‘Division 19’ Review

Division 19 is a science fiction/thriller written and directed by S.A. Halewood and set in an apocalyptic future where prisons have been turned into online entertainment. Subtribes to the system vote on what felons can eat, watch, wear and who they fight in the prison. However, when the world’s most watched felon escapes, the authorities scramble to bring back their most valuable asset for the grand opening of their new prison system.

Division 19 stars in the leading roles Linus Roache, from 2018’s brutally brilliant Mandy, and Alison Doody, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. These two are far and beyond the best part of the entire film. Both of the characters they portray are very believable in their attempts to capture the escaped convict, Hardin Jones. Unfortunately, the movie fails in most other aspects of basic film making. Continue reading “‘Division 19’ Review”

‘Dumbo’ Review

This weekend Disney’s launches their newest live action, Tim Burton directed film, Dumbo. Based on the very well-known 1941 animated film, Dumbo tells the story of a baby elephant born with abnormally large ears that ridiculed by everyone in the circus, however, manages to overcome his deformity due to his large ears giving him the ability to fly.

This new iteration of Dumbo falls in a long line of Disney live-action makeovers such as The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Maleficent, and the soon to be released The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan.

For the first half-hour to forty five minutes the film is par for the course. Burton reintroduces characters known to the audience from the animated film, and acquaints us with newly introduced characters played by Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins.

However, after that the entire movie switches over to a version of what can only be described as Dumbo II. If you’ve never heard of Dumbo II, that’s because it has never been made. Burton takes this opportunity to make the mythology of Dumbo all his own and it doesn’t exactly work. Especially Michael Keaton’s character V.A. Vandevere, who is more cartoonish than the 1941 film. He is a basic Disney Richie Rich screen villain – shadowy lair and all. Continue reading “‘Dumbo’ Review”

Review of ‘Five Feet Apart’

Five Feet Apart is the newest film in the illness teen romance genera, a film about two teens living with cystic fibrosis, and despite their limitations, try to make their love work no matter the distance between them.

This is the first full length film directed by Justin Baldoni and stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse in the leading roles. This is Sprouse’s first time leading a full length film. The film is also written by new film writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. Starting to notice a pattern here? There are a lot of first timers attached to this project – and it shows. Continue reading “Review of ‘Five Feet Apart’”

Captain Marvel Review – Not The Best Marvel Movie, Yet A Fun Time At The Theater

Captain Marvel
Source: Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel is the newest film in the Marvel franchise, meaning that it is just one film closer to the most anticipated Marvel movie of the year, Avengers: Endgame.  However, this is not just a stepping-stone movie – a placeholder if you will until we get to the main event.  It is a film that manages to stay as engaging and as entertaining as Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, or Dr. Strange was when they first debuted.

Carol Danvers, the superhuman Captain Marvel, is played by Academy Award winner Brie Larson.  While many criticized her when the trailers came out as being very one-note, she fully proves that she can carry not only this film, but will be capable of can acting alongside future Avenger teammates Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), and Chris Evans (Captain America).

Alongside Larson is Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as the soon to be S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg and Ben Mendelsohn as Talos.  While Jackson and Law turn in performances that as good as you would expect, Mendelsohn surprisingly is the stand out star next to Larson.  His character has a pivotal shift that you would not have expected, and he manages to convincingly portray every turn his character takes.  I would like to go into more details on this but then we are getting into spoiler territory – so just know that you will walk away from Captain Marvel loving his character and hoping that he will have future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Continue reading “Captain Marvel Review – Not The Best Marvel Movie, Yet A Fun Time At The Theater”

February 22-24 Box Office Report

This past weekend was an interesting one for the Box Office.  With the Oscars having been this past Sunday many people had movies on the mind, but in years past earnings at the Box Office were really low.  However, this year seems to be an exception to that pattern.

With the release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and the wide release of Fighting With My Family tickets were plentiful at the box office.

Check out the top 5 at the Box Office below!

No 1. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – $55,527,000 in its first weekend of release.

No 2. Alita: Battle Angel – $12,000,000.  Bringing its total gross in its 2nd weekend to $60,981,068.

No 3. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part – $10,015,000.  Bringing its total gross in its 3rd weekend to $83,619,039.

No 4. Fighting With My Family – $8,012,000. Bringing its total gross in its 2nd weekend to $8,227,021.

No 5.  Isn’t It Romantic – $7,510,000.  Bringing its total gross in its 2nd weekend to $33,768,742.

What do you think of these Box Office results?  Have you seen any of these movies?  What did you think of them?  Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion out of it.

 

Not What It Seems! ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ Review

Happy Death Day 2U is the direct sequel to 2017’s sleeper hit horror/slasher film Happy Death Day.  The film garnered a lot of praise for having similar beats to the Scream franchise, but with a Groundhog Day time loop aspect.  In Happy Death Day 2U they move back to the same well in hopes to draw just as much praise and success as its predecessor. Does it work as well as the first?

No, no it doesn’t. Not to say that the movie is bad.  Spoiler for the review, I’m giving it a passing score (barely).  However the film seems to have lost its luster that the first movie had. Also, this movie is not what its advertised as.  It is not a horror movie.  This movie is more of a comedy/sci-fi movie with some slasher moments sprinkled in here and there. So don’t go in thinking you’ll get some jump scares similar to the first, because you won’t.

The worst aspect of this movie is its writing, the script is a mess.  It tries very desperately to stay a Groundhog Day type of movie, but blending in Back to the Future Part II, but it just comes across as several jumbled story lines that make no sense.  It is not shy about pointing this fact out either, in the first 30 minutes of the movie one of the characters just comes out and says “this is like Back to the Future Part II.”  It is also very obvious that the film makers had no idea how to start this movie.  It seems like its going to follow a different main character in Ryan Phan (Phi Vu), who was more of a time marker than an actual character in the first movie.  But then it switches suddenly back to Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) as the main lead.

Now, there were some parts of the story that I did enjoy, and once they were fleshed out I was finally able to get on board with where this movie was taking me.  Unfortunately, it is a spoiler to discuss.  So just know, there are some surprises to be had.

Rothe still brings an amazingly strong performance to her character.  This is a huge positive for this film – just like in the first movie.  She is able to bring a performance that balances comedy, horror, and a couple of heart-breaking moments.  When she needs to be scared, I believed that her character was scared.  When she needed to be funny, I laughed.  And when she needed to bring the feels, I got a little teary-eyed.

Overall, I left the movie not completely disappointed, yet I was not satisfied.  There’s just enough in there for me to like the movie, but I did not get what I was looking for in a Happy Death Day sequel.  I did not get a horror movie, nor did I get a film with smart writing.  The film felt rushed.  I do believe that there is an excellent movie to be had somewhere in here, but it needs a lot more polish before being able to find it.  I do hope there is a third movie, one that can bring the same luster the first one had

Happy Death Day 2U gets a score of 6/10.

Have you seen Happy Death Day 2U?  Did you see the first one, and what did you think of it?  Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion out of it.

My Review of the Indie Film ‘Twin Cities’

Twin Cities is an indie film/drama that metaphorically and practically demonstrates that those of us who have experienced tragedy or depression have our own ways trying to find inner peace, whether that be in expressionistic writing,  drugs, everyday conversation, or religion.  Twin Cities is in many ways a modern Greek Tragedy with characters that are hauntingly compelling yet relatable.

The film is written and directed by Dave Ash – still new to film-making but not a director or writer to sleep on. Twin Cities demonstrates many marks of pure genius in its script as well as in Ash’s directing.  This is not a perfect film, it’s biggest flaw being the editing but that will be touched on later.  However, if you can follow the many threads that this film weaves you will end at a very thought provoking conclusion.

Full disclosure: my initial thoughts on Twin Cities were not positive.  The story goes to places that were unexpected and that, frankly, I was not prepared for.  Some of the editing choices make the film hard to follow, especially at the beginning.  However,  after giving myself ample time to digest the content placed before me is when I began to see the genius in the film’s writing and acting.

The way in which this story is told is very gutsy; gutsy in a way that could either make or break the film.  It took me a day or two before I really began to understand what Ash was going for.  There are some metaphors presented that require deeper level thinking and one big one that suddenly and unexpectedly turns the majority of the movie into one big allegory.  It is at this daring moment in the storytelling that some will either appreciate Twin Cities for what it accomplishes with compelling narrative or be turned off completely – labeling the film as “pretentious.”  After mulling the film over I admittedly I fall in the camp of admiration. Continue reading “My Review of the Indie Film ‘Twin Cities’”

My Review of a Killer Queen Biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Check out the Podcast Review Below!

Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic that chronicles the years leading up to Queen’s incredible, and legendary, performance at the Live Aid 1985 concert.  The film is directed by Bryan Singer, and stars Rami Malek in the leading role as the legendary front-man Freddie Mercury.

First off – this movie was a lot of fun to watch.  I anticipate seeing it at least once more before its run in the theater comes to an end. It’s not perfect by any means – bad mistakes, it’s made a few.  However, if you are in the mood for a fun 80’s binge then the mistakes can be easily overlooked.

From the opening scene you know that this movie is going to be love letter to the band, and to Freddie Mercury.  Malek plays the role of Freddie Mercury to pure perfection.  He commands every second of screen time given to him, just the way Mercury commanded such a presence when on stage, and in his personal life.  It is almost as if Mercury was resurrected from the dead and performed in his own movie.  The energy that Malek is able to bring to the stage performances are amazing.  He also nails being able to play Mercury in the quieter moments of the film as well – truly an Oscar worthy performance.  Continue reading “My Review of a Killer Queen Biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’”

Sinking Review of ‘Hunter Killer’

It’s been a long time since we as an audience had an awesome submarine thriller film. Awesome movies like The Hunt for Red October, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Crimson Tide. Now, with the release of the Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman film Hunter Killer, will we finally get that new awesome submarine-naval thriller?

No – and it is a shame.

Hunter Killer is a movie that is full of waisted potential. When the movie finally gets into its action set pieces it works. The unfortunately thing is that those action pieces take forever to get to, and between these set pieces is a jumbled mess of the most over-acted and under-acted scenes to come out this year. The dialog is abysmal, the acting is all over the place, the CGI is really bad, the script is full of potholes and none of the characters are likable.

Now, many are calling this a “dumb fun” 90’s/80’s cold war action flick. And when the action actually happens I am in full agreement. There are moments where I found myself holding my breath as torpedoes were being launched at different ships, and there are some fire fights that are as good as any other great action movie. It’s the bad writing and dialogue in-between that really sinks this film.

Butler does what Butler does best in this film. He eats up the screen while seeming like a bad-ass in the cheesiest ways possible. But that is what his film are. Movies like Geostorm and Olympus has Fallen, show that even in cheesiest action roles the man can shine. But how was academy award-winning actor Gary Oldman roped into this? And an even better question – why was he one of the worst characters in this movie? It’s because of the writing. There are many other characters, similar to Oldman’s, that do and say things constantly that make no logical sense. There are times when a Russian official speaks perfect English, then doesn’t speak English and relies on using hands to communicate, but magically can speak English again. So many of the “Russian” characters in this movie switch back and fourth between English, English with a Russian accent, and just Russian without any context. This can all be pinned on the writing. The writing in this movie is some of the worst I have ever witnessed.

If you haven’t guessed it by now I am not recommending you spend your hard earned cash on this movie – not in this economy. If you’re in the mood to enjoy the theater experience there are plenty of other films still playing that are more worth your time.

I’m giving Hunter Killer a 4/10. The only reason it gets those few points is because the action does work – sometimes.

Were you unfortunate enough to have seen Hunter Killer? Do you have a differing opinion about the movie? Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion out of it.

And don’t forget to subscribe to my budding podcast on YouTube where you can hear my breakdown of other movies that have come out.

My Review of ‘Halloween’

Scroll to the bottom for my Audio only review!

It has been 40 years since multiple teens were killed, and Lauri Strode fought for her life against The Boogeyman, The Shape, aka Michael Myers.  It is now Halloween of 2018 and Michael Myers is back to reek havoc in the quite town of Haddonfield, where Lauri (Jamie Lee Curtis) has lived a recluse and paranoid life in preparation for this moment.

This slasher movie is a direct sequel to the 1978 film of the same name. Forget every Halloween movie that has come out after the first one, they don’t count. Which is not a bad thing, even devout fans of the Halloween franchise will admit that many of the films are absolute garbage.  So that means that there is a very low bar set for making a “good” Halloween movie, and this movie succeeds in just that.  It’s not perfect, it’s not even great, but if you are a fan of Halloween or you just want to see a decent slasher movie because it is the season for thrills and chills, then this movie is enough to satisfy your itch.

I am not the biggest fan of the franchise, however, I can respect and admire the first movie for being the grandfather of the slasher genera and this film pays big homage to its predecessor in a very positive way.  You can tell that this film is made by fans of the franchise.

Director David Gordon Green smartly uses similar tricks and echoes that made the first movie the cult classic that it is.  There are specific scenes in the movie that are shot for shot callbacks to events from the first movie, but instead of Michael Myers, they use Lauri Strode.  Brilliantly illustrating that even though Lauri is the victim and heroine of the franchise, she is damaged.  Laurie and Michael have become two sides of the same coin.

Jamie Lee Curtis is brilliant in this movie, perfectly portraying someone who is strong yet damaged and longing for the torment that she has felt for 40 years to finally be over.  This is absolutely a breath of fresh air for this franchise, because lets be honest, she doesn’t deserve any kind of acting awards for the first movie.  She has come a long way as an actress since 1978, and deserves high praise for her performance in this film.

This movie is very brutal in its killing, something that the first Halloween did not do.  Gordon Green does not shy away from showing the blood and carnage that is left in the wake of Michael Myers stalking his prey.  While some may be offended by this change, I am not.  The brutal killings go even further to show just how much of a heartless monster Michael Myers is – that he is the true embodiment of the Boogeyman.

Now, this seems like a lot of praise for this movie, but I have to say there are some definite drawbacks.

Just like the first movie, Halloween takes forever to get things started.  I found myself wanting to check the time at several points for the first 30 to 40 minutes of the movie before things finally started to get bloody.  This tactic may have worked in the 70’s, but horror movies have changed a lot since then and audiences, including myself, have become accustomed to faster paced horror.  So getting something that takes this long to start really seems like a drag.

There are also a few plot points, twist in particular,  that I question the director and screen writers for.  Unfortunately , I can’t go into them without spoiling anything, but they really took me out of the film as I was asking myself “why would they do that?”  There is even one plot line that he film makers just forgot to wrap up entirely involving the boyfriend of Lauri Strode’s granddaughter.  If you see the movie you will notice it too, its pretty obvious that they forgot about one of their side characters that was being explored for the first half of the movie.

Overall, if you like Halloween movies, then you will like this one.  There are many things for fans to latch on to and many things for new fans to love.  It’s not the greatest horror movie of all time, in fact it’s not even the greatest horror movie this year.  But for a fun stabby slashy movie it works.  There are absolutely some drawbacks – but what slasher movie is perfect?

I’m going to give 2018’s Halloween, the sequel to 1978’s Halloween, a 7/10. Great kills, great thrills, but not a perfect film.

What did you think of Halloween?  Did you see the first movie, or is this the first one for you?  Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion about it.