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REVIEW – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

December 24, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman
Written by: Rian Johnson
Edited by: Bob Ducsay
Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o
Year: 2017

 

One of the first questions I received regarding my opinion of the latest Star Wars film (after having announced to everyone on my Facebook that I had completed my first two viewings, of course) was whether or not The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the currently main Skywalker saga of films, was made for casual fans or die-hard fans. I had to think about it a bit, not because I didn’t know the direct answer to that, but because I had to think about the context of the attitudes I’d been witnessing about the movie. It seems as though there’s a very vocal number of fans out there who… well, they didn’t really seem to like The Last Jedi, and they were making sure everyone knew it in the loudest, most entitled, and sometimes even most obnoxious possible way. Could that have been the demographic my friend was implying when he used the term “die-hard?” I never really got a follow-up to my response (I’m still waiting!), but the fact that I had to consider it at all just made me realize something: I’m kinda tired of so called “die-hard fans” in general. Also, I still think that, after two viewings and nearly non-stop hours of reading about the film and views on it, The Last Jedi is also a pretty great flick, too!

Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 2 comments
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

REVIEW: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 27, 2016 1 comment
Captain America: The Winter SoldierDirected by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Henry Jackman
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, George St-Pierre, Maximiliano Hernández
Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Year: 2014

 

While The First Avenger set off all sorts of alarms in my head while it was in production, nothing could’ve been further from the truth when it came to its direct sequel, The Winter Soldier. Sure, the film was being helmed by the untested duo of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who had previously been better known for their work in comedy TV in shows like Arrested Development and Community, but Marvel Studios had earned my trust by this point. Having just come off of the incredible first Avengers, the fantastic Iron Man 3, and the lesser but still completely enjoyable Thor: The Dark World, I was ready for their return to a standalone film starring the hero who managed to surprise me most in the first wave and trust them to do what was right for the franchise.

And, man, did they ever deliver… Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Krampus

December 8, 2015 6 comments
KrampusDirected by: Michael Dougherty
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Michael Dougherty, Thomas Tull
Written by: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Edited by: John Axelrad
Cinematography by: Jules O’Loughlin
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, Maverick Flack, Luke Hawker, Gideon Emery
Year: 2015

 

Put this on my list of one of the more surprising films of 2015. I wasn’t even aware of the film’s existence until I saw the trailer play before M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit just a couple months ago. That film surprised me in not being as especially terrible as I had expected. However, while the prospect of a found footage horror film starring children and directed by M. Night Shyamalan sounded like the worst possible thing you would ever see, Krampus had a known cast of talented and even funny actors contrasting with the gruesome visuals and suggesting that this film had its pointed tongue was planted firmly in cheek. It actually looked like it had the potential to be an actually great movie. Could it possibly turn into a new alternative holiday classic? Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Elysium”

August 15, 2013 5 comments
ElysiumDirected by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Neill Blomkamp, Bill Block, Simon Kinberg
Written by: Neill Blomkamp
Edited by: Julian Clarke, Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Ryan Amon
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir
Year: 2013

 

Already not nearly as universally praised as District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s second theatrically released film isn’t poised to achieve the same surprise Best Picture Oscar nomination the way that his previous film did. That’s okay though because, flawed though it may be, Elysium is an incredibly entertaining movie with plenty of spectacle, gory action, and an intriguing but surprisingly disagreeable lead character. Read more…

Review: “The Road” (2009)

July 8, 2013 1 comment
The RoadDirected by: John Hillcoat
Produced by: Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz
Written by: Joe Penhall (screenplay)
Edited by: Jon Gregory
Cinematography by: Javier Aguierresarobe
Music by: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garret Dillahunt
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy
Year: 2009

 

(Portions of this review appeared in one of my previous articles, with thoughts and quotes expanded upon, updated, and edited throughout.)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road is a depressing, relentless story of this nameless father and son traveling across a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Here is an apocalypse where any sort of hope at all comes from what remains with you in the present, right in front of you, because tomorrow is no longer a certainty, and people are no longer to be counted on to help. For this father, his son is the only source of hope that he clings to, and it is his sole ambition to keep the boy safe from harm, even if that means the safest route is a quick and painless death. Read more…

Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

April 3, 2013 6 comments
The Perks of Being a WallflowerDirected by: Stephen Chbosky
Produced by: Russell Smith, Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich
Written by: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay)
Edited by: Yana Gorskaya, Mary Jo Markey
Cinematography by: Andrew Dunn
Music by: Michael Brook
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Nina Dobrev, Johnny Simmons, Erin Wilhelmi, Kate Walsh, Dylan Mcdermott, Paul Rudd, Melanie Lynskey
Based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky
Year: 2012

 

I’m not going to lie: Save for the homework that often had me staying up until all hours of the night (my high school was fairly rigorous and involved many all-nighters that were not always the result of procrastination), in the end, I largely enjoyed my high school experience, mostly because I had a pretty awesome and fairly small class of largely awesome people who were willing to set aside most petty differences and coexist with one another. Read more…

Review: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

December 14, 2012 6 comments
It's a Wonderful LifeDirected by: Frank Capra
Produced by: Frank Capra
Written by: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Frank Capra (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Joseph Walker
Editing by: William Hornbeck
Music by: Dimitri Tiomkin
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Beulah Bondi, Joseph Kearns
Year: 1946
Based on the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

 

It’s almost impossible for me to hear the term “life-affirming” without thinking of something cloying or preachy. One of the few exceptions to this rule, however, is It’s a Wonderful Life — a film that, though undoubtedly now a Christmas season classic, is also a truly profound answer to the questions that may rise up as we go through life and its inherent trials. Read more…

Special Review: “28 Weeks Later” – Portrait of Domestic Abuse

October 20, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Produced by: Enrique López-Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich; Bernard Bellew (co-producer); Danny Boyle, Alex Garland (executive producers)
Written by: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique López Lavigne, Jesús Olmo
Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak
Music by: John Murphy
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Idris Elba
Year: 2007

 

28 Weeks Later lacks the originality, rawness, and, frankly, the mystique of Danny Boyle’s first film, but it’s a sequel that figures out a perfect way to have the rage virus return and deliver even more terrifying thrills. New director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo remains faithful to the tone of the first film yet focuses on entirely new characters and new ideas in a story that nonetheless continues where the last film left off. But while 28 Days Later told the story of a group of individuals coming together to form what could effectively be called a family, 28 Weeks Later intriguingly stands as a counterpoint to that narrative, weaving into its plot a story about a family torn apart by deceit and violence, and the two children who find themselves caught up in a system that, though well intentioned, may not be able to save them from a horrible fate.

(Due to the essay-like nature of this review, please know that SPOILERS are necessary for my examination, and, thus, do lie ahead!) Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 25, 2012 10 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Year: 2012

 

Foreword

In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I felt a bit odd about writing my previous review and preparing for my next, as I was writing it in the late night hours as the events were unfolding, unknown to me until the next morning. Much of what I wrote about The Dark Knight reflected a lot of what was happening there, none of it necessarily original or new information, but it was stirring, all the same.

I had no common connection to any of the victims there beyond our similar interest in seeing this new Batman film, all of us anxious in seeing how this trilogy would end, and, unfortunately, many of them never got to see this film, and many more will forever see this film and be reminded of the horrible things they saw that night. What was supposed to be night of fun and entertainment turned into a nightmare, and it affected me, and still does a great deal the more I hear about the events, much more than I thought it would — not because I thought of myself as some tough, emotionless, apathetic person but because it made me realize how even the most mundane things we take for granted can connect strangers based on a mundane commonality.

This just happened to revolve around a movie theatre, a highly anticipated film, and audiences across the world who waited, maybe not in the same proximity, but with the same spirit that united us all in excitement and, unfortunately, also in an unexpected tragedy. In that spirit, if there is anyone out there who is reading this and was affected in some way to those events, I hope you know that, even if I don’t know you, I send my prayers and condolences to you and your families.

Review

Let me just say this now: Christopher Nolan is destined to go down in history as, if not one of the most influential or important filmmakers in blockbuster history, at the very least one of the most revered and respected. The man hasn’t made a bad movie in… well pretty much ever! Some have varied in quality and appeal, of course, but none have been able to cross the general consensus threshold of being considered anything less than a quality film: FollowingMementoBatman BeginsThe PrestigeThe Dark KnightInception. All masterful works of not only high art, but high entertainment. No other filmmaker since maybe Spielberg has managed to pull this synthesis of style, spectacle, and skill as well as Nolan has. And now, with The Dark Knight Rises, we have been given this amazing film that not only provides plenty of thrilling action, but is also an intelligent and thought-provoking conclusion to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest film series of all time, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Read more…

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