What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows Movie Review

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What We Do in the Shadows Movie Review

What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 New Zealand mockumentary horror comedy film directed by Taika Waititi. It is an original, but admittedly not great film.

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He was an 18th century dandy, so he can be very fussy

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What We Do in the Shadows Movie Review

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This film is a very interesting mix of genres. It is above all a vampire comedy, but with some horror elements and filmed in a mockumentary style. The mockumentary worked to its full advantage as it added a modern, fun touch to it and I really enjoyed it. The horror elements are rare, but solid and as for comedy, the movie can be really funny at times, but not often enough.

The plot with these three centuries old vampires sharing a flat together in today’s world is comedy gold in itself and such an original, creative premise with a particularly authentic approach. But the execution is not as great owing to its uneven quality.

The film takes its time to get there as the first act is not as engaging and it take time to adapt to its offbeat weirdness, at least that was the case with me. The second act is then phenomenal and so energetic, fun and frequently hilarious. That’s certainly the highlight of the film. But then the third act is definitely not as fun and the movie loses its steam there.

What We Do in the Shadows is weirdly paced and for such a short runtime, the filmmakers still did not know how to fulfill that time and thus I agree with some that this was an ingenious idea for a short film and never a feature.

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What We Do in the Shadows Movie Review

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Taika Waititi is excellent here, not so much in the acting role (and no actor is really particularly great here), but as a director, he shines here as this is his vision and his direction and style are phenomenal. The score is actually very good and effective in creating its vampire atmosphere. The same can be said for special effects and sets, both excellent for such a small budget. The film is technically pretty terrific.

What We Do in the Shadows is a highly original, but uneven experiment. Its mix of genres and approaches is very intriguing as it is a mockumentary vampire horror comedy with a pretty good premise. Taika Waititi’s direction and style are great. But only the second act is very strong and quite funny as it takes time to get used to its weirdness in the first act and the film loses its steam in the third act. It would have been much more effective as a short than it is as a feature film.

My Rating – 3.5

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Frozen (2013)

Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen Movie Review

Frozen is a 2013 animated musical film which is Disney’s 53rd animated feature. It is a pretty good, competent, but still very flawed and ultimately somewhat overrated movie.

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He’s crazy.

I’ll distract them while you run

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Frozen Movie Review

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The story follow the fairy tale The Snow Queen but just barely and is basically so different from it that it might be considered to be an original film. I liked the story though it definitely felt rushed and undercooked in some places. It is adventurous, heartwarming and magical just like most real Disney classics are, but it is just never as great as it could have been.

The beginning is overly drawn out but definitely very intriguing and seeing the two girls separated was heartbreaking. I loved the magical elements and the first act is long, but sets up the rest of the movie pretty well. The coronation day was great, Elsa and Anna’s argument is memorable and Hans being portrayed as so good and innocent at first is a big plus.

I will later talk about the ice palace creation sequence when I talk about the song itself and in detail. As for the first scenes with Kristoff, they are all very charming and some of the best here. I loved the scene at the Wandering Oaken’s shop and the scene with the wolves. This is the most adventurous part of the film and it should have lasted longer.

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Frozen Movie Review

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The scene with the two sisters arguing is the second best of the film and actually pretty amazing in its own right. I loved that it involved singing for storytelling and dialogue and the intense build up to the eventual tragedy is superbly done. Marshmallow got a pretty fun scene, but the troll sequence is somewhat of a detour. The capturing of Elsa is excellent and the film needed more action and more usage of her powers such as in that scene.

Hans revealing his villainous side was done wonderfully and the entire third act is pretty good and exciting. The twist with the true love being that of two sisters instead of between a man and a woman is interesting and ultimately quite memorable and groundbreaking in a way. The ending with the ice skating was sweet.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen has many plot holes unfortunately. It is a good, wonderful story, but so undercooked and you can see that it was reworked extensively for many years up to its release. How Elsa got her powers and why only she has them is never answered. And do not get me started on the parents. They were horrible to their children by separating them and I guess that in that day and age, they might be much worse in real life but the film tried to make them sympathetic and it failed and thus their death was not all that felt and of course as obvious and as expected as any Disney parent death. And what Elsa ate in that ice palace and how she intended to survive there remains a mystery to me. And who ruled the kingdom when they were little and parentless. And why doesn’t Kristoff recognize Anna as an adult? The film is sloppy in terms of storytelling.

The characterization is very good on the other hand. Elsa is underdeveloped when compared to Anna, but it works in the context of the story that she is somewhat of a mystery and I liked that Anna is basically a protagonist here. Elsa is mysterious, elegant, powerful and I loved her ice powers and it was convenient and quite ingenious how her problems can relate to basically any minorities/special needs persons.

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Frozen Movie Review

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But Anna is actually the better character. I love Anna honestly. She is your wonderful Disney Princess but different than most as she had to learn what true love is and how you cannot fall in love in the first day of meeting the prince. The deconstruction of Disney’s true love concept is modern and although too on-the-nose, it still worked and was clever. The film is sometimes overly feminist in an aggressive way, but it is still very nice that we got a Disney movie that centers on sisterhood.

Anna’s spunky behavior is great and she has some wonderful, funny lines in the film. Her journey and character progression is excellent and her interactions with everybody, especially Elsa and Kristoff are superb. The relationship between the two sisters is problematic yet very sweet just like in real life which is why it resonated with so many women out there.

Kristoff is very likable and it was interesting that talking to animals was portrayed as somewhat crazy here. Honestly, the movie felt so anti-Disney at times for better and for worse. But Sven is endearing and Kristoff is a great Disney love interest and he and Anna share a fantastic relationship.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Olaf is honestly pretty annoying at times, but also quite funny in a couple of scene with some hilarious lines. He is your typical overly modern and aggressively funny Disney sidekick, but I didn’t hate him surprisingly enough and I ended up mostly liking him. Duke of Weselton is annoying and basically just a decoy so we wouldn’t suspect Hans who is honestly very good as a villain. I really enjoyed the villain twist here. It was overdone in the next movies such as ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Zootopia’, but here it fully worked and I loved it. But I still think that men in this film are either villainous or crazy which remains a problem.

Frozen has very good, though not amazing animation. Some of the backgrounds and interiors were not as detailed as you would expect from Disney and the character design is mostly typical. But the CGI is excellent and the ice palace creation is the biggest feat of animation wizardry accomplished here. The ice looks amazing and the film was one of a few animated films that was ripe for computer animation as the ice needs the CGI and every icy scene was beautiful here.

Frozen is a musical and a very problematic one. Basically the structure of the film is all wrong. It makes the fatal mistake of putting most of the songs in the first act and the rest of the film is mostly devoid of songs. That made it seem very uneven. And I still do think that only one song here is great.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen Heart is your typical opening work/local people Disney number that serves its purpose, but is forgettable. Do You Want to Build a Snowman? is actually quite sweet and the most childlike song here. It is a great plot point, but overly short.

Love Is an Open Door is so mediocre. I do not like it at all and it has a pretty weak, annoying chorus and it sounds way too modern. Definitely it serves its purpose in terms of storytelling, but as the actual piece of music it is rather weak.

Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People is extremely short and unnecessary. Fixer Upper is so annoying and possibly the worst scene in the film. The song itself is quite weak and uninspired. The same can be said for In Summer which is basically a detour as we already know that Olaf wants warm hugs and yearns for summer and we did not need a whole number for it, especially such a weak one.

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Frozen Movie Review

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For the First Time in Forever is the second best song in the film and I really like it. It isn’t the catchiest song, but it does accompany a great early scene, it has very good and at times even funny lyrics and a pretty fine chorus. I loved the grand ending to it. Also, the reprise is beautiful and, as I said before, it is the second greatest scene in the film.

And of course Let It Go is the greatest song in the entire film and one of the best Disney songs of all time. Words cannot describe how great this number is, but let me try. First off, the lyrics are absolutely amazing and it is probably the deepest Disney song ever, the one with which everyone can relate to. The singing by Idina Menzel is amazing and it is the kind of grand Broadway number that was mostly absent from Disney in recent decades.

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Frozen Movie Review

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The chorus is amazing and the finale is absolutely spectacular! It serves as a powerful vehicle for Elsa; it is the moment where the film just stops and your breath is simply taken as the overall sequence is spectacular in terms of characterization, music and storytelling. That beautiful gown was created here, the classic song was created here and one of the best Disney scenes too. History was certainly made here.

Frozen features excellent voice acting. Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff are very good, but Idina Menzel and especially Kristen Bell shine here. The film is well directed, but weakly paced. The dialogue is solid, but overly modern at times with too much new jargon in it. The film doesn’t pay much attention to its time period as it does to its setting. Overall, the film remains a phenomenon, but a highly flawed one. A wonderful experience, but when you look at it through the critic’s lens, you can see its many flaws easily. It surely is one of the worst Disney revival entries as it cannot compare at all with ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Tangled’.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen is a good, but highly problematic movie. The animation is not as detailed, but it is frequently gorgeous. The story is very intriguing and memorable, but full of obvious plot holes. The dialogue is overly modern and, although refreshing, sometimes the film was aggressively feminist (all men in the movie are either crazy or villainous) and deconstructive. The characterization is admittedly excellent with Hans being a very good villain (the twist was great), Kristoff is very likable and of course Anna and Elsa are wonderful characters and their sisterhood is beautiful to witness which is the reason why the film touched so many people. The songs are actually rather weak as only For the First Time in Forever is quite good and of course Let It Go is an amazing, simply fantastic song accompanied by a spectacular, iconic sequence. The film is frequently very adventurous, charming or even funny, but mostly rushed in pacing and problematic in structure owing to it having been extensively reworked on for many years. In the end, Frozen reaches greatness in a couple of truly special scenes, but for the most part it is a very uneven, troublesome film which ranks among the weakest Disney Revival films.

My Rating – 4

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Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

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Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

Beatriz at Dinner is a 2017 indie drama film directed by Miguel Arteta and starring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow. It is one of the best indies of the year.

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All tears flow from the same source

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Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

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I love movies that are self-contained in time and place and that are simplistic, but deep in themes. Beatriz at Dinner is that movie. We follow a Mexican woman who winds up at a dinner organized by her boss. There she gets into an argument with a cold businessman and is just so different from each person there.

I thoroughly empathized with her and she is such a relatable person to me and a wonderful soul. Certainly I am not as great of a person a she is, but I also have trouble accepting the death of animals which most do easily. I am also a highly emotional person and I do think that most people in this world are cold, selfish and just bad human beings and thus her troubles felt all the more real for me.

The movie showcases brutally how a great, emotional person cannot really live in this world and cannot cope with so much pain and sadness surrounding them. And in that manner it is one of the most brutally dark and unfortunately realistic films that I have ever seen. For some it may be too pessimistic, especially that dark ending, but to me this is real as I feel like her too and the ending was deep to me and very satisfactory.

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Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

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The only problem Beatriz at Dinner has is that it is just way too heavy-handed at times and overly simplistic and black-and-white in the portrayal of Beatriz and especially Doug. Beatriz at least has her dark urge near the end, but Doug is overly villainous which was a problem.

But I still really liked these characters. I liked all of the others as they had minor roles, but they did make an impact and were all very realistic. Its cringe comedy elements fully worked and the awkward dinner felt painful but necessary to sit through. This is how people talk and especially rich people. I found the movie’s willingness to attack businessmen, small talk and Americans highly refreshing. Loved it.

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Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

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The actors and actresses all did a great job, but of course the highlights are John Lithgow and Salma Hayek. He proved how great of an actor he is and how brutally underrated too. He is an indie darling and here he portrayed one of his darkest characters. His subtle facial expressions, especially of smugness and disbelief, were amazingly grounded in reality and just phenomenal.

But Salma Hayek is even better. Here she gave one of the year’s very best female performances in such an amazing, career defining role. Her facial expressions also drive her performance as anger, shyness and especially pain are very much felt in her every scene. Amazing work that should be honored.

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Beatriz at Dinner Movie Review

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Beatriz at Dinner is the definition of a phenomenal indie drama. The themes are rich, the film is deep how smart and especially emotional it is. Sometimes the pain is overwhelming and the ending is definitely heartfelt. The dialogue is mostly fantastic and only the film’s sometimes bombastic instead of subtle approach felt subpar. And of course I loved the score and especially editing as the film is deftly, brilliantly edited and structured into a coherent, tight whole. It is a seventy minute long movie and it did not need any more minutes. It is perfect this way and it is a shame that most filmmakers do not realize this.

Beatriz at Dinner is an amazing indie drama. Sometimes the themes are heavy-handed, but for the most part the dialogue is clever, the film is deep in themes and especially in emotion as it is heartfelt and overwhelming to witness. John Lithgow is absolutely phenomenal as he always is and Salma Hayek gave one of the year’s finest performances in a tour de force performance. This movie is tightly edited, darkly humorous, brutally realistic and very relatable to me personally leading to one of the best films of 2017.

My Rating – 4.5

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a 2011 fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Rob Marshall and starring Johnny Depp. It is a pretty disappointing entry.

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You know the feeling you get when standing in a high place,

the sudden urge to jump…

I Don’t have it

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review

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This is by far the weakest entry in the series so far. It is much weaker than the original trilogy as it has many unfortunate choices in the production and story. Now I liked that it was shorter in its runtime and thus much better paced than the previous films, but the story is weaker this time around and not particularly exciting.

I liked that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are disposed of here as they have always been dull to me, but I have to say that Penelope Cruz is a very poor substitute. She has never been a great actress and especially in American films such as this one she is quite weak. Her performance is mediocre and the character herself is not as well defined and is quite annoying.

Captain Barbossa is also pretty repetitive here and not as great as in previous entries. As for Blackbeard, Ian McShane did a good job in a fun role, but the character was underutilized. Gibbs is great and I loved that beginning as the court scene was hilarious and seeing the fun, strong friendship between Jack and Gibbs is awesome. Jack saves the film as he is still entertaining and memorable in the role. Also, that mermaid and her boyfriend are so boring and both should have been cut off from this film.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review

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So On Stranger Tides has a solid ending, a great beginning and some action scenes are particularly entertaining and well executed, although again overwhelmingly present. The story is okay, but nothing remarkable and the humor and characterization should have been stronger.

I also found the film surprisingly lacking in terms of fantasy elements which was odd and it made the movie less exciting. I loved the various locations used here, all gorgeous to look at. The film sounds and looks great, but I wouldn’t say that the enormous budget of over 300 million was needed here. That is insane. So in the end, the film is infinitely inferior to the first and second one and even the third messy movie is much more interesting than this entry.

On Stranger Tides is such a disappointing entry in the series and so much weaker than the original trilogy. I loved its locations, score and some scenes were quite fun. Jack is also reliably good and memorable. But unfortunately the other characters are boring and the addition of Penelope Cruz hurt the film tremendously. She was never a great actress and here she gave a mediocre performance in a very annoying role. It is a shorter film, but owing to its odd lack of fantasy elements, it is mostly not as exciting as the previous entries.

My Rating – 3

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Annabelle: Creation (2017)

Annabelle: Creation Movie Review

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Annabelle: Creation Movie Review

Annabelle: Creation is a 2017 horror film directed by David F. Sandberg. It is one of the best installments of the Conjuring universe.

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Who cares? Run!

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Annabelle: Creation Movie Review

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This is one of the most surprising films I’ve seen recently. Absolutely stupendous. I expected it to be much better than ‘Annabelle’ as that movie is so incredibly mediocre, but I didn’t expect the greatness that I got here as the film at times rivals ‘The Conjuring’ and that is a huge accomplishment.

It is basically an origin story of the doll and a prequel to the original film. In terms of being a prequel, it works stupendously as that final scene ties it up with the original so well. But it is a competent horror story in its own right which stands on its own as its very own beast.

Annabelle: Creation is quite scary. Just like with ‘It’, the movie follows children and thus I felt the danger much more and I do hope that the filmmakers realize this and start making more child-oriented horror films as I am infinitely more disturbed seeing a child than a woman in horrific peril.

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Annabelle: Creation Movie Review

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The film is scary, but it takes its time to get there and that build-up is excellent and the atmosphere is phenomenal. I love historical horror films and this particular period coupled with the orphanage setting led to such a unique, highly interesting horror flick both in time period and in setting. The attention to detail in recreating both is quite stellar.

Let’s talk about the highlights. The best scene is the wheelchair sequence. It happens during the day which is highly admirable and it is all the more scary for it and for the fact that it happens so suddenly. It was inventively filmed with great camera angles and that entire scene is an important plot point while being a genuine shocker in its own right. Another great scene is the well scene and I loved the staircase scene too. The scarecrow is creepy as well. All of these feature outstanding camera work and highly memorable imagery.

Sister Charlotte is a fine character and I really liked the married couple and their backstory was excellent. But the kids are the highlights and mostly just Janice and Linda. I felt sorry for Janice because she had to go through so many horrific things and Linda was such a cute, yet very brave kid. The two shared a wonderful friendship and it was a shame that they had to separate.

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Annabelle: Creation Movie Review

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The performances from the actors are very good and all of the kids did a very good job and they were even quite realistic. The film is very well scored and superbly shot. Definitely some scenes were pretty formulaic and also unfortunately bordered on implausible behavior from the characters, but most of the scenes made sense and were much more realistic or believable than most of the other horror pictures. It is technically a very competent, rich and far from cheap movie that led to it being one of the best horror sequels of all time and another phenomenal horror film from 2017. David F. Sandberg outdid himself as this movie is much better than ‘Lights Out’.

In a year full of great horror films, Annabelle: Creation is another success, but this time it is also one of the biggest pleasant surprises recently. It features excellent camera work, memorable imagery and effective creepy atmosphere and thus the scary scenes fully worked and some were even inventive. The highlights are the staircase scene and especially the wheelchair flight sequence which was unbelievably effective and quite disturbing. The child characters and actors are pretty good, the story is also competent and the film has a very good ending that ties it well with a much inferior original film. It is undoubtedly one of the best horror sequels ever.

My Rating – 4.5

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Annabelle (2014)

Annabelle Movie Review

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Annabelle Movie Review

Annabelle is a 2014 horror film which is the spin-off from ‘The Conjuring’. It is the weakest entry in this cinematic universe by far.

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May God have mercy on your soul!

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Annabelle Movie Review

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I really did not like this film. It isn’t horrible, but it is a giant mediocrity on almost every level. In terms of storytelling and characterization, it is tired and uninspired. The doll herself is truly terrifying in look, but unfortunately they never really utilized her as she only got a couple of scenes which was simply ridiculous. It was a giant missed opportunity.

Mia and John are your basic, boring white couple and there is nothing about them that is even remotely interesting. They are just there. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is so ridiculously bad and stupid. Father Perez is much more memorable with ‘Once Upon a Time’s Tony Amendola giving a fine performance. Ward Horton was simply horrible, but at least Annabelle Wallis is quite competent in the main role.

As for Evelyn, I have to say that I was furious how they killed her off in the ending. Her choice to sacrifice herself instead of Mia was just ridiculous to me and beyond stupid. The fact that they killed her and made it seem okay was atrocious enough, but the fact that that led to such a bad message or a lack of any was even more troublesome.

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Annabelle Movie Review

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Annabelle is competently acted for the most part and most of the scares are fine, if not great. But the problem with it is that it is surprisingly restrained and tame in its approach with basically only a couple of action/scare sequences and that’s it.

They went with the more restrained, elegant approach but because the film was so typical in plot and execution and because it lacked in atmosphere, it thus ended up being incredibly boring to sit through. It is funny how they managed to screw up this simple and ripe for scares concept and thus Annabelle ended up being such a weak, mediocre spin-off of an infinitely better movie.

Annabelle is a giant mediocrity. It has some fine performances, but the characters are so incredibly boring and the film is uninspired in execution and with a particularly odd choice of being restrained. It is a very dull, tired spin-off which should have had much more action in it. The ending is also infuriating how stupid and just wrong it is.

My Rating – 2.5

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Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

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Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Dennis Villeneuve and starring Ryan Gosling. I prefer it over the original.

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Pain reminds you the joy you felt was real

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Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

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The storyline here is very difficult to comprehend at times which was mostly a good thing. The film features a very complex and detailed narrative and it flows really well. For an almost three-hour long project, it never felt like it and it honestly was never at all boring which I did not expect at all and was thus very pleasantly surprised. It is a slow movie, but a positive slow-burn experience with great build-up and a very intriguing mystery to it.

The problem with Blade Runner 2049 is that it just never has any scene that is astounding and awe-inspiring as that ending from ‘Blade Runner’. That scene was better than any scene in this film. Another thing that the original gets better is the emotional investment. This film is emotional, but never as moving as the original.

And of course thematically speaking, it also fails in comparison as it is much less deep and thematically rich and complex. Plus the first movie’s message about individuality fares much better than this film’s anti-individuality, nihilist approach. Thematically, the two movies are so different which was weird to witness.

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Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

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But in terms of technical aspects, characterization and story, Blade Runner 2049 is better than the original and thus a better film, but not by far and it is definitely slightly overrated as it’s far from a great film. As for the story, I liked most of it, but the highlight was the twist near the end which literally deconstructed one of the biggest clichés of any genre film and I admired the heck out of it.

I really liked K as he is such a well developed, very likable hero whom you like to root for. Deckard is also quite memorable here and Luv is definitely such a badass female villain who stole the show in her every scene. I really disliked Jared Leto and his character here, totally not needed. Harrison Ford actually gave one of his finest and most emotionally charged performances here and the same can be said for Ryan Gosling who is the star and soul of the entire movie.

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Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

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Blade Runner 2049 truly is a cinematic achievement in every sense of that word and I am so glad that I saw it on the big screen. The direction from Dennis Villeneuve is absolutely terrific and after this film and terrific ‘Arrival’, he truly emerges as a talent to follow when it comes to serious, hard science fiction.

The acting is strong across the board as is the directing and the script is stellar, but the visuals are simply mesmerizing. The score is very good although not great and the sound design is particularly effective, loud and it builds the atmosphere so well. But the highlight is the cinematography from Roger Deakins which is stunning and couple that with high-tech gadgetry and cars, timeless special effects and such outstanding, artistic sets and high fashion and you’ve got a positive assault on the senses.

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Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

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It has such awesome atmosphere which is felt from the beginning and it transports you to its world so beautifully. Truly the film felt like a work of art and in that department it trumped the hard science fiction and noir elements to it which again led to a more visually and audio driven than truly clever or deep film.

Blade Runner 2049 is much inferior to the original when it comes to deep emotion and rich themes, but when it comes to storytelling, characterization and especially technical aspects it is much better than the first film. What it lacks in truly memorable scenes and thought-provoking ideas, it more than compensates with superb performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, very strong characters with a kickass female villain and great atmosphere and sound design. It also has such an admirable twist that basically deconstructed one of the biggest genre clichés. It is not a science fiction classic, but it is a work of art as evidenced by amazing cinematography, such competent direction, high fashion, fun technology and absolutely outstanding set design. In the end, I prefer it over the original, but it is still an overly praised film which is consistently good and engaging despite its long runtime, but rarely truly great.

My Rating – 4

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

Wreck-It Ralph is a 2012 animated fantasy adventure film which is the 52nd Disney animated feature and one of the best of all time.

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Because if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Yes, I absolutely love this film!! This is one of my favorite Disney movies which is definitely in the top 15 Disney films list for me. The greatness of this movie lies in its great replay factor. This is the third time I’ve watched it and it is even better now than it was before and every next time I watch it, I put it a little bit higher on my Disney list.

It is about an arcade game villain who wants to become a good guy and be respected as everyone else. He sets out to get a medal in another game, befriends a young girl and uncovers the conspiracy behind the whole Sugar Rush game. To me this film has that wonderful, traditional friendship and heart at its core, but is set in a modern video game world and thus it achieves a perfect mix of contemporary and old-fashioned.

It is without any doubt one of the most original films of the decade as its plot is absolutely brilliant and so incredibly authentic and inventive. It is an action-packed, but always entertaining and heartwarming film and always so original in almost every way. It features some of the best and most intricate world building that I have ever seen as every little detail is thoroughly thought out here and all of those 80s video game references should prove delightful for their fans.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The beginning features narration, but is essential here and thus a good choice. I loved everything about that Game Central Station as it was brilliantly conceived and I just loved the rules of this universe. The human players play them and everybody has their own role but if they step outside of their own game, they could die for real and not regenerate. Great rules.

Hero’s Duty is not my favorite scene as it was too dark but still refreshingly so for an otherwise lighter film. The danger there was well conveyed and the first person shooter elements are so well realized. I loved how Ralph and Venellope met and those scenes where he builds a kart and teaches her how to race were wonderful.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Ralph breaking her kart was such a dark, unexpectedly brutal sequence which was emotionally devastating and one of the movie’s highlights for sure. I loved the mystery here and how Ralph uncovers it, the twist with the villain is actually very interesting and well executed. The final race was fine, but the twist with Venellope being a princess was actually fantastic. The fact that they managed to sneak in their usual princess formula into this different, non-princess film is highly admirable as that development honestly worked. Loved it. And of course the ending is one of my favorites as seeing Ralph watch Venellope from his arcade and the two smile and wave was just so emotionally rewarding and I was incredibly moved by it which is a testament to how strong emotion and characterization here is.

Yes, the character development is superb across the board as is the voice acting. Ralph is one of the best Disney protagonists in my opinion as he is that great. He is relatable, very well developed and likable without being too heroic. John C. Reilly was perfectly cast for this role and he did a phenomenal job.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Venellope von Schweets is even better! She is again not too likable and a realistic modern kid, but so well developed and I admired how the two shared the same dreams and goals and that strengthened their relationship. She is such a moving character with a terrific backstory and their friendship is the heart and soul of the entire film and its driving force. Sarah Silverman’s husky voice bothered me at first, but then I grew to like it and she really did an outstanding job in the role.

Fix-It Felix Jr. could have easily been an insufferable, one-note character owing to his inherent heroism but I loved that Ralph was the protagonist and he was in the back and he definitely became better and better as the movie progressed. His relationship with Sergeant Calhoun is so silly, but it honestly works. She is a very memorable, strong female character and they are the exact opposite of each other but that is maybe why their relationship felt so entertaining and strong. And I loved her backstory. This movie is a textbook example of how to properly do character backstories.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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All of the other characters are not all that memorable though they did serve their purpose really well such as all of those bratty girls, henchmen and of course the various famous video game characters were so well incorporated with the highlights being Q*bert who is so cute and tragic and Zangief who is absolutely hilarious.

As for King Candy, I honestly wasn’t thrilled with him. I have to be honest. He is the weakest aspect in the film and he really held it down quite a bit. Now I loved his backstory which was once again very strong and the twist that he is Turbo is great, but the problem with him is that he is obviously meant to portray a feminine gay guy stereotype and this is the 2010s and this type of villain is no more excusable.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The animation is fantastic in Wreck-It Ralph, absolutely gorgeous. It is undoubtedly the finest computer animated film so far from Disney because the character design is very strong as all characters look very authentic and the way they movie and look is very much like a video game character fittingly. But the film is so polished, it looks fittingly modern and high-tech and I adored how colorful it is, especially Sugar Rush. The film looks beautiful and is a rare movie that gives CG animation a good name. Plus those video game scenes were fittingly very retro and realistic.

Wreck-It Ralph isn’t perfect. The villain is weaker, the action is at times slightly overwhelming and the humor could be immature (some of the banter between Venellope and Ralph was too childish). But most of the other humor is actually very strong and the action is mostly fantastic and a lot of fun to watch. The film is briskly paced, but never rushed and it is an absolute blast to watch. It is unfortunately over too soon and you want more so I am glad that we are getting a sequel as this world is just so rich with endless possibilities.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The film has no songs but it doesn’t need them as it isn’t suited for a musical. That one song from Rihanna is here (Shut Up and Drive) and I wasn’t a fan of it nor was I the fan of the other songs with the only exception being Celebration which was well incorporated. The score itself is terrific and pleasantly retro which I loved, especially in those earlier scenes. It is a memorable film with strong dialogue, amazing world building and very high emotional engagement as some scenes moved me so much. Needless to say, it is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film.

The characters in Wreck-It Ralph are amazing despite a weaker villain. Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun are such a fun couple and of course Venellope and Ralph are the heart and soul of this film. The animation is so beautiful and so phenomenal that it gives computer animation a good name for once. The emotion is overwhelming and some scenes moved me tremendously. And above all else, it is fueled by one of the most original and intricately plotted stories in recent memory filled with excellent character backstories and simply extraordinary world building. It has its small flaws, but it is mostly a brilliant film which is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film and one of the best of all time as well. A future classic that only gets better with each subsequent viewing.

My Rating – 4.5

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Girls Trip (2017)

Girls Trip Movie Review

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Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip is a 2017 comedy film starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith. It is a solid film, but not as great as everybody says it is.

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That’s some white boy shit right there

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Girls Trip Movie Review

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The major problem with this film is the plot. I like my comedies to either have no plot at all or to have a meaningful, good plot and this one has such an archaic, cliched storyline with Regina Hall’s character where she stays married to a cheater just because they are a famous couple and eventually backs away from it. A very cliched story that ties all of the movie together but is so dull that it hurt it tremendously.

Girls Trip is funny, quite funny at times. I liked the movie the most when the girls were just having fun and being crazy. Those were the best parts and I wish the whole film was like that. They did not need all of that relationship drama in there. And this crew of women is so strong and they are such wonderful friends mostly because of the cast which has an infectious dynamic between each other and great charisma and likability factor.

Let’s talk about all of the four girls. There are some fine supporting players in here such as Kate Walsh who is funny, but this is mostly about just these four women which is great. I had not recognized Jada Pinkett Smith as Lisa is not like her usual sexy character, but still she remains an annoying actress, at least to me. And she is the most boring part of this whole film.

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Girls Trip Movie Review

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Queen Latifah is excellent in the role as Sasha is quite likable and I loved her relationship with Regina Hall’s Ryan. As I said above, I really did not care for Ryan’s story whatsoever. But I could not deny that she gave a terrific, very strong performance in a not so great role.

I do agree with most critics and fans that Tiffany Haddish did absolutely steal the show here. She truly is a breakout star of 2017 as the actress who was basically unknown before but is now suddenly in the comedy spotlight. Dina is a typically over-the-top and sexually charged comic relief, but she is so great that she elevated the material. And her many funny lines were the highlights in terms of the humor here.

Girls Trip is a movie that is two hours a long and I just had a big problem with that. Comedies aren’t supposed to be longer than an hour and a half and this one is certainly overlong and the entire third act was just so sappy and unfortunately very archaic, it felt too much like a 2000s romantic comedy and it was overly triumphant. It should have ended before and much stronger.

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Girls Trip Movie Review

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Another problem here is that the humor is not as great as I thought it would be. Its R-rated style sometimes felt unnecessary as those scenes with the most profanity were usually too forced in their execution (the pee scene is absolutely ridiculous). But the grapefruit scene is pretty funny and some facial expressions and lines of dialogue definitely were excellent, mostly coming from Haddish’s character. But still this isn’t all that better than ‘Rough Night’ which remains a very underrated comedy flick which I honestly may even prefer over this one.

Girls Trip can be really funny, I loved the dynamic between its talented cast and Tiffany Haddish definitely is the highlight here in a true breakout role for her. Whenever the film relied on the girls’ friendship and their various shenanigans, it was very good. However, it also included that very unfortunate celebrity cheating storyline and no matter how strong Regina Hall’s performance is, she just couldn’t save this story from being so dated and cliched. And the third act is just too sappy. All in all, it is a solid flick, but not all that better than very underrated ‘Rough Night’.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled Movie Review

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The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled is a 2017 period piece directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. It’s a very good, but still flawed film.

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What have you done to me, you vengeful bitches?!

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The Beguiled Movie Review

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The film follows a girl school in Virginia during the American Civil War in 1864. A Union soldier arrives wounded on their estate and they nurse him back to help, but the problematic dynamic develops between the man and the women all resulting in tragedy eventually.

That is the story here and it is a film that is simplistic at first, but more thought-provoking and complex after the end when you are left pondering who was right and who was wrong. To me the problem here is that the film isn’t as deep or as emotional as it should have been and the film only skims the surface of this very interesting men versus women subject. It’s a feminist film, but not as accomplished as one would hope.

All of those problems stem from Colin Farrell’s character, at least in my opinion. He did an excellent job and definitely gave such a strong supporting performance. But the character Corporal John McBurney is highly troublesome because he is at first portrayed as too nice and polite and thus his transition to the darker side felt somewhat unrealistic. And, spoiler alert, because I did not buy his ascent into madness, I was left feeling sorry for his death and feeling that the women were not fair to him which is exactly what the movie did not need me to question.

But the women are all excellent and very well developed for such a short screen time. Nicole Kidman is excellent in a typical role for him, Elle Fanning is unlikable but necessary and Kirsten Dunst is one of the highlights here as she gave a very strong performance in such a good role. Everyone did a really good job honestly.

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The Beguiled Movie Review

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So The Beguiled basically showcases how the women of 1864 needed to be smart to deal with men as they were oppressed back then. It also shows the power of female maturity and sexuality in a very strong, realistic manner. All of that is due to Sofia Coppola’s involvement as her directing here is superb and the highlight of the film along with a good, slow pace with menacing atmosphere and such strong visuals as the costumes and both the interiors and exteriors look lovely.

The Beguiled has one problem and that is Colin Farrell’s character. He actually gave a very strong performance, but the character was portrayed awkwardly and thus the ending of the film felt problematic to me. But other than that, this is a very strong film which looks great thanks to lovely costumes and interiors. It is so well acted across the board, Sofia Coppola’s direction is superb and it is a slow-burn movie with interesting themes and effectively conveyed menacing atmosphere.

My Rating – 4

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