring role in the film.  If there is a reason to watch the movie it’s for Blunt, who steals the show in any film she appears in.  In A Quiet Place, for better or worse, she lets go from an acting standpoint and offers up a beginning-to-end melodramatic and possibly over-the-top emotional performance, similar to her portrayal as an amnesiac in The Girl on the Train.  Some subtlety would have been a good thing, because in contrast to her ever-stoic husband she comes off as hysterical.  We’ll chalk this up to a quirky misstep by an inexperienced director (it’s also an instance of his character doing all the smart and brave things, and Blunt’s all the dumb things, which gets old quickly).

But this one has been done before, especially as seen in the above-referenced films, and multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone.  The plot is thin.  A family of five are among the only people living (on Earth? in the region? we don’t know).  A blind insectoid alien menace (think Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow only here she’s not the badass Angel of Verdun) will slaughter anything and anyone it hears with its sonic-locator brain.  So everyone is quiet all the time.  Only they aren’t–we hear them make all sorts of body and movement noises for the first half of the film, only to learn later from the father that they don’t listen for soft noises.  The daughter of the family (played by Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, and so she doesn’t know when noises are happening around her, leading to the key dire circumstances throughout the film.  The audience can’t help but put themselves in the positions of the characters.  What would you do?  Unfortunately the film is full of many tropes like you’d find in teen slasher flicks:  so many times characters make decisions that are similar to a teen walking outside their cabin in a thunderstorm at night in their underwear after hearing a mass murderer is on the loose.  Any viewer would think the circumstances are more dire than the characters in A Quiet Place.

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Later this year classic characters from three well-known children’s stories will return in theatrical adaptations.   A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends will return in Christopher Robin.  Deja vu?  Don’t confuse this with last year’s film Goodbye, Christopher Robin, which starred Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, and Kelly Macdonald This new film actually features Winnie the Pooh and friends, along with a great cast of genre favorites: Ewan McGregor (Star Wars series, Brassed Off), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and Hayley Atwell (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and voicing the classic characters, Jim Cummings (Pooh), Peter Capaldi (Rabbit), Toby Jones (Owl), and Brad Garrett (Eeyore).  The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).

The Grinch is back in a third major film incarnation from Dr. Seuss’s original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This time Benedict Cumberbatch replaces the voice of the big Christmas baddie made famous by Boris Karloff in 1966 and reprised by Jim Carrey in 2000.  This version is titled Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.  This animated version incorporates current digital technology to provide a very modern looking update.  The trailer looks great.

And also for Christmas Mary Poppins is back in a sequel to the original 1964 classic that starred Julie Andrews as Mary and Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep and bank president Mr. Dawes.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) takes on the lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, co-starring Meryl Streep (The Post), Colin Firth (The Kings’ Speech), Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote), Emily Mortimer (Hugo, The Kid), David Warner (Tron, Time After Time), Ben Whishaw (James Bond franchise), Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), and Dick Van Dyke, this time as Dawes, Jr.

Check out these previews for Christopher Robin, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, and Mary Poppins Returns:

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If you were looking for M. Night Shyamalan’s next movie, it’s Glass, the third movie in his Unbreakable trilogy, expected no earlier than 2019.  But while you’re waiting for the next Shyamalan flick, we’re thinking the trailer for the supernatural thriller A Quiet Place–the preview being shown in front of current releases in theaters this week–is about as good as anyone could do to imitate The Sixth Sense director’s style and unusual brand of creepy storytelling.

The actor most people only know as the young office worker on the American version of The Office and the next actor to play Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in this summer’s Amazon Prime series, John Krasinski is both directing, co-writing, and starring in the film.  He’s playing a father opposite real-life wife Emily Blunt, genre star of Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Sicario, and the actor everyone is waiting to see as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns this Christmas.  In A Quiet Place the family is secluded and never makes a sound.  They communicate in sign language because they believe a supernatural force is after them that is triggered by any noise.  But what’s really going on?  It looks like it can end up one of three ways: like Shyamalan’s Signs, The Happening, or The Village.  Which will it be?  Or do we have it all wrong?

Now being previewed in theaters, check out this nicely done trailer for A Quiet Place:

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Is it just me or do these look like the same movie?  On the one hand you have the dark and serious second chapter in the Sicario series, Sicario 2: Soldado, following a badass mercenary in the world of international drug smuggling played by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy’s own Benicio Del Toro.  On the other you have the dark comedy Gringo, starring David Oyelowo as a businessman who gets caught up in a bad drug deal with a cartel in Mexico.

Sicario had some great things going for it, including Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Del Toro.  But Blunt was the lead, and the typically fantastic actress seemed stuck in a role where she was the only one making mistakes and the big bad guys were the only ones knowing what was going on.  Del Toro’s character was by far the best thing the film had going for it, the kind of character that got Kevin Spacey his Academy Award and in another year could have done the same for Del Toro.  But the 2015 film was most memorable for its long, slow, atmospheric scenes where nothing happened, making it feel like the film would never end.  But with Del Toro’s character driving the sequel and a new director (swapping Stefano Sollima for Denis Villeneuve), is there hope Sicario 2 could rise above the original?

Gringo has a different kind of cast of stars.  In addition to Oyelowo it stars Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, and Alan Ruck.  This one will be an Amazon Studios release–the studio is still looking for its breakout equivalent of a box office hit.  As with Sicario 2, again we have the theme of drug smuggling and drug deals gone bad.  both of these arrive on the heels of this year’s mildly successful and critically acclaimed drama comedy American Made with Tom Cruise, which took the whole drug smuggling concept in its own direction, poking fun at a real-life drug smuggler from the 1980s as his world crashed in on him.

So which one is for you?  Check out these trailers for Sicario 2 and Gringo:

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