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Svarta Madam (2017)
Impressive for an indie film
The Madame in Black, or "Svarta Madam" in its native language, is a film about a supernatural being that was burned at the stake centuries ago, and comes back when someone says its name three times while looking in a mirror--not unlike the "Bloody Marry" children's game. The film begins with a narrative about the Svarta Madam, then cuts to the early 90s, where two kids are about to play the game. From there, it cuts to present day, and the rest of the film seems to take place over the course of one night.
First of all, the cinematography was impressive. The picture was crisp and detailed, the camera moved smoothly, and the choices for lighting and coloring worked really well with the horror genre.
As far as I could tell, the acting was good. I don't speak Swedish, so I couldn't be 100% sure, but the delivery of lines seemed pretty good, and the emotions felt real enough. Nothing about the acting took me out of the film.
When it comes to the plot, things get a bit murky. A character was displaced from the other characters, and aside from an initial question, the other characters don't acknowledge this character's existence again. Secondly, around the climax of the film, it was becoming confusing what the sequence of events were; what was imagined, what was a dream, etc. Aside from those things, however, the plot was serviceable for the film.
I enjoyed watching this film, and I look forward to seeing more from this director. Indie film makers are important for the integrity of film-making. It's preferable that film doesn't grow too inbred, isolated to one city, where everyone thinks the same.
Suicide Squad (2016)
My First Experience in the DCEU... eh.
I haven't seen Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, and I didn't go see this in theaters, either. Watched it tonight. It's kinda like what I expected it to be. Highly stylized, with some fun action sequences (though with some pointless, doofus-y slow-mo thrown in here and there-what is this, 1995?) It was pretty to look at. Not much more value to get out of it, though.
Too much was shoved into this. This would've maybe been better as a standalone Deadshot movie, insofar as he has the most compelling backstory and development. It seemed a bit like Will Smith playing Will Smith, however. Him, Flag, and evil CIA lady seemed like they could belong in the same movie, but the others felt out of place. Harley Quinn was fun, but didn't seem like she belonged. Diablo, Killer Croc, and Katana could've been in a move with the Enchantress and her brother, but Deadshot, CIA lady, Flag, and Harley Quinn seem really weird to be there. And then there's Captain Boomerang, heh... He seemed fun too, but he does next to nothing. Take him, Katana, and Killer Croc out, and it's practically the same movie. Perhaps even Diablo, though he gets a bit more development than they do. A bit.
I'd heard complaints about the character origin flashbacks at the start of the movie... and yeah. It involved a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. Sure, there were scenes with important events for Deadshot and Harley, but there's no set up for any of these scenes; CIA lady just tells us what happened with them, essentially. It's just flashy cuts between a few important images, and a couple cameos for superheros to show up. We're even told that Flag and this archaeologist girl, Moone, or whatever "fell in love" because CIA lady made them fall in love or something, so she could use it against Flag. We are not shown any development of this relationship of theirs. We're also not given any buildup for the Enchantress.
Then, there's a few character actions and scenes that don't make much sense to me. How did CIA lady get Enchantess's heart? Furthermore, how did CIA lady know that the Enchantress had possessed Moone? Are there cameras in that ancient site? They went there later and found the heart, but why would the Enchantress leave it behind? Like, what happened in the scene directly after she possessed that girl? Of all the quick origin flashbacks, this was one that needed further explanation the most.
Then with the team, itself: they didn't care about each other. At all. Thhey showed mostly disdain for one another throughout the first half of the movie. Then they found out they were going to save CIA lady and not... someone else, and also that CIA lady is ultra ruthless and evil. Deadshot watched her kill a bunch of her subordinates one scene, and is so casual about it, I assumed he didn't care. He also told Harley that he didn't feel love, or else he wouldn't be able to sleep at night with all the people he's killed, yet he clearly loves his little girl, and he also purposefully misses shooting Harley when told to, even though he showed no attachment previously. Captain Boomerang felt moved to compliment him for his mercy, even though, like Deadshot, he had made no prior indication of caring for any of his team members (or anyone else at all, really). So then they have the bar scene, tell each other why each other person is terrible, we get a little bit of character development for Diablo, and then Deadshot decides to help Flag fight the Enchantress--not because she's about to destroy the world, but because of honor or camaraderie or something. And Harley's got nothing better to do,and the others give no reasoning for going whatsoever (particularly puzzling with Captain Boomerang, who had bolted once Flag said they were free to go).
As far as character development goes... Deadshot is a ruthless assassin, but loves his daughter. Threatens everyone constantly. Has a change of heart suddenly in the middle of the movie. Why? Harley Quinn is a psychiatrist treating the Joker. She falls in love with the Joker. She gets abused by the Joker. She gets rejected by the Joker. She gets accepted by the Joker. The Joker falls in love because she's crazy enough to jump in the same generic vat of chemicals that he fell into to turn him into the Joker, which I guess the sole affect of is to make people totally bananas. She went from obsessed psychiatrist to crazy girl, then just kinda goes along with whatever's happening around her, though she claims that the team are her "friends" as as she slice's the Enchantress's heart out.
Kinda similarly, Diablo refers to the group as another "family" that he doesn't want to lose. For him, he was evil, had a wife that tried to reason with him, then gave up and was leaving, he gets mad and kills her and their kids in a rage, then realizes "hey, I'm evil," and tries to be a pacifist, until Deadshot yells at him a bit in one scene. Katana has a very brief backstory involving revenge for her dead husband (she showed up late because she was "busy...") And Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang have no development whatsoever. The Enchantress and her brother's existence barely have any kind of explanation, let alone their motives.
It's just kinda a mess. An entertaining mess, but a mess nonetheless. I've liked David Ayer's movies in the past, too (Fury). I dunno if this deserves a 7, but I feel like a flat 6 is too low. So yeah.
Kick-ass movie, deserving of all praise and your money.
The Star Wars: The Force Awakens is possibly my favorite movie-going experience since I went and saw Return of the King back in '03. For better perspective, Return of the King and Fellowship of the Ring are my two favorite movies, ever. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie, when even as the opening text crawl was up on the screen, I was feeling apprehensive about it because of how the prequels turned out.
The opening thirty minutes are pretty exciting, and then the film slows down for a bit. Here, we're introduced to Rey,Finn, and bb-8, our new heroes for this next chapter. Finn is anxiety-ridden and afraid, and Rey is a tough loner. bb-8 is a cute little robot. Right away, something is different from the prequels; there's not a lot of pretty, cgi backgrounds, and the screen isn't full of cgi aliens. The atmosphere is a bit dark and brooding, as Rey is depicted as struggling to get by. None of the characters on screen are annoying comic relief, nor do we ever such a character throughout the movie; the humor comes through witty dialogue and characters acting silly.
Two of our main antagonists, Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma, are also introduced here. I didn't feel like Captain Phasma did much, but Kylo Ren is a worthy successor to Darth Vader; he's an evil, conflicted villain, but he also shows instances of being batshit crazy. He freaks out on walls with his light saber and talks to old, half-melted helmets. There's also General Hux of the First Order, and Snoke, Kylo Ren's instructor. The general is not as sinister-in looks or in presence-as Grand Moff Tarkin, and Snoke is a weird-looking creature-probably the weakest part of this film (sorry, Andy Serkis).
Eventually, Rey, Finn, and bb-8 run into Han and Chewie. Harrison Ford looks and feels pretty old in this, which makes sense, considering his age. He still carries a strong presence, however, and turns in one of his better performances in the past few decades. Chewie is Chewie, although he didn't have as much of a presence in this as in past films. Han and Chewie take Rey, Finn, and bb-8 to an old bar, where we meet a short alien with a big head and weird spectacles, named Maz. At first, she seemed kinda odd and annoying, but she then reveals herself as an important part of the story, being the keeper of Luke's old light saber and intuiting about Rey and Finn.
By now, I'd come to care a great deal about Finn and Rey, and was worried about what was going to happen to them next. They were good new protagonists for the next trilogy. I've also learned enough about Kylo Ren to have conflicted feelings about him. Then Leia shows up; not only does Carrie Fisher look old, her voice sounds old. I hear the years haven't been kind to her. It's nice to see her return, though.
The climactic battle on the star killer base is a lot of fun, and comes with the death of Han. You could see this coming as soon as he walked out on the bridge towards Kylo Ren, and saw storm troopers up on the rafters above him. This death didn't impact me as much as it impacted others (and it probably would've had a bigger effect if it happened in Empire). Still, the fight between Kylo Ren and Finn, and then Kylo Ren and Rey, were a lot of fun, as was the simultaneous space dog fight. Poe Dameron, a character who disappeared earlier in the movie, came back to lead the Resistance's forces in that battle.
The movie ends as Luke is finally revealed. He doesn't speak a line, but Mark Hamill is second-billed, which I found pretty hilarious. I will say that his reveal was pretty epic, however; a pan shot around a hill on an island in the middle of an ocean. In fact, there's no dialogue during that entire sequence, which lends some nice dramatic effect.
Is the movie perfect? I guess not, but I don't think anything man-made is. I didn't think Return of the King or Fellowship of the Ring were perfect movies either, but they are my favorite movies ever, so they get perfect scores. Will this remain a perfect ten out of ten for me? Maybe not. (edit: it didn't, heh...) It will probably remain one of my favorite movies, however; it might be the second best Star Wars movie, as others have said. All in all, this is a very good, very entertaining, and very well-made movie. It's making a lot of money and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and viewers, alike, and deservedly so.