‘Creed’ Review

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Director: Ryan Coogler

Writer: Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Graham McTavish, and Phylicia Rashad

Synopsis: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Rocky has been defined, by some, as one of the best sports films of all times and one of the best underdog stories of all time as well. You can’t really disagree too much since it’s a story and film that is still passed down today and the characters are still talked about and cared for. So when a new film was announced many were, reasonably, concerned, but when it later found out that the film wouldn’t follow titled hero Rocky Balboa, and instead follow the son of his rival and friend Apollo Creed, fans wondered if the idea was a smart one. Turns out, it was.

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Creed isn’t really a passing-of-the-torch kind of film or even a true blue continuation of the story, but rather a spinoff in its own right that keeps the history of the previous Rocky films and keeps Rocky Balboa (Stallone) involved in a lot of ways. The new central character is Adonis Johnson (Jordan), the child of woman that Apollo had an affair with years before. The film actually starts in 1998 with a young Adonis fighting some kids in the juvenile center he’s in when Mary Anne Creed (Rasha) tracks him down and decides to raise him as her own. We jump forward to 2015 where Adonis has a respectable job, but he is following in the footsteps of his legendary father and boxes in small rooms down in Mexico.

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Eventually he wants to prove himself – but not taking the Creed name as he doesn’t want things handed to him – and moves down to Philadelphia and seeks out his father’s rival and friend, Rocky Balboa to train him. Rocky turns him down at first telling him that he’s out of the boxing lifestyle and doesn’t think Adonis should go into the sport that his father died in. However, with Adonis begging him on and Rocky seeing that Adonis has tremendous potential, Rocky reluctantly agrees and the two start the journey and fight their own personal battles to leads to a speculator finish.

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While Creed follows a new path in Adonis, Rocky still plays a major role in the film. Rocky is going through his own personal battle that is natural and doesn’t seem forced to the sake of trying to make us feel for his character, and even more credit should go to Stallone. He pours himself into Rocky and gives a tremendous performance like we haven’t seen in a long while. But what makes his performance even better is his chemistry and scenes with Michael B. Jordan. The film elevates itself more when the two share scenes together and is probably the only reason Creed works and would have ever worked.

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Michael B. Jordan continues to prove that he’s one of the best young actors working today and doesn’t try to repeat the same performance or even emulate what Carl Weathers did as Apollo Creed, he plays the role his own way. Jordan manages to balance the chip on his shoulder attitude and being extremely likeable. While he is the “hero” of the film, it doesn’t really mean we have to like him and root for him. However, Jordan makes us root for Adonis. We see and feel his journey, so we know what he is going through and what his motivations are. For all intent-and-purposes, Jordan carries the film on his shoulders and he comfortable doing it.

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The supporting cast is good, but they’re overshadowed by the great performances of Jordan and Stallone. Tony Bellew plays the “villain” of the film as ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan, the boxing champion that – not really a spoiler – Adonis fights at the end. Bellew doesn’t have a lot of screen time and his story is just okay. Tessa Thompson plays Bianca, a singer that Adonis falls for. The love story isn’t anything new in the Rocky films, but the Bianca and Adonis relationship arc doesn’t feel forced and unnecessary, it’s actually a nice counter-balance to the boxing story and shows us the other part of the boxing lifestyle. Thompson’s Bianca thankfully isn’t the typical girlfriend/love interest, she has her own personal story that works for the film and, again, a nice counter-balance to Adonis’ story. Phylicia Rashad coming back to play Mary Anne Creed was great to see, but she doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but when she does it’s awesome to watch.

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Besides the performances, what makes Creed work is the direction by director Ryan Coogler. Coogler’s only other big screen effort is Fruitvale Station which Jordan also lead, and what got both of them the job to do this film. Coogler manages to bring the same sense of spirit and heart that the original Rocky had, and while he pays homage to the original series he isn’t beating us over the head with it and it’s all done respectfully to build this potentially new series of films. The other great thing that Coogler does great is the boxing scenes. The highlight is definitely the boxing match in the middle of the film. Coogler really puts in the middle of the match in a way that I haven’t really seen a boxing match done before. I thought the boxing scenes in Southpaw earlier this year where done well, but Creed could very well beat them out.

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All in all, Creed is definitely a must see film. Filled with a great story and performances by Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, Creed feels like another great installment to the Rocky franchise, but also its own standalone film.

 

Creed

5 out of 5

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‘The Good Dinosaur’ Review

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Director: Peter Sohn

Writer: Meg LeFauve

Voice Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Frances McDormand, Jeffery Wright, Marcus Scribner, Peter Sohn, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, and Sam Elliott

Synopsis: An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Disney and Pixar are arguably one of the best pairings in Hollywood, sure they’ve had their missteps – I’m looking at you Cars and Cars 2 – but for the most part they two studios always manage to create beautiful stories and great effects that blend nicely together, and always seems to get better with each outing. However, The Good Dinosaur was one of those rare films that the studio had a hard time getting together. The film was plagued with behind-the-scenes troubles, even recasting the director and changing the story halfway through production which delayed the film. Of course, the important thing is, it is any good?

The Good Dinosaur begins by showing the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs missing Earth and fast forwarding to show that dinosaurs have evolved and learned some techniques like building shelters, wrangling animals and agriculture. The film centers on Arlo (Ochoa), an Apatosaurus who struggles to fit into his family his fear of almost everything. His father, Poppa (Wright), tries to get Arlo to face his fears which leads to a tragic event that eventually puts Arlo face-to-face with Spot (Bright) a feral human child who speaks through grunts and howls. With Arlo far away from home and his only companion being Spot, the two travel through the unforgiving wilderness and face many obstacles that stop them from reaching home.

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The story for The Good Dinosaur is rather simple; Arlo is lost and is trying to get back home to his family. Which, of course, is one of Disney and Pixar’s primal focus’ and when their films succeed.  It’s necessarily a bad thing, the “family” moments and focus really works and pulls at your heartstrings the way Pixar and Disney have been known to do. However, the overall execution doesn’t work all that well and it comes off a bit formulaic, which is kind of a shame because The Good Dinosaur had some great opportunities to be more.

Despite some of the films pitfalls story-wise, The Good Dinosaur excels in the visuals. Seriously, The Good Dinosaur may, or is, Pixar and Disney best technical film. Visually the film is amazingly beautiful to look at, and at times it looks like we’re looking at real locations. I think The Good Dinosaur may be thankful for the delays because it gave the studio and everyone involved more time to go on the photorealistic visual effects.

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The compassion between Arlo and Spot really makes the film work as well. Arlo is the fearful one that runs away, while Spot is the fearless and brave one that will defend and standout to any, if not, all the dangerous they come across. Spot, for all intent and purposes, is like Arlo’s dog and make the journey between the two feel like a “man and his dog” story. The two’s journey is the only real story aspect that makes the film work and seeing the journey from beginning to end was something that will connect with everyone and is one of the best Disney and Pixar character arcs I’ve seen.

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One of the surprising things about The Good Dinosaur is how they treat the wilderness. Even for me the film was a bit too realistic when it comes to the pecking order of dinosaurs. There are moments when dinosaurs are saying they are going to kill one another – and they actually use the word kill – or when Sam Elliot’s T-Rex character Butch tells a story about how he got a scar. It did throw me off how the film goes to certain levels, especially when it comes to Steve Zahn’s pterodactyl character named Thunderclap. It’s not me being nitpicky or saying “how dare they!” just more of an observation that I made.

All in all, The Good Dinosaur does have some great moments in the film that are classic Disney and Pixar. However, it seems like at times the film is more focused on giving us fantastic visuals – which the film is loaded with – rather than give us a more better story. The Good Dinosaur may not be Disney and Pixar’s best film, but it certainly isn’t its worst.

 

The Good Dinosaur

4 out of 5

 

‘Spectre’ Review

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Director: Sam Mendes

Writers: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, and Monica Bellucci

Synopsis: A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

James Bond is one of the most recognizable characters in film history, and while the series has gone through some missteps and a bit of a corny phase, the series has grounded itself and has, arguably, become more popular than ever. In what could be Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film – and director Sam Medes’ as well – Spectre does, for the most part, feel like a nice bookend to the recent iteration of the character. However, the film does have a lot to live up to after the fantastic entry in Skyfall before it. Does it live up to the expectations? Sort of.

Spectre starts off in an awesome and mostly one continuous take in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration as James Bond (Craig) is on an unsanctioned mission. When things go awry, Bond travels back to London to deal with a frustrated M (Fiennes), who tells him the 00 program is on the verge of being canceled due to the head of Head of Joint Security Service Max Denbeigh (Scott) launching a new intelligence-gathering program. However, going off a lead he found in Mexico City, Bond goes on a solo mission to find out more about said lead. Seeing that he can’t do it on his own he eventually asks the help of Q (Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Harris) to keep M off his back and help him along the way. However, along the way Bond finds out the lead he found actually leads to something more darker and personal than he could ever imagine. Bond goes on a globetrotting adventure to discover there is an organization known as SPECTRE that is ready to take down the world.

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Like I mentioned, Spectre is following the fantastic entry of Skyfall and what worked in Skyfall is that it gave us a better understanding of who exactly James Bond is as a character and person, instead of the James Bond we all know as a character within a franchise. What Skyfall also did was put together such a well-rounded story that nothing felt out of place and the whole film felt like every scene mattered and show something to further the story, character, and journey. While Spectre tries and succeeds in most aspects, it can’t help itself to fall back into some old clichés and pitfalls that Skyfall broke away from. Not to say that Spectre wasn’t a good film, but it’s a bit hard to follow a great addition to the franchise. Sam Mendes continues to bring his A-game and despite cinematographer Roger Deakins not returning, Hoyte Van Hoytema and Mendes still manage to bring some amazing, glorious and beautiful shots that add to the film and the scenes they are put in. They also work in a lot of darkness into the film that is done rather well and to great effective to the story, characters and scenes.

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Going back to Daniel Craig, Craig is great as Bond again. There were a lot of people doubting that Craig could hold the mantle, but now he’s on a lot of people’s lists as one of the best Bond’s. Craig does great here again, brining in even a little more charisma and charm, and if this is truly his last Bond film, than it was a good way to go for him. He’s been through a lot in the series and completely handled what needed to be done for the character and the franchise.

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But what’s Bond without a Bond girl, classic villain and gadgets/cars right? Spectre fills those spaces that are both hit-and-miss. Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is the main female lead and handles herself pretty well, and is an important character for the film and Bond as he tries to figure out what the organization known as SPECTRE is trying to do. Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny doesn’t get to do as much as she did in Skyfall, but which is a shame, and Monica Bellucci cameos as a widow to criminal that Bond took care of, als fun fact, Bellucci is now the oldest Bond girl in history. Gadget/car wise, Spectre doesn’t have too much going on, but does have some nice callbacks to the franchise

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As for the villains, a big deal was made about Christoph Waltz’s character, and this being a non-spoiler review, I won’t address those rumors, although most have probably heard about who is character actually is, but whatever. Even with all that, there is another layer to the character that was rather interesting they went that way. The twist connects to James Bond through the series, which again, makes Spectre feel like bookend to the recent iteration of character and makes all the Craig Bond films connect to a grander story. However, Waltz doesn’t have a ton of screen time and while Waltz is great whenever he’s onscreen, it’s a shame that he doesn’t have more screen time, which makes his character feel a bit underwhelming.

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The same can be said for Dave Bautista’s henchman character Mr. Hinx. The nonspeaking brute-like villain has his great moments, especially a standout train fight sequences with Bond in the latter half of the film. But, like Waltz’s character, he doesn’t get a ton of screen time that I think the character deserves. His character also feels like a nice throwback to past iconic villains as well and Bautista was a perfect fit for the role.

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The rest of the supporting cast has the great moments to shine as well. Ben Whishaw as Q continued to be my new favorite character as he has great chemistry with Craig and great timing and delivery. Andrew Scott’s Max, who is nicknamed C, plays a nice antagonist to Ralph Fiennes’ M. The two actually have their own storyline in the film debating about the use of the 00 program and whether or not it’s a “dated” feature, which is a bit on the nose considered some would think 007 is a dated franchise. Jesper Christensen returns as Mr. White in a short but powerful scene and Rory Kinnear as Agent Tanner also returns but instead of having a more prominent role after the events in Skyfall, he’s once again put on the backburner.

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Spectre will feel a bit long for people, and I’ll agree to some extent that the film does slow down during the middle of the film, which does hurt it a bit. Even some of the action sequences are just a bit okay, especially the car chase in Rome was a little bit too dragged out for my liking. There are also some odd choices – believe me, you’ll know what they are when you watch them – that again, takes the franchise back to some cliché routes.

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All in all, Spectre is a great addition to the James Bond franchise, but it falls short of what its previous entry in Skyfall did. If this is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, then it is a good way for him to go out. Spectre will have its detractors, but it is a passable sequel and one that will keep Bond fans happy. Also, the opening credits with Sam Smith’s song “Writing on the Wall” is pretty cool, but the song, for me, is just okay. Maybe, I’m a bit biased because I loved Adele’s “Skyfall.”

Spectre

4.5 out of 5

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November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month, ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

4th

Limited Release: Brooklyn

The film is set in the 1950s in Ireland and New York as young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis Lacey while Domhnall Gleeson plays the Ireland man and Emory Cohen plays the New York Italian man. The film looks like a nice period romance drama story. I’ve heard some good rumblings from the festival circuit, so hopefully this finds its audience.

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6th

Limited Release: Trumbo

The film tells the story of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood and government in the 1940s for being a Communist. Of course, this was all going on during the Cold War and a lot of people in Hollywood were blacklisted and had to work under a fake name. Trumbo, in real life, actually won an Academy Award for Roman Holiday. The film looks pretty good and is getting some good reviews out of TIFF. The cast stars Bryan Cranston, who plays Trumbo, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, John Goodman, and Helen Mirren.

 

Limited Release: Spotlight

Based on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. The film looks really good and looks like it’s going to be a powerful drama, that just so happens to be about a real event that was huge – and arguably still is. The film premiered with great buzz from TIFF and has an all-star cast in Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Jamey Sheridan and Billy Crudup.

 

 

The Peanuts Movie

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang are on the big screen! The trailer have Charlie Brown and the gang dealing with a new kid in school, but the synopsis says that Snoopy is on a mission to deal with his arch nemesis, the Red Baron – which was hinted a bit on the trailer. I don’t think that it really matters at this point, because people will go watch it because they want to see The Peanuts gang on the big screen.

 

Spectre

James Bond is back and has some big shoes to the fill since Skyfall was such a huge hit and considered by fans to be the best Bond film in a long time. However, director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig seem to be up for it. The film follows Bond as he gets a cryptic message that sends him on the trail of a sinister organization, SPECTRE that is lead by a mysterious figure (Christoph Waltz) that may be connected to his past. The film looks great and everyone involved says the film is bigger and better, so let’s hope so. Spectre also stars Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Rory Kinnear, and Stephanie Sigman.

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13th

Limited Release: By the Sea

Angelina Jolie pulls double duty as she stars and returns back behind the camera with story about a married couple, herself and her real-life husband Brad Pitt, as they travel to France in the mid-1970s. The couple seem to be growing apart, but then they linger in one quiet, seaside town they being to draw close to some of its most vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. The film looks like it could be a great dramatic film and with Pitt and Jolie working together, we could be in for a great film too.

 

My All American

A biography sports drama about Freddie Steinmark (played by Finn Wittrock), an underdog quarterback on the football field, faces the toughest challenge of his life leading his team to a championship season. The film looks like a nice underdog story and coming out in mid-November probably makes it a prime spot for those that want to check it out. The film also stars Aaron Eckhart, Robin Tunney, and Sarah Bolger.

 

Love the Coopers

When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. The film looks like we’ve seen it before, but these always have some fun to it, so hopefully this turns out better than expected. The film stars Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Anthony Mackie, Jack Lacy, Alex Borstein, Jon Tenney, Diane Keaton and Alan Arkin.

 

The 33

A film based on the incredible true story of the Chilean miners that were trapped when a mine collapsed on them, leaving with them stuck with no way out. It’s no doubt that the incredible story could lend itself to a great film. The film does look great and will have a pretty big and impressive cast that includes: Antonio Banderas, Juan Pablo Raba, Cote de Pablo, Rodrigo Santoro, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne, Naomi Scott, Jacob Vargas, James Brolin and Juliette Binoche.

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20th

*Legend gets a limited release only opening in L.A. and New York, and gets two different expansion releases. The first one is next week, so I’ll write my thoughts and info there*

 

Secret in their Eyes

A remake of the highly-acclaimed and Award winning Spanish film of the same name follows a tight-knit team of rising investigators (Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofro), along with their supervisor (Nicole Kidman), is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. I don’t know what to think about the film. On one hand, the film looks like a tenseful drama thriller with a great cast that also includes, Dean Norris and Michael Kelly. On the other hand, the original was a great film and I don’t know it will be able to hold its own against it.

 

The Night Before

Nothing says the end of November and Thanksgiving like a Christmas movie. However, this won’t be a typical Christmas movie. No, this is a comedy with Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie leading the charge. The film is set in New York City and follows three lifelong best friends (Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Mackie) who get together one last time on Christmas Eve to hang out and find the greatest Christmas party. The film looks like a ton of fun and funny, so I can’t wait to watch it. The film also stars Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling and Michael Shannon.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The final installment to the hugely popular and financially successful franchise The Hunger Games is finally here. The film is promising the epic conclusion and final battle between Katniss’ army of rebels and The Capitol’s defensives. The film does look pretty epic, so let’s hope it doesn’t let us down.

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25th

The Good Dinosaur

Disney and Pixar are back at it and what better time to do it than on Thanksgiving. The film follows the journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) makes an unlikely human friend. The film looks like it is going to be another great hit for Pixar and Disney, and if the trailers are anything like the movie, it looks like we are in for another tear-jerking film. The voice cast also includes Jeffery Wright, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, Frances McDormand, and Sam Elliott.

 

Victor Frankenstein

Written by Max Landis (Chronicle), the film is told from Igor’s perspective (Daniel Radcliffe) as we follow him in the early days of being an assistant and friend to young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein (James McAvoy), and sees him become the man and legend that we know today. The film looks better than I thought it would to be honest. It looks like a fun mixture of comedy and action and almost Sherlock Holmes-esque. The film also stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Charles Dance.

 

Creed

Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan reunite to bring us back to the world of Rocky. The film follows Adonis Johnson (Jordan), the son of the late and former World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed, as he enters into the world of boxing for himself. Eventually he seeks the guidance and a trainer in his father’s old rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). The film looks great and it looks they aren’t just doing this for a cash grab, there looks to be a good story here. The film also stars Tessa Thompson, Graham McTavish, Ritchie Coster, and Phylicia Rashad.

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27th

The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) may be vying for another Oscar with this biography drama film that tells the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Their marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. The film looks interesting and, again, true stories are Oscar bait. Also, they make a great story to tell on the big screen – if told right. The film also stars Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw.

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What are you looking forward to?

‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ Review

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Director: Gregory Plotkin

Writers: Jason Pagan, Andrew Deutschman, Adam Robitel, and Gavin Heffernan

Cast: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Don McManus, and Michael Krawic

Synopsis: Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I was one of the many fans here in Chicago to see the first Paranormal Activity when it finally came out in theaters in its first limited run, before it finally came out in a wide release. I had heard the buzz surrounding the film from the film festivals, and how it had a troubled timed getting into the right hands so people can actually watch it. So, to my delight, I loved the first film, and is actually one of best movie theater experiences ever. The crowd was into it, I was into it, and I couldn’t wait to tell people to go watch it. The first movie was something special. It felt like an old school horror film and one that didn’t rely on buckets of blood, gore, nudity, or stupid teenager characters. Instead it was a slow build to an impactful and chaotic ending. Paranormal Activity restarted the trend of found footage films which took off like wildfire. However, the series has taken a slump in quality, and The Ghost Dimension which is labeled as the “final film” promised to answer all the questions that have arising in the series. If this is truly the last film in the series, then it wasn’t the best ending, nor the ending I would have wished to see this series go.

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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension starts off like every other entry. A new family is introduced in the Fleege family. Ryan (Murray) and his wife Emily (Shaw) along with their young daughter Leila (George) have moved into a new house around Christmas time. They also have Skyler (Dudley), Emily’s sister, and Ryan’s brother, Mike (Gill) living in the house for the holidays. Ryan and Mike eventually discover a box of VHS tapes and a modified video camera that picks up strange things and shapes in the house. When Ryan and Mike watch the tapes they find even stranger things as they see young Katie and Kristi (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown reprising their Paranormal Activity 3 roles through a mixture of old and new footage) as they are put their some sort of initiation. Of course, strange things start to happen around the house, Leila starts to act strange and out of character, and the family eventually figures out that the house may have something sinister.

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As you probably guess with the opening of the review, I’ve been a fan of the Paranormal Activity series, well, for the most part. I really liked their first three movies, and The Marked Ones – which is considered a spinoff – but the fourth film and this last film are the weakest of the series. The Ghost Dimension is also the first movie of the series to go 3D, which is keeping with the trend in horror that the final installment is in 3D. I didn’t watch the movie in 3D, but it looked like the biggest 3D moments where in the end and unfortunately it didn’t really help with the mix of really crappy looking CGI.

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Speaking of the CGI, I think this is the most heavy-filled CGI installment, due to the fact that the series introduced a camera that can finally see the demon that has been terrorizing families from the start, Tobi. However, what could have been a cool effect actually comes out as wonky and not as scary as you would think. In fact, I would have been okay with Tobi being the unseen force, especially seeing what they did with him. The unseen presence was one of the best parts and what made the Paranormal Activity movies just a bit more terrifying. Finally seeing the force behind it makes it a bit more “real” and takes away the effectiveness of it all.

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The new family does okay, but as the supposed final family that Tobi will terrorize they aren’t the best family the series has had, nor does it serve any real purpose to the overall series. Murray’s Ryan as the father figure and puzzle solver of everything is protective of his daughter, but doesn’t really stand out too much. Shaw’s Emily doesn’t really do anything until the finale but by then it’s too late. Gill’s Mike has one of the best lines of the movie, but comes off as obnoxious the rest of the time. Dudley’s Skyler has her moments, but is underutilized like Shaw. Ivy George’s Leila is equal parts innocent, adorable, and creepy as hell, so she actually is arguably the best part of the movie.

Nothing against the new cast, but if this was going to be the last installment of the series, I had hoped the family would have more of connection to the overall mythology the series was creating. In fact, The Ghost Dimension essentially ignores the last film and feels like a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel. That to me, besides the overall movie, is the biggest disappoint of the film. Even the connections the film makes to the past films are only mentioned in passing or just lackluster. For the final film in a series, it certainly doesn’t do much to tie up loose ends. Even the answers we were promised felt clucky, rushed, and unsatisfying. Hell, with a series like this, they could have kept going for another year or two, but stop while you’re ahead right? Or, in this case, stop when they start getting crappy.

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There are some moments where I though the film was going somewhere, but it just ended up cutting everything at the knees and those brief moments of potential go nowhere. Even the concept of the special camera is done well at first and could have been something awesome and fresh and a good way to go, but they completely dropped the ball. Even the finale is a little more over chaotic for my liking and for the series, but it makes a tad sense. Doesn’t mean it should’ve been done.

All in all, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a lackluster and disappointing end to the potential end of the series. Having been a fan of the series since the beginning I saw the ups and downs, and unfortunately this is a massive let down of could have been a potentially good – or at least descent – ending.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

2.5 out of 5