Movie Reviews

Jaws Review

Today is the Fourth of July. The day Americans ignore their problematic history and barbecue the current political landscape out of mind. With sunburns and beer we light off disappointing, illegal fireworks in the street and curse the mosquitoes who try to ruin our celebration. Every year this has been a tradition to celebrate a landmark in American history. It was today only 43 years ago that a gigantic shark held the waters of a New England beach town hostage and ravaged anyone who dared to fight for its safe return. The event earned its historic name, Jaws, only after the beast was destroyed by an American hero. To celebrate our triumph, the Fourth of July was born.

Amity Island is a popular beach town and thrives solely on its summer tourism. When Fourth of July weekend hits, the town is buzzing, and not about the fireworks. Shark attacks are terrorizing the guests of the town while the mayor refuses to close the beaches. It’s up to the new sheriff, a shark hunter and a scientist to put a stop to the madness. Little did they know, this creature was no measly nursery shark.

Okay, okay, you got me. The Fourth of July isn’t about Spielberg’s breakout movie, Jaws. But that doesn’t mean this movie didn’t cause some major changes that would effect modern history. Jaws was released at a time when people and researchers knew very little about sharks. However after the panic this movie caused in audiences across the country, researchers worked relentlessly to learn more as fishers became fiends of the sea.

At the time, Jaws sparked a unprecedented (and uncalled for) war on sharks. The remains of the shark hysteria have lasted as they are still killed at an alarming rate to this day as the targets of poaching. Yet today, Jaws remains the reason researchers learned about these creatures and educated those who were originally scared. What was once the reason for mass chaos is now the origin of a dedicated shark conservation effort.

SSjaws-1

soisitanygood.com

Not only did this movie cause unexpected environmental changes, Jaws made waves in the movie industry as well. As I mentioned, this film was Steven Spielberg’s big break. After some success with his distinctive style, he was hired to direct Jaws. When the film blew up, so did he. This film launched Spielberg into an elite class of directors and his style became one to be studied and emulated by movie buffs around the world. Without this summer blockbuster, Spielberg may have never gotten his big break in time to create Raiders of the Lost Arc or E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

After 43 years, the phenomenon of Jaws is still in full swing. I remember watching this movie for the first time. I remember my dad telling me the story of when he saw this movie for the first time. As a summer blockbuster released shortly before July fourth, people were terrified of swimming on one of the biggest outdoor holidays of the year. That unease is still sparked in new viewers to this day. The craze of Jaws has crossed generations and will continue to do so with its timeless story. Sure, the movie has aged, but it’s mind games have not.

The story of Jaws upon a glance is simple. Yet below the surface, the film touches on themes that are commonly present in psychologically terrorizing films. On the surface, Jaws is about three men of different backgrounds and motivations who band together to save a community. Yet, after analyzing the film, certain moments stand out. The mayor refusing to close the beaches reinforces the political distrust we have for our leaders. It also displays the darker side of capitalism that people fear, profit is more important than the people.

Stepping away from politics, Jaws also has a supernatural element to exaggerate the predator versus prey relationship. There is no Great White in nature that is that large and obsessed with only eating humans. The shark in the film had a malicious focus to stalk and destroy its target and had the absurdly large body to accomplish its mission. It lives in an environment that we know very little about and have difficulty thriving in. The ocean embodies the unknown we fear while the shark becomes that exaggerated monster under the bed that we all lost sleep over.

Even the good guys of the film represent something dark. Brody faces a battle of ethics and unfortunately loses. He failed at his sole responsibility and therefore must risk everything to right that wrong. Hooper ultimately had no voice despite his expertise. Regardless of how right he was and how much he knew, Hooper was reduced to nothing causing him to wonder why his presence even matters. Had the town listened to him, lives could have been saved. He’s the walking, talking “what if” of the movie. Quint was destroyed by his past and could never move forward. He lived his whole life haunted by previous trauma and ends up stuck in a vicious cycle that came full circle because of it.

Sure, jaws can be seen as a simple story. But it’s also a political and supernatural minefield that plays with our most primal external and internal fears. What’s out there? Does it want to hurt me? Is it my fault? In the grand scheme of life, do I even matter? Jaws is as complex as you want it to be. It doesn’t have to blow your mind but it will still play with it. These themes float through the film and whether you realize it or not, this movie is triggering those deep-rooted terrors.

To help the story along, Jaws has the magical Spielberg technical touches. There are romantic close-ups and tension-building stills to create focus and suspense. No-one would have thought a simple close up and lens-affect could be an iconic piece of motion-picture history, and yet due to Jaws, it was. The music alone has become a piece of horror movie history. What sounds like a simple composition ends up embodying suspense itself. It sits among the greats of horror movie scores.

While Spielberg had his hands in every part of the film, his touch can only go so far. The actors also had their part in carrying this movie through history. Roy Scheider plays Martin Brody, the new sheriff burdened with saving his new town. He’s become the face of the film as the stereotypical distant dad of the 70’s who transforms into a fearful father and protective community leader. Robert Shaw plays Quint, the deliverer of what is arguably one of the greatest monologues in movie history. He brought to life a character that is now recreated as a classic movie trope. Richard Dreyfuss plays Matt Hooper, the scientist and ignored voice of reason in the film. He’s the brazen nerd that sparked an interest in the scientific study of sharks and is sited as the reason several people chose to study marine biology.

Iconic really is the best word to describe Jaws. It’s a movie that impacted the environment, the field of scientific study and changed the landscape of modern filmmaking. Its influence spans generations as it plays with fears that aren’t simply tied to 1975 but to people both individually and societally. It has legendary technical feats and gave birth to tropes that have been found in films and cartoons alike. Jaws has earned its place as an iconic classic in movie history. Today with hotdog in hand, let us raise a beer to Jaws, the film that almost cancelled the Fourth of July.

Banner from slashfilm.com

Advertisements

Ocean’s 8 Review

It’s officially the era of remaking classically male-dominated franchises with an all-star female cast and I’m personally loving it. I do think the backlash directed toward Hollywood for remaking movies rather than writing female dominated movies with an original premise does have some validity. That being said, if they’re insistent on remaking these films anyways, why not just sit back and enjoy? For months now I’ve been buzzing about how ridiculously excited I am to see Ocean’s 8 and the time has finally come.

Debbie Ocean is released from prison shortly after her infamous brother Danny allegedly passes away. While she promised to lead a simple life, she had a daring plan up her designer dress sleeve. Surrounded by seven of the most gorgeous criminal women in New York, Debbie Ocean plans to execute the the biggest jewelry heist in history at the Met Gala.

Ocean’s 8 is nothing but style. It’s a suave movie from its all-star cast to its flashy editing. It’s a high-gloss Hollywood attempt to reignite the glamour of organized crime movies in a family friendly way and somehow it just works. While it’s about a high stakes robbery, I imagine just about any age group could watch this movie and walk away with hopes of one day leaving the scene of their very own heist in Prada heels and Gucci sunglasses.

I think one reason this movie thrives is the formula. Movies of this genre tend to keep viewers entirely in the dark about the detailed planning of the crime and focus on the motivation that’s somehow supposed to excuse the illegal act. However, I think Ocean’s 8 does almost the exact opposite. It focuses heavily on the planning and of the heist and leaves little room for motivation to mix in. While I do think this was a disservice to some important plot points, I think it really included the audience in the film. Plus, with there still being a twist in the end, the audience could still feel hoodwinked by the devilishly clever ringleaders.

 

 

Now I’m not going to pretend this movie isn’t all about the casting. I think Ocean’s 8 is a fun movie for several reasons, but the cast remains the biggest. This film is filled with Hollywood’s most lovable women. Sandra Bullock is the star of the movie as Debbie Ocean and to no surprise, she nails the role. I’ve missed seeing her in movies so to see her star in a blockbuster with a perfectly suiting character was a treat. Cate Blanchett has been making quite the comeback on the big screen with huge roles including this one. We got a taste of her dark side in Thor: Ragnarok and now we luckily get to see her explore more of that as Lou, the sly backbone of the group.

Anne Hathaway deserves some major credit as Daphne Kluger. She nailed the comedic role and kept me laughing the entire time. Much like the rest of the cast, I’ve always been a huge fan of Hathaway and this movie only made me more of a fan. Awkwafina as Constance was another absolutely hilarious character. Her role was smaller than the rest but her quick quips and millennial mannerisms made her an extremely relatable character. Helena Bonham Carter plays a quirky designer with an interesting taste in fashion, shocking, I know. As expected, she fully embodied the disheveled new-to-crime character with ease.

Sarah Paulson was as lovable as ever as Tammy, the heisting homemaker. As we’ve seen in American Horror Story, Paulson could play the vilest human being on earth but you can’t help but adore her all the while. Mindy Kaling also has this gift. Kaling plays Amita, a diamond appraiser and part time jewelry designing crook. I love the incorporation of her character’s somewhat more traditional goals and the scenes in which she tried to accomplish them. Rihanna played Nine Ball, the distant and cool hacker who always has a plan. I love her ability to be stand-offish while giving us little glimpses of her softer side.

As if this cast couldn’t be more lovable, James Corden also has a role as the insurance investigator. I think it’s impossible for Corden not to be the most charming person on screen in anything so he fit right in with the stellar casting. Heck, even Dakota Fanning had a scene in the movie. While the writing is cute, it’s clear to see that star-power was the driving force of this film.

 

Ocean’s 8 really is a fun movie. It’s not perfect by any means but if you’re in the mood for an easy and enjoyable flick, this is the one for you. It’s got an incredible cast, some decent writing and a fan-favorite franchise. What more do you need? While Debbie Ocean may not be able to snag an Oscar, she’s certainly able to keep your attention while promising an entertaining few hours. With some friends, face masks, and wine, I think Oceans 8 makes the ideal grown-up slumber party movie. I personally can’t wait for it to be released to stream since I plan to do just that when it is.

What did you think of Ocean’s 8? What did you think of the formula of the movie? What do you think of this trend of remaking stereotypically male dominated franchises with an all female cast? As always, I’d love to check out anything you recommend for me. See you soon!

Banner from seanpaune.com

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

Months ago looking at the extensive line-up of summer blockbusters, there was one movie to wrap up the season that I was undeniably stoked and nervous for. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise was set to release in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park. While the trailer looked awful, I held out hope for one of my favorite series of all time and set out on opening night to get my dino fix for 2018. I guess I should have just stayed home.

Jurassic World has been abandoned since the predictable downfall of the new park in 2015. While Jurassic World would have only been a few years old, a volatile volcano that the park was apparently built on threatens to wipe out what remains of the facilities and dinosaurs. The previously heartless business woman Claire now heads up an organization to save the creatures that once tried to brutally kill her, her nephews and her boyfriend. After receiving an offer to help her prehistoric pals, she gets a team of millennials and everyone’s favorite raptor daddy Owen together to rescue Blue, the fan favorite dinosaur. Little does she know, to save the creatures she now apparently adores, she may have made a deal with the devil.

Before getting into this review, I need to preface you with what the Jurassic Park series is to me. I’ve been watching these movies my entire life. I grew up hearing that iconic T-Rex roar and saying “dinosaur” in the same goofy way the animated DNA strand in the first movie does. I’ve always gone to bat for the second and third movies and even Jurassic World. I mean, there’s Spielberg-designed dinosaurs on the screen. Can’t we ignore a few plot holes for that? I went into Fallen Kingdom with low expectations but still knew in my heart I’d enjoy the film for the sheer fact that Chris Pratt and dinosaurs would occupy my life for two hours. So just know that as I write about just how awful this movie is, it actually pains me. I’m not even comically angry like I was with Pacific Rim Uprising. I feel nothing but sheer disappointment as a life-long Jurassic fan.

The main issue with this movie all comes down to the writing. Anyone who has watched this entire series knows that after the first movie, the quality of writing steadily declines. Yet, the movies are still insanely fun and enjoyable despite some weak storylines and dialogue. Fallen Kingdom takes that next step in ridiculous writing but neglects any of the redeemable qualities found in previous Jurassic films that could have saved this movie from its soulless fate.

The premise of Fallen Kingdom is simply boring. It fully displays the fundamental theme of human error that is present in the entire series but to an obnoxious level. I don’t want to watch an entire movie about humans escaping humans. I watch the Jurassic series to see dinosaurs and the unknown relationship they’ll have with humans. The plot itself was weak. There’s a clear outline to follow but there’s so much hollow fluff that its easy not to care about what’s happening on screen. That’s without even considering how many plot holes there are in Fallen Kingdom. Heck, there’s plot holes that now span across the entire series. Hammond had a partner? They built Jurassic World on an active volcano? Dinosaurs can now cry actual tears? It felt like the writers were trying to outdo the last movie in terms of humans creating problems in nature so forcefully that the story itself is hokey at best.

Sure the plot was bad but all these movies need are dinosaurs and great characters. With that mentality, Fallen Kingdom should still be a good time, right? Wrong. Unfortunately,  the characters in this movie were all either boring or painful to watch. Claire and Owen both seemed to be totally different characters than they originally were making any hope of familiarity with the enjoyable Jurassic World nonexistent. In a desperate attempt to connect to youthful audiences, they added two insanely annoying millennial characters proving yet again that Hollywood is just selling a formula despite being out of touch with the generation they’re pandering to. Finally, to make this a true Jurassic Park film, there’s an insufferable child who is so infuriating and annoying to watch that walking out of the theater doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Other than the gigantic predators from millions of years ago, the Jurassic franchise is held together by characters that audiences can’t help but care for. Everyone wants to see the rigid Dr. Grant step into a fatherly role with Hammond’s niece and nephew. All Jurassic fans get excited to hear Dr. Malcolm’s chaos theory for the billionth time. The Jurassic series has been home to some of the strongest female characters to grace the big screen. I mean Chris Pratt is the star of the Jurassic World series for Pete’s sake. With a rich history of simple, witty characters, the Jurassic franchise sold out to follow the recipe they think sells the best rather than balance the formula with actually interesting characteristics, traits, and backstories.

The majority of these writing flaws come down to one major issue for me. Every other Jurassic Park movie builds intensity with sheer simplicity. Dinosaurs are scary enough. Audiences don’t need a psychotic new breed of dinosaur to be engaged in the movie. Dinosaurs don’t have to be practically human for us to care for them. Jurassic World did such a great job of introducing a new species that was disturbingly smart but still seemed like a dinosaur. It also did an incredible job at balancing the relationship the raptors had with Owen to show that as empathetic as they are, they’re still deadly. Any ounce of realistic behavior that was in Jurassic World was lost in Fallen Kingdom. The extremes in which they tried to amplify the intensity of the new dino only made it seem more boring. This series is complex enough with layers of ethical debate woven into the very premise. Yet by forcing this complexity, the spirit of its predecessors is lost and therefore resulted in a lackluster, lifeless product. 

As I mentioned before, I really hated the characters in this movie. I wasn’t crazy about the new ones and I can’t buy how drastically the old characters changed. That being said, I still think the actors did well with the task at hand. I really had no issues with the actors and am glad they all got the chance to star in a Jurassic Park movie, I just feel bad it had to be this one. I mean honestly, I can’t really be mad at the incredible talent in this movie. I especially can’t be upset with a corny Jeff Goldblum monologue, even if I wish it featured some character-fitting chaos theory rather than just environmental pandering.

Now I do have one good thing to say about the film. The CGI is incredible, as expected. The dinosaurs look spectacular and the special effects are top notch. While there were some scenes that I think looked cheesy, those moments were due to the concept of the shot, not the effects themselves. There were also a couple of dinosaurs that looked a bit too cartoonish and therefore stood out but for the most part, the dinos were still ridiculously fun to look at.

Overall, I did not like this movie. Shocking, I know. I miss the excitement that came with seeing people or dinosaurs react to new environments, the charming or comical characters, and the time when dinosaurs were good enough just being dinosaurs. I’m sure when I rewatch this movie in a year’s time I won’t be as butt-hurt over it but for now, I’m going to rewatch the first four and try to forget this movie entirely.

What did you think of Jurassic World? Did you like this new dinosaur or think it was just slightly out of your range fictional belief? Did you like how the two main characters changed in this movie? What do you think of the secret co-creator of Jurassic Park? As always I’d love to check out any recommendations you may have for me. See you soon!

Banner: rogerebert.com

A Quiet Place Review

Horror hasn’t been great. It seems like producers are pumping out two hours of garbage knowing that high schoolers will flock to it for awkward date nights. However, when a horror movie is able to rise above the sea of its mediocre-at-best competition, it shines as a reminder of what makes this genre so twistedly compelling. If you’re looking for that next beacon of terrifying hope, you need to check out A Quiet Place.

The world has gone quiet. As sound-sensitive monsters take over, the only defense that survivors have is silence. When one careful family is expecting a tiny bundle of noisy joy, their complicated life gets even more chaotic. As cautious as they are, even their most paranoid precautions couldn’t protect them from the shock of an early labor.  After nearly 500 days of survival, this one night threatens to be the most challenging they’ve faced yet.

Honestly, this movie is more suspense than it is horror, but I think they work hand-in-hand for this Krasinski (or Jim Halpert as most everyone knows him) masterpiece. A Quiet Place isn’t a movie that will leave you disturbed or too scared to sleep without a nightlight. Instead, it’s one that completely takes over your senses and reality when you’re watching it. You’re extremely aware of the sounds you create and the choices you make after watching this film. While horror movies have accomplished this, jump scares alone don’t have what it takes to envelop you in this story.

This film has completely mastered suspense and immersion. The tension this movie fills the theater with is monumental. The loud silences only help build that pressure as it pulls you into their fearful reality. There is music and noise to help guide the tone but when the volume drops, you’re left leaning in to catch even the slightest of sounds, just as the characters do. Audiences are invited into the unfortunate lives of the Abbott family and enjoy every horrifying minute of it.

It’s really the incredible technical detailing of this movie that helps it pull you in. As one of the characters is deaf, when the director (Krasinski) wanted to show what she was experiencing, all sounds ceased. When he wanted to show how the world was around her, noise continued. It’s one minuscule detail that helps us relate to that character while also serving as a tool to block one of our senses and put us on edge. Even the softest of animal sounds seemed to crash through the speakers. It’s apparent just how much thought went into each decision regarding noise.

The cleverness of the setting also improved the enveloping and stressful qualities of the movie. The sand trails they walk on is a detail that shows that these people have really had to adapt in every way to survive. Yet, the sprinkling of dried leaves and brittle twigs that blow into the sand brings unease. The painted patches of safe places to walk on creaky floor board makes you consider what fear they had to go through to test every inch on the flooring so they could find safe places for their children.

It’s because of the immersive details that you begin to consider the backstory of these characters. The fine points of this film make you wonder what those characters had to go through to truly soundproof their entire life. Trial and error is a risky game to play in their lives and yet they somehow did it. This film gives you only a snapshot of what their lives are like and you’re really only left wanting more.

The technical prowess in this film would have been wasted if the story weren’t as impressive as it is. The story for A Quiet Place is simple. Survival. This movie could have been so convoluted with the science and origin behind the monsters or the downfall of entire countries at the claws of these beasts. Yet, this movie focuses on one family trying to live as normally as possible through some rough circumstances. While I think the movie was about ten minutes too long, I think the entire story was important. It leaves you wanting more but ends at an appropriate time. This movie won’t Walking Dead you.

These actors had quite the challenge in this movie. Their performances had to be extremely physical without being overbearing. Every movement, glimmer of the eye, or tilt of the head was purposeful. In this film, subtlety is loud rather than underwhelming while exaggerations are powerful rather than obnoxious. Every choice was intentional and it showed in their stellar performances.

Of course, with incredible writing, directing, technical detailing and acting, the cast had a lot to deliver. John Krasinski was Lee Abbott, the burdened father whose only mission in life is to protect his family. The pain and struggle he portrayed could cause a rock to cry. Emily Blunt plays the tormented mother Evelyn Abbott who is haunted by the past. She balances out the sometimes frustrating passion her husband Lee has toward their situation. She brings a sense of normalcy to the screen and gives motherhood an entirely new respect. Blunt tied the movie together with her combination of intensity and sensitivity. Together, Blunt and Krasinski were the bow on top of this already incredibly movie.

Some mad props need to go to the child actors in this film. Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott, the deaf daughter of Lee and Evelyn. Regan has a guilty conscience and feels distanced from her family, particularly her father. Millicent does well to show her angst without overacting. While her character can be frustrating at times, Simmonds’ acting shows that she’s aware of her irrational actions and makes them intentional. Simmonds herself is deaf and has been using her platform for quite some time to bring light to the deaf community. Not only did she excel in her roll, she’s used it for advocacy, and for that Millicent Simmonds is quite the impressive young lady.

Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, the terrified son and brother who isn’t quite ready to face the reality of his situation. His character is also quite deep as it shows the unfair biases in gender roles. As his father tries to shape him into a brave protector, Marcus’ concern is for his mother. He’d rather be home caring for her than learning to hunt. While part of me thinks Lee was trying to instill some of the confidence that Regan has into his son, it’s clear that Marcus is being saddled with a role that he isn’t ready for. Jupe does well to show this conflict that many people face. He shows fear but also the yearning for approval from his father. But he also shows that there are more ways to provide for others than in the stereotypical male ways.

If you can’t tell, I’m thoroughly impressed with A Quiet Place. I love the complexity the writers created from simplicity. I admire the little details and choices they made to push this movie to the next level. I applaud the actors for being able to express extreme emotions with severe limitations.

While I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite horror movie, it easily ranks top five for me. While I don’t love scary shows, I do enjoy monster or alien movies so this was right up my alley. What did you think of A Quiet Place? Did you enjoy the intensity or was it too much? Where does this rank on the spectrum between horror and suspense for you? As always, I’d love to check out any recommendations you may have for me. See you soon!

Banner from columbiaparkcinemas.com

Avengers Infinity War Review

Do you realize how hard it is to avoid any spoilers for the biggest blockbuster of the year, let alone the decade? After ten years of backstory, the Marvel-verse collided and created what is deemed the most ambitious crossover event in history, Avengers Infinity War. Being the Marvel fan that I am, I was dying to see this movie from its opening day. Purging myself of all social media and exiling myself from society, I waited five grueling days to see it and now I have a lot to say about the latest Avengers. Pour yourself a drink and break out the snacks because this is going to be a long, rambling, spoiler filled review.

Thanos has made quite the name for himself as the universe’s cruelest villain and yet he still isn’t satisfied. As our favorite heroes have gallivanted the universe saving the infinity stones from nefarious schemes, Thanos has been tracking them down for a plan of his own. Now that he’s decided to make his move, Avengers and Guardians alike will need to team up for the sake of half of the universe.

If you didn’t notice in my opening paragraph, I did mention that this review will contain spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t ruin it for yourself now. Go see it and then come back and let me know what you thought of it. Alright, back to the review.

Infinity War starts off with a bang and just doesn’t stop. With nothing but back-to-back plot points, it really doesn’t give viewers the chance to digest what’s happening, let alone react to it. Normally, I’m all for relevant dialogue and action but I think the strictly-business writing of the screenplay really did a disservice to the overall story.

 

I attribute this to poor planning, not poor screenwriting. With ten years of back story and new characters being thrown in left and right, this movie simply had too much to fit in, as obviously shown by the length of the film and the chaotic poster. Cramming that much story into two hours and forty minutes resulted in limited character interactions and awkward introductions. I really felt like the only time the movie allowed for quality intermingling was during scenes with the Guardians.

Considering the ending of the film was planned far before its story was written, I just don’t think the plot holes are easy to overlook. With 14 million possible outcomes, how is it that destroying the time stone didn’t come up? How is it that Doctor Strange didn’t observe the outcomes before arriving to Titan? These huge holes have left me thinking that the inevitable ending was more important than the details to the creators of the movie. That mentality leaves a trail of gaping holes that will dominate the conversation for the film among fans.

That being said, this movie is really just a blast to watch. Any Marvel fan who sees Infinity War is going to have a great time watching it. We see all of our favorite characters on the big screen again. While I think character bonding should have been a larger part of this movie, what was included was great. Not everyone made logical decisions for their characters but I really can’t say that even negates how awesome and massive this movie is.

I think massive is the best way to sum up this movie. Even in other Marvel films, we’ve never seen quite this much world building this quickly. This Avengers really gives us a scope for the amount of possibilities available for future films. There are several story arcs that need resolving and now we aren’t solely limited to Earth for it. This movie also opens up the doors for future crossovers between the Guardians that aren’t just limited to the Avengers titles.

Now I know you’re wondering why I’m so optimistic about future movies and crossovers when a majority of our favorite heroes are gone. Well, I honestly don’t see this as the end. If it is, boy this is going to suck. But for now, I’m certain that by the newest Avengers in 2019, we’ll get some clarity and hopefully our heroes back.

Speaking of heroes, I absolutely loved seeing Robert Downy Jr. as Iron Man back on the screen and not as the villain that Civil War attempted (and failed) to make him out to be. Yet again he nails the role of everyone’s favorite rich, superhero jerk. I really got a kick out of seeing him and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. I think their relationship dynamic is interesting and I’m excited to see how it progresses in the future after this predicament gets sorted out.

As expected, I loved seeing the Guardians of the Galaxy since they are my favorite super morons. Chris Pratt still kills the role of Peter Quill as he shows even more that he can balance some emotionally heavy scenes with his hilarious charm. Bradley Cooper’s voice is always a delight to hear as Rocket, especially when giving Thor a hard time while fathering a teenage Groot. Speaking of which, this most recent stage for Groot was great to watch and I’m hopeful that we can see some more of the pubescent plant before he fully matures.

Now two characters that did have some unique character progression were Thor and Hulk. I am biased since I am still obsessed with Ragnarok but let’s face it, these two are a golden duo. Mark Ruffalo is back as Bruce Banner who’s having some performance issues. I’m loving seeing Ruffalo back as Bruce but I’m also enjoying seeing him try to communicate with the Hulk. He’s really doing well at showing that they’re two completely different parts of the same person. Hemsworth is back and this time with an ax. My biggest concern for Thor after Ragnarok was the hammer so I’m glad to see they’re setting him up for his next appearance and film.

There were two characters that I think were written out in quite a strange way. Tom Hiddleston is back as Loki with his newfound conscience in full swing. While his death was early on, I wish he had stuck around in the film. I think seeing Loki, the ultimate trickster, try to play nice would have been a great layer of intrigue to add to the story. That being said, I don’t think Loki is really dead and if he is then I’ll be both shocked and devastated. He has far too much potential to be killed in an underwhelming way (I mean, he’s survived the Hulk for Pete’s sake).

Then there’s Zoe Saldana as Gamora, daughter of Thanos. As usual, I think Saldana is perfect for the role of the universe’s fiercest woman with daddy issues. I really loved seeing her new relationship with her sister take flight as Gamora becomes more vocal about her emotions. While I loved her presence in the film, I hated her death. I think the situation was far too convenient to seem remotely realistic. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to her character to be killed in this movie, but I realize this movie wasn’t exactly fair in the death department. While her fate truly does seem sealed, my fingers are crossed for some sort of ridiculous miracle for her.

We can’t discuss the many characters in this movie without talking about Josh Brolin’s Thanos. I think Brolin did a great job as the tyrant titan. I think he exuded cruel confidence and emotional depth that wouldn’t seem possible for a character like his. I am looking more forward to seeing him in the newest Deadpool movie but I think he makes a great Thanos. That being said, I do wish he had been written to seem a bit more unstable. A man who feels fulfilled by wiping out half the population at the cost of his daughter clearly isn’t sane. Yet, he was written as an extremely logical character. I think there are great ways to balance crazy with cunning and I wish we could have seen that take place.

Aiding the background worldbuilding, the CGI for this movie has somehow exceeded any of their other previous visual masterpieces. There were a few scenes with some awkward effects, like the introduction of Tony’s new suit and technology, but the general level of near-perfection only enhances their incredible new Marvel-verse.

I was also extremely impressed by how the filmmakers were able to combine all of the styling of each character’s solo movie. Character-specific details were carried throughout the entire movie so when you saw Thor on the Guardians’ ship, you felt like you were watching a Guardians movie. On the other hand, when you were watching Thor, Rocket, and Groot walking into the forge for the first time, you felt like you were watching a Thor movie. The extreme detailing that went into transitioning helped break the monotony that was in Ultron and Civil War while giving each character the chance to stand out in ways they’ve already proven they can.

Technically speaking, there’s only one complaint I have: the music. I know, it may seem like a small trivial complaint but music can really make or break a movie. Marvel has been rocking their scores lately so I wasn’t even considering it when I went into Infinity War. However, the music was so loud and overdramatic, it felt like it was trying to force an emotion on me rather than guiding me to that emotion. Now, I don’t think the music broke this movie, it just added a little too much power to an already overwhelming film.

Yes, I still have some major issues with the way the Avengers movies have become that were only reassured by this movie. I think there is a big conversation to be had about how overpowered these characters are and how that affects the stakes and urgencies of future films. I’m honestly still pretty pissed that this movie didn’t clear up the infuriating and nonsensical Captain America v Iron Man rift in the Avengers. Despite all of the issues that I have with the Avengers series after the original, I think this movie is far superior to Age of Ultron and will ultimately lead this series in a better direction.

What are your thoughts on Infinity War? How do you feel about the use of the time stone and the rumors that time travel will be the solution to this cliffhanger? Do you think it was too busy or did you love the non-stop action? As always, I’d love to check out any recommendations you may have for me. See you soon!

Banner from revengeofthefans.com

Tomb Raider (2018) Review

I won’t lie to you; I know nothing about the Tomb Raider games. I honestly wasn’t even sure where I’d heard of the franchise when the trailer for the new Tomb Raider (2018) movie was released. It never even made it high on my list of movies that I needed to watch in the theater. When tragedy struck and my Wi-Fi crashed, I was forced to investigate Lara Croft. What turned into a simple flick to pass the time turned into a pleasant treat.

Lara Croft is struggling to make ends meet as a snack delivery girl biking through the city. The heiress to her missing father’s fortune refuses to admit he’s gone and embarks on a mission to discover the truth of his disappearance. However, when she begins her journey, she realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for.

I plopped into my theater seat with no expectations and walked out with a smile and an uncontrollable desire to kick everything in sight. Sure, it won’t be up for an Oscar and had some characters who weren’t very intriguing, but Lara makes up for all of that. Tomb Raider is simply two hours of action movie bliss. The story is simple, the hero is lovable, and the real enemy is The Man. What more could you need from an action movie?

From knowing nothing about this franchise, I’m now quite the Lara Croft fan. I loved seeing an action movie with a female lead that doesn’t focus on romance in the slightest. Even seeing a movie that doesn’t layer in political and social commentary at every major plot point is a nice change from what has been dominating the silver screen. It’s a refreshing flick for moviegoers to see a brave woman on an intense quest for answers and self-discovery.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the best action/adventure flick out there. This is no John Wick. It’s riddled with movie tropes and has a mediocre story. Yet, this movie is perfect for what it is: a pretty solid film to sit back and enjoy from start to finish. It’s the kind of movie you get excited to see when you’re channel surfing. I like to think of this as the grown-up Mummy (Fraser’s version of course) or Indiana Jones’ little sister. You’re in it for the ride, not the details.

Alicia Vikander nailed the role of Lara. She balanced toughness with femininity and showed that women don’t have to be one or the other. I loved the contrast between her defiant attitude and tender moments. Not to mention, the accuracy with which she delivery fatal roundhouse kicks to the face is admirable. Daniel Wu was a close second as my favorite character of Lu Ren. His character was written to do a hard 180 from alcoholic grump to a lovable softie shortly after his introduction but he somehow makes it work. His sudden character development was still heartwarming to watch despite how unbelievable it was and I hope he’ll be in the inevitable sequel.

There were two characters I really didn’t enjoy, but purely for writing purposes. Walton Goggins plays Mathias Vogel with the cold psychopathic stare of a 70’s cult leader. He does well at showing the cold brutality of a desperate and deranged man. Dominic West plays the missing Lord Richard Croft as a weak and beaten-down man who has seen a few too many isolation induced hallucinations in his days. He also does well showing how time has changed his character. The actors did well but the writing for these characters simple wasn’t intriguing enough to excuse their obnoxiously selfish qualities. These characters were more a nuisance than nuanced.

Overall, this movie was just a good time. I was entertained from start to finish and could have watched about another hour of it. Tomb Raider is pure mind candy for adventure fans but could be torturous for indie film buffs who scour the screen for the best of the obscure. That being said, if you’re just looking for a quick escape from reality, take a trip with Lara Croft. I’d rate this movie 4/5 roundhouse kicks to the face for pure enjoyability.

What did you think of Tomb Raider? Did you like it as much as I did? Were you hung up on the predictable story or were you just enjoying the fun? If you have any recommendations for me, let me know. See you soon!

Banner from gstylemag.com

Love, Simon Review

I’ll admit, I didn’t have high hopes for Love, Simon. I actually had no intentions of even seeing it in the theater. I’m not the biggest fan of movies about teenagers in high school so the trailer was a turn-off for me. However, during a much-needed ladies’ night and fueled by carbs and sangria, the girls and I decided to check it out. After two hours of laughing, crying, gasping, and cheering, I’m happy to say that against all odds, I loved Love, Simon.

 

This review will contain some minor spoilers. While they aren’t huge by any means, if you’re hoping to go into this movie with no prior knowledge, I’d recommend watching it before reading this.

Simon Spier is a senior in high school with a pretty sweet life. He has a group of friends who love each other, a supportive and happy family, an adorable dog, and a functioning car. It seems like he’s living the teenage dream. Well, not quite. Simon has a secret he isn’t quite ready to reveal to the world. Simon is gay, in love, and at the mercy of a blackmailing theatre geek. Based on the beloved novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon is both a coming of age and a coming out story.

What’s so engaging about this movie is its laser focus on the main point. This movie is purely about a teenager who isn’t ready to come out but is ready to find love. While being in high school is a big factor in his decision to keep his secret, the setting doesn’t entirely rule the movie. This isn’t Mean Girls, where the plot is surviving school. Instead it’s about the power and freedom that comes with embracing who you are, regardless of your setting.

This movie does recognize the privileged situation Simon was in. He had a supportive and liberal family that would accept him regardless of his sexuality and the writers didn’t hide that fact. The film still showed that regardless of having a good home life, coming out can be difficult and being outed can be traumatic. This movie didn’t promise that life would be easy, but that it doesn’t always have to be hard either.

The message was sweet and the movie was surprisingly relevant. Being a millennial watching a coming-of-age film that actually mirrors the age of its intended audience is refreshing. There were relevant references that I could easily understand. Even mentioning things as recent as Obama’s post-presidency look strengthens the connection it has with viewers. It felt good to watch a movie about high school students that more accurately reflected the influence that social media has on their everyday lives.

Relevance is a good thing for engaging the current audience, but it also means Love, Simon may not age gracefully. It’ll be a movie that is adored by this generation and viewed by future ones as an old school classic. In ten years, this could be our Clueless. I personally don’t think this is a bad thing since it is meant to reflect the current atmosphere that a gay person faces when coming out.

Okay, this movie isn’t all dramatically inspiring moments like I’m making it out to seem. Love, Simon is actually a funny movie. Some characters have a charismatic charm that sets you at ease during the stressful parts of the movie. The completely inept characters keep you laughing at their ridiculous antics and silly slip-ups. The sheer awkwardness of some situations make you giggle nervously. Even the unavoidable old guy trying to be hip and with it (Tony Hale) is actually funny rather than insulting and alienating to the audience. Sure, some of the jokes and stereotypes are formulaic, but it doesn’t work against the comedy.

While much of this movie is predictable, it does leave you on the edge of your seat. Yes, there is obnoxious drama but that can be expected from any high school movie. Yes, there is a plethora of cheesy and unrealistic teen moments but that’s practically a requirement for any coming of age film. Yes, there are sappy scenes that must accompany any romcom. However, the mystery of Blue’s identity and the sense of abandonment that Simon feels from his friends builds undeniable suspense. It felt like the entire theatre was holding its breath near the end of the movie and the sigh of release ended up being a roar of cheers. It masters playing with your emotions despite using predictable tropes.

It does help that the cast was filled with some of the hottest young actors on the scene. Nick Robinson has been hopping around the teenage romance scene for a few years now with some pretty big titles and it seems like he’s found his big breakthrough with Love, Simon. He’s shown he can be quite the chameleon with acting styles and embodying his character’s traits. Compared to his other movies, he sheds the cloak of angst and dons a youthful yet subdued nature.

Drawing even more appeal to this already popular movie is some of the actors from the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why. Katherine Langford is cast as Leah, an emotional and sensitive girl who struggles with her feelings. Having proved she can already rock this kind of role, she does well in Love, Simon. Miles Heizer plays a secretive and distant character. While he doesn’t have a huge role in this film, he shows he can play more than just an angry, problematic kid.

Overall, this film checked off all the necessary boxes to be a successful teenage experience film. A coming of age story paired with a coming out story made the film even more interesting. It’s a film that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster but you just can’t help enjoying the ride.

What did you think of Love, Simon? While the reception from audiences has been positive, I do know a few people who really didn’t enjoy the film. Do you think it was too childish? Do you think it did a good job of focusing on the main issue? As always, I’d love to check out any recommendations you have for me. See you soon!

Banner from foxmovies.com

Pacific Rim Uprising Review

Simply put: I love Pacific Rim. In terms of giant robot fighting movies, it’s the cream of the crop. It has its fair share of plot holes and cheesy writing but the action sequences, characters, and creativity in the film all make it a blast to watch. Del Toro waved his wand and yet again gave our bland world a bit more magic. This begs the question: if Pacific Rim were so good, how could Uprising be a category 5 Kaiju sized pile of steaming garbage?

This review will have spoilers out the wazoo. If you’re planning on seeing this movie, don’t. But if you’re still set on seeing it, check this review out after you’ve wasted your money.

Ten years have passed since the war with the Kaiju has ended. The late war hero Stacker Pentecost’s son Jake has been living in the ruins of coastal cities as an opportunistic party boy. When he and a young uneducated orphan, who is inexplicably an engineering prodigy, have a run-in with the law, they’re forced to join the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps. There, Jake is tasked with training a group of actual children on how to fight giant aliens that haven’t had contact with the planet for ten years.  Just in case, I suppose. When the unthinkable (and even less believable than an inter-dimensional rift in the ocean) happens, Jake and his army of literal children have to suit up in Jaegers that are armed to the nines with gimmicky weapons to battle Kaiju and save the entire world. Who needs middle school when you have war, am I right?

I set off to write that description in a fair way but I just couldn’t manage. While I thought the trailer for the movie looked stupid, I at least thought it could be two hours of action-filled mind candy. Boy was I wrong. I hope you have a snack because this is going to be a long one.

Before diving into the negatives, I want to put in my one positive note for this movie. These actors all did well with the script and direction given to them. No one stands out with a notable performance but the acting has nothing to do with the unacceptable qualities of this movie. In fact, there were quite a large number of young actors who proved they have the chops for an action intensive film and for that, I applaud them.

While the acting was fine, the story was not. The thought that one of Pacific Rim’s most beloved characters, the quirky Newton, ends up being some possessed evil genius capable of single-handedly bringing Kaiju back to the planet to finish what they started is beyond my capability of disbelief. Not only was it utterly ridiculous, it ruined a Charlie Day character – a crime punishable by a Sister Wives marathon.

Not only was the overall story just bad, the details that could have made the movie worth watching were mind bogglingly nonsensical. The mere idea that the world is using Jaegers for police work is terrifying. We have tanks but that doesn’t mean our cops ride around in them. Why would Jaegers be on the streets when there hasn’t even been a Kaiju in ten years? It makes sense that Jaegers would still exist and that we’d have pilots and trainees but it is beyond me as to why they would be used in any civilian setting, whether it be for policing or publicity.

rin2

rogersmovienation.com

What really doesn’t make any sense is the use of literal children in the pilot program. The reasoning the film writers have was that children have better neural handshake capabilities. Because as we all know, there’s no other age group as emotionally stable and self-aware as pubescent kids. I mean, children are the obvious choice for Jaeger pilots as clearly shown in the first movie when they needed the best available pilots… oh wait. Okay maybe it doesn’t make any sense in the slightest but I’m positive the writers had a good reason for it. I’m sure it has nothing to do with cranking out as many subpar movies as possible to a young, easily manipulated audience for the sake of marketing merchandise.

Oops that got cynical. Let’s focus on something we all love, Mako Mori. That’s right, everyone’s favorite last minute Jaeger pilot makes a return in Uprising as Jake’s older sister. I was so excited to see Rinko Kikuchi that I almost looked past how pointless they made her character. That’s right, our war hero was killed off after a few lines of awkward dialog with her brother. All of her strong character development that added so much dimension to her character and to Pacific Rim was flushed down the toilet for the sake of Jake’s uninteresting character growth.

Okay, I may not be fair with my criticism of her death. Characters die in action movies and we all need to be prepared for that when we buy our ticket. Had I felt the other characters in the movie had been written well, I honestly wouldn’t have minded. Yet, Lambert was a mostly pointless character. Victoria’s bizarre hatred of Amara and then-sudden admiration for her was completely unfounded on both accounts. Amara’s age didn’t even make sense with the timeline of the film and her ability to single handedly design and build a Jaeger is ludicrous. Shao seemed to be around twenty-two years old but wouldn’t stop screaming about her life’s work being tarnished even though she doesn’t seem old enough to have her life’s work complete.

While we’re on the topic of Shao’s work, lets take a look at her projects. Jaeger drones are a great idea and I’m glad the concept was worked into the movie. But an entire Jaeger Drone army that was infiltrated by Newt who proceeded to work Jaeger brain into their systems and add a special inter-dimensional rift opening feature? Okay, it’s not a great plot point but I’ll overlook it. A giant Jaeger that attacked an entire city with a Kaiju brain piloting it and no actual resolution as to who made it, sent it, or the reasoning behind it? I guess I can accept it even if there were no resolution. A standing army of robot bugs whose sole purpose is to surgically deconstruct several Kaiju to then build the remains into a mega Kaiju? You’ve lost me.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. “But giant robot fights!” and “what about the Kaiju?” Well, I’m sad to report that there was literally only one true Kaiju vs. Jaeger fight in the movie. If you’re interested in seeing it, just watch the trailer. It’s practically all there anyway. I’m the kind of person who can overlook a somewhat mediocre or “repurposed” story if something about the movie is interesting. Any action movie fan would say the same thing. There simply just weren’t enough action sequences, or any interesting ones for that matter, to make up for the other elements of this disappointing movie.

To answer my earlier question to how this movie could be so bad, this movie is horrible because Hollywood got their grubby hands on the rights to a sequel that they mangled for the sake of making money off of kids. It’s a cheap story with mediocre action sequences and disgraces the potentially impressive franchise that Guillermo created. For that, this movie deserves no mercy.

What did you think of Pacific Rim Uprising? Do you agree with me or actually think it was worse than I made it out to be? I’ll be back soon with some much more uplifting reviews, but twitter spoke and this review had to exist. See you then!

Banner from davestrailerpage.co.uk

Nacho Libre Review | Happy Easters

Today is the day. People everywhere don pastel colors, flock to their religious establishment of choice, and eat ridiculous amounts of ham but only after saying “He is Risen” a minimum of fourteen times before feasting. In my household, we follow similar traditions. As the Silver family congregation gathers around the television altar in our pajamas, we play the greatest Easter film of all time to remind us why we celebrate and only crack out the chocolate bunnies after yelling “NACHOOOOO” at least ten times.

After working in the convent, Nacho is tired of his holy life. He yearns for respect and love. More importantly, he hopes to give the orphans he helps care for a better quality of life. The only way for this flatulent monk to make his dreams a reality is to squeeze into some stretchy pants and become the most respected orphan champion in the Lucha Libre community.

Nacho Libre is honestly one of the funniest movies in existence. I know it can be a polarizing movie (you either love it or hate it) but my family and I have always found it to be comedy gold. Every second of this movie is a bit. There’s never a moment without some Jack Black gag or side-splitting line that makes you laugh hysterically.

 

Any movie with Jack Black is destined to have a dramatic flare. Black delivers his typically comical performance complete with his own solo with mouth trumpets and all. There really is no other actor who could deliver that level of foolish seriousness that Nacho needs like Black does. This character needed Black to thrive the way he did. Héctor Jiménez nailed the role of the science-believing Steven Esqueleto. One of my favorite features of this movie is his iconic scream that never fails to make me laugh so hard I cry. His dead-pan comedic style balances Black’s over-the-top humor. They not only work as a great fighting team, but an incredible comedic duo.

The acting in this movie isn’t the only exaggerated feature. Everything from the extras in the movies to the writing is ridiculous. As great as the performances are, it’s the details that make this movie so incredible. The folly artists for this movie clearly had fun with their job as the extra sound effects added even more to each character. Nacho’s farts every time he jumps and Steven’s cat sounds whenever he moves just gives that extra dimension to their already amusing scenes. Even the soundtrack of this movie will make you chuckle. It sounds almost like a Wes Anderson inspired set list for this nonsensical flick.

Tiny details like Nacho’s perpetual plumber’s crack or his armpit hair flying in the wind during a serious moment shows the amount of fun the writers and technical designers had in the making of this film. When you watch it you feel as if during the production, a cast or crew member said “Wait, I have an idea” and next thing you know Nacho is eating a watermelon in the middle of his big fight for the sake of nutrients.

To be completely hyperbolic in true Nacho style, this movie is honestly one of the funniest movies to ever exist in the history of ever. You may be wondering how this is an Easter movie. Well you have to realize that Guillermo (Richard Montoya) has had diarrhea since Easters. With that line, this became a classic Easter movie (for my family at least).

Jokes aside, I hope you all have a great Easter however you may celebrate. Enjoy the day with your family and I hope the Lord blesses you with nutrients and strength. After having a nice family get-together and gaining ten pounds, I’d mark this Easter as a success. With that, hug hug, kiss kiss, hug hug, big kiss, little hug, kiss kiss, little kiss and Happy Easters.

Banner from tearaway.co.nz

Red Sparrow Review

When it comes to psychological thrillers, I usually tend to stay away. I do enjoy them but there’s a heaviness that follows the story that can be tiring to watch. However, when I saw Jennifer Lawrence was starring in Red Sparrow, I had to see it. I think she’s a talented actress who disappeared from the Hollywood scene for quite some time after the internet took a turn against her. While I had high hopes for her jump back into the spotlight with Red Sparrow, this movie just didn’t meet my expectations.

Dominika is a talented Russian ballerina who takes care of her sickly mother. When a tragic “accident” shatters her leg, she’s forced into a new line of work. Her uncle sends her to become a Sparrow, a Russian spy trained in using their bodies and minds to manipulate information out of their targets. On her first mission, Dominika discovers her new life may not be the only path she can take. Armed with her mind and strong will, she embarks on a mission of her own.

While the premise of the movie sounds promising, the execution fails to do it justice. Spy movies are usually wildly clever and promise some twists and tricks along the way. Red Sparrow did have some twists but never convinced me as an audience member that the characters were capable of being so clever. The idea that a ballerina’s skill set can so quickly change from pointing toes to fighting ferociously without showing any actual training was too far of a stretch.

The schooling scenes were where this fundamental plot hole originated. I really expected her training to be a large part of the beginning of the movie. However, the long drawn out back story dominates the first hour of the film. When she actually was “training,” they just showed Charlotte Rampling’s character monologue about sexual manipulation. This part of the movie relied on shock factor to be effective, which undermined the cleverness of the movie.

Shock factor seemed to be a vital element for this film. When done right, shocking moments can serve as great tools for political and social commentary or strong points of tension in the story. However, when shocking moments are relied on for a movie to be interesting, it loses purpose entirely. Red Sparrow demonstrates the latter. The violence in this movie was unnecessarily disturbing and the heavy reliance on excessively sexual scenes became exhausting to sit through. Coming from someone who enjoys intense movies and television shows, I feel comfortable watching violent or intimate moments but Red Sparrow was just too much even for me to handle.

A lot of my issues with this movie stems from the writing. I don’t think the actors did a bad job in the slightest. The Russian accents weren’t incredible but overall, I think these actors did well with what they had to work with. Lawrence played a stone cold ballerina with grace and brutality. Schoenaerts excelled at being the creepy uncle that no one trusts with their children. Edgerton did well as the American spy with too big of a heart to work in his field.

Overall, this movie was just boring and disappointing. The script really fell through and couldn’t uphold the premise, doing the actors in this movie an injustice. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad movie, but I also wouldn’t recommend it for your cold war-esque spy movie marathon. I’d probably suggest Atomic Blonde if you’re itching for a spy movie with a strong female lead. That being said, I do hope to see Lawrence in more movies since I do think she’s a talented actress.

What did you think of Red Sparrow? Did you enjoy it or couldn’t wait for it to end? What did you think of the writing and storytelling? Were you as disappointed as I was? If you have any recommendations for me, let me know. I’d love to check them out and get back into the swing of regularly blogging. See you soon!

Banner from geeksofdoom.com