Personal Shopper (2017) Review

Director: Oliver Assayas

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidnger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie

Rating: R

Plot:

Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) is a personal shopper and assistant to a French celebrity, Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). Even with a hatred for her job, she refuses to quit and leave Paris because she wants to get in contact with her twenty-seven-year-old twin brother who has died from heart complications. During her journey, she may not like what she finds out about herself and her brother.

What The Film Did Well:

What Personal shopper does best is it comes off as very believable. This movie carries a lot of emotion through how the characters are developed and the decisions that certain characters make throughout the movie. Each character has different emotions and issues that are shown throughout the movie and these emotions make the audience more invested in the plot of the movie and what will eventually happen to the individuals.

Personal shopper does something great where it has subtleness and quietness to it that provides a great effect on the audience. There’s not a resounding score that grips the audience, but rather the audience is invested because the quiet nature of the movie has the viewers waiting for the next plot point to arise. Most movies, especially dramas, thrillers and horror films tend to come off as over blaring and loud to try and get the audience emotionally invested and add substance to the movie, but Personal Shopper does not do that. It was a unique take and something that I think more thriller films should try in the future because the method works and if used correctly can help make great movies.

Image via IFC Films

The performance Kristen Stewart was great as Maureen Cartwright. Stewart is best known for her Twilight days and because of this, she doesn’t always get the credit as an actress that I believe she deserves. Now, I get the criticisms of Stewart as she does lack some emotion in her roles and can be boring or bland, but that’s just her style of acting and for some roles it works. Her role in a small film, like Personal Shopper is where I think she is at her best. Her role on this movie was meant for a more quiet character who has been hurt before and Stewart puts forth the emotion and personality needed for the character of Maureen.

 

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There are a few points in this movie where it does begin to get bland or boring and the pacing suffers because of this. It only runs at about one hundred minutes, but for a psychological thriller it drags and is dull from time to time. To me, psychological thrillers should be up tempo and feel more like a race rather than a casual walk. I know that’s a stupid metaphor for a movie, but it’s what it felt like at times.

There are very few special effects in this movie, but when they are used they seem unnecessary and not carefully looked at or produced. I get it, it is a low budget movie made for the film festival audience, but the way they used a ghost effect in this movie just seemed lazy and almost unprofessional. I personally didn’t even think they needed any special effects and could have easily gotten away with all practical effects and props. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I just didn’t understand why they needed any sort of special effect in the movie as the simple psychological thriller part did enough for me.

Image via IFC Films

Final Thoughts

This was a really interesting movie to both watch and write a review on. It is the lowest budget movie I have seen and wrote about this year ($1 million) and although you can tell it had a smaller budget, it didn’t diminish the quality of the movie by any means. Personal Shopper gets a 7.0/10. It has very few flaws and was one of the better movies at Cannes in 2016.

Personal Shopper

Image via IFC Films

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Dunkirk (2017) Review

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Fion Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

Dunkirk takes place in late May and early June at the tail end of a battle between the Belgian, English and French allied forces against Nazi Germany in 1940. Due to the fierce battle and attack of the Germans, all the allied forces are forced to try and retreat 140,000 troops from Dunkirk, France. Battles from the land, air and sea give an interesting take on the narrative of telling a war story.

What The Film Did Well:

Above anything else, Dunkirk feels completely authentic. It has a very real feel in terms of what war feels like. From the beginning to the end you feel like you are alongside every character in this movie and has a certain intensity about it that has the audience completely invested in this movie. Very few war films make you feel like you are there and a part of the action, but Dunkirk does this in every way. Due to the authenticity that this movie provides it drives this movie in every way possible.

You will hear it by everyone that sees this movie, it is a beautiful movie in every single way. The cinematography in this movie is stunning. There are very few movies I would watch just based on how visually appealing it is and for the cinematography alone. Dunkirk and The Revenant are the few films where I will remember it the most, not for acting, but rather how it was filmed. Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar, Her) was the lead cinematographer and every shot was incredible and the shots alone make this a movie worth watching. If you can, watch Dunkirk on the biggest screen you possibly can.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The sound mixing and the score of Dunkirk was remarkable. With every sound in this movie whether it be the sound of an airplane, a bomb dropping or a gunshot it all sounds so very real. At the beginning of this movie there was a gun shot and it sounded so real that I actually jumped in my seat a little bit. The sounds in this movie are a big part of why this movie feels so real and why you feel like you are a part of the movie. The score done by Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight, Inception, The Lion King) was one of the best in recent memory. One of the first early viewing reviews of Dunkirk that a read described this as a movie made to fit in with a symphony and that is exactly what it is.

Out of the entire cast of actors, Tom Hardy stood out the most. Hardy play Farrier, who is an allied pilot and was portrayed greatly. In almost every scene in Dunkirk, Hardy is alone on the screen and I think it takes a special type of actor to be the only actor on the screen and the movie doesn’t suffer because of it. Hardy has done this before in Locke where he was the only actor the entire movie and carries it tremendously.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

One of my favorite parts of this entire movie would have to be the ending. The ending has a big focus on what life is like for soldiers when they have to return home from war and the reception they think they will get versus the reception they do get. These soldiers think they will be considered cowards for retreating, but are actually viewed at as heroes for their country because of what they had to go through and the sacrifices certain characters made throughout the movie. The final minute is a couple different shots with one of the characters reading Winston Churchill’s Never Surrender speech and I though was a terrific ca to a stellar movie.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There was quite a bit that did bother me about Dunkirk, though. The character development in this movie was some of Nolan’s worst and did not get me invested in this movie the way I wished it had. I went into Dunkirk expecting it to not only be the best movie of 2017, but maybe the best war movie I’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan. It was neither of those, and I really think that other than Tom Hardy I do not care about any of these characters or their decisions. In fact, I walked away from Dunkirk not really knowing who any of the characters were.

Dunkirk is also an incredibly slow burn, which I was caught off guard by. It looks at the battle of Dunkirk Beach in three perspectives: land, sea and air. Although I thought looking at different perspectives was unique in the way to tell a story it made this movie drag from time to time. As this movie progresses you see the same events happen two or three times and took a while to get used to and stalled the movie more than it probably should have.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

Going into Dunkirk all I read other than the beauty of it was how emotional it gets. This was not the case for me. I see where they wanted to tug at my emotions, but for whatever reason it did not provoke an emotional reaction out of me. I get where it tried to and this event was an emotional and tragic one, but I was not connected or emotionally invested with any part of this movie, especially the character or choices made throughout the movie.

Final Thoughts

Dunkirk is one of the more beautiful movies I have seen in some time. Although it lacks in emotion and character development, it’s still a really good movie. Since I saw the first teaser for this movie I had been excited for it and I was a little disappointed, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. Overall it is an 8.5/10 and one of the better movies of the summer. It is a different type of war movie and Christopher Nolan deserves the recognition for having a unique take on a genre.

Dunkirk

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

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Kong: Skull Island Review (2017)

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

Bill Randa (John Goodman) is in charge of leading a team of scientists to chart the only uncharted island left, Skull Island. To his knowledge, he is the only one that knows that is actually there: monsters. With the help of his scientists and a group of soldiers led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) who have recently been dismissed from war torn Vietnam. When they infiltrate the island, they find what is hidden among the island of monster, Kong a twenty-five-foot gorilla. One they realize how dangerous this island is the group must act quickly to save themselves and get off the island.

What The Film Did Well:

The best thing about Kong: Skull Island it the expansion of the mythology of King Kong. In every rendition of the King Kong story its sole focus is just on Kong, but no other creatures on Skull Island. This movie focuses a lot on the creatures and other inhabitants of Skull Island, which I loved. It helped expand on the relationship of Kong and all the other creatures he shares this home with. By expanding the mythology, it also helps with the explanation of what drives Kong and why he does what he does in the other Kong inspired movies.

The soundtrack in this movie is quite phenomenal. The soundtrack that they use in the movie and the trailer of Kong: Skull Island helps drive them and is reflective of the time period in which the movie takes place. All the song selections in this movie are hits from the 1960s and 70s. The choice of music in this movie help give and genuine and authentic feel to this movie. This soundtrack mixed with a quality score from Henry Jackman (Captain America: Winter Soldier) helps make this a movie worth watching and continuously helps progress the movie along.

The performances of John C. Reilly and Shea Whigham were the two the stood out the most for me. With Reilly, who plays Hank Marlow, I had big concerns when I saw that he was going to be in this movie. Reilly tends to be a more comedic actor and I thought his comedy roots would diminish the movie, but he was the most fleshed out character and most interesting human character in the entire movie. Whigham didn’t blow anyone away with his performance and a lot may wonder why his performance stood out to me, but there is a reason I enjoyed his character. Whigham plays the character of Cole and there were a few times he had these little catchphrases that for some reason I enjoyed. He also had this ‘I don’t give a fuck about anything’ attitude that I thought was played well. All in all, it was the simplicity to his character that I liked the most.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

The point in this movie where it falters the most is the lack of character development and misuse of such a star filled cast. Earlier I mentioned how I liked the expansion of the mythology and how they focused mostly on creatures, but there were so many great actors and actresses in this movie for them to not have some sort of character development. You had two of the best actors of their respective generations in Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman and somehow, I did not care a lick about who they were or what would happen to them. You have one of the best, if not the best young actress in Brie Larson and her character felt like a throw in. Then you have some of the better up and coming actors in Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell who were just under used. I just don’t see how you have so much great talent in one movie, but it comes off as they weren’t developed or used in the entire movie.

Most of us know by now, this movie along with the new (also not great) Godzilla are set up to have their own monster movie where they square off. If you didn’t know that, well now you know! Now, the reason I bring this up is because the last fight scene between Kong and one of the creatures was just too similar to Godzilla’s last fight scene against Mothra (I don’t know if that’s its name and can’t find it, if you know drop it in the comments!). I would have much rather seen Kong fight some more dinosaurs like he does in all the other King Kong stories. Although, I liked the new monsters Kong has to fight, the end battle seemed a little excessive and too close to what happened in Godzilla.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

Final Thoughts

I was severely disappointed with this movie. Going into 2017, Kong: Skull Island was one of my most anticipated movies of the entire year. The poster alone got me excited for this movie. Then when I left the movies I was asking myself if it was even good. I was trying to convince myself that it was good and if you have to do that at the end of a movie, it probably wasn’t all that great. Because of all this, Kong: Skull Island gets at 7.3/10. I’m mad that I was so disappointed with this movie because King Kong is one of my favorite creatures and 2005s King Kong remains one of my favorite movies and is a big reason why I had such high hopes for this version.

Kong: Skull Island

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

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Before I Fall Review (2017)

Director: Ry Russo-Young

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Cynthy Wu, Medalion Rahimi

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) keeps living February 12th over and over again and not in a good way. At the end of a high school party, she finds herself waking up from what seems to be a recurring nightmare, but cannot figure out how to end the cycle. After deep reflection and looking at the bigger picture of how people’s actions truly impact one another; Samantha must act quickly to develop a plan to better the lives of others and end this Groundhog Day scenario.

What The Film Did Well:

It does a good job of putting forth a new take on the Groundhog Day idea, A lot of times, filmmakers try and do new versions of Groundhog Day and they seem more of a re hash or re make than anything. Before I Fall takes a much darker take on the idea. The Bill Murray classic and the versions after tend to try and take a more comedic approach, while this version takes a dark and more adult tone with it and I thought was done well.

I thought that the portrayal of high school life and especially high school girls. This movie has a lot of bullying in it, which makes it difficult to watch, but is accurate of what high school can be like. Although young adult movies such as Before I Fall uses clichés, they are used in correct ways and they make sense with the narrative that the movie is trying to follow. In movies, clichés can ruin the movie, but with Before I Fall, it actually helps the movie progress and make sit more realistic and accurate.

Zoey Deutch who plays the main character of Samantha Kingston was a really good in this movie. She is a younger actress and is slowly on the rise of becoming a prominent actress. She has all the traits to be a solid character in any movie. Deutch has range and prominence on screen to help carry a film by herself. I hope that she is able to get bigger roles soon to try and test what kind of actress she can really be. This was her first serious role and she was the best of any of the actors in the entire movie.

Image via Open Road Films

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

The supporting cast was poorly casted and poorly acted. Almost every other actor outside of Deutch made this movie seem like a B movie from a performance point of view. They did a bad job of delivering their lines and showed no real emotion on the screen. When there was more than one character on the screen, they had little to no chemistry and just did not seem to gel because of it. All of the supporting characters had little development and made the movie uninteresting and hard to really care for anybody in this movie outside of Deutch’s character.

Before I Fall tries to be emotional in a lot of place, but quite honestly falls short for the most part. Part of this movie lacking in real emotion has to do with the plot and writing. Due to the shortcomings in how this movie was written, both in its plot and dialogue fall short in getting emotion out of the audience. If Before I Fall had spent just a little time developing a couple of the side character, it would have been very successful in hitting on the emotional side.

Image via Open Road Films

Final Thoughts

This movie was not a great movie, but it wasn’t bad either. It reminded me a lot of the show 13 Reasons Why in the way it tries to teach the lesson of being nice to each other. Although it falters in the emotional side, it does try and tell the audience that sometimes you have to look at yourself to figure out the problem and that our actions have effects on people around us, even the unlikeliest of people. Before I Fall gets a 5.8/10 from me, and with some minor adjustments could have been a great young adult dram.

Before I Fall

Image via Open Road Films

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The Shack Review (2017)

Director: Stuart Hazeldine

Starring: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Radha Mitchell

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

After the death of his daughter Missy Phillips (Amelie Eve), Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) returns to the scene of her death to find closure from his past. When he returns to “The Shack”, he finds a new connection with God (Octavia Spencer), Jesus (Avraham Aviv Alush) and Sarayu (Sumire Matsubara). On his journey, he must figure out how to forgive himself, his family and everyone throughout his life in order to be closer with god and those who he loves.

What The Film Did Well:

The Shack does a lot of different things pertaining towards ideas of Christianity. It does a great job of putting fourth positive traits that are pretty popular in the teachings of Christianity such as: forgiveness and patience with others. One of the best things this movie does is hammering home the idea of learning how to forgive others, even for the most brutally wrong things that happen to us. The Shack tries to get across that whoever or whatever happens to us, we must learn to forgive everyone in order to move on and so we don’t get caught up in the past and let hate and regret drive our lives.

Another part that I enjoyed with this movie was how different aspects of Christianity and the bible can have different interpretations. The biggest and most powerful example throughout the movie is that the character of God, who is played by Octavia Spencer is a black woman and not an old white man with a beard. This was a big, bold risk to take and probably rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but I’m glad that they chose it. Another example was during a piece of dialogue where Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) Sarayu (Sumire Mastubara) talk about their different ideas of what good and evil are.

Image via Summit Entertainment

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

Outside of the job Octavia Spencer does, the overall performances from the actors are subpar. Worthington gives such a bland performance it gets a little tedious and difficult to watch. He lacks range and emotion that an actor in this type of role needs. Worthington also changes his accent various times throughout the movie, which took me out of the movie every time. At times, he sounds like he’s from the mid-west, then from the deep south, then from the north east, then from England and occasionally from Australia. The way he keeps changing how he talks was such a negative with this movie, along with he basically whispers the entire time so you can hardly understand him to begin with.

The Shack is an extremely slow burning movie and it suffers from event to event. It is not always clear how much time is passing from each big event, everything in this movie could have happened in a week or over ten years and I wouldn’t know the difference. It seems that a big reason they try to draw out this movie and make it linger than it should be is to try and evoke some sort of emotion with the audience and it just didn’t work for me. It tries to be overly emotional and tug at the heart string, but fails to do so.

Image via Summit Entertainment

Final Thoughts

If I had to describe this movie with one word, I would use “meh”. It isn’t a good movie, but it isn’t bad either; it’s just kind of there. For people who are devout Christians this movie will resonate with them in a different way than it did with me. It gets a 5.0/10 from me. I think it takes a bold step in going against traditional Christian interpretations, but did not evoke the emotional response that it was trying to get out of me.

The Shack

Image via Summit Entertainment

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Logan Review (2017)

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafine Keen, Boyd Holbrook

Rating: R

Plot:

Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine in the year 2029. Almost all the mutants of old have been rid of the world and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) is considered more of a weapon than a human. A down on his luck and dying Wolverine has to learn how to be accepting of what is happening and that nothing will quite be the same as he tries to also learn to love and have a family, which includes a new mutant named Laura (Dafine Keen).

What The Film Did Well:

There is so much that Logan does well, but let’s start about some of the performances. Dafine Keen plays the young mutant of Laura. This was the first movie that I have seen her in and for such a young actress she was quite impressive. For a large part of Logan, she only screams and yells so a lot of her acting was how she portrayed the character physically. When she does eventually talk, she is able to show she has a wide range when it comes to delivering lines and I hope that she is in more roles soon. It would even be a cool idea to see her carry another X-Men movie or franchise that is set just around her character.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Patrick Stewart returns as Charles Xavier or Professor X and he was remarkable. It was one of his best performances in years and maybe one of his best supporting actor roles of his career. He did so much more than he usually does to prepare for this specific role and it showed. He had to prepare differently, mainly because it was such a different take on the character he has been playing for years. I think Stewart can and will be a nomination for best Supporting Actor in a similar way Sylvester Stalone got a nomination for his role in Creed.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Hugh Jack was also inedible. It is the best that I have seen him in the role of Wolverine. He finally plays the Wolverine that a lot of fans wanted for so many years. The character of Wolverine has always seemed like a more dark and serious character and before Logan, he had always been portrayed as a kid friendly character in the movies. I also would not be surprised if Jackman get consideration for best actor during the award season, he would be well deserving.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Logan carries a lot of emotion and heart with it as well. It is not a regular super hero or action movie where it is bang bang bang until the next action scene, it all serves a purpose. It focuses on some of Wolverine’s biggest insecurities as a character and his darkest fears and demons. It looks at how he is scared of getting too attached and loving or having a family because his entire life the people her cares the most about always get hurt in the end. The amount of emotion this movie brought to the table caught be by surprise and was a great aspect to this movie.

I think the best thing about this movie, is as a standalone movie it holds up. If you had never seen an X-Men or Wolverine movie, you could still go and see this movie and appreciate it just as much as if you are the biggest X-Men fan. I have never been a huge X-Men or Wolverine fan and find their movies to be pretty bad movies, but Logan is different and does everything that its’ predecessors poorly, well.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There’s little that this movie does poorly, and it all comes in the beginning. When this movie starts, it has feel of an R rated movie which I like, but early on; I thought that it might be relying on that tone too much to be a good movie. It concerned me that they would use too much violence and language to drive this film, but it quickly corrected me. This movie is violent and has gore, but every time it does so it builds up to it and uses it as a payoff. With the use of the word “fuck” it never gets used in a way that makes sense or to get a cheap laugh and is again not overly relied upon to guide this movie.

Final Thoughts

Logan is phenomenal. At the time of release back in March and today, in mid-July it is still the best movie of the year. It has a purpose in everything that it does and carries itself through emotion and a heart filled tribute to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It gets a 9.3/10 from me. I’ve seen it a few times already and every time it has the same affect and gets the same reaction out of me. It is a captivating conclusion to an era of Wolverine.

Logan

Image via 20th Century Fox

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War for the Planet of the Apes Review (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves,

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

After five years of war with the human, the leader of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) is a highly sought-after item for the humans, led by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After recent events, Caesar decides to go on a quest to find the army of humans in order to put an end to this war, while the rest of the apes look for a new place to call home.

What The Film Did Well:

What this Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy has done and improves on with every movie is the special effects and motion capture. Of all the movies that have relied on motion capture heavily, these movies do it better than anyone. A lot of this starts with actor Andy Serkis who has played motion capture characters such as: Gollum, Supreme Leader Snoke and King Kong and with each performance he delivers, it is better than the previous. In War for the Planet of the Apes they make almost all of their character through CGI and motion capture, but do it with such attention to detail that it never looks unrealistic.

Image via 20th Century Fox

The score for this movie was amazing. There were a couple moments where it didn’t quite click for me, but Michael Giacchino delivered another piece of music that became as a part of the movie as the characters. It adds emotion to this movie and helps carry the plot along. This score gets soft when it needs to and become triumphant in the areas that it desires it. This was one of the better scores in recent movies and it is no surprise coming from Giacchino.

There are a few battle sequences throughout this movie that were executed remarkably. You wouldn’t think that a movie that relies so much on CGI could have such realistic battle scenes, but this movie most certainly does that. These scenes, particularly in the beginning and at the end of the movie are visually pleasing and become works of art that brilliantly connect to one another in a great fashion. These scenes help move the story along and are no there just for show and add a poignant exclamation point to a rare, but great trilogy of movies.

Image via 20th Century Fox

This movie did a great job of completing the character arc of Caesar. Caesar’s arc carries him from son to solider to a leader and does it very tastefully. From a character building perspective, this was the darkest story for Caesar. War of Planet of the Apes takes a look at the emotional side of Caesar. It helps the audience realize what is the driving force behind all of his actions, both in this movie, but in both of the preceding films as well. It deals with themes of revenge and sacrifice, which was not something that I really expected going into this movie. Along with these themes, it takes a close look at Caesar’s darkest fears and the demons that haunt him from his past which I though was executed perfectly and added so much to an already beautiful movie.

The acting in this movie and the entire series has been great. I already talked a little bit about Andy Serkis, but I really hope he gets and Oscar nomination. I can understand how people do not think he should be deserving because it is a motion character, but eventually there will be an actor who gets a nod in one of those roles, so why not Serkis? He carries this character in every movie so well, and portrays the character in a fashion no one else could have. Woody Harrelson delivered another great performance as The Colonel. He is the opposite of Caesar in many ways, but they have a quality in both of them relating to doing what is best for the people they are in charge of leading.

Image via 20th Century Fox

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There were some parts of this movie that felt way too drawn out. It was mainly in the third act of the movie where this was the case, but was very noticeable. The first two acts moved along so quickly and it just met a stalemate towards the end that wasn’t too enjoyable. I had wished that it would have continued with the quick paced adventure that it was instead of making longer plot points longer than they should have been.

Another part to this movie that I though was unnecessary was the comedy relief. They use the character to Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) to generate a lighter tone, but I thought it hurt the movie, rather than help it. The audience laughed at most of the funny parts, but after a while it just felt overdone. It wasn’t something I think was granted. It had this dark theme and by adding this overused comedy, it became a tad kiddish and this is not a movie that is designed to appeal to children.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Final Thoughts

Lord of the Rings. Star Wars Original Trilogy. Indiana Jones. The Godfather Trilogy. These are all some of the names that come to mind when thinking of the best movie trilogies and now this Planet of the Apes trilogy deserves to be included in that conversation. The third movie in this reboot gets an 8.4/10. This wasn’t the best movie in the trilogy, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad movie, just different than the previous two. It surprises with thought and emotion and will likely get better with age.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Image via 20th Century Fox

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Get Out Review (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Rating: R

Plot:

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a young African American who is dating Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) After five months of dating, they decide to go and visit her parents’ home. Chris is skeptical at first because of his race, but does agree to put his best foot forward and visit her family. Soon after they arrive, Chris believes his family is something more than what they come off as and has to figure out a way to expose what they are doing and convince his girlfriend that her parents are not who she believes them to be.

What The Film Did Well:

This is a beautifully shot movie, especially for one in the horror genre. Some of the shots just of the environment were breathtaking and some of the better shot I’ve seen in a while. The movie was shot and mixed with some amazing subtly mixed sound that keeps you invested and wanting more. The tremendous combination of sound and visuals makes this movie what it is and at times chills you to the bone. It does not just rely on a score for sound as it has current soundtracks as well that helps make this movie and the sequences that occur so real.

Get Out is a movie that does an excellent job of portraying race issues that are still in America. Throughout this movie, it points out the everyday struggles of it is like to be a black man in America, especially for someone who might be in an interracial relationship. At various point the main character Chris, who is dating and visiting the family Rosie examines Chris like he is more of an object than an actual person. At some points, the way they look and admire Chris is reminiscent on how slaves would be looked at when they were thinking about being bought.

The performances throughout Get Out were amazing as well. Daniel Kaluuya play the main character of Chris and he was amazing. This was the first time I have seen him as lead in and I hope that he will continue to be cast in bigger and bigger lead roles. He acts in such subtle ways, but yet so believable and helps carry this film in so many ways. His costar Allison Williams was as good as Kaluuya and in equal ways, helps carry this film. Another performance and what stood out above everything else was Jordan Peele (Key and Peele) and he absolutely blew me away. When I heard that he was going to be writing and producing a social thriller/horror movie I doubted him, but he hot it out of the park. He did such an amazing job in showing what typed of social issues still exist and did it in such a beautiful way. He deserves so much credit for the writing on this and hope he gets the recognition in writing when it comes to award season.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There’s not anything in this movies that I thought didn’t belong or anything I hated. With that being said, the one thing I wish they would have done more of is keep the audience in the dark for a little longer. Although, get Out does a fantastic job of having mysterious elements, I felt that it let audience in on what is actually going on a little too early. I would have liked to been guessing what is happening than shown when I did, but it did not hurt the movie.

Final Thoughts

Get out was a great movie. From a writing perspective, it might be the best movie of the year, if not top five. Overall it gets an 8.5/10 and I up there in overall quality. It has originality and near perfect execution. It has a different tone and message that movies don’t always get right. I hope Jordan Peele continues to write and direct movies like these because we could use more of them.

Get Out

What do you think? Did you see Get Out? Is, so comment your thoughts below! What other movies do you want to see a review of? Remember to subscribe to get updates on new posts!

 

 

 

 

House of Cards Season One Review (2013)

House of Cards Season One Review

S1E1: “Chapter 1”

The first episode of the first season in House of cards introduces us into the entire and complex cast. Francis “Frank” Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a house majority leader from the state of South Carolina. Chapter 1 takes place right after the 2012 election where Democrat President Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) whom Underwood says he supports, but is not necessarily friends with. Underwood anticipates that he will get the nod for new Secretary of the State. When Underwood is snubbed, it is obvious that it is a bother to him and wants to get revenge and prove this administration wrong by gaining power in government. This opening episode also looks at Rep. Peter Russo who is from the state of Pennsylvania and has a love interest with his office receptionist Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly). The other highlighted character in the pilot is reporter for the Washington Herald Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) who is blogger who is trying to get her big break in the political news industry.

I personally loved this pilot. It was dark and mysterious and just gripping episode. Kevin Spacey is amazing and does a great job of playing this anti-hero with this progressive southern accent that was very unique in its own way. It does an excellent job of setting you up with anticipation for the series and has you speculating to what Underwood is actually up to.

Rating: 8.5/10

Image via Netflix

S1E2: “Chapter 2”

Chapter 2 continues with Underwood plotting to try and work his way in the political game and framing the Secretary of State nominee, Michael Kern (Kevin Kliner). Underwood does this by bringing up some skeletons in Kern’s closet when he was a college newspaper editor and exposes some controversial ideas he had about Palestine and Israel that could have a negative effect on United States and their foreign policy. Underwood meets with Zoe again feeding her some insider details close to the White House, including a draft of a potential bill.

This episode, although a little down in quality compared to its predecessor continues to help build and guide the story along. It looks at some of the complexities that Underwood deals with on Capitol Hill and why he wants to get into a position of power. It also looks at the newspaper business and the media industry and the struggle that Zoe hints at and tries to point out to her superiors that it may be a dying industry.

Rating 8.3/10

Chapter 2 Poster

Image via Netflix

S1E3: “Chapter 3”

Chapter 3 take Frank Underwood out of Washington and back home to South Carolina. Due to a teenagers’ death while texting a driving while being distracted by a peach shaped water tower that Underwood has supported in the past, he goes back home to try and mend the wounds in the community. Underwood’s political opponents in South Carolina are trying to urge the parents to go ahead and sue Frank since he was the main supporter of the building of the water tower that eventually killed their daughter. Underwood is able to use his manipulative ways and southern calmness to try and assure the community and family he will take this into his own hands and find a compromise that will benefit the community and have the family at ease. Back in Washington, Zoe becomes a little too eager and tries to be a pusher when it comes to getting the next big story. This does not initially sit well with Frank.

This was another solid episode and was great to see Frank in setting outside of Washington D.C. It helped guide the evolution of frank Underwood as a character. It was neat to see him and a politician in general outside of their normal setting and his manipulating abilities continuously blow me away with each episode. I loved how they wanted to show politicians are more than just those in Washington and sometimes they do have to do things outside of that world.

Rating: 8.4/10

Image via Netflix

S1E4: “Chapter 4”

Chapter 4 takes an excellent look at both the inside workings of Congress and the character of Zoe. In this episode, Frank Underwood returns from his trip from South Carolina and is trying his best to build and get a Education reform bill ready for proposal. It shows how Underwood is a master a manipulating people to go against their own personal values. This episode also has a big focus on Zoe who continues to publish huge political news stories and gets offered a promotion to White House Correspondent at the Washington Herald and it displays her personal struggle when she is unsure if she wants the promotion or not.

Another good episode, I liked it for showing the inside aspect of Congress and the drafting of a bill. Part of that has to do with me being a nerd when it comes to political science, but it was really neat to see what really happens when drafting a bill. It also has a nod to President Lyndon B. Johnson which was neat and a fun easter egg that I spotted.

Rating: 8.4/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 5”

This episode was jammed full of content and was one of the better episodes in season one so far. It stars by Underwood and Marty Spinella (Al Sapienza) feuding over the education reform. As Underwood is trying to get the bill passed, Spinella is leading a teachers’ union to try and stop the bill that Underwood is backing and develops a plan to ruin Franks wife, Calire Underwood (Robin Wright) charity event. Spinella develops a picket line with citizens and teachers to stand across from their banquet. While all this is happening, Rep. Peter Russo is spiraling into a severe depression and using cocaine and drinking heavily because of he had to shut down a shipyard in his hometown 12,000 jobs and his girlfriend Christina has left him. In his depressed state, Russo goes to confront Frank at home after the fundraiser. To his surprise Underwood gives him two choices: get his life straightened out along with his career and run for governor in the process or end everything right here, right now. This episode also progresses the relationship of Frank and Zoe to new levels as well.

I loved this episode for one big reason: the struggle of Russo. This really dives deep into how bad his situation is and he spirals deeper and deeper into his depression and addiction issues. Every episode it seems that his character gets another added layer and the complexity of him increases. He’s a character that has such a destructive and toxic personality that you want to see more of and how his story turns out.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 6”

Chapter 6 sees the evolution of the relationship between Frank Underwood and Marty Spinella as the strike for teachers continues and gets out of hand. It has a great ending in the episode that changes how you feel and view the entire episode. Frank Underwood plots to take down Spinella, which would eventually paint Underwood and his family has a victim and Spinella as an antagonist that is against education as a whole. This episode also focuses of Russo and his decision to run for governor of Pennsylvania, which again layers his character so well.

Another amazing episode. As I watch each episode the more and more I love what is progressing with the story and the characters. There’s not one character that I really dislike and even though some of them seem a little overdone I believe they will continue to improve as the show goes on and it will continue to love the characters and episodes.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 7”

This episode highlights Russo’s governor race and what Frank Underwood is doing to help and support him. Underwood’s second in command, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is one the is watching over Russo the most. Stamper is the one that is making sure Russo keeps his addiction in check, which includes him going to AA meetings with him. Stamper also has a run in with an abused prostitute that he reaches out and helps by supplying here with somewhere to stays as long as she stays off the streets. Although this story line seemed a little out of place, it showed how humanity in characters that do not always show their humanity.

I really enjoyed this episode for it showing the everlasting struggle of Russo and his addictions. I liked seeing how he has progressed as a character and hope he is the highlighted character in future episodes and points out his struggle to try and keep clear. This episode also points at some jealousy for power between the Vice President and Frank Underwood when the Education reform bill is signed and the president notes it as a success for Underwood rather than the Vice President.

Rating: 8.5/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 8”

Arguably the blandest episode of the season so far. This highlights the opening of a library for Frank Underwood down in his old school in South Carolina. It spends most of the episode showing Frank getting drunk and running around their old stomping grounds and just was not too enjoyable to watch. This episode also shows Russo in his old hometown trying to reason with the people being laid off from the Shipyard which was cool seeing the type of groundwork that needs to happen when running a campaign that not everyone realizes.

There’s not a whole lot that I loved about this episode. I think one takeaway that was pointed out in the end is that these politicians, especially Frank have a separation between their professional lives with friends and family and their work lives in politics and corruption. This series has alluded to this theme so far, but this was the episode where it was the most relevant and obvious.

Rating 7.5/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 9”

Chapter 9 was a significant increase in content and entertainment compared to the previous one. The highlighted character in this episode comes in conflicting relationships. The first is Zoe and Franks relationship. Zoe suggests to Frank that they tone it down and have their relationship be strictly professional and Frank does just that. When Franks tops feeding Zoe news stories, she quickly realizes that it may have been a mistake to suggest that and tries to re kindle their work and play relationship. Another relationship highlighted in this episode is on the campaign trail with Russo and the Vice President. The Vice President seems to be intentionally sabotaging Russo’s campaign and they need to hash things out in order to try and get his campaign going in the right direction.

I really enjoyed this episode. It showed what really can happen on the campaign trail and it seemed to show some comparisons to this fictional VP and Joe Biden. It was a more excitable episode and towards the end throws a curve ball that could end up being a focal point of the rest of season one.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 10”

Holy crap this episode was full of scandal and corruption This entire first season has building up to one thing that will happen and over the last two episodes it has completely flipped around and has the last three episodes in this season going a different way. Everyone in this show has been caught up in some sort of scandal and political corruption Some of the scandal has been set up by other characters in the show and towards the end it become so cringe worthy to watch, but it is a car crash you just cannot look away from. The best episode so far and sets up the end of the season in phenomenal fashion.

Rating: 8.9/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 11”

Wow. In one word, that was what this episode was. For the most part, it continues on the story of where Congressman Russo is after his falling off the wagon and back into a alcoholism based spiral that has Frank freaking out about what will happen next. During this episode, Frank is forced to gamble everything and reveal his full plot to both the POTUS and his Chief of Staff. Underwood is very hesitant and has to weigh both options to reveal what he’s been trying to plot with Russo to the oval office. This episode also reveals that the relationship between Claire Underwood and her old friend Adam is falling apart, while Frank and Zoe have decided to officially keep their relationship strictly personal. All while this is happening Russo has spiraled out of control and battling all of his old demons.

This episode was so packed full and had the feel of a season finale in all its glory. I’m hopeful that this is a good thing, but only seeing how the last two episodes of the season will reveal if this having that feel is a positive. I am hopeful that the last two episodes will be as good if not better than Chapter 11. This episode had a twist that I thought would happen, but a lot earlier and within that twist it took another turn that I didn’t really expect.

Rating: 9.1/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 12”

This episode was a little flat compared to recent ones, but showed that House of Cards has turned into chess match. Frank Underwood is sent to St. Louis to vet a potential Vice President replacement. As he arrives, he quickly learns that it is actually he that is being vetted for Vice President. Underwood seems to be acting in a brash way, as he refuses to even listen to the VP nominee, who is asking for a favor and returns to Washington. On the media front, Zoe Barnes is investigating Russo’s past hoping to find the truth.

This episode was overall great. It leads into what could be a great season finale and I honestly do not know what to expect. Going into this episode, it seemed like everything was going smoothly in one direction, but then flipped it around and went a different way. I kind of have a feeling what will happen in the season finale, but I would not be willing to be on the direction it goes in Chapter 13.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 13”

Like the episode previous to this one it was a little flat in an excitable sense. It feels drawn out and you are waiting for something to happen with the appointment of a new Vice President and nothing is happening. There were a few times I thought that maybe they would just leave us with a big cliff hanger to build off of on the next season. Finally, there is a big payoff where Frank Underwood is granted the Vice Presidency. This gets me excited for the next season because just knowing Frank Underwood he will not be done and I expect him to use this spot as leverage for himself.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

Season Thoughts:

This was a great season from start to finish. House of Cards has great feel to it and keeps you on the edge of your seat and in tone created by both cinematography and music has a Gone Girl feel. It only had one bland episode with Chapter 8. Overall it gets an 8.5/10. One of the better inaugural seasons I have seen since season one of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. This season and this show keeps you on your toes and I hope it continues to do so. Frank Underwood is a great antihero and I hope they continue with the great character development that they started this season.

Frank Underwood - House of Cards.jpg

Fist Fight Review (2017)

Director: Richie Keen

Starring: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanijani

Rating: R

Plot:

Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is a high school English teacher at a struggling high school. It is the last day of the school year and also the senior prank day and Mr. Campbell starts to clash with a history teacher named Stickland (Ice Cube). As tempers flare between the two Campbell has to balance a workplace feud, keeping his job, being there for his kid and supporting his wife during child birth.

What The Film Did Well:

There is not a lot that Fist Fight does particularly well. Out of everything, the individual performances stick out above anything else. Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Morris and Kumail Nanjiani all do well in an individual sense but fail complement each other in their performances. The characters are at their funniest when they stay small one liners that are much better than their dialogue.

Ice Cube does a good job at playing a typical Ice Cube character. In almost all of his movies he plays this hard ass character and he does this exact role. Although, I would like to see Ice Cube expand and try to develop into other roles and improve his acting chops, but he does this role well. At times, he comes off as obnoxious, but he does, in the end execute the character of franklin well. He comes off as a psychopath with anger management is a good portrayal of the character.

Tracy Morgan delivers another solid performance. Like Ice Cube he has a repetitive type of character that he does well. Regardless of what Morgan is in, he comes off as funny and for the most part delivers a good comedic role. I knew what to expect from Morgan, and got exactly that.

Jillian Bell also performed well as a supporting character. I am beginning to like Bell as a comedic actress is everything that I see her in. She had some great one liners that were the best and funniest parts of the entire movie. Bell has a great dark sense of humor. Every small side comment that she had and joke she made had me laughing. A lot of it seemed like it might have been improvised which is always fun to see.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There is a lot that this movie doesn’t do well, but let’s start with Charlie Day. I tend to really enjoy Charlie Day and think he is a very capable actor; I just do not think he was fit for this role. There was time throughout this movie where Day didn’t seem like he belonged in this movie. He added to this unrealistic idea that they were running with on how high schools act and the fictional way teachers and students interact with one another.

I didn’t find the environment or plot that this movie developed to be even semi believable. It painted high schools as this place where everyone can run wild and do what they want, regardless of if they are a part of the staff or a student. I get the fact that this was supposed to be a comedic interpretation of a high school, but it was so absurdly out there that it made the movie pretty unenjoyable.

The biggest area that this movie misses on is the comedy. It just really isn’t funny. It relies way too much on dick joke and dirty humor. It tries to make the audience laugh by throwing in an f bomb every other sentence and just get tiring to watch after a while. The only time it gets going in a comedic direction is with the occasional one liner, that they could have used more of and the dry sense of humor that had good execution compared to the rest of the movie.

Final Thoughts

Fist Fight was simply not good. It is easily one of the worst movies of 2017. The lack of actual humor in this movie makes it suffer and gets a 4.0/10.0. I didn’t have high expectations going into this movie, but regardless it fails in so many ways and this movie was incredibly unfulfilling.

Fist Fight

What do you think? Did you see Fist Fight? Is, so comment your thoughts below! What other movies do you want to see a review of? Remember to subscribe to get updates on new posts!