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‘The BFG’ Review

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Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Melissa Mathison

Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilson, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader

Synopsis: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

 

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

 

Looking back, I have actually never read Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which is a shame because I know a lot of people my age that have and have loved it. So I feel like I’m missing out, but reading other Dahl’s work I’m sure the world is as great as his other works like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.” While there is another version of The BFG out there, another version with Steven Spielberg had been kicking around Hollywood, but it wasn’t until now that they decided to pull the trigger and bring us a great world and filled with two great characters. Not only that, this is the last film screenwriter Melissa Mathison – she also did E.T. – worked on before she sadly passed away.

The BFG follows Sophie, played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, an orphan living in London, who one night spots a giant (Oscar winner Mark Rylance) outside her window. The giant, also spotting her, snatches her away and takes her to Giant Country. While there, she tries to escape but soon realizes that the giant isn’t as bad as stories have them to be, and eventually calls him “BFG” for Big Friendly Giant. Not only that, BFG is the runt of a band of brothers that are massively bigger than him, and are cannibalistic. Sophie, seeing the good in BFG, tries to devise a plan to stop the other giants and help The BFG’s life.

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While I did enjoy The BFG, there is a pacing issue right smack dab in the middle of the film, and the final big moment of the film between Sophie, BFG, and the other giants is a bit anti-climatic for me. However, what keeps the film going is definitely the chemistry between leads Barnhill and Rylance. The two are unbelievable together and are truly the best part of the whole film.

Rylance became a bit of a household name after nabbing the Oscar for his work in Bridge of Spies (also directed by Spielberg), and is once again magnificent here as BFG. Even under all the CGI, Rylance gives a great performance, and kudos goes to Barnhill, making her film debut in not just a big budget Hollywood film, but a Spielberg film at that. Most of film is the two interacting with each other and BFG showing her what he does for a living of collecting dreams. That is where Spielberg ups the fantasy aspect and leads to some great shots of Sophie running around chasing small colorful orbs.

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The mean giants, which all have weird names like Bloodbottler, Bonecruncher, Childchewer, Gizzardgulper, Meatdripper, Butcher Boy, and the leader of the group Fleshlumpeater (voiced by Jemaine Clement), don’t get a ton of screen time, so when it comes to them, they are arguably one of the  weaker parts of the film. The rest of the human supporting cast comes in the form of Penelope Wilton playing The Queen, her head of security Mr. Tibbs (Spall) and assistant Mary (Hall). All of them play their part well, and are involved in one of the best and humorous scenes of the film.

All in all, The BFG is a great magical adventure that is held together by leads Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. The film does have some pacing some issues but overall, The BFG is a great time to be had.

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The BFG

4 out of 5

‘The Purge: Election Year’ Review

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Director: James DeMonaco

Writer: James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Josepeh Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Brittany Mirabile, and Raymond J. Barry

Synopsis: Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.

 

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

 

The Purge films have evolved since the beginning. The first film was set within a home, with Anarchy opening up to the streets, and for the better. Now, with Election Year the action is back on the streets, but this time with political overtones, and arguably fit into today’s political field. But, Election Year doesn’t forget what it is, and goes back to the streets in a gritty and violent fashion.

The Purge: Election Year takes place two years after the events in Anarchy, and brings back hero Leo Barnes (Grillo), now as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell), who is running for President, and a Purge survivor, on the platform to eliminate the Purge. Of course, this makes her a target for the New Founding Fathers of America – or the NFFA – that want to use the Purge to kill her. Meanwhile, a grocery store owner Joe Dixon (Williamson), his co-worker Marcos (Soria), and friend Laney Rucker (Gabriel), who runs a triage van that helps people during the Purge, get sucked into the mix after purgers go after Joe’s store, and revolutionary Dante Bishop, from the past two films, is leading a charge to put an end to the Purge as well.

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I have to hand it to director and writer James DeMonaco, who constantly changes the world with every film. Anarchy opened the world up and was a great addition to the series. Election Year keeps the action out on the streets, but puts more of the story into the political side of things. That might drive some people away, and it is heavy-handed at times, but DeMonaco does a descent job of not letting the two stances – the Purge being bad and, well, keeping the film true to itself – in check. It does make the film battle itself, but overall Election Year is a good addition to the series.

When it comes to the characters, Frank Grillo’s character doesn’t have the same great arc like Anarchy, but he’s still an unstoppable killing machine when need be to protect Roan. Elizabeth Mitchell’s Senator Roan is the idealistic one that wants to change the world for the better, even after finding out the NFFA wants her dead. Mykelti Williamson and Joseph Julian Soria are arguably the best part of the film. Their chemistry is great together and once they get into the fold with Leo and Roan, it adds a great deal of levity and fun. Betty Gabriel’s Laney has a history that is mentioned in passing, but nothing really happens with the exception of one quick scene.

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Edwin Hodge returns to the series, this time with an actual name in Dante Bishop. For those that don’t remember, Hodge was the Stranger that was in the first film, and had a brief role in the second film at the end. Now, he’s here essentially taking over the Michael Kenneth Williams’ role from Anarchy as the revolutionary trying to stop the Purge, but in a more grand fashion. Terry Serpico plays the leader of a militia group set to kill the Senator. Another interesting cast tidbit, is this is the first time we see the New Founding Father’s of America. They’ve been mentioned in the past, but this is the first time we actually see them, and they are about what you suspect.

The cinematography is great once again, and the Purge events in the film are horrifying as ever with the crazy character costumes and production design. I won’t say that Election Year is better than Anarchy, but with this film going back to more of its horror genre roots, Election Year does set itself apart.

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All in all, The Purge: Election Year is another great addition to the Purge films. While its political tones get a bit heavy handed at times, and get a bit mudded with the overall tone of the film, Election Year is still a hell of a lot of fun.

 

The Purge: Election Year

4 out of 5

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

 

1st

Expansion: Swiss Army Man

Limited Release: Our Kind of Traitor

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Based on the novel by John le Carre, a couple find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Mark Stanley, Alicia von Rittberg, Mark Gatiss and Stellan Skarsgard.

 

The Legend of Tarzan (Action Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Jerry Weintraub Productions/Dark Horse Entertainment)

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Directed by David Yates, the last four Harry Potter movies and the new spin Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this new iteration of Tarzan sees Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard), who has now acclimated to life in London, is called back to the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment that ends up being a trap by Captain Rom (Christopher Waltz), who also has Jane (Margot Robbie). The film looks promising to be honest, but  I didn’t know what to expect with this. The cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, Cali Nelle, and John Hurt.

 

The Purge: Election Year (Action Thriller – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Why Not Productions)

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Set two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy, Sergeant (Frank Grillo) is back, now, as head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), the front runner in the Presidential election where her man platform is eliminating the Purge for good. Election Year seems to look like it’s tackling some political issues, but also going back to its horror roots, but still keeping the action thriller theme they introduced in the sequel. The film also stars Mykelti Williamson, Terry Serpico, and Joseph Julian Soria.

 

The BFG (Family Fantasy – Walt Disney Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Walden Media and The Kennedy/Marshall Company)

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Based on the book by Roald Dahl of the same name, the film follows Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who encounters a Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers, he refuses to eat boys and girls. The BFG also stars Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, Olafur Darri Olafsson, and Penelope Wilton.

 

8th

Limited Release: Captain Fantastic (Drama)

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In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father (Viggo Mortensen) devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. The film also stars George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle, and Frank Langella.

 

Limited Release: Cell (Horror Thriller)

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Based on the novel by Stephen King, when a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England. I haven’t read the book, although I always wanted to, and now I have an even better reason to because the movie looks a bit generic to be honest. The film stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague and Stacy Keach.

 

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Cherin Entertainment)

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Two brothers place an online ad to find dates for a wedding and the ad goes viral. The film stars Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza. The looks pretty outrageous, and will definitely find an audience.

 

The Secret Life of Pets (Animation – Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment)

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The film follows, well, the secret life of pets as Max (voiced by Louis C.K), has to not only deal with his owner bringing in a new pet in Duke (Eric Stonestreet), but the two have to work together to take down Snowball (Kevin Hart), who wants to take down happy-owned pets and their owners. I think this one could be a surprise for many and I’m looking forward to it. The voice cast also includes Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Jenny Slate, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Dana Carvey.

 

13th

The Infiltrator (Drama/Thriller – Broad Green Pictures)

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Based off the book by Robert Mazur, played by Bryan Cranston in the film, a U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The film also stars John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Amy Ryan, Joseph Gilgun, Benjamin Bratt, Said Taghamoui, and Jason Isaacs. This one kind of snuck up on my radar, and I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.

 

 

15th

Limited Release: Café Society (Dramedy)

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The new Woody Allen movie follows a young man (Jesse Eisenberg), who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry. There, he falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant café society that defined the spirit of the age. The film looks very Woody Allen, which is good thing, and has a pretty big-named cast of Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Anna Camp, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, and Steve Carell.

 

 

Ghostbusters (Sci-Fi Action Comedy – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment)

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Directed by Paul Feig, the film takes a new approach to the Ghostbusters, and makes them all female now with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. The idea wasn’t taken too kindly by fans of the original films and even Ernie Hudson – who later took back what he said – but personally, with the team behind it, I’m looking forward to it. And guess what? If you don’t want to watch it, then don’t watch it! The film also stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Andy Garcia, Elizabeth Perkins, Cecily Strong, Annie Potts, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Bill Murray.

 

 

22nd

Ice Age: Collision Course (Animation – 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios)

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Scrat pursuit for his elusive acorn sends his to space and he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transforms and threaten the planet. Back on Earth, Manny, Sid, Diego, and the rest of the herd set out to try to save themselves and meet new characters and new exotic lands. I didn’t see the last Ice Age movie and I think I’ve detached myself from the series at this point. The voice cast includes Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Keke Palmer, Wanda Skyes, Chris Wedge, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Max Greenfield, Adam DeVine, Michael Strahan, Jessie J, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lopez and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

 

Lights Out (Horror – Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Grey Matter Productions)

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Based on the short film of the same name, director David Sandberg brings his short film to the big screen that will be produced by James Wan. The short film is rather creepy and if Sandberg can bring that same atmosphere to the big screen than the film could turn out great. Teresa Palmer, Alicia Vela-Bailey, and Emily Alyn Lind star.

 

Star Trek Beyond (Sci-Fi Adventure – Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot)

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Justin Lin takes over for J.J. Abrams to bring the third Star Trek outing that sees the Enterprise crew stuck on a planet facing down a new, deadly enemy. The film brings back the original cast and brings in new cast members in Sofia Boutella, Deep Roy, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Melissa Roxburgh, Joe Taslim, and Idris Elba as the villain. Of course, one of the big things going into this is the sudden death of Anton Yelchin who plays Pavel Chekov in the films.

 

27th

Nerve (Mystery Thriller – Lionsgate/Allison Shearmur Productions)

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Based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan, a high school senior (Emma Roberts) finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.” I don’t know how I feel about the film, the trailer was okay, but I’m not completely sold just yet. The rest of the cast includes Dave Franco, Jonny Beauchamp, Emily Meade, and Juliette Lewis.

 

29th

Limited Release: Equity (Drama)

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Labeled as the “first female-driven Wall  Street film,” it follows a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption. The film stars Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Alysia Reiner.

 

Limited Release: Indignation (Drama)

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Based on the novel by Philip Roth, Indignation made some waves at the film festivals earlier this year and gain some very positive buzz. The film, set in 1951, follows Marcus (Logan Lerman), a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, who attends a small Ohio college where he struggles with sexual repression and cultural disaffection, amid the ongoing Korean War. The film also stars Sarah Gadon, Ben Rosenfield, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Noah Robbins, Philip Ettinger and Susan Varon.

 

Bad Moms (Comedy – STX Entertainment/PalmStar Media/Block Entertainment)

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A woman who seems to have the perfect life – a great marriage, overachieving kids, beautiful home, stunning looks and a great career – is actually overworked and stressed out. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms and go on a un-mom like binge of freedom putting them up against a devoted group of perfect moms. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Kathryn Hahn, Lily Singh, Emjay Anthony, Oona Laurence, and Kesha star in what looks like a great comedy.

 

Jason Bourne (Action Thriller – Universal Pictures/The Kennedy/Marshall Company/Double Negative)

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Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon return for another installment of the Jason Bourne series that sees Jason Bourne (Damon), now remember who he truly is, goes back to the world he thought he left behind to uncover more from his hidden past. I cannot wait any longer for this film. I love the Bourne series and seeing Damon and Greengrass return is awesome. Not only that, the films also brings back Julia Stiles and includes new (awesome) cast members Alicia Vikander, Riz Ahmed, Vincent Cassel, and Tommy Lee Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?