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I will always admire films that take chances or try to push the boundaries of cinema. Whether or not you enjoyed Avatar or not, it's without question that it was an exceptional achievement, visually. More recently, movies like Gravity or Life of Pi have also pushed the boundaries of the technical side of filmmaking and both accomplished wonders. Director Ang Lee, who also directed Life of Pi, is at the helm here for Gemini Man, and while it may look fantastic in terms of cinematography, this movie is a misfire. Here's why I believe Gemini Man isn't worth your time.
Following a hitman in Henry Brogan (Will Smith) as he's on the verge of retirement, this film kicks into gear when he discovers that a younger version of himself was cloned and sent to kill him. That's pretty much the premise of the movie, so if you were hoping to dive deeper than that, then you're going to be disappointed. Honestly, if you've seen the trailer for this movie, you've seen all the major story beats it hits. Gemini Man does nothing to wow or surprises its audience, which is a surprise in itself, given the director at hand.
From Brokeback Mountain to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee has directed a few of the most celebrated movies over the last 20 years. I haven't seen the majority of his filmography, but of the films I have seen, this is easily his weakest effort yet. Not to say he wasn't trying, because the effort is clearly on display, but it just doesn't work overall. The most notable aspect of this movie is the cinematography by Dion Beebe. This man has been in the business for over 27 years and his talents have yet to waiver. From the very opening shot, my eyes were glued to the screen. Sadly, the pacing and overall story ended up taking away from this, and not very subtly either.
Now for the most distracting and frustrating portion of the movie. The premise and the way it's executed are already off-putting enough, but the big selling point about this film is the fact that Will Smith gives two separate performances, both as himself and a younger version. He actually gives a far better performance than this film deserves, but even I (who is usually fairly forgiving about things like this) have to admit that the facial work on his younger version stood out like a sore thumb. Even down to the hand-to-hand combat scenes. It was clear that the person he was fighting had CGI work done to him. This idea is neat in concept, but it really didn't work here.
In the end, Gemini Man surely started as a concept that had director Ang Lee very eager to bring to life, and although his vision and Beebe's framing truly do stand out as positives, this is a film that had too many conflicted writers working on it, and it shows big time. Smith puts his all into this performance and his back and forth with Mary Elizabeth Winstead was even nice at times, but this movie extraordinarily suffers from a bad screenplay and distracting visuals. I really wanted to like this movie and even chose to ignore the audience and critic reactions, but I'm with the majority on this one. It's quite a bad film as a final product.
Films based on comic books have been the craze over the last decade or so, to say the least. From Iron Man launching a franchise bigger than any interconnected cinematic franchise in history to The Dark Knight being known as one of the best films of all time, we're currently living in the golden age of comic book adaptations, so it should come as no surprise that a few unexpected outings would be attempted as well. Joker has now hit theatres and while I can say right off the top that it won't be for all moviegoers, this is a fantastic piece of storytelling.
Being alone his entire life and thrown to the side by society, Arthur Fleck still lives with his mother well into adulthood and has a full-time job as a street clown. Having a condition that causes him to uncontrollably laugh, this character study is engaging from start to finish. Slowly realizing the truth about his life, things begin to devolve into chaos in his mind. Joker is simply a study of the mind of someone who has nothing left to live for or be happy about. For this reason alone, this is going to be a tough watch for certain viewers. Having a homicidal maniac as your core focus is not exactly an easy sell.
Now, Joker shares quite a few similarities to other classic films, which is being criticized a lot throughout many reviews, but I didn't see that as a negative. There are so many formulas that have been emulated to create great works of fiction that calling this movie a rip-off would be an insult to the filmmakers. On top of that, this movie is held together by a performance by Joaquin Phoenix that's truly out of this world, so any minor issues I had were usually overshadowed by him.
Phoenix's portrayal of this character, like every actor who has played this character in the past, is extremely committed, whether or not you like the outcome. Thankfully, I think his portrayal is completely different from anyone who came before him, making this movie one that will be able to stand on its own for a long time. From his quirks when the film begins to where he ends up during the final act, each and every moment was riveting.
In the end, Joker does borrow a little too much from classic to really call it a masterpiece or perfect, but it's pretty close in my opinion, in terms of holding your interest for an unlikely anti-hero. It's directed very, very well by Todd Phillips and I was more than happy to see him evolve as a filmmaker here. This is something that I never thought I would see him do and, aside from the level of great comedy in a movie like The Hangover, this is probably his best work to date. I loved nearly everything about this movie, even though it will upset some viewers and make them feel very uncomfortable. In fact, for that reason alone, it has done its job very well. You're not supposed to root for him, but rather understand where his actions come from. This is a great film.
Dreamworks has been hit or miss when it comes to releasing great animated films over the years. Whether it's Shrek or Kung Fu Panda, there some truly great movies out there, but I once How to Train Your Dragon hit theatres, and each of its consecutively great sequels, I found myself wondering if the studio had peaked with that trilogy. Well, Abominable is their latest upcoming release, and after seeing it at the Toronto International Film Festival, I can confidently say that this is surprisingly one of the very best animated films that they have released, ever.
Everyone knows that the creature known as the Yeti has been known to be a myth, but in Abominable, a young girl (Yi) finds that one actually exists. Having been experimented on in laboratories until escaping and finding its way onto this girl's roof, she befriends him and makes it her mission, along with two other friends, to return him to his home on mount Everest. This particular story has been told hundreds of times, but unlike many movies that choose to copy and paste formulas, Abominable is one that truly cares about the characters and the adventure they go on, which had me falling in love with it as it progressed.
Having written the story for Monster's Inc., worked in the animation department at Pixar on Toy Story and Toy Story 2, eventually directing her first animated feature in Open Season, and now officially writing and directing Abominable, completely bringing her full vision to life, Jill Culton is one with a storied career, albeit not massive. After her outing here, I must admit that I will be following her work for years to come because I believe her vision and how it was showcased, was honestly fantastic. On top of that, Dreamworks has been on a roll with incredible animation, and this movie is nothing shy of fitting that description.
It should go without saying nowadays that most films released by large studios will probably hire the best of the best to create the most beautiful animation, but I just have to commend them here as well. The smooth motions of characters and the detail put into the wide landscape shots are all superb, and these elements are only elevated by a very enjoyable cast of characters, on an adventure that eventually had me in tears. If for nothing else, you'll probably enjoy looking at this movie, but it has much more than that to offer.
In the end, Abominable does suffer from feeling familiar at first glance, but this movie embraces that and creates a journey that feels fresh. The themes throughout this film are meant for all ages, which is why I believe this movie will be a hit with families across the world when it hits theatres. I wasn't exactly jumping out of my seat with excitement when the trailers for this movie first began to circulate, but after experiencing it for myself, I must say that Abominable definitely surprised me in ways that I wasn't expecting. This is a great animated film and it deserves attention when it hits theatres.
The Sci-fi genre has always fascinated me the most in terms of cinematic experiences. Whether you're talking about though-provoking movies like Blade Runner or something as extravagant as Star Wars, there is a wide range of stories to explore. Ad Astra marks the most recent major studio Sci-fi release and it's absolutely a winner in my books. There's so much to admire here. I went into this film with slightly high expectations, simply due to the talent involved, and I was not disappointed. Here's why I believe Ad Astra is worth a trip to the movies if you're not feeling tired.
Ad Astra follows Roy McBride, an astronaut in the near future, as he ventures through space in hopes to find his father, who has been missing for years. Along the way, more secrets are uncovered and even deep emotional stakes are explored. Now, this premise seems like your average rescue mission, but it's definitely not that in the slightest. Yes, the movie takes you on this journey, but it really asks you to sit back, enjoy some breathtaking visuals, great sound design, a wonderfully immersive score, and a central character in Roy, who Brad Pitt commits very strongly to.
All of these elements are fantastic and I never found myself bored, but the pacing of this movie is intentionally very, very slow, which I fear will turn off some viewers. At two hours, this movie isn't very long, but it can feel it at times. Other than that, I think what this movie sets out to accomplish is done to near perfection. I was completely immersed in this world and the slow pace almost had me in a trance. I would highly recommend seeing this movie when you're wide awake, because the great score, complemented by a slow pace, will probably make some viewers doze off.
As aforementioned, Brad Pitt leads this film and demands your attention. Everyone knows that he's one of the best out there today, but it's always nice to see when a great actor goes the extra mile in terms of committing to a character. Through his performance alone, I truly cared about the final act of this movie and where certain events ended up. The way he exerts himself and becomes Roy for these couple hours was brilliant.
In the end, I seem to be boasting about this film endlessly in my mind, but I simply can't state it enough. For such a simple premise, the visual effects, score, emotional impact, and overall study of this broken character, I loved every minute of Ad Astra. It's a very relaxing viewing experience, so be wary of getting tired during this movie, but I found that to actually be a positive here somehow. Ad Astra is one of the best movies I've seen this year so far.
Back in 2017, the majority of audiences praised the fact that such a great Stephen King adaptation had been made in It. The television mini-series from 1990 was a very corny version of the story and it went without saying that it deserved a better treatment. Now, the second instalment of that great first film has hit theatres, and like the mini-series, the second portion of the story just isn't as interesting as the first. It: Chapter 2 does warrant a viewing though, especially if you liked the first movie because although it's not exactly great like its predecessor, there's a lot to like here.
Picking up 27 years after the events of the first movie, Pennywise (the clown) has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once again. Reuniting as they promised each other they would, this cast of characters come together to face him one last time. Through various side plots that each character find themselves on, this film may feel slightly long for some viewers at a beefy 169 minutes, but I found that the events unfolding and the performances surrounding them was enough to keep me interested.
Even if you find this film boring at times, it goes without saying that this is once again a stellar cast. Just as they brilliantly cast the kids in the first film, everyone here is on the top of their game. From Bill Hader stealing the show on multiple occasions to the star power of Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy leaping off the screen, there is an endless slew of great character moments. Where this film slightly fell apart for me was in the fact that this movie relies heavily on the past.
Almost seeming to be afraid of letting the past go, this movie flashes back and forth from past and present, showing moments from their childhoods that coincides with current situations. It worked simply due to the fact that the cast of both films is great, but it really did feel like it unnecessarily made the movie longer than it needed to be. With that said, I feel that will be the complaint for most people, but I actually didn't feel the length of this movie. That might have been because I was just in the mood to watch it, but I digress.
In the end, It: Chapter 2 has a great dramatic backbone to it and these performers are giving their all, but the sense of terror and tension is lost a little here in favour of the former. Still, I'm a sucker for a good drama and this film definitely delivers that tenfold. Both of these films feel like they have a sense of finality at the end of them, which is why they both work on their own. The fact that this movie constantly switches between past and present actually makes it easier to watch for those who missed the first movie, which is something I always love. While it's not going to be remembered as a great film on its own, I believe these two movies will work as a great double feature. It's absolutely worth seeing.
Nowadays, good mainstream comedies are very hard to come by. It seems like fewer and fewer are released each year. Since the year 2000, I would argue that the last recent comedy that will go down as a classic was 2009s The Hangover. Yes, we have received great comedies like Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, and even Horrible Bosses to name a few, but none of those truly feel like they will be talked about by a wide audience in about 20 to 30 years. While Good Boys isn't worthy of that discussion either, I would absolutely say that it comes the closest out of any film that has come out this year.
Trying to make it to a party, Good Boys follows three young boys as they raunchily go about their day, discovering new things, cursing like crazy, being wrapped up in a stolen drug plot, and being chased by older girls. These kids find themselves in one ridiculous scenario after another, which makes for a very entertaining time at the movies. You don't go to movies like this hoping that it will be dramatically resonant with the audience, but it's always nice to see a comedy take the time to add that extra layer, and Good Boys definitely does that.
Jacob Tremblay has the most screentime here and he is fantastic as always. Since his appearance in the film Room, I have and will always continue to follow his career. He is a ridiculously talented young actor. Setting him aside for a minute, I would like to shed light on Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon who play his best friends, or how they refer to themselves, "The Bean Bag Boys." They have done work in television and film, but nothing that I ever recall seeing. With that said, there are multiple occasions where they steal the show and prove they're worthy of long-running careers in comedy as well, at least for now.
Now to comment/criticize the main type of comedy this film always goes for, which is the constant profanity, sex jokes, and adult-oriented humour. Good Boys is the type of film that feels like it's trying to capture the exact same vibe as Superbad, but replacing actual young adults with little kids. Personally, I found this aspect to be very effective, but the screenplay definitely took liberties in the fact that they have so much knowledge about certain things. I can see many viewers being turned off by the actions these characters take throughout the movie, but it worked for me, and let's be honest, it's just a movie.
In the end, I thought Good Boys was hilarious from start to finish. It takes the time to slow down for a few dramatic moments, but they almost feel forced at times, due to the fact that the movie is usually going for comedy 100% of the time until the third act. I think the fact that this movie tries to be like so many other teen comedies actually hurts it in the long run, since they're little kids, but when I was watching it, I really wasn't thinking about that. Good Boys is a really solid comedy that had me laughing throughout, but it's not without its issues. If you're simply looking for a good laugh, definitely check it out.
I've been thinking about calling A24 one of the best studios making films today, but it really hit me while watching The Last Black Man in San Francisco. This is a studio that very carefully picks their projects and more often than not, finds great material to release. I now believe they are not just one of the best, but the absolute best of the best, especially when looking at the films released by studios throughout this decade alone. This character study is one of the best films you will see this year.
Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), finding it hard to cope with the fact that the house his grandfather built may be taken away from him, leaving him with nothing, takes it upon himself to find a way to hold onto it. That's the core premise of the movie and with a strong friendship between Jimmie and Montgomery as the backbone of the dramatic aspects, this is a film that places its main character front and center. With a well fleshed out character that has me engaged from start to finish, you've already won me over, but there is so much more to love and admire here.
Adam Newport-Berra is at the helm as the film's cinematographer and I truly believe this has set the standard for the year. I would be absolutely shocked if he doesn't receive a nomination for his work in the coming months. On top of that, being director Joe talbot's first feature film to be released, it goes without saying that he is a filmmaker that's here to stay and I am giving an early prediction that, if not this year, there will be an awards season in the coming years that consistently rave about something he has done. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is littered with talent from top to bottom.
This movie would be a technical achievement in independent cinema regardless of the material being shown on-screen, but the fact that these technical aspects are buoyed by a central performance that truly moved me was another level of special. Actor Jimmie Fails plays a character by the exact same name and there may be personal influences that helped his performance here, but a great performance is a great performance nonetheless and he delivers one of the best I've seen all year so far.
In the end, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a film that takes its time in setting up the scenarios at hand, dives deep, and eventually delivers a very touching conclusion that had me totally invested. With superb direction, camerawork that deserves many awards, a score that soothes the mind as you're watching, and a core performance that elevates the already great material, this is a film that surely can't be missed. This is one of the very best movies I've seen all year.
From Maleficent to Alice in Wonderland, even though those are films that have been changed the most from their original versions, it really does feel like Disney has now doubled-down on keeping their remakes familiar, down to replicating shots and songs. Many viewers may take offence to this or find it pointless to even watch a remake that doesn't take any creative liberties, but I feel that an updated version for today's kids isn't all that bad. Aladdin is one of the latest films to receive this treatment and I believe it's also one of the better ones they've done.
Following Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a street thief who finds his way into the palace of Princess Jasmine (Noami Scott), eventually stumbles across a lamp that reveals a genie (Will Smith) who will grant him three wishes. The core premise of the original film is very much present here, but there are also a few welcome additions that don't feel forced or disappointing, at least in my opinion. Viewers seem to be complaining about the villain in Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) for being too soft-spoken and not threatening enough, but I thought this take on him felt very refreshing and more sly than overpowering.
Like most of these remakes, there are many shots that just feel like replicas of the classic animated film and the songs are exactly the same for the most part, but for me, it all came down to how everything seems to jump off the screen and if I was able to buy into it all. The short answer for that is yes, I found myself invested in everything that was going on and Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and especially Will Smith all deliver great performances. Will Smith doesn't ruin what Robin Williams did in the past, but rather makes it his own and I really appreciated that.
Where this films biggest issue lies; However, is in its runtime. This version of Aladdin is nearly 40 minutes longer than the original film and while many of the scenes do add to the movie as a whole, it does feel its length at times. There are many fun aspects to this movie, so when a lot of time is taken to explore the dramatic side of these characters, it almost slows down to a halt at times. Luckily, the cast and story surrounding them are so likeable that I was able to forgive a few slow scenes, for the most part.
In the end, this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin could have been better and should've probably changed the original premise a little more than it did, in order to feel fresher, but I really enjoyed what was shown to me. This is the same way I have felt about most of these remakes, where if you loved, or even liked the original animated movie, then there's really no reason why you shouldn't at least enjoy watching it at the very least. It has its issues, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the movies watching Aladdin.
A24 is a studio that knows how to pick and choose their films wisely. Truthfully, I believe them to be the greatest current film studio, as far as releasing consistently great content. I will always back them as a company, so when I say one of their films is terrible (if the day ever comes), it must be a pretty bad movie. The Farewell is one of their latest theatrical releases and while it may not strike a chord for everyone like it did for me, this is a genuine film from start to finish, not straying away from the characters and story it's showcasing.
Directed with a lot of care and effort by Lulu Wang, The Farewell follows a family as they travel to China in order to attend a wedding, simply as an excuse to bring the family together as a goodbye for a dying family member, who they refuse to give truthful information to. The fact that this is an actual thing that goes on is kind of odd, seeing as most people usually know when doctors have given the information, but this "based on a true lie" as the film states, and it really did make for an emotionally compelling narrative.
I've only really ever experienced Awkwafina as a comedic actress in films like Crazy Rich Asians or Ocean's 8, but she has now proven that dramatic work may suit her even more than comedic. The focus is on her throughout the majority of the film, as the broke, kind of immature young adult of the family, and the fact that she disagrees with this whole scenario is what brought this film home for me, making it feel relatable. The Farewell does many things right, but the number one thing is the characters surrounding the premise. This movie would have collapsed without them as the backbone.
Lulu Wang is absolutely a director that I will be keeping an eye on after her work here. Only having done one other feature film in Posthumous, The Farewell feels like a giant leap forward and I can't wait to see how her career expands. The way she has delivered such a stellar cast of characters here feels more authentic than most films out there today, especially this year. With so many big-budget films hitting cinemas, this movie feels like a giant refresher and I loved nearly every second of it.
In the end, as always, hardly any films in history are flawless, but The Farewell definitely comes close. If anything, I found the movie to be a little too short, as I would have liked to explore more about what is said in the credits of the film. With that said, this is an exceptional drama that I will gladly revisit in the coming months/years. The performances alone deserve to be seen more than once. If the Oscars were being held soon, I would say Awkwafina definitely deserves some recognition. The Farewell is a great indie film that deserves more attention.
Being a pretty big fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, I found myself worried when they announced that they would be spinning off certain characters and straying away from the core premise that built this series from the ground up. With that said, that announcement came even before the seventh or eighth instalments of the Fast & Furious franchise, so it felt inevitable at some point. Well, it has now hit theatres and the ridiculous characteristics of both characters have been dialled up to a million. Is this really a Fast & Furious movie? Not really, but that doesn't mean it's not a good, dumb, fun romp worth enjoying.
Following Luke Hobbs (Dwyane Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as they are recruited to hunt down a virus known as the "Snowflake" (yes, that's the plot), which has now been injected into Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), making her a catalyst, ridiculousness ensues. Being pursued by Brixton, a genetically enhanced super-soldier, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is all but subtle. This film simply chooses dumb plotlines and sticks to them throughout the entire duration. Being a fan of stupid elements if they're knowingly tongue and cheek, this film as a very enjoyable to me.
Where this film will lose certain viewers is in the fact that it's not really grounded in reality anymore, and that's still saying the previous two films were. This time, people fall from skyscrapers with no parachute, with only the concrete to break their fall and walk it off. That's about the tamest example I can come up with that was presented in this movie. The action is dumb, the dialogue is cheesy, yet great, and if you're going to see this film other than wanting to see the chemistry between Dwyane Johnson and Jason Statham, then you may not enjoy yourself.
I would say this film's biggest flaw is the fact that it just wants to continue delivering the goods. It does feel about 30 minutes too long, but the final act of the film is absolutely the best part, so I can forgive it for slightly overstaying its welcome. The overall pacing even felt a little off to me as well, but as I said, the characters, dialogue, and action set pieces all held this movie together nicely. There were many instances where I was just watching a dumb action movie and needed to turn my brain off, and that felt like enough.
In the end, die-hard fans of this franchise will definitely be mixed on this film, but I also believe that newcomers will get a bigger kick out of it. This is a film that's definitely not catering to the hardcore fans, but action junkies alone. From stupid to dumb, bombastic to insane, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is everything you expect it to be, but probably even more so. I had a blast watching this film, but I will never tell someone that it's great. It's a solid action flick for what it is.
Turning true stories into films or television shows will never leave everyone happy. Those who are unaware of the original story may love it and those who know of it and feel the story is being told in poor taste may despise it. With that said, I really like going into films based on true stories, without having any knowledge of what happened in reality, simply because I love a good surprise. Even when I do know the story, I choose to place that knowledge in the back of my mind to get the most enjoyment out of a film. Knowing nothing about the true events that Netflix's The Red Sea Diving Resort presents, I didn't find myself offended like some viewers are stating, but I do have my fair share of minor issues. Still, here's why The Red Sea Diving Resort is worth a watch.
How accurate this premise is portrayed, I'm unsure, but the premise of the film itself follows a group of five agents who purchase a hotel with a waterfront in Sudan. This purchase will eventually lead to taking in refugees without anyone knowing and bringing them out to a ship which will lead them away from the horrors they've been in. This is a very serious issue that, at least in some capacity, will always be occurring somewhere in the world. It's a terrible thing, so my biggest issue with this film is the fact that it didn't always take itself seriously.
Nothing against the work of Tim Squyres (who I actually admire for his work), but the overall editing of this film felt like it needed some infused energy. His work on Life of Pi is absolutely fantastic for the slow pacing, but this movie felt about 30 minutes too long. There are many slow sequences throughout the course of the film and then it shifts into a light-hearted montage of events with happy music playing in the background, even though the audience will know the film is far from over. This jump in tones was very jarring. Other than that, this is a very solid story.
Chris Evans is the biggest current name in this film, and he's always really good so there's not much to say about him honestly. The crew of amazing performances around him were all fantastic as well, but Michael Kenneth Williams was the true standout of the movie to me. His calm and subtle performance truly grounded this whole story in reality. His representation of both sides was the biggest highlight of the movie in retrospect.
In the end, there are technical and pacing issues throughout this film's entire runtime, but I wouldn't see most average viewers finding issues with those elements. The story at hand is very engaging and the way everything plays out can be intense at times, even if a little slow. The Red Sea Diving Resort is a film that will heavily rely on whether you like the main cast and the story at hand. If for some reason either one of those bothers you, I wouldn't recommend a watch, but this is a great story and I do recommend this movie to those looking to see something true, presented in a quality way.
Well, Quentin Tarantino is at it again and has now graced his fans with his ninth directorial effort (if you're not including Death Proof). This time around, taking a step back from his usual tendencies in a way, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood actually felt like a breath of fresh air to me, and that's coming from someone who absolutely enjoys the violence he presents throughout his films. This movie is worth your time if you're a fan and also for those who are turned off by the excessive violence. Here's why I believe this film may reach a broader audience than most of his works.
Almost completely devoid of a story at all, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood follows Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fading Hollywood star, and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as his stunt double who no longer receives any work. Throughout a series of events and the introduction of Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), this is a film that disobeys every rule that most films follow, making for a highly enjoyable experience. To really dive into details would be to ruin where the movie ends up, so the best way to describe this movie is to say that it consists of a lot of great scenes of people talking, which eventually slowly builds to a climax that you may or may not expect.
Now, where I feel this film may be for more viewers than most Tarantino flicks is in the fact that the majority of this 161-minute feature doesn't have a lot of violence. It really did feel like Tarantino was trying to go for a more subdued film as a whole, which will please some viewers. With that said, there are absolutely some brutal moments that don't hold back, but they are few and far between enough to not have queasy audience members wanting to walk out of the theatre.
As always, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood's very best aspect is the screenplay itself. Yes, Tarantino always works with a talented crew in order to make his films look fantastic, but the dialogue spoken by the characters in this film just felt so authentic. At nearly three hours, this is a movie that doesn't feel like it drags, simply due to the fact that these actors are bringing their A-Game as always and the screenplay they're working with is top-notch. Every performance here deserves some recognition, but I also believe the script has something to do with that.
In the end, if I had to nitpick about anything, I would say that the lack of overall storytelling may hinder the film for people, and even though I was questioning where the film was going, I was always won over by everything else. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is simply one of the best movies I've had the chance to see so far in 2019 and I will continue to say that until the year's end. With stellar performances all around, phenomenal writing/directing, a visual style that feels different than most movies that will come out this year, and a pace that never feels too slow, given the slow nature of the movie, I can't really find many things to complain about. This film is fantastic.
I've always been impressed by films that take place in very few locations and heavily rely on the performances to bring you on the journey from start to finish. Sword of Trust is one of the latest in an endless line of films that have and will fit that description for years to come, but this one stands out as a better than average one, to say the least. Although slow at times and not without flaws, I believe this is a very small film that deserves a larger audience than it will ultimately receive.
Cynthia (Jillian Bell) receives a sword that has been left to her as her only inheritance from her Grandfather. Along with her life partner Mary (Michaela Watkins), they venture to an antique pawn shop to see what it may be worth. A lot of this film revolves around the shop owner Mel (Marc Maron) and his co-worker Nathaniel (Jon Bass), who also happens to be the laziest of the laziest people on the planet. Their dry humour made this film worth watching from the very beginning, and Bass' devotion to being an oblivious character made for an enjoyable viewing experience.
Realizing that this sword may actually be worth tens of thousands to the right buyer, this sets in motion the adventurous aspect of the movie. This alone allows for some wonderful, lengthy conversations to be had and it ultimately becomes a slice-of-life movie. If just watching a movie where not much happens and well-rounded characters holding the movie together just isn't enough for you, then I would suggest looking elsewhere, but this one really worked for me.
From well-written dialogue by Lynn Stelton and Michael Patrick O'Brien to a stellar performance by Marc Maron, there's a lot to like about Sword of Trust. Where the films biggest weakness lies, however, within the fact that this film is very short and doesn't go beyond the boundaries it sets up for the characters at hand. Lynn Shelton once again does a very admirable job in the director's chair and I look forward to each and every one of her outings. Sword of Trust is a great little indie film that deserves much more attention.
Whether or not you're on the positive or negative side of Disney remaking their classic animated films or not, they're clearly full steam ahead on doing all of them, so buckle up for the ride or turn away for the next decade or so. Personally, I'm indifferent on the whole idea. Although I loved Jon Favreau's recreation of The Jungle Book and thought the live-action Cinderella was very solid, I would argue that with Dumbo, Maleficent, and Beauty and the Beast, even though enjoyable, felt very much unnecessary for the most part. Now, we have The Lion King, which is one of Disney's most beloved classics and it's going to absolutely divide fans, but gladly, I happen to fall on the positive side for this one.
After the death of his father Mufasa, Simba (a young Lion cub) is forced away on his own. Learning the real lessons to know in life, his journey becomes one for the ages. I'll remain vague for the very few people who don't know this story, but it ultimately follows every single beat the original animated film presented over 25 years ago. This is the definition of a film that comes off as a cash grab, simply due to the fact that it seems like they made it for money, as all the same songs and images are used, but updated.
I'm not going to be one of the reviewers out there that complain though, because I happen to love the premise of the original film, and since it's just recreated here, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this version. The visuals are truly something to wonder at. Not only do the animals look and feel realistic, but the scenery around them wasn't even filmed in-camera, and the movie feels the complete opposite of that. It truly feels like National Geographic went out and captured footage, only to add moving mouths on the animals in post-production.
Yes, I can see where the criticisms have been here; Viewers have been adamantly complaining about the fact that this film doesn't do anything new and is pretty much retreading the original movie. While that statement may be true, nearly everyone loves that original film and even though many of the animals may not show deep emotions in their facial expressions, I find that to be one of the largest nitpicks in the history of cinema. This was an experiment in taking a story and making it feel as realistic as possible, and for that alone, it deserves all the credit in the world.
In the end, I'm someone who will shout out on the rooftops about the fact that remakes need to slow down, but when a good one comes around, I won't shy away from calling it as it is. The Lion King (2019) is a very, very solid remake, with a few new admirable moments and great direction by Jon Favreau once again. Yes, the fans will complain that this movie took no chances, even down to the dialogue, but I walked out of the theatre with a big smile on my face, so I'm not going to lie to myself. The Lion King (2019) is a great movie, even if it's unoriginal and prevents it from being called one of the best films of the year. For fans and newcomers alike, I recommend seeing this one.
Comedy is one of the hardest genres to accomplish successfully. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. Most jokes, especially today, feel like retreads of older gags or too familiar to others. For this reason alone, it seems like less and less memorable mainstream comedies hit the big screens every year, which is really disappointing. Stuber is the next film in the long line of recent disappointing comedies and while it does have its moments, it's not worth spending your time or money at the movies on.
Following Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), a police officer who has been having trouble with his eyesight, he finds himself being picked up by Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), an Uber driver with no self-confidence, and together they end up working a violent case that Vic has been involved in for a while. Obviously, with a premise like this, chaos begins to ensue and the movie becomes more about the characters than the overall plot, and while that does work sometimes, Stuber is far too cliche of a comedy to really feel for them or get any big laughs in general.
Going into this movie, I was already a huge fan of Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. Both for different reasons, but I was curious to see what they could bring to the table as an unlikely duo. They're easily the sole aspect that made this movie remotely enjoyable. There are a few instances that had me chuckling, but from set-ups that will clearly pay-off in the final act to over-the-top fight scenes to keep the audience engaged, a lot of this movie felt forced.
On top of the forced nature of these elements, the overall direction of the action sequences was terrible in my opinion. With the use of the visceral shaky-cam technique, the action honestly felt like it belonged in a different movie altogether. Directed by Michael Dowse, I'm a fan of his movies Take Me Home Tonight, Goon, and The F Word, but those movies aren't exactly known for having good action scenes. I would say that this particular piece of directing felt like a mixture of action and comedy that didn't quite blend very well overall.
In the end, Stuber begins as a fine concept (which is also great advertising for the Uber app) but ultimately plummets as it tries to be funny during moments that would have otherwise been taken seriously during a dramatic film. The two leading men are a blast to watch, even if they aren't given much to work with, and I believe they would've made an even better team with better material. Stuber had potential in theory, but the execution is everything and this one missed the mark for me, more often than not.
Like any big blockbusters, independent cinema has hits and misses. Blockbusters either make billions or are forgotten about, while indies either make their way around festivals and gain traction, or simply are left in the dust. Everlasting, a small picture that has been winning some pretty big awards under the radar is a film that's now available to rent or own on many streaming services. If you are looking to view a film that you probably haven't heard about and be pleasantly surprised, then I believe Everlasting is the perfect film for you. Using some very hefty techniques in storytelling, this film takes a few risks that I wasn't expecting, thus sparking a liking which will surely be one of my favourite indies in a while. Here are my thoughts on Everlasting.
After travelling on her own to Los Angeles and being murdered, a young filmmaker decides to document his journey with the hopes of finding his girlfriend's killer. Sort of told in a non-linear fashion through flashbacks of happier times and "real" footage caught on tape of this murderer's victims, there is a very horrific feeling that you may get when watching this film. Everlasting has a very unique way of telling its story and with performances that feel very raw and authentic to reality, this is a film that should have made it out to the public in the way that Paranormal Activity did. Although fictional, there is a very large and overbearing sense of realism present throughout this film, which is easily its biggest selling point.
Although the depressing aspect is thrown out the window when you know she has been murdered early on in the film, it becomes more about the interesting investigation and enjoying the fond memories that they shared together in the recent past. Everlasting is all about the build up to whether or not Matt will end up finding the justice he has been seeking. Through many flashbacks and past encounters, certain elements are brought to fruition and become twists within themselves. This film is very well-structured, never giving away its reveals, but always quietly hinting at them along the way. If you are a fan of the mystery genre, that is the genre I would most associate this picture with.
What I was personally able to take away from this story was the fact that so many people die every day and all we have to go on is an image of them. If we don't know them, we make quick judgements on what they may have been like and nothing more. This film takes the time to explore the past of it's fallen subject in order to make viewers truthfully care about its subject. So many blockbusters have disposable characters and hardly ever take the time to full flesh them out, but when you make your entire film based around that, there really isn't much to dislike about it. From beginning to end I found myself enthralled in this premise and there was hardly ever a dull moment in its mere 82 minute run time.
In the end, Everlasting is a great viewing experience for those who love great mysteries, a solid thriller, or a film filled with dedicated performances. This is an independent piece of cinema that really cares about its characters and depicting them in a very niche way. I was engaged from start to finish, with highlights being performances by the every devoted Valentina de Angelis and dedicated Adam David. Although this film won't appeal to everyone, due to the fact that this style is out of the ordinary, true cinema lovers will get a nice dose of terrific storytelling. Everlasting is a film that I have to recommend with the risk of it being off-putting to some, but for what this film sets out to accomplish, it's near perfect. Looking for a great film? I don't believe you will regret checking this one out.
From Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy to Andrew Garfield's two Amazing Spider-Man films, Spider-Man: Homecoming to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the big screen has been blessed with the presence of the web-slinger for many years. Coming off the heels of Avengers: Endgame, it was clear that this would be the first Spider-Man film to truly feel different. It does further the characters we first met in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but this movie really does show the growth of Peter Parker. While Spider-Man: Far From Home may not be the best overall Spider-Man movie ever made, here's why I do believe it to be a fantastic one, nonetheless.
Picking up shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the world is grieving the loss of Tony Stark. Peter, on his way to a summer vacation in Europe, is tracked down by Nick Fury and recruited to take down monsters that will destroy the Earth. Making friends with Quentin Beck (Mysterio), they work together to stop this looming threat. Without giving much away, there is so much more to the plot than this, but I'll have to remain mute on that in order to preserve your experience.
Tom Holland continues to prove why he was born to play this character. His devotion to having fun with the character and also delivering an emotionally charged performance when it's required, I don't think I'll ever be tired of his rendition of the character. On top of that, Jake Gylennhall steps in as Mysterio and their chemistry is quite infectious. With the addition of Michelle/MJ (played by Zendaya) and Peter falling for each other throughout the course of the movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home feels like a teenage romance flick, meshed perfectly within the story of a Spider-Man film.
Normally I don't make it a point to talk about the post-credits scenes for these movies during a review, but these scenes may just be the most important ones to stick around for yet. There are two of them and they really do require your attention. Seeming to open up the world more than it already has been throughout the years, in terms of connectivity, there are some jaw-dropping moments throughout these two scenes. I can't wait to see what both of these mean for future instalments.
I can go on about how great so many aspects of this film truly are, but I'll keep it simple and say that Spider-Man: Far From Home benefits from a terrific score and theme for Mysterio that had me smiling, some truly great action sequences, and many surprises along the way that will have many fans feeling giddy. I had an absolute blast watching this movie. It does feel slow throughout the first act but in terms of being a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming and the enormous events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, this movie is near-perfect at accomplishing that. Highly recommended to those who have been following Marvel films since the very beginning.
The Conjuring films are some of the best mainstream Horror flicks to come out over the last decade. They aren't the standard for the genre by any means, but I'll always remember them very fondly. When Warner Bros. first announced that they were dipping their toes in spin-offs and prequels, I found myself scratching my head, and the first Annabelle film felt like the nail in the coffin for the franchise. Suddenly, Annabelle: Creation hit theatres and actually surprised many viewers, including me. For that alone, I was interested in this third instalment, seeing as they won me over with its predecessor. Annabelle Comes Home isn't worth seeing in theatres, but I wouldn't recommend completely dismissing it if you're a fan of this series.
Taking place after Annabelle: Creation, but before The Conjuring, the timeline of these films have begun to feel a little messy. This film picks up with familiar characters to the franchise in Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they discover the Annabelle doll. Once locked up in their cellar, their daughter's babysitter and her friend all find themselves being haunted in mysterious ways. While there are some creepy moments, this movie doesn't feel like an Annabelle film all that often. I would guess that the doll itself received about 10–20 minutes of screentime in a 105-minute film.
Where I feel this franchise has had the most success is actually in it's developed characters. It was nice to see Ed and Lorraine on-screen together again, and although there are a few great dramatic elements sprinkled throughout this movie, Annabelle Comes Home almost takes advantage of that too often. Yes, there are scary aspects to this film, but I found myself seeing it as more of a drama than a Horror film, which worked but also felt conflicting at the same time.
Being a solid screenwriter for Horror, Gary Dauberman takes the helm as director on his first feature film and I would say that is actually one of the best aspects of Annabelle Comes Home. From some great imagery to overall terrifc cinematography overall, this is a movie that definitely looks the part. With that said, it pails in comparison to the rest of the movie. The look and tone of the movie are weighed down by a dramatic story that only wishes to focus on the drama of this universe.
In the end, Annabelle Comes Home isn't as impressive as Annabelle: Creation or either one of the Conjuring movies, but is eons better than the first Annabelle and The Nun, is that says anything. This is a very average movie as a whole and doesn't really state a purpose for existing, other than having some good family drama with the family we have come to love in this franchise since the beginning. For Horror fans, you'll probably be disappointed, but for those just looking to see a decent movie, you may find yourself slightly satisfied.
With all of the music-based biopics being released lately, I found myself much more excited for a film like Danny Boyle's directorial effort in Yesterday. There are so many films that take the formula of a band rising and falling and run with that as their premise. Although this isn't a biopic at all, it really is a celebration of the music, written and performed by The Beatles. It may feel a little uneven at times and it actually feels a little mean-spirited at times, but I believe it will win over many viewers. Here's why I believe Yesterday is worth your time at the cinema.
Following a young musician in Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), as crazy circumstances have him being the only one on Earth who remembers The Beatles every existing, Yesterday is a film that explores how he re-writes their music to become famous. Yes, this film asks you to fall in love with a character who has stolen famous music (but not really?), which does make for a bit of a frustrating watch. With that said, it really does dive into those aspects and wins you over by the time the credits roll.
Being the first time I have ever watched a performance from Himesh Patel, he has definitely proven that he can carry a film, because his devotion to this character, lept off the screen to me. Lily James also stars in the film as his best first, original manager, and possible lover. Honestly, I find her to be incredibly talented and she always elevates a film in my opinion, so for that alone, I may be a little biased when saying I loved a lot about this movie when watching it.
Danny Boyle has helmed this film, which felt like a departure for him when looking at the marketing, but really does have his touch all over it. From dutch angles to beautifully composed shots, it was clearly a Danny Boyle movie from start to finish, which felt very refreshing. Where I think this film lacked the most was in the script itself. Although I don't have any major problems with the movie, there are many scenes that have comedy, that just didn't work for me. In particular, there are a couple of dramatic scenes that are broken up and played off as a joke, which had me scratching my head. Aside from that, this is a very enjoyable film, through and through.
In the end, Yesterday meshes the style of Danny Boyle's direction with the great music that The Beatles have given the world, along with great performances by Himesh Patel, Lily James, and even the little screentime that Ed Sheeran has. With solid pacing, an enjoyably quirky story (albeit sort of dumb in retrospect), and a character that wins you over as the movie progresses, Yesterday was just a great time at the movies in my opinion. I absolutely recommend checking it out.
Like many movie lovers who grew up in the 1990s, Toy Story was one of the staples of childhood when it came to watching films. After the release of Toy Story 2 in 1999, many believed the franchise had ended, until a third film came along over ten years later. Really putting a capper on the Toy Story story as fans knew it from the beginning, Toy Story 3 was a definitive conclusion. So why was a third instalment even in the works? Until the release of the movie, that was the question on many viewers' minds. Personally, upon the initial announcement a few years back, I was against this movie, but I've loved these films since the beginning, so of course, I was going to check this one out, and I'm glad that I did. Toy Story 4 has earned a worthy place in the franchise in my eyes.
Picking up pretty soon after the events of the third film, we now see how our favourite, loveable toys have moved on from their previous owner (Andy) and how they've settled in with their new one in Bonnie. Without getting into the specifics of how or why a new toy (Forky) is introduced, I'll just simply state that Bonnie builds him at school and he miraculously comes to life, giving Woody a new job, so to speak. The plot really kicks into gear, However, when Forky is thrust onto the street during a family vacation, and the Woody/Forky excursion begins. Each toy has a moment to shine, but this truly is a film about Woody.
I could immediately dive into negatives and say that Buzz Lightyear doesn't have enough screen time or that reference and lines of dialogue from previous movies are slightly repeated too much throughout the duration of the movie, but that would just be me complaining about an otherwise near-perfect animated film. I had nitpicks here and there while watching the movie, but I just have to be honest and say the overall movie surrounding those inner quarrels were just scratches on a canvas that was painted beautifully as a whole.
As always, the animation is astounding and life-like at times, which feels a little funny when comparing it to how simple the animation was in the original film, so the movie was beautiful to look at. On top of that, this is a film filled with heart, that cares about its characters, and even takes the time to introduce many new, memorable faces along the way. From Ducky and Bunny to Duke Caboom, these new characters will actually remain in my mind as memorable side characters, which is what many sequels fail to do these days.
In the end, fans of the first three movies are more than likely going to love watching this instalment, newcomers will get a fresh story now that a previous chapter has been closed, and fans of comedy will also get many clever laughs here as well. I'm not ready to call Toy Story 4 my favourite film of the franchise by any means, but in terms of character progression, emotion, and an overall extremely enjoyable film, I would be lying if I didn't say that I loved it. Yes, I have minor issues, but they are so small that I just feel like giving this one a perfect grade, which I haven't given to many films in 2019. Toy Story 4 is a wonderful time at the movies and I highly recommend it.