So this is the new big horror flick; it’s hugely popular and has lots of appeal and everybody is talking about it…I suppose it’s time to peer into this one myself.
A Quiet Place is, from its opening shot, often just that; in the theater, I could hear popcorn chewing constantly in the first few scenes, because the film is nearly silent for a decent portion of its run time. In that sense, I’m not sure the experience for this film is better in the theater, which is an odd thing to consider, as most often the reverse is more accurate. Despite this, I would argue that the sound design is fine, and there’s tension in the silence that many films will not imitate successfully. Unfortunately, the music was fairly generic. There were also many stereotypical loud noises associated with jump-scare moments, which I felt severely detracted from the film’s premise and apparent intent. Rather, if the only sound during the film had been diegetic, I believe the quality of the experience, and the ingenuity of the film’s creation, would have been improved tremendously.
The actors are surprisingly effective. John Krasinski is very believable as a determined and protective father, and Emily Blunt is, as always, fantastic at portraying every possible emotional state or mood. Frankly, Emily Blunt is one of the most talented actresses working today, and I expect to continue seeing her perform wonderfully. The child actors are mostly just fine, but the daughter, played by an actual deaf actress, is very convincing and seems fairly talented. I was impressed with the film’s treatment of deafness as more than just a plot convenience for the sake of the entire family needing to know sign language.
The effects are pretty good, and I enjoyed seeing the monsters as often as they were shown. Many similarly crafted horror flicks will deny the viewer a chance to see the monster properly until the end of the film, so that the reveal of the creature itself is a big surprise. I always felt that was often a sort of cheap tactic, and it isn’t very creative, however much money it saves for the production. With that in mind, the creature designs were relatively unique and quite effective in intimidation; that is, they fit well with the premise and seemed horrific enough to illicit great fear in the characters.
The film’s cinematography is competent, or perhaps good, but it isn’t too special. I would have loved some tracking shots of the monsters, but it’s mostly simple cuts between characters. In fact, there’s virtually no time in the film which lacks a member of the main family in view, which, considering this strange dystopia of a setting, seemed somewhat bland. There were a few shots of their home and its basic surroundings, but there’s little sense of geographic locations within the film, and we are given precious little of what has happened outside of their home area. I am not demanding buckets of information dumped over my head, but the vagueness with which the film operates seems purposeful in scope, and I felt it would be better off answering some questions viewers may have regarding the rest of the world, even if it is with a few simple cuts to other towns or countries.
I won’t spoil the specific events of the film, but I encourage viewers to pay close attention to the last third or so of the run time. In a way, I appreciated the chaotic fervor of this final act, but it also detracted so heavily from what made the silence of the beginning so fascinating, that I found myself disappointed when reflecting on the film later. There are also some strange inconsistencies in character behavior and the monsters’ senses, which bothered me during the film. I do not always notice such issues immediately, but I was displeased by my own befuddlement. There were many clever moments and ideas regarding the dampening or avoidance of loud sounds with the characters, only for general clumsiness and terrible decisions to force new moments of tension. I see a realism in this to a degree, but I found that certain plot devices were overly contrived.
This one is Satisfactory. It isn’t bad by any means, and I certainly enjoyed parts of it, but enough of it seemed generic or wasted in potential that I simply wanted more from the ideas and the experience. I would still take interest in the future work of that deaf actress, as well as John Krasinski’s directorial efforts, as that was not much of a problem here. I should quickly note that A Quiet Place had 2 other writers aside from Krasinski, and I have never seen or heard about any of the films they have previously written, which, considering my general knowledge base of cinema, should have been a red flag. With a better script, this could have been amazing.
I find myself perplexed in attempting to begin this review properly. Dear readers, I have come upon a magnum opus, a film which ought to be heralded until humanity has become extinct, or perhaps afterward, when the surviving canines figure out how to use Netflix. Ten minutes into this film I knew I loved it. The sound, the effects, the acting, and the shots are spectacular….this is an unbelievably magnificent piece of cinema.
Annihilation is also an extremely complex work, with depth and subtlety the likes of Under The Skin or It Comes At Night could not deliver. Neither of those are great films, by the way, albeit for very different reasons. Anyway, Natalie Portman is riveting throughout the film as the biologist Lena. She travels into a strange and unknown region known as The Shimmer, with 4 other highly intelligent women. That’s the setup, I suppose, but the film shows quite a bit outside its main narrative to supplement the story and character development, which was a wise decision. I will not talk much more about the characters, as I believe many of their traits are notable plot points themselves, and it is better to let you experience it. I have not read the novel, and I am aware it is very different from the film, so I do not know how comparable it would be, or whether fans of the source material would appreciate the alterations to the narrative. Regardless, the film stands alone beautifully.
All of the creature designs are marvelous. There’s a great deal of ingenuity with all of the visuals actually, but I cannot even properly praise much without heavy spoilers, sadly. However, I can say that this film defies conventional storytelling tropes and exhibits many somewhat ambiguous moments and ideas. I have heard others discuss the film and I am amazed at the wild (and often directly impossible) theories people have concocted for this film. Annihilation is the sort of movie which sparks discussion in a well-deserved manner. It is comparable to Shane Carruth’s Primer in its intricacy. No proverbial punches are pulled for simplicity, and I am very glad for it.
I must pay special attention to the fact that the film almost exclusively contains women in strong, smart, individualized roles. Every actress gives a top-notch performance. Sometimes I hear of issues with female characters not being written effectively, or much of Hollywood neglecting to make films that do not center around male characters. The real problem is twofold; most of the female-driven films are brain-melting simple comedies, and the best, smartest films focused on women tend to be smaller in budget and scope. The end result is that Annihilation will not even make 1/5 the box office returns of Ghostbusters (2016). That is a shame, but it is true that most audiences would much rather see Black Panther than Annihilation.
The music goes from haunting and melancholic clean guitar tracks to insane, atmospheric, psychedelic pieces. I sat here for a full 5 minutes trying to figure out the genre under which the latter bunch of music would fall, and I had to give up because, in an epiphany, I understood that it can’t be so easily classified. It is mesmerizing, however.
Annihilation is easily Salient. However, it is uncompromisingly dense and difficult to parse. Alex Garland is a talent worth remembering, with certainty. I could not recommend it to any who do not wish for a heavy thinking piece, yet I hope those who read my work here will enjoy one of the smartest films this critic has witnessed.
So, Black Panther has been making a lot of money, and everybody talks about it as if it subverts a bunch of racial issues and puts focus on other problems and…I do not understand that mindset. The Blade trilogy of films, which is based on marvel comics about a black superhero, seems to have been forgotten rather quickly. I suppose I find trouble understanding the particular appeal of this movie as opposed to similar Marvel films. Allow me to explain:
Chadwick Boseman plays T’challa, the, shall we say, king incumbent in the film. This character was introduced in Civil War back in 2016, and he was better in that movie. I am not saying he did not deserve his own film in which to shine, but….I would argue that this film is muddled with unnecessary characters who end up detracting from the Black Panther and his role. In Civil War, he had a clear purpose and was only shown when he had a role to play in the events of the film. He was determined and fascinating in his complexity. However, here he appears mostly relaxed and calm, even during action scenes, outside of a few pivotal scenes late into the film. Showing the character in a peaceful situation is significant, but I found it somewhat disconcerting to have so little emotion coming from the protagonist. T’challa has lines about caring for his country and understanding how to follow in his father’s footsteps, but it simply failed to convey these issues outside of the dialogue itself. His sister Shuri is entertaining for her jokes and tech obsessions, and there is little else to say of her. Most of the events of the film revolve around conflict with the two villains, Andy Serkis’ Klaue and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. The issue, really, is that Klaue is a terrible character. Andy Serkis is quite talented, of course, but at the end of the film I cannot imagine even the most ecstatic viewer discussing any of the scenes with Klaue. He is in far too much of the film for such a forgettable character. He is overly simplistic, bland, dull, and pointless. I will not spoil the plot, but I can say that, if Klaue did not exist in the film at all, I do not believe the narrative or any of the characters would be noticeably altered (with a possible exception of a side character who also barely belongs in the movie himself). I should not be able to think that so easily about an extremely prominent presence in the film, but it is the truth. On the other hand, Michael B. Jordan is quite effective in playing Killmonger, who seeks to challenge T’challa for the throne. T’challa also has a wonderfully entertaining bodyguard named Okoye. Martin Freeman’s turn as Ross is almost as forgettable and useless as Klaue, actually. I have a theory currently that both of those characters were added as afterthoughts to tie into the other Marvel films, and that is shameful. Also present are T’challa’s love interest and mother, who both seem to mostly exist to act in those roles, and not separately; I believe they have only one scene without T’challa present, and they immediately talk about him exclusively. This may all be the fault of writer-director Ryan Coogler, who is very talented, (as proven with Fruitvale Station) but his work has been very small-scale prior to Black Panther. Coogler may not be accustomed to having so many characters and special effects swirling around in a melting pot.
I have probably been overly negative thus far; Black Panther has some wild action scenes (including one with extensive use of my favorite bladed weapon, the chakram) and some great ideas, but the real star of the film is the country of Wakanda itself. The architectural design is masterful and breathtaking, and the cultural sensibilities are reflected by the aesthetic. I realize much of this is simply a series of computerized drawings, but the meticulous nature of the imagery, combined with the influence of the Wakandan technological advances within the film’s narrative, really stand out. No other Marvel film quite matches the visual design of Black Panther. When they showed Wakanda, the creators crafted a vibrant array of diverse and fascinating locations. I find this to be commendable work.
The music is uninteresting and basic. I would say most Marvel movies suffer from this problem; I do not believe much effort went into the use of music within the film. They probably should have used more of the awesome music from the trailers. I digress. There is nothing horrendous about the sound, but I cannot imagine trying to find the soundtrack to this film (and I do have a few of those; Little Miss Sunshine and Danny Boyle’s Trance come to mind).
This one is just Satisfactory. Summing up Black Panther, it is a gigantic bag of Chex Mix. It has some amazing elements, but it simply has too many characters and too much going on despite the 134 minute run-time. By spreading itself so thin, Black Panther causes most of its cast to seem wasted, both in presence and talent. I would still recommend it for Marvel enthusiasts, and it is not bad, but it is far from the best offering in their cinematic universe.
Water molecules are bent with an angle of roughly 105 degrees, connecting two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. That is the Shape of Water.
Oh, right, this is a review of the movie, which is Guillermo Del Toro’s best work since Pan’s Labyrinth. Am I saying that too soon? Well, I shall dive deeper into the depths of this film in due time.
I want to make a quick note of the music being made up mostly of lovely piano tunes that evoke excitement and intrigue, and the film is otherwise sprinkled with perfectly chosen early 1900s jazz and swing, some of which is diegetic, being played on a record player. It is better than I could have expected.
Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, is a fascinating character. She is mute, and she acts and emotes as a person conceivably would, yet there’s something special about the way she is portrayed here. I must commend Sally Hawkins, especially with regard to her interactions with other characters during tense scenes. I do not believe that emoting effectively without sound is a simple feat; plenty of actors manage a lesser job with all of their senses in constant use. Octavia Spencer is a delight, but admittedly she is effectively playing the same character she did in The Help (2011). That isn’t a fault, per se, but it reduces the impact of her performance and even her dialogue when it seems to have essentially been plucked from another excellent film. Doug Jones plays the Creature from the Black Lagoon, I mean….’Amphibian man’ (that’s how he’s credited). Said creature works almost as a counterpart to Elisa, both in their onscreen relationship and their character traits, including their shared lack of verbal communication. I can’t say much more on that, but the costume/makeup design for him is impeccable. Michael Shannon is oddly fitting as Strickland, a morally bankrupt self-aggrandizing villain. He cares for little aside from furthering his career, and his sadism is apparently boundless. Strickland is actually not particularly noteworthy in his goals for the duration of the film; many side characters essentially share his views and perhaps his motivations, but his sheer madness coupled with a remarkable ingenuity elevate the character from that of a generic chaotic-evil Machiavellian to a wonderfully entertaining paradigm of various vices. Rounding out the cast is Richard Jenkins, who has continuously impressed me over the last few years (Go watch Bone Tomahawk, it is an incredible film and he is divine). He plays Giles, who is a close friend of Elisa’s. He is old and lonely and a bit troubled in general, but he also represents logic and reason in this bizarre film. Having a character generally stay grounded and relatable is certainly a boon in this case. There is also a compassionate scientist who is pivotal to the film, and he is fine, but not worth much more than a mention. Beyond these characters, there is unfortunately a plethora of side characters, most of whom fail to impress on any note. Several, especially Strickland’s boss, are almost impressively generic and bland. Rather, if the film focused on them instead, I believe it would be average at best in quality. Thankfully, there are only a few scenes without heavy focus on the main cast, which is comprised of mostly amazing performances.
Oh, the film is well-shot in terms of the proper conveyance of events, but it also seems surprisingly tame considering the material. I thought the cinematography was certainly competent, but there’s little innovation in that, if any.
At the surface level of The Shape of Water, it is about a woman’s struggle to find happiness and her place in the world. She does not attempt to socialize with anyone outside of her two friends. She is ostracized if not ignored by most of her coworkers. Yet, she is a complex and righteous character in a film well worth watching. There’s a brilliance to it. This movie has a story that is dissimilar to any I have ever seen, and that is a blessing by its own right. The bonus comes from the entertainment and creativity with which Del Toro approaches presenting his own absurd ideas.
I have had a few requests recently to review another film which I despise. Some people who read my Into The Woods review apparently wished to know my thoughts on other such films. I suppose I know a handful of big-budget, renowned films which I would call the worst to disgrace the medium. This would be another example. I foresee some readers wondering why I would choose Babel, a film once nominated for a Best Picture academy award. I hope that by the time I am finished writing this, precious and perplexed person, you will understand. After all, this will be a very long review.
Admittedly, I had planned to watch this film again before reviewing it, in the interest of fairness. However, I soon realized that, in order to bear such unfaltering defilement of my mind once more, I would require an amount of alcohol that would likely render the review pointless and myself deceased. Therefore, the basis of the review shall be my memory of the film, which I expect to be quite accurate considering how it is etched into my brain as one might have a worded tattoo which exhibits a prominent spelling error. That is, the mistake is clear and inescapable.
I should note that I adore some of Alejandro Inarritu’s later films (especially Birdman) and I now harbor no bias against him. I suppose he may have learned from his mistakes. I will spoil some things, but nobody should ever see this movie again under any circumstances (including threats of death and dismemberment) so I implore my readers to care not for the details of such an atrocity.
Now, Babel is a film which is comprised of four stories covering many people in different countries. None of the characters in this film have any real development or narrative, due to the size of the cast and the ineptitude of all involved in the film’s creation, with the possible exception of the cameraman. I feel a deep sense of pity for whoever had such a harrowing duty. I try to avoid using movie posters as images for my reviews because I would rather pick a picture I appreciate or one which represents the film well. I found an image with only Brad Pitt in it because I want to focus on the fact that he is the only actor in this film who is really trying. On a side note, this is probably the only film with Brad Pitt that is terrible. Also, due to the nature of Babel and the way it is presented, it is as if there were 4 short movies that became loosely connected through the contrived machinations of a blatherskite.
Anyway, there is a couple in a middle-eastern country, it doesn’t matter which one, it’s a place with sand and danger (dangerous sand?). One of those places with lots of stuff that’s coarse and gets everywhere. Most Hollywood films set in a middle eastern country simply show you sand and danger, so that’s what it is. Now, there’s a couple in the Desert of Peril and they are on some sort of tour bus. They seem unhappy together. That sums up both their characters nicely. Later the woman is shot, because some boys were playing with a gun nearby and decided to shoot at the bus. I will never understand what the film was going for with these boys, because they are obviously not young enough to lack the notion that you should not shoot guns at people. If Inarritu wanted people to pity the kids or see them as innocent, it failed. So, this woman is shot, and the other people on the bus do not care, and they end up being left in a downtrodden village with minimal medical care. Anybody who has seen The Walking Dead’s second season might remember several scenes with a character named Carl and understand how overlong, tedious, and melodramatic this is made to be. Yes, she was shot and she is in pain. I understand that. No, I do not need that many screams. Eventually a helicopter takes them to a hospital. That’s their entire story, essentially. It could have been a 10 minute short film, but this is Babel, where everything has to have much more to it.
Now, in the second of the 4 movies, the boys in Sandy Danger were labeled as terrorists, which seems accurate. Their dad herds goats because it is the Country of Beige Dirt that Hurts People so he has goats and also a rifle. Apparently he gave them the rifle. This does not matter for the rest of the story or any of the characters, but also, this is Babel, wherein nothing matters and everything is horrible. So, the boys are sad because they are terrorists. The government is looking for them. I think they hid the gun somewhere. They talk to their dad and for some reason they run away and also shoot cops. I think one of the kids died. I believe Inarritu wanted to show some depth or controversy for these characters, but instead, I felt as if they should have been captured and tried for their crimes.
Okay, so, let’s call the third one the Mexican Babysitter (not a rock band name, sadly) film. You see, the couple who are back in the Trouble Desert nation have children, and they are in California, but they are also in the movie. The babysitter wants to attend her son’s wedding, I think. It could have been her brother. Well, the wedding is in Mexico, but she and the kids are in San Diego. So, the babysitter finds out the couple are not coming back as planned, or something like that, but she wants to go to the wedding. She also needs to tend to their kids so they do not die, as they are very young. So, instead of finding some other help or solution with some form of logic, the babysitter decided to take the small children out to the border and try to go to the wedding in Mexico with them. Somehow this worked out okay at first, but after the wedding she decides to go back to San Diego as quickly as possible with the kids and a relative of hers. The guy is an imbecile, so there are problems, and somehow the babysitter and the kids end up stranded in the desert in Mexico overnight. I distinctly recall this scene disturbing me profoundly, as the babysitter continued to make unrealistic and horrendous decisions. The kids are fine and the babysitter was an illegal immigrant so she is deported. I think the viewer is also supposed to pity the babysitter here, but all I feel is pity for the child actors who may now be adults who are aware that they participated in this amalgamation of nonsense.
So, the final and worst film in this 4 film movie is set in Japan. Do you remember the boys from the Big Hazardous Beach Where There Is No Water Only Sand? Well apparently their dad, who I mentioned before, was given the gun by a Japanese man. Okay, that is fine, but now we have to focus on that Japanese man’s daughter apparently. You see, the daughter is a deaf, lonely teen who is deaf and also she cannot hear. This girl is sad and makes lots of bad decisions involving boys and drugs, and her ears don’t work. Apparently we had to see several scenes involving this girl being upset and deaf. I’m hammering this home so much because the film demands that you sympathize with this girl by forcing her lack of hearing into perspective in every scene. The script probably just named her character ‘deaf teen’ because that’s all she really is. Her mother killed herself but she lies to the police about how it happened for some reason. Also, she tries to seduce a cop because we needed a nude woman scene in the movie apparently. Does that just check another box so this film has all of the things? I suspect as much. So, the police question her dad and they are sad and I think the father and daughter meet at home and cry together.
So, Babel is a film which shows you many characters, most of whom are very sad, but it does not mean anything. Essentially, most of what this movie shows you would be tertiary details in a better film. Interconnection works well as a nice twist or as a driving motivation for characters in many stories. However, Babel acts as if something must be connected to everything so it takes one thing and turns it into four things. I think Babel is treated as if it is a clever and unique movie, but the characters are so tangentially connected, often by happenstance, that everything in the film seems pointless. That is why I see it as 4 movies smashed together, stacked in a car crusher. If you focus on the story of the tourist couple, none of the other stories actually affect that one. None of the events of the film directly seem to pertain to the other events in other places. Yes, the boys shoot the bus, but the rest of the scenes with the boys do not relate to the rest of the scenes with the couple. Therefore, it comes across as a random mess. There is no point to any of it. I cannot express my revilement of this film enough. The characters constantly make absurd and unrealistic decisions, the movie flips between unrelated occurrences so persistently that despite an unbelievably long run-time there is barely any character development. In theory the idea could have worked better as a long television series, but I probably still would not want to watch it, because I think that on a fundamental level, the idea was terrible. I’m convinced now that this film is one which resonates emotionally with audiences so much that they do not consider logic or realism. Apparently, people care about these characters enough that they are not bored and angry. This film, just as Into the Woods had as well, insulted my intelligence. Babel treats the viewer as a machine built only to care about sad people and ignore all else. Everything in the movie falls flat, and nothing delivers on the barest minimum of quality standards except the cinematography. Yet, even something that seems competently filmed can be a fiery chasm of wasted time and energy.
Babel is Egregious. This film is abhorrent and relentless in its attempts at conveying messages based on nonsense and cruelty. I cannot stand this film. I cannot bear it when people tell me it is a good movie. I want to confront the academy voters of 2007, one by one, and demand to know how much they were bribed to pretend this film is passable. The production values are high and the actors are famous but Babel is far more poorly made than the likes of The Room or Birdemic. That’s not ironic or sarcastic. I mean this very seriously. If I were to teach people about good storytelling or writing, I would highlight this film as an example of what must never be done.
With each new year comes a new Star Wars film. This one has stars and also some warfare. I hope that is not a spoiler.
So, The Last Jedi is an odd film among other Star Wars flicks. You see, this is the most closed-off film in the series, in terms of scope. There are very few locations, and much of it is set in space. Yet, in some ways, this is refreshing to a relatively mild fan of the franchise such as myself. I should note here that I have never adored the Star Wars films, and I do not believe they necessarily deserve high praise. Still, I do not mind seeing them when they release, especially considering the volume of my compatriots who would discuss a new entry’s merits or shortfalls.
I will dive into the effects and cinematography first; the film is visually breathtaking. That is to be expected, of course. There were some incredibly stunning moments, and the aforementioned focus on open space is executed quite effectively, albeit with some flaws. That is, although it’s a wonderful idea to have a film set primarily in space (unless that film is called Gravity) the film suffers somewhat from a lack of environmental diversity. The Last Jedi is quite a long movie, and I would argue that it drags toward the middle, having little to show that hasn’t been shown several times already. I could almost wager that this was a cost-saving decision, requiring few filming locations and a more simplistic set design. Regardless, this is noticeable, and any viewer expecting an array of strange planets and vibrant scenery may be disappointed. Despite this setback, The Last Jedi does well with its shot composition. There’s a particular scene toward the end of the film, in which all sound is cut out for an intense effect, and there’s a beautiful shot with stunning visual design. Also, there are a few scenes with Rey which have excellent camerawork showcasing a fairly unique area which was seen briefly in The Force Awakens.
The acting is mostly good. I am conflicted; Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver were splendid, as expected from them. Oscar Isaac had a fairly wooden and simple performance this time, as he was constantly angry and bitter throughout the film. He exhibited so little variability in countenance that I fear director Rian Johnson may have fooled us all with a CGI recreation of him from a single photograph. Poe Dameron was an intriguing and somewhat complex character in The Force Awakens, yet here he seems wasted and shoved aside. That’s probably more an issue of writing than acting, admittedly. Of course, that does not apply to Laura Dern. I appreciate her acting capability, but she is unconvincing as a rebellion general. Her character appears suddenly when it is necessary, and there are mentions of her past, but she acts as if she were reading from a script in which she plays a family matriarch, guiding whippersnappers along their journey. I do not believe her character was necessary in the film, but if she had treated it differently, I may have enjoyed her performance more. As some may wonder, considering the buzz this has been getting around the internet, I do not care about her hair. I do not think a character’s hair color is relevant to the movie’s quality. That would be pedantic.
The story has many incredible twists and a variety of remarkable situations. Frankly, this is actually a very surprising film. While I did find Force Awakens to be somewhat predictable, I had my expectations subverted persistently in this film. That is a testament to the difference between The Last Jedi and other Star Wars films; this movie will not go in any direction foreshadowed by the previous films, and I daresay it revels in mocking one’s predictions. A persistent reader of mine may glean a sense that I appreciate films which are able to consistently surprise me. There are touching and heartfelt scenes, and while the action scenes are few and far between, they are worthy of praise for their style and ingenuity. I suppose that I wanted a more grandiose presentation for the middle of a Star Wars trilogy. Still, I cannot fault the film much for its design in that aspect. The dialogue is witty although sometimes corny, but that is how I have always viewed Star Wars. Some of the jokes were strange, and while none will be as quotable as ‘scruffy-looking nerf-herder’, they mostly landed decently. The music is standard Star Wars fare; outside of the predictable opening crawl, there is not much to be said about it. There is nothing wrong with the sound, but I do not believe it was a significant step up from previous films, per se.
The main issue with this movie is the script. A striking amount of screen time is spent on dialogue-driven scenes that, while somewhat entertaining, serve little purpose and seem to pad the run-time. I would have appreciated a heavier focus on Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, and Rey; despite the length of The Last Jedi, precious little time is spent on what I would deem the best parts of the movie. Certain characters die suddenly in unexpected but disappointing ways. Overall, I believe the new characters could have been left out in favor of a tighter cast. I would argue that the original trilogy worked well in no small part due to the constant presence of its main trio, leading to excellent character development and recognizable story arcs. Despite my complaints, The Last Jedi is likely my favorite Star Wars film. It is well worth seeing, especially for the impressive visual artistry.
This one sits as a Wondrous film. I enjoyed it more than the other Disney Star Wars movies, and my appreciation of certain scenes and effects outweighs my lamentations of the script and acting. Worth noting is The Last Jedi’s comparison to another 2017 sci-fi film I have reviewed here: Blade Runner 2049. If a viewer has a choice between seeing this or the new Blade Runner, I highly recommend the latter. Blade Runner 2049 somehow has less notoriety yet arguably does better what this film tried to accomplish in virtually every category.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is peculiar in its sagacity. Therefore, I think it’s necessary to keep this simple. You see, there’s not much I can say about this movie without quickly running out of adjectives with positive connotations. In all my years of watching movies, I’ve seen only a few which could match the sheer brilliance and raw magnitude of awe within Three Billboards. The story is as unique as can be; I’ve never seen a film with a concept resembling that of this film, and the various strange events transpiring in this small Missouri town work to cement that idea.
The music has various intense and intermittent guitar-heavy tracks which beautifully contribute to the scenes. That effect can’t be understated. The writing proves exceedingly hilarious and remarkably dire and gloomy, both in convincing and incredible ways. Every facet of this film is virtually flawless. Everything is weird and lovely and sublime. There’s real character development in a movie that isn’t especially long, and the acting is magnificent across the board. Do you see the problem yet, oh precious reader of mine? I’m using too many adjectives because it’s too damn fine for criticism or even neutrality. The shots weren’t spectacular (except one profoundly intense scene), but they were still excellently utilized, so they don’t hinder the film at all. The special effects are fantastic too, and why should they be? Who would even care? Yet, they put great detail into making sure everything was convincing and amazing. It’s a mobius strip of delight, a can of pure bliss with no artificial preservatives.
Martin Mcdonagh’s previous films, such as In Bruges and especially Seven Psychopaths, were sublime and darkly funny in their own right. I have cherished Seven Psychopaths for a few years, and I didn’t expect its place in my mind to be superseded by Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Mcdonagh is at his best……no, that’s not quite right. Mcdonagh is at the acme of cinematic quality. I don’t think this is a niche feature or a bizarre cult classic in the making, either. This isn’t some one-off odd film some people brought together. This is a masterpiece, and an achievement of the highest order. I wondered why Mcdonagh took 5 years to make another film, and I wonder no longer. If this is the result, let him take all the time he needs. It’s certainly been worth the wait.
Salient…In fact, if ever I adjust the system and add a new category for the very best possible films in the history of mankind, this will be there. It’s not just worth the ticket price, it’s worth the blu-ray box set price. It’s worth the price of a collector’s edition with special interviews and bonus content. I might cry if this movie doesn’t get Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. I can’t imagine anything being better this year than this movie has been for me. Please, I urge you, whoever you are, to watch this movie as soon as possible, no matter the cost. Regret is surely impossible thereafter.
2018 Update: It won both major acting categories. I am very glad for it. I still think it deserved Best Picture, but it’s nice to see my favorite film of the year recognized so highly anyway.
It’s probably wrong of me to see the third Thor film without seeing the second. In answer to this, I didn’t care to see the second Thor film. From what I’ve gathered, I was right to avoid it. However, this movie is a bit different from most Marvel outings in my opinion.
I’d like to start by claiming that this is the funniest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. Most of them made me laugh several times, but this one really had me in stitches. Then, subsequent drama and legitimately tender moments ripped open the stitches and left me confused and bleeding slightly. The writing is quite good all-around. It isn’t believable, per se, but it isn’t supposed to be. I suppose the MCU films, and perhaps especially this one, operate with this sense of ‘science-magic does whatever we want it to’ mentality. In accepting that and running with it, I can see (and review, naturally) how effectively the support runs around it. Some part of me wants to call the whole film childish and absurd, but it’s done in an entertaining manner, and I quickly stopped caring about how bizarre and random many things seemed. With that in mind, it’s somewhat farcical, but it’s truly held up by crazed, sensational special effects (there’s a one-man army scene in the middle which blew me away) and stereotypical superhero music to supplement the material. I think this is one of the least formulaic superhero movies I’ve seen, as well.
The performances are nice, although not particularly special or noteworthy, with the exception of Jeff Goldblum. He’s not afforded a great deal of screentime, but his sheer charisma and obnoxious attitude were pleasant. Also, I appreciated Chris Hemsworth here, as he goes through a range of emotions and shows himself to be effective in various capacities. I’ve never been a fan of Mark Ruffalo or Tom Hiddleston, but I suppose they were better in this film than they had been in a few others. I recall a specific moment which referenced back to a memorable scene in The Avengers (which, keep in mind, was released 5 years prior to this film) and I appreciated this sense of characters’ persistent memories between several films, especially with such a subtle nod. Hulk and Thor have some memorable and funny scenes together, and I appreciated their relationship’s fluctuation throughout the film.
So, the story of Thor Ragnarok is intriguing and amusing, at the very least. There are some fairly clever twists, and the ending was magnificent to me. There were some characters which seemed simply meant for a short running gag, but they were held up throughout the film, which was surprising and enjoyable.
This one’s a Wondrous film. It’s not terribly high on that scale, but it’s fine there. I realize that sometimes a movie is intended to be a bombastic and insane comedy with ridiculous action scenes, and that’s fine. For those seeking that sort of experience, there’s not much I’ve found that fits the bill better. It’s a good movie that deserves to be watched for a good laugh.
I suppose that my lack of prior knowledge regarding this story is a matter of significance; I was pleasantly surprised by the story beats of this film, and I appreciated the twists and turns as one may when first reading the Agatha Christie novel upon which the film is based. Whether this is a profoundly flawless adaptation, I cannot say.
Kenneth Branagh’s work is diverse and complex. He’s behind the worst Frankenstein film I’ve ever seen (It’s really quite abysmal), and the best Shakespeare film as well. Forgive my resultant caution, as I was enticed to see this film but not with immediacy. Rather, I’d like to see more intelligent mystery films, and also more intriguing films set on trains (Snowpiercer is the only good train film I could recall offhand). So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film.
Branagh’s portrayal of detective Hercule Poirot is fabulous. It’s the sort of character which seems fleshed out and driven without the movie yielding spoon-fed details to a wide-eyed viewer without a bib. He’s funny and charming but also subdued and bitter. He’s sarcastic in such a manner that one might be fooled into believing an insult to be a compliment. As an actor, Branagh is riveting and incredibly, perhaps ferociously, serene. It’s difficult to explain how a character can seem to emote effectively while remaining steadfast and calm. While this is certainly Poirot’s story, I’d be amiss to lack mention of his supporting cast. There are many diverse characters who play their parts beautifully, however little screen time they may have been afforded. Particularly notable is Daisy Ridley, who I had not seen outside Star Wars until this outing, in which she is remarkably fierce and perhaps coy as Mary Debenham. Josh Gad and Willem Dafoe also stand out somewhat.
The writing in Murder on the Orient Express is nothing short of brilliant. There’s a quick wit with brevity and complexity I wouldn’t see much outside of Wes Anderson films (and I do so adore Wes Anderson films). I found myself incredulous at my own laughter in this film, as it’s not farcical or especially comical in its presentation, but rather, it can be hilarious through many short dialogue exchanges. Yet, when there must be a serious turn of events, the film (and by extension, Branagh) never misses a beat. It’s dreadful and morose when it needs to be. I don’t think that any scene was especially mundane. Poirot’s apparently realistic obsessive-compulsive tendencies are an incredible surprise as well. It’s not perfect, but it’s the sort of consistently wonderful and relatively believable dialogue which elevates what could have been a monotonous slog of a movie. As for the mystery, it’s resolved in a manner I could not have foreseen, and that’s a testament to the novel as well as Branagh’s presentation of the events; my awe as the credits rolled was well-deserved for this film.
There’s not much to say about the cinematography, unfortunately. That’s not to say that it is bad, but, without spoiling anything, the majority of the film simply occurs within various compartments of a train. There are a few nice environmental shots and some quick cuts around the train, but it isn’t spectacular. It’s competent, and the camera does its job well, but I was seldom taken aback by shot compositions or transitions. In terms of effects, the setting is made believable, and I appreciated certain outdoor scenes with some lovely environments. I’d guess that it’s all CGI, but I’m unsure, so the effects are therefore pretty good.
The musical score for the film is amazing. It’s gut-wrenching and turbulent as it should be, but it’s also boisterous and booming when such a tone is expected. I do not often see films which time certain pieces so well. It’s not so hauntingly memorable or mesmerizing as the recent Blade Runner 2049’s score, but it’s beyond serviceable.
This is one for the Wondrous section. It’s sweet and it’s profound. There seem to be hints at a possible sequel starring Branagh once again, and I would gladly seek that out if it happens.
This movie is a grandiose spectacle. I want to pay special attention to how awe-struck I was by the visual storytelling. It’s not just that the effects are top-notch; there’s a great deal in the background which amplifies the story and the world of the film. This is truly terrific in scope and execution. From subtle hints at a futuristic equivalent to racism, to several intriguing implications regarding unseen events or ideas, Blade Runner 2049’s aesthetic is imperative for its delivery. It also features many striking shots, especially with overhead views of vast cities and deserts. Truly, Blade Runner 2049 is beautiful to gaze upon.
Understand that, as a reviewer with focus on quality of substance over presentation, I’d say this doesn’t make or break any film on its own. The visuals are incredible and noteworthy because they elevate the rest of the film, and support the excellent writing. There are nods to the first film, yet they are scarce enough that I suppose it’s not necessary to be familiar with it.
On that note, the course of events in this film is compelling; do not believe anyone who tells you this is a boring film. Rather, I suppose it could be boring for viewers with no interest in mystery or actual plot. Perhaps Zack Snyder enthusiasts should stay away from this one. I digress; there’s a chain of events in this film, following the protagonist K and his interpretation of everything around him. In that sense, this isn’t an action film, and the science fiction environment is arguably a backdrop or perhaps simply a circumstance of this complex character study. I won’t divulge any further details here, as this is a story one ought to experience fully without being spoiled in the slightest. I don’t say that lightly, as I think most films won’t be brought down with some ancillary information. This is probably my most vague review yet, and for good reason.
Ryan Gosling is a gem in this film. I’d say all of the actors perform wonderfully, yet Gosling stands out in particular. There are a few scenes in which his character, K, has an incredible revelation, which also serves as a clever twist for the audience. Instead of a stereotypical swell of sounds to indicate something significant (which I find common for even the best film twists), in one such scene, the movie becomes silent as K comes to an understanding and exhibits an intense emotional reaction. It’s not over-the-top or unbelievable, either. He’s reacting the way the audience might in such a situation. That’s what makes his performance so magnificent. Also, Ana de Armas deserves a mention, as I’ve never seen her act before, and she’s a stellar opposite to Gosling’s K, bringing levity and a bit of bleakness to the world, while bringing back memories of Her, which is another fantastic film.
Finally, the music in this film is a strange mix of techno and classical pieces which blend in juxtaposition in such a way that I would have trouble believing it had I not witnessed this myself. This isn’t a knock on techno music by any means, yet I realize that I’m accustomed to having a blaring techno track pounding a viewer’s ears while guns fire and things explode and stuff happens all over the screen. That is, Blade Runner 2049’s soundtrack utilizes a quiet and brooding tone while eliciting awe and wonder, complimenting the visuals amazingly. This is the best score in a film this year, so far. It’s impossible to overstate its effect.
This is a Salient film. That’s where it must be placed. I could gripe about a sudden and open ending, or the strange and sparse use of Jared Leto’s character, yet I was so riveted by the film that it can’t be brought down very much. Everyone who wants to see movies with excellent stories and ideas should quickly see this on a theater screen.
Wind River is painful to watch. That’s not because it’s poorly made, or because it’s disgusting, or any other possible negative aspect; this isn’t some abhorrent or trashy film…it’s practically a masterpiece. That’s why it hurts, though. This is a film about loss, and grief, and horrible, gut-wrenching, brain-splattering tragedy. Yet, unlike almost every sad drama I’ve seen, Wind River pulls no punches. Wind River doesn’t care that it hurts. Seeing this might cause someone to need painkillers because it’s unbelievably harsh and effective to a point at which the audience is on a train and they passed Reason and Sensibility 3 stops back. They’re at the end of the line now and they’re pretty sure there’s been a mistake because the rails just end with a sign which states “Goodbye.” It’s also beautifully shot, especially considering the vast emptiness in much of the film’s landscapes. A less competent filmmaker would end up with boring stills of snow. That’s not how this was done, however. Actually, this film could have been simple and formulaic; the story is not far from that of a generic thriller film, yet it’s handled so brilliantly that it moves past the notion of normalcy.
I cannot express enough the harrowing experience of watching this film. I was reminded of Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (which also involves punching) in how gloomy and dire the film is. That’s a great film, and Wind River is better. There’s a persistent bleakness which perhaps escapes the film itself and attacks the psyche of any who dare enjoy it. Still, the effect such a film has had on me is amazing and terrible in its grandeur. This is no sprawling epic, no immensely packed film with many high profile actors and lavish set pieces. This is a low-budget mystery thriller and it’s probably the best it could be. Also, the soundtrack was good, but not especially memorable, unfortunately. That’s probably the biggest flaw, overall.
Wind River delivers and causes me to quiver and shiver. There’s little to say about the story or characters without possibly spoiling important narrative points, and so, I can divulge little but the utmost praise for each. However, perhaps the most shocking aspect of Wind River, personally, was the idea that Jeremy Renner can be an excellent actor. I’ve seen him in ~10 movies, and I’ve always thought he brought each of them down, and that he should have been recast (Yes, even in The Avengers). To my surprise, he gives a subtle, muted, quiet performance while showing a significant contrast in emotions. He has a range and depth in this movie which I would not have expected to see. Elizabeth Olsen is also a tour de force in this role, which was also surprising, albeit less so. I’ve seen very little of her, however, this film has caused me to wonder what more she can bring to films from now on.
This snags a spot in the Salient category. It’s perfect on a technical level, extremely engaging, and remarkably enticing. This is an exotic gem of a movie, a rare and precious artifact, something to be appreciated and cherished persistently. Wind River represents the acme of its genre, and deserves to be seen by many, even if it leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth. Tyler Sheridan is doubtlessly one of the greatest modern filmmakers. Expect this one to win multiple academy awards.
Allow me to preface this review by stating that I have read the book and would consider it one of King’s finest. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience attempt to represent myself as an unbiased party in relation to the fact that this is an adaptation.
Now, IT is deliciously exciting horror. One could call it a manifestation of the original material as a film, yet that’s not quite IT. This movie takes its time and burns into one’s mind, setting up the idea that terror may take many forms and can bring a sense of awe the likes of which I have seldom witnessed in recent horror films. I ought to make note of the impeccable cast, most of whom I had not seen acting prior to this film. Frankly, it’s rare for me to find a movie in theaters with a main cast so unknown to me. I suppose some might be concerned by this, yet I found myself hopeful and, afterward, impressed. The kids are delightful as a group of friends and convincing when IT pushes for scares, yet they seem to relish the convergence of such scenes. That is, I’ve seen far too many young actors who seemingly cannot handle juxtaposition of lighthearted scenes with serious drama or horror. Make no mistake, this is a film which will not disappoint on that front. Perhaps more significantly, the film is often quite comedic in its lighthearted moments, and these actors shine in this aspect as well. Causing laughter and fright with little time between is no easy feat. There’s a particular scene involving a choice of doors which had me in hysterics for longer than I could have expected. All in all, the dialogue is top notch, the comedy works and is fittingly sparse, and the children are nigh flawless in their portrayal of fairly typical children. As a quick side note, the 1980s setting is aptly utilized without being relied upon too much for references or music. On music, the score was effective but generally unmemorable. I suppose it struck me as relatively generic.
Of course, any who have seen the 1990 miniseries may remember Tim Curry as the eternal Pennywise. Creepy, bewildering, and sometimes funny, he stole the show and arguably made the miniseries, to be blunt, watchable (at least for the first half). Let it be known then that Bill Skarsgard, while never, in this film, being funny in the slightest, pulled off Pennywise the Dancing Clown in such a fashion that IT will surely become a horror icon. Understand that this is, first and foremost, a horror film, and in that regard it is incredibly effective. This is the type of performance which causes a mass of theatergoers to be akin to the supporters of the home team when the opposing team scores; IT causes shrieks of despair in a surprisingly synchronized crowd.
Skarsgard’s Pennywise is a gangly, wretched creature of strange proportions, and he’s obsessed with contortions, wanting arms as meal portions. There’s a sense brought forth in several moments which tells the audience that Pennywise truly enjoys his clown facade, and that IT seeks amusement, perhaps over all else. This couldn’t be done so effectively without an astounding performance, naturally. Skarsgard himself deserves an award for this achievement; essentially, IT’s success surely hinged on the villainous clown, and with a less capable actor, I am certain IT would have fallen short. On the other hand, his actual design, with a combination of the occasional special effects and an outstanding costume/makeup job, IT looks just human enough to be terrifying in a grounded sense. At the same time, this monster terrified many adults, and would likely give some of them nightmares. There are few stereotypical (and personally loathed) jump scares as well, which was wonderful for me. However, IT is not for the faint of heart, as the classic horror style of building dread was remarkable.
The pacing of the story itself reminded me of Get Out, from earlier this year. I believe a relatively slow pace, with very low intensity for much of the run time, helped elevate the actual horror elements, especially toward the end, which is wrought with suspense.
There’s little to bring the film down, when I think about IT. This isn’t a perfect film, yet there aren’t any glaring flawst. IT adapts the book’s material quite well while taking some creative liberties, some of which are not to be berated. Andy Muschietti proves himself to be an excellent director here. This fits in the Wondrous category as a film which will be fondly remembered. IT nearly belongs as a Salient film, yet I find myself unable to compare it with similar work. Regardless, horror fans should flock to this flick. Johnny Depp should avoid IT, however.
IT is certainly worth the ticket price, and I believe that, for this particular film, seeing IT in the theater is a profoundly enjoyable experience. IT’s one of the better movies this year.
Make no mistake; this is a love story. With sole regard to its plot structure, it is a simple and relatively formulaic romantic comedy. However, with its superb writing and persistent hilarity, it’s quite subversive. Frequent yet unpredictable destruction of the fourth wall leads to a bewildering and unique experience. It’s comparable to Blazing Saddles, which is a classic and delightful comedy. Furthermore, Ryan Reynolds is perfectly comfortable, or rather, it’s as if the role were made for him and vice versa. His deadpan Deadpool (irresistable opportunity) is consistently witty and brazen, while never becoming crude enough to be slovenly or repulsive. The writing for Reynolds’ character appears delicately amalgamated, albeit strikingly absurd.
Still, as an action film, Deadpool flounders; while certainly entertaining, there’s precious little to behold to match said genre, resulting in my recommendation to view the film expecting a romantic comedy. Additionally, the antagonist is subpar in characterization and dialogue, coming across as a fairly unremarkable and highly standardized villain, without depth. The villain is not alone in that aspect; several characters were virtually without depth or coverage in the film, seemingly tossed in for an increased runtime and joke count. Though said jokes are enjoyable, the characters are all but wasted, which, considering the prospective potential, is disappointing.
Nonetheless, Deadpool is an astounding and stylistically particular film, and its humor is marvelous. (double entendre absolutely intended)
I’m writing this from memory because I am unwilling to watch this film again. I don’t believe I could be paid enough to watch it again. Name an incentive, and it will be insufficient.
Into The Woods angered me. I was shaken to my core and I wanted to melt into an ooze which would subsequently seep into my carpet, leaving a pronounced stain. I’ve only ever seen a few movies so mind-numbing and awful that I found myself livid at having been exposed to the filth. In comparison, if someone were to expose my face to a pile of assorted garbage, I might claim it to be a more pleasant experience than the one I had with Into The Woods. I would have trouble finding another film so abysmal; I’ve seen many films which are poorly made or otherwise boring and unintelligent (‘Manos: Hands of Fate’ comes to mind).
Characters disappear constantly and permanently, to be called dead by others later on. Every protagonist is more detestable in ethical sanity than any antagonist. This film is filled with nonsense and takes itself completely seriously. None of it is funny, and I don’t think it’s trying to be, but it plays out as the most poorly made farce imaginable. I don’t even have a comparison for this. I am unsure any comparison could do justice to the sheer magnitude of atrocity which is supposedly considered a film. I abhor this film. I believe all copies should be destroyed. I hope the writers and directors never work in Hollywood again. I want somebody to be punished somehow for their skulduggery. I couldn’t fathom the lack of quality in this film. Within twenty minutes I considered leaving the cinema in favor of staring at a wall outside of the building. There’s a scene with Chris Pine in which he sings and dances in an amusing fashion. That was a couple of minutes out of this slog in which I was not furious with my predicament, until the monotonous assault of my senses resumed promptly. The song was called Agony and it somehow accurately described how I felt during the movie.
This film insults the viewer’s intelligence, and attacks the foundation of a moral spectrum. I wished gleefully for all of the supposedly good characters to be killed in the third act by a certain creature, only for them to prevail for some convoluted and absurd reason. It’s fine to have antiheroes and it’s great to have understandable villains, yet there’s nothing to be gained by having one’s main characters painted as heroes while being more heinous and devious than most action movie baddies.
This is naturally a film which belongs perfectly as Egregious. It’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and probably ever will see. I wish I hadn’t sat through such a bastardization of fantasy elements and children’s stories. I would have been better off, especially considering the talent of some of the actors here. It’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Wes Anderson’s new film is out and it is a lovely movie with a lot to say about ethics and racism and dogs. It’s also likely the best stop-motion film ever made. I’m not sure anybody should need to know more, but I’m still going to review the film properly.
Let me start with the visuals; this film is spectacular in its aesthetic. Everything from the crazy action scenes to the simple facial expressions immersed and amused me consistently. This aspect far exceeded my expectations; what I have seen previously from stop-motion film techniques did not prepare me for the incredible nuances of this film. I believe this is, at the very least, a masterpiece in its medium of creation. I’m not sure how to categorize stop-motion as opposed to normal live-action or traditionally animated films, but it is truly mesmerizing to witness the masterful direction and cinematography. The mouths of the dogs move perfectly for the words, showing the extreme attention to detail of Wes Anderson’s work.
The actors, although they only contribute their voices, are all fantastic. I was able to easily believe the attitudes and ideals represented by the dog and human characters alike, including those who spoke exclusively Japanese. On that note, several characters speak Japanese without subtitles; all of the translations of this dialogue are diegetic in nature, coming from within the film through physically present translators or other characters paraphrasing the ideas. I think this relates amazingly well to the idea that the film’s story is told from the perspective of dogs whose vocalizations are translated to English. That is, in a more normal story of human characters, the dogs would be incomprehensible as the Japanese are in this film. It’s an interesting take on the idea, at least. The movie is wildly inventive, to say the least.
The music is often wonderfully relaxing and sometimes somber in tone. It never detracts from the film or overpowers the importance of the on-screen occurrences. The sound, as with the rest of the film, is amazing throughout. Isle of Dogs has many tracks that simply fit the scenes incredibly well, and there’s nothing generic or lame about any of it. There’s a particular song with words that was played several times which evoked a sense of calm and wonder in me. I’ll have to find that song so I can listen to it otherwise, in fact.
I realize that this is, by definition of its manner of creation, a bizarre film. I cannot expect it to appeal to everyone, and yet, I am compelled to recommend it to all. It’s great, but more than that, it’s strikingly unique. Each character is distinct and has their own quirky traits, and the film is consistently hilarious while also occasionally taking a moment to be dreary and depressing. The shifts in tone never seem imperfect or unplanned.
This one is Salient. I believe there is a good reason Wes Anderson took 4 full years to release another film, which, incidentally, is his longest period between films in his entire career since 1996’s Bottle Rocket. It’s wholesome and uplifting and breathtaking simultaneously. This is certainly a film for adults, but I believe it is well beyond worth seeing in the theater.