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Midnight Special (2016)
A decent sci-fi flick from Jeff Nichols
Midnight Special is a movie I've been looking forward to for a while now, and just saw today (4/3/2016). It's the fourth film directed by Jeff Nichols, and if you haven't seen his first three movies, I'd recommend all of them as I enjoy them quite a bit. Michael Shannon, one of my favorite working actors, stars in the movie- alongside a solid supporting cast.
While I found the movie to be above average, it wasn't as gripping or impressive to me as Nichols' other films. It's well-acted all around, and I enjoyed the pacing of the story. We are given a lot of time to get to know the characters, which I appreciate. It makes the exciting moments much more exciting, because we're given likable characters to care about (quite a contrast from my last trip to the movies- a certain superhero film that was PAINfully dull. I digress). A lot of questions are raised about one of the film's main characters. From the start, the plot has an element of mystery that benefits the movie, but for me fell a little flat when the questions raised are more or less answered.
That brings me to my main criticism. I expected a more compelling resolution to the plot. In the end, Midnight Special felt like it borrowed from certain other sci-fi films (namely Starman, which I couldn't help but think about during a lot of the movie). Not to say that's entirely a bad thing, I just would have preferred if the movie stood out more as a unique work of sci-fi. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say more. All in all I'd recommend Midnight Special. I don't dole out 9s or 10s very often, so a 6/10 from me is a decent rating. If anything, I'd say the movie was a strong 6. I'm happy I saw it, and I eagerly await Jeff Nichols' next movie- Loving.
Overlooked Gem of a Film. I Love it.
To anyone who hasn't seen Triage, give it a watch. Never a dull moment, and it has some unforgettable stuff in it. One of my favorites of the last ten years. No joke.
My review of the film: WARNING SPOILERS
I often point this film out as one that I think is extremely underrated. It came and went in 2009 I guess, never getting much attention. I don't think it had a U.S. theatrical run, which probably adds to the reason why I never heard anyone talk about it (and still don't). I saw this movie for the first time in 2011 (I think) and have re-watched it numerous times since then. That's saying something, because there are really great films that I haven't seen more than once or twice. Triage, to me, is that good. Directed by Danis Tanovic, who brought us the also great No Man's Land in 2001, Triage is another intense drama which also focuses a lot on war. Instead of the story being about soldiers like in No Man's Land, in Triage the story focuses on war-time photographer friends Mark and David, played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Sives. I don't want to give a synopsis, so I will quickly point out many of the highlights of this movie for me. I think Danis Tanovic is great, and I very much enjoy the direction of this movie. There are many memorable shots, compelling scenes, and also some very harrowing scenes. The movie has an engaging story; on my first watch I became very invested, with both the characters and where the plot was going. The performances, man are they great. This is my favorite Colin Farrell movie/role, and I'm a big fan of his. He does a great job handling the part of a war-scarred trauma victim. Other standouts for me are Jamie Sives and Kelly Reilly, whose characters are husband and wife. This film introduced me to these two actors, and I have since come to enjoy their work. Branko Djuric, star of No Man's Land also does well in a supporting role. And of course, Christopher Lee is in this movie! On a side note, I've watched a lot of bad movies for the sole purpose of seeing Christopher Lee in them. With that being said, it's my favorite thing in the world to see Christopher Lee land a quality role. I love him in every scene he's in. That leads me to the script. I have no complaints with any of the dialogue. There's no schmaltz or hokey lines; some of the dialogue is funny, some endearing, some intense, and so on. Even minor characters like the owner of the photo shop or Mark's initial psychologist are given interesting things to say. Also, I find the relationships between the characters believable when I watch this movie; I feel when there's tension, or affection, or grief. I think the actors all have chemistry and their lines serve them and their characters well. I like how different characters present different points of view, and they're all understandable. The dichotomy in some of their conversations offer really thought-provoking scenes. I especially like the conversations Lee has with Farrell in the second half of the movie, which reveals a lot about Farrell's character and is where a good deal of the plot unfolds. When Mark (Farrell) describes his "war stories," and we see them play out, I gotta say, there are some heavy emotions at work in those scenes. Like the scene where the woman asks Mark to find the members of her family from the pile of skulls!? And of course the climax, or "big reveal" where we find out what happened to David. After so much great story and character development, seeing Mark witness the gruesome fate of his best friend was very disturbing and heart-wrenching for me. Both Farrell and Sives knock it out of the park in this scene. And by the way, the score that accompanies these emotional parts of the film works very well, whoever composed it did a commendable job. What's not to love? I have no gripes with this film, I give it an A+ all around. It's nowhere near the IMDb Top 250, but it's definitely in my personal Top 250.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
If You're Curious, Definitely Give it a Watch
I just saw this film for the first time. I had always been a little curious to see it due to its great cast, but I was also aware of its infamy as a disastrous production. I've always gotten the impression that this is a universally hated film. Wanting to see it for myself and form my own opinion, I finally decided to give the movie a chance, admittedly having fairly low expectations. I guess I should mention that I know next to nothing about the H.G. Wells novel, and this film is the only adaptation of the story that I have seen. Anyway, I found it to be a pleasant little surprise! Before explaining why I enjoyed this movie, let me tell all you potential viewers something: don't expect a Jurassic Park level film. I mentioned before that there are some really great actors in this movie. It's none of their finest work by a long shot. But who would expect these things going into this film, especially given its reputation? This is a movie where you just turn your brain off and appreciate what it has to offer. For one, it's well-acted. Brando is so ridiculous in this movie that it's great. Kilmer gives a vibrant performance, Thewlis is good, as are Ron Perlman and Temuera Morrison in their creature roles. And the creature effects are fantastic! Probably my favorite aspect of the movie. Bravo to Stan Winston, he was a master of his craft. I had no idea before seeing his name in the opening credits that he was a part of this film. Honestly, I expected some Spawn-level CGI in this movie, given the time it came out. There is one small scene with some pretty terrible CG effects done for some smaller creatures, but all of the other creatures are done wonderfully with full make-up and prosthetics. Of course, this movie does deserve some criticism. It has its flaws for sure. For instance, the script is nothing special, and the movie gets heavy-handed at points. Its not award winning material, but it's still a very fun watch. Don't let the overwhelming criticism of this movie scare you away! Give it a chance! You might like it. I would definitely recommend for fans of practical effects work and schlocky sci-fi to see it.