Ready Player One (2018): A Visual Nostalgic Spectacle That is a Feast for Your Eyes and Not Much Else (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
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Steven Spielberg’s latest movie Ready Player One is based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline. It follows the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he searches for a virtual reality treasure that would grant him a fortune. It seems to have been well-received by viewers, judging by Variety’s recent report of Ready Player One having earned more than $500 million around the globe. The film also stars Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance and is directed by the God of the Movies, Steven Spielberg. 

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

The world is on the brink of chaos, and many of Earth’s cities have turned into massive slums. To escape this reality, people have found salvation in the virtual universe known as the Oasis. It was developed by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) as a place where people can be anything, and where the only limits are their imagination.

On his death day, the creator announced the existence of an Easter egg hidden somewhere in the vastness of the virtual world he created. The player who finds it will be rewarded with full ownership and control of the Oasis. The worldwide contest comprises of three challenges, which reveal more clues to the egg’s location. Since Halliday was a big 1980s geek, many aspects of the quests allude to the era. Wade Watts, who spent years searching for the egg, has just won the first challenge, and it’s this moment that sets the film in motion.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
For those that haven’t seen it yet, Ready Player One is filled to the brim with pop culture references. In fact, these references are the movie’s main attraction; everything else just feels secondary. If you’re a fan of any of the major films or video games from the ’80s, you’ll definitely enjoy Spielberg’s newest release.

But that’s also where the movie’s weakness lies. If you take away these pop culture figures and replace them with original characters, Ready Player One is not as memorable. You have to wonder if they’re just there to distract viewers from the glaring weaknesses of the film, including a rushed storyline and a generic young male protagonist.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Sheridan is a good actor, and has embodied the role well. But the film doesn’t provide the viewer any other interesting sides of the character aside from the fact that he’s an awkward geek who occasionally rebels. To be fair though, that’s exactly how the source material’s character was written, too. Ernest Cline admitted that Wade Watts is an embodiment of himself as a teenager whose brain is filled with ’80s pop culture trivia.

Sheridan shares the screen with his female lead, Olivia Cooke, who plays Samantha Cook. Prior to her role in Ready Player One, she appeared in one of my favourite A&E shows, Bates Motel and horror flick Ouija. Considering the two leads are somewhat newbies, they gave decent performances. It’s just too bad their romance isn’t believable. Let’s just say the film did not take the time to develop it further.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Ready Player One is essentially about these characters moving from one challenge to the next. The villain takes the form of a whole corporation called the IOI, which wants the egg in order to monetize the Oasis. If anything, the film could have further explored the consequences of a world succumbing to virtual reality to have more substance, but it wastes no time on heavy themes. At its heart, Ready Player One is a simple fun movie that celebrates a specific era. And for many, that works! Of course, if you’re searching for something more, prepare to be disappointed.

How were the Other Aspects of Ready Player One?

A film that banks on nostalgia should feature a killer soundtrack, and thankfully, Ready Player One obliges. Songs from the likes of Prince, Tears for Fears, and Bruce Springsteen blast through the film’s sequences.

It’s also a visual treat, as it indulges in a variety of graphics that pay tribute to particular franchises, including The Shining and Back to the Future. Sometimes, it can get flashy and other times, it can become scary. The bottom line is that there’s no dull moment on screen.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re looking for a film that lets you geek on out ’80s pop culture, be sure to check out Ready Player One.

Ready Player One receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Were you a fan of the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Call Me By Your Name (2017): A Beautifully Executed Picture Led By The Equally Brilliant Pairing Of Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet (Review)

 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
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Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) as he spends the summer with his family in their 17th Century Italian villa along with his father’s doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois and is directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash).

“But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Set in the summer of 1983 when the Sony Walkman was all the rage and people just showed up at your house without prior cell phone confirmation, Call Me By Your Name delivers on a gorgeously heartfelt, emotional witty punch in the gut that I absolutely adored watching. Following my watch on a Tuesday night and expressing my adoration for it on Instagram, my best friend who I was planning on meeting up with the next day proved that fate exists by stating she was going to ask whether I wanted to watch the film when we went out. After thinking about it for about a morsel of half a second, I sent the showtimes for Wednesday and basked in the glory of this phenomenal film for a second time less than 24 hours after my initial watch. It is a surprisingly rewatchable film although I must warn you that frequent bouts of tears will endure on subsequent watches, similarly to when you watched it for the very first time. 

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet excel in every scene they appear in. As the story mostly follows Elio’s perspective, Chalamet shines as a young man struggling to understand the flood of feelings that plague him. And honestly, if you encounter a human being who possesses even an ounce of charisma that Armie Hammer has, who wouldn’t briefly picture what their lives would look like together? The acclaim Chalamet is receiving (particularly with his recent Academy Award for Best Actor nomination) is infinitely well deserved. I do think it’s quite a travesty that Hammer is not receiving similar awards consideration for the Best Supporting category. He not only works incredibly well with Chalamet on screen, his presence is known and felt throughout the film – I felt a jolt of excitement every time he appeared because I knew he brought his A game to this role and his character is elevated immensely because of it. 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
There are also no weak links in the supporting cast, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg execute virtually flawless performances as the Perlman parents. The refined monologue you’ve probably heard of that caused Frank Ocean to declare a new change in parent will seep into your very core with how eloquent the words are and how gentle Stuhlbarg’s approach is. While discussing the scene, he provided some insight into what he believed his character was thinking at that moment and how he wanted to “be honest as a parent”:

“… I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son at a time when his son needs it. I understand that his father is not just a father, he’s a person and had a life before he met Elio’s mother. He has some, perhaps, joy at the fact that his son has felt something so deeply and perhaps a sense of regret from his own past that he didn’t take a road that he wanted to. Or maybe a road he wanted to take and did take and it didn’t workout. I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son that his son needs at that moment.”

As someone whose favourite films revolve around the concept of characters in minimal locations simply talking to each other (see: Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy or 12 Angry Men), Call Me By Your Name provides a captivating look at sexuality and the internal struggles/complexities involved with it. The film takes its time to develop the characters, provides a mesmerizing sense of location and allows the audience to feel as though they are present within every scene. They are a fly on the wall, watching how these individuals with their own difficulties and joys communicate with one another verbally and through gestural actions. The various symbolic motifs present provide a further layer of depth to the film that anyone whose interested in analyzing film will have a field day with. Yet it does well in not bogging the actual film down with heavy-handed imagery, the nuances present will give those interested in further watches something to look out for. On my second watch, I paid close attention to Guadagnino’s use of flies and the various colours worn by the characters because, as Breaking Bad has taught us, everything means something.

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
Besides the obvious emotional components that make up Call Me By Your Name, it is remarkably funny. I found myself laughing more than I anticipated going into a film centered around lovers who will probably never be because thanks society. If the press circuit for the film has shown anything, it’s that Hammer and Chalamet genuinely care about each other and appreciates the talent one another brings to the film. It’s an absolute joy seeing them work together and, most importantly, their relationship feels like a true progression of a same-sex relationship between two compelling individuals. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Call Me By Your Name?

The work of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as cinematographer is nothing short of fantastic. Not a single frame is wasted in the film, every sequence is meticulously crafted by Guadagnino and his DP, taking the time to develop not only the characters but the various astounding landscapes present absolutely everywhere

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
The soundtrack is also a vital aspect of the film that I’ve listened to on repeat since my watches as it contains the toe-tapping talents of The Psychedelic Furs, Loredana Bertè, Bandolero, Giorgio Moroder and Joe Esposito. The clip of Hammer dancing to The Furs’ “Love My Way” was how I originally found out about the film and the way the song is utilized is honestly one (or 2) of the major highlights of the film for me.

Sufjan Stevens composed two songs featured prominently in the film, “Visions of Gideon” and the Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “Mystery Of Love.” I cannot wait for the upcoming Blu-Ray release so I can constantly remain in awe of everything about this masterpiece… Also for any Canadians out there, in certain sequences Chalamet looks identical to a young version of our current radiating specimen of a Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. 

[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media] | Made with Giphy

If you’re looking for a heartfelt, witty and aesthetically gorgeous drama featuring two phenomenal lead actors, check out Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: sony pictures/mongrel media

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): This IS The Star Wars I’m Looking For (Non-Spoiler Review)

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise and follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she develops her newly discovered powers of the Force while the First Order does battle with the Resistance. The film stars Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro and is directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

When it was initially announced that director Rian Johnson would helm a new Star Wars trilogy before Episode VIII released, excitement and hesitation simultaneously settled in for me. Clearly, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy herself adored what Johnson did with The Last Jedi which translated to them entrusting a brand new trilogy to him, however the uncertainty arose because I thought, “man what if I hate what he does with Last Jedi?!” I’m in the camp that firmly believes the more, the merrier – If I hear they want to release 3 new Star Wars flicks a year I say hey, that’s great! Would we possibly get some films set during the KOTOR era? The one goddamn era every single fan has been pining for since the release of those legendary video games….

Coming out of my screening of The Last Jedi, I am ecstatic to say I officially cannot wait to see what Johnson brings to a new trilogy because I absolutely adored Star Wars: The Last Jedi

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney] | Tenor.com
As someone who liked The Force Awakens very much, there was something lacking within it. Last year’s Rogue One was actually my favourite recent SW installment of the two because it felt like a Star Wars film that I’ve never seen before. It pushed buttons that have never really been pushed before and, after watching it twice in theatres and once at home since, I wondered whether another Star Wars film would have a similar effect on me. I still need a few watches of Last Jedi to see whether it definitively surpasses Rogue One in my rankings but one of the first things I said when I exited the theatre was “… I think I liked that more than Rogue One.” 

From its stellar opening sequence to its final moments, I was hooked throughout. I appreciated the fact that there were actual space battles occurring utilizing some of the best digital effects the industry has to offer. Although the usage of the beloved lightsaber is used sparingly, it is depicted effectively. When the humming of the saber penetrated my ear holes, I felt it. I savoured it. There are certain instances where characters are using the sabers and I wanted to slow down time to properly ingest everything I was witnessing. It’s one of those instances where, as you’re watching it, you make an addition to your internal checklist saying “remember to check YouTube every single day to see if someone upload this scene on there.”

The implementation of the humour was actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. What is commonly seen in the additions to the MCU (Thor: Ragnarok being the latest), many of the jokes featured in their superhero story fall flat during the more dramatic moments of the films which undercut the emotional impact certain scenes have. The Last Jedi features a number of comedic beats inserted throughout that I felt worked effectively in the scene. I found there being a perfect balance (wink, balance) between the humour and dramatic moments particularly during one instance where we’re introduced to a crew of Judgmental Fish Nuns who are basically the embodiment of myself. 

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the arcs of all the main crew progress and I absolutely adore the route they went with the iconic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Learning more about why he became the person he is in Episode VIII, 30+ years following Episode VI and the effect the Jedi/Force had on him was spectacular to see. He is an embattled, melancholic and agonized individual who has experienced some major shit throughout his journey that started him out as a simple farm boy destined for greatness. How he chooses to “train” Rey (Daisy Ridley) only furthers my excitement for seeing how the next generation of Star Wars characters handles their respective responsibilities within the galaxy. Rey is easily my favourite character of this new trilogy and I love how Ridley embodies her vigor and spirit. Of course, it’s always an emotional roller coaster seeing anything related to the late, great Carrie Fisher and I thoroughly enjoyed the decisions made for her legendary character, Princess Leia.

There isn’t really anything critical I can say about the rest of the stellar cast – Oscar Isaac as Poe DAMNeron will forever be my favourite thing ever. John Boyega‘s Finn matures exponentially in Last Jedi and I just love seeing it. An issue I originally had with The Force Awakens was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and I wondered how he would do as he grew more comfortable in the role 2 years later. He is definitely better in Last Jedi particularly toward the beginning of the third act but, again, I wasn’t too much of a fan of his portrayal during the first two acts. Domhnall Gleeson AKA The-Guy-Who-Is-Starring-In-Everything returns as the ambitious General Hux and I very much enjoyed watching him gleefully express both his joyful moments and immense frustrations when dealing with the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as Rose Tico who was a charming addition although certain components of her relationship with a character felt a bit forced. Laura Dern also made a fantastic addition to the Star Wars crew as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She can honestly have amazing chemistry with a potted plant so I thoroughly enjoyed every time she was on screen and I adored the lore of her character. I took issue with a particular decision Holdo makes that could’ve easily been avoided, although I understand why she felt the need to make it. Overall I felt the relationships developed between certain characters were executed well.

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

How Were The Other Aspects Of The Last Jedi?

Johnson knows how to film the sweeping, epic shots that make an impact watching it on the big screen. The Snoke room and everything that happens in that red room of terror is absolutely marvelous. I enjoyed the inclusion of the music much more in Last Jedi than I did Force Awakens; a brief, fleeting moment involving just Rey as her Theme plays in the background is one of my absolute favourite moments of the entire film. There’s also a fantastically killer sequence involving her and another character toward the end of the film that I cannot say more about for fear of spoiling! There is also a disgustingly wonderful tracking shot inspired by the very first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Wings (1927) that made me way too giddy when I initially noticed it. 

As we all know, The Last Jedi‘s divisive has been known in the online world and I am in the camp who thoroughly enjoyed where the story went and how they chose to develop these characters. While it isn’t without flaws, the ultimate enjoyment and pure satisfaction I felt coming out of the theatre and writing about it now makes me ecstatic for Episode IX and the Johnson-helmed trilogy.

Side note that doesn’t really pertain to the filmCan we PLEASE though, real talk, f’real be blessed with a “Duel Of The Fates“-esque pulsating, orgasmic-inducing song for at least one of the upcoming Star Wars? While I hold a genuine disdain for a number of components of the Prequels, every human on Earth can agree that that song is one of the best things to have come out of it. You’re welcome for my great suggestion, Disney.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image source: Lucasfilm/Disney

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Lady Bird (2017): This Remarkably Witty Coming-Of-Age Story Will Have You Fill The Six Inches Left Open For The Holy Spirit With Laughs And Tears (Review)

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Lady Bird | A24
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Lady Bird tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she maneuvers her way through the beloved high school experience and explores her various personal relationships with family, friends and college. The film also stars Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith and is the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

There are certain films where you find yourself immersed entirely with everything occurring on screen and when it concludes, you’re left genuinely disappointed because you enjoyed it that much and are craving for more – Lady Bird is one of those movies. 

From the talented mind of actress and screenwriter Greta GerwigLady Bird starts at a high and continues through its 94 minute run time, providing witty quip after another and depicting compelling characters who are delightfully fleshed out. With a coming-of-age story set in a high school, filmmakers always run the risk of featuring tropey teen after stereotypical mean girl in a universe of perpetual eye-rolling courtesy of the out-of-touch adults who are dopey because the script calls for it. This film encompasses what I love about certain films of the genre (particularly Mean GirlsNapoleon Dynamite and The Edge Of Seventeen) and adds a new perspective through the eyes of Lady Bird (the name was given to her by her, in case you were wondering). 

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Lady Bird | A24

Referring to Lady Bird as simply “enjoyable” is doing it a major disservice. It encompasses virtually everything I want to see in this kind of movie: compelling characters, a simple story, witty dialogue, killer soundtrack/score and an overall feeling of… just… somethingSaoirse Ronan is perfect in this role. She works so unbelievably well with every single person in the film whether they are a vital component of it or the extraest of extras. Her camaraderie with Beanie Feldstein’s “Julie” and Feldstein’s incredible delivery of her sharp dialogue was delightful to watch. Laurie Metcalf gives a heartbreakingly spectacular performance as the matriarch of the McPherson household. There were a number of mother/daughter instances that resonated with me so hard. Lest we forget Tracy Letts’ portrayal of the remarkably sweet Larry McPherson. Lucas Hedges and this year’s breakout star of Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet, provided some stellar performances as well.

I also thoroughly appreciated the lack of monstrously exaggerated sequences that aren’t within the realm of belief. The moments of conflict feel real because these characters are so well written, you genuinely believe and sympathize with what has transpired. One particular moment actually had me cover my eyes because I was terrified at what was going to happen (it involved a friend telling someone they were coming over).

“Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish.”

I placed myself in the respective person’s shoes and wanted to shove my head into a computer because the embarrassment was overwhelming and it honestly wasn’t that big of a deal – That is what teenagehood is. Man, that’s what being a human is but particularly when you’re on the cusp of adulthood and want nothing more than to be accepted amongst your peers so the little white lies come out. Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Lady Bird?

Lady Bird‘s 2002 setting provides an interesting backdrop as there is a sense of simplicity to it since we’re still a few years away from total technological control, however this is a post-9/11 world. Like, a few months post. The societal innocence we became accustomed to was shattered with heightened security beginning to be implemented and the barrage of bombings occurring in the Middle East. The insanity the world was experiencing at the time is referenced in the quiet, sereneness that is Lady Bird.

Lady Bird | A24

For every threat of mind controlling chips in cell phones, there is a pool party where former *NSYNC member, Justin Timberlake’s modern classic “Cry Me A River” plays in the background. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There isn’t anyone I’d want to experience it with (again) than Lady Bird. 

The film’s gorgeous-looking aesthetic is also positively wondrous. There truly isn’t a dull scene throughout its entire duration, I was genuinely enthralled with not only what the characters were saying but the mesmerizing cinematography that accompanied what was on screen. I had no idea what I was expecting with Lady Bird and what I got out of it was a phenomenally entertaining film that spoke to me entirely. 

Lady Bird | A24

If you’re looking for a sharply written coming-of-age film with characters you actually care about, check out Lady Bird.

Lady Bird receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: a24

Wind River (2017): As If You Need More Of A Reason To Love Taylor Sheridan’s Work, Here Comes ‘Wind River’ (Review)

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Wind River tells the story of Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker, and FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) as they attempt to figure out who raped and murdered a young Native woman (Kelsey Chow) on a Native reservation. The film also stars Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene and is directed by Taylor Sheridan (writer for Sicario, Hell Or High Water).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

My initial thought immediately after watching this movie: we really need more heavy movies like Wind RiverTaylor Sheridan knocks another brilliant script out of the park with his second foray into directing as it is one of the most engaging films I have seen this year – the dialogue and characters being worthy of the most praise. You are immediately placed into the world of the Wind River reservation from the very getgo, the brutal cold is depicted effectively on screen with the vast snowy landscape being the cherry on top of this tragic mystery.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is intriguing enough, however it’s the connection you feel with the characters that truly makes it as enjoyable as it is… Even though the subject matter and circumstances surrounding it is incredibly heavy.

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‘Back To The Future’ | Universal Pictures

The various relationships Cory (Jeremy Renner) has with the people living on this reservation is showcased efficiently enough to where the audience deduces certain aspects of their relationship without needing the film to hold your hand. I thoroughly enjoyed the actual character of Cory and what he meant to certain individuals and Renner gives a serviceable performance as the tracker-who-sees (and knows)-all. His character does seem to have a cowboy hat in virtually every single subject on Earth –  from his vast knowledge of virtually everything Arapaho to the numerous moments where he’s spewing off inspiring discourse that applies perfectly to whatever situation arises, I understand why Cory is knowledgeable in certain areas, however he became somewhat of a deus ex machina at certain points. I do like Jeremy Renner’s performance, however of all the main players in the film, he is probably toward the bottom of my list in terms of the performances I adored.

The dynamic between he and Elizabeth Olsen‘s Jane was definitely one of my favourite aspects of Wind River; crafting these characters to work with each other is difficult because you always run the risk of potentially bogging down the relationship with overt strictly-professional-relationship tropes. Their flourishing friendship and respect for each other gradually increase as the film progresses was incredibly refreshing to see. Olsen is also unsurprisingly incredible in the film, she’s one of my favourite actresses working today and I truly look forward to seeing her in whatever independent role she excels in and the more mainstream Hollywood pictures a la the various juggernaut installments of Marvel.

We learn as much as we need to learn about Cory and are given insight into what Jane’s position is as an FBI agent (Florida… Las Vegas?) Speaking of the parenthesis, I particularly enjoyed the occasional banter between Jane and Graham Greene‘s Police Chief Ben, the latter knowing all too well how these situations usually end up, falling on deaf ears. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Wind River

I’m not sure that this is technically a subgenre, but movies that effectively utilize a wintery landscape is one of my favourite subgenres. I can’t praise its utilization enough because with Wind River, you feel the immense cold of Wyoming since everyone is wearing the appropriate clothing to assist one’s bodily temperature when it’s 40 below. Nobody is walking around with a light sweater and shorts saying, “huh, it’s pretty nippy out” because that attitude will give you grade A frostbite in about 15 minutes.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is incredibly compelling and because of the connection you feel with many of the characters, you want to see justice be brought to an area where many are not granted a similar justice. 


If you’re interested in an intriguing murder mystery featuring a talented cast and sensational atmosphere, check out Wind River.

Wind River receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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The Mummy (2017): Brendan Fraser Deserves Better Than This (Review… In Japan!)

For roughly the entire month of August, my brother and I traveled all around Japan seeing the sights and scarfing down on some incredible food. While staying in Okinawa for a few days, we decided to venture to the local theatre to see what was cooking. Unfortunately, the two films I would be into rewatching, Wonder Woman and War For The Dawning Of The Rise For The Planet Of The Apesweren’t out yet so we had a choice between The Mummy or the latest Pirates movie… We chose The Mummy and quite honestly, any bit of enjoyment I felt for it was due to the fact that I was vacationing in a foreign country.

(For those interested in my Japan adventures, scroll down to the end of this review!)

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The eye thing was cool | Universal Pictures
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The Mummy strove to kick start Universal’s Dark Monster Universe by featuring Tom Cruise doing all the things that make Tom Cruise Tom Cruise. The end product results in Super Cruise teaming up with Jane Seymour after they’ve had sex once (and apparently fallen madly in love following it) and fighting an ancient force who I kept referring to as “Imhotep.” The film also stars Jake Johnson and Russell Crowe doing his best Dr. Strangelove impression. It is directed by Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us)


So I have certainly seen worse things in my life. Universal’s attempt at getting into the modern cinematic universe game unfortunately falls flat which is truly a shame because the premise of The Mummy is actually pretty interesting. I’m obviously aware that the iconically classic 1999 Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz-led film of the same name bares no cinematic connection with this one, however if there was some way to harness even half the fun & heart featured in The Mummy (1990) and shove it down the throat of 2017’s, I would’ve enjoyed it much more.

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The Mummy | Universal Pictures

As I mentioned, 2017’s The Mummy is not the worst thing in the world to spend an afternoon watching. I can certainly tell the $125 million budget went toward the action set pieces and Tom Cruise’s attempt at being a roguish lovable scoundrel. These set pieces were visually pleasing and featured occasional bouts of humour which caused some nice sharp air being blown out of my nose. Sofia Boutella is easily the strongest aspect to the film, her performance as the mummy Ahmanet contained a (somewhat) clear motivation and during the sequences which asked for more out of her emotionally, she definitely went there. Virtually every other aspect, however, was a jumbled, cringey mess with an overabundance of expository flashbacks and so many goddamn jump scares the Paranormal Activity franchise probably sued.

I understand why Tom Cruise is cast in this, but for the love of Gods, I hate that he is cast in this.

We are beaten over the head with the idea that he is a character type I despise: the roguish and brazen wacky rascal who throws the rule book out of the window because RULES ARE FOR NERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDS. Listen, if you’re in an ancient cave thing where you’re unsure what anything is or how valuable it has the potential to be, why not just take your weapon out and shoot at something… We don’t have time for being safe, damn it! Just shrug your shoulders and whip it out! While I love Cruise’s early works and actually enjoy the Ethan Hunt character in the Mission: Impossible films, The Mummy becomes unbearable at parts because of Tom Cruise. I get the foreign market appeal he brings and honestly, the film performed as well as it did because of Cruise’s name so I do not place any blame on the studio for making that creative decision… I can rightfully hate them for that decision but hey, studios gotta eat. 

The secondary characters are serviceable but are really not that great either. Jake Johnston’s comical sidekick character from American Werewolf In London became mind-numbingly annoying as the film progressed and Russell Crowe who actually isn’t a terrible Jekyll/Hyde – He just kind of sleep walks his way through until the moment where SPOILER Hyde comes out and his constant need to beat himself out of it reminded me of a shitty impression of Peter Sellers’ legendary portrayal of Dr. Strangelove. END SPOILER

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb | Columbia Pictures

Annabelle Wallis… Man. She was given absolutely nothing to work with. I actually love her performance as Henry VIII’s third and most beloved wife, Jane Seymour in the Showtime series The Tudors. It wasn’t the most arduous of roles to prep for, however the chemistry she shared with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and most importantly, the sheer elegance she brought to that role still sticks with me even years after her character… departed (history spoiler: he didn’t behead Jane). Ever since then, I’ve been waiting for her to nab a role that showcases and challenges what she’s made of and this role as Dr. Damsel In Distress is simply not it. I don’t need every female character in an action movie to remind us that she’s an independent woman who don’t need any assistance because regardless how sharp your skills are, you may eventually need some form of help whenever a difficult situation arises. What I do need is for her to be treated like a human being whose hair and makeup become just a tad disarrayed when they’re in a car rolling down a hill.

If you take her character out of the film completely, virtually no form of story progression would occur because she’s used as that classic damsel who gets into trouble and oh look! Thank God our trusty handsome rogue is here to save her and progress the story! The entire final act comes slumping along because she consistently finds herself in need of assistance from Tom Cruise. You know, I do appreciate that her character was seemingly not having any of Tom’s shit during the beginning of the film, it stunned me when she actually stood up for herself when this dork of a man was running his mouth rather than her finding it endearing. Here I go, bringing up 1999 again but Rachel Weisz’s character of Evie in that film served a purpose beyond being O’Connell’s love interest. Their bond gradually developed as the film progressed, her intelligence was as vital a part to her as her beauty was and holy hell, was that beauty beautimous. 

Side note: If you’re familiar with the Roanoke season of American Horror Story, you’ll know that one of the common complaints to come out of that season was virtually every scene where Queen Sarah Paulson‘s character would scream out “MATT! MAAAAAAAAAAATT!” Since her character was seemingly in danger at every turn. We’d constantly be hit with a screaming “MATT!” which eventually turned into a meme itself. The Mummy does a great job in containing its own MATT with Wallis’ character screaming out “NICK! NIIIIIIIIIICK!” at every single turn. 

Alright let me wrap this up here, there were moments when I had to plug my ears a bit because the fast paced music suddenly slowed down and I knew a jump scare was imminent. I don’t want shitty jump scares in my action movies. I don’t want shitty jump scares in my horror movies. I think every film should be allotted one shitty jump scare and then it tries to find a way of making the movie scary without thrusting its erect audio into my ear drums. There are also some logical inconsistencies toward the final battle I couldn’t shake and if the Dark Universe is going full steam ahead with their already planned slate (STOP DOING THAT, MOVIE STUDIOS. STOP PLANNING YOUR 10 MOVIES WHEN THE FIRST ONE HASN’T EVEN GONE INTO PRODUCTION) they must try to do as much revamping as they can to avoid another gorgeously empty shell of a picture. 

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[Credit: Universal Pictures]

If you’re looking for a film with a great performance by Sofia Boutella and want to roll your eyes while watching CG porn, check out The Mummy (2017).

The Mummy receives 2/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: Universal Pictures

Japan 2017

As mentioned, my brother and I visited the amazingly stupendous country of Japan for about 29 days. The cities we visited included Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa Island, Nara, Kyoto, Kobe and I’m pretty sure that’s all. Major highlights ranged from feeding deer at Nara Park to feeding our faces with some of the finest cuisine I have ever had in my life.

The quick slideshow below shows a few pictures taken throughout our visit. Among the captivating places we visited, we journeyed to where Bob whispered a final goodbye to Charlotte at the Shibuya Crossing and also endured a sweltering day at Universal Studios Japan. If you have the means and are interested in stepping into a world of pure inebriation, make your next vacation be Japan. 

6/5 Damon heads.

 

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IT (2017): An Entertaining Thriller Featuring A Fantastic Band Of Merry Losers (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
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Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, IT tells the story of a group of children who must overcome their fears in order to take on the clown straight from Wal-Mart during Black Friday, Pennywise. IT stars Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Olef and Bill Skarsgard and is directed by Andrés “Andy” Muschietti (Mama).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Let me preface this by saying the original Tim Curry-led IT miniseries from 1990 single handedly made me as terrified of clowns as I am today. I’m sure there are plenty of happy clowns floating about that demand to be taken seriously and to them I say, Godspeed.

This iteration of IT features a group of young friends that I absolutely adored watching. I honestly expected to be tired of them as the film progressed because kids in movies can certainly become an annoying nuisance, however each kid had their own distinctive characteristics that made them feel like an actual person and not a boring stereotype. Lead Jaeden Lieberher who plays Bill, brother to Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), does a fantastic job in portraying a heartbroken older brother determined to figure out what happened to his adorable brother. 

While every respective kid actor did a great job, the standout for me was Mr. Eddie Hypochondriac Kaspbrak fantastically portrayed by Jack Dylan Grazer. While every kid served their role well, Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard particularly as the constant comic relief, Grazer’s dialogue and the way he delivers these lines – whether it be humourous (and he is hilarious when the script calls for it) or absolutely terrified, Grazer is incredible. I honestly didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, it was quite the pleasant surprise. 

The overall camaraderie between each member of the Losers Club was incredibly enjoyable to watch as well. The backstory for lone female Loser Beverly (Sophia Lillis) enthralled me because of how well Lillis interacted with her on-screen father despite the fact that they only had a few scenes together. 

The 1990 adaptation featured a group of adults coming together to fight off IT and their respective childhoods are depicted through flashbacks. This adaptation is told in real time during the 1980s and I quite enjoyed seeing that change. It allowed for the audience to grow attached to the characters while remaining unsure of who may succumb to IT’s it-ness. 

I was intrigued with the horror aspect of the film mostly because of how it affected the kids in the group. Pennywise himself (Bill Skarsgard) did have his moments where he got me, however his overall frightfulness kind of depleted as the film progressed. The sequences which called for a child to be face-to-face with the Clown were easily the most terrifying moments. One particular scene featuring Bill in the cellar was the highlight of the film because of the intimate feeling of it, you could feel Pennywise’s presence however not being able to see him or looking around the screen for him was why I enjoyed that scene as much as I did. When you’re faced with an evil entity, the less you see them the more terrified you become. 

The other bombastic horror scenes resorted to the quiet music… thencomesthe WHUPPAH! that plagues many horror films although I will say there were one or two moments that didn’t utilize the cheap scare and even a few that utilized it well. The opening Georgie scene was brilliant and definitely made me feel a bit unnerved, SPOILER I did not expect that thing with the arm at all. I don’t know how I feel about the unexpected silliness of it because on one arm hand, a little kid getting his arm torn off by a crazy clown’s teeth is horrifying yet I think leaving it up to the viewer’s imagination would’ve been a better idea. END SPOILER.

I don’t know how many audiences are expecting the graphic visual imagery of it but I was relishing in all that gory goodness. When disturbing and (somewhat) gross elements are introduced in a film and it’s executed correctly, not solely relying on gore porn, it enhances the flick immensely since you don’t want to watch what’s on screen because of the terrifying imagery, not because you’re grossed out that someone’s limb is torn off. There was one specific moment, however, involving stabs to the stomach that were seemingly played off like it was nothing.

How Were The Other Aspects Of IT?

It’s astounding to me that this is only director Andy Muschietti’s second theatrical release. Certain sequences were shot as if it were a hardened veteran behind the lens and I appreciated his interest in occasionally thinking outside the box. The brief opening title card got a whoa out of me.

IT is a gorgeous looking film, all the vibrant colours featured in the lived-in environment and the fearful moments were stunning to look at. I do think the final battle was a bit muddled and the quick cuts made it a bit difficult to know what was going on in certain points. With how visually pleasing virtually all of the film was, something should’ve been done about the occasional bursts of loudness heard in certain sequences… Can’t hate on the audio too much though. The New Kids On The Block love featured in IT was a-mazing. You know you’re a cover girl when you can insert random NKOTB songs in whatever sentences happen to arise… 🙂

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re looking for a wildly enjoyable horror flick to watch with a bunch of friends who suffer from coulrophobia, check out IT.

IT receives 3.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: warner bros.