A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Review

the dream child

Skip it. 5/10

Better but not great.

Much like my feelings for the fourth film (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) in the series, A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, continues to grow as a horror sequel but it’s still not as enjoyable as the third (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors). It seems like the bar has been raised far too high since then because nothing I’ve seen so far can compete with it.

What I liked most about the fifth film is the new and interesting concepts that add on to what we saw in the fourth. By this, I mean the ideas with (also spoiler), our lead character Alice who returns from  The Dream Master, and becomes pregnant with Dan (also from The Dream Master), which opens up a unique way for Freddy to come back and haunt her in her dreams. I won’t say exactly how, so you can enjoy watching the film but I thought it was a nice touch and it showed the writers attempting to come up with something new. Which can be difficult by this point, given this is now the fourth sequel in a series which for the most part, regurgitates what the previous films had but just in a different setting.  So the fact that they included this, was an aspect I really dug.

I also loved all the special FX scenes in this film again. It’s just unbelievable to see the effort they consistently put into these films from those scenes alone. But it also wasn’t simply great animated gore that I enjoyed again. I like the fact that they explored a new form of visual effects with a particular sequence relating to comic books, which was probably one of the standouts for me along with the whole finale sequence.

But that’s pretty much all the positives I have to say about this film.

Although I liked all the practical effects and certain key narrative decisions, the rest of the film was very much the same that I’ve come to see in the others. I didn’t really find any scene in particular that was scary or creepy, aside from one or two moments. I didn’t necessarily hate the characters but I also didn’t love them because they showed the same characteristics I’ve grown tired of. People not believing other people’s stories. Characters being fairly uninteresting and not useful to the story. They were basically there as expendable pieces of meat on the killing floor and I don’t really care about any of them because of it.

Certain aspects of the story also made me think that this character should be doing this instead of what they were doing in the film. There were a lot of illogically placed moments or plot devices that were brought up but never really explored until much later on or were never explained and forgotten. This film could have been much shorter if they had put in the effort to address those aspects, which also could have added more to the mythology of the Krueger universe instead of just touching on it a little further as the film does. All in all, my real issues with this film are just the story.

I did think it was directed fairly well with some great unusual shot choices and Dutch angles being used. I liked the music for the most part although the introduction and end credit scene choices for songs were so distracting and did not fit at all with the serious and meant to be intense-feel of the movie. The performances were ok for the most part, though there is a few cringe-worthy pieces of dialogue that were delivered in a hilariously bad way. And that’s pretty much it.

I’d be inclined to say skip this film because like I said, it isn’t as great as the third and it’s not very scary as a horror film. But I do like the main narrative concept behind it so I’d say it might be worth seeing for that alone. I’m 50/50 which is why I’ve given it a 5/10 but ultimately I’m going to go with my gut and say to give it a skip.

 

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Dr. Strangelove or How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb Review

dr strangelove

See it. 9/10

When it comes to political satires, you can hardly beat this. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a hilarious yet tense drama that pokes fun at its subject matter and isn’t shy about delving deep into its underlying seriousness. What happens if the end of the world can be started by a push of a button?

Peter Sellers puts on a masterclass of acting by dwelling into three characters; Captain Mandrake, President Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove, the latter being his finest. The film explores the predicament facing the U.S President tasked with stopping a madman from unleashing a thermal nuclear war with Russia. The trick here is that the madman is, in turn, a general that’s with the Royal Air Force who has gone completely insane with conspiracy theories against the communist regime. It’s the Cold War that could have been and one that never ceases to make you smile.

I think one of the reasons this film is regarded as a classic is because no matter how insane and convoluted its plot becomes, it remains believable as it has deep-seeded relevance. We never feel that this is too ridiculous to be a possibility simply due to the story’s roots in logic. Nuclear war was almost a very true possibility at the time, and the tools to do so today haven’t changed. In fact, the fears of nuclear war have worsened and have an increasing resonance with today’s society (think North Korea).

What makes the film brilliant is the subtle yet hilarious undertones throughout the film. You can’t help but smile at the escalation of each disastrous situation, even though you feel tense at the same time. Peter Sellers as Strangelove also steals the show with apparent buried Nazi tendencies still surfacing in front of others.

Whilst it might not make everyone burst out laughing in comparison to traditional comedies we’ve come to know lately, Kubrick’s films are in a class of their own. It’s sharp, witty, and rooted in a fully realized fictional world that could still be our future. A must watch for any film lover. See it.

Happy Death Day Review

happy death day

Skip it. 3/10

If only it was me who starred as the main character of Happy Death Day so I could have been killed over and over again instead of watching this garbage.

Blumhouse Productions continues to bring out crappy horror film after crappy horror film, and I’m wondering whenever will we see another great film in this genre since It Follows. I’m still saddened by the fact that when this film came out, it took in more money at the box office than the infinitely better movie at the time Blade Runner 2049. I don’t know, maybe it’s just because it’s so unique man. It’s like Groundhog Day but instead, there’s someone out there who kills you every time and then you wake up to do the same thing over and over until you’re killed again. Sigh.

Whatever the case, Happy Death Day serves to suit a cause to satisfy moviegoers interested in seeing a simple horror film with just enough originality to make it slightly different from others like it. This is what the film does well and is probably the only reason Blumhouse Productions made a profit over so many of their horror films of the same formula. But does this make it a great film? No.

Because the twists are there to be spotted through various clues in the plot. Our main character develops a love interest which is the standard for almost any horror film of the modern age. But most importantly and how can I forget, we get our dose of nonsensical scares and silly teenagers dying (I mean, it’s only one person in this case but it’s basically the same thing). The only mildly interesting part about Happy Death Day is the Groundhog Day-like concept. Which if you’ve already seen the trailer, wears off quite fast after the first half hour.

I found several details about the plot that either didn’t make sense or could have been solved far easier than what it was made out to be. I also still don’t understand why a college sports team has a baby face mascot and that ultimately becomes the killer’s trademark mask. I couldn’t help but laugh every time I saw it, or even just thought about the fact that they used that particular image as the emblem for their football team.

Would they be chanting something like, “let’s go babies let’s go!” (claps’ hands). What do they even call their team then?! The Atlanta Babies? No one in the right mind would use such a figure as a sign of team power but I guess it is set in the United States so it might some sort of sense to American audiences. Or maybe it’s a just subtle dig and “ingenious” commentary towards how they voted in Donald Trump as President whom the world sees as essentially a giant baby that has access to nuclear weapons. Oh, now I see the master plan of the “brilliant” writers of this film.

From that point on whenever I saw the baby face mascot, it quickly went downhill from there. What would have been enjoyable to see would be placing a hated celebrity as the main character. I swear if Justin Bieber had been cast as the one to be killed over and over again, this movie could have destroyed Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the box office. Better yet, throw in Martin Shkreli and the whole world would thank the director for giving us one of the best casting choices of the decade.

Go see Happy Death Day if you either want a simple horror flick or a film to laugh at its cringe-worthy dialogue and plot holes. Perhaps that’s why it did so well compared to the thought-provoking and intelligently written Blade Runner 2049. But if you want to see a better horror-esque film that came out in the last year, catch mother! or flashback to the 2014 film It Follows. You haven’t seen nothing yet if you haven’t watched those. Skip it.

 

I Feel Pretty Review

i feel prettySkip it. 3.5/10

Not as horrendous as I thought it was going to be.

Going into this film I had very little hopes that it would be a funny comedy, let alone something that could be thought-provoking given it was tackling a seemingly simple premise. But hey, I was thankfully surprised, because it was nowhere near as bad as I felt about the god-awful Truth or Dare. I’m not saying I would go see it again because it’s still just a typical romantic comedy in most respects. Though its concept elevates it as a film slightly and its themes of empowerment are a nice touch.

The idea here is that one day, you get knocked on the head so hard that when you wake up, you see yourself as the most beautiful person in the world (hence the name of the movie, duh). But this is all the more fitting for our protagonist, Renee Barret (Amy Schumer), who constantly feels insecure about her image and always dreams about having the perfect look that she admires from so many other women around her. Her desires and dreams get fulfilled, when, after a fateful accident, she awakens to this incredible gift and now she can only view herself with a model-like body.

When I heard of this concept, I immediately thought of the film Shallow Hal. In some ways, it’s very akin to the themes in that movie, which dealt with viewing people for who they truly were inside, ignoring the physical exterior and seeing the personality that was inside. Again, a simple concept but it worked well enough to be original and to make some commentary on society as a whole.

The same is done for I Feel Pretty only it’s done in a slightly different way because, for Renee Barrett, the way she sees herself is attached directly to a physical image. It might seem like a superficial notion, but I enjoyed the fact that the film never presented it in that light or focused on that. It wasn’t about finding the perfect way to look but to simply just find the self-confidence behind that. This is what I liked most about the film’s premise as it explored scenarios where Renee Barret would take her newfound confidence and apply it to situations that previously she would have no place being in because of her insecurities.

My qualm with this is that many of these setups were just terribly cheesy and filled with dumb humor so it feels like such a wasted opportunity. To me, it felt like the story had a lot of these scenes that would either be crude for the sake of being crude or just be very unrealistic and convenient. But hey, the effort to show what happens when we simply believe in ourselves so we can do something we weren’t sure of before is still there. Even if it is misaligned and could have been targeted in a more intelligent way.

As a comedy, I didn’t find myself laughing too much but that’s only cause it’s not really my type of humor. The jokes are simple and basic, which is what you get with typical romantic comedies. It’s not really my thing because I can see how predictable the punchline is going to be.

There’s also a couple of annoying characters that are meant to be funny, but I just don’t see why they had to be there in the first place. One of the characters has a certain defect in her voice which she’s really insecure about and this ties into the themes of the whole movie. But it was so distracting, and I don’t see why they couldn’t have chosen to give her something else to have as a flaw.

I also found the plot formula fairly predictable with a lot of conveniences that have been thrown in. A couple of aspects seem impractical and the reactions of the characters should really be reflecting something else and not what was portrayed in the movie. Renee’s friends showing up at the highly publicized fashion launch event, seemingly passing all the security that’s there. Um OK? Preparing a presentation that you’ve worked on for ages but then giving it suddenly to your boss without any explanation and that somehow doesn’t make her angry when you next see her at the launch event? Um OK? Again, these are the same issues I have with any typical romantic comedy so it’s nothing new and it might be something you’re happy to overlook.

What this film aims to do, and I feel does it successfully, is the message of empowerment especially for women. It’s obvious that this film is targeted to females and is about the embodiment of women, which sitting in a whole cinema filled with women will also drill into you, but it does work.

But could these same themes be applied to everyone and not just females? I think the story’s concept could be a great way of simply exploring the power that self-confidence can have in any of us and I would have loved to see this film go into that as well. To not just see one person’s perspective on it but from both male and female, and not necessarily only about seeing yourself as a gorgeous supermodel. There’s a whole range of things that you could tackle that would be great to watch.

Anyways, I’d recommend skipping this but if you did end up watching it, it won’t feel like that much of a waste time compared to other films currently out (cough, Truth or Dare, cough). It is a nice step in the right direction, even if it is a small one.

 

Mommy Review

mommy

See it. 9.5/10

This is the best family drama that I have ever seen.

Mommy had me feeling the same level of emotion that I felt for the Spike Jonze’s Her but in a completely different way. I was shocked, sympathetic and also very saddened by the time the credits started to appear which was all credit to the fantastic writing and direction by Xavier Dolan. I wish the film was so much bigger than it is because it’s only typically known in the country where it originated from, Canada.

But nevertheless, Mommy is a masterpiece. It comes so close to being a masterpiece in so many ways because I could continue to list how amazing all of the performances were as well as the music and the cinematography. Everything about this film was an exceptional achievement and for a film that comes in at a lengthy 138 minutes of runtime, it was never boring at all.

I mentioned that this film dealt with a family drama but I don’t really want to give much more information than that because going into this not knowing much will only add to your experience in a great way. What I will say is that it primarily revolves around just three lead actors, all of whom are fantastic in their roles. I doubt if they had cast others that I would have loved this film as much as I did because they were just so believable and unique in the roles that without them, Mommy simply wouldn’t have worked. You simply couldn’t do it any other way and I’m glad Xavier Dolan chose them specifically.

The film is also shot in an unconventional form by using a handheld camera in a 1:1 aspect ratio and it’s unusual since most of what you’ll see in the cinema is done in 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. Some have said that it seems very pretentious because it might seem like it’s done to simply standout as an independent film, but even if it looks like those old silent Charlie Chaplain films, there’s a genuine narrative driven choice to use the chosen aspect ratio. And by watching the film, you’ll get exactly what I mean because when it does get revealed, it makes the use of such a format the most appropriate and best employment of such a technique I have seen in a film. It’s so fucking smart and great that I know this film had great direction.

Although I’ve only seen another one of his films, Tom at the Farm which was also great, I’m excited to see the rest of his filmography. Mommy might be his best work because the story is so amazing to watch unfold and I doubt anything he could do would top it, but I sincerely hope he does. There are so many different little things that happen in each scene of this movie that ultimately continue to set the bar higher as the runtime plays out. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this is the definitive peak of family drama that I have ever watched on film. Krisha is still high on such a list as I mentioned in my review of that film but the emotional connections Mommy installs are something of another nature.

I love this movie and it’s one of my all-time favorites so watch it if you can. Thank God it’s out on Netflix in the United States. See it.

 

The Raid Review

the raid

See it. 7/10

One of the better martial arts films of the past decade.

The Raid for me represents the same feelings I had for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which is this film is just so much fun. As an entertaining action film that incorporates the use of some great martial arts, you really can’t go wrong by seeing this because of how much fun you’ll get from it.

From the moment it starts, The Raid cuts the bullshit and quickly catches you up on the situation. A 20-man elite squad heads into a raid on an apartment block in Jakarta’s slums with the intention of eliminating an infamous crime lord who resides on the top floor. But shit hits the fan soon after and the entire building, which is filled with various mob-related criminals, turns on the squad and the fight for survival begins. A simple scenario but one that I fucking loved watching.

For me, the best action films and especially those that use a lot of martial arts as part of the fighting scenes, are ones that don’t edit around the action and show me people fighting on a nice uninterrupted wide shot. is the pioneer for this and why I think he’s the greatest martial artist that’s ever been on film because everything that he does is exactly what you’re seeing on screen. He’s his own stuntman and there’s no bullshit editing around him to make it look like he’s getting hit when he’s not actually in reality. If he’s copping a punch, he’s genuinely copping a punch. The same goes for people like Tony Jaa or Jet Li who have worked with great directors who know they can get some amazing shots just by letting the camera run on them. This is what The Raid also does so well.

And it’s particularly great because Gareth Huw Evans does so in such tight-knit environments. All of the characters are essentially in the same building and are often fighting in extremely close areas of apartment rooms or narrow hallways. To do all this with minimal editing and longer takes would be incredibly difficult to film but it’s that sort of effort that has been put in which is why I love The Raid so much. I’m watching expert stuntman execute some fantastic fight scene choreography, all the while knowing that they can take a punch or a kick and continue acting because hey, that’s what fucking great stuntman do.

The other exciting part about The Raid that I thought was so fun is with the story choice of using a 20-man elite squad that make you genuinely fear for their lives. I mean yes there is, of course, one main protagonist and a central character who you know is probably going to survive, but the others we’re introduced to are also great supporting wise and you do care about them because they’re a small team against a seemingly endless amount of other bad guys. So now that you have this drastically dangerous scenario that they’re put in, I had no fucking clue of who was going to go next and how many were going to be left by the end of it. The action happens so quickly as well that’s it’s just fucking nuts and adds to the exhilarating factor that I feel for these characters and I love that it feels like the whole Game of Thrones mindset where George R.R. Martin is making you fearful for those that you’re watching.

The Raid does both aspects so well that when they’re combined, I’m having one of the best times watching an action film because it’s everything that it’s meant to be. I want an action film to give me some exciting fight scenes, to make me care about the threats to the lives of the characters and to show a story that’s been well made with a lot of thought put into it. This is what makes any action film fun and why The Raid is one to recommend to friends as something that’s not really heard of but is something that I know is thoroughly entertaining. Sure, it might not be the smartest film in the world but it doesn’t really have to be because it excels on so many other levels and it doesn’t have to. It works for what it is, and I’ll never mind throwing this on as a repeat watch from time to time. Check it out on Netflix if you’re in the United States and see it when you get the chance.

 

Force Majeure Review

force majeure

See it. 8.5/10

Much like the name, this is an unexpected force of a film.

Force Majeure means an unforeseen set of circumstances that typically prevent someone from fulfilling a contract but its application is an original and thoroughly engrossing drama. It deals with the particular relationship dynamic between a married couple in light of a recent event and man, is this a tense conflict that is explored.

Why this dynamic is so great to watch is mainly because of how it’s fairly minimalistic. Apart from the opening scenes that introduce you to the said event, the film focuses on the couple specifically with some very well written dialogue. As they continue to converse and argue with each other, you become more and more engrossed in their scenario and it’s so tense to watch. Picture a situation of where you’d take Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and mixed it into a sort of family drama like Krisha but is instead between two people. And you watch as their relationship slowly gets the biggest exposure of a potential flaw, one that none of them would have expected but brings up certain notions about their marriage.

It’s the concept of being presented with such an unforeseen event that smartly puts you in the questioning of what would you do if you were in that scenario. Force Majeure explores the consequences of one person’s reaction to the unpredictable but by doing so, it allows you to inquisitively think about your own moral ethics and fears that you might be harboring inside. Ones that you might not even be aware of because you’ve simply never been in such a situation so how on Earth are you going to know which way you’re going to react if it came to that. I’m speaking in a lot of general terms without revealing what the event of this film is because not knowing anything going into it will also put you on the spot and echo the same feeling for you that the characters are experiencing.

But like all films that use a minimalistic approach with only a few choices of settings used, the script’s believability lies in the performance of the dialogue. This is what Force Majeure does very well because every character is reacting in such a realistic way that it’s adding to the engrossing factor of this film. I loved the way both the husband and wife argued with each other since not only did I find what they were discussing inherently interesting given the event that’s caused their relationship to be in strife but also because I genuinely understood both sides of the arguments.

In a strange way, I felt like I was backing both of their reasons in their marital fight because the dialogue was written so well that each character had very reasonable motivations behind what they were saying. If I was acting like Judge Judy and attempted to decide who was right and who was wrong, I don’t think I could give you an answer. Instead, I’m rather focused on thinking how I would react and am just enthralled at the following discussions that arise out of it.

Force Majeure is truly the unexpected force of a film and it’s fairly unknown which I feel like is such a shame because of how great of a minimalistic drama it is. The tensions that it presents arise from such an original scenario and it’s one that you might have always been thinking about in the back of your mind but have never seen dealt with in a film. This is why I love Force Majeure because it not only makes you think about its subject matter but it comes at you in such refreshing way and one that is written in a perfect way. Watch it if you can and for those in the United States, it’s easily accessible by Netflix so now you’ve got no excuse to do so. See it.