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Showing posts from 2018

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…

Fight Club Review

I was originally going to do this weekend's review on 2001: A Space Odyssey, but between school and catching a decent night's sleep I couldn't really find time for watching a 3-hour long meditation on the existence of humanity. Then, I thought I could do a review on The Dark Knight, but nothing I could say about that felt too revelatory; everybody and their grandmother knows why that film was good and they don't need to hear it analyzed by everybody and a lackluster film student. So I was sitting around wondering what I could possibly do for this week's post when I saw my Blu-ray of Fight Club, untouched since the day I first took it out of the Best Buy bargain bin. My mind thusly made up, I popped it in and was treated to one of the bleakest film experiences I've ever had.

The premise is that our unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) is nihilistically tired of life and looking for something more fulfilling than sitting on his couch all day and ordering more furnitu…

Battle Royale Review

My immediate thought after watching Battle Royale is that it's a lot smarter than it needs to be from a financial standpoint. No matter how intelligent and sophisticated humanity likes to think it is it takes very little for us to be taken in by art with no value past fulfilling our most basic, primal desires. This can be evidenced by the popularity of such mediocrity as the Spartacus TV show and, alternatively, Sex and the City. My point in explaining all of that is to point out that if Battle Royale was just about a bunch of Japanese high schoolers forced to brutally slaughter each other in a dense forest with guns, knives, crossbows and swords it would've been a smash hit regardless of how little it had going on thematically. This makes the fact that the writers and director decided to make what could've just been another Japanese action film a sophisticated satire all the more admirable.

The premise might sound strangely familiar to those of you who were around during …

The Florida Project Review

I would describe The Florida Project as Lilo and Stitch if they took the sister dynamic in that movie to its realistic extreme. Both films are about a relationship between an adventurous and emotional little girl and their older, unstable female guardian that ultimately ends in tragedy. However, whereas the tragedy in Lilo and Stitch was diverged into a happy ending by typical Disney logic of "all endings must be happy endings", Florida Project almost feels like a slap in the face to that very concept and not just because it takes place right next to the Most Magical Place on Earth.

The premise is a lot more like a setup since the film doesn't have a plot or even story to speak of until the last 20 mins. Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) live in a dilapidated motel, managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), right next to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. The film chronicles the steadily declining emotional and mental states of its characters until it…