The Belko Experiment (2017) Review

Director: Greg McLean

Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley

Rating: R

Plot:

At the Belko Industries in Bogota, Colombia there is a complete lock down of the 60+ American workers of these offices. When the lockdown happens and a mysterious voice over the intercom instructs the office workers to kill each other as part of a social experiment, everyone in the office must create a plan on what to do and how to act with one another.

What The Film Did Well:

This entire movie and the general concept of pitting coworkers together in this fashion was such an interesting concept to me. It takes a sort of Saw-esque “Do You Want to Play a Game?” approach and as an idea excels. I do not want to make this out to be a rip off as Saw, though, as it is original in what it is trying to do and I cannot say that I have seen a movie with this concept or take it in this type of direction as they try to do so in The Belko Experiment. The idea of running a life or death scenario social experiment is what drives the movie and is exciting for the audience for a majority of the movie.

This concept of pinning people who are relatively close to each other also makes the audience think for most of the movie. As I was watching, there were many times that I put myself in the shoes of some of the main characters and asking myself what I would do in such a situation. It is hard to imagine ever being placed in such a position like the characters in this movie, but is fun to try and brainstorm what you would do if placed in an identical scenario.

Due to the fact that it’s difficult to imagine a situation like this transpiring, this movie keeps you guessing on what is going to happen next and what decisions certain characters are going to make as the movie progresses. Some of the decisions these characters make throughout the movie make sense and are justified, others not so much. Some decisions are logical and again, some are not and it makes it realistic. Each character has different motives for their actions in this movie during the experiment and because of this it creates a realistic feel and most of the characters are individualized during the experiment. It would have been easy to make most of characters act in similar ways, but they did not do that, and creates a much more realistic feel to the movie.

All in all, this movie was a thrill ride. It made you feel as if you were a part of the experiment and gets you to think about what you would do in a similar situation as these characters and I appreciated that aspect of it. It gave the movie a certain type of authenticity which I believe is much needed in a movie like this. We go to the movies and watch movies in order to have fun, and The Belko Experiment does just that, it’s a fun time.

Image via Orion Pictures

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

Something that this movie really struggled with is there were so many freaking characters storylines. Because of the overabundance of characters and trying to focus on each main character equally it became jumbled and confusing on who was who and what their motives as the movie progressed. Although this didn’t necessarily confuse or jumble the plot, it wore me down as an audience member and I couldn’t quite keep up with everyone and their adventures throughout the movie.

Another part where this movie faltered, partially due to the abundance of characters is there was no emotional attachment or development between the characters and the audience. In most movies it helps or at least I want to have some sort of emotional draw towards the main character, but that was not the case with this movie or the characters. It there was even a little emotional development or back story of the characters, the movie and the choices that characters make would have had a much greater impact on me, unfortunately it did not do that. I truly wanted to care about the characters, but I didn’t and the blame for that should be on development.

Another cause for me not really caring about what happened to the characters or what choices they were making can be blamed on how this movie was paced. This movie runs a little north of an hour and a half, so obviously it is going to be fast paced movie, but I almost think it should have been made into a longer movie. The quick paced nature of this movie made some of the characters and their decisions incredibly rushed and after a while it just made me uninterested in the movie as a whole. If they just slowed down the movie and events a little bit, especially in the middle of the movie it would have bolstered its characters’ and story quality immensely.

This movie struggles with overkill, both figuratively and literally. Let’s talk about it in a literal sense first. Literally a ton of people die in this movie. That’s probably a spoiler, but it’s a huge part of this movie and after a while it just got old. I get it, the point of this experiment and movie is for mist peoples’ fate to end in death, but it got old in the last third of the movie. Maybe if the size of the group of people wasn’t over sixty it would not have felt this way, but it did. Now figuratively. Over the last thirty or so minutes of the movie it kept feeling like it was about to end and a similar situation would arise and it would play out the same way time and time again. Like the overkill of people, this overkill of a plot point got old quick and made the last portion of the movie drag in a way it way it really shouldn’t have.

Image via Orion Pictures

Final Thoughts

The Belko Experiment starts of like it may have been one of the more underrated and undervalued movies of 2017, but unfortunately it does not finish that way. Lack of development and recurring plot points fatigue the audience and gets them bored by the end of the movie. The Belko Experiment get a 6.0/10, missing an opportunity to great.

The Belko Experiment

Image via Orion Pictures

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Director: Bill Condon

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad

Rating: PG

Plot:

A young prince is cursed and becomes a monstrous looking beast (Dan Stevens) and curses everyone that visits his castle. Years later Maurice (Kevin Kline) visits the castle and is taken prisoner by the beast when he was trying to take a rose from the garden. When word gets back to the small French village, Maurice’s daughter Belle (Emma Watson) goes on a mission to save her father. Once she arrives at the castle, Belle must learn more about the beast and how to reverse the beast’s curse all while teaching him how to learn to love again.

What The Film Did Well:

I’m going to start this review out by saying I am not a huge fan of musicals. With that being said, I felt that Beauty and the Beast was a very well put together musical. Almost every set piece of music was put together and blended the movie together. There was only two of the set pieces that I did not particularly enjoy. There was one music number towards the end that was revolved around the beast that I thought was overkill by the end of it. Overall though, the musical numbers were good, especially for someone that doesn’t like musicals.

Continuing with the music theme, I loved the orchestral pieces and score with this movie. It helped blend the musical numbers together with the overall theme of the movie. I am a strong believer that the score or soundtrack for any movie is as important to a movie as the main characters and the development of the plot. This is certainly the case for Beauty and the Beast. The score helps move the movie along and builds the movie a positive direction.

Emma Watson is the best part of this movie by far. She was the perfect choice to play Belle in a live action version of Beauty and the Beast. She looks exactly as Belle should look like when comparing the animated version to a live action version. Her musical numbers, auto tuned or not are the best of the movie. When Watson is on the screen she captures the attention of the audience and is the focal point of the movie. When there are scenes that do not include Watson, it is noticeable and the interest level in the movie takes a dip until she becomes a part of the movie again.

Image via Walt Disney Pictures

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

Beauty and the Beast is a very slow burn. Now, slow burns are not always a bad thing, and when it comes to development of characters and plot; I typically enjoy a slow burn if it warrants it. This movie does not try to develop any of the characters outside of Belle and Gaston (Luke Evans). This movie lasts a little over two hours, but could easily be cut down to an hour and a half, with the same amount of development that the movie already had.

Outside of Emma Watsons’ portrayal of Belle and Luke Evans’ Gaston the supporting cast becomes rather underwhelming throughout the entirety of the movie. When either of them are not on the screen, the movie really lacks and no one’s performance stand out, which is unfortunate because it is a rather star-studded cast. With supporting actors such as Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellan and Ewan McGregor you would think (and hope) that at least one of the performances would stick out, but sadly none of their performances stuck with the audience.

Arguably, the worst part about this movie has to be the CGI with the beast. From the initial production photos and trailers, I could tell that the CGI for the beast was subpar at best and just looked off to me. The CGI of the other house hold objects looked fine, but there was just something that just seemed really off about his CGI. Most of the movie, the beast’s CGI seemed a little cartoonish for me to have it be in a live action movie.

Image via Walt Disney Pictures

Final Thoughts

Overall, this movie was pretty alright. Nothing with it really stuck out to me and most of the movie was unrememberable and isn’t a movie I see myself watching again in the future. Unsurprisingly, Emma Watson was great as she usually is. Overall Beauty and the Beast is a 7.1/10 for me. It’s nothing special, but was not a bad movie either.

Beauty and the Beast

Image via Walt Disney Pictures

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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

What do you think? Did you see Logan? 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!

 

 

 

 

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

What do you think? Did you see War for the Planet of the Apes? 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!

 

 

 

 

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!