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Well it's better than Beauty and The Beast
So, I did something I try not to do. I went into this movie with a negative mindset.
Beauty and The Beast was such a disappointment, I figured this would be as well. Colour me surprised, ALADDIN 2019, actually has some heart to it.
Up front, the strength of this film falls squarely on the shoulders of our two leads, Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Jasmine (Naomi Scott). The former feels like the animation come to life (it's a bit scary how good he is) and the latter adds depth, development and character to Jasmine, that makes her feel like a woman of the 21st Century. It doesn't hurt that the chemistry between them is off the charts.
The songs are mostly, very well done, and you'll be singing along in no time and the little changes here and there to the original story, actually help close up some plot holes, we only noticed as adults.
It's far from perfection though. Will Smith is a charismatic guy, and he does his best to live up to Robin William's legacy, while making the Genie his own. But, there's cheese to be found on this sandwich, and some of his moments fall really flat.
It doesn't help that the CG isn't that great, and the location does look very much like a set and not a real place.
Jafar was also a huge let down. He's just a villain and doesn't have any of that sly, seductive, sleazy fun stuff, that his animated predecessor did. Also, don't get me started on the giant parrot. You'll see what I mean.
I honestly don't think, any of these 'adaptations' will live up to the animated magic that Disney once bestowed on us. I'm really torn about putting my money behind, what feels like a cash grab scheme. But, I would be lying if I said, there wasn't something good to be found in this movie and if who knows, this generation may end up loving these as much as we love the originals.
Mile 22 (2018)
Trying too hard to be cool
Have you ever met someone who was trying too hard to be cool? That's this movie. Whalberg is annoying and thoroughly unlikable as the "hero" The dialogue style of everyone talking really fast and over each other grates on your nerves. Seriously, this movie wants to be badass and serious and funny and just come across as that person you want to avoid at the party. Iko Uwais (The Raid) is the only enjoyable part of this movie. 4.5/10
Sacred Games (2018)
IMHO, this is one of the best shows they've ever released.
If you haven't seen Netflix SACRED GAMES, you're missing out.
A well thought out, expertly executed mystery, that could easily be remade by any big Hollywood studio and shown to mainstream audiences, like what Scorsese did with The Departed (FYI, it was a remake of a Korean movie called Infernal Affairs)
Sacred Games is similar in tone to HBO's True Detective, but on a much larger scale, with the stakes being amped up as the series goes along. The standout has to be Nawazuddin Siddqui, as protagonist, Ganesh Gaitonde. Think an East Indian version of Scarface, but with so much more emotional depth.
It's a raw (and I mean raw), unfiltered look at India, specifically the city of Mumbai, and the corruption and poverty that festers, the people who abuse that power and the lengths some will go to, to protect their city, their beliefs and their lives.
Viral Marketing & Veronica
Viral marketing goes back to the very earliest era of cinema and it was especially used for the horror genre. From Psycho and The Exorcist, to Jaws and The Last House on The Left, horror movies were lauded as being "TOO SCARY TO WATCH", "NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART", and one of my personal favs, "YOU'LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!".
Netflix's VERONICA is the newest horror flick, to use viral marketing, and it most definitely worked. Not only did they report an uptick in views for the movie, but I can speak from personal experience, as friends reached out to me (their resident horror afficanado) to find out if I had watch the movie and if it was really as terrifying as everyone said it was.
You see, fear is relative. By that I mean, one person may be terrified of spiders, while another thinks they make great pets (those people need Jesus, but that's a topic for another time). Because of this, a mainstream, or 'light' horror fan will probably get more than a fright, from the ample jump scares, the story of a possible possession of a young woman whose only real crime is she misses her father and the musical score which utilizes quick loud noises to scare the piss out of you.
For more hardcore fans (c'est moi) Veronica is an okay film. It's well acted by it's young lead (Sandra Escacena) and the deeper themes of loneliness, family and the fears that come with growing up and having your own body change (something that can feel like a betrayal at times) make for an interesting watch on a Sunday afternoon.
My only real issue with this film is it's opening. I don't like movies that begin, by revealing the ending first, as it takes away from the tension that builds, if you have an idea of what's to come. This is especially detrimental to a horror/thriller movie.
So what are you? Do you dip your toe into horror, or do you dive head first into the deep end?
Depending on your answer, watching Veronica will either be that horror movie you watched to pass the time, or a movie that scares the hell outta you! Viewers choice.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Well made movie but it was missing the heart
Marvel without a doubt, knows the formula to make an visually appealing, fun and well paced superhero movie. There's a lot to love about Spiderman Homecoming, from Tom Holland's take on a teenage Peter Parker (although the tone of his voice grated from time to time) to a solid villain in Vulture, played to perfection by Michael Keaton. There were also some awesome action sequences, my favs being the ferry and the final battle against The Vulture. Sadly, the emotional connection I needed, to make this a truly awesome version of Spidey never came (for me) Raimi's Spiderman 2 hit every note perfectly, and is still in my humble opinion the best Spidey movie out there. While this one looks good, the depth is sorely lacking and with the way Wonder Woman left me feeling so fresh in my head, it was just more obvious to me, that they played it safe and pandered to the easiest base to appease, the Spidey fans, with this one.
We Go On (2016)
What's the point of living if you can't feel alive
At it's core We Go On is a movie about Living Life. There's a quote from The World is Not Enough that has always stayed with me. "What's the point of living, if you can't feel alive" This is the problem that Miles faces every day . Due to a childhood trauma, he's terrified of everything, especially dying and not knowing what awaits you. Fortunately/Unfortunately (depending on your stance), he gets more than he bargains for, when he finds his answer. The premise drew me in, the acting kept me watching. We Go On is not a hardcore horror movie. It has a couple solid scares, and a pacing that gives you time, to enjoy the performances of Annette O'Toole (SMALLVILLE) and the very likable lead Clark Freeman who plays Miles (although everyone in this small budget movie, do great jobs). If you like your horror bloody, gory and twisted, skip this one. Like I said, the performances, intriguing plot and quick pace (1hr 30mins) is what kept me watching and I Iook forward to seeing what Writers Jesse Holland and Director Andy Mitton comes with next.
Danielle Harris and John Jarratt are the only reasons to watch Shiver.
Shiver is one of those straight to stream movies, that you can easily miss, but I try to catch these when I can. 9 times out of 10 they suck but when I saw Danielle Harris was one of the stars, I knew it might be good and I'm pleased to say, her performance, along side John Jarratt, who plays our resident psycho, manages to take a bland story and turn it up a few notches.
They are the strength of this movie and without their solid turns as Psycho Serial Killer vs The Final Girl, this movie would've fallen flat. When they aren't the focus (and thankfully they get most of the screen time in the second and third acts) Shiver becomes boring, with Casper Van Dien (what happened to you Casper?) as the cop on the case, and Rae Dawn Chong (the stewardess from Commando) as his partner, sleepwalking through their parts.
It's a decent horror and the blood and terror builds as the movie goes along. It won't win any awards and I don't see it ending up on any Best Of lists, but the performances of the two lead actors make for an entertaining watch.
The less you know, the more this movie will catch you unawares
While Brimstone would register to most, as a Western (and for the most part it is), the horror elements cannot be denied. The gruesome kills and vicious shark-like nature of this movies protagonist, played terrifyingly well, by Guy Pearce, will keep you glued to your screen, even with the long run time of 2hrs plus.
Dakota Fanning is at the top of her game here, in a role that requires her to show, not tell. She and Guy Pearce are the main reasons why Brimstone is as good as it is, while young actress, Emilia Jones, also delivers.
It's a slow burn, so for those with a lack of patience, this movie might seem tedious, but for myself , the performances, the unexpected brutality and the strength and tenaciousness of our heroine Liz, makes Brimstone a must see.
If you enjoyed, Bone Tomahawk, you'll find a lot to like about Brimstone.
The Keeping Room (2014)
The effects of War
This story focuses on the side of war most movies bypass. Not the before, or the after, but the last days of it. From one side we have three women, one a slave (or soon to be ex-slave) trying to survive and hold on to their land without men. One the other side, we have two men, who are raping and killing their way across the countryside. Different people will see this movie in different ways. For me, this was a tale of how war and devastation changes us. The best examples of this are portrayed by Brit Marling and Sam Worthington (Avatar), who play Augusta and Moses. The former grows strong and independent, the latter has left behind his humanity and is a shell of a man, living only to destroy. Not for everyone, the rest of the cast is underused and the movie never feels fully fleshed out but strong performances make for good viewing, at least once.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
I Don't Want Any
This is a follow up to the outstanding film, Dazed and Confused. I remember watching that movie and connecting with it on so many levels, as I was in high school at the time, and the movie takes a look at the different subset of kids in school and the difficulties of dealing with that time between being a kid and being an adult. It was funny, touching, sympathetic and had a diverse set of characters, where anyone watching, could find a personality they could relate to. There is none of that here. Everybody Wants Some is a movie about.....nothing! It's a group of athletes (who hardly ever do anything athletic) getting drunk and getting laid. That's it. None of them seem to have any focus at all. I get that a bunch of 20 somethings are just gonna be looking to get some, but this movie had no heart and to top it off the main protagonist, Jake played by Blake Jenner was dull as rocks! He has zero chemistry with his leading lady and I still don't understand what was supposed to be so special about him.
CONCLUSION : Go watch Dazed and Confused instead. Nothing about this movie felt authentic. Not the look (the clothing and locale all looked staged) not the story (still trying to figure out what that was) and definitely, with the exception of Glen Powell who plays Finn, not the acting.
Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)
The exact same one from the 1989 movie. They could've AT LEAST made the hero have a dead uncle, or sister, or grandpa.......
REVIEW: It's a rehash of Kickboxer 1989, with bigger name actors in the form of Dave Bautista (playing an apparently immortal Tong Po - the same guy who went up against Van Damme) and JCVD himself. The fight scenes seem more like guys hitting pillows than each other. When I watch people like Jason Statham or Tony Jaa fight, I feel sympathy for their opponents. Here, everything is done in a way that feels choreographed and soft (almost like sparring). . I imagine the original/first KICKBOXER had a very small budget, yet it had heart and fighters who seemed real in their actions. These men could've done with some acting classes. Van Damme does his best to embody Dennis Chan, the actor who played his trainer, Xian Chow, in the original (he even dresses like him) Same goes for Bautista, who I think got the role because he somewhat looks like Tong Po (he is playing the same character) .Are they trying to say Po is immortal? Why hasn't he aged? Every ode to the original is here, including kicking a fig tree to death. But while this movie may appeal to your nostalgic side, Kickboxer: Vengeance just doesn't live up to its predecessor. It has a few shiny moments, but nowhere near the heart of the 1989 movie. Although to be fair, the acting in that was less than stellar, but the fight scenes more than made up for it.
The Amityville Terror (2016)
I mixed this up with The Awakening. Boy am I sorry.
Not to be confused with Amityville: The Awakening (which is still due for release) Terror, is everything I hate about bad horror movies. It tries to piggy-back on a concept and story that has been done so much better before. Add to that terrible special effects (CG that you can do with Windows at home) and nothing acting by people you can't wait to see die (yet they take forever to do so). Plus, this movie takes 45 MINUTES BEFORE ANYTHING EVEN HAPPENS!
The really sad part is, I was gonna give this film props for the concept (an entire town aware that the house is haunted and evil, yet they allow people to move in, so that they can benefit) and then I remembered, THEY TOTALLY RIPPED THAT S%@T OFF from a much, much, much better movie called We Are Still Here.
Do not waste your time with this. Go watch any other Amityville movie and I promise you, even the crap ones are more entertaining that this.
Shisha no teikoku (2015)
Well crafted and executed but the final act is flawed
At two hours, I'll be the first to admit, The Empire of Corpses is a movie you have to find the time to watch. With references to historical figures galore (Thomas Edison, Ulysses S. Grant and Charles Bumbray) as well as literary ones (John Watson, Victor Frankenstein, M, etc), it's not a film you want to watch half heartedly, as you will be doing yourself and this beautiful movie a disfavor The Empire of Corpses is one of the most beautifully animated films I've seen in some time. Every scene ebbs and flows like water. The voice acting is perfect, with each character perfectly suiting their anime counterpart, but it's the story that is truly something spectacular. With deep philosophical questions about Death, Souls, Ambition, Free Will, War and Love just to name a few. It's one of those movies you can watch and enjoy on the surface (The story isn't that complicated and can be easily followed if you're paying attention), or if like myself, you like to peel back the layers and see what's underneath, The Empire of Corpses will not let you down. I will admit to the final act being flawed. Without spoiling anything, the main villain's reason for doing what he was doing was
..weak/weird? While I could go along with M's reason for his evil plan (to make the world one way so there would be no more conflict or wars), I couldn't get behind the Final/Main Villain's reason. Everything got super confusing at this point. The ending also was very 'up in the air', with an end credit scene (with Sherlock Holmes no less), that while a nice nod to fans of literature, added nothing to the story and left you with more questions than answers. I'm sorry I took this long to watch it, but I'm glad I took my time. This a movie I could spend hours dissecting, but for the sake of this review I will simply say, it's not just for anime fans, this is a full length, well written, beautifully executed movie that deserves to be seen by all.
Why change so much from the book?
This movie was awful. They deviated so much from the book. The thing is, if it worked, I wouldn't have minded, but instead we get terrible pacing, convoluted storytelling and an ending that made me want to drink rat poison it was so bad. Why did they feel the need to change so much, when the story in the book is so well thought out and delivered?! Fail . John Cusack looked as confused as I was by this whole thing. I kept watching, hoping it would somehow right itself, as I've been anxiously awaiting this movie (Cell is one of my favorite SK books). Alas, Cusack's facial expression at the abysmal end of this movie, matched mine. EPIC FAIL. This is now officially, the worst Stephen King adaptation I've ever seen, and I've seen them all!
The Sand (2015)
The kind of horror that's easy to watch and doesn't require thinking
Surprisingly entertaining and well acted, The Sand isn't hardcore horror. There isn't a load of blood and guts, but when I was about 9, I saw a movie like this one called Blood Beach. That stuff was traumatizing and this one, brought back nice memories of that scary movie. The actors are quite likable (most of them anyway), making it tough to watch them bite the dust and my biggest plus was the fact that they acted like REAL PEOPLE. They handled things the way I would've which made it easier to root for them. On the down side, the CGI sucked (there's not much of it though) and the story would veer into 90210 levels of drama at times (is now really the right time to talk about who banged who?)
The Sand is an easily digestible horror flick, short and fun to watch on a weekend if the genre mood strikes you.
you'll like it if you like body horror
Body horror. It's for people who love movies like Cronenberg's The Fly, or Carpenter's The Thing, it's the kind of horror that makes some people throw up or feel faint watching it. Now we have Bite. A POV shot horror about a girl on vacay with some friends. She gets bitten by what seems like any other insect, but when she returns home, s*&t gets real. Where this flick excels, is with its visual effects. Creators Black Fawn are true horror genre lovers and it shows, with Practical Effects being used for everything. The nest. The eggs. The way our heroine 'changes' . It's really well done and sometimes hard to watch. The negs. Well simply put, the effort is put into the effects, but the story and the acting is so-so. It's just all surface. By that I mean, The Fly was about people's fear of AIDS . The Thing is a movie that looks at isolation and paranoia. Bite is just a movie about a girl being bitten by an insect and turning into an insect herself. You could argue it represents her insecurities but I just don't by it. So check this one out, if Body Horror gets your gory juices flowing and I give Bite....
Fear the Walking Dead (2015)
kill em off and start over again
Watching this show, is an exercise in testing one's blood pressure and your ability to control your inner rage.
There is literally only one likable character on the show, and that honor goes to Nick, the recovering drug addict son of the new Andrea, (I don't even care to look up her name). They all suck. Travis, who wants to fix everything with a hug and a talk. Strand, who uses people like a tic on your ass (although he does tend to be right more than wrong) Alicia, who thought it would be a smart thing to broadcast ALL YOUR INFORMATION over a ham radio to a person she never met (her explanation, she needed someone to talk to......) Ofelia. She's not bad, she just doesn't have any real character development Daniel, (who just might be a serial killer) and then there's the KING OF THE ASSHOLES, THE PRINCE OF PRICKS, THE MOST WHINY DOUCHEBAG OF ALL TIME, Chris !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Someone PLEASE BASH HIS BRAINS IN so we can replace him with someone who's very face makes you wanna slap him. Honestly, I would take Joffrey Lannister of this bag of dicks! I could go on and on, but why should I be the only one tortured?! Go see for yourself!!
Sadly, I keep watching, hoping these people will grow a pair, and develop into human beings we can actually support through a zombie crisis. But if Season 2 doesn't get better, I'm jumping overboard and taking my chances with the zombie floaters (zloaters?) .
The Dressmaker (2015)
The trailer is misleading but the movie is worth watching
This trailer is a PERFECT example, of how misleading these things can be. What you see, is a romantic love story with comedic elements. A rom-com if you will. The Dressmaker is SO MUCH MORE than just that. As a matter of fact, it's nothing of the sort! This movie is more a dark comedy with romance and heavy drama thrown in. The acting by everyone involved is really spot on, with Liam Hemsworth surprising me the most. His portrayal of Teddy, made him seem much more mature/older than he usually is in movies, which in this case is very good thing. Kate Winslet hits all the right emotional notes as Tilly, a woman searching for answers about her past, but also fearful of her future, believing she isn't deserving of happiness. My only complaint would be the tone of this movie VASTLY shifts, from Act 2 to 3. Something major happens and without spoiling anything, it's so jarring that it made it hard for me to enjoy the rest of the story. It's not that it's bad story telling, it just caught me off guard and made me wish thing could've turned out different. I won't go into to much detail (all the non-readers out there will get bored), other than to praise the Directing, Writing and Visual beauty of The Dressmaker. A movie very much worth watching
Ava's Possessions (2015)
could've been better if they focused on the main plot more
This movie drew my attention due to its somewhat original premise. Instead of focusing on her possession, this movie asks the question, what is life like AFTER your demon has been exorcised? It's a question not many movies have asked, so I sat down and took it in.
AP has some starts strong, with a mystery at hand. I love movies that keep me off-kilter and I wasn't quite sure what was happening. This puts the viewer in the shoes of Ava, who also has no memories of her possession and therefore, no idea of the damage she wrought. There is also a lot of dark comedy here, with the rehab for the once possessed and Ava dealing with the things she did (beat up people, slept with strangers etc)
Sadly, the movie loses focus and gets convoluted, with too many players on the board. They also have sub-plots like a girl who wants her demon back and a serial killer on the loose, that just didn't do anything but confuse the main plot. If they had left this stuff on the back burner, Ava's Possessions would've been a much stronger film.
Points for originality and the acting is pretty decent, but unfortunately they tried to do too much and it ended up taking away from the main story and weakening the entire flick.
The Other Side of the Door (2016)
Another clichéd horror movie
I'll be honest. I think if I hadn't seen this in cinema,with the lights off, the loud sound system and the big screen, I would've given it a lower score. If you saw The Forest earlier this year, you know what to expect from The Other Side of The Door.
The Good: I know a lot of peeps don't like her, but I think Sarah Wayne Callies has a great presence and a naturalness to her performances that I enjoy. She made for a believable mother, who had to make the kind of choice no parent should ever have to. Jeremy Sisto is another actor I like (remember him as the guy who got the arrows in his back in Wrong Turn?) and the kid actress, while average, didn't annoy me and actually appears in one of the better/scarier scenes in this movie. I also liked that the location was India and the evil/dark presence was part of their folklore. It was a little something new, that I hadn't really seen in North American films.
The Bad :Cliches, clichés, clichés! When for the love of Rice will they stop using the tired old tropes of : -Ghost with hollow eyes and stretched mouth (CGI of course) Look over there! Oops no, it's right next to you! (accompanied with loud ass noise) -Parent is completely absent from story for no reason, only to show up at the end. Sisto is VASTLY underused in this movie, to the point where I wondered if there was bad editing and he had scenes that were cut out. -Not following your own rules! (Burn stuff and ghost goes away, but wait, nope!) - Told not to do something or else. Does it anyway! -Witness the supernatural. Interact with the supernatural. Denies it exists.
I could go on and on, but nobody likes to read these days so I'll just stop and say, wait for it on DVD and watch it to pass the time. The Other Side of the Door, may scare the average horror viewer, but it's tepid waters, for the hardcore lovers of the genre.
Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
the slow pace is well worth the payoff
I did NOT see that twist coming! (although they do drop clues during the movie). This one came and went without much fanfare, but I wanted to see it due to the A-list cast. Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor. A stellar cast that managed to take a so-so movie and make it worth the watch. At it's heart, this is a movie about Regret. Regret for actions not taken. For words not spoken, for things you wished you had done differently. The story unfolds but going back and forth 15yrs, from an event that tears a team apart to the impact its had on their lives as they search for justice, each in their own way. Like I said, the performances sell this movie more than anything else. I honestly thought the plot was a bit weak and the 'villain' was pathetic. The idea that he was untouchable due to bureaucratic dealings was maddening and you could understand how easy it could be to cross the line between Justice and Vigilantism.
The cons. Well the movie is slow paced (it didn't bother me but some may call it boring). There also isn't much of Julia and considering the pivotal role she plays, that seems wrong. On the other hand, the focus is placed on Ejiofor's character and he's always magnetic to watch. His chemistry with Nicole Kidman was also on point and every time they were on screen together, I was waiting for sparks to fly.
If you like thrillers, mixed with a little drama and an ending with a helluva payoff (it's all about the facial expressions in those last minutes) I highly recommend checking out Secret in Their Eyes.
It was good, could've been great
Your enjoyment of this particular movie, will rely heavily on a few things. 1. You have to appreciate Shakespeare. 2. You don't mind a slow pace and heavy dialogue and 3. Your familiarity of the Shakespearean language. I'm not trying to scare anyone off. This is an amazingly well shot, well acted and in my humble opinion, one of the best versions of Macbeth put to screen I have ever seen. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are the backbone of this film in their roles of Lord and Lady Macbeth, I felt so much, for the almost eternal sadness that seemed to surround them. The visual style of this movie is also very bleak (reflecting the inner turmoil of the peeps on screen), with only a few scenes where there seemed to be color and light. The costumes and scenery fit very well into what I've always considered, a horror story and the themes of grief, emptiness, greed and its destructive nature are all present. My main (really only) complaint is a big one and honestly this prevented me from enjoying what could've been a truly strong movie. The language. Don't get me wrong, I can handle Shakespearean dialog, but it HAS TO BE pronounced properly! I honestly couldn't understand a lot of what was being said. Not because of the words, but because of the way they were said! I don't know if it was because of their accents, but Fassbender especially ate up his dialogue and I had to turn the volume up and pay close attention to catch the details. Maybe the fault lay with Sound Editing. Either way, it spoils what could've been a truly solid movie. I can't recommend this for everyone as I'm certain the average movie watcher is not gonna like this movie. Please don't expect this to be Magneto in 12th Century. But for the more discerning lover of film, even if you aren't familiar with Macbeth (my favorite play of WS BTW), there is so much here to appreciate and enjoy.