ENJOY THE SHOW
Before The LEGO Batman Movie, Chris McKay (of Moral Orel, Robot Chicken) was best known as the animation co-director and editor of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 2014 film, The LEGO Movie. His work on the critically acclaimed film earned him the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film, Animation, as well as an Annie Award nomination for Best Edited Animation Feature Film. Now, McKay will forever be known as the guy who saved Gotham City’s Caped Crusader from a dark and gritty existence with The LEGO Batman Movie, perhaps the best film based on a DC Comics property since 2008’s The Dark Knight, and maybe the best pure Batman movie since Nolan's Batman Begins (2005).
Directed by Gareth Edwards (of Monsters and Godzilla), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first in a new series of Star Wars standalone films. Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, this is inspired by the opening crawl in George Lucas' original 1977 film:
"It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…"
Back in 1997, author J.K. Rowling unveiled a fantasy novel, titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, introducing readers around the world to Harry Potter, an orphan who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard. Potter is whisked away from his mundane reality to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he practices magic under the guidance of Albus Dumbledore and makes lifelong friends in Rubeus Hagrid, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. During his time at the school, Potter learns of his magical heritage, and of Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who's responsible for the death of his parents.
Conjured up out of America's obsession with spiritualism in the 19th century, "Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board" was created in 1891 by entrepreneur Charles Kennard and attorney Elijah Bond, and made by the Kennard Novelty Company. After Kennard and Bond left the company in the early 1900s, William Fuld, one of the company's first employees, took over and continued making the popular spirit board. By 1920, the game had become such a fixture of American culture that Norman Rockwell featured a couple playing with a Ouija board on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. After Fuld's death, the assets were sold to Parker Brothers, who manufactured the game until 1991, when the company was acquired by Hasbro.
Don't Breathe, the second feature film from Uruguayan writer-director Fede Alvarez (of 2013's Evil Dead reboot) produced by legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi, is the depraved offspring of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring and Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs. It's about a group of teens who try to rob a blind man's house, only to discover he's not as passive as they expected. Jane Levy, who already earned her Final Girl Merit Badge as Mia in Alvarez's Evil Dead, stars as Rocky, a young woman determined to escape her abusive mother and save her younger sister (Emma Bercovici) from a dead-end existence in Detroit.
In 1977, Walt Disney Studios released Pete's Dragon, a live-action/animated musical about a boy and his dragon. The film, which was nominated for two Academy Awards, stars Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, and Charlie Callas as the voice of the animated dragon. 40 years later, Disney is introducing a whole new generation to Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field's classic story. The remake, co-written and directed by filmmaker David Lowery (of Ain't Them Bodies Saints previously), retains the sweetness of Don Chaffey and Don Bluth's original film while reimagining the story for a modern audience.
Written and directed by David Ayer (of Fury, End of Watch, Street Kings, and Harsh Times previously), Suicide Squad sounds like it should be a very fun movie. A secret government agency recruits incarcerated super-villains (from DC Comics lore) to carry out high-risk black ops missions in exchange for reduced sentences? It's The Dirty Dozen with Harley Quinn and the Joker and a few other bad guys, what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, everything. While the premise is intriguing, the movie is unfortunately an incoherent, aggressively dull mess that squanders an impressive ensemble cast of characters.
Throughout my teens and early twenties, I was visited by the Night Hag. I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, and there would be something in the room with me: a woman in a blue dress. With wiry black hair and pallid flesh, the woman crawled around in circles at the foot of my bed, scratching at the floor with long, claw-like fingernails. Upon making eye contact with her, I would feel an immense pressure on my chest, unable to move my extremities as she spider-walked closer to my bedside. I would clench my jaw and squeeze my eyes shut as she climbed onto the bed. I could feel her gnarled hands pushing down on the mattress to pull herself up — her fetid breath on my neck. And then suddenly, nothing. She was gone.
The original Ghostbusters from 1984 captured the imagination of a generation in a way few films do. As a kid, I was obsessed with the spooky-but-silly world director Ivan Reitman and writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created. I watched The Real Ghostbusters cartoon religiously, had Ghostbusters-themed birthdays, and experienced a memorable Christmas in which Santa left Slimer, The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the Fire House Headquarters, and Ecto-1 under the tree. I idolized Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler and spent entire days busting ghosts with my proton pack, ghost trap, Ecto-Goggles, and PKE meter. For "Ghostheads" — diehard fans of the franchise — Ghostbusters was their childhood. But even though I have many fond memories of my time with the boys in gray, I would never consider myself among them.
Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as wrestler "The Rock") has solidified himself as a global box-office powerhouse, with numerous box office hits over these last few years. In 2001, he starred in The Mummy Returns, which grossed more than $400 million worldwide. Universal Pictures immediately planned a spin-off based on his character, The Scorpion King, which broke a few box office records in 2002. Since then, Johnson has starred in dozens of movies, including the enormously successful Fast and the Furious franchise, San Andreas, Pain & Gain, and Hercules. With this year's buddy comedy Central Intelligence, however, Johnson has found the perfect vehicle to flex his comedic muscles, as well as his ass-kicking ones.
Since the 1960s, Ed and Lorraine Warren have been the world's most renowned paranormal investigators. In 1971, the Warrens battled a malevolent entity that permeated a remote farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island — a case brought to the big screen in James Wan‘s 2013 horror film, The Conjuring. Wan's follow-up, The Conjuring 2, picks up five years later, in 1976. In the film's prologue, the Warrens are called in to investigate another supernatural disturbance, this time in the small Long Island town of Amityville. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) hold a séance to summon the evil entity lurking within the walls of 112 Ocean Avenue. During the encounter, Lorraine is overwhelmed by a demonic presence