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Movie Reviews: I Kill Giants (2018), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Warriors of Virtue (1997)

August 12, 2019

51ztbslugml._sx331_bo1204203200_I Kill Giants is a small indie film about the painful process of saying goodbye. One of the rare comic book adaptions that doesn’t feature superheroes. It follows a young girl who’s coming of age while acting as her town’s one and only giant hunter.

I can’t call this a bad film, but it does seem to be lacking something vital. I’ve never read the original, but I’d be willing to be that the comic is the more enjoyable version of the story. Madison Wolfe and the rest of the cast do a fine job, but the script is a little clunky in how the metaphor is handled. The so so CGI didn’t help either.

Overall I imagine that this would work a lot better for someone who’s currently coming of age. I wish I wasn’t so old and cynical now, but alas. Currently on Hulu if you wanna check it out. 7/10

cl10 Cloverfield Lane is a horror thriller that takes place almost entirely inside a bunker home. The plot follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she wakes up in said bunker after being involved in a car crash. She’s trapped in the bunker with the friendly John Gallagher Jr. and the creepy as fuck John Goodman, both of whom believe that the world has ended outside. This is also supposedly a sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield but there’s no way you would have guessed that on your own.

Acting is amazing. Winstead and Gallagher Jr. are both really good here, but John Goodman isn’t pulling any punches as a brutally eccentric loner who’s suddenly forced to share a confined space with two other people. It’s a good thing the cast is so good too since the three of them are literally the only characters.

This is the feature length debut of Dan Trachtenberg who won’t put out his sophomore effort until 2020. It’s a solid debut with nerve wracking levels of tension and steady pacing. A big budget video game adaption is an extremely different project to take on, but I have a feeling that he can pull off Uncharted.

The script is really tight and full of great stuff that I like. But it also has a head scratchingly dumb and tacked on ending. I guess it was a reference to the first Cloverfield even though it makes no sense.

Overall this was pretty good. No where near as good as it was hyped up back on it’s initial release though. 7.5/10

warriors-of-virtue-dutch-vhs-coverWarriors of Virtue is a bizarre Australian rip off of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead of turtles it’s kangaroos because of course it is. Instead of unique ninja weapons they have uh, I don’t remember exactly. I think one of them had a ring thing that they threw around like Cap’s shield and I think maybe one had a sword? Each of the five kangaroos have an elemental power or something, but they all look the same except for the girl one so telling them apart was nearly impossible.

The story follows a highly annoying tween boy who gets sucked into this crazy world of kung fu kangaroos and evil warlocks. He has to help the kangaroos defeat the evil warlock dude of course, and why can’t they defeat the warlock without this lame kid? Well they’re mad at each other and they need his kid to yell at them before they can save the day.

Acting is not great, most of the performers are playing at extremely exaggerated levels that are too much even for this childish material. Of course I can’t really blame them for attempting to keep up with the spectacular Angus Macfadyen who plays Komodo the evil warlock of the film. He utterly transcends over the rest of the film, every time I was tempted to turn it off there would be another scene with him and the film would just come alive. Sure he’s technically doing the same silly things as his co-stars, but he somehow makes the zaniness feel natural.

It doesn’t seem like the director, cinematographer and editor were on the same page as each other. In fact it seems like they were reading different books entirely. So many of the choices made here are truly baffling and repeatedly took me out of the film.

One of the better aspects of the film were all the elaborate sets and costumes. Granted they could have made the kangaroos easier to tell apart, but otherwise it was a good effort. Also the actors didn’t seem able to move as well in the kangaroo suits as the Ninja Turtle actors could.

Overall don’t bother. I was pretty high and that barely helped me enjoy it. Maybe just fast forward to all of the Macfadyen scenes if you’re really curious. 4/10

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Movie Review – Fast And Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

August 9, 2019

mv5bmza5ndzmn2utotg5nc00ntgzltgwngutntcznmziodnkmgyzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyodqznte3odc40._v1_uy1200_cr6806301200_al_So this isn’t the worst Fast and Furious film I’ve ever seen, but it is pretty damn stupid. It is fun in parts but the balance skews towards stupid. Also it’s way too long for what it is.

The plot is something something super soldier cyborg and something something deadly virus. The dialogue is almost entirely insults and exposition. I guess I shouldn’t have expected too much, but this still feels like a big step down in quality from the previous few Fast films.

Acting is fine I guess. Nobody is winning any Oscars but they’ve safely avoided any Razzy wins so yeah. Idris Elba is possibly having the most fun here as a comic book super villain, but he still falls short of elevating the material.

David Leitch does a fine job at directing big ridiculous action set pieces. The first act also had some clever choices in contrasting Hobbs and Shaw, but the rest of it just felt perfunctory. Also the third act is a mess of constantly changing amounts of daylight and rain, not to mention that it took place over both six minutes and thirty minutes at the same time according to the plot.

Overall I’m betting I would have liked it better on streaming. 6.75/10

Movie Review: Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood

August 3, 2019

once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood-poster

This film is a true Hollywood fairy tale from a director that is as obsessed with the sixties as he is about the film industry. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away if your not familiar with Charles Manson or Sharon Tate, but I will say that this is more of an inspired by and less of a based on. Except for the once scene with Bruce Lee which read as entirely fictitious.

It stars two actors who give amazing performances worthy of their already impressive legacies. Margot Robbie is also really good here, she’s just not given a whole lot to do. The rest of the cast is also really amazing, with Al Pacino and Kurt Russel playing bit supporting characters.

I like Tarantino’s directing style, but this felt a little over indulgent. Like I understand that his dialogue is great and all but that still doesn’t mean it should overtake the plot to the point of it not existing until the third act. Also a nearly three hour run time is way too long for these guys to be sitting around talking about nothing for most of it. I dread what this could have been with lesser caliber actors in the leads.

The soundtrack is loaded with a wide slew of sixties songs, both mainstream hits and underground gems alike. I usually prefer a traditional movie score, but period pieces get a pass because honestly what composer could capture the era better then this music?

I wasn’t expecting much special effect work in this film, but recreating 60’s Hollywood was a really nice effect. Not to mention the insertion of Leo into classic old movies. Didn’t quite look right, but I enjoyed the effort.

Overall I did really like it despite all my complaints. Not my favorite of the year or even of Tarantino’s but it is refreshingly different then all the other films I’ve seen this year. 8.5/10

Movie Review: Crawl

July 24, 2019

crawl-dutch-posterYou want alligators? This movie gives you fucking alligators. It even throws in a category five hurricane in case the gators weren’t enough for you.

The story is pretty basic. Aside from the main plot of nature verses everyone there’s a b plot involving a strained father daughter relationship that is the emotional anchor of the film. Not bad exactly, just fairly typical and predictable.

Kaya Scodelario and Berry Pepper are basically the only two cast members and they do a pretty good job. It was a little hard for me to get invested in their relationship, but I suspect that had more to do with the script then their acting.

The score is the best part of this film. It just sounds slimy and hungry. I’ve never heard of Max Aruj or Steffen Thum but they nailed this soundtrack.

CGI was also really good. It was really hard to tell that the gators were fake until they started acting like movie monsters instead of animals. That storm though was incredibly accurate, as well as their portrayal of Florida it self.

Overall it’s a fun and schlocky monster horror, but maybe wait until you can stream it somewhere. 7/10

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far From Home

July 23, 2019

spider-man-far-from-home-director-talks-about-shocking-character-return-in-the-mid-credits-sceneThe seventh live action Spider-Man film lands about in the middle of the pack for me. I did really like it, but my reaction was less “Oh awesome!” and more “Oh that was it?” Probably didn’t help my outlook that half the trailers were deleted scenes.

The story this time around follows Peter and his class on a trip across Europe because. On the trip he meets Mysterio who is super comics accurate to the point that they biggest difference between comic book Mysterio and this one is their levels of attractiveness. The story also has a passing of the torch subplot now that Tony Stark is gone. It’s a straightforward story that’s maybe a tad predictable, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it bad.

Tom Holland really cements himself as my personal favorite actor in this role, striking a perfect balance between the Spider-Man and Peter Parker personas. The rest of the returning cast is also great, adjusting more fully to their roles in the web of Spider-Man. Jake Gyllenhaal is pretty great as Mysterio, then again he’s kinda great in everything so yeah. Samuel L. Jackson is clearly having a lot of fun having an excuse to be a slightly less stoic version of Nick Fury. It was also nice to see Jon Favreau show up here to push the passing of the torch theme.

Jon Watts returns as director and while I do like Homecoming a little better I think he did improve certain aspects of his approach. I like the idea of Spidey in Europe for a movie but it resulted in maybe a little too much plot for the allotted run time. I am excited to see what Watts will do in the next one now that it’s back in good old New York City.

Michael Giacchino is back as the composer and he’s pretty great. Lots of bombastic trumpets and guitar riffs. In many places is sounds heavily inspired by Danny Elfman’s score, though still it’s own thing.

Overall I’d say check it out and pester the appropriate people for a directors cut on the disc release. 8/10

Movie Review: The Perfection

June 24, 2019

mv5bmta3nzkzmduxodbeqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdm0odc5odcz._v1_The Perfection is the latest original film from Netflix. I put it on after a one sentence recommendation and it was a wild ride that I never saw coming. I don’t wanna give too much away so that you can have a similar experience, but you should know that it’s a horror film that will really freak you out.

The acting is really something else. Allison Williams is perfect here, though I hope she’s okay with being typecast as horror actress because between this and Get Out the genre really seems to suit her. Logan Browning is also amazing here, though I expected as much after watching her in two seasons of Dear White People. The rest of the cast is also good, limited though their roles may be.

There are some interesting directorial choices here. I’ve never seen a Richard Shepard film before, but a quick glance at his filmography tells me that he works in a variety of genres so it’s impressive that he did horror so well. Some of his transitions though felt a tad goofy and out of place.

The story is pretty wild. I’m not gonna give away the twists, but I should mention that several viewers claimed to have thrown up while watching this. I was fine, I’ve seen a lot horror films that are far more gruesome then this but I suppose I can understand the reaction if this is your first taste of the genre.

This score is pretty amazing, which is really important in a horror film following two cello players. Paul Haslinger composed some amazing pieces, but there’s also some fitting pop songs thrown in as well.

Overall it’s original films like these that will make me hang onto my Netflix account in the face of Disney+. Check it out if you wanna be freaked. 8.5/10

Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018)

June 14, 2019

Last year Natalie Portman played a pop star in the vein of Lady Gaga, and it was completely overshadowed by another film in which Lady Gaga played a pop star version of herself. Hollywood is really wild like that. Vox Lux is the Natalie Portman film and it deserves the shunning it received. A better ending could have warranted the grandiose narration from Willem Dafoe and general sense of awe the film wanted to invoke, but the ending felt pointless leaving the rest of the film feeling absurdly pretentious.

Acting is good at least. Natalie seems to be having a lot of fun laying on an extra thick New York accent, though it was really hard for me to buy the lip syncing during the concert scene. Jude Law makes a good sleazy manager, go figure. I was most impressed with Raffey Cassidy who carries the first half of the film as the teen aged version of Portman’s character.

Brady Corbet is the director and one of the writers, and I really don’t know what he was going for here. The film opens with a school shooting and that’s not the only bit of gun violence in the film. Not really sure what purpose it serves by the time the credits start rolling, these scenes almost feel like they’re from a different film. This stuff should have been cut or they should have done something more with it. As it stands the violence seems to be intruding from a completely different film.

The music is another positive element. Can’t really go wrong if you get Sia to do all the music for your film. But again, Natalie Portman is just not selling the idea that it’s her singing.

Overall it’s not the worst film ever, but highly skipable. 7/10