Showing posts from 2018

The Voices Review

I've never had much of an opinion of Ryan Reynolds. He seemed like a dime-a-dozen movie star with impossibly good looks that have helped him survive several stinkers that would've been career-destroying flops for anybody else. While I did enjoy him in both Deadpool movies it looked to me like he was playing off his natural charisma and personality rather than employing any acting talent. However, after watching 2014's The Voices I feel as though I've underestimated him.

Reynolds stars as Jerry, a good-natured man working in a bathtub factory suffering from particularly intense schizophrenia. His cat and dog (also voiced by Reynolds) often talk to him, giving him both good and bad advice. After a date with his office crush goes wrong in the bloodiest of ways, his hallucinations become more intense and Mr. Whiskers becomes more insistent that he continue killing people as a way of life.

The main reason to see the film is Ryan Reynolds as Jerry. He plays it a lot like Nor…

A Quiet Place Review: An Honest Family Portrait

In narrative fiction, the subject of family is often used as a plot device. Either the family is perfect at the start of the story so that it can be torn apart in the inciting incident or it's the worst family in the world so it can be fixed by the end. To this point, there has not been a film which chooses to depict the average family, showing the bond of love which keeps them together through the best, worst and even average times of life. It's amazing that it took a post-apocalyptic monster thriller to paint an honest, endearing, relatable portrait of the average American family.

Some time after an invasion by a mysterious alien race, a family of four is attempting to survive their newly hostile environment. While they try to lead literally quiet lives to avoid being detected by the aliens' super sense of hearing, they attempt to lead relatively normal lives, with their family at the center of their survival.

While the film was advertised as a horror/thriller with an in…

Mile 22 Review

The team up of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg has been responsible for filling a specific niche in film: patriotic movies. From Lone Survivor to Patriots Day, the duo have concerned themselves with making no-nonsense political dramas emphasizing the virtues of America and Americans. They continue this thematic streak with Mile 22. Unlike their previous efforts, however, the duo's project was met with neither critical acclaim nor box-office success, currently only having made $31 million worldwide, a major loss when weighed against its estimated $35 million budget. Were people right to stay away from this one or does it deserve more than its gotten?

The premise is simple: James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) and his black ops team need to escort Indonesian police officer Li Noor (Iko Uwais) to an airstrip 22 miles away. Standing in there way is an army of local police who want their traitorous officer back.

That sounds like a good idea for a no bullshit action film and it is. T…

The Incredibles 2 Review

Despite what I'm about to say in this review I feel kind of sorry for Incredibles 2 because it's a sequel to a popular Pixar movie with a huge fan following that began production a full decade after the initial film's release. No matter how good the film is there's no way it will ever be able to meet the exceptions of long waiting fans who have already conjured impossible standards in their own minds. This is what's known as the Duke Nukem Forever effect. Thankfully, Incredibles 2 isn't as cancerously bad as Forever was if only because the accounting department has it by the scrotum and won't let it step one toe out of line.

The film picks up directly where the first one left off (which kind of seems odd to me because this is like following the Indiana Jones crew after they rode off into the sunset in The Last Crusade) in the middle of an action scene with a random villain who we never see again. After inadvertently causing mass destruction to the city the …

The Grey Review

Between this film and Where the Wild Things Are I'm getting really sick of having conflicting opinions about movies I know are basically good. Both are superbly well-made and obviously crafted from a very personal place on the part of their directors and yet I find in both of them a barrier to entry that lets me say that they're spectacular. In the case of The Grey, a survival action-thriller from writer/director Joe Carnahan, that barrier to the entryway of greatness is the entire second half of the film.

However, before diving in to that very dramatic statement let's look at the film's premise and its merits. Ottway (Liam Neeson) lives in an Alaskan oil refinery where he uses his considerable skills as a hunter to keep the workers safe from predators. When a plane he and several of the workers were on crashes in the middle of the frigid Canadian wilderness Ottway must keep the small group of survivors alive from not only the elements, but from a vicious pack of wolve…

Where the Wild Things Are Review

Over the past nine years since its release Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are has gone from the target of skepticism of most audiences and fans of the book to the little movie that could, seen as an under-appreciated gem that managed to keep the original spirit of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book while also being its own profound statement on childhood. While I consider myself to be an unofficial member of the deeper thinking branch of the film lover's community I can't get to the point where I say that I like Where the Wild Things Are or even that I see how it could be an underrated classic in its own right.

Max (Max Records) is a lonely, emotionally distraught young boy begins to feel increasingly at odds with reality as his sister has acquired a new group of friends and his mother has found a new boyfriend to, in his mind, replace his absentee father. After an angry blowout with his mom, Max runs away through the woods and eventually finds a boat th…

Upgrade Review

Upgrade is a film I simultaneously expected and yet didn't see coming from the writer/director of the Saw franchise. It has the upper-tier grindhouse acting and production design I've come to expect from Blumhouse Productions and has the brutality and gore I would've expected from Leigh Whannell, but at the same time it's much darker than I expected from a summer action movie and actually has one or two really good ideas in its head instead being a mindless popcorn flick. It's just a shame that those good ideas are introduced in the last two minutes of the film.

Some time in the near future (far enough for us to have cars that drive themselves and cyborg implants but not far enough that everything doesn't look exactly like an early 21st century city), working class joe Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) and his wife are involved in a car accident/mugging. After his wife is killed and he is paralyzed, Grey is approached by a reclusive billionaire who offers him a micro…

The Shape of Water Review

The Shape of Water is a movie that is almost impossible to review objectively because the entire reason for its existence is based on a deeply held set of socio-political ideologies designed to appeal to those who share these beliefs and alienate everybody else. Thus, no matter how I review this I'm going to end up pissing off half of you because I do actually need to give my opinion.

If you haven't heard about this one or just didn't watch the Oscars (which at this point is understandable) The Shape of Water is about a mute janitor named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) working at a laboratory in 1960s America where the scientists and military have just captured a fish monster that they believe will help them in the Cold War. However, Elisa begins to form an attachment to the character to the point where she falls in deep, and explicitly consummated, love with it.

Let's get the good out of the way first: it's a Guillermo Del Toro film so it's not only aesthetically pleas…

Carrie Review

Looking back on it now Carrie can pretty much be seen as a template for Stephen King's entire career onward: psychotic bullies, traumatized kid characters, mistaking cultic behavior with what he supposes to be fundamentalism and so on. However, Carrie wasn't just the blueprint for every book King would write for the rest of his life; it was also a pop-cultural touch stone that had a lasting effect on the rest of the horror genre, inspiring everything from Nightmare on Elm Street to Chronicle. When a film has that kind of legacy the question becomes not whether Carrie is a good movie in its own right, but whether it holds up after everything in the entertainment industry has picked its bones clean over the last 30+ years. The answer, thankfully, is absolutely.

The setup is that Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a timid girl who has been turned into a forceful shut-in by her cultic mother (Piper Laurie) and the constant torment of her sadistic classmates, barely kept sane by the ki…

Why, Christopher Robin?

This week, Disney released the first trailer to their upcoming film Christopher Robin, which I discovered, to my disappointment, was not a Finding Neverland style story of how the Winnie the Pooh books came to be, but rather a live-action sort-of sequel to the Winnie the Pooh mythos (I can't believe I just wrote the words "Winnie the Pooh mythos"). Normally, I would be all over another Winnie the Pooh movie; I've always had a soft spot in my hard, cynical heart for that stuffed bear and his other animal friends. They're all well-defined characters with big personalities, charming designs and go on wholesome adventures. However, I have a sinking feeling about this new Pooh movie and it's not just because Disney's live-action output since 2015 has been nothing but bland cash-grabbing. There are a few discomforting parts of this trailer that make me think that the Disney executive board (for that is who's actually making their movies nowadays, not the fi…

Red Sparrow Review

Bioshock Infinite Review

I've never actually reviewed a video game on this blog before, but it was either this or watching the 4 hour long director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven and I was not in the mood for that, not when there's Avatar to be binged.

The reason I've never reviewed a video game is because 1) I don't know a thing about game design whereas I've at least taken classes on film production and 2) even though I find video games to be an enjoyable pastime in and of themselves I have never found a game that was worth really digging into thematically or story wise. That is, until I played Bioshock Infinite. This isn't just a game I think is good; it's the game that I play when I need to remind myself that despite all the micro-payments and mindless multiplayer shooters flooding the market, gaming has just as much potential to be a platform for high art as any other medium. It's my gaming equivalent of Citizen Kane, the game that made me realize just how engrossing, crea…