REVIEW – Justice League

November 18, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Edited by: David Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Fabian Wagner
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, Billy Crudup
Based on characters from DC Comics
Year: 2017

 

Finally, right? I think I finally understand now why DC/Warner Bros feel as though they have to catch up to Marvel now that Justice League has been released after years and years of development and false starts. It’s been a rocky road for DC, to say the least, and it’s hard to fault people for continually pointing this out. The studio has largely been reticent to move away from their bread and butter of Batman and Superman (and characters closely tied to them, as was the case with Suicide Squad), and even their efforts to set themselves apart from Marvel, tonally, has been met with criticism for emulating the grimdark tone of Christopher Nolan’s exceptional Dark Knight Trilogy films, regardless of whether it was appropriate or not. As a result, general reception of nearly all their films, with the notable exception of this year’s Wonder Woman, have also been decidedly negative to mixed, at best (though I still generally like Man of Steel, despite its obvious flaws). Come to think of it, that can actually be said all of pretty much all of their non-Nolan-helmed films (a pretty damn big exception, mind you) since 1992. But now – finally – everything has come together in Justice League, the film that finally unites worlds in live action, as we’ve all been hoping to see. Was it worth it? Does it make the pain of watching DC limp through all those years of trials and errors feel worth it? Read more…

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REVIEW – A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Produced by: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah, Elijah Wood
Written by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Edited by: Alex O’Flinn
Cinematography by: Lyle Vincent
Music by: Johnny Jewel
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali
Based on the short film by Ana Lily Amirpour
Year: 2014

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, as a film, is as vague and provocative as its title suggests. Its hero, the titular Girl, is herself a mystery, spending her nights walking down the streets of the ravaged Bad City, Iran, cloaked in the darkness with the help of her pitch black chador. The conservative covering suggests a subservient nature to everyone who encounters her, but it’s more than that – it’s a disguise this unassuming and lonely Girl puts on to conceal her true identity. She’s an empowered, strong woman who will not be taken advantage of, least of all by men who see her and other women as objects to own and use. She is no object. In fact, she isn’t even really human… Read more…

REVIEW – Happy Death Day

October 28, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Produced by: Jason Blum
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Edited by: Gregory Plotkin
Cinematography by: Toby Oliver
Music by: Bear McCreary
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Rob Mello, Phi Vu
Year: 2017

 

I originally planned on reviewing far headier stuff this year for Halloween Movie Month, but due to some personal/family circumstances and a general lack of motivation that’s partly resulted from that, I’m choosing instead to focus what little time I have left before the actual day of Halloween with movies that are a bit more lighthearted and easy to digest. At least for now. Considering the fact that the holiday also happens to be my birthday, however, I figured what better time than now to review the recently released and appropriately titled Happy Death Day?

 


 

Is the concept of repeating a certain day over and over, Groundhog Day-style, an overused plot contrivance already? I’m sure there are plenty of examples of TV episodes doing it, or at least doing something similar to it, but I’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful of movies that used the time loop device as their primary driving force. There’s Edge of Tomorrow, of course, and then there’s Run Lola Run, Source Code (sorta…), ARQ, and earlier this year we received 2017’s first film about a young woman repeating a traumatic day in her life with the decidedly more serious Before I Fall. While Wikipedia points me towards a few examples of the time loop being used in a few other films, however, I’m pretty certain that this concept being used in such a particular way, complete with characters fixing mistakes and wrongs, is still mostly known from Groundhog Day, a fact that horror comedy offspring Happy Death Day openly acknowledges, thanks largely to the obligatory meta-commentary all horror comedies are apparently required to integrate into their structure these days. Read more…

REVIEW – Eraserhead

October 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: David Lynch
Produced by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Edited by: David Lynch
Cinematography by: Frederick Elmes, Herbert Cardwell
Music by: David Lynch, Fats Waller, Peter Ivers
Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, Jeanne Bates, Allen Joseph, Jack Fisk
Year: 1977

 

Neither having seen The Elephant Man and Dune years prior nor having mere knowledge of just how bizarre David Lynch could get with his body of work could not have prepared me for my first time, firsthand viewing of his debut film Eraserhead this past week. Growing up a budding film fan, this cult classic was always on my radar in some form, whether due to its intriguing title that suggested to my younger self that the film was a dark, artsy slasher film in the tradition of Friday the 13th (I was not aware of the release timeline then) or because of my frequent encounter with that instantly recognizable shot of star Jack Nance staring back at me within a cloud of illuminated dust as I scavenged through movie posters I knew I would never actually end up buying. The movie’s reputation also preceded itself in discussions of film, primarily online, and yet, somehow, I still managed to avoid any spoilers and even major plot details of the film until actually seeing it myself. And, somehow, even afterward, while I know that what I saw was called Eraserhead, I’m still not entirely certain what the hell I saw. Read more…

REVIEW – The Addams Family

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by: Scott Rudin
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson
Edited by: Dede Allen
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Music by: Marc Shaiman
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Elizabeth Wilson, Dan Hedaya, Dana Ivey, Paul Benedict, John Franklin, Christopher Hart(’s hand)
Based on The Addams Family comics by Charles Addams
Year: 1991

 

“And you thought your family was weird! Meet… the Addams Family!”

… You can practically imagine what kind of crappy trailer and taglines could be written for this film adaptation of Charles Addams’ comic strip. Released on the same day as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, though the film is undoubtedly going for a different audience, it’s still impressive that the film was as successful as it was, given that fact. Critics generally enjoyed it, audiences loved it (forking over $191.5 million worldwide against a $30 million budget), and the film led to a resurgence in the brand, spawning an acclaimed sequel, an animated series, and – heck – even one of the most successful pinball machines ever made. Heck, it was even Barry Sonnenfeld’s first film as director, leading to such acclaimed hits as Men in Black, Get Shorty, and… Wild Wild WestNine Lives… Well, you can’t win ‘em all, but still. Read more…

Halloween Movie Month 2017

October 1, 2017 Leave a comment

The original theme month is back! Welcome again to Halloween Movie Month, also known as “October,” the month in which I only review movies appropriate for the Halloween season.

I’ve been pretty lax when it comes to writing on a regular basis this year, but I’m aiming to change that and get back on a weekly schedule again with this month. I don’t necessarily have a plan laid out, but, as you may have known from the past months, it won’t be just a bunch of horror films. With this month, you can expect comedy, family films, musicals, and even a few Christmas films that happen to fit, too. (That’s why I don’t call it “Scary Movie Month” any more.)

Before we delve into things, however, it couldn’t hurt to go through my back catalog of season-appropriate reviews, would it? And so, below, I have laid out for you every relevant movie I have reviewed since I started this blog back in 2011, whether or not it originated from a theme month. Hopefully it’ll help you figure out something new or forgotten and haven’t watched in a long time!

Happy Halloween!


10 Cloverfield Lane

28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Alien: Covenant

Aliens

Attack the Block

Audition (オーディション)

The Babadook

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Darkroom

Dawn of the Dead: Unrated Director’s Cut (2004)

Don’t Breathe

The Evil Dead

The Exorcist

The Final Girls

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Grave Encounters

Gremlins

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Hocus Pocus

It (2017)

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

Krampus

The Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Paranormal Activity

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

Poltergeist

Predator

Psycho (1960)

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither (2006)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2013)

Unfriended

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

REVIEW – It (2017)

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Produced by: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Barbara Muschietti
Screenplay by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Edited by: Jason Ballantine
Cinematography by: Chung-hoon Chung
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Jackson Robert Scott
Based on the novel It by Stephen King
Year: 2017

 

I always seem to preface these types of reviews with this, but it bears remarking again: Horror remakes are rarely successful and rarely a good idea, and the trailers for this 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a transdimensional being taking on the form of a malevolent clown who terrorizes children was looking to be just one more film on the pile of crappy remakes, reboots, and reimaginings we’ve been getting since the turn of the century. The emphasis on jump scares, the hammered-into-your-brain catchphrases, creepy horror children, and the audacity to challenge the immortal Tim Curry’s portrayal from the miniseries with a gritty new take on the clown really didn’t work in the film’s favor. This was particularly worrisome, as the film with the film had been in development hell for approximately six years due to creative conflicts before finally moving forward in production in its final form, releasing two years after that. As someone who had never seen the cheesy 3-hour-long miniseries, let alone read the 1000+ page novel, however, I was at least open to the idea that this could at least provide an easy gateway into a cultural touchstone I really had little prior interest in touching myself. Turns out…I was totally right, but not in the way I thought. Read more…

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