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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation basically just follows the success
of the franchise's best installments, by creating a number of
excitingly put set pieces that would fit right in to a rather
forgettable plot. But the heart has always been the action and its fun
characters involved. Therefore, it's a gripping piece of action
blockbuster. It hardly transcend anything aside of the stunts of its
main star, but no disappointment would come to this experience either.
If you're a fan of these movies or action movies in general then this
is a perfect piece of action movie entertainment.
It can be assumed that this might be exactly the same as Ghost Protocol. But the huge differences I could count on is this installment may not be so straightforward, however at least has a more intriguing villain. But the plot is what most moviegoers tend to overlook nowadays and in some aspects it can be a good thing, for this case at least. Again, it's all about its inventive action; driven with suspense and daring stunts. And the real villains that will be genuinely acknowledged are physics and getting the heroes' covers blown. That mindset would definitely bring a better experience, because the story eventually leads to a twist that hardly makes sense, but won't even matter anyway, as long as you just follow the journey.
And every action sequence is just downright thrilling and undeniably memorable. It starts with Ethan Hunt hanging on a plane and of course, Tom Cruise did his stunts there. And that is a far more breathtaking to watch than any CGI effect in this movie (especially that fakest looking car crash scene, but it's nothing more than quibble, actually). And thankfully, most of the movie is practical; generally showcasing Cruise's physical skills even in this age. Aside of that immediately spectacular opening; there are still some worth mentioning set pieces like when Ethan is trying to fight off an enemy while dangerously trying to balance on a number stage lights. And a long motorcycle chase, though is ridiculous in context, but quite thrillingly shot enough to make it worth having. Another one takes place underwater is reminiscent to 2013's Gravity. I'm basically not spoiling anything; in fact, even mentioning them isn't quite enough. It needs to be seen.
The acting obviously brings the charm into these globetrotting missions. Tom Cruise gives fortitude at any move this character is given, making the action even more effective. Simon Pegg has often been appeared as the comic relief, but he also establishes an engaging character in his role. Which makes Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames the total comic in their roles. Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson gives edge to her role's coldness.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is no groundbreaker, but it still delivers the same pleasure. Proving that the possibilities of creating a variety of amazing set pieces is just immeasurable, and no one's gonna deny that it's all Tom Cruise's physical performance is what's making these scenes seem so dangerous, yet extremely fun. The story is still not quite remarkable, but it's the achievement from the filmmakers and the actors is what glosses the flaws and made the experience as a whole a tremendous example of a true action blockbuster.
Mr. Holmes presents a world where the famous detective Sherlock Holmes
do exist and Arthur Conan Doyle's work is actually a fabrication by
Holmes's partner, Dr. Watson. Now that he is 93, he tries to uncover
his last case while suffering a memory loss. At this circumstance, this
movie may sound pretty unexciting. I mean the detective is now an
elderly person and he is losing his edge every once in a while, but it
does reveal an interesting insight within the icon. For a rather cold
fictional figure, the movie explores a warmer humanity in the
character, since he is now old and tries to look over his life. And the
movie gets any better with its lead actor. Mr. Holmes is quite
charming, by its rather calm yet thoughtful experience.
The story is basically layered with a number of events; beginning with the time where a retired Sherlock Holmes is staying on a village; then we get flashbacks of his trip to Japan finding a medicine that could help his memory and his last case that seems to have an unpleasant conclusion. We see that this is a point where Holmes does see the limitations that he didn't foresee while the other segments show how influential his career was. It's often a character study about what kind of a fascinating man he is, but also taken over by his own abilities, which lead him to regret about his once cold nature, learning to understand how others people feel about him.
It still consists some mysteries, while they're not that subtle, they're basically essential for its main theme. Though some scenes felt like a stretch, otherwise needs more to work on, specifically the Japan sequences. It creates a reveal that doesn't seem so overwhelming and it also sets up one point in the ending, which doesn't felt like it did or understood something enough to earn that kind of conclusion, but anyway.
Again, this approach isn't really the kind of fun or thrilling one that we would expect from the famous detective, but all of it works mostly by the acting of Sir Ian McKellen. He deeply explores this character; while terrifically transform physically in different periods, he affectingly manifests the complexity within the man. A more fun side is when the character was a little younger, bringing delight at solving cases at the flashback scenes. This is a magnificent performance from an already great actor and it brings real impact through the entirety.
Mr. Holmes is easily recommended for the performance from Ian McKellen alone. The story does show some interesting aspects, like the truth and embellishments between his cases, and even for a rather small mystery film, it still manages to be entertaining. Though it still has some spotty moments that deserve a little more development, but the acting truly makes it up for everything, proving that McKellen is just limitless. It's not quite a surprise at all, but it's still a fascinating thing to check out, even if we mostly see him as a senile Sherlock Holmes. There is charm remained, nonetheless.
Southpaw is a pretty standard sports movie. Even more specific, it's a
pretty standard redemption story. It focuses on a successful boxer
living the seemingly perfect life but also taken over by pride until
life takes most of his glory away. It could work as a really powerful
drama about a man lifting himself up after a number of tragedies that
happen too instantly. While the movie does evidently captures the
brutality of Hope's harsh situation, the story follows an
unimpressively conventional path. Every transition of event feels
awkward, rushed or unnatural. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance helps
keeping the movie's strength, but it's just isn't enough to surpass the
The movie never apparently fails at portraying the ugliest side of what the main character is going through, we can see the pain and misfortune to how his career and life fall apart. But the trouble here has to do with the narrative. Much of the characters aren't given much development and they often exist as a plot device, if they aren't then they're defined by clichéd characterization and dialogue. Each moment of the struggle, mostly at the second act, isn't really as meaty as it should be. These scenes just pass through, like they're resolved instantly, hardly felt like it earned something or at least overwhelmingly for the story. The movie does eventually pay off at the climactic boxing match, but the build up for it never seems rewarding.
If anything else, the movie does understand the atmosphere, it's filled with bleakness, covered with dirt, blood and sweat; literally and metaphorically (if I know what I'm talking about.) If the storyline can't get past by its conventional rhythms then the movie at least sets the tone perfectly. It is more watchable when the character is in the ring, it is shot like it's an actual match, while the camera does try to be gimmicky with the POVs, but I digress, it's quite more interesting when we see more fighting in this film instead. The real merit that brought serious commitment to this film is definitely nothing more than Jake Gyllenhaal. You can see the performance carry the character's pain through the journey.
Southpaw's ultimate contrivance is what keeps itself from being engaging. Though Jake Gyllenhaal did try to make a character who doesn't have a lot of depth work, it's still not enough to make it all seem worth it. The story can be great, there is some interesting aspects that could deliver a stronger theme, but the movie is unable to make every step of the plot feel authentic and makes the characters as generic as possible; leading to an entertaining, yet unsatisfying climax. There is a lot of wasted potentials in the end.
Paper Towns centers a love story, which seems like a fairy tale or a
dream come true for its main character, that unexpectedly leads into a
road trip adventure, pursuing the destiny of the two. Of all the modern
YAs, this one really takes things easier and importantly positive; it
doesn't necessarily showcase the bitter side of being a young adult and
instead shows the joys of the youthful rebellion and blissful bonds of
friendship until they go separate ways to the next step of their lives.
The love story is basically a backdrop to its sudden shift of theme.
It's sometimes a little less fleshed out, but nevertheless, Paper Towns
is a terribly engaging film.
The larger moments with Margo Roth was really meant set up something seriously big along the way. While this is also an adventure/mystery story, that part ends up being sort of underwhelming. But the movie is best when you focus on its characters, specifically how they value their nature of being young. People may stumble here expecting a powerful love story, but the movie is really about creating milestones of the adolescent life; falling in love, doing foolishly daring acts. The characters aren't given any richer characterizations than what the exposition at the voice-over narration explained at the beginning, but it manages to make them all likable and easily get genuinely inserted by their situations. The movie just doesn't go beyond that definition, which might be the major problem. We don't get to explore much of Margo's motivation of running away. But the movie is surprisingly not about her anyway, but it could have been a stronger picture if we feel more of her angst.
For now it's all about the quest of finding her and through its aesthetics and the performances, it could gloss over some of the shortcomings of the storyline. The cinematography does capture the fantasy of their adventure which is quite appropriate and quite appealing. The performances are solid, with Nat Wolff being charming enough as Quentin, and there is an affecting sense of joy when he is hanging around with the character's friends. Cara Delevingne haven't shown much of the talent, due that her role isn't given a lot of screen time and mostly treated her as their legend, but what we've seen so far is fine, adequately justifying what the other characters are describing Margo.
Paper Towns knows what it wants to be, but also avoiding what it seems not fond of being. The movie just wants to value the worth cherishing moments of being an adolescent and that works a lot, leaving a genuine smile at your face in the end. But the movie, while still acknowledges the existence of it, doesn't go further on the pain or angst that their characters are supposed to be expressing. They throw away what they feel, just like that. But it's sort of refreshing that the movie could slightly shrug that off and show more of the importance of their once in a lifetime opportunity of embracing the positive side of their youth. It's beautiful, while still missing some parts that could have made this movie even more compelling or maybe complex, but at this form, it's still a really nice coming-of-age film, building an appealing world to it, anyway.
Ted 2 now focuses on the titular anthropomorphic teddy bear in, having
his own life of marriage and plans ahead of getting a non-biological
child. This leads to a strangely interesting conflict about gaining
civil rights to a teddy bear. And it's stranger that at some point the
movie does take it somewhat seriously, and eventually goes back to its
crass hijinks. It's nice, but nothing much compelling in the end,
because what obviously overshadows it is definitely the outrageous
laughs. But even the degree of laughs suffers the same problem; it's
full of energy at first then it awkwardly mutes its lighter tone for
its climax. Fans of the first may get the same pleasure that they seek,
but there is really nothing special to it, either.
The first half really has the strongest amount of funny moments and also brought some intrigue to the story's center. But the movie apparently cannot decide what exact approach it is generally taking. The outrageous comedy is still everywhere, but whenever it stops by focusing on its themes, it really takes it seriously, like it actually believes that it is saying something important. But the movie hardly earns anything to deserve that attention. It's just shifting from its outrageous nature to a sudden gravity back and forth. Even for a comedy that is actually just fooling around, it stills displays a mind of uncertainty. There is also some bits of attempting to replicate Broadway; with dance numbers and a song. Can't tell if that's one of the movie's way of tripping or the director just wants to show off that he can do a musical. Either way, it rather feels nothing more than a random filler. The movie is also a little too long, the movie hitting the same major problem of the first film by setting up a climax that it's supposed to drive tension. It never felt right for the film, even worse, it's more like a rehash, reintroducing the same villain except it takes place in a different location. It's rather awkward and tedious than effective.
The sentiment doesn't felt convincing enough for the movie's true colors, but then it's all about the humor. And if the humor works, then there is a worthy roar of laughter to get from this film. Predictably raunchy, pot fueled and consists pop culture references; that will certainly be enjoyed if you understand the language of a Seth MacFarlane comedy. It's fun if it really tries to be fun. The performances from its lead actors are still a joy to watch. MacFarlane still manages to put energy to the talking teddy bear and Mark Wahlberg is still committed to fool around as Ted's man child best friend.
Ted 2 doesn't bring the same surprise of the first one, but if you're in for more outrageous laughs from this profane talking teddy bear, then it won't be a problem, as long as you're not expecting too much. The film does try to bring on an important theme, but it's not as effective or as strong as it wanted to be; it does make some interesting arguments, just doesn't have any powerful or at least earned conclusion to it; but hell, who would exactly take that seriously, anyway? Well, no more than the movie itself. It should have been shorter, the storyline should have been tighter, and the third act should have tried harder than repeating its predecessor. Again, it can be really funny, it just suffers handling its ideas better.
Ant-Man has been through a very long development, it was started with
Edgar Wright committing to write and direct the film, but years went by
and Marvel finally has a studio of its own, manipulations do compromise
Wright's vision which lead him leaving the project. In spite of that
issue, the film spares much of his screenplay as it still has his
trademarks all over the place. While it's delightful to notice those
sequences being left intact, there is still a dejected feeling of what
it could have been if he actually handled it entirely. For now, most of
the style is basic Marvel. As a movie itself, it's quite refreshing to
see a superhero film that doesn't contain much heavy handed explosions
compared to the last few films they gave us. And it's a good reminder
that joy can still be found in this genre even at its smaller scale,
thanks to its engaging cast and downright appealing personality.
The movie doesn't involve stopping some mass destruction or a general build up for future installments (the reference still exists, but isn't exactly the priority.) People may brag about this as going back to the basic mold of origin stories where you see outcasts living in a city having unexpected fate of becoming a superhero. The difference however is the premise is a lot sillier that is taken with vast self-awareness through that concept. The entirety is basically a mix between family drama and smart comedy. The comedic side is where it thoroughly shines, the film finding energy through its visuals and each actor's charisma. The drama on the other hand is basically to establish the character's pathos through their backstories. It's not quite subtle, but fits enough to breathe after a set of sillier spectacles.
The major plot is basically just a heist, except the main character has the ability to alter his own scale while spectators and their enemies are constantly being flummoxed about what exactly is happening. It's simple, but there is so much going on and yet it is made easily exciting by its own personality and crazier imaginations, you can identify that most of the creativity came from Wright's idea. How the movie recreates his style from the script is fine and it's admirable to retain the same quirk and energy from the vision at some points. At the other scenes, it's typical Marvel flare, and as said, it looks cool, but it's more remarkable at the less conventional turns.
Paul Rudd brings real charisma and some depth to Scott Lang, keeping him from being a generic anti-hero. Michael Douglas establishes actual depth within Hank Pym in a lot of moments. Corey Stoll embraces his almost unbelievably inhumane role, which strangely makes it an effectively menacing villain. Evangeline Lilly appears to be more than a love interest and that is alright. Michael Peña steals all of his scenes, which a role that could have been just another comic-relief, he makes all of his character's greatest comedic moments remarkably delightful.
It's still quite inevitable to keep bringing up the supposed-to-be helmer of Ant-Man, because his fingerprints are really there, while it's actually nice to see it hinting every once in a while, it also feels somewhat exasperating for what daring opportunity it could have been. We'll never know the answer. Still, Ant-Man brings a sheer amount of fun. It's filled with comicbook enthusiasm and memorable laughs that appropriately sticks through its actually preposterous property. The cast helps bringing all of it to life, from levity to gravity. The action is executed with affecting weirdness. Ant-Man is best when it's weirder, because that is where it speaks its own flavor.
2012's Magic Mike wasn't exactly about the stripping. Sure, it features
a lot of it, but the real center of the movie was the lifestyle of its
main character, Mike. This latest installment showcases more of the
crew and how they put up the show. It's more choreography driven than
some commentary, which actually made it more appropriate to this
material. It still has the stunning style of the first one, though it
mostly feels quite forced, but if the movie tries to be itself, then
there it actually shines. Magic Mike XXL indeed brings much of what you
expect from it.
While the first movie basically shows the art of its aesthetics, this sequel rather shows the art of stripping. The story isn't quite remarkable; it's so simple that it's nothing more than an excuse to show more of these acts, which is both a good thing and otherwise. But really, that's what the target audience really came here for. Just like the first one, it's all atmosphere than following a plot. We just see these characters trying to get along, hint some commentary, and do some stripping. The difference however is the stripping is the real showcase, as in the direction and choreography improves within that aspect which makes these performances speak what this movie is truly about. People would immediately think that this would only appeal female viewers, but even as a straight man as I am, I would actually be impressed by the choreography displayed on those scenes.
The direction does try to keep Soderbergh's style going in this sequel, though only eschewing the intense sepia and welcoming other colors on the daylight. The new style is sometimes indefinite, specifically the vague lighting in some scenes, but then, the movie eventually breaks the pretense once the characters start dancing on screen, having more focus on their moves, and of course, bodies. Star, Channing Tatum, still has the charm as he always has. The other performers also get their characters expanded, staying natural whenever they bond and fight off on screen, treating them beyond than typical eye candy compared to the first one.
Many may call Magic Mike XXL a totally needless sequel or a cash grab for those who seek for more endless dose of shirtless men, but I believe this movie actually exists to make up for its own value. The story may not be as meaty as its predecessor's, but it shows everything what its audiences actually wanted for it. And it is done elegantly, proving that stripping apparently has more to offer than just lust for flesh. It sounds incredibly weird if you say it that way, but looking at these performances seems like this is an art that we didn't see coming. Again, there's nothing remarkable about the story, though if you're curious about the appeal of this career, then it gives a room for fascination.
2013's Despicable Me 2 has proved that people came back to this
franchise for the striking popularity of the film's comic relief
characters, the Minions. So the studio basically made a spin-off mainly
for them, which makes more sense than having these characters stealing
the predecessor's spotlight, thus leads to a result that can be good
and mostly bad. It seems that the filmmakers don't have much of a
decent idea for the original character for a while, so it's quite
appropriate for them to stumble into these Minions while it lasts.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't find a compelling storyline for these
antics to fit right through. While the gags are funny enough, it
suddenly gets exhausting after a while. In the end, there is just
nothing remarkable about it.
The Minions happen to be long-living prehistoric creatures that exist to serve any formidable master, in spite of their often incompetence. It's a decent little origin story, even though we would rather assume them as an accidental science experiment. But this makes for a setup of putting them in desperation for having a boss after a number of failures of keeping them alive. Now that the actual plot enters the picture, the movie now takes place where supervillains are the ones who deserve them, with three of the Minions stumbling from one misadventure to another. The laughs are solid, though some can feel a little forced while some can be unexpectedly tasteless, but a joke works if the film actually finds an inspired humor within itself. But the main story itself doesn't find any remarkable substance or any cleverness, at all. It's just randomness after randomness, and it's sometimes losing its steam until the film finally finds another occasional great joke again after ten minutes or so.
The comedic action on screen is undeniably enjoyable. The bright, playful visuals have always been helpful in these Despicable Me movies. The movie centrally takes place in a new environment and time, while adequately captures the era and location, though also making unimaginative stereotyping to the British culture, but anyway. Some dark humor sneaks in, as well, it gets a little too outrageous, but I believe it's for the sake of establishing its world of villainy. The story eventually not gaining much of a center at all. These series of silly situations lead to the fate that we would all expect. Nothing more and nothing less. The voice acting is only impressive when it comes to the Minions, we all knew that already from the past installments. The rest of the cast are committed to go over-the-top as their characters are actually written.
In spite of extending the focus of these characters who are more popular than Gru, it's still not quite a satisfying experience. Maybe the Minions aren't meant to have a movie at all. It would have been a kid's TV show being played in the morning or something. Or the story would have given itself more effort in sticking these comedic moments with coherency. It's possible. Earlier this year, Aardman proved that physical comedy still works in this era of more verbal animated films and can be consistent in narrative. But the film seems too aimless to realize that. It's only pandering the audience until they are interested with Gru again for the third Despicable Me, only if that sequel could offer more than this.
Someone should declare this as a curse, if a Terminator doesn't open
traditionally with the credits and its iconic theme song, it would
surely become a weak installment. Genisys now opens like a TV episode,
but that's apparently the least of the film's problems. For now, the
franchise seems pretty unsatisfied by the last two sequels that it
tries to completely alter the whole timeline, including the first two
movies, and recreate a new direction because it may somehow save this
series. Instead, it made its timeline even more complicated, while
adding more information that makes even less sense. The trouble doesn't
stop by seeing how generic the action scenes are, though there is still
joy to be found, which obviously is the presence of Arnold
Schwarzenegger as the new breed of the iconic Terminator character.
Terminator Genisys is an utter mess, when it's supposed to save this
franchise from being a total disaster, it just damages itself even
Genisys clearly strips away much of what the last two movies created and stays faithful (only to the aesthetics) of James Cameron's original vision, and that is the only Terminator thing you would get aside of Schwarzenegger. As it remakes the first act of the original, it also gave it a massive turn of events and that's where the actual plot kicks in. And some ideas may benefit through the storyline, but the major one is what really brought a serious issue in the entire story. The plot is once again trying to stop Skynet from happening, except we are now exploring something that seems to be a "social commentary" that can be intriguing, but ends up having a lousy depiction for its paranoid mentality that is too silly to take seriously. Most of the plot is just being chased by familiar faces, not quite the reinvention we are supposed to be overwhelmed with.
The only interesting addition is the relationship between Sarah Connor and the new T-800, sneaking in some real heart in a rather bland mission. When it focuses on this side of the story, its intentions are pretty effective. Unfortunately, there isn't much of that. The film still uses a lot of time traveling and reveal more secrets that doesn't really help expanding the plot. The villains are basically just chasing down the heroes, and when they finally confronted them, they just throw in some more exposition, hardly bringing any tension whatsoever. It also satirizes itself for having Kyle Reese throwing a smug punchline "What are you gonna do, talk us to death?", seemingly the film is actually aware how incompetent the villains are. The action doesn't really earn much suspense. They're basically just fast paced, shoddily rendered spectacle, which is nothing special in the end. Not even the fight between the young and old T-800 is impressive to look at, as it looks like a silly cutscene.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is indeed the only one that still holds up in this franchise. While he's basically a new version of the T-800 which is now called Pops, the spirit of it remains, but also improving more warmth behind his supposed robotic delivery. Schwarzenegger perfectly lives up with this character's own subplot for that. Emilia Clarke definitely didn't top Linda Hamilton, but the toughness is still there, so it's alright. Jai Courtney is not a very compelling Kyle Reese and made the role even less interesting. Better talents in the newcomers like Jason Clarke and J.K. Simmons are sort of wasted, with Clarke not given much to do as John Connor and rather go campy as his villainous side (blaming the script), while Simmons is kind of there probably because they need a younger Dr. Silberman.
Terminator Genisys at least leaves an actual mark in the franchise compared to Rise of the Machines and Salvation, but it's a totally messy mark that seems impossible to say that it's worth it. To be said, there is one solid subplot that is worth exploring at times and its veteran star really still got it. It's just most of its choices just doesn't help the timeline, and instead gave it an even more exasperating way to close a chapter. People may go in for some mindless action, but even the action is hardly inspired. Fans may get a dose of nostalgia, but again, that's only the aesthetics and Schwarzenegger, and we prefer this standing out to a better continuation. Genisys is just not the worthy sequel we are waiting for.
Final Girl is basically putting the Hit-Girl trope to the slasher
genre, which can be a pretty cool concept. The film's style is some
sort of a fancy old-school mystery film, highlighting shadows and
silhouettes through creaking walls, cafeterias and streets. Visually
appealing stuff, rather enjoyed for being effectively overly campy for
its low budget. But the story itself is just downright silly and even
worse, meaningless. The movie sets up a little girl training to beat up
dangerous men, but it instead lead us to a number of strange events,
which results to such polarizing schlock.
Even for its shoddiness, the weird style could still be admired for being way too campy. The story centers on a secret organization that hires vigilantes, and everything else about them is a huge mystery. We only see two characters in their dark shadowy headquarters; it's either for the sake of being extremely minimal, or just really underdeveloped. But the important thing is, they're hiring a young girl to fight off their targets. In spite of training and even raising her in this cold- blooded environment, the main character, Veronica, still doesn't seem like she's as strong or as unfeeling as she is supposed to be. It makes everyone wonder what exactly did she train throughout her childhood. She's not given much of an arc either. The film just presumes that she is not competent enough at some points. It can be a useful good to bring some suspense, but instead, she is given an incredible dose of deus ex machina in this "daring mission" that would easily take down her targets.
While it makes the whole mission a lot weirder, all we see is just some amateurish looking acid trip that is supposed to represent their fear, but looks more totally random than disturbing. The fighting is hidden behind the vague shadows and the on screen blood is very reserved. All the slasher/gory fun is replaced with artsy pretentiousness. And for some reason, that can also be one of the benefits of the film. In a typical mindset, the experience may just be some terribly shot mindless violence on screen. Not saying that this approach is anything fresh or superior at all, it's just pretty rare that it manages to do something a little different. It brings some tongue-in-cheek characters, blanketing their shadows into some exteriors with lighting fetishes (the headlights of the gang's car is super strong enough to shine the entire forest). The movie brings some flavor, but it didn't gloss over enough about the fact how pointless this story all was. The acting is fine, they're basically as campy as the cinematography.
Final Girl is a cool looking film with a pretty ridiculous story that lacks severe subtext. The movie may have painted a lot of interesting shadows through its darkness which makes it effectively campy as hell, add some symmetry that somewhat turn buildings into dollhouses, make headlights spotlighting every hallucination, and characters chew the scenery because it's more intimidating that way, but then it's all just pretty images. It all lacks grotesque and gore, or even more important: meaning. While it's reasonably to get fascinated by a typical B-movie's decision have such obsession with silhouettes and lights, the story just doesn't make any sense in the end.
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