‘Rampage’ Review

Director: Brad Peyton

Writers: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, P.J. Byrne and Joe Manganiello

Synopsis: When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

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

 

Loosely based off the popular 1986 video game, Rampage is another team-up movie for director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, San Andres) and Dwayne Johnson, which just like San Andreas, is a dumb fun action movie that gives you enough to be entertained, but not enough to be an extremely great movie.

Rampage follows primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson), who has a friendship with an albino gorilla named George, who he’s looked after since George was young. Unfortunately, George gets accidently infected by an experiential, and illegal, toxin that makes George grow in size, and increases his aggression. This puts the two of them on the radar of disgraced geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who knows exactly what’s going on with George, and an unnamed government division lead by Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Problem is they soon discover that George isn’t the only animal that got affected by the toxin.

Like I mentioned, Rampage is just a dumb fun action movie that slowly makes its way to the third act where giant animals beat the holy hell out of each other. And let’s face it, the original game wasn’t all the groundbreaking with a story. It had humans being turned into the giant animals and destroying cities. Here, they took the more grounded (?) approach and had them already be animals, that just turn big, which isn’t the worst move to make in a movie based off a video game. But, more importantly, the movie knows what it is by the end. I mean, Johnson’s Davis at point says, in the most deadpan way Johnson can deliver a line, “of course the wolf flies.”

That being said though, Rampage does have some tonal changes throughout that would otherwise make me deduct points from other movies. The relationship between Davis and George feels real, and while the joke around – as seen in the trailers – the rest of it is pretty serious with Davis really worried about his friend. There are also moments of real danger that are truly frightening, which makes sense given we have giant aggressive animals, and then we cut or remember a comedy beat that almost gives you whiplash. One of those scenes frightening scenes involves Joe Manganiello’s character Burke and a unit of soldiers hunting down the wolf (named Ralph).

Rampage though all falls onto the hands of the human cast. We got Dwayne Johnson doing his usual Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson things, and while they try to get an emotional story going, it happens a little too far into the movie to really attach to it. Naomie Harris is a tad bit wasted here, who has a backstory that is teased, but isn’t brought up until way later in the movie. Then you have Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing southern Negan agent Harvey Russell, who just chews up every scene he’s in, to a great effort. Also, if you can get more Johnson and Morgan team ups in future movies that would be great.

Unfortunately, the human villains lack a lot. Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy play siblings Claire and Brett Wyden, who run the company that created the toxin. Lacy’s Brett plays the annoying, cowardly businessman who doesn’t want to go to jail, while Akerman is the more serious and conniving one of the two – too bad her acting is too wooden. The problem is they’re just evil, at least Akerman’s Claire, for the sake of being evil and making money – innocent victims be damned. My biggest grip with the duo is that they aren’t memorable at all. Akerman, however, is part of one of the most ridiculous and tonal whiplash scenes in the movie.

All in all, Rampage is one of those movies you just got to have fun with. It’s not a movie you should expect to have an amazing story, Oscar worthy performances or deep psychological thoughts, especially since it’s based off a video game from the 80s about giant animals attack each other and destroying cities. At the end of the day, Rampage is silly fun, albeit sometimes it gets pretty gruesome, with a pretty good final act.

Rampage

3.5 out of 5

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‘A Quiet Place’ Review

Director: John Krasinski

Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski

Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and John Krasinski

Synopsis: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

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

Silence in horror films is always used in two ways. One, it’s used before a jump scare to scare the crap out of you, but since we’ve seen so many horror films we can predict those most of the time. Two, a way to set something up – most likely before a jump scare right before the killer or monster pulls a character out of their hiding place. But, what John Krasinski has done for A Quiet Place, his first directed horror film mind you, is something special. Not only the movie mostly a silent film, but silence almost feels like its own character.

A Quiet Place follows a small family of father Lee (John Krasinski), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their two children, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) – although their names are never said during the movie, only in the credits – as they try to survive after creatures have destroyed, what seems like most of the country. What makes matters worse, is the creatures are attracted to sound, so staying silent is key to surviving this new world. However, staying silent isn’t as easy as you think.

I’ll start off by saying, if you are not a fan of slow-burning horror, you probably won’t enjoy most of A Quiet Place, especially since most of the movie is silent, and most of the dialogue is said through sign language. It also takes a while to become a full-blown monster movie. That being said, that’s one of the reasons why I loved the film. A Quiet Place also works as a drama, and an effective one, because we get to know the characters from the very beginning and we care about them enough until the credits roll.

However, credit where credit is due to John Krasinski, who has only directed two feature films. Both have fallen into drama and comedy, but watching this, you would assume Krasinski has directed more than that. Not only that, you would think he’d directed some horror movies. His decision to make this a nearly silent movie is both ambitious and a risk, and one that completely pays off in the end. Even some of the decisions he makes his characters take, like creating a system with light bulbs to let others know the monsters are nearby, or even creating a sound suppressing box for the baby. Of course, there’s more, but that’s getting into spoiler territory.

Top that off with the cast he was able to get. Krasinski’s father figure tries his best to protect his family and even teaches his young son how to catch fish, which isn’t even the most touching scene in the movie. Emily Blunt as the mother is absolutely fantastic in this, and pretty much gets the most out of the movie, as her character is pregnant for most of the movie (not really a spoiler guys). Newcomer, Millicent Simmonds, as the daughter has a very prominent role that thankfully wasn’t spoiled in the trailers, so I won’t even hint at it here either. Unfortunately, Noah Jupe doesn’t get enough development, but out of everyone, he does have the best fear face (is that a thing?).

When it comes to the monsters, it takes a long while before we get a get look at what they look like. The design is rather interesting, especially once you realize that Krasinski actually changed the design at the last minute, and while the monsters probably aren’t ground-breaking new they are extremely vicious.

All in all, A Quiet Place is an effective horror thriller, and even a drama. Using silence as a key element has been done before, but I’ve personally never seen it the way Krasinski used it here in the film. The film only has a few minor missteps, but nothing that really takes away from the film. Personally, I loved A Quiet Place, and this is how horror thrillers should be done in my book.

A Quiet Place

4.5 out of 5

‘Black Panther’ Review

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker

Synopsis: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

 

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

 

The eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one fans have been waiting for, and one that fans have been making a good uproar about. For the first time, there is a superhero movie – at least in the modern age of superhero movies – with a predominate black cast, and one that’s actually good and doesn’t rely on stereotypes. While the race element is something someone can talk about more clearly than I can, Black Panther is without a doubt something special and different than we have gotten before.

Black Panther starts off with a brief history of how the fictional country of Wakanda and the Black Panther came to be, and from there we jump to a brief scene in 1992 with a young King T’Chaka. However, we then jump to the present day and see T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), as he takes the throne in his home country with the people closest to him by his side. His mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his youngest sister and head of the science/weapons division Shuri (Letitia Wright), the Dora Milaje general and friend Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his former lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o).

However, T’Challa reign doesn’t go too smoothly as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) comes back into the picture, along with some help from the mysterious Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). T’Challa must now decide what kind of king he wants to be, and stop threats from all around him.

Like I mentioned, Black Panther is something special and different. The movie doesn’t strive away from touching on the racial issue unlike other Marvel films. They usually touch on them and move on to the bombastic action scenes, which is fine for me, but Black Panther doesn’t shy away from at all. In fact, it doesn’t even try to hide them and hits them all on the head without sounding preachy or forcing it upon us. Everything touched on makes sense, and when you take a step back, you start to realize what the message is coming from a superhero film of all places.

There there’s Wakanda itself. The technologically advanced country is a sight to see, with technology that doesn’t yet exist, but also with African tribal touches everywhere you go. Speaking of that, there is a lot of African tribal touches throughout the movie that just make Black Panther more authentic to its roots and gives it the extra touch above other films, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When it comes to everything else about the movie, well, it’s still pretty damn good. The cast are all fantastic from top to bottom. Of course, we already saw Boseman as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, but his character here really gives us a better sense at what to expect of him in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the other hand, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is arguably one of Marvel’s best villains to date. He reasoning is sound and most importantly, he’s well-written to the point that I wish there was more of him in the movie.

The other men fair well with Martin Freeman returning as Everett Ross in a bigger role than I thought he’d have. Get Out breakout Daniel Kaluuya has a small, but hopefully bigger part in the future, role as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s friend that takes an interesting turn. Andy Serkis’ Klaue returns in a hammed up approach that surprisingly works and is a ton of fun to watch. Finally, Winston Duke, who plays rival M’Baku is definitely one of the breakout stars here acting in a way that you wouldn’t believe he would at times.

But let’s talk about the women. The women in Black Panther are freaking badass! Danai Gurira as Okoye, the general of the Dora Milaje, is a force to be reckoned with anytime there’s a fight. Letitia Wright’s Shuri brings a spark of energy and fun every time she’s onscreen, and Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia acts like a bit of a moral compass for T’Challa, but also brings up the concept of what would you do for your country versus what should be done. Finally, Angela Bassett just commands the scenes every time she’s on because, well, she’s Angela Bassett.

Now, the movie does have a few faults. It does fall into the Marvel final battle cliché of being a bit too CGI-heavy with the final fight between T’Challa and Killmonger. Also, while we get to see Wakanda and its interesting history, along with its traditions, I would have liked to see a little more of the actual city.

All in all, Black Panther is an important movie no matter which way you look at it. Not only is it a superhero movie with an all black cast, but one of Marvel’s best films to date. With well written characters, a story that isn’t all over the place, and a deep and personal message and theme, Black Panther is a movie you should go watch as soon as possible.

 

Black Panther

4.5 out of 5

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Benicio Del Toro

Synopsis: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysterious of the Force and secrets of the past.

 

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

 

When The Force Awakens ended, everyone went crazy trying to figure out how the next movie was going to approach everything we just saw and was introduced. Enter director Rian Johnson and when that first trailer dropped everyone went crazy all over again after hearing Luke’s words of “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” Since then The Last Jedi has been on everyone highly-anticipated movies of the year. So now that it’s here, was the wait worth it? Is it too over-hyped? Both? Neither? Well, let’s find out.

The Last Jedi has three stories going on. The first is the story that ended The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and is there to try and convince him to come back and help the Resistance, but to also help her find her place in everything and help her with her newfound abilities. The second follows Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with the Resistance Fleet fending off an attack by the First Order and butting heads with Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) and even Leia (Carrie Fisher) herself. Poe, finding out something dire, decides to send Finn (John Boyega) and a technician, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), to another planet to find someone that can help them. The final story is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) still struggling with the darkness inside him and finally trying to prove himself to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

The Last Jedi is an interesting film. On one hand, it is a true Star Wars film that is filled with great visuals, great cinematography – here by Steve Yedlin – an amazing score by John Williams and great moments that the franchise is known for like epic battles and twists. On the other hand, the film feels a bit too messy for its own good, but in that messiness it does bring some surprises that is obviously causing some fans to be very divided. Yes, that’s vague but this is a spoiler free review.

What I’m okay with saying and giving away is The Last Jedi does have some pacing issues. You definitely feel that the movie’s length by the end of it all, but at least director and writer Rian Johnson is able to make it captivating that you don’t really care too much – at least at the end of the movie. The subplot with Finn and Rose going to a different planet and run into Benicio Del Toro’s DJ, feels a little off from the rest of the movie, and while I think I understand what Johnson was trying to do with that part of the film, that section could have been cut down a little.

Other big thing that The Last Jedi does is that it does take some risks – at least in terms of revelations – with its storytelling. However, those risks/revelations are the things that are diving fans, at last from what I’ve seen. Storylines and teases from The Force Awakens are brought up and played around with, even going as so far to give us some answers or, unfortunately, more questions. It’s these little things that pile up that keep The Last Jedi from being the awesome and great film we’d hope for, and instead being a messy Star Wars film that has awesome and great moments.

This isn’t me saying The Last Jedi is a bad film – you notice I never said that – but after watching The Last Jedi I felt a lot of conflict – like Kylo Ren – about my impression of the movie. I’ve seen it twice now, and while the second time I had some more fun with it, the flaws are there once you start to dig around and discuss the film. That said, the pretty great moments are there too, but that’s not enough for me.

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is definitely a film that Star Wars fans will argue about for a long time. Does it have everything a Star Wars film is suppose to have? Yes. It’s fun, action-packed and funny when need be. Does it extend the ideas and uses the storylines that were paved for it in The Force Awakens? Yes, but it also does something that is frustrating, and has made frustrated which I understand. However, at the same time, I see what Rian Johnson was trying to do, so I can’t be too upset over it.

Needless to say, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is worth the watch, and, for the most part, you’ll have a great time watching. Visually, the film is great to look, and the cast is finally able to cut their teeth in more meaty material this go around. Finally, yes, like The Force Awakens, this draws a lot on past Star Wars movies – whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4 out of 5

Mini-Reviews – Justice League, Lady Bird, Coco & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I know I’ve been slacking on my movie reviews, so please forgive me for that, I have been watching movies but I haven’t had a real chance to sit down and write full reviews. So this is going to make up for it, with some of the big movies I’ve watched. Movies not included are Daddy’s Home 2, Roman J. Israel Esq., Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Lady Bird

Director: Greta Gerwig

Writer: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott and Tracy Letts.

Synopsis: In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.

 

Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial effort, Lady Bird is a great coming-of-age story following Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who wants out of her town but is not financially able to go to a big college. It also doesn’t help that her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is working non-stop and thinks she should think more logically about college. During all of this, we follow Lady Bird, which is what she wants to be called, go through her final year at school, love and thinking what her future holds for her.

I had heard a lot about Lady Bird during its film festival run, and when I finally got the chance to see it, I can see why people really loved it. Gerwig’s writing was fantastical, nothing ever felt forced and Ronan is simply amazing as Lady Bird. The main thing for me about the movie is, despite the movie being set in 2002, it doesn’t really feel that way. Sure we have flip-phones and the whole, “the government is going to put trackers on us” mentally by one of the characters Lady Bird interacts with, and the news of attacks overseas by our government, but the time period isn’t really that important – at least from my point of view of watching.

The thing that makes Lady Bird work for me is the chemistry between Ronan and Metcalf. Any time they are on the screen together it makes the film pop, and it’s both fun and hard to watch as you see them argue and fight one minute and then suddenly have a heart-to-heart the next. It would be really hard to imagine if none of these ladies including Gerwig, are not nominated for the major award shows.

All in all, Lady Bird is a greatly acted film with top notch writing and humor that feels real. While I did feel it loses only a slightly bit of steam near the end, the cast and the script really make Lady Bird worth the while.

Lady Bird

4 out of 5

 

 

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Joe Morton, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

Justice League has had a long and hard road to get to the big screen. From the scarped George Miller-directed movie, to the DCEU’s battle to get fans and critics to go all in for their movies, the movie has finally arrived and it’s just okay. If you didn’t know, Zack Snyder directed the movie at first, but had to step down for the reshoots because of the death of a loved, and Joss Whedon – who had done some script work – came in to take over.

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of hopes for this. I still had the bad taste of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with me, but I was willing to really give Justice League a chance. Unfortunately, Justice League was a huge misstep for me. The CGI was really off in places – I’m looking at you Henry Cavill mustache removal!

Justice League has a rather simple plot; Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) gathers together the team of the Amazon, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the speedster Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the loner Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the cybernetically enhanced Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to stop the threat of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an intergalactic threat that comes to Earth to find the Mother Boxes, cubes with massive power. It’s up to them to stop him and save the world.

The problem with Justice League is, besides some of the terrible CGI, is it doesn’t really take the time to get to know the new characters. We know Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, but we get the cliff notes of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, which doesn’t help considering we’re suppose to care for these characters, and they’re the new big characters we’re going to follow. Miller’s Barry is too jokey; Stone’s Cyborg is a bit too stoic – although he does loosen up at the end – and Momoa’s Curry/Aquaman is a bit too “bro” for me, which is fine for a new approach, but I didn’t really get into it.

All in all, despite all that, yes, Justice League does have some fun and cool moments, but a lot of the negatives and drawbacks of the movie – some I didn’t even mention – really make it hard to enjoy the moments entirely. Justice League does take the DCEU into the right direction of more hopeful and fun, instead dark gritty. Hopefully, the DCEU continues down this route, otherwise the franchise is in a lot of trouble.

Justice League

2.5 out of 5

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Clarke Peters, Sandy Martin, Zeljko Ivanek, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Dinklage

Synopsis: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

 

Martin McDonagh, who directed In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, is a director that I will also keep a look out for now. When I found out about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the cast, it immediately jumped into my “Must Watch” list, and I’m glad I did, because this was a film that really stuck with me.

The film follows Mildred (Frances McDormand), who has recently lost her daughter in a brutal way, and after the police have seemed to give up on the case, she decides to buy three billboards that target the police for not doing their jobs. The billboards get the attention of the police, more specifically Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and the townspeople who are heavily against them. The film then follows Mildred as she deals with everyone seemingly against her, and Dixon and Willoughby trying to finally figure out the case.

There is a lot more going on in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that I won’t even hint at here, mainly because this film really does lend itself on knowing the least amount of information possible to thoroughly enjoy it and really get into the world that this movie takes place in. I will say it’s a dark comedy, so prepare yourself for that, and if you seen McDonagh’s other films, then you’d know what to expect.

I will say Frances McDormand is great as always, but I’d argue that this movie belongs to Sam Rockwell. He’s absolutely fantastic in this, and dare I say, this is one of his best performances he’s ever done.

All in all, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a wonderfully entertaining dark comedy with great performances by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Seriously do yourself a favor and try to avoid anything about the movie, and go watch it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4.5 out of 5

 

 

Coco

Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

Writers: Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich

Voice Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt

Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.

 

I am willing to admit that I had serious doubts about Coco. I knew that Pixar had been working on a Dia de los Muertos movie for a while now, but I was a huge fan of another Dia de los Muertos film called The Book of Life. However, Coco completely blew me away. The movie follows Miguel, who is banned from playing, listening or even thinking about music, but like all kids, he doesn’t follow his family’s rule. Miguel is inspired by a deceased musician from the town, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and through magic, enters the Land of the Dead on The Day of the Dead to find de la Cruz and find his place in the world.

Along his journey there, he meets his deceased family and a con man named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). But, Miguel finds out that he has to get back to the living world before he’s stuck in the Land in the Dead forever.

Like any Pixar movie, the movie has a great story, great characters and amazing visuals. The beautiful and bright colors of The Land of the Dead really pop and I kind of wish we could see more of it as a whole, and not just sections. I also liked that they really dug into the actual culture of everything, and it’s cool to see that represented in a movie like this.

More importantly, and the thing that will put any movie on my list of anything, this tugged on every emotional string that I had. I’ll admit, I was on the verge of tears A LOT. The characters actions and even some of the music, more specifically “Remember Me” started up the waterworks.

All in all, Coco is a great film with eye-popping visuals and an amazing soundtrack. I will admit, something in the final act was a little jarring, especially for a kids and Pixar movie but I guess it worked out at the end of it all.

Coco

4.5 out of 5

 

‘Geostorm’ Review

Director: Dean Devlin

Writers: Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Zazie Beetz, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Wu, Talitha Bateman, Ed Harris and Andy Garcia

Synopsis: When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate start to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.

 

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

 

Natural disasters movies are probably, and arguably, the best escapism movies in Hollywood. There’s something about watching cities and monuments getting destroyed that we see every day or want to visit. But, let’s be honest, natural disaster movies have kind of lost their luster. There’s only so many times you can watch the Statue of Liberty get destroyed, or a massive wave destroying a city. Eventually, everything is going to get done, so you’re left with trying to do something different.

Off that note, Geostorm already had an uphill battle against the plethora of other natural disaster movies, so it decided to include all of them, and add the sci-fi element of a machine that can control the weather. Does it sound ridiculous? Of course it does! But we’re talking about people being able to control the weather with a machine. Oh, and it’s directed by Dean Devlin, who has produced all those disasters movies.

Geostorm is set in a world where after climate change has gotten so out of control, the world leaders finally band together to create what is dubbed “The Dutch Boy,” after the story of a boy who stops his town from flooding by putting his finger in a hole. The Dutch Boy is a series of satellites that control the weather from the International Space Station, the creator of the program is Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), but it taken away from him after a series of events and given to his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), who then has to fire him. We skip forward a few years, and after dangerous malfunctions starts happening, killing thousands of people, Max finds Jake and sends him back to the station to figure out what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Max, who is having a secret relationship with a secret service agent played by Abbie Cornish, deals with the problems on Earth as much as he can, before finding out there is something bigger to the whole picture. Now, the two brothers have to put aside their different and stop whoever is using the Dutch Boy as a weapon, and save the world.

I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm, unfortunately the movie doesn’t do itself any favors. Like I said, Geostorm had an uphill battle from the beginning, and it also didn’t help that the movie came out after real natural disasters that people are still recovering from. Moreover, the movie did end up doing a lot of reshoots to apparently fix a lot of issues (I can only imagine what those were).

That’s not to say Geostorm doesn’t have some good aspects to it. There are some dumb popcorn-movie entertaining moments, and some descent funny lines, but the movie doesn’t really have anything groundbreaking that we haven’t seen before. It’s a rather safe natural disaster movie which kind of defeats the purpose on the genre.

All in all, Geostorm is an uninspired natural disaster movie that never really capitalizes on its own “new” concept. The acting is borderline flat, with the destruction being a mix-match of things we’ve seen before, but more importantly, Geostorm is rather predictable with its twists, which take you out of the movie a bit. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to dislike or hate Geostorm as much as I did, but the movie didn’t do itself any favors.

Geostorm

2.5 out of 5

‘Happy Death Day’ Review

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, Jason Bayle, Laura Clifton and Rob Mello

Synopsis: A college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

 

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

 

Slasher movies are a dime a dozen in the horror genre, however, what use to be the dominant subgenre in film has pretty much kept itself to VOD or Red Box rentals. That’s not to say the subgenre isn’t great anymore, but it’s not as good as it was back in the day – probably. That being said, you got to give props to anyone who has the gull to do a modern day slasher nowadays and give it a twist. That’s what the folks over at Blumhouse did, giving Happy Death Day the Groundhog Day treatment, and despite my early thoughts on the movie, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, it does misstep on a lot of areas.

The movie follows Tree (Jessica Rothe) – short of Theresa – on her birthday. She wakes up, hungover, in a dorm room that belongs to Carter (Israel Broussard), and as she leaves she comes across certain things; her father calling her, a weird guy checking her out, an activist trying to get her to sign a petition, sprinklers going off on a couple, a car alarm going off, a pledge off, an admirer, dealing with her sorority sisters and meeting with her married professor. Along with a few other things, it all comes to a head when a masked killer kills her – however, when she dies she wakes up back in Carter’s room and relives the day. Tree must then try to put the pieces together, and find out who has been trying to kill her. Lucky for her, she has an unlimited amount of lives.

Happy Death Day was not a movie was I really looking forward to, but I kept my reservation to myself and took the movie in like I do for every movie. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, but that’s not to say the movie was all that great. Happy Death Day has a pretty good concept, and I applaud writer Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon for fully embracing it and not making the movie too cliché. The movie does unfortunately carry some tropes with it, but the concept and the movie not trying to take itself too seriously, does help it out just a tad.

Given the concept, Jessica Rothe is left to carry the movie on her shoulders, and for the most part she carries pretty damn well. Rothe’s Tree does make bad decisions like expected, but she does bunker down to try and figure out what exactly is going on. Tree also isn’t the most likeable person either. In fact, none of the characters, with the exception of Carter and a random girl sitting outside the sorority, are terrible people and not likeable at all. It’s to be expected, but it is off putting for a while.

Although, I’m not one to complain about a movie’s rating, Happy Death Day’s rating of PG-13 doesn’t do it any favors. Which is odd, considering you can get away with a lot in PG-13 movies nowadays, and this movie could have benefited more with a hard PG-13 rating. Given the concept, I thought there would be some elaborate or even at least one creative kill, but the movie shows them off-screen, and even when they are shown, they’re very bloodless – unless you count the blood on the masked killer’s knife. I know there’s a lot of debate amongst horror fans about PG-13 and R-rated horror movies, and while I don’t need every horror movie to be rated-R, Happy Death Day could have benefited by pushing the rating, at least for one kill.

Another con I would point out is even though the movie has a brisk one hour and thirty-eight minute runtime, Happy Death Day loses some steam before the final act. However, the final act does tighten everything up. Additionally, there is one particular subplot that involves Tree that seems rather important, and hints at connecting to the overall story, but it’s never really fleshed out and feels rather weird when it’s bought up and stops the movie completely. Landon has mentioned in interviews that this would be bought up in a potential sequel, but it is rather glaring when you sit down and think about it after watching the movie.

All in all, Happy Death Day is rather entertaining, and Jessica Rothe carries the movie on her shoulders. However, Happy Death Day also has glaring and unfortunate missteps that make the movie okay as opposed to be potentially great.

Happy Death Day

3 out of 5