Courtesy of RLJE Films

Join the Legion: Interview with Legion M CEO on Upcoming Film Mandy

The Sun: What is Legion M’s involvement in the upcoming film Mandy starring Nicolas Cage? Paul Scanlan, co-founder and CEO of Legion M: We’re one of the investors, partnering with SpectreVision, Elijah Wood’s production company, and RLJ, who is distributing the film in the United States. Sun: What can we expect from Mandy? PS: Have you seen the trailer? Sun: Yes.

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Is a Guilty Pleasure Without the Guilt

From the moment this Netflix Original begins, with Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) imagining herself wandering through an idyllic field with the boy of her dreams, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before screams “self-indulgent romance fantasy.” It’s the quintessential teen rom-com: there’s the shy main character, two pouty Hot Boys (Noah Centineo and Israel Broussard) and the crucial misunderstanding that forces her to pick between them. Every character is addressed by their full name and speaks in Tumblr-ready quotes (“Josh Sanderson, I liked you first. By all rights, you were mine.”) Add a fake dating plot, a hair-flipping jealous mean girl and a supportive rebel best friend, and you’ve got a full-blown cliché. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is tropey and cheesy and gooey, but in a good way. It revels in its purest rom-com moments because it knows exactly what it is.

Courtesy of Focus Features

BlacKkKlansman is a Trump-Era Triumph

BlacKkKlansman is oozing with 70s vibes, from the afros to the costumes to Terence Blanchard’s rich, R&B-based score. And yet director Spike Lee is hyper-aware of the history that preceded the film’s central story as well as the time period in which it is being told. The first character to appear on screen is a right-wing propagandist bumbling through his lines, played by none other than Alec Baldwin, who impersonated President Trump himself on Saturday Night Live. Like the film as a whole, the casting choice is more than a little bit on the nose, but it is also suitable for a 2018 political climate that doesn’t exactly call for subtlety. In that same vein, an opening title card tells us that “Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit” — the story is so nuts that we probably wouldn’t believe it were true otherwise.

CRAnm

Crazy Rich Asians Reintroduces a Revolutionary Leading Lady

It’s been a long way back for Michelle Yeoh. The Malaysian Chinese action star who gained renown for her stunt work on a string of popular Hong Kong action films in the 1980s entered a new pantheon when she played the main love interest in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 1997. It was a movie where people glided through the landscapes of China and spun proverbs. It was as if David Lean directed The Matrix, but instead of a frumpy, aged man and heavy CGI, it was the work of an unknown director named Ang Lee and the female leads that carried the film. But it was Michelle Yeoh’s performance, filled with manic restlessness and fierce action work, that redefined what an Asian actress could accomplish on the silver screen.

Courtesy of A24

The Best, Worst and Most Surprising Movies of the Summer

1) What was the best movie you saw this summer? Lev Akabas: My second viewing of Avengers: Infinity War. Seriously, that movie is still the topic of a good chunk of my film-related conversations nearly three months after its release, and there’s rarely a dull moment in it, even on the rewatch. If I had to pick a favorite from the summer, though, it would be Bo Burnham’s wholesome Eighth Grade, which manages to depict how Generation Z adolescents hide behind their social media personalities without portraying its subjects judgmentally. Ashley Davila: While marketing for many action movies uses the term “epic” to describe every stunt and globe trotting adventure, few movies are deserving of the descriptor.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible — Fallout Wrapup

I’ve often made what I now consider the mistake of lumping the Mission: Impossible movies in with franchises like Fast & Furious and Transformers — what I might call “guilty pleasures,” though the last couple Transformers haven’t even been pleasures — but that’s not a fair evaluation. I don’t feel guilty at all about loving Mission: Impossible — Fallout. It’s more John Wick than Skyscraper, which is to say it combines its breathtaking action sequences with, let’s say, consistently acceptable and somewhat believable storylines. Yes, MI6 has some issues, but an outstanding cast, iconic score and solid directing from Christopher McQuarrie turn what would have been a just a good stunt movie into a truly gripping action thriller. Fallout is absolutely worth seeing, if only to try and catch a glimpse of Tom Cruise’s humanity in that shot where he broke his ankle.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp Aims Small but Hits Big

In superhero movies, saving the world has become the equivalent of drinking cough syrup: excruciating, repetitive, ultimately necessary and, dare I say, boring? On one hand, there is no better way to raise stakes or unify disparate groups of people; when the fate of the world is at risk, even major ideological differences can be pushed aside for the sake of ensuring survival. But if this trope is repeated too many times, that sense of urgency can quickly give way to leisure. When the stakes are repeatedly raised, the risks feel disingenuine and deceitful, because the on-screen peace and/or carnage we know will ultimately be reversed in the future. Peyton Reed was surely aware this fatigue as he directed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third film of 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

To appropriate Ian Malcolm’s (Jeff Goldblum) famous line from 1993’s Jurassic Park, Universal Studios’ executives were so preoccupied with whether or not they could make a sequel series to Steven Spielberg’s hit dino film that they never stopped to think about whether they should have. Yet in Hollywood, when there are more explanations for why a film bombs at the box office than why it exists in the first place, even a sacred fossil like the Jurassic Park franchise is not allowed a graceful passing. In 2015, the nostalgic yet predictable Jurassic World was released, and roaring into screens three years later is Fallen Kingdom. Thanks to director J.A. Bayona’s chilling oversight (if there was ever to be a horror movie with dinos to be made, this would be the one) and a fresh setting to ground the monstrous conflict (the saga has finally moved on from malfunctioning theme parks and their clueless supervisors), this sequel is a marked improvement over its predecessor. However, like its featured hybrid dinosaur the Indoraptor, Fallen Kingdom’s 128 minute runtime is unevenly split amongst the goals it sets out to achieve, and its attempts at complexity and multi-layering come off as convoluted.

Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios

It’s Incredible Too

The Incredibles came out on November 5, 2004 — I was six. Since that date I have started and finished elementary, middle and high school and gone away to college. Last Thursday, though, I, in a theater full of adults, was six again with just one big, red letter “i.” I was Ego finally tasting Ratatouille’s titular dish. Every layer of maturity I thought would float me above the draw of a 14-year-old animated movie’s sequel was shattered the instant that iconic “da da DA da daaaah” filled the theater. I was nostalgically excited when Star Wars came back, but that excitement’s become the cause of fatigue.

Courtesy of LucasFilm

Solo: An Unnecessary Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story’s production was so troubled, it is a miracle that the film even got made. Announced in 2015 to lukewarm reception from fans who believed that any attempt at explaining the smuggler’s backstory would do injustice to the character’s enigma, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were announced as directors but were fired after filming nearly two-thirds of the movie, citing “creative differences” with Lucasfilm. Ron Howard was quickly brought on and, in under eleven months, re-shot almost 70 percent of the film and miraculously finished it in time for its May release date. Yet perhaps this unconventional path to the big screen is fitting for a character like Han Solo; a rebel before Jyn Erso could utter the word in Rogue One, he was never known to follow the rules and had a knack for getting himself into tight situations before escaping or finding success in the end. Sadly, despite Solo’s underdog status, it is never quite able to beat the odds stacked against it.