‘The Grudge’ Review

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Writer: Nicolas Pesce

Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, John J. Hansen, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, Lin Shaye and Jackie Weaver

Synopsis: A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.

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

 

The second remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge from 2002 – the first American remake came out in 2004 – this new Grudge movie comes from writer/director Nicolas Pesce, known for The Eyes of My Mother, and brings the action to America instead of keeping it in Japan. Pesce had come out before the release of the movie saying his version of the story would be “fucked up.” So, some self-professed hype is already at play here. That said, I will admit that when I found out about Pesce directing the remake, and having seen The Eyes of My Mother, I thought he’s a pretty descent choice. However, now having seen The Grudge I will say this; I was wrong.

The Grudge tells four different stories – taking place in different years – that are all connected to one home, where every person that steps in it is met with a violent and deadly outcome. Like I mentioned, the action is moved to America, and mostly follows the story of Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), who has moved to a new town with her son, Burke (John J. Hansen), after the death of her husband. She’s assigned to her new partner, Goodman (Demian Bichir), and immediately finds a body in the forest that belonged to the long missing Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver). The case makes Goodman uneasy, and that makes Muldoon curious about the case.

The connected stories belong to Peter and Nina Spencer (John Cho and Betty Gilpin), real-estate agents who are dealing with pregnancy problems, and are trying to sell the, unbeknownst to them, cursed house. There is also Faith and William Matheson (Lin Shaye and Frankie Faison), who are other occupants of the house, when William asks for help from Lorna Moody. Then there is a short story between Goodman and his old partner Wilson (William Sadler), and finally the, short, story of what kick starts everything of Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) who worked in Japan – in the original cursed house – and brought the curse back with her.

While the non-linear narrative is nothing new for this brand, this Grudge makes things too muddy for its own good. While it doesn’t bounce around too much, the stories are a bit blah. It also doesn’t help that we know The Matheson’s, Sanders’ and Moody are dead so the tension of seeing their story play out is dampened a bit, but even when they’re playing out they really don’t do much to suck you in.

The only real story that draws you in is that of John Cho and Betty Gilpin, mainly because of how serious they play it. I’d argue that they should have been the focus and then have Riseborough and Bichir’s characters play into their story. The real shame here is the waste of the cast, even though everyone looks like they are trying to the best with what they have, the majority of the characters are underwritten or just not given anything to really do. This is true for Bichir’s Goodman, who doesn’t really do anything other than tell Muldoon to let the case go, and he always thought there was something wrong with the house.

Then comes the scares, probably the main reason everyone will try to watch this. On that front, The Grudge disappoints as well. The scares are pretty basic and nothing we haven’t seen before. Even the classic imaginary that we are familiar with – the hand in the hair, bathtub filled with dirty water – isn’t worthwhile. There are nice references to the past films, but it’s there to mainly show that Pesce was a fan of the series before he got the job. Which is a shame because I do think that Pesce has a good eye for imagery, but it’s almost like Pesce was afraid of letting the movie loose, and being “fucked up” like he promised.

All in all, The Grudge is less superior to its 2004 remake, and is way too messy for its own good. The characters are underdeveloped or underwritten, and it lacks the punch the movie tries to promise. Plus, it is a tad boring at times, which is something you don’t want from horror movie. If I had to pick something that I liked about it, it would probably be some of the score from The Newton Brothers.

The Grudge

Rating: Pass

 

My Favorite/Standout Performances of 2018

The end of the year doesn’t just mean putting out your best/favorite movies of year. It can be a time to also reflect the individuals like directors, actors, actress, supporting roles, villains and everything in between. So, that said, I’m here to do just that. We all have our favorites, and these are mine. This is of course my opinion. I tried to shorten the list as much as I could, but like every year, it was a bit too hard so I left the lists as such.

 

Also, villains are probably considered Supporting Actors/Actress in other lists, but again, to not only make the lists shorter, I want the villains to have their own category, because everyone loves a good villain, right?

 

Finally, everything and everyone will be in alphabetical order. Also, if someone is missing, it could be because I didn’t see them (aka missed the movie), or they just missed the list/had to be cut out. This is also part one of two different lists. Enjoy.

 

 

Directors

Ryan Coogler – Black Panther

John Krasinski – A Quiet Place

Anthony and Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Honorable Mentions

Christopher McQuarrie – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

Aneesh Chaganty – Searching

Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You

Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

Drew Goddard – Bad Times at the El Royale

 

Just Missed the List

Leigh Whannell – Upgrade

David Gordon Green – Halloween

Debra Granik – Leave No Trace

Timo Tjahjanto – The Night Comes for Us

Julius Avery – Overlord

 

  

Actors

Ben Foster as Will – Leave No Trace

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green – Sorry to Bother You

Ethan Hawke as Toller – First Reformed

John Cho as David Kim – Searching

 

Honorable Mentions

Richard E. Grant as Jack Hock – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Richie Merritt as Rick Wershe Jr. – White Boy Rick

John David Washington as Ron Stallworth – BlacKkKlansman

 

Just Missed the List

Nick Offerman as Frank Fisher – Hearts Beat Loud

Henry Golding as Nick Young – Crazy Rich Asians

Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker – The Old Man & the Gun

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong – First Man

Chris Hemsworth as Thor – Avengers: Infinity War

 

 

Actress

Toni Collette as Annie – Hereditary

Constance Wu as Rachel Chu – Crazy Rich Asians

Lady Gaga as Ally – A Star Is Born

Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah – The Favourite

Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo – Roma

Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney – Vice

 

Honorable Mentions

Kelly Macdonald as Agnes – Puzzle

Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Cynthia Erivo – Bad Times at the El Royale

Elsie Fisher as Kayla – Eighth Grade

Thomasin McKenize as Tom – Leave No Trace

 

Just Missed the List

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart – Mary Queen of Scots

Vicky Krieps as Alma – Phantom Thread

Zoe Saldana as Gamora – Avengers: Infinity War

Charlize Theron as Marlo – Tully

Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie – Bumblebee

 

 

Supporting Actor

Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman – BlacKkKlansman

Matthew McConaughey as Ricard Wershe Sr. – White Boy Rick

Billy Magnussen as Ryan – Game Night

Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty – If Beale Street Could Talk

Winston Duke as M’Baku – Black Panther

 

Honorable Mentions

Jesse Plemons as Gary – Game Night

Sam Elliot as Bobby – A Star Is Born

Julian Dennison as Russell & Rob Delaney as Peter – Deadpool 2

 

Just Missed the List

Martin Freeman as Mike Priddle – Ghost Stories

Lewis Pullman as Miles Miller – Bad Times at the El Royale

Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld – Vice

 

 

Supporting Actress

Mackenzie Davis as Tully – Tully

Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young – Crazy Rich Asians

Milly Shapiro as Charlie – Hereditary

Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott – A Quiet Place

Regina King as Sharon Rivers – If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone as Abigail – The Favourite

 

Honorable Mentions

Hari Nef as Bex – Assassination Nation

Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia & Letitia Wright as Shuri – Black Panther

Lesley Manville as Cyril – Phantom Thread

Elizabeth Debicki as Alice – Widows

 

Just Missed the List

Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying – The Meg

Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie Lang & Hannah John-Kamen as Ava/Ghost – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Awkwafina as Peik Lin Goh – Crazy Rich Asians

Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37 – Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

 

Villain

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger – Black Panther

Josh Brolin as Thanos – Avengers: Infinity War

James Jude Courtney as The Shape – Halloween

Linus Roache as Jeremiah Sand – Mandy

 

Honorable Mentions

Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue – Black Panther

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Ebony Maw – Avengers: Infinity War

Dian Sastrowardoyo as Alma – The Night Comes for Us

 

Just Missed the List

The Creatures – A Quiet Place

 

Be on the lookout for Part II coming.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ Review

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Director: Justin Lin

Writers: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, and Shohreh Aghdashloo

Synopsis: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

 

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

 

It’s only fitting that a new Star Trek film comes out on the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and that it’s actually great. Star Trek Beyond has a lot of things going for it, and some things going against it, not in the bad way though. One, a new director in Justin Lin. One of its stars, Simon Pegg, co-wrote the script, and it doesn’t follow any previous story told before. The other thing is the film has two stars that sadly passed away in Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, which the film is dedicated to the two. Getting past that, Star Trek Beyond is a great addition to the Star Trek franchise, and one that deserves to come out on the 50th anniversary.

Beyond follows the USS Enterprise on its third year of its five-year mission, and Captain James Kirk (Pine) is starting to feel the effects of being in space for so long, saying everything feels “episodic.” It also doesn’t help that his birthday is around the corner, and for him it’s bittersweet. It’s not that he’s another year older, but it’s also the day his father died protecting the members of his crew – which will also make him older than his father. He vents to “Bones” (Urban) that he might be living in his father’s shadow, but the issue is put aside when the crew arrives at a new starbase called Yorktown. There, the crew has a short time to relax as a ship comes with an alien saying her crew was attacked and is stranded in the far reaches of space. The Enterprise then go off when they are attacked by a swarm that takes over and destroys it, leaving the crew to scatter and crash land on an uncharted planet. With most of the crew captured and taken prisoner by the villain Krall (Elba), the rest of the crew has to find a way to not only rescue them, but also rest off the planet before Krall can unleash a very dangerous and powerful weapon.

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One of the best things that Star Trek Beyond did, and one of the reasons I think it works, is that it splits the crew up. Making the film follow the crew for the majority of the film rather than making the film just about raising the stakes and stopping Krall’s plan. Yes, the crew eventually bands together to stop Krall, but that doesn’t happen until the final act of the film. It’s everything that builds before that which makes the final act better.

Uhura (Saldana) and Sulu are in Krall’s camp with the majority of the crew, Scotty (Pegg) gets found by the alien warrior Jaylah (Boutella) and helps her fix her “home,” Kirk gets help from Chekov (Yelchin), and Bones is with Spock (Quinto) going through the terrain of the planet. All of them have their own strengths and leads to some great dynamics with the highlight being Bones and Spock. The back-and-forth between Bones and Spock is easy enough to steal the film as a whole. Spock’s part in the trek, no pun intended, with Bones throughout the planet might make some hardcore Trek fans a bit conflicted, but it totally works in context.

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However, despite the focus being put on different groups, the central conflict that is introduced at the beginning – Kirk’s feeling about being out in space so long – gets thrown to the side once the action picks up and the crew is on the planet. It helps that the action is great; especially the takeover of the Enterprise and a scene that takes place outside Yorktown, but Kirk’s central conflict gets lost in the shuffle and isn’t bought back up until the very end when he’s going up against Krall. If anything, this would be the biggest misstep that Star Trek Beyond has. Which does suck a bit since Kirk is seen here as a true captain, and not trying to prove himself to his crew or the rest of the Federation like the first film or Into Darkness. The inner conflict also rose an interesting question, that we do get answered by the end, but would have been nice to see play out throughout the while film.

The returning cast all do great, this is their third outing after all, and the two new cast members aren’t that bad either. Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is a great addition to the film, playing a strong alien character that holds her own in her solo fight scenes. When it comes to the villain Krall, Idris Elba nails. Elba already has a pretty demanding presence onscreen, but covering him up with heavy alien makeup makes him a bit more scarier. Krall does have an interesting twist, which I know a TV spot spoils (thankfully I avoided that), but his villain character is very Trek, and does mirror a bit of what Kirk feels and what he goes through.

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All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a fun, entertaining, and action-packed addition to the Star Trek franchise that is well worth the watch. The action is great, and while it does follow some of the summer blockbuster formula, the film never lacks nor eliminates its originality and fun. There are nods to the original series that are pretty organic and aren’t just thrown in for the sake of it. Thrusters on full!

 

Star Trek Beyond

4.5 out of 5

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review

star-trek-into-darkness-poster-405x600

Dir: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine,Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin,Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller

Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world tocapture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

 

*Review Note:This is a NON-SPOILER review and if you comment PLEASE DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.*

J.J. Abrams has once again made a Star Trek movie for not just Star Trek fans (although they are mostly likely to catch the small winks and nods), but also for the general going audience. Some people will say Into Darkness had some plot holes and falls apart in certain areas (I slightly agree with some aspects but not entirely) but it will still be one of the most fun experiences you will have.

The opening sequence in the movie really sets the tone for the movie. It’s filled with humor, tension, suspense and action that is only pumped up as the movie moves along. We see the Starfleet still struggling with their adventures and how to come together as a crew. We see how Kirk (Pine) is still doing things his own way and ignoring regulations and Spock (Quinto)being by the book.

However, all there is really put to the test when John Harrison (Cumberbatch) shows up and sets in motion a series of events beginning with attacks on a futuristic London and having Starfleet big wigs setting up a manhunt into deep space for him. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Kirk and his crew are put to the test against Harrison’s smarts andnerve worthy intention.

Of course Cumberbatch’s Harrison character has been the spark of many fans on whether it is or isn’t a certain character. And since being a non-spoiler review I won’t confirm or deny but the reveal is pretty cool in my opinion. Cumberbatch, in no surprise, is excellent as John Harrison and you can truly see his character is willing to go anywhere to get what he wants.

Chris Pine has made Kirk his own bringing in his roguish,young, and humorous back but also bearing a lot of the emotional weight this time round. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is once again the soulful figurehead of this series, remaining clueless, in a good way, of “normal human interactions” while also dealing with two different both relationships in the film.

The rest of the cast tend to fade into the background behind this central trio (Cumberbatch, Pine, Quinto), fulfilling their roles when need be. Urban’s Bones has a lot more wise cracks than the first film while Pegg’s Scotty has his own sub-plot that involves him disappearing for a while but will still be a fan-favorite (if he wasn’t already). Zoe Saldana’s Uhura has a much smaller role than usual and when she’s not having her comic relief moments, she is having her romantic moments with Spock which honestly kind of slows the movie down just a bit. Also the addition on Alice Eve as Carol Marcus isn’t really all that besides her quick scene when she’s in her bra and panties.

I mentioned earlier that people will find problems with the movie. Which is fine by me because honestly what movie is absolutely perfect? Anyway,the movie does have fan-service and some might find it eye-roll worthy but I see it as Abram just doing that, fan-service, but also making general movie audience conformable and for many, it won’t matter.

All in all, Star Trek Into Darkness is a hell of a lot of fun, maintaining all of its tones in order that they don’t over power each other and ensures the viewer that this is a franchise you want to keep seeing.

Star Trek Into Darkness

5 out of 5