Dunkirk – Review #79

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dunkirk-poster.jpgChristopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker. He has “it”. He knows the tricks of the trade and I don’t have to be the guy to tell you that his works have been very, very successful.’

And I can see why people who call him one of the greats of our time. Just according to me personally, his dedication in using actual practical effects is something I applaud at. Extras up to the thousands, using actual planes and ships from the actual evacuation, getting large scale remote controlled aircraft just so he can crash it into the English Channel? In a world of overwhelmingly use of CGI and less and less time and money spent on practical effects, the fact that Nolan has the credibility and leeway to have these actual things is something I really much appreciate. He’s able to bring out the best of everything and everyone.

So yeah, Christopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker.

He is, however, boring as hell.

Let me explain. When I go into the cinemas to watch a movie, I expect to get sucked into the world that the director makes. I expect to get fully engrossed into the story, the characters, all that jazz. With Nolan’s directing style I just can’t get that absorption.

His directing style can be visualized with these series of words: shakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticwideshotshakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticcameraisattachedtosomethingshakeshakeshakeshakeshake

For ninety percent of the movie, the camera doesn’t rest. It has constant motion. Not shaky cam-he’s competent enough to not use that-but there’s shaking.

And the camera’s focus for the most part is pretty tight. Occasionally you’ll get the cool extra wide scenic shot, but for most of the people it’s usually focused on people’s faces.

Now, most people would say that he did this to show the intensive fear and creeping terror of the soldiers’ wait for escape, how hope just seems to be on the edge, and in that sense one would be right. However, here comes the common flaw of this method in this movie.

He uses it too damn much.

Little to no deviance, the one image that will be ingrained in your brain watching this is “shaking close up of man”. The fact that he lingers on this technique for so long, and with so little changes, that when it does change to a shot that in any other movie I would marvel at, the brain has been numbed to the point that it doesn’t register as epic as it should.

That is not to say that the shooting style is ineffective. Not at all. The movie did grab my attention all the way through. Problem is, the lack of shot changes mean that the tension of the scene isn’t elevated, taking the movie and subsequently the audience higher.

It’s like a car that’s constantly on 4th gear. At first you’ll feel the whoosh, the adrenaline. But by the time you’re at the 2nd hour mark it’s become the temporal reality. It doesn’t affect you as much.

Now, there’s other problems that this movie has, albeit smaller comparatively. The fumbling of the timelines really did confuse me for a bit, and when they finally merged together, my brain was still occupied in trying to piece it all together.

Also, there have been complaints that the sound on IMAX is way too loud. I’m inclined to agree, although I do not know if that’s because of my already settled worries, or if it really was just very loud. I will say that earphones are recommended though, just in case.

But all those aside, what frustrates me about this movie is that the rest of it is so good. As I said before, the practical effects are something I applaud at, but almost every other aspect of the movie is brilliant. The cast is absolutely astonishing, with amazing performances from everyone involved, even the ex-boybander Harry Styles. Music wise, Hans Zimmer has made a master-class of atmospheric music. The blaring horns and the violins, all a perfect fit for a film.

If not for Nolan’s style, this movie could’ve easily gotten my praise and admiration like it has gotten from so many people. It’s a great movie, but it could’ve been a modern day classic. Can you see how frustrating this is?

Dunkirk. The 8/10 that could’ve gotten so much better.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – Review #78

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spider_man_poster2.jpgCue the jingle.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, is the sixteenth (Jesus Christ) film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the third goddamn reincarnation of the web-slinger in recent history. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine — distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.

The previous Spider-Man films have had this steady decline of caring within me throughout them. The three Raimi movies I watched in my childhood and will forever be my favorites-yes, even Spider-Man 3 come at me-of the genre; I watched The Amazing Spider-Man once I never cared for it nor that franchise since; and now we have reboot #3, a Spider-Man movie for the modern times.

But, as usual, I try to go into any movie with an open mind. It’a only fair. So how does our newest superhero fare?

Not very great.

Talk about a movie that’s unappealing. No, not that exact word. “Mind switch-off-ing”, there we go. Everything about this movie feels tested and almost manufactured; there’s no soul to it. It’s not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination, it just feels like “another movie in the MCU”. It doesn’t shine enough to be really remarkable, which is a shame because you can see there is some potential.

The lack of attracting characters is only magnified when you realize that this is a coming-of-age-film. The interactions between Holland’s Peter Parker and Batalon’s Ned don’t feel like two characters actually talking; it just feels like actors acting out their parts. They’re absolutely trying their best, I’ll give them that, but it just didn’t work for me. I think the main reason for this is the goddamn constant cutting. Holland says a line; cut. Batalon says a quip; cut. When you want to show a character mature and grow in some way, perhaps being spoken to by a mentor figure, can you not cut every single four syllables because you’re scared the audience might lose interest? Get it together, people.

Speaking of the cast, they’re alright. I believe the flaws of the film lay more on the technical aspects of it more than the contents. I could actually get behind Tom Holland as Peter, and the side characters, in better means, would be at least more interesting. Tony Revolori is in this movie, for example, and he’s Flash Thompson. But throughout the movie you don’t think of him as Flash, you think of him as the freaking bell boy from The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie doesn’t give its actors good material to work with.

And Marissa Tomei as Aunt May was just weird to me. This is completely personal preference, but there’s an innate wrong-ness to me in seeing people being sexually attracted to her. No fault of the actress, she’s actually pretty good, just feels strange to me.

Whatever else I’m gonna say is pretty much just the same thing; the people they have in this movie are actually pretty competent, it’s just the execution that kills any excitement, so I’m cutting this review short. In conclusion, this movie is 2 hours of bland “okay”. I’m going back to my Raimi and J.K. Simmons.

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Alien: Covenant – Review #77

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kk9e6ddko5ny.jpgCue the jingle.

Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott, is the newest part of the Alien franchise and stars Michael Fassbender, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Watherson, and Danny McBride among others. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David, the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.

How must it feel to see a franchise you love go above and beyond the wild curve?

I didn’t grow up with the Alien movies. By the time I watched the first movie, I have seen the xenomorph in countless other pop culture, and it wasn’t scary anymore.

I bring that up because that may be a key component of why some people absolutely despise this movie, while I for the most part thought it was alright.

Alien: Covenant is not an Alien movie. It’s a weird diatribe on humanity and life. What Ridley Scott has done is take a beloved franchise he himself created, and turned it into his own loudspeaker to the world. I refrain from calling it a “bastardization” of the *Alien* series on the sole belief that he didn’t do it under any motion studio’s will; it’s his own choice.

With that said, I completely understand anyone that hates this movie. Whatever terror the classic creature could’ve instilled has been completely thrown aside for Scott’s ramblings on man. I never found the xenomorph scary in the movie, because the xenomorph was exposed to the point of redundancy.

Looking at it, it runs deeper than just the xenomorph. The central characters, the ones that we should care about, felt like last minute additions. The actors themselves weren’t the problem, it was the script. The colonists in this movie are stupid people who do stupid shit and get themselves into stupid situations where they eventually die because of their own stupidity. God bless Katherine Waterson and the others for trying her absolute best, their efforts deserve a better movie.

So, do I hate this movie? I probably should, but goddamn does Ridley know how to shoot a scene. At least he stills has that. Seeing this old man musing about philosophy is utterly fascinating to watch. I’ll admit I was bought in by it, I was along for the ride. But then I get reminded how utterly inane the characters are, and I get thrown off.

So yeah, I should hate this movie, but goddamnit it’s so fascinating.

In conclusion, Alien: Covenant is definitely an experience. It is an experience to go through it, and you get off on the other end a changed person. On most accounts it blows chunks, and they have a point, but to this humble reviewer it was just too mind-boggling to completely dismiss it. I’d say…wait for the Blu-ray. When it’s on sale.

Wonder Woman – Review#76

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wonder-woman-final-poster.jpgCue the jingle.

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is the newest film in the DC Extended Universe, and stars Gal Gadot in the title role, with Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya and a flurry of others in a huge cast. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot Steve trevor who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

Now we all know that DC’s track record of films has been…inconsistent, especially when comparing to its counterpart, Marvel. I don’t believe I’ve seen Man of Steel fully, and I didn’t completely hate Batman v Superman however flawed that movie may be.

No comment on Suicide Squad.

So yeah, I didn’t have too high a hope for Wonder Woman. It’s not like I wanted it to be bad-hell knows who’d willingly want that-but let’s just say that I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw negative reviews.

So imagine my surprise when the movie received unbelievably good reviews. I thought it was too good to be true, and maybe there was a bias, considering the whole “female-director” thing.

Well call me a misogynistic prick, this movie rocks.

Throwing all the female thing aside, this is a genuinely good superhero origin story, showing how Diana is brokered in from a world of beauty and prideful gleam to WWI, which was…less than pretty. I have a particular liking to stories about people losing their innocence, so maybe that helped, but anyways.

The movie did what an origin story is supposed to do; show who the star is and what she stands for, and give her a story to show that stand. I really have nothing but praise for the movie.

The main star, Gal Gadot as the titular Wonder Woman; Diana, Princess of Themyscira. People have criticized her thinner and lankier body perhaps not fitting for the Amazon warrior, but in the movie it surprisingly works. She’s able to carry this tremendous weight on her shoulders and make the audience believe it.

Chris Pine as basically the co-star Steve Trevor is surprisingly good as well, giving character to the generic bland looking good guy. Really most of the cast does a fine job with what they’re given. Elena Anaya as one of the villains had one of the coolest designs I’ve seen for a supervillain, be it DC or otherwise.

The only dragging force regarding the cast is Lucy Davis’ character. The whiplash between the tones of her character and the rest of the movie is simply astounding. It’s not that her type of character won’t work in a movie like this, it’s how overboard they do it that does it.

But overall, I think this movie does good. It’s not just “good enough”, it’s actually good. Finally there is a good superheroine movie that’s showing on the big screen, and this time DC beat Marvel to the punch on that. So you did good, DC, you did good. Pat yourself on the back for this one.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Review #75

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17015800_10154981836668830_529268610073059017_o.jpgPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg, is the 5th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series and stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally, with Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario in new roles. Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it, he must forge an uneasy alliance with a brilliant and beautiful astronomer and a headstrong young man in the British navy.

Okay, regarding the Pirates franchise. I find myself being more lenient towards it than other reviewers, what with some critics saying that it sucks and it’s terrible and whatnot. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t really seen the previous 4 movies in years now, so whatever call of similarities or the movie drudging the same path is lost on me.

With that said, I’ll still defend the movies. When I go into a Pirates movie, I expect to see some cinematic swashbuckling adventure, and nothing much more, and for the most part I think the series does that pretty well. The series has always been cinematic by design, what with all those wide shots and all, and there’s just enough there to keep me concentrated throughout the movie.

I haven’t been soiled by the repetition of the other movies and had a good time in the theater is what I’m trying to say.

Cast-wise, it’s all good as always. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is what you’d expect, but there was a bit more of depth and exploration of his character that I did not expect and found actually interesting. From what I heard it contradicts past movies though, so…I guess I shouldn’t give it too much credit.

I also like that they tried to separate the two new photogenic leads from just being “Will and Elizabeth Lite”. I believe they succeed to some extent, doing their darndest to make these characters unique in their own way, but somewhere at the end of the 2nd act there’s a…plot discovery that just drives it down.

Javier Bardem as the new villain I actually find interesting as well, until once more in the third act when the movie has to wrap things up. I don’t know if it’s because of Javier himself or genuinely good character writing, but I was drawn in to his story.

The flaws of the movie are strewn about in small bits and moments, with some quick appearances of new characters that we don’t ultimately learn much or care about, some tedious jokes, and some strange callbacks, basically anything that might’ve been fixed with a script rewrite. Except perhaps again, the rush of a climax. The speed of the movie was somewhat quick already, but at the ending it really seemed to shift from 5th to 6th gear, just quickly trying to settle everything.

If this really is the supposed last installment of the series-I’ll believe it when I don’t see it-I suppose it could’ve ended on a worse note.

In conclusion, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a Pirates movie. That along should deem whether you want to see it or not. Personally I had fun with it; it’s a good weekend watch. Soft recommendation.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 – Review #74

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images.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn, is the sequel to the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy from 2014, and stars a cavalcade of actors and actresses. Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.

I, like so many other people, were blown away and subsequently loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Heh, do you remember when we weren’t sure if this was gonna score? Foresight, huh?

Needless to say, I was amazingly hyped for this movie. It just appealed to me on a basic level; it was probably the music. I’ll say right now tried to be objective as I could whilst watching, to little effect. Because hell yeah, this is a good sequel.

The movie is going the Sam Raimi Spider-Man route in the sense that its more personal and introspective than the first movie. It’s expanding on the characters, and most of them get development that I found to be very intriguing and actually pretty interesting. I cared for these characters, and it made me feel emotions that the current MCU hasn’t at all.

The cast is the same as it was last movie, so it’s great. The main Guardians work off of each other very well. Starlord and Gamora get the most depth in this, which gives Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana some actual leeway to act, and it works. Down the line is Yondu and Rocket, whom also both work very well off each other. Bautista’s Drax and Baby Groot get the least development and mostly serve as comic relief, but I’ll be damned if they don’t work.

We got a few new characters too, and for the most part they work. Pom Klementiff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha and Sean Gunn as Kraglin are at the very least memorable and harmless. We’ll probably get more from them in later films.

And then we have motherfucking Jack Burton himself, Kurt Russell as the villain Ego. A memorable villain that’s not Loki? Who sacrificed a goat for this miracle because I wanna thank them. He absolutely ruled in this movie. Thumbs way up for me here.

Of course, the 70’s music is one of this franchise’s most distinct and unique features, and here it does not disappoint. The “songs-I-knew-before-watching” number may have dropped from 4 to 2, but it just works. The fact that most of those songs are in my phone now prove that.

I really am trying to find some flaws here. I suppose some of the jokes don’t hit, and there’s one particular joke that they dragged probably a bit too much, but for the most part it flows fine. The funny scenes are funny, and the sad scenes actually strike. This a a good movie and a damn good sequel.

So yeah, in conclusion, if you liked the first movie, then you will have no problems watching this one. This is this generation’s Star Wars, I tell you. Some kids are gonna grow up with Rocket Raccoon and Groot instead of R2-D2 and C3PO, and that’s completely fine by me.

Get Out – Review #73

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Teaser_poster_for_2017_film_Get_Out.pngGet Out, directed by Jordan Peele, stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Lil Rel Howery. Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

So, okay, it doesn’t take a genius to see the heavy emphasis on race in this movie. Now, as a person that is neither black nor white, I would like to say that I have a rather unique perspective of this movie, that I don’t have the bias that might stem from being challenged like this movie does. I could say that.

But I’m not gonna say that. In fact, I’m gonna throw the whole race thing straight out the window right after this section. Do I think race politics are important? Definitely. Do I think they belong in a review about a movie? No. I’m not gonna play favorites, even though in this case I don’t think I really can play favorite, but I digress.

So, what do I think regarding skin tone in this movie? I think that if the colors were switched around, I’d still be scared shitless because it’s a damn good movie. And that’s all I’ll say on that.

Oh my god, a thriller/horror movie that actually has some freaking tension. Blessed be! This movie proved to me and probably any other naysayer that comedian Jordan Peele actually had some talent besides making people laugh. There’s a classic feel to this movie, from its generally warm color palette to the relatively lessened camera cuts and movement, it’s a nice film to look at, almost definitely by design, because when shit starts to go down, you feel it. The terror crawls at you and hits you with that shiver up your spine and suddenly you’re feeling just a bit out of breath, and I got all that from watching on my phone.

The acting, oh man, it’s amazing. There is not a single person that doesn’t nail his or her role. Daniel Kaluuya as the main character Chris gives an absolutely stunning performance worthy of an Oscar nod. Same goes for Allison Williams as his girlfriend Rose. This movie came to my country very late, so perhaps the twist is already mostly known by now, but on the off chance it’s not, I won’t say anything about them, other than the fact that the two work off wonderfully of each other. Freaking threw me for a loop, the cast did.

I judge a movie by how effective it is technically and emotionally, and I am more than happy to say that it got both of those aspects down pat. First 10/10, 5 star rating I am giving this year, and I see no problem with that.

So, in conclusion, Get Out is thrilling, it is chilling, and most importantly, it is effective. It is this generation’s The Stepford Wives, and not just in a time sense. “Get woke”, and go see it. Full recommendation.