Usually I put a synopsis first, but I’ll put a trailer here instead – as it captures the intensity and atmosphere of this film much better than I could:
From beginning to end, this movie keeps you hooked. Jordan Peele uses a racist lens to focus on social discomfort and biases, in order to imbue a terrible, persistent dread over the viewer, which I believe is a new kind of horror experience.
The trailer actually captures a lot of the movie – just go see it, then read this. Here there be spoilers.
Rather than being about straight-up racism, it seems to be more about correlation, if not “accidental racism,” which are due to the effects of social standards overtime, which is the much more unfortunate elephant in the room. Except for that cop. And the brother. And half of those old people…
It would seem that this film, while focusing on bigotry, highlights the “whitification” of African Americans in a near comically uncomfortable manner. But as the twist is revealed, it can also be argued that Get Out is more of a cheeky stab at cultural appropriation – all these rich white folks are practically dying for a chance at being black.
Either way, Peele captures the annoyingly contradictive nature of white America: “either be more white or let us be more black.”
Something I am unsure of though: Was the film implying that white people think black people are easy to manipulate? Or, that it’s the privileged white man’s responsibility to use the black man (going off of Dean’s spiel about Chris’s “purpose”)? Furthermore, are both parties expected to partake in this kind of relationship due to institutionalized racism? I dunno, but it’s food for thought.
After building on all of these implications and inferences, I felt that the most terrifying scene was when the flashing lights approach our bloodied protagonist. The cop angle would have been the absolute nail-in-the-coffin as far as this film’s social commentary goes. Fortunately, the actual ending is much better.
Get Out is a refreshing take on horror-comedy, chocked full of tension, intrigue, and most importantly, creative criticism.
Aliens have finally made contact, and the first thing we need to know is, “Why are they here?” In order to find out, the military commissions linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to head a team to break the enigmatic creatures’ code. As Louise draws closer, the rest of the world grows weary, edging on the brink of an intergalactic war.
Arrival is an incredibly refreshing take on the alien genre. Rather than focusing on the fear, the overall narrative is based knowledge through communication. Usually the rule for filmmaking is “show, not tell,” so to have a story based around speaking, this grand undertaking is anything but boring.
Of course, fear comes into play – and when it does, it’s absolutely infuriating. In fact, I think it was wrong to demonize the military/government as this film did; yes, they couldn’t inform the public of anything in the event that they were terribly wrong, but – as we’ve established with the power of communication – words are better than silence, but it takes time to produce the right words.
Additionally, I feel that a lot of subtlety was lost in this story – and frankly, I’m not sure how to feel about it: Between the circular nature of their language/time, to crossing literal barriers, it’s that fine line between clever and overdone.
Many folks claim that this is a film that will restore your faith in humanity. I say that’s a stretch, but it’s certainly a story we could use right now. In all, Arrival is an unexpectedly lovely film worth the watch.
…This has been stuck in my head ever since.
Yeh know… it wasn’t that bad.
For starters, I was born in 1991. I saw the original Ghostbusters probably after I saw Space Jam, if you want to put things into perspective. Yes, I loved it and continue to love it, but it did not impact me like those who grew up in the ’80s (or so it seems). And of course, when I initially heard about a remake (reboot?), I was annoyed – because why fix what ain’t broke? Then there was the lady news – I thought that would be kind of cool, but I was still more hung up on the idea that a remake wasn’t necessary. Now, did this movie deserve the outrage it received so early on? Absolutely not.
I’ll skip on the synopsis because it’s pretty straight forward, also spoiler alert.
It’s really hard not to harp on the gender issues here because frankly, all the tv spots about this movie are straight-up girl power – and again, this was one of the biggest public gripes. So let’s talk about, for a bit at least.
If I were 9 and saw this, I would love it to pieces. It’s fun and colorful and funny – and there are chicks kicking phantasmal ass. This is a movie I would need as a young girl, because goddammit, representation is important. Anecdote: I was a ghostbuster for Halloween last year, and resorted to an ill-fitting men’s suit because otherwise, I had this. Much like skirts and baseball, skirts and ghostbusting don’t mix. (That was a loose League of Their Own – oh nevermind.)
As a young adult viewer, yes, this movie was very entertaining and enjoyable. I felt that the only time the gender-swap dynamic was shoved in your face was with Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) the receptionist, and Rowan (Neil Casey), the creepy villain. Well, I’m only adding Rowan as a devil’s advocate, because I’m sure some folks out there were all like “THE ONLY MEN IN THIS MOVIE WERE A DUMB HUNK AND A SMART CREEP – HOW DOES THIS REPRESENT MEN”
If you are one of these people…well, maybe we could speak directly, civilly, but please leave capslock out of this – and of course, keep in mind that this is a comedy film that attempts to deviate from the norm. But frankly, working in a big city, I come across at least one Rowan daily, so he didn’t really stand out to me. He kind of bored me, to be honest. I would like to add on the aforementioned deviation note, it would be great of the villain wasn’t defeated with a crotch-shot.
Anywhoo, back to Kevin. I’m sure that some people, probably dudes, were miffed that the main dude was dumb eye-candy. Well, you best get used to it, because ladies have been putting up with this for way. too. long. Also you forget that Kevin’s a cerebral graphic artist as well as a model.
Sometimes he gets a little over the top, but I was still surprised by the directions they took with him. With the exception of the possession-angle, I suppose. Like I said, I just wasn’t impressed with Rowan.
Speaking of over-the-top, let’s talk tech! Who doesn’t love cool gadgets? Definitely not this movie! There was so much technobabble – so much unnecessary technobabble – and on top of that, the devices hardly made sense. It would’ve been cool to see where the line would be drawn between phantasmal and corporeal – the ghost and the goo, so to speak. I mean, Patty’s wood-chipper was brutal and all, but what stopped the ghosties from popping back out of the goo-pile? Is the goo just liquid ghost? Do we just become ooze?
And then Abby’s punchie-glove-thing just made no sense at all… You just can’t beat proton packs. I know I shouldn’t do this, but you have to give credit to the original on this one: the gadgets were established, and there were rules – and there was continuity with those rules. Sometimes rules suck, but most of the time they help enrich world building.
In the end, Ghostbusters did do a great job paying homage to the original(s) (I loved the cameos), but unfortunately lost a lot of definition in the process. Part of me feels that the story may had been better if it were an indirect sequel where the citizens of New York at least acknowledged the previous events – or maybe more direct, passing of the torch or something while incorporating these new technologies. Maybe then less time would be spent with babble and more time for busting.
Final thought: I enjoyed this movie. I think if you go in with an open mind, you’ll do just fine. Lighten up.
When news broke of this cinematic venture, it was hard not to be curious – a whole film secretly shot in Disneyland? A sci-fi horror film? This had my creepypasta meeter just spinning. After much controversy, this little number finally made it’s way onto Netflix. So how’d it fare? Hush now, synopsis first.
On the last day of the White family’s Disney vacation, Jim (Roy Abramsohn) is told that he’s been fired. Despite this news, he does his best to keep a happy face for his family. Little did he know that this day would get much, much weirder: what began as a wholesome family trip became a torrent of sex, lies and possessed animatronics. The White family’s facade comes tumbling down in a venture that is not only the end of innocence, but the dissolution of sanity.
This was a movie was really just a hot mess of ideas: sci-fi, infidelity, loss of innocence – it all sounds good on paper, especially with a background as wholesome as Disney World. Personally, I love this kind of stuff. And there’s a definite appeal of something that’s gone through this amount of red tape and altercation.
I think that what first put me off was how incredibly unlikeable the protagonist was. Granted there are two sides to every relationship (and the portrayal of the wife really wasn’t helping), but the way he was ogling the jailbait (and every other woman) to the point of neglecting his children really wasn’t making me care if this man lives or dies by whatever horrible means.
The ending was also, er, problematic. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it, but it left something to be desired. Or maybe the last bit just went over my head.
As mentioned, I love the idea of Disney world as a horror backdrop, especially because they didn’t take the zombie route. Not to mention the concept of false memories crossed with temptation – it’s perfect! The sci-fi tangent was without a doubt my favorite. Really, I kind of wish the movie was more like it’s inspiration.
Though I was left with a lingering unease (good thing), that does not help the incoherent cluster that we’re left with. Maybe if they only stuck with the science fiction and developed that more, the story would flow a little easier. Or if they did a Pleasure Island route, that would be pretty cool too. But that’s just, like my opinion, or whatever.
Maybe I’m just whining too much. Escape from Tomorrow definitely sticks with you, and there’s a certain charm to the guerrilla aesthetic. In the end, it comes off as a moderately-budgeted student film, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If anything, I say it’s worth checking out.
From my first glance at the trailer, I was skeptical.
Here we have an aggressive government entity, a gentle scientist, and a wacky gentile robot who is threatening national security – because robots can’t LEARN, they can’t be SENTIENT, what is this MADNESS!? IT’S TOO DIFFERENT – KILL IT, KILL IT DEAD. And then we learn everything we’ve heard before about nature vs. nurture and BOOM you’ve got yourself a remake of Short Circuit starring my favorite zef hoodlums, Die Antwoord, as well as Dev Patel trying to shake off The Last Airbender, and Hugh Jackman’s rage-inducing mullet.
Well gee, it’s a good thing that I don’t religiously follow trailers, or else I’d be incredibly disappointed pretty much all the time. And it turns out, I wasn’t totally right. Let’s first straighten out that synopsis:
Due to a correlating rise of crime and police mortality rate in Johannesburg, the South African government has decided to invest in a weapons corporation called Tetravaal, fronted by CEO Michelle Bradley (yay Sigourney Weaver!).
Tetravaal’s key contribution to the police force are semi-AI “scouts,” developed by Deon Wilson (Patel). Wilson has aspirations of greater uses for technology, in his spare time developing an AI that can learn and create – you know, no big deal.
After some gangland shenanigans, Chappie (impressively played by Sharlto Copely) is born. Chappie must be taught as a child would, and thanks to his gangster parents, Yolandi and Ninja, he learns quickly the good and evils of the world, while establishing his own consciousness and existence.
Meanwhile, Wilson’s über-machismo co-worker Vincent Moore (Jackman) is becoming increasingly obsessed with getting his war machine off the ground, vexed by Wilson’s success.
As mentioned, I was concerned that this was going to be another one of Blomkamp’s “big mean government” deals – and I wasn’t entirely wrong, but it didn’t rub me the wrong way like Elysium did – and even Neill Blomkamp admits he messed up with that one. Chappie is really more akin to District 9: It begins with a documentary style, it’s set in Johannesburg, has Sharlto Copley as a vulnerable creature, and even ends in a slum. It’s like if you took District 9, Short Circuit, and Die Antwoord and tossed everything into a blender.
Speaking of our duo, I think they did alright – I mean, it’s not the first time they’ve acted. And really, they were kind of what I expected, considering that Blomkamp made a point to use their personas as a springboard. Though I would have rather seen Yolandi a bit more of a badass: after Chappie arrives, she just seemed to either coddle or lay around, smoking and waiting. Huh. Maybe I should call my mom.
On the note of characterizations, I’m amazed that Moore wasn’t written as an American (or maybe he originally was?). Here we have a man who brandishes a handgun in an office while telling coworkers to join him at church, and builds a robot that is just dripping with excess – do you really need a claw that can tear a human body in half? Okay, maybe that doubles as a jaws of life – but the cluster bombs?
Maybe making him an American would seem too obvious – like if a Hispanic man would have been cast as the lead in Elysium. Okay, I’ll quit ragging on Elysium. On the other hand, I’m not that familiar with other countries’ conservative stereotypes, so maybe keeping Moore an Australian makes sense?
Even though Chappie felt a bit like a re-hashed District 9 at times, I think Sharlto Copley’s performance really brings some much-needed heart into this story. Granted, he was designed with curious eyes and ears to better recognize as some sort of relatable creature (Red Letter Media talks about this sort of thing in Plinkett’s fantastic Avatar review), but the physical and vocal performance really shines through.
UH OH SPOILERS
Though technobabble was kept to a minimum (though now I know anything can be accomplished with a suped-up Roomba and enough Redbull), I still find myself wanting to know more about the construct of consciousness as data. I mean, does it get saved like a save state in that moment, like all the memories? Like in Yolandi’s case, that was a while until she was booted up again. …How would her robot walk out of the Tetravaal plant anyway? Also, wasn’t that the plot to Transcendence? (I still haven’t seen it.)
And was it established as to whether or not Chappie feels pain? I figured he didn’t (because that would have to be learned somehow), but the sniveling theatre-goers aside me seemed to believe otherwise. And if consciousness is stored, is it like you’re dreaming? Can it get infected with malware? What happens if it gets deleted? How much memory does a person take up? Maybe that would make the better movie. Or maybe I should just watch Transcendence to make sure this wasn’t already answered, but I doubt it.
YOU CAN COME BACK NOW
On the whole, I really dug this movie. It was heavy when it needed to be, but still kept things playful. In retrospect, I think that Neill Blomkamp is better at writing characters (and general scenarios) than actual stories, because it did feel more pieced together and predictable than it should have, especially given the amount of material one could work with. A tad misguided, yes, but I think Copley’s gentle take on an overused trope is worth the watch.
Final Grade: B
Hooray! Another cryptic Christopher Nolan film has graced the cinema! Okay, maybe a couple of weeks ago, but better late than never, right? This time the labyrinthian auteur sends audiences into the depths of the cosmos while exploring singularity, inter-dimensionality, and just plain love, man.
Okay, perhaps I misspoke – though there’s a ridiculous amount of technobabble, I guess I wouldn’t call it cryptic, even if fans have decided to create completely unnecessary infographics (I mean, it’s pretty and all, but learn the difference between a wormhole and a blackhole). On the whole, this is a lovely sci-fi chocked to the brim with dad feels. Now, if you don’t want any spoilers (though I’ll be doing my best to keep them light), so long and thanks for all the clicks.
Now, I don’t know a lot of technobabble, but I can tell a scene stolen from Event Horizon when I see one. (Sorry, couldn’t hyperlink that one, but you’ll know it when you see it.)
Another thing that really irked me was surprisingly not the “love can do it, man” mentality, but the fact that these NASA scientists were desperate enough to put their faith in the future of humankind to believe they are receiving enigmatic messages from a inter-dimensional space-travelling “They.” I mean, I’m not saying that “there aren’t aliens,” just why would they care about humans?Then again, if I was a scientist living in a future where MRIs no longer exist because the world needs more farmers than engineers, I’d probably take the Deus Ex Machina route too.
Unless, it was actually confirmed that They are future-humans who developed the tesseract in order to save humanity, but that would even be theoretically impossible because there’d be no way to develop that technology in the first place if humanity wasn’t saved. Unless They are from the only successful Colony thanks to Brand, which are still technically humans who would then create tesseract technology with their advanced future-brains (because that’s how things work) in order to send the singularity data to Murph in order to save more humans? But then what would that matter? Whoops, found myself in a tangental Möbius strip.
But as cheesy I thought the love theme was (or maybe more of hit-over-head I felt), I think one of the better aspects of the story was Cooper’s undeniable optimism. Sure, there was Mann’s “survival soliloquy,” but I felt there was something warmer about it.
I felt it was more than love (again, which was pushed like crazy), but just plain hope – that warm, fuzzy, “everything’s gonna be alright” feeling in the bleakest of times, even if Cooper had to botch Murphy’s Law to do so. (Not to mention, there were a couple times I thought I would have to step to call my dad.)
Speaking of the mood – I really dug the emotional spectrum on display – I mean, when things were, well, bleak, I believed it. And when the twist hit, well even though College Humor spoiled it for me, there was still something truly wondrous about it – and with that Philip Gla-I mean, Hans Zimmer, score, the whole ordeal was well, awe-inspiring, to be frank. (Even when the Earth stuff felt a little slow.)
I can’t really say it any better: I dug this movie. Sure, I got caught up on technobabble and untied knots, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Sometimes you need to be stimulated as well as just plain dazzled. More or less would have probably bored some people (and that thing was long enough as it is). Just go see it, be captivated, give your ol’ man a call.
Final Grade: A
Oh the buzz! People who have never heard of this bizarre Marvel series are suddenly flocking to the nearest novelty shop of their choosing for plush raccoons! Madness! Not gonna lie, after watching this, I was soon browsing Amazon for my own Rocket plush – but that’s besides the point. Guardians of the Galaxy has charmed the nation with its weirdness, and for a good reason – it’s pretty damn good, minor irkables aside.
This is the story of Peter Quill (a buffed up Chris Pratt), a space rogue who stumbles upon an ancient relic – the very relic desired by a warlord hell-bent on revenge (glad to see you again, Lee Pace). With everyone either after Quill or the magical deus ex machina ball, Quill manages to scrounge up a motley crew to fight against the baddies, and save his own hide in the process.
Admittedly, I haven’t read the original material or its successors, and I’ve heard things here and there about Guardians being a Star Wars ripoff, or just like another Pratt film. Sure I can see the similarities, but this no way hinders one’s viewing experience.
This ensemble, well, this cast, is incredibly enjoyable – practically each character brings charm and originality, even the tree who can only say “I am Groot.”
In my opinion, the main weak link is Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Why can no badass female in an ensemble not hook up with anyone? Okay, technically it’s a “will they/won’t they” scenario, but it’s just so vexing. I also felt that she was the least defined out the group, like a green Black Widow.
On the note of bothersome things, I really did have a problem with the deus ex machina ball. I felt as if they overlooked exactly how it works or how it’s controlled – because I thought I knew how it worked, but then they lost me. But I guess everything can be written off as space magic, so I guess that’s okay.
Furthermore, I don’t want to spoil anything this time around, but due to my misunderstanding, and perhaps my cold, heartless nature, I kind of found the climax cheesy. But none-the-less fun to watch.
Frankly, I found myself with a doofy grin throughout this movie, even with the annoying things – not unlike Pacific Rim. We have amazing visuals, the pacing is great, the soundtrack is well, awesome, and the one-liners are just icing on the cake. Treat yourself and go see this movie.
Final Grade: A-
In this delicious little existential sci-fi, Scarlett Johansson is an alluring creature who preys on unsuspecting males. After making an attempt on a kindly, deformed bystander, our protagonist is compelled to take a journey of self-discovery, despite unsavory consequences. I suppose I should warn you with a spoilers sticker, but considering the visual heaviness of the feature, I really don’t feel as if you’ll be missing out on much by spoiling the story.
Essentially we’re dealing with a film that is pretty much completely visual, only occasionally complimented by non-diegetic sound and a sprinkle of dialogue (when it helps). We’re given scenes that are beautifully shot and composed, ultimately providing a tantalizing, often haunting experience, stringing together themes of loneliness and longing – predator and prey.
Personally, I enjoyed the clear disconnect between viewer and protagonist, after all, she is an alien. But when she attempts to discover herself as a person, that’s where I got kind of pulled out of the story. There’s a certain charm and awkwardness involved…mostly awkwardness – but isn’t that what being human is all about?
Well, in unnamed protagonist’s case, it’s actually a step back, which was kind of surprising. (Her awkward discoveries keep her from being a person, that is.) More so, it seemed as if some of the transformational bits were fairly forced, making her story become clunkier as it went on.
Or maybe I just wanted more scenes of skin being sucked off of peoples’ bodies. Hard to say.
This film is definitely something to experience, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was hindered by the need for a paradigm shift. The protagonist’s desire for identity leaves the audience drifting off with her…maybe I’m just jaded but it eventually felt incredibly try-hard, but the finale left time for pondering and reflection. On the whole, I dug it, but I could definitely see many-a-disappointed film-goer.
Final Grade: B
Yes, finally, despite the drama and scandal, Bryan Singer, the director of the only two good X-Men films has returned! Finally, thanks to the power of time paradoxes, we can quite literally forget all about The Last Stand. Though, unfortunately, it is cannon as far as some things are concerned – but we’ll get to that later.
This time the team is in the year 2023, where mutants are hunted down and forced into internment camps, as are the humans who aid them. Now it is up to the remaining X-Men to travel back in time to prevent these atrocities from ever happening, that is, if their future selves can survive in the meantime. Disclaimer: I have never read the comics pertaining to any of these film – just a head’s up.
Considering how this franchise has been going, it’s definitely safe to say that Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction (following First Class, of course). Future Past is chocked full of characters and well-paced action sequences that we’ve all come to know and love, as well social commentary on injustice and equality.
And as always, there are a few new cast-members to join the crew – my vote goes towards Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Despite the cheesy commercials, I think Quicksilver’s scenes are probably the coolest sequences of this film – definitely close to being on par with Nightcrawler’s X2 opener.
My main issue with this film is the villain, Boliver Trask (hooray Peter Dinklage!). I understand that anti-mutant politicians/corporations are not that unusual as far as villains go, but usually there’s some sort of deeper motive behind our villains. For instance, take William Stryker of X2: he had a personal vendetta against mutants after his mutant son caused his mother to end her life. Trask is just an arrogant asshole. I get that he’s concerned about the extinction of the human race, but I felt that his obsession came out of nowhere.
Speaking of “out of nowhere,” how did Charles survive after his obliteration in The Last Stand? He was just some sort of channeled consciousness in the stinger at the end, and then fully materialized in the stinger after The Wolverine – how does that work? It’s not like he returned to his body because if memory serves, it was dissipated. I think I’d rather see the movie where Charles’ consciousness enters a comatose patient and then his physical appearance changes over time. Or surgery. Something. Anything. I guess it really doesn’t matter now, does it?
Days of Future Past is a solid action film. Amidst the booms and pows come times of existential quandary and reflection. The bit between the two Charles’ is probably one of the best pep talks I’ve seen in a while. Now, if we could only flesh out the baddies a bit more, we might have had another X2 on our hands. Oh well, there’s still Apocalypse to look forward to.
Final Grade: B+
Brandon Cronenberg, son of the one and only David Cronenberg, has finally (okay, two years ago) made his full-length directorial debut, Antiviral.
In a society obsessed with celebrity culture, adoring fans have no resorted to paying for infectious diseases, in order to bring themselves one step closer to those they admire. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) acts as a disease-mule who works at the only clinic that offers ailments straight from starlet Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon). When Hannah suddenly dies, Syd is cast into his own personal hell, caught between devotion and survival.
Personally, I think that the trailer was better than the movie.
Stylistically, this film’s golden. The choices of light and composition clearly reflect a materialistic world with an eerie underbelly. The visuals (and physical props) are admirably grotesque, but made me yearn for more. Additionally, given the pleasure of at least one fever-dream sequence, but not much else.
At first glance, the grim celeb-obsessed future plot seems kind of interesting, but it doesn’t carry the story at all. In fact, there’s very little story to be had. I can’t even describe the protagonist that well. He’s a creepy ginger fellow…and Jones does a great job at faking sick.
His obsessions are only acknowledged in dream-form, and even then we’re not given much more to work with. Maybe that was the point – people are so obsessed with other people that there’s literally no individual personality left in the world? The character design would seem to suggest this, but it just comes off as kind of lame and misguided.
Like I said, gorgeous composition. I really wanted to know more about this world and how society and science took this perverted turn. I loved the grotesque visuals and sci-fi involved here – more of that, please.
Unfortunately, when you have a story that is about obsession and only obsession, it gets old kind of quickly. It’s clear that the plot/ending was only going to turn into a gory shock-factor, and that’s really a dirty shame.
Antiviral had the oomph, only to flop over as a one-trick pony.