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First Man (2018)
First Man is a technical wonder. The first thing that stands out is the sound of this film. Justin Hurwitz again does a fantastic job creating a score that fits the mood and emotions of what is captured on screen. Not only is the score killer, but the sound design/editing is phenomenal. The sound (or lack of it) during some of the space scenes did a great job of heightening the suspense when something went wrong and exaggerating the sense of awe felt when viewing space. The sound is also paired with some breathtaking cinematography. It is obvious that a lot of time went into planning the shots for this film. Every shadow and reflection feels deliberate. Many have complained about the use of close-ups and shaky cam, and even though I can agree that they were used a little heavy-handedly, I think they were used deliberately to give a certain feeling of anxiety and uncomfortableness that Neil himself felt when piloting a rocket.
The film also has some great performances. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy do a great job of displaying emotion, showing not telling how they feel. Claire Foy in particular does a fantastic job as Janet Shearon.
As for the story, First Man tells Neil's untold personal side of going to the moon and his life around that time. The story was unique in that it humanized Neil Armstrong. When you think of Neil Armstrong, you think of a historical icon and not a father, a husband, a friend, a man. Throughout the film, you witness Neil being all of these things along with an iconic astronaut. This allows the viewer to put themselves into Neil's shoes. Neil feels anxious, sad, and scared just like any of us. Neil's relationship with his wife, his kids, and his co-workers are all explored to some degree, giving us the opportunity to see Neil in a different light. Of course, this is only a portion of the film; the other plot points that deal with the actual journey to the moon are very interesting as well. One thing that this portion of the film demonstrates well is the level of technology used to make the trip to the moon. In hindsight, the technology used to communicate and control the space shuttle wasn't advanced, and this film demonstrates many of the technical issues they had with completing this monumental task. This allowed for some great suspenseful scenes in space. With the combination of some great space sequences and the personal relationships of Neil Armstrong, the pacing of this film feels consistent. Overall, I would highly recommend this film.
- Beautiful cinematography
The Bad -Shaky cam became a bit much at some points
The BFG (2016)
When I found out The BFG was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, I was looking forward to it having a similar feel to one of my favorite films of all time - E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. However, upon viewing this film, I can say that I was sorely disappointed. This film lacks feelings of whimsy and adventure, something you might expect from a film based on a Roald Dahl book or a Spielberg movie. Instead, it feels rather forgettable and uninteresting.
I rolled my eyes so hard whenever there was farting on the screen. I mean really... farting corgis. I would have never guessed I would be watching a Spielberg film that contained a dog farting joke. CRINGE...
Getting past the farting jokes, something else I was disappointed about and found distracting throughout the film was the special effects. There were many usages of CGI that looked terrible. Some of the shots looked like the visual effects artists didn't do a good job of blending what was computer generated and what was real. Other shots had computer imagery that looked like they were straight from a videogame. I mean honestly, I expected more from Disney, but it seems like many of these CGI-heavy films still look unnatural. That's not to say there weren't any good-looking shots in the entire film. There are a few moments, such as the scene where Sophie and BFG enter the dream realm, that looked nice.
Despite all of that, there are some good things about this film. Mark Rylance's performance is probably the most obvious one. His motion capture performance is playful and fun. Many of the different faces and expressions Mark makes in the film genuinely made me smile. The same can be said for Mark's vocal performance, which was a perfect match for the big friendly giant. Another aspect that stood out to me was some of the small details in the film. The set design in particular had many clever details that really elevated the scenes and made the locations feel more like a fairy-tale. With that being said, I still would not recommend this one. Despite my love for Spielberg, I thought this was one of his worst films, and completely worth skipping.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)
Was this written by a 50-year-old hack?
I was surprised at how poorly written Hachi: A Dog's tale was. This film felt like a made-for-TV Hallmark movie that was written by a 50-year-old. The dialog and many of the scenes were very cliche and stale (ex: the skunk scene), making it hard not to roll your eyes while watching. The writing was also very emotionally manipulative, using a puppy's cuteness and other overly dramatic elements to play the audience. Another one of the major issues I have with this film is the pacing. There were many story elements that I felt should have been cut, and others seemed to happen too quickly. It also did not help that the film was missing a climax. The one moment that could have been the climax of the film took place a little over halfway through and felt abrupt, which I thought was an odd choice. Really, this film should have been much shorter; maybe like a 30 minute short. That would have helped with the pacing and left more of an emotional impact.
If you look past the stale writing, the technical aspects of the film are good. I really enjoyed some of the cinematography and visual choices that were made. I particularly enjoyed that all of the Hachi point of view shots were in black and white. This helped distinguish the dog's perspective, allowing the audience to understand Hachi's emotions better. Another aspect of the film I thought was done exceptionally well was the score. The composer's usage Japanese influences and the piano made for a very beautiful and captivating score.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the film. On one hand, the dog is very cute and fun to watch at times, but on the other hand, the film is rather depressing poorly written. For these reasons, I don't think I would recommend this film.
- Nice Score
- Cute Dog
- Some nice cinematography
- The writing
- the pacing
- Emotionally manipulative
- Cliche dialog and scenes
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
More like a Sing-Along than an Actual Movie...
Oh god, here we go again... Mama Mia! Here We Go Again makes many of the same mistakes the original film does, including a paper-thin plot, a script that barely connects the music to the story, and one-dimensional characters.
The script is by far the worst part of the film, being lazy and contradicting itself multiple times. Normally, a sequel is supposed to add something new to the story or expand on its characters. Instead, the film delves into Donna's backstory, a story we already heard in the original film. Of course, we see the three relationships Donna has with Sam, Bill, and Harry, but all seem rushed and generic. Their storylines also fail to add any detail that isn't covered in the original Mama Mia! The relationships boil down to Donna knowing each man for about a day, sleeping with them, and then never seeing them again. There is nothing new about the relationships that we did not know. No cute surprises or subverting of expectations, just the same old story we heard from Donna and her friends in the original. This film is much more of a sing-along than an actual movie. This is why I would only recommend this film to an ABBA fan that will simply enjoy singing along and not care about the plot. If you are looking for more than an ABBA sing-along, look somewhere else.
The only thing I enjoyed about this film was the end credits, not only because it was the best-choreographed sequence in the entire movie, but because the film was finally over.
Oh, I also enjoyed the Fat Bastard Cameo. It was a little out of place, but still hilarious.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Not a Marvel Fan, but enjoyed this film
Going into Spiderman: Homecoming, I was very worried for two reasons. One, I still had the terrible taste of The Amazing Spiderman 2 in my mouth making me not particularly excited for ANOTHER Spiderman movie. Two, some would call me a Marvel sceptic. I have never really liked any of their movies with a few exceptions (e.g., Iron Man), and some of the recent films, such as Age of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War, have left me fatigued with the entire superhero genre. Well with those things in mind, I went into Spiderman: Homecoming with very low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, this is still a Disney Marvel superhero movie, so it is not groundbreaking or very original, but it is better than most of Marvel's pervious work.
One of the main things I think this movie does well is the depiction of Spiderman. In the film, Peter Parker is a relatable superhero who is still in high school and going through many things normal people went through during adolescence, such as dealing with bulling, trying to ask someone to homecoming, etc. This helped me build a better relationship to Spiderman since I could relate to him, more so than I could to Thor or Captain America. Spiderman acts like how a normal person who just became a superhero would act. He struggles with realistic issues such as keeping secrets from people he cares about, budgeting his time between normal life and fighting crime, and being ignored by someone he looks up to. All of these issues are much more interesting than the issues many other of the characters in the MCU deal with. Another thing that I think makes this film better than its counterparts is the storyline and villain. I am very happy we did not see a third origin story of how he got his powers. The superhero origin story has been beaten to death, so it was a good move to avoid it. Instead of an origin story, Spiderman: Homecoming tells the story of a Spiderman who is struggling to get the attention of the Avengers, a team of individuals he looks up to highly. It also shows Spiderman going up against The Vulture, an Alien removal worker turned illegal arms dealer. The plot is much more interesting and has more depth than other Marvel movies, but still feels generic and safe. All of these elements helped make this film stand out amongst the masses of superhero films being produced today.
Of course, just because this film was better than many other superhero movies, it does not mean it doesn't have its flaws. As I mentioned before, the film's plot was very safe and unoriginal. It still felt calculated and created by a board of executives at Disney. It did not have a distinct style like the Sam Raimi Spidermans, and that made for a non-innovative film. Instead, the movie looks like any other of the brightly colored CGI superhero movies being released today. I also felt like the story lacked originality, but at least there weren't any giant blue beams shooting into the sky. It also felt as though many of the characters were high schooler stereotypes, such as MJ, who felt unnecessary in this film. Overall, this film felt safe but somewhat different to the other MCU movies. So, in that regard, it is a great Marvel movie, but in the big picture, it is a decent action/superhero film, nothing more nothing less.
The Good -Relatable main character -Spiderman faces realistic issues -Ned is hilarious -Has some fun moments
The Bad -Very safe -Original for Marvel, unoriginal for cinema -Stereotypical characters -Lacking style, both visually and in storytelling
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Simple coming of age film
Call Me by Your Name was a gorgeous film with an enjoyable but simple story. A coming of age story about a gay man who falls in love with an older student; this film is a slow burn. It has a relatively slow pace, but the film is still captivating with its beautiful shots and interesting characters. This film excels at character development. You can see both Chalamet's and Hammer's character change the way they feel about and act toward each other throughout the film. I also think that the acting was very good. Timothy Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Micheal Stuhlbarg had great performances. All of them really displayed their character's emotions well. The last thing I really enjoyed was the cinematography. I thought the visuals were very beautiful, partially because of the amazing location choices and partially because of the lighting and camera work. Now the reason that I gave this film three and a half stars and not higher is because of the few things I did not enjoy. I thought the film had a hard time ending. It kept acting as if it was about to be over, and then an additional scene would start up. I enjoyed how the film concluded once it did, but before that I kept feeling restless. This film also did not make me feel as many emotions as other recent coming of age stories (e.g., Moonlight). I felt less connected to the characters even though I thought they were great. Overall, I enjoyed this film and can see why many people loved it, but I do not think it added anything new to the coming of age teen romance genre.
The Boss Baby (2017)
Has its moments
The Boss Baby was definitely an interesting ride. There were things I disliked in this film as well as enjoyed. Let us start with the bad. The plot for The Boss Baby is well... odd and not that strong. There are a few problems I have with it. First, it is difficult to figure out when the boss baby's older brother is just imagining crazy stuff happening or not. There are scenes that elude to the idea that the whole thing is Tim's (the big brother) imagination, and others that make it seem like he does have a boss for a baby brother. Another issue I have is with the plot; it is very convoluted. There is a conflict between puppies and babies as well as an odd ending; it makes it for a weird movie experience. Of course, this is an animated movie targeted towards children, so you can only expect so much from the plot and I understand that.
As for the good, this film had some genuinely funny and emotional moments. I laughed at some of the jokes while watching the film. Some of the jokes were very childish, but again, what do you expect out of a movie like this? This movie also has some touching moments and leaves a good message to its viewers. I also really enjoyed Alec Baldwin; he does a wonderful job and is easily the highlight. Overall, I think this film has its moments, some good and some not so good.
Darkest Hour (2017)
Interesting Historical Piece
Historical films have always been a soft spot for me, and Darkest Hour is no exception. The story of Winston Churchill and his promotion to Prime Minister of England during World War II, this film lets you see Churchill struggle and succeed. I enjoyed seeing the British political side of the war, and learned a lot about Churchill and how the English government handled WWII. I was captivated the entire time; the story even became inspiring towards the end. I found this film to be complementary to Dunkirk, it included the same period, only the political side of the story. This film added to my understanding of Dunkirk as a whole.
I also thought that Gary Oldman's performance was grand. His delivery as Churchill was captivating, and you could tell that he was dedicated to nailing the performance. The makeup team also did an unbelievable job transforming Oldman and definitely deserves the best makeup award. As for the films negatives, I think the film did not excel at thinking outside the box; it was similar to other historical film biopics I have seen. I also think that the film had a few parts that dragged a bit. Other than that, I enjoyed the film.
Heroin(e) is a short documentary that tells the inspiring story of three different women in West Virginia who help people cope with Heroin addition. The documentary is informative and very emotionally captivating throughout the 39-minute runtime. It displayed some truly heartbreaking events, comeback stories, and some inspiring women. Hats off to the documentary team on this one for taking one of the biggest issues in the United States and showing how it affects so many across the country. This is worth watching for anyone who enjoys documentaries, loves stories about strong women, or is interested in the drug epidemic.
The Shape of Water (2017)
Fun retro story with great visuals
Guillermo del Toro, knocked his newest film, The Shape of Water, out of the park. The film is a magical ride from scene to scene that mesmerizes the viewer with amazing cinematography, beautiful visuals, and an astounding soundtrack. That's not all; the acting in this film is fantastic. Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones, and Richard Jenkins are all amazing in this film, but my two personal favorites were Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon. Octavia was hilarious in this movie as well as a great supporting character to Hawkins since her character was mute. I thought Shannon did a great job creating a compelling villain. You hated his character for the things he did, but you couldn't help but love watching him.
Another thing I loved about The Shape of Water is how it played with genres. It was mostly a sci-fi/fantasy romance, but also included thriller aspects and (spoiler) musical aspects. I always love when films cross genres, and this film does it wonderfully. It is really what makes the film as unique as it is (that and del Toro's style as well).
I still haven't discussed the story, which was also fantastic. The plot, which flows very nicely and keeps you entertained throughout, reminds me of an old monster movie turned love story. The film has a strong message about relationships and people who are different, which makes this film very timely. Overall, I loved this film and would recommend this to anyone, since I think that there is something that everyone can take out of this film.
Dear Basketball (2017)
Recommended to Basketball Fans
Being a Kobe Bryant fan when I was in high school, I enjoyed watching this animated short. I thought the film, which is based off a poem written by Kobe, was inspiring and reminiscent of his successful career. The hand drawn animation style was well done; it added an imaginative look to the short. I would recommend this film to any fans of Kobe or basketball in general.
Sweet and Interesting Doc
Edith+Eddie is a heartwarming, yet heartbreaking short documentary about a relationship between a recently married couple who are both in their 90s. The doc tells the story of their fight against social workers who want to force Edith to move away from her love Eddie. The documentary keeps you invested in there cute relationship for the entire 29 minute runtime. As a viewer, I felt all types of emotions including sadness, joy, and frustration while watching this film, and that is one of the reasons I liked it. The film makes you feel so much. Overall, I think the film is a great short doc that I would recommend to most.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
I feel like there is not a lot to say about this film. It was a live action remake of the fantastic 1991 original Beauty and the Beast (emphases on the remake). I felt like this remake did not really bring new life to a story like a remake is supposed to; it just slapped a few new songs in there and called it good. I think that the whole live action Disney thing is a cash grab, but this isn't the time or place to discuss this... To be fair, there were things I did enjoy about this film. I thought the way they did some of the old songs like "Be Our Guest" and "Tale as Old as Time" were done very well. I also thought the film was visually pleasing and the costume/set design was whimsical. Overall, I think this as an average film that did not give justice to the original except for a few spots here and there.
The Big Sick (2017)
Kumail Nanjiani is Fantastic
The Big Sick was one of my favorite movies of 2017. The highlight of this film was the screenplay and the story presented. Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani's relationship of how he fell in love with his now wife, the film does a fantastic job drawing the viewer in and making them care about its characters. One of the reasons I think the plot was so successful includes how developed the relationships between the characters were. Many of the relationships commented on different social topics, including race, marriage, family, dedication, and love, which gave the relationships more depth and helped me as a viewer relate to the characters. One of the social topics I found particularly interesting was how Kumail dealt with having his family want him to marry a Pakistani girl. I was not very familiar with Pakistan culture, so I thought this film had an interesting viewpoint on what it was like to immigrate to the United States from Pakistan.
Another aspect of the film that I enjoyed was the acting. Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano were especially fantastic to watch. They all seemed so natural in their role (it helps that Kumail played himself). I also found the movie hilarious. The standup bits were excellent, and Kumail's character was particularly funny. Of course, this movie was not perfect. I would say that the way the film is shot or edited was not particularly amazing, but to be fair, it is a romantic comedy, so I was not expecting amazing cinematography. When taking this into consideration, I would still say that it was one of my favorites in 2017, and I would recommend this film to most people because I think there is something for everyone to learn and relate to in it.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Beautiful Masterpiece. The Best of 2017
I absolutely loved Phantom Thread. From the moment the film started, I was captivated partially because of the soundtrack and cinematography, which were gorgeous. Almost every shot in the film is beautiful and the soundtrack provokes emotion when it needed too. I also loved Daniel Day-Lewis's acting in this film. He sucked me in. Everything he said and did in this film was somehow interesting to me, even eating asparagus. As for the story, I thought it was very enjoyable. You would think a movie about a man who makes dresses would be boring, yet this film is anything but. The film is very suspenseful at times and the twist towards the end of the film is very shocking. I would highly recommend this film, but I am aware that many will not enjoy this work of art.
Shocking! an emotionally charged film
Mudbound is a film that doesn't pull the punches in showing the reality of racism in the post-World War II south. The realism that is put into this film makes me feel many emotions including sadness, anger, and even guilt. It is hard for me to believe that people could be so cruel and inconsiderate to someone just because they had different color skin. Racism was not the only thing covered in this film. Other subjects included PTSD, family, and gender roles.
The technical aspects of the film were also well done. The Cinematography was beautiful and I thought the acting from Mary J. Blige, Garret Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, and Rob Morgan was great. I would definitely recommend this.
Side note: I don't think I have ever hated a character more than the grandfather!
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
Weird Lawyer nonsense
This film was very weird. The film follows Roman J. Israel, a law genius from LA who is an introvert. The film starts stimulating, a bit hard to follow since there is a LOT of law jargon used and I do not have a J.D, but intriguing. However, the film takes a turn at one point and completely changes where I thought it was going. This change in direction was something I did not care for. I originally was feeling empathetic towards Roman, but after the change in direction, I grew to dislike the character. Another thing that I was not a fan of was the dialogue, epically the conversations between Roman and Maya. The way they talked to each other just seemed so pretentious and confusing. There was a lot about this film that disappointed me, but there were a few good things about the film.
I did think that Denzel's acting was good however; I think James Franco should have been nominated for The Disaster Artist instead. I also enjoyed the scene where Roman gives a talk at the charity meeting that Maya runs. That part of the film was thought provoking. Overall, I was disappointed by Roman J. Israel Esq. and would not recommend it.
Loving Vincent (2017)
Wonderful Animation, Mediocre Plot
The best part about Loving Vincent was the animation. The fact that every frame is hand painted makes this film worth watching to see how this feat is done. However, once you get past the amazing animation style you see a film that is pretty standard. The film follows the story of a man trying to deliver a letter to Vincent Van Gough's brother after Vincent's death. The deliverer meets many people who knew Vincent right before he died, and all of them have different opinions on him and how he died. This can be confusing because you have so many characters saying different and contrasting things about Vincent causing you to eventually be unsure whom to believe. With that in mind, I did not love the story and some parts of it got pretty repetitive and boring. The only reason I give this film three and a half stars is because the animation is so incredible to watch. I could not help but think, how the hell did they do this!
The Princess Bride (1987)
This film holds up after 30 years
The Princess Bride has been a film that I've always wanted to watch but never got the opportunity until now (Thank you Goodwill!). After finishing the film, I can see why it's close to so many people's hearts. Throughout the film, I caught myself smiling at moments and bursting with laughter at others. It is a very easy watch. The story's pace is great, making the viewer captivated and invested in the characters throughout the entire film. This is done with the help of some fantastically choreographed sword fighting, hilarious jokes, and an array of diverse characters.
Even though I enjoyed this film, there are some things I can nitpick. I noticed many continuity errors while watching the film; not that it really matters, but it was sometimes distracting me from the story. I also felt as though there were times where the plot was too convenient or over the top. This could have been intentional since most child bedtime stories are outlandish, but there were scenes such as when they break into the castle that had me scratching my head and saying what the??? There were also parts of the film where I felt as though characters knew things or had things that they probably wouldn't, like when Fizzik pulls out a random black robe from his sleeve. That was confusing, but again, I might just be missing the humor behind those parts.
Even though I had some tiny issues with the film, I still had fun with this movie. There were many moments that reminded me of when my dad used to read stories of knights and pirates to me as I fell asleep. This childhood sentimentality mixed with the feelings of whimsy and familiarity while watching the film is why I think that this film was such a fun experience. I would definitely recommend this film, it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think most will find something fun about this story of silliness, revenge, and true love.
- Hilarious/comedic timing
- Captivating story
- Continuity errors
- Plot holes
- The grandpa/grandson story sometimes getting in the way
Ready Player One (2018)
Great Spielberg Adventure Film
As a lover of Spielberg, I had high expectations for this film, and to be honest, I was not let down. Ready Player One tells a simple yet captivating story filled with interesting puzzles, pop culture references, and great action sequences. I enjoyed how the story felt like an adventure that had components similar to a quest in a video game such as collecting items, solving puzzles, and overcoming obstacles. I think this was a smart choice since it made the notion that the Oasis was a video game much more believable. I also really enjoyed the action sequences in this film. I am not the biggest fan of action movies, but I thought this film shot the scenes tastefully. The racing scene and the large battle near the end of the film were two of the action scenes that really stood out to me. There were not a whole lot of quick cuts and blurry visual effects, proving that Spielberg and his team put time and effort into those scenes.
Many people seem to have complaints about the film's use of pop culture references, some even calling it "Super Smash Bros: The Movie." I would disagree with many of these criticisms. I felt as though most of the references did not distract or take away from the film. Sure, there were moments of, "Oh look there is..." but overall, I did not think that I was constantly being taken out of the experience. I also think that it is realistic that everyone in the Oasis is some sort of licensed avatar. Look at games like VR Chat today, all the people running around in that game are using a licensed avatar. In my opinion, I enjoyed the references (minus the terrible line about Twitch streams) and thought it was a unique experience seeing all of the pop culture icons on screen at the same time.
Even though I enjoyed the film, there were some definite issues I had with it. The first issue I had, which seems to be a popular criticism, was that the characters did not have a ton of depth. You got some brief backstory on some of the characters, but mostly the motivations for the actions were brushed over rather quickly. There were many times I craved for backstory or relationships to be more developed such as the relationship between Wade and his aunt, what happened to Wade's parents, and a few other plot points. Another issue that I had with the film was that the initial 15 minutes felt very expositional. I understand that the film had a lot to explain to setup the story, but I think it could have done a better job in the beginning of showing instead of telling through narrative exposition. Ready Player One had some issues, but overall, I think it was an enjoyable film. The quest-like plot structure along with some interesting surprises made the film a captivating and fun experience. I would recommend this film to people who enjoy action adventure films, video games, and/or science fiction.
- Fun adventure story
- Some interesting surprises
- Great visual effects
- Execution of action sequences
- The shallow depth of most characters
- A great deal of expositional dialog initially
- Mentioning Twitch...
A Quiet Place (2018)
Suspenseful fun experience
A Quiet Place is an exploration of creating suspense with the lack of sound. The entire film feels like the quiet moment before the loud jump scare, building tension with silence. This brings a deep feeling of anxiety in the chest as the suspense grows. This feeling of anxiety is what I felt throughout most of the 95-minute runtime, and that is exactly what I look for in a horror/thriller. This sense of unease paired with a few cheap jump scares makes for an exhilarating and frightening experience.
One of the things that is obviously unique in this film is the usage of sound. The film is so quiet at many moments that a minor auditory change can be startling like going from complete silence to a loud roaring river. However, silence is not the only thing utilized; it is often used as an indicator that something is going to go wrong, which heightens the intensity. Both the usage of sound and silence is what makes this movie stand out from other post-apocalyptic horror films from recent years.
Another aspect of A Quiet Place that is executed well is the acting from the entire cast. Both Blunt and Krasinski do a solid job, but I think the performers that really stand out in the film are the child actors, particularly Millicent Simmonds (a deaf actor who plays a deaf character). The usage of American Sign Language throughout the film as the main form of communication makes for a unique experience, which is rarely seen in other movies. I also enjoyed how the film used the lack of sound during climactic moments to simulate how Regan, the deaf character, experienced her surroundings. It was a subtle detail, but it really put's the viewer in her perspective and I think that is what made her character the most compelling.
Even though a Quiet place excels in many areas, I was left with a feeling that something was missing. I think it was the fact that the events the characters went through seemed familiar to other past horror films of a similar genre such as Signs or It Comes At Night. I also would have done a couple things differently with the way the film ended, but I do not want to spoil anything - so I won't get into that. Despite having a few minor issues, A Quiet Place is a successful horror movie that lives up to expectations. What A Quiet Place does right it nails, making it one of the best horror films I have seen in some time. I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a suspenseful anxiety-inducing experience.
- Very suspenseful
- Usage of sound (and the lack thereof)
- Powerful acting
- A few cheap jump scares
- Some familiar horror troupes
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
With all of the negative news around Solo, the new Disney Star Wars movie, I did not have high expectations for the film. I also felt that the film seemed unnecessary since one of the best parts about Han Solo is his mysterious nature, so a movie that spells out his backstory seemed like an odd choice. Never the less, I saw the film and was surprised at how much I liked it, even though it had many glaring issues.
One of the things I really enjoy about this movie is how different it felt compared to the other recent Star Wars movies. Instead of a film about The Empire vs. The Rebellion, the film tells the story of a group of smugglers that steal and get themselves into trouble. The film did not need to have a grand scale "save the galaxy" storyline, which was refreshing. Secondly, the film did a better job with referencing the original movies. Instead of slapping the audience with "hey look, it's a Star Wars reference," the film was much more subtle. Solo did not have to use the Star Wars Universe as a crutch; it instead expanded it by adding many new aliens that looked really well done as well as some great new set pieces. All of these things helped Solo feel much more original than any other Disney Star Wars movie to date.
Another strong element that the film had was how Han and Chewbacca's characters interacted. The characters acted very similar to how they did in the original trilogy, capturing the fun banter between Chewy and Han very well. It helped that Alden Ehrenreich's performance was surprising well done. Ehrenreich did a great job capturing the spirit of Han Solo. He acted and sounded similar to Harrison Ford's Han solo. Of course, Ehrenreich is not as charismatic as the charming Harrison Ford is, but he had big shoes to fill and he did a good job filling them.
Despite the movie feeling much more original than the other Disney Star Wars movies, this film still had many flaws that held it back from being a great film. The first thing that went wrong with the film was the lighting and cinematography. Particularly in the first half of the film, there are many shots where you cannot see what is going on. The shots were so dimly lit that in many scenes, it was hard to tell who or what was on the screen. Some of the colors also looked muddy, making the visuals less appealing than previous Star Wars films. I also thought the first act felt weak. The initial part of the story felt rather expository, even explaining how Han Solo got his name...I mean come on. It also felt like many of the scenes dragged a bit, until the second and third act, which felt better. Lastly, my main complaint of the movie is that it felt unnecessary. Han Solo never needed a backstory. Many of the plot points in this film were minor one-off mentions in the original trilogy that did not need their own film. The film does not add much to the Star Wars story, making it feel like nothing too special. This does not mean the film is not enjoyable. Solo feels like a fun but forgettable addition to the Star Wars story.
The Good -Alden Ehrenreich's performance -Set and costume design -Small scale story -Han and Chewy's Relationship felt like the original trilogy
The Bad -The lighting/cinematography -L3-37 is annoying -Some unnessary references -Weak first act -Feels unnecessary
One of the Best Horror Movies in Recent Memory
Many "horror" films released today attempt to scare audiences by utilizing jump scares that startle the audience for all of 5 seconds. This makes for many of these films to be forgetful since none of the actual imagery or characters are scary, just startling. Hereditary avoids this formula, opting for a much more developed horror story that will stick with audiences long after they leave the theatre.
This film lingers in the mind because of a few strong elements that many other modern horror films lack. The first thing that stood out was the slow buildup of the story. The film takes time to develop its characters and build suspense and disbelief. The first act of the film takes the time to develop the backstory and motivations behind the main character, Annie, played by Toni Collate. This helps the viewer grow a connection to Annie, making them more invested as they witness her family spiral into madness.
Another aspect of the film that adds to the horror is the acting. Toni Collate in particular delivers an amazing performance as a mother that is driven to insanity. There are many moments in which her character breaks down, and she captures that raw emotion flawlessly. Collate is also surrounded by other great performances from Alex Wolff and a debut from Milly Shapiro who is creepy as hell. All of these performances make the film much more believable, adding to the creepiness of this film.
In addition to the acting, the camera work heightens the film's horrifying feel. Instead of the usual quick cuts and crazy camera movements, that many horror movies have, this film goes in the exact opposite direction. The camera lingers on horrifying or uncomfortable imagery slowly panning or zooming. This made me feel as though I was forced to watch. Much like a horrific car accident, all you want to do is look away but you cannot because the camera work draws you in.
Overall, this film feels like a horror film from 40 years ago void of jump scares and full of emotional and psychological horror. One small complaint I have about this film is that the ending feels a bit on the nose, trying to explain things it didn't need to. Never the less, this film is one of the best horror films in recent memory. There are still some horrendous scenes I can't get out of my mind.
- No lame jump scares
- Amazing acting
- Genuinely horrifying imagery
- Slow build up
- Great camera work
- Ending felt a little on the nose
- Beginning of the second act is weak
Swiss Army Man (2016)
Incredibly Underrated Original Film
Swiss Army Man is a movie best summarized by a quote from the directors: "The first fart will make you laugh, the last fart will make you cry." The film tells the story of Hank Thompson, a depressed man stranded on an island whose life is changed when he discovers a dead body with the ability to aid him in survival. The film follows Hank and Manny (the dead body) as they develop a friendship and discover what makes life worth living.
The first five minutes of the film are a bit silly and weird, but once you get used to the concept, the film turns into a beautiful story of friendship. The movie is not afraid to play around with its tone. Sometimes the film feels fun and hilarious, filled with montages and music. Other moments take a more serious tone, commenting on bullying, social norms, and suicide. Surprisingly, this works very well.
On a technical level, Swiss Army Man is beautiful to both listen and look at. The soundtrack for the film, written by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, is used beautifully to capture the emotions of the characters. The cinematography is vibrantly shot, utilizing reds, blues, and greens to compose wonderful visuals. Even the set design is delightful despite the film taking place primarily in the woods.
Both Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe give fantastic performances. Dano and Radcliffe have terrific chemistry, making their characters' relationship feel genuine. Radcliffe is hilarious as a dead body. What he does with his face and body is impressive; he makes himself look dead, but still full of emotion. Their performances are what drives the movie and makes this ridiculous concept work.
Despite making fart and dick jokes, the film is not afraid to comment on topics such as conformity, exclusion, self-love, and being yourself. This film is best seen blind. The trailer does not give justice to this wonderfully original, touching film.
The Good -Amazing soundtrack -Fantastic performances from Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe -Heart warming -Creative story -Hilarious -Takes risks that pay off -Easily relatable characters -Powerful symbolism and message
The Bad -The ending can be confusing on first viewing