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It was interesting to read in the trivia section that 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' was a passion project for screenwriter Mark Kruger, because not a lot of passion went into this film. I tried as hard as I possibly could to like it, but my brain just wouldn't let me. Every time something mildly interesting would present itself to the plot I would think "Here we go, things are about to get good" and then sure enough they would just fall off the radar and go back to the bland, boring nonsense that had come before.
The characters in this movie are some of the worst I have ever seen put to screen. There is no one to like, no one who is interesting to listen to. These are the types of people you go your whole life trying to avoid in real life because they are awful to be around, so to sit and watch them interact for 95 minutes is not a fun thing to do.
The pacing is also very slow. The 95 minute runtime feels well over 2 hours. I think that mostly stemmed down to the fact that there is nothing in the plot to grip on to. Nothing that motivates the viewer to keep watching and stay interested. No conclusion that we are trying to get to before the characters do. This one was a complete misfire for me.
Huppert shines in an above average thriller
About 15-20 minutes into 'Greta' I feared I was in for a run of the mill thriller that I've seen a thousand times over, simply with a different cast. Then the movie slowly started to come into its own. Suddenly, Isabelle Huppert was acting her backside off. Suddenly, there were some unexpectedly tense scenes developing. Suddenly, we had ourselves a very good little movie.
Huppert is a fantastic actress, we all know that. At first I thought she might have just signed onto 'Greta' for the paycheck and was going to phone it in. I was wrong. Once her true character comes out she is nothing short of masterful. Even scenes where she doesn't say a word, you can't take your eyes off her. She plays a massive part in making this film as good as it is.
Even though there are parts of the film that fall into the "scene it before" category, there is still a lot of original ideas and content here. Conventions were often broken and that is such a refreshing thing in modern cinema. I love that the friend character wasn't just an expendable pawn. She actually added merit to the film and had a purpose. Also the film isn't afraid to get surprisingly dark and gritty in the final act. 'Greta' was a very pleasant surprise of a film. If you're on the fence about seeing it, do! I highly recommend it.
A brutal non-stop ride
About 6 months ago I saw a picture of the set of 'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' featuring Keanu Reeves on horseback shooting at motorcyclists. It was such a great looking shot that I have been waiting eagerly to see how it looked in the actual film ever since. It did not let me down. The style this film possesses is insane. It is one of the best looking action films I have ever seen.
The pacing of this film is also incredible. It starts the action immediately and almost never lets up. I can't wait to see what the death count was in this film because it will be truly enormous. The only problem is when the death count is that high the film can struggle to keep the originality up. After a while each death starts to look very similar to the last, and the 50 before that, and it can even become a little tedious to watch.
The only other flaw I came across with the film was that John Wick is on the defence too much. Instead of being angry and on the hunt like the first two films, for the majority of the Chapter 3 he is in survival mode. Still very fun to watch, but it isn't quite the same as seeing him take brutal revenge.
And the film is brutal. I could be wrong but I don't remember the first two entries in the series making me cringe in terms of violence as much. There were some very hard things to watch at times in this movie even for me, and I pride myself on handling those sorts of things fine most of the time. One of them early on got an audible gasp from the entire audience and I saw multiple people having to turn their heads to the side.
'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' is two hours of your life that will pass by very quickly. This is as non-stop action as films get. I think this is the third best action series currently producing movies (after 'James Bond' and 'Mission Impossible'). Will it get a third one? The first entry on the trivia page suggests no, however the end of this movie suggests yes? I guess we will have to wait to find out. For now enjoy the hell out of this one.
Lords of Chaos (2018)
Not afraid to be bold and different and the results are excellent
For my mind films like 'Lords of Chaos' are the way of the future. By that I mean films that aren't afraid to push boundaries. Films that aren't afraid to be bold and daring and challenge their audience. Why? Because they are the only films that actually stand out and are memorable any more. So many films today follow a formula, play it safe, and are consequently instantly forgotten. 'Lords of Chaos' is not one of those films.
I pride myself on handling extreme violence in films very well, but there were a couple of scene in this film that tested even my stomach. Really really powerful imagery that is hard to get out of your mind afterwards. But this film has more tricks up its sleeve than just shocking you. It is based on an extremely interesting true story (which makes everything you see that much more shocking). The story was done in a way that kept the movie moving at a brisk pace and always had you needing to know what was going to happen next.
I was also a big fan of the choice to use Amercian actors with American accents in a film based in Norway. That's a much better route to go down than the mess that was David Fincher's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' where every actor seemed to go in their own direction. 'Lords of Chaos' is an extremely dark film that may not be to everyone's liking. However if you think you're game enough to handle it, then I think you're going to have a very good time with this one.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Time travel is such a lazy way to write stories
Only a month or so back I was talking to a friend about how much I hate it when serious movies use time travel to get their characters out of problems. I have no problem with movies like 'Back to the Future' or 'Hot Tub Time Machine' that are both comedy based and use the time machine as a plot for the movie as opposed to a solution for characters problems. When a serious movie uses it though it as lazy as writing as dream sequence in my opinion.
At the end of the day though that just underlines the problem with these movies. The heroes are far too powerful. Whatever power they need they simply possess conveniently. Heck, 'Dr Strange' can even see into the future to know exactly what to do to make sure everything turns out alright. If that isn't the stupidest thing I've ever seen in a movie I don't know what is.
I felt like the movie went very much as expected as well. Sure some characters die, however they were pretty much telegraphed to do so long before the movie came out. There also seemed to be a lack of conflict as key moments. A lot of things went far too smoothly for my liking in terms of the plan. Finally, the ending with 'Iron Man' simply pulling the glove off 'Thanos' - what the hell was that? Was that supposed to be clever writing? 'Thanos' just standing there for an eternity doing nothing waiting for someone to stop him?
A lot of the jokes failed to land too. This was a surprisingly unfunny movie. In a 3 hour movie I got maybe 3 light chuckles out of the film. Every joke just felt so forced and some of the characters who don't have a comedy background delivered them very poorly. 'Avengers: Endgame' is three hours of my life I would like back.
A masterful movie that I did not see coming
Before watching 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' I knew of Ted Bundy, but I didn't know any details or really have any information or knowledge about his crimes or him as a person. I would suggest that the more you know about him, the less you will enjoy this film. Or at least you will have to enjoy it on a different level. For me this film did something I didn't expect it to do - it made me almost like Bundy. And it also (at least from the point of view the film was coming from) made me question his guilt for a large part of the runtime. This was a quite masterfully put together film.
Firstly, the performances are outstanding across the board. This is the best performance I have ever seen from Zac Efron. As a comedic actor he does very little for me, however this film was proof that as a serious actor he can carry a film entirely on his own. Also Lily Collins impressed me immensely once again. She had already blown me away in 'To the Bone', and once again here (admittedly I didn't actually recognise her due to the normal weight she had in this film) she was captivating to watch every time she was on screen. The final scene these two share together is some acting of the highest quality.
This is not a film that is trying to shock you with grisly murders and over the top characters. It is something very different to that indeed. In fact in terms of action there is almost none, however the 110 minute runtime flies by. The pacing is exquisite, mostly because the dialogue is so well written. I'll be honest, this film caught me off guard by how good it was. If you're on the edge about seeing it, please do. You'll be very happy you did.
The House That Jack Built (2018)
A tough watch, yet a rewarding one if you're capable
From what I could gather about 'The House That Jack Built' before seeing it it was basically an ultra-violent, thriller/horror arthouse film. Those films have been very hit and miss over the years for me. 'The Eyes of My Mother' is one of my favourite horror films of all time for example. Others that were similar I have hated. Seeing that 'The House That Jack Built' was 2 and a half hours long had me a little skeptical because if I wasn't enjoying it then it was going to be a very long ride. Luckily though I did enjoy it.
It was a film that I enjoyed more and more as it went along. At first it seemed very choppy, uneven and pointless. Then as it went along it began to gather a flow and became extremely watchable. This was actually my first ever Lars von Trier film. I know he does some pretty out there stuff but I had never actually seen any of it. I suspect for the most part this film is about as normal as it gets for him.
My favourite part of the film was actually the 'epilogue'. It had me hooked. I literally couldn't take my eyes of the screen. It was crafted brilliantly and had me thinking about it long after the credits rolled. The credit song was also an outstanding choice.
This is not a film for the faint-hearted by any means. Almost every scene is extremely dark and disturbing and some of the individual moments along the way are bordering on unwatchable. If you can stomach it though I think most will have a great time with this film. I know I did.
Holmes & Watson (2018)
Close to the worst movie I have ever seen
When you consider the chemistry we know Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have based on their previous work together, it is almost an impressive feat to make a film this bad starring those two. I've seen some unfunny comedies in my time but it is hard to remember one as terrible as this. Absolutely nothing worked. I kept thinking to myself, what kind of screenwriter wrote this and actually thought it would be funny? How can you think picking up a child's turtle and throwing it as far as you can would ever be worthy of a laugh?
Will Ferrell just can not make a good movie lately. He hasn't made a good one since 2010 with 'The Other Guys'. Considering he was undoubtedly the funniest actor working through the 2000s that is quite astonishing. What went so painfully wrong in his career? He doesn't seem to have the same enthusiasm he had back in the early days. Maybe his love of the industry has dissipated, but whatever the reason is he needs to either turn it around quickly or retire because he is seriously ruining his once epic legacy.
Even if 'Holmes and Watson' wasn't going to be funny they could have at least put a mildly interesting mystery case into the movie to keep it watchable. But nope, apparently not. A 5-year-old could have come up with the plot they chose to use in this film. I'm not exaggerating when I say this was close to the longest 90 minutes of my life. I have never wanted a film to be over so badly.
Were the leads hampered by a PG-13 rating? Possibly, yet that is still no excuse to not even have one funny gag (or even line) in the entire movie. What exactly attracted the two lead actors to take on this project I wonder? Then, as if the film couldn't get any worse, in the last quarter of the runtime they randomly decide to start throwing in some subtle (by which I mean not subtle at all) attacks on President Trump (don't even worry about the film being sets in the 1900s). It is very rare that I ever give a film a rating as low as 2, but there was simply no other option for this abomination. Stay well clear of this one.
Rust Creek (2018)
Strong performances drive a really good under-the-radar film
I quite like films like 'Rust Creek'. Films with no major stars, no special effects and just a (reasonably) grounded story to keep you hooked to the screen. They don't always work, but quite often they're the hidden little gems that no one is talking about. 'Rust Creek' isn't a masterpiece by any means but it is above average for what it is trying to be.
The cast in this movie really impressed me. As I said I didn't recognise a single member of it, and yet there wasn't a weak performance in sight. The villains in particular impressed me. Some truly menacing performances that gave you that uneasy feeling that any good bad-guy performance should.
The film had more of a heart than I expected it too as well. A large part of the film is about the development of a relationship and I thought it was excellently done. The arc they used felt natural and believable. The only flaws I could see with the film were that they could perhaps have shaved 10-15 minutes off the runtime with some tighter editing (however in a way I'm glad they didn't because that gave way for the arc I just mentioned to feel as natural as it did). Also the beginning of the movie was a little abrupt for my liking (again not really helping my case for a shorter runtime). This could have been padded a little more and set a more solid base for the film. At the end of it all though I had a pretty good time with 'Rust Creek' and would recommend people give it a look.
Ocean's Eight (2018)
Lacks fun and conflict
There is actually a line in 'Ocean's Eight' that says "A him gets noticed, and a her gets ignored". Now to me, in a film that is predominantly female cast and is trying to compete with earlier entries in the series that were predominantly male cast that is a very strange line to include. It was in there though and sadly it rang quite true in terms of this film. I suspect that was more to do with the actual members of the female cast they included than anything. So many of them were bland, boring and completely uninteresting. I mean Rihanna as a computer hacker was about the worst thing this movie had going for it. I get that it was probably in order to sell tickets but the actual film suffers very heavily for her being there.
The film starts out with some fun scenes showing Sandra Bullock's character and her con-artist skills. At that point I thought we could be in for a very fun ride that would live up to the high standards set in the series to this point. Sadly though that kind of fun was short lived. From that point on the movie takes itself very seriously. The unwitting and natural charm that the original three entries had was no longer there. The film was too busy explaining itself and getting information out.
There is also a lack of conflict in the movie. Everything goes far too smoothly. There is one problem they run into, yet that problem is fixed literally within a couple of minutes with a simple phone call. If that isn't the laziest writing I've ever seen I don't know what is. Also there is no villain in the movie. Absolutely no one to root against. How this movie got approved without that I will never know.
Having said all that I didn't actually have that bad of a time with 'Ocean's Eight'. It is a smart film and that is probably the part of it I enjoyed the most. Watching how they went about this plot to get the necklace was a lot of fun. If the film wasn't impossible not to compare to the originals I think it would have gone down as a much better film. But they chose to be a part of that series and so they have to live with those comparisons. 'Ocean's Eight' passes with a bare minimum standard.
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Choppy and doesn't make a lot of sense, but passable
If I were a schoolteacher grading 'The Curse of La Llorona' I would pass it, but absolutely minimally (I believe in America they call that a C-). It did just enough to keep me from hating it and nothing more. The film started off with a semi-decent opening scene. It wasn't overly long but it did enough to set the tone for the movie. Then the tone drastically changes in the next scene, then goes back to trying to be scary in the next, then everything is back to normal, then scary again. This continues for quite a lot of the movie and it really made it hard to stay in the suspenseful mood the film was trying to achieve.
The problems with the spirit were very distracting by the end of the film. Very rarely in films like this does anything make a lot of sense, but at least they're not usually as in your face as they are in this film. A spirit that can seemingly do anything, can also only walk through one door to enter a house? An embarrassingly bad piece of writing there. The rules just seemed to be made up as they went along to fit the story.
The film's biggest strength is, as you might imagine, 'La Llorona' herself. She is suitably creepy. She was also used a lot which I liked. Often in these Conjuring universe movies the title character goes missing for large parts of the movie. That can't be said here. The film relies on a lot of jump-scares, some of them are actually done very well and caught me off guard. 'The Curse of La Llorona' does just enough to get by, but there are worse things you could do than going out to see it.
The Mule (2018)
A bit choppy and underdone but still highly watchable
I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood's film-making abilities for the most part, but I am well aware that the fan is far from being a perfectionist. His movies sometimes border on being amateurish at times. They're not, I think this mostly just stems from him seemingly being happy with very few takes of each scene. 'The Mule' was a good film that could have been a great film. With a little more care and effort this could have been something quite special.
The film felt very similar to 'Gran Torino' (my favourite Clint Eastwood directed film). That one also had some very sloppily put together scenes, however the character interactions and the films ending drove that to be something quite great and special. 'The Mule' has moments of great character interactions but also has some moments that are more cringe-worthy than anything else.
There are also some odd editing choices. At one point the film sets itself with a very interesting scene about to take place, and then just cuts away and never mentions it again. I would love to know what happened there. Did they film the scene and it didn't turn out well, or did they just feel like mentioning that it was about to happen was enough? Either way, it's very sloppy.
The fact that Clint Eastwood is still directing and even starring in films at his age is testament to the man. I'm glad that he had bounced back from the rather disastrous venture that was 'The 15:17 to Paris'. 'The Mule' may not be perfect, but it is a far superior film to that one.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)
If you're going to make something this controversial it needs to be bloody good - this wasn't
On the surface 'The Haunting of Sharon Tate' could seem like a very insensitive movie to make. As I was watching it I kept wondering how writer/director Daniel Farrands pitched this to studios and the cast to get them on board. Then the end of the movie rolled around and I realised how he'd done it (I won't spoil anything). The way the film ended was probably the best thing this film had going for it because at least it gave it somewhat of a purpose. The problem is the rest of the film is so poorly put together a lot of people may not make it to the end.
The first thing that strikes you about this film is how incredibly out of place Hilary Duff is. Both as a casting choice and in terms of her acting ability - terrible. To be fair the whole cast is pretty ordinary, but her in the lead role is the most distractingly bad of the bunch. The film also has a very strange style of direction. Some scenes are filmed in a very bizarre way that doesn't seem to add anything to the film (although thinking about it now perhaps this could play into the ending of the film which I again won't go into details on). There are some action sequences though which are unforgivably bad, like the scene where a car backs up and hits a fence. You'll understand what I mean when/if you see it.
There were a couple of genuinely creepy moments though. All the scenes involving the Manson girls were quite unsettling and the way the final sequence played out was quite disturbing. It does help the filmmakers that this was based on actual events though to be fair, which adds a degree of horror to what you are watching. For the most part though 'The Haunting of Sharon Tate' is a poorly constructed and ill-advised venture that would best be avoided.
Pet Sematary (2019)
A remake that takes some unfortunate missteps
'Pet Sematary' (yes I spelt that correctly) is one of my favourite Stephen King horror novels. It's about as close to pure horror as he ever really gets. The original 1989 version of the film was pretty well received and has stood the test of time reasonably well. Now, 30 years later we have a remake. And while it wasn't a complete misfire, I feel it could have been done better in a number of ways.
First of all I do not understand how Jason Clarke continues to get leading roles. He is incredibly unlikeable and instantly makes me hate whichever character he is playing. He is in every scene of this movie and it makes for a bleak ride. Secondly, the tempo in this film is wildly uneven. It takes a drastic turn at one point and then just balls everything it has together and throws it at you at once. If you found the cat scary then there might be some better pacing in your eyes, but for me the cat didn't work at all. In the book I can see why it would work, but in the film it was distractingly bad, fake and not the least bit scary.
There are one or two good scares to carry the film along. The way the child was done in the latter half of the movie was also handled very well. In fact that was by far the strongest element to the film. I also enjoyed the ending and applaud them for the way they did that. I didn't dislike this film, I just couldn't help feeling it could have been a lot better than it was.
Peele proves 'Get Out' was no fluke
My initial rating for 'Us' after seeing it was a 9/10. Then I started doing some reading about it and watching explanation videos on Youtube. It reached a point where I simply could not deny this film a perfect 10/10 rating. This level of genius is unparalleled (so to speak). I simply could not believe how many little details Jordan Peele had thought of and included in the film. On the surface this might seem like a simple little horror movie with a twist. It's never that simple with Peele though. Everything is a metaphor and a brilliant one at that.
Peele's style is also incredibly unique and fresh. The way he shoots certain scenes, the camera angles, the character looks, the set designs, the choice of music (particularly brilliant and important in this film) to name a few. In only his second film he has distinguished himself from every other filmmaker. Quite amazing when you think about it like that.
Even if you aren't interested in all that jazz and just want to watch this as a straight up horror film and not think too much about it, you're still going to have a great time. This film is genuinely creepy for the majority of the runtime. I think that would be a shame though. I would highly recommend after you're finished with this film exploring as many fan theories and opinions as you possibly can. It leads to hours of fascinating entertainment and makes you appreciate the film on a whole other level. 'Us' is a masterpiece not to be missed.
Super Troopers 2 (2018)
One of the best comedy sequels in recent times
Broken Lizard are so good at making movies. I just wish they would work harder and make more of them. Interestingly 'Super Troopers 2' is their first sequel and it is a masterful one. They did something that is very rare in terms of comedy sequels - they made it not feel like a sequel. Sure it's all the same characters returning and there are even direct throwbacks to jokes from the first film, but the story was strong enough to justify its own film and the gags were unique and original enough for this to feel completely fresh. This is one of the best comedy sequels I have seen since 'American Reunion'.
The way the storyline is created is so clever in that the film basically becomes a Canada vs USA fest. That's what I meant by a storyline that could justify its own stand-alone film. They milk it for everything it is worth and it is genuinely hilarious throughout.
The chemistry between these guys is just the icing on the cake. What Kevin Heffernan brings to the table and the banter that surrounds him is nothing short of brilliant. These are 100 minutes of your life that will fly by and all I can hope for is that we get another entry in the series. It is richly deserved.
The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)
A series that just can't quite find the mark
'The Girl in the Spider's Web' is the first entry in the Millennium series to be penned by a different author after the untimely death of Steig Larsson. It's noticeable too in movie form. It feels very different, not so much in tone but more so in story structure. This film wants to be more of an action film, whereas the original trilogy were more about slow-burn stories and building the characters. If anything I probably prefer the style in 'Spider's Web' to what the originals were trying to create. There always has to be a balance, but I think this finds it better.
Claire Foy as 'Lisbeth Salander' does a pretty decent job I thought. She nailed the accent but maybe just didn't quite have a hard enough look for the role would be my only criticism. 'Salander' would be a very hard role to take on I imagine. She's someone who in real life would be incredibly unlikeable and yet everyone who plays her is expected to make her the hero of the story and extremely likeable.
I notice these films keep flopping at the Box-Office. Perhaps they just aren't supposed to work as films. Perhaps people want what only the books can give us which is to get into these character's minds. I feel like these films should feel unique from any other film on the marker, yet they never do. Maybe one day a director will work out how to achieve it, but as for now we continue to wait. This isn't a bad film, but it's pretty forgettable nonetheless.
Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)
Gade shines through in a off-beat and somehow mesmerising film
The first thing that attracted me to the film 'Some Guy Who Kills People' was the cast. It's full of actors and actresses who aren't perhaps household names, but have always done interesting projects and made the best of every role they've been given. And that's the best thing this film has going for it is the actors and their performances. Everyone is trying to outdo each other and it makes for great viewing.
Somehow through it all though the stand-out actor and stone-cold scene-stealer of the show is little Ariel Gade (in her last credited acting performance for some reason?). She is just terrific in every scene she is in. Whoever wrote her her dialogue did a particularly fantastic job, but also her delivery of those lines is a masterclass. She blew me away.
'Some Guy Who Kills People' is such an odd title for a film, but somehow that is fitting. This film is very off-centre and I think that's what I liked about it. I found myself glued to the screen. If you are looking for a polished film with every brick lining up perfectly then this is not the one for you. However, if you like a little mayhem and chaos in your cinema structure then you might just have the time of your life with this one.
London Fields (2018)
One of the worst films I've ever seen
I can't remember the last time I saw a film this disproportionate in terms of the quality of the cast and the poor quality of the film. Make no mistake, 'London Fields' has an amazing cast. Sure Amber Heard in the lead role isn't much of an actress (although she somehow manages to maintain a fair bit of star-power) but outside of her there are great actors everywhere. Even Johnny Depp has a decent amount of screen time. Sadly though these actors aren't even close to being able to save what is one of the worst films I've ever seen.
The film tries to be a mystery but there are a few problems with that. One is that we the audience simply don't care by the time the conclusion finally rolls around. We have been bored out of our mind for 90 minutes and we simply want the film to end. Secondly, all the characters are basically the exact same person. Which character did the deed makes absolutely no difference to us in any way. Whether is it a, b, c or d through z doesn't alter the film in our eyes one bit.
Then the film tries to impress us with its arty narration. It is trying so hard to be 'Fight Club' by having memorable quotes left, right and centre, but I can assure you none of them land. Instead the narration is just annoying and weird. The film has some of the most bizarrely shot darts scenes as well. We are never told what is actually happening and apparently professional darts players are capable of missing the board entirely? Who knew? 'London Fields' needs to be avoided at all costs. It is an abomination.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
A quirky but possibly forgettable film
'Bad Times at the El Royale' is a very serious film. It doesn't necessarily take itself overly seriously (although it might - it's hard to tell at times) but the content itself is very hard-hitting and severe. I think I expected more of a dark comedy going in, but this film makes no efforts whatsoever to make you laugh. It's unquestionably heavily inspired by Tarantino's work, but it lacks one thing that always makes his films shine - the dialogue isn't as edgy and interesting as it always is in his films. While the non-linear story-telling, quirky scenes and flashbacks are right up his alley, the dialogue sadly can't match it. To be fair though, very few in the business can match dialogue with Tarantino.
This is quite a long movie at 141 minutes for a single-setting film. It's a patient movie in that sense. It never feels like the director was rushed or forced to edit or cut scenes he didn''t want to. This is a director's cut from start to finish. All the characters are a lot of fun too and the great cast helps with that a lot obviously. This helps a lot to prevent the film from becoming tedious and ever feeling over-long.
There's ultimately not a lot of depth behind this film and for that reason I suspect people may find it slightly forgettable. There's nothing thought-provoking about it that will have you thinking after you leave the cinema. Still though, I had a fun time with it and would recommend it to most types of people.
Three Identical Strangers (2018)
Sometimes thinks it's more shocking than it is
The concept of a set of triplets being separated at a young age and finding each other many years later is an interesting one, but not one that justifies a feature-length documentary being made about it. So before seeing 'Three Identical Strangers' I knew there had to be some kind of twist in the tale along the way. I was right, but I was also kind of wrong. There was a twist, but I'm not sure it justified a 96 minute run time.
It's hard to know how much of the interview process in any documentary is scripted, as opposed to the people just having very strong personalities. In this case I think there was a little of both, but I do suspect it was largely scripted. There's enough here to keep it watchable throughout, and even mildly thought-provoking at times, but it's not something I would rush out to recommend people see.
Watchable because of great cast, but ultimately hollow and pointless
It pains me to dislike a film like 'Serenity' because it is trying so hard to be original and unique. The sad fact about modern cinema is that if there's a good idea out there, chances are someone has already thought of it and done it. That doesn't mean there aren't ideas out there that haven't been explored - it just means they likely aren't good. 'Serenity' is one of those unfortunately. It had me intrigued for a little while, until the twist (or not even really a twist, just an explanation) is revealed and we realise what is going on. From there the movie falls apart pretty rapidly.
The cast of this movie is quite incredible. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane and Jason Clarke. They must have all been sold on this being a great idea. It's lucky they're there though because their star-power combined is all that really carries this film and keeps it watchable. Hathaway phones it in a little, but McConaughey gives it his all as usual.
'Serenity' is a very dark film that takes itself extremely seriously. I can't remember even one instance where they attempt to make you laugh. This can make for a pretty bleak experience at times. Combine that with the fact that the film isn't half as smart as it thinks it is and you are left with a pretty weak product. Don't waste your time on 'Serenity' I'm sorry to say, there are bigger and better fish in the sea.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
An unbalanced and pointless story
'Alita: Battle Angel' is a PG-13 movie that has characters being split in half with a sword. How is that possible you ask? I had to ask myself the same question, until I realised what it meant. It implied that no character in this movie is actually worth anything. No characters actually have any value or worth as people. This is a great con job. This fact lies right before our eyes but is also exceedingly well hidden.
This movie is technically very well made, however that is about where the compliments have to end. I struggle to understand how people find a story where the hero is so far superior in strength to every other character entertaining. 'Alita' is immensely powerful already, and then as if that isn't enough she obtains an all-powerful sword to basically make her invincible. That is boring and not something I ever want to see in a film. An equal battle between good and evil always makes for the best films.
Then there was the love-story. I have never seen a love-story so unearned in a film. The two characters simply meet in the street and instantly fall in love. Hard to believe the same writer was behind this and one of the greatest love-stories ever told 'Titanic'. No doubt there will be endless sequels to this film (they are already being shamelessly set up at the end of this one) but I doubt I will be there to see any of them. Don't waste your time on this one.
An awful horror film
'The Possession of Hannah Grace' personifies everything that is wrong with the horror genre at the moment. It is so criminally unoriginal, criminally uninspired and most of all criminally not scary. The very first scene of the movie alone must've been done 100 times before almost identically. From there it just gets worse. The settings, the dialogue, the attempted jump-scares from characters doing things no rational human being on earth ever would (I say attempted because nothing in the way of giving you a fright works in this movie). It all equals a very bad film.
If there was a heart-rate monitor attached to me during this movie I can almost guarantee that it went down over the course of the movie and never went up a single beat. I know as much because I was having to work seriously hard not to fall asleep. The creature in this movie wouldn't scare 5 year-olds. What horror filmmakers too often forget is that it's what you don't see that is actually scary, as opposed to what you do. That's why 'Paranormal Activity' was so effective. What we can imagine is so much worse than what they can actually put on screen.
The characters in this film were bloody awful too. The main girl was the only mildly likeable one. The problem with that though is that she's the only character that feels completely safe. 'The Possession of Hannah Grace' never for one second dares to do anything outside the box or daring. It is completely forgettable in every way and not worth your time or effort.
The best entry in the series yet
The 'Mission Impossible' series of movies have always been a bit hit and miss for me. I've always liked them without ever really loving any of the entries in the series. I've always seen it as the American version of the 'Bond' films, and I've always been of the opinion that 'Bond' was superior. 'Mission Impossible - Fallout' however was far and away the best entry in the series. They finally nailed it.
The action in this movie is relentless. It starts immediately and never lets up. There was a point where two characters were talking for maybe 2 minutes and I actually thought to myself: boy it's been a long time without an action sequence. That's how fast paced this film is. The two and a half hour run time is gone by in the snap of your fingers. Also the action sequences aren't just plentiful, they are of the highest quality too. Every stunt is incredible to watch.
This film is smart too. So often it caught me off guard with just how clever it was able to be. The story is incredibly well thought out and some particular scenes and even just moments are bordering on genius. Tom Cruise also proves that he still has it. He has infinite charm and is endlessly watchable. The only negative I found in the film was that the helicopter scenes (filmed in my beloved and beautiful New Zealand) were probably the weakest of all the action sequences. So to have them be the last ones seen in the film ended the movie on not quite the high I would have liked. Otherwise though this is an excellent film that you should rush out and see if you haven't already.