Category Archives: Reviews

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Review

DARKNESS RISES AND

THE LIGHT TO MEET IT


 

In 2016, five years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 concluded the “boy who lived” cinematic adventure saga of witches and wizards, J.K. Rowling returned to her magical “Wizarding World” for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel / spin-off endeavor to the eight-part Potter films. The feature, which was directed Harry Potter alum David Yates and starred Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler, Alison, Colin Farrell, and several others, focused the introverted protagonist character of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist wizard, who travels to New York City (circa 1926) and accidentally releases some of his creatures loose in the city, while stumble upon a larger threat that sees to expose the wizarding community to the non-magical (i.e. No-Maj). While they were some skeptics and critics out there, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ultimately was a success, finding its audience who enjoyed the feature (the movie was well-received positive reviews) and the film did collect $814 million at the worldwide box office against its $175 million production budget. The success of Fantastic Beasts proved that moviegoers (around the world) will still hungry for more adventures in this spin-off series in Rowling’s Wizarding World, with the studio (shortly after the film’s releases) expanded upon the idea of future installments from three Fantastic Beasts installments to five installments. Now, two years have passed and its time to return again to the Wizarding World as Warner Bros. Pictures and director David Yates presents the second chapter in the Fantastic Beasts saga with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Does this last adventure for Newt Scamander (and company) finds a cinematic narrative of entertainment or is it an uneven return to the Rowling world of witches and wizards? Read more

Hunter Killer (2018) Review

A ENTERTAINING AND LARGER-THAN-

LIFE SUBMARINE THRILLER


 

Military action movies have been a prime staple within the action film genre. Exploring various branches of the military (army, navy, air force, SEALS, etc.), these movies are primarily focused (much like the genre itself) on action premise, relying on tried and true aesthetics of military action / violence to showcase the film’s narrative. While some are a bit nonsensical (i.e. going with the flow of the film’s premise), stories of war, secret missions, occupation, and tension between nations are these movies “bread and buttered”, making the effort to show the grizzled action (on all forms of the military branches) as well the espionage side of opposing government / nations on matters of military strength (i.e. to defend, to invade, or to hold their ground) against warring enemies or rival team members. Additionally, military action features have also weaved into other genres (drama and sci-fi) in order to expand upon its storytelling. Some of the best and recognizable military action movies includes 1978’s Apocalypse Now, 1986’s Top Gun, 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, 1995’s Crimson Tide, 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 2002’s Black Hawk Down, 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, 2017’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and 2018’s 12 Strong. Now, Summit Entertainment (along with Original Film and Millennium Entertainment) and director Donovan Marsh present the latest military action thriller endeavor with the film Hunter Killer. Does the movie swim gracefully or does it sink laboriously fast? Read more

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) Review

A HOLLOW AND SUGAR-COATED

ENDEAVOR


 

It is a well-known fact that Disney has taken up the mantle of translating its legendary / timeless animated feature films into live-action remakes. While this staging might have had a sort of rocky start (i.e. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and 2014’s Maleficent), the “house of mouse” has mostly refined their cinematic tastes and nuances for high quality live-action movies along these lines, entertaining both critics and moviegoers with live-action films like 2015’s Cinderella, 2016’s The Jungle Book, and 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. However, while Disney continues this “live-action” trend of reimaging its animated tales (with plenty more planned on the horizon), the studio has also continued to provide live-action non-animated Disney movies to its catalogue, including 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, 2014’s Into the Woods, and 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time. Now, Walt Disney Studios and directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston embark upon the reimagined tale of the classic Nutcracker story with the movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Does this movie find its “magic” in its enchanted worlds or is it a visual hodgepodge mess of better similar endeavors? Read more

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Review

WHEN QUEEN WAS KING


 

Queen. The name speaks volumes to many and many know of what it means in the world of music entertainment. Whatever you may call them…. icons, legends, or celebrity rock stars, the British rock band known as Queen have become famous across the world, dating all the way back in the 1970s. For almost two decades, the band, which consisted of Freddie Mercury (vocal), Brian May (lead guitar), Roger Taylor (drums), and John Deacon (bass guitar), dominated radio waves, producing hit after hit and skyrocketing into universal acclaim in the world of music; winning awards, topping charts, and becoming one of the world’s best-selling musical artist. In the realm of filmmaking, Hollywood has also taken a particular shine towards Queen and their music, with many theatrical motion pictures that feature the band’s iconic songs, including 1982’s Wayne’s World (Bohemian Rhapsody), 1986’s Highlander (Who Wants to Live Forever), 1992’s Peter’s Friend (You’re My Best Friend), 1994’s D2: The Might Ducks (We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions), 2001’s Moulin Rouge! (The Show Must Go On), 2003’s Ella Enchanted (Somebody to Love), and many, many others. Now, 20th Century Fox (along with New Regency and GK Films) and director Bryan Singer (and Dexter Fletcher) presents Queen’s story underneath a cinematic guise with the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Does this latest biopic drama rise to its musical occasion or is it all sound and no theatrical storytelling to the infamous band’s tale? Read more

Indivisible (2018) Review

A STRONG AND SINCERE 

FAITH-BASED DRAMA


 

In the world of cinematic movies, films about war (and therein the military) are never subtle pieces, finding most to be steeped in gritty action and / or a barrage of realism. The affects of war from both soldiers and its casualties are also instrumental aspects in these movies as well, showcasing the hardships that it causes from both on “the actual battlefield” during the middle present of events and (in a more psychosis measure) “the battlefield of the mind” that lingers within the aftermath of the fight. While not necessarily a new subgenre, war films have been steadily on the rise, with many been produced in the attempt of shedding light on all fronts, including the warring of nations, the consciousness / morality of war itself, the physical endurance surviving wartimes, and overcoming challenges of war all that are ensnared by its horrific / destructive events. The same can be said about faith-based movies, which are not subtle either in presenting the religious beliefs in a feature length film. The ideas of a person (or group) facing adversity that challenges their beliefs as well as sometimes dealing with loss of faith or the discovering of one is also a palpable message for these types of movies to tackle. These, while usually can be a bit “on the nose” with its meaning, still finds its strides within its thematic presentation of discussing personal beliefs of faith and understanding. Now, Pure Flix, the WTA Group, and director David G. Evans present the movie that brings war and faith together with the film Indivisible. Does this marriage of two movie genres finds its voice (and meaning) in this cinematic telling or does it flounder in trying to find its message (point) across in a theatrical presentation? Read more

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) Review

A FUN YET ADEQUATELY RETREAD


 

In 2015, the film Goosebumps was released during the mid-October, arriving just in time for the Halloween season for thrills, scares, and things that go “bump” in the night. The film, which was based on the children’s horror book series of the same name by R.L. Stine with the movie, was directed by Rob Letterman and starred Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, and Jillian Bell. The plot follows an adolescent teenager trying to save his town with author R.L. Stine’s help after all his creations (monsters, demons, and creatures) from the “Goosebumps” franchise begin to escape from their books, wreaking havoc in the real world. Goosebumps, while not Oscar-contender endeavor, was met with mostly positive reviews, with many fans of the Stine’s novel series praising the movie (seeing a variety of characters creatures come to life on the big screen) as well as being a suitable cinematic motion picture for a kid-friendly horror comedy (mostly due to Black’s performance as Stine himself). With its fan service, cheeky writing, and self-aware mischief, Goosebumps did its job and succeeded as a moderate hit with its intended target audience, raking in $150 million at the box office against its production budget of $84 million. Now, three years later, Sony / Columbia (Sony Pictures Animation) and director Ari Sandel present the follow-up installment to 2015’s Goosebumps with the film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. Does this second adventure delivers a theatrical “spook-filled” of children’s entertainment or is it one Halloween themed movie that you should just skip? Read more

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) Review

A LOVER LETTER TO THE

FILM NOIR OF YESTERYEAR


 

While usually film directors are famed and well-known in the world of filmmaking, screenwriter Drew Goddard is starting to blossom into his own, living his personal “mark” on the industry on both the big and small screen of Hollywood endeavors. Beginning his career as a television writer for acclaimed TV shows like the supernatural drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the espionage action thriller Alias, and the complexed drama adventure Lost. With his talents being noted for his efforts on those projects, Goddard eventually graduated to the big screen, penning the story for the 2008 giant monster feature Cloverfield, 2013’s zombie action thriller World War Z, and even doing the screenplay for 2015’s science fiction film The Martian, which was based off the book of the same name by author Andy Weir. In 2012, Goddard got his chance to be in the director’s chair, making his directorial debut with the horror comedy feature The Cabin in the Woods, which did receive a praise from critics and moviegoers alike. Additionally, Goddard would eventually also help create the Netflix original TV show Daredevil, which is based off of the Marvel superhero character. Now, 20th Century Fox (as well as TSG Entertainment) present the latest directorial endeavor from Drew Goddard with the drama noire feature Bad Times at the El Royale. Is the film worth checking out or should you immediately “check out” of this motion picture? Read more

Halloween (2018) Review

A “CUT” ABOVE THE REST


 

Over the years, there has been many iconic cinematic figures that have been permeant staples to the horror movie genre. These include Freddy Kruger (A Nightmare on Elms Street), Jason Voorhees (Jason), Pinhead (Hellraiser), Chucky (Chucky), and many other fictional horrors beings / creatures. Amongst the grouping is the famous character of Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise series. First appearing in the original Halloween movie back in 1978, the film, which was directed by John Carpenter and starred actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle (as the titular villain) focuses on the psychopath serial killer Michael Myers, who killed his sister, and then stalked teen Laurie Strode (killing her friends in the process) years later. Despite a few criticism remarks, Carpenter’s Halloween was well-received during its release, grossing $70 million during its theatrical release and becoming the most profitable independent films of its time as well as opening up the horror genre for “slasher” features. After the success of the film, Halloween grew into a long-running franchise that spawned multiple sequels, including 1981’s Halloween II, 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection as well as a singer / filmmaker Rob Zombie’s remake with 2007’s Halloween and its follow-up sequel (Halloween II) in 2009. For the most part, these sequels, while have their horror-ish moments, were a bit mediocre endeavors, taking the franchise (including the characters of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers) into some strange directions; finding each one never really being a worthy successor to the original 1978. Now, roughly forty years since its released, Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, and director David Gordon Green present the latest entry in the horror / slasher franchise with the movie Halloween; a more direct sequel to the 1978 original. Does this latest film prove to be worthy installment in the iconic series or is it just another run-of-the-mill sequel that’s just trying to “cash in” on the whole Michael Myers / Halloween premise and nothing more? Read more

First Man (2018) Review

AN EPIC AND INTIMATE

CINEMATIC ENDEAVOR


 

While film director Damien Chazelle drew critical praise (and awards) for his 2014 sophomore movie Whiplash, he took the cinematic film world by storm in 2016, with the release of La La Land, a musical feature that was similar to the old classic Hollywood musical of yesteryear. The film, which starred actor Ryan Gosling and actress Emma Stone in the lead roles, saw the characters of a jazz pianist and aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles while pursing their individual dreams. La La Land went on to receive widely positive acclaim from both critics and moviegoers, with many praising the feature for Gosling and Stone’s performance, its musical numbers, the film’s score (done by composer Justin Hurwitz), and the film’s cinematography as well as the film’s overall look and appeal of being a throwback musical to Old Hollywood. Additionally, the movie scored big at the box office, garnishing roughly $446 million worldwide against its $40 million production budget. Furthermore, Chazelle’s La La Land scored 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, winning Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song (i.e. City of Stars). Now, after coming off of the rousing success of La La Land, Universal Pictures and director Damien Chazelle journey into the space and present the story of famed astronaut Neil Armstrong with the movie First Man. Does Chazelle’s fourth film aim for the stars or does it simply get crash and burn? Read more

Smallfoot (2018) Review

NOT EVERY LEGEND IS A TALL TALE


 

In today’s cinematic world, animated features have become commonplace, with some of the major studios (and a few smaller ones) releases one or two titles a year; garnishing opportunity to tell colorful kid-friendly tales as well as to cash on the box office market of children’s entertainment. While Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination Entertainment are the more prominent / juggernaut animation studios (that are currently out there), Warner Animation Group (WAG), the feature animation division of Warner Bros. Animation (as well as a subdivision of Warner Bros. Pictures), is quickly on the rise. Established back in January 2013, Warner Animation Group has become famously for The LEGO Movie back, which garnished huge critical and commercial acclaim back when it was released in 2014. Since then, the studio has built a franchise around The LEGO Movie, with releasing the two spin-off features (The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie) in 2017 as well as releasing a sequel feature (The LEGO Movie: The Second Part) being released in 2019. As WAG moved forward with their LEGO movie franchise, the studio has also continued to create other animated features, with the film titled Storks, which was released back in 2016. Now, the Warner Animation Group and directors Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Resig releases the second standalone feature for the studio with the movie Smallfoot. Does this second non-LEGO movie animated movie strike a chord with its targeted audience or is it simply a bland and boring cartoon film? Read more

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