First Man Movie Review

6.5/10

Good but not great.

First Man is a biographical drama about astronaut Neil Armstrong and stars Ryan Gosling in the lead role. The film covers the decade leading up to his most famous accomplishment and the numerous struggles he toiled with along the way.

My largest complaint with First Man is that there are far too many conflicts raised. The film quickly tries to cover Armstrong’s struggles with loss, family, friends, NASA, public scrutiny and the missions leading up to (and inclusive) Apollo 11. Clearly, there’s a lot going on.

The problem is that the film doesn’t know which one to focus on. In my opinion, First Man overcrams many different conflicts to the point where none of them were given enough time for them to be impactful. It reminds of the Simpsons when where Mr. Burns discovers that he has an overabundance of diseases. Each effectively cancels the others out because they all can’t fit through the “door” at the same time to cause him any harm.

the simpsons infographic for first man.pngA visual metaphor for how First Man tries to cover all its conflicts.

The overall effect makes the film less dramatic than what I was expecting it to be. Comparing it to a similar film of nature like Apollo 13First Man feels like a comfortable walk in the park. Unlike First Man, Apollo 13 focused primarily on one single event. In my view, this was a big reason why that film felt way more dramatic. One major conflict (or overarching issue) generally help an audience connect more to the struggles of characters. Instead of introducing several conflicts and hoping one of them will stick.

Maybe this is because director Damian Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) wasn’t responsible for writing the script. Chazelle wrote and directed Whiplash, a film that I see as one of the most intense and dramatic films of the past decade. And funnily enough that was just a fictional story about a young jazz drummer; not about mankind landing on the moon.

Surprisingly First Man was written by Josh Singer, the man responsible for Oscar-winning dramas like Spotlight and The Post. I’m even more puzzled as to what went wrong when it came to him drafting the screenplay for this film.

I also questioned some of Chazelle’s directing choices. There is a stupendous amount of the same shot setups in this film that get recycled from scenes that similar in nature. Action set pieces would often cut back and forth between extreme close-ups of the characters eyes. Scenes with characters talking would typically involve basic shot-reverse shot close-ups. While the whole film wasn’t like this and there were some other very neat shots, I couldn’t help but feel like he dropped the ball compared to his previous work.

But as I said, not all of First Man is bad. The film works well as a crash course through the history of the 1960’s space race. Most of it might not be as dramatic as it could have been but I still enjoyed getting an overview of what it took for mankind to land upon the moon. Plus one of the events shown in the film did come off as feeling very intense and reading later up on it I still can’t believe it happened in real life.

I also enjoyed the overall look of the film which felt very authentic to the period it was set in. Most of the shots included a grainy film aesthetic and made the film look like it was produced during the 60’s. The same goes for the costumes and set designs that really do put you in the atmosphere of this time.

First Man isn’t a dramatic masterpiece and I fathom to say that I’d be surprised if it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscar’s (though many critics are raving about the film). It’s still an enjoyable film and I didn’t find myself being bored overall, even if I was ultimately disappointed. Give this one a watch if you’re interested in seeing what it took to get man on the moon, but I wouldn’t be rushing out of the house to go see it.

Halloween Movie Recommendations: Part 1 (2018 Edition)

Here’s a quick overview of horror films we recommend for this Halloween (more films in upcoming parts).

Martyrs (2008)

7.5/10

martyrs halloween image.jpg

Gruesome and truly horrifying.

Martyrs is a French psychological horror film that tells the revenge story of Lucie and Anna, two victims of brutal child abuse. Fifteen years after Lucie escaped from an icy torture chamber, she and Anna track down their former captors to exact their revenge. Their search uncovers a secret organization but Lucie and Anna quickly realise that they’re yet to experience the true face of evil.

This is the most brutal horror film I’ve seen and that’s also the main aspect that makes it so engrossing. It’s meant to be dark, bleak and horrifying, and that’s why I love it. For fans looking to expand their horror film library and for those seeking out sheer dread and scare, then this is the film for you.

Audition (1999)

8/10

audition 2018 halloween recommendation.jpg

A slow burn horror with one of the best payoffs.

Audition is a disturbing Japanese thriller that follows Aoyama, a recent widower who decides to pickup dating again. With the help of his film producer, Aoyama holds auditions for a fake dating production that secretly introduces him to attractive and single women. From these mock castings Aoyama meets the gorgeous but reserved Asami and their relationship begins to develop. However, Asami isn’t what she appears to be, and Aoyama eventually finds himself faced with a horror that he’s never known before.

While Audition is a film that gradually increases the tension ever so slowly, ultimately it leads to a harrowing climax that makes the whole wait worth it. This is a film that purposefully takes it’s time because it knows how great the payoff at the end will be. If you’re after something with more pace than Audition won’t be the film for you. But if you’re looking for a masterpiece in horror suspense, you’ve come to the right place.

Pandorum (2009)

6.5/10

pandorum 2018 halloween recommendation.jpg

Dead Space meets Resident Evil meets The Descent.

Pandorum is a sci-fi horror that plays out like a lucid dream reminiscent of films like Memento and The Matrix. Astronauts Payton and Bower awake from hypersleep with no memory of who they are or what their mission was. Payton stays behind to monitor the radio while Bower explores the seemingly abandoned spaceship. The astronauts quickly realise that they are not alone, and the fate of mankind will hinge on what they do next.

While it’s nowhere near being a horror classic, Pandorum is very much so underrated and often overlooked. The story is fast-paced with several action scenes that make it an exciting to watch. The film does borrow elements from other films, but I feel like it combines the best from those classics into something that still makes Pandorum feel original. If you loved any of those previously mentioned film influences and are into sci-fi gore horror, then give this one a watch.

Mandy Movie Review

7/10

A mesmerising experience and one of the best movies for 2018 so far. Nicolas Cage makes a fine return with an action-horror film that’s incredibly stylistic and thoroughly entertaining. But be warned, this is not a film for the faint of heart.

Mandy tells the story of Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). Red works as a logger while Mandy is a cashier and paints abstract fantasy art in her spare time. The two live a reclusive life until one day on her way to work, Mandy attracts the attention of the deviant hippie cult ‘Children of the New Dawn’. From that point on the nightmare begins.

My favourite aspect of Mandy must be the style. The cinematography oozes a psychedelic 80’s feeling with most shots lit and colour graded as a crimson red or neon green. Think the Stranger Things opening titles and you’ll get a picture of what I mean. I can’t imagine the effort it took for these shots to be set up. All credit goes to cinematographer Benjamin Loeb and the post-production team who did a fantastic job.

Everything about this movie fits perfectly with the themes of fantasy because Mandy looks and feels like a fantasy. There are scenes where characters words are slurred purposely and images of them moving are repeated to help give a fantasy feel. Even the chapter title cards look like original works of fantasy art. I had a blast watching every scene simply because it looked so amazing.

Mandy’s story is also thoroughly entertaining. Not only did it feel like a breath of fresh air, it acted as a catalyst for bringing out the best in Nicolas Cage. For an actor whose career has included some famously overly eccentric performances, I was pleasantly grateful that Mandy’s fantasy narrative gave him the platform to do just that. Mandy knows how to use Cage’s eccentric charm because it often intentionally plays on the ridiculousness of things for entertaining effect. Compare to this his other films like The Wicker Man and Vampire’s Kiss which don’t do this and end up making Cage’s antic unintentionally hilarious.

I should also add that this film isn’t for everyone because there are horror elements that really do earn it an MA rating. But for those that enjoy action-horror films or even just Nicolas Cage’s often over the top style of acting, I have no doubt that you’ll love this film. Mandy works by pairing a crazy fantasy with an actor that can match that same level of craziness in performance. And for me the combination worked brilliantly.

My only real gripe is that certain parts of the film tend to drag on and end up being slightly repetitive. In my opinion some of these scenes could have been cut earlier and their point would have been just as clear. I can see how extending the length of these scenes may have been an intentional choice from writer/director Panos Cosmatos. By slowing down the pace in these scenes one can argue they slowly lure you into a hypnotic-like state which fits with the fantasy theme Mandy is clearly going for. Maybe a second watch might confirm that but right now I’m still of the mind that scenes could have been edited for a shorter length and the same effect could have been achieved.

Ultimately with a fantastic style and gripping narrative, Mandy succeeds as a great example of independent arthouse films done right. I loved this film and I’ll be checking out more from this director in the future. Watch this on the big screen if you can because the experience will only be heightened. See it.

Lean On Pete Movie Review

lean on pete

See it. 6/10

“Remember Charley, it’s not a pet. It’s a horse”

Though the quote I’ve used might reflect the nature of what this film entails, Lean On Pete is less of a story about a horse as much as Jaws was simply about a great big shark. Instead what the film smartly focuses on, is the people behind the scenes and which often makes Lean On Pete the melancholic watch from its depictions of humanity and poverty that arise from the story. By doing so, it also explores some very interesting aspects of the way we not only connect with animals but also with each other.

This was a theme that really stood out for me while watching the journey of a boy and his friendship with an aging racehorse. I don’t want to give anything else away other than what I’ve just said, but there are ideas about a simple-minded way of thinking and the differences in human nature, that become all thrown in together, amongst this basic styled backdrop. Which is why on the surface Lean On Pete can appear fairly straightforward and plain. In reality, the film is layered with some interesting aspects towards human life and even to an extent, the cracks of our society.

This is largely all thanks to the wonderful performance of its lead Charlie Plummer but also to his supporting cast with Steve Buscemi and Chloë Sevigny. Though their roles were fairly brief in comparison, they were complimentary enough to not only move the story along but also be that essential juxtaposition in contrasting what emotions and motivations lie behind the protagonist’s own traits. This was also supported by the narrative decision to have him play a fifteen-year-old who engages with seasoned like veterans in the characters played by Steve Buscemi and Chloë Sevigny. As it works well to set up the differences between the ways they view the world and to show the various backgrounds people can come from which culminate in making the product of who they are. I particularly enjoyed the burst of life Steve Buscemi’s character added to a film that is almost entirely a slow burn type of movie.

Unfortunately, the nature of the plot contributed to why I didn’t like the film more than I had wanted to. The pacing was just far too slow for the payouts that I was receiving, and I wished a lot of scenarios had happened quicker given that this film really makes you feel the runtime as it goes on. I get that this allows you to analyze some of the subtle contexts being shown, which could also be perceived as a clever reflection of how life is going for our protagonist, but this still didn’t make me enjoy watching it at this almost snail-like pace and my engagement factor fluctuated throughout the two-hour runtime. Nevertheless, I was still glad to watch it.

Lean On Pete might be too much of a slow burner, but its positives still outweigh its one major flaw. It’s also another fine example from a technical standpoint, with director Andrew Haigh allowing many shots to go uninterrupted which allowed the actors to pace their emotions as the scene goes on (an aspect I admire). Yes, it might not be as dazzling by choosing to not show a variety of camera angles per say, but I didn’t mind the minimalistic nature as it felt intentional and done with purpose. It’s a feature that I also admired along with the director’s other works in the films Weekend and 45 Years – both of which were also great, with Weekend being my favorite film from him so far.

In summary, I’d recommend watching Lean On Pete for those interested in a minimalistic shot film, that isn’t really seen amongst mainstream releases but still holds some equally, if not more, powerful messages. If you also get the chance, watch his other works as well because he’s definitely one of those directors to look out for in the future. See it.

The Purge: Anarchy Movie Review

the purge anarchy

Skip it. 3.5/10

Better but still not that great.

After my disappointment with the first in the series, I was not looking forward to the sequel The Purge: Anarchy, but surprisingly I had a much better time watching it because the story opened up a lot more different scenarios. But just to be clear, it’s still a bad film overall as it’s not flawless in the slightest. However, compared to the original, it was a much-needed burst of resurgence given I was predicting the series should go through a purge of its own and be killed off entirely.

The biggest aspect that worked for The Purge: Anarchy was the expansion of the storyline to follow three sets of people. It was a good decision to split up the plot into these groups of characters because not only did it allow for a different range of characters to enjoy but it also opened up the landscape for where the story could be headed. Especially since this time we were taken to the streets of where the “Purge” chaos was happening, instead of being confined to some house like a creepy spinoff of Home Alone. That step towards the outside in the narrative was another good choice by the writers. I enjoyed the fact that I could explore the outside with these characters and get an insight of how it all looks on that fateful night.

Having said that, I was still hoping for a lot more out of this film. I wished that the three groups of characters didn’t meet up so quickly and become essentially stuck together. It would have been better to see three parallel storylines occurring and then, later, they all meet up, say towards the final act or the very end. Some of the characters weren’t really that interesting to me and could be annoying at times (yet again). It wasn’t the same level as my hatred for the children (especially the daughter) in the first film, but it was still noticeable, and I definitely had a few favorites which goes back to how they were written.   Though I will say that I did care more about any of their lives and was more sympathetic to them being in danger overall than the characters in the first film.

My other biggest complaint was with the runtime that was way too long and tried to fit in too many scenarios that were basically all the same. At an hour and forty-seven minutes long, this is just way too much time for an action horror set piece. I noticed by the time the third act kicked in, which came far too late and was completely unnecessary to throw in or should have come much earlier in the film. The situations basically followed the same idea of making their way through the city at night, coming into trouble, fighting off and surviving that encounter, then repeating it again. When that happens over and over again for such a long time, you can’t help but zone out.

The film also doesn’t really squash the same complaints that I have with the first Purge film, with how the whole concept works. I guess they just decided to leave it as it is, given it worked so well in the first place so why bother changing it. But aside from taking the story to explore the outside world a lot more, it also really didn’t add to the mythology of this dystopian universe. Sure, I can see a couple of interesting aspects were thrown in, which I won’t devolve into to keep this spoiler free, but for the most part, the concept of the film is just an excuse or reasoning to see action sequence after action sequence. It seems like no one really wanted to add anything else remotely intelligent or thought-provoking about the film’s premise.

So, having said what worked better compared to the first, there is still a lot that drags this film down overall and as such, I don’t recommend you waste your time watching it. Yes, this film could in all honesty be (or should have been) the first in the series, because it does a lot more with the script compared to the original. If you’re still interested in seeing how an interesting concept like the Purge night would work in a film, I’d suggest starting from The Purge: Anarchy and moving onwards. But other than, I wouldn’t really be jumping out of my seat to see it. And with that I say. Skip it.

The Purge Movie Review

the purge.jpg

Skip it. 3/10

You’ve got to purge Morty *burps excessively*.

The way I see it, The Purge is the precursor for the shitty horror films Blumhouse Productions went on to make, such as the horrendous Happy Death Day, Unfriended, Ouija and their latest release Truth or DareThese movies gathered much interest because of their somewhat original concept fused with a horror-like twist and were all made on a low budget, typically costing only a few million dollars. And at the heart of all this, lies the movie The Purge. It was one of the first films (along with Paranormal Activity) to begin using such a format, milking audiences for their hard-earned cash as they went and saw dumb horror films with just enough originality to make them curious enough to see. And it worked.

But when I heard of the idea for The Purge, I couldn’t help but fall into the curiosity trap, interested to see what it would be about and how it could all work. This was my fatal mistake. Aside from how great the premise appears to be on the surface, the depth of its ideas is as thin as the paper, which this shitty screenplay was printed on. It was less the social allegory that I was hoping for and more the dumb horror film I didn’t want it to succumb to. How I wish things could have been different.

As a brief synopsis for those that are unaware of what it’s about and will essentially capture the only original concept from this film; imagine a society that has reduced both crime and poverty levels, as well as even boosting employment results, by creating a 12 hour window where all crime is legal for one day of the year. A time referred to as “The Purge” and murder is willfully allowed and promoted to help those “cleanse their souls” and remove any of the built-up aggression that we as humans apparently can’t help but harbor inside. Sounds somewhat interesting no? Well, unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets.

My main issue is with how ludicrously stupid all of the characters in this story are, which are really a reflection of the plot holes that get raised from the whole movie’s concept. I’ll get into specifics at the end of this review with spoiler talk but suffice to say, almost anything that happened with a person of interest was incredibly annoying. I don’t know why the characters were being as ignorant and as naive as they were shown to be. I don’t know why this film became less of a social commentary and more a dumb home invasion style film. And I don’t know why it was all shot and framed horrendously in ways that reminded me of the shaky camera footage in Cloverfield.

But it also took such a fast downfall that it really did surprise me. After the 10 minute mark, I couldn’t believe the nonsense that was being neglected and the typical tropes that were about to follow. Nothing about this film seemed to be executed with intelligent intent and the choices made by the characters in the story seem to reflect those also working behind the camera. Shots would either be standard and overused close up reverse shots of when people were talking. At times even having the back of a person’s head taking up most of the frame for some reason, almost like it was by accident and they couldn’t bother to fix it. Or there would be shots filmed to include obvious jump scares which weren’t very scary, as well as the action styled fight scenes that looked more like they were filmed by a seven-year-old with shaky hands, instead of a professional camera operator. This film was all over the place both from a technical standpoint and a narrative view.

So, if you couldn’t guess from my scathing review, I do not recommend seeing The Purge. It definitely didn’t make me hate watching it like Truth or Dare made me feel, but I’m more critical towards it because The Purge had a better chance of being original and thought-provoking. Instead, the numerous flaws that I see really do bring it down and make it yet another dumb horror flick. I’m not looking forward to finishing the trilogy if this is how it’s going to continue and I’m doubtful the fourth film being released this year will manage to redeem my low opinions for this series so far. Skip it.

Spoiler Talk

1. One of my biggest issues with the whole premise is the fact that they specifically mention that all crime is legal. Not the murder part, because I don’t really care about that but more so with the entirety of the message and rules it allows. Because how does making all crime legal, fix a lot of society’s problems with poverty, unemployment and general crime that would have occurred other times outside the 12-hour window?

I’m assuming people could do a lot of other normally illegal activities aside from murder, even though that’s what the films entirely focused on. Does having such freedom mean that a person could cripple the economy in those 12 hours if they so wanted to, say, by waiting all year round to falsify their stock numbers, partake in insider trading or illegally complete their dirty money laundering in the Cayman Islands? 12 hours is a long fucking time to do a lot of terrible things that could cripple the economy and hence increase the status of all those aspects “The Purge” night is trying to prevent from rising (crime, poverty, and unemployment).

What if people started to kill owners of stores/houses/gigantic businesses in a semi-military coup situation, to overthrow and completely change the structure of a corporation? Does that mean the person who kills a CEO gets to become the new CEO or install new board members at that company? I see that government officials have been protected but what about everyone else in almost, if not equally, higher positions that can dictate the effects of the economy?

There just seems to be a lot of oversight on stating this one line of “all crime is legal including murder” and choosing to focus on the last half of it. If the premise was just “only murder is legal”, I’d be fine with it and everything else would make sense. But no, because this is meant to be scary and a sort of horror film, let’s just focus on the murder part and not worry about exploring the possibilities of these 12 hours of freedom, even though we could fix any glaringly obvious plot holes by choosing our words more carefully.

2. Throughout the film, it seems like the family lives in this seemingly enormous mansion that’s big enough to the point that when someone yells out, the other person in the house can’t hear them. There were many situations where Ethan Hawke’s character or his wife would be trying to find his daughter or son by calling out their name and for some reason, they wouldn’t respond back. It genuinely started to annoy me because all of those situations were caused by the children just running off randomly and disappearing on their own accord without any concern for the gravity of the situation. Yes, I get that you’re trying to be quiet because there’s another stranger in the house who might try to use you as a hostage, but why did you run off in the first place?

I’m going to highlight the daughter because, after the death of her boyfriend, she freaks out and just bolts off without any signal to her parents. Yes, what happened to your boyfriend was traumatizing, but why are you running off so fast and how the hell do the parents lose sight of her that quickly? This was made worse when we see her first reunite with her mum but then she runs away again after talking with her for less than a minute! What the fuck?!

I know you realize that there are people outside, who are trying to break through the security systems in place, so why are you still deciding to run away like a headless chicken instead of staying together as a family?? They all just play hide and seek from each other for some fucking reason and no one seems to be able to hear a goddamn thing.

Which is an aspect that continues to puzzle because by the third act of the movie, when Ethan Hawke informs his wife that he has decided to stand up and fight the attackers, his son who has been “lost” all this time comes out of nowhere and says “what’s the plan Dad?” What the fuck?! Like right now you just decide to come out of hiding even if your parents were searching for you this whole fucking time and you somehow know where they were exactly, though I don’t know how you could have since they weren’t calling out to you anymore..? Oh, my God. Fuck off. This is just stupid.

3. After the “climactic” ending that sees the neighbour’s of the family fail in their attempts to kill Ethan Hawke’s wife and children (which by the way, has really dumb and stupid motives for why they wanted to do this), the wife makes the decision to wait out the night with those that literally just tried to kill her. Um, what?

The next scene is a cut to all of them sitting around the dinner table and waiting for the clock to strike 7 am to signal the end of “The Purge”, whilst the stranger who helped Ethan Hawke’s family watches over the murdering neighbors as they are kept in a hostage-like situation. But all of it was just so fucking awkward haha.

Did you literally spend the next 6 hours until the break of dawn, watching over your so-called friends and neighbors who attempted to kill you during “The Purge”, incomplete and absolute silence? Could you not maybe just tie them up and lock them in the basement? Could you not kick them out and then re-establish the security system? I mean if the system was broken, surely you’d be able to go somewhere else instead? Maybe to your neighbors’ security systems? If it’s broken, what’s stopping more people who want to purge entering your broken fortress of a house and walking into the dinner table to see all of you just sitting around awkwardly? None of it makes any fucking sense.

4. A couple last points will be fairly brief: I thought the actual security system that Ethan Hawke’s character installed and supposedly somehow profited largely off, was just straight up terrible and so easy to be broken into. If all it took was to cut the power and bring in a truck to remove the front door (which somehow deactivated all the shields placed around the windows as well), what the fuck kind of high budgeted security system is this? Whatever.

5. The main antagonist from the group of purgers had some of the most awkward delivery in lines and unnecessary pauses that were trying to be creepy or scary but were just so laughable and dumb. One of the most annoying characters, second to Ethan Hawke’s daughter.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare Movie Review

freddys dead

See it. 5.5/10

Quite possibly the 2nd best sequel to the original.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare takes bigger risks with the mythology of the Krueger Universe and in doing so, had me pleasantly surprised. This film was a much-needed breath of fresh air into a series that was quickly becoming stale with the same shit over and over again.

What worked so well with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is mainly the trust and belief they put into the script by Michael De Luca. It takes the story of Freddy Krueger in a new direction that almost feels like a dystopian-like world which I really loved.

Reading about the general reception of this film, I can see that not many were a fan of these choices and in particular, the transformation of Krueger to essentially a tamed version of The Boogeyman aimed at kids. I can see why people would think this way and why they’ve given it such an unfavorable rating. I personally didn’t have these problems because I could see the film was choosing to be a lot more fun and less serious compared to the stinkers previous to it and, in my opinion, it did so successfully.

It’s probably the only film in the series that was able to execute its goals of being more comedic so I didn’t really care if it wasn’t scary or serious. There’s a particular dream-like sequence that involves the use of a video game, which yes, is relatively goofy, but I thought worked well at trying to be unique and entertaining. Compared to the serious nature of the other films, minus the god-awful second, which failed horrendously to be funny, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was a much-needed variance in the franchise.

I was surprisingly really into the goofy horror setups because it was a sign of creativity that I could see in the script. It was trying to be something new and to take on bigger risks, which might not be what you expect for A Nightmare On Elm Street film. But it’s something that I thoroughly enjoyed and it even added some great aspects to the mythology, which by this point, I wasn’t sure was possible.

It’s not a great horror film and it’s by no means as good as the original or my favorite sequel, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Master, but I still had a good time watching this film and I was willing to ignore the rest of the plot conveniences and stupidity in the story because of the efforts being made to simply be creative.

Watch this if you’re into the series but if this somehow did pass your selection, it wouldn’t be a terrible loss. However, if anything that I’ve mentioned has interested you and you’re already a fan of the franchise, then, by all means, check it out. See it.

Happy Death Day Movie 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.

Black Dynamite Movie Review

black dynamite

See it. 9/10

By far, the best comedy to have come out in the past decade. Black Dynamite shines as a film that mocks classic 70’s black exploitation (blaxploitation) movies, but it does so in a way that doesn’t make mean-spirited jests at such a genre. Rather, Black Dynamite simply uses the blaxploitation medium as a mask to bring forth a hilarious story that works in such a setting.

Only in a film released in 2009 can you get a seriously funny plot about the life of a man known as Black Dynamite who is a crime-fighting, off the rails ex-police detective. The story sees him searching for justice when his younger brother is killed, but instead leads into an entirely different journey that you wouldn’t have seen coming. Without giving anything else away, it is so much better if you go into seeing this film without knowing anything because you’ll love all the laughs that come with the surprises of the story. But if you do want to know what kind of movie you’re walking into, the film’s trailer alone is hilarious and still doesn’t reveal much of the laughter that you’ll find after you watch the film.

What makes Black Dynamite so great, is its self-awareness in what it is trying to mimic and parody. By disguising itself as a blaxploitation film, it plays on the characteristics that made those films so cheesy and poorly made, instead of capitalizing on it and turning them into laughs. An aspect of this is the use of intentional filmmaking mistakes. For example, a boom mic that pops into the frame that seems like it was there by accident and is a fault of the film but it’s actually something that was done on purpose by the directors, to both subtly lampoon the B-grade blaxploitation genre and garner up laughs. This extends to moments where the fourth wall is broken, people break characters or even appear to be bad acting.

All of this is done with a sense of self-awareness, knowing full well that they are meant to look bad and be perceived in a hilarious light. This is what gives the potential for a comedy that is self-aware, to be so great if done well, and is something which Black Dynamite has utilized. This is a movie that is not intended to be taken seriously and is willing to poke fun at themselves to add another dynamic to the comedy.

But apart from the meta-like humor, the film is enough to stand alone as a hilarious comedy in its own right. There are plenty of laughs throughout the story and the jokes per minute are at a staggeringly high rate. You could re-watch this film over and over again and pick up on new little nuances that you mightn’t have seen the first time. It’s the quality of the writing that truly adds depth to the quantity of these jokes and is the reason for why you’d want to come back to watch it another time or show it to your friends.

Black Dynamite has a script so good that it outweighs its direction, but it doesn’t matter because both serve each other as much as they need to. Perhaps for some, the silly like nature or the jokes relating to African-American stereotypes aren’t in their ballpark. But this script is so well made, that’s it very difficult not to find yourself quickly swept up in its fun and nonsensical world. There are far too many notable lines of dialogue and memorable catchphrases, that are just worthy enough by themselves to standout as comedy gold in a film and was something I was completely up for.

I got every bit of my hopeful and high expectations from watching the trailer (which almost never happens in other films) and then some. Black Dynamite is almost the perfect comedy to have been made in the last ten years, because of so many different little things the filmmakers have managed to get right. It’s smart, funny and above all just simply entertaining. I can’t wait to see what these guys make next. They currently have a crowdfunding page to acquire funds for their next movie The Outlaw Johnny Black and by the looks of things, I’m already excited about that. So, go see this film and then go help fund their next one because man if these guys aren’t the comic geniuses of modern day cinema, I don’t know who else could come close.

Shame Movie Review

shame9.5/10

With Steve McQueen’s second feature film, it’s hard to place any notion of a fault, in a drama that focuses on the idea of sexual addiction and the consequences it can have on human connection.

Set in modern-day New York, Brandon (played by my 2nd favourite actor) Michael Fassbender, is a City Executive for a large firm that deals with a crippling and debilitating psychological problem of sex addiction. He often masturbates at work and pays highly for live porn on his home laptop to relieve his “fix”. His sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, arrives one day and asks to stay with Brandon for a few days whilst she performs a few gigs as a talented singer. This, in turn, sparks a series of events that explore the troubling relationship between the pair and ultimately to a quite compelling tale.

In Shame, both actors encompass a virtuoso-like performance as the audience gets to view their relationship (or lack of) more and more as time passes. And McQueen uses this time to establish a fine pace that not only builds the two central characters’ personalities and motivations but also grounds them in reality. Whilst the audience might not know how it is to live with anyone who has ever held sexual addiction, (which is probably why the rating system on this film was shamingly put up to an R-rating almost instantly), you truly get the sense you do so after having watched the wonderful performance by Fassbender who really does bring Brandon to life and also humanizes him in a lot of ways.

But whether it is the extremes of certain sex-related scenes or the simplicity of seeing him run in the streets for an extended period of time without a cut; McQueen purposely and cleverly uses each scene to dwell deeper into this psyche of Brandon. We get to see close-ups of the pain, grief, and anger on his face when having an orgasm or the sadness and solidarity in his eyes when the film’s opening shot depicts him awake in the morning, staring blankly into space before masturbating in the shower. Each shot used provides a sense of sadness involved in the life of Brandon but also that provocative and unsettling notion.

The love I have for this film and the talent behind those who made it is only matched with by a few other films that I would humbly call a 10/10. But of course, no film is truly recognized as a 10 out 10, as rating anything in life is subjective at best and we can merely seek to base our judgments on sound reasoning and logical way of thinking. Having said that, I almost feel compelled that Shame is one of those rare films in which the director and story have worked hand-in-hand to achieve such a great piece of work. This is by far McQueen’s best film to date, even though he later went on to make 12 Year’s A Slave, which at the very least nabbed him an Oscar and the recognition he deserved at both of these films are incredible.

But Shame took a topic and made something truly special from it, with many scenes from the film still stuck in my head today. This is a film that could be analyzed for days in length, and with many a word by pen or text, but ultimately, you need to watch this film when you get the chance. And it’s out of Netflix in the United States so now there are no excuses. See it.